Earliest Known Publication of the Rules of Baseball
Spiele zur Uebung und Erholung Des Korpers und Geistes fur die Jugend. ihre Erzieher und alle Freunde unschuldiger Jugenfreunden.
Schnepfenthal: Buchhandlung der Erziehungsanstalt, 1796.
Spiele zur Uebung und Erholung des Korpers und Geistes fur die Jugend. ihre Erzieher und alle Freunde unschuldiger Jugenfreunden. Schnepfenthal: Buchhandlung der Erziehungsanstalt, 1796.
First edition. Octavo. xvi, [viii], 494, [4, index] pp. Complete with the engraved frontispiece by G.F. Stoelzel after J. H. Ramberg and four folding game diagrams at the end of the book. Pages 78-84 on Rules to Baseball.
Modern quarter brown pebbled cloth over marbled boards. Overall, a very good and clean copy of this rare book.
Very rare first edition of the first printed rules of the sport of baseball by Johann Gutsmuths (1759-1839), who is considered one of the founders of modern physical education and gymnastics. Gutsmuths taught at the Philanthropinium, a progressive experimental school in Dessau. The curriculum borrowed ideas from John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and especially Johann Bernhard Basedow, the founder of the school. The book was printed again in the same year and then again 1802. OCLC records no copies (other than microfiche ones) of the first edition, and only a few copies of the second and third editions. The work includes bibliographical references and index. The plates and text discuss and display various sports including cricket, badminton, golf, croquet, handball, chess, etc.
Many claim that the rules for the modern game of baseball were laid down in 1845 by Alexander Cartwright and the other members of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. According to this story, the next year, the first game of modern baseball was played at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. (The Knickerbockers lost to the New York Baseball Club.) Alexander Cartwright and the Knickerbocker club did indeed set down rules to baseball in 1845 and played in Hoboken the following year, but this was not actually true.
Cartwright was not the first to codify the rules of baseball. The earliest known publication of baseball rules dates to some 50 years earlier, and in Germany of all places. In 1796, Johann Christoph Friedrich Gutsmuths wrote Ball mit Freystäten (oder das englische Base-ball), which translates as ‘Ball with free station‘ (or English Base-ball). The description appears in Gutsmuths book Körpers un Geistes für die Jugend, ihre Erzieher und alle Freunde Unschuldiger Jugenfreuden (Games for the exercise and recreation of body and spirit for the youth and his educator and all friends of innocent joys of youth). “By 1796 the rules of this game were well enough established for Johann Gutsmuths, a scholar in Schnepfenthal, Germany, to describe them in a book about popular games and sports. Gutsmuths's ''englische Base-ball'' is clearly recognizable: two teams face off, with a pitcher serving to a batsman who has three shots to put a ball in play before attempting a circuit of bases on his way home. It also predates the rules laid out by the Knickerbockers by nearly 50 years“ (Block).
BLOCK, David. Baseball Before We Knew It. (2005), pp. 67–75, 181-2; Gutsmuths quoted: p. 86.