Chronology:Open Queries

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BC 2,000,000c.1 Overhand Throwing Evolves in Primates

Age of Players:

Adult

"A suite of physical changes -- such as the lowering and widening of the shoulders, and expansion of the waist, and a twisting of the humerus -- make humans especially good at throwing  . . . it wasn't until the appearance of Homo erectus, about 2 million years ago" that this combination of alterations came together.

Note: Chimpanzees can only throw like a dartboard-contestant or a straight-arm cricket bowler.

Stone-tipped spears only appeared about a half a million years ago.  "That means that for about 1.5 million years, when people hunted, they basically had nothing more lethal to throw than a pointed wooden stick . . . . If you want to kill something with that, you have to be able to throw that pretty hard, and you have to be accurate.  Imagine how important it must have been to our ancestors to throw hard and fast."

 

Sources:

Peter Reuell, "Right Down the Middle, Explained," Harvard Gazette, June 27, 2013.

See http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/06/right-down-the-middle-explained/ (includes video of human throwing motion).  It describes a paper by Neil T. Roach, et. a., "Elastic Energy Storage in the Shoulder,   Nature, volume 498 (June 27, 2013), pp. 483-487.

Comment:

The article asserts, without supporting detail, that straight-arm (cricket-style) throwing is less effective.

Query:

Do British researchers agree that cricket-style bowling would be less effective as a hunting technique?

Circa
2000000 B.C.
Item
BC 2,000,000c.1
Edit

BC3000c.1 A Baserunning Ballgame in the Stone Age?

Age of Players:

Adult

In 1937 the Italian demography researcher Corrado Gini undertook to study a group of blond-haired Berbers in North Africa, and discovered that they played a batting/baserunning game in the sowing season. 

They called the game Om El Mahag. It employed a "mother's base" and a "father's base, and baserunners were retired if their soft-toss pitch resulted in a caught fly or if they were plugged when running between bases.

[A] Contemporary experts were persuaded that the "blondness of the Berbers suggests that they brought the game with them from Europe" some fifty or more centuries earlier when cold northern climates drove civilization southward.  

[B] For later accounts of this research and its interpretation, see below.

Sources:

[A] Erwin Mehl, "Baseball in the Stone Age (English translation), Western Folklore, volume 7, number 2 (April 1948), page 159.

[B] For a succinct recent summary, see David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It (UNebraska Press, 2005), pages  95-100.  For a rollicking but undocumented take on possible very early safe haven games, including Om El Mahag, see Harold Peterson, The Man Who Invented Baseball (Scribner's, 1969), pages 42-46. 

 

Warning:

Today's reader will want to determine how modern demography sees the advent of blond-haired Berbers and the evidence on the preservation of games and cultural rituals over scores of human generations.  

Comment:

Peterson sees a striking resemblance of Om El Mahag to Guts Muths' "German game" as described in 1796.

Query:

Has this game been observed in other North African communities since 1937?  Are alternative explanations of Om El Mahag now offered, including a much more recent importation from cricket-playing and baseball-playing areas?   

Circa
3000 B.C.
Item
BC3000c.1
Edit

BC2500c.1 “Tip Cats" Found in Egyptian Ruins?

Age of Players:

Unknown

Writing in 1891, Stewart Culin reported “the discovery by Mr. Flinders-Petrie of wooden ‘tip cats’ among the remains of Rahun, in the Fayoom, Egypt (circa 2500 B.C).”  Culin infers that these short wooden objects, pointed on each end, were used in an ancient form of the game later know as Cat.

 

Sources:

Culin, Stewart, “Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.,” Journal of American Folklore, Volume 4, number 14 (July-September 1891), page 233, note 1.

Query:

Do contemporary archeologists and/or historians agree that such items were evidence of play? Have they since found older artifacts that may be associated with cat-like games, or ball games? Can they suggest any rules for such games... Batting? Running? Fielding? Team Play?

Circa
2500 B.C.
Item
BC2500c.1
Edit

BC2400c.1 Was Egypt the Well-Spring of Ballplaying? Text Has “Strike the Ball” Reference

[A]“The earliest known references to seker-hemat (translation: “batting the ball”) as a fertility rite and ritual of renewal are inscribed in pyramids dating to 2400 BC.”  Egyptologist Peter Piccione reads Pyramid Texts Spell 254 as commanding a pharaoh to cross the heavens and “strike the ball” in the meadow of the sacred Apis bull.

[B]Piccione’s reading seems consistent with Robert Henderson’s identification of ancient Egypt as the source of ballplaying: “It is the purpose of this book to show that all modern games played with bat and ball descend from one common source: an ancient fertility rite observed by Priest–Kings in the Egypt of the Pyramids.”

 

Sources:

[A] Piccione, Peter, “Pharaoh at the Bat,” College of Charlestown Magazine(Spring/Summer 2003), p.36.  From a clipping in the Giamatti Center’s “Origins” file in Cooperstown. 

[B]Henderson, Robert W.,Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], page 4.

Comment:

David Block [Baseball Before We Knew It, page 303 (note 1)] writes that Piccione’s identification of seker-hemat with baseball is “apparently speculative in nature.”

Query:

It would be good to confirm details in an academic source and to see whether Egyptologists have any other interpretations of this text – and how Egyptian rites employed the ball as a symbol of fertility. 

Circa
2400 B.C.
Item
BC2400c.1
Edit

BC2000 to 1000ADc.1 The Ball in Ancient Play

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Unknown

Ancient cultures—Lydians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians—play primitive ball games for recreation, as fertility rites and in religious rituals.

 

Sources:

Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], pp. 8-21.

Query:

Did any of these games feature base-running?  Batting?  Has the last 65 years of scholarship added detail to this sweeping claim?

Circa
2000 B.C.
Item
BC2000 to 1000ADc.1
Edit

BC2000c.1 "Egypt May Be the Birthplace" of Ballplaying

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Unknown

"Recent excavations near Cairo, Egypt, have brought to light small balls of leather and others of wood obviously used in some outdoor sport, and probably dating back to at least 2000 years before Christ. These may be the oldest balls in existence. Hence Egypt maybe the birthplace of the original ball game whatever it was. We know, however that the Greeks and Romans played ball at a remote period. We do not know the exact nature of any of these ancient games, Egyptian, Greek, or Roman."

 

Sources:

William S. Walsh, A Handy Book of Curious Information (J. B. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1913), page 83. Available via Google Books search "to light small balls," 1/27/2010.

Query:

Does recent scholarship agree that these were balls, were used in sport, and date to 2000 BC? Is there further evidence about their role in Egyptian life?

Circa
2000 B.C.
Item
BC2000c.1
Edit

BC1500c.1 Mexican Game Believed to Use Bat, Rubber Ball

According to SABR member César González, "There are remains of rubber balls found since the time of the Olmeca culture between 1500 and 700 BC." He reports that it is believed that one of the earliest Mesoamerican games was played with a stick. A dozen rubber balls dating to 1600 BCE or earlier have been found in El Manatí, an Olmec sacrificial bog 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan.

Sources:

[Haslip-Viera, Gabriel: Bernard Ortiz de Montellano; Warren Barbour "Robbing Native American Cultures: Van Sertima's Afrocentricity and the Olmecs," Current Anthropology, Vol. 38, No. 3, (Jun., 1997), pp. 419-441]

Per email from César González, 12/6/2008.

Query:

Can we add specific sources for these points?

Circa
1500 B.C.
Item
BC1500c.1
Edit

BC750.1 Ballplay in Ancient Greece

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Unknown

Notables:

Galen

The Greeks, famous for their athletics, played several ball games. In fact the Greek gymnasium ["palaistra"] was often known to include a special room ["sphairiteria"] for ballplaying . . . a "sphaira" being a ball. Pollux [ca 180 AD] lists a number of children's ball games, including games that loosely resemble very physical forms of keepaway and rugby, and the playing of a complicated form of catch, one that involved feints to deceive other players.

The great physician Galen wrote [ca. 180 AD] especially fondly of ballplaying and its merits, and seems to have seen it as an adult activity. He advised that "the most strenuous form of ball playing is in no way inferior to other exercises." Turning to milder forms of ball play, he said "I believe that in this form ball playing is also superior to all the other exercises." His partiality to ballplaying stemmed in part from its benefit for the whole body, not just the legs or arms, as was the case for running and wrestling.

As far as we are aware, Greek ball games did not include any that involved running among bases or safe havens, or any that involved propelling a ball with a club or stick (or hands).

 

Sources:

Stephen G. Miller, Arete: Greek Sports from Ancient Sources [University of California Press, 2004]: See especially Chapter 9, "Ball Playing." The Pollox quote is from pp. 124-125, and the Galen quote is from pp. 121-124. Special thanks to Dr. Miller for his assistance.

Query:

Did any of the Greek games share attributes with modern baseball?

Year
750 B.C.
Item
BC750.1
Edit

BC700c.1 Ball-Pitching in the Bible?

"He will surely wind you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a large country. There you will die . . . " Isaiah 22:18.

The word "ball" appears only twice in the Bible, and the other one refers to the ball of the foot of a beast (Leviticus 11:27). The Isaiah usage was the inspiration for a January 1905 news article headed, "Isaiah's prophesies were written [in Hebrew] late in the eighth century BC.

Sources:

Isaiah 22:18.

"Played Baseball in Bible Times: The Prophet Isaiah Made the only reference to the Pastime to be Found in the Holy Writ." (The Hamilton [Ont] Spectator - from an unidentified clipping in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown.)

A compilation of 15 English translations [accessed at http://bible.cc/isaiah/22-18.htm on 12/29/10] shows that most of them summon the image of an angry God hurling the miscreant, like a ball, far far away. (One exception, however, cites the winding of a turban, not a ball.) A literal translation is unrevealing: "And thy coverer covering, wrapping round, Wrappeth thee round, O babbler, On a land broad of sides—there thou diest."

 

Warning:

We have incomplete assurance that Isaiah actually referred to a ball, or even to the act of throwing.

A compilation of 15 English translations [accessed at http://bible.cc/isaiah/22-18.htm on 12/29/10] shows that most of them summon the image of an angry God hurling the miscreant, like a ball, far far away. (One exception, however, cites the winding of a turban, not a ball.) A literal translation is unrevealing: "And thy coverer covering, wrapping round, Wrappeth thee round, O babbler, On a land broad of sides—there thou diest."

Comment:

Protoball user Benjamin Roy has done some further digging in 2014 on the meaning of this text . . . see Supplemental Text, below.

Query:

Can other readers throw any more light on this ancient (and, to Protoball, handsomely obscure) text?

Circa
700 B.C.
Item
BC700c.1
Edit
Source Text

BC100.1 Historian Dates Early Cricket to 100 BC - Others Disagree

In his 1912 article "The History of Cricket" [in Pelham and Warner, Imperial Cricket (London, 1912), p. 54] Andrew Lang "argued that cricket was played as far back as 100 BC, basing this on evidence supposedly provided by the ancient Irish epics and romances." According to Lang, "cricket was played by the ancestors of Cuchulain, by the Dalraid Scots from northern Ireland who invaded and annexed Argyll in about 500 AD." Modern writers do not accept this view.

 

Sources:

Bateman, Anthony," 'More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ; 'Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), pp. 27 - 44.

Query:

It would be interesting to know what particular features of Irish lore gave Lang the feeling that cricket stemmed from ancient Irish sources.

Year
100 B.C.
Item
BC100.1
Edit

370c.1 Saint Augustine Recalls Punishment for Youthful Ball Games

Tags:

Bans, Famous

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Youth

Notables:

Saint Augustine

In his Confessions, Augustine of Hippo - later St. Augustine - recalls his youth in Northern Africa, where his father served as a Roman official. "I was disobedient, not because I chose something better than [my parents and elders] chose for me, but simply from the love of games. For I liked to score a fine win at sport or to have my ears tickled by the make-believe of the stage." [Book One, chapter 10] In Book One, chapter 9, Augustine had explained that "we enjoyed playing games and were punished for them by men who played games themselves. However, grown up games are known as 'business. . . . Was the master who beat me himself very different from me? If he were worsted by a colleague in some petty argument, he would be convulsed in anger and envy, much more so than I was when a playmate beat me at a game of ball."

 

Sources:

Saint Augustine's Confessions, Book One, text supplied by Dick McBane, February 2008.

Query:

Can historians identify the "game of ball" that Augustine might have played in the fourth Century? Are the translations to "game of ball," "games," and "sport" still deemed accurate?

Circa
370
Item
370c.1
Edit

824.1 15-Year-Old Chinese Emperor Criticized for Excessive Ball-Playing

Age of Players:

Youth

Ching Tsung was the new Chinese emperor at the age of 15. "As soon as he could escape from the morning levee, the young Emperor rushed off to play ball. His habits were well known in the city, and in the summer of 824 someone suggested to a master-dyer named Chang Shao that, as a prank, he should slip into the Palace, lie on the Emperor's couch and eat his dinner, 'for nowadays he is always away, playing ball or hunting.'" The prank was carried out, but those prankish dyers . . . well, they died as a result.

 

Sources:

Waley, Arthur, The Life and Times of Po Chu-I, 772-846 [Allen and Unwin, London, 1949], p. 157. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.

Query:

Do we know what Chinese "ballplaying" was like in the ninth century?

Year
824
Item
824.1
Edit

1086.1 Form of Stool Ball Possibly Found in Domesday Book in Norman England

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

Stool ball, a stick and ball game and a forerunner of rounders and cricket, is apparently mentioned in the Domesday Book as "bittle-battle."

 

Sources:

Note: This source is Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 75.

Comment:

Henderson doesn't exactly endorse the idea that the cited game, "bittle-battle," is a ball game [or if it is, could it be a form of soule?] He says that one [unnamed] author claims that bittle-battle is a form of stoolball. I saw only two Henderson refs to stoolball, ref 72 [Grantham] and ref 149 [London Magazine]. One of them may be Henderson's source for the 1086 stoolball claim. I don't see a Henderson ref to the Domesday text itself, but then, it probably isn't found at local lending libraries.

The Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect [1875] reportedly gives "bittle-battle" as another name for stoolball. It is believed that "bittle" meant a wooden milk bowl and some have speculated that a bowl may have been used as a paddle to deflect a thrown ball from the target stool, while others speculate that the bowl may have been the target itself.

Query:

 

Note: We need to confirm whether the Domesday Book actually uses the term "bittle-battle," "stool ball," or what. We also should try to ascertain views of professional scholars on the interpretations of the Book. Martin Hoerchner advises that the British Public Records Office may, at some point, make parts of the Domesday Book available online.

Year
1086
Item
1086.1
Edit

1393.1 Disconfirmed Poetry Lines Said to Denote Stoolball in Sussex

Tags:

Females

According to a 2007 article in a Canadian magazine, there is poetry in which a milkmaid calls to another, "Oi, Rosie, coming out to Potter's field for a whack at the old stool?" The article continues: "The year was 1393. The place was Sussex . . . the game was called stoolball, which was probably a direct descendant of stump-ball".

The article, by Ruth Tendulkar, is titled "The Great-Grandmother of Baseball and Cricket," and appeared in the May/June 2007 issue of The Canadian Newcomers Magazine. As of 2007, we have been unable to find additional source details from the author or the magazine.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.cnmag.ca, as accessed 9/6/2007.

Warning:

Caution: The editor of The Canadian Newcomers Magazine informed us on 1/10/2008 that the Tendulkar piece "was strictly an entertainment piece rather than an academic piece." We take this to say that the verse is not authentic. Email from Dale Sproule, Publisher/Editor.

Query:

Is "stumpball" actually a known game?  Have we done adequate searches for this name?

Year
1393
Item
1393.1
Edit

1400c.1 Savior Son Wants "To Go Play at Ball"

Tags:

Famous

Age of Players:

Juvenile

 

A well-known and still-sung medieval English carol (in this case, not a Christmas carol), is The Bitter Withy (withy is the willow tree).  The carol is dated to around 1400.

 

As it fell out on a holy day.

 The drops of rain did fall, did fall,

Our Saviour asked leave of his mother Mary

  If he might go play at ball.

 

"To play at ball, my own dear son,

   It's time you was going or gone,

But be sure let me hear no complain of you

   At night when you do come home."

. . .

 

John Bowman reports that "The poem then tells how the boy Jesus tricks some boys into drowning and is spanked by his mother with a willow branch.  Although I do not know what scholars have to say about the ball game, it is clear that the upper-class boys regard it as lower-class!"

 

The full selection, and John's email, are shown below.

Sources:

Norton Anthology of Poetry (third edition, 1983) page 99. 

Query:

What, if anything, have scholars said about the nature of the game that Jesus played?  A baserunning and/or batting game?  More like soccer or field hockey?  Other?

Circa
1400
Item
1400c.1
Edit
Source Text

1450.2 Stoolball Dated by NSA to 1450 in "Don Quixote"

Game:

Stoolball

"[Stoolball] is mentioned in the classic book Don Quixote."

 

Sources:

National Stoolball Association website, accessed April 2007.

Query:

Note: we need a fuller citation and the key text. Is it possible that this entry confuses D'Urfey's 1694 play about Don Quixote [see Entry #1694.1, below] with the Cervantes masterpiece?

Year
1450
Item
1450.2
Edit

1500s.2 Queen Elizabeth's Dudley Plays Stoolball at Wotton Hill?

Tags:

Famous

Location:

England

Game:

Stoolball

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Lord Robert Dudley; Queen Elizabeth I

According to a manuscript written in the 1600s, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and his "Trayne" "came to Wotton, and thence to Michaelwood Lodge . . . and thence went to Wotton Hill, where hee paid a match at stobball."

Internal evidence places ths event in the fifteenth year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, which would be 1547-48. Elizabeth I named her close associate [once rumored to be her choice as husband] Dudley to became Earl of Leicester in the 1564, and he died in 1588.

Warning:

Caveat: "Stobbal" is usually used to denote a field game resembling field hockey or golf; thus, this account may not relate to stoolball per se.

Comment:

The Wotton account was written by John Smyth of Nibley (1567-1640) in his Berkeley Manuscripts [Sir John McLean, ed., Gloucester, Printed by John Bellows, 1883]. Smyth's association with Berkeley Castle began in 1589, and the Manuscripts were written in about 1618, so it is not a first-hand report.

Query:

Note: Is it possible to determine the approximate date of this event?

Decade
1500s
Item
1500s.2
Edit

1538.1 Easter Ball Play at Churches Ends in France

Tags:

Bans

"Certain types of ball games had a prominent place in heathen rituals and were believed to promote fertility. Even after Christianity had gained the ascendancy over the older religion, ball continued to be played in the churchyard and even within the church at certain times. In France, ball was played in churches at Easter, until the custom was abolished in 1538. In England, the practice persisted up to a much later date."

The abolition in France is attributed to an act of the French Parlement. 

 

Sources:

 

Brewster, Paul G., American Nonsinging Games [University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1953] pp. 79-89. Submitted by John Thorn, 6/6/04.  Brewster gives no source for the French dictum, nor for the "later date" when Easter play ceased in England.

Bob Tholkes (email of 10/4/2017) found a later source: Dawn Marie Hayes, “Earthly Uses of Heavenly Spaces: Non-Liturgical Activities in Sacred Place”, in Studies in Medieval History & Culture, Francis G. Gentry, ed., Routledge, 2003, p. 64. 

 

Query:

Can the actual text be retrieved?

Year
1538
Item
1538.1
Edit

1540c.2 Nobleman Recalls "Palm Play" in Royal Court

Game:

Palm Play

Age of Players:

Youth

 

So cruel prison how could betide,alas,

As proud Windsor [Castle]? Where I in lust [pleasure] and joy

With a king's son my childish years did pass

. . .

Where each of us did plead the other's right;

The palm play [handball?], where despoiled [disrobed] for the  game,

With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love

Have missed the ball and got sight of our dame,  

 

[The full selection, and email notes by John Bowman, are shown below.]  

Sources:

Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey), So Cruel a Prison, Norton Anthology of Poetry, 3rd edition, 1983:  from Songes and sonettes, written by the right honourable Lorde Henry Howard, late Earle of Surrey (London, A. R. Tottel, 1557).

Comment:

We are not certain that "palm play" could have been a baserunning game.  It may be an Anglicized form of jeu de paume, a likely French antecedent to tennis.

The reference to "large grene courtes" in the full ball-play stanza suggests a tennis or handball-type pastime.

 

Query:

Have scholars indicated the likely nature of "palm play?"  Could it have involved the batting of a ball with the palm?

Circa
1540
Item
1540c.2
Edit
Source Text

1586c.1 Sydney Cites Stoolball

Location:

England

Game:

Stoolball

Age of Players:

Youth, Adult

Notables:

Sir Philip Sydney, Lady Mary Dudley

"A time there is for all, my mother often sayes

When she with skirts tuckt very hie, with gyrles at stoolball playes"

 

Sources:

Sir Philip Sydney, Arcadia: Sonnets [1622], page 493. Note: citation needs confirmation.

Comment:

Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586) died at age 31 in 1586.

As of October 2012, this early stoolball ref. is the only one I see that can be interpreted as describing baserunning in stoolball - but it still may merely describe running by a fielder, not a batter. (LMc, Oct/2012)

Sydney's mother was the sister of Robert Dudley, noted in item #1500s.2 above as a possible stoolball player in the time of Eliizabeth I.

Query:

Further interpretations are welcome as to Sydney's meaning.

Circa
1586
Item
1586c.1
Edit

1598.4 Italian Dictionary's "Cricket-a-wicket" doubted as reference to the Game of Cricket

"People have often regarded Florio's expression in his Italian Dictionary (1598) cricket-a-wicket as the first mention (cf #1598.2 and #1598.3, above) of the noble game. It were strange indeed if this great word first dropped from the pen of an Italian! I have no doubt myself that this is a mere coincidence of sound. . . . [C]ricket-a-wicket must pair off with 'helter-skelter,' higgledy-piggledy, and Tarabara to which Florio gives gives cricket-a-wicket as an equivalent."

 

Sources:

A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 6.

Query:

Note: do later writers agree that this was mere coincidence?

Year
1598
Item
1598.4
Edit

1600c.1 Austrian Physician Reports on Batting/Fielding Game in Prague; One of Two Accounts Cites Plugging, Bases

Age of Players:

Unknown

[A]  H. Guarinoni describes a game he saw in Prague in 1600 involving a large field of play, the hitting of a small thrown ball ["the size of a quince"] with a four-foot tapered club, the changing of sides if a hit ball was caught.   While not mentioning the presence of bases or of base-running, he advises that the game "is good for tender youth which never has enough of running back and forth."

[B] "German Schlagball ["hit the ball"] is also similar to rounders. The native claim that these games 'have remained the games of the Germanic peoples, and have won no popularity beyond their countries' quite obviously does not accord with facts. It is enough to quote the conclusion of a description of "hit the ball" by H. Guarnoni, who had a medical practice in Innsbruck about 1600: 'We enjoyed this game in Prague very much and played it a lot. The cleverest at it were the Poles and the Silesians, so the game obviously comes from there.' Incidentally, he was one of the first who described the way in which the game was played. It was played with a leather ball and a club four-foot long. The ball was tossed by a bowler who threw it to the striker, who struck it with a club rounded at the end as far into the field as possible, and attempted to make a circuit of the bases without being hit by the ball. If 'one of the opposing players catches the ball in the air, a change of positions follows.'"

 

Sources:

[A] Guarinoni, Hippolytis, Greuel der Verwustung der menschlichen Gesschlechts [The horrors of the devastation of the human race], [Ingolstadt, Austrian Empire, 1610], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 167-168.  See also pp. 100-102 for Block's summary of, and a translation of the Guarinoni material.

[B] Source: from page 111 of an unidentified photocopy in the "Origins of Baseball" file at the Giamatti Center of the Baseball Hall of Fame, accessed in 2008. The quoted material is found in a section titled "Rounders and Other Ball Games with Sticks and Bats," pp. 110-111. This section also reports: "Gyula Hajdu sees the origin of round games as follows: 'Round games conserve the memory of ancient castle warfare. A member of the besieged garrison sets out for help, slipping through the camp of the enemy. . . . '" "In Hungary several variants of rounders exist in the countryside."

This unidentified source may be W. Andrei and L. Zolnay, Fun and Games in Old Europe [English translation from Hungarian] (Budapest, 1986), pp. 110-111, as cited in Block, fn 16, page 304. 

Query:

What is the basis of the Andrei/Zolnay report of a circuit of bases in the Czech game?

Does Mehl's discussion of the Czech game add anything?

Can we verify the Gyula Hajdu source? Is it Magyar Nepraiz V. Folklor?  Does Hungarian rounders Belong in this entry?  If not, how do we date it?

