In admiration of a man who deeply impacted New Haven without ever stepping foot in town

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By Kaylin Bade:

It is known throughout Franklin County and across the state that New Haven is famous for the High School's basketball program as well as the area's history of the sport.  Therefore, everyone in New Haven should celebrate today... or maybe today should be declared a holiday in town...

Why?  Because today in 1861, the inventor of basketball, Dr. James Naismith was born.

Photo courtesy ESPN.

According to ESPN, Dr. James Naismith was a Canadian-born educator and coach who invented the game of basketball in 1891 while teaching physical education at the YMCA Training School in Springfield, Mass.

Working at a YMCA Training School under director Luther Gulick, Naismith was asked to create an indoor activity that didn't involve much physical contact and could be played during the winter by the school's students.

Using a soccer ball and two peach baskets fastened to the railings of the gallery surrounding a gym -- and incorporating strategies and objectives involved in a childhood game he played called "Duck on a Rock" -- Naismith devised thirteen rules for a new game he termed "Basket Ball."

Introduced the week before Christmas in 1891, the game soon caught on at the Training School. By the following year, the sport was being introduced successfully at other YMCA sites, while an article in the association's "Triangle" magazine (titled "A New Game") helped spread the news of its growing popularity.

By 1894, Naismith joined with Gulick to publish the refined set of rules for the new game through the "American Sports Publishing Company" as basketball was becoming accepted as a legitimate sport.

Peach baskets as goals had been replaced by iron rims with hammock-styled netting by that time, as specific balls for the sport were being developed and the YMCA had begun introducing basketball internationally.

Naismith did not finish high school until the age of 21, but went on to earn college degrees in three different fields. He served as the first basketball coach at the University of Kansas, and was an inaugural inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is named in his honor.