Chinese Invented Baseball

It’s hard to take this recent article, found on China Daily, seriously.

Baseball a Chinese invention

Updated: 2007-04-01 08:35

Though long thought to have evolved from the UK-created rounders, new evidence suggests that the sport of baseball’s origins extend back nearly 500 years to China’s Ming Dynasty (c1368-1644).

Li Gang, of the National Council of History and Culture (NCHC), recently announced findings from a year-long study into the origins of various sporting events thought to have Chinese roots.

“We were quite surprised by this discovery,” said Li. “It is common knowledge that table tennis, tai chi, swimming and football all have a long history in China, but we could not have expected baseball too would make the list.”

The study, which brought together sports historians from various nations, including Mozambique, Bolivia and Kazakhstan, was conducted from the NCHC offices in Beijing and a number of field offices globally.

Dubbed “America’s National Pastime”, baseball first began to appear in North America in the late 1700s. This was previously thought to have been the origins of the stick and ball sport where players run around a marked path and tag three bases to score a point for their team.

beijingdig.jpgLi’s group had nearly finished their report when Olympic construction in Beijing unearthed a cache of artifacts this past February. Among the finds was a collection of thick sticks and several perfectly spherical wooden balls coated with a rubber-like material.

Though testing has not been completed, initial thoughts are the hand-carved wood was treated using the latex-like bark from the Eucommia (duzhong) rubber tree of Central China, giving the balls extra elasticity. “This protective covering is the most probable reason the five-century old equipment has been virtually unharmed by the elements after so much time,” commented Li.

Baseball has not received much attention in China, but with the 2008 Olympics nearing, the Chinese Baseball Association (CBA) couldn’t be happier about the discovery.

“We’ve always had a low spectator turnout for our games,” said Zhang XiaoQiang, spokesperson for the CBA. “But now, with baseball taking its rightful place in China’s history, as a Chinese invention, I think we’ll see a lot more people showing their national pride and supporting this Chinese sport.”

This has got to be a joke.