|Misc BB Firsts|
|Add a Misc BB First|
|About the Chronology|
|Add a Chronology Entry|
1846.16 Base Ball as Therapy in MA?
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."
Annual Report of the Trustees of the State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, December 1846. Posted to 19CBB on 11/1/2007 by Richard Hershberger.
Was "base-ball" a common term in MA then?
1848.10 Ballgame Marks Anniversary in MA
"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."
North American and United States Gazette, June 7, 1848.
Trenton State Gazette (NJ), pg. 1, June 8, 1848.
A team size of 12 and three-game match are consistent with some Mass game contests.
This seems to have been a Philadelphia paper; why would it carry - or reprint - this central-MA story?
1850s.25 If It's May Day, Boston Needs All its Sam Malones at the Commons!
"On the first of May each year, large crowds filled the [Boston] Commons to picnic, play ball or other games, and take in entertainment."
John Corrigan, "The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century," in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 44. Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search ("business of the heart"). Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is William Gray Brooks, "Diary, May 1, 1858."
1850c.46 Worcester Man Recalls Round Ball in the 1850s
"I will now call your attention to some of the games and amusements indulged in by Worcester boys of fifty or sixty years ago . . . .
"There were various games of ball played in my day. I remember barn-ball, two and three old cat, and round ball. This last was very much like baseball of to-day . . . .
"There were bases of goals, and instead of catching out, the ball was thrown at the player when running bases and if hit he knew it at once and was out. The balls were hard and thrown with force and intent to hit the runner, but an artful dodger could generally avoid being hit.
"On Fast Day there was always a game of ball on he north side of the Common, played by men and older boys, and this attracted large crowd of interested lookers on."
Nathaniel Paine, School Day Reminiscences, Proceedings of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume XIX (1903), pages 46 and 49.
1851.3 Wicket Players in MA Found Liable
"In a recent case which occurred at Great Barrington, an action was brought against some 12 or 15 young men, by an old man, to recover damages for a spinal injury received by him and occasioned by a wicket ball, which frightened his horse and threw him from his wagon. The boys were playing in the street. . . . . If this were fully understood, there would be less of the dangerous and annoying practice so common in our streets."
"Caution to Ball Players n the Street," The Pittsfield Sun, volume 51, issue 2647 (June 12, 1851), page 2.
1853c.1 "Rounders" Said to be Played at Phillips Andover School
[A] "The game of "rounders," as it was played in the days before the Civil War, had only a faint resemblance to our modern baseball. For a description of a typical contest, which took place in 1853, we are indebted to Dr. William A. Mowry:"
[Nine students had posted a challenge to play "a game of ball," and that challenge was accepted by eleven other students.] "The game was a long one. No account was made of 'innings;' the record was merely of runs. When one had knocked the ball, had run the bases, and had reached the 'home goal,' that counted one 'tally.' The game was for fifty tallies. The custom was to have no umpire, and the pitcher stood midway between the second and third bases, but nearer the center of the square. The batter stood midway between the first and fourth base, and the catcher just behind the batter, as near or as far as he pleased.
'Well, we beat the eleven [50-37].' [Mowry then tells of his success in letting the ball hit the bat and glance away over the wall "behind the catchers," which allowed him to put his side ahead in a later rubber game after the two sides had each won a game.]
[B] "We had baseball and football on Andover Hill forty years ago, but not after the present style. Baseball was called round ball, and the batter that was most adept at fouls, made the most tallies. The Theologues were not too dignified in those days to play matches with the academy. There was some sport in those match games."
[A] Claude M. Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover [Houghton Mifflin, 1917], pp. 449-450.
Researched by George Thompson, based on partial information from reading notes by Harold Seymour. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("history of phillips").
A note-card in the Harold Seymour archive at Cornell describes the Mowry recollection.
[B] William Hardy, Class of 1853, as cited in Fred H. Harrison, Chapter 2, The Hard-Ball Game, Athletics for All: Physical Education and Athletics at Phillips Academy, Andover, 1778-1978 (Phillips Academy, 1983), accessed 2/21/2013 at http://www.pa59ers.com/library/Harrison/Athletics02.html. Publication information for the Hardy quote is not seen on this source.
It appears that Fuess, the 1917 author, viewed this game as rounders, but neither the Mowry description nor the Hardy reference uses that name. It is possible that Fuess was an after-the-fact devotee of he rounders theory of base ball. The game as described is indistinguishable from round ball as played in New England, and lacks features [small bat, configuration of bases] used in English rounders during this period. The placement of the batter, the use of "tallies" for runs, and the 50-inning game length suggests that the game played may have been a version of what was to be encoded as the Massachusetts Game in 1858.
Wikipedia has an entry for prolific historian William A Mowry (1829-1917). A Rhode Islander, his schooling is not specified, but he entered Brown University in 1854, and thus may have been a Phillips Andover senior in 1853.
Hardy's 1853 reference to the "Theologues" is, seemingly, a local theological seminary -- presumably the nearby Andover Theological Seminary -- whose teams played many times from the 1850s to the 1870s against Phillips Andover. Hardy's note may thus mark the first known interscholastic match of a safe haven ballgame in the United States.
A prestigious preparatory school, Phillips Academy is in Andover MA and about 20 miles N of Boston.
Can we identify the seminary with the rival club, and determine whether it has any record of early ballplaying?
1860.9 Fly Game Wings Its Way to Boston
"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.
Boston Herald, Sep. 24. 1860
The NABBP had at its March 1860 convention permitted member clubs to elect to play fly games.
1860.15 Adolescent Novel Describes Base Ball Game
In this moral tale, Nat hits a triumphant home run, "turning a somersault as he came in."
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.
1860.74 Massachusetts Group Extends Reach
"MASSACHUSETTS ASSOCIATION OF BASE BALL PLAYERS. The annual convention of this association was held at Chapman Lower Hall, on Saturday...Twelve Clubs were represented at the meeting by thirty-three delegates. The name of the Association was changed to the "New England Association of Base Ball Players."
Boston Herald, April 9, 1860
1860.83 Long Ball
[A] "BASE BALL. A closely contested game of base ball was played in Grafton on Friday afternoon last, between the Hassanamisco Club of Grafton and the Benecia Club of Milford...The playing commenced at nine o'clock in the morning, and at twelve o'clock the Milford boys were ahead about 2 to 1. The playing continued in the afternoon until six, when the game stood as follows: Milford 41, Grafton 29. The Grafton Club claimed the game, however, as the Milford boys refused to continue playing the next day."
[B] Three other games that year for which game times were published last five to six hours.
[A] Boston Herald, Sep. 3, 1860
[B] Boston Herald, June 21, Aug. 10, and Sep. 5, 1860
By 1860, most Massachusetts Rules games were being played to 75 runs, instead of the 100 specified in the rules adopted in 1858. A match for the state championship was abandoned, unfinished, after four days' play.
1863.2 New Marlboro Match Base Ball Co. Goes Hybrid
Apparently not liking either the New York Rules or Massachusetts Game Rules, the two formal sets available to them, the boys of the South Berkshire Institute, a prep school in New Marlborough, MA, drew up a hybrid game. Their version is rare in that its documentation has survived.
Richard Hershberger, "The 'New Marlboro Match Base Ball Co.' of 1863", in Base Ball (McFarland, Spring 2010), p. 87. The documents, part of an autograph album, are part of a private collection.