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Sunday, 18 March 2012



It is a matter of record that in the 1700s English boys played a game they called base ball.

Americans have played a kind of baseball since about 1800. At first the American game had different rules and different names in various parts of the country--town ball, rounders, or one old cat.

Jane Austen made the first recorded use of the word "baseball" in English. The English author mentioned baseball in her novel Northanger Abbey when she wrote “It was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at 14 to books.”

On a hot summers day in 1839, a West Point cadet, Abner Doubleday, laid out the first baseball diamond at Cooperstown, New York. Doubleday had devised a scheme for limiting the contestants on each side and allotting them to field positions each with a certain amount of territory; also substituting the existing method of putting out the base runner for the old one of plugging him with the ball. In 1907 a special commission decided that the modern game was invented by Doubleday.

Baseball did not receive a standard set of rules until 1845, when "father of modern baseball," Alexander Cartwright, organized the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York City. The rules Cartwright set up for his team were widely adopted by other clubs and formed the basis of modern baseball. Among his innovations were the nine-member team, the "diamond" infield with bases 90 feet apart, and the rule that a player had to be tagged, not hit, with the ball to be called out.

It is widely thought that the first competitive game under the new rules was played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19, 1846 with Cartwright umpiring. The New York Base Ball Club defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1.
Early baseball game played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey 

In the 1850s, baseball had different rules in Massachusetts than it did in New York. Under the Massachusetts rules, you could throw the ball at a runner, and if you hit them, they were out.

In 1857, amateur clubs joined together in the National Association of Baseball Players, which produced the first uniform rules. They stipulated that a batsman was out when a batted ball was caught either in the air or on the first bounce. The length of a game was fixed at nine innings.

The National Association of Baseball Players adopted the rule in 1859 that limited the size of bats to no more than 2-1/2 inches in diameter.

It is said that when a delegation of politicians called on Abraham Lincoln to inform him of his nomination for the presidency, he was engaged in a game of baseball and kept the men waiting until he had had another chance to make a base hit.

In 1869, Harry Wright organised the first professional baseball team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in which regular salaries were paid to the players. This was certainly a revolutionary - and ardently criticised - step at the time.

At the first professional baseball game, the umpire was fined 6 cents for swearing.

Baseball's National League was founded on February 2, 1876. Eight competing baseball teams met in New York City's Grand Central Hotel. The first president of the new league was Morgan Gardner Bulkeley, who later became a US Senator.

The eight original cities with teams were: Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Louisville and Hartford. Two of the original teams are now in the American League (Boston and New York) while Louisville and Hartford are now minor-league baseball towns.

The first shut out in baseball was achieved on July 15, 1876 when St. Louis Brown Stocking pitcher George W. Bradley allowed no hits to the Hartford Dark Blues team. George Bradley pitched 16 shutouts in 1876, which still stands as the Major League record (currently tied with Pete Alexander who pitched the same number in 1916). Bradley’s nickname was “Grin,” which came from the constant smile he showed to batters as he pitched.

Labatt Park, a baseball stadium near the forks of the Thames River in central London, Ontario, Canada held its first game on May 3, 1877. It is the oldest continually operating baseball ground in the world.

Labatt Park in 2010 By Alethe

Fred Pfeffer, Tom Burns, and Ned Williamson each had three hits in the same inning of an 1883 major-league baseball game, and no other player had a three-hit inning until 1953.

The first baseball World Series was contested in 1884 when Providence NL defeated New York AA, 3 games to none.

Benjamin Harrison became the first president to attend a game while in office when he watched the Cincinnati Reds defeat the Washington Senators 7-4 in 11 innings on June 6, 1892.

The American and National Leagues agreed to peacefully coexist and organize a World Series between their champions in the early 20th century. Between October 1-13th 1903 the Boston Americans, representing the American League, defeated the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates in eight games (best of nine) to win the first modern baseball World Series.

In 1904 Amanda Clement traveled to Hawarden, Iowa to watch her brother Hank pitch in a semi-professional game. The umpire for the amateur game taking place before Hank's did not show, and Hank suggested that Amanda, who had played baseball with her brothers and was knowledgeable about the game, serve as the umpire. In so doing, Clement became the first woman paid to umpire a baseball game. Her performance was so well received that she was hired to umpire further semi-professional games

On April 12, 1911 the Phillies shut out New York 2-0 in just 50 minutes. It was the shortest game in baseball history. 

