Chronology:Base Ball

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1755.3 Young Diarist Goes to "Play at Base Ball" in Surrey

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

On the day after Easter in 1755, 18-year-old William Bray recorded the following entry in his diary:

"After Dinner Went to Miss Seale's to play at Base Ball, with her, the 3 Miss Whiteheads, Miss Billinghurst, Miss Molly Flutter, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Ford, H. Parsons & Jolly. Drank tea and stayed till 8."

 

 

Sources:

The story of this 2006 find is told in Block, David, "The Story of William Bray's Diary," Base Ball, volume , no. 2 (Fall 2007), pp. 5-11.

See also John Thorn's blog entry at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/09/05/the-story-of-william-brays-diary/.

see also Sam_Marchiano_and_the_1755_Bray_Diary_Find for an interview with film-maker Sam Marciano, whose documentary led to this new find in 2005.

Comment:

Block points out that this diary entry is (as of 2008) among the first four appearances of the term "base ball," [see #1744.2 and #1748.1 above, and #1755.4 below].  It shows adult and mixed-gender play, and indicates that "at this time, baseball was more of a social phenomenon than a sporting one. . . . played for social entertainment rather than serious entertainment." [Ibid, page 9.]

William Bray is well known as a diarist and local historian in Surrey.  His diary, in manuscript, came to light in England during the 2008 filming of Ms Sam Marchiano's award-winning documentary, "Base Ball Discovered."

 

Year
1755
Item
1755.3
Edit

1768.2 Baseball in English Dictionary

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Unknown

"BASEBALL, (From base and ball) A rural game in which the person striking the ball must run to his base or goal." 
Additionally, the dictionary lists the following as one of its definitions for the word "base":
BASE "A rural play, also called baseball."

Sources:

"A General Dictionary of the English Language, Compiled with the Greatest Care from the Best Authors and Dictionaries Now Extant." Its authors are identified only as "A Society of Gentlemen." per 19cbb post by David Block, Dec. 2, 2011

Comment:

Still, it's fairly significant in that it becomes, by far, the earliest known appearance of baseball in a dictionary. The next earliest one we know of was almost 80 years later, in James Orchard Halliwell's 1847 "Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words."
It is quite interesting that "baseball" appears as one whole word, not the two-word "base ball," or hyphenated "base-ball" that were customary in the era.
Also of note is the dictionary's indication that the word "base" was an alternate name for baseball. 

"A Society of Gentlemen" was the pseudonym under which the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica was first published, also in 1768.

Year
1768
Item
1768.2
Edit

1786.1 "Baste Ball" Played at Princeton

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"Baste Ball" is played by students on the campus of Princeton University in NJ. From a student's diary:

"A fine day, play baste ball in the campus but am beaten for I miss both catching and striking the ball."

 

Sources:

Smith, John Rhea, March 22 1786, in "Journal at Nassau Hall," Princeton Library MSS, AM 12800. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 44. Also found in Gerald S. Couzens, A Baseball Album [Lippincott and Crowell, NY, 1980], page 15. Per Guschov, page 153.

 

Comment:

Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.

Query:

An article has appeared about Smith's journal. See Woodward, Ruth, "Journal at Nassau Hall," PULC 46 (1985), pp. 269-291, and PULC 47 (1986), pp 48-70. Note: Does this article materially supplement our appreciation of Smith's brief comment?

Year
1786
Item
1786.1
Edit

1791.1 "Bafeball" Among Games Banned in Pittsfield MA - also Cricket, Wicket

Tags:

Bans

Location:

New England, MA

Game:

Cricket, Base Ball, Bat-Ball, Wicket

In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in order to promote the safety of the exterior of the newly built meeting house, particularly the windows, a by-law is enacted to bar "any game of wicket, cricket, baseball, batball, football, cats, fives, or any other game played with ball," within eighty yards of the structure. However, the letter of the law did not exclude the city's lovers of muscular sport from the tempting lawn of "Meeting-House Common." This is the first indigenous instance of the game of baseball being referred to by that name on the North American continent. It is spelled herein as bafeball. "Pittsfield is baseball's Garden of Eden," said Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto.

An account of this find (a re-find, technically) is at John Thorn, "1791 and All That: Baseball and the Berkshires," Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Volume 1, Number 1 (Spring 2007) pp. 119-126. 

See also http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1799618.

 

Sources:

Per John Thorn: The History of Pittsfield (Berkshire County),Massachusetts, From the Year 1734 to the Year 1800. Compiled and Written, Under the General Direction of a Committee, by J. E. A. Smith. By Authority of the Town. [Lea and Shepard, 149 Washington Street, Boston, 1869], 446-447. The actual documents themselves repose in the Berkshire Athenaeum.

Comment:

While this apppears to be the first American use of the term "base ball," see item 1786.1 above, in which a Princeton student notes having played "baste ball" five years earlier.  See item 1786.1.

The town of Northampton MA issued a similar order in 1791, but omitted base ball and wicket from the list of special games of ball.  See item 1791.2. Northampton is about 40 miles SE of Pittsfield.

John Thorn's essay on the Pittsfield regulation is found at John Thorn, "The Pittsfield  "Baseball" By-law: What it Means," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, Number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 46-49.

Year
1791
Item
1791.1
Edit

1798.1 Jane Austen Writes of "Baseball" in Northanger Abbey.

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Jane Austen mentions "baseball" in her novel Northanger Abbey, written in about 1798 but published in 1818, after her death. "Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books . . . . But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine; so read all such works as heroines must read. . . "

 

Sources:

Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey (London, 1851), page.3.

Comment:

Note: The 2008 "Masterpiece" TV version of this novel included a brief scene in which Catherine, at the age of about 17, plays a baseball-like game [rounders-based, arguably] involving posts with flags as bases.

Query:

It would be interesting to know how the Masterpiece drama's screenwriter arrived at this depiction.

Year
1798
Item
1798.1
Edit

1818.3 "Baseball" at West Point NY?

Game:

Base Ball

"Although playing ball games near the barracks was prohibited, cadets could play 'at football' near Fort Clinton or north of the large boulder neat the site of the present Library. [Benjamin] Latrobe makes curious mention of a game call 'baseball' played in this area. Unfortunately, he did not describe the game. Could it be that cadets in the 1818-1822 period played the game that Abner Doubleday may have modified later to become the present sport?"

Pappas, George S., To The Point: The United States Military Academy 1802 - 1902 [Praeger, Westport Connecticut, 1993], page 145. Note: Pappas evidently does not give a source for the Latrobe statement. I assume that the 1818-1822 dates correspond to Latrobe's time at West Point.

Year
1818
Item
1818.3
Edit

1820s.14 New England Lad Recalls Assorted Games, Illicit Fast Day Ballplaying

Tags:

Holidays, Bans

Game:

Base Ball

Alfred Holbrook was born in 1816. His autobiography, Reminiscences of the Happy Life of a Teacher (Elm Street, Cincinnati, 1885), includes youthful memories that would have occurred in the 1820s.

"The [school-day] plays of those times, more than sixty years ago, were very similar to the plays of the present time. Some of these were "base-ball," in which we chose sides, "one hole cat," "two hole cat," "knock up and catch," Blackman," "snap the whip," skating, sliding down hill, rolling the hoop, marbles, "prisoner's base," "football," mumble the peg," etc. Ibid. page 35. Note: was "knock up and catch" a fungo game, possibly?

"Now, it was both unlawful and wicked to play ball on fast-day, and none of my associates in town were ever known to engage in such unholy enterprises and sinful amusements on fast-days; [p 52/53] but other wicked boys, with whom I had nothing to do, made it their special delight and boast to get together in some quiet, concealed place, and enjoy themselves, more especially because it was a violation of law. Not infrequently, however, they found the constable after them. . . ." "Soon after, this blue law, perhaps the only one in the Connecticut Code, was repealed. Then the boys thought no more of playing on fast-days than on any other." Ibid, pp 52-53.

Decade
1820s
Item
1820s.14
Edit

1820s.22 MA Boy Played One Old Cat, Base Ball in Early Childhood

Game:

Base Ball

"In my early boyhood I was permitted to run at large in the [Williamstown MA] street and over broad acres, playing 'one old cat,' and base ball (no scientific games or balls as hard as a white oak boulder in those days) excepted when pressed into service to ride the horse to plough out the corn and potatoes."

Keyes Danforth, Boyhood Reminiscences: Pictures of New England in the Olden Times in Williamstown (Gazlay Brothers, New York, 1895), page 12. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38. The book was accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search "'pictures of new.'" Danforth, born in 1822, became a judge. Williamstown MA is in the NW corner of the commonwealth, and lies about 35 miles E of Albany NY.

Decade
1820s
Item
1820s.22
Edit

1820.29 Base ball Seen as "Old-fashioned" Activity For English Girls

Tags:

Females

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

"In 1820, another girl-oriented book, entitled Early Education, mentions 'base ball' among a footnoted list of appropriate 'old-fashioned' amusements that also includes 'hunt the slipper' and 'my lady's toilette."

Sources:

E. Appleton, Early Education (2nd Edition, 1821), page 384, cited in David Block, John Newberry Publishes A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, and With it Our First Glimpse of the game of English Baseball,Base Ball, volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), page 34.

Query:

Does the context of this passage clearly imply that girls played base ball? 

Is the author suggesting that base ball was considered an "old-fashioned" pastime in 1821?

Where was Early Education published?

Year
1820
Item
1820.29
Edit

1820c.30 Early African American baseball

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth, Adult

Excerpt of interview with "A Colored Resident. Henry Rosecranse Columbus, Jr."

"The bosses used to come and bet on the horses, and they had a great deal of fun. After the races they used to play ball for egg nog.”

Reporter—“Was it base ball as now played?”

Mr. Rosecranse—“Something like it, only the ball wasn’t near so hard, and we used to have much more fun playing.” 

Sources:

Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, August 19, 1881, "A Colored Resident. Henry Rosecranse Columbus, Jr. Some Incidents in the Life of an Old Resident of Kingston." 

Recounted at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/12/26/did-african-american-slaves-play-baseball/

Circa
1820
Item
1820c.30
Edit

1820s.31 "Many Different Kinds of Ball" Remembered

Location:

New England

Game:

Barn Ball, Old-Cat Games, Wicket, Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

In a charming 1867 volume, a father delivered an extended disquisition about ball games in his youth in New England. That was definitely before 1840 and more likely in the 1820s, or the 1830s at the latest. (The book had an 1860 copyright registration, so the author penned it in that year or in the 1850s). The detail of this recounting merits full excerpting:

“I think the boys used to play ball more when I was young than they do now.  It was a great game at that time, not only among the boys, but with grown-up people. I know that playing ball is getting into fashion again, but I don’t think it is as common even yet as it used to be. We had, I remember, a good many different kinds of ball.There was “barn-ball,” when there were only two boys to play, one to throw the ball against the barn and make it bound back, and the other to strike at it with his club. Then there was “two-hold-cat,” when there were four boys, two to be in and knock, and two to throw. Then there was “base-ball,” when there were a good many to play. In base-ball we chose sides, and we might have as many as we pleased on each side -- five or fifty, or any other number.

“Then there was “wicket-ball,” as we called it in the part of the country where I lived. In this game, two sticks, some five or six feet long, were laid on some little blocks near the ground, and the ball, which was a large one, was rolled on the ground, andthe one that rolled it tried to knock off this stick, while the one that was in andhad the bat or club, was to strike the ball and not let it knock the stick off.  If the stick was struck off, then the one knocker was “out.” Or if he hit the ball and raised it in the air, and any one on the other side caught it, he was “out.” I find that ball-playing changes some, and is different in different parts of the country, but it was a very wide-awake sport, and there was no game in which I took more delight. On ‘Lection-day, as it was called, of which I have spoken before, all the boys and young men, and even men who were older, thought they must play ball. On town-meeting days and training days, this game was almost always going on.”

Sources:

Winnie and Walter’s Talks with Their Father about Old Times Boston: J.E. Tilton and Company, 1867[1860]), pp. 54-56.

Comment:

Tom’s Comments:

Allowing for the somewhat “in-my-day” tone, there are a few interesting items in this passage. Note the unusual spelling of two old cat or two o’cat. Was there some action of holding the ball, holding the bat, holding the runner that inspired the use of the word “hold?” The initial claim that ball play was more popular in his youth is at first a head-scratcher given the surge of popularity of baseball in the1850s and 1860s.

But what if he reckoning was accurate, if only for his part of New England? That would be interesting evidence for baseball historians trying to measure the trajectory of the game’s development. Did what he called “base-ball” more resemble town-ball, or did the word “base-ball” have a wider currency that we have suspected? The description of wicket-ball seems slightly askew from other accounts--regional variation or memory lapse? Last, the civic holidays that ball play accompanied were not always in clement seasons. Training days tended to be during milder or hot weather, but town meeting and election days often occurred in March and November. The author’s points about the importance of ball play may be stronger than at first glance, if the players did not let the prospect of foul weather discourage their zeal.

Decade
1820s
Item
1820s.31
Edit

1820.32 Baseball in Brooklyn 1820

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

" I went to school in 1820-1, to one Samuel Seabury, on Hicks street, near Poplar, and afterward in a private house at the corner of James and Front streets; then to one Lummiss, who taught in the Titus House, in Fulton street, between York and Front. I also attended Mr. Hunt's school, over George Smith's wheelwright shop in Fulton street, opposite High. Foot racing and base ball used to be favorite games in those days, and we used to go skating on Fricke's Mill Pond, at about Butler street and Third avenue."

Sources:

from an article "School Days Recalled: By Graduates of the Old Brooklyn Districts" on October 2, 1887. 19cbb post by David Dyte, Apr. 24, 2010

Year
1820
Item
1820.32
Edit

1823.1 National Advocate Reports "Base Ball" Game in NYC

Location:

NYC

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The National Advocate of April 25, 1823, page 2, column 4, states: "I was last Saturday much pleased in witnessing a company of active young men playing the manly and athletic game of 'base ball' at the (Jones') Retreat in Broadway [on the west side of Broadway between what now is Washington Place and Eighth Street]. I am informed they are an organized association, and that a very interesting game will be played on Saturday next at the above place, to commence at half past 3 o'clock, P.M. Any person fond of witnessing this game may avail himself of seeing it played with consummate skill and wonderful dexterity.... It is surprising, and to be regretted that the young men of our city do not engage more in this manual sport; it is innocent amusement, and healthy exercise, attended with but little expense, and has no demoralizing tendency."

(Full text.)

 

Comment:

See also 1821.5 for possible NYC ballplaying in this era.

Year
1823
Item
1823.1
Edit

1824.3 English Novel Cites Base-ball as Girls' Pastime, Limns Cricket Match

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

[A] "Better than playing with her doll, better even than base-ball, or sliding or romping, does she like to creep of an evening to her father's knee."

[B]Bateman states that Our Village, which was initially serialised in The Lady's Magazine between 1824 and 1832, contains the first comprehensive prose description of a cricket match." See

Sources:

[A] Mitford, Mary Russell, Our Village [London, R. Gilbert], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 191.  Block notes that this novel was published in New York in 1828, and Tom Altherr [email of April 2, 2009] adds that there were Philadelphia editions in 1835 and 1841.

[B] Bateman, Anthony,"'More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;' Culture,, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 34.

Query:

Note: It would be good to confirm when the baseball and cricket references were first published, given the conflicting data on serialization and book publication.

Year
1824
Item
1824.3
Edit

1824.6 Oliver Wendell Holmes Recalls Schoolboy Baseball and Phillips Academy in MA

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"[At Phillips] Bodily exercise was not, however, entirely superseded by spiritual exercises, and a rudimentary form of base-ball and the heroic sport of foot-ball were followed with some spirit."

 

Sources:

 Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., "Cinders from the Ashes," The Works of Oliver Wendel Holmes Volume 8 (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1892), page 251. He went on to recollect visiting the school in 1867, when he "sauntered until we came to a broken field where there was quarrying and digging going on, our old base-ball ground." Ibid, page 255.

 

This essay originally appeared in The Atlantic Monthly Volume 23 (January 1869). page 120.

Comment:

Note: see item #1829c.1 below for Holmes' Harvard ballplaying.

Query:

Are we sure we haven't got Holmes pere et fils confused?  OWH Sr (1809-1894), the poet and novelist, attended Andover and Harvard in the 1820s.  OWH Jr (1841-1935) attended Harvard in the 1850s, served in the Civil War and became a justice of the US Supreme Court.--WCH

 

Year
1824
Item
1824.6
Edit

1825.2 Bass-Ball Challenge Issued in Delhi [NY] Gazette

Game:

Base Ball

The following notice appears in the July 13, 1825 edition of the Delhi Gazette: "The undersigned, all residents of the new town of Hamden, with the exception of Asa Howland, who has recently removed into Delhi, challenge an equal number of persons of any town in the County of Delaware, to meet them at any time at the house of Edward B. Chace, in said town, to play the game of Bass-Ball, for the sum of one dollar each per game . . . ."

Delhi NY Gazette, July 12, 1825, reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 1 - 2. Note: George Thompson has conducted research on the backgrounds of the listed players: personal communications, 11/3/2003. He found a range of players' ages from 19 to the mid-30's. It is held in PBall file #1825.2.

Year
1825
Item
1825.2
Edit

1825.15 Base Ball in Baltimore

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Unknown

Sporting Life 1905-11-25 includes "Played Base Ball In 1825," a Nov 17 
report from Yonkers NY. Yonkers Statesman editor John W. Oliver claims 
clear recall of "how the game was played from 1825 to 1835 in Baltimore.
He said it was known as base ball as far back as 1825, and that the 
players ran bases just as they do now."

I suppose the latter refers to a square run counterclockwise with the 
first base line 45 degrees off the path home to the pitcher --ie, the 
"diamond" run counterclockwise.

Sources:

19cbb post by Paul Wendt, Apr. 18, 2005

Year
1825
Item
1825.15
Edit

1826.2 Ballplaying Said Documented in Troy Michigan on Nation's 50th

Game:

Base Ball

"Troy, a small hamlet in Southwestern Michigan, has documentary proof that a game was played there thirteen years before 1839 . . . . [T]he lineups of the two teams contesting in the game at Troy in 1826 are contained n a history of Oakland County."

The Sporting News, November 14, 1940. Posted by Tim Wiles on the 19CBB listserve on November 18, 2009. Tim enlisted Peter Morris in an effort to find confirmatory details. The result:

Under the heading "A fourth of July in 1826 [the Nation's 50th birthday, and the day that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died] is an account of the festivities, including a fusillade, patriotic readings, a dinner of pork and beans and bread and pumpkin pies, and "[f]ollowing this was the burning of more powder [cannon volleys?], and a game of base-ball, in which [19 names listed] and other participated." Peter determined that two of the players had sons who played for the Franklin Club in later years.

Year
1826
Item
1826.2
Edit

1827.10 "Base-ball, a nonsuch for (Girls') eyes and arms"

Tags:

Females

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

From the London Literary Gazette of March 24, 1827, in a negative review of a book on calisthenic exercises for ladies by one Signor Voarino: 
[noting that the author is a foreigner] "Perhaps he was not aware...that we had diversions like these just mentioned, and many others of the same kind--such, for example (for our critical knowledge is limited,) as hunt the slipper, which gives dexterity of hand and ham; leap frog, which strengthens the back (only occasionally indulged in, we believe, by merry girls;) romps, which quicken all the faculties; tig, a rare game for universal corporeal agility; base-ball, a nonsuch for eyes and arms; ladies' toilet, for vivacity and apprehension; spinning the plate, for neatness and rapidity; grass-hopping (alias shu-cock,) for improving the physical powers; puss in the corner, and snap-tongs, for muscularity and fearlessness;--all these, and hundreds more, not so well known nor so much practised in London, perhaps, as in the county, we have had for ages..."

Sources:

London Literary Gazette, March 24, 1827, per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, Oct. 26, 2010

Year
1827
Item
1827.10
Edit

1828c.3 Upstate Author Carried Now-Lost 1828 Clipping on Base Ball in Rochester

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "Your article on baseball's origins reminded me of an evening spent in Cooperstown with the author Samuel Hopkins Adams more than 30 years ago. Over a drink we discussed briefly the folk tale about the "invention" of baseball in this village in 1839.

"Even then we knew that the attribution to Abner Doubleday was a myth. Sam Adams capped the discussion by pulling from his wallet a clipping culled from a Rochester newspaper dated 1828 that described in some detail the baseball game that had been played that week in Rochester."

[B] Adams' biography also notes the author's doubts about the Doubleday theory: asked in 1955 about his novel Grandfather Stories, which places early baseball in Rochester in 1827 [sic], he retorted "'I am perfectly willing to concede that Cooperstown is the home of the ice cream soda, the movies and the atom bomb, and that General Doubleday wrote Shakespeare. But," and he then read a newspaper account of the [1828? 1830?] Rochester game."

[C] "Will Irwin, a baseball historian, tells us he was informed by Samuel Hopkins of a paragraph in an 1830 newspaper which notes that a dance was to be held by the Rochester Baseball Club."

Sources:

[A] Letter from Frederick L. Rath, Jr, to the Editor of the New York Times, October 5, 1990.

[B] Oneonta Star, July 9. 1965, citing Samuel V. Kennedy, Samuel Hopkins Adams and the Business of Writing (Syracuse University Press, 1999), page 284.

[C] Bill Beeny, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, March 17, 1965.

Comment:

 Priscilla Astifan has looked hard for such an article, and it resists finding.  She suspects the article appeared in a newspaper whose contents were not preserved.

Circa
1828
Item
1828c.3
Edit

1828.9 Mitford Story Centers on Cricket, Touches on Juvenile Baseball

Game:

Base Ball, Cricket

Age of Players:

Juvenile

"Then comes a sun burnt gipsy of six . . . . her longing eyes fixed on a game of baseball at the corner of the green till she reaches the cottage door . . . . So the world wags until ten; then the little damsel gets admission to the charity school, her thoughts now fixed on button-holes and spelling-books those ensigns of promotion; despising dirt and baseball, and all their joys."

 

Sources:

From "Jack Hatch," taken from the Village Sketches of Mary Russell Mitford, The Albion: A Journal of News, Politics, and Literature September 9 1828, volume 7, page 65.

Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006 and by David Ball 6/4/2006. David explains further: "The title character is first introduced as a cricketer, 'Jack Hatch the best cricketer in the parish, in the county, in the country!' The narrator hears tell of this wonder, who turns out to be a paragon of all the skills but is never able to meet him in person, finally hearing that he has died. Mitford treats cricket (with tongue admittedly somewhat in cheek) as an epic contest in which the honor of two communities is at stake. In the opening, very loosely connected section, on the other hand, baseball is described as a child's game, to be put away early in life."

Year
1828
Item
1828.9
Edit

1830c.2 Thoreau Associates "Fast Day" with Base-Ball Played in Russet Fields

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

"April 10 [1856]. Fast-Day. . . . . I associate this day, when I can remember it, with games of baseball played over beyond the hills in the russet fields toward Sleepy Hollow, where the snow was just melted and dried up.

Submitted by David Nevard. On 8/2/2005, George Thompson submitted the following reference: Torrey, Bradford, Journal of Henry David Thoreau vol. 8, page 270. He notes that Princeton University Press is publishing a new edition, but isn't up to 1856 yet.

Circa
1830
Item
1830c.2
Edit

1830c.30 "Old Boys" Play Throwback Game to 100 Tallies in Ohio

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth, Adult

Ball Playing -- Old Boys at it!

Base-ball was a favorite game of the early settlers at the gatherings which brought men and boys together -- such as raisings, bees, elections, trainings, Fourth of Julys, etc., etc., and we are glad to see that the manly sport is still in vogue, at least in 'benighted Ashtabula.'  We learn by the Sentinel that a matched game came off at Jefferson on the 4th, fourteen selected players on each side, chosen by Judge Dann and Squire Warren.  The party winning the first hundred scores was to be the victor.  Judge Dann's side won the game by eleven scores.  The Sentinel says:

There were thirteen innings without a tally.  [This suggests that, at least by 1859, this game used one-out-side-out innings.] The highest number of scores was made by James R. Giddings, a young chap of sixty-four, who led the field, having made a tally as often as the club came to his hand. The game excited great interest, and was witnessed by a large number of spectators.  The supper was prepared by 'our host' at the Jefferson House.

Note:  Protoball's PrePro data base shows another reference to a group, including Giddings, playing this predecessor game in Jefferson; see http://protoball.org/In_Jefferson_OH_in_July_1859

 

Sources:

Cleveland [Ohio] Daily Leader, Saturday July 9, 1859, First Edition.

See clipping at http://www.newspapers.com/clip/2414996/18590709_cleveland/.

Warning:

We have assigned this to a date of ca. 1830 on the basis that players in their sixties seem to have played this (same) game as young adults.  Comments welcome on this assumption.  Were the southern shores of Lake Erie settled by Europeans at that date?

Comment:

Ashtabula (1850 population: 821 souls) is about 55 miles NE of Cleveland OH and a few miles from Lake Erie.  The town of Jefferson OH is about 8 miles inland [S] of Ashtabula.

"The Sentinel" is presumably the Ashtabula Sentinel

Query:

Further commentary on the site and date of this remembered game are welcome.

Was the Ashtabula area well-settled by 1830?

Circa
1830
Item
1830c.30
Edit

1832c.2 Two NYC Clubs Known to Play Pre-modern Base Ball

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The history of the present style of playing Base Ball (which of late years has been much improved) was commenced by the Knickerbocker Club in 1845. There were two other clubs in the city that had an organization that date back as far as 1832, the members of one of which mostly resided in the first ward, the lower part of the city, the other in the upper part of the city (9th and 15th wards). Both of these clubs played in the old-fashioned way of throwing the ball and striking the runner, in order to put him out. To the Knickerbocker Club we are indebted for the present improved style of playing the game, and since their organization they have ever been foremost in altering or modifying the rules when in their judgment it would tend to make the game more scientific."

John Thorn has added: The club from lower Manhattan evolves into the New York Club (see entry 1840.5) and later splits into the Knickerbockers and Gothams. The club from upper Manhattan evolves into the Washington Club (see entry 1843.2) which in turn gives way to the Gothams.

 

Sources:

William Wood, Manual of Physical Exercises. (Harper Bros., 1867), pp. 189-90. Per John Thorn, 6/15/04. Note: Wood provides no source.

Reported in Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pages 32 and 307.

 

Comment:

Wood was only about 13 years old in 1832, according to Fred E. Leonard, Pioneers of Modern Physical Training (Association Pres, New York, 1915), page 121. Text provided by John Thorn, 6/12/2007.

Query:

Does the lineage from Ward clubs to Knickerbockers and Gothams (but not Magnolias) stem from common membership rolls?

 

Is the quoted verbiage from Wood in 1867 or from John Thorn in 2007?

Circa
1832
Item
1832c.2
Edit

1833.1 Book on Flowers [Yes, Flowers] Shows Overhand Pitch

Game:

Base Ball

Breck, Joseph, The Young Florist: or, Conversations on the Culture of Flowers and on Natural History [Boston, Russell and Odiorne], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196. Inexplicably, notes Block, this book "contains a lovely engraving of boys playing baseball. The image depicts a pitcher throwing overhand to a batter, who holds a slightly crooked bat, with a catcher standing behind."

Year
1833
Item
1833.1
Edit

1833.10 Letter to Student Refers to "That Beautiful game - Base Ball"

Game:

Base Ball

"I suppose nowadays you play ball considerably. If I can judge by our condition up here, it is the time of year [March] to play ball. I think it was a great pity that we couldn't teach these lazy rascals to play that beautiful game - Base Ball."

Letter from Charles C. Cain to William Butler at Nathaniel Hall, Nathanial [sic] County PA, as reported in a syndicated column by Grantland Rice on July 7, 1949. Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn on 11/5/2007.

Year
1833
Item
1833.10
Edit

1835.1 Boy's Book of Sports Describes "Base Ball", "Base or Goal Ball"

Boy's Book of Sports: A Description of The Exercises and Pastimes of Youth [New Haven, S. Babcock, 1839], pp. 11-12, per Henderson, ref 21. David Block, in Baseball Before We Knew It, page 197-198, points out that the first edition appeared 4 years before the edition that Henderson cited.

In its section on "base ball," this book depicts bases in the form of a diamond, with a three-strike rule, plugging, and teams that take the field only after all its players are put out. The terms "innings" and "diamond" appear [Block thinks for the first time] and base running is switched to counter-clockwise.

This book also has a description of "Base, or Goal Ball," which described: "gentle tossing" by the pitcher, three-strike outs, a fly rule, counter-clockwise base-running in a circuit of four bases, and the plugging of runners, and all-out-side-out innings.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

For Text: David Block carries a page of text, and the field diagram, in Appendix 7, pages 282-283, of Baseball Before We Knew It.


The text for "Base, or Goal Ball" appears in Preston Oren, Baseball (1845-1881) From the Newspaper Accounts (P. Oren, Altadena CA, 1961), pages 2-3.

Year
1835
Item
1835.1
Edit

1835.3 Van Cott Source Recalls Diamond-Shaped Field in 1835

Game:

Base Ball

W. H. Van Cott was one of the organizers of the Gothams in 1852 and was later President of the NABBP. He reported on a conversation with a somewhat forgetful senior citizen in 1905. This man was John Oliver, age 90, who recalled playing baseball in Baltimore in 1825 and seeing it in New York sometime after moving there in 1835.

"I and II. He played the first game of Ball when he was 14 years old, 70 years ago. Called Base Ball because of running from base to base, and the field was in the shape of a diamond; 4 bases in all, counting the place of starting as the last one. He believes that the name originated with the game. III. He played Two Old Cat game, but no other . . . . IV and V. He does not remember ever to have played Rounders, but VI. He has an indistinct recollection of the game. VII. He cannot remember any rules."

These reported recollections are somewhat at odds with those of Oliver’s friend and interviewer C. H. McDonald: “He remembers very distinctly having played the game of Base Ball when a boy, both before and after becoming an apprentice. He states that his earliest recollection of the playing of the game was when he was about ten years of age, and at that time the game was played in this manner: The batter held the ball in one hand and a flat stick in the other, tossed the ball into the air and hit on the return, and then ran to either one, two, or three bases depending on the number of boys playing the game. If the ball was caught on the fly or the batter hit with the ball while running the bases, he was out. These bases, so called, at that time, were either stones or pieces of sod was removed [sic], or bare places where grass was scraped off. He remembers seeing the game played frequently while an apprentice boy, but always in this manner, never with a pitcher or a catcher, but sometimes with sides. . . . [Then Oliver is quoted thus:] “I never saw the game played with stakes or poles used for bases instead of stones or sods. Never heard of a game of Rounders. One Old Cat, Two Old Cat, Three Old Cat have seen played, but never have taken part in it myself.” To my question as to what name this base game that he played was called, he said he remembered distinctly that it was known only as BASE BALL . He further stated that he never saw men play ball until he had been in New York a few years . . . [He moved to New York from Baltimore in 1835.]

W. H. Van Cott, Mount Vernon NY, Communication to the Mills Commission, September 22, 1905. Facsimile obtained from the Giamatti Research Center at the Hall of Fame, June 2009. Also, Mills Commission Papers under date of September 26, 1905. Jack M. Doyle, Albert Spalding Scrapbooks, BA SCR 42.

Year
1835
Item
1835.3
Edit

1835c.5 Base Ball Recalled as Very Popular at Exeter

Tags:

Holidays

Game:

Base Ball

"The games of bat-and-ball in former years were various, but most popular were "four old cat" and base ball. The latter alone survives to this day [1883], and in a very changed condition. . . . A very large proportion of the students participated in the sport; and the old residents will readily recall with what regularity. Fast day used to be devoted to the base ball of the period."

Charles H. Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire: A Historical Sketch (News Letter Press, Exeter NH, 1883), page 83. Caveat: The section in which this excerpt resides evidently games played half a century earlier, but other interpretations are possible.

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.5
Edit

1835c.17 CT Lad Plays Base Ball Much of the Morning

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

After buying a book that would hold his diary entries for the next year and beyond, 11 year old James Terry wrote in his first entry, dated April 4, 1835, "Then played base ball til noon, then went to get wintergreen . . . ." 

Two days later he wrote "got my dinner; then went to watch the boys play ball; then went to the store."  On June 1, 1836, he wrote that some local boys "went and played ball and I stood and looked on.  I then went up to my chamber and stayed there a while."   

 

Sources:

Unpublished journal of James Terry, written near  what is now Thomaston CT.

Comment:

Thomaston, CT is about 10 miles N of Waterbury CT and about 20 miles SW of Hartford.

James Terry, son of a prominent clock manufacturer,  later founded what became the well-known Eagle Lock Company.

Query:

Terry's initial diary entry April 4 entry begins "This morning I painted my stick: then thought I would begin to write a journal" just before recording his ballplaying.  He adds that he later "went and see-sawed. and then I painted my stick again, then ate supper."

Is it possible that the stick was his base ball bat?  Were painted bats common then?

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.17
Edit

1836c.4 The Ballgames "Old Cat" and "Base" Played in Concord MA

Game:

Base Ball

[Continuing a list of games that boys played:] " . . . various games of ball. These games of ball were much less scientific and difficult than the modern games. Chief were four old-cat, three old-cat, two old-cat, and base."

Hoar, George F., Autobiography of Seventy Years Volume 1 (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1905), page 52. Hoar was ten years old in 1836. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.

Circa
1836
Item
1836c.4
Edit

1836.11 Recollections of a Jersey City Boy

Location:

Jersey City

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

From John Thorne, July 28, 2015:

"This just in from Ben Zimmer, a Facebook friend who writes for the Wall 
Street Journal. Important, I think.

You might be interested in another early baseball example -- it's from 
the Jersey Journal from Jersey City (where I live!), written in 1871 but 
recalling a protoball club of the 1830s:

Jersey Journal, Dec. 13, 1871, p. 1, col. 3
"Recollections of a Jersey City Boy, No. 3."
While here let me say to the Champion Base Ball Club, for their 
information, that in eighteen hundred and thirty-six and seven we had a 
base ball club that could not be beaten. It was composed of such men as 
Jerry O'Meara, Peter Bentley, J.C. Morgan, Jos. G. Edge, &c....
I would rather get hit by any member of the club than by Bentley, for he 
was a south-paw or left-hander, and he used to strike and throw an 
unmerciful ball."

Bentley later became the town's mayor.

Sources:

Jersey Journal, Dec. 13, 1871, p. 1, col. 3

Warning:

John Zinn: It feels to me that the author is conflating a number of different things (his role, for example) into a club that played in the late 1830's.  However even if he is off by 10 years, a club of some kind in the late 1840's would be something new and, as John suggests, important.

Comment:

John Zinn: The article in question is the third in a series that appeared in the Evening (Jersey) Journal late in 1871.  I've been able to find the first two (it's not clear if there were any more) and this is the only reference to base ball.  

John Zinn: Found two more articles by our anonymous author, but with a lot of biographical information suggesting very strongly that he is John W. Pangborn who happened to be the brother of the editor and founder of the Evening Journal.

 

Year
1836
Item
1836.11
Edit

1837.1 A Founder of the Gothams Remembers "First Ball Organization in the US"

Location:

NYC

Game:

Base Ball, Old-Cat Games

Age of Players:

Adult

William R. Wheaton, who would several years later help found the Knickerbockers [and write their playing rules], described how the Gothams were formed and the changes they introduced. "We had to have a good outdoor game, and as the games then in vogue didn't suit us we decided to remodel three-cornered cat and make a new game. We first organized what we called the Gotham Baseball Club. This was the first ball organization in the United States, and it was completed in 1837.

"The first step we took in making baseball was to abolish the rule of throwing the ball at the runner and ordered instead that it should be thrown to the baseman instead, who had to touch the runner before he reached the base. During the [earlier] regime of three-cornered cat there were no regular bases, but only such permanent objects as a bedded boulder or and old stump, and often the diamond looked strangely like an irregular polygon. We laid out the ground at Madison Square in the form of an accurate diamond, with home-plate and sand bags for bases."

" . . . it was found necessary to reduce the new rules to writing. This work fell to my hands, and the code I them formulated is substantially that in use today. We abandoned the old rule of putting out on the first bound and confined it to fly catching."

"The new game quickly became very popular with New Yorkers, and the numbers of clubs soon swelled beyond the fastidious notions of some of us, and we decided to withdraw and found a new organization, which we called the Knickerbocker."

