Four hundred and 90 years ago, Columbus discovered America, leading to the invention of fruit-flavored slushies, Pac-Man and baseball.
But just as there are those who will mutter about Leif Ericsson and an Irish monk named Brendan, there are some who will deny that baseball is an American game.
Dare we admit, on Columbus Day, that they're right and that the all-American sport comes from an English game called "rounders"? The fact that Abner Doubleday has been given credit for putting a diamond in our future can be laid to a turn-of-the-century cover-up.
Baseball was removed from English history and deposited in Cooperstown, N.Y., when several old-time players led by A.G. Spalding -- the sporting goods manufacturer -- decided to scotch the rumor that baseball was just another foreign immigrant. They appointed a commission of biased fans who, in 1908, issued a report saying the game was invented in 1839 by Abner Doubleday and that it was based on an American children's game called "old cat."
Later and more serious investigation has shown that old cat came from the English game rounders, also called (surprise, surprise) baseball.
Which brings us -- finally -- to the fact that we are about to say farewell to the Baseball Season and enter the Pigskin Period (if God, players and owners are willing). Having decided that a diamond is not a girl's best friend, many women must now face months of not receiving a forward pass.
Since you can't lick 'em, join 'em, by giving a World Series Party.
It can be a small party or a large one, depending on how many of your acquaintances are baseball fans, but you should not have more than six people gathered around any one TV set.
You may or may not want to invite a Baseball Bore, someone who has spent a lifetime memorizing baseball statistics and is now determined to share them. But do not invite any women who giggle and say, "Look at those cute little uniforms."
Serve the obvious menu -- hot dogs, beer and caramel corn -- but be big-hearted enough to have wine available, too. And, of course, champagne on ice to celebrate or commiserate.
Arrange a betting pool, where everyone antes up for the final outcome. There could be side bets on such things as the number of home runs, the point spread, bases stolen, etc.
Buy a toy bugle and have someone blow it periodically so that everyone can yell, "CHARGE!"
Rent a video-cassette player and lay in at least one tape to cheer up the losers. Erol's (7921 Woodruff Ct., Springfield, Va., 321-9430) has a tape of baseball bloopers called "Baseball Fun and Games," and rents video-cassette players for a three-day minimum, $30. Ask for either Judy Allen or Sheila DeBok for help in choosing something to bring laughter into a room full of sobbing sports fans.
Be a big spender and splurge on a huge screen. Capitol Video Center (8455-F Tyco Rd., Vienna, Va., 893-4664) rents 50- and 60-inch TV screens. The former is $195 for 24 hours, delivered and installed, the latter $225. Theater Vision (671 Southlawn Lane, Rockville, Md., 762-0420) rents a 4-foot screen for $200, a 5-foot for $250.