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James Naismith Handwritten Manuscript Detailing First Basketball Game. Basketball's equivalent of the "Book of Genesis" is ...

2006 December Signature Sports Memorabilia Auction: The Naismith Collection #706

 
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Auction Ended On: Dec 8, 2006
Item Activity: 12 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Dallas, TX
Description:
James Naismith Handwritten Manuscript Detailing First Basketball Game. Basketball's equivalent of the "Book of Genesis" is presented here, as the game's inventor provides a detailed account of the day the game was born. He begins, "The First Game: When Mr. Stubbins brot (sic) up the peach baskets to the gym I secured them on the inside of the railing of the gallery. This was about 10 feet from the floor, one at each end of the gymnasium. I then put the 13 rules on the bulletin board just behind the instructors platform, secured a soccer ball and awaited the arrival of the class..." He goes on to discuss his students' reaction to the proposed game ("...the class did not show much enthusiasm..."), and his decision to begin the game with a jump ball ("...it would eliminate roughness and give each side an equal chance..."). Other points discussed include the placement of the goal's entry on a horizontal rather than vertical plane, and the need for referees to interpret the rules. Virtually every detail of the game's birth is addressed.

Certainly these eight handwritten pages represent one of the most important sporting documents in existence. Four pages are penned in brown fountain pen ink, with the balance rendered in equally strong (9/10) pencil. Minor edge wear on a few pages does not cause any concern. Unsigned. LOA from PSA/DNA. Estimate upon request.


Complete Transcript:


The First Game


When Mr. Stubbins brot [sic] up the peach baskets to the gym I secured them on the inside of the railing of the gallery. This was about 10 feet from the floor, one at each end of the gymnasium. I then put the 13 rules on the bulletin board just behind the instructor's platform, secured a soccer ball and awaited the arrival of the class. I busied myself arranging the apparatus, all the time watching the boys as they arrived to observe their attitude that day. I felt that this was a crucial moment in my life as it meant success or failure of my attempt to hold the interest of the class and devise a new game.

I had neither the advantage of age nor the benefit of experience to help me put this across. But I did then what I have found universally successful since. I gathered the class around the platform and frankly stated the difficulties confronting me-telling them how I tried my best to give them the kind of work I thought suitable for secretarial students, frankly stating that I had made a failure of my attempts to modify games but told them that I had an absolutely new one and asked them to give it a trial assuring them that I thought it would be good.

The class did not show much enthusiasm but followed my lead. I lined them up, called the roll and asked T.D. Patton & E.S. Libby to step out and divide the class into two teams. I then explained what they had to do to make goals, tossed the ball up between the two center men & tried to keep them somewhat near the rules. Most of the fouls were called for running with the ball, though tackling the man with the ball was not uncommon.

If we had rules there must of necessity be some one to interpret and enforce the penalty. Two officials were appointed, one to watch the play with the ball, the other to watch the actions of the players & call the fouls.

We were ready to try out the game but as yet had no goal. I went to Mr. Stubbins, the supt. Of the building, and asked him if he had a couple of boxes about 18 inches square, as I had concluded that the goal must be small enough so that a goal could not be made at every attempt. He replied, "No," and after a moment's hesitation he said, "I'll tell you what, I have a couple of peach baskets about that size if they will do you any good." I asked him to bring them up to the gym floor-I nailed them to the gallery one at each end and the equipment was ready.

We now had a team game with equipment and an objective. The next question that arose was how are we going to start the game? I reviewed the games and found

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