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1750s.3 1857 Writer Reportedly Dates New England Game of "Base" to 1750s
"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"
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:
The writer present no evidence as to the earliest dates of known play.
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]."
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?
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)
Alfred L. Elwyn, Glossary of Supposed Americanisms (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1859), pp. 18-20.
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.”
Do we have any way to tell the ages of the participants in the recalled game?
1830c.30 "Old Boys" Play Throwback Game to 100 Tallies in Ohio
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.
Cleveland [Ohio] Daily Leader, Saturday July 9, 1859, First Edition.
See clipping at http://www.newspapers.com/clip/2414996/18590709_cleveland/.
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?
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.
Further commentary on the site and date of this remembered game are welcome.
Was the Ashtabula area well-settled by 1830?
1830c.31 Balk Rule Recalled from Childhood Games in 1847 Newspaper Commentary
"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.]
"A Balk is a Base," Roundout Freeman, June 5, 1847 (volume II, issue 46), page 2.
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.
 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.)
 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.
Protoball welcomes further comment on the possible origin of the balk rule.
1831.1 A Ball Club Forms in Philadelphia; It Later Adopts Base Ball, and Lasts to 1887
African Americans, Pre-modern Rules
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  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.
* * *
[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:
For a little more on the game of town ball, see http://protoball.org/Town_Ball.
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.
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.
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.
2 Are we certain that the "firsts" listed in this entry predate the initial appearance of the indicated innovations in American cricket?
1832c.2 Two NYC Clubs Known to Play Pre-modern Base Ball
Pre-Knicks NYC, Pre-modern Rules
"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.
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.
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.
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?
1832.10 Doc Adams' Sister Writes of Bat and Ball Play
Females, Pre-modern Rules
In a June 1832 letter to her 17-year-old brother at Amherst, the 10-year-old Nancy Ann Adams wrote, "I felt very lonesome after you and the rest were gone. I have not played with your bat and ball as you bid me."
Her brother is Daniel Lucius "Doc" Adams, who was to become a key member of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club about eight years later.
Letter, Nancy A. Adams to D. L. Adams, 7/15/1832, from Mount Vernon NH.
The game that the future Doc Adams played with these objects is not known.
A game called "bat and ball" is known to have been played in NH, and her wording echoes that name.
Even a hint that a girl would be tempted to take up a bat and ball is notable in US ballplaying history.
1836c.12 Game With Plugging of Runners Later Recalled in Jersey City
"While here let me say to the Champion Base Ball Club, for their information, that in eighteen hundred and thirty-six and seven we had a base ball club that could not be beaten. It was composed of such men as Jerry O'Meara, Peter Bentley, J. C. Morgan, Jos. G. Edge, &c. I acted as a spare pitcher for the first nine. In those days the game was played by throwing the ball at the man running the bases, and whoever got hit was out, if he could not jump to the bases from where he was hit. I would rather get hit by any other member of the club than by Bentley, for he was a south-paw or left-hander, and he used to strike and throw an unmerciful ball. The ball ground was a portion of the time Nevins and Townsend's block, in front of St. Matthew's Church . . . . "
Jersey Journal, December 13, 1871, page 1, column 3 -- "Recollections of a Jersey City Boy, No. 3."
There is considerable uncertainty as to the dating of this item at c1836..
John Zinn further researched the players named in the 1871 account, and wrote on 7/28/2015: "It feels to me that the author [whom John identifies as John W. Pangborn] is conflating a number of different things (his role, for example) into a club that played in the late 1830's. However even if he is off by 10 years, a club of some kind in the late 1840's would be something new and, as John [Thorn] suggests, important." John Zinn also reported 7/28/2015 that Bentley was 31 years old in 1836, and that Edge was 22; John W. Pangborn, the suspected 1871 author, was born in 1825 so was only 12 in 1837.