Circa
1600
Item
1600c.1
Edit

1630c.3 At Oxford, Women's Shrovetide Customs Include Stooleball

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

Age of Players:

Adult

"In the early seventeenth century, an Oxford fellow, Thomas Crosfield, noted the customs of Shrovetide as '1. frittering. 2. throwing at cocks. 3. playing at stooleball in ye Citty by women & footeball by men.'" Shrovetide was the Monday and Tuesday [that Tuesday being Mardi Gras in some quarter] preceding Ash Wednesday and the onset of Lent.

 

Sources:

Griffin, Emma, "Popular Recreation and the Significance of Space," (publication unknown), page 36.

The original source is shown as the Crosfield Diary entry for March 1, 1633, page 63. Thanks to John Thorn for supplementing a draft of this entry. One citation for the diary is F. S. Boas, editor, The Diary of Thomas Crosfield (Oxford University Press, London, 1935).

Query:

Can we find and inspect the 1935 Boas edition of the diary?

Circa
1630
Item
1630c.3
Edit

1630.4 Stoolball Played in Sherston, England

Game:

Stoolball

 

"Back in 2014 I contacted Wiltshire County Council as I found a reference on their website to stoolball being played in a village called Sherston in 1630. In their reply it's obvious it's 'stoball' not stoolball and they give the quote that I think you already have recorded. However, it's still an interesting reminder in terms of the ball."

Sources:

https://history.wiltshire.gov.uk/community/getfaq.php?id=644

Per-e Email from Anita Broad, Vice Chair, Stoolball England, January 23, 2018.

Warning:

We are uncertain whether the game was a running game or a field-hockey=-type game also called "stoball." 

Comment:

Sherston, England is in the southwest of England, near the Cotswolds and about 20 miles NE of Bristol England.

Query:

Is the Wiltshire County website's URL available? Is it still operative?

Is the original source of the data given?

Year
1630
Item
1630.4
Edit

1656.1 Dutch Prohibit "Playing Ball," Cricket on Sundays in New Netherlands.

Game:

Cricket

In October 1656 Director-General Peter Stuyvesant announced a stricter Sabbath Law in New Netherlands, including fine of a one pound Flemish for "playing ball," cricket, tennis, ninepins, dancing, drinking, etc.

 

Sources:

Source: 13: Doc Hist., Volume Iv, pp.13-15, and Father Jogues' papers in NY Hist. Soc. Coll., 1857, pp. 161-229, as cited in Manual of the Reformed Church in America (Formerly Ref. Prot. Dutch Church), 1628-1902, E. T. Corwin, D.D., Fourth Edition (Reformed Church in America, New York, 1902.) Provided by John Thorn, email of 2/1/2008.

Query:

Note: It would be useful to ascertain what Dutch phrase was translated as "playing ball," and whether the phrase denotes a certain type of ballplay. The population of Manhattan at this time was about 800 [were there enough resident Englishmen to sustain cricket?], and the area was largely a fur trading post. Is it possible that the burghers imported this text from the Dutch homeland?

Year
1656
Item
1656.1
Edit

1660c.3 New Netherland (Later NYC) Bans "Balslaen" on the Sabbath

Tags:

Bans

Location:

Manhattan?

Game:

Balslaen

Age of Players:

Unknown

(summarizing rules of the Sabbath in the New Netherland colony)

" . . . exercises and amusement, drinking {themselves} drunk, frequenting taverns or taphouses, dancing, playing cards, ticktacken {backgammon}, balslaen {literally: "hitting the ball"}, clossen {bowling}, kegelen {nine pins}, going boating, traveling with barges, carts, or wagons, before, between, or during the Holy worship."

Sources:

Jaap Jacobs, The Colony of New Netherland: A Dutch Settlement in Seventeenth-Century America (Cornell U. Press: Ithaca, 2009), p. 244.

Pam Bakker, who reported this fine, notes that Jacobs' sources include:  B. Fernow (ed.) and E. B. O'Callahan (trans.), The Records of New Amsterdam from 1653 to 1674 Anno Domini (7 vols, New York 1897, 2nd ed. Baltimore 1976, 1:24-26); also Ch. T. Gehring (trans. and ed.), Laws and Writs of Appeal 1647-1663 (New Netherland Documents Series, vol. 16, part 1) (Syracuse 1991 and this on p. 71); and thirdly E. B. O'Callagham (trans.) Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland, 1636-1674 (Albany 1868 on p. 259).   

See her full find below under Supplemental Text.

 

Comment:

(Jacobs) says that unfortunately "balslaen" has been translated cricket but it simply means hitting the ball.

Query:

Can we determine whether 17th-century balslaen was a batting/baserunning game, or was it in the field-hockey, or handball, or golf, families of games?

Was "New Netherland" confined to the Manhattan area or did it extend northward into the Hudson River valley?

Is "circa 1660" a defensible approximation for this find?

Was balslaen played in Holland?  Could it have influenced English ballplaying, including cricket and English base ball??

 

Circa
1660
Item
1660c.3
Edit
Source Text

1661.1 Galileo Galilei Discovers . . . Backspin!

Tags:

Famous

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Galileo

The great scientist wrote, in a treatise discussing how the ball behaves in different ball games, including tennis: "Stool-ball, when they play in a stony way, . . . they do not trundle the ball upon the ground, but throw it, as if to pitch a quait. . . . . To make the ball stay, they hold it artificially with their hand uppermost, and it undermost, which in its delivery hath a contrary twirl or rolling conferred upon it by the fingers, by means whereof in its coming to the ground neer the mark it stays there, or runs very little forwards."

(see Supplemental Text, below, for a longer excerpt, which also includes the effect of  "cutting" balls in tennis as a helpful tactic.) 

 

 

Sources:

Galileo Galilei, Mathematical Collections and Translations. "Inglished from his original Italian copy by Thomas Salusbury" (London, 1661), page 142.

Provided by David Block, emails of 2/27/2008 and 9/13/2015.

Comment:

David further asks: "could it be that this is the source of the term putting "English" on a ball?"

Query:

Can we really assume that Galileo was familiar with 1600s stoolball and tennis?  Is it possible that this excerpt reflects commentary by Salusbury, rather that strict translation from the Italian source?

Year
1661
Item
1661.1
Edit
Source Text

1666.1 John Bunyan is Very Seriously Interrupted at Tip-Cat, one of his Four "Chief Sins"

Tags:

Famous

"I was in the midst of a game of cat, and having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was about to strike the second time a voice did suddenly dart from Heaven into my soul which said, 'Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to Heaven or have thy sins and go to hell?'"

 

 

Sources:

Bunyan, John, Grace abounding to the chief of sinners [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 173. Autobiographical account by Bunyan, the author of The Pilgrim's Progress. David notes on 5/29/2005 that this reference was originally reported by Harold Peterson, but that Peterson had attributed it to Pilgrim's Progress itself.

Comment:

Writing of Bunyan in 1885, Washington Gladden revealed that as a youth, "[t]he four chief sins of which he was guilty were dancing, ringing the bells of the parish church, playing at tip-cat, and reading the history of Sir Bevis of Southampton." Letter to the Editor, The Century Magazine, Volume 30 (May-October 1885), page 334. 

Query:

Bunyan was born in 1628.  Are we sure that this event can be dated 1666, when he was nearly forty years old?

Year
1666
Item
1666.1
Edit

1680.3 John Bunyan's Son Yields to "Drunkenness, Card-playing, Stoolball," Maypole Dancing

Tags:

Famous

Location:

England

Game:

Stoolball

Age of Players:

Youth

 

"Bunyan repeatedly emphasized that children should be taught about hell, and that they are accursed. 'Upon the Disobedient Child is written strictly from the parents' point of view. 'The rod of correction....is appointed by God for parents to use' Bunyan had written in Mr Badman, 'that thereby they might keep their children from hell.' But flogging in this case was not successful. 'Since this young Badman would not be ruled at home', his father put him out as an apprentice to a good man of his acquaintance.This familiar seventeenth-century practice did not work either. Bunyan's own eldest son, John, though apparently properly flogged in childhood, was by 1680 mixing with bad company (including another son of a member of Bunyan's church) and later took to 'drunkenness, card-playing, stoolball', and dancing round the maypole."

Sources:

Christopher Hill, John Bunyan; A Turbulent, Seditious, and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church (1989), page 270.

Another source attributes Hill's source as Particia Bell, "John Bunyan in Bedfordshire," in The John Bunyan Lectures (Bedfordshire Educational Service, 1978), pp. 35-36.

Comment:

John Bunyan (1628-1688) was a Baptist preacher and author of The Pilgrim's Progress (1678 and 1684).

Query:

So . . . the quote was, perhaps, from a 1680 lecture by John Bunyan himslef?

Year
1680
Item
1680.3
Edit

1700.1 One of the Earliest Public Notices of a Cricket Match?

Tags:

Holidays

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

"Of course, there are many bare announcements of matches played before that time [the 1740's]. In 1700 The Postboy advertised one to take place on Clapham Common."

 

Note: An excerpt from a Wikipedia entry accessed on 10/17/08 states: "A series of matches, to be held on Clapham Common [in South London - LMc] , was pre-announced on 30 March by a periodical called The Post Boy. The first was to take place on Easter Monday and prizes of £10 and £20 were at stake. No match reports could be found so the results and scores remain unknown. Interestingly, the advert says the teams would consist of ten Gentlemen per side but the invitation to attend was to Gentlemen and others. This clearly implies that cricket had achieved both the patronage that underwrote it through the 18th century and the spectators who demonstrated its lasting popular appeal."

Sources:

Thomas Moult, "The Story of the Game," in Moult, ed., Bat and Ball: A New Book of Cricket (The Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1960; reprinted from 1935), page 27. Moult does not further identify this publication.

Warning:

Caveat: The Wikipedia entry is has incomplete citations and could not be verified.

Query:

Can we confirm this citation, and that it refers to cricket? Do we know of any earlier public announcements of safe-haven games?

Year
1700
Item
1700.1
Edit

1725c.1 Wicket Played on Boston Common at Daybreak

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Judge Samuel Sewell

"March, 15. Sam. Hirst [Sewall's grandson, reportedly, and a Harvard '23 man -- (LMc)] got up betime in the morning, and took Ben Swett with him and went into the [Boston MA] Common to play at Wicket. Went before any body was up, left the door open; Sam came not to prayer; at which I was most displeased.

"March 17th. Did the like again, but took not Ben with him. I told him he could not lodge here practicing thus. So he lodg'd elsewhere. He grievously offended me in persuading his Sister Hannam not to have Mr. Turall, without enquiring of me about it. And play'd fast and loose in a vexing matter about himself in a matter relating to himself, procuring me great Vexation."

.

 

Sources:

Diary of Samuel Sewall, in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Published by the Society, Boston, 1882) Volume VII - Fifth Series, page 372

Comment:

While this is the first known reference to ballplaying on Boston Common, there are several later ones.  See Brian Turner, "Ballplaying and Boston Common; A Town Playground for Boys . . . and Men,"  Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 21-24.

Query:

Further comment on this entry is welcome, especially from wicket devotees; after all, this may be the initial U.S. wicket citation in existence (assuming that #1700c.2 is cannot be documented, and that #1704.1 above is not ever confirmed as wicket).

Circa
1725
Item
1725c.1
Edit

1732.1 "Struck a Ball Over the (163-foot) Weather-cock" in New York

Game:

Unknown

Age of Players:

Adult

 
"The same Day a Gentleman in this City, for a Wager of 10l [ten pounds] struck a Ball over the Weather-Cock of the English Church, which is above 163 Feet high. He had half a Day allow'd him to perform it in, but he did  it in less than half the Time."
 

Sources:

American Weekly Mercury, Philadelphia, July 6, 1732, page 3, column 2;

from a series of paragraphs/sentences datelined *New-York, July 3.  The preceding paragraph had begun "On Friday last."

Comment:

Protoball doesn't know of other early references to pop-fly hitting.

Query:

Is it fair to assume that the gentleman used a bat to propel the ball? 

Are such feats known in England?

Is a 160-foot weather-vane plausible?  That's well over 10 stories, no?

 

Year
1732
Item
1732.1
Edit
Source Text

1749.2 Aging Prince Spends "Several Hours" Playing Bass-Ball in Surrey

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Bass Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Prince of Wales, Lord Middlesex

"On Tuesday last, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Lord Middlesex, played at Bass-Ball (sic), at Walton in Surry (sic); notwithstanding the Weather was extreme bad, they continued playing several hours."

Sources:

Whitehall Evening Post, September 19. 1749.  David Block's 2013 find was reported at the SABR.org website on 6/19/2103, and it includes interview videos and links to related documentation.  Confirmed  6/19/2013 as yielding to a web search of <block royal baseball sabr>.

Comment:

Block points out that this very early reference to base-ball Indicates that the game was played by adults -- the Prince was 38 years old in 1749, further weakening the view that English base-ball was played mainly by juveniles in its early history.

The location of the game was Walton-on-Thames in Surrey.

 Comparing the 1749 game with modern baseball, Block estimates that the bass-ball was likely played on a smaller scale, with a much softer ball, with batted ball propelled the plaayers' hands, not with a bat, and that runners could be put out by being "plugged" (hit with a thrown  ball) between bases.

 

Query:

Only two players were named for this account.  Was that because the Prince and Lord Middlesex both led clubs not worthy of mentioning, or was there a two-player version of the game then (in the 1800s competitive games of cricket were similarly reported with only two named players)?

Year
1749
Item
1749.2
Edit

1750s.3 1857 Writer Reportedly Dates New England Game of "Base" to 1750s

Age of Players:

Juvenile, Youth, Unknown

"Dear Spirit:  . . .

"I shall state [here] that which has come under my observation, and also some of my friends, during the last four years of the ball-playing mania . . .   

Base ball cannot date back to so far as [cricket], but the game has no doubt, been played in this country for at least one century.  Could we only invoke the spirit of some departed veteran of he game, how many items of interest might we be able to place before the reader.

"New England, we believe, has always been the play-ground for our favorite game; and the boys of the various villages still play by the same rules their fathers did before them.  We also find that many games are played, differing but little from the well-known game of Base.

" . . .  Although I am a resident of State of New York, I hope to do her no wrong by thinking that the New England States were, and are, the ball grounds of this country, and that many of our  present players were originally from those States.  

"The game of Base, as played there, was as follows: They would take the bat, 'hand over hand,' as the present time, 'whole hand or none.'  After the sides  were chosen, the bases would be placed so as to form a square, each base about twenty yards from the other.  The striker would stand between the first and fourth base, equi-distant from each.  The catcher was always expected to take the ball without a bound and it was always thrown by  a player who would stand between the second and third bases. A good catcher would take the ball before the bat cold strike it.  A hand was out if a man was running the bases should be struck with the ball which was thrown at him while he was running.  He was allowed either a pace or a jump to the base which he was striving to reach; or if a ball was caught flying or on first bound.  There was no rule to govern the striker as to the direction he should knock the ball, and of course no such thing as foul balls. The whole side had to be put out, and if the last man could strike a ball a sufficient distance to make all the bases, he could take in one of the men who had been put out. The ball was not quite the same as the one in present use, and varied very much in size and weight, it also was softer and more springy.  

"The bats were square, flat, or round -- some preferring a flat bat, and striking with it so that th4  edge, or small side, would come in contact with the ball.  Another arrangement of bases is, to have the first about two yards from the striker (on this right), the second about fifty down the field, and the third, or home, about five. . . .

"Yours, respectfully,  X"

  

 

Sources:

Base Ball Correspondence," Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 3, number 8 (October 24, 1857), page 117, column 2. The full text of the October 20 letter from "X" is on the VBBA website, as of 2008, at:

http://www.vbba.org/ed-interp/1857x1.html

Warning:

The writer present no evidence as to the earliest dates of known play.

Comment:

The game described by "X" resembles the MA game as it was to be codified a year later except: [a] "a good catcher would frequently take the ball before the bat cold strike it," [b] the runner "was allowed either a pace or jump to the base which he was striving t reach," [c] the bound rule was in effect, [d] all-out-side-out innings were used, [e] the ball was "softer and more spongy" than 1850's ball, [f] the bats were square, flat, or round," and [g] there was a second field layout, with three bases. [This variation reminds one of cricket, wicket, and "long town or "long-town-ball, except for the impressive 150-foot distance to the second base]."

Query:

Can we interpret the baserunning rule allowing "a pace or jump to the base [the runner] was striving to reach?"  Plugging didn't count if the runner was close to the next base," perhaps?

Decade
1750s
Item
1750s.3
Edit

1758.1 Military Unit Plays "Bat and Ball" in Northern NYS

Tags:

Military

Age of Players:

Adult

In 1758, Benjamin Glazier recorded in his diary that "Captain Garrish's company played 'bat and ball'" near Fort Ticonderoga.

Sources:

Benjamin Glazier, French and Indian War Diary of Benjamin Glazier of Ipswich,1758-1760.  Essex Institute Historical Collections, volume 86 (1950), page 65, page 68. The original diary is held at the Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem MA. 

Note: Brian Turner notes, August 2014, that: "I've had to cobble together the above citation without seeing the actual publication or the original ms.  The Hathi Trust allows me to search for page numbers of vol. 86, but not images of those pages, and when I put in "bat and ball" I get hits on p. 65 and p. 68.  P. 65 also provides hits for "Ticonderoga" and "Gerrish's," so that would be the most likely place for all the elements to be cited.  The original clue came from a website on the history of Fort Ticonderoga, but I can no longer find that website."

 

Comment:

Fort Ticonderoga is about 100 miles N of Albany NY at the southern end of Lake Champlain.  Ipswich MA is about 10 miles N of Salem MA.

Query:

Can the date of the diary entry be traced?

Year
1758
Item
1758.1
Edit

1778.4 Ewing Reports Playing "At Base" and Wicket at Valley Forge - with the Father of his Country

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] George Ewing, a Revolutionary War soldier, tells of playing a game of "Base" at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: "Exercisd in the afternoon in the intervals playd at base."

Ewing also wrote: "[May 2d] in the afternoon playd a game at Wicket with a number of Gent of the Arty . . . ." And later . . .  "This day [May 4, 1778] His Excellency dined with G Nox and after dinner did us the honor to play at Wicket with us."

 

[B]

"Q. What did soldiers do for recreation?

"A: During the winter months the soldiers were mostly concerned with their survival, so recreation was probably not on their minds. As spring came, activities other than drills and marches took place. "Games" would have included a game of bowls played with cannon balls and called "Long Bullets." "Base" was also a game - the ancestor of baseball, so you can imagine how it might be played; and cricket/wicket. George Washington himself was said to have took up the bat in a game of wicket in early May after a dinner with General Knox! . . . Other games included cards and dice . . . gambling in general, although that was frowned upon."

Valley Forge is about 20 miles NE of Philadelphia.

 

 

Sources:

[A] Ewing, G., The Military Journal of George Ewing (1754-1824), A Soldier of Valley Forge [Private Printing, Yonkers, 1928], pp 35 ["base"] and 47 [wicket]. Also found at John C. Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. Volume: 11. [U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1931]. page 348.  The text of Ewing's diary is unavailable at Google Books as of 11/17/2008.

[B] From the website of Historic Valley Forge;

see http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/youasked/067.htm, accessed 10/25/02. Note: it is possible that the source of this material is the Ewing entry above, but we're hoping for more details from the Rangers at Valley Forge. In 2013, we're still hoping, but not as avidly.

Comment:

Caveat: It is unknown whether this was a ball game, rather than prisoner's base, a form of tag played by two teams, and resembling the game "Capture the Flag."

Note:  "Long Bullets" evidently involved a competition to throw a ball down a road, seeing who could send the ball furthest along with a given number of throws.  Another reference to long bullets is found at http://protoball.org/1830s.20.

 

 

Query:

Is Ewing's diary available now?

Year
1778
Item
1778.4
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

1787.1 Ballplaying Prohibited at Princeton - Shinny or Early Base Ball?

Age of Players:

Youth

"It appearing that a play at present much practiced by the smaller boys . . . with balls and sticks," the faculty of Princeton University prohibits such play on account of its being dangerous as well as "low and unbecoming gentlemen students."

 

Sources:

Quoted without apparent reference in Henderson, pp. 136-7. Sullivan, on 7/29/2005, cited Warnum L. Collins, "Princeton," page 208, per Harold Seymour's dissertation.

Wallace quotes the faculty minute [November 26, 1787] in George R. Wallace, Princeton Sketches: The Story of Nassau Hall (Putnam's Sons, New York, 1894), page 77, but he does not cite Collins. The Wallace book was accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Book search for "'princeton sketches.'" The college is in Princeton NJ.

Warning:

Caveat: Collins - and Wallace -believed that the proscribed game was shinny, and Altherr makes the same judgment - see Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 35-36.

Comment:

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

Query:

Can we determine why this "shiny" inference was made?

Year
1787
Item
1787.1
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

1805.4 Enigmatic Report: NY Gentlemen Play Game of "Bace," and Score is Gymnastics 41, Sons of Diagoras 34.

Age of Players:

Adult

"Yesterday afternoon a contest at the game of Bace took place on "the Gymnasium," near Tylers' between the gentlemen of two different clubs for a supper and trimmings . . . . Great skill and activity it is said was displayed on both sides, but after a severe and well maintained contest, Victory, which had at times fluttered a little form one to the other, settled down on the heads of the Gymnastics, who beat the Sons of Diagoras 41 to 34."

 

Sources:

New York Evening Post, April 13, 1805, page 3 column 1. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.

George Thompson has elaborated on this singular find at George Thompson, "An Enigmatic 1805 "Game of Bace" in New York," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 55-57.

Comment:

Note: So, folks . . . was this a baserunning ball game, some version of prisoner's base (a team tag game resembling our childhood game Capture the Flag) with scoring, or what?

John Thorn [email of 2/27/2008] has supplied a facsimile of the Post report, and also found meeting announcements for the Diagoras in the Daily Advertiser for 4/11 and 4/12/1805.

David Block (see full text in Supplemental Text, below) offers his 2017 thoughts on this entry:

"My opinion on whether that game was baseball or prisoner's base has gone back and forth over the years. As of now I tend to lean 60-40 to baseball. Other than the example from Chapman that John cited, I've never come across a use of the term bace to signify either game. Even if I had it wouldn't mean much as the word "base" has been used freely over the years for both of them. The mention of a score in the 1805 article is significant. Rarely are scores indicated in any of the reports of prisoner's base (prison base, prison bars, etc.) that I've come across. Usually they just indicate one side or the other as winner."

 

 

 

 

Query:

Special credit for anyone who can add to our understanding of this item!

Year
1805
Item
1805.4
Edit
Source Text

1810c.1 "Poisoned Ball" Appears in French Book of Games

Location:

France

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

The rules for "Poisoned Ball" are described in a French book of boy's games: "In a court, or in a large square space, four points are marked: one for the home base, the others for bases which must be touched by the runners in succession, etc."

To See the Text: David Block carries a three-paragraph translation of text in Appendix 7, page 279, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

David notes that the French text does not say directly that a bat is used in this game; the palm may have been used to "repel" the ball.

Sources:

Les Jeux des Jeunes Garcons [Paris, c.1810]. Per Robert Henderson. Note: David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It, at page 186-187, dates this book at 1815, some of the doubt perhaps arising from the fact that the earliest [undated?] extant copy is a fourth edition.

Comment:

We have one other reference to poisoned ball, from about three decades later.  See item 1850c.8.

Query:

This game has similarity to base ball; could a French-speaking digger take a few moments to sort out whether more is known about the rules, origins, and fate of the game?

Circa
1810
Item
1810c.1
Edit

1810s.9 19th Century Glossarist Describes "Bat and Ball" Rules

 

When Alfred Elwyn composed his 1859 glossary entry for “ball,” his example was “bat and ball” played in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he was born in 1804.

“The one we call ‘bat and ball’ may be an imperfect form of cricket, though we played this [cricket] in the same or nearly the same manner as in England, which would make it probable that the ‘bat and ball’ was a game of Yankee invention” (p.18).

 

“[S]ides were chosen, not limited to any particular number, though seldom more than six or eight. . . .The individual . . . first chosen, of the side that was in, took the bat position at a certain assigned spot. One of his adversaries stood at a given distance in front of him to throw the ball, and another behind him to throw back the ball if it were not struck, or to catch it. . . . After the ball was struck, the striker was to run; stones were placed some thirty or forty feet apart, in a circle, and he was to touch each one of them, till he got back to the front from which he started. If the ball was caught by any of the opposite party who were in the field, or if not caught, was thrown at and hit the boy who was trying to get back to his starting place, their party was in; and the boy who caught the ball, or hit his opponent, took the bat. A good deal of fun and excitement consisted in the ball not having been struck to a sufficient distance to admit of the striker running round before the ball was in the hands of his adversaries. If his successor struck it, he must run, and take his chance, evading the ball as well as he could by falling down or dodging it. While at the goals he could not be touched; only in the intervals between them.(p.19)

 

 

Sources:

Alfred L. Elwyn, Glossary of Supposed Americanisms (Philadelphia:  J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1859), pp. 18-20.

