Bayswater Hoboken

Have you ever ridden the New Jersey Transit system?  The mystery person responsible our most recent Find of the Week on the Used Book Floor certainly did and his/her travels provided the backdrop for our discovery.

Hidden away in the pages of a first edition, 2007 printing of Jonathan Kellerman's novel, "Obsession," was a NJ Transit ticket used for one individual to travel to Hoboken, New Jersey, on April 8, 2013.  It is not the day in history that makes this find interesting, however, since April 8 of 2013 was largely uneventful throughout the world (with the exception of the passing of the first female British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher).  Alas, it is the location (and historical significance) of the ticket's destination - Hoboken, New Jersey - that is most intriguing.

Now, when we mention Hoboken, NJ, located on the west bank of the Hudson River directly across from Manhattan, NY, you might think of the devastation that it suffered during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, less than a year before our mystery passenger took a trip on the transit system.  Or, maybe you know of it as the hometown of crooner Frank Sinatra.  If you are a history buff, you may even recall Hoboken for its piers that were taken by eminent domain during WWII, as more than three million soldiers (known as doughboys) came through the city. All very interesting, we agree, but not our lead story.  What could be left to note about Hoboken? A little summer slice of Americana: baseball.

Hoboken was actually the birthplace of the first recorded game of baseball.  When was this, you ask? The year was 1845 – almost 173 years ago.  Now known as America's national pastime, baseball, (originally called "townball", with the "town" prefix replaced with the similar word, "base") was first created by a man named Alexander Cartwright. In 1845, Cartwright felt that each town should play the game with the same rules to allow teams to play against other clubs from varying locations. One year later, the game of "baseball" as we know it had begun, with Cartwright's Knickerbockers falling short to the New York Baseball Club on a field in Hoboken, New Jersey.  Did you know any of that? We certainly didn't.

Hoboken was only the beginning, as interest in baseball began to expand in the early 1860s during the Civil War when Union soldiers took with them their zeal for the game during their travels.  By the end of the war in 1865, over 100 baseball clubs existed in America and only eleven years later in 1876, the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs was formed (now simply known as the National League, or NL, in Major League Baseball).  The American League, home to the Red Sox, came along 24 years later in 1901.  You have to admit, if you had been asked where baseball was born and first recorded, would you ever have guessed Hoboken, New Jersey?

Jonathan Kellerman’s first edition printing of “Obsession” is available for $10 here at Bayswater (with the Hoboken transit ticket, of course) and you can catch up with our previous finds of the week from the used book floor at bayswaterbooks.com and on facebook.  Better yet, stop by our store in Center Harbor and check out the used book floor for yourself!

– Katie Small

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