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Saturday, April 2, 2011
Q&A with baseball historian John Thorn

By Christina Kahrl

Even with the excitement of our slow-mo double-dip on Opening Days, there's also the entertainment value of the India versus Sri Lanka cricket World Cup final right around the corner.

Given that the Cricket World Cup competition only comes around every four years, I figured who better to touch base with than Major League Baseball's official historian, John Thorn. I asked him about baseball's cousin and asked him to talk about their shared ancestry. John was gracious enough to respond to a couple of quick questions while on the road to promote his new book, "Baseball in the Garden of Eden."

In your new role as baseball's official historian, and now with the release of your new book, you're getting to demystify the origins of the game. After last year's Doubleday gaffe from Bud Selig, it seems as if the timing for your exploration of the game's original historical roots couldn't have come at a better time, no?

John Thorn: I don't know about whether the timing for my official historian of MLB post was providential or accidental ... but it came at a great time for me. I'm very conscious of my debt to the game that has given me so much. I am now thrilled to think that I may give good service to the commissioner, with whom I agree that Abner Doubleday is the father of baseball, in a legendary sense. And we all know when fact meets legend, the legend gets printed.

With the India versus Sri Lanka cricket final on tap on Saturday, it sort of begs the question, how much of a relationship is there between cricket and baseball in terms of a common ancestry?

JT: Baseball and cricket are siblings. Both appear to derive from stoolball, a game popular among milkmaids seven centuries ago. Our national game does not derive from England's, but owes much to it.

Should baseball fans watch Bollywood's great cricket movie, Lagaan , to give them a sense of the game, or do you think a casual fan would see enough similarities between the games, going in cold?

JT: Baseball fans would benefit from understanding the passion beneath all national pastimes.

Christina Kahrl covers baseball for ESPN.com. You can follow her on Twitter here.