Further commenting on the credibility of this 1871 account, Richard Hershberger [19cbb posting, 7/28/2015] adds: "Going from general trends of the day, the [1871 author's] use of the word "club" is very likely anachronistic. Organized clubs playing baseball were extremely rare before the 1840s in New York and the 1850s everywhere else. On the other hand, informal play was common, and local competition between loosely organized groups is well attested. My guess is that this was some variant or other. As for plugging, its mention increases the credibility of the account. Even as early as 1871, plugging was being forgotten in the haze of the past. Old-timers describing the game of their youth therefore routinely mentioned plugging as a distinctive feature. So putting this together, this looks to me like a guy reminiscing about quasi-organized (at most) play of his youth, using the anachronistic vocabulary of a "club."
If dated correctly, this find would seems to be a very early use of "south-paw" to denote a left-hander, although it is not explicitly claimed that the term had been used in 1836. One source (Dickson. Baseball Dictionary, 3rd ed., page 791) indicates that the first use of "south-paw" in a base ball context was in 1858, although a 2015 web search reveals that the term itself dates back to 1813.
1837.6 Olympic Ball Club Constitution Requires Umpires
The constitution does not shed light on the nature of the game played. Membership was restricted to those above the age of twenty-one. One day per month was set for practice "Club day". Note: Sullivan dates the constitution at 1837, but notes that it was printed in 1838.
The constitution specifies that the club recorder shall act as "umpire", to settle disputes.
Constitution of the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia [Philadelphia, John Clark], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 5-8.
1840.38 Boston-Style "Bat and Ball" Seen in Honolulu HI
Females, Pre-modern Rules
"Sports in Honolulu. One evidence of the increasing civilization in this place, and not the least gratifying, is to see the ardor with which the native youth of both sexes engage in the same old games which used to warm our blood not long since. There's good old bat and ball, just the same as when was ran from the school house to the 'Common' to exercise our skill that way; and then there is something which looks much like 'quorum,' and 'tag' too . . . ."
Polynesian, December 26, 1840. Posted to the 19CBB listserve by George Thompson January 3, 2010. Accessed via subscription search May 4, 2009. George sees the column as likely written by the newspaper's editor, James Jarves, who was born in Boston in 1818.
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.
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.
Note that this is not described as a team game. A winner is that player who most frequently puts a ball into a goal.
Does Jamieson describe other ballgames?
1844.17 Hilarious "Base Ball" and "Two Old Cat" Recalled by Chicagoan
Gale's "Reminiscences of Early Chicago and Vicinity" (1902) pp. 213-214 talks about his school days in 1844: "in the immediate vicinity of the school we could indulge in a game of 'two old cat' or in the hilarious sport of 'base ball.' We had no regulation balls or clubs, or even rules." Goes on the describe how the students made balls and bats.
This was at Bennett's school, in modern downtown at the southwest corner of State and Madison.
Gale's "Reminiscences of Early Chicago and Vicinity" (1902) pp. 213-214
This information is also listed at http://protoball.org/In_Chicago_in_1844undefined
1845c.6 NY Man: "We Used to Say Come Let Us Play Ball or Base Ball"
Andrew Peck writes: "We used to say them come let us play Ball or Base Ball . . . . I used to play it at school from 1845-1850 [Peck was about 9 in 1845]. We used more of a flat bat and solid rubber ball. The balls we made ourselves [from strips of rubber overshoes - ed.] . . . . I forget now as to many points of the game, but I do remember that we used to run bases, and the opposite side to ours would try to get the ball, and you would have to be hit with it before out while running your base to get home."
John Thorn, email of 2/10/2008, reports that Peck attened school in "upper NY State.
Letter from Andrew Peck, Canada Lake, NY, to the Mills Commission, September 1, 1907.
1845c.7 Former Catcher Recalls Ballgame with Soaking and "Fugleing" in NYS
"1845 to 1849 I caught for a village nine in Ticonderoga, NY, upon a diamond shaped field having a boy on each base. The game differed from the present in that we were all umpires and privileged to soak the runner between bases.
"The ball was yarn (with rubber around the centre, large as a small English walnut), covered with fine calf-skin - dressed side out, and therefore smooth and about the size of a Spalding ball. It was a beautiful thing to handle, difficult to knock into pieces, and was thrown from the center - straight and swift to the catcher's hands, wherever they were held; over the head, or between the legs, and was called "fugleing" and barred only by mutual consent."