The Americans customarily take a "stretch" after the seventh inning at their national game of baseball. It all started, however, when Herbert Hoover, who was attending a game, for reasons unknown or forgotten, had to leave before it was finished. It so happened that his departure coincided with the end of the seventh inning. Seeing their president leave, all spectators got up to pay him respect. Thus the "stretch" originated, which has been observed at that very juncture of every game ever since.

The first night game in Major League Baseball history was played in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 24, 1935. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2–1 at Crosley Field. The game drew 25,000 fans, who stood by as President Roosevelt symbolically switched on the recently installed lights from Washington, D.C. 

The first televised ball game was shown on August 26, 1939 between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds.

The "Shot Heard 'Round the World", one of the greatest moments in Major League Baseball history, occurred in 1951 when the New York Giants' Bobby Thomson hits a game winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning off of the Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca, to win the National League pennant after being down 14 games.

On May 16, 1970, Los Angeles Dodgers pinch hitting specialist Manny Mota hit the only batted ball in major league history to cause a fatality.  In the bottom of the third against the Giants at Dodger Stadium, Mota fouled one off of Gaylord Perry along the first base line. The ball struck 14-year-old Alan Fish in the left temple. Four days later, Fish died of an inoperable head injury. 

When Pittsburgh Pirates won 4 games to 3 over the Baltimore Orioles in 1971, game two was the first night game in World Series history.

The Pawtucket Red Sox and Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League, played the longest game in professional baseball history. It lasted for 33 innings over eight hours and 25 minutes at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The game started on April 18, 1981 before being suspended at 4:00 the next morning and finally completed on the evening of Tuesday, June 23, the next time the Red Wings were in town.

The first night game in Major League Baseball histort was played at Crosley Field, Cincinnati, Ohio in 1935. The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1.

The designated hitter rule, the common name for Major League Baseball Rule 6.10, was adopted by the American League on January 11, 1973. The rule allows teams to have one player, known as the designated hitter, to bat in place of the pitcher.

Ron Blomberg of the New York Yankees became the first designated hitter in Major League Baseball history, facing Boston Red Sox right-handed pitcher Luis Tiant in his first plate appearance on April 6, 1973. "Boomer" Blomberg was walked.

In 1981, Major League Baseball players begin a mid-season strike over the issue of free-agent compensation. It ended on June 30 of that year after 706 games were cancelled.

The Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, two teams from the Triple-A International League played the longest ever professional baseball game. The game begun at McCoy Stadium, Pawtucket, Rhode Island on April 18, 1981. It lasted for 33 innings, with eleven hours and 25 minutes of playing time. 32 innings were played, before the game was suspended at 4:00 the next morning. The final 33rd inning was played June 23, 1981. Pawtucket won the game, 3–2.

The Mexican Wave was first used during an Oakland Athletics v New York Yankees playoff game on October 15, 1981, led by professional cheerleader, “Krazy” George Henderson. It spread nationally then went international thanks to the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, hence its name.

The Toronto Blue Jays are a major league baseball team based in Toronto, Ontario. In 1992, "the Jays" became the first team based outside of the US to win the World Series when Dave Winfield hit a two-run double in the 11th inning in Atlanta to beat the Braves four games to two. They repeated the feat in 1993.

Major League Baseball players went on strike on August 12, 1994. The labor strike resulted in the premature termination of the season, and the cancellation of the World Series for the first time since 1904.

Interleague play begun in baseball in 1997, ending a 126-year tradition of separating the major leagues until the World Series. 

A baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Chicago White Sox set the all-time low attendance mark for Major League Baseball on April 29, 2015. Zero fans were in attendance for the game, as the stadium was officially closed to the public due to the 2015 Baltimore protests.

Baseball has become popular in North America and parts of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East Asia, particularly Japan. 


The distance between the pitcher's rubber and home plate in baseball is 60 feet, 6 inches.

The phrase "giving (or taking) of a rain check" originated in the custom of issuing spectators with a ticket for another game if the baseball match for which they had paid was interrupted or cancelled because of rain.

The average 3-hour baseball game contains only 18 minutes of game action.

Sources Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc

John Bartram

John Bartram (1699-1777) developed an early interest in botany while growing up on his father's farm.

In 1728 he purchased land at Kingsessing, near Philadelphia, which he developed into the first botanical garden in the American colonies and where he conducted the first hybridization experiments in America.

He made frequent collection expeditions, travelling north to Lake Ontario, then to Florida and the Ohio River in search of plants and natural history specimens for his own botanic garden and for collectors at home and abroad.

He and his botanist son William Bartram are credited with identifying and introducing into cultivation more than 200 of America's native plants.

By 1765, Bartram’s international reputation earned him the notice of King George III, who honoured him as Royal Botanist, a position he held until his death in 1777.

