Steven Wells of the Guardian points out that, despite the colonials’ regrettable habit of claiming ownership of The Great American Pastime, the text of Northanger Abbey proves otherwise:
Baseball is rounders. And rounders is baseball. Same game. Different name. A few baseball historians still cling grimly to the tired old patriotic lie that baseball in an entirely American invention. Despite the fact that the game was mentioned in Jane Austen’s 1798 chick-lit bonkbuster Northanger Abbey. And that the first rules of the game – Ball mit Freystäten (Oder Das Englische Base-ball) – were published by Guts Muths in the town of Schnepfenthal in the Duchy of Gotha in 1796.
The AustenBlog staff hastily consulted the well-thumbed edition of Northanger Abbey here at AustenBlog World Headquarters but failed to find any evidence of, erm, “bonking,” or anything that could reasonably be described as “chick-lit.” (And as AustenBlog World Headquarters is within half a day’s ride of Citizens Bank Park, the Editrix would like to say that the upper deck is quite a lovely place to watch a game of
rounders base ball, and that she regrets the incident in which she berated a member of the Kansas City Royals to “pull down his skirt and get back to work” when he feigned injury.)