What Sport Came First: Cricket or Baseball?

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Cricket and baseball have a lot of things in common. Both are known as “bat-and-ball” sports because the two most essential pieces of equipment are a wooden bat and a small, hard ball. They are also considered “safe haven” games because players must run from one point to another in an effort to score while trying to avoid getting out. Given all their similarities, it comes as no surprise that these two sports also have similar histories. This raises an important question: Which one came first?

While no one knows when exactly cricket or baseball was invented, there is no doubt that cricket is the older sport. People have been playing cricket since the mid-sixteenth century (and possibly even earlier), while modern baseball was developed during the nineteenth century.

Cricket is believed to have been invented in England as a children’s game at least 500 years ago. Meanwhile, baseball has its roots in the British children’s game rounders, but the sport we recognize today as baseball was largely developed in the United States (most likely New York State) during the 1800s.

When Was Baseball Invented?

Baseball has its origins in earlier sports, including cricket and rounders. However, what we know today as “baseball” was developed in the USA in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

The first recorded baseball game took place in 1846, and the game quickly rose in popularity during the 1850s. The first professional baseball club, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was established in 1869, while the first professional league was founded in 1871.

The league we now call Major League Baseball (MLB) was founded as the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs in 1876. Two franchises from the inaugural season still exist to this day: the Chicago Cubs (then known as the Chicago White Stockings) and the Atlanta Braves (then known as the Boston Red Caps).

When Was Cricket Invented?

Cricket is significantly older than baseball, with the earliest records of the sport dating back to the mid-1500s. It is possible cricket was played well before then as well, but historians have not found reference to the game from any earlier than approximately 1850.

The first formal cricket teams were established in the 1600s, and the game began to earn more media coverage throughout the next century. The first of the modern-day county cricket clubs were founded in the 1800s, while the first recorded international competition took place in 1844.

Similarities and Differences Between Cricket and Baseball

Compared to other sports, baseball and cricket are very much alike. The two sports have similar structures, similar objectives, and involve similar skills. Indeed, here are just some of the many things these two games have in common:

  • Baseball and cricket use similar equipment. Both sports use long wooden bats and small hard balls, made of string or yarn wrapped around a cork core with a leather cover stitched on. The two sports also use similar protective equipment, including batting gloves and helmets.
  • There is no clock in baseball or cricket. Unlike most popular team sports, including hockey, basketball, soccer, and football, there is no time limit for a baseball or cricket game. Instead, it is up to the defensive team to get enough of the offensive players “out” in order to eventually end the game.
  • Baseball and cricket are played in innings. In sports like soccer and basketball, either team can score at any time. The team that possesses the ball at any given moment is technically the offensive team, but the other team simply has to take the ball in order to attempt a point themselves. Similarly, possession of the ball changes every time a team scores. Conversely, baseball and cricket teams take turns playing offense and defense. A team can only score when it is their turn to bat. These turns are known as “innings.”
  • Both sports have umpires. While many sports, including basketball, soccer, and hockey, have referees to enforce the rules, baseball and cricket use umpires instead. Along with tennis, baseball and cricket are the most prominent sports in the world to call their officials “umpires.”

Although baseball and cricket have many similarities, they are still separate sports. That means that for as many commonalities as they share, they have an equal number of differences. Again, here are just a handful of the numerous ways in which these two sports differ.

