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1850s.47 Boys and Girls Play Old Cat at Recess in Wisconsin
"elias molee, in his completely lower-case autobiography, recounted mixed-gender cat games at his southern Wisconsin school in the 1850s: 'a little before 10:30 o'clock she [the teacher] called out "20 minutes recess." [the] boys played catching each other, or played ball which we called "1 old cat" when 3 were playing, boys or girls made no difference to us, when 4 played we called it "2 old cat"'"
Elias Molee, Molee's Wanderings, An Autobiography (private printing, 1919) page 34. As cited by Tom Altherr, Coed Cat Games in Wisconsin in the Early 1850s, Originals, volume 4, number 1 (January 2011, page 2.
1856.19 Five-Player Base Ball Reported in NY, WI
Wisconsin, New York
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.
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.
Was 5-player base ball common then? Did it follow special rules? How do 4 fielders cover the whole field?
1859.37 In Wisconsin, Bachelors Win 100-68
"FOX LAKE CLUB. - The Married and Unmarried members of the Wisconsin Club measured their respective strength in a bout at base ball on the 15th inst. The former scored 68 and the latter 100."
New York Clipper (July 2, 1859.)
Fox Lake is 75 miles northeast of Milwaukee. Sounds like they played the MA game, no?
1859.45 In Milwaukee, Base Ball is [Cold-] Brewing
[A]The first report of baseball being played in Milwaukee is found in the Thursday, December 1, 1859, Milwaukee Daily Sentinel. The paper wrote:
"BASE BALL—This game, now so popular at the East, is about to be introduced in our own city. A very spirited impromptu match was played on the Fair Ground, Spring Street Avenue, yesterday afternoon six on a side..."
[B] In April 1860, the Sentinel reported another "lively" game, and added, "The game is now fairly inaugurated in Milwaukee, and the first Base Ball Club in our City was organized last evening. Should the weather be fair, the return match will be played on the same ground, At 2 o'clock this (Thursday) afternoon."
[C] Formation of the Milwaukee Club was announced in the New York Sunday Mercury on May 6, 1860; officers listed,
[D] "Mr. J. W. Ledyard, of 161 E Water Street, who is now in New York...has kindly forwarded for the use of our Milwaukee Base Ball Club, six bats and twelve balls, made in New York, according to the regulations of the "National Association of Base Ball Clubs."
[A] Milwaukee Sentinel, December 1, 1859.
[B] "Base Ball," Milwaukee Sentinel, April 3, 1860
[D] "Base Ball," Milwaukee Sentinel, June 13, 1860
There is no record of this Thursday match, but we have scores for matches on December 10 (33 to 23 in favor of Hathaway's club in 5 innings, with 9 on a side) and December 17 (54 to 33, again in favor of Hathaway's club with 5 innings played; with 10 men on each side listed in the box score). The last match was played in weather that "was blustering and patches of snow on the ground made it slippery and rather too damp for sharp play."
These games took place at the State Fair Grounds, then located at North 13th and West Wisconsin Avenue. This is now part of the Marquette University Campus. The R. King in the box score is Rufus King, editor of the Milwaukee Sentinel. His grandfather, also Rufus King, was a signer of the American Constitution. Milwaukee's Rufus King was a brigadier general in the Civil War, and he would be Milwaukee's first superintendent of schools.
1860.32 Milwaukee Area Not Unanimous About the "Miserable" New York Rules
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."
Daily Milwaukee News, May 17, 1860
Milwaukee Sentinel, May 16, 1860
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.
What is the date of the Daily Milwaukee News piece in which the rules are described as "miserable"?
1861.49 Playing Ball in Racine Camp
The Monroe (WI) Sentinel, Oct. 23, 1861 reports that at Camp Utley, in Racine, the volunteers "have until two o'clock to rest, which time is generally occupied in playing ball, jumping, throwing dumb bells, running foot races, and wrestling."
The letter appears to have been written by a member of the La Crosse Artillery.
The Monroe (WI) Sentinel, Oct. 23, 1861
1861.66 Ball Playing popular in Wisconsin Camp
The Wisconsin State Journal, May 25, 1861, prints a letter datelined 1st Regiment, Camp Scott, Milwaukee, May 24:
"Amusements in camp.....Chess constitutes an agreeable and profitable pastime. Card and ball playing are more general favorites in which a large proportion of the men engage."
Prior to the war, a base ball field was located at where Camp Scott was established.
The Wisconsin State Journal, May 25, 1861
1862.20 Wisconsin Man's Diary Included a Dozen References to Ballplaying
Private Jenkin Jones sprinkled 12 references to ballplaying in his Civil War Diary. They range from December 1862 to February 1865. Most are very brief notes, like the "played ball in the afternoon" he recorded in Memphis in February 1863 [page 34]. The more revealing entries:
· Oxford, 12/62: "The delightful weather succeeded in enticing most of the boys form their well-worn decks and cribbage boards, bringing them out in ball playing, pitching quoits,etc. Tallied for an interesting game of base ball" [pp 19/20]
· Huntsville, 3/64: "Games daily in camp, ball, etc." [p. 184]
· Huntsville, 3/64: "Played ball all of the afternoon" [p.193]
· Fort Hall, 4/64: "[Col. Raum] examined our quarters and fortifications, after which he and the other officers turned in that had a game of wicket ball." [p.203]
· Etowah Bridge, 9/64: "a championship game of base-ball was played on the flat between the non-veterans and the veterans. The non-veterans came off victorious by 11 points in 61." [p. 251]
· Chattanooga, 2/65: "The 6th Badger boys have been playing ball with our neighbors, Buckeyes, this afternoon. We beat them three games of four.
Jenkin Lloyd Jones, An Artilleryman's Diary (Wisconsin History Commission, 1914). Accessed on Google Books 6/3/09 via "'wisconsin history commission' 'No. 8'" search. PBall file: CW-28.
Jones was from Spring Green, WI, which is about 30 miles west of Madison and 110 miles west of Milwaukee WI. Jones later became a leading Unitarian minister and a pacifist.