A naturalist as well as a botanist, Bartram described and collected zoological specimens, proposed geological surveys of North American mineral sites, and argued that fossils be investigated scientifically, rather than exploited as curiosities.

A Quaker, Bartram demonstrated his opposition to slavery by freeing his slaves; his outspoken religious opinions caused him to be disowned by his coreligionists in the Society of Friends.

Bartramia, a genus of mosses, was named in his honor

The Historic Bartram Garden is America's oldest living botanical garden.

Source Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999

Karl Barth

After the First World War Swiss Protestant theolgian Karl Barth (1886-1968), began working through the problems posed by war and the failure of liberal theology to account for such a dark episode in human history. The outcome of this was the Epistle To The Romans, which opened the way for a revival of orthodox Protestantism based on the Bible.

Karl Barth published the first volume of his Church Dogmatics in 1932. In his tome, Barth, emphasized the limitations of man, and God's unquestionable authority and transcendence. After criticising the prevailing liberal theology he developed an emphasis on revelation of the Father by the Son through the Spirit.

A socialist in his political views, Barth attacked the Nazis.

Thursday, 15 March 2012


In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in ye olde England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them 'Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.' It's where we get the phrase 'mind your Ps and Qs'

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the only U.S. president who was also a licensed bartender. He was co-owner of Berry and Lincoln, a saloon in Springfield, Illinois

The first publication of a bartender’s guide, which included cocktail recipes, was made in America in 1862.

Mickey Finn was the manager and bartender of a Chicago establishment, the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden Restaurant, which operated from 1896 to 1903 in the city's South Loop neighborhood on South State Street. It is alleged he made some additional earnings from slipping something into his customers’ drinks, then proceeding to rob his unconscious victims. A drink laced with a drug given to someone without their knowledge in order to incapacitate them subsequently became known as a 'Mickey Finn.'

A well-known bartender, Signore Martini di Arma di Taggia, of the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York was renowned for his expertise in mixing drinks in the early 20th century. He is said to have perfected the Martini cocktail.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

J.M. Barrie

James Matthew Barrie (1860-1937) was born on May 9, 1860 in Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland to a conservative Calvinist family. He was a small child and only grew to just over 5 ft 3 inches as an adult. He didn't shave until he was 24.

When he was 6-years-old, James Barrie's older brother David (his mother's favorite) died two days before his 14th birthday in an ice-skating accident. This left his mother devastated, and Barrie tried to fill David's place in his mother's attentions, even dressing as him and whistling in the manner that he did. Gradually his mother drew comfort in the thought of a boy who would never grow up.

Barrie was friends with Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies and entertained their sons George and Jack regularly with his ability to wiggle his ears and eyebrows. The character of Peter Pan was invented to entertain George and Jack. Barrie would say, to amuse them, that their little brother Peter could fly. He claimed that babies were birds before they were born; parents put bars on nursery windows to keep the little ones from flying away. This grew into a tale of a baby boy who did fly away.

J. M. Barrie by George Charles Beresford, 1902

The first appearance of Peter Pan came in Barrie's novel The Little White Bird, which was serialized in the United States, then published in a single volume in the UK in 1902.

Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up had its first stage performance on 27 December 1904.

Peter Pan introduced audiences to the name 'Wendy,' which was inspired by a young girl, Margaret Henley, who called Barrie 'Friendy', but could not pronounce her Rs very well and so it came out as 'Fwendy'.

After the death of Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies, he adopted their five sons: Peter, Jack, George, Michael and Nicholas. Barrie was very close to all the boys, and was heartbroken when Michael drowned in 1921 and George was killed in action in 1915.

George Bernard Shaw was for several years his neighbour, and once participated in a Western that Barrie scripted and filmed.

H.G. Wells was a friend of many years, and tried to intervene when Barrie's marriage fell apart.

Barrie was godfather to Robert Falcon Scott's son Peter, and was one of the seven people to whom Scott wrote letters in the final hours of his life following his successful – but doomed – expedition to the South Pole, asking Barrie to take care of his wife Kathleen and Peter. Barrie was so proud of the letter that he carried it around for the rest of his life.

Barrie founded an amateur cricket team for his friends in 1890. The team was called the Allahakbarries, under the mistaken belief that "Allah akbar" meant "Heaven help us" in Arabic (rather than "God is great"). Amongst the luminaries who played for the Allahakbarries throughout the years were Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Jerome K. Jerome, G.K. Chesterton and A.A. Milne.

In 1929, James Barrie signed over the rights of Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London. Since that time, Great Ormond has received a royalty from every production of Peter Pan that hits the stage, in addition to sales of the book and all related products.

