Legend has it that baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, NY in 1839. However, this legend was shown to be false a long time ago. Now it seems that baseball was being played in Pittsfield, MA in the 1790's (and, presumably, before that). A baseball historian has found a by-law passed in the town in 1791 that banned baseball near the town hall. Civic authorities, much like twentieth century parents throughout the US, were worried about their windows.
This AP report indicates that baseball evolved from cricket and rounders, which the report claims are English games. I had a friend who worked in the National Museum who claimed that rounders was actually an Irish game, not English. Does anyone know?