Back in 1999, a particularly interesting document was discovered, depicting what could be considered an extremely early version of baseball. The scroll dates back to Belgium in 1301 and depicts what appears to be one person throwing a ball towards another person with a bat (maybe they were just smashing weirdly colored apples, who am I to say?).
Check it out for yourself:
— CBS Sports MLB (@CBSSportsMLB) December 28, 2015
We wrote about it previously, here at Baseball is Fun.
While this drawing is an undoubtedly awesome discovery, this isn’t necessarily baseball – even if the root of the game shares some commonality.
Instead, the official game of baseball was generally considered to be fathered by Alexander Cartwright in 1860 (you didn’t still think it was Abner Doubleday, did you?), who even has a plaque in Cooperstown.
That is, until some documents entitled “The Laws of Base Ball” went up for sale at auction, last year.
But before we get into the price of those papers, let’s get into some background.
The “Laws of Base Ball” can be dated back to 1857 (three years before the widely accepted creation date), have been authenticated by MLB Historian John Thorn, and outline some very basic, but essential rules of the game (ESPN):
The 1857 documents titled “Laws of Base Ball” establish the essentials of the modern game: The distance of the base paths is ninety feet, the length of the game is nine innings and nine players are in the field.
And it was created by Willy “Nine-fingers” McGee.
Okay, the documents were actually authored by Daniel Lucious “Doc” Adams, who was the president of the New York Knickerbockers, at the time. Thorn, the MLB Historian, now calls Adams “the true father of baseball.”
As I said, the “Laws of Base Ball” were up for auction last year, but they’ve already sold. However, if you’re initial reaction is disappointment for missing out on the bidding, I wouldn’t get too far ahead of yourself:
The final price tag was nearly $3.3 million.
According to USA Today, the buyer would like to remain anonymous, and the final price tag does fall in line with sales of comparable items like 1) the rules of basketball ($4.3 million) and 2) original rules of soccer ($1.4 million).
ESPN has much more on this story, here.
Oh, and by the way, the original seller purchased the papers – unaware of their actual value – for just $12,000 in 1999. Not a bad margin, eh?