BAGDAD — The small village of Bagdad is rich in history and culture including being one of the historic lumber producers of the country. Now it seems this small village will be known for something else — the birthplace of tee ball.

According to Michael Johnson, a member of the Bagdad Village Preservation Association Inc., the game was founded by Dayton Hobbs in 1959 when he was principal of Bagdad Elementary School to give younger children an opportunity to play an organized sport. Johnson said the sport became international when Navy personnel from NAS Whiting Field took it with them around the world.

“This is an amazing discovery for Bagdad,” Johnson said.

According to documents found at the Bagdad Museum, Hobbs put a patent on the game in June of 1973.  

Johnson, who played tee ball and coached for his son’s league, said he wants to pay tribute to Hobbs and shed light on the game. The BVPA has requested a special plaque paying tribute to Hobbs’s contribution to history.

“With Bagdad onetime being the biggest industrial magnet in the nation and now having this, it really brings a new perspective,” Johnson said.

Hobbs is a Bagdad native. He served in World War II as a B-24 pilot. After the war he served as a pastor, author, and educator. In 1962 Hobbs and his wife, Carolyn, started the Santa Rosa Christian School. Hobbs died in 2006 at the age of 82.