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1857.10 Rib-and-Ball Game in the Arctic: Baseball Fever Among the Chills?
Kane, Elisah Kent, Arctic Explorations: the Second Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin, 1853, '54, '55, volume 2 [Philadelphia, Childs and Peterson]. The author, observing a native village, watches as "children, each one armed with the curved rib of some big amphibian, are playing bat and ball among the drifts." Block notes that the accompanying engraving playing with long, curved bones as bats.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 218.