Comment:

Using stones for bases fits Carver’s 1834 description of “base or goal ball.” Elwyn also specifies that an inning was “one out, side out,” a feature of the Massachusetts game later codified in 1858.   And, of course, that old New England favorite, “soaking.”

Query:

Do we have any way to tell the ages of the participants in the recalled game?

Decade
1810s
Item
1810s.9
Edit

1812c.1 Young Andrew Johnson Plays Cat and Bass Ball and Bandy in Raleigh NC

Tags:

Famous

Location:

US South

Game:

Bass Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

[At age four] "he spent many hours at games with boys of the neighborhood, his favorite being 'Cat and Bass Ball and Bandy,' the last the 'choyst' game of all."

Sources:

Letter from Neal Brown, July 15, 1867, in Johnson Mss., Vol. 116, No. 16,106.[Publisher?]

Query:

Listed Source seems incomplete or garbled.  Help?

Circa
1812
Item
1812c.1
Edit

1818.4 Cricket Reported in Louisville KY?

Location:

US South

Game:

Cricket

"It is not unreasonable to speculate that as the immigrants came down the Ohio River . . . they brought with them the leisure activities hat had already developed in the cities along the Atlantic coast. There are reports of a form of cricket being played in the city as early at 1818."

 

Sources:

Bailey, Bob, "Beginnings; From Amateur Teams to Disgrace in the National League," [1999], page 1. Bob (email, 1/27/2013), further quotes Dean Sullivan's master's thesis, Ball-oriented Sport in a Southern City: A Study of the Organizational Evolution of Baseball in Louisville (George Mason University): "Ball-oriented sports had been reported in Kentucky as early as 1818, when travelers stumbled upon a primitive game of cricket."

Comment:

Note: The original source of the 1818 reference may have been lost. Bob reports that Dean Sullivan thesis cited Harold Peterson's The Man Who Invented Baseball (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973), page 24. However, Peterson gives no source. A dead end?

Query:

Are there other sightings of this 1818 cricket account?

Year
1818
Item
1818.4
Edit

1820s.18 Syracuse NY Ball Field Remembered as Base Ball Site

Game:

Bass Ball

David Block reports: "In the lengthy 'Editor's Table' section of this classic monthly magazine [The Knickerbocker], the editor described a nostalgic visit that he and two old school chums had taken to the academy that they had attended near Syracuse. 'We went out upon the once-familiar green, as if it were again 'play time', and called by name upon our old companions to come over once more and play 'bass-ball.' But they answered not; they came not! The old forms and faces were gone; the once familiar voices were silent.'"  

Sources:

 "Editor's Table," The Knickerbocker (S. Hueston, New York, 1850), page 298. Contributed by David Block 2/27/2008.

Comment:

The Editor, Lewis Gaylord Clark, was born in 1810, and attended the Onondaga Academy. He was thus apparently recalling ball-playing from sometime in the 1820s. Onondaga Academy was, evidently, about 3 miles SW of downtown Syracuse.

Query:

Can we get better data on Clark's age while at the Academy?

Decade
1820s
Item
1820s.18
Edit

1821.5 NY Mansion Converted to Venue Suitable for Base, Cricket, Trap-Ball

Location:

NYC

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

In May and June 1821, an ad ran in some NY papers announcing that the Mount Vernon mansion was now open as Kensington House. It could accommodate dinners and tea parties and clubs. What's more, later versions of the ad said: "The grounds of Kensington Hose are spacious and well adapted to the playing of the noble game of cricket, base, trap-ball, quoits and other amusements; and all the apparatus necessary for the above games will be furnished to clubs and parties."

Richard Hershberger posted to 19CBB on Kensington House on 10/7/2007, having seen the ad in the June 9, 1821 New YorkGazette and General Advertiser. Richard suggested that "in this context "base is almost certainly baseball, not prisoner's base." John Thorn [email of 3/1/2008] later found a May 22, 1821 Kensington ad in the Evening Post that did not mention sports, and ads starting on June 2 that did.

Richard points out that the ad's solicitation to "clubs and parties" may indicate that some local groups were forming to play the mentioned games long before the first base ball clubs are known to have played.  

 

Sources:

June 9, 1821 New YorkGazette and General Advertiser

See also Richard Hershberger, "New York Mansion Converted -- An Early Sighting of Base Ball Clubs?,"Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 58-60.

Query:

Have we found any further indications that 1820-era establishments may have served to host regular base ball clubs?

Year
1821
Item
1821.5
Edit

1821.7 1821 Etching Shows Wicket Game in Progress

Location:

Connecticut

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Youth, Adult

This engraving was done by John Cheney in 1821 at the age of 20.  It was originally engraved on a fragment of an old copper kettle.  It is reported that he was living in Hartford at the time.

It is one of the earliest known depictions of wicket.

The etching depicts six players playing wicket.  The long, low wickets are shown and two runners, prominently carrying large bats, are crossing between them as two fielders appear to pursue a large ball in flight.  Two wicketkeepers stand behind their wickets.

Sources:

Biographical background from "Memoir of John Cheney," by Edna Dow Cheney (Lee and Shepherd, Boston, 1889), page 10.

For an account of Baseball Historian John Thorn's 2013 rediscovery and pursuit of this engraving, go to http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/02/05/the-oldest-wicket-game-newly-found/   

Comment:

An interesting aspect of this drawing is that there appear to be four defensive players and only two offensive players . . . unless the two seated gentlemen in topcoats have left them on while waiting to bat. One might speculate that the wicketkeepers are permanently on defense and the other pairs alternate between offense and defense when outs are made. Another possibility is that all players rotate after each out, as was later seen in scrub forms of base ball.

Also note the relative lack of open area beyond the wickets.  Perhaps, as in single-wicket cricket, running was permitted only for balls hit forward from the wicket. 

 

 

Query:

We welcome other interpretations of this image.

Year
1821
Item
1821.7
Edit
Source Image

1823.6 Students Play Ball Game at Progressive School in Northampton MA

Age of Players:

Juvenile

[A, B] In their recollections during the 1880s, John Murray Forbes and George Cheyne Shattuck describe playing ball during the years 1823 to 1828 at the Round Hill School in Northampton MA. This progressive school for young boys reflected the goals of its co-founders, Joseph Green Cogswell and George Bancroft; in addition to building a gymnasium, the first US school to do so, Round Hill was one of the very first schools to incorporate physical education into its formal curriculum.

--

[C] In 1825 Carl Beck, Latin and gymnastic instructor at Round Hill School in Northampton, Massachusetts, had translated F. L. Jahn’s Deutche Turnkunst (1816).  Jahn had mentored the Turnerbund, a movement devoted to gymnastics.  According to Beck’s original preface, “[T]hose who take an interest in the cause would be pleased to acquaint themselves with the exertions of Gutsmuths . . .  years before Jahn came forward.”  (Gutsmuths’ book on games provided David Block with the 1796 rules and diagram of a game called “Englische baseball,” in his 2005 Baseball before We Knew It.) 

Round Hill School is renowned as the first school in the nation to include physical education in its curriculum.  Translating Jahn, Beck wrote that in “games to be played without the precinct of the gymnasium, playing ball is very much to be commended.”  Tellingly, where Beck inserted “playing ball,” Jahn himself recommended “the German ball game” (also in Gutsmuths and Block).  Beck, however, changed the “German ball game” to “ball-playing” to suit his American audience.  Also, given that the boys of Round Hill came from across the nation, Ball acknowledged regional variations:  “The many variations in different parts, are altogether unessential and a matter of choice.”  Ball-playing, Beck wrote, “unites various exercises: throwing, striking, running and catching.” 

Sources:

[A] Forbes was writing his recollections in 1884, as reported in Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Sarah Forbes Hughes, editor [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1899], vol. 1, page 43.

[B] Shattuck is quoted in Edward M. Hartwell, Physical Training in American Colleges and Universities [GPO, 1886], page 22.

 [C] Primary source: Carl Beck, Treatise on Gymnastics Taken Chiefly from the German of F. L. Jahn (Northampton, Mass., 1828).

Warning:

 

 

 

 

 

 
Query:

Are any reports available on the rules of the game as played at Round Hill?

Beck didn't give the game a particular name?

Year
1823
Item
1823.6
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

1824.7 Bat and Ball, Cricket are Sunday Afternoon Pastimes

Age of Players:

Juvenile, Youth

"on Sunday, after afternoon service, the young people joined in foot-ball and hurling, bat and ball, or cricket."

Sources:

 

Query:

Does the context of this excerpt reveal anything further about the region, circumstance, or participants in this ball-playing?

Year
1824
Item
1824.7
Edit

1827.1 Brown U Student Reports "Play at Ball"

Tags:

College

Location:

New England

Age of Players:

Adult

Brown College (Providence, RI) student Williams Latham notes in his diary: "We had a great play at ball today noon [March 22]." On April 9: "We this morning . . . have been playing ball, But I have never received so much pleasure from it here as I have in Bridgewater. They do not have more than 6 or 7 on a side, so that a great deal of time is spent in running after the ball, neither do they throw so fair ball, They are afraid the fellow in the middle will hit it with his bat-stick."

Latham, Williams, The Diary of Williams Latham, 1823 - 1827, quoted in W. C. Bronson, The History of Brown University 1764 - 1914 [Providence, Brown University, 1914], p. 245. Per Henderson ref # 101.

Query:

"The fellow in the middle?"

Year
1827
Item
1827.1
Edit

1827.2 Story Places Baseball in Rochester NY

Tags:

Famous

Age of Players:

Adult

A story, evidently set in 1880 in Rochester, involves three boys who convince their grandfather to attend a Rochester-Buffalo game. The grandfather contrasts the game to that which he had played in 1827.

He describes intramural play among the 50 members of a local club, with teams of 12 to 15 players per side, a three-out-side-out rule, plugging, a bound rule, and strict knuckles-below-knees pitching. He also recalls attributes that we do not see elsewhere in descriptions of early ballplaying: a requirement that each baseman keep a foot on his base until the ball is hit, a seven-run homer when the ball went into a sumac thicket and the runners re-circled the bases, coin-flips to provide "arbitrament" for disputed plays, and the team with the fewest runs in an inning being replaced by a third team for the next inning ["three-old-cat gone crazy," says one of the boys]. The grandfather's reflection does not comment on the use of stakes instead of bases, the name used for the old game, the relative size or weight of the ball, or the lack of foul ground - in fact he says that outs could be made on fouls.

 

Sources:

Samuel Hopkins Adams, "Baseball in Mumford's Pasture Lot," Grandfather Stories (Random House, New York, 1947), pp. 143 - 156. Full text is unavailable via Google Books as of 12/4/2008.

Comment:

Adams' use of a frame-within-a-frame device is interesting to baseball history buffs, but the authenticity of the recollected game is hard to judge in a work of fiction. Mumford's lot was in fact an early Rochester ballplaying venue, and Thurlow Weed (see entry #1825c.1) wrote of club play in that period. Priscilla Astifan has been looking into Adams' expertise on early Rochester baseball. See #1828c.3 for another reference to Adams' interest in baseball about a decade before the modern game evolved in New York City.

Query:

We welcome input on the essential nature of this story. Fiction? Fictionalized memoir? Historical novel?

Year
1827
Item
1827.2
Edit

1827.3 First Oxford-Cambridge Cricket Match Held

Age of Players:

Youth

Per Stephen Green, interview at Lords Cricket Ground, 2006. Also noted in John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 21. Ford does not give a citation for this account.

Query:

Was inter-college competition common in other English sports at this time?  Rowing, maybe?

Year
1827
Item
1827.3
Edit

1827.4 Poisoned Ball Listed in French Manual of Games

Location:

France

Game:

Xenoball

Celnart, Elizabeth, Manuel complet des jeux de societe (Complete manual of social games) [Paris, Roret], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 192. The material on "la balle empoisonee" is reported as "virtually identical" to that of the 1810 Les Jeux des juenes garcons, above at 1810. 

Query:

Does this manual cover other safe-haven games?  Other batting games?  Other games with plugging?

Year
1827
Item
1827.4
Edit

1829c.1 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Plays Ball as a Harvard student.

Age of Players:

Adult

[actual Holmes text needed]

Sources:

Krout, John A, Annals of American Sport [Yale University Press, New Haven, 1929], p. 115. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 49. Richard Hershberger, posting to 19CBB on 10/8/2007, found an earlier source - Caylor, O. P., "Early Baseball Days," Washington Post, April 11, 1896. John Thorn reports [email of 2/15/2008] that Holmes biographies do not mention his sporting interests. Note: We still need the original source for the famous Harvard story. Holmes graduated in 1829; the date of play is unconfirmed.

See entry #1824.6 above on Holmes' reference to prep school baseball at Phillips Academy.

Comment:

Note: We still need the original source for the famous Harvard story. Holmes graduated in 1829; the date of play as cited is unconfirmed.

 

:The Holmes story appears in JM Ward's "Base Ball: How to Become a Player," where he says OWH told it "to the reporter of a Boston paper."

Query:

Small Puzzle: Harvard's 19th Century playing field was "Holmes Field;" was it named for this Holmes? Harvard is in Cambridge MA.

Circa
1829
Item
1829c.1
Edit

1829.5 Town Ball Takes Off in Philadelphia?

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Town Ball

A group of young rope makers is reported to have played a game of ball in 1829 at 18th and Race Streets.

William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 114. Ryczek cites a 2006 email from Richard Hershberger as the source of the location of the game.  He identifies this game as perhaps the earliest known form of town ball, but Hershberger is unconvinced (see Warning, below).

Warning:

Citing the makeup of these players as differing from that of early town ball players' reports, and seeing the 1829 account as more of a morality tale than a reliable report, Richard Hershberger (email of 10/31/12) discounts this item as an account of the origins of Philadelphia town ball.

In 1831 two organized groups, which later merged, played town ball: for a succinct history of the origins of Philadelphia town ball, see Richard Hershberger, "A Reconstruction of Philadelphia Town Ball," Base Ball, volume 1 number 2 (Fall 2007), pp 28-29.

Query:

Can we find the source of this 1829 account?

Year
1829
Item
1829.5
Edit

1830c.7 Boston Gent Recalls Old Game of "Massachusetts Run-Around"

Location:

New England

T. King wrote to the Mills Commission in 1905. "Just a word in regard to the old game of Massachusetts Run-around. We always pronounced the name as if it were run-round without the "a," but I presume, technically that should be incorporated.

"This was the old time game which I played between 44 and 50 years ago [1855-1861 - LM.], and which I heard my father speak of as playing 35 to 40 years before that, carrying it back to the vicinity of 1830." [Actually, the arithmetic implies the vicinity of 1820.]

 

Sources:

T. King, Letter to the Mills Commission, November 24, 1905.

Query:

Notes: can we establish the age of King's father at King's birth?

Can we determine where the two Kings might have played?

Circa
1830
Item
1830c.7
Edit

1830c.26 Plymouth MA Boys Play Round Ball, Other Ballgames: Ballmaking Described

Location:

New England

Writing about 70 years later, William Davis considers the range of pastimes in his boyhood: "After the hoop came, as now, the ball games, skip, one old cat, two old cat, hit or miss, and round ball. We made our own balls, winding yarn over a core of India rubber, until the right size was reached, and then working a loop stitch all around it with good, tightly spun twine. Attempts were occasionally made to play ball in the streets, but the by-laws of the town forbidding it were rigidly enforced."

 

Sources:

William T. Davis, Plymouth Memories of an Octogenarian (Memorial Press, Plymouth MA, 1906), page 104. Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search (plymouth octogenarian). Plymouth MA is about 35 miles SE of Boston on Cape Cod Bay.

Query:

Query: do we know the nature of the ball games of "skip" and "hit or miss?"

Circa
1830
Item
1830c.26
Edit

1830s.29 PA Schoolboys Recalled as Playing Town Ball and Long Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

"Here we played town ball, corner ball, sow ball and long ball.  Sometimes we would jump, to see how high we could leap; then it was hop, step and jump.  Once in a while we played ring, provided the girls would help, and generally they would..." 

Sources:

Samuel Penniman Bates, Jacob Fraise, Warner Beers, History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Containing a History of the County, its Townships, Towns, Villages, Schools, Churches, Industries, Etc; Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men; Biographies; History of Pennsylvania, Statistical and Miscellaneous Matter, etc. (Chicago: Warner, Beers and Company, 1887), page 300.

This observation is attributed to John B. Kaufman, a teacher turned surveyor in Franklin County, PA , reflecting on his childhood spent in a log school house in  "50 odd years ago": Kaufman was born in 1827.  Find confirmed 10/9/2014 via search of <"john b. kaufman" "long ball">

Comment:

Franklin County PA is in south central PA, on the Maryland border.  Its population in 1830 was about 35,000.

Query:

"Sow Ball?"

Decade
1830s
Item
1830s.29
Edit
Source Text

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

1830c.31 Balk Rule Recalled from Childhood Games in 1847 Newspaper Commentary

Age of Players:

Juvenile

 

"A Balk is a Base." -- Any one having a remembrance of the ball games of his youth, must recollect that in the game of base if the tosser made a balk to make the individual making the round from his post, the latter had the right to \walk to the next base unscathed.  Pity it is that the Hudson folks engaged in the political movement in Columbia County did not remember that "a balk is a base" in the games of children of a larger growth. 

[The article proceeds to criticize the partisan tactics of the "Antirenters of Taghkanic" in a local dispute in nearby Columbia County NY.] 

Sources:

"A Balk is a Base," Roundout Freeman, June 5, 1847 (volume II, issue 46), page 2.

Warning:

Dating this item as "circa 1830" is highly speculative, and turns on the ages of the writer and his intended readers.  Arguments for an alternative dating are welcome.  

Comment:

[1] Rule 19 of the 1845 Knickerbocker Rules sates that "A runner may not be put out in making one base, when a balk is made on the pitcher."  David Block in 2005 wrote that the rule "apparently originated with the Knickerbocker club, as there is no mention of it in any earlier accounts of baseball." (Baseball Before We Knew It, page 92.)

[2] Kingston NY (1850 populations about 10,000) is about 90 miles north of Manhattan on the Hudson River and 20 miles north of Poughkeepsie NY.  Columbia County is north of Kingston. 

 

Query:

Protoball welcomes further comment on the possible origin of the balk rule.

Circa
1830
Item
1830c.31
Edit

1831.1 A Ball Club Forms in Philadelphia; It Later Adopts Base Ball, and Lasts to 1887

Location:

Philadelphia

Age of Players:

Adult

The Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia unites with a group of ball players based in Camden, NJ

Orem writes:  "An association of Town  Ball players began playing at Camden, New Jersey on Market Street in the Spring of 1831."

Orem says, without citing a source, that "On the first day but four players appeared, so the game was "Cat Ball," called in some parts of New England at the time "Two Old Cat."  Later accounts report that the club formed in 1833, although J. M. Ward [1888] also dated the formation of the club to 1831.  

Orem notes that "so great was the prejudice of the general public against the game at the time that the players were frequently censured by their friends for indulging in such a childish amusement."

* * *

In January 2017, Richard Hershberger reported (19CBB posting) that after more than five decades, the club disbanded in 1887 -- see Supplemental Text, below.

The Olympic Club played Town Ball until it switched to modern base ball in 1860.  See Chronology entry 1860.64.  

* * *

For a reconstruction of the rules of Philadelphia town ball, see Hershberger,  below. Games were played under the term "town ball" in Cincinnati as well as Philadelphia and a number of southern locations (for an unedited map of 23 locations with references to town ball, conduct an Enhanced Search for <town ball>.

* * *

The club is credited with several firsts in American baserunning games: 

 

[] 1833: first game played between two established clubs -- see Chronology entry 1833c.12.

 

[] 1837: first team to play in uniforms -- see Chronology entry 1837.14.

 

[] 1969: First interracial game -- See Chronology entry 1869.3.

* * *

 

Sources:

[Orem, Preston D., Baseball (1845-1881) From the Newspaper Accounts(self-published, Altadena CA, 1961), page 4.]

Constitution of the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia [private printing, 1838]. Parts reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 5-8.

Richard Hershberger, "A Reconstruction of Philadelphia Town Ball," Base Ball, Volume 1 number 2 (Fall 2007), pp. 28-43.  Online as of 2017 at:

https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/a-reconstruction-of-philadelphia-town-ball-f3a80d283c07#.blta7cw82&nbsp;

For a little more on the game of town ball, see http://protoball.org/Town_Ball.  

 

Warning:

The "firsts" tentatively listed above are for the US play of baserunning games other than cricket.  Further analysis is needed to confirm or disconfirm its elements. 

Comment:

Protoball would welcome an analysis of the US history of town ball and its variants.

It seems plausible that town ball was being played years earlier in the Philadelphia.  Newspaper accounts refer to cricket "and other ball games" being played locally as as early as 1822.  See Chronology entry 1822.3

 

 

Query:

Notes: 

Is it accurate to call this a "town ball" club? When was it formed?  Dean Sullivan dates it to 1837, while J. M. Ward [Ward's Base Ball Book, page 18] sets 1831 as the date of formation. The constitution was revised in 1837, but the Olympic Club merged with the Camden Town ball Club in 1833, and that event is regarded as the formation date of the Olympics. The story of the Olympics is covered in "Sporting Gossip," by "the Critic" in an unidentified photocopy found at the Giamatti Research Center at the HOF. What appears to be a continuation of this article is also at the HOF. It is "Evolution of Baseball from 1833 Up to the Present Time," by Horace S. Fogel, and appeared in The Philadelphia Daily Evening Telegraph, March 22-23, 1908.

Are we certain that the "firsts" listed in this entry predate the initial appearance of the indicated innovations in American cricket?

 

Year
1831
Item
1831.1
Edit
Source Text

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

1833.3 Creation Wars Begin! English Author Takes on Strutt Theories on the Origins of Cricket and "Bat-and-Ball"

Age of Players:

Unknown

David Block reports that in an 1833 book's short passage on cricket, "the author [William Maxwell] issues a criticism of theories raised by the historian Joseph Strutt in Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, published in 1801.

Maxwell scoffs at Strutt's comments that cricket originated from the ancient game of "club ball," and that the game of trap-ball predated both of these. Maxwell states that cricket is far older than Strutt acknowledged, and adds: 'The game of club-ball appears to be none other than the present, well-known bat-and-ball, which . . . was doubtless anterior to trap-ball. The trap, indeed, carries with it an air of refinement in the 'march of mechanism.' ' Maxwell suggests that a primitive rural game similar to tip-cat was actually the ancestor of cricket, a game that used a single stick for a wicket, another stick for a bat and a short three-inch stick for the ball. He is probably alluding the game of cat and dog, which other historians have credited as one of cricket's progenitors."

Sources:

Maxwell, William, The Field Book: or, Sports and Pastimes of the British Islands [London, Effingham Wilson], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 195. 

Query:

Does Maxwell show evidence for his interpretation of cricket's progenitors?

Year
1833
Item
1833.3
Edit

1835c.11 New Northeastern Chapbook Shows Cricket, Bat-and-Ball

Game:

Cricket

This eight-page book shows cricket and "bat and ball" being played in the backgrounds of pastoral views.

Sources:

Happy Home [New York and Philadelphia, Turner and Fisher, ca 1835], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199.

Query:

Are the players children?

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.11
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

1835c.18 CT Boy "Played Base Ball til Noon"

Age of Players:

Juvenile

"I have a handwritten journal kept by a young boy for the years 1835 and 1836.  This young man grew up to be a person of note in Connecticut but that is not what I am writing about.  On the very first page of his two year journal, actually the very first sentence he states, 'this morning I painted my stick.' A few sentences later me mentions that he 'played base ball til noon.' He was 11 years old when he wrote this and ther are other mentions of base ball and his stick here and there and generically playing with the boys. There is no description of how they played the game. . .

"Respectfully, Ed Cohen"

Sources:

Email from Ed Cohen to Retrosheet, October 8, 2013.

Comment:

Protoball replied to Mr. Cohen, but communication was lost, and we are unable to add detail or context to this find, as of 11/22/2013.

Query:

Are there any contemporary references to "base ball" in CT before this?

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.18
Edit

1835.19 An "Outdoor Professor" is Appreciated by Former Student

Age of Players:

Juvenile

[Josey Haywood, a classics instructor and "great friend of school boys] "was a species of out-door Professor of Languages at the Academy; under him we were all Philosophers of the Peripatetic sect, walking constantly about the play grounds, and bestowing on Fives, Base, Cricket and Foot Ball the 'irreperabile tempus' due to the wise men of Greece.  -- Hence he was quite a troublous fellow to the in-door Professors.  They found nothing classical in his 'bacchant ar.'  They loved him not, and wished him far away."

