Chronology: 1831 - 1845

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51831 - 1845

The chronology from 1831 to 1845 (206 entries)

Contents

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

1831.2 "Base" and Cricket Listed in Book of US Pastimes

Game:

Cricket

Horatio Smith, Festivals, Games and Amusements, Ancient and Modern [New York, Harper], p 330. Per Henderson ref 146. David Block notes that its comment, "The games and amusements of New England are similar to other sections of the United States. The young men are expert in a variety of games at ball - such as cricket, base, cat, football, trap ball . . . ," is the first known book reference to the play of "base" ball in the US. [David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 193-194.]

Year
1831
Item
1831.2
Edit

1831.3 Should Boys Prefer Bats over Books?

"Is it wonderful that the school-boy should so often prefer his ball-club to his book, and the rod of correction to his task."

The Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, Volume 2, Issue 1 [January 1831], page 31. Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006.

Year
1831
Item
1831.3
Edit

1831.4 As His Mom Sobs Tenderly, NH Lad Rushes Out to Play Ball

In Hanover NH, Henry Smith [later Henry Durant - he thought there were already too many Smiths] was about ten when his mother mistily told him he now had a new cousin, Pauline. "A new cousin. Huh! Was that all? And he hurtled out of the door to engage in a game of ball with [brother] William and the other boys"

Florence M. Kingsley, The Life of Henry Fowle Durant: Founder of Wellesley College (The Century Co., New York, 1924), page 28. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38. Incomplete access to text of the biography via Google Books search for "'fowle durant.'" Hanover NH is in the middle of nowhere.

Year
1831
Item
1831.4
Edit

1831.5 "Cricket, Base, and Long Ball" Played in Worcester MA on Election Day

Tags:

Holidays

Age of Players:

Juvenile

When the Massachusetts Legislature announced that Election Day would be moved from May to January, a protest was lodged in a newspaper, recalling:

". . then amusements were planned; then were hunting matches and fishing parties made; then was the quoit hurled in the air; then were cricket, base, and long-ball played; then were sports of every kind, appropriate to the season, sought after and enjoyed with particular zest."

 

Sources:

'Lection Day, National Aegis (Worcester Massachusetts), June 15, 1831, page 1, as cited in  David Block, Polish Workers Play Ball at Jamestown, Virginia, Base Ball, volume 5, number 2 (Spring 2011), page 8. (The National Aegis credits the New York Constellation with the article, but David Block notes that the subject is clearly the lot of Massachusetts children not those in New York City.)

Year
1831
Item
1831.5
Edit

1832.1 Union Cricket Club of Philadelphia Forms

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Cricket

Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: Source is Chadwick Scrapbooks, Volume 20. Note: According to a Harold Seymour note, J. M. Ward's Baseball [p. 18] sets a date of 1831 for the beginning of regular club play in Philadelphia.

Year
1832
Item
1832.1
Edit

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

1832.6 Reading Book Contains a Story, "Playing at Trap Ball"

Trimmer, Sarah, Easy Lessons; or Leading Strings to Knowledge [Boston, Munroe and Francis], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 194

1832.7 - Playing Ball on the Prairie

Year
1832
Item
1832.6
Edit

1832.8 Buffalo NY Council and "Playing at Ball"

Nobody knows when baseball was first played in Buffalo. There is evidence to show it was played in some form at least as far back as 1832, the year the city was incorporated. Ordinance #19 of the first city charter reads as follows: 'The City Council shall have the authority to make laws regulating the rolling of hoops, flying of kites, playing at ball, or any other amusement having a tendency to annoy persons passing in the streets and sidewalks of the city, or to frighten teams of horses."

Overfield, Joseph, 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball (Partner's Press, Kenmore NY, 1985), page 17.

Year
1832
Item
1832.8
Edit

1832.9 Norwich CT Sets $2 Fine for Playing Ball

Tags:

Bans

Game:

Oddball

"Be it ordained by the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of the city of Norwich . . . That if any person or persons should play at ball, cat ball, or sky ball, or at ball generally . . . in any of the public streets of said city, the person or persons so offending shall forfeit and pay . . . the sum of two dollars; and when any minor or apprentice shall be guilty of a violation of this by-law, the penalty may be recovered from the parent or guardian." The fine also applied to bowling, kite-flying, and hoops. Norwich Courier, Volume 11, Issue 8 (May 16, 1832), page 1. Provided by John Thorn, email of 1/14/2008. Note: "Sky ball?"

Year
1832
Item
1832.9
Edit

1833.1 Book on Flowers [Yes, Flowers] Shows Overhand Pitch

Game:

Base Ball

Breck, Joseph, The Young Florist: or, Conversations on the Culture of Flowers and on Natural History [Boston, Russell and Odiorne], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196. Inexplicably, notes Block, this book "contains a lovely engraving of boys playing baseball. The image depicts a pitcher throwing overhand to a batter, who holds a slightly crooked bat, with a catcher standing behind."

