Mississippi Mills

Birthplace of James Naismith

Inventor of Basketball...

James Naismith, the inventor of basketball, was born on 6 November, 1861, in a house that formerly stood on this lot.

In 1870, his parents died of typhoid fever. Naismith, along with his older sister, Anne, and younger brother, Robbie, moved to live with their uncle, Peter Young, in nearby Bennie’s Corners.

Naismith spent the bulk of his free time outdoors playing games with friends, developing a passion for sports and physical activity. A popular game he often played was called “duck on a rock.” He and his friends would gather near a large stone at the blacksmith’s yard near the one-room schoolhouse they attended. A rock — called “the duck” — was placed on the stone while one person acted as a guard. The others stood 10–15 feet away, trying to displace it from its perch by hurling rocks of their own. It wasn’t long before the kids realized that trying to throw the rock directly past the guard like a baseball wasn’t effective. Instead, they began lobbing it high in the air, arcing over the guard. The rules of the game — and the development of the lob shot — stuck with Naismith and later became the basis of basketball.

Naismith entered McGill University in Montreal in 1863 where he was active in athletics. In 1890, he graduation in theology from Presbyterian College in Montreal and subsequently at the International YMCA Training School (now Springfield College) in Massachusetts.  There was a need for a sport that could be played indoors during the winter months. In Dec 1891, Naismith devised a game played under 13 basic rules with a ball and two round baskets.

Naismith directed physical education at the University of Kansas for 36 years and died 28 November, 1939 at Lawrence, Kansas.