Sources:

Long Island Farmer, and Queens County Advertiser [Jamaica, NY] , December 16, 1835, page 2, column 2.

Comment:

In the following paragraph, the man is called "Joseph Heywood."

Query:

Do we know what was meant by "Foot Ball" in the early 19th Century?

Can we determine what "the Academy" was, and the ages of its students?

Year
1835
Item
1835.19
Edit

1836.5 Yanks and British Play Baserunning Game with Plugging . . . in Canton, China

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] In his March 1836 letter home, from Canton, China, the 23-year-old John Murray Forbes referred to playing ball with Englishmen there.  He asked his wife to imagine him "throwing the ball at this man, running like mad to catch it, or, when my innings come, running the rounds jumping breast high to avoid being hit, or falling down to the ground for the same purpose."  

He also noted: “We have been very steady at our ball exercise.  Is it not funny the idea of a parcel of men going out to play like schoolboys? [ . . .]  The English have one trait in which they differ widely from us; they keep up their boyish games through life.  [. . .] Cricket and Ball of all sorts is played in England by men of all ages.”

[B] In a passage from his 1899 memoir about the same incident, Forbes reminded readers who were no longer familiar with retiring baserunners by "plugging" them that a runner could be "pelted by the hard ball as he tried to run in, for it was then the fashion to throw at the runner, and if hit he was out for the inning."  

 

Sources:

[A] Sarah Forbes Hughes, ed., Letters (Supplementary) of John  Murray Forbes [George H. Ellis Co., Boston, 1905] volume 1, page 25.

[B] Sarah Forbes Hughes, ed., Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1899] volume 1, page 86.

Submitted by John Bowman, 7/16/2004 and supplemented by Brian Turner, 7/23/2013.

 

Comment:

John Bowman adds: "Forbes was a Massachusetts man, and one supposes that when he played baseball at the Round Hill school in Northampton (see item #1823.6 above) , 'soaking' or 'plugging' was then a routine aspect of the game."

 

 

Query:

Can we clarify what game Forbes played (rounders? round ball?). 

 

~ I would suggest that this is reasonably persuasive evidence that Brits and Yanks were playing effectively the same game, under whatever name.  No mention of rules disputes or confusion arises; and one gets the distinct impression, in parallel with ca. 1830s rules descriptions, that both national contingents set to without fuss and that there was little if any difference between English "rounders" and American "X-ball." --WCH

Year
1836
Item
1836.5
Edit

1836.13 "Errant Rogue," in Poem, Prefers Ball to Study

Tags:

College

Game:

Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

The Dissipated Collegian

 

"Tis said there was a certain wight,

Whose mother-wit was very bright,

An errant rogue, and even bolder

Than many rogues a good deal older;  . . . 

This wight of ours disdained to study

And hated books in soul and body;

His lessons, therefore, were neglected

Though he as often was corrected;

But when there was a chance to play,

Our rogue would slily run away;

Yet, had he given due attention,

(So powerful was his comprehension,)

He might have been the first of all

In science, as in playing ball;

He might have done as great exploits

In study as in pitching quoits; . . . .

Sources:

Selection of Juvenile and Miscellaneous Poems, Written or Translated  by Roswell Park, (Desilver, Thomas ad Co., Philadelphia, 1836),. page 44.  

Comment:

 

Roswell Park was born at Lebanon, Conn., in 1807, graduated at West Point, and at Union College in 1831. He died July 16, 1869.  Whether he was an errant wight is not yet known by Protoball.

Query:

Was "collegian" a term for a university student, back then?

Year
1836
Item
1836.13
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

1837.14 The First Uniforms in US Baserunning Games?

Age of Players:

Adult

 

“In 1833, a group of Philadelphia players formed a team, the Olympics. By 1837, the team had a clubhouse at Broad and Wallace Streets, a constitution, records of their games, and uniforms - dark blue pants, a scarlet-trimmed white shirt, and a white cap trimmed in blue.”

 

Sources:

Murray Dubin, "The Old, Really Old, Ball Game Both Philadelphia and New York Can Claim As the Nation's First Team," The Inquirer, October 28, 2009.

See http://articles.philly.com/2009-10-28/sports/25272492_1_modern-baseball-baseball-rivalry-cities, accessed 8/16/2014.   (Login required as of 2/20/2018.)

The article does not give a source for the 1837 description of the Olympic Club uniform.

Comment:

Richard Hershberger adds, in email of 2/20/2018:

"The entry lacks a source for the Olympic uniform.  I don't have a description, but the club's 1838 constitution mentions the uniform several times:  the Recorder, who is to have the pattern uniform, and duty of the members to provide themselves with said uniform, with a fine of 25 cents a month for failure to do so, with the Recorder noting these on the month Club Day."  

 

 

Query:

What is the original documentation of this uniform specification?

Do we know if earlier cricket clubs in the US used club uniforms?  In Britain?  Are prior uniforms known for other sports?

Year
1837
Item
1837.14
Edit

1838.9 Asylum Inmates Kept Busy with Fishing, Fancy Painting, Bass Ball, Etc.

"The males are also engaged at bowls, quoits, bass ball, fishing, fancy painting, walking dancing, reading, swinging, and throwing the ring."

 

Sources:

"Lady Manners", "Moral Management of the Insane," The Friend: a Religious and Literary Journal, Volume 11, Number 38 (June 23, 1838), page 303. Submitted by John Thorn.

Query:

Do we know a location for this report?

Year
1838
Item
1838.9
Edit

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

1840s.31 Lem: Juvenile Fiction's Boy Who Loved Round-ball

Location:

New England

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Lem may be fiction's only round-ball hero.

On pages 93-97, the novel lays out the game that was played by Lem [born 1830] and his playmates, which seems to follow the customs of the Massachusetts game, but without stakes as bases. The passage includes a field diagram, some terminology ["the bases . . . were four in number, and were called 'gools,' a word which probably came from 'goals.'"], and ballmaking technique. Lem is, alas, sidelined for the season when he is plugged "in the hollow of the leg" while gool-running [Page 97] Other references:

On spring, pp 92-93: "Ball-playing began early in the spring; [p92/93] it was the first of the summer games to come out.

On Fast Day, p. 93: "I am afraid that Lem's only notion of Fast Day was that that was the long-expected day when, for the first time that year, a game of ball was played on the Common."

On the pleasant effects of a change in the path of the Gulf Stream, pp. 228-229: "no slushy streets, and above all, no cold barns to go into to feed turnips to the cold cows! A land where top-time, kite-[p228/229] time, and round-ball-time would always be in season. Think of it!"

On making teams for simulating Revolutionary War tussles, p. 107: "We can't all be Americans; and we have agreed to choose sides, as we do in round ball."

 

Sources:

Noah Brookes, Lem: A New England Village Boy: His Adventures and his Mishaps (Scribner's Sons, New York, 1901). Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search "Lem boy."

Comment:

As of Jan 2013, this is one of three uses of "gool" instead of "goal" in ballplaying entries, all in the 1850s and found in western MA and ME.  [To confirm/update, do an enhanced search for "gool".]  One of these 1850s.33 uses "gool" as the name of the game.

Query:

We welcome comment on the authenticity of Brooks' depiction of ballplaying in the 1840s, and whether how the game depicted compares to the MA game.

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.31
Edit

1841.11 Scottish Dictionary Calls "Cat and Dog" a Game for Three

In cat-and-dog, two holes are cut at a distance of thirteen yards. At each hole stands a player with a club, called a "dog." [. . . ] His object is to keep the cat out of the hole. "If the cat be struck, he who strikes it changes places with the person who holds the other club, and as often as the positions are changed one is counted as won in the game by the two who hold the clubs.

 

Sources:

Jamieson, Scotch Dictionary (Edinburgh, 1841). As cited in A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 4.Detail provided by John Thorn, email of 2/10/2008.

Comment:

Note that this is not described as a team game.  A winner is that player who most frequently puts a ball into a goal.

Query:

Does Jamieson describe other ballgames?

Year
1841
Item
1841.11
Edit

1842c.9 Haverford Students Form Cricket Team of Americans

Tags:

College

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Youth

"Haverford College [Haverford PA] students, however, played cricket with English hosiery weavers prior to 1842, the year the students formed the first all-American team."

 

Sources:

Lester, John A., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket (U of Penn Press, Philadelphia, 1951), pages 9-11; as cited in Gelber, Steven M., "'Their Hands Are All Out Playing:' Business and Amateur Baseball, 1845-1917," Journal of Sport History, Vol. 11, number 1 (Spring 1984), page 15. Lester cites "a manuscript diary kept by an unknown student . . . under the date 1834."

Comment:

Haverford is about 10 miles NW of downtown Philadelphia.

Query:

Iis Lester saying this is the first Haverford all-native team, first US all-native team, or what? 

Can we resolve the discrepancy between 1834 and 18"before 1842" as the time that the club formed?

Circa
1842
Item
1842c.9
Edit

1842.11 Rounders Reported at Swiss School

Game:

Rounders

Age of Players:

Youth

An 1842 reference indicates that rounders was played at an international agricultural school near Bern.

"During a general game, in which some of the masters join (rounders I think the English boys called it) I have observed . . . "

Sources:

Letters from Hofwyl by a Parent on the Educational Institutions of De Fellenberg, (Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, London, 1842), page 90.

Accessible on Google Books 11/14/2013 via <letters from hofwyl> search.

Comment:

From David Block: "Unless I'm forgetting something, this may be the earliest example we have of baseball or rounders being played outside of Britain or North America. (I don't count the 1796 description of English baseball by J.C.F. Gutsmuths because there is no evidence that the game was actually played in Germany.)

Query:

Was the game dissimilar from the European "battingball games" reported by Maigaard?

Can we determine whether the players were youths or juveniles?

Year
1842
Item
1842.11
Edit

1844.6 Novel Cites "the Game of Bass in the Fields"

Tags:

Fiction

Location:

Canada

Game:

Bass Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"And you boys let out racin', yelpin,' hollerin,' and whoopin' like mad with pleasure, and the playground, and the game of bass in the fields, or hurly on the long pond on the ice, . . . "

Thomas C. Haliburton, The Attache: or Sam Slick in England [Bentley, London, 1844] no page cited, per William Humber, "Baseball and Canadian Identity," College Quarterly volume 8 Number 3 [Spring 2005] no page cited. Humber notes that this reference has been used to refute Nova Scotia's claim to be the birthplace of modern ice hockey ["hurly"]. Submitted by John Thorn, 3/30/2006. 

Comment:

Note: Understanding the author's intent here is complicated by the fact that he was Canadian, Sam Slick was an American character, and the novel is set in Britain.

Query:

Is "bass" a ballgame, or was prisoner's base sometimes thought of as a "field game?"

Year
1844
Item
1844.6
Edit

1844.15 Whigs 81 Runs, Loco Focos 10 Runs, in "Political" Contest Near Canadian Border

Game:

Bass Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"A matched, political game of bass Ball came off in this village on Friday last.  Twelve Whigs on one side, and twelve Loco Focos on the other.  Rules of the game, one knock and catch out, each one out for himself, each side one inns.  The Whigs counted 81 and the Locos 10.  The game passed off very pleasantly, and our political opponents, we must say, bore the defeat admirably."

Note: The Whigs were a major political party in this era, and the Loco Focos were then a splinter group within the opposing Democratic Party.

Sources:

Frontier Sentinel [Ogdensburg, NY], April 23, 1844, page 3, column 1.

Comment:

The Frontier Sentinel was published 1844-1847 in Ogdensburg (St. Lawrence County) NY.

Ogdensburg [1853 population was "about 6500"] is about 60 miles downriver [NE] on the St. Lawrence River from Lake Ontario.  It is about 60 miles south of Ottawa, about 120 miles north of Syracuse, and about 125 miles SW (upriver) of Montreal.  Its first railroad would arrive in 1850.

The HOF's Tom Shieber, who submitted this find, notes that this squib may just be metaphorical in nature, and that no ballplaying had actually occurred.  But why then report a plausible game score? 

 

 

Query:

Comment is welcome on the interpretation of the three cryptic rule descriptions for this 12-player game.

[1] "One knock and catch out?"  Could this be taken to define one-out-side-out innings?  Or, that ticks counted as outs if caught behind the batter? Or something else?  Note: Richard Hershberger points out that 1OSO rules could not have likely allowed the scoring of 81 runs with no outs.  That would imply that the clubs may have used the All-Out-Side-Out rule.

[2] "Each one out for himself?"  Could batters continue in the batting order until retired?  That too, then, might imply the use of an All-Out-Side-Out inning format

[3] "Each side one inns?"  So the Whigs made those 81 "counts" in a single inning? 

Richard Hershberger also surmises that the first two rules are meant to be conjoined: "One knock and catch out, each one out for himself."  That would declare that [a] caught fly balls (and, possibly, caught one-bound hits?) were to be considered outs, and that [b] batters who are put out would lose their place in the batting order that inning; but were there any known variants games for which such catches would not be considered outs?   

Year
1844
Item
1844.15
Edit

1844.16 In Bass Ball, Club is "Skinned from Top to Stem"

Age of Players:

Unknown

"Messrs. Editors:  A game of Bass Ball came off at this place day before yesterday.  It was similar to the one alluded to in the last 'Sentinel", with this exception -- we skinned the coons from top to stem.  So, hurra for Connecticut!

"Canton, 25th April, 1844."

See 1844.15 for the referenced Frontier Sentinel article.

Sources:

St. Lawrence Republican (Ogdensburgh, NY), April 30, 1844, page 2, column 7.

Comment:

Canton, NY is about 15 miles SE of Ogdensburg NY.  Its population in 2000 was a bit over 10,000.

Ogdensburg [1853 population "about 6500"] is about 60 miles [NE] down the St. Lawrence River from Lake Ontario.  It is about 60 miles south of Ottawa, about 120 miles north of Syracuse, and about 125 miles SW (upriver) of Montreal.

Query:

Can anyone make a guess at the meaning of "hurra for Connecticut" for a game played in the far north of NYS?  Was the area known for its emigres from CT?

Year
1844
Item
1844.16
Edit

1845.10 German Book of Games Lists das Giftball, a Bat-and-Ball Game

Game:

Xenoball

Included among the games is das Giftball (the venomball, roughly). Block observes that this game "is identical to the early French game of la balle empoisonee (poison ball, roughly) and that an illustration of two boys playing it "shows it to be a bat-and-ball game." For the French game, see the 1810c.1 entry above.

Sources:

Jugendspiele zur Ehhjolung und Erheiterung (boys' games for recreation and amusement) [Tilsit, Germany, W. Simmerfeld, 1845], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 207.

Query:

Does Block link the two descriptions, or does the German text cite the French game

Year
1845
Item
1845.10
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

1845c.24 Future Congressman Plays Ball at Phillips Andover?

Age of Players:

Youth

"The Honorable William W. Crapo remembers walking often to Lawrence [MA] to watch the construction of the great dam. Now and then we hear, quite casually, or a game of 'rounders' or of a strange rough-and-tumble amusement called football; but . . . there were no organized teams of contests with other schools."

Sources:

C. M. Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Houghton Mifflin, 1917), page 449.

Warning:

Note that this enigmatic excerpt does not directly attribute to Crapo these references to ballplaying.  

Note that there is reason to ask whether these games, or the ones described in 1853.7, were known as "rounders" when they were played.  As far  as we know, his sources did not use the name rounders, and Fuess may be imposing his assumption, in 1917, that base ball's predecessor was formerly known as rounders.  His book observes, elsewhere, that in warm weather students "tried to improve their skill at the rude game of "rounders," out of which, about 1860, baseball was beginning to evolve."     

 

Comment:

If Fuess implies that these observations were made by Crapo, they could date to c. 1845, when the future legislator was a student at Phillips Andover at age 15. Crapo, from southern MA, was a member of the Yale class of 1852. 

Query:

Did Crapo leave behind autobiographical accounts that we could check for youthful ballplaying recollections?  Do we find contemporary usage of the term "rounders" in this area?

Circa
1845
Item
1845c.24
Edit

1845c.26 Melville (Maybe) Describes New England Ball Game Poetically

Age of Players:

Juvenile

 

And now hurrah! for the speeding ball
Is flung in viewless air,
And where it will strike in its rapid fall
The boys are hastening there--
And the parted lip and the eager eye
Are following its descent,
Whilst the baffl'd stumbler's falling cry
With th'exulting shout is blent.
The leader now of either band
Picks cautiously his men,
And the quickest foot and the roughest hand
Are what he chooses then.
And see!the ball with swift rebound,
Flies from the swinging bat,
While the player spurns the beaten ground,
Nor heeds his wind-caught hat.
But the ball is stopp'd in its quick career,
And is sent with a well-aim'd fling,
And he dodges to feel it whistling near,
Or leaps at its sudden sting,
Whilst the shot is hail'd with a hearty shout,
As the wounded one stops short,
For his 'side' by the luckless blow is out--
And the others wait their sport.

Sources:

This poem, published pseudonymously as the work of "William M. Christy" in 1845, is Melville's first published work, according to  Melville scholar Jeanne C. Howes, author of a monograph entitled '"Poet of a Morning: Herman Melville and the 'Redburn Poem': Redburn: Or the Schoolmaster of a Morning". From 19cbb post by John Thorn, July 6, 2004

Warning:

"In the case of the Redburn poem, a strong competing interpretation concludes that HM is not its author. I can't argue either side of Howes' hypothesis since I have not read her work, and I only have a couple hundred words of notes on the topic, but I think we all readily understand that the attribution of Melville as author of this four canto poem is not universally accepted." 19cbb post by Stephen Hoy, July 6, 2004

Comment:

These lines appear to be part of the poem Redburn: Or the Schoolmaster of a Morning, published under an apparent pseudonym in 1845 (or 1844).  In 2000, Jeanne C. Howes published Poet of a Morning: Herman Melville and the "Redburn" Poem.  

The online blurb for this work states:  "In a tour de force of literary detection and scholarship, Jeanne Howes has conclusively proven that shortly after Herman Melville’s return from the South Pacific in 1844 an anonymous book published in Manhattan, Redburn: or the Schoolmaster of a Morning, is his first book. Early scholars pondered whether this book might have been written by Melville but dismissed it since not enough was then known about Melville’s life and writings. Serious scholarship did not begin until the 1920s, as Herman Melville, the great dark god of American letters had fallen into an obscurity so encompassing that at the time of his death in 1891 he was entirely forgotten by the literary community."

An annotation: "Possibly written about a game played by the schoolboys attending Sykes District School in Pittsfield where Melville, as an 18 year old taught for a short while before he went to sea." He shipped out in 1841.

 

Query:

Further opinions about this poem's description of a baserunning game with plugging are welcome.

Circa
1845
Item
1845c.26
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

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

1847.7 Occupation Army Takes Ballgame to Natives In . . . Santa Barbara?

Tags:

Military

Location:

California

The New York Volunteer Regiment reached California in April 1847 after the end of the Mexican War, and helped to occupy the province. They laid out a diamond [where State and Cota Streets now meet], made a ball from gutta percha, and used a mesquite stick as a bat. Partly because batted balls found their way into the windowless nearby adobes, there were some problems. "Largely because of the baseball games, the Spanish-speaking people of Santa Barbara came to look upon the New Yorkers as loudmouthed, uncouth hoodlums. . . . the hostilities between Californians and Americanos continued to fester for generations."

Walter A. Tompkins, "Baseball Began Here in 1847," It Happened in Old Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara National Bank, undated), pages 77-78. 

Warning:

Caveat: Angus McFarland has not been able to verify this account as of November 2008.

Comment:

Note -- Actually, an earlier account of California ballplaying was recorded a month before this, in San Diego.  See 1847.15

Query:

Is there any indication of what Tompkins' source might have been?

Year
1847
Item
1847.7
Edit

1847.13 "Boy's Treasury" Describes Rounders, Feeder, Stoolball, Etc.

Age of Players:

Juvenile

The Boy's Treasury, published in New York, contains descriptions of feeder [p. 25], Rounders [p. 26], Ball Stock [p. 27], Stool-Ball [p. 28], Northern Spell [p. 33] and Trap, Bat, and Ball [p 33]. The cat games and barn ball and town ball are not listed. In feeder, the ball is served from a distance of two yards, and the thrower  is the only member of the "out" team. There is a three-strike rule and a dropped-third rule. The Rounders description says "a smooth round stick is preferred by many boys to a bat for striking the ball." Ball Stock is said to be "very similar to rounders." In stool ball, "the ball must be struck by the hand, and not with a bat."

The rules given for rounders are fairly detailed, and include the restriction that, in at least one circumstance, a fielder must stay "the length of a horse and cart" away from baserunners when trying to plug them out on the basepaths.  For feeder and rounders, a batter is out if not able to hit the ball in three "offers."

Feeder appears to follow most rounders playing rules, but takes a scrub form (when any player is out he, he becomes the new feeder) and not a team form; perhaps feeder was played when too few players were available to form two teams.

 

Sources:

The Boy's Treasury of Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations (Clark, Austin and Company, New York, 1850), fourth edition.  The first edition appeared in 1847, and appears to have identical test for rounders and feeder.

Warning:

Rounders and Feeder texts are cloned from 1841.1, as is 1843.3

Comment:

It seems peculiar that rounders and ball stock are seen as similar; it is not clear that ball stock was a baserunning.

Query:

We have scant evidence that rouunders was played extensively in the US; could this book be derivative of an English pubication?

 

:Apparently so: the copy on Google Books says "Third American Edition," and the Preface is intensely redolent of English patriotism (" the noble and truly English game of CRICKET... ARCHERY once the pride of England")  Whicklin (talk) 04:08, 11 March 2016 (UTC)

 

 

Year
1847
Item
1847.13
Edit

1847.17 US Traveler Sees Baseball-Like Game in Northeastern France

Age of Players:

Youth

 

A Boston newspaper published a letter from a Bostonian traveling in Rheims, France, about his visit to a boys' school there:

 

"They played all my old plays. There close to a triumphal arch under which Roman Emperors had passed; under the dark walls and gothic towers of a city older than Christianity itself . . . . these boys, as if to mock all antiquity and all venerable things, were playing all the very plays of my school-boy days, 'tag' and 'gould' and 'base ball' and 'fox and geese,' &c." 

 

Rheims is about 90 miles NE of Paris

 

 

Sources:

Boston Olive Branch, January 9, 1847, page 3, "European Correspondence."

Comment:

Finder David Block's comment, 11/2015:  "Hard to know what to make of this. Maybe he spied a game that resembled baseball (theque?). And what is gould? I've never heard of it before."

Query:

Comments, research tips, speculation welcomed.

And . . . what is the game called "gould?"

 

Year
1847
Item
1847.17
Edit

1848.5 New York Book of Games Covers Stool-ball, Rounders, Wicket

Game:

Rounders

Age of Players:

Juvenile

A large section of "The Boy's Book of Sports," attributed to "Uncle John," describes more than 200 games, including, rounders (pp. 20-21), stool-ball (pp. 18-19), and wicket (labeled as cricket: page 73).

Rounders (pp.20-21) employs a two-foot round bat, a hard "bench ball," and four or five stones used as bases and arranged in a circle. Play starts when a "feeder" delivers a ball to a striker who tries to hit it and run from base to base without getting hit.  There is a one-strike rule.  The feeder is allowed to feign a delivery and hit a runner who leaves a base.  Struck balls that are caught retire the batting side.  There is a Lazarus rule.

Stoolball (pp. 18-19) is described as a two-player game or a game with teams.  A stool is defended by a player by his hand, not a bat.  Base running rules appear to be the same as in rounders.

David Block notes that "The version of rounders the book presents is generally consistent with others from the period, with perhaps a little more detail than most. Given the choice of games included [and, perhaps, the exclusion of familiar American games], he believes the author is English, "[y]et I find no evidence of its publication in Great Britain prior to [1848]." This 184-page section was apparently later published in London in 1850 and in Philadelphia in 1851.

The book includes an unusual treatment of wicket.  The author states that "this is the simple Cricket of the country boys."  In reporting on this book, Richard Hershberger advances he working hypothesis that wicket and cricket were used interchangeably in the US.

There is no reference to base ball, base, or goal ball in this book.

Sources:

Boy's Own Book of Sports, Birds, and Animals (New York, Leavitt and Allen, 1848), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 209-210.

Warning:

While the preface to this book stresses that it is designed to be limited to "sports which prevail in our country," it includes sections on stoolball and rounders, neither known to have been played widely here.  

Comment:

The author's assertion that wicket was commonly played by boys is unusual.  The reported heaviness of wicket's ball, and its heavy bat, seem to mark the game for older players. 