See Full Text Below

Sources:

Brown, Randall, "How Baseball Began, National Pastime, 24 [2004], pp 51-54. Brown's article is based on the newly-discovered "How Baseball Began - A Member of the Gotham Club of Fifty Years Ago Tells About It, San Francisco Daily Examiner, November 27, 1887, page 14.

See also:  Randall Brown, "The Evolution of the New York Game," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 81-84.

Warning:

Note that while Wheaton calls his group the "first ball organization," in fact the Philadelphia club that played Philadelphia town ball had formed several years earlier.

Comment:

Note: Brown knows that the unsigned article was written by Wheaton from internal evidence, such as the opening of the article, in the voice of an unnamed reporter: “An old pioneer, formerly a well-known lawyer and politician, now living in Oakland, related the following interesting history of how it originated to an EXAMINER reporter: ‘In the thirties I lived at the corner of Rutgers street and East Broadway in New York. I was admitted to the bar in ’36, and was very fond of physical exercise….’”

Wheaton wrote that the Gotham Club abandoned the bound rule . . . but if so, the Knickerbockers later re-instituted it, and it remained in effect until the 1860s.

Wheaton also recalled that the Knickerbockers at some point changed the base-running rule, which had dictated that whenever a batter "struck out" [made an out, we assume, as strikeouts came later], base-runners left the field.  Under a new interpretation, runners only came in after the third out was recorded. 

Year
1837
Item
1837.1
Edit
Source Text

1837.2 Ball Game Described in Fictional Account of Western Indians

Game:

Base Ball

For Text: David Block carries three paragraphs of text from this story in Appendix 7, page 283, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

Captured by Native Americans, a youth sees them playing a game of ball. The "ball" was part of a sturgeon's head covered with deerskin strips, the club was of hickory, some number of safe-haven bases were formed by small piles of stones, and there was plugging.

"Their principal object seemed to be to send the ball as far as possible, in order for the striker of it, to run around the great space of ground, which was comprised within the area formed by the piles of stones."

There is no mention of a pitcher, and if a batter-runner was put out, he would replace the fielder who made the putout. Some games would last for days.

 

Sources:

Female Robinson Crusoe, A Tale of the American Wilderness [J. W. Bell, New York, 1837], pp 176-178. Per RH ref 58.

Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908, University of Nebraska Press, 1995, pp. 4-5.

Year
1837
Item
1837.2
Edit

1837.6 Olympic Ball Club Constitution Requires Umpires

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The constitution does not shed light on the nature of the game played. Membership was restricted to those above the age of twenty-one. One day per month was set for practice "Club day". Note: Sullivan dates the constitution at 1837, but notes that it was printed in 1838. 

The constitution specifies that the club recorder shall act as "umpire", to settle disputes.

Sources:

Constitution of the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia [Philadelphia, John Clark], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.

Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 5-8. 

Year
1837
Item
1837.6
Edit

1837c.12 Erasmus Hall School Alum Recalls Three-Base Game with Plugging

Game:

Base Ball

On July 3, 2009, David Dyte posted the following account on the 19CBB listserve:

"In 1894, the Brooklyn Eagle published an article recounting the various games played by Colonel John Oakey, a former A.D.A., when he was a child growing up in Brooklyn and Flatbush [NY]. From 1837 he attended the Erasmus Hall Academy, and told this story:

'Erasmus Hall academy had a fine play ground surrounding it. Here John Oakey and his school fellows played many a game of three base ball. The boys who played were called binders, pitchers, catchers, and outers, and in order to put a boy out it was necessary to strike him with the ball. On one occasion John Oakey threw the ball from second base and put another boy out. The boy said he did not feel the ball and therefore he had not been put out. John made up his mind that the next time he caught that chap between the bases he would not say afterward that he did not feel the ball. It was only a few days after that an opportunity occurred. John let the ball go for all he was worth and caught the boy in the back. He went down in a heap, but instantly sprang to his feet and cries out, "It didn't hit me; it didn't hit me." But John Oakey and all the boys knew better. For a week after that boy had a lame back, but he would never acknowledge that the ball did it.'"

Circa
1837
Item
1837c.12
Edit

1837.13 German-English Dictionary Cites "Base-ball"

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Unknown

An entry for "base-ball" in an 1837 English-to Greman dictionary uses the definition "s. dass Ball-spiel mit Freistätten."  {n(oun) the ball-play with free places (safe havens?")}

 

 

 

Sources:

J. H. Kaltschmidt, A New and Complete Dictionary of the English and German Languages, Leipsic [sic], 1837, page 53.

Retrievable 7/14/2013 via <kaltschmidt base-ball> search.

Comment:

Richard Hershberger notes on 7/14/2013 that "[u]nfortunately, the second volume of German to English is not available on Google Books."

 

Query:

Is it possible that this entry reflects the 1796 report by Gutsmuths that English and German forms of base-ball coexisted?  Protoball wonders if the 1837 book mistakenly dropped a word following the term "mit" (with).  Gutsmuths called English game "ball "mit freystaten." The Protoball entry for Gutsmuths is at 1796.1

Is there a way to locate the German-to-English version of this 1837 book?

 

 

Year
1837
Item
1837.13
Edit

1838.4 First Recorded Base Ball game in Canada [as reported in 1886]?

Location:

Canada

Game:

Base Ball

Residents of Oxford County gather near Beachville, Ontario, to play the first recorded game of baseball in Canada (reported only in 1886). The Canadian version uses five bases, a three strikes rule and three outs to a side. Foul lines are described.

Ford, Dr. Adam E., Sporting Life, May 5, 1886. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 9-11. For more historical data on this event, see Nancy B. Bouchier and Robert Knight Brown, "A Critical Examination of a Source on Early Ontario Baseball: The Reminiscences of Adam E. Ford," Journal of Sport History, volume 15 [Spring 1988], pp. 75-87. This paper concludes that the New York game reached Ontario no earlier than 1849.

Caveat: Richard Hershberger, email of 1/14/2008, expresses the possibility that aspects of the Ford account are the result of a "confused recollection, with genuine old features and modern features misremembered and attributed to the old game." One problem is that the foul territory as described in 1886 is hard to fathom; Richard also notes that use of the 3-out-all-out rule would make this game the only non-NYC game with three-out innings. Ford also implies that games were then finished at the end of an agreed number of innings, not by reaching an agreed number of scores. He also states that older players in the 1838 game had played a like game in their youth. Adam Ford was seven years old in 1838.

For full text of Dr. Ford's 1886 letter, see the supplemental text.

Year
1838
Item
1838.4
Edit
Source Text

1839c.6 Doc Adams Enters the Field

Game:

Base Ball

"Adams, known to all as 'Doc,' began to play baseball in 1839. "I was always interested in athletics while in college and afterward, and soon after going to New York I began to play base ball just for exercise, with a number of other young medical men. Before that there had been a club called the New York Base Ball Club, but it had no very definite organization and did not last long. Some of the younger members of that club got together and formed the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club . . . . The players included merchants, lawyers, Union Bank clerks, insurance clerks, and others who were at liberty after 3 o'clock in the afternoon."

From John Thorn, "Doc Adams" in the SABR Biography Project. See http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=639&pid=16943, accessed 12/5/2008. The source for the quoted material, offered when Adams was 81years old, is "Dr. D. L. ADAMS; Memoirs of the Father of Base Ball; He Resides in New Haven and Retains an Interest in the Game," The Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Caveat: the year that Adams began playing is not clear. We know that he finished medical school in Boston in 1838, and he recalls that he next began to practice and that "soon after going" to NYC he began to play. [Email from John Thorn, 2/9/2008.]

Circa
1839
Item
1839c.6
Edit

1840c.2 Base Ball Reported in Erie PA Area, with Plugging

Game:

Base Ball

"I am now in my eighty-third year, and I know that seventy years ago (i.e., in 1840) as a boy at school in a country school district in Erie County, PA, I played Base Ball with my schoolmates; and I know it was a common game long before my time. It had just the same form as the Base Ball of today, and the rules of the game were nearly the same as they are now. One bad feature of the old game, I am glad to say, is not now permitted. The catchers, both the one behind the batter and those on the field, could throw the ball and hit the runner between the bases with all the swiftness he could put into it - "burn him," it was said.

Letter from Andrew H. Caughey to New YorkTribune, 1910. From Henderson, p. 150-151, no reference given.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.2
Edit

1840.6 New NY Club Forms - Later to Reconstitute as Eagle Base Ball Club

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] In 1840, the Eagle Ball Club of New York is organized to play an unknown game of Ball; in 1852 the club reconstitutes itself as the Eagle Base Ball Club and begins to play the New York Game.

[B] William Wood wrote that the Eagle Club "originally played in the 'old-fashioned way' of throwing the ball to the batter and at the runner in order to put him out."

Sources:

[A] Eagle Base Ball Club Constitution of 1852.

[B]  William Wood, Manual of Physical Exercises (Harper Bros., 1867), pp. 189-190.  See Thorn weblog of 7/16/2005.

 

Year
1840
Item
1840.6
Edit

1840c.23 Old-Fashioned Ballgame Noted in Antebellum GA

Location:

US South

Game:

Base Ball

"A number of gentlemen are about to form another base ball club, the game to be played after the fashion in the South twenty years ago, when old field schools were the scenes of trial of activity, and rosy cheeked girls were the umpires"

Macon Daily Telegraph, March 2, 1860. Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 9/11/2007.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.23
Edit

1840.24 Unusual Georgia Townball Described in Unusual Detail

Location:

US South

Game:

Base Ball

Richard Hershberger located [and posted to 19CBB on 8/29/2007] a long recollection of "Old Field Games in 1840" including townball. The account, a reprint of an earlier document, appears in James S. Lamar, "Pioneer Days in Georgia," Columbus [GA] Enquirer, March 18, 1917, [page?].

"Townball" used a circular area whose size and number of [equidistant] bases varied with available space and with number of players [no standard team size is given, but none of the forty boys in school need be left out]. Instead of a diamond, a circle of up to 50 yards in diameter marked the basepaths; thus, a batter would cover on the order of 450 feet in scoring a run. There was a three-strike rule, and a batter could decide not to run on a weak hit unless he had used up two strikes. A member of the batting side pitched, and not aggressively. The ball was small [the core had a 2-inch diameter and was consisted of tightly-would rubber strips, often wound around a lead bullet]. The core was buckskin and the ball was very bouncy. Bats might be round, flat, or paddle-shaped. A ball caught on the fly or first bound was an out. There was plugging. Stealing was disallowed, and leading may have been. Innings were all-out-side-out. There is no mention of backward hitting or foul ground. "If young people want to play ball, Townball is the game. If they simply want to see somebody else play ball, then Baseball may be better"

Full text was accessed at http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/georgiabooks/id:gb0361 on 10/22/2008, and is available here. Note: Lamar's text dates the game at 1840, when he was 10 to 11 years old. One can not tell when the text was written; the last date cited in the text is 1854, but the townball section seems to compare it with baseball from a much later time. The Digital Library of Georgia uses a date of "19—." See: http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/meta/html/dlg/zlgb/meta_dlg_zlgb_gb0361.html. Lamar died in 1908; other sources say 1905.

Year
1840
Item
1840.24
Edit
Source Text

1840c.26 Schoolboy Game of "Three Base Ball" Recalled in Brooklyn

Game:

Base Ball

"Erasmus Hall academy [Brooklyn NY] had a fine play ground surrounding it. Here John Oakey and his school fellows played many a game of three base ball. The boys who played were called hinders, pitchers, catchers, and outers, and in order to put a boy out it was necessary to strike him with the ball. On one occasion John Oakey threw the ball from second base and put another boy out. The boy said he did not feel the ball and therefore he had not been put out. John made up his mind that the next time he caught that chap between the bases he would not say afterward that he did not feel the ball. It was only a few days after that an opportunity occurred. John let the ball go for all he was worth and caught the boy in the back. He went down in a heap, but instantly sprang to his feet and cried out, 'It didn't hit me; it didn't hit me.' But John Oakey and all the boys knew better. For a week after that boy had a lame back, but he would never acknowledge that the ball did it."

 

Sources:

"Sports in Old Brooklyn: Colonel John Oakey Tells of the Games of His Boyhood: How Some Well Known Men Amused Themselves in Bygone Days - Duck-on-the-Rock, Three Base Ball and Two Old Cat Good Enough for Them," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 54, number 292 (October 21, 1894), page 21, columns 4 and 5. Submitted 5/1/2007 by Craig Waff. 

Comment:

 

Craig reported that Oakey, 65 years old in 1894, had attended Erasmus Hall from 1838 to 1845.

David Dyte added details in a July 3, 2009 19CBB posting. 

 

Query:

Does the full Daily Eagle article say more about two old cat and other safe-haven games?

Can we retrieve David's details in his posting?

 

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.26
Edit

1840c.37 The Boyhood of Fallen Ohio Union Officer Had Included "Touch the Base"

Game:

Base Ball

Major-General James McPherson was the highest-ranking Ohioan to die in the Civil War. His family has mover from Western New York State to Ohio, where he was born and grew up in Sandusky OH. A family member recalls:

"He was fond of all out-door sports and manly games . . . . 'Touch the base' was the favorite game, and of all who engaged in the romp, none were more eager or happy than 'Jimmy.'" Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Generals and Soldiers Volume 1 (Moore Wilstach and Baldwin, Cincinnati, 1868), page 561. Query: Do we know what "touch the base" was? A base-oriented ball game? A species of tag? Akin to prisoner's base?

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.37
Edit

1841.12 Fond OH Editor on Youthful Ball-playing: "We Like It"

Game:

Base Ball

"PLAYING BALL, is among the very first of the 'sports' of our early years. Who had not teased his grandmother for a ball, until the 'old stockings' have been transformed one that would bound well? Who has not played 'barn ball' in his boyhood, 'base' in his youth, and 'wicket' in his manhood? There is fun, and sport, and healthy exercise, in a game of 'ball.' We like it; for with it is associated recollections of our earlier days. And we trust we will never be too old to feel and' take delight' in the amusements which interested us in our boyhood."

Cleveland Daily Herald, April 15, 1841, provided by John Thorn [find date] 2007. Note: Wicket was the main manhood sport in Ohio?

Year
1841
Item
1841.12
Edit

1842.12 Use in VA of "base ball"

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"Some of us after this engaged in a game of base ball, as a pleasant recreation."

Sources:

Memoir and Sermons of the Rev. William Duval, published in Richmond, Virginia in 1854 by his colleague the Rev. Cornelius Walker. Duval was born in 1822 outside of Richmond, and the family moved into town when he was a small child. In 1842 he entered the Virginia Theological Seminary, a major Episcopal seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. There he kept a diary. The entry above is for October 3, 1842. per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, July 27, 2011

Comment:

I have been preaching for some time now that "base ball" and "round ball" and "town ball" were regional dialectal synonyms for the same game. For the most part there is a clear division between "base ball" territory and "town ball" territory, with "town ball" being used in Pennsylvania, the Ohio River watershed, and the South.

 I have come across what seems to be an unblemished early use of "base ball" in Virginia...It is perfectly obvious that "base ball" is an older term than "town ball". Presumably "base ball" was the term used throughout anglophone North America in colonial times, and "town ball" arose in some place (my guess is Pennsylvania, but I can't begin to prove it) and spread west and south. So this Virginia example could be a survival of the older term, or it could be a random later borrowing from the north.

Year
1842
Item
1842.12
Edit

1843.2 NY's Washington Club:" Playing Base Ball Before the Knickerbockers Did?

Game:

Base Ball

"The honors for the place of birth of baseball are divided. Philadelphia claims that her 'town ball' was practically baseball and that it was played by the Olympic Club from 1833 to 1859. It is also claimed that the Washington Club in 1843 was the first to play the game. Certainly the New York Knickerbocker Club, founded in 1845, was the first to establish a code of rules."

Reeve, Arthur B., Beginnings of Our Great Games, Outing Magazine, April 1910, page 49, per John Thorn, 19CBB posting, 6/17/05. Reeve evidently does not provide a source for the Washington Club claim . . . nor his assertion that it had no "code of rules." John notes that Outing appeared from 1906 to 1911. Note: It would be good to have evidence on whether this club played the New York game or another variation of early base ball.

Year
1843
Item
1843.2
Edit

1844.1 "Round Ball" Played in Bangor ME: Cony's Side 50, Hunt's Side 49

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Year
1844
Item
1844.1
Edit

1844.7 English Gent in NYC Goes Off to a Ball Game

Game:

Base Ball

"As I went down to the office I was met by Henry Sedgwick at the corner of a street. He was hunting up some of a party who were going off in a sailing boat down the East river to play at Base ball in some of the meadows. He persuaded me to be of the party. I sld not have gone however I had not expected to see a great display of miseries and grievances. . . . [on board the boat] it 'came on rainy' and we brewed some whisky punch to whet our spirits inwardly . . . . At last we came to old Ferry point where we landed, and went in the mizzle to play at ball in the meadow, leaving our captain to cook Chowder for us."

Cayley, George J.," Diary, 1844," manuscript at the New-York Historical Society, entry for April 9, 1844, pages 138-141. Posted to 19CBB by George Thompson, 11/18/2007. George adds that the writer was an 18-year-old Englishman working in a city office, and that the game probably took place in what is now Brooklyn.

Year
1844
Item
1844.7
Edit

1844.10 Fast Day Game in NH on the Common - Unless Arborism Goes Too Far

Tags:

Holidays

Game:

Base Ball

"In Keene, New Hampshire, residents used the town common for the Fast Day ball game in 1844." Harold Seymour, Baseball; the People's Game (Oxford University Press, 1990), page 201. The book does not provide a source for this report.

Seymour's source may be David R. Proper, "A Narrative of Keene, New Hampshire, 1732-1967" in "Upper Ashuelot:" A History of Keene, New Hampshire (Keene History Committee, Keene NH, 1968), page 88. as accessed on 11/13/2008 at:

http://www.ci.keene.nh.us/library/upperashuelot/part8.pdf. This account describes the arguments against planting 141 trees along Keene streets, one being that trees "would impair use of the Common as a parade ground for military and civic reviews, as a market place for farmers and their teams, as a field for village baseball games on Fast Day, as an open space for wood sleds in winter, and as a free area for all the activity of Court Week." Note: Is it fair to infer that [a] Fast Day games were a well-established tradition by 1844, and that [b] ballplaying on the Common was much less often seen on other days of the year? What was Court Week?

Year
1844
Item
1844.10
Edit

1844.17 Hilarious "Base Ball" and "Two Old Cat" Recalled by Chicagoan

Game:

Base Ball, Two Old Cat

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Gale's "Reminiscences of Early Chicago and Vicinity" (1902) pp. 213-214 talks about his school days in 1844: "in the immediate vicinity of the school we could indulge in a game of 'two old cat' or in the hilarious sport of 'base ball.' We had no regulation balls or clubs, or even rules." Goes on the describe how the students made balls and bats. 

This was at Bennett's school, in modern downtown at the southwest corner of State  and Madison.

 

 

Sources:

Gale's "Reminiscences of Early Chicago and Vicinity" (1902) pp. 213-214

Comment:

This information is also listed at http://protoball.org/In_Chicago_in_1844undefined

Year
1844
Item
1844.17
Edit

1845.1 Knicks Adopt Playing Rules on September 23

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

As apparently scribed by William Wheaton, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City organizes and adopts twenty rules for baseball (six organizational rules, fourteen playing rules). These rules are later seen as the basis for the game we now call baseball.

The Knickerbockers are credited with establishing foul lines; abolishing plugging (throwing the ball at the runner to make an out); instituting the tag-out and force-out; and introducing that balk rule. However, the Knickerbocker rules do not specify a pitching distance or the nature of the ball.

The distance from home to second base and from first to third base is set at forty-two paces. In 1845 the "pace" was understood either as a variable measure or as precisely two-and-a-half feet, in which case the distance from home to second would have been 105 feet and the "Knickerbocker base paths" would have been 74-plus feet. It is not obvious that the "pace" of 1845 would have been interpreted as the equivalent of three feet, as more recently defined.

The Knickerbocker rules provide that a winner will be declared when twenty-one aces are scored but each team must have an equal number of turns at bat; the style of delivery is underhand in contrast to the overhand delivery typical in town ball; balls hit beyond the field limits in fair territory (home run in modern baseball) are limited to one base.

The Knickerbocker rules become known as the New York Game in contrast to game later known as the Massachusetts Game that was favored in and around the Boston area.

Sources:

A detailed recent annotation of the 20 rules appears in John Thorn,Baseball in the Garden of Eden, pages 69-77.

See Also "Larry McCray, "The Knickerbocker Rules -- and The Long History of the One-Bounce Fielding Rule, Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 93-97.

 

Warning:

About 30 years later, reporter William Rankin wrote that Alexander Cartwright introduced familiar modern rules to the Knickerbocker Club, including 90-foot baselines.  

As of 2016, recent scholarship has shown little evidence that Alexander Cartwright played a central role in forging or adapting the Knickerbocker rules.  See Richard Hershberger, The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth (Baseball Research Journal, 2014), and John Thorn, "The Making of a New York Hero" dated November 2015, at cartwright/.">http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/11/30/abner-cartwright/.

John's concluding paragraph is: "Recent scholarship has revealed the history of baseball's "creation" to be a lie agreed upon. Why, then, does the legend continue to outstrip the fact?  "Creation myths, wrote Stephen Jay Gould, in explaining the appeal of Cooperstown, "identify heroes and sacred places, while evolutionary stories provide no palpable, particular thing as a symbol for reverence, worship, or patriotism."

Year
1845
Item
1845.1
Edit

1845.4 NY and Brooklyn Sides Play Two-Game Series of "Time-Honored Game of Base:" Box Score Appears

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] The New York Base Ball Club and the Brooklyn Base Ball Club compete at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, by uncertain rules and with eight players to the side. On October 21, New York prevailed, 24-4 in four innings (21 runs being necessary to record the victory). The two teams also played a rematch in Brooklyn, at the grounds of the Star Cricket Club on Myrtle Avenue, on October 25, and the Brooklyn club again succumbed, this time by the score of 37-19, once more in four innings. For these two contests box scores were printed in New York newspapers. There are some indications that these games may have been played by the brand new Knickerbocker rules.

[B] The first game had been announced in The New York Herald and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on October 21. The BDE announcement refers to "the New York Bass Ball Club," and predicts that the match will "attract large numbers from this and the neighboring city." 

For a long-lost account of an earlier New York - Brooklyn game, see #1845.16 below.

Detailed accounts of these games are shown in supplement text, below.

Sources:

[A] New York Morning News, October 22 and 25, 1845. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 11-13. 

[B] Sullivan, p. 11; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 4, number 253 (October 21, 1845), page 2, column 3

For a detailed discussion of the significance of this game, see Melvin Adelman, "The First Baseball Game, the First Newspaper References to Baseball," Journal of Sport History Volume 7, number 3 (Winter 1980), pp 132 ff.

The games are summarized in John Thorn, "The First Recorded Games-- Brooklyn vs. New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 6-7

Comment:

Hoboken leans on the early use of Elysian Fields to call the town the "Birthplace of Baseball."  It wasn't, but in June 2015 John Zinn wrote a thoughtful appreciation of Hoboken's role in the establishment of the game.  See   http://amanlypastime.blogspot.com/, essay of June 15, 2015, "Proving What Is So."  


For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,”  p 1 – 9: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0btLf16riTacFVEUV9CUi1UQ3c/

Year
1845
Item
1845.4
Edit
Source Text

1845.5 Brooklyn and New York to Go Again in Hoboken

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Brooklyn vs. New York. - An interesting game of Base Ball will come off at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, to-day, commencing at 10 A. M., between the New York and Brooklyn Clubs."

This game appears to have been the first game between what were called "picked nine" -- in our usage, "all-star clubs" from base ball players in two major local regions.

Sources:

New York Sun, November 10, 1845, page 2, column. 6. Submitted by George Thompson, June 2005.

See also David Dyte, "Baseball in Brooklyn, 1845-1870: The Best There Was," Base Ball Journal Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins). pages 98-102.

Year
1845
Item
1845.5
Edit

1845c.6 NY Man: "We Used to Say Come Let Us Play Ball or Base Ball"

Location:

NY State

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Andrew Peck writes: "We used to say them come let us play Ball or Base Ball . . . . I used to play it at school from 1845-1850 [Peck was about 9 in 1845]. We used more of a flat bat and solid rubber ball. The balls we made ourselves [from strips of rubber overshoes - ed.] . . . . I forget now as to many points of the game, but I do remember that we used to run bases, and the opposite side to ours would try to get the ball, and you would have to be hit with it before out while running your base to get home."

John Thorn, email of 2/10/2008, reports that Peck attened school in "upper NY State.

 

Sources:

Letter from Andrew Peck, Canada Lake, NY, to the Mills Commission, September 1, 1907. 

Circa
1845
Item
1845c.6
Edit

1845c.7 Former Catcher Recalls Ballgame with Soaking and "Fugleing" in NYS

Location:

NY State

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"1845 to 1849 I caught for a village nine in Ticonderoga, NY, upon a diamond shaped field having a boy on each base. The game differed from the present in that we were all umpires and privileged to soak the runner between bases.

"The ball was yarn (with rubber around the centre, large as a small English walnut), covered with fine calf-skin - dressed side out, and therefore smooth and about the size of a Spalding ball. It was a beautiful thing to handle, difficult to knock into pieces, and was thrown from the center - straight and swift to the catcher's hands, wherever they were held; over the head, or between the legs, and was called "fugleing" and barred only by mutual consent."

 

Sources:

Letter from Albert H. Pratt to the Mills Commission, August 1905.

Circa
1845
Item
1845c.7
Edit

1845.8 Magazine Article Likens Ladies' Gait to Ballplayers' Screw Ball

Location:

NY State

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Unknown

Author[?], "The New Philosophy," The Knickerbocker, volume 26, November 1845 [New York], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 207 - 208. The author, unimpressed at a new tightly-laced clothing fashion that affects how women walk, says their walking "motion very much resembles that of one who, in playing 'base,' screws his ball, and the expression is among boys; or of a man rolling what is known among the players of ten pins as a 'screw ball.'" Note: presumably the baseball reference is to a pitcher's attempt to make the ball curve.

Comment:

Important in its confirmation that pitchers in this baseball predecessor game were trying to retire batters, not acting as "feeders"

Year
1845
Item
1845.8
Edit

1845c.15 Doc Adams, Ballmaker: The Hardball Becomes Hard

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A]The Knickerbockers developed and adopted the New York Game style of baseball in September 1845 in part to play a more dignified game that would attract adults. The removal of the "soaking" rule allowed the Knickerbockers to develop a harder baseball that was more like a cricket ball. 

[B]Dr. D.L. Adams of the Knickerbocker team stated that he produced baseballs for the various teams in New York in the 1840s and until 1858, when he located a saddler who could do the job. He would produce the balls using 3 to 4 oz of rubber as a core, then winding with yarn and covering with leather. 

 

Sources:

[A]Gilbert, "The Birth of Baseball", Elysian Fields, 1995, pp. 16- 17.

[B]Dr. D.L. Adams, "Memoirs of the Father of Baseball," Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Sullivan reprints this article in Early Innings, A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908, pages 13-18.

Rob Loeffler, "The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007.

Circa
1845
Item
1845c.15
Edit

1845.16 Brooklyn 22, New York 1: The First-Ever "Modern" Interclub Match?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A]"The Base Ball match between eight Brooklyn players, and eight players of New York, came off on Friday on the grounds of the Union Star Cricket Club. The Yorkers were singularly unfortunate in scoring but one run in their three innings. Brooklyn scored 22 and of course came off winners."

 

On 11/11/2008, Lee Oxford discovered identical text in a second NY newspaper, which included this detail: "After this game had been decided, a match at single wicket cricket came off between two members of the Union Star Club - Foster and Boyd. Foster scored 11 the first and 1 the second innings. Boyd came off victor by scoring 16 the first innings." 

Sources:

[A] New York Morning News, Oct. 13, 1845, p.2.

[B]The True Sun (New York City), Monday, October 13, 1845, page 2, column 5.

Earlier cited in Tom Melville, The Tented Field: A History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State University Press, 1998), page 168, note 38: "Though the matches played between the Brooklyn and New York clubs on 21 and 25 October 1845 are generally recognized as being the earliest games in the "modern" era, they were, in fact, preceded by an even earlier game between those two clubs on October 12." [In fact this game was played on October 11.] Thanks to Tim Johnson [email, 12/29/2008] for triggering our search for the missing game. See #1845.4 and #1845.5 above.

 

Warning:

Richard Hershberger adds that one can not be sure that these were the same sides that played on October 21/25, noting that the Morning Post refers here just to New York "players", and not to the New York Club.

Comment:

See also 1845.4 for the October 21/25 games.

Query:

What is the evidence that this game was played by the Knickerbocker rules?

Year
1845
Item
1845.16
Edit

1845.18 On "Second Anniversary," The NY Club Plays Intramural Game

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"NEW YORK BASE BALL CLUB: The second Anniversary of the Club came off yesterday, on the ground in the Elysian fields." The game matched two nine-player squads, and ended with a 24-23 score. "The Club were honored by the presence of representatives from the Union Star Cricket Club, the Knickerbocker Clubs, senior and junior, and other gentlemen of note." NY Club players on the box score included Case, Clair, Cone, Gilmore, Granger, Harold, Johnson, Lalor, Lyon, Murphy, Seaman, Sweet [on both sides!], Tucker, Venn, Wheaton, Wilson, and Winslow. 

Sources:

New York Herald, November 11, 1845. Posted to 19cBB by John Thorn, 3/31/2008. 

Year
1845
Item
1845.18
Edit

1845.28 Knickerbocker Rules Reflect Use of Pickoff Move

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"A runner cannot be put out in using all possibleusingmaking one base, when a baulk is made by the pitcher."

Sources:

Knickerbocker Rule #19, adopted September 23, 1845. Referenced in Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (2010), p. 14.

Comment:

The presence of a balk rule in the original rules indicates that pitchers were using all possible means to prevent runners from moving from base to base.

Year
1845
Item
1845.28
Edit

1846.1 Knicks Play NYBBC in First Recorded Match Game

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The Knickerbockers meet the New York Base Ball Club at the Elysian Fields of Hoboken, New Jersey, in the first match game played under the 1845 rules. The Knickerbockers lose the contest 23-1. Some historians regard this game as the first instance of inter-club or match play under modern [Knickerbocker] rules.

Year
1846
Item
1846.1
Edit

1846.2 Brooklyn BBC Established, May Become "Crack Club of County?"

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"A number of our most respectable young men have recently organized themselves into a club for the purpose of participating in the healthy and athletic sport of base ball. From the character of the members this will be the crack club of the County. A meeting of this club will be held to-morrow evening at the National House for the adoption of by-laws and the completion of its organization."

 

Sources:

"Brooklyn City Base Ball Club," Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 5, number 162 (July 6, 1846), page 2, column 2.

Year
1846
Item
1846.2
Edit

1846.6 Walt Whitman Sees Boys Playing "Base" in Brooklyn: "Glorious"

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

In July of 1846 a Brooklyn Eagle piece by Walt Whitman read: "In our sun-down perambulations of late, through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing "base," a certain game of ball. We wish such sights were more common among us. In the practice of athletic and manly sports, the young men of nearly all our American cities are very deficient. Clerks are shut up from early morning till nine or ten o'clock at night . . . . Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms . . . the game of ball is glorious."

 

Sources:

"City Intelligence," Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 5 number 177 (July 23, 1846), page 2, column 3. Reprinted in Herbert Bergman, ed., Walt Whitman. The Journalism. Vol. 1: 1834 - 1846. (Collected Works of Walt Whitman) [Peter Lang, New York, 1998], volume 1, page 477. Full Eagle citation submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2004. . 

Year
1846
Item
1846.6
Edit

1846.16 Base Ball as Therapy in MA?

Location:

Massachusetts

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

According to the State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, when "useful labor" wasn't possible for inmates, the remedies list: "chess, cards, backgammon, rolling balls, jumping the rope, etc., are in-door games; and base-ball, pitching quoits, walking and riding, are out-door amusements."

 

Sources:

Annual Report of the Trustees of the State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, December 1846. Posted to 19CBB on 11/1/2007 by Richard Hershberger. 

Query:

Was "base-ball" a common term in MA then?

Year
1846
Item
1846.16
Edit

1846.21 A "Badly Defined" and Soggy April Game, In Brooklyn Alongside Star Cricket Club?

Location:

Myrtle Grounds

Game:

Base Ball, Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

 

"Brooklyn Star Cricket Club.–The first meeting of this association for the season came off yesterday, on their grounds in the Myrtle avenue.  The weather was most unfavorable for the sport promised–a game of cricket between the members of the club, a base ball game between the members of the Knickerbocker Club, and a pedestrian match for some $20 between two aspirants for pedestrian fame.  It was past 12 o’clock ere the amusements of the day commenced.  Shortly after, a violent storm of wind, hail, and rain came on, which made them desist from their endeavors for some time, and the company, which was somewhat numerous, left the ground.  Notwithstanding, like true cricketers, the majority of the club kept the field, but not with much effect.  The wind, hail, rain and, snow prevailed to such extent that play was out of the question;  but they did the best they could, and in the first innings the seniors of the club made some 48, while the juniors only scored some 17 or 18.  The game was not proceeded with further.  In the interim, a game of base ball was proceeded with by some novices, in an adjoining field, which created a little amusement; but it was so badly defined, that we know not who were the conquerors; but we believe it was a drawn game.  Then succeeded the pedestrian match of 100 yards..." 

 

 

 

Sources:

New York Herald, April 14, 1846.

Comment:

From Richard Hershberger, email of 9/2/16:  "I believe this is new.  At least it is new to me, and not in the Protoball Chronology."

"The classic version of history of this period has the Knickerbockers springing up forth from the head of Zeus and playing in splendid isolation except for that one match game in 1846.  This version hasn't been viable for some years now, though it is the nature of things that it will persist indefinitely.  This Herald item shows the Knickerbockers as a part of a ball-playing community."

Richard points out that the "novices" who played base ball were unlikely to have been regular Knick players, whose skills would have been relatively advanced by 1846 (second email of 9/2/16).

 

Note: Jayesh Patel's Flannels on the Sward (Patel, 2013), page 112, mentions that the Star Club was founded in 1843.  His source appears to be Tom Melville's Tented Field.

In 1846, Brooklyn showed a few signs of base ball enthusiasm: about two months later (see entry 1846.2) a Brooklyn Base Ball Club was reported, and in the same month Walt Whitman observed "several parties of youngsters" playing a ball game named "base" -- see 1846.6

 

 

Query:

Do we know of other field days like this one in this early period?  Can we guess who organized this one, and why?  Do we know if the Knicks traveled to Brooklyn that day?

Year
1846
Item
1846.21
Edit

1846.22 Loss of "Fine Grassy Fields" for Base Ball and Quoits is Decried in Manhattan

Location:

Manhattan, New York

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The heavy rain-storm has taken off every vestige of snow in the upper part of the city, and the ground is settling and verging into a tolerable walking condition.  A casual glance at the region between 23d and 40th streets yesterday, convinced us that the usual spring business in the way of Sunday amusements is to open on the most extensive scale in the course of a few weeks.  Play-grounds, however, are becoming scarce below 40th street, and "the boys" are consequently driven further out.  The city authorities (Corporations have no souls) are tearing down, filling up, grading and extending streets each way from the Fifth Avenue, and have destroyed all the fine grassy fields where the rising generation once set their bounds for base-ball and quoit-pitching.  Some were there, yesterday, in spite of soft turf and little of it, trying their favorite games."        

 

 

 

Sources:

New York True Sun March 15, 1846

Comment:

From finder Richard Hershberger:

"This is consistent with Peverelly's account, which has the proto-Knickerbockers playing at 27th street 1842-43, moving to Murray Hill (which is what, around 34th Street?) in 1844, and throwing in the towel and going to New Jersey in 1845.  My guess is that this provoked the formation of the club, since the Elysian Fields ground needed to be paid for, with the club the vehicle for doing this."

Year
1846
Item
1846.22
Edit

1847c.1 Henry Chadwick Plays a "Scrub" Game of Baseball?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"My first experience on the field in base ball on American soil was in 1847, when one summer afternoon a party of young fellows visited the Elysian Fields, and after watching some ball playing on the old Knickerbocker field we made up sides for a scrub game . . . ."