Letter from Albert H. Pratt to the Mills Commission, August 1905.
1846.14 English Crew Teaches Rounders to Baltic Islanders
"In 1846 a three-master . . . from London stranded on the island. . . . The captain spent the winter with the local minister, and the sailors with the peasants. According to information given by a man named Matts Bisa, the visitors taught the men of Runö a new batting game. As the cry "runders" shows, his game was the English rounders, a predecessor of baseball. It was made part of the old cult game."
This game was conserved on the island, at least until 1949.
Erwin Mehl, "A Batting Game on the Island of Runö," Western Folklore vol 8, number 3, (1949?), page 268.
Ruhnu Island (formerly cited as "Runo") is a small island off the northern coast of Estonia. Its current population about 100 souls. It was formerly occupied by Swedes.
1848.18 Litchfield CT Bests Wolcottville in Wicket
"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."
Litchfield Republican, July 6, 1848, page 2.
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.
1849c.4 A. G. Mills and Boyhood Friend Recall "Base Ball" at a Brooklyn School
Famous, Pre-modern Rules
A. G. Mills and schoolmate W. S. Cogswell exchanged letters, 55 years later, on the plugging game they called "base ball" as youths.
Mills to Cogswell 1/10/1905: "Among the vivid recollections of my early life at Union Hall Academy [of Jamaica, Long Island, NY] is a game of ball in which I played, where the boys of the side at bat were put out by being hit with the ball. My recollection is that we had first base near the batsman's position; the second base was a tree at some distance, and the third base was the home base, also near the batsman's position."
Cogswell to Mills 1/19/1905: "My recollection of the game of Base Ball, as we played it for years at Union Hall, say from 1849 to 1856, is quite clear. "
"You are quite right about the three bases, their location and the third base being home.
"The batsman in making a hit went to the first base, unless the ball was caught either on a fly or on first bound. In running the bases he was out by being touched or hit with the ball while further from any base than he could jump. The bases were not manned, the ball being thrown at a runner while trying for a base. The striker was not obliged to strike till he thought he had a good ball, but was out the first time he missed the ball when striking, and it was caught by the catcher either on the fly or on the first bound. There was no limit to the number of players and a side was not out till all the players had been disposed of. If the last player could make three home runs that put the side back in again. When there were but few players there was a rule against 'Screwing,' i.e., making strikes that would be called 'foul.' We used flat bats, and it was considered quite an art to be able to "screw" well, as that sent the ball away from the bases."
A. G. Mills letter to Colonel Wm S. Cogswell, January 10, 1905, and Wm. S. Cogswell letter to A. G. Mills, January 19, 1905. From the Mills Collection, Giamatti Center, HOF. Thanks to Jeremy LeBlanc for information on Union Hall Academy (email, 9/23/2007).
Note: This exchange and its significance are treated in John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Shuster, 2011), page 27.
John Thorn notes that in 1905 Mills was beginning to gather evidence for use in his famous "Mills Commission" report on base ball's beginnings. (Email of 1/4/2016).
John suggests that the Union Hall game may be the game that William R. Wheaton, another Union Hall student, called "three cornered cat" in his 1887 recollections of base ball's origin (email, 1/4/2016). The game of Corner Ball is known from the 1830s to about 1860, but is usually seen as a form of dodge ball played mostly by youths, and lacking batting and baserunning. Is it possible that Corner Ball morphed, retaining its essential plugging but adding batting and base advancement, by the time it was played in the Brooklyn school? Was this a transitional form in base ball's lineage? See also http://protoball.org/Three-Cornered_Cat and http://protoball.org/Corner_Ball.
As of January 2016, no other usages of "three-cornered cat" are known.