Query:

One wonders whether an earlier English edition of this book was published; it is not online as of February 2013.

Year
1848
Item
1848.5
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

1848.18 Litchfield CT Bests Wolcottville in Wicket

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Adult

"THOSE GAMES OF WICKET --

which Wolcottville challenged Litchfield to play, came off on our green, last Saturday afternoon; 25 players on a side; . . .  

[Scoring report shows Litchfield winning over three innings, 232 to 150.]

"This is the first effort to revive "BANTAM," since the Bat and Ball, were buried (literally buried,) 10 years ago, after two severe floggings, by this same Wolcottville."

 

 

Sources:

Litchfield Republican, July 6, 1848, page 2.

Comment:

Litchfield CT (1850 pop. about 3,950) is about 30 miles W of Hartford.  Wolcottville is  evidently the original name of Torrington CT, which reports a population of about 1900 in 1850. Torrington is about 5 miles NE of Litchfield.

Query:

"Bantam" game?

Year
1848
Item
1848.18
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

1849.10 Ladies' Wicket in England?

Tags:

Females

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Adult

"BAT AND BALL AMONG THE LADIES. Nine married ladies beat nine single ones at a game of wicket in England recently. The gamesters were all dressed in white - the married party with blue trimmings and the others in pink."

 

Sources:

Milwaukee[WI] Sentinel and Gazette, vol. 5, number 116 (September 4, 1849), page 2, column 2. Provided by Craig Waff, email of 8/14/2007.

Comment:

Beth Hise [email of 3/3/2008] reports that the wearing of colored ribbons was a much older tradition.

Note: One may ask if something got lost in the relay of this story to Wisconsin. We know of no wicket in England, and neither wicket or cricket used nine-player teams.

Query:

Was cricket, including single-wicket cricket, known in any part of England as "wicket?"

Year
1849
Item
1849.10
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.3 Cricket Club in Philadelphia, "Young America CC," Started for US-Born Only

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Cricket

Sources:

John Lester, ed., A Century of Cricket in Philadelphia [University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 1951], page 23.

Query:

Can we determine the year the club formed?  Was it a junior clcub?

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.3
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

1850c.8 Poisoned-Ball Text Recycled in France

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

The material on "la balle empoisonee" (poisoned ball) is repeated from Les jeux des jeunes garcons. See item #1810s.1 above.

Sources:

Jeux et exercises des Jeunes garcons (Games and Exercises of Young Boys) (Paris, A. Courcier, c. 1850), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 213.

Query:

This game has similarity to base ball; could a French-speaking digger take a few moments to sort out whether more is known about the rules, origins, and fate of the game?

Circa
1850
Item
1850c.8
Edit

1850s.13 Trap Ball, Stool Ball, Well Established in Louisville KY

Location:

US South, Kentucky

Game:

Stoolball

Age of Players:

Unknown

"Other forms of bat and ball games, like trap-ball and stool-ball, became well established in Louisville in the decade preceding the Civil War."

 

Sources:

Bob Bailey, "Chapter 1 - Beginnings: From Amateur Teams to Disgrace in the National League (mimeo, 1990)', page 1.  Bob (email, 1/27/2013) notes that his source for this observation is The Boy's Own Book: A Complete Encyclopedia of all the Diversions, Athletic, and Recreative, of Boyhood and Youth (Louisville, Morton and Griswold, 1854), page 67.

Query:

Can we obtain original sources?

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.13
Edit

1850s.14 With Rise of Overarm Bowling, Padding Becomes Regular Part of Cricket

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

"The early 19th century saw the introduction of pads for batsmen. The earliest were merely wooden boards tied to the batsman's legs. By the 1850s, as overarm bowling and speed became the fashion, pads were regularly used. Older players scorned their introduction, but by this time they were deemed essential."

 

Sources:

Peter Scholefield, compiler, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishing, Kent Town Australia, 1990], page 10.

Query:

It would be interesting to know how much velocity of deliveries increased with the change to overhand throwing. 

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.14
Edit

1850s.18 Baseball's Beginnings at U Penn?

Tags:

College

Location:

Pennsylvania

Age of Players:

Youth

"Baseball was first played by Penn students before the Civil War when the University was still located at its Ninth Street campus. The game was probably played casually by students in the 1850s."

 

Sources:

http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/sports/baseball/1800s/hist1.html, as accessed 1/3/2008. No reference is supplied.

Query:

Is there some way to discover the documentary basis for this report?

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.18
Edit

1850s.20 Town-ball Played in Ohio with "Lazarus" Rule

Location:

Ohio

Game:

Town Ball

Notables:

Mark Hanna, Repubican Senator from Ohio, 1897-1904

"Town-ball was base-ball in the rough. I recall some distinctive features: If a batter missed a ball and the catcher behind took it, he was 'caught out.' Three 'nips' also put him out. He might be caught out on 'first bounce.' If the ball were thrown across his path while running base, he was out. One peculiar feature was that the last batter on a side might bring his whole side in by successfully running to first base and back six times in succession, touching first base with his bat after batting. This was not often, but sometimes done; and we were apt to hold back our best batter to the last, which we called 'saving up for six-maker.' This phrase became a general proverb for some large undertaking; and to say of one 'he's a six-maker,' meant that he was a tip-top fellow in whatever he undertook, and no higher compliment could be passed.  I have no definite recollection of he Senator's special success at ball, his favorite game; in the broad fields of subsequent life he certainly became a 'six maker.'"

 

Sources:

Source: Henry C. McCook, The Senator: A Threnody (George W. Jacobs, Philadelphia, 1905), page 208. This passage is excerpted from the annotations to a long poem written in honor the memory of Senator Marcus Hanna of OH. The likely location of the games was in Lisbon, in easternmost OH - about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh PA.. The verse itself: "Shinny and marbles, flying kite and ball, / Hat-ball and hand-ball and, best loved of all!-/ Town-ball, that fine field sport, that soon/ By natural growth and skilful change, became/ Baseball, by use and popular acclaim/ Our nation's favorite game" [Ibid. page 54].  McCook's note describes hat-ball as a plugging game, and hand-ball as a game for one sides of one, two, or three boys that was played "against a windowless brick gable wall."

Posted to 19CBB on 8/13/2007, by Richard Hershberger, supplemented by 8/14/2007 and 12/19/2008 emails.

Query:

Note: were "nips" foul tips?

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.20
Edit

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

Location:

New York City

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.26 Needed: More Festival Days - Like Fast Day? For Ballplaying

Tags:

Holidays

Age of Players:

Juvenile, Youth, Adult

"[T]hey committed a radical error in abolishing all the Papal holidays, or in not substituting something therefore. We have Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, and Fast-Day when the young men play ball. We need three times as many festivals."

Sources:

Arethusa Hall, compiler, Life and Character of the Reverend Sylvester Judd (Crosby, Nichols and Co., Boston, 1854), page 330. The book compiles ideas and views from Judd's writings. Judd was born in 1813 and died at 40 in 1853. John Corrigan (see #1850s.25) quotes a James Blake as capturing popular attitudes about Fast Day.

Writing of Fast Day 1851, Blake said "Fast & pray says the Governor, Feast & play says the people." 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 45. Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is James Barnard Blake, "Diary, April 10, 1851, American Antiquarian Society.

Query:

What were the Catholic festivals that were eliminated?  Were any tradfitionally associated with ballplaying?

Circa
1850
Item
1850c.26
Edit

1850c.44 Twenty or So Cricket Clubs Dot the US

Location:

US, New York City

Age of Players:

Adult

"During the late 1840s there was an increase in the number of cricket clubs in New York and nationally.  At least six clubs were formed in the metropolitgan area, [but most] survived for only a few years. . . . George Kirsch maintains that by 1850 at least twenty cricket clubs, enrolling perhaps 500 active payers, existed in more than a dozen American communities."

 

Sources:

Melvin Adelson, A Sporting Time (U. of Illinois Press, 1886), page 104.  Adelson cites Kirsch, "American Cricket," in Journal of Sport Hstory, volume 11 (Spring 1984), page 28. 

Query:

Do these estimates jibe with current assessments?

Circa
1850
Item
1850c.44
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

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

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

Tags:

Fiction

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

1852.14 A Pleasant Beech Grove, Where the Boys Played Bass Ball

Tags:

Fiction

Game:

Bass Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

"A little way from the school-house . . .  was a pleasant beech grove, where the boys played bass ball, and where the girls carried disused benches and see-sawed over fallen logs."

Sources:

Alice Carey, Clovernook: or, Recollections of Our Neighborhood in the West (Redfield, Clinton Hall NY, 1852), page 280.  G-Book search: <"beech grove" "alice carey">.

Comment:

The state or locality of this scene is not obvious.

Query:

Is this a recollection or a work of fiction?

Year
1852
Item
1852.14
Edit

1852.16 Two Wicket Groups Vie in Litchfield CT

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Unknown

"That Game of Wicket,


Between the two Branches of Bantam Players (the Factory and Up-Town Branches,) came off on the Public Green in this Village, on Saturday last, with the following result"

[In three innings, the score was Factory Branch 141, Up Town Branch 111.]

Sources:

Litchfield Republican, July 8, 1852, page 2.

Query:

What were "bantam players?"  Does the term suggest the ages of the players?

Year
1852
Item
1852.16
Edit

1853c.1 "Rounders" Said to be Played at Phillips Andover School

Location:

Massachusetts

Age of Players:

Youth

[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."

Sources:

[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.

Warning:

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.

Comment:

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.

 

Query:

Can we identify the seminary with the rival club, and determine whether it has any record of early ballplaying?

Circa
1853
Item
1853c.1
Edit

1853.3 B is [Still] For Bat and Ball

Game:

Trap Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Under an illustration of trap-ball play, we find in an 1853 children's book: "My name is B, at your beck and call,/ B stands for battledore, bat, and ball;/ From the trap with your bat, the Tennis ball knock,/ With your battledore spin up the light shuttlecock."

Sources:

The Illuminated A, B, C (New York, T. W. Strong, 1853), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 215.

Comment:

The use of a tennis ball in a description of a batting game is unusual. 

In 1853, the modern game of lawn tennis had not been invented, and most tennis was played for centuries [as players of "Real Tennis" now do] on indoor, walled courts with hard balls that strongly resemble modern baseballs. It is not clear that the old form of tennis was played in the US in the 1850s.

Query:

Could this be an American printing of an English volume?

Year
1853
Item
1853.3
Edit

1853.4 School Reader has Description of Bat and Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Sanders, Charles W., The School Reader; First Book (Newburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, assorted publishers). This is another Sanders reader (see entries above for 1840, 1841, 1846), this one with an illustration of four boys playing a ball game at recess.  A drawing is titled "Boys Playing at Bat and Ball."

Oddly enough, two of the four boys seem to be carrying bats.  One appears to have hit the ball toward a boy in the foreground, and a second boy stands near to him, with a bat in hand, watching him prepare to catch the ball.  "[H]e will catch the ball when it comes down.  Then it will be his turn to take the bat and knock the ball." 

No bases or wickets are apparent in the drawing.  No pitching or baserunning is mentioned.

 

Sources:

 per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 215.

Comment:

In 2013, David Block notes that the 1858 edition of this book includes a different image, where a fifth player appears, and three of them hold bats: see below: "In the newer [1858] edition, all five of the boys are standing around a tree . . . .  The bats, especially in the 1858 illustration, appear to be flat-faced, though not as broad as a cricket bat.  There are no visible wickets or bases . . .  It is impossible to know what sort of game(s) the artists were trying to represent, although my impression is of some sort of fungo game, with one player hitting the ball in the air and the others trying to catch or retrieve.  The one who succeeds gets to bat next.  Just a guess.  

(Email from David Block, 2/7/2013.)

Query:

Is it possible that this is a fungo-style game?  Is it possible that may other "plaing ball" references denote fungo games? 

Do we know of any other fungo games in which more than a single bat is used?

Year
1853
Item
1853.4
Edit

1853.6 When Boys Collect, A Spontaneous Game of Ball is Possible

Age of Players:

Youth

" . . . when they [the 'little fellows'] asked the men where the town-meeting was, they were told that it was in the church. So it is for the men, but that the boys' town-meeting is out [outdoors?] where you can buy peanuts and gingercake, and see all your cousins from almost everywhere, and stand around and find out what is going on, and play a game of ball with the boy from Oysterponds, and another from Mattitue, on the same side."

 

Sources:

New York Times, April 26, 1853.

Query:

"Mattitue?"  "Oysterponds?"

Year
1853
Item
1853.6
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

1853.14 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

1853.19 Boston Clubs Play for Ten Boxes of Cigars

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Aurora Ball Club and Olympic Ball Club will play best 3 in 5 games at Base ball on Tremont street mall on Friday next at half past 5 o'clock for 10 boxes of Havana Cigars.  The public are invited to be present.  A sufficient force will be in attendance to prevent confusion." [Full Item]

Sources:

Boston Herald, September 7, 1853.

Warning:

The rules for this match are not known.

Comment:

Four years later, the Olympic Club's written rules show similarity to the Dedham rules for the Massachusetts Game that appeared in 1858. 

Best-of-three and best-of-five formats are later seen in matches in MA and upstate NY; the "best-of" format may have been common in the game or games that evolved into the Mass Game. 

 

Query:

Was a form of unpleasant "confusion" anticipated?  Like what?

Do we know any more about the Aurora Club?

Year
1853
Item
1853.19
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

1854.2 First New England Team, the Olympics, Forms to Play Round Ball

Location:

New England

Age of Players:

Adult

"The first regularly organized team in New England was the Boston Olympics of 1854. The Elm Trees followed in 1855 and the Green Mountains two years later."

 

Sources:

Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 27. [No ref given.]

It seems plausible, given similarity of phrasing, that this finding comes from George Wright's November 1904 review of baseball history. See#1854.3 below.

There is also similar treatment in Lovett, Old Boston Boys, (Riverside Press, 1907),  page 129.

Query:

Is there any detailed indication, or educated guess, as to what rules the Olympics uses in 1854?

Year
1854
Item
1854.2
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

1854.8 Historian Describes Facet of 1850s "School Boys' Game of Rounders"

Location:

England

Age of Players:

Juvenile, Adult

 

A cricket historian describes an early attribute of cricket"

" . . . the reason we hear sometimes of he Block-hole was . . . because between these  [two] two-feet-asunder stumps [the third stump in the wicket had not yet been introduced] there was cut a hole big enough to contain a ball, and (as now with the school boy's game of rounders) the hitter was made out in running a notch by the ball being popped into [a] hole (whence 'popping crease') before the point of the bat could reach it."

 

Sources:

James Pycroft, The Cricket Field [1854], page 68. 

Query:

Note: Pycroft was first published in 1851. See item #1851.1. Was this material in the first edition?

Year
1854
Item
1854.8
Edit

1854.11 The Game in Ontario Resembled the MA Game, with Variations

Location:

Canada

Game:

OFBB

"Organized teams first appeared in Hamilton in 1854 and London in 1855. The game they played was described in the August 4 1860 issue of the New York Clipper as having several unique features. 'The game played in Canada,' the Clipper reported, 'differs somewhat from the New York game, the ball being thrown instead of pitched and an inning not concluded until all are out, there are also 11 players on each side.' It differed as well from the Massachusetts Game, in its strict adherence to 11 men on the field as opposed to the Massachusetts rules, which allowed 10 to 14.

"As well all 11 men had to be retired before the other team came to bat. Both games allowed the pitcher to throw the ball in the modern style, rather than underarm as in the New York rules."

 

 

Sources:

William Humber, "Baseball and the Canadian Identity," College Quarterly, Volume 8 Number 3 [Summer 2005]. Submitted by John Thorn 3/30/2006.

Query:

It would be interesting to know if this game included outs made by the plugging baserunners.

Year
1854
Item
1854.11
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

1854.22 "Greatest Game of Base Ball Ever Played in this Country"

Game:

MA game?

Age of Players:

Adult

An Old Fashioned Base-Ball Club

The Stoneham 'One Hundred and Fifty' Held the Championship Forty Years Ago

"Forty years ago Stoneham was the greatest base ball town in New England and the Kearsarge Base Ball Club held the championship. In these days base ball playing has dwindled down to such an insignificant proportion that it only takes nine men on a side to play a game, but forty years ago this Spring the Kearsarge Club had no fewer than 150 players and a club that could get the best of them in a game of 'three-year-old-cat' [sic] had to be pretty spry.  The club had a reunion at Maker's Hotel last evening, and after dinner talked baseball as it ought to be played now and as it was played in the days when the club was the leading social as well as the only athletic club in Stoneham in addition to being champion of New England.  The reunion was attended by about fifty of the oldest players.  Myron J. Ferris was the orator of the occasion, and he talked until the umpire called him out.  During his address he recalled to the minds of those present the events of the greatest game ever played in this country.  It was the game between the Kearsarge and Ashland clubs, and was played on the Boston Common forty years ago.

"The Kearsarge team won, and when the members got back to Stoneham that evening they were given about as much an ovation as were the soldiers when they returned from the war. Richard Park was the umpire of that memorable game and he was present last evening and told how he helped the team win.  Then he told of the base ball league that which was formed after the war.  This was a wonderful league then, but what would the baseball public think now if the Stoneham, and Peabody then South Danvers, and Saugus with a few other little towns should get up a base ball league.  The league was prosperous and the players had a good time.  Other speakers gave interesting accounts of baseball forty years ago." 

 

 

 

Sources:

Boston Evening Transcript, March 23, 1894, page 3.

Comment:

Variant uses of "base ball" and "baseball" are as printed.

Query:

Can readers provide insight as to what game was played on Boston Common in 1854, whether there was a post Civil War league in this area, and otherwise help us interpret this account? 

Year
1854
Item
1854.22
Edit

1855c.1 "Massachusetts Run-Around" Recalled

Tags:

Holidays

"This [Massachusetts Run-Around] was ever a popular game with us young men, and especially on Town Meeting days when there were great contests held between different districts, or between the married and unmarried men, and was sometimes called Town Ball because of its association with Town Meeting day."

"It was an extremely convenient game because it required as a minimum only four on a side to play it, and yet you could play it equally as well with seven or eight. . . . There were no men on the bases; the batter having to make his bases the best he could, and with perfect freedom to run when and as he chose to, subject all the time to being plugged by the ball from the hand of anyone. It was lively jumping squatting and ducking in all shapes with the runner who was trying to escape being plugged. When he got around without having been hit by the ball, it counted a run. The delivery of the ball was distinctly a throw, not an under-hand delivery as was later the case for Base Ball. The batter was allowed three strikes at the ball. In my younger days it was extremely popular, and indulged in by everyone, young and old."

 

Sources:

T. King, letter to the Mills Commission, November 24, 1905; accessed at the Giamatti Center, HOF.

Query:

Did King grow up in MA?  Do we know why this ref. is dated c1855?

Circa
1855
Item
1855c.1
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

1855.25 Text Perceives Rounders and Cricket, in Everyday French Conversations

Location:

France

Age of Players:

Juvenile

An 1855 French conversation text consistently translates "balle au camp" as "rounders." It also translates "crosse" to "cricket."

A double is seen in "deux camps," as "En voila une bonne! Deux camps pour celle-la" is translated as "That is a good one! Two bases for that."

 

Sources:

W. Chapman, Every-Day French Talk (J. B. Bateman, London, 1855), pages 16, 20, 21. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search <"chapman teacher" "french talk" 1855>. The English titles for the translated passages are The Playground and Returning From School.

Comment:

It is unclear whether the original poems are the English versions or the French versions; if the latter, it seems plausible that these safe-haven games were known in France. 

Query:

Would a French person agree that "balle au camp" is rounders by another name? Should we researcher thus chase after that game too? Perhaps a French speaker among us could seek la verite from le Google on this?

 

 

Year
1855
Item
1855.25
Edit

1855.33 Wicket Club Plays in Ohio -- Ladies Bestow MVP Prize

Location:

Ohio

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Adult

"This evening members of the "Excelsior Wicket Club" contest for the prize of a boquet [sic], to be awarded the player who makes the most innings. 

The ladies are to be on the club ground--the Huron Park--and award the prize to the winner.  Happy fellow, he!  May there be steady hands and cool heads that some nice young man shall win very sweet smiles as well as the sweet flowers."

Sources:

Sandusky Register,  5/12/1855.

Comment:

Richard Hershberger, who dug up this notice, notes that this club was an early case of an organized wicket club. 

New England generally was a late comer to organized clubs as the medium for team sports.  Cricket is the exception, with some clubs in imitation of the English model and, from the 1840s on, clubs largely composed of English immigrants. 

"Wicket followed a model of village teams, with no obvious sign of formal club structures of constitutions and officers and the like.  We don't see that until the mid-1850s, and then more with baseball than with wicket.  Even with what where nominally baseball clubs, I suspect that many were actually closer to the village team model, with a bit of repackaging."

Sandusky OH (1855 pop. probably around 7000) is in northernmost OH, about 50 miles SE of Toledo and about 50 miles W of Cleveland.

Query:

Do we know what  "makes the most innings" means in the newspaper account?

Year
1855
Item
1855.33
Edit

1855.34 Sporting Press Notices Base Ball, Regularizes Reporting

Age of Players:

Adult

"There was little baseball reported in Spirit [of the Times] until 1855, and what did appear was limited to terse accounts of games (with box scores) submitted by members of the competing clubs.  The primary [sports-page] emphasis was on four-legged sport and  cricket, which often received multiple columns of coverage.  Apparently, editor William Porter felt that baseball was less interesting than articles such as "The World's Ugliest Man."  As interest in baseball grew, The Spirit's coverage of the sport expanded.  On May 12, 1855, the journal printed the rules of baseball for the first time and soon began to report more frequently on games that took place in New York and its vicinity."

Sources:

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

Comment:

In its issue of November 11, 1854, Spirit of the Times complained that base ball game reports were not being received.

Query:

[A] Was this turn to base ball more conspicuous in other papers earlier?

[B] Has anyone tried to measure the relative coverage of base ball and cricket over time in these crossover years?

Year
1855
Item
1855.34
Edit

1855.35 New Jersey Club Comes Over to the NY Game

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?

Year
1855
Item
1855.36
Edit

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

Location:

New England

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

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

1856.10 French Work Describes Poisoned Ball and La Balle au Baton

Location:

France

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Beleze, Par G., Jeux des adolescents [Paris, L. Hachette et Cie], This author's portrayal of balle empoisonee is seen as similar to its earlier coverage up to 40 years before; its major variant involves two teams who exchange places regularly, outs are recorded by means of caught flies and runners plugged between bases, and four or five bases comprise the infield. Hitters, however, used their bare hands as bats. Block sees the second game, la balle au baton, as a scrub game played without teams. The ball was put in play by fungo hits with a bat, and was reported to be most often seen in Normandie, where it was known as teque or theque. 

 
Sources:

per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 217. 

Query:

What are the "other sources" for playing theque? Is it significant that this book features games for adolescents, not younger children?

Year
1856
Item
1856.10
Edit

1856.11 New Reader Has Ballplaying Illustration

Tags:

Images

Location:

US

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Town, Salem, and Nelson M Holbrook, The Progressive First Reader [Boston],  This elementary school book has an illustration of boys playing ball in a schoolyard. 

 

Sources:

per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 217-218.

Query:

What are the "other sources" for playing theque? Is it significant that this book features games for adolescents, not younger children?

Year
1856
Item
1856.11
Edit

1856.17 The Mass Game Explained

Location:

New England

"I have thought, perhaps, a statement of my experience as to the Yankee method of playing 'Base,' or 'Round' ball, as we used to call it, may not prove uninteresting.

"The ball we used was, I should think, of the size and weight described by the Putnam rules, made of yarn, tightly wound round a lump of cork or India rubber, and covered with smooth calf-skin in quarters (as we quarter an orange), the seams closed snugly, and not raised, lest they should blister the hands of the thrower and catcher: the bat round, varying from 3 to 3.5 feet in length; a portion of a stout rake or pitchfork handle was much in demand, and wielded generally in one hand by the muscular young players at the country schools, who rivaled each other in the hearty cracks they gave the ball.

"There were six to eight players upon each side, the latter number being the full complement. The two best layers upon each side first and second mates, as they were called by common consent were catcher and thrower. These retained their positions in the game, unless they chose to call some other player, upon their own side, to change places with them." Dated Boston, December 20, 1856. A field diagram followed. It shows either 6 or 10 defensive positions, depending on whether each base was itself a defensive station.

 

Sources:

"Base Ball; How They Play the Game in New England, by An Old Correspondent" Porter's Spirit of the Times, Dec. 27, 1856

Query:

The Dedham rules of 1858 specified at least ten players on a team. The writer does not call the game the MA game, and does not mention plugging, the use of stakes as bases, or the one-out-all-out rule; is this conceivably because he thinks the NY game shares those attributes?

