EXPOSED: The Real Truth about Jane Austen and Base Ball

plain jane

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that the woman we now know as Jane Austen was in fact a time-traveling criminal. After watching the movie Clueless in 1995, Ms. “Austen” created a temporal paradox by traveling back to the late eighteenth century, ingratiating herself in a middle-class home, and pre-inventing the romantic comedy. The historical Sandiego may have gotten away with her literary fraud, too, if she hadn’t made a critical error in the early pages of Northanger Abbey (1817):

“…and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base ball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books…”

Ms. Austen, soon after the book was published, was assassinated via “typhus” by TimeCop Jean-Claude Van Damme. But for reasons that are whispered by time paradox conspiracy theory buffs and JCVD fans, Austen’s novels were allowed to remain in the timeline. This led to various American experts debunking the pre-invention of baseball by Austen and salvaging the more reasonable theory that one single man invented a game involving rudimentary objects and basic rules, thousands of years into mankind’s existence.

Most scholars claim that the “base ball” in the novel refers to a wholly different game than our own holy pastime, one in which young people scored “runs” by stepping on scrambling rats, and the victorious team was that which was the last to die of precipitation-induced consumption.

Recently, however, an anonymous source has leaked to the NotGraphs Investigative Reporting Investigation Team new evidence, in the form of an early draft of the novel, that shed new light on this mystery. The original passage (with new sections italicized):

“…and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had by nature nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, base ball simulator 1.000 (an activity in which a grown man might hurl a ball in such a way that it splits in twain, and occasionally is engulfed in flames), riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books…”

The inserted passage was probably amended by Thomas Egerton, who rarely made edits to manuscripts but may have been confused by the tone of the passage. Austen has often credited as being “before her time”, but never before have we understood to what exact year she was ahead:

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Patrick Dubuque writes for NotGraphs and The Hardball Times, and he serves as Bill Spaceman Lee Visiting Professor for Baseball Exploration at Pitchers & Poets, which is now housed at The Classical. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.

3 Responses to “EXPOSED: The Real Truth about Jane Austen and Base Ball”

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  1. Wil says:

    I wonder what the “bat speed” of Jane Austen’s parasol is?

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  2. china_dave says:

    “northanger abbey” would be a pretty great term for the tee-off sweetspot of non-breaking breaking balls

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  3. Lenard says:

    Baseball Simulator 1.000, with powerups on, is the definitive baseball video game.

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