 

Sources:

Per Frederick Ivor-Campbell, "Henry Chadwick," in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, et. al, eds., Baseball's First Stars [SABR, Cleveland, 1996], page 26. No reference given. Fred provided a fuller reference on 10/2/2006: the quote is from an unidentified newspaper column, copyright 1887 by O.P. Caylor, mounted in Henry Chadwick Scrapbooks, Volume 2. On 1/13/10, Gregory Christiano contributed a facsimile of the Caylor article, "Base Ball Reminiscences."

Comment:

Fred adds: "I wouldn't trust the precision of the date 1847, though it was about that time." Fred sees no evidence that Chadwick played between this scrub game and 1856. 

Circa
1847
Item
1847c.1
Edit

1848.1 Knickerbocker Rules and By-laws Are Printed; Original Phrase Deleted

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The earliest known printing of the September 1845 rules. By-laws and Rules of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club [New York, W. H. B. Smith Book and Fancy Job Printer], Its rule 15 deletes the phrase "it being understood, however, that in no instance is a ball to be thrown at him [the baserunner]." 

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223. David Block posting to 19CBB, 6/16/2005. 

Comment:

David also feels that a new rule appeared in the 1848 list that a runner cannot score a run on a force out for the third out. David Block posting to 19CBB, 1/5/2006.

Year
1848
Item
1848.1
Edit

1848.10 Ballgame Marks Anniversary in MA

Location:

Massachusetts

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"In Barre, Massachusetts [about 20 miles northwest of Worcester], the anniversary of the organization of government was celebrated by a game of ball - round or base ball, we suppose - twelve on a side. It took four hours to play three heats, and the defeated party paid for a dinner at the Barre Hotel."

 

Sources:

North American and United States Gazette, June 7, 1848. 

Trenton State Gazette (NJ), pg. 1, June 8, 1848.

Comment:

A team size of 12 and three-game match are consistent with some Mass game contests.

Query:

This seems to have been a Philadelphia paper; why would it carry - or reprint - this central-MA story?

Year
1848
Item
1848.10
Edit

1848.14 Game of Baseball Attains Official Perch in Lexicon!

Game:

Base Ball

"BASE. A game of hand-ball." John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States (first edition; Bartlett and Welford, New York, 1848), page 24.) Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008. David indicates that this is "the earliest known listing of baseball in an American dictionary." Bartlett offers a more elaborate definition in 1859 - see below.

Year
1848
Item
1848.14
Edit

1848.19 Organization Men at the KBBC in 1848

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Early references to the Knickerbockers' 1845 rules credit both William H. Tucker and William R. Wheaton, with (Hall of Famer Alexander) Cartwright seldom if ever getting a mention until (Duncan) Curry made an offhand remark to reporter Will Rankin during an 1877 stroll in the park (and even this remark was initially reported as a reference to "Wadsworth" as the diagram-giver; only in 1908 was Rankin's recall of Curry's attribution morphed into Cartwright).

Curry and Cartwright perhaps deserve more credit for the organization of the
club (i.e., its by-laws) than the rules. In the 1848 Club Constitution, p.
14:

Committee to Revise Constitution and By-Laws:
D.L. Adams, Pres.
A.J. Cartwright, Jr., Vice Pres
Eugene Plunkett, Sec'y
J.P. Mumford
Duncan F. Curry

Sources:

19cbb post by John Thorn, June 9, 2003, referencing the 1848 revision of the Knick's constitution and bylaws (see 1848.1)

Warning:

As of 2016, recent scholarship has shown little evidence that Alexander Cartwright played a central role in forging or adapting the Knickerbocker rules.  See Richard Hershberger, The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth (Baseball Research Journal, 2014), and John Thorn, "The Making of a New York Hero" dated November 2015, at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/11/30/abner-cartwright/.

John's concluding paragraph is: "Recent scholarship has revealed the history of baseball's "creation" to be a lie agreed upon. Why, then, does the legend continue to outstrip the fact?  "Creation myths, wrote Stephen Jay Gould, in explaining the appeal of Cooperstown, "identify heroes and sacred places, while evolutionary stories provide no palpable, particular thing as a symbol for reverence, worship, or patriotism."

Year
1848
Item
1848.19
Edit

1849.1 Knicks Sport First Uniform - White Shirt, Blue Pantaloons

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"April 24, 1849: The first baseball uniform is adopted at a meeting of the New York Knickerbocker Club. It consists of blue woolen pantaloons, a white flannel shirt, and a straw hat."

 

Sources:

Baseballlibrary.com, at

http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/chronology/1849Year.stm,

accessed 6/20/2005. No source is given.

Warning:

but see #1838c.8 above - LM

Year
1849
Item
1849.1
Edit

1849.3 NY Game Shown to "Show Me" State of MO

Location:

Missouri

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Indigenous peoples west of the Mississippi may not have seen the game until 1849 when Alexander Cartwright, near Independence, Missouri, noted baseball play in his April 23rd diary entry: 'During the past week we have passed the time in fixing wagon covers . . . etc., varied by hunting and fishing and playing baseball [sic]. It is comical to see the mountain men and Indians playing the new game. I have a ball with me that we used back home.'"

 

Sources:

Altherr, Thomas L., "North American Indigenous People and Baseball: 'The One Single Thing the White Man Has Done Right,'" in Altherr, ed., Above the Fruited Plain: Baseball in the Rocky Mountain West, SABR National Convention Publication, 2003, page 20.

Warning:

Some scholars have expressed doubt about the authenticity of this diary entry, which differs from an earlier type-script version.

Query:

Is Tom saying that there were no prior safe-haven ball games [cricket, town ball, wicket] out west, or just that the NY game hadn't arrived until 1849?

Year
1849
Item
1849.3
Edit

1849c.4 A. G. Mills and Boyhood Friend Recall "Base Ball" at a Brooklyn School

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

A. G. Mills and schoolmate W. S. Cogswell exchanged letters, 55 years later, on the plugging game they called "base ball" as youths.

Mills to Cogswell 1/10/1905: "Among the vivid recollections of my early life at Union Hall Academy [of Jamaica, Long Island, NY] is a game of ball in which I played, where the boys of the side at bat were put out by being hit with the ball. My recollection is that we had first base near the batsman's position; the second base was a tree at some distance, and the third base was the home base, also near the batsman's position."

Cogswell to Mills 1/19/1905: "My recollection of the game of Base Ball, as we played it for years at Union Hall, say from 1849 to 1856, is quite clear. "

"You are quite right about the three bases, their location and the third base being home.

"The batsman in making a hit went to the first base, unless the ball was caught either on a fly or on first bound. In running the bases he was out by being touched or hit with the ball while further from any base than he could jump. The bases were not manned, the ball being thrown at a runner while trying for a base. The striker was not obliged to strike till he thought he had a good ball, but was out the first time he missed the ball when striking, and it was caught by the catcher either on the fly or on the first bound. There was no limit to the number of players and a side was not out till all the players had been disposed of. If the last player could make three home runs that put the side back in again. When there were but few players there was a rule against 'Screwing,' i.e., making strikes that would be called 'foul.' We used flat bats, and it was considered quite an art to be able to "screw" well, as that sent the ball away from the bases."

More details, from John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011; pp 27-28), are seen below in the supplemental text below.

 ==

 

Sources:

A. G. Mills letter to Colonel Wm S. Cogswell, January 10, 1905, and Wm. S. Cogswell letter to A. G. Mills, January 19, 1905. From the Mills Collection, Giamatti Center, HOF. Thanks to Jeremy LeBlanc for information on Union Hall Academy (email, 9/23/2007).

Note:  This exchange and its significance are treated in John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Shuster, 2011), page 27.

Comment:

John Thorn notes that in 1905 Mills was beginning to gather evidence for use in his famous "Mills Commission" report on base ball's beginnings. (Email of 1/4/2016).

John suggests that the Union Hall game may be the game that William R. Wheaton, another Union Hall student, called "three cornered cat" in his 1887 recollections of base ball's origin (email, 1/4/2016).  The game of Corner Ball is known from the 1830s to about 1860, but is usually seen as a form of dodge ball played mostly by youths, and lacking batting and baserunning.  Is it possible that Corner Ball morphed, retaining its essential plugging but adding batting and base advancement, by the time it was played in the Brooklyn school?  Was this a transitional form in base ball's lineage?  See also http://protoball.org/Three-Cornered_Cat and http://protoball.org/Corner_Ball.

As of January 2016, no other usages of "three-cornered cat" are known.

 

Circa
1849
Item
1849c.4
Edit
Source Text

1849.6 Inmates Play Base Ball at Worcester MA "Lunatic Hospital"

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

"[O]utdoor amusements consist in the game of quoits, base ball, walking in parties . . . "

"State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester," The Christian Register, Volume 28, Issue 6 [February 10, 1849], page 6. Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006 and David Ball, 6/4/2006. Bill notes that the same article appears in Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture, Volume 8 Issue 20 [February 17, 1849], page 4. Cf. item #146.16 above.

Year
1849
Item
1849.6
Edit

1849.13 Did Cartwright Play Ball on His Way to California?

Location:

Missouri

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"April 23, 1849 [evidently the day before Cartwright left Independence MO for California] During the past week we have passed the time in fixing the wagon covers, stowing away property etc., varied by hunting , fishing, swimming and playing base-ball. I have the ball and book of Rules with me that we used in forming the Knickerbocker Base-ball Club back home."

 

 

Sources:

Cartwright family typed copy of lost handwritten diary by Alexander Cartwright, as cited in Monica Nucciarone, Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend (UNebraska Press, 2009), page 31. Nucciarone adds that this version differs from the transcription in a Hawaii museum, in that the baseball references only appear in the family's version.

Warning:

The legend is that Cartwright played his way west. Nucciarone, page 30: "[W]hile it's easy to imagine Cartwright playing baseball when he could and spreading the new game across the country as he went, it's much more difficult to prove he did this. The evidence is scant and inconsistent."

Year
1849
Item
1849.13
Edit

1849.15 Knickerbockers Lose Impromptu Match to Group of "Amateurs"

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

RURAL SPORTS.--We can testify to a most superb game of old
fashioned base-ball at the Champs d'Elysses, at Hoboken, on
Friday of last week, and bear it in mind the more strongly from
the remaining stiffness from three hours play. While on the
ground, a party of the Knickerbocker Club arrived, and selected
another portion of the field for themselves. When they had
finished, the amateurs with whom we had taken a hand, challenged
the regulars to a match, and both parties stripped and went at it
till night drew the curtains and shut off the sport. At the
closing of the game the amateurs stood eleven and the
Knickerbocker four. On the glory of this result, the amateurs
challenged the regulars to a meeting on the same day this week,
for the cost of a chowder to be served up, upon the green between
them. When it is known that the editors of the American
Statesman and National Police Gazette played among the amateurs,
and particularly that Dr. Walters, the Coroner of the city kept
the game, the result will probably not produce surprise. 

 

 

Sources:

National Police Gazette, June 9, 1849

Comment:

Finder Richard Hershberger lists the following followup comments and questions (his full email is shown below):

"There is a lot to digest here. Just a couple of quick thoughts
for now:

The Knickerbockers couldn't catch a break! I'll have to look up
when they first managed to win a game.


I don't have ready access to the Knickerbocker score book. What
appears there for this day?


Is this the first appearance of George Wilkes in connection with
baseball?


Sadly, the genealogy bank run of the Gazette is missing the June
16 issue. Is there another run out there?


You notice how early and how often baseball was characterized as
"old fashioned"? I would not take the use here as relating to
the rules used.  There was a baseball fad in New York in the mid-1840s. It had
died out by 1849, with the Knickerbockers the only unambiguously
recorded organized survivor. Here we have an informal late
survival.

 

 

 

Query:

See above Comments.

Year
1849
Item
1849.15
Edit
Source Text

1850s.1 Accounts of Ballplaying by Slaves

Location:

US South

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Unknown

Sources:

Wiggins, Kenneth, "Sport and Popular Pastimes in the Plantation Community: The Slave Experience," Thesis, University of Maryland, 1979. Per Millen,  notes #26-29.

Comment:

Note: the dates and circumstances and locations of these cases are unclear in Millen. One refers to plugging.

Query:

Can we find out details on the content of the Wiggins monograph>?

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.1
Edit

1850s.4 New Orleans LA: Clubs Formed by German and Irish immigrants to play Base Ball

Location:

US South

Game:

Base Ball

"Beginning in the 1850's, the Germans and the Irish took up the sport [baseball] with alacrity. In New Orleans, for example, the Germans founded the Schneiders, Laners, and Landwehrs, and the Irish formed the Fenian Baseball Club. . . . Baseball invariably accompanied the ethnic picnics of the Germans, Irish, French, and, later, Italians."

 

Sources:

Per Benjamin G. Rader, American Sports: From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Spectators [Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1983], page 93. No source provided.

Comment:

I've checked New Orleans newspapers 1855-1860 and found no mention of these asserted clubs, let alone that they played baseball.

Query:

Can we now determine when the these clubs formed, and details on their play and durability?  Do we see ethnic clubs in other cities in the 1850s?

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.4
Edit

1850.6 Article in The Knickerbocker Mentions "Bass-ball," Old Cat, Barn-ball

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

 A piece on gambling in post-1849 San Francisco has, in its introductory section, "As we don't know one card from another, and never indulged in a game of chance of any sort in the world, save the "bass-ball," "one" and "two-hole cat," and "barn-ball" of our boyhood . . . "

Block observes: "While this is a rather late appearance for the colloquial spelling "bass-ball," it is one of the earliest references to the old-cat games."

Sources:

The Knickerbocker, volume 35, January 1850 [New York, Peabody], page 84, as cited by David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 213.

Comment:

Note: Is the author hinting that boys commonly bet on their ball-games? Isn't this a rare mention of barn-ball?

Year
1850
Item
1850.6
Edit

1850s.15 Gunnery School in CT Imports Base Ball from NY

Location:

Connecticut

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"The Gunnery [School] in Washington CT imported baseball from NY when Judge William Van Cott's sons came to the school in the late 1850s (we don't have exact dates). They had been playing different versions of the game with neighboring town teams and pick up teams for quite some time. The Litchfield Enquirer carried the box scores. The teams were not exclusively students, some adults played."

Paula Krimsky, 19CBB posting, 10/26/2006.

Sources:

Mark Rhodes, Metropolitan Baseball n a Small Town Setting (Gunn Scholar Series, volume II (2004).  Available via archives of the Gunnery School.  Box scores from the Litchfield Enquirer are available on microfiche from the Litchfield Historical Society.

Warning:

We have not inspected the data on play at the Gunnery School to determine if New York rules were used.

Comment:

Washington, Connecticut (2000 census about 3,600) is about 40 miles W of Hartford, and about 15 miles NW of Waterbury.

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.15
Edit

1850.22 British Trade Unionists Play Base Ball

Location:

England

Game:

Base Ball, Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

Richard Hershberger found an account of blue collar base ball in England. A union journal described a May 21 march in which "hundreds of good and true Democrats" participated. Boating down the Thames from London, the group got to Gravesend [Kent] and later reached "the spacious grounds of the Bat and Ball Tavern," where they took up various activities, including "exhilarating" games of "cricket, base ball, and other recreations."

Sources:

"Grand Whitsuntide Chartist Holiday," Northern Star and National Trades' Journal, Volume 13, Number 657 (May 25, 1850), page 1. Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/5/2008.

Comment:

This is mentioned in a newspaper article on a Chartist excursion to Gravesend, in the Leeds "Star of Freedom," May 25, 1850. The Bat and Ball Tavern still stands in Gravesend, and the "spacious grounds" refers to a cricket field adjacent to the tavern, which also exists today. Another article on this excursion, in "Reynolds' Newspaper," May 26, 1850, merely mentions cricket playing. [ba]

Year
1850
Item
1850.22
Edit

1850.23 English Novel Briefly Mentions Base-Ball

Tags:

Fiction

Location:

England

Game:

Base Ball, Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

"Emma, drawing little Charles toward her, began a confidential conversation with him on the subject of his garden and companions at school, and the comparative merits of cricket and base-ball."

Sources:

 Catherine Anne Hubback, The Younger Sister, Volume I (London, Thomas Newby 1850), page 166. Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008. Mrs. Hubback was the niece of Jane Austen.

Year
1850
Item
1850.23
Edit

1850s.24 In NYC - Did "Plugging" Actually Persist to the mid-1850s?

Location:

New York City

Game:

Rounders, Base Ball

John Thorn feels that "while the Knick rules of September 23, 1845 (and, by William R. Wheaton's report in 1887, the Gothams practice in the 1830s and 1840s) outlawed plugging/soaking a runner in order to retire him, other area clubs were slow to pick up the point."


"Henry Chadwick wrote to the editor of the New York Sun, May 14, 1905: 'It happens that the only attractive feature of the rounders game is this very point of 'shying' the ball at the runners, which so tickled Dick Pearce [in the early 1850s, when he was asked to go out to Bedford to see a ball club at play]. In fact, it was not until the '50s that the rounders point of play in question was eliminated from the rules of the game, as played at Hoboken from 1845 to1857.'"
 

"The Gotham and the Eagle adopted the Knick rules by 1854 . . . but other
clubs may not have done so till '57."

Sources:

Henry Chadwick, letter to the editor, New York Sun, May 14, 1905.  See also John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), page 112.

Query:

We invite further discussion on this point. The text of the Wheaton letter is found at entry #1837.1 above.

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.24
Edit

1850c.35 U. of Michigan Alum Recalls Baseball, Wicket, Old-Cat Games

Tags:

College

Location:

Michigan

Age of Players:

Youth

A member of the class of 1849 recalls college life: "Athletics were not regularly organized, nor had we any gymnasium. We played base-ball, wicket ball, two-old-cat, etc., but there was not foot-ball."

"Cricket was undoubtedly the first sport to be organized in the University, as the Palladium for 1860-61 gives the names of eight officers and twenty-five members of the "Pioneer Cricket Club," while the Regents' Report for June, 1865, shows an appropriation of $50 for a cricket ground on the campus."

The college history later explains: "The game of wicket, which was a modification of cricket, was played with a soft ball five to seven inches in diameter, and with two wickets (mere laths or light boards) laid upon posts about four inches high and some forty feet apart. The 'outs' tried to bowl them down, and the 'ins' to defend them with curved broad-ended bats. It was necessary to run between the wickets at each strike."

 

Sources:

Wilfred Shaw, The University of Michigan (Harcourt Brace, New York, 1920), pp 234-235. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("wilfred shaw" michigan).

Comment:

The dates of wicket play are not given.

Circa
1850
Item
1850c.35
Edit

1850s.40 Future Historian Plays Ball in NYC Streets

Location:

New York City, NY

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

"During the winter my time was spent at school and at such sports as city boys could have.  Our playground was the street and a vacant lot on the corner of Fourteenth Street and Second Avenue.  Behind its high fence plastered with advertisements, we played baseball with the soft ball of that day."

The author, John Bach McMaster (b. 1852), later wrote The History of the People of the United States, published in 1883.

 

Sources:

John Back McMaster, quoted in "Young John Bach McMaster: A Boyhood in New York City," New York History, volume 20, number 3, (July 1939), pp. 320-321.  Noted in Originals. v.4, n.11 (November 2011), page 2.

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.40
Edit

1850c.54 Doc Adams Creates Modern Shortstop Position

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"I used to play shortstop, and I believe I was the first to occupy that place, as it had formerly been left uncovered."

Sources:

"Doc Adams Remembers", The Sporting News, Feb. 29, 1896.

Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, Game Books 1845-1868, from the Albert G. Spalding Collection of Knickerbocker Base Ball Club's Club Books, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations. 

Also described in John Thorn, "Daniel Lucas Adams (Doc)," in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, et. al, eds., Baseball's First Stars [SABR, Cleveland, 1996], page 1, and in Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011), page 33.

Warning:

The limited availability of positions played in early game reports and summaries makes the establishment of Adams's claim to have been the first to play the shortstop position tenuous. A page in the Knick's Game Books from July 1850 show that in one practice game he played "F" for "Field" instead of his usual position of "behind" (catcher), and so may be when he first took the position. Otherwise, there is no inidication in a primary source that he played the position until 1855.

Comment:

Daniel.Lucius (Doc) Adams (see entry for 1840), was a member and officer of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York and the National Association of Base Ball Players from 1845- 1862. Under his chairmanship, the NABBP Rules Committee standardized the now-familiar 90-foot basepaths and 9-inning games.

Circa
1850
Item
1850c.54
Edit

1851.2 Early Ballplaying on the SF Plaza (Horses Beware!)

Location:

California

Age of Players:

Juvenile, Youth, Adult

From February 1851 through January 1852, there are six reports of ballplaying in San Francisco:  

[1] February 4, 1851.  "Sport -- A game of base ball was played upon the Plaza yesterday afternoon by a number of the sorting gentlemen about town." 

[2] February 4, 1851. Sports on the Plaza.  "The plaza has at last been turned to some account by our citizens. Yesterday quite a crowd collected upon it, to take part in and witness a game of ball, many taking a hand. We were much better pleased at it, than to witness the crowds in the gambling saloons which surround the square." 

[3] February 6, 1851. "Base-Ball --This is becoming quite popular among our sporting gentry, who have an exercise upon the plaza nearly every day. This is certainly better amusement than 'bucking' . . .  ."

[4] March 1, 1851. "Our plaza . . . has gone through a variety of stages -- store-house, cattle market, auction stand, depository of rubbish, and lately, playground.  Numbers of boys and young men daily amuse themselves by playing ball upon it -- this is certainly an innocent recreation, but occasionally the ball strikes a horse passing, to the great annoyance of he driver."

[5] March 25, 1851. "There [at the Plaza] the boys play at ball, some of them using expressions towards their companions, expressions neither flattering, innocent nor commendable. Men, too, children of a larger growth, do the same things."

[6] January 14, 1852.  "Public Play Ground -- For the last two or three evenings the Plaza has been filled with full grown persons engaged very industrially in the game known as 'town ball.'  The amusement is very innocent and healthful, and the place peculiarly adapted for that purpose."

 

 

Sources:

[1] Alta California, Feb, 4, 1851

[2] "Sports on the Plaza," Daily California Courier, February 4, 1851.

[3] "Base-Ball," Alta California, February 6, 1851.

[4] "The Plaza," San Francisco Herald, March 1, 1851.

[5]  "The Corral," Alta California, March 25, 1851.

[6] "Public Playground," Alta California, January 14, 1852.

See Angus Macfarlane, The [SF] Knickerbockers -- San Francisco's First Baseball Team?," Base Ball, volume 1, number 1 (Spring 2007), pp. 7-20.

 

Comment:

Angus Macfarlane's research shows that many New Yorkers were in San Francisco in early 1851, and in fact several formed a "Knickerbocker Association."  Furthermore he discovered that several key members of the eastern Knickerbocker Base Ball Club -- including de Witt, Turk, Cartwright,  Wheaton, Ebbetts, and Tucker -- were in town.  "[I]n various manners and at various times they crossed each other's paths."  Angus suggests that they may have been involved in the 1851 games, so it is possible that they were played by Knickerbocker rules . . .  at a time when in New York most games were still intramural affairs within the one or two base ball clubs playing here.

Query:

What do we know about "the Plaza" in those days, and its habitués and reputation? 

Year
1851
Item
1851.2
Edit

1851.7 Christmas Bash Includes "Good Old Fashioned Game of Baseball"

Tags:

Holidays

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"On Christmas day, the drivers, agents, and other employees of the various Express Companies in the City, had a turnout entirely in character. . . . There were between seventy-five and eighty men in the company . . . . They then went to the residence of A. M. C. Smith, in Franklin st., and thence to the Red House in Harlem, where the whole party has a good old fashioned game of base ball, and then a capital dinner at which A. M. C. Smith presided."

 

Sources:

New York Daily Tribune, December 29, 1851. 

Comment:

Richard added: "Finally this is a very rare contemporary cite of baseball for this period. Between the baseball fad of the mid-1840s and its revival in the mid-1850s, baseball is rarely seen outside the pages of the Knickerbocker club books." John Thorn contributed a facsimile of the Tribune article.

Query:

Can we surmise that by using the term "old fashioned game," the newspaper is distinguishing it from the Knickerbocker game?

Year
1851
Item
1851.7
Edit

1851.9 The Beginning of Match Play Between Organized Clubs

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Some baseball games are historic even thought few details of the contest survive. A case in point is the June 3, 1851 Knickerbocker-Washington game.  Although the only surviving information is the line score, the match is remembered because it marked the beginning of ongoing match play."

 

Sources:

John Zinn, "Match Play: Knickerbockers of New York vs. Washington of New York," in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pages 8-9.  

Comment:

This is game #4 of the SABR 19th Century Committee's top 100 games of the 1800s.The Knickerbockers won the June 3 game, 21-11,  in 8 innings. 

Two weeks later, the two clubs met again and the Knickerbockers prevailed again, 22-20, in 10 innings.

The era of repetitive match play among organized base ball clubs had begun.

 

Year
1851
Item
1851.9
Edit

1852.1 Claim: Cartwright Laid First Base Ball Field in Hawaii, Taught Baseball Widely

Location:

Hawaii

Game:

Base Ball

[After he moved to Hawaii] "Cartwright never forgot baseball . . . As early as 1852 [he] measured out by foot the dimensions of Hawaii's first baseball field. . . .  [He] organized teams and taught the game all over the island."

Sources:

Harold Peterson, The Man Who Invented Baseball (Scribner's, 1969), page 172.

This story is also carried in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, "Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr. (Alick)", in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, et. al, eds., Baseball's First Stars [SABR, Cleveland, 1996], page 24, and in Jay Martin, Live All You Can: Alexander Joy Cartwright and the Invention of Modern Baseball (Columbia U Press, 2009), pp. 62-63.  None of these authors provides a source, but Peterson seems to imply that Cartwright's son may have written of the incident in 1909.

Warning:

This story has been seriously questioned by recent scholarship, which has found nothing in Cartwright's own papers, or his family's, that confirm it.  The two claims -- that Cartwright laid out a ballfield and that he taught base ball widely -- are thus not found in Monica Nucciarone's thorough Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend (U of Nebraska Press, 2009).

Year
1852
Item
1852.1
Edit

1852.2 Lit Magazine Cites "Roaring" Game of "Bat and Base-ball"

Game:

Base Ball, Bat-Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

The fifth stanza of the poem "Morning Musings on an Old School-Stile" reads: "How they poured the soul of gay and joyous boyhood/ Into roaring games of marbles, bat and base-ball!/ Thinking that the world was only made to play in, -/ Made for jolly boys, tossing, throwing balls! 

Sources:

Southern Literary Messenger, volume 18, number 2, February 1852, page 96, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 214.

Query:

John Thorn interprets this phrase to denote two games, bat-ball and base-ball. Others just see it as a local variant of the term base-ball. Is the truth findable here?  Note that Brian Turner, in "The Bat and Ball": A Distinct Game or a Generic Term?, Base Ball, volume 5, number 1, p. 37 ff, suggests that 'bat and ball" may have been a distinct game played in easternmost New England.

Year
1852
Item
1852.2
Edit

1852.3 Eagle Ball Club Rulebook Appears

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

By-laws and Rules of the Eagle Ball Club [New York, Douglas and Colt], 1852

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.

Comment:

The cover of this rulebook states that the club had formed in 1840 (See item #1840.6 above).

Year
1852
Item
1852.3
Edit

1852.4 Bass-ball "Quite Too Complicated" for Children's Book on Games

Game:

Cricket, Base Ball, Bat-Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

An 1852 book's woodcut on trap-ball "shows a tiny bat that looks more like a Ping Pong paddle and bears the caption 'bat ball'."

As for other games, the book grants that Little Charley "also plays at cricket and bass ball, of which the laws or [sic] quite too complicated for me to describe." 

Sources:

Little Charley's Games and Sports (Philadelphia, C. G. Henderson, 1852).

From David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 214.

Comment:

This book reappeared in 1854, 1857, and 1858 as part of a compendium.

Year
1852
Item
1852.4
Edit

1852.10 Fictional "Up-Country" Location Cites Bass-Ball and Wicket

Tags:

Fiction

Game:

Wicket, Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

"Both houses were close by the road, and the road was narrow; but on either side was a strip of grass, and in process of time, I appeared and began ball-playing upon the green strip, on the west side of the road. At these times, on summer mornings, when we were getting well warm at bass-ball or wicket, my grandfather would be seen coming out of his little swing-gate, with a big hat aforesaid, and a cane. He enjoyed the game as much as the youngest of us, but came mainly to see fair play, and decide mooted points."

There is a second incidental reference to wicket: "this is why it is pleasant to ride, walk, play at wicket, or mingle in city crowds" . . . [i.e., to escape endless introspection]. Ibid, page 90.

Sources:

L.W. Mansfield, writing under the pseudonym "Z. P.," or Zachary Pundison, Up-country Letters (D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1852), page 277 and page 90. 

Comment:

Provided by David Block. David notes: "This is a published collection of letters that includes one dated March 1851, entitled 'Mr. Pundison's Grandfather.' In it the author is reminiscing about events of 20 years earlier."

Query:

 It might be informative to learn whether this novel has a particular setting (wicket is only known in selected areas) and/or where Mansfield lived.

Year
1852
Item
1852.10
Edit

1852.13 Gotham Club Forms; Knicks Have First Rival Team

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Gotham Base Ball Club, of New York, was organized early in 1852, with Mr. Tuche as its first President.  Among its veteran players were Messrs. Winslow, Vail, Murphy, and Davis.  At the time of the organization of the Gotham, their only competitor was the famous Knickerbockers, and the years between 1852 and 1853 will be remembered for their interesting contests between them."

Sources:

John Freyer and Mark Rucker, Peverelly's National Game (Arcadia, 2005), page 21; A reprint of Charles Peverelly, American Pastimes, 1866.

Year
1852
Item
1852.13
Edit

1853.5 Knicks, Gothams Play Season Opener on July 1 and Again on October 18

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

 

[A] July Game

"BASE BALL AT HOBOKEN: The first friendly game of the season, between the Gotham and Knickerbocker Base Ball Clubs was played on the grounds of the latter on the 5th inst. The game was commenced on Friday the 1st, but owing to the storm had to be postponed, the Knickerbockers making nine aces to two of the Gothams, the following is the score for both days."

The Knicks won, 21-12, according to an abbreviated box score, which uses "No. of Outs" [and not "Hands Lost"] in the left-hand column, and "Runs," [not "Aces", as in the article] in the right-hand column. Paul Wendt estimates that this is the first certain Knick-rules box score known for an interclub match, and the first since the October 1845 games (see "1845.4 and #1845.16 above). 18 outs are recorded for each club, so six innings were played, "Twenty-one runs constituting the game."

The Knickerbocker lineup was Brotherson, Dick, Adams, Niebuhr, Dupignac, Tryon, Parisen, Tucker, and Waller.  The Gotham lineup was W. H. Fancott [Van Cott], Thos. Fancott [Van Cott], J. C. Pinkny, Cudlip, Winslow Jr, Winslow Sr, Lalor, and Wadsworth.

[B] October Game

"Friend P -- The return game of Base Ball between the Gotham and Knickerbockers, was played last Friday, at the Red House, and resulted in favor of he Knickerbockers.  The following is the score (21 runs constituting the game.)"

A box score follows, with columns headed "Runs" and "Outs."  The score  was 21-14, and evidently took nine innings.

"This was the finest, and at one time the closest match, that has ever been played between the two clubs. All that the Gothamites want is a little more practice at the bat; then the Knicks will have to stir themselves to sustain the laurels which they have worn so long."

The Knickerbocker lineup was Adams, De Bost, Tucker, Niebuhr, Tryon, Dick, Brotherson, Davis and Eager.  The Gotham lineup was T. Van Cott, Wm. Van Cott, Miller, Cudlipp, Demilt, Pinckney, Wadsworth, Salzman, and Winslow.

 

 

Sources:

[A] Letter from "F.W.T.", 7/6/1853, Base Ball at Hoboken, to The Spirit of the Times, Volume 23, number 21, Saturday July 9, 1853, page 246, column 1. 

See also John Thorn, "The Baseball Press Emerges," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 106-110.

[B] Letter from "F.W.T.", 10/18/1853,  "Base Ball Match," Spirit of the Times, volume 23, number 36 (Saturday, October 22, 1853), page 432, column 2; supplied by Craig Waff, September 2008.

Comment:

Paul Wendt writes that the July game account included the first known box score of a game surely played by Knickerbocker rules. 

Note the early appearance of informal usage:  "Knicks" for "Knickerbockers" and "Gothamites" for "Gotham Club."

 

Year
1853
Item
1853.5
Edit

1853.8 If Balls and Bats Were Coinage, They Were Millionaires

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Several boys are having trouble raising money needed to finance a project. "If base-balls and trap-bats would have passed current, we could have gone forth as millionaires; but as it was, the total amount of floating capital [we had] was the sum of seven dollars and thirty-seven and a half cents."

Sources:

"School-House Sketches, in The United States Review, (Lloyd and Campbell, New York, July 1853), page 35. 

Query:

Would it be helpful to find what time period the 1853 author chose for the setting for this piece?

Year
1853
Item
1853.8
Edit

1853.9 Strolling Past a Ballgame in Elysian Fields

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

George Thompson has uncovered a long account of a leisurely visit to Elysian Fields, one that encounters a ball game in progress.

A few excerpts: "We have passed so quickly from the city and its hubbub, that the charm of this delicious contrast is absolutely magical.

"What a motley crowd! Old and young, men women and children . . . . Well-dressed and badly dressed, and scarcely dressed at all - Germans, French, Italians, Americans, with here and there a mincing Londoner, his cockney gait and trim whiskers. This walk in Hoboken is one of the most absolutely democratic places in the world. . . . . Now we are on the smoothly graveled walk. . . . Now let us go round this sharp curve . . . then along the widened terrace path, until it loses itself in a green and spacious lawn . . . [t]his is the entrance to the far-famed Elysian Fields.

"The centre of the lawn has been marked out into a magnificent ball ground, and two parties of rollicking, joyous young men are engaged in that excellent and health-imparting sport, base ball. They are without hats, coats or waistcoats, and their well-knit forms, and elastic movements, as that bound after bounding ball, furnish gratifying evidence that there are still classes of young men among us as calculated to preserve the race from degenerating."

Sources:

George G. Foster, Fifteen Minutes Around New York (1854). The piece was written in 1853.

Year
1853
Item
1853.9
Edit

1853.10 The First Base Ball Reporters - Cauldwell, Bray, Chadwick

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Henry Chadwick may be the Father of Baseball and a HOF member, but it is William Cauldwell in 1853 who is usually credited as the first baseball scribe.

John Thorn sees the primacy claims this way: As for Chadwick, "He was not baseball's first reporter — that distinction goes to the little known William H. Bray, like Chadwick an Englishman who covered baseball and cricket for the Clipper from early 1854 to May 1858 (Chadwick succeeded him on both beats and never threw him a nod afterward).

Isolated game accounts had been penned in 1853 by William Cauldwell of the Mercury and Frank Queen of the Clipper, who with William Trotter Porter of Spirit of the Times may be said to have been baseball's pioneer promoters.

 

Sources:

John Thorn, "Pots and Pans and Bats and Balls," posted January 23, 2008 at

http://thornpricks.blogspot.com/2008/01/pots-pans-and-bats-balls.html

See also  Turkin and Thompson, The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball (Doubleday, 1979), page 585.

Year
1853
Item
1853.10
Edit

1853c.13 At Harvard, Most Students Played Baseball and Football, Some Cricket or Four-Old-Cat

Game:

Cricket, Base Ball, Old-Cat Games

Age of Players:

Youth

Reflecting back nearly sixty years later, the secretary of the class of 1855 wrote: "In those days, substantially all the students played football and baseball [MA round ball, probably], while some played cricket and four-old-cat."

 

Sources:

"News from the Classes," Harvard Graduates Magazine Volume 18 (1909-1910). Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("e.h.abbot, sec.").  From an death notice of Alexander Agassis, b. 1835

Circa
1853
Item
1853c.13
Edit

1853.14 Base Ball Hits the Sports Pages? Sunday Mercury, Spirit of the Times Among First to Cover Game Regularly

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Sources:

[A] Email from Bob Tholkes, 2/12/2010 and 2/18/2012.

[B]William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 163.

[C] John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Shuster, 2011), page 104.

Query:

Has someone already analyzed the relative role of assorted papers in the first baseball boom?

Year
1853
Item
1853.14
Edit

1853c.15 Scholar Ponders: Why Were the Knickerbockers So Publicity-Shy?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Robert Henderson helps us understand why the Knickerbocker Club made no apparent effort to engage in friendly contests with other teams [from 1845 through 1851]:  the club itself was on the verge of collapse in the early years because many of its members failed to show up for scheduled practices.