Year
1856
Item
1856.17
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

1856.20 Exciting Round Ball Game Played on Boston Common, End With 100-to-98 Tally

Location:

New England

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "EXCITING GAME OF BASE BALL. - The second trial game of Base Ball took place on the Boston Common, Wednesday morning, May 14th, between the Olympics and the Green Mountain Boys. The game was one hundred ins, and after three hours of exciting and hard playing, it was won by the Olympics, merely by two, the Green Mountain Boys counting 98 tallies. . . . The above match was witnessed by a very large assemblage, who seemed to take a great interest in it."

The article also prints a letter protesting the rules for a prior game between the same teams. The Olympics explained that were compelled to play a game in which their thrower stood 40 feet from the "knocker" while their opponent's thrower stood at 20 feet. In addition, the Green Mountain catcher [sic] moved around laterally, and a special six-strike rule was imposed that confounded the Olympics. It appears that this game followed an all-out-side-out rule. The reporter said the Olympics found these conditions "unfair, and not according to the proper rules of playing Round or Base Ball."

 [B] the Daily Atlas briefly mentioned the game, noting "There was a large crowd of spectators, although the flowers and birds of springs, and a wheelbarrow race at the same time . . . tended to draw off attention." A week later, the Boston Post reported that the Green Mountain Boys took a later contest, "the Olympics making 84 rounds to the G.M. Boys 119."

Sources:

[A] Albert S. Flye, "Exciting Game of Base Ball," New York Clipper Volume 4, number 5 (May 25, 1856), page 35. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.

[B] The Boston Daily Atlas, May 15, 1856.

Query:

Note: does this article imply that previously, base ball on the Common was relatively rare?

Year
1856
Item
1856.20
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

1856.35 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

1857.5 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

1857.18 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

1857.20 Clerks Take on Clerks in Albany, Field 16-Player Teams

Location:

NY State

Age of Players:

Adult

"An exciting match of Base Ball was played on the Washington Parade Ground, Albany, on Friday, 29th alt., between the State House Clerks and the Clerks of City Bank - sixteen on a side. The play resulted in favor of the State House boys, they making 86 runs in three innings, against 72 made by the Bank Clerks."

 

Sources:

Porter's Spirit of the Times, vol. 40 number 14 (June 6, 1857). 

Query:

Sixteen players? Three innings? Does this sound like the NY game to you?

Year
1857
Item
1857.20
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

1857.29 Six-Player Town-ball Teams Play for Gold in Philly

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Town Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"TOWN BALL. - The young men of Philadelphia are determined to keep the ball rolling . . . On Friday, 20th ult. (10/20/1857 we think) the United States Club met on their grounds, corner of 61st and Hazel streets . . . each individual did his utmost to gain the prize, at handsome gold ring, which was eventually awarded to Mr. T. W. Taylor, his score of 26 being the highest." Each team had six players, and the team Taylor played on won, 117 to 82.

Sources:

New York Clipper (November--as handwritten in clipping collection; no date is given -- 1857). 

Query:

Do we now know any more about this event?  Was it an intramural game?  Was a six-player side common in Philadelphia town ball?  Was a gold ring a typical prize for winning?

Year
1857
Item
1857.29
Edit

1857.31 Rounders "Now Almost Entirely Displaced by Cricket:" English Scholar

Location:

England

Game:

Rounders

Age of Players:

Unknown

"Writing in 1857, "Stonehenge" noted that 'it [rounders] was [p. 232/233] formerly a very favourite game in some of our English counties, but is now almost entirely displaced by cricket.' . . . documentary evidence of it is hard to find before the chapter in William Clarke's Boys' Own Book of 1828."

Sources:

Tony Collins, et al., Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports (Routledge, 2005), pages 232-233.

Query:

Rounders made a comeback later, at least as a school yard game played mostly be female players.  Is it clear whether the game was played significantly among men and boys before 1857?

Year
1857
Item
1857.31
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

1857.46 Hundreds Gather to Watch Exciting Game of Corner Ball

Age of Players:

Unknown

"BALL MATCH --A great match at 'Corner Ball' came of at Strasburg on a recent Saturday afternoon.  Hundreds of persons were on the ground to witness the play, and the greatest excitement prevailed.  The match was between Lampeter and Strasburg, or rather the representatives of the respective townships.  After a spirited contest, conducted in the best possible humor, the victor perched on the banner of Lampeter, and she was declared the victor.  We are glad to notice the introduction of this healthy pastime, and hope the good practice will be continued.  While it affords recreation and pastime to the weary son of toll, there is nothing in it to which the most stern advocate of morality can possibly object."

Sources:

"Out-Door Sports," Porter's Spirit of the Times," March 14, 1857.

Comment:

Lampeter PA is about 5 miles SE of Lancaster PA, about 60 miles NE of Baltimore MD, and about 20 miles N of the PA/MD border; it is the home of Lampeter-Strasburg High School.  Its 2010 population was about 1700.

Corner Ball seems likely to be a plugging or "tagging" game resembling Dodge Ball.  As of January 2016, Protoball lists 4 citations of Corner Ball; the other three are reported over two decades earlier, in the 1830s.  For a bit more about the game, see http://protoball.org/Corner_Ball.  

 

Query:

Can we speculate that the game was played by adults?

Year
1857
Item
1857.46
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

1858.10 Four-day Attendance of 40,000 Souls Watch Famous Roundball Game in Worcester

Location:

New England

Age of Players:

Adult

"One of the most celebrated games of roundball was played on the Agricultural Grounds in Worcester, Mass., in 1858. It was between the Medways of Medway and the Union Excelsiors. It was for $1000 a side. It took four days to play the game. The attendance was more than 10,000 at each day a play [sic]. In the neighboring towns the factories gave their employees holidays to see the game."

 

 

Sources:

"H. S.," [Henry Sargent?] of Grafton, MA, "Roundball," New York Sun, May 8, 1905, p.6. From an unidentified clipping found in the Giamatti Center. The clipping is noted as "60-27" and it may be from the Spalding Collection.

Warning:

David Nevard raises vital questions about this account: "I have my doubts about this item - it just doesn't seem to fit. 1) The club names don't sound right. The famous club from Medway was the Unions, not the Medways, and I haven't seen any other mention of Union Excelsiors. 2) Lowry's evolution of the longest Mass Game does not mention this one. He shows the progression (in 1859) as 57 inns, 61 inns, 211 inns. It seems like a 4 day game in 1858 would have lasted longer than 57 innings. 3) It's a recollection 50 years after the fact. $1000, 10,000 people." [Email to Protoball, 2/27/07.]

Comment:

The source also contains a lengthy description of "Massachusetts roundball", reprinted in Exposition in Class-Room Practice by Theodore C. Mitchell and George R. Carpenter, 1906, p. 239

Query:

Can we either verify or disprove the accuracy of this recollection?

Year
1858
Item
1858.10
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

1858.29 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

1858.31 Bristol CT Bests Waterbury in Wicket

Location:

New England

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Adult

Bristol beat Waterbury by 110 runs in a wicket game on Bristol's Federal Hill Green on September 9, 1858. No game details appeared. "The game not only attracted attention in this section of the State, but it assumed such proportions that New Yorkers became interested and it was reported in much detail in the NY Sunday Mercury a few days later. The newspaper remarked at the time that Bristol had a wicket team to be proud of.
The New York newspapers had a chance to tell the same story twenty-two years later when the Bristols went to Brooklyn and defeated the club of that city"

 

Sources:

Norton, Frederick C., "That Strange Yankee Game, Wicket," Bristol Connecticut (City Printing Co., Hartford, 1907); available on Google Books. 

Query:

Can we find the Mercury story and/or coverage in Bristol and Waterbury papers? Add page reference.

Year
1858
Item
1858.31
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

1858.40 Cricket Plays Catch-up; Plans a National Convention

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

"CRICKET CONVENTION FOR 1858. - A Convention of delegates from the various Cricket Clubs of the United States will take place, pursuant to adjournment from last year, at the Astor House [on May 3]. Important business will be transacted."

Sources:

"Cricket and Base Ball," Spirit of the Times (Volume 28, number 4 (Saturday, April 10, 1858), page 102, column 3. 

Query:

Note: Do we know the outcome? Was cricket attempting to counteract baseball's surge? If so, how? Why didn't it work?

Year
1858
Item
1858.40
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

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

1858.61 IL "Base Ball and Wicket Club" Takes the Field

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Adult

  

Base Ball -- Ottawa vs. Marseilles

 

 "Some two weeks ago the Marseilles Base Ball Club challenged the Base Ball and Wicket Club of Ottawa to a trial of skill. - The challenge was promptly accepted, and Friday of last week fixed as the day and Marseilles the place for the game.  At the time appointed, although the weather was intensely hot, the game was played with great spirit, yet with the utmost good feeling throughout, on both sides...

 

  "J.H. Burlison, of Ottawa, and A.B. Thompson, of Marseilles acted as the Umpires.  The time occupied in the game as 3 hours and 40 minutes.  

 

 "The Ottawa boys, it will be seen, came out 21 points ahead.  The Marseilles boys took their defeat in great good humor, and had prepared a grand supper at the close of the contest, which however, owing to the late hour and their fatigue, the Ottawa boys did not remain to discuss".

 

---
 
 A spare box score shows the Ottawa Club winning a three-inning contest, 230 to 207.  It appears to have been a game of wicket.

Sources:

Ottawa Free Trader, June 26, 1858

 

 

 

Comment:

A wicket club in Illinois?  Really?

Query:

Jeff Kittel notes:   "Protoball doesn't have any references to wicket clubs in Illinois during this period, although there is a reference to a 1857 club in Iowa. Ottawa and Marseilles are in LaSalle County, Illinois, on the Illinois River, about 50 miles southwest of Chicago.  It's possible that the game experienced a period of popularity in central Illinois and Iowa.  Clinton City, where the Iowa wicket club was located, is on the Mississippi, about sixty miles west of Ottawa and Marseilles.  Now the headline says that this was a game of base ball, rather than wicket, but the box score, which I attached, is kind of odd - three innings, possibly playing first to 200 runs.  Sadly, they don't give us any information on the number of players per side."    

Year
1858
Item
1858.61
Edit

1858.67 Boston Area Ballgames Noted in 1858

Tags:

Holidays

Age of Players:

Adult

"It is interesting to note that on Fast Day, April 1858, there was a ball game played in Trapelo, Captain Lawrence's team defeating Capt. Lovejoy's team by a score of 50 points to 43. Later in the year a Mechanics Ball Club was organized [in Waltham] and played a game on the Common with the Olympics of Boston. They were beaten by a score of 54 to 21. Twelve men played on a side." 

 

Sources:

Edmund L. Sanderson, Waltham as a Precinct of Watertown and as a Town 1630 - 1884. Waltham Hist. Soc., 1936, page 70.

Comment:

Trapelo is a neighborhood of Waltham, located near its border with Lexington. 

Query:

Can we determine whether this game was played by the new Massachusetts rules or traditional local custom?

Year
1858
Item
1858.67
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

1859.6 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

1859.35 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

1859.41 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

1859.44 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

1859.51 Girls Play Base Ball at Eagleswood School

Tags:

Females

Location:

New Jersey

Age of Players:

Youth

Notables:

Francis Dana Gage

In 1859, the women's rights advocate and abolitionist Frances Dana Barker Gage wrote a letter from St. Louis to physician friends at the Glen Haven Water Cure in New York. She informed them of positive advancements in physical fitness for students at the Eagleswood School in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.  Among the games both male and female students were playing was base ball. 

Gage concluded that she was planning to ask the principal at Dansville Seminary (in St. Louis?) to add baseball to its program for girls too.

Sources:

"Muscle Looking Up," Austin, Harriet, N., Dr. and Jackson, James. C., Dr., eds., The Letter-Box, Vols 1 and 2, 1858-9, (Dansville, NY: M. W. Simmons, 1859), 99.

Query:

Is this the first time, as far as we know, that females played base ball by modern rules?

Year
1859
Item
1859.51
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

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

1860.20 Lincoln Awaits Nomination, Plays Town Ball . . . or Handball?

Tags:

Famous

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Abraham Lincoln

[1] "During the settling on the convention Lincoln had been trying, in one way and another, to keep down the excitement . . . playing billiard a little, town ball a little, and story-telling a little."

A story circulated that he was playing ball when he learning of his nomination: "When the news of Lincoln's nomination reached Springfield, his friends were greatly excited, and hastened to inform 'Old Abe' of it. He could not be found at his office or at home, but after some minutes the messenger discovered him out in a field with a parcel of boys, having a pleasant game of town-ball. All his comrades immediately threw up their hats and commenced to hurrah. Abe grinned considerably, scratched his head and said 'Go on boys; don't let such nonsense spoil a good game.' The boys did go on with their bawling, but not with the game of ball. They got out an old rusty cannon and made it ring, while the [illeg.: Rail Splitter?] went home to think on his chances." 

[2] Interview with Charles S. Zane, 1865-66:  "I was present in the Illinois State Journal on the day when Lincoln was nominated: he was present & when he received the news of the 3d Ballot. Lincoln Said I Knew it would Come to this when I Saw the 2d. Ballot. . . . Lincoln played ball pretty much all the day before his nomination – played at what is called fives – Knocking a ball up against a wall that served as an alley – He loved this game – his only physical game – that I Knew of – Lincoln said – This game makes my shoulders feel well."

 

Sources:

[1] Henry C. Whitney, Lincoln the Citizen [Current Literature Publishing, 1907], page 292.

[2] Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln (U Illinois Press, 1998), page 492.

[3] "How Lincoln Received the Nomination," [San Francisco CA] Daily Evening Bulletin vol.10 number 60 (Saturday, June 16, 1860), page 2 column 3.

Warning:

Richard Hershberger and others doubt the veracity of this story. He says [email of 1/30/2008] that one other account of that day says that Abe played hand-ball, and there is mention of this being the only athletic game that Abe was ever seen to indulge in. (But also see 1830s.16 on a younger Abe Lincoln and town ball in the 1830s).

Source [2] above contains other accounts of the nomination story.  They support the idea that Lincoln "played ball" the day before the nomination, but it seems fairly clear that the game played was "fives," presumable a form of handball.  For a very helpful submission from Steve Gietschier on the content of Herndon's Informants, see the Supplemental Text, below.

 

 

 

Comment:

A political cartoon of the day showed Lincoln playing ball with other candidates. It can be viewed at  http://www.scvbb.org/images/image7/

Thanks to Kyle DeCicco-Carey for the link.

Query:

 Is the cartoon dated?  Is a location given?

 Is the content from source [3], from 1860, known?

Year
1860
Item
1860.20
Edit
Source Text

1860.29 "Canadian Game" Espied in Ontario

Location:

Canada

Game:

Base Ball

"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." 

Sources:

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. 

Comment:

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. 

Query:

Can we find that Clipper report? Does the use of two backstops imply the continued application of tick-and-catch rules?

Year
1860
Item
1860.29
Edit

1860.30 CT Wicketers Trounce CT Cricketers at Wicket

Location:

Connecticut

Game:

Cricket

Was wicket an inferior game? "the game [of wicket] certainly reached a level of technical sophistication equal to these two sports [base ball and cricket]. This was clearly demonstrated during a wicket match at Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1860 when a team of local wicket players easily defeated a team of experience local cricket players."  

Sources:

Tom Melville, The Tented Field: the History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State U Popular Press, Bowling Green OK, 1998), page 10. Melville cites the source of the match as the Waterbury American (August 31, 1860), page 21.

Query:

Can we locate and examine this 1860 article? A: It is apparently not online.

Year
1860
Item
1860.30
Edit

1860.32 Milwaukee Area Not Unanimous About the "Miserable" New York Rules

Location:

Wisconsin

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

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."

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." 

Sources:

Daily Milwaukee News, May 17, 1860

Milwaukee Sentinel, May 16, 1860 

Comment:

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.

Query:

What is the date of the Daily Milwaukee News piece in which the rules are described as "miserable"?

Year
1860
Item
1860.32
Edit

1860.34 Disparate Ball Games Seen in New Hampshire

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Sources:

Both NH game accounts are in The New York Clipper. May 19, 1860, p.37

Comment:

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. 

Query:

What were these fellows playing? 

Year
1860
Item
1860.34
Edit

1860.43 Three Ball Clubs Form in VT Village

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"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. . . .

"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."

 

Sources:

Hiel Hollister, Pawlet [VT] for One Hundred Years (J. Munsell, Albany, 1867), pages 121-122. Available via Google books: search "base ball""pawlet".

Comment:

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.

Query:

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. 

Year
1860
Item
1860.43
Edit

1860.48 "Veterans of 1812" Play OFBB . . . Annually?

Tags:

Military

Age of Players:

Adult

One of the earliest instances of an apparent "throwback" game occurred in August 1860, when a newspaper reported that the "Veterans of 1812" held their "annual Ball play" in the village of Seneca Falls NY, east of Geneva and southeast of Rochester NY.

[A] The "old warriors," after a morning of parading through local streets, marched to a field where "the byes were quickly staked out," sides were chosen, and the local vets "were the winners of the game by two tallies."

[B] "...[they] seemed to be inspired with renewed energy by the memory of youthful days and the spirit (?) of boyhood, and displayed a degree of skill and activity in the noble game of base ball that showed they had once been superior players..."

 

Sources:

[A] Seneca Falls Reveille, August 18, 1860, reported by Priscilla Astifan.

[B] New York Sunday Mercury, August 19, 1860, reported by Gregory Christiano.

Comment:

We would presume that this was not modern base ball.  It seems plausible that the vets had played ball together during their war service, and that this game was played in remembrance of good times past.

 

Query:

Further insight is welcome from readers.

Year
1860
Item
1860.48
Edit

1860.54 Yes, The Game Would Move Right Along . . . But Would it be Cricket?

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

"Whenever the cricket community realized that American participation and interest were low, they talked about changing the rules. Some Americans suggested three outs per inning and six innings a game."

 

Sources:

William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 103. Attributed to the Chadwick Scrapbooks. 

Query:

Were there really several such proposals? Can we guess what impediments required that it take another century to invent one-day and 20/20 cricket?

Year
1860
Item
1860.54
Edit

1860.61 Colored Union Club Beats Unknowns, 33-24, in Brooklyn

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"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:

New York Sunday Mercury, October 14, 1860, col. 5-6.

Comment:

Weeksville was a town founded by freedmen.  Its population in the 1850s was about 500.

Query:

 

How does this game relate to entry 1860.9 above?

Year
1860
Item
1860.61
Edit

1860s.86 Ballplaying Remembered in Dedham Massachusetts

Age of Players:

Youth

"Sixty-five years ago the boys had a ball club which was known as the "Winthrops" who played on a pasture lot beyond Mr. White's house on east Street.  Ball playing was frequently enjoyed upon the fields of owners who were willing to allow public use  to be made of such land.  A record is here given of a game  that took place at a time when the ball was thrown at the runner between bases to put him out. The score is here appended -- that the present [1930's] generation may know what a real ball game was like in the early days of the game [partial box score listed].  Masks were not invented then, so a cap pulled well down over the eyes have to do duty for a mask."

Sources:

Frank Smith, A History of Dedham Massachusetts (Transcript Press, 1936), page 358.

Query:

Does Smith reveal his source for the pre-1970 box score?

Decade
1860s
Item
1860s.86
Edit

1860.87 Catcher Felled by Bat-Stick

Tags:

Hazard

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "SAD DEATH RESULTING FROM BASE-BALL PLAYING

"While the New Braintree Base-Ball Club was playing a game on the afternoon of the ninth inst., [June 1860], one of the players when about to bat the ball, threw the bat-stick back so far that he hit the catcher, Mr. John Carney, Jr., a very severe blow to the forehead.  He was immediately carried home, and received every attention -- but after a week of severe suffering, he died on Friday night, leaving an especial request that his death and the cause of it might be inserted in the papers, as a caution to other papers."

 

[B] NEW BRAINTREE – On Saturday, June 9th, a boy named John Carney, Jr., aged about nineteen years, was accidentally injured by being stuck in the forehead with a bat in the hands of another boy, while playing ball.  It seems that Carney, being too intent on catching the ball, got within swing of the bat, which the other boy used in a back-handed way to strike the ball.  Young Carney was carried home immediately, and all proper care taken, but after several days’ severe suffering, he died last Friday night.  He had many friends and was a favorite with the lads of the village.

 

Sources:

[A] Dedham Gazette, June 23, 1860, page 2.

[B] Barre MA Gazette, June 22, 1860, page 2.

Comment:

New Braintree MA (2000 pop. about 900) is about 60 miles W of Boston and about 20 miles W of Worcester.

In the previous year, there was reportedly dispute about the positioning of the catcher under Mass Game rules. 

Paul Johnson reports that the victim was 18 years old, and that the official death record lists the cause of death as "accidental blow from a baseball club."

 

Query:

Should we assume that the club still played the Massachusetts Game?

Is it significant that the batter is said to "throw" the bat, not that he lost his grip on it?

Year
1860
Item
1860.87
Edit

1860.90 Atlantics' "Lucky Seventh" Yields Nine Runs; The Start of Some Base Ball Lore?

Age of Players:

Adult

 

"That seventh inning, which was thereafter called 'the lucky seventh,' was a memorable one in the annals of the Atlantics' career, for a finer display of batting was never before seen in this vicinity."

(Trailing the Excelsior Club 12-6 after six, the Atlantics scored nine runs in the 7th.

For a fuller game description see Supplemental Text, below.

Sources:

New York Clipper, as cited in the Brooklyn Eagle of December 25, 1910.

Comment:

My researcher friends and I have gone around previously about the origins of the seventh inning stretch, so I'll not revisit that today. However, I can recall as a boy learning that the seventh was a lucky inning for the home team. Apart from the magical properties assigned to the number 7, here may be the origin of that notion in baseball.  -- John Thorn, October 2016

Note: For some other ideas about the origins of "lucky seventh," see Paul Dickson, The Dicksom Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009 Norton), page 513.

Query:

Do we know what is meant by the note that Creighton "batted out of the pitcher's position?"

(In reply, John Thorn (email, 10/4/16) writes, "For a while batting orders were constructed by numbered position, so that the lineup would be pitcher, catcher, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF. But I speculate. . . .")

Year
1860
Item
1860.90
Edit
Source Text

1860.91 Base Stealing Frequency Before the Civil War

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult


"Just noticed an 1860 game summary from Rochester, NY that includes the number of times that the catchers threw to bases, a decent if not 100% indicator of the number  of stolen base attempts, in this case a combined total of 37 in 8 innings.

"No, Ned Cuthbert didn't pioneer the stolen base in 1865. . ."

(19CBB Posting by Bob Tholkes, 2/6/2017.)

The game was played between the Live Oak and Lone Star club, the Lone Star scoring 30 runs and the Live Oaks 14 runs. 

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury, July 8, 1860

Comment:

 

 

 

Query:

(A) The Protoball PrePro data base in shows that 44 runs were scored in 8.5 innings in this July 4 game.  That's nearly three runs per half-inning.

(See http://protoball.org/Lone_Star_BBC_Club_of_Rochester_v_Live_Oak_Club_of_Rochester_on_4_July_1860)

So there were lots of baserunners that day.

But there were reportedly only about 2 catcher throws to bases in each half-inning. If bases were stolen routinely in this gloveless era, wouldn't more throws be expected?

(B) Were catcher throws to the bases not similarly recorded in downstate games?

Year
1860
Item
1860.91
Edit

1861.1 Chadwick Tries to Start Richmond VA Team, but the Civil War Intervenes

Tags:

Civil War

Location:

US South

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Bill Hicklin notes (email of Feb 4, 2016) that "Chadwick visited his wife's family frequently and was disappointed that, as of the verge of the Civil War, there appeared to be no base ball clubs there at all."

Sources:

Ward, Geoffrey C., and Ken Burns, Baseball: An Illustrated History [Knopf, 1994], p.12, no ref given. 

John Thorn, email of 2/10/2008, suggests that Beadle may have more detail.

Schiff, Millen, and Kirsch also cite Chadwick's attempt, but do not give a clear date, or a source.

Query:

Is there a primary source for this claim?

Year
1861
Item
1861.1
Edit

1861.4 Henry Chadwick Links Base Ball to Rounders - But It's More "Scientific"

Game:

Rounders

"The game of base ball is, as our readers are for the most part aware, an American game exclusively, as now played, although a game somewhat similar has been played in England for many years, called 'rounders,' but which is played more after the style of the Massachusetts game. New York, however, justly lays claim to being the originators of what is termed the American Game, which has been so improved in all its essential points by them, and it scientific points so added to, that it does not stand second to either [rounders or the Mass game?] in its innate excellencies, or interesting phrases, to any national game in any country in the world, and is every way adapted to the tastes of all who love athletic exercises in the country." 

