Abner Doubleday, a Union major general during the American Civil War, is often credited with inventing the game of baseball. But Doubleday himself never claimed to have invented the sport, early forms of which date back to the late 18th century. The first team to play the game with modern rules was the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, which was founded in 1845 in New York City. Today, baseball is played around the world in front of millions of fans—a staple of the summer season, yet its humble origins are still on display across the United States.
In a parking lot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, you can find a metal plaque marking the location of home plate at the Exposition Park, once home to the city’s first professional baseball team. The long-since demolished stadium hosted a few games of the first modern World Series in 1903. Not far from the naval yards in Norfolk, Virginia, stands McClure Field, the second-oldest brick stadium in the United States. During World War II, the small field hosted enormous talent and a legendary series never seen by the public. Many star players had enlisted in the military and reported to Norfolk for training along with other new recruits. In September 1943, baseball legends such as Pee Wee Reese and Dom DiMaggio teamed up with fellow sailors for a series of seven games over 11 days, where the only spectators were other members of the Navy.
From the home of the real-life Rockford Peaches that inspired the story in A League of Their Own to a mural honoring the early integration of a New Hampshire baseball team, these are some of our favorite places to explore the history of America’s favorite pastime.