  • Cricket scores are much higher than baseball scores. The average professional baseball team usually scores four or five runs per game, whereas cricket scores are typically in the hundreds. This is because the defensive team has an advantage in baseball and the offensive team has an advantage in cricket. There are several reasons for this, including the fact that cricket bats have a much wider surface than baseball bats.
  • A baseball game lasts a minimum of nine innings, while a cricket game might only have two or four. It is also important to note that an inning in baseball encompasses each team’s turn to bat, while in cricket, each team’s turn to bat marks a new innings. (Note: In baseball, the singular form of “innings” is “inning,” while in cricket, the word is always spelled “innings,” whether it is singular or plural.)
  • Cricket players do not wear gloves in the field. Only the batsmen, bowlers, and wicketkeepers wear gloves in cricket. All other players use their bare hands to catch and throw the ball. Other differences in equipment include the shape of the bats and the weight of the balls. In addition, baseball uses bases while cricket uses wickets.
  • A cricket team needs more players on the field. In baseball, a team can have no fewer than nine and no more than ten active players in the game at any one time. In contrast, a cricket team consists of 11 active players at any given time.
  • The fields are of different shapes and sizes. A cricket ground is typically a large, round field, while baseball requires a more uniquely shaped playing area called a “diamond.” A baseball diamond is usually smaller than a cricket ground. Furthermore, the boundaries of a baseball diamond are marked with a wall or fence, while the boundaries in cricket are typically demarcated with a chalk line or rope.

Why Did Baseball Become More Popular Than Cricket in the USA?

Before the days of baseball, cricket was played by British settlers in North America in the early eighteenth century, and possibly even earlier. However, baseball quickly took over as the sport of choice among Americans. These days, most Americans do not play cricket at all.

There is not one simple reason why baseball became more popular than cricket in the United States, but there are several theories. The most straightforward answer is that Americans invented baseball as an offshoot of cricket. In other words, they turned it into a game they would rather play, so it is no surprise it became the country’s national pastime.

Indeed, it makes perfect sense that Americans wanted to play a uniquely American sport rather than a British sport as they tried to distance themselves from the UK and foster their own cultural identity.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that baseball is a much more convenient game to play than cricket. Cricket requires more space, more time, more equipment, and more players, making it more difficult to play on a regular basis. 

Is Cricket Bigger Than Baseball?

The answer to this question depends entirely on what country you are talking about. In the United States, there is no doubt that baseball is more popular than cricket. The same is true in countries such as Japan, South Korea, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, and the Dominican Republic.

However, in many other nations, cricket reigns supreme. These countries include the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, and, most notably, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Given the widespread popularity of cricket in South Asia, especially India, one of the most populous countries in the world, it is no surprise that cricket has a higher number of fans across the world than baseball.

Related Questions

What Sport Came First: Baseball or Basketball?

Unlike baseball and cricket, there is a definitive answer as to when basketball was invented and who invented it. Although it did not look quite like the version of basketball we recognize today, the sport was invented by physical education teacher James Naismith in 1891.

By 1891, baseball was already a professional sport in the United States, so there is no doubt that baseball predates basketball. Meanwhile, the league we know today as Major League Baseball (MLB) predates the National Basketball Association (NBA) by 70 years.

What Sport Came First: Baseball or American Football?

Gridiron football, more commonly known as American Football, was developed throughout the 1800s as an offshoot of rugby. (In fact, rugby itself is also known as rugby football.) The game began to resemble modern gridiron football in the 1860s and 1870s, which makes it slightly newer than baseball.

The league we now know as the National Football League (NFL) was founded in 1920, 44 years after the National League (NL) of MLB was founded in 1876 and 19 years after the American League (AL) of MLB was founded in 1901.

What Sport Came First: Baseball or Soccer?

Many ancient cultures all over the world developed ball games that resemble what we now call soccer or association football. However, the game truly began to take shape in sixteenth-century England.

The rules continued to develop over the next several hundred years until it started to resemble modern-day soccer in the mid-1800s. This is also when football clubs began to grow in popularity.

While it is impossible to pin down the exact year that soccer was invented, it is safe to say that soccer predates baseball. Soccer is one of the oldest sports in the world.

What Is the Oldest Sport in History?

While this is a difficult question to answer, most historians believe that wrestling is the oldest sport in the world – even if ancient wrestling matches did not abide by the same rules used today. Historians believe human beings have been wrestling for exercise and recreation for more than 15,000 years.

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