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American visit to learn about baseball, rounders and stoolball

Tuesday 12 June 2007, 7.40pm

A party of five Americans will be in Horsham on Tuesday 19 June and Wednesday 20 June on a quest to find out more about the origins of baseball, perhaps their most popular national game.

The party comes from the media group who are responsible for producing and running the website for the Major Baseball Leagues (MBL) in New York and will be led by senior producer Samantha Marchiano and her Assistant Daria Debuono. Included in the party is author David Block, internationally recognised as the leading researcher and most published author on the origins of baseball.

Whilst in Horsham, they will be visiting Millais Girls School next Tuesday (1pm-3pm to learn more about the game of rounders and students from the school will be playing a demonstration game for them. Alan Fergus (Executive Secretary) and Alison Howard (Director of Rounders) from the National Rounders Association based in Sheffield, will be on hand to give advice and guidance on the game and its history.

On Tuesday evening (5pm the party will move on to Dutchells Copse to watch Horsham’s youngsters show their prowess at baseball under the guidance of Rob Burnie (lead coach) and Paul Taylor of Horsham Leisure Link. This visit will do much to promote this game which was only started in Horsham 12 months ago.

On Wednesday evening (6.30pm onwards) attention will focus on stoolball, the oldest game of them all which was taken to America by the pilgrim fathers. The game being filmed will be between Horsham Trinity Stoolball Club and Angmering Stoolball Club and will take place at Horsham Cricket Club. This is a West Division league stoolball match which is part of the Sussex County Stoolball Association summer programme. Spectators will be most welcome at the Horsham Cricket Ground to see the filming of this interesting clash.

Angmering are the current league champions of Sussex and are skippered by Melissa Mantle, one of the game’s leading exponents. Last weekend she led West Division to victory over East Division in the semi-final of the County Divisional Championship and she scored 231 not out in a total of 487 for 3 in a 45 over game at Nutley. This victory takes them through to the divisional final at The Sportsfield, Littlehampton in two weeks’ time where their opponents will be Central Division.

After filming the game, the production team will be carrying out interviews with players and officials from both teams, as well as delving into the history of the game with John and Kay Price, who are members of the National Stoolball Association, the game’s governing body.

On Thursday the party moves down to Chawton House, near Alton in Hampshire, to research the reference to baseball in Jane Austen’s book ‘Northanger Abbey’. Baseball was also mentioned in two other novels written around the same time (1790-1820) – ‘Battleridge’ by Cassandra Cooke and ‘Our Village’ by Mary Russel Mitford – and the Americans are anxious to pursue these references to find out if baseball was widely played/known about in the UK at that time. If anyone has any knowledge about baseball about that period, we and the MBL would be most interested to hear about it.

The party will return to New York on Friday 22 June.

John Price
Chairman, National Stoolball Association

Tags: history, world