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The SABR UK Historical Committee Annual Report
SABR UK Examiner - Examiner #10 - July 1998
Written by Patrick Morley   

Unlike the previous year's discovery of one of the long-lost Spalding trophies, 1998 has yielded no spectacular finds. But from the yellowing files of old newspapers and a variety of other sources, a picture is slowly emerging of over a century of organised baseball In the United Kingdom. Thanks largely to SABR UK, more researchers are now delving into that past than ever before. So much so, that we have now reached the stage where we can at least draft the chapter headings for our projected History of Baseball in Britain.

Chapter One: The Origins of Baseball
From medieval times to the late l9th century. A wealth of fascinating and often conflicting material has come to light, including the development of the sport from such games as stoolball, town ball and rounders.

Chapter Two: The Baseball Book of the 1890s
Following the Spalding world tours, baseball boomed in Britain with the formation of a National Baseball Association and gains in the Midlands, the North West and the North East attended by several thousand spectators. After a brief hiatus, the British Baseball Association was formed in 1906 and flourished for a time almost entirely in the South of England. But by the start of the World War I, the sport's popularity had largely faded away.

Chapter Three: Between the Wars
In some respects this period rivalled the heyday of the 1890s with the formation of a National Baseball Association, baseball played widely in the Home Counties, a northern league which attracted commercial sponsorship as well as crowds of up to 10,000 spectators and a determined effort to persuade schools to include baseball in their sports activities.

Chapter Four: From the Post-War Era to the Present Day
A succession of baseball leagues or federations came and went embracing different parts of the country until the foundation of the British Baseball Federation and the present day organisation of the sport with leagues covering much of the country.

Additional chapters or appendices would cover Wartime Baseball, British-Born Major Leaguers, The Relationship Between Baseball and Welsh Baseball, Cricket vs Baseball, Why Baseball Has Never Taken Off in Britain, and The Future of Baseball in the UK.

Our colleagues in the States have not so far been able to trace any of the Spalding papers which could throw light on the Derby connection, mentioned in the last report. A propos of that, we are still trying to persuade Derby City Council to commemorate the game's historic links with the city now that the Baseball Ground is no more. Finally, the Committee no longer includes Europe in its title, since the history of baseball on the continent calls for more resources than are presently to hand.