Sources:

Chadwick article in The New York Clipper (October 26, 1861). 

Comment:

This is an excerpt from a Hoboken game account.

Query:

"interesting phrases"?

Year
1861
Item
1861.4
Edit

1861.9 Buckeye BBC Forms in Cincinnati OH

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The Buckeye Base Ball Club is the first institution of the kind organized in Cincinnati." 

Sources:

The New York Clipper, April 20, 1861

Query:

does this imply that this club was the first in town to play the New York game?

Year
1861
Item
1861.9
Edit

1861.20 Confederate Soldier's Diary Reports on Town Ball Playing, 1861-1863

Location:

US South

Game:

Town Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

December 1861 (Texas?): "There is nothing unusual transpiring in Camp. The boys are passing the time playing Town-Ball."

January 1862 (Texas?): "All rocking along finely, Boys playing Town-Ball"

March 1863 (USA prison camp, IL?): The Rebels have at last found something to employ both mind and body; as the parade ground has dried up considerably in the past few days, Town Ball is in full blast, and it is a blessing for the men."

March 1863 (USA prison camp, IL?): "Raining this morning, which will interfere with ball playing, but the manufacture of rings 'goes bravely on,' and I might say receives a fresh impetus by the failure of the 'Town-ball' business."

 

Sources:

W. W. Heartsill, Fourteen Hundred and 91 Days in the Confederate Army: A Journal Kept by W. W. Heartsill: Day-by-Day, of the W. P. Lane (Texas) Rangers, from April 19th 1861 to May 20th 1865. Submitted by Jeff Kittel, 5/12/09. Available online at The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries Database, at http://solomon.cwld.alexanderstreet.com/. PBall file: CW10.

Comment:

Heartsill joined Lane's Texas Rangers early in the War at age 21. He was taken prisoner in Arkansas in early 1862, and exchanged for Union prisoners in April 1863. He then joined Bragg's Army in Tennessee, and was assigned to a unit put in charge of a Texas prison camp of Union soldiers. There are no references to ballplaying after 1863.

Query:

manufacture of rings?

POWs commonly fashioned hair or bone rings to while away the time [ba].

Year
1861
Item
1861.20
Edit

1861.26 Confederate Base Ball Players Finds Field “Too Boggy” in VA

Tags:

Civil War

“Confederate troops played townball as well as more modern versions of the game in their army camps. In November 1861 the Charleston Mercury of South Carolina reported that Confederate troops were stuck in soggy camps near Centreville, Fairfax County, [northern] Virginia. Heavy rains created miserably wet conditions so that ‘even the base ball players find the green sward in front of the camp, too boggy for their accustomed sport.’” Centreville is adjacent to Manassas/Bull Run. 40,000 Confederate troops under Gen. Johnson had winter quarters there [the town’s population had been 220] in 1861/62.

Source: Charleston Mercury, November 4, 1861, page. 4, column 5. Mentioned without citation in Kirsch, Baseball in Blue and Gray (Princeton U, 2003), page 39.

Differences from Modern Baseball: 6
Query:

Duplicate of 1861.18?

Year
1861
Item
1861.26
External
6
Edit
Source Text

1861.27 Second NJ 27, First NJ 10, in Virginia Camp

Location:

VA

Age of Players:

Adult

A six-inning game of base ball was played at Camp Seminary on Saturday November 16, 1861. The 2nd NJ challenged the 1st NJ and prevailed. A member of the 2nd NJ sent a short report and box to the Newark newspaper.

Source: “A Game of Ball in the Camp,” Newark Daily Advertiser, November 20 1861. Facsimile submitted by John Zinn, 3/10/09. Camp Seminary was located near Fairfax Seminary in Alexandria VA, near Washington DC.

Differences from Modern Baseball: 7
Query:

Duplicate of 1861.16?

Year
1861
Item
1861.27
External
7
Edit

1861.30 Confederate Soldier’s Diary Reports on Town Ball Playing, 1861-1863

December 1861 (Texas?): “There is nothing unusual transpiring in Camp. The boys are passing the time playing Town-Ball.”

January 1862 (Texas?): “All rocking along finely, Boys playing Town-Ball”

March 1863 (USA prison camp, IL?): The Rebels have at last found something to employ both mind and body; as the parade ground has dried up considerably in the past few days, Town Ball is in full blast, and it is a blessing for the men.”

March 1863 (USA prison camp, IL?): “Raining this morning, which will interfere with ball playing, but the manufacture of rings ‘goes bravely on,’ and I might say receives a fresh impetus by the failure of the ‘Town-ball’ business.”

Source: W. W. Heartsill, Fourteen Hundred and 91 Days in the Confederate Army: A Journal Kept by W. W. Heartsill: Day-by-Day, of the W. P. Lane (Texas) Rangers, from April 19th 1861 to May 20th 1865. Submitted by Jeff Kittel, 5/12/09. Available online at The Ameridcan Civil War: Letters and Diaries Database, at http://solomon.cwld.alexanderstreet.com/. Heartsill joined Lane’s Texas Rangers early in the War at age 21. He was taken prisoner in Arkansas in early 1862, and exchanged for Union prisoners in April 1863. He then joined Bragg’s Army in Tennessee, and assigned to a unit put in charge of a Texas prison camp of Union soldiers. There are no references to ballplaying after 1863. Query: “manufacture of rings?”

Differences from Modern Baseball: 10
Query:

Duplicate of 1861.20?

Year
1861
Item
1861.30
External
10
Edit
Source Text

1861.36 Confederate Soldier Reports “Several Kinds of Ball”

Location:

KY

Age of Players:

Adult

“The troops enjoyed a variety of sports, ‘some of which are harder than any work I ever saw,’ observed a Louisiana soldier at Columbus. Among them were footraces, several kinds of ball, wrestling, climbing trees and a herculean game in which a cannonball was hurled into one of nine holes in the ground.”

Larry J. Daniel, Soldiering in the Army of the Tennessee: A Portrait of Life in a Confederate Army (U of North Carolina Press, 1991), page 90. Daniel evidently attributes this to the New Orleans Crescent, October 29, 1861. He does not give the location or regiment involved. Note: can we locate the article? There was a juvenile English game called None Holes.

Differences from Modern Baseball: 151
Query:

This was Columbus, KY where several LA units were stationed.

Year
1861
Item
1861.36
External
151
Edit

1862.4 State Championship Base Ball Game in PA

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Base Ball Match. - A grand base ball match will take place at the St. George's Cricket Ground, near Camac's Wood, for the championship of Pennsylvania, between the 'Olympic' and 'Athletic' Clubs, on next Saturday."

The New York Sunday Mercury reported on Oct. 12 that the Olympic won, 19-18, and that it was the first of a best two-of-three match.   

Sources:

Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 1862. Accessed via subscription search May 20, 2009. 

Query:

On what authority did it convey championship status?

Year
1862
Item
1862.4
Edit

1862.13 Government Survey: Athletic Games Forestall Woes of Soldiers Gambling

Age of Players:

Adult

After examining nearly 200 regiments, the Sanitary Commission [it resembled today's Red Cross] was reported to have found that "in forty-two regiments, systematic athletic recreations (foot ball, base ball, &c) were general. In one hundred and fifty-six, there were none. Where there were none, card playing and other indoor games took their place. This invited gambling abuses, it was inferred.

 

Sources:

"War Miscellanies. Interesting Army Statistics," Springfield [MA] Republican, January 25, 1862. Accessed via Genealogybank, 5/21/09. PBall file: CW13.

Query:

is it worth inspecting the report itself in search of further detail? It is not available online in May 2009. 

Year
1862
Item
1862.13
Edit

1862.22 Crowd of 40,000 Said to Watch Christmas Day Game on SC Coast

Location:

South Carolina

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"In Hilton Head, South Carolina, on Christmas Day in 1862, recalled Colonel A. G. Mills in 1923, his regiment, the 165th New York Infantry, Second Duryea's Zouaves, [engaged a?] picked nine from the other New York regiments in that vicinity.' Supposedly, the game was cheered on by a congregation of 40,000!" Mills eventually served as President of the National League and chair of the Mills Commission on the origins of baseball.

 

Sources:

Patricia Millen, From Pastime to Passion: Baseball and the Civil War (Heritage Books, 2001), pp 21-22. Millen cites A. G. Mills, "The Evening World's Baseball Panorama." Mills Papers, Giamatti Center, Baseball HOF. The account also appears in A. Spalding, Americas' National Game (American Sports Publishing, 1911), pp 95.96.  PBall file -- CW-30

Query:

Is this crowd estimate reasonable? Are other contemporary or reflective accounts available?

The crowd estimate is exaggerated. There weren't anywhere near 40,000 troops on the island at that time. [ba]

Year
1862
Item
1862.22
Edit

1862.23 Soldiers' Christmas in Virginia - Ballplaying "on Many a Hillside"

Location:

Virginia

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

A correspondent near Fredericksburg VA told Philadelphia readers about "orders from head-quarters that Christmas day should be observed as a day or recreation. The men gladly availed themselves of this privilege, and on many a hill-side might be seen parties playing at ball, or busy at work dragging Christmas-trees to the quarters . . . ."

The article also reported that "Brown cricket jackets are now issued to the men instead of the brown blouses formerly issued. These jackets make a very comfortable garment . . . but they are very unmilitary-looking." 

Sources:

"Christmas in the Army," Philadelphia Inquirer, December 29, 1862. Accessed via Genealogybank, 5/21/09.  PBall file CW-31.

Query:

was a PA regiment involved?

Year
1862
Item
1862.23
Edit

1862c.56 Dime Admission Free Adopted at More Sites

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

In 1862, a ten-cent admission fee is reported at the Union Grounds.  In 1864, the some fee provided entry at the Capitoline Grounds. 

Sources:

Sources?

Query:

Are these the only two other known collection of entry fees in the middle 1860s?

Circa
1862
Item
1862c.56
Edit

1862.57 Games Between NY and MA Regiments Punctuated by Artillery

Location:

VA

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Union General George McClellan

Members of the Massachusetts 22nd Regiment and the NY 14th squared off for two matches on April 15, 1862, in the vicinity of active fire, and "in sight of the enemy’s breastworks mounted with heavy 64’s and 32’s."  A discarded boot supplied material for a new cover for the game ball.  Union General McClellan passed by while play was in progress.

Additional details are provided in the supplemental text, below.

Sources:

Rochester Union and Advertiser, April 24, 1862.

Comment:

Undoubtedly, Game played near Yorktown, VA

Query:

 

 

Year
1862
Item
1862.57
Edit
Source Text

1862.58 2nd Mass Troops Beat Wisconsin Regiment, 75 to 7

Age of Players:

Adult

The men of the Wisconsin 3d challenged our men to a game of base ball & this afternoon it was played & at the end the tally stood 75 for our side & 7 for theirs so I hardly think they will care to play a return match; we have some of the best players of quite a celebrated ball club from Medway & some of the play was admirable.

Sources:

Letter from Captain Richard Cary, 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, May 3, 1862.  Reported in The Beehive, the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society, April 5, 2012.

Comment:

Protoball wonders if the Mass Game was in fact unfamiliar in WI.

Medway was a leading MA-rules club before the War.

Query:

Do we know the location of these Regiments in May 1862?  Who was Captain Cary writing to?

Year
1862
Item
1862.58
Edit

1863.1 Ballplaying Peaks in the Civil War Camps

Location:

VA

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "[In April 1863] the Third Corps and the Sixth Corps baseball teams met near White Oak Church, Virginia, to play for the championship of the Army of the Potomac."

[B] "Ballplaying in the Civil War Camps increased rapidly during the War, reaching a peak of 82 known games in April 1863 -- while the troops still remained in their winter camps.  Base ball was by a large margin the game of choice among soldiers, but wicket, cricket, and the Massachusetts game were occasionally played.  Play was much more common in the winter camps than near the battle fronts."

[C] Note: In August 2013 Civil War scholar Bruce Allardice added this context to the recollected Army-wide "championship game":

"The pitcher for the winning team was Lt. James Alexander Linen (1840-1918) of the 26th NJ, formerly of the Newark Eureka BBC. Linen later headed the bank, hence the mention in the book. In 1865 Linen organized the Wyoming BBC of Scranton, which changed its name to the Scranton BBC the next year. The 26th NJ was a Newark outfit, and a contemporary Newark newspaper says that many members of the prewar Eurekas and Adriatics of that town had joined the 26th. The 26th was in the Sixth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, stationed at/near White Oak Church near Fredericksburg, VA. April 1863, the army was in camp.  The book says Linen played against Charlie Walker a former catcher of the Newark Adriatics who was now catcher for the "Third Corps" club.

"With all that being said, in my opinion the clubs that played this game weren't 'corps' clubs, but rather regimental and/or brigade clubs that by their play against other regiments/brigades claimed the Third and Sixth Corps championships.

"Steinke's "Scranton", page 44, has a line drawing and long article on Linen which mentions this game. See also the "New York Clipper" website, which has a photo of Linen."

Sources:

[A] History.  The First National Bank of Scranton, PA (Scranton, 1906), page 37.  This is, at this time (2011),  the only known reference to championship games in the warring armies.

As described in Patricia Millen, On the Battlefield, the New York Game Takes Hold, 1861-1865, Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 149-152.

[B] Larry McCray, Ballplaying in Civil War Camps.

[C]  Bruce Allardice, email to Protoball of August, 2013.

[D] (((add Steinke ref and Clipper url here?)))

 

 

Warning:

Note Civil War historian Bruce Allardice's caveat, above:  "In my opinion the clubs that played weren't 'corps' clubs, but rather regimental or brigade clubs that by their play other regiments/brigades claimed the Third and Sixth Corps championships."

Query:

Is it possible that a collection of trophy balls, at the Hall of Fame or elsewhere, would provide more evidence of the prevalence of base ball in the Civil War?

Year
1863
Item
1863.1
Edit

1863.9 In Coastal SC: Union Men Played Ball “In Almost Every Camp”

Location:

South Carolina

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The US had captured the Sea Island area of SC in 1861, and a group of anti-slavery advocates from Massachusetts ventured south to help educate former slaves in the region. In a letter home from “H.W.,” described as the sister of a Harvard man just out of college, wrote about seeing, on March 3, 1863, what she called “real war camps.” She listed daily work duties, and added, “in almost every camp we saw some men playing ball.” It appears the trip’s objective was “the 24th,” which seems to have been the 24th MA, where a cousin James was to be found.

Sources:

Elizabeth Ware Pearson, Letters from Port Royal Written at the Time of the Civil War (W. B. Clarke, Boston, 1906), page 162. Accessed 6/7/09 on Google Books via “from port royal” search. Port Royal is about 15 miles north of Holton Head SC and about 40 miles NE of Savannah GA.

Differences from Modern Baseball: 42
Query:

Note: can we determine what Union Army units were deployed to Port Royal and the Sea Islands in early 1863?

Year
1863
Item
1863.9
External
42
Edit

1863.58 Ballplaying on the Lines at the Siege of Vicksburg

Location:

Mississippi

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

“The civil war, however, arrested the development of the new game [base ball] for a time. It was played during the war in camps all over the south. Regiments and companies having their teams. Sergeant Dryden, of an Iowa regiment, relates that during the long waits in the trenches before Vicksburg, the Union and Confederate soldiers jokingly challenged each other to play baseball, and that during the brief truces the men of his company and the enemy played catch from line to line.

“’We were throwing and catching the ball belonging to our company ne day,’ he relates, ‘when firing commenced afresh and the men dived into their holes. There was a big fellow named Holleran who, after we got to cover, wanted to go over and whip the ‘Johnny Reb’ who hd stolen our ball. The next morning during a lull in the firing, that ‘Reb’ yelled to us and in a minute the baseball came flying over the works, so we played a game on our next relief.’”

The siege of Vicksburg MS occurred from late May to July 4 1863.  Many Iowa regiments participated.

Sources:

J. Evers and H. Fullerton, Touching Second: The Science of Baseball (Reilly and Britton, Chicago, 1910), pages 21-22. Accessed 6/28 on Google Books via “touching second” search. This book provides no source for the Dryden passage.

Differences from Modern Baseball: 136
Query:

Note: can we locate an original source for the Dryden data?

I can't find a mention of this in any online newspaper. A Carlton Dryden, Sgt. in the 10th Iowa, is the likeliest candidate for the "Sgt. Dryden" mentioned.

Year
1863
Item
1863.58
External
136
Edit

1864.6 Officers in 30th MA Play Base Ball In February 1864

Location:

Louisiana

Age of Players:

Adult

“February 12, 1864. Officers played a game of base ball this afternoon.”

 

Sources:

H.W. Howe “Diary of Henry Warren Howe, February 1864,” Passages from the Life of Henry Warren Howe ( Courier-Citizen, 1899), page 61. Provided by Jeff Kittel, 2009. 

See https://archive.org/details/passagesfromlife00inhowe.&nbsp;

Differences from Modern Baseball: 91
Comment:

The 30th was stationed at Franklin, Louisiana at this time [Noted by Bruce Allardice]. Franklin is about 100 miles west of New Orleans, a few miles from the Gulf of Mexico. 

Note: As of June 2018, Joshua Bucchioni is doing research on the 30th Massachusetts.  See the Supplemental Text for some background on the regiment.

Query:

Do we the role of the 30th in February 1864?  

Are there any indications as to whether NY or MA or other game rules were employed?

Year
1864
Item
1864.6
External
91
Edit
Source Text

1864.53 General Hooker's Players "Pretty Badly Beat", 70-11

Location:

TN

Age of Players:

Adult

A: The match game of base ball between the staff, and orderlies of Gen. Hooker, and thirteen players from our regiment came off this forenoon, the result was in favor of our regiment, the innings stood seventy to eleven, pretty badly beat wasn't they.  They will play another game this afternoon.  Gen. Hooker ordered Col. Wood to postpone brigade drill, that they might play.

 

B:Nothing has been stirring for the last week except for ball playing and one brigade drill.  We play ball about all the time now.  We, or some of the officers, have received a challenge from Gen'l Hooker's staff and escort to play a match.  Fourteen players have been selected to play against them, amongst whom is ELE< the letter writer>.  Four of them are commissioned officers, the rest enlisted men.  We have also had a challenge from the one hundred and thirty.sixth New York, bit I don't know if it will be played or not.

 

C: Major Lawrence with a skillful nine selected from Hooker's body guard, challenged the [33rd MA] regiment to match them in a manly game of base ball, and his nine got worsted.  The New York regiment threw down the glove with a like result.  The champion Sharon [MA] boys knew a thing or two about base ball, which they had learned in contests with the laurelled Massapoags at home. 

Sources:

A: Letter of April 13, 1864 by Lt. Thomas Howland.  Obtained via Massachusetts Historical Society, August 2015.

B: Letter home by E. L. Edes, April 1864. For full letter, see Supplemental Text, below.

C: A. B. Underwood, Thirty-Third Mass. Infantry Regiment, 1862 - 1865 (A. Williams and Co., Boston, 1881, page 199.  Search string: <kershaw had a smart>. 

 

Comment:

It seems likely that these games were played under Mass game rules.

General Sherman's winter camp was outside Chattanooga, and his march into GA started in the beginning of May 1864.

 

 

Query:

The Massapoag Club of Sharon MA fielded 10-14 players for its pre-war games, which were subject to Massachusetts rules.  Why would the regimental history, 17 years later, refer to "nines"? 

Year
1864
Item
1864.53
Edit
Source Text

1864.58 Early Use of "Battery" As Pitcher-Catcher Pairing

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[Active vs. Eureka 7/24/1864]  "As regards the pitching, 'Walker's battery' proved to be very effective in aiding to achieve the result..."  


from Richard Hershberger's 19CBB posting, September 21, 2017: "Walker was the pitcher for the Actives.  I take the form 'Walker's battery' to be a riff off the military usage of the day of naming a unit by its commander, e.g. "Sykes' Division."  Walker here is the commander of the battery, which consists of himself and Rooney, the catcher."





 

 

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury July 10, 1864

 

 

Comment:

Note:  

A few days earlier, Richard had noticed the use of "battery" in a July 26 game report:  see Supplementary Text, below.

The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, page 86, citing the Chadwick Scrapbooks, had the first use of "battery" as 1868 (third edition).

 

 

 

Query:

Is the reported date correct?  A July 24 match was reported on July 10? 

Year
1864
Item
1864.58
Edit
Source Text

1865.8 First Integrated (Adult) Club Takes the Field?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

Luther B. Askin of Florence, MA (a hamlet of fewer than 1500 souls lying about 2 miles W of Northampton and about 90 miles W of Boston) is thought to be the first adult of African lineage to play on an integrated team in a standard match game.  The first baseman is listed in box-scores of the first 13 matches played by the Florence Eagles Club in 1865.

Sources:

Brian Turner, "America's Earliest Integrated Team?" National Pastime,Number 22 (2002), pages 81-90.

Brian Turner (email to Protoball, 2/1/2014), has supplementary data on early integrated play, and he reports that the 1865 game evidently remains the earliest known case of integrated adult play in a standard game.  

Comment:

Florence is recalled as one of the centers of Anti-Slavery activism in those times. The next earliest known instance of integration occurred in 1869 in Oberlin, OH, also a center of Anti-Slavery activism (see Ryczek, When Johnny Came Sliding Home, 1998, page 102).  Further instances of early integration might be found in communities that held similar views.

Brian notes in 2014 that juvenile clubs were apparently less unlikely to engage in integrated play, even prior to the Civil War. The son of Frederick Douglass, for instance, is known to have played on a white junior club in Rochester NY in 1859.  Luther Askin also played on such juvenile teams prior to the Civil War.

Query:

Have any earlier instances of integrated adult clubs arisen in recent years?

Year
1865
Item
1865.8
Edit

1866.5 Modern Game Compared to Traditional Town Ball in IL

"Base Ball resembles our old-fashioned favorite game of Town Ball sufficiently to naturalize it very quickly. It is governed by somewhat elaborate rules, but the practice is quite simple.  Nine persons on a side, including the Captains, play it.  Four bases are placed ninety feet apart, in the figure of a diamond. The Batsman, Ball Pitcher, and one Catcher, take the same position as in Town Ball.  Of the outside, besides the Pitcher and Catcher, one is posted at each base, one near the Pitcher, called the “Short Stop,”—whose duty is the same as the others in the field—to stop the ball.  The Innings take the bat in rotation, as in Town Ball,—and are called by the Scorer.  The ball is pitched, not thrown to them—a distance of fifty feet.  The Batsman is permitted to strike at three “fair” balls, without danger of being put out by a catch, but hit or miss, must run at the third “fair” ball.  He may "tip" or hit a foul.

The full article, with commentary from finder Richard Hershberger, is found below in the Supplemental Text section.

 

Sources:

Illinois State Journal, May 10, 1866.

Query:

() Any idea why this morsel hadn't turned up before 2014?

() By 1860, the modern game seems well-established in Chicago -- was it still unfamiliar elsewhere in IL as late as 1866? 

() The writer seems unfamiliar with the modern force-out rule; wasn't that introduced prior in base ball prior to 1866?

() Is it possible that the absence of a comment about the modern no-plugging rule means that local town ball already used a no-plugging rule?

() Many throwback articles mention that the new ball is harder than traditional balls.  Could local town ball have already employed hard balls?

Year
1866
Item
1866.5
Edit
Source Text

1866.6 First Known Table-top Base Ball Game Appears

Age of Players:

Adult

 

John Thorn writes:

"Who is the Father of Fantasy Baseball? Most today will answer Dan Okrent or Glen Waggoner, but let me propose Francis C. Sebring, the inventor of the table game of Parlor Base-Ball. In the mid-1860s Sebring was the pitcher (clubs only needed one back then) for the Empire Base Ball Club of New York (and bowler for the Manhattan Cricket Club). At some time around the conclusion of the Civil War, this enterprising resident of Hoboken was riding the ferry to visit an ailing teammate in New York. The idea of making an indoor toy version of baseball came to him during this trip, and over the next year he designed his mechanical table game; sporting papers of 1867 carried ads for his “Parlor Base-Ball” and the December 8, 1866, issue of Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly carried a woodcut of young and old alike playing the game. A few weeks earlier, on November 24, Wilkes' Spirit of the Times had carried the first notice. (In a previous 2011 post I discussed other fantasy-baseball forerunners, from Chief Zimmer's game to Ethan Allen's:  http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/10/17/fathers-of-fantasy-baseball/)

 

 

Sources:

Our Game posting, June 2, 2014; see -- http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2014/06/02/first-baseball-table-game/.  An illustrated advertisement for Parlor Base-Ball had appeared in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, December 8, 1866.

Comment:

The game had spring-loaded mechanisms for delivering a one-cent piece from a pitcher to a batter and by a batter into a field with cavities: "a pinball machine is not very different," John observes.

