British baseball

Baseball used in an international match between Wales and England in 2006

British baseball, sometimes called Welsh baseball, or in the areas where it is popular simply baseball, is a bat-and-ball game played primarily in Wales and England. It is closely related to the game of rounders, and indeed emerged as a distinct sport when governing bodies in Wales and England agreed to change the name of the game from "rounders" in 1892. As a traditional bat-and-ball game, its roots go back much further, and literary references to baseball and rounders date back many centuries.

Differences between the British and North American games

The sport differs in a number of ways from the internationally known game of North American baseball.

Despite these similarities with cricket, the game is much more like North American baseball in style and operates on a near identical, but smaller, diamond. There are also many similarities to rounders, which is often considered a transitional game between cricket and baseball. The basic concepts of British baseball cross-blend the basic concepts of cricket and the more standard versions of rounders.

International Baseball Board

The international match between England and Wales in 2006
The English (EBA) team
The Welsh (WBU) team

The modern rules of British baseball were codified in 1892, when the term 'rounders' ceased to be the sport's official name. During the same time, the South Wales Baseball Association was established to govern the sport which was popular in Cardiff and Newport.[1] The first recognised international match was held between England and Wales on 3 August 1908 at the Harlequins Ground in Cardiff, Wales winning 122 – 118.[2] Playing in the 1908 international were three former players from Cardiff RFC, the local rugby union club, one of whom, Viv Huzzey, was also a former Wales international and professional rugby league player.[3]

The International Baseball Board was founded in 1927 and is the international governing body. The only members are the English Baseball Association and the Welsh Baseball Union.

Men's representative teams from England and Wales still meet annually in an international match. The centenary international was also held in Cardiff in 2008 with Wales winning. As well as the full international, a similar game is held for 'B' teams and for juniors.


The game has maintained a strong following only in two areas – Merseyside in Northwest England and South Wales, especially Cardiff and Newport.[4]

By 2006 participation levels in Liverpool had slumped considerably to a point where only four clubs remained active – All Saints, Anfield, Breckside and Townsend. The game in Wales is in a much healthier state and playing participation in the women's game has actually grown in recent years.

Ticket for a match at Cardiff Arms Park

Local league and cup competitions have been organised in both countries for many years and an annual international match between England and Wales has been held since 1908. A crowd of 10,000 watched the 1948 match played at the Cardiff Castle grounds. Internationals were also held at Cardiff Arms Park and Goodison Park, Liverpool. Crowds have declined in the last quarter of a century but the England-Wales match can still draw 1,000–2,000 spectators.

Particularly, the game is often played during physical education classes in high schools and primary schools, as it allows the inclusion of a high number of pupils at once, and can quickly and easily be played.

Notable players

Several players who became notable in other sports have played British baseball. In Wales, these include association football players John Toshack, George Whitcombe, Terry Yorath, Nathan Blake and Phil Dwyer, and rugby's Terry Holmes, Mark Ring, David Bishop,and Wigan Rugby League legend and record points scorer Jim Sullivan. In England, the most famous sportsman to have played British baseball was Everton and England football star Dixie Dean.

Among those who achieved fame as British baseball players were Welshman Ted Peterson, whose international appearances stretched from the 1930s to 1960s, and Irish-born Richard Paddy Hennessey, renowned for his fast bowling.

The sport is the subject of a song, "The Baseball Song", by The Hennessys, from their album Cardiff After Dark.


  1. Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel; Menna, Baines; Lynch, Peredur I., eds. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6.
  2. Lowry, Phillip J. (2010). Baseball's Longest Games: A Comprehensive Worldwide Record Book. McFarland. p. 99. ISBN 9780786442638.
  3. "How Huzzey proved a dual sport big hitter for Wales". South Wales Echo. 20 December 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  4. Blanche, Phil (5 July 2010). "Baseball: Is baseball struggling to get past first base?". South Wales Echo. Retrieved 28 April 2012.


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Baseball in the United Kingdom and Baseball in Wales.

British Baseball

Club websites


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