" . . . There was no mention of baseball in the press until 1853, with the exception of a few references to the New York Club in 1845. . . .  The failure of he Knickerbockers to ensure public recognition of their organization probably indicated a defensive posture toward involvement in baseball.  Given their social status  and the prevailing attitude toward ballplaying, their reaction is not surprising; after all, they were grown men of some stature playing a child's game.  They could rationalize their participation by pointing to the health and recreational benefits of baseball, but their social insecurities and their personal doubts concerning the manliness of the game inhibited them from openly announcing the organization." 

Sources:

Melvin Adelman, A Sporting Time: New York City and the Rise of Modern Athletics, 1820-1870 (U of Illinois Press, 1986), page 124.

Adelman's reference [page 325] to the unpublished Henderson piece:  Robert Henderson, "Adams of the Knickerbockers," unpublished MS, New York Racquet and Tennis Club. 

Comment:

Adelman does not mention that until 1854 there were few other known clubs for the KBBC to challenge to match games.

 

Query:

[A] Was it common for sporting or other clubs to seek publicity prior to 1853?

[B] What evidence exists that the Club felt ashamed to play "a child's game," or that earlier varieties of base-running games were not played by older youths and adults?  This chronology has numerous accounts of adult play before 1853.

Circa
1853
Item
1853c.15
Edit

1853.16 Kelly Deserves Credit for Originating Shorthand Scoring System

Game:

Base Ball

Credit for the shorthand scoring system belongs not to Chadwick but to Michael J. Kelly of the Herald. The box score — beyond the recording of outs and runs—may be Kelly's invention as well, but cricket had supplied the model."

Sources:

John Thorn, "Pots and Pans and Bats and Balls," posted January 23, 2008 at

http://thornpricks.blogspot.com/2008/01/pots-pans-and-bats-balls.html

Year
1853
Item
1853.16
Edit

1853.17 Initial Regular Newspaper Coverage Pairs Base Ball with Cricket

Game:

Base Ball

In its initial items upon beginning coverage of Knickerbocker Rules Base Ball in May, 1853 (the first such coverage known since the game reports of 1845), the New York Sunday Mercury mentioned that both the cricket and base ball clubs were opening play, perhaps because both were practicing at the Red House grounds.

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury, May 1, 1853, and May 29, 1853

Year
1853
Item
1853.17
Edit

1853.18 "the national out-door game"

Game:

Base Ball

Approximating the usual later designation of base ball as the "national pastime", the New York Sunday Mercury referred to it as the "national out-door game."

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 2, 1853

Comment:

Since at the time only three clubs, all in New York City, were playing Knickerbocker Rules Base Ball, the Mercury necessarily was referring to the group of safe-haven games under various names played throughout the United States since colonial times.

Year
1853
Item
1853.18
Edit

1854.1 NY Rules Now Specify Pitching Distance "Not Less Than 15 yards;" Ball Specs Defined

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

 

[A] Pitching.  The New York Game rules now specify the distance from the pitcher's point to home base as "not less than fifteen yards."

Sullivan writes: "In 1854 a revised version of the original Knickerbocker rules was approved by a small committee of NY baseball officials, including Dr. [Doc] Adams. This document describes the first known meeting of baseball club representatives. Three years later, a much larger convention would result in the NABBP."

The point of the meeting was for the Knickerbockers, Gotham, and Eagle Clubs to adopt and use the same rules.

[B] The Ball. The joint rules committee, convening at Smith's Tavern, New York, increased the weight of the ball to 5½ to 6 ounces and the diameter to 2¾ to 3½ inches, (corresponding to a circumference varying from 8 5/8 to 11 inches).

 

 

 

Sources:

The rules standardization was announced in the New York Sunday Mercury, April 2, 1854.

[A] The 17 playing rules [the 1845 rules number 14] are reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 18-19.

[B] Peverelly, 1866, Book of American Pastimes, pp. 346 - 348.  Submitted by Rob Loeffler, 3/1/07. See "The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007.

Query:

Do we know what pitching distance was used in games played before 1854?

Is it seen as coincidental that the specifications of a base ball were so close to those of a cricket ball?

Year
1854
Item
1854.1
Edit

1854.4 Was Lewis Wadsworth the First Paid Player?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"For years, [Al] Reach had been the player identified as the first to receive a salary and/or other inducements, as his move from the Eckfords of Brooklyn to the Athletics could not otherwise be explained. Over the last twenty years, though, the "mantle" has more generally been accorded to Creighton and his teammate Flanley, who were simultaneously "persuaded" to leave the Star Club and join the Excelsiors. Your mention of Pearce - especially at this very early date of 1856 - is the first I have heard.

"In the very early days of match play, before the advent of widely observed anti-revolver provisions (with a requirement that a man belong to a club for thirty days before playing a game on their behalf) it is possible that a team may have paid a player, or provided other "emoluments" (such as a deadhead job), for purposes of muscling up for a single game. The earliest player movement that wrinkles my nose in the regard are that of Lewis Wadsworth 1854 (Gothams to Knickerbockers) and third basemen Pinckney in 1856 (Union to Gothams). The Knicks responded to the Pinckney move by offering membership to Harry Wright, already a professional player in another sport -- cricket."

 

Sources:

John Thorn posting to 19CBB listserve group, July 5, 2004, 1:39 PM.

Year
1854
Item
1854.4
Edit

1854.5 Excelsior Club Forms in Brooklyn

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Constitution and By-Laws of the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, 1854. The Excelsior Club is organized "to improve, foster, and perpetuate the American game of Base Ball, and advance morally, socially and physically the interests of its members." Its written constitution, Seymour notes, is very similar in wording to the Knickerbocker constitution.

 

Sources:

Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.

Query:

Is this the first base ball club organized in Brooklyn?

Year
1854
Item
1854.5
Edit

1854.7 Empire Club Constitution Appears

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Constitution, by-laws and rules of the Empire Ball Club; organized October 23rd, 1854 [New York, The Empire Club]

 

 

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.

 

Comment:

We have no record of the Empire Club playing match games in 1854, but the following April, they took the field.

Year
1854
Item
1854.7
Edit

1854.9 Van Cott Letter Summarizes Year in Base Ball in NYC; Foresees "Higher Position" for 1855 Base Ball

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"There are now in this city three regularly organized Clubs [the Knickerbockers, Gothams, and Eagles], who meet semi-weekly during the playing season, about eight months in each year, for exercise in the old fashioned game of Base Ball . . . . There have been a large number of friendly, but spirited trials of skill, between the Clubs, during the last season, which have showed that the game has been thoroughly systematized. . . The season for play closed about the middle of November, and on Friday evening, December 15th, the three Clubs partook of their annual dinner at Fijux's . . . . The indications are that this noble game will, the coming season, assume a higher position than ever, and we intend to keep you fully advised . . . as we deem your journal the only medium in this country through which the public receive correct information." . . . December 19th, 1854."

 

 

Sources:

William Van Cott, "The New York Base Ball Clubs," Spirit of the Times, Volume 24, number 10, Saturday, December 23, 1854, page 534, column 1. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008. The full letter is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 (University of Nebraska Press, 1995), pages 19-20.

The New York Daily Times, vol. 4 number 1015 (December 19, 1854), page 3, column 1, carried a similar but shorter notice. Text and image provided by Craig Waff, 4/30/2007. Richard Hershberger reported on 1/15/2010 that it also appeared in the New York Daily Tribune on December 19, and sent text and image along too.

Comment:

For the context of the Van Cott letter, see Bill Ryczek, "William Van Cott Writes a Letter to the Sporting Press," Base Ball, Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pp. 111-113. 

Bill ponders (page 112) what might have moved Van Cott to distribute his letter to the three newspapers:  "Possibly it was to recruit more members for the three clubs, though that was unlikely, since membership was rather exclusive and decidedly homogeneous [ethnically] . . . .  Was he trying to encourage the formation of additional clubs, or was he attempting to generate publicity for the existing clubs and members?  The Knickerbockers, baseball's pioneer club, had made virtually no attempt to expand the game they had formalized."

Year
1854
Item
1854.9
Edit

1854.16 The Eagle Club's Field Diagram - A Real Diamond

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

John Thorn has supplied an image of the printed "Plan of the Eagle Ball Club Bases" from its 1854 rulebook.

 

Sources:

"Revised Constitution, by-laws and rules of the Eagle Ball Club," (Oliver and Brother, New York, 1854).

Comment:

It seems possible that he who designed this graphic did not intend it to be taken literally, but it sure is different. Folks around MIT here would call it a squashed rhombus. Using the diagram's own scale for 42 paces, and accepting the questionable guess that most people informally considered a pace to measure 3 feet, the four basepaths each measure 132 feet. But the distance from home to 2B is just 79 feet, and from 1B to 3B it's 226 feet (for football fans: that's about 75 yards). Foul ground ("Outside Range" on the diagram) leaves a fair territory that is not marked in a 90 degree angle, but at . . . wait a sec, I'll find a professor and borrow a protractor, ah, here . . . a 143 degree angle.

Query:

Do we have evidence that the Eagle preferred, at least initially, a variant playing field? Or did the Eagle Club just assign this diagramming exercise to some Harvard person?

Is this image published in some recent source?

Year
1854
Item
1854.16
Edit

1854.20 Empire Club Begins Play

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Empire Bass Ball Club played their first regular [1855] season game at McCarthy's ground, Hoboken, yesterday afternoon. This club, consisting of some thirty young men, mostly clerks in the lower part of the City, was organized last year nearly at the close of the season."

Sources:

"Empire Bass Ball Club," New York Daily Times Volume 4, number 1125 (Thursday, April 26, 1855), page 8, column 1. 

Year
1854
Item
1854.20
Edit

1854.21 Interclub Second Nine Play

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "Friend P.-- Although rather late, I will take the liberty of sending you the result of a Home-and-Home Match of Base Ball played recently between the second nine of the Knickerbocker and the first nine of the Eagle Club..."

[B] "BASE BALL. A match of this beautiful and national game was played on Friday last, between the Eagle and Knickerbocker Clubs...Six of the best men of the Knickerbocker Club were barred from playing in this match."

Sources:

[A] Spirit of the Times, November 25, 1854

[B] New York Sunday Mercury, November 12, 1854

Comment:

The first instance of selection of a second nine by an organized club, prompted by acceptance of a match with an opponent (the Eagle) regarded as too inexperienced to be competitive with the Knicks' best players. Second nine interclub play would continue throughout the amateur era, and continue into the professional era in the form of reserve nines.

Year
1854
Item
1854.21
Edit

1855.1 The Confidence Game Frustrated

Game:

Base Ball

"On Friday morning last (August 24) an impudent scamp in a very genteel garb entered the house of Mr. Gregory in Sussex street, and informed the servant girl that her master was about to play a game of base ball in Brooklyn, and wanted his uniform, a suit of clothes for a ball, &c...The girl believing him gave him all the articles required, when he said further, in a confidential way, that he had forgotten the cigars, a box of which would be found not yet opened. This was his mistake, for no cigars were in the house, and the girl, being now placed on her guard, immediately unpacked what she had previously packed, and said she would take the articles herself...To this the gentleman of course objected, but the girl was honest and determined. She accordingly took the articles to the office of Mr. Gregory, and found that he had not the slightest intention to leave the city. The rogue of course escaped, and no account has been heard from him since."

Sources:

New York Sun, Aug. 28, 1855. P

Comment:

Hershberger: "Make of this what you will."

Year
1855
Item
1855.1
Edit

1855.4 NY Herald Previews Several June Games for Five Area Clubs

Game:

Base Ball

"BASE BALL. Our readers are perfectly aware that the good old fashioned game of base ball is at present receiving much attention among the lovers of sport and manly exercise. Five clubs are organized and in operation in this city and Brooklyn, composed of some thirty or forty members each, and are in continual practice. Three of them play at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, one on every afternoon during the week the Knickerbocker Club on Monday and Thursday, the Eagle Club on Tuesday and Friday, and the Empire Club on Wednesday and Saturday. One other, the Gotham Club, plays at the Red House, Harlem, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons. The Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, we understand, have not as yet arranged their days of practice. We would recommend such of our readers who have sufficient leisure, to join one of these clubs. The benefit to be derived, especially to the man of sedentary habits, is incalculable, and the blessing of health and a diminished doctor's bill may reasonably be expected to flow from a punctual attendance. On Friday, the first of June, the Knickerbocker and Gotham Clubs will play a match at the Red House, Harlem, and the Eagle and Empire Clubs will also play a match at the Elysian Fields on Friday, the 15th of June. Matches between the Knickerbocker and Eagle and the Gotham and Eagle Clubs are also expected to come off during the month of June. The play takes place during the afternoon, commencing at about three o'clock"

 

Sources:

New York Herald, May 26, 1855, page 1, column. 1. Submitted by George Thompson, June 2005.

Year
1855
Item
1855.4
Edit

1855.5 Seymour Research Note: "7 Clubs Organized" [But We Now Know of 30]

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"1855 -- seven clubs organized.  In 1856 four more."

Sources:

Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. 

He cites Robert Weaver, Amusements and Sports (Greenwood, 1939), page 98 ff.

Comment:

 Note: Seymour did not name the seven listed clubs; drat.

As of mid-2013, Protoball lists a total of 30 clubs operating in the NYC area New York State:  nine were in Brooklyn (Atlantic, Bedford, Columbia, Continental, Eckford, Excelsior, Harmony, Putnam, and Washington), five in Manhattan (Baltic, Eagle, Empire, Gotham, and Knickerbocker -- all but the Baltic playing one or more games at Hoboken), two (Atlantic of Jamaica, Astoria) in Queens, and two (Union, Young America) in Morrisania [Bronx].  See [[http://protoball.org/Clubs_in_NY]]  In addition, twelve clubs are listed in New Jersey (Empire, Excelsior, Fear Not, Newark Senior, Newark Junior, Oriental-cum-Olympic, Pavonia, Palisades, Pioneer, St. John, and Washington). See[[http://protoball.org/Clubs_in_NJ]]. 

These clubs played in about 35 reported match games; over fifteen reports of intramural play are also known.  There are reports of only one junior club (in NJ) and match play by one "second nine" (a Knickerbocker match game).

Corrections and additions are welcome. 

Year
1855
Item
1855.5
Edit

1855.6 Jersey City Club is Set Up

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Jersey City BBC forms.

Sources:

Constitution and By-Laws of the Pioneer Base Ball Club of Jersey City [New York, W. and C. T. Barton], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.

Year
1855
Item
1855.6
Edit

1855.9 Whitman Puts "Good Game of Base-Ball" Among Favorite Americana

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Base Ball

Notables:

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass [Brooklyn, Rome Bros], p. 95. In a review of good American experiences, including those "approaching Manhattan" and "under Niagara", Walt Whitman puts this line:

"Upon the race-course, or enjoying pic-nics or jigs or a good game of base-ball . . . "

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 216.

Year
1855
Item
1855.9
Edit

1855.13 Spirit Gives Season Plans for 5 Base Ball Clubs

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

 

"Base Ball -- The interest in the game if Base Ball appears to be on the increase, and it bids fair to become our most popular game.  There are now four clubs in constant practice, vis, Gotham, Knickerbocker, Eagle, and Empire . . . . "

 The practice and match schedules for the Knickerbockers, Eagles, Empires, Gothams and [Brooklyn] Excelsior appeared in June.

 

Sources:

"Base Ball," Spirit of the Times June 2, 1855.

Full text is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 20-21.

Year
1855
Item
1855.13
Edit

1855.18 Stodgy Novel Makes Brief Mention of Former Ballplaying

Location:

US

Game:

Base Ball

"The academy, the village church, and the parsonage are on this cross-street. The voice of memory asks, where are those whose busy feet have trodden the green sward? Where are those whose voices have echoed in the boisterous mirth or base-ball and shinny?" 

 

Sources:

S. H. M. (only initials are given), Miranda Elliot: or, The Voice of the Spirit (Lippincott, Grambo & Co., Philadelphia, 1855), page 229.

Comment:

This passage involves a small party's slow country walk, one that is incessantly interrupted by a sermonizing narrator. There is no indication of who played ball, or how long ago they played. The setting seems to be the U.S; some place where orange trees grow.

 

Year
1855
Item
1855.18
Edit

1855.19 Clipper Editor: NYC Now Has Five Clubs "in Good Condition"

Game:

Base Ball

 

In March 1855, the editor of the Clipper listed five teams that were "in good condition" and the locations of their twice-a-week practices - Gothams at Red House, Harlem; Knickerbockers, Eagle, and Empire at Elysian Fields at Hoboken , and the Excelsiors in Brooklyn. 

 

 

Sources:

New York Clipper, March 3, 1855; from the Mears Collection.

Comment:

Articles published later in the New York Clipper, the Spirit of the Times, the New-York Daily Times, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced the first appearance in print of 18 new clubs in the Greater NYC region during 1855.

Year
1855
Item
1855.19
Edit

1855.20 Base Ball Games Reach Really Modern Duration; Score is 52-38

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] Having more energy, apparently,  than what it takes to score 21 runs, the [NJ] Pioneer Club's intramural game in September 1855 took 3 and a quarter hours, and eight innings. Final score: single men, 52, marrieds 38.

[B] In December, the Putnams undertook to play a game [intramurally]to 62 runs, and started at 9AM to give themselves ample time. But "they found it impossible to get through; they played twelve innings and made 31 and 36." 

[C] "At East Brooklyn a new club, the Continentals, of which H. C. Law is president, played from 9 till 5 o'clock."

Sources:

[A] Spirit of the Times, Volume 25, number 31 (Saturday, September 15, 1855), page 367, column 3.

[B and C] Spirit of the Times, (Saturday, December 8, 1855), page 511, column 3.

Query:

Note: these results seems like deliberates exceptions to the 21-run rule; are there others?  Was the 21-run rule proving too short for practice games?

Year
1855
Item
1855.20
Edit

1855.21 Spirit Eyes Three-Year Knicks-Gothams Rivalry

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The Spirit of the Times gave more than perfunctory coverage to the September match-up between the Knickerbockers and Gothams at Elysian Fields on Thursday, September 13. The box score remains rudimentary [only runs scored are listed for the two lineups], but the report notes that there were "about 1000 spectators, including many ladies, who manifested the utmost excitement, but kept admirable order [gee, thanks, ladies - LMc]." It must have felt a little like a World Series game: "The Knickerbockers [who lost to the Gothams in June] came upon the ground with a determination to maintain the first rank among the Ball Clubs."

The Knicks won, 21-7, in only five innings. The Spirit tabulated the rivals' history of all seven games played since July 1853, listed below. The Knicks won 4, lost 2 (both losses at Red House), and tied one [12-12 in 12 innings; Peverelly, pages 16 and 21, says that darkness interceded]. The longest contest went 16 innings [a Gothams home victory on 6/30/1854], and the shortest was the current one. 

The three-year rivalry:

7/14/53, Elysian Fields; Knicks 21-12, 6 innings

10/14/53, Red House; Knicks 21-14, 9 i

6/30/54, RH; Gothams 21-16, 16 i

9/23/54, EF; Knicks 24-13, 9 i

10/26/54, RH; Tied 12-12, 12 i

6/1/55, RH; Gothams 21-12, 11 i

9/13/55, EF; Knicks 21-7, 5 i

 

Sources:

Spirit of the Times, Volume 25, number 32 (Saturday, September 22, 1855), page 373 [first page of 9/22 issue], column 3.

Comment:

Craig Waff reported that, as far as he could tell, this was the first game in which the size of the assembled crowd was reported.

Year
1855
Item
1855.21
Edit

1855.22 The Search for Base Ball Supremacy Begins? (It's the Knicks, For Now)

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"These two Clubs [Knickerbocker and Gotham] who rank foremost in the beautiful and healthy game of Base Ball, met on Thursday . . . . The Knickerbockers came upon the ground with a determination to maintain the first rank among the Ball Clubs, and they won the match handsomely [score: 22-7]."

Craig thinks this may be one of the first attempts to tap a club as the best in the game; thus the long road to naming baseball "champions" begins. The game had been played at Elysian Fields on September 13.

Sources:

"Base Ball: Knickerbockers vs. Gotham Club," Spirit of the Times Volume 25, number 32 (September 22, 1855), page 373, column 3.

Year
1855
Item
1855.22
Edit

1855.23 Modern Base Ball Rules Appear in NYC, Syracuse Papers

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] The current 17 rules of base ball are printed in the Sunday Mercury  and in the Spirit of the Times early in the 1855 playing season -- 12 years after the Knickerbocker Club's initial 13 playing rules were formulated. 

[B] Without accompanying comment, the 17 rules for playing the New York style of base ball also appear in the Syracuse Standard.

The 1854 rules include the original 13 playing rules in the Knickerbocker game plus four rules added in in New York after 1845.  The Knickerbocker, Gotham, and Eagle clubs agreed to the revision in 1854.

Sources:

[A] Sunday Mercury, April 29, 1855; Spirit, May 12, 1855.  Bill Ryczek writes that these news accounts marked the first printing of the rules; see Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 163.  Earlier, the initial printing had been reported in December of 1856 [Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2006), page 22].  The Sunday Mercury and Spirit accounts were accompanied by a field diagram and a list of practice locations and times for the Eagle, Empire, Excelsior, Gotham, and Knickerbocker clubs.

[B] Syracuse Standard, May 16, 1855.

 

Comment:

For a succinct account of the evolution of the 1854 rules, see John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pages 82-83.

One might speculate that someone in the still-small base ball fraternity decided to publicize the young game's official rules, perhaps to attract more players.

As of mid-2013, we know of 30 clubs playing base ball in 1855, all in downstate New York and New Jersey. 

Year
1855
Item
1855.23
Edit

1855c.24 Manufacture of Base Balls Begins in NYC

Tags:

Equipment

Game:

Base Ball

[A] "Prior to the mass manufacturing of baseballs, each one was hand-made and consisted of strips of rubber twisted around a round shape (or, earlier, any solid substance, such as a rock or bullet), covered [wound?] with yarn and then with leather or cloth. Needless to say, the quality and consistency of the early balls varied considerable. In the mid-1850s, two men, Harvey Ross, a sail maker who was a member of the Atlantics, and John Van Horn, a shoemaker who was a member of the Union Club or Morrisania, began to manufacture baseballs on a regular basis. Van Horn took rubber strips from the old shoes in his shop and cut them up to provide the centers for his baseballs."

[B] Peter Morris notes that Henry Chadwick recalled that "even with only two ball makers, the demand [for balls] in the 1850s was so limited" that ballmaking remained a sidelight for both ballmakers.

Sources:

William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 35. For more details, Bill recommends Chapter 9 of Peter Morris' A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2006).

Peter Morris, A Game of Inches, page 397. He cites the March 13, 1909 Sporting Life and the 1890 Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide as sources.

Circa
1855
Item
1855c.24
Edit

1855.27 In Brooklyn, the Washington Club and Putnams Lift Off

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

On July 31, 1855, according to Craig Waff's Protoball Games Tabulation, the first games were played by new clubs in Brooklyn. Both were intramural games, and both seem to have complied with the Knickerbockers' 21-run rule for deciding a game.

The Putnams appear to be the first Brooklyn club to see action, with their June 28 contest in NYC against the Astoria Club. The Putnams played their first match game in Brooklyn on August 4, when they defeated the Knickerbockers at their home grounds.

Here is the Daily Eagle's [8/4/1855] inartful account of the Washington Club's second practice outing on August 3. "The Washington Base Ball Club of this city E.D. [Eastern District of Brooklyn] , met on the old Cricket ground near Wyckoff's Wood's for Ball practice yesterday afternoon. The following is a list of the plays:" There follows a simple box score showing two 7-member teams and a final score of 31-19. 

Sources:

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 8/4/1855.

Year
1855
Item
1855.27
Edit

1855.28 Thanksgiving is for Football? Not in Gotham, Not Yet

Tags:

Holidays

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "[Thanksgiving] day was unpleasantly raw and cold; but various out of door amusements were greatly in vogue. Target companies looking blue and miserable were every where. Every vacant field in the out skirts was filled with Base Ball Clubs; a wonderfully popular institution the past season, but vastly inferior to the noble game of Cricket in all respects."

[B]Responding to Dennis' find, Craig Waff, posting to the 19CBB listserve, cited two accounts that confirm the holiday hubbub. The Clipper wrote, "There seemed to be a general turn-out of the Base Ball Clubs in this city and vicinity, on Thursday, 29th Nov. Among those playing were the Continental, Columbia, Putnam, Empire, Eagle, Knickerbocker, Gotham, Baltic, Pioneer, and Excelsior Clubs."The Spirit of the Times  caught the same, er, spirit, noting that the Continentals played from 9am to 5pm, and that the Putnams "commenced at 9 o'clock with the intention of playing 63 aces, but found it impossible to get through; they played twelve innings, and made 31 and 36 . . . ."

Sources:

[A] "Viola," "Men and Things in Gotham," Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, December 10, 1855, page 2. Facsimile contributed August 29, 2009 by Dennis Pajot. This traveler's report preceded the advent of Association base ball in Milwaukee by years.

[B] Clipper: [Undated clip in the Mears Collection]. The Spirit of the Times (December 8, 1855, page 511).

Year
1855
Item
1855.28
Edit

1855.29 Even the Australians Are Bothered by Sunday Baseball

Location:

Australia

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"Sabbath Desecration. - A correspondent requests us to call attention to the practice of a number of boys and young men, who congregate in Mr. Wilkinson's paddock, near Patrick and Murray Streets, on Sunday afternoons, for playing at cricket, base-ball, &c., making a great noise, and offending the eyes and ears of persons of moral and religious feeling."

 

Sources:

Colonial Times[Hobart], Saturday, September 22, 1855, page 3.

Comment:

Subsequent comments on 19CBB from Bob Tholkes and Richard Hershberger [11/23/09] led to conjecture that this form of "base-ball" arrived Down Under directly from its English roots, for in 1855 American presence was largely restricted to the gold fields. Note: Hobart is on the northern coast of the island that has been known as Tasmania since 1856.

Year
1855
Item
1855.29
Edit

1855.30 Early Season Game Goes to Knicks, 27-14; Wadsworth Chided

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

In what appears to be only the second game of the 1855 season [http://protoball.org/images/3/35/GT.NYC.pdf ], "a grand match of this national game" took place on 6/5/1855 at Elysian Fields, pitting the Knicks against the Eagles.

A nine run 4th inning put the Knicks into the [imaginary] win column after leading only 12-11 after two. Player positions aren't listed, but DeBost [Knicks] and Place [Eagles] are noted as "behind men."

The reporter added: "Wadsworth [Knicks] makes too many foul balls; he must alter his play."  Adams led off for the Knickerbockers and DeBost scored five runs.

 

Sources:

"Base Ball. Knickerbocker vs. Eagle Club," New York Herald, June 6, 1855.

Year
1855
Item
1855.30
Edit

1855.35 New Jersey Club Comes Over to the NY Game

Game:

Base Ball, OFBB

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "[The Tribune] reports on a game of 9/25/1855 between the Fear Naught Base Ball Club of Hudson City, New Jersey and the Excelsior Club of Jersey City.  They played five innings each with nine players on each side.  The Excelsiors won 27-7.  The item also notes that he Excelsiors intend to challenge the Gotham Club of New York.  This is a very early game played by a New Jersey [based] club.  It is also interesting because the Excelsiors are known to have also played a non-NY game version, making them a rare example of a club playing two versions in the same season."

['B] "The Excelsior Club of Jersey City was organized July 19, 1855."

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

[A] New York Daily Tribune, September 27, 1855.

[B] New York Daily Tribune, July 20, 1855.

 

 

Comment:

The deployment of nine players is interesting because the none-player rule was not adopted until 1957; this may indicate that nine-player teams were already conventional beforehand. 

Hudson City became part of Jersey City [1850 pop. about 6800; 1860 pop. about 22,000] in 1870.

 

Query:

Can we specify any of the rules in older game played earlier in 1855 by the Excelsiors?

Year
1855
Item
1855.35
Edit

1855.36 African American Clubs Play in NJ

Game:

Base Ball

"BASE BALL -- A match game of Base Ball was played between the St. John's and Union Clubs (colored) yesterday afternoon.  Two innings were played when it commenced to rain.  The St. John's Club made ten runs and the Union Club only two.  The game is to be played again on Friday at 2 o'clock, on the grounds of the St. John's Club, foot of Chestnut Street."

Sources:

Newark Daily Mercury, October 24, 1855.

Query:

Is this the first known report of African American club play of the New York game?

See Supplemental Text, below, for John Zinn's view on this question. 

Year
1855
Item
1855.36
Edit
Source Text

1855.37 Barre Club Challenge to Six Nearby MA Towns -- $100 Grand Prize Planned

Location:

New England

Game:

Round Ball, Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"August 11, 1855 -- Barre.  The Gazette says the Barre boys will challenge their neighbors in he towns surrounding, to play a [at?] round ball.

"The Barre boys  either have or are about to extend a challenge to one of the other of the adjoining towns for a grand game of round, of [or?] base ball, the victors to throw the glove to one of the other towns, and so on, till it is settled, which one of the seven shall be victor over the other six.  A grand prize of one hundred dollars, more or less, to be raised, by general contributions and awarded to the party which shall be finally successful.  The six surrounding and adjoining towns are Hardwick, Dana, Petersham, Hubbardstown, Oakham, and New Braintree.  The seventh is Barre, which is in the centre, and equidistant from them all."

Sources:

Milford Journal.

Comment:

Barre MA (1855 pop. about 3000) is about 60 miles W of Boston.  Hardwick, Hubbardstown, Oakham, New Braintree and Petersham are 8-10 miles from Barre. Poor Dana MA was disincorporated in 1938.

Query:

Do we know if this plan was carried out?  How was the victor decided among participating towns?

Year
1855
Item
1855.37
Edit
Source Text

1855.38 First Printing of Rules

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The New York Sunday Mercury of April 29, 1855 contained an article with a field diagram, playing rules, names, practice days, and grounds of several clubs, and comments on the upcoming season. Much of this material was reprinted on May 12 in The Spirit of the Times.

Year
1855
Item
1855.38
Edit

1855.40 First Jr. Base Ball Club Founded

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

The Newark Junior is the first unambiguously junior club. They reorganized as a senior club in 1857 as the Adriatic.

Sources:

Richard Hershberger

Year
1855
Item
1855.40
Edit

1855.41 Swift and Wild

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

An unusually informative game report on the match of Sep. 19 in Jersey City between the Columbia Club of Brooklyn and the Pioneer Club of Jersey City notes:

 
Law, Jr., as pitcher (of Columbia), throws a swift ball, which not only wearies the batter but himself, long before the game is finished (the game went 4 innings before the Pioneer amassed the 21 runs needed to win)...Jordan, as pitcher (of the Pioneer), needs practice, and by his endeavor to pitch swift balls loses by pitching wild ones...
 
 
Sources:

New York Clipper Sept. 22, 1855

Comment:

The unidentified reporter doesn't sound enamored of swift pitching, but evidently it was already a feature of interclub matches in 1855. 

Year
1855
Item
1855.41
Edit

1855.42 Interclub Meeting Attempt Fizzles

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Convention of representatives from the Base-Ball Clubs met at "The Gotham", Bowery, on Friday evening. there are twenty-three of these organizations in New York and Brooklyn, Jersey City and Newark; of which eight were represented by committees and other by letters. The object of the convention is to make arrangements for a banquet and ball, and to establish general rules for the various Clubs. Without taking any definite action on these matters the Convention adjourned, to meet on Saturday evening, the 15th inst., when an opportunity for more general representation of the various Clubs will be given."

Sources:

New York Evening Express, Dec. 10, 1855

Comment:

So far as is known, the follow-up meeting did not come off.

Year
1855
Item
1855.42
Edit

1855.44 Base Ball Reported in Austraiia

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"

Year
1855
Item
1855.44
Edit

1856.1 Harry and George Wright Both at St. George CC in New York

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Baseball Hall of Fame member Harry Wright is on the first eleven of the St. George Cricket Club and his younger brother, George Wright, age 9, also to become a baseball Hall of Famer, is the Dragons' mascot.

 

Sources:

Chadwick Scrapbooks, Vol. 20.

Comment:

For much more on George Wright, see the multi-part profile from John Thorn's Our Game blog in September 2016.  The initial segment is at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2016/09/20/who-was-george-wright/.&nbsp;

Year
1856
Item
1856.1
Edit

1856.2 Excelsiors Publish Constitution

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Constitution and By-laws of the Excelsior Base Ball Club (Brooklyn, G. C. Roe), 

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.

Year
1856
Item
1856.2
Edit

1856.3 Putnams Rules Arrive on the Scene

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Rules and By-laws of Base Ball Putnam Base Ball Club [Brooklyn, Baker and Godwin]

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224.

Chip Atkison post, 19cBB, 8/27/2003.

Year
1856
Item
1856.3
Edit

1856.4 Seventy Games Played, All in New York City Area.

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"In the summer of 1856 . . . there were 53 games in New York and the metropolitan area."

We know of only 7 match games, played among three base ball clubs, in 1853; the game had not grown significantly in the 8 years since the Knickerbocker rules had been agreed to.

Two summers later, however the game was clearly taking off.  While Harold Seymour knew of 53 games, we now have a record of 70 games played by 26 clubs (see the Protoball Games Tabulation compiled by Craig Waff).

The games were still played to 21 runs in 1856, with an average score of 24 to 12, aand they lasted about six innings.  1856 was the last year that the game would be confined to the New York area, as in 1857 it was beginning to spread to distant cities.  As had been forecast in a note in the Knickerbocker minuted for 1855, base ball was getting ready to become the national pastime.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 24. [No ref given.]

Craig Waff and Larry McCray, "The New York Game in 1856," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 114-117.

Year
1856
Item
1856.4
Edit

1856.5 New York Sunday Mercury and Porter's Spirit of the Times Term Base Ball the "National Pastime"

Game:

Base Ball

The New York Sunday Mercury refers to base ball as "The National Pastime." Letter to the editor from "a baseball lover," December 5, 1856. Date contributed by John Thorn. Craig Waff adds that the letter was reprinted as a part of the long article, "Base Ball, Cricket, and Skating," Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 1, number 16 (December 20, 1856), pp. 260 - 261. 

Query:

Is there a claim that this is the earliest appearance of the term "national pastime" to denote base ball?

Year
1856
Item
1856.5
Edit

1856.8 Knickerbocker Rules Meeting Held

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

At the close of 1856 it was decided that a revision of the rules was necessary, and a meeting of the Knickerbockers was held and a new code established. The outcome of this was the first actual convention of ball clubs. 

John Thorn adds that the session was held December 6 at Smith's Hotel at 462 Broome Street, and that it was a Knicks-only meeting.

Sources:

The Tribune Book of Open-Air Sports, page 71, quoted in Weaver, Amusements and Sports, page 98, according to Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.

Year
1856
Item
1856.8
Edit

1856.12 Gothams 21, Knicks 7; Fans Show Greatest Interest Ever; "Revolver" Controversy

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Yesterday the cars of the Second and Third avenue Railroads were crowded for hours with the lovers of ball playing, going out to witness the long-talked of match between the "Gotham" and "Knickerbocker" Clubs. We think the interest to see this game was greater than any other match ever played."

The Times account includes a box score detailing "hands out" and "runs" for each player. The text uses "aces" as well as "runs," and employs the term "inning," not "innings." It notes players who "made some splendid and difficult catches in the long field."

In its coverage, Porter's Spirit of the Times noted that the Knicks criticized the use by the Gotham of a Unions of Morrisania player, Pinckney.

Sources:

"Base Ball Match," New York Daily Times, September 6, 1856, page 8.

Porter's Spirit of the Times, September 13, 1856.

Year
1856
Item
1856.12
Edit

1856.13 General Base Ball Rules Are Published

Game:

Base Ball

Rules and By-laws of Base Ball (New York, Hosford), 1856. 

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224

Comment:

David Block reports that these rules are generic, not restricted to one club. 

This may be the first publication specifically devoted to base ball.

Year
1856
Item
1856.13
Edit

1856.14 Manly Virtues of Base Ball Extolled; 25 Clubs Now Playing in NYC Area

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The game of Base Ball is one, when well played, that requires strong bones, tough muscle, and sound mind; and no athletic game is better calculated to strengthen the frame and develop a full, broad chest, testing a man's powers of endurance most severely . . ." I have no doubt that some twenty-five Clubs . . . could be reckoned up within a mile or two of New-York, that stronghold of 'enervated' young men."

