Mason Park Basketball Monument – Springfield, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

Mason Park Basketball Monument

This site commemorates the birthplace of the game of basketball, invented by James Naismith in the winter of 1891. 

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Wait, basketball was invented at a McDonald’s!? No, not at all. Well, sorta. I don’t know, let me explain: In December of 1891, James Naismith was responsible for the physical education of a group of young men attending the School for Christian Workers in Springfield, Massachusetts. Decembers in Massachusetts are really cold. It was Naismith’s job to keep these young men active and engaged within the confines of a modestly-sized gymnasium.

As destiny would have it, he would discover the solution in a pair of peach baskets. 

The School for Christian Workers and the building it occupied would undergo several name changes over generations. The school itself would eventually go on to become Springfield College and move about a half mile down the road. The building, though, the geographical epicenter of the game of basketball, stood on the corner of State and Sherman. But in 1965, it was torn down to make way for a parking lot.

Thirty years later, in 1995, a McDonald’s was built on the land. The McDonald’s stands to this day at 782 State Street, Springfield, Massachusetts, marking the hallowed ground of the first buckets ever sunk in the history of the universe. In 2010, a monument was erected across the street at Mason Square, commemorating the invention of what is objectively the greatest game ever invented. The monument includes a sculpture depicting an adult passing a basketball to a child, surrounded by plexiglass displays illustrating the history of basketball. 

So, if you happen to be rolling through Springfield, you can drop in and grab a Big-Mac and just consider that you are standing on the spot where James Naismith first unveiled the game that would go on to become one of the most widely appreciated sports on the planet.

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