Year
1833
Item
1833.1
Edit

1833.2 New Haven Book Portrays Ball Game with Curved Bat

Olney, J., The Easy Reader; or Introduction to the National Preceptor [New Haven, Durrie and Peck], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 195. Block on this reader's woodcut: "Three of the players in the image are shown attempting to catch a fly ball, while a fourth holds a strange curved bat."

Year
1833
Item
1833.2
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

1833.5 Yes, Another Chapbook from Mister Babcock, with That Same Old Woodcut

The Picture Reader; Designed as a First Reading Book, for Young Masters and Misses [New Haven, S, Babcock] per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 195. Again, the woodcut by Anderson from Mary's Book of Sports, [item #1832.3 above] and again, no indication of any text on ball play.

Year
1833
Item
1833.5
Edit

1833.6 NY Chapbook: Jack Hall Will Play at Ball

"Who'll play at Ball/ I, says Jack Hall,/ I am nimble and tall,/ I'll play at Ball./ Here is Jack Hall, With his Bat and Ball."

A Pleasing Toy for Girl or Boy [New York, Mahlon Day], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196. This eight-page book of children's pastimes includes an illustration of trap-ball.

Year
1833
Item
1833.6
Edit

1833.7 New Haven Chapbook Sports "Tiny" Woodcut on Ball Play

Stories for Emma; or, Scripture Sketches [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196. Block: "A chapbook that displays a tiny baseball woodcut on its front wrap."

Year
1833
Item
1833.7
Edit

1833.8 Untitled Drawing of Ball Game [Wicket?] Appears in US Songbook

Game:

Cricket

Watts' Divine and Moral Songs - For the Use of Children [New York, Mahlon Day, 374 Pearl Street, 1836], page 15. Obtained from the "Origins of Baseball" file at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown. David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196, has found an 1833 edition.

A drawing shows five children - a tosser, batter, two fielders, and boy waiting to bat. The bats are spoon-shaped. The wicket looks more like a cricket wicket than the long low bar in wicket. Is it wicket? Base-ball? Here's Block's commentary. " . . .an interesting woodcut portraying boys playing a slightly ambiguous bat-and-ball game that is possibly baseball . . . . A goal in the ground near the batter might be a wicket, but it more closely resembles an early baseball goal such as the one pictured in A Little Pretty Pocket-Book" (see #1744.2, above).

Year
1833
Item
1833.8
Edit

1833.9 A Morale Tale: "Lazy Lawrence" Won't Play Ball

A children's reader includes a short cautionary story about an indolent lad who just sucked his thumb while "the rest were playing ball." An illustration shows several lads appearing to reach for a fly ball, while another holds a crooked bat, having perhaps hit the fly.

Olney, J., The Easy Reader (Durrie and Peck, New Haven, 1833 - as noted in hand), pp. 59-60. From the Origins file at the Giamatti Center at the HOF. Note: our copy lacks page 60, onto which the story is continued.

Year
1833
Item
1833.9
Edit

1833.10 Letter to Student Refers to "That Beautiful game - Base Ball"

Game:

Base Ball

"I suppose nowadays you play ball considerably. If I can judge by our condition up here, it is the time of year [March] to play ball. I think it was a great pity that we couldn't teach these lazy rascals to play that beautiful game - Base Ball."

Letter from Charles C. Cain to William Butler at Nathaniel Hall, Nathanial [sic] County PA, as reported in a syndicated column by Grantland Rice on July 7, 1949. Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn on 11/5/2007.

Year
1833
Item
1833.10
Edit

1833.11 MA Clergyman Notes "Usual" Fast Day Defections For Mattapoisett Ballplaying

Tags:

Holidays

As one of his several diary references to ballplaying [see also #1796.2 and #1806.4] Thomas Robbins D.D. in 1833 wrote this diary entry about Fast Day in Mattapoisett MA: "Fast. Meetings well attended . . . . A part of the people were off playing ball, according to their usual practice . . . . Am very much fatigued. The afternoon exercise was very long. Read."

On December 28, 1829 at Stratford CT, he wrote: "Last week the boys played ball." On May 28, 1839 [what was Abner Graves doing that day?] at Mattapoisett he wrote "Very pleasant. Thermometer rose to 70 [degrees]. Some playing ball."

 

Sources:

Increase N. Tarbox, ed., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D.D. 1796-1854, Volume 2 (Beacon Press, Boston, 1887), pages 163, 302, and 527. Accessed 11/15/2008 via a Google Books "'robbins d. d.' diary" search. Searches of the text for cricket, wicket, and round-ball are unfruitful.