"Base Ball [letter to the editor], New York Times, September 27, 1856. 

Sources:

Full text is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 21-22.

Year
1856
Item
1856.14
Edit

1856.15 Excelsior Base Ball Club Forms in Albany NY

Location:

NY State

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "Albany Excelsior Base Ball Club This Club was organized May 12, 1856."

[B] "The match game of Base Ball between the Empire and Excelsior Clubs, came off yesterday on the Cricket Grounds...Excelsior winning by 3."

 

Sources:

[A] Porter's Spirit of the Times, May 23, 1857. 

[B] Albany Evening Journal June 11, 1856

Comment:

It appears that the Empire Club and the Athlete Club of Albany had already existed at that time. The Empire - Excelsior game cited was apparently not played according to the Knickerbocker rules.

Year
1856
Item
1856.15
Edit

1856.18 First Reported Canadian Base Ball Game Occurs, in Ontario

Location:

Canada

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"September 12, 1856 -"The first reported game of Canadian baseball is played in London, ONT, with the London Club defeating the Delaware club 34-33." 

"London [ON], Sept. 15, 1856. Editor Clipper: Within the past few months several Base Ball clubs have been organized in this vicinity, and the first match game was played between the London and Delaware clubs, on Friday, the 12th inst." The box score reveals that the 34-33 score eventuated when the clubs stood at 26-23 after the first inning, and then London outscored Delaware 11-7 in the second inning. 

Sources:

Charlton, James, ed., The Baseball Chronology (Macmillan, 1991), page 13

"Base Ball in Canada," The New York Clipper Volume 4, number 23 (September 27, 1856), page 183.

Query:

Is it likely that the New York rules would have produced this much scoring per inning . . . or was it set up as a two-inning contest? Can we confirm/disconfirm that this was the first Canadian game in some sense [keeping in mind that Beachville game report at #1838.4 above]?

Year
1856
Item
1856.18
Edit

1856.19 Five-Player Base Ball Reported in NY, WI

Location:

Wisconsin, New York

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

Two games of five-on-five baseball appear in the Spirit of the Times, starting in 1856. The '56 game matched the East Brooklyn junior teams for the Nationals and the Continentals. The Nationals won 37-10.  In 1857, an item taken from the Waukesha (WI) Republican of June 6, pitted Carroll College freshmen and "an equal number of residents of this village. They played two games to eleven tallies, and one to 21 tallies. The collegians won all three games. Neither account remarks on the team sizes. Other five-on-five matches appeared in 1858.  

Sources:

Spirit of the Times, Volume 26, number 39 (Saturday, November 8, 1856), page 463, column 3.

Spirit of the Times Volume 27, number 20 (June 27, 1857), page 234, column 2. 

Query:

Was 5-player base ball common then? Did it follow special rules? How do 4 fielders cover the whole field?

Year
1856
Item
1856.19
Edit

1856.21 Trenton Club Forms for "Invigorating Amusement"

Location:

New Jersey

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"BASE BALL CLUB. - A number of gentlemen of this city have formed themselves into a club for the practice of the invigorating amusement of Base Ball. Their practicing ground is on the common east of the canal. We hope that this will be succeeded by a Cricket Club."

 

Sources:

"Base Ball Club," Trenton (NJ) State Gazette (May 26, 1856) no page provided.

Query:

Is this the first known NJ club well outside the NY metropolitan area?

Year
1856
Item
1856.21
Edit

1856.22 Young Brooklyn Clubs Play, But Reporter is Unimpressed

Game:

Base Ball

The Harmony Club beat the Continentals, 21-15, in the "intense heat" of Brooklyn, but the scathing of the players didn't end there. "The play was miserably poor, neither party being entitled to be called good players. Bad, however, as was the play of the Harmony Club, that of the Continentals was infinitely worse. - Mr. Brown, the catcher, being the only good player amongst the whole. They all require a good deal of practice before again attempting to play a match."

 

Sources:

"Base Ball. - Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 16, 1856, page 2

Year
1856
Item
1856.22
Edit

1856.28 Knicks Call for Convention of Clubs

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club at its meeting of Dec. 6, 1856, issued a call for a convention of the base ball clubs and appointed a special committee chaired by D. L. (Doc) Adams to supervise same. The clubs were requested to "select three representatives to meet at No 462 Broome street, in the city of New York, on Thursday, the 22d day of January, 1857." The Knick's resolution did not specify a purpose for the convention.

Sources:

New York Herald, December 22, 1856; Spirit of the Times, January 3, 1857

Year
1856
Item
1856.28
Edit

1856.31 First Scholastic Play?

Tags:

College

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"The young gentlemen of the Free Academy have formed themselves into two clubs, called the O. G.'s and Q. P. D.'s-- (Query, the Cupidities?) They had a day's play recently at Hoboken, when the O. G.'s-- probably "Old Greys"-- won, scoring 21 runs to 17 of their opponents."

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, Nov. 8, 1856.

Year
1856
Item
1856.31
Edit

1856.32 Hind Catcher

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

On August 30, 1856 the Knickerbocker and Empire clubs played to a 21-21 tie
in eight innings in a match at the Elysian Fields. While the Knicks
positioned themselves as a conventional nine--three "fielders," one
"behind," three basemen, a shortstop (the inventor Adams himself), and a
pitcher, their opponents elected to use no shortstop and TWO men playing
"behind."

Sources:

source not referenced

Year
1856
Item
1856.32
Edit

1856.33 First Ball of the Base Ball Clubs Attracts 200 Couples

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Seven clubs participated in the first Ball of the Base Ball Clubs, "at Niblo's", attracting about 200 couples. Ithe evening was pronounced "very satisfactory".

Sources:

New York Tribune, January 25, 1856

Year
1856
Item
1856.33
Edit

1856.35 Future Star Dickey Pearce Discovers the Decade-old No-Plugging Rule

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"I was working at my trade in 1856," said Dick, "and old Cale Sniffen, who was the pitcher of the Atlantic Club at that time, asked me to go out with him and see the club practice. I told him I did not know a thing about the game. 'Never mind that,' said Cale, "I'll show you.' So I went out with him one day to the old field where the Atlantics played in 1856, and which adjoined the Long Island Cricket Club's grounds. At that time I used to take a hand in with the boys in practicing old-fashioned base ball, in which we used to plug fellows when they ran bases, by putting out through throwing the ball at them. Well, I went out with Cale and he got me into a game, and the first chance I had to catch a fellow running bases, I sent the ball at him hot, and it hit him in the eye. Then I learned the new rule was to throw the ball to the base player and let him touch the runner."

 

Sources:

The Sporting Life, January 4, 1888.

For an overview of Pearce's baseball life, see Briana McKenna's article at http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/db8ea477.&nbsp;

Comment:

Finder Richard Hershberger adds that this account "has a couple interesting features. The New York game by 1856 was well into its early expansion phase, but we see here where it still wasn't really all that widely known, even in Brooklyn. Pearce also cuts through the nonsense about what baseball's, meaning the New York game, immediate ancestor was, and what it was called.

"There was in the 1880s a widespread collective amnesia about this, opening the way for Just So stories about Old Cat and such. Pearce correctly calls the predecessor game "base ball," just like they had at the time it was played."

Note: Pearce was born in 1836, and thus was nine when the Knickerbocker rule replacing plugging/soaking/burning had appeared.  Eleven years later, lads in Brooklyn had evidently made the adjustment. 

 

 

Query:

Do we have any additional information on where in Brooklyn Pearce and his friends were playing the old-fashioned game in the 1850s?

Year
1856
Item
1856.35
Edit

1857.1 Rules Modified to Specify Nine Innings, 90-Foot Base Paths, Nine-Player Teams, but not the Fly Rule

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The New York Game rules are modified by a group of 16 clubs who send representatives to meetings to discuss the conduct of the New York Game. The Knickerbocker Club recommends that a winner be declared after seven innings but nine innings are adopted instead upon the motion of Lewis F. Wadsworth. The base paths are fixed by D.L. Adams at 30 yards - the old rule had specified 30 paces and the pitching distance at 15 yards. Team size is set at nine players." The convention decided not to eliminate bound outs, but did give fly outs more weight by requiring runners to return to their bases after fly outs.

Roger Adams writes that the terms "runs" and "innings" first appear in the 1857 rules, as well as the first specifications of the size and weight of the base ball.

Follow-up meetings were held on January 28 and February 3 to finalize the rule changes.

Sources:


New York Evening Express, January 23, 1857; New York Herald, January 23, 1857; Porter's Spirit of the Times, January 31, February 28, March 7, 1857; Spirit of the Times, January 31, 1857 (Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 122-24).

The text of the March 7 Porter's Spirit article is found at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2016/04/04/the-baseball-convention-of-1857-a-summary-report/.  In addition to the complete text of the 35 rules, this article includes commentary on 8 or 10 of the Convention's decisions (chiefly the consideration of the fly rule).   The coverage leaves the impression that the Knickerbockers supported a rules convention mainly to engineer the adoption of a fly rule and thus to swing the game into the cricket practice for retiring runners.   

For other full accounts of the convention, see Frederick Ivor-Campbell, "Knickerbocker Base Ball: The Birth and Infancy of the Modern Game," Base Ball, Volume 1, Number 2 (Fall 2007), pages 55-65, and John Freyer & Mark Rucker, Peverelly's National Game (2005), p. 17.

See also Eric Miklich, "Nine Innings, Nine Players, Ninety Feet, and Other Changes: The Recodification of Baseball Rules in 1857," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, Fall 2011 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 118-121; and R. Adams, "Nestor of Ball Players," found in typescript in the Chadwick Scrapbooks. (Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek, December 29, 2009.)

Comment:

In a systematic review of Games Tabulation data from the New York Clipper, the only exception to the use of a 9-player team for match games among senior clubs was a single 11-on-11 contest in Jersey City in 1855.

The rules were also amended to forbid "jerked" pitches. Jerking was not defined. See Peter Morris's A Game of Inches (2006), p. 72.

Year
1857
Item
1857.1
Edit
Source Text

1857.2 Interclub Meeting Reshapes the Game

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Year
1857
Item
1857.2
Edit

1857.5 The Tide Starts Turning in New England - Trimountain Club Adopts NY Game

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"BASE BALL IN BOSTON. - Another club has recently organized in Boston, under the title of the Mountain [Tri-Mountain, actually - Boston had three prominent city hills then - LMc] Base Ball Club. They have decided upon playing the game the same as played in New York, viz.: to pitch instead of throwing the ball, also to place the men on the bases, and not throw the ball at a man while running, but to touch him with it when he arrives at the base. If a ball is struck [next word, perhaps "beyond," is blacked out: "outside" is written in margin] the first and third base, it is to be considered foul, and the batsman is to strike again. This mode of playing, it is considered, will become more popular than the one now in vogue, in a short time. Mr. F. Guild, the treasurer of the above named club, is now in New York, and has put himself under the instructions of the gentlemen of the Knickerbocker. . . . "

A letter from "G.", of Boston, corrected this note in the following issue, on June 20: Edward Saltzman, an Empire Club member who had moved to that city, had founded the club and provided instruction.

Sources:

The New York Clipper, June 13, 1857 (per handwritten notation in clipping book; Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008) and June 20, 1857

Comment:

The Tri-Mountain Club's 1857 by-laws simply reprint the original 13 rules of the Knickerbocker Club: facsimile from "Origins of Baseball" file at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown.

Query:

Note: does "place the men on bases" refer to the fielders? Presumably in the MA game such positioning wasn't needed because there was plugging, and there were no force plays at the bases?

Year
1857
Item
1857.5
Edit

1857.7 Daily Base Ball Games Found in Public Square in Cleveland

Tags:

Bans

Location:

Ohio

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Unknown

"Base Ball at Cleveland This truly national game is daily played in the public square, and one of the city authorities decided that there was law against it. When appealed to, he quietly informed the players that there was no law against ball-playing there . . . The crowd sent up a shout and renewed the game, which continued until dark."

 

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, April 18, 1857. Facsimile contributed by Gregory Christiano, December 2, 2009. 

Comment:

No details on the rules used in these games is provided. Others have dated the arrival of the Association game in Ohio to 1864.

Year
1857
Item
1857.7
Edit

1857.8 First Western club, the Franklin Club, forms in Detroit

Location:

Michigan

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Sources:

Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 14. [No ref given.]

Morris, Peter, Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan [University of Michigan Press, 2003], pp.22-28

Year
1857
Item
1857.8
Edit

1857.9 Calls for an American National Game

Game:

Base Ball

[A]The editor of the Spirit of the Times: There "should be some one game peculiar to the citizens of the United States," in that "the Germans have brought hither their Turnverein Association . . . and various other peculiarities have been naturalized."

[B] Spirit also claimed that baseball "must be regarded as a national pastime"

 

Sources:

[A]Porter's Spirit of the Times, January 31, 1857, quoted in Willke, Base Ball in its Adolescence, page 121, Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.

[B] Adelman, Melvin L., New York City and the Rise of Modern Athletics, 1820-70 (1986), p. 135.

Warning:

[B] Adelman regarded Spirit's claim as "premature" because New York Rules baseball had not spread beyond the immediate area in 1857, but a more likely perspective is that such claims for baseball at this time stemmed from its presence nationwide in various forms since the colonial era.

Year
1857
Item
1857.9
Edit

1857.12 The First Vintage Games?

Location:

New Jersey

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "the first regular match" of the 'Knickerbocker Antiquarian Base Ball Club (who play the old style of the game)'" was played in Nov. 1857. 

[B] In October, 1857, the Liberty Club of New Brunswick, NJ, played a group of "Old Fogies" who played "the old-fashioned base ball, which, as nearly everyone knows, is entirely different from base ball as now played."

Sources:

[A] Porter's Spirit of the Times, Nov. 14, 1857, p.165.

[B] New York Clipper, Oct. 10, 1857

Comment:

[A] Rules played are unknown. The score was 86-69, and three players are listed in the box score as "not out". 11 on each side.

 

Year
1857
Item
1857.12
Edit

1857.13 The First Game Pic?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"On Saturday, September 12, 1857, 'Porter's Spirit of the Times,' a weekly newspaper devoted to sports and theater, featured a woodcut that, as best can be determined, was the first published image of a baseball game.?

 

Sources:

Vintage Base Ball Association site, http://vbba.org/ed-interp/ 1857elysian fieldsgame.html

Year
1857
Item
1857.13
Edit

1857.14 Sunrise Base Ball

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Nassau and Charter Oak clubs scheduled three games at 5 a.m. in Brooklyn, apparently to impress players and spectators that 'there is a cheaper and better way to health than to pay doctor's bills.'"

 

Sources:

Carl Wittke, "Baseball in its Adolescence," Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, no. 2, April 1952, page 119. Wittke cites Porter's Spirit, July 4, 1857 as his source.

Warning:

Wittke took liberties with, or misunderstood, his source. The remark quoted in Porter's referred to the morning practice hours of the clubs, not to games.

Year
1857
Item
1857.14
Edit

1857.17 Base Ball in Melbourne?

Location:

Australia

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The first recorded baseball event in Australia was a series of three games between Collingwood and Richmond. The scores were astronomical, with Collingwood winning the second match 350-230! The early Australian baseball players were probably playing a variation of cricket, rounders, and the New York Game and possibly counting each base attained as a run."

Joe Clark, A History of Australian Baseball (U Nebraska Press, 2003), page 5. 

Similarly: Phil Lowry reports a 3-inning game in Melbourne, Victoria on February 21 or 28, 1857. The score was 350 to 230, and rules called for a run to be counted each time a baserunner reached a new base." Posting to 19CBB by Phil Lowry 11/1/2006.

 

Comment:

Clark then cites "a well-traveled myth in the American baseball community . . . that the first baseball played in Australia was by Americans on the gold fields of Ballarat in 1857 . . . . No documentation has ever been produced for a Ballarat gold fields game [also page 5]."

Year
1857
Item
1857.17
Edit

1857.18 Porter's Project: Collect Rules of Play

Game:

Base Ball

"To Base Ball Clubs We will feel obliged if such of the Base Ball Club in this vicinity and throughout the country, as have printed Rules of Play, will send us a copy of the same."

 

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, September 26, 1857. 

Query:

Our holy grail! Our lost ark! Is there evidence that replies were received and analyzed?

Year
1857
Item
1857.18
Edit

1857.22 Atlantic Club Becomes Base Ball Champ?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Atlantic Club defeats the Eckford Club, both of Brooklyn [NY], to take the best-of-3-games match and claim the championship for 1857. The baseball custom now is that the championship can only be won by a team beating the current titleholder 2 out of 3 games." A date of October 22, 1857 is given for this accomplishment.

 

Sources:

Charlton, James, ed., The Baseball Chronology (Macmillan, 1991), page 14. No reference is given.

Warning:

Note: Craig Waff asks whether clubs could formally claimed annual championships this early in base ball's evolution; email of 10/28/2008. He suggests that, under the informal conventions of the period, the Gothams [who had wrested the honor from the Knickerbockers in September 1856], held it throughout 1857.

Comment:

Note that within one year of the rules convention of 1856-7, on-field superiority may have already passed from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Tholkes- Charlton's remark at best refers to Brooklyn clubs only. The Atlantic had defeated the Gotham in September, but lost a return match on October 31 (a match which Peverelly mistakenly places in 1858). They did not play a third game. Neither Peverelly nor the author of the "X" letter in Porter's Spirit in December 1857, claims a championship, informal or formal, for the 1857 Atlantics, nor is it stated that in 1857 they flew at their grounds the whip pennant which later became emblematic of the informal championship.

Year
1857
Item
1857.22
Edit

1857.23 Princeton Freshmen Establish Nassau Base Ball Club

Tags:

College

Location:

New Jersey

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"In the fall of '57, a few members of the [College of New Jersey, now Princeton University] Freshmen [sic] class organized the Nassau Baseball [sic] Club to play baseball although only a few members had seen the game and fewer still had played. [A description follows of attempts to clear a playing area, a challenge being made to the Sophomores, and the selection of 15 players for each side.] After each party had played five innings, the Sophomores had beaten their antagonists by twenty-one rounds, and were declared victorious." The account goes on to report that the next spring, "baseball clubs of all descriptions were organized on the back campus and 'happiness on such occasions seemed to rule the hour.'" The account also reflects on the coming of base ball: "in seven years [1857] a new game superseded handball in student favor - it was 'town ball' or the old Connecticut game."

 

Sources:

Source: "Baseball at Princeton," Athletics at Princeton: A History (Presbrey Company, New York, 1901), page 66. Available on Google Books. Original sources are not provided. 

Warning:

Caution: The arrival of the New York style of play was still a year into the future.

Query:

Query: [1] "The old CT game?" Wasn't that wicket? 

Year
1857
Item
1857.23
Edit

1857.25 Season Opens in Boston with May Olympics Victory, Best-of-Three Format

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"OPENING OF THE SEASON IN BOSTON. Our young friends in Boston have stolen a march upon New York, in the matter of Base Ball, having taken the lead in initiating the sport for 1857, by playing an exciting game on Boston Common on the 14th inst. The following report of the match we copy from the Boston Daily Chronicle." 

The Daily Chronicle report described a best of three games, games decided at 25 tallies, twelve-man, one-out-side-out match between the Olympics and Bay State. The Olympics won, 25-12 and 25-13, the second game taking 14 innings. The "giver" and catcher for each club were named. In otherwise identical coverage, the New York Clipper [hand-noted as "May" in the Mears clipping book] added that the Bay State club had afterward challenged the Olympics to re-match involving eight-player teams. A later Clipper item [date unspecified in clipping book] reported that on May 28, 1857, the Olympics won the follow-up match, 16-25, 25-21, and 25-8

Year
1857
Item
1857.25
Edit

1857.26 Baltimore Clubs Adopt the New Game

Location:

Maryland

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Baltimore became a great center of the baseball in the very early days of the game. The Excelsiors were in the field in 1857, the Waverlys in 1858, and the Baltimores in 1859. Another club disputed the latter's right to the [club name], and a game played for the name the first formed club won."

 

Sources:

George V. Tuohey, "The Story of Baseball," The Scrap Book Volume 1, July, 1906 (Munsey, New York, 1906), page 442. Accessed 2/16/10 via Google Books search ("baltimores in 1859"). 

Warning:

According to Peter Morris in Base Ball Pioneers (McFarland, 2012, p. 253), the first club, the Excelsior, took the field in 1858. Source: William R. Griffith, The Early History of Amateur Baseball in the State of Maryland, (Baltimore, n.p.1997), p. 4.

Comment:

The first club was formed in direct homage to the Excelsiors of Brooklyn.

Year
1857
Item
1857.26
Edit

1857.28 Boston Sees Eight Hour Match of the Massachusetts Game

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Sources:

Spirit of the Times, Volume 27, number 35 (Saturday, October 10, 1857), page 416, column 1. 

Year
1857
Item
1857.28
Edit

1857.30 Olympic Club's Version of MA Game Rules Published

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The Olympic Ball Club's rules, adopted in 1857, appear in Porter's Spirit of the

Times, June 27, 1857 [page?]. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.

The rules show variation from the 1858 rules [see #1858.3 below] that are sometimes seen as uniform practice for the Massachusetts game in earlier years. Examples: games are decided at "say 25" tallies, not at 100; minimum distance from 1B to 2B and 3B to 4B is 50 feet, and from 4B to 1B and 2B to 3B is 40 feet, not 60 feet in a square; pitching distance is 30 feet, not 35 feel; in playing a form of the game cited as "each one for himself" entails a two-strike at-bat and a game is set at a fixed number of innings, not the number of tallies; the bound rule is in effect, not the fly rule. The Olympic rules do not mention the size of the team, the size of the ball, whether the thrower or specify the use of stakes as bases.

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, June 27, 1857 [page?]. 

Comment:

Cannot confirm this source. The rules described appeared in the New York Clipper, October 10, 1857.

Year
1857
Item
1857.30
Edit

1857.32 Daybreak Club Forms in Providence RI

Location:

Rhode Island

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Base Ball at Providence - We have received a notification of the formation of the Aurora Base Ball Club at this place, and in accordance with their name, the members meet from 5 to 7 o'clock in the morning. They have been out seven times since March, notwithstanding the pluvious state of the atmospheric phenomena this season."

 

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, Saturday, May 9, 1857. 

Query:

Is this item newsworthy because it is an early Providence ballclub, because it is a pioneering daybreak club, or neither?

Year
1857
Item
1857.32
Edit

1857.33 Clipper Thinks Base Ball is Catching On

Game:

Base Ball

"The National Game: The game of Base Ball is fact taking hold of the attention of our young men and in different cities we perceive new organizations constantly spring up. It is one of the most exhilarating or our field sports, and cannot fail eventually to become extremely popular everywhere. A visit to the Elysian Fields, at Hoboken, any fine day, will convince those disposed to find fault with our sports and pastimes that they err . . . ."

 

Sources:

New York Clipper, June 20, 1857. 

Year
1857
Item
1857.33
Edit

1857.35 New York Game Likely Comes to Rochester NY

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] the town's first team, the Live Oak Club, formed in 1857.

[B] A member of the club, quoted in 1902, also gave 1857 as the inaugural year, noting that the club "played unnoticed" that season. 

 

 

Sources:

[A] Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (August 6, 1869), 

[B] Rochester Post Express, May 1, 1902.

Comment:

Rochester baseball historian Priscilla Astifan [email of March 24, 2010] points out that it seems certain that the National Association rules were in effect in 1858, as seen in published box scores in that year.

One source, however, suggests a different club and an earlier year for base ball's local debut. "The first baseball club in Rochester was organized about 1855. . . . The first club was the Olympics." The 1855 Source: "Baseball Half a Century Ago," Rochester Union and Advertiser, March 24, 1903. The article does not refer to evidence for this claim, and Priscilla Astifan cannot find any, either.

Year
1857
Item
1857.35
Edit

1857.38 President's Peace Medal Depicts Baseball Game in Background

Location:

US

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

Notables:

United States Government

"A base ball game is depicted on the 1857 Indian Peace Medal issued by the Buchanan Administration in 1857. The Indian Peace Medal was "presented by a government agent to the chief of a tribe that the government considered to be friendly, or that it desired to become so...the frontier game of baseball, in all its variety, was already perceived as the national game..."

Sources:

Thorn, John, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011), p. 114.

See also https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/our-baseball-presidents-ec1617be6413 (accessed Feb 2018).

 

Comment:


"For President Buchanan in 1857, a new reverse to the (latest "Indian Peace") Medal was commissioned from engraver Joseph Wilson . . . .  [The medal showed] in the distance, a simple home with a woman standing in the doorway -- and a baseball game being playing in the foreground. . . . 

"No matter what some gentlemen were saying in New York at the "national" conventions of area clubs, the frontier game of baseball, in all its variety, was already perceived as the national game."

-- John Thorn, "Our Baseball Presidents," Our Game posting, February 2018.

 

 

Year
1857
Item
1857.38
Edit

1857.39 First Baseball Attendance of a Thousand or More

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"There were thousands of ladies and gentlemen on the ground to witness this game."

Sources:

New York Times, July 10, 1857, about Eagles - Gotham game at the Elysian Fields. Post be Craig Waff on 19cBB, 4/23/2010

Warning:

Lacking enclosed fields, turnstiles or ticket stubs, attendances are only visual estimates.

Comment:

Waff counted 39 attendance estimates of one thousand or more in the NYC area prior to the Civil War.

Year
1857
Item
1857.39
Edit

1857.40 Rules Experiment Suggested-- Six outs

Game:

Base Ball

"We have, in a former number, recommended a new rule...It is to make six out all out, instead of making three and all out. A player who is caught out on the fly, being marked 00, or two out to his side."

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, March 7, 1857.

Comment:

Seen by Porter's as a compromise solution to the controversy over continuing the bound catch rule.

Year
1857
Item
1857.40
Edit

1857.41 Base Ball Verse for Adults

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"BASE BALL"

Nor will the SPIRIT e'er forget thy names/Base Ball, and Cricket, noble, manly games,/Where Health herself beholds the wicket fall,/ and Joy goes flying for the bounding ball,/And the gay greensward, studded with bright eyes/Of maid, who mark the glorious exercise,/Clap their white hands, and shout for very fun,/In free applause of every gallant run.-- New Year's Address

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, Jan. 3, 1857

Comment:

Prior base ball verses were aimed at juveniles...this is the earliest aimed at adult players and the ladies who cheered them on.

Year
1857
Item
1857.41
Edit

1857.42 The "X" Letters

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"DEAR SPIRIT:- As the season for playing Ball, and other out-door sports has nearly passed away, and as you have fairly become the chronicle for Cricket and Base Ball, I take the liberty of writing to you, and to the Ball players through you, a few letters, which I hope will prove of some interest to your readers."

Between October 1857 and January 1858, New York- based Porter’s Spirit of the Times, which covered Knickerbocker Rules base ball on a regular basis, published a series of 14 anonymous letters concerning the game. Identifying himself only as “X”, the author’s stated purpose was to “induce some prominent player to write or publish a book on the game.” The letters described the origins of the game, profiled prominent clubs in New York and Brooklyn, offered advice on starting and operating a club, on equipment, and on position play, and, finally, commented on the issues of the day in the base ball community. As the earliest such effort, the letters are of interest as a window into a base ball community poised for the explosive growth which followed the Fashion Race Course games of 1858. 

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, Oct. 24, 1857 - Jan. 23, 1858

Comment:

The identity of "X" has not been discovered.

Year
1857
Item
1857.42
Edit

1857.44 Not Glued or Sewn to Second Base

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The basemen are not confined strictly to their bases, but must be prepared to occupy them if a player is running toward them. "

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, December 26, 1857

Comment:

Placement of basemen on their bags in contemporary illustrations has led to an assumption that that is where they customarily played. Not so.

Year
1857
Item
1857.44
Edit

1857.47 On Boston Common, "Several Parties Engaged in Matches of Base Ball"

Game:

Base Ball, Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Common was thronged with citizens many of whom engaged in ball-playing.  The Bay State Cricket Club were out in full force and had fine sport.  Several parties engaged in matches at base ball, enjoying the exercise exceedingly, and furnishing a large amount of amusement to the spectators."

Sources:

"Fast Day", Boston Herald, April 17, 1857, page 4.

Year
1857
Item
1857.47
Edit

1857.48 First Known Appearance of Term "New York Game"

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Tri-Mountain Base Ball Club has been organized... This Club has decided to play the "New York Game," which consists in pitching instead of throwing the ball." 

See also item 1857.5

Sources:

Boston Herald, June 15, 1857

Comment:

Richard Hershberger notes: "The earliest citation in Dickson's Baseball Dictionary is from 1859. It is interesting that the first use seems to come from the Boston side of things, and predates the Dedham convention (which laid out the rules of the Massachusetts Game). The point is the same as it would be over the next few years, to conveniently distinguish versions of baseball."

So this find antedates a baseball first.

John Thorn notes: 

"The phrase "New York Game" may have owed something to the fact that the
principal Tri-Mountain organizer had been a player with the Gotham Base
Ball Club of New York, whose roots predated the formation of the
Knickerbocker BBC."

https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/early-baseball-in-boston-d86107fb8560

Bob Tholkes notes:

"'New York' instead of 'national:' in what turned out to be a shrewd marketing move, was referring to a "national" pastime, implicitly sweeping aside regional variations, and in March 1858 called their organization the National Association, which the New York Clipper (April 3, 1858)considered a howl."

 

 

Year
1857
Item
1857.48
Edit

1858.2 New York All-Stars Beat Brooklyn All-Stars, 2 games to 1; First Admission Fee [A Dime] Charged

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Great Base Ball Match of 1858, which was a best 2 out of 3 games series, embodies four landmark events that are pivotal to the game's history"

1. It was organized base ball's very first all-star game.

2. It was the first base ball game in the New York metropolitan area to be played on an enclosed ground.

3. It marked the first time that spectators paid for the privilege of attending a base ball game -- a fee of 10 cents gave admission to the grounds.

4. The game played on September 10, 1858 is at present [2005] the earliest known instance of an umpire calling strike on a batter."  The New York Game had adopted the called strike for the 1858 season. It is first known to have been employed (many umpires refused to do so) at a New York vs. Brooklyn all-star game at Fashion Race Course on Long Island. The umpire was D.L. (Doc) Adams of the Knickerbockers, who also chaired the National Association of Base Ball Players Rules Committee.  But see Warning, below.

These games are believed to have been the first the newspapers subjected to complete play-by-play accounts, in the New York Sunday Mercury, July 25, 1858.

The New York side won the series, 2 games to 1.  But Brooklyn was poised to become base ball's leading city.

 

 

Sources:

Schaefer, Robert H., "The Great Base Ball Match of 1858: Base Ball's First All-Star Game," Nine, Volume 14, no 1, (2005), pp 47-66. See also Robert Schaefer, "The Changes Wrought by the Great Base Ball Match of 1858," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 122-126.

Coverage of the game in Porter's Spirit of the Times, July 24, 1858, is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 27-29.

The Spirit article itself is "The Great Base Ball Match," Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 24 (Saturday, July 24, 1858), page 288, column 2. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.

"The All-Star Game You Don't Know", Our Game, http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/07/08/the-all-star-game-you-dont-know/, by John Thorn

See also John Zinn, "The Rivalry Begins: Brooklyn vs. New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century.(SABR, 2013), pp.10-12.

 

Warning:

Richard Hershberger (email of 10/6/2014) points out that the Sunday Mercury account of this game's key at bat "makes it clear that they were swinging strikes."   

Comment:

These games were reoportedly most intensely-covered base ball event to date-- items on the planning and playing of the "Fashion Race Course" games began during the first week in June. Coverage can be found in both the sporting weeklies (New York Clipper, New York Sunday Mercury, Porter's Spirit Of The Times, The Spirit Of The Times) and several dailies (New York Evening Express, New York Evening Post, New York Herald, New York Tribune). Note --Craig Waff turned up 26 news accounts for the fashion games in Games Tab 1.0: see http://protoball.org/Games_Tab:Greater_New_York_City#date1859-9-7.

The Sunday Mercury's path-breaking play-by-play accounts were probably written by Mercury editor William Cauldwell and are enlivened with colorful language and descriptions, such as describing a batting stance as "remindful of Ajax Defying the lamp-lighter", a satire on the classical sculpture, Ajax Defying the Lightning.

This series of games has also been cited as the source of the oldest known base balls:  "Doubts about the claims made for the 'oldest' baseball treasured as relics have no existence concerning two balls of authenticated history brought to light by Charles De Bost . . . . De Bost is the son of Charles Schuyler De Bost, Captain and catcher for the Knickerbocker Baseball Club in the infancy of the game." The balls were both inscribed with the scores of the Brooklyn - NY Fashion Course Games of July and September 1858. Both balls have odd one-piece covers the leather having been cut in four semi-ovals still in one piece, the ovals shaped like the petals of a flower." Source: 'Oldest Baseballs Bear Date of 1858,' unidentified newspaper clipping, January 21, 1909, held in the origins of baseball file at the Giamatti Center at the HOF.

 

 

Query:

If this game did not give us the first called strikes, when did suchactually appear?

Year
1858
Item
1858.2
Edit

1858.3 At Dedham MA, Team Representatives Formulate Mass Game Rules

Game:

Base Ball, Massachusetts Game

Age of Players:

Adult

The representatives of ten clubs meet at Dedham, Massachusetts, to form the Massachusetts Association Base Ball Players and to adopt twenty-one rules for their version of base ball. The Massachusetts Game reaffirms many of the older rule practices such as plugging the runner (throwing the ball at the runner to make a put-out). The Massachusetts Game rivals the New York Game for a time but eventually loses support as the popularity of the New York Game expands during the Civil War.

The 36-page Mayhew/Baker manual covers the rules and field layouts for both games. It gamely explains that both game require "equal skill and activity," but leans toward the Mass game, which "deservedly holds the first place in the estimation of all ball players and the public." Still, it admits, the New York game "is fast becoming in this country what cricket is to England, a national game."

The May 15 1858 Boston Traveller reported briefly on the new compact, adding "We congratulate the lovers of this noble and manly pastime." On June 1, the Boston Herald reported on the first game played (before a crowd of 2000-3000 at the Parade Grounds) under the new rules, won in 33 innings by the Winthrops over the Olympics 100-27, and carried a box score.

Sources:

The Base Ball Player's Pocket Companion [Mayhew and Blake, Boston, 1859], pp. 20-22. Per Sullivan, p. 22. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 26-27. See also David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 219. 

Contemporary reports on the convention can be found in the Boston Herald, May 24, 1858; the Spirit of the Times, May 22, 1858; and Porter's Spirit of the Times, May 29, 1858.

For the rules themselves, see below.

Year
1858
Item
1858.3
Edit
Source Text

1858.5 Seven More Clubs Publish Their Rules

Location:

US

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

They include base ball clubs in Stamford CT [Mazeppa BB Club], Newburgh NY [Newburgh BB Club], Louisville [KY]? [Louisville BB Club], New York City [Independent BB Club], South Brooklyn [Olympic BB Club], Jersey City [Hamilton BB Club], and, formed to play the Massachusetts Game, the Takewambait BB Club of Natick MA.

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224

Year
1858
Item
1858.5
Edit

1858.8 Harvard Student Magazine Notes "Multitude" Playing Base or Cricket There

Game:

Cricket, Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"[On] almost any evening or pleasant Saturday, . . . a shirt-sleeved multitude from every class are playing as base or cricket . . .

Sources:

"Mens Sana," Harvard Magazine 4 (June 1858), page 201.

Year
1858
Item
1858.8
Edit

1858.9 Brooklyn Daily Eagle Contrasts Base Ball and Cricket

Game:

Base Ball, Cricket

"Base ball is the favorite game, as it is more simple in its rules, and a knowledge of them is easily acquired. Cricket is the most scientific of the two and requires more skill and judgment in the use of the bat, especially, than base."

 

Sources:

"Cricket and Base Ball," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 22, 1858. 

Year
1858
Item
1858.9
Edit

1858.12 Base Ball, Meet Tin Pan Alley

Tags:

Music

Game:

Base Ball

Blodgett, J. (composer), "The Base Ball Polka" [Buffalo, Blodgett and Bradford]. Block marks this as the first baseball sheet music, as composed by a member of the Niagara Base Ball Club of Buffalo. "On the title page, under an emblem of two crossed bats over a baseball, is a dedication 'To the Flour City B. B. Club of Rochester, N.Y. by the Niagara B. B. Club.'"

