Kansas State History

Baseball's origin is mired in controversy. Who really invented the game? Was it Abner Doubleday? Or was it Alexander Cartwright? Take your pick.

Historians agree, however, about the inventor of basketball. No one disputes it was Dr. James A. Naismith, who founded the basketball program at Kansas in 1898 and coached there until 1907. His teams played in the basement of old Snow Hall, which stood to the immediate north of where Watson Library is located today.

Not too many years ago, a few folks in Holyoke, Mass., conjured up a notion that a physical education instructor at the Holyoke YMCA actually invented the game and introduced it to Naismith for use as a winter training sport for his football team.

William Morgan, or so the good people of Holyoke said, actually invented the game in 1888, not 1891 - the year Naismith had peach baskets hung on the balcony of the Springfield YMCA.

Earlier, folks in Herkimer, N.Y., also claimed their YMCA director, one Lambert Will, staged the first game in February of 1891, several months before Naismith's inaugural contest.

Neither claim was ever substantiated, of course, although each caused a slight tremor at the time.

Naismith, who spent his last 41 years in Lawrence - he died in 1939 at the age of 78 - apparently never acknowledged allegations, either in his writings or to friends or relatives. Or so says Steve Jansen, director of the Elizabeth M. Watkins Community Museum in Lawrence.

Kansas State University Traditions Rock Chalk Chant

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