Comment:

Mattapoisett is about 50 miles south of  Boston.

Year
1833
Item
1833.11
Edit

1833c.12 America's First Interclub Ballgame, in Philadelphia

Game:

Town Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] In Philadelphia PA, the Olympic Club and an unnamed club merged in 1833, but only after they had, apparently, played some games against one another. "Since . . . there weren't any other ball clubs, either formal or informal, anywhere else until at least 1842, this anonymous context would have to stand as the first ball game between two separate, organized club teams anywhere in the United States." The game was a form of town ball.

[B] Richard Hershberger describes the Olympic's opponent as "a loose of collection of friends who had been playing (town ball) together for two years," and considers it a match game in that "both sides had existence outside of that game." He dates one of the games to July 4, 1833, as the Olympic club had been formed to play a game on the holiday.

Sources:

[A] John Shiffert, Base Ball in Philadelphia (McFarland, 2006), page 17.

[B] Richard Hershberger, "In the Beginning-- Olympics vs. Camden", Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 1-2.

Circa
1833
Item
1833c.12
Edit

1834.1 Carver's The Book of Sports [Boston] describes "Base, or Goal Ball"

Location:

New England

Game:

Cricket

Rules for "'Base' or 'Goal Ball'" are published in Boston, in The Book of Sports by Robin Carver. Carver's book copies the rules for rounders published in England's "The Boy's Own Book" (see #1828.1 entry, above). A line drawing of boys "Playing Ball" on Boston Common is included. David Block in Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196-197, reports that this is the "first time that the name "base ball" was associated with a diamond-shaped infield configuration." As for the name of the game, Carver explains: "This game is known under a variety of names. It is sometimes called 'round ball.' But I believe that 'base' or 'goal ball' are the names generally adopted in our country." The bases are "stones or stakes." According to Carver, runners ran clockwise around the bases. Note: Do we have other accounts of clockwise baserunning?

Carver's Chapter 3 is called "Games with Balls." In an introductory paragraph, he explains that "The games with the bat and ball are numerous, but somewhat similar. I will mention some of them, which I believe to be the most popular with boys." [Page 37.] Other games describes are Fives, Nine-Holes, or Hat-Ball [a game with running/plugging but no batting], Catch-Ball [also a running/plugging game], Rackets, and Cricket.

Carver, Robin, The Book of Sports [Boston, Lilly Wait Colman and Holden, 1834], pp 37-40. Per Henderson ref 31. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], p.3ff

For Text:David Block carries a full page of text, and the accompanying field diagram, in Appendix 7, page 281, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

Year
1834
Item
1834.1
Edit

1834.2 Book on Farming Contains Ad for Carver Book

Fessenden, Thomas G., The Complete Farmer and Rural Economist [Boston, Lilly Wait and Co.], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 197. The only ball playing in this book is an ad for Carver's The Book of Sports (#1834.1 entry, above), and includes the Boston Common woodcut.

Year
1834
Item
1834.2
Edit

1834.3 US Chapbook in German Reprises 1832 Woodcut

Deutsches A B C - und Bilder Buch fur Kinder (German ABC and picture book for children) [Cincinnati, Truman and Smith], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 197. The woodcut is lifted from Mary's Book of Sports (see #1832.3 entry above).

Year
1834
Item
1834.3
Edit

1834.5 Cricket Play Begins at Haverford College

Tags:

College

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Cricket

"The first cricket club of entirely native-born American youth was founded at Haverford College in PA. In a manuscript diary kept by an unknown student during the first two years of the existence of the college, under the date of 1834, occurs this entry: 'About this time a new game was introduced among the students called Cricket. The school was divided into several clubs or associations, each of which was provided with the necessary instruments for playing the game.'"

John A. Lester, ed., , A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 11. Lester does not provide a source.

Year
1834
Item
1834.5
Edit

1834.6 In Wicket, It's Hartford CT 146, Litchfield CT 126

Game:

Wicket

The contest took three "ins." "Thus, it appears that the 'Bantam Players' 'barked up the wrong tree.' The utmost harmony existed, and every one appeared to enjoy the sport."

Connecticut Courant, volume 70, Issue 3618, page 3 (probably reprinted from the Hartford Times.) Submitted by John Thorn 9/29/2006.

Year
1834
Item
1834.6
Edit

1834.7 Magazine Cites "Principle Sports of the Day," One With "Rattllng" Ball-Clubs

An article on what appear to be Scottish games refers to the "report of the guns or the rattle of the ball-clubs," and concludes that shooting guns and some form a game with a ball-club are "both the principle sports of the day."