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 218.

Year
1858
Item
1858.12
Edit

1858.15 Base Ball Arrives in Heaven? "No, This is Iowa"

Location:

Iowa

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"John Liepa of Indianola presented a history of early baseball and the origins of the game in the state. John has pinpointed 1858 as the first reference to baseball in Iowa (in the city of Davenport), although naturally that is subject to change."

 

Sources:

From a report of the Field of Dreams SABR Chapter [the Iowa chapter] meeting at the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, IA, October 16, 2004.

John Thorn [email, 2/10/2008] suggests that the source may be the Davenport Daily Gazette, June 2, 1858, which states "The baseball clubs were both out yesterday afternoon."

Year
1858
Item
1858.15
Edit

1858.17 Atlantic Monthly Piece by Higginson Lauds Base-ball

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

"The Pastor of the Worcester Free Church, the Rev. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, wrote an influential argument for sports and exercise which appeared in the March 1858 issue of a new magazine called The Atlantic Monthly.

 

 

Sources:

Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "Saints, and Their Bodies," The Atlantic Monthly Volume 1, number 5 (March 1858), pp. 582-595. It is online at http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/sgml/moa-idx?notisid=ABK2934-0001-122

See also item#1830s.22.

 

Comment:

Some commentary: His [Higginson's] comments on our national game are of great interest, for he welcomed the growth of 'our indigenous American game of base-ball,' and followed [author James Fenimore] Cooper's lead by connecting the game with our national character." A. Fletcher and J. Shimer, Worcester: A City on the Rise (Worcester Publishing, Worcester, 2005), page 11. 

Query:

what did Cooper say about the link between base ball and national character?

Year
1858
Item
1858.17
Edit

1858.19 First KY Box Score Appears in Louisville Newspaper

Location:

Kentucky

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The beginnings of [Louisville] baseball on an organized basis are also lost in the mists of the 19th century. There were probably neighborhood teams competing within the city in the 1850s. But the first recorded box score in local papers appeared in the July 15, 1858 Daily Democrat. Two teams made up of members of the Louisville Base Ball Club faced one another in a contest where the final score was 52-41, a score not unusual for the period. The paper also notes that there were several other ball clubs organized in the city.

"Not much is known about the Louisville Base Ball Club. It was probably not more than a year or two old by the time of the 1858 box score."

 

Possible describing the same July game, but reporting different dates, The New York Clipper said: "BASE BALL IN LOUISVILLE - The game of Base Ball is making its way westward. In Louisville they have a well-organized club, called the 'Louisville Base Ball Club.' They played a game on the 18th, with the following result [box score for 52-42 intramural game shown]" 

Sources:

"Chapter 1 - Beginnings: From Amateur Teams to Disgrace in the National League," mimeo, Bob Bailey, 1999, page 2.

New York Clipper, July 31, 1858

Louisville Daily Democrat, July 15, 1858

Comment:

Porter's Spirit of the Times reported on July 17, 1858 that the Louisville BBC had been organized on June 10, 1858.

Year
1858
Item
1858.19
Edit

1858.20 Knicks Compose 17-Verse Song on Current Base Ball

Tags:

Music

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Chorus: Then shout, shout for joy, and let the welkin ring,/ In praises of our noble game, for health is sure to bring;/ Come, my brave Yankee boys, there's room enough for all,/ So join in Uncle Samuel's sport - the pastime of base ball."

The song was sung in honor of the Excelsiors at a dinner in August 1858.

Sources:

Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 30-32.

Reprinted in Henry Chadwick, The Game of Base Ball (Munro, 1868, reprint Camden House, 1983), pp. 178-80.

Reprinted in "Ball Days, A Song of 1858", Our Game, Thorn, http://ourgame. mlblogs.com/?s=Ball+Days%2C+A+Song+of+1858. July 18, 2012

Year
1858
Item
1858.20
Edit

1858.21 Times Editorial: "We Hail the New Fashion With Delight"

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"We hail the new fashion [base ball fever] with delight. It promises, besides it host of other good works, to kill out the costly target excursions. We predict that it will spread from the City to the country, and revive there, where it was dying out, a love of the noble game; that it will bring pale faces and sallow complexions into contempt; that it will make sad times for the doctors, and insure our well-beloved country a generation of stalwart men, who will save her independence."

 

Sources:

From the concluding paragraph of "Athletic Sports," New York Times, August 28, 1858, page 4. John Thorn believes that "costly target excursions refer to hunting fox, grouse and other game." 

Year
1858
Item
1858.21
Edit

1858.22 Rochester NY Editor: Base Ball to Curb Tobacco, Swearing (If Not Spitting)

Game:

Base Ball

"We hail then with pleasure, the introduction in our city of the game of base ball and the formation of the many clubs to enjoy this healthful activity. It will impart vigor, health and good feeling. It is a manly sport . . . [and] will contribute as much to good morals as it does to pleasure. . . . The stimulus of outdoor exercises will supplant the morbid and pernicious craving for tobacco. . . . It is a luxury to see our young men together, in the innocent enjoyment of a healthful sport. Let a father who was once a ball player too . . . have the privilege of looking on without the pain of hearing a profane word . . . Signed, X."

Sources:

 "Field Sports," Rochester Democrat and American (August 12, 1858), page 3, column 2. 

Year
1858
Item
1858.22
Edit

1858.24 Editorial Rips Base Ball "Mania" as a "Public Nuisance"

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

"Ball Clubs," The Happy Home and Parlor Magazine, Volume 8, December 1, 1858 [Boston MA], page 405. 

The author thinks base ball "has become a sort of mania, and on this account we speak of it. In itself a game at ball is an innocent and excellent recreation but when the sport is carried so far as it is at the present time, it becomes a pubic nuisance." His case: [1] gambling imbues it, [2] the crowd is unruly and intemperate, [3] profanity abounds, [4] its players waste a lot of time, [5] it leads to injury, and it distracts people from their work. "For these reasons we class ball-clubs, as now existing, with circus exhibitions, military musters, pugilistic feats, cock-fighting &c; all of which are nuisances in no small degree."

Sources:

Posted to 19CBB August 14, 2005 by Richard Hershberger.

Year
1858
Item
1858.24
Edit

1858.25 Your Base Ball Stringer, Mr. W. Whitman

Game:

Base Ball

Notables:

Walt Whitman

Reporter Whitman wrote a workmanlike [all-prose] account of a game [Atlantic 17, Putnam 13] for the Brooklyn Daily Times in June 1858.

 

Sources:

Walt Whitman, "On Baseball, 1858," in John Thorn, ed., The Complete Armchair Book of Baseball [Galahad Books, New York, 1997; originally published 1985 and 1987] pp 815-816.

Year
1858
Item
1858.25
Edit

1858.26 Wicket, as Well as Cricket and Base Ball, Reported in Baltimore MD

Location:

Maryland

Game:

Cricket, Wicket, Base Ball

"Exercise clubs and gymnasia are spring up everywhere. The papers have daily records of games at cricket, wicket, base ball, etc."

 

Sources:

Editorial, "Physical Education," Graham's American Monthly of Literature, art, and Fashion, Volume 53, Number 6 [December 1858], page 495. 

Year
1858
Item
1858.26
Edit

1858.27 Flour Citys First Base Ball Club in Rochester

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

 "The Flour City was the first club formed in Rochester, an occasion that was announced in the Rochester Democrat and American on May 3, 1858...(they) played Rochester's first reported match game on the hot afternoon of June 18..." Priscilla Astifan, in Base Ball Pioneers 1850-1870 (McFarland, 2012), p.92

 

Sources:

Rochester Democrat and American, May 3, 1858

Rochester Union and Advertiser, June 19, 1858

Warning:

A claim that the Live Oaks, or the Olympics, preceded the Flour Citys appears above - see #1855.14.

Year
1858
Item
1858.27
Edit

1858.28 The MA Ball: Smaller, Lighter, "Double 8" Cover Design

Tags:

Equipment

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Dedham Rules of the Massachusetts Game specifies that "The ball must weigh not less than two, nor more than two and three-quarter ounces, avoirdupois. It must measure not less than six and a half, nor more than eight and a half inches in circumference, and must be covered with leather."

William Cutler of Natick, MA reportedly designs the Figure 8 cover. The design was sold to Harrison Harwood. Harwood develops the first baseball factory (H. Harwood and Sons) in Natick, Massachusetts. Baseballs that are manufactured at this facility include the Figure 8 design as well as the lemon peel design.

 

Sources:

"The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007, at http://protoball.org/The_Evolution_of_the_Baseball_Up_To_1872.

Year
1858
Item
1858.28
Edit

1858.29 First Recorded College Game at Williams College

Tags:

College

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"On Saturday last [May 29] a Game of Ball was played between the Sophomore and Freshmen Classes of Williams College. The conditions were three rounds of 35 tallies - best two in three winning. The Sophs won the first, and the Freshmen the two last. It was considered one of the best contested Games ever played by the students."

 

Sources:

"Williamstown [MA]," The Pittsfield Sun, vol. 58, number 3011 (June 3, 1858, page 2, column 5. Posted to 19CBB on 8/14/2007 by Craig Waff. The best-of-three format is familiar in the Massachusetts game. 

Query:

Does the final sentence imply that earlier games of ball had recently been played?

Year
1858
Item
1858.29
Edit

1858.32 Ballplaying Interest Hits New Bedford MA

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Yet Another: A number of seamen, now in port, have formed a Club entitled the 'Sons of the Ocean Base Ball Club.' They play on the City commons, on Thursdays, and we are requested to state that the members challenge any of the other clubs in the city to a trial either of New York or Massachusetts game."

 

Sources:

New Bedford Evening Standard, September 13, 1858, as referenced at "Early days of Baseball in New Bedford, ca. 1858. http://scvbb.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/early-days-of-baseball-in-new-bedford-ca-1858/, [or google "'south coast vintage' 1858"], as accessed on 1/4/2008. This was evidently the first recorded mention of the NY game in the area. The website relates how the several New Bedford clubs debated which regional game to play in 1858, with the MA game prevailing at that point.

Year
1858
Item
1858.32
Edit

1858.34 Amusements at Duchess' Birthday Party Includes Base Ball

Tags:

Famous

Location:

England

Game:

Base Ball

Notables:

Duchess of Kent

August 17 was the 72nd birthday of the Duchess of Kent, celebrated at Windsor. Church bells rang. Royal tributes were fired. And, "amusements principally consisted of cricket, dancing, archery, football, trap and base ball, swinging, throwing sticks for prizes, etc."

Sources:

"Birthday of the Duchess of Kent," Times of London, Issue 23073 (August 18, 1858), page 7 column A. 

Comment:

Given the absence of the term "base ball" in this period, one may ask whether "trap and base ball" was a variant of "trap ball." In fact, the phrase appears in an 1862 in a description of a fete held in August 1859, presumably near Windsor, where, after a one-innings cricket contest, "archery, trap and base ball [and boat races] were included in the diversions. Gyll, Gordon W. J., History of the Parish of Wraysbury, (H. G. Bohn, London, 1862), page 55. Available on Google Books [google "trap and base ball"].

Year
1858
Item
1858.34
Edit

1858.35 New York Game Seen in Boston: Portland [ME] 47, Tri-Mountains 42.

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Here is how the new game was explained to Bostonians: "The bases are placed at the angles of a rhombus instead of a square, the home base being the position of the striker; provision is made for "foul hits," and the ball is caught on the 'bound' as well as on the 'fly.' The game consists of nine innings instead of one hundred tallies, and the ball is pitched, not thrown." The absence of stakes and plugging is not mentioned. Nor is the larger, heavier ball.

The New York Clipper (date and page omitted from Mears Collection) reprinted a Boston news account that remarked: "Unusual interest attached to the game among lovers of field sports, from the fact that it was announced to be played according to the rules of the New York clubs which differ essentially from the rules of the game as played here., and also from the fact that one of the parties to the match came from a neighboring city." Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.

Mainers see the game thus: "It took awhile but this modern game - and its popularity - moved steadily north. By 1858 we know it had arrived in Maine . . . because an article in the September 11th issue of the Portland Daily Advertiser heralded the fact that the Portland Base Ball Club had ventured to Boston to play the Tri-Mountain Base Ball Club of that city. The game was played September 9th on the Boston Common." Portland won, 47- 42.

 

Sources:

The Boston Herald article on this game is reprinted in Soos, Troy, Before the Curse: The Glory Days of New England Baseball 1858-1918 (Parnassus, Hyannis MA, 1997), page 5. Soos reports that this is the first time that the Tri-Mountains had found a rival willing to play the New York game [Ibid.].

"Anderson, Will, Was Baseball Really Invented in Maine? (Will Anderson, publisher, Portland, 1992), page 1. 

A game account and box score appears in the New York Sunday Mercury, September 26, 1858.

This watershed game was also noted in Wright, George, "Base Ball in New England," November 15, 1904, retained as Exhibit 36-19 in the Mills Commission files.

 Casey Tibbits, "The New York Rules in New England-- Portland Eons vs. Tri-Mountains", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 13-15

Warning:

Review of the New York Clipper did not find the reported game account.

Comment:

The item in the Portland Advertiser of September 14, 1858, read, "PORTLAND BASE BALL CLUB.-- The Tri-Mountain B.B.C. of Boston, gave an invitation to our club to try a match with them. The trial came off yesterday on Boston Common, nine to a side. The Tri-Mountain Club has been in existence about two years, ours about two months. The result of the match was our boys got 47 runs, the Tri-Mountains 42, making the former the winners by 5 runs. We understand our club has or will give an invitation to the Boston boys to meet them in our city for a match game."

Year
1858
Item
1858.35
Edit

1858.36 NY Rules Printed in Georgia

Location:

Georgia

Game:

Base Ball

Without apparent explanation or comment, the rules of baseball were printed in Macon GA

 

Sources:

"Rules and Regulations of the Game of Base Ball," Macon Weekly Georgia Telegraph (November 16, 1858), page unknown. From a 19CBB posting by Richard Hershberger, 7/23/2007. Text provided by John Maurath, Director of Library Services, Missouri Civil War Museum at Historic Jefferson Barracks, email of 1/18/2008.

Year
1858
Item
1858.36
Edit

1858.37 In English Novel, Base-Ball Doesn't Occupy Boys Very Long

Tags:

Fiction

Location:

England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

The boys were still restless - ". . . they were rather at a loss for a game. They had played at base-ball and leap-frog; and rival coaches, with six horses at full speed, have been driven several times around the garden, to the imminent risk of box-edgings, and the corner of flower beds: what were they to do?" . The boys appear to be roughly 8 to 10 years old.

Sources:

Anon., "Robert Wilmot," in The Parents' Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction (Smith, Elder and Co., London, 1858), page 59

Year
1858
Item
1858.37
Edit

1858.38 Baseball Recommended for Brooklyn Schools-- Easier than Cricket

Game:

Cricket, Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

". . . we think it would be an addition to every school, that would lead to great advantages to mental and bodily health, if each had a cricket or ball club attached to it. There are between 30 and 40 Base Ball Clubs and six Cricket Clubs on Long Island [Brooklyn counted as Long Island then] . . . . Base ball if the favorite game, as it is more simple in its rules, and a knowledge of it is more easily acquired. Cricket is the most scientific of the two and requires more skill and judgement in the use of the bat, especially, than base.

Sources:

 "The Ball Season of 1858," Brooklyn Eagle, March 22, 1858; reprinted in Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 7 (Saturday, March 27, 1858), page 78, column 2

Year
1858
Item
1858.38
Edit

1858.39 San Francisco Organizes for Base Ball . . . Again

Location:

California

Game:

Base Ball

"BASE BALL CLUB: "a Club entitled the San Francisco Base Ball Club has been formed in San Francisco, California. . . . They meet every other Tuesday at the Club House, Dan's saloon." . 

Sources:

Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 7 (Saturday, March 27, 1858), page 78, column 2

Query:

Is this the first club established in CA since 1851? [Cf #1851.2, #1852.7, #1859.5]

Year
1858
Item
1858.39
Edit

1858.41 Buffalo NY Feels Spring Fever, Expects Many New BB Clubs

Game:

Cricket, Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Niagara Club, of Buffalo, also played oin Saturday, on the vacant lot on Main Street, above the Medical College. We learn that several other clubs will soon organize, so that some rare sort may be anticipated the coming season. The Cricket Club will soon be out in full force . . . . We are pleased to notice this disposition to indulge in manly sports. "Cricket and Base Ball,"

Sources:

Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 7 (Saturday, March 27, 1858), page 78, column 2

Year
1858
Item
1858.41
Edit

1858.42 In Downstate Illinois, New Club Wins by 134 Rounds

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"BASEBALL IN ILLINOIS. - The Alton [IL] Base-Ball Club . . . a meeting was held on the evening of May 18, to organize a club . . . . The Upper Alton Base Ball Club . . . sent us a challenge, to play a match game, on Saturday, the 19th of June, which was accepted by our club; each side had five innings, and thirteen players each, with the following result: The Alton Base-Ball Club made 224 rounds. The Upper Alton Base-Ball Club made 90 rounds. Alton IL is a Mississippi River town 5 miles north of St. Louis. Missouri.

Sources:

." "Base-Ball", Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 4, number 20 (July 17, 1858), p. 309, columns. 2-3 

Year
1858
Item
1858.42
Edit

1858.43 CT Man Reports 13-on-8 games, Asks for Some Rules

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Dear Spirit: The base-ball mania has attacked a select few in New Haven . . . the (self-assumed) best eight challenged the mediocre and miserable thirteen, who constitute the rest of this [unnamed] club. Best two in three, no grumbling, were the conditions . . . [The Worsts won, 48-40, 35-17, 33-27; sounds like a fixed-innings match.]. But what I meant to write you about, was to ask where we can obtain a full statement and explanation of the rules and principles of base-ball." 

Sources:

 "BASE-BALL IN NEW HAVEN," Porter's Spirit of the Times, July 17, 1858.

Year
1858
Item
1858.43
Edit

1858.45 1000 Watch November Base Ball in New Bedford MA. Brr.

Tags:

Holidays

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

"At the conclusion of the game (played on Thanksgiving Day), Mr. Cook, in a few appropriate remarks in behalf of the Bristol County Club, presented the Union Club with a splendid ball. Cheers were then given by the respective Clubs and they separated to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners. About 1000 spectators were present.

"In the afternoon there were several 'scrub' games, that is games which the various Clubs unite and play together. The regular Ball season is considered to close with Thanksgiving, though many games will doubtless be played through the winter when the weather will permit." 

Sources:

The New Bedford Evening Standard (November 26, 1858)

Year
1858
Item
1858.45
Edit

1858.46 New York Game Arrives in Baltimore MD

Location:

US South

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Mr. George Beam, of Orendorf, Beam and Co., Wholesale Grocers . . . visiting New York City in 1858, was invited by Mr. Joseph Leggett [a NYC grocer] to witness one of the games of the Old Excelsior Base Ball Club, of New York City. Mr. Beam became so much enthused, that on his return to Baltimore City . . . it resulted in the organization of the Excelsior B.B. Club. The first meeting was held in 1858. . . . The almost entire membership of the club was composed of business men. . . . [p 203/204] The score book of the club having been lost, and the old members having no recollection of any games played in 1859, except with the Potomac Club of Washington D.C., it is quite probable that the time was devoted to practice." In 1860 they played the NY Excelsiors along Madison Avenue in NY.

Griffith also notes that "[T]he ball used in the early sixties was about one-third larger, and one-third heavier, than the present one, than the present [1900] one, and besides was what is known as a 'lively ball,' and for those reasons harder to hold." Ibid, page 202.

Griffith implies, but does not state, that this was the first Baltimore club to play by NY rules. This journal article appears to be an extract of pages 1-11 of Griffith's The Early History of Amateur Baseball in the State of Maryland 1858-1871 (John Cox's Sons, Baltimore, 1897).

Sources:

William Ridgely Griffith, "The Early History of Amateur Base Ball in the State of Maryland," Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 87, number 2, Summer 1992), pages 201-208. 

Year
1858
Item
1858.46
Edit

1858.47 Brooklynite Takes A Census - There Are 59 Junior Clubs in Brooklyn

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"Dear Spirit:- . . . I have busied myself for a week or two past in finding out the names of the different junior clubs, which, if you will be kind enough to publish, will probably give information to some. The following are the names, without reference to their standing: Enterprise, Star, Resolute, Ashland, Union, National, Ringgold, Oakland, Clinton, Pacific, Active, Oneida, Fawn, Island, Contest, Metropolitan, Warren, Pastime Jrs., Excelsior Jrs., Atlantic Jrs., Powhattan, Niagara, Sylvan, Independence, Mohawk, Montauk, Favorita, Red Jacket, American Eagle, E Pluribus Unum, Franklin, Washington, Jackson, Jefferson, Arctic, Fulton, Endeavor, Pocahontas, Crystal, Independent, Liberty, Brooklyn Star, Lone Star, Eagle Jrs., Putnam Jrs., Contest, "Never Say Die," Burning Star, Hudson, Carlton, Rough and Ready, Relief, Morning Star, City, Young America, America, Columbus, Americus, Columbia, Willoughby. The above are the names as I have collected them from reliable persons . . . The above list consists of only the junior clubs of Brooklyn. Yours, A Friend of the Juniors."

 

Sources:

"Junior Base-Ball Clubs," Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 5, number 7 (October 18, 1858), page 100, column 2.

Comment:

The Contest squad appears twice on the list.

Year
1858
Item
1858.47
Edit

1858.48 Three Youth Clubs in Rochester NY Disdain the NY Game

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

In Rochester, the West End Base Ball Club, the Washington club, and the Union club showed no love for the NYC rules. The West End Club, for example, declared that it would have "nothing to do with the new fangled tossing, but throw the ball with a wholesome movement, in the regular old-fashioned base ball style. It is not clear that the clubs persisted in their preference, or whether their rules were a hybrid of old and new ways.

Sources:

The clubs' announcements appeared in the Rochester Daily Union and Advertiser for July 2 and 3, 1858, and in the Rochester Democrat and Advertiser for July 21, 1858

Year
1858
Item
1858.48
Edit

1858.49 Nation Plays Nation - Senecas and Tuscaroras Have a Ballgame

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"At 2 o'clock a grand annual National Base Ball play, on the [county fair] ground, for a purse of $50, between the Tuscarora and the Seneca tribes of Indians."

Richard adds: "I usually interpret the word 'national' in this era to mean the New York game." He asks if inter-tribal play was common then. Erie County includes Buffalo.

Sources:

Buffalo Daily Courier, September 22, 1858, reporting on the schedule of the Erie County agricultural exhibition. Posted to the 19CBB listserve [date?] by Richard Hershberger. 

Year
1858
Item
1858.49
Edit

1858.50 New York Game Reaches Philadelphia

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "Although the Minerva Club was established in 1857, it members lived a quiet and largely unpublicized existence. The first report of the New York game of baseball in the city was an item noting an 1858 Thanksgiving Day match between two teams composed of members of the Pennsylvania Tigers Social Base Ball and Quoit Club."

[B] Also: "PENN TIGERS BASE BALL CLUB. - The Two Nines of this club played their first match on Monday, 13th inst, at Philadelphia, Boyce's party beating Broadhead's by only one run, the totals being 24 and 23." 

 

Sources:

Unidentified clipping in the Mears collection; by context it may have appeared in late spring of 1859.

[A] William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 115. His source for the 1858 game is the New York Clipper, November 27, 1858.

[B] From Craig Waff's Games Tab 1.0.  

 

Comment:

"The quoits part seems to have dropped out of usage pretty quickly, and they changed their name to the Winona BBC the following year.  The Winonas disbanded in 1864, bequeathing their trophies to the Keystones."

Year
1858
Item
1858.50
Edit

1858.51 At Harvard, Two Clubs Play Series of Games by New York Rules

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

The Lawrence Base Ball Club and a club from the Harvard Law School played "regular matches" on campus. The Lawrence Club's 1858 Constitution stipulated that "the Game played by this Club shall be that known under the name of the 'New York Game of Base Ball'" under its March 1858 rules, and that it would play no other game. The dates of the games against the law school and the nature of that club as not known, but accounts exist of intramural games in 1858.

 

Sources:

"The Lawrence Base Ball Club," The Harvard Graduates' Magazine, Volume 25 (March 1917), pp 346-350. Accessed 2/16/10 via Google Books search ("lawrence base").

Year
1858
Item
1858.51
Edit

1858.53 At Kenyon College, Base Ball Takes Unusual Form

Tags:

College

Location:

Ohio

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

The Kenyon Club, comprised of Kenyon students, lost to the boys from Milnor Hall at the College, losing 93 to 68 in three innings. Each side fielded eleven players. The box score reveals an unusual feature. Players scored widely varying runs in an inning; Denning, for example scored 10 times in the first inning for the Kenyon Club, while three of his teammates did not score at all. This might indicate that either an all-out/side out game was played, or a cricket-style rule allowed each batter to retain his ups until he was retired.

The College is in Central OH, about 45 miles NE of Columbus.

Sources:

"Base Ball at Kenyon College," New York Clipper, May 15, 1858.

Year
1858
Item
1858.53
Edit

1858.54 OFBB Variant Played in Buffalo NY; 11 Players, 12 Innings

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Old Fashion Base Ball - The Buffalo Base Ball Club, of this city [Buffalo NY], and the Frontier Club, of Suspension Bridge, will play their first match game, on the grounds of the Buffalo Club . . . . They play by the rules adopted by the Massachusetts State Convention of Ball Players, being the so-called 'old-fashioned base,' or 'round ball' - not the 'toss' or 'national' game. Rare playing may be expected, as this game requires more activity than any other, and the players ore the 'best eleven' from the best two clubs in Western New York."

 

 

Sources:

Buffalo Daily Courier, October 14, 1858. Posted to 19CBB September 1, 2009. 

Comment:

On October 18, the Courier reported that Buffalo won, 80-78, in 12 innings. Player's positions are given, and they include 4 basemen and a short stop, a "thrower" a catcher, and a second "behind."

While the teams nodded to the new [May 1858] Dedham rules for the Massachusetts game, their actual practice varied. The game was evidently played to twelve innings, not to 100 tallies. By 1859, this Buffalo Club played a game according to a three-out-side-out [3OSO] rule availed. Richard wonders if the 12-inning, 3OSO game, found in two other game accounts, was a peculiarity of the Buffalo area.

Year
1858
Item
1858.54
Edit

1858.55 First Club Forms in St. Paul MN

Location:

Minnesota

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"In December (1858) the first base-ball club was organized, It was called the Olympic: S. P. Jennison, captain."

 

Sources:

C. C. Andrews, History of St. Paul, Minnesota (D. Mason and Co., Syracuse, 1890), page 75.

Comment:

Several Olympic games were covered in the St. Paul Daily Times in 1859, starting in June.

Year
1858
Item
1858.55
Edit

1858.56 Mr. Babcock Shows Base Ball to San Franciscans

Location:

California

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Allow me to correct an error which appeared in your last issue in relation to the first game of base ball played in California. The game was introduced by Mr. William Babcock of the Atlantic Base Ball Club, of Brooklyn, and was played . . . on the grounds opposite South Park, in the city of San Francisco [CA] on the 10th day of Nov., 1858." A box score is included. It shows W. V. Babcock as batting leadoff, pitching, scoring 3 runs, and also, "[o]wing to the scarcity of parties understanding the game, Mr. Babcock acted as umpire."

 

 

Sources:

"Correspondence. Base Ball in California," Sunday Mercury, January 6, 1861, page 8. 

"Not Like They Used to Play: A Veteran of the Diamond Tells of the Early Days," August 8, 1892. (Interview with W. Babcock.)  Received from John Thorn, 12/16/12. 

Warning:

SF early baseball specialist Angus Macfarlane points out that this game was not carried in any SF newspaper still extant, despite the fact that many were lauding the game just a few months later (email of 12/15/12). Another report (also lacking a local reference) of the foundation of a club, the San Francisco BBC, appeared in the Spirit of the Times on 3/27/1858. Images exist of a "Boston BBC of San Francisco" organized in 1857, but no further references are known. 

Comment:

Wm Babcock had played with the Gotham Club in the early 1850's, founded and pitched for the Atlantic Club in 1855, and caught "Western Fever" in about 1858 and went to SF.

Year
1858
Item
1858.56
Edit

1858c.57 Modern Base Ball Gets to Exeter Prep [from Doubleday's Home Town!]

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"The present game [of baseball] was introduced by George A. Flagg, '62 [and three others and] Frank Wright, '62. Most enthusiastic of these early players was Mr. Flagg, who abandoned the Massachusetts style of baseball for the New York style. The ball then used was a small bag of shot wound with yarn, and could be batted much further than the present baseball. The men just named played among themselves and with town teams. Mr. Wright, of Auburn, New York, was perhaps more responsible than anyone else for bringing the game to New England."

 

Sources:

Laurence M. Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History (1923), page 233. Posted to the 19CBB listserve on [date?] by George Thompson. Accessible in snippet view 2/19/2010 via Google Books search (crosbie exeter flagg). 

Query:

Is c1858 a creditable guess as to when lads in the class of '62 might have begun playing at Exeter? Is a full view available online? Phillips Exeter is in Exeter NH, about 50 miles N of Boston and about 12 miles SW of Portsmouth.

Circa
1858
Item
1858c.57
Edit

1858.58 First Chicago Club Forms

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Base Ball, Town Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A]  "A team called the Unions is said to have played in Chicago in 1856, but the earliest newspaper report of a game is found in the Chicago Daily Journal of August 17, 1858, which tells of a match game between the Unions and the Excelsiors to be playing on August 19.  A few other games ere mentioned during the same year."

[B] "Though baseball match games had been played in Illinois since the very early 1850's, the first Chicago Club, the Union, was not established until 1856."

[C] "There seems to be some doubt as to when the first baseball club was organized at Chicago, but it has been stated that a club called the Unions played town ball there in 1856."

[D] If these claims are discounted, modern base ball can dated in Chicago in 1858 when a convention of clubs takes place and the Knick rules are published. 

Sources:

[A] Edwina Guilfoil, et. al., Baseball in Old Chicago (Federal Writers' Project of Works Project Administration, 1939), unpaginated page 4.

[B] John R. Husman, "Ohio's First Baseball Game," Presented at the 34th SABR Convention, July 2004.

[C] Alfred Spink, The National Game (Southern Illinois Press, 2000 -- first edition 1910), page 63.

[D] "A Knickerbocker," Base Ball, Chicago Press and Tribune, July 9, 1858.

Warning:

None of these sources gives a reference to evidence of the 1856 formation of the Union Club, so we here rely on the documented reference to a planned 1858 game. 

Comment:

Jeff Kittel (email of 3/9/2013) notes that there is an August 1857 Chicago Tribune article on a cricket club called the Union Club; perhaps later memories confused the cricket or town ball clubs with a modern-rules base ball club? 

Jeff also notes that  "[A date of] late 1857/1858 fits the time frame for the spread of the game south and west of Chicago - into Western Iowa by 1858 and St. Louis by 1859, with hints that it's in central Illinois by 1859/60.  That spread pattern also fits the economic/cultural spread model that we've kicked around."  

 

Query:

Can we find any clear basis for the report of 1856 establishment of modern base ball? 

Year
1858
Item
1858.58
Edit

1858.60 Natick MA Company Introduces the "Figure 8" Base Ball Stitching

Tags:

Equipment

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

 

"In 1858, H.P. Harwood and Sons of Natick, MA (c/o North Avenue and Main Street) became the first factory to produce baseballs. They also were the first in the production of the two-piece figure-eight stitch cover baseball, the same that is used today. The figure-eight stitching was devised by Col. William A Cutler and a new wound core was developed by John W. Walcott, horsehide and then cowhide were used for the cover."

 

  

Sources:

From Eric Miklich, “Evolution of Baseball Equipment (Continued)”

By Eric Miklich at http://www.19cbaseball.com/equipment-3.html,

Accessed 6/21/2013

Warning:

Peter Morris' A Game of Inches finds other claims to the invention of the current figure 8 stitching pattern. See section 9.1.4 at page 275 of the single-volume, indexed edition of 2010.

Year
1858
Item
1858.60
Edit

1858.62 Baseball Player Compensation

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"It is very unwise for any individual to give his services to a club, as a player at matches, in the shape of a 'quid pro quo' for his liabilities as a member, unless he has in his possession, a resolution, duly verified by the officers of the club, to support him in the matter. Otherwise the very first time he happens to be unfortunate in his play at a match, he can, under the by-laws of his club, be either suspended or expelled for the non-payment of dues..."

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury Aug. 29, 1858

Comment:

The Mercury was commenting on the situation of Lem Bergen, a prominent player for the Atlantic of Brooklyn, expelled by the club near the end of the 1857 season. Apparently an informal dues waiver was an early form of player compensation.

Year
1858
Item
1858.62
Edit

1858.63 Another Early African American Club

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

BASE BALL MATCH -- The darkies of this village and Flushing determined not to be outdone by their white brethren, have recently organized a Club under the name of the "Henson Base Ball Club" of Jamaica, and the "Hunter Base Ball Club" of Flushing.  The first match between these two Clubs was played on Saturday last in Flushing and resulted in the defeat of the Henson Club by 15 runs.  

The return match will be played in this village on Saturday next, January 1st.


Sources:

 Jamaica, New York "Long Island Farmer", Dec. 28, 1858

Comment:

from Richard H: Antebellum African American clubs are not my strength, but I believe that the Henson club was known, while the Hunter was not, at least to me.

Year
1858
Item
1858.63
Edit

1858.64 Sunday Mercury Acknowledges English Origin of Base Ball

Game:

Base Ball

In response to a letter sent by "A Used-Up Old Cricketer", the New York Sunday Mercury, presumably editor William Cauldwell, acknowledged that base ball was undoubtedly the descendant of the game of the same name long played in England.

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury Aug. 15, 1858

Year
1858
Item
1858.64
Edit

1858c.65 Fat and Lean Base Ball Club Organized in Buffalo

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"A 'Fat and Lean Base Ball Club' has been organized in Buffalo.  Nine of the members are pursy as Falstaff--the other nine are spare as John of Gaunt."

Sources:

Weekly Vincennes (IN) Gazette, (20 Oct 1858).  Available digitally through Accessible Archives.

Circa
1858
Item
1858c.65
Edit

1858.4 National Association of Base Ball Players Forms

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"[A] "We should add that the convention have adopted, as the title of the permanent organization, 'The National Association of Base Ball Players,' and the association is delegated with power to act upon, and decide, all questions of dispute, and all departures from the rules of the game, which may be brought before it on appeal."

William H. van Cott is elected NABBP President. The chief amendment to the playing rules was to permit called strikes. The "Fly game" was again rejected, by a vote of 18-15.

[B] "The delegates adopted a constitution and by-laws and began the governance of the game of baseball that would continue [to 1870]."

The NA was not a league in the sense of the modern American and National Leagues, but more of a trade association in which membership as easily obtained. . . .  Admission was open to any club that made a written application . . . and paid a five dollar admission fee and five dollars in annual dues (later reduced to two dollars per year).  The Association met in convention each year, at which time new clubs were admitted."

Sources:

[A] New York Sunday Mercury, April 11, 1858.

Other coverage: New York Evening Express, March 11, 1858; New York Sunday Mercury, March 14 and 28, 1858; Porter's Spirit of the Times, March 20, 1858; New York Herald, March 14, 1858; New York Clipper, March 20 & April 3, 1858.

[B] William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 49.

 

Comment:

Formation of the NABBP, according to the New York Clipper, was really a "misnomer" because there were "no invitations to clubs of other states," and no one under age 21 can join." "National indeed! Truth is a few individuals wormed into the convention and have been trying to mould men and things to suit their views. If real lovers of the game wish it to spread over the country as cricket is doing they might cut loose from parties who wish to act for and dictate to all who participate. These few dictators wish to ape the New York Yacht Club in their feelings of exclusiveness. Let the discontented come out and organize an association that is really national - extend invitations to base ball players every where to compete with them and make the game truly national."

 

Year
1858
Item
1858.4
Edit

1858.68 Thoreau Ponders Manliness in the Church and Base Ball

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The church! It is eminently the timid institution, and the heads and pillars of it are constitutionally and by principle the greatest cowards in the community. The voice that goes up from the monthly concerts is not so brave and so cheering as that which rises from the frog-ponds of the land. The best 'preachers,' so called, are an effeminate class; their bravest thoughts wear petticoats. If they have any manhood they are sure to forsake the ministry, though they were to turn their attention to baseball*."

