Baseball versus Cricket

Canadian Speeches, July-August 2002 | Go to article overview

Baseball versus Cricket


An English look at "base ball" concludes that this new American game is "far inferior" to cricket. Excerpts from The Saturday Review, published in The Mail, Toronto, September 1, 1874.

All men who have been schoolboys will recognize in base ball the development of a game which was common in their school days, and, being held inferior to cricket, was regarded rather as a trivial amusement wherewith to while away an odd-half-hour than as a serious sport to which much time and practice were to be devoted. Base ball is, in fact, a kind of glorified rounders.

The method in which the runs are obtained is precisely the same as at rounders. The rough humour which put a man out by hitting him with the ball as he ran has disappeared, and seems to have been replaced by the throwing of the ball into one of the goals or bases before the runner reaches it. The bat used is a development of the stump or stick employed at rounders by English schoolboys, and may be said to come between it and the cricket bat, as the German schlager does between the small sword and the sabre. That the use of the bat is not the most important feature in base ball is at once evident, thus one of the chief beauties of cricket is absent from the game. There are none of those pretty cuts, well-judged drives, and wary receptions of dangerous balls which are the delight of the spectators at Lord's. On the other hand, it may be said that most of the niceties of batting at cricket are lost upon spectators without special knowledge.

The hard hitting which appears the main object of the batman at base ball appeals to all who see it, however ignorant they may be of the game. But the absence of a wicket to be attacked and defended is a serious disadvantage to base ball in the eyes of on lookers.

In the matter of bowling also the American seems far inferior to the English game. The variety of English bowling contrasts favourably with the apparent monotony of the pitching at base ball. There is probably a great deal of skill in which it is impossible to discern without a close acquaintance with the game; but the constant employment of the same action by the bowlers strikes an English eye as wearisome.

On the other hand, base ball is free from the weariness which comes over the spectators of a cricket match when steady play on both sides is evinced by the fact that some half-hour or more nothing happens except the movement of the field and the change of bowlers at the end of every over. …

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