1850.52 Game of Wicket Near Springfield Goes Bad
GAME OF WICKET BALL --
"The Granville ball players challenged the Westfield players, recently, to a game of ball. The challenge was accepted, and the game came off, on Saturday last, about one mile this side of East Granville. They were to have thirty men on a side, the best in five to be declared victorious, and the defeated party to pay the suppers for all. The following is the tally:
[Each club won two games, and the fifth game was listed as Westfield 112, Granville 25 . . . with only ten Granville players evidently on the field....]
"On the fourth [fifth?] game, the Granville players made but a few rounds, and becoming disheartened, declined to finish the game, and refused, also, to pay for the suppers. Great excitement ensured, and we are sorry to learn that some personal collision was he consequence. Several blows were exchanged. There was great excitement during the day, there being from 600 to 800 people upon he ground. The Westfield players, not to lose their supper, paid for it themselves, and went home."
Springfield Republican, July 23, 1850
In the game account, runs are termed "crosses." In the text they are called "rounds."
Granville is about 15 miles SW of Springfield, and Westfield is about 10 miles E of Springfield.
1852.16 Two Wicket Groups Vie in Litchfield CT
"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.]
Litchfield Republican, July 8, 1852, page 2.
What were "bantam players?" Does the term suggest the ages of the players?
1853.19 Boston Clubs Play for Ten Boxes of Cigars
"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]
Boston Herald, September 7, 1853.
The rules for this match are not known.
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.
Was a form of unpleasant "confusion" anticipated? Like what?
Do we know any more about the Aurora Club?
1855c.10 "New Game" of Wicket Played in HI
[A] "In 1855 the new game of wicket was introduced at Punahou [School] and for a few years was the leading athletic game on the campus. . . . [The] fiercely contested games drew many spectators from among the young ladies and aroused no common interest among the friends of the school."
[B] "One game they all enjoyed was wicket, often watched by small Mary Burbank. Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a large rounder end. It was a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to the ground."
 Through further digging, John Thorn suggests the migration of wicket to Hawaii through the Hawaii-born missionary Henry Obookiah. At age 17, Obookiah traveled to New Haven and was educated in the area. He may well have been exposed to wicket there. He died in 1818, but not before helping organize a ministry [Episcopalian?] in Hawaii that began in 1820.
See also John Thorn's 2016 recap is the supplementary text, below.
[A] J. S. Emerson, "Personal Reminiscences of S. C. Armstrong," The Southern Workman Volume 36, number 6 (June 1907), pages 337-338. Accessed 2/12/10 via Google Books search ("punahou school" workman 1907). Punahou School, formerly Oahu College, is in Honolulu.
[B] Ethel M.Damon M. , Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii [Pacific Books, Palo Alto, 1957], page 41.
[C] John's source is the pamphlet Hawaiian Oddities, by Mike Jay [R. D. Seal, Seattle, ca 1960]. [Personal communication, 7/26/04.]
Damon added: "Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a larger rounder end.t was a a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to thee ground."
1855.37 Barre Club Challenge to Six Nearby MA Towns -- $100 Grand Prize Planned
"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."
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.
Do we know if this plan was carried out? How was the victor decided among participating towns?
1855.43 In Boston, Olympic Beats Elm Tree, 75-46
"BAT AND BALL -- The Olympic was challenged by the Elm Tree Club, at a game of ball to be played on the Common, which was accepted and played this morning, on the grounds of the Elm Tree Club. The game was fixed at 75, and was promptly won by the Olympics, the opposite side getting only 46 tallies. Each club had 25 rounds."
Boston Traveler, May 31, 1855.
The item title of "Bat and Ball" is interesting. This term is believed to be the name of a distinct baserunning game in the area in earlier times. Note also the use of "rounds" instead of "innings."
As of 10/21/2014, this is the only known contemporary ref to the Elm Tree club of Boston.
1856.10 French Work Describes Poisoned Ball and La Balle au Baton
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.
per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 217.
What are the "other sources" for playing theque? Is it significant that this book features games for adolescents, not younger children?
1856.15 Excelsior Base Ball Club Forms in Albany NY
[A] "Albany Excelsior Base Ball Club This Club was organized May 12, 1856."
