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The 1857 'Laws of Base Ball' just sold at auction for more than $3 million

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Certain baseball rules are less rules of the sport and more laws of nature: It's 90 feet to first, there are nine innings in a game, etc. You don't really think about them, they just are. But in order to even have rules like that, someone, a long time ago, had to write them down.

Well, that person was Daniel "Doc" Adams, and his 1857 "Laws of Base Ball" just sold for $3.26 million at auction. According to The New York Times:

"[The] 'Laws' ... established rules such as nine men on a side, 90-foot base paths and nine innings to a game. Adams played for the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, where he pioneered the shortstop position, and later became its president as baseball's popularity increased. He referred to batters as 'strikers,' balks as 'baulks' and runs as 'aces.'"

Adams wrote these rules, some of the earliest ever, as part of a convention of teams that got together to revise the Knickerbocker Club's rules -- a process not unlike the crafting of the laws of our country. He was a practicing doctor who, according to CBS, invented the shortstop position. And, it appears, he played a significant role in building the game that became MLB. While some of his original rules were slightly different than the 2016 Official Baseball Rules -- bats, for example, could be any length -- and there were a lot of twists along the way, we owe it to these pages for a lot of what we take as simple fact today. 

The hand-written pages were sold to an anonymous buyer during a two-week auction, and the $3.26 million winning bid makes them the third-most valuable piece of sports memorabilia ever sold, after a 1920 Babe Ruth jersey and James Naismith's Rules of Basketball. It's also not a bad return on investment, considering the seller originally bought the "Laws" back in 1999 for $12,650. 

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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