Barrie died of pneumonia on June 19, 1937 and is buried at Kirriemuir next to his parents and two of his siblings.

He once quipped “nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”

Source Wikipedia


The Romans were the first to use a hollow cylindrical container called a barrel for the storage and fermentation of wine. It was made of wood staves and is bound with iron bands.

A Greek philosopher called Diogenes renounced all material things and gave away all his possessions except for a coarse cloak, a stick and bread bag. He then asked a friend to find him a hovel to live in. When he failed to do so, Diogenes began living in a barrel in Athens.

Drunkards in 17th century North West Europe were sometimes made to wear a wooden barrel with holes for their hands and head in order to shame the victim into sobriety. 

The first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel was Anna Edson Taylor. She made the journey on October 24, 1901, and escaped unhurt.

Until the double bubbler" tap in a barrel was developed during the First World War, the only source for the thirsty of free liquid refreshment in the United States (unless they were near to a river, lake or stream), was a public barrel filled with drinking water, equipped with a small communal hand-held dipper that was shared by all users.

"Shooting fish in a barrel" is considered easy because the bullet impact causes the water pressure in the barrel to change suddenly, killing every fish instantly. 

The oak barrels used to age Cognac are made by hand from French oak.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

P. T. Barnum

Phineas Taylor Barnum (1810 – 1891) was a publisher when he became intrigued by Joice Heth, a blind and almost completely paralyzed slave woman, who claimed to be George Washington's nurse and was reputed to be 161 years old. He successfully promoted her in the late 1830s.

Phineas Taylor "P. T." Barnum 

P. T. Barnum purchased Scudder's American Museum on the corner of Broadway and Ann Street in New York City in 1841 to 1865. He converted It into a combination zoo, museum, lecture hall, wax museum, theater and freak show museum, which offered both strange and educational attractions. It burned to the ground in 1865. At its peak, the museum had as many as 15,000 visitors a day,  but on July 13, 1865 the building burned to the ground in one of the most spectacular fires New York has ever seen.

Barnum's American Museum had crowds that would linger inside too long. To make way for new paying guests, signs saying "This Way to the Egress" were put up. Not knowing Egress was another word for Exit, people followed the signs to what they assumed was a fascinating exhibit but ended up outside.

The Lecture Room of Barnum's American Museum, 1853

In 1850 Barnum brought Jenny Lind, the Swedish singer, to America, paying her an unprecedented $1,000 a night for 150 nights.

In 1871 he established the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, which included the midget ‘Tom Thumb’, a circus, a menagerie, and an exhibition of ‘freaks’, conveyed in 100 railway carriages.

He also brought Jumbo the Elephant and the Siamese twins Chang and Eng to an American public eager for spectacle.

Barnus as been quoted in history as saying "There's a sucker born every minute." However a banker named David Hannum coined the phrase, and there is no record of Barnum saying this.

A liberal Republican, Barnum served in the Connecticut legislature (1865–9) and as mayor of Bridgeport (1875–6).

In his later career as a politician, Barnum sponsored a law banning contraception in Connecticut that remained in effect until 1965.

Barnum suffered a stroke in 1890 during a performance. He quietly passed away at 6:22 pm at Marina, his residence in Bridgeport, Connecticut on April 7, 1891.

Barnum was buried in Mountain Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut, a cemetery he designed

Thomas Barnardo

In 1862 Thomas Barnado (1845 – 1905) an Irish clerk of Jewish origin converted to evangelical Christianity. After a period spent preaching in the Dublin slums, he arrived in London to study medicine with the aim of becoming a medical missionary. Moved by the child poverty and homelessness around him, he begun to care for destitute waifs and strays. 

In 1870 he opened the first of the "Dr Barnardo’s Homes" at 18 Stepney Causeway, London while still a student. One evening an 11-year old boy, John ‘Carrots’ Somers was turned away because the shelter was full. He was found dead two days later from malnutrition and exposure and from then on the home bore the sign ‘No Destitute Child Ever Refused Admission’. 

Thomas John Barnardo

Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge was among the first royals to patronize a wide range of charities in the 1800s. One of those was Barnados. 

The work steadily increased until, at the time of Barnado's death, on September 19, 1905, by which time there were established 112 district "Homes," besides mission branches, throughout the United Kingdom.

Barnardo arrived at his own funeral by means of the London Underground. His body was transported on the Central Line from Liverpool Street to Barkingside to be laid to rest.


