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Town BallThe origins of baseball. The question of the origins of baseball has been the subject of debate and controversy for more than a century. Baseball (and softball), as well as the other modern bat, ball and running games, cricket and rounders, developed from earlier folk games.

Although the roots of baseball are English, similar games have also been played in other parts of the world. Oina is a Romanian ball sport, similar in some ways to baseball. Russia had a bat and ball game called Lapta since the 14th century. Germans played a game called Schlagball, which was similar to rounders. A "bowler" threw a ball to a "striker," who hit it with a club and then tried to run around a circuit of bases without getting hit with the ball by a defender.

Americans played a version of the English game rounders in the early 1800s which they called "Town Ball". In fact, early forms of baseball had a number of names, including "Base Ball", "Goal Ball", "Round Ball", "Fletch-catch","stool ball", and simply "Base". In at least one version of the game, teams pitched to themselves, runners went around the bases in the opposite direction of today's game, and players could be put out by being hit with the ball like in Schlagball. Like today, however, it was three strikes and you're out.¹

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