North American Magazine Volume 3, Issue 15, page 198. Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006. Note: It would be good to know more about this event. I think that the Caledonian games became popular in the US later in the century, and I don't recall that they typically include a batting game.

Year
1834
Item
1834.7
Edit

1834.8 A Ballplaying Death in PA

Tags:

Hazard

Age of Players:

Youth

"A young man named Geo. Goble, residing near Wilkes-barre PA, while playing ball, a few days since, accidentally received a blow from a ball club, from the effects of which he died in twenty four hours after."

 

Sources:

Rhode Island Republican, vol. 25, number 3 (March 26, 1834), page 3, column 2. Provided by Craig Waff, 8/29/2007 email. The identical story appeared in the New York Sun, March 19, 1834, page 3 - per EBay sale accessed 6/12/2007.

Year
1834
Item
1834.8
Edit

1834.9 Town Ball, Other Games on Sabbath Subject to Dollar Fine in Springfield IL

Tags:

Bans

 

"Any person who shall on the Sabbath day play bandy, cricket, cat, town ball, corner ball, over ball, fives, or any other game of ball, within the limits of the Corporation, or shall engage in pitching dollars, or quoits in any public place, shall on conviction thereof, be fined the sum of one dollar." 

Sources:

Illinois Weekly State Journal, June 14, 1834.

Comment:

Richard Hershberger writes: "If I recall correctly, the earliest known cites for "town ball" are reportedly from 1837, from local ordinances in Canton, IL and Indianapolis, IN.  This is a similar ordinance, from Springfield, IL, from 1834." 

Year
1834
Item
1834.9
Edit

1834.10 Plattsburgh NY Sets Fifty Cent Fine for Ball Play

Tags:

Bans

Age of Players:

Adult

"It is ordained, by the Trustees of the Village of Plattsburgh, that no person shall, at any time after the 22d of April, 1834, play ball, either in Bridge-street or Margaret-street, in said Village, under a penalty of fifty cents for each offence, to be sued for and recovered with costs."

This ordinance was approved by the village board of trustees on 4/19/1834.

 

Sources:

Plattsburgh Republican, April 19, 1834, page 3, column 5.

Comment:

Plattsburgh NY (1840 population not ascertained) is about 70 miles S of Montreal Canada and on the western shore of Lake Champlain. It is about 25 miles S of the Canadian border.

Year
1834
Item
1834.10
Edit

1835.1 Boy's Book of Sports Describes "Base Ball", "Base or Goal Ball"

Boy's Book of Sports: A Description of The Exercises and Pastimes of Youth [New Haven, S. Babcock, 1839], pp. 11-12, per Henderson, ref 21. David Block, in Baseball Before We Knew It, page 197-198, points out that the first edition appeared 4 years before the edition that Henderson cited.

In its section on "base ball," this book depicts bases in the form of a diamond, with a three-strike rule, plugging, and teams that take the field only after all its players are put out. The terms "innings" and "diamond" appear [Block thinks for the first time] and base running is switched to counter-clockwise.

This book also has a description of "Base, or Goal Ball," which described: "gentle tossing" by the pitcher, three-strike outs, a fly rule, counter-clockwise base-running in a circuit of four bases, and the plugging of runners, and all-out-side-out innings.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

For Text: David Block carries a page of text, and the field diagram, in Appendix 7, pages 282-283, of Baseball Before We Knew It.


The text for "Base, or Goal Ball" appears in Preston Oren, Baseball (1845-1881) From the Newspaper Accounts (P. Oren, Altadena CA, 1961), pages 2-3.

Year
1835
Item
1835.1
Edit

1835.2 Round-arm Bowling Officially Permitted in Cricket

Cashman, Richard, "Cricket," in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 87. Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: ORIGIN OF ROUND ARM BOWLING- Letter to editor of Forest and Stream by William Filmer: credited to John Wills of Kent, ca.1820; he attempted to use new style vs. Marylebone in 1822- rejected. Source: Chadwick Scrapbooks, Vol. 20.

Year
1835
Item
1835.2
Edit

1835.3 Van Cott Source Recalls Diamond-Shaped Field in 1835

Game:

Base Ball

W. H. Van Cott was one of the organizers of the Gothams in 1852 and was later President of the NABBP. He reported on a conversation with a somewhat forgetful senior citizen in 1905. This man was John Oliver, age 90, who recalled playing baseball in Baltimore in 1825 and seeing it in New York sometime after moving there in 1835.

"I and II. He played the first game of Ball when he was 14 years old, 70 years ago. Called Base Ball because of running from base to base, and the field was in the shape of a diamond; 4 bases in all, counting the place of starting as the last one. He believes that the name originated with the game. III. He played Two Old Cat game, but no other . . . . IV and V. He does not remember ever to have played Rounders, but VI. He has an indistinct recollection of the game. VII. He cannot remember any rules."

