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In an email of 12/10/2008, Tom Altherr tells of the game of chermany, defined in a 1985 dictionary as “a variety of baseball.” Early usage of the term dates to the 1840s-1860s. Two sources relate the game to baseball, and one, a 1912 book of Virginia folk language, defines it as “a boys’ game with a ball and bats.” We know of but eight references to chermany [churmany, chumny, chuminy] as of October 2009. Its rules of play are sketchy. A Confederate soldier described it as using five or six foot-high sticks as bases and using “crossing out” instead of tagging or plugging runners to retire them.
See also Frederic Gomes Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall, Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 604. The dictionary notes usage as “esp. VA” and gives four attested citations from 1889 to 1911, one of them a recollection from 1840, and another a 1911 dictionary associating the game with “the Southern United States.”
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