Step aside, Abner Doubleday! In this impeccably researched history, Robert W. Henderson traces the origins of ball sports to religious rites in ancient Egypt, where the ball represented a fertility symbol and opposing teams engaged in mock combat signifying the struggle of good against evil. His wide-ranging discussion encompasses all manner of ball games from polo, cricket, and golf to court tennis, lawn tennis, and football.
The most substantial portion of Henderson's study is devoted to the game of baseball. Providing copious evidence of early forms of baseball played in England and the United States before 1829, he offers a meticulous account of the legerdemain by which Abner Doubleday, the famous Civil War general, came to be identified as the inventor in 1839 of a game that was already at least two centuries old. The new foreword by Leonard Koppett affirms the significance of this classic work of sports history, which was the first to dismantle the Doubleday/Cooperstown myth.