THE PREHISTORIES OF BASEBALL
Baseball’s roots lie deep in our ancestral past. The ancient arts of throwing (distance warfare), hitting (close quarters combat), and running (attack and retreat) were woven into the earliest forms of baseball. Early humans recognized the importance of the sun and sought to placate it with sacrificial offerings, imitating its movements and deifying it. Myths and relics of these foundational practices and beliefs were carried westward across the Old World by Indo-European peoples.
Games for the early British and Continental Europeans (notably the Celts and Druids) served military, religious, social and educational needs. As the Celts and Druids came under the control of the Roman Empire, and later the Christian Church, their customs and practices, including games, fell out of favor. Despite persecution, some folk games survived the millennia under such names as “stool-ball,” “tut-ball,” and “base-ball.” Descendants of these peoples brought their variant games to the New World where the standardization of various informal rules led to their rapid spread.
Baseball, with its underlying beliefs, superstitions and practices, still brings us together with familiar and comforting rituals as we assemble under the sun.
Cover design by: Eric Sonnendrucker
Part II: Roots and Foundations
Part III: Modern Times
Baseball showcases primal skills, such as throwing, hitting and running, once intricately linked to human survival. The layout of baseball fields and game strategies mimic war situations, reminiscent of early defensive stockades, forts and castles.
Early British and European Foundations
Before the introduction of baseball in America, early ball games such as stool-ball, tut-ball and English baseball were documented in the Old World. These games were connected with older religious practices, abandoned sites and fields.
Ancient rites and rituals
Precursor versions of baseball trace back to early Celtic, Druidic and other European religious practices. These practices and philosophies were based on sun-worship, where circular patterns and movements, sacrifices and offerings were made to the sun-god involving sacred groves, altars and mounds.
The sun plays a key role in each game as it did in the lives of our ancestors. Fans at the park also contribute to the game affecting the air, its moisture and temperature. In baseball, as in early religious services, we gather at these ‘cathedrals’ to be connected as members of a tribe.