This Week In History

• On May 11, 2004, city officials in Pittsfield, MA announced the discovery of a document that was believed to be the earliest written reference to baseball in North America. The document, a set of bylaws from 1791, raised quite a stir because it made specific reference to "baseball" by name, decades before the game was supposedly invented. Since the discovery, however, historians have unearthed older and more cryptic documents, which some feel point to even earlier origins. Buried among a list of ordinances passed by Waterbury, VT in 1790, for example, is one stating that "the dipsy-do, the hoarker, and the lickball shall not be thrown on penalty of forfeit, nor the palmscratch, nor the jim-dope, nor the flutterball, nor the spud-lace, nor the salt-toss, nor the jump-wick, nor the stickyhuck." An announcement of a summer festival in Naugatuck, CT from that same year encourages the townsfolk to "bring [their] batlogs and canoodle on the pitch & dirt." Constable's records from Hazelton, PA claim that in 1788 a man was fined 3 hens and a rooster for "dogging it to first on a pop-shot." But perhaps the most compelling evidence is a manuscript of a speech given by John Jay in 1782 titled "Always Take On Three-and-Naught." Most of the manuscript was destroyed in a library fire, but many scholars link the speech to a rebuttal given by Alexander Hamilton the following week, "Swing Away, He'll Likely Throw A Quickstraight." • On May 13, 1982, Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell bet fellow Justice Sandra Day O'Connor that she couldn't eat 50 pancakes in one sitting. Without a moment's hesitation, O'Connor led a procession of eight justices (Byron White stayed behind because he was a stick-in-the-mud) to a nearby diner, where she knocked off the feat in a little under an hour. She threw in two eggs scrambled and a glass of O.J. for good measure. True to the terms of the bet, Lewis had a t-shirt printed that said "Sandra is always right," which he wore under his robes every day for a year.

• On May 16, 1968, something incredible and meaningful no doubt happened, dwarfing whatever petty nonsense you're doing today, while people lived and loved like tomorrow might never happen and some awesome record played in the background, because 1968 was the most amazing year of strife and importance ever, blah blah blah whatever.