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Issue: "Memorial Day 2004," May 29, 2004

Baseball ex nihilo

The study of origins is torn between

creationism and evolution. Not just regarding the universe, but regarding baseball. For years, people believed that the game was created ex nihilo by Abner Doubleday at Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1839. Lately, baseball Darwinists have challenged that view, citing evidence that the first game was actually played in Hoboken, N.J., in 1846. More likely, they argued, baseball is the product of a long process of evolution, from more primitive life forms such as cricket and rounders.

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But now, historians have discovered a document from Pittsfield, Mass., a law prohibiting people from playing baseball within 80 yards of the new meeting house. The measure was apparently trying to protect the building's windows. It is dated 1791.

"It's clear that not only was baseball played here in 1791, but it was rampant," said historian John Thorn. "It was rampant enough to have an ordinance against it." This discovery pushes the origins of baseball back even further, though it undermines the Doubleday myth.

Christians know that baseball was, in fact, created-not by Doubleday, but by God. Did He not create the Heavens and the Earth in the big inning? -Gene Edward Veith

Rough stuff

If Anthony Peeler were taller, he would have hit Kevin Garnett in the mouth. As it was, Mr. Peeler's forearm shiver smacked the 7-foot forward in the jaw. As much as Mr. Garnett wanted to respond he didn't. The NBA has warned that players acting in retaliation will earn ejections and suspensions. Mr. Garnett could hardly afford to miss his team's critical Game 7 against the Kings, even if he did soil his reputation with insane war analogies before the game.

Mr. Peeler, of course, could afford to miss Game 7. Either the Kings guard attacked Mr. Garnett first with a blow to the stomach and then to the jaw because Mr. Peeler is a ruffian or because he sought to draw retaliation from the emotional Timberwolves star. Maybe it's both, but if he was trying to drag Mr. Garnett down with him, it didn't work.

That Mr. Garnett didn't fight back shows he felt either his teammates or the league would provide justice. But the league could have suspended Mr. Peeler longer. And unless the NBA wants to become more like the NHL, where players mete out their own justice without discretion, the NBA should move to protect its star players and prevent the Anthony Peelers of the league from inciting them.

Around the horn

Who knew that when Jason Schmidt threw a one-hitter, it wouldn't have been the best outing of the night. That came from Randy Johnson, who at 40 years old tossed his first perfect game of his career against the Braves. Mr. Johnson, the oldest man to complete such a feat, looked 10 years younger as his fastball hit 98 mph to strike out the final batter.

Germans may be pacifists in world affairs, but they're downright militaristic when it comes to soccer. German fans rushed the field after a disputed refereeing decision last week. Among the 30 who stormed the field and attacked the opposing team, some brandished guns and other weapons. After he was beaten senseless with a corner flag, one man had to be taken to the hospital.

The Milwaukee Brewers don't often have much to celebrate, but their May 17 game against Atlanta was an exception. Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets took advantage of shadows from a cloudy day and a nasty curveball to strike out 18 batters, two shy of the major-league record. Milwaukee's catcher credited Mr. Sheets' success in part to shadows that made the pitcher's curveball invisible for part of its journey to the plate. Some players have enough trouble hitting a curveball, much less one they can't see.

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