These reported recollections are somewhat at odds with those of Oliver’s friend and interviewer C. H. McDonald: “He remembers very distinctly having played the game of Base Ball when a boy, both before and after becoming an apprentice. He states that his earliest recollection of the playing of the game was when he was about ten years of age, and at that time the game was played in this manner: The batter held the ball in one hand and a flat stick in the other, tossed the ball into the air and hit on the return, and then ran to either one, two, or three bases depending on the number of boys playing the game. If the ball was caught on the fly or the batter hit with the ball while running the bases, he was out. These bases, so called, at that time, were either stones or pieces of sod was removed [sic], or bare places where grass was scraped off. He remembers seeing the game played frequently while an apprentice boy, but always in this manner, never with a pitcher or a catcher, but sometimes with sides. . . . [Then Oliver is quoted thus:] “I never saw the game played with stakes or poles used for bases instead of stones or sods. Never heard of a game of Rounders. One Old Cat, Two Old Cat, Three Old Cat have seen played, but never have taken part in it myself.” To my question as to what name this base game that he played was called, he said he remembered distinctly that it was known only as BASE BALL . He further stated that he never saw men play ball until he had been in New York a few years . . . [He moved to New York from Baltimore in 1835.]

W. H. Van Cott, Mount Vernon NY, Communication to the Mills Commission, September 22, 1905. Facsimile obtained from the Giamatti Research Center at the Hall of Fame, June 2009. Also, Mills Commission Papers under date of September 26, 1905. Jack M. Doyle, Albert Spalding Scrapbooks, BA SCR 42.

Year
1835
Item
1835.3
Edit

1835.4 A Ballplayer's Progress: "Bound and Catch," "Barn Ball," "Town Ball"

Game:

Town Ball

H. H. Waldo told the Mills Commission: "I commenced playing ball seventy years ago (1835). I was the only one in the game and it was called "Toss up and Catch," or "Bound and Catch." A few years later I played "Barn Ball." Two were in this game, one a thrower against the barn, and catcher on its rebound, unless the batter hit it with a club; if so, and he could run and touch the barn with his bat, and return to the home plate before the ball reached there, he was not out - otherwise he was.

"A few years later the school boys played what was called "Town Ball." That consisted of a catcher, thrower, 1st goal, 2nd goal and home goal. The inner field was diamond shape: the outer field was occupied by the balance of the players, number not limited. The outs were as follows: Three strikes," "Tick and catch," ball caught on the fly, and base runner hit or touched with the ball off from the base. That was sometimes modified by "Over the fence and out." [Note: this places Town Ball at about 1840 or so.]

Letter from H. H. Waldo, Rockford IL, to the Mills Commission, July 7, 1905.

Year
1835
Item
1835.4
Edit

1835c.5 Base Ball Recalled as Very Popular at Exeter

Tags:

Holidays

Game:

Base Ball

"The games of bat-and-ball in former years were various, but most popular were "four old cat" and base ball. The latter alone survives to this day [1883], and in a very changed condition. . . . A very large proportion of the students participated in the sport; and the old residents will readily recall with what regularity. Fast day used to be devoted to the base ball of the period."

Charles H. Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire: A Historical Sketch (News Letter Press, Exeter NH, 1883), page 83. Caveat: The section in which this excerpt resides evidently games played half a century earlier, but other interpretations are possible.

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.5
Edit

1835.6 US Book Describes "Barn Ball," "Base, or Goal Ball."

Game:

Base Ball

Boy's and Girl's Book of Sports [Providence, Cory and Daniels], pp 17-19, per Harold Seymour - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. The base ball material is taken from Carver (1835 entry, above). Also cited by David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199.

Year
1835
Item
1835.6
Edit

1835.7 Boston Common Ballplaying Picture Migrates to Religious Chapbook

The First Lie, or Falsehood Its Own Punishment [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199. The illustration from Carver's The Book of Sports (see 1835 entry, above) reappears here, this time with the caption "the play ground of Mr. Watt's school."

Year
1835
Item
1835.7
Edit

1835.8 Old Woodcut, New Caption Uses the Term "Knock"

Sports of Youth; a Book of Plays [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 200. It's that woodcut from the 1832 Mary's Book of Sports, explained as follows: "One of them stands ready to toss the ball - one to knock it, and two to run after it, if they fail to catch it." This game simply adds batting to the game called "Catch-Ball" in Carver [#1834.1 above].

Year
1835
Item
1835.8
Edit

1835.9 Woodcut from Mary's is Inked Up Again

Two Short Stories, for Little Girls and Boys [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 200. Hey, photography had only been invented five years earlier, so it was still the Age of Woodcuts, and Mary's Book of Sports (#1832.3 above) was the source again.

