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Exhibition Baseball Americana

Diary of John Rhea Smith, Nassau Hall, College of New Jersey. Princeton, 1786. Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (004.00.00)

Earliest Mention of Baseball

The earliest known handwritten mention of baseball in America comes from a student’s diary entry for Wednesday, March 22, 1786: “A fine day play baste ball in the campus but am beaten for I miss both catching and striking the Ball.” Smith’s use of “baste” appears to be a common corruption of “base” rather than a reference to a different game. The following year, the college faculty determined that baseball was “unbecoming” and dangerous, and banned it from campus.