[B] "The match game of Base Ball between the Empire and Excelsior Clubs, came off yesterday on the Cricket Grounds...Excelsior winning by 3."
[A] Porter's Spirit of the Times, May 23, 1857.
[B] Albany Evening Journal June 11, 1856
It appears that the Empire Club and the Athlete Club of Albany had already existed at that time. The Empire - Excelsior game cited was apparently not played according to the Knickerbocker rules.
1856.34 A Three-Inning Game of Wicket at Great Barrington
"BALL PLAYING - A game of Wicket was played at Gt. Barrington on the 11th inst., and a supper partaken at the Berkshire House in the evening. C. N. Emerson, Esq. was the leader of one party and John Price, Esq. of the other. The game was a close one; the aggregate count of three innings being 192 and 187. The side of Captain Emerson beat."
Pittsfield Sun, April 24, 2856, page 2.
Great Barrington, MA (1860 population about 3900) is about 20 miles south of Pittsfield MA and near the SW corner of the state.
1856.35 Future Star Dickey Pearce Discovers the Decade-old No-Plugging Rule
Famous, Pre-modern Rules
"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."
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.
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.
Do we have any additional information on where in Brooklyn Pearce and his friends were playing the old-fashioned game in the 1850s?
1857.12 The First Vintage Games?
[A] "the first regular match" of the 'Knickerbocker Antiquarian Base Ball Club (who play the old style of the game)'" was played in Nov. 1857.
[B] In October, 1857, the Liberty Club of New Brunswick, NJ, played a group of "Old Fogies" who played "the old-fashioned base ball, which, as nearly everyone knows, is entirely different from base ball as now played."
[A] Porter's Spirit of the Times, Nov. 14, 1857, p.165.
[B] New York Clipper, Oct. 10, 1857
[A] Rules played are unknown. The score was 86-69, and three players are listed in the box score as "not out". 11 on each side.
1857.20 Clerks Take on Clerks in Albany, Field 16-Player Teams
"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."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, vol. 40 number 14 (June 6, 1857).
Sixteen players? Three innings? Does this sound like the NY game to you?
1857.45 Sharon MA Victory in Boston Seen As State Championship
Championship Games, Pre-modern Rules
"A much more pleasing picture is the recreation enjoyed by the boys of the 33rd [MA] Regiment. There were thirteen Sharon boys in the regiment and most of them had been members of the Sharon Massapoags, the state baseball champions of 1857. They were very fond of telling their [Civil War] soldier friends of this exciting occasion in which they defeated their rivals, the Olympics, in three straight games. They had borrowed red flannel shirts from the Stoughton Fire Department and contended for the championship on Boston Common. The last train for Sharon left around four o'clock. By special arrangement with the Providence R. R. they had been allowed to ride home in an empty freight attached to a regular train."
Amy Morgan Rafter Pratt, The History of Sharon, Massachusetts to 1865 (Boston U master's thesis, 1935, page74. Search string: <morgan rafter pratt>.
1859.47 Buffalo base ball club sticks to "old-fashioned" game
[A] "The Alden Club, we believe, take exception to the rules and regulations laid down by their competitors...and are desirous of playing another game with the Bethany Club (of Genesee County), according to their own base ball rules."
[B] "The matched game of Base Ball between the Buffalo and Alden clubs was played yesterday afternoon on the Niagara's grounds on Main st. The match was a closely contested one, and resulted in favor of the Buffalo Club, who scored forty-six to thirty-eight runs made by the Alden Club in the twelve innings. The Alden Club have played several matches and have never been beaten before. The game was the old-fashioned one, which calls for more muscle than the New England game."
[A] "The Ball Match Yesterday," Buffalo Daily Courier (August 13, 1859), page 3, column 2.
[B] Buffalo Daily Courier, September 2 and September 5, 1859
The Alden club fielded 15 players to the confront the Niagaras' 12; they included two "behinds" as well as a catcher, two left fielders, two right fielders, a fourth baseman, and one more team member listed simply as "fielder." Both teams' pitchers were termed "throwers." The game was evidently limited to 12 innings instead of to a set total of tallies, as was found in other upstate "old-fashioned base ball" games of this period. Taken at face value, this account implies that three games were played in the region at the time - the New York game, the New England game, and this game. Alden NY is 20 miles due east of downtown Buffalo.