(*Note: "baseball" is an editor's choice of word-form: John Bowman reports that two Thoreau journal references themselves [see also chronology item #1830c.2] are written "base-ball" and "base ball"). 

Sources:

Henry David Thoreau, Journal entry for November 16, 1858, Journals.

Comment:

The thrust of Thoreau's entry has puzzled us a little.

John Bowman writes:  "This is but a small excerpt from a journal entry that is all but rabid about organized religion and its churches, which Thoreau attacks for being afraid to confront the hard truths and realities of our lives.

Exactly what he means by that final phrase -- 'though they were to turn their attention to base ball' -- has been debated, but my  interpretation is as follows: He seems to  be saying that, in particular, its ministers/preachers are so cowardly as to be 'effeminate,' and if any of them were truly manly they would do better to leave the ministry and engage in some other activity -- even playing base ball, despite its questionable value, would be preferable.

But others may have read this differently."

 

 

 

Query:

Feel free to throw more light on what Thoreau is saying here. 

         

Year
1858
Item
1858.68
Edit

1859.1 First Intercollegiate Ballgame: Amherst 73, Williams 32

Tags:

College

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

In the first intercollegiate baseball game ever played, Amherst defeats Williams 73-32 in 26 innings, played under the Massachusetts Game rules. The contest is staged in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a neutral site, at the invitation of the Pittsfield Base Ball Club.

The two schools also competed at chess that weekend. A two-page broadsheet tells of Amherst taking on Williams in both base ball and chess. Headline: "Muscle and mind!"

The New York Clipper thought that the game's wimpy ball lessened the fun: "The ball used by Amherst was small, soft, and with so little elasticity that a hard throw upon the floor would cause of rebound of scarcely a foot." Ryczek goes on to say that the ball, while more suitable for plugging than the Association ball, detracted from the excitement of the game because it was not or could not be hit or thrown far.

Sources:

Pittsfield Sun, July 7, 1859. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 32-34. Also, Durant, John, The Story of Baseball in Words and Pictures [Hastings House, NY, 1947], p .10. Per Millen, note # 35.

Amherst Express, Extra, July 1 - 2, 1859 [Amherst, MA], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 219. 

New York Clipper, cited in William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 127 and attributed to the July 16 issue of the Clipper.

Jim Overmyer, "Baseball Goes to College-- Amherst vs. Williams", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 19-20.

 

Comment:

For a stern critique of the student time spent away from studying, see The Congregationalist [Boston], September 2, 1859, cited at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/amherst-and-williams-play-the-first-intercollegiate-game-of-baseball-1859-b1c0255f6338, posted January 15, 2018. 

Year
1859
Item
1859.1
Edit

1859.2 Collegiate Game [the First Played by NY Rules?] in NYC

Tags:

College

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

Students at St. John's College [now Fordham College] played a game against St. Francis Xavier's College on Nov. 3, 1859, using the new Association rules. The teams apparently were not regarded as representing their schools, but were base ball clubs formed from among students, and were called the Rose Hill BBC (Fordham) and the Social BBC (St. Xavier's College).

 

Sources:

Per Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], p. 32. Sullivan dates the game November 3, 1859, but does not give a source.

New York Sunday Mercury, Nov. 13, 1859, p. 3, carried the result and a box score showing a 33-11 victory for St. John's.

Warning:

It is not clear whether this qualifies as the first intercollegiate game by modern rules.

Comment:

The St. Francis Xavier's College in this story is presumably College of St. Francis Xavier, a Mahattan institution that closed in 1913.

Brian McKenna, on 11/8/2015, reports that St. Francis was a college preparatory high school, and suggests that the St. John's side used high school players too.  

 

Year
1859
Item
1859.2
Edit

1859.5 First [or Second?] Pacific Coast Club, the Eagles, Forms

Location:

California

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

 

 

Sources:

Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 26. [No ref given]

Warning:

John Thorn, on July 11, 2004, advised Protoball that "a challenge to the citation is a photo at the NBL of the Bostons of San Francisco, with a handwritten contemporary identification 'organized 1857'."

Year
1859
Item
1859.5
Edit

1859.6 African-American Game is Played by "Henson Club" July 4 and/or November 15

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] Report of July 4 game between Henson and Unknown Clubs

[B] "November 15, 1859 - The first recorded game between two black teams occurred between the Unknowns of Weeksville and the Henson Club of Jamaica (Queens) in Brooklyn, NY."

 

Sources:

[A] New York Anglo-African, July 30, 1859. Per Dean Sullivan, pages 34-36.

[B] Email from Larry Lester; taken from his chronology of African American baseball, 8/17/2007.

Comment:

Chris Hauser, in an email on 9/26/2007, estimates that this notice appeared in the New York Anglo-African, and was referenced in Leslie Heaphy's Negro League Baseball.

Query:

Note: Can we get text from the sourced citation [A] , and a source for the text citation [B] ? Was this one game or two? How can we find out more about the "Henson club" and the Unknowns?

Year
1859
Item
1859.6
Edit

1859.7 Southern Game Takes Place in Aristocratic Setting

Location:

Louisiana

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"A report on one game in 1859 told of 'commodious tents for the ladies spread under the umbrageous branches of the fine old live oaks,' where refreshments were served by the 'polite stewards of the clubs."

Sources:

Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 40. [No ref given.]

 

Comment:

Quote is from Porter's Spirit of the Times, October 1, 1859.

Year
1859
Item
1859.7
Edit

1859.9 Excelsiors and Union Club play for $500 and MA Championship

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The two clubs were the Excelsior Club of Upton MA and the Union Club of Medway MA. The Excelsiors won, 100-56, and received $500 in gold. "The game, in which 80 innings were played, occupied nearly 11 hours, and proved quite a treat to those who witnessed it. In 1860 the two clubs would meet for a $1000 purse.

5000 spectators attended the match, including "delegations from many of the clubs throughout the state." Posted to 19CBB on 3/1/2007 by George Thompson.

Writing of this match nearly fifty years later, "H.S" [Presumably Henry Sargent] said it was his recollection that "The attendance was more than 10,000 at each day's play. In the neighboring towns the factories gave their employees holidays to see the game." "H. S.," "Roundball: Baseball's Predecessor and a Famous Massachusetts Game," The New York Sun (Monday, May 8, 1905) page not known. The article features many other aspects of roundball.

 

Sources:

The New-York Tribune (October 12, 1859), page 5 column 2 

New York Clipper, October 22, 1859. 

Joanne Hulbert, "The Massachusetts Champions-- Excelsiors of Upton vs. Unions of Medway", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 22-23

Comment:

Joanne Hulbert, David Nevard, John Thorn, and Craig Waff helped untangle previous versions of this material [H. S. had recalled the big game as taking place in 1858]. Gregory Christiano contributed a facsimile of the Clipper article in 2009.

Year
1859
Item
1859.9
Edit

1859.11 Union College Forms Base Ball Team

Tags:

College

Location:

NY State

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

Sources:

Keetz, Frank M., The Mohawk Colored Giants of Schenectady (Frank M. Keetz, Schenectady, 1999), page 2. Keetz does not provide a source.

Year
1859
Item
1859.11
Edit

1859.12 MA Championship: Unions 100, Winthrop 71, in 101 Innings

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The most interesting and exciting game of base ball ever played in Massachusetts. took place at the Agricultural Fair grounds, in boston, on Monday and Tuesday, 26th and 27th September, between the union Club of Medway, and the Winthrop club of Holliston. The match was for the championship of the State..."

Sources:

Wilkes Spirit of the Times, October 15, 1859. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.

Also covered in the New York Clipper, Oct. 15, 1859.

Year
1859
Item
1859.12
Edit

1859.14 New York Tribune Compares the NY "Baby" Game and NE Game

Game:

Base Ball, Massachusetts Game

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "That [NY Tribune] article was a discussion, I believe, of the two games, the New York game and the Massachusetts round ball game, with a view to decide which was the standard game. So far as we know, this newspaper indicates that [text obscured] became a sport of national interest. The fact that the club of a little country town up in Massachusetts should be weighed in the balance against a New York club, in the columns of the first paper of the country marks a beginning of national attention to the game."

George Thompson located this article and posted it to 19CBB on 3/1/2007. The editorial says, in part:

"The so-called 'Base Ball' played by the New York clubs - what is falsely called the 'National' game - is no more like the genuine game of base ball than single wicket is like a full field of cricket. The Clubs who have formed what they choose to call the 'National Association,' play a bastard game, worthy only of boys ten years of age. The only genuine game is known as the 'Massachusetts Game . . . .' If they [the visiting cricketers] want to find foes worthy of their steel, let them challenge the 'Excelsior' Club of Upton, Massachusetts, now the Champion club of New England, and which club could probably beat, with the greatest ease, the best New-York nine, and give them three to one. The Englishmen may be assured that to whip any nine playing the New-York baby game will never be recognized as a national triumph."

[B] This suggestion was met with derision by a writer for the New York Atlas on October 30: that northern game is known for it "ball stuffed with mush; bat in the shape of a paddle twelve inches wide; bases about ten feet apart; run on all kinds of balls, fair or foul, and throw the ball at the player running the bases." [Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek 12/29/2009.]

[C] A gentleman from Albany NY wrote to the Excelsiors, saying he was "desirous of organizing a genuine base ball club in our city."

Sources:

[A] New York Tribune, October 18, 1859, as described in Henry Sargent letter to the Mills Commission, [date obscured; a response went to Sargent on July 21, 1905, suggesting that the Tribune article had arrived "after we had gone to press with the other matter and consequently it did not get in.]. The correspondence is in the Mills Commission files, item 65-29.

[B] New York Atlas on October 30, 1859.

[C] Letter from F. W. Holbrook to George H. Stoddard, October 22, 1859; listed as document 67-30 in the Spalding Collection, accessed at the Giamatti Center of the HOF.

Year
1859
Item
1859.14
Edit

1859.17 Club Forms at College of New Jersey

Tags:

College

Location:

New Jersey

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"The Nassau Base Ball Club is organized on the Princeton campus by members of the class of 1862"

 

Sources:

Frank Presby and James H Moffat, Athletics at Princeton (Frank Presby Co., 1901), p.67

Warning:

Anachronism alert-- in 1862 Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey.

See also item #1857.23 

Year
1859
Item
1859.17
Edit

1859.18 Harper's Suggests Plugging Still Used in Base-ball

Location:

US

Game:

Base Ball

"Base-ball differs from cricket, especially, in there being no wickets. The bat is held high in the air. When the ball has been struck the 'outs' try to catch it, in which case the striker is 'out;' or, if they can not do this, to strike the striker with it when he is running, which likewise puts him out."

 

Sources:

Harper's, October 15, 1859, as quoted by Richard Hershberger, Monday June 13, 2005, on the SABR 19CBB listserve. 

Comment:

It is conceivable that Harper's intended to describe the tagging of runners.

Year
1859
Item
1859.18
Edit

1859.19 Phillips Exeter Academy Used Plugging in "Base-ball?"

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

"Baseball was played at Exeter in a desultory fashion for a good many years before it was finally organized into the modern game. On October 19, 1859, Professor Cilley wrote in his diary: 'Match game of Base-Ball between the Phillips club and 17 chosen from the school at large commenced P.M. I was Referee. Two players were disabled and the game adjourned.' Putting a man out by striking him with the ball when he was running bases often led to injury."

 

Sources:

Crosbie, Laurence M., The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History, 1923, page 233. Submitted by George Thompson, 2005.

Comment:

Cilley himself does not attribute the 1859 injuries to plugging.

Year
1859
Item
1859.19
Edit

1859.20 Two More BB Clubs Issue Rules

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224, lists new rules in 1859 for the Harlem BB Club in NY and the Mercantile BB Club in Philadelphia.

Sources:

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224

Year
1859
Item
1859.20
Edit

1859.23 Base Ball Would be Welcome in Lowell MA, Town of Factories

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

"BASE BALL CLUB. We are glad to chronicle the formation of any club whose object is rational out-door amusement and exercise. In a place like Lowell, where a large portion of the working male population is confined eleven hours a day in close rooms, such exercise is especially needed . . . . [Company teams are encouraged.]

 

Sources:

Lowell [MA] Daily Journal and Courier, August 1, 1859.

Year
1859
Item
1859.23
Edit

1859.25 Buffalo Editor on NY Game - "Child's Play"

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Do our [Buffalo] Base Ball Clubs play the game of the "National Association" - the New York and Brooklyn club game? If so they are respectfully informed by the New York Tribune [see item #1859.14] that the style of Base Ball - what is falsely called the "National" game - is no more like the genuine game of base ball than single wicket is like a full field of cricket. It says, the clubs who have formed what they choose to call the "National Association," play a bastard game, worthy only of boys of ten years of age.

We have not the least idea whether it is the "National Association" game or the "Massachusetts" game that our Clubs play, but we suppose it must be the latter, as we are certain their sport is no "child's play."

 

Sources:

Editorial, "Base Ball - Who Plays the Genuine Game?," Buffalo Morning Express, October 20, 1859. From Priscilla Astifan's posting on 19CBB, 2/19/2006. [Cf #1859.14, above.]

Year
1859
Item
1859.25
Edit

1859.26 NY Herald Weighs Base Ball against Cricket

Game:

Cricket, Base Ball

A detailed comparison of base ball and cricket appeared in the 

Some fragments:

"[C]ricket could never become a national sport in America - it is too slow, intricate and plodding a game for our go-ahead people."

"The home base [in base ball] is marked by a flat circular iron plate, painted white. The pitcher's point . . . is likewise designated by a circular iron plate painted white . . . ."

"The art of pitching consists in throwing it with such force that the batsman has not time to wind his bat to hit it hard, or so close to his person that he can only hit it with a feeble blow."

"[The baseball is] not so heavy in proportion to its size as a cricket ball."

"Sometimes the whole four bases are made in one run."

"The only points in which a the base ball men would have any advantage over the cricketers, in a game of base ball, are two - first, in the batting, which is overhand, and done with a narrower bat, and secondly, in the fact that the bell being more lively, hopping higher, and requiring a different mode of catching. But the superior activity and practice of the [cricket] Eleven in fielding would amply make up for this."

It occupies about two hours to play a game of base ball - two days to play a game of cricket." "[B]ase ball is better adapted for popular use than cricket. It is more lively and animated, gives more exercise, and is more rapidly concluded. Cricket seems very tame and dull after looking at a game of base ball.

"It is suited to the aristocracy, who have leisure and love ease; base ball is suited to the people . . . . "

In the American game the ins and outs alternate by quick rotation, like our officials, and no man can be out of play longer than a few minutes."

 

Sources:

New York Herald, October 16, 1859, page 1, columns 3-5. 

Year
1859
Item
1859.26
Edit

1859.28 New Yorker Dies Playing Base Ball

Tags:

Hazard

Location:

New Jersey

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Yesterday afternoon, THOMAS WILLIS, a young man, residing at No. 46 Greenwich-street, met with a sad accident while playing ball in the Elysian Fields, Hoboken. Acting in the capacity of "fielder" he ran after the ball, which rolled into a hole about fifteen feet deep. Slipping and falling in his eagerness to obtain it, his head struck a sharp rock, which fractured his skull. Medical attendance was immediately procured, but the injury was pronounced fatal."

 

Sources:

New York Evening Express, October 22, 1859, page 3 column 3. Posted to 19CBB on 3/1/2007 by George Thompson.

Year
1859
Item
1859.28
Edit

1859.29 Annual Meeting of NABBP Decides: Bound Rule, No Pros

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The fly rule lost by a 32-30 vote. Compensation for playing any game was outlawed. The official ball shrunk slightly in weight and size. Matches would be decided by single games. 

Sources:

"Base Ball," The New York Clipper (March 26, 1859). 

Comment:

The paper worried that easy fielding would "reduce the 'batting' part of the game to a nonentity

Year
1859
Item
1859.29
Edit

1859.30 The First Triple Play, Maybe?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Neosho [New Utrecht] beat the Wyandank [Flatbush] 49-11, with one Wyandank rally cut short in a new way, one that capitalized on the new tag-up rule.

"The game was played according to the new Convention rules of 1859, under one of which it was observed that the Neosho put out three hands of their opponents with one ball, by catching the ball 'on the fly,' and then passing it to two bases in immediate succession so as at the same time to put out both men who were returning to those bases."

 

Sources:

"First Base Ball Match of the Season," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Volume 18 number 91 (Monday, April 18, 1859), page 11 column 1.

Year
1859
Item
1859.30
Edit

1859.31 New Orleans Leans Toward MA Game?

Location:

Louisiana

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"New Orleans experiences a boom in 1859 when 7 teams were started and two more followed the next year. These early New Orleans LA nines first used Massachusetts rules, but by 1860 they had all switched to NABBP rules." 

 

Sources:

Somers, Dale, The Rise of Sports in New Orleans 1850-1900 (Louisiana State Press, Baton Rouge, 1972), footnote 73 on pages 49-50. 

Warning:

Richard Hershberger [email of 10/19/2009] notes that, in examining the article on the MA game, he found that the sides had ten players each, but seems otherwise to reflect Association rules. He notes that outside of match games, it was not unusual for clubs to depart from the having nine players on a side.

Year
1859
Item
1859.31
Edit

1859.32 Morning Express Opposes Bound Rule, Tag-up Rule: Wants More Runs!

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Reporting on the imminent Knicks-Excelsiors game:

[A] "We believe that the rule, which is allowed by the Convention, of putting a man out, if the ball is caught on the first bound, is to be laid aside in this match. The more manly game of taking the ball on the fly, is alone to be retained. . . .. We do not know whether the men are to return to their bases in the event of a ball being caught on the fly; but it appears to us, that it would be as fair to one team as the other if the bases could be retained, if made before the ball had got to there, [and] it would cause more runs to be made, and a much more lively and satisfactory game." 

[B] A fortnight later, a return match "in the test game of catching the ball on the fly" was scheduled for August 2, 1859:

Sources:

[A]  New York Morning Express (June 30, 1859), page 3, column 6. Posted to 19CBB by George Thompson, 3/18/2007.

[B] "Knickerbocker vs. Excelsior," New York Morning Post (July 13, 1859), page 3, column 7. A long inning-by-inning game account appears at New York Morning Express (August 3, 1859), page 3, column 7.

Comment:

The fly rule was not voted in for five more years.

Year
1859
Item
1859.32
Edit

1859.34 Lexicographer: "Base Ball" is English!

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

"BASE. A game of ball much played in America, so called from the three bases or stations used in it. That the game and its name are both English is evident from . . . Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words: 'Base-ball. A country game mentioned in Moor's Suffolk Words, p. 238'." [See #1823.2 - Moor - and #1847.6 - Halliwell above.]

 

Sources:

From John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States, (second edition; Little, Brown and Company; Boston, 1859), page 24. 

Comment:

This attestation of baseball's English roots predates by one year Chadwick's assertion of same, and carries the added significance of coming from a distinguished American lexicographer.

Year
1859
Item
1859.34
Edit

1859.35 Base Ball Community Eyes Use of Central Park

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

A "committee on behalf of the Base Ball clubs" recently conferred with NY's Central Park Commissioners about opening Park space for baseball. Under discussion is a proviso that "no club shall be permitted to use the grounds unless two-thirds of the members be residents of this city."

 

Sources:

"BASE BALL IN THE CENTRAL PARK," The New York Clipper (January 22, 1859), page number omitted from scrapbook clipping.

Comment:

This issue has been on the minds of baseball at least since the first Rules Convention. The sentiment is that other sports have access that baseball does not. See #1857.2 above.

According to the New York Times of December 11,1858, the Central Park Commission had referred the ballplayers' appeal to a committee. [Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek, 12/29/09.]

Query:

Is there a good account of this negotiation and its outcome in the literature? How and when was the issue resolved?

Year
1859
Item
1859.35
Edit

1859.37 In Wisconsin, Bachelors Win 100-68

Location:

Wisconsin

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"FOX LAKE CLUB. - The Married and Unmarried members of the Wisconsin Club measured their respective strength in a bout at base ball on the 15th inst. The former scored 68 and the latter 100."  

Sources:

New York Clipper (July 2, 1859.) 

Comment:

Fox Lake is 75 miles northeast of Milwaukee. Sounds like they played the MA game, no?

Year
1859
Item
1859.37
Edit

1859.38 NYU Forms a Base Ball Club

Tags:

College

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

The students of New York University were reported to have formed a club. "The Club number 15 to 20 members, and are to meet semi-monthly or oftener, for practice, probably at Hoboken. We hope soon to be able to announce that all our Universities, Colleges, and Schools, have similar institutions attached to them."

 

Sources:

New York Clipper, April 9, 1859.

Year
1859
Item
1859.38
Edit

1859.39 Club Organized in St. Louis MO

Location:

Missouri

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"CLUB ORGANIZED, - A base ball club was organized in St. Louis, Mo, on the 1st inst. It boasts of being the first organization of the kind in that city, but will not, surely, long stand alone. It numbers already 18 members, officers as follows: President, C. D. Paul; Vice do, J. T. Haggerty; Secretary, C. Thurber; Treasurer, E. R. Paul. They announce their determination to be ready to play matches in about a month.

Sources:

New York Clipper, September 3, 1859. 

Comment:

In a 4/1/2013 email, Jeff Kittel confirms the date and source of this account, and estimates that this is he oldest primary evidence of base ball, and of a base ball club, in St. Louis.

Year
1859
Item
1859.39
Edit

1859.40 Devotion to MA Game Erodes Significantly

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"BASE BALL. - Massachusetts has 37 clubs which play what is known as the Massachusetts game; and 13 which play the New York game."

Sources:

New York Clipper, July 17, 1859

Year
1859
Item
1859.40
Edit

1859.41 First Game in Canada Played by New York Rules?

Location:

Canada

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"YOUNG CANADA vs. YOUNG AMERICA. - These two base ball clubs of Canada (the former of Toronto, the latter of Hamilton) played the first game of base ball that has ever taken place there, we believe, under the rules of the N. Y. Base Ball Association, on Tuesday, 24th ult., at Hamilton." 

Sources:

The New York Clipper, June 11, 1859

Comment:

Young Canada prevailed, 68-41. 

Query:

Are there earlier claims for the first Knicks-style game in Canada? Item #1856.18 above was likely a predecessor game, right?

Year
1859
Item
1859.41
Edit

1859.42 In Chicago IL, Months-old Atlantic Club Claims Championship

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Atlantic 18, Excelsior 16. This "well-played match between the first nines of the Atlantic and Excelsior took place on the 15th ult., for the championship. . . . The victorious club only started this spring . . . . They have now beaten the Excelsiors two out of three games played, which entitles them to the championship.  

Sources:

" "Base Ball at Chicago," New York Clipper September 3, 1859, p. 160

Query:

So . . . was this construed as the 1859 city crown, just a dyadic rivalry crown, an "until-we-lose-it crown, or what?

Year
1859
Item
1859.42
Edit

1859.43 And It's Pittsburgh We Call the Pirates?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

In a game account from August 1859, the writer observes, "with a spicing of New York first rate players, Chicago may expect to stand in the front rank of Base Ball cities." 

Sources:

"Atlantic Club vs. Excelsior Club - Progress of Base Ball in the Great West.," New York Morning Express (August 20, 1859), page 4, column 1. Posted to 19CBB 3/16/2007 by George Thompson.

Year
1859
Item
1859.43
Edit

1859.44 English Social Event Includes Base Ball as Well as Cricket

Location:

England

Game:

Base Ball

The activities at an August 1859 event of the Windsor and Eton Literary, Scientific and Mechanics Institute included a one-innings cricket match. In addition, "[a]rchery, trap and base ball, were included in the diversions on the firm-set land, as well as boat-racing open the pellucid flood."   

Sources:

G. W. J. Gyll, The History of the Parish of Wraysbury, Ankerwycke Priory, and Magna Charta Island (H. G. Bohn, London, 1862), page 55. Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger, 3/18/2008.

Comment:

Richard suggests that this is the last known published reference to home-grown "base ball" play in Britain. This area is about 20 miles west of London. The full list of diversions gives no indication that it was children who were to be diverted at this event, so adult play seems possible. 

Query:

Would it be helpful to understand what the membership and purposes of the Institute were? Is "trap and base ball" to be construed here as "trap ball," rather than Austen-style base-ball, in this part of Victorian England?

Year
1859
Item
1859.44
Edit

1859.45 In Milwaukee, Base Ball is [Cold-] Brewing

Tags:

Equipment

Location:

Wisconsin

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A]The first report of baseball being played in Milwaukee is found in the Thursday, December 1, 1859, Milwaukee Daily Sentinel. The paper wrote:

"BASE BALL—This game, now so popular at the East, is about to be introduced in our own city. A very spirited impromptu match was played on the Fair Ground, Spring Street Avenue, yesterday afternoon six on a side..."

[B] In April 1860, the Sentinel reported another "lively" game, and added, "The game is now fairly inaugurated in Milwaukee, and the first Base Ball Club in our City was organized last evening. Should the weather be fair, the return match will be played on the same ground, At 2 o'clock this (Thursday) afternoon."

[C] Formation of the Milwaukee Club was announced in the New York Sunday Mercury on May 6, 1860; officers listed,

[D] "Mr. J. W. Ledyard, of 161 E Water Street, who is now in New York...has kindly forwarded for the use of our Milwaukee Base Ball Club, six bats and twelve balls, made in New York, according to the regulations of the "National Association of Base Ball Clubs."

 

 

Sources:

[A] Milwaukee Sentinel, December 1, 1859.

[B] "Base Ball," Milwaukee Sentinel, April 3, 1860

[D] "Base Ball," Milwaukee Sentinel, June 13, 1860

Comment:

There is no record of this Thursday match, but we have scores for matches on December 10 (33 to 23 in favor of Hathaway's club in 5 innings, with 9 on a side) and December 17 (54 to 33, again in favor of Hathaway's club with 5 innings played; with 10 men on each side listed in the box score). The last match was played in weather that "was blustering and patches of snow on the ground made it slippery and rather too damp for sharp play."

These games took place at the State Fair Grounds, then located at North 13th and West Wisconsin Avenue. This is now part of the Marquette University Campus. The R. King in the box score is Rufus King, editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel. His grandfather, also Rufus King, was a signer of the American Constitution. Milwaukee's Rufus King was a brigadier general in the Civil War, and he would be Milwaukee's first superintendent of schools.

 

Year
1859
Item
1859.45
Edit

1859.46 Visiting English Cricketers View the Bound Rule as "Childish"

Location:

England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

On October 22, 1859, the touring English cricketers played base ball at a base ball field in Rochester, NY, "about two miles from the town, and had been enclosed at great expense. The base-ball game is somewhat similar to the English game of "rounders," as played by school-boys. . . .Caffyn played exceedingly well, but the English thought catching the ball on the first bound a very childish game."

Sources:

Fred Lillywhite, The English Cricketers' Trip to Canada and the United States (Lillywhite, London, 1860), page 50. The book [as accessed 11/1/2008] can be viewed on Google Books; try a search of "lillywhite canada."

Year
1859
Item
1859.46
Edit

1859.47 Buffalo base ball club sticks to "old-fashioned" game

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "The Alden Club, we believe, take exception to the rules and regulations laid down by their competitors...and are desirous of playing another game with the Bethany Club (of Genesee County), according to their own base ball rules."

[B] "The matched game of Base Ball between the Buffalo and Alden clubs was played yesterday afternoon on the Niagara's grounds on Main st. The match was a closely contested one, and resulted in favor of the Buffalo Club, who scored forty-six to thirty-eight runs made by the Alden Club in the twelve innings. The Alden Club have played several matches and have never been beaten before. The game was the old-fashioned one, which calls for more muscle than the New England game."

 

 

 

Sources:

[A] "The Ball Match Yesterday," Buffalo Daily Courier (August 13, 1859), page 3, column 2.

[B] Buffalo Daily Courier, September 2 and September 5, 1859

Comment:

The Alden club fielded 15 players to the confront the Niagaras' 12; they included two "behinds" as well as a catcher, two left fielders, two right fielders, a fourth baseman, and one more team member listed simply as "fielder." Both teams' pitchers were termed "throwers." The game was evidently limited to 12 innings instead of to a set total of tallies, as was found in other upstate "old-fashioned base ball" games of this period. Taken at face value, this account implies that three games were played in the region at the time - the New York game, the New England game, and this game. Alden NY is 20 miles due east of downtown Buffalo. 

A return match was hosted by the Alden club on September 3rd, with the Buffalo New York and Erie railroad offering half-price fares to fans. Alden won, "by 96 to 22 tallies." 

Year
1859
Item
1859.47
Edit

1859.49 Clubs Form in New Orleans LA, Interclub Play Begins

Location:

Louisiana

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The first interclub game reported in Louisiana took place on September 15, 1859, when the Empire Club beat the Louisiana Club, 77-64, a game which took two days to complete."

 

 

Sources:

William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 113. (no ref. given). A report and box score appears in the New York Clipper, Oct. 8, 1859.

Comment:

The first “match” game in New Orleans between two different clubs was played August 12, 1859 between the Empire and Louisiana Base Ball Clubs, won by Empire [Times-Picayune, August 13, 1859]. [ba]
Another pair of clubs followed closely. The Southern and Magnolia clubs played in early October. [John Husman, "Ohio's First Baseball Game," July 16, 2004, page 4 (no source given).]

Year
1859
Item
1859.49
Edit

1859.54 First Reference to Change-of-Pace Pitching?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

In a discussion of the early evolution of fast ("swift") pitching, Richard Hershberger noted:

 "For what it is worth, my earliest reference to a change of pace is from 1859:

 "[Eckford vs. Putnam 7/1/1859] Mr. Pidgeon (their pitcher) at first annoyed the strikers on the opposite side somewhat, by his style of pitching–first very slow, then a very swift ball; but the Putnam players soon got posted, and were on the look-out for the 'gay deceivers.'"

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury July 3, 1859

Year
1859
Item
1859.54
Edit
Source Text

1859.55 First Fly Baseball Game

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

On June 30, 1859, the Knickerbocker Club hosted the Excelsior club of South Brooklyn in the first interclub match played without the bound rule. The 1859 NABBP convention had okayed such games if agreed upon between the clubs.

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury, July 3, 1859

Craig Waff, "Caught on the Fly-- Excelsiors of South Brooklyn vs. the Knickerbockers of New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), p. 16-17

Year
1859
Item
1859.55
Edit

1859.56 Ten to One

Game:

Base Ball, American Cricket

At the American Cricket Convention in April 1859: 

"Mr. Wallace, of the St. George's club, stated that there would be a cricket ground in the Central Park, but it would not be finished this year, and when finished, the base ball players would claim it.  As there were ten base ball players for one cricket player, it was very doubtful as to who would get the ground, though the Commissioners were willing to favor the cricketers."

Sources:

New York Sun, May 3, 1859 

Year
1859
Item
1859.56
Edit

1859.57 On to Texas

Location:

Texas

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

...a base ball club was organized in that city "on the 24th ult, under the same rules as govern the clubs in the North."

Sources:

Galveston Civilian and Gazette Weekly March 1, 1859

Year
1859
Item
1859.57
Edit

1859.58 NABBP Makes One Little Rule Change

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Rule 16.-- No ace or base can be made upon a foul ball, nor when a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground ; and the ball shall in the former instance be considered dead and not in play until it shall first have been settled in the hands of the pitcher. In either case, the players running the bases shall return to them." 

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury, March 20, 1859

Comment:

The NABBP meeting had decisively rejected the "fly game", 47-15, but accepted this compromise: when a ball was caught on the fly, runners had "tag up" before advancing. On balls caught on one bounce, they did not.

Year
1859
Item
1859.58
Edit

1859.59 Clear Score

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Leggett batted beautifully throughout, his score being the highest and only clear one of the match."

Sources:

New York Clipper, Aug.13, 1859

Comment:

Henry Chadwick, the father of baseball statistics, primarily measured runs and outs in his early work. One of his few additions was the clear score, which counted the number of games where a batter made his base every time he batted, and made no outs, either as a batter or a base runner.

Year
1859
Item
1859.59
Edit

1859.66 Proto-Sports Bar

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

ENGLISH PLUM PUDDING AND ROAST BEEF FOR DINNER, TO-DAY. Also partridges, green turtle soup, and steaks.

RICHARDSON & McLEOD, 106 Maiden lane, corner Pearl.

Call and see the cricket and base ball books and bulletins.

 

Sources:

New York Herald, Sep. 7, 1859

Comment:

This may not actually have been the first establishment to cater to base ballists. The New York Sunday Mercury noted on Jan. 9, 1859, that "Mr. William P. Valentine, president of the Phantom Base Ball Club, has opened a dining saloon in Broadway, adjoining Wallack's Theatre, which he styles the 'Home Base'."

Year
1859
Item
1859.66
Edit

1859.60 Please Do Not Kill the Umpire

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

After the Jersey City Courier had excoriated the umpire, Mr. Morrow of the Knickerbocker, for his efforts in a game between the Empire and Excelsior Clubs, Joe Leggett, captain of the Excelsior, wrote to the New York Sunday Mercury defending him, and the Mercury editorialized as follows:

"Every gentleman who officiates as umpire is selected by the captains, but the position, in consequence of the grumbling, and not unfrequently insulting remarks of outsiders, has become so unenviable, that it is difficult to get any one to assume the place...we do think that common decency, and gentlemanly courtesy, should, under the circumstances of the case, restrain all comment upon the proceedings, on the part of the spectators of a match."

Sources:

Jersey City Courier, Sep. 15, 1859

New York Sunday Mercury, Sep. 18, 1859

Comment:

In the New York City area, umpires were players from other clubs who umpired upon request.

Year
1859
Item
1859.60
Edit

1859.61 Base Ball Lampooned

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"OUR SPORTSMAN. Sporting matters are beginning to lost their summer time piquancy, and the racing season will soon be gone, at least in this country. The cricketers and base ball heroes still keep up an excitement among themselves.

   Apropos of base ball. Conversing with a member of one of the Ball Clubs, we noticed a deformity in his hand.

   'What is the matter with your finger?"

   'Struck by a ball and drove up--' was the reply 'but it is a noble game.'

   'Precisely--and your thumb, it is useless, is it not?'

   'Yes, struck with a ball and broken.'

   'That finger joint?'

   'A ball struck it. No better game to improve a man's physical condition, strengthen one's sinews."

   'You walk lame; that foot, isn't it?'

   'No; it's the--the--the--well, a bat flew out of a player's had and hit my knee pan. He had the innings."

   'One of your front teeth is gone?'

   'Knocked loose by a ball--an accident though.'

   'Your right hand and your nose have been peeled--how's that?'

   'Slipped down, at second base--mere scratch.'

   'And you like all this fun?'

   'Glory in it, sir. It is a healthy game, sir.'

We can't say we coincided with the enthusiastic member. Perhaps we are rather timid concerning the welfare and safety of our limbs--and this timidity has an undue influence on our mind. Be that as it may, we have no inclination to try our hand at the game...we will drop the subject with the same celerity which would mark our process of dropping one of those leather covered balls, were it to come in violent contact with our delicate fingers."

Sources:

New York Atlas, Sep. 18, 1859

Year
1859
Item
1859.61
Edit

1859.64 The Old Hidden Ball Trick

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"STAR (OF SOUTH BROOKLYN) VS. ATLANTIC (OF BEDFORD).-- ...Flannelly, the first striker, was put out on second base by a dodge on the part of Oliver, who made a feint to throw the ball, and had it hid under his arm, by which he caught Flannelly-- an operation, however, which we do not much admire."

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 23, 1859

Comment:

The first known use of this stratagem, but apparently not original. Conceivably, it's use preceded the Knickerbocker rules.

See below for later observations about the sneaky move in 1876 and later.

Year
1859
Item
1859.64
Edit
Source Text

1859.65 New For 1859: Rumors of Player Movement

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "RESIGNATION-- We understand that Brown (formerly catcher for the Eckford Club), and Post (catcher for the Astoria) have resigned, and become members of the Putnam Base Ball Club. Both of these gentlemen have stood A no. 1 in their respective clubs, and their retirement must prove a serious loss thereto, while the Putnams become materially strengthened by the addition to their number."

