Hoboken also vies for the honor; the first professional game was played there.
But some historians say the southwest corner of Madison Square Park (right, in 1860) is where America’s pastime got its mid-19th century start.
“Our modern game of baseball was born in New York City in 1845,” writes Lynn Curlee, author of Ballpark: The Story of America’s Baseball Fields.
“A 25-year-old clerk named Alexander J. Cartwright organized a group of his friends as the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club. Taking elements from older games, the young men developed a set of written rules, many of which still stand today.”
Still called the Knickerbocker rules, they establish the nine-inning game and mandate the ball should be pitched, not thrown, among other things.
Cartwright and his Knickerbockers practiced the game according to these new rules in and around the park, specifically Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street and then the Murray Hill Grounds at 34th Street and Park Avenue, making it the real birthplace of baseball in some eyes.
[Photo: The Knickerbockers and Excelsior clubs in 1858, from the NYPL Digital Collection]
Tags: Alexander Cartwright, Baseball teams of NYC, birthplace of baseball, Elysian Fields Hoboken, Excelsior Baseball club New York City, Madison Square Park baseball, New York in 1845, New York Knickerbockers baseball