Almost since it was posited in the early 1900s, the myth of Abner Doubleday having invented baseball has been debunked. Yet for longer than that, it’s been accepted nearly unanimously by serious baseball historians that the first certifiably organized, recognizable game of baseball occurred on June 19, 1846, between the Knickerbockers and the New Yorks at Elysian Fields, Hoboken, New Jersey.
But that is no longer the case. The current research of the exceptionally accomplished baseball writer and historian John Thorn, as presented this weekend to the annual Nine Conference in Tucson, Arizona, has discovered an earlier organized, recognizable game of baseball as having taken place in November of 1843, also at Elysian Fields, conducted by an entity called the New York Magnolia Ball Club.
It’s likely that this news will have little impact upon your fantasy league draft strategy this spring. But rest assured that in the circles of hard-core baseball-origin historical analysis—as John put it in his introductory remarks to us conferees Sunday morning, “it’s time to get your nerd on”—this is bound to be a bombshell. It’s an extraordinary event in the annals of early-baseball scholarship, representing yet another glistening feather in Thorn’s robustly-festooned cap.