Year
1835
Item
1835.9
Edit

1835c.10 Ubiquitous Woodcut Pops Up in Cincinnati

The Child's Song Book [Cincinnati, Truman and Smith], David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199. Remember that woodcut so favored by S. Babcock in New Haven? The Cincinnatians got it next. Its debut had been in 1832, in Mary's Book of Sports. [See #1832.2 above]

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.10
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.12 Oops, He Missed It; Will He Be Called "Old Butter Fingers?"

Rose of Affection [New York and Philadelphia, Turner and Fisher], David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199-200. This short chapbook shows a field with a one-handed bat, a trap, but also a pitched ball. "With a bound, see the ball go,/Now high in the air as hit it just so,/No catch is Jo.; oh, how he lingers,/He'll soon have the name of old butter fingers."

Block notes that the term was used for clumsy persons as far back as 1615.

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.12
Edit

1835c.13 MA Gents Recall Boyhood Games in 1830s: Cat, Wicket, OFBB

As reported in 1886, a reunion of men who played together in East Granville MA held a reunion and reflected on their youthful play. The account, which first appeared in a CT paper, The Winsted Herald, noted:

"These old fellows were born before the era of the national game opened. They doubtless knew how to play one, two, and three old cat, and wicket, and the old fashioned kind of base ball when a foul was known as a tick; when a ball, which was not an instrument of torture as now, was thrown at a runner instead of to the baseman . . . "

The story is told in Genovese, Daniel L, The Old Ball Ground: The Chronological History of Westfield Baseball (2004), page 12. Genovese cites the Times and News Letter [City?], July 21, 1886, which had reprinted the Winsted Herald piece. Note: Can we obtain the original article? It seems difficult to distinguish the men's reflections from the notions of the 1886 reporter.

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.13
Edit

1835c.14 Eagle Article Describes Early Ball-Making

"BASE BALLS. Manner and Extent of the Manufacture in this Country - How they were Made Fifty Years Ago - Gradual Progress of the Business," Brooklyn Eagle, February 3rd 1884.

"Half a century ago such base balls as are in use at the present time were entirely unknown. The balls then used were made of rubber and were so lively that when dropped to the ground for a height of six or seven feet they would rebound ten or twelve inches. A blow with the bat would not drive them so far as one of the balls now in use can be driven with the same force, but when they struck the ground they were generally much more difficult to stop on account of their bounding propensities. . . .

"Many balls then in use - in fact nearly all of them - were home made. An old rubber overshoe would be cut into strips a half inch wide and the strips wound together in a ball shape. Over this a covering of woolen yarn would be wound and a rude leather or cloth cover sewn over the yarn. Sometimes the strips of leather were put in a vessel of hot water and boiled until they became gummy, when they would adhere together and form a solid mass of rubber. This, after being would with yarn and covered with leather by the local shoemaker, was a fairly good ball and one that would stand considerable batting without bursting.

"In the lake regions and other sections of the country where sturgeon were plentiful, base balls were commonly made of the eyes of that fish. The eye of a large sturgeon contains a ball nearly as large as a walnut. . . . They made a lively ball, but were more like the dead ball of the present than any ball in use at that time."

Reference and article provided by Rob Loeffler, 10/21/2008. Note: The balls of 1835 were reportedly smaller and lighter [and commonly perceived, at least, to be softer] than regulation balls of the 1850's and later. They would thus "carry" less, and like a tennis ball today, lose more velocity when hit or thrown than a heavier ball.

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.14
Edit

1835c.15 Grown Man Mourns as Trenton's Playing Fields Vanish

Location:

New Jersey

A Trenton NJ commentator pauses to rue the destruction of a favorite old tavern, adding that in the last twenty years "[w]e have seen whole streets spring up as if by magic, The fields where we played ball are now filled with machinery."

 

Sources:

"Local Items," Trenton State Gazette, August 16, 1853. Accessed via subscription search May 20, 2009.

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.15
Edit

1835c.16 Graduate Grimly Recalls Rounders at Greenwich School in England

Game:

Rounders

The memories aren't pleasant. "We endured hunger, cold, and cruelty." Exercise was taken mainly in gymnastics: "As there was no cricket-field, our amusements were much curtailed, a poor game of rounders being the only source of amusement in that line."

"Greenwich School Forty Years Ago," Fraser's Magazine Volume 10 (1874), page 246. Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search ("poor game of rounders").

Circa
1835
Item
1835c.16
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

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

1836.1 "Old-fashioned 'Ball'" Popular in Waterville ME

Tags:

College

Location:

New England

"Baseball and foot ball did not, in those days, ensnare the athletic sympathies and activities of [p36/p37] college boys, but old-fashioned 'ball' and quoits were popular."