A return match was hosted by the Alden club on September 3rd, with the Buffalo New York and Erie railroad offering half-price fares to fans. Alden won, "by 96 to 22 tallies."
1860.71 "Bound Rule" Universal in American Baseball-- Rules Committee
Pre-Knicks NYC, Pre-modern Rules
"All the various modifications of Base Ball, which have so long been played in different parts of the country, have universally recognized the 'first bound', consequently, it is closely associated with all our boyish recollections, and is cherished with the same tenacity, and for the same reason, that the English cricketer adheres to the 'fly'."
New York Sunday Mercury, March 18, 1860. Recommendations of the NABBP Committee on Rules and Regulation to the NABBP Convention.
The Committee nonetheless recommended adopting the "fly game".
1860s.86 Ballplaying Remembered in Dedham Massachusetts
"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."
Frank Smith, A History of Dedham Massachusetts (Transcript Press, 1936), page 358.
Does Smith reveal his source for the pre-1970 box score?
1862.55 They Do It Differently in Philadelphia
Base Ball Stratagems, Pre-modern Rules
"THE GRAND MATCHES IN PHILADELPHIA. BROOKLYN VS. PHILADELPHIA...On the first day's play, there was no chalk line made between the home and 1st and 3rd bases, as the rule requires...It would be well, to,, to mark the home base line of six feet in length on which the striker is required to stand. Every player running the bases should be required to touch them...In cases of foul balls, too, the player running the bases should remain on the base, after he has returned to it, until the ball has been settled in the hands of the pitcher...we would also call the Philadelphians' attention to Section 20 of the rules. It applies to the striker as well as anyone else. (Section 20 deals with obstruction).
[A] New York Clipper, July 12, 1862
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 â€œShort Stop,â€â€”whose duty is the same as the others in the fieldâ€”to stop the ball. The Innings take the bat in rotation, as in Town Ball,â€”and are called by the Scorer. The ball is pitched, not thrown to themâ€”a distance of fifty feet. The Batsman is permitted to strike at three â€œfairâ€ balls, without danger of being put out by a catch, but hit or miss, must run at the third â€œfairâ€ 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.
Illinois State Journal, May 10, 1866.
() 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?
1866.9 New England Association Forms , Intends to "Ignore the New York Game"
"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."
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.
 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"
1866.10 Throwback Game of Cat-and-Dog Seen in Pittsburgh
"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.]
New York Clipper, 15 September 1866.
Pittsburgh Commercial, September 6, 1866.
Protoball would welcome input on how the rules of this game differed, if at all, from other games using "cat" in their names.
1867.16 Baseball's Resemblance to English Rounders Discussed
"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
[from “Yankee Pastimes” by “A Yankee”], Sydney Morning Herald April 11, 1867, quoting the London Spectator.
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  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
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?
1870c.8 Base Ball Comes to Massachusetts 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 --
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).
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.
 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?
1874.2 Tennessee Visitor Lauds Local "Base-ball, Shinny, Baste Grounds"
"Chattanooga possesses some advantages that sister towns cannot boast of. For base-ball, shinny, baste grounds and shanty buildings, she can not be surpassed."
(Attributed to a visiting editor of the Cleveland Banner.)
Knoxville Press and Messenger, March 18, 1874, page 5
As of February 2017, data on early ballplaying in the Chattanooga area are sparse. They include five accounts of soldierly play during the Civil War and brief mentions of area base ball clubs after the war
Protoball believes "shinny" to be a game resembling field hockey and ice hockey, and not a baserunning game.
Protoball has only two other reports of the game of "baste" in a Princeton student's diary in 1786 and in a biography of Benjamin Harrison on his teenage activities in the Cincinnati area. A good guess is that baste was a variant spelling of "base," a base ball precursor.
The Cleveland Banner is a newspaper in Cleveland TN.