Evidence that humans were grinding wild barley and grass seeds to make dough at least 22,000 years ago has been found on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Around 8000BC The people of Mesopotamia, who dwelledn the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys began  to plant seeds themselves and are grow their own barley.

It was a Mesopotamian who discovered by accident the first alcoholic drink-beer. After some barley bread crumbs fell into water and started fermenting, someone tasted it, enjoyed it and began experimenting with different brews, made with different combinations of barley grains and water often with inebriating consequences!

The medium of exchange for many of the ancients was barley. It was replaced by metal coins around 625BC in Greece.

The Vikings had a varied diet. The first meal of the day, called “dagveror”, was a porridge consisting of a mixture of barley and rye cereals. With it the wealthy might have rye or wheat bread which was considered superior to barley as it rose better. However barley was cheaper and barley bread was still the chief bread of the poor.

No other cereal can thrive in so wide a range of climatic conditions; polar barley is sown and reaped well within the Arctic Circle in Europe.

Barley is no longer much used in bread making, but it is used in soups and stews and as a starch. Its high-protein form is widely used as animal feed, and its low-protein form is used in brewing and distilling alcoholic drinks.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2012. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.


A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. The word originally could refer to any small boat; the modern meaning arose around 1480.

The world's first ever patent was granted in 1421 to architect Filippo Brunelleschi in Florence to make a barge crane to transport marble.

During the later Middle Ages, members of the English nobility whose homes were on the banks of the Thames,  almost exclusively made use of barges. These were equipped most luxuriously. In 1454, Sir John Norman, Mayor of London, had his own barge built. It was of impressive dimensions and noble appearance, with silver oars. 

During the reign of Henry VIII , a bargeman's occupation was much sought after, and many ruffians and persons of low repute joined their rank. Such unsuitable individuals introduced an element of unruliness among bargemen and caused frequent collisions and accidents. Matters went so out of hand that urgent control measures were needed. For this purpose, in 1555, the Watermen's Union was established.

The long pole used to maneuver or propel a barge have given rise to the saying "I wouldn't touch that [subject/thing] with a barge pole."

Source Europress Encyclopedia

Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot was born in Paris on September 28, 1934  to Louis Bardot and Anne-Marie "Toty" Bardot

An aspiring ballet dancer early in life, Brigitte Bardot studied ballet at the Paris Conservatoire.

Her appearance on the cover of Elle magazine in 1950 led to her film debut in Jean Boyer's Le Trou Normand (1952).

Bardot together with Marilyn Monroe was the icon of female sexuality in the 1950s and 1960s. Whenever she made public appearances in the United States, her every move was covered by a horde of media.

Bardot on the set of Come dance with Me! in 1959.

Bardot has had four husbands and, according to one book, more than 100 lovers

Bardot's only child is Nicolas-Jacques Charrier (born 11 January 1960). The father is the actress's second husband, the actor Jacques Charrier.

She is recognized for popularizing bikini swimwear, appearing in it for photographers numerous times.

In 1973, Bardot announced that she was retiring from acting as "a way to get out elegantly."
Since retiring, she has devoted herself to animal welfare founding the "Foundation Brigitte Bardot" which is dedicated solely to that cause.

Bardot was unsuccessfully sued by her neighbor after she had his donkey castrated, fearing its interest in her 32-year-old mare Duchess was excessive and that mating could kill the old horse.

Source Daily Mail


Barcodes were conceived as a kind of visual Morse code by a Philadelphia student, Bernard Silver, and his friend Norman Woodhead, in 1949, but retailers were slow to take up the technology, which could be unreliable.

The first use of barcodes was to label railroad cars, but they were not commercially successful.

Barcodes only became popular in the early 1970s, when Woodhead, then employed by IBM, devised the Universal Product Code. The UPC system was adopted by the food industry in North America.

Norman Joseph Woodland at IBM

In 1973 IBM offered its UPC bar code proposal to the grocery industry for free. The industry accepted a very close standard to their proposal. However, IBM also made the first technology capable of reading the bar codes, and made tons of money selling the equipment to grocery stores.

The first product to have a UPC barcode on its packaging was Wrigley's chewing gum in 1974.

The first place where a barcode was scanned was when a packet of Wrigley’s chewing gum was sold in June 1974 in Troy, Ohio.

All countries have their individual authority for numbering, and each uses the first two or three digits for the full sequence of 13 figures. In USA and Canada the prefix is 00 to 09 and in Britain it is 50.

Barcode readers actually scan the white parts and not the black parts.

It costs about a tenth of a penny to slap on a barcode.

The bar codes of all newspapers and magazines anywhere in the world begin with the digits 977.

Source The Independent November 3, 2007