For a short history of table-top games, see

baseballgames.­dreamhosters.­com/­BbHistory.­htm 

 

 

 

Query:

 

[] are there other reliable published sources of the evolution of table-top games, besides John's 2011 blog?

[] is anyone known to be attempting to reconstruct and play this game, or others?

[] can we determine what game events are given in the field of this apparatus?

 

 

 

Year
1866
Item
1866.6
Edit

1866.7 Twienty-Five Cent Admission Fees Appear

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "Owing to his heavy expenditures and with a laudable desire to keep out the "rowdy element" that has so often disgraced our base ball fields, Mr. Cammyer. has changed, or rather will change, the price of admission to twenty-five cents for a single ticket." 

[B] (At) "The Athletic grounds...The tariff of admission was raised from 10 to 25 cents to keep the boys out, for our juveniles are as badly brought up that they are the foremost in creating disturbances at exciting ball matches."

[C] "

     The excessively large crowds of people who have been attracted to witness the championship-games this fall, and the profits arising therefrom which have been realized by the parties having control of inclosed grounds, have led to evils which, if allowed to pass unnoticed, will ere long bring baseball into great disrepute, lower the high standard of our national game, and place the fraternity in the hands of the gambling-community.
     The National Association does not recognize championship-matches or any such title as the "champion club," and the only legitimate object of every contest is the simple trophy of the ball. Of late, we regret to state, clubs have been allured into playing "big matches" for "gate-money", or a share of the receipts for admission to inclosed grounds. Proprietors of inclosed grounds have never made a greater mistake for their own interests, or aimed a more severe blow at the welfare of the game, than when they were led into consenting to share their legitimate profits with the clubs occupying their grounds or desiring to play contests upon them. Every lover of the game, and ever may who does not make ball-playing a "profession" or a business, is "down upon" this playing ball for gate-money. All those who have invested capital in inclosed ballgrounds, and who thereby furnish fair fields and respectable localities for games, besides special facilities for clubs, are fully entitled to every cent of their receipts. And every club who deems it advisable for the permanence of their organization to purchase or lease land and inclose a ground for their won use, are equally entitled to any profits legitimately derived from their investments. But for clubs to go round from one party to another, soliciting alms in the way of a share of receipts, is about the smallest kind of business an independent club can be engaged in. Hitherto first-class matches have been enjoyed on the inclosed ground a Brooklyn, for the small sum of ten cents admission, an amount none object to, and on such an occasion as the match of October 8, when tens of thousands of spectators seek to occupy a position on a field that will not accommodate half who desire admission; and extra charge for the purpose of having an orderly assemblage is excusable; but this charging of 25 cents admission, because the proprietors of the grounds are forced into sharing receipts with money-making clubs, is something we hope to see the baseball public put a stop to, and that by staying away from such matches. This evil will work its own cure, however. Already its effect has been to place the Atlantic and the Athletic clubs in the position of being suspected of the dishonorable deed of "throwing" a game in order to have the opportunity of sharing the profits of a third match. The thing is about played out already. It may safely be put down that every match where more than the regular 10 cents admission is charged is a match got up for the benefit of the two clubs playing, and therefore is to be let alone and not patronized."
Sources:

[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 14, 1866

[B] New York Tribune, October 1, 1866

[C] New York Sunday Mercury, October 28, 1866

Query:

 

 

Year
1866
Item
1866.7
Edit

1866.9 New England Association Forms , Intends to "Ignore the New York Game"

Age of Players:

Adult

"Convention of Base Ball Players --

"A convention of delegates from clubs that play the New England game, was held at the Parker House this morning, to organize a 'New England Association,' which shall ignore the New York game.  Twenty gentlemen were present, and were presided over by Mr. Richard Parks of Stoneham, with Mr. C. A. Brown as Secretary.  The clubs represented were:

"Excelsior of Upton, Wyoma of Lynn, Liberty of Danvers, Alpha of Ashland, Active of Salem, Wenuchess of Lynn, Union of Danvers, Warren of South Danvers, Warren of Randolph, Peabody of Danvers, and Kearsarge of Stoneham.

"The association was duly formed, and the following officers were chosen to serve till next April:

"Daniel A.Caskin, of Danvers, President; J. Albert Parker, of Ashland, and William Kinsley, of Randolph, Vice Presidents; Richard Park [sic], of Stoneham, Secretary; Moses Kimball, of Danvers, Treasurer.

"The constitution of the Massachusetts Club [sic] was taken as a basis, and all desirable alterations made in it, after which the meeting adjourned till next April." 

 

 

Sources:

 

Boston Traveler, September 15, 1866.  Note: In his article on the Kearsarge Club in Base Ball Founders (McFarland, 2013 -- pages 304-307), Peter Morris cites two other sources of this event: Boston Daily Advertiser, September 17, 1866, and Springfield Republican, September 18,1866, page 4.

Query:

[] Was there actually a single "Massachusetts Club" constitution in 1866 to draw from?  Did it have the same playing rules as the New England rules adopted in 1858?

[] Richard "Parks" or Richard "Park"?

[] Do we have records of these 11 clubs playing in 1866, or earlier?

[] "Wenuchess" Club? Peter Morris' guess is "Wencehuse"

 

Year
1866
Item
1866.9
Edit

1866.10 Throwback Game of Cat-and-Dog Seen in Pittsburgh

Age of Players:

Adult

"Cat and Dog -- An interesting trial of skill at this old time game was played at Pittsburgh Pa., on the 5th inst., between the Athletics, of South Pittsburgh, and the Enterprise of Mt. Washington.  The game was witnessed by a large crowd of ladies and gentlemen.

[The printed box score shows three players on each side, a pitcher-catcher and two fielders.  The result was the Athletics, 180 "measures" and the Enterprise 120 measures.  There is no indication of the use of innings, side-out rule, or fly rule]

[This spare account leaves the impression of a one-time throwback demonstration.]

 

Sources:

New York Clipper, 15 September 1866.

Pittsburgh Commercial, September 6, 1866.

Query:

Protoball would welcome input on how the rules of this game differed, if at all, from other games using "cat" in their names.

Year
1866
Item
1866.10
Edit

1866.11 California Clubs Hold Conventions, View Championship Games

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"In 1866 . . . about a half dozen California baseball clubs sent representatives to first Pacific Base Ball Convention in san Francisco.  This was primarily a San Francisco affair; only one team, the Live Oaks from Oakland, came from outside the city. This gathering of baseball tribes sought to standardize rules and organize a local championship."

A second SF convention was held the following year, and "twenty-five clubs from as far away as San Jose attended the meeting.  One account claims that one hundred clubs" attended.     

Sources:

P. Zingg and M. Medeiros, Runs, Hits, and an Era: The Pacific Coast League, 1903-1958 (University of Illinois Press, Chicago, 1994), page 2.  Cited in Kevin Nelson, The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball (California Historical Society Press, San Francisco, 2004), page 12.

Comment:

Is there an indication of what standardization was needed, and whether rules were discussed or adopted that wee at variance with New York rules?

Query:

Can we determine what original sources Zingg and Medeiros used?

Year
1866
Item
1866.11
Edit

1867.1 New York and Philly Colored Clubs Hold Championship -- Philly Win Is Disputed

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

From the New York Sunday Mercury, October 6, 1867:

 THE COLORED CHAMPIONSHIP – The contest for the championship of the colored clubs played on October 3, on Satellite grounds, Brooklyn, attracted the largest crowd of spectators seen in the grounds this season, half of whom were white people. The Philadelphians brought on a pretty rough crowd, one of them being arrested for insulting the reporters. They also refused to have a Brooklyn umpire, and insisted upon an incompetent fellow’s acting whose decisions led to disputes in every inning. The Excelsiors took the lead from the start, and in the sixth inning led by a score of 37 to 24. But in the seventh inning the Brooklyn party pulled up and were rapidly gaining ground, when the Philadelphians refused to play further on account of the darkness. A row then prevailed.

The following particulars, as far as the reporters could record the contest, the black members of the organization imitating their white brethren in betting and partisan rancor which resulted from it:

 EXCELSIOR [Philadelphia]: Price, 3b; Scott, c; Francis, 2b; Clark, p; Glasgow, 1b; Irons, cf; Hutchinson, lf; Brister, rf; Bracy, ss.

 UNIQUE [Brooklyn]: Morse, cf; Fairman, p; H. Mobley, c; Peterson, 1b; Anderson, 2b; Bowman, 3b; D. Mobley, ss; Farmer, lf; Bunce, rf.

Excelsior – 42 Unique – 37 (7 innings)

 Umpire: Mr. Patterson of the Bachelor Club of Albany

Scorers: Messrs. Jewell (Unique) and Auter (Ecelsiors)

---

In the same edition:

A GRAND DISPLAY BY THE COLORED CLUBS

The baseball organization among the colored population of Brooklyn, are in a fever of excitement over the advent of the celebrated champion Excelsior Club of Philadelphia, which colored nine will visit Brooklyn on October 3 to play two grand matches with the Eastern and Western Districts, the games being announced to come off on the Satellite Grounds on October 3rd and 4th. These organizations are composed of very respectable colored people well-to-do in this world, and the several nines of the three clubs include many first-class players. The visitors will receive due attention from their colored brethren of Brooklyn: and we trust, for the good name of the fraternity, that none of the “white trash” who disgrace white clubs, by following and bawling for them will be allowed to mar the pleasure of their social colored gathering.

 ---

 Sunday Mercury, September 29, 1867: 

CONTEST BETWEEN COLORED CLUBS

Arrangements  have been made between the Excelsiors, of Philadelphia, and two Brooklyn clubs, all colored, to play two games for the colored championship of the United States at Satellite grounds, on the 3rd and 4th of October. We are informed that the contending clubs play a first-class game, and from the novelty of such an event colored clubs playing on an inclosed (sic) ground will excite considerable interest and draw a large crowd.   

---

New York Clipper, October 19, 1867

EXCELSIOR VS. UNIQUE

 

The Excelsior Club of Philadelphia and the Unique Club of Brooklyn, composed of American citizens of African (de)scent, played a game at the Satellite Ground, Williamsburgh, on Thursday, October 3d. The affair was decidedly unique, and afforded considerable merriment to several hundred of the “white trash” of this city and Brooklyn. The game was a “Comedy of Errors” from beginning to end, and the decisions of the umpire – a gentlemanly looking light-colored party from the Batchelor Club of Albany – excelled anything ever witnessed on the ball field. Disputes between the players occurred every few minutes and the game finally ended in a row. At 5 ½ o’clock, while the Brooklyn club was at the bat, with every prospect of winning the game, the Excelsiors, profiting by the examples set them by their white brothers, declared that it was too “dark” to continue the game, and the umpire called it and awarded the ball to the Philadelphians. Confusion worse confounded reigned supreme for full an hour after this decision, and the prospect seemed pretty fair at one time for a riot, but the police, who were present in large force, kept matters pretty quiet, and the crowd finally dispersed…

 

 

                  

Sources:

<em>New York Sunday Mercury, </em>September 29, 1867 and October 6, 1867

New York Clipper, October 19, 1867

A shorter account appeared in New York Sunday Dispatch, October 6, 1867

See also Irv Goldberg, "Put on Your Coats, Put on Your Coats, Thas All!," in Inventing Baseball: the 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 38-59.

Comment:

Was the October 4th game played between these African American clubs?

Query:

Is this game properly thought of as a national championship?

Year
1867
Item
1867.1
Edit

1867.5 Morrisania Club Takes 1867 Championship, 14-13

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

The Union Club of Morrisania won the 1867 Championship, winning its second game of the series, 14-13, over the Atlantic Club. Charlie Pabor is the winning pitcher.  Akin at shortstop and Austin in center field make spectacular fielding plays.

Sources:

Gregory Christiano, Baseball in the Bronx, Before the Yankees (PublishAmerica, 2013), page 75.  Original sources to be supplied.

Query:

Can we add something about the first game, and the sites of each game?  A bit more about interim game scoring?

Year
1867
Item
1867.5
Edit

1867.6 Batters' "Hits" First Appear in a Game Report

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

In the first issue of The Ball Players’ Chronicle, edited by Henry Chadwick, a game account of the “Championship of New England” between the Harvard College Club and the Lowell Club of Boston featured a box score that included a list of the number of “Bases Made on Hits” by each player. This was the first instance of player’s hit totals being tracked in a game.

 

 

 

Sources:

The Ball Players' Chronicle (New York City, NY), 6 June 1867: p. 2. 

Comment:

Note: for a 1916 account of the history of the "hit," see the supplemental text below.

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/

Query:

Do we know if Hits were defined in about the way we would define them today?

Year
1867
Item
1867.6
Edit
Source Text

1867.16 Baseball's Resemblance to English Rounders Discussed

Age of Players:

Adult

 "I have mentioned base-ball as one of our principal out-door games. We play cricket, but base-ball is to our lads what cricket is to yours. It is the English ball game “rounders,” but developed into something much more interesting and important. It is preferred to cricket, because the play is more varied and less formal; but nevertheless it has become a very formidable and solemn game."  Sydney Morning Herald, April 11, 1867, quoting the London Spectator

 

 

Sources:

[from “Yankee Pastimes” by “A Yankee”],  Sydney Morning Herald April 11, 1867, quoting the London Spectator.

Comment:

Finder Richard Hershberger also notes,  6/3/2016:

The distinction between baseball as a developed version of rounders and baseball as a development from rounders is subtle, but I think it is important.  In the first, baseball/rounders is perceived as a family of closely related games, some more and some less developed.  In the second, baseball is a single game defined by an official set of rules, descended but distinct from rounders.  The former emphasizes the similarities, the latter the differences.  This is a necessary precursor to the later claim that baseball is completely unrelated to rounders.  


This is a late example of the formula that baseball and rounders are the same game, albeit baseball a more developed form.  You can find such statements in the 1850s, but by 1867 the more typical version was that baseball developed from rounders.  Here is English commentary on the [1874] American baseball tourists:


"Baseball is an American modification, and, of course, an improvement of the old English game of rounders..." New York Sunday Mercury, August 16, 1874, quoting the London Post of August 1, 1874

Query:

Is Protoball correct in thinking that the unnamed American's quote had appeared in an earlier "Yankee Pastimes" column in the London Spectator, and was then cited in the Sydney (Australia?) Morning Herald of April 11, 1867?     

Year
1867
Item
1867.16
Edit

1868.1 Elizabeth Cady Stanton describes Female Baseball Game in Peterboro, NY

Tags:

Females

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

 

 

THE LAST SPORTING SENSATION

A FEMALE BASE BALL CLUB AT PETERBORO’ (sic, w/ apostrophe)

 

At Peterboro’, (sic, apostrophe) N. Y. the young ladies, jealous of the healthy sports enjoyed by the more muscular portion of mankind, have organized a base ball club, and have already arrived at a creditable degree of proficiency in play. There are about fifty members belonging to it, from which a playing nine has been chosen headed by Miss Nannie Miller, as captain. This nine have played several games outside the town and away from the gaze of the curious who would naturally crowd around such a beautiful display. Having thus perfected themselves, this nine lately played a public game in the town of Peterboro’ (sic, apostrophe), as may well be supposed, before a large and anxious multitude of spectators.  The natures of the female playing nine are as follows, - Nannie Miller, catcher; Clara Mills, pitcher; Mary Manning, first base; Frank (sic) Richardson, second base; Bertha Powell, third base; Jennie Hand, short stop; Hattie Ferris, left field; Maggie Marshall, right field; Mary Frothingham, centre field.

 

This constitutes the Senior Nine, and on the occasion of their first exhibition they played the Junior Nine of the same club. Their dress consists of short blue and white tunics, reaching to the knees, straw caps, jauntily trimmed, white stockings and stout gaiter shoes, the whole forming a combination that is at once most easy and exceedingly beautiful.  As the two nines came upon the ground it would be hard to tell which one of them had the greatest number of friends present, for loud and continuous cheers and clapping pf hands marked the entrance of either one.

 

Without loss of time Mrs. J. S. Smith was chosen umpire, and Miss Martin and Mrs. Benning as scorers. The penny was flipped to see who should first go to bat, and the Juniors won it. Hattie Harding took up the bat and the remainder of the nine stood ready to follow suit. But alas! Hattie was caught out on a fly, and before her friends had time to make a single score they were sent to the field. From the moment the Seniors went to bat they had things their own way. Notwithstanding the best efforts of the Juniors they would either foul out or knock the ball high, and innings after innings were given up without a run to mark their stay at bat.

 

Bertha Powell gave six runs by outrageous muffs in the third and fourth innings. With this exception, however, the Senior nine acquitted themselves well, and nearly every member showed some particular points of fine play. But the Juniors were sadly beaten and have much to learn yet, especially in the choice of balls to strike at. Mary Sterns played at second base very well, and we shall not be surprised to see her one of the Senior playing nine next year.

 

At the conclusion of the game a number of gentlemen invited both nine to sit down to a fine repast, after discussing which they enjoyed some good singing and participated in a little speech-making, wherein the beautiful sporting belles were complimented and extolled.

 

The score below tells the story of the game, -  [box score]

 

Seniors: Miller, c; Mills p, Manning, 1b; Richardson 2b; Powell, 3b; Hand, ss; Ferris lf; Marshall, rf; Frothingham, cf. Total runs – 27

 

Juniors: Clark, c; Hare, p; Colwell (?), 1b; Sterns, 2b; Dyer, 3b; Lains (?), ss; Pratt, lf; Galluria, rf; Frothingham, cf.  Total runs – 5

 

[no other information, article ends here]

Sources:

New York Clipper, August 29, 1868

Warning:

NOTE: DEB SHATTUCK HAS SUPPLEMENTAL DATA ON THIS EVENT AND WILL BE AMENDING THIS ENTRY ACCORDINGLY IN DECEMBER 2013.

Comment:

Peterboro, NY - if that was the site of the game, is about 25 miles E of Syracuse, and, not that you asked, about 50 miles NW of Cooperstown.

Query:

Did this club form at a ladies' school, a secondary school, a finishing school?  What was the age of the players?

Year
1868
Item
1868.1
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Source Image

1870.4 Union Club of Morrisania Disbands

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"November 1870 -- Morrisania Unions Disband -- players scatter to different clubs. Pabos, Bass and Allison went to Forest City, Cleveland; Gedney, Holdsworth, Shelley, and Martin to Brooklyn to play for the Eckfords, now a professional club; Birdsall will play right field for Boston; Higham to the Mutuals; Simmons and Pinkham to the Chicago White Stockings; Bearman to the Fort Wayne Kekiongas."

(For more on the breakup of the Union Club, see Supplemental Text, below.)

Sources:

Gregory Christiano, Baseball in the Bronx, Before the Yankees (PublishAmerica, 2013), page 77.  Original sources to be supplied.

Query:

Can we add any indication of why the club disbanded?

Year
1870
Item
1870.4
Edit
Source Text

1870.7 Rutherford Hayes Sees Harm to Hearing in Ballplaying

Tags:

Famous, Hazard

Game:

Baseball

Age of Players:

Youth

MY DEAR BOY -- I see by the Journal you are playing base-ball and that you play well.  I am pleased with this.  I like to have my boys enjoy and practice all athletic sports and games, especially riding, towing, hunting, and ball playing.  But I am a little afraid, from [what] Uncle says, that overexertion and excitement in playing baseball will injure your hearing.  Now, you are old enough to judge of this and to regulate your conduct accordingly.  If you find there is any injury you ought to resolve to play only for a limited time -- say an hour or an hour and a half on the same day. . . . We had General Sherman at our house Wednesday evening with a pleasant party."

Sources:

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

This original source is not given here.

Query:

What is the source of the Hayes letter?

Year
1870
Item
1870.7
Edit

1870c.8 Base Ball Comes to Massachusetts Youth

Age of Players:

Youth

"I well remember when baseball made its first appearance in our quiet little community."

[] Charles Sinnott writes that in early childhood "the little boys' ball game was either "Three-old-cats" or "Four-Old Cats," and describes both variations.

[] He recalls that "The game that bore the closest resemblance to our modern baseball was "roundstakes" or "rounders."  In some communities it was know (sic) as "townball."  He recalls this game as marked by the plugging of runners, use a soft ball, featuring stakes or stones as bases, compulsory running -- including for missed third strikes, an absence of foul territory, an absence of called  strikes or  balls, and teams of seven to ten players on a team.  "It was originally an old English game much played in  the colonies."

[] In describing the new game of  base ball, he recalls adjustment to the harder ball ("it seemed to us like playing with a croquet ball"), gloves only worn by the catchers, an umpire who was hit in the eye by a foul tip, fingers "knocked out of joint" by the hard ball, a bloody nose from a missed fly ball, and "that we unanimously pronounced [base ball] superior to our fine old game of roundstakes."

SEE FULL CHAPTER TEXT AT "SUPPLEMENTAL TEXT," BELOW --  

Sources:

 

Chapter 13, "The Coming of Baseball," in When Grandpa Was a Boy: Stories of My Boyhood As Told to My Children and Grandchildren, by Charles Peter Sinnott (four types pages; presumed unpublished; from the Maxwell Library Archives, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater MA).

Comment:

Protoball does not know of other use of "roundstakes" as a predecessor game in the US.

Duxbury MA (1870 population about 2300) is about 35 miles south of Boston.

Sinnott died in 1943.  On the date of his hundredth birthday, in August 1959, his family distributed 100 copies of his boyhood memoirs. 

Query:

[] Is the date "1870c" reasonable for the item?  Sinnott was born in 1859, and writes that he was in his teens when he first saw base ball.  His old-cat games would have come in the mid-1860s.

[] It is presumed that Sinnott stayed in or near his birthplace, Duxbury MA, for the events he writes of.  Is that reasonable?

 

 

Circa
1870
Item
1870c.8
Edit
Source Text

1871.1 Base Ball Reaches River Town of Nauvoo IL

Game:

Base Ball

It is reported that Charles W. Welter and E. H. Reimbold introduced base ball to Nauvoo in 1871, having had played the game previously in New Orleans and St. Louis.  The Nauvoo club later played in tournaments against Carthage, Dallas, and Fort Madison.

Nauvoo IL (2010 pop. about 1100) is about 100 miles E of Peoria on the Mississippi River. and is about 175 miles NW of St. Louis MO.

Sources:

Glenn Cuerden, Nauvoo.(Arcadia, 2006), page 88.  The original source of this information is not given.

Comment:

We recall a claim that the Mormons, who bought and renamed the town in 1839, had played a baserunning ballgame there much earlier.  [Confirmation needed.]

Query:

Are Carthage and Dallas and Ft. Madison nearby towns?

Year
1871
Item
1871.1
Edit

1871.4 National Association Urged to Adopt Modern Batting Average

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

In a letter published in the New York Clipper on March 11, 1871, H. A. Dobson, a correspondent for the periodical, wrote to Nick E. Young, the Secretary of the Olympic Club in Washington D.C., and future president of the National League. Young would be attending the Secretaries’ Meeting of the newly formed National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, and Dobson urged him to consider a “new and accurate method of making out batting averages.”

“According to a man’s chances, so should his record be. Every time he goes to the bat he either has an out, a run, or is left on his base. If he does not go out he makes his base, either by his own merit or by an error of some fielder. Now his merit column is found in ‘times first base on clean hits,’ and his average is found by dividing his total ‘times first base on clean hits’ by his total number of times he went to the bat. Then what is true of one player is true of all…In this way, and in no other, can the average of players be compared.”

Dobson included a calculation, for theoretical players, of hits per at-bat at the end of the letter; the first published calculation of the modern form of batting average.

 

Sources:

Dobson, H.A. “The Professional Club Secretaries’ Meeting.” New York Clipper (New York City, NY), 11 March 1871: p. 888.

Comment:

While "hits per at-bat" has become the modern form of batting average, and was the only average calculated by the official statistician beginning in the inaugural season of the National League in 1876, the definition of a "time at bat" has varied over time. To Dobson, a time at bat included any time a batter made an "out, a run, or is left on his base." However, walks were excluded from the calculation of at-bats beginning in 1877, with a temporary reappearance in 1887 when they were counted the same as hits. Times hit by the pitcher were excluded beginning in 1887, sacrifice bunts in 1894, times reached on catcher's interference in 1907, and sacrifice flies in 1908 (though, they went in and out of the rules multiple times over the next few decades and weren't firmly excluded until 1954).

 

Consequently, based on Dobson's calculation, walks would have counted as an at-bat but not as a hit, so a negative result for the batter. This was the case in the first year of the National League as well, but was "fixed" by the second year. A fielder's choice would  have been recorded as an at-bat and not a hit under Dobson's system, as it is today.

 

 

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/

 

Query:

 

 

Year
1871
Item
1871.4
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