By Benjamin Boxer
In 1744, 32 years before the founders of the Constitution met in Philadelphia to hold the Continental Congress, John Newberry”s book “A Pretty Little Pocket Book” hit newsstands throughout the colonies.
The book was known for being the first book written exclusively for children. But its impact would go far beyond any critic could ever predict.
The book describes a game played with bats, balls and bases. It was the first rough description of the game of baseball.
In 1778, the American Army, camped at Valley Forge during the Revolutionary War, played a game called “playing at base” – a spin-off of the game described in the 1744 novel.
Today, millions of Americans spend the spring and summer seasons playing the game of baseball.
Born in America, baseball has made the United States unique from the rest of the world. Today, the game is known throughout the world as America”s pastime.
On July 4, Americans all over the country will celebrate their independence at baseball parks.
In Murray, a group of friends hold an annual July Fourth intergender baseball game.
“It is a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July with friends and family,” said Jonathan Reynolds, of Murray. “Everybody seems to love it.”
The same ritual of having an Independence Day baseball game is continued across the country.
In Oak Hill, Va., members of the community come together to play baseball at 9:30 a.m. each Independence Day morning.
“The game allows everyone to be involved,” said Kevin Kjar, one of the organizers. “It doesn”t matter how good each player is. It”s only a group of friends getting together and having a good time.”
Major League Baseball will be celebrating Independence Day in its own way, and hundreds of thousands of baseball fans across America will celebrate by having tailgate parties and watching firework shows from stadium seats.
In a 30-team salute, every Major League Baseball team is scheduled to play on July 4, and most stadiums are planning what they hope will be spectacular firework shows.
Michael Brown, of Bethlehem, Pa., attended a Philadelphia Phillies Fourth of July game and felt it was a great way to spend Independence Day.
“It”s an awesome show,” Brown said, recalling the fireworks show. “Baseball is one of the defining elements of what makes America America in my opinion. Why not take in a game on the Fourth of July?”
Over 250 years old, John Newberry”s idea has evolved into not only an organized game, but also a game that is recognized by the citizens of the United States and the world as a symbol of America”s uniqueness.