Asahel C. Kendrick, Martin B. Anderson: A Biography (American Baptist Publications Society, Philadelphia, 1895), pp 36-37. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Seymour's note implies that the section heading in which this text appears is "(1836) "Ball" at Waterville [Later Colby College]." Sources found by John Thorn [email of 2/9/2008] and Mark Aubrey [email of 1/30/2008].

Year
1836
Item
1836.1
Edit

1836.2 German Book of Games Copies Gutsmuths' Base-ball Piece

Werner, Johann A. L., Die reinst Quelle jugendlicher Freuden (The Purest Source of Joy for Youngsters) [Dresden and Leipzig, Arnoldi], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 200. This survey of 300 games, called "notably unoriginal" by Block, repeats Gutsmuths' (see entry #1796.1, above) material on base-ball, explaining "This game originates by way of England, where it bears the name base-ball, and it played there very frequently." Note: Is this last comment also derivative of the Gutsmuths text, or does it confirm "base-ball" play in England in the 1820s and 1830s?

Year
1836
Item
1836.2
Edit

1836.3 Little Learners Chapbook Shows Trap-ball

Little Lessons for Little Learners [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 201. The trap hadn't disappeared from CT yet.

Year
1836
Item
1836.3
Edit

1836c.4 The Ballgames "Old Cat" and "Base" Played in Concord MA

Game:

Base Ball

[Continuing a list of games that boys played:] " . . . various games of ball. These games of ball were much less scientific and difficult than the modern games. Chief were four old-cat, three old-cat, two old-cat, and base."

Hoar, George F., Autobiography of Seventy Years Volume 1 (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1905), page 52. Hoar was ten years old in 1836. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.

Circa
1836
Item
1836c.4
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

1836.6 Georgetown U Students "play Ball"

In a letter to a friend in 1836, a Georgetown Student wrote, "the Catholics think it no harm to play Ball, Draughts, or play the Fiddle and dance of a Sunday . . . "

Cited in Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 316, as follows: Georgetown Student Letter, August 27, 1836, quoted in Betty Spears and Richard Swanson, History of Sport and Physical Activity in the United States, Second Edition (William C. Brown, Dubuque, 1983), page 85.

Year
1836
Item
1836.6
Edit

1836.7 Scots Still Play "Ball Paces," a Type of Trap Ball with Running

Game:

Oddball

"'The Ball Paces' was formerly much played, but is now almost extinct. In this game a square was formed; and each angle was a station where one of the party having the innings was posted. A hole was dug in the ground, sufficient to hold the ball, which was placed on a bit of wood, rising about six inches above the ball. The person at the hole struck the point of this with his bat, when the ball rose; and in its descent [p116/p117] was struck with the bat to as great a distance as possible. Before the ball was caught and thrown into the batman's station, each man at the four angles ran from one point to another, and every point counted one in the game." George Penny, Traditions of Perth (Dewar & Co., Perth, 1836), pp 116/17... Provided by David Block, email of 5/17/2005.

David's accompanying comment: "From the description it appears to be a remarkable hybrid of trap-ball and the multiple goal version of stool-ball described by Strutt. . . . This is the first trap-ball type game I've ever come across that features baserunning." Penny also mentions cricket: "Cricket was never much practiced in Scotland, though much esteemed by the English. It was lately introduced here; several cricket clubs established; and is now becoming popular." Ibid, page 117.

Year
1836
Item
1836.7
Edit

1836.8 New Bedford MA: "No Person Shall Play at Ball"

Tags:

Bans

Location:

New England

In June the town wrote new by-laws:

"Section Eighth: No person shall play at ball, fly a kite, or slide down hill upon a sled, or play at other game so as to incommodate peaceable citizens or passengers, in any street, lane, or public place in this town, under a penalty not exceeding one dollar for each offence."

"By-Laws of the Town of New Bedford," New Bedford [MA] Mercury, September 30, 1836. Accessed via subscription search May 5, 2009. Note: See #1821.6 above: this by-law simply adds "public places," and doubles the penalty, for the rule made 15 years earlier.

Year
1836
Item
1836.8
Edit

1836.9 Milwaukee Ballplaying Recalled, and the Ball Long Preserved

"In April 1892 the Milwaukee [WI] Old Settler's Club received a ball from a Mr. E. W. Edgerton which the young men used to play ball in 1836. The ball was made of yarn wound on a rubber center. The cover was cut in quarters. Mr. Edgerton stated he made the ball himself, and the cover was sewed on by Mrs. Edward Wiesner, wife of the first shoemaker in Milwaukee. Edgerton gave the names of some of his fellow 1836 players, some familiar in Milwaukee's early history."

