The Strangest Game

by BigGeorge

Edwin P. Ruggles was his given name, Eddie to friends and Edwin to the country club crowd, as Eddie called them, and, despised them.  Eddie was being groomed to be a lawyer and expected to follow in his fathers footsteps as a partner at the prestigious law firm of Rau, Ruggles and Pruitt in Boston Mass.  It was to the anguish of his father Albert Ruggles that Edwin took a great interest in sports, and although sports and teamwork was not only important in business and a prerequisite for graduation at Edwin’s prestigious Springfield Business College, his father was concerned that his son had taken too great of an interest in sports.

Winter approached and was particularly harsh in December of 1891.  As the winter break approached many boys were finding out that weather prevented them to returning to their homes, often a considerable distance for a horse to travel.  Eddie, however, being from a family of considerable means, was fortunate to have a father that owned a horseless carriage.  Eddie hoped a letter would arrive telling him of his pending departure, or his fathers chauffeur would appear in front of the school and Eddie would be on his way.  Unfortunately, neither happen.

Due to his love of sports, Eddie had become friends with the director of sports at the college, Dr. James Naismith.   Eddie and a few boys had even dined at the doctor’s home, as was customary in those days, and Eddie felt it an honor.  It was one of these evenings that Dr. Naismith made a proposal to the boys, a new game that could be played indoors, using a ball and baskets, the ball similar in size to a soccer ball and baskets like the ones that carry fruit.  Edwin and a few others scoffed at this proposal, as the good doctor had come up with new games previously and they had been quite unsuccessful.  But, to placate the doctor, the boys agreed.  Edwin and his chum Jacob were in charge of the supplies, a soccer ball, of course, the school owned, the baskets Edwin and Jacob had to find and ended up purchasing them from a nearby farmer for a nickel.  Two other boys were responsible for securing a local venue, in this case a dilapidated warehouse and, another boy was to assist Dr. Naismith in finalizing rules for his new game.

Ten boys were chosen, including Eddie to play this game that yet had a name.  A small crowd, mostly nearby farmers and drifters gathered for the game that game lasted over an hour.  Ten boys passed a ball around while attempting to throw it into a basket.  Eventually it was decided a hole would be popped at the bottom of each basket.  It was a spectacle like no other.  Comical, many later claimed.  But in the end this game of baskets and balls would become famous.

Eddie did become a successful attorney, most of the boys that played that night became successful, except for one, who, sadly was killed by a trolley the following year. But it is that night, in Springfield Mass, in 1891 that they would become forever known.

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