[B] "BALL PLAY-- ...We notice that several important changes have taken place in the Brooklyn clubs. Amongst others we learn that Pidgeon, of the Eckford, has joined the Atlantic; Brown, also of the Eckford, has gone into the Putnam club; and Grum in the Excelsior. The Stars have divided themselves, and many of them, Creighton and Flanley in particular, having joined the Excelsior. Dickinson goes into the Atlantic. The trial for the championship, next season, will be between the Atlantic, Excelsior, and Putnam's...We have not heard of any particular changes in the leading clubs of New York...The Union of Morrisania will gain one or two strong players next season.

Sources:

[A] New York Sunday Mercury, Nov. 20, 1859

[B] New York Clipper, Nov. 26, 1859

Comment:

After the Eckford Club contradicted the claim that several  players were resigning and moving to other clubs, the Clipper issued a retraction on December 3: "...we are pleased to learn that it is not correct, for we do not approve of these changes at all." 

Year
1859
Item
1859.65
Edit

1859.67 Debunking DeBost

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"We think the Knickerbockers were defeated (in their first fly game with the Excelsior of Brooklyn), through the foolishness, fancy airs, and smart capers of De Bost. Like a clown in the circus, he evidently plays for the applause of the audience at his 'monkey shines," instead of trying to win the game...But so long as the spectators applaud his tom-foolery, just so long will he enact the part of a clown."

Sources:

New York Atlas,  July 3, 1859

Comment:

Knickerbocker catcher Charles DeBost, whether a clown or not, was acknowledged as the best catcher in the game in the 1850s. He had been selected to catch for the New York team in the Fashion Race Course games with Brooklyn in 1858. He was so incensed by the Atlas's criticism that he announced his retirement from the sport. Criticized for its criticism, the Atlas responded on its issue of July 31, 1859:

"The gentleman must recollect that a great deal is expected of a player of his reputation...We still fail to discover the extreme grace and refinement displayed, when a player in a match attempts to catch a ball with that portion of his body that is usually covered by his coat-tail...We shall not allow ourselves to be disturbed by any insinuations from those who are but the mouthpieces of two or three old fogy clubs."

Query:

Did DeBost actually stay retired at this point?

Year
1859
Item
1859.67
Edit

1859.69 First Seasonal Analysis Includes Primordial Batting Statistic

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

On December 10, 1859, the New York Clipper printed a seasonal analysis of the performance of the Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, including two charts with individual batting and fielding statistics for each member of the club. Compiled by Henry Chadwick, he described it as the “first analysis of a Base Ball Club we have seen published.”

Within the “Analysis of the Batting” were two columns titled “Average and Over,” reflecting the rate at which batters scored runs and made outs per game. These averages were in the cricket style of X—Y, where X is the number of runs per game divided evenly (the “average”) and Y is the remainder (the “over”). For instance, Henry Polhemus scored 31 runs in 14 games for the Excelsiors in the 1859 season, an average of 2—3 (14 divides evenly into 31 twice, leaving a remainder of 3).

 

Sources:

New York Clipper (New York City, NY), 10 December 1859: p. 268

Comment:

For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,”  p 1 – 9:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0btLf16riTacFVEUV9CUi1UQ3c/

Year
1859
Item
1859.69
Edit

1859.70 Central Park a Boon to National Prowess in Base Ball, Cricket, Etc.

Game:

Base Ball, American Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

"Though we have not yet attained such proficiency in the game of cricket as to be a match for the Englishmen or Canadians, we expect to be ahead of them not very long hence.  In the meantime we have nationalized the more active game of base ball.

"The opening of the Central Park comes on most opportunely to aid in this new phase of our social development. . .  [T]he Park will be the place."

The full Herald editorial is below.

 

Sources:

   New York Herald, July 20, 1859, p. 5, cols. 1-2  

Comment:

Other items referring to the use of Central Park for baserunning games are at 1859.35 (base ball asks for access, 1859.56 (cricket community wary of 10-to-1 edge in local support for base ball), 1860.69 (Knickerbocker eyes way to use the Park), and 1864.36 (further hopes for base ball access.)

Year
1859
Item
1859.70
Edit
Source Text

1859.71 Hidden Ball Trick is Effective as a "Dodge" for the Atlantic Club

Location:

Brooklyn, NY

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

 

"Flannelly, the first striker, was put out at the second base by a dodge on the part of Oliver, who made a feint to throw the ball, and had it hid under his arm, by which he caught Flannelly -- an operation, however, which we do not much admire."

Bob Tholkes reports that the play was made by Joe Oliver of the Atlantic Club in the seventh inning of a game with the Star Club of Brooklyn. 

 

 

 

Sources:

Sunday Mercury, October 23, 1859

Year
1859
Item
1859.71
Edit

1860.1 75 Clubs Playing Massachusetts Game in MA

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Sources:

Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, March 24, 1860. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. 

Warning:

According to the Boston Herald (April 9, 1860), the MABBP convention drew only 33 delegates from 12 clubs.

 

Comment:

The claim of 75 clubs appears in the MABBP's convention announcement.

Query:

Can this estimate be reconciled with #1859.40 above? The number of clubs doubled in one year?

Year
1860
Item
1860.1
Edit

1860.2 Ten Thousand Players!

Game:

Base Ball

"

At the annual meeting of the National Association, held on the 14th of last March, sixteen new clubs were admitted as members, and eighteen others were admitted at the meeting held on the 12th of December-- making in all eighty-eight senior clubs now represented in the National Association of Base Ball Players. As each of these clubs now average from thirty-five to forty members, the total number of ball-players so represented in the Association, may be safely estimated at three thousand. In addition to this large number, there are probably as many as one hundred senior clubs in this city and vicinity, and in the cities throughout the State, which have not yet joined the Association, and which have, perhaps, a membership of not less than three thousand. And if we add to these the not less than two hundred junior clubs of New York, Brooklyn, and vicinity-- comprising at least two thousand members-- it will be a safe calculation to say, that the game of base ball during the season of 1860 afforded amusement and invigorating exercise to at least TEN THOUSAND ACTIVE MEMBERS of base-ball clubs."

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury, Dec. 30, 1860

Comment:

Not all club members played, but considering that Mercury editor William Cauldwell was only taking in Greater New York City, his figure is conservative.

Year
1860
Item
1860.2
Edit

1860s.2 NY game, Mass game, Cricket co-exist

Game:

Cricket, Base Ball

The New York Game, the Massachusetts Game, and cricket co-exist. Many athletes play more than one of these games. Varying forms of baseball are now played in virtually every corner of the continent. The Civil War years disrupt the organizational development of baseball to a degree but, with the war and the great movement of soldiers that it brings, baseball's popularity is solidified. The New York Game emerges from the war years (1861-1865) as the game of choice. The Massachusetts Game, though played throughout the war in various settings, loses ground rapidly following the Civil War. Other baseball variants also recede in popularity. By the end of the 1860's the New York Game predominates everywhere and is frequently referred to as "our National Game" or "our National Pastime." Cricket remains an elitist game, available for the most part in larger cities and limited in appeal. 

Sources:

Thorn-Heitz chronology

Decade
1860s
Item
1860s.2
Edit

1860.3 Split Doubleheader:Mass Game, NY Game

Location:

Pennsylvania

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"On Wednesday the 14th ult., the Athletics left Philadelphia...on a brief visit to the Mauch Chunk base ball boys...upon reaching (the play-ground, the Athletics were surprised to find the ground staked off for the 'Massachusetts game'...nothing loth, played the Mauch Chunk lads at their own game...At the conclusion of the game, the bases were arranged for the New York Game, at which four innings were played..."

Sources:

Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, Dec. 8, 1860.

Year
1860
Item
1860.3
Edit

1860c.4 Four Teams of African-Americans, All in the NYC Area, Are Reported

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] The earliest known account of a ball game involving African Americans appeared in the New York Anglo-African on July 30, 1859.  In this Fourth of July contest, the venerable Joshua R. Giddings made the highest score, never missing the ball when it came to him.  Giddings was a sixty-four-year-old white Republican Congressman known for his passionate opposition to slavery. 

[B] "We, the members of the Colored Union Base Ball Club, return our sincere thanks to you for publishing the score of the game we played with the Unknown, of Weeksville on the 28th ult. [September 28, 1860]). We go under the name the "Colored Union," for, if we mistake not, there is a white club called the Union in Williamsburg at the present time." The letter goes on to report a game against the Unknown Club on October 5, 1860.  The Colored Union club eventually won with 6 runs in the ninth. 

Sources:


[A] Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 34-35

[B] New York Sunday Mercury, October 14, 1860, col. 5-6. Cited in Dixon, Phil, and Patrick J. Hannigan, The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History [Amereon House, 1992], pp. 31-2

 

Comment:

The four were the Unknown (Weeksville), Monitor (Brooklyn), Henson (Jamaica), and Union (Brooklyn). Weeksville was a town founded by freedmen.  Its population in the 1850s was about 500.

For a sample of a contemporary humorous treatment, see the account of the 1862 game between the Unknown and Monitor Clubs in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 17, 1862. 

Circa
1860
Item
1860c.4
Edit

1860.5 NY Game is Called Dominant in CA

Location:

California

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Many new clubs are being formed, and it gives me pleasure to state that the "National Association," or New York game, is the only style of ball playing at all encouraged in California."

Sources:

Wilkes Spirit of the Times, December 1, 1860. Per Millen, Patricia, From Pastime to Passion: Baseball and the Civil War (Heritage Books, 2007), p. 8.

Year
1860
Item
1860.5
Edit

1860.6 Chadwick's Beadle's Appears, and the Baseball Literature is Launched

Game:

Rounders, Base Ball, Massachusetts Game

 The first annual baseball guide appears. It is emblematic, perhaps, of the transformation of base ball into a spectator sport. The 40-page guide includes rules for Knickerbocker ball, the new NABBP ("Association") rules, rules for the Massachusetts game, and for rounders. Chadwick includes a brief history of base ball, saying it is of "English origin" and "derived from rounders."

Block observes: "For twenty-five years his pronouncements remained the accepted definition of the game's origins. Then the controversy erupted. First John Montgomery Ward and then Albert Spalding attacked Chadwick's theory. Ultimately, their jingoistic efforts saddled the nation with the Doubleday Myth."

 

Sources:

Chadwick, Henry, Beadle's Dime Base-Ball Player: A Compendium of the Game, Comprising Elementary Instructions of the American Game of Base Ball [New York, Irwin P. Beadle].

Per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, (2005), page 221.

See also 1861.47.

Year
1860
Item
1860.6
Edit

1860.7 Excelsiors Conduct Undefeated Western NY Road Trip. . ."First Tour Ever? First $500 Player Ever?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "The Excelsiors of Brooklyn leave for Albany, starting the first tour ever taken by a baseball club. They will travel 1000 miles in 10 days and play games in Albany, Troy, Buffalo, Rochester, and Newburgh."

[B] In announcing the tour, a Troy paper noted: "The Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, who have pretty well reduced base ball to a science, and who pay their pitcher [Jim Creighton] $500 a year, are making a crusade through the provinces for the purpose of winning laurels."

[C] News of the triumphant return of the Excelsiors appeared in The item started: "The Excelsior , the crack club of Brooklyn, and one of the best in the United States, returned home of Thursday of last week, after a very pleasant tour to the Western part of the State. During their trip, they played games with several [unnamed] clubs, and we believe were successful on every occasion."

Sources:

[A] Baseballlibrary.com - chronology entry for 6/30/1860.

[B] "Base Ball," Troy Daily Whig Volume 26, number 8013 (Tuesday, July 3, 1860), page 3, column 5. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.

[C] "Base Ball," Spirit of the Times, Volume 30, number 24 (Saturday, July 21, 1860), page 292, column 1. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.

Craig Waff, "The Grand Excursion-- The Excelsiors of South Brooklyn vs. Six Upstate New York Teams", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 24-27

Comment:

The New York Sunday Mercury noted on April 29 that the Excelsior were organizing a tour, and announced on June 17 that arrangements had been completed.

Year
1860
Item
1860.7
Edit

1860.9 Fly Game Wings Its Way to Boston

Location:

Massachusetts

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Base Ball. Bowdoin vs. Trimountain. These two Clubs played a friendly match on the Common Saturday afternoon...This is the first "fly" game played between the clubs.

Sources:

Boston Herald, Sep. 24. 1860

Comment:

The NABBP had at its March 1860 convention permitted member clubs to elect to play fly games.

Year
1860
Item
1860.9
Edit

1860.10 Atlantics Are Challenged to Play MA Game for $1000 Stake, But Decline

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "In a long talk with "Bill" Lawrence, who put up the money for the Upton-Medway game, and himself a player on the mechanics Club of Worcester, he tells me that just before the war - he thinks in 1860 - he went to New York with Mr. A. J. Brown (now dead), of Worcester, and challenged the Atlantics of Brooklyn to come to Worcester and play the Uptons for 1000 dollars; the game to be the "Massachusetts Game" and not the "New York Game," which was the game played by the Atlantics. The winner to get the entire $1,000; the loser nothing. After a good deal of consideration the challenge was not taken up by the Atlantics, on the ground that the players could not spare sufficient time for the practice requisite for such an important match; the officials of the Atlantic Club at the same time scoffing at the idea that could beat the Uptons or any other Club."

[B] In a posting to 19CBB on 7/31/2005 [message 4], Joanne Hulbert reports on four articles from the Worcester Daily Spy that record the rumor of the "great match game of base ball," as well as a return match in New York if Upton wins, and the Atlantics' turndown, "probably on account of the expenditure of time and money . . . as well as to their objection to playing by any but the New York game."

Sources:

Letter from Henry Sargent, Worcester MA to the Mills Commission, June 25, 1905.

Worcester Daily Spy [July 16, July 17, July 17, and August 4.]

Year
1860
Item
1860.10
Edit

1860c.11 Man Played Base Ball in CT Before the War

Location:

Connecticut

Game:

Wicket, Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

"I am a native of Hartford, Conn., and have, from early boyhood, taken a great interest in all Out Door Sports that are clean and manly. As a boy I played One, Two, Three, and Four Old Cat; also the old game of "Wicket." I remember that before the Civil War, I don't remember how long, we played base ball at my old home, Manchester, Harford County, CT."

 

Circa
1860
Item
1860c.11
Edit

1860.11 Eager for Base Ball

Location:

Tennessee

Game:

Base Ball

"Base Ball-- This healthful and exciting exercise was very generally popular this fall, especially in the Northern States, and we hope it will be introduced here as soon as the heated term passes off. We noticed the other evening a party engaged in Base Ball on the Edgefield side of the river, all apparently enjoying themselves. The early closing of the stores gives a fine opportunity to the young men engaged in mercantile pursuits...Let us have Base Ball Clubs organized, then, and the fun commenced."

Sources:

Nashville Republican Banner, July 25, 1860.

Comment:

Edgefield is a residential area of Nashville on the east side of the Cumberland River. Now an historic neighborhood.

Year
1860
Item
1860.11
Edit

1860.12 Baltimore MD Welcomes Visiting Excelsiors of Brooklyn, and See A Triple Play

Location:

Maryland

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "A great match at base ball comes off here today between the Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, and a Club of the same name belonging to this city. . . . Thousands are already on their way in the City Rail Road cars and on foot to witness this exhibition of skill on the part of these, said to be he two most expert clubs in the country n this exhilarating game. Several clubs belonging to other cities are here to witness and enjoy the sport."

[B] They saw one of the first recorded triple plays. We now know that it wasn't the first triple play ever [see #1859.30 above], but it was a snazzy play. "By one of the handsomest backward single-handed catches ever made by [the gloveless LF] Creighton, he took the ball on the fly, and instantly, by a true and rapid throw, passed the ball to [3B] Whiting, who caught it, and threw quickly to Brainerd, on the second base, before either Sears or Patchen had time to return to their bases." The trick "elicited a spontaneous mark of approbation and applause from the vast assemblage [the crowd roared]." 

 

Sources:

[A] Macon [GA] Weekly Telegraph, October 4, 1860, reprinting from a Baltimore source. Accessed via subscription search May 21, 2009.

 [B] "Out-Door Sports: Base Ball: The Southern Trip of the Excelsior Club," Sunday Mercury, Volume 22, number 40 (September 30, 1860), page 5, columns 2 and 3. 

The game was reported in the Greater New York City press.

Year
1860
Item
1860.12
Edit

1860.14 Potomacs "Conquer" Nationals in Washington

Location:

Washington DC

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"For many reasons this game has excited more interest than any other ever played hereabouts."  "Geo Hibbs, Dooley, and Beale of the National, went into the "corking" line pretty largely, the latter leading the score of his side." 

 

Sources:

"Base Ball: Potomac vs. National: the Conquering Game," Washington [DC] Evening Star, October 23, 1860, page 3.

Comment:

The Evening Star carries a full game account and box score. It was the deciding game of the match.

Year
1860
Item
1860.14
Edit

1860.15 Adolescent Novel Describes Base Ball Game

Tags:

Fiction

Location:

Massachusetts

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

In this moral tale, Nat hits a triumphant home run, "turning a somersault as he came in."

Sources:

Thayer William M., The Bobbin Boy; or, How Nat Got His Learning (J. E. Tilton, Boston, 1860), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 221-222.

Year
1860
Item
1860.15
Edit

1860.16 Mercantile BB Club of Philadelphia Subject to Light Poetry

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Sources:

Owed 2 Base Ball in Three Can't-Oh's! (McLaughlin Bros, Philadelphia, 1860) per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 222.</div>

Comment: Perhaps written for the club's Christmas banquet, this humorous verse mentions each of the clubs starting players.</p>

</div>

Year
1860
Item
1860.16
Edit

</div>

</div>

1860.19 Second Annual Chadwick Guide Prints Season Stats for the Year

Tags: <p>Statistics</p>
Location: <p>Greater New York City</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>This second annual guide printed 1860 statistics for players and teams and contains rule revisions.</p>
Sources: <p>Chadwick, Henry, Beadle's Dime Base-Ball Player for 1861 [New York, Ross and Tousey],  per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 222. </p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.19
Edit

1860.21 Clipper Backs Off Fly Game Support

Location: <p>Greater New York City</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>"We have hitherto warmly advocated the adoption of the "fly game"...but our experience this season has led us to modify our views somewhat...base ball is a superior school for fielding to cricket...(because of) the greater degree of activity required to field well...owing principally to the additional effort necessary...to catch the ball on the bound...any alteration of the rules in relation to the catch on the bound will not have that tendency to improve the character of the fielding ...that many suppose it will."</p>
Sources: <p>New York Clipper, Nov. 10, 1860</p>
Comment: <p>The "Fly game" again failed of passage at the NABBP convention in December 1860.</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.21
Edit

1860.22 Educatin' the Readers

Location: <p>Greater New York City</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>[A] "BALL PLAY. A CORRECT SCORE OF A BASE BALL MATCH.-- We give the following score of the contest between the Atlantic and Star Club, as a sample of how the scores of all first-class matches should be kept, in order that a complete analysis of the player's play may be obtained at the close of the year...We trust that the National Association will present to the next convention some plan of scoring that can be generally adopted, like that of the cricket clubs, which is a complete system...Next season we shall give more space to base ball...In the meantime, we shall present to our readers many interesting articles in reference to the game..."</p>

<p>[B] Between February and April, 1860, the Clipper followed uo with a series of six articles on various aspects of the game, from starting a club to playing the positions.</p> <p>[C] Later in the year: "NEW SCORE BOOK.-- We have recently been shown an improved score book for the game of base ball, just published by Messrs. Richardson and McLeod, 106 Maiden-lane. It is a vast improvement on the old score book, and must commend itself to general adoption by base ball clubs, as it contains the rules and regulations of the game as adopted by the National Association of Base Ball Clubs (sic), with admirably arranged columns . The score book is sufficient for one hundred games, at the low price of two dollars."</p>

<p> </p>
Sources: <p>[A] New York Clipper, Jan. 14, 1860</p>

<p>[B] New York Clipper, Feb. 18, 1860 - April 7, 1860</p>

<p>[C] Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, June 9, 1860.</p>
Comment: <p>The Clipper's effort was part of Henry Chadwick's push to encourage the formation of clubs and make base ball a more "scientific" game, by publishing instructions and collecting statistics. 
</p>

<p>Richardson and McLeod ran a restaurant at 106 Maiden Lane that catered to base ballists. See 1859.66</p>

<p>The instructional material mirrored the "X" Letters published in Porter's Spirit of the Times in 1857-1858. See 1857.42</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.22
Edit

1860.23 NY Game Gets to ME

Tags: <p>College</p>
Location: <p>New England</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Youth</p>
<p>"The first documented game of baseball to actually be played in Maine took place on October 10, 1860. . . . that October saw the Sunrise Club of Brunswick host the senior class team of Bowdoin [College] at the Topsham Fair Grounds."</p> <p> </p>
Sources: <p>Anderson, Will, Was Baseball Really Invented in Maine? (Will Anderson, Publisher, Portland, 1992), page 1. Anderson appears to rely on The Brunswick Telegraph, October 12, 1860.</p>
Comment: <p>Topsham Fair Grounds are 1 1/2 miles from Brunswick, across the Androscoggin River</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.23
Edit

1860.24 Mighty Nat at the Bat: A Morality Story

Location: <p>New England</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Juvenile</p>
<p>"[T]here was to be a special game of ball on Saturday afternoon. Ball-playing was one of the favorite games with the boys. . . . [Nat comes to bat.] 'I should like to see a ball go by him without getting a rap,' answered Frank, who was now the catcher. 'The ball always seems to think it is no use to try to pass him.'</p>

<p>"' There, take that,' said Nat, as he sent the all, at his first bat, over the hands of all, so far that he had time to run round the whole circle of goals, turning a somersault as he came in."</p>

<p> </p>
Sources: <p>Thayer, William M., The Bobbin Boy; Or, How Nat Got His Learning. An Example for Youth (J. E. Tilton, Boston, 1860), pages 50-55.</p>
Comment: <p>The boys' game is not further described. See also #1860.15</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.24
Edit

1860c.27 Playing of Hole-less Two-Old-Cat in Providence RI

Location: <p>New England</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Juvenile</p>
<p>"Baseball, as now [in 1915] so popularly played by the many strong local, national and international "nines," was quite unheard of in my boyhood. To us . . . the playing of "two old cat" was as vital, interesting and captivating as the present so-well-called National Game. . . . Four boys made the complement for that game. Having drawn on the ground two large circles, distant about ten or twelve feet from each other in a straight line, a boy with a bat-or 'cat-stick,' as it was called - in hand stood within each of those circles; back of each of those boys was another boy, who alternately was a pitcher and catcher, depending upon which bat the ball was pitched to or batted from. If a ball was struck and driven for more or less distance, then the game was for the boys in the circles to run from one to the other a given number of times, unless the boy who was facing the batter should catch the ball, or running after it, should secure it, and, returning, place it within one of those circles before the prescribed number of times for running from one to the other had been accomplished; or, if a ball when struck was caught on the fly at close range, then that would put a side out. The boys, as I have placed them in twos at that old ball game, were called a side, and when a side at the bat was displaced, as I have explained, then the other two boys took their positions within the circles. It was a popular game with us, and we enjoyed it with all the gusto and purpose as does the professional ball player of these later days."</p> <p> </p>
Sources: <p>Farnham, Joseph E. C., Brief Historical Data and Memories of My Boyhood Days in Nantucket Providence, R.I. (Snow & Farnham, 1915) pages 90-91. </p>
Comment: <p>Farnham was born in 1849. This account seems to imply that some minimum number of crossings from base to base was required to avoid an out.</p>
Circa
1860
Item
1860c.27
Edit

1860.28 New England Publication Admits New Dominance of NY Game

Location: <p>New England</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
<p>"BASE BALL. The game of Base Ball is fast becoming in this country what Cricket is in England, - a national game. It has a great advantage over the Gymnasium and other exercise, because it combines simplicity with a healthful exercise at a very trifling expense; bandit is universally acknowledged as a very exciting and also interesting sport. The so called "New York Game," established by the National Association of Base Ball Players, which meets annually at New York, is fast becoming popular in New England, and in fact over the whole country, not only as giving a more equal share in the game but also requiring a greater attention, courage, and activity than in the old game, sometimes called the Massachusetts Game. The first club established in New England to play this new game was organized under the name of "Tri-Mountain Base Ball Club of Boston," and for a long while they were the only club in this section of the country. It seemed hard to give up the old game, but the motto of the Tri-Mountain was "Success," and from time to time during the past two years, there have been similar clubs organized, until at the present time the number is quite flourishing; and the New York Game bids fair to supplant all others.</p>
Sources: <p>Farmers Cabinet Volume 58, number 42 (May 16, 1860), page 2. </p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.28
Edit

1860.29 "Canadian Game" Espied in Ontario

Location: <p>Canada</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
<p>"Despite early experimentation with Cartwright's game, Oxford County [ON] inhabitants persisted with their regional variation of baseball for over a decade. . . . In 1860 matches between Beachville's sister communities Ingersoll and Woodstock involved eleven, rather than nine, players, and used four, rather than three bases. This prompted the New York Clipper [of August 18, 1860] to refer to the type of baseball played in the region as being the "Canadian Game." </p>
Sources: <p>N. B. Bouchier and R. K. Barney, "A Critical Examination of a Source on Early Ontario Baseball," Journal of Sport History Volume 15, number 1 (Spring 1988), page 85. </p>
Comment: <p>The authors say that the extra positions were "4th base" and "backstop." They suggest that the game was still closer to the Massachusetts game than the NY game. Oxford County's ballplaying towns are roughly at the midpoint between Buffalo NY and Detroit, and roughly 50 miles from each. </p>
Query: <p>Can we find that Clipper report? Does the use of two backstops imply the continued application of tick-and-catch rules?</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.29
Edit

1860.31 Base Ball Crosses State of Missouri

Location: <p>Missouri</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>"BASE BALL IN MISSOURI: St. Joseph, Mo, April 7, 1860. Friend Clipper: On Saturday last, a" jovial party" met on the ground near the cemetery, to engage in he healthful and vigorous game of ball; parties were paired off, and the game was one of lively interest to all. After the game was closed, it was decided to form a "Ball Club". . . . On motion of Jos. Tracy, the name of the Club was fixed as the "Franklin Base Ball Club."  </p>
Sources: <p>New York Clipper, April 21, 1860, p.7</p>
Comment: <p>St. Joseph is about 30 miles north of Kansas City MO. There is no solid clue here as to whether this team was to follow rules for the New York game.</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.31
Edit

1860.32 Milwaukee Area Not Unanimous About the "Miserable" New York Rules

Location: <p>Wisconsin</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>The Daily Milwaukee News of May 17, 1860 offered this: "Waiting for a ball to bound, instead of catching it on the fly . . . and various other methods of play adopted by this new-fangled game, looks to us altogether too great a display of laziness and inactivity to suit our notions of a genuine, well and skillfully conducted game of Base Ball. . . . We shall soon expect to hear that the game of Base Ball is played with the participants lying at full length upon the grass." Give us the 'old fashioned game' or none at all."</p> <p>The previous day, the Milwaukee Sentinel had responded to a News piece calling the new rules "miserable" by writing that "We don't think much of the judgment of the News. The game of Base Ball, as now played by all the clubs in the Eastern States, is altogether ahead of 'the old fashioned game,' both in point of skill and interest." </p>
Sources: <p>Daily Milwaukee News, May 17, 1860</p> <p>Milwaukee Sentinel, May 16, 1860 </p>
Comment: <p>The Janesville WI ball club wasn't so sure about this new Eastern game, and apparently continued to play by the old rules. (no ref. given). Janesville is about 60 miles SW of Milwaukee.</p>
Query: <p>What is the date of the Daily Milwaukee News piece in which the rules are described as "miserable"?</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.32
Edit

1860.33 Base Ball Beats Football to South Bend IN

Location: <p>Indiana</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
<p>"In 1860, South Bend was introduced to baseball for the first time and since then has continued to play the game as both an amateur and professional sport. . . .Area businessman Henry Benjamin introduced baseball to the city, forming a union which has lasted 125 years. . . . Benjamin decided to hold tryouts in the spring of 1860 to select South Bend's first organized team. That first team was called the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers were active as a team from 1860 to 1863."</p> <p> </p>
Sources: <p>John M. Kovach, From Goosepasture to Greenstockings: South Bend Baseball 1860 - 1890 (Greenstocking Press, South Bend, 1985), pages 4-6. (no ref. given). Accessed at the Giamatti Center at the Hall of Fame.</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.33
Edit

1860.34 Disparate Ball Games Seen in New Hampshire

Location: <p>New England</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
Sources: <p>Both NH game accounts are in The New York Clipper. May 19, 1860, p.37</p>
Comment: <p>Intramural games are described for two clubs. In one, appearing on May 19, "the stars of the East" of Manchester played an in-house 28-23 game under National Association Rules - nine players, nine innings, the usual fielding positions neatly assigned. The other was a two-inning contest with twelve-player sides and a score of 70 to 63. This latter game does not resemble contours on the Massachusetts game - it's hard to construe it having a one-out-side-out rule -, but it's not wicket, for the club is named the "Granite Base Ball Club", also of Manchester. The run distribution in the box score is consistent with the use of all-out-side-out innings. </p>
Query: <p>What were these fellows playing? </p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.34
Edit

1860.36 In Thick Gloves All Encased

Tags: <p>Equipment</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>"Then "Bispham" comes next, you'd expect from his looks,
He was given to study, addicted to books,
And you'd little suspect there was much in the man,
Till you saw him at play -- then beat him who can.
His favorite position is on the first base,
And he stands like a statue, always right about face,
With his hands in a pair of thick gloves all encased,
Which never miss holding the ball once embraced.
And I pity the 'batter' who when the ball's fair,
If its short, tries to make the 'first base' when he's there.
The 'batter' itself may be good enough -- though
He's sure to be put out, and his cake is all 'dough.'</p>
Sources: <p>a poem written (recited?) on Christmas Day, 1860. It is entitled "Owe'd 2 
Base Ball: In Three Cant-Oh's!"</p>
Warning: <p>Primary source of poem not known. From a 19CBB post by Tom Shieber, Oct. 28, 2003</p>
Comment: <p> written for and recited at a Christmas Ball thrown by the Mercantile BBC of 
Philadelphia. In "Cant-Oh! III" the various players are mentioned. Earliest known rference to a player using a glove. </p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.36
Edit

1860.37 Late Surge Lifts Douglas' over Abe Lincoln's Side in Chicago IL

Location: <p>Illinois</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
Notables: <p>Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen F. Douglas</p>
<p>"Base Ball and Politics. - We do not approve of their thus being brought into contact, but as a match took place at Chicago on the 24th ult., between nine [Stephen] Douglas me and nine [Abe] Lincoln men of the Excelsior Club, we feel in duty bound to report it."</p>
Sources: <p>New York Clipper, July 1860. </p>
Comment: <p>Tied after eight innings, the outcome was prophetic for the ensuing election (in the state legislature) for the U. S. Senate: Douglas 16, Lincoln 14.  </p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.37
Edit

1860.38 Base Ball in Pittsburgh PA

Location: <p>Pennsylvania</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>"Base Ball in Alleghany. - A match game of base ball was played between the Fort Pitt and Keystone Clubs on the West Common, Alleghany, Pa., on the 26th inst."  
</p>
Sources: <p>New York Clipper, Aug. 11, 1860</p>
Comment: <p>Box score provided; it is consistent with the National Association rules. Assuming that "Alleghany" is an alternative spelling for "Allegheny," this game occurred in a town absorbed into Pittsburgh PA in 1907.</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.38
Edit

1860.39 In Oberlin OH, It's Railroad Club 49, Uptown Club 44.

Location: <p>Ohio</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>"Base Ball at Oberlin O. - A match game between the Railroad and Uptown Clubs, took place at Oberlin" </p>
Sources: <p>New York Clipper, July 28, 1860</p>
Comment: <p>The box score shows two eight-player teams. Oberlin OH is 35 miles southwest of Cleveland.</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.39
Edit

1860.40 "Championship" Game: Atlantic 20, Eckford 11

Tags: <p>Championship Games</p>
Location: <p>Greater New York City</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>"Great Match for the Championship. Atlantic vs. Eckford. The Atlantics Victorious"  The article notes: "the results of the games this season between the Atlantics and the Excelsiors led them [sic] latter to withdraw entirely from the battle for the championship, which next season will lay between the Eckfords and Atlantics." by Craig Waff, September 2008.</p>
Sources: <p>New York Clipper Volume 8, number 30 (November 10, 1860), page 237, column 1. </p>
Comment: <p>The article includes a play-by-account of the game, and unusually detailed box scores, including fielding plays and a five-column "how put out" table. Also included were counts for "passed balls on which bases were run" [4], "struck out" [1], "catches missed on the fly" [9, by six named players], "catches missed on the bound" [2], and "times left on base" [9]</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.40
Edit

1860.41 Two Base Ball Tourneys in California

Location: <p>California</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>In September and October 1860, two tournaments occurred in CA. The first saw SF's Eagle Club beat Sacramento twice, 36-32 and 31-17 It was noted that SF's Gelston, a leadoff batter and catcher, was from the Eagle Club in New York, and "the Sacs" pitcher and leadoff batter Robinson was from Brooklyn's Putnams. In addition to a $100 prize for the winning team, the best player at each position received a special medal. The games took place in Sacramento.</p> <p>In October, three teams - Sacramento, Stockton, and the Live Oak - played games in Stockton, with Sacramento winning the $50 prize ball, beating Stockton 48-11 and then pasting Live Oak 78-7. </p>
Sources: <p>New York Clipper, Oct. 20, 1860</p> <p>New York Clipper, Nov. 17, 1860</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.41
Edit

1860.42 Shut Out Reported as the First Ever; Excelsiors 25, St. George Nine 0

Location: <p>Greater New York City</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p> This game, played on the St. George grounds at Hoboken, occurred on November 8, 1860.</p>

<p>[A] "the score of the Excelsiors being 25 to nothing for their antagonists! This is the first match on record that has resulted in nine innings being played without each party making runs." It was the last game of the season for the Excelsiors, who played two "muffin" players and allowed St. George borrow a catcher [Harry Wright] from the Knickerbockers and a pitcher from the Putnams. </p> <p>[B] "a match was played at Hoboken, between a picked nine of the St. George's Cricket Club -- players noted for their superior fielding qualifications as cricketers-- and nine of the well-known Excelsior Club, of South Brooklyn."</p>

<p> </p>
Sources: <p>[A] "Excelsiors vs., St. George," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Volume 19, number 269 (Saturday, November 10, 1860), page 2, column 5. </p> <p>[B] "Base Ball," Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, November 17, 1860.</p>
Comment: <p>According to the WSOT article, the Excelsior lineup included Creighton as pitching and third batter, Brainerd at 2B, and Leggett as catcher. Mr. Welling of the Knickerbockers served as umpire.</p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.42
Edit

1860.43 Three Ball Clubs Form in VT Village

Location: <p>New England</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>"As if to anticipate and prepare for the dread exigencies of war, then impending, by a simultaneous impulse, all over the country, base ball clubs were organized during the year or two preceding 1861. Perhaps no game or exercise, outside military drill, was ever practiced, so well calculated as this to harden the muscles and invigorate the physical functions. . . .</p>

<p>"Three base ball clubs were formed in this town, in 1860 and 1861. . . . They were sustained with increasing interest until 1862, when a large portion of each club was summoned to war."</p>

<p> </p>
Sources: <p>Hiel Hollister, Pawlet [VT] for One Hundred Years (J. Munsell, Albany, 1867), pages 121-122. Available via Google books: search "base ball""pawlet".</p>
Comment: <p>Pawlet VT [current pop. c1400] is on the New York border, and is about 15 miles east of Glens Falls NY. Chester VT's 3044 souls today live about 30 miles north of Brattleboro and 35 miles east of the New York border.</p>
Query: <p>This is the first VT item on base ball in the Protoball files, as of November 2008; can that be so? Earlier items above [#178.6, #1787.2, #1828c.5, and #1849.9] all cite wicket or goal. </p>
Year
1860
Item
1860.43
Edit

1860.44 Score it 7-5-4: "Three Hands Out in a Jiffy"

Location: <p>Maryland</p>
Game: <p>Base Ball</p>
Age of Players: <p>Adult</p>
<p>We now know that it wasn't the first triple play ever [see #1859.30 above], but it was a snazzy play. "By one of the handsomest backward single-handed catches ever made by [the gloveless LF] Creighton, he took the ball on the fly, and instantly, by a true and rapid throw, passed the ball to [3B] Whiting, who caught it, and threw quickly to Brainerd, on the second base, before either Sears or Patchen had time to return to their bases.