Posting to the 19CBB listserve by Dennis Pajot, January 3, 2010. In 1946 a journalist speculated that the N-old-cat games were what was likely played in 1836 Dennis cites the April 19, 1892 issues of the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel.

Year
1836
Item
1836.9
Edit

1836.11 Recollections of a Jersey City Boy

Location:

Jersey City

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

From John Thorne, July 28, 2015:

"This just in from Ben Zimmer, a Facebook friend who writes for the Wall 
Street Journal. Important, I think.

You might be interested in another early baseball example -- it's from 
the Jersey Journal from Jersey City (where I live!), written in 1871 but 
recalling a protoball club of the 1830s:

Jersey Journal, Dec. 13, 1871, p. 1, col. 3
"Recollections of a Jersey City Boy, No. 3."
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 would rather get hit by any 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."

Bentley later became the town's mayor.

Sources:

Jersey Journal, Dec. 13, 1871, p. 1, col. 3

Warning:

John Zinn: It feels to me that the author 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 suggests, important.

Comment:

John Zinn: The article in question is the third in a series that appeared in the Evening (Jersey) Journal late in 1871.  I've been able to find the first two (it's not clear if there were any more) and this is the only reference to base ball.  

John Zinn: Found two more articles by our anonymous author, but with a lot of biographical information suggesting very strongly that he is John W. Pangborn who happened to be the brother of the editor and founder of the Evening Journal.

 

Year
1836
Item
1836.11
Edit

1836c.12 Game With Plugging of Runners Later Recalled in Jersey City

Age of Players:

Adult

"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 .  .  .  . "

Sources:

Jersey Journal, December 13, 1871, page 1, column 3 -- "Recollections of a Jersey City Boy, No. 3."

Warning:

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." 

 

Comment:

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.

 

Circa
1836
Item
1836c.12
Edit

1837.1 A Founder of the Gothams Remembers "First Ball Organization in the US"

Location:

NYC

Age of Players:

Adult

William R. Wheaton, who would several years later help found the Knickerbockers [and write their playing rules], described how the Gothams were formed and the changes they introduced. "We had to have a good outdoor game, and as the games then in vogue didn't suit us we decided to remodel three-cornered cat and make a new game. We first organized what we called the Gotham Baseball Club. This was the first ball organization in the United States, and it was completed in 1837.

"The first step we took in making baseball was to abolish the rule of throwing the ball at the runner and ordered instead that it should be thrown to the baseman instead, who had to touch the runner before he reached the base. During the [earlier] regime of three-cornered cat there were no regular bases, but only such permanent objects as a bedded boulder or and old stump, and often the diamond looked strangely like an irregular polygon. We laid out the ground at Madison Square in the form of an accurate diamond, with home-plate and sand bags for bases."

" . . . it was found necessary to reduce the new rules to writing. This work fell to my hands, and the code I them formulated is substantially that in use today. We abandoned the old rule of putting out on the first bound and confined it to fly catching."

"The new game quickly became very popular with New Yorkers, and the numbers of clubs soon swelled beyond the fastidious notions of some of us, and we decided to withdraw and found a new organization, which we called the Knickerbocker."

See Full Text Below

Sources:

Brown, Randall, "How Baseball Began, National Pastime, 24 [2004], pp 51-54. Brown's article is based on the newly-discovered "How Baseball Began - A Member of the Gotham Club of Fifty Years Ago Tells About It, San Francisco Daily Examiner, November 27, 1887, page 14.

See also:  Randall Brown, "The Evolution of the New York Game," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 81-84.

Warning:

Note that while Wheaton calls his group the "first ball organization," in fact the Philadelphia club that played Philadelphia town ball had formed several years earlier.

Comment:

Note: Brown knows that the unsigned article was written by Wheaton from internal evidence, such as the opening of the article, in the voice of an unnamed reporter: “An old pioneer, formerly a well-known lawyer and politician, now living in Oakland, related the following interesting history of how it originated to an EXAMINER reporter: ‘In the thirties I lived at the corner of Rutgers street and East Broadway in New York. I was admitted to the bar in ’36, and was very fond of physical exercise….’”

Wheaton wrote that the Gotham Club abandoned the bound rule . . . but if so, the Knickerbockers later re-instituted it, and it remained in effect until the 1860s.

Wheaton also recalled that the Knickerbockers at some point changed the base-running rule, which had dictated that whenever a batter "struck out" [made an out, we assume, as strikeouts came later], base-runners left the field.  Under a new interpretation, runners only came in after the third out was recorded. 

Year
1837
Item
1837.1
Edit
Source Text

1837.2 Ball Game Described in Fictional Account of Western Indians

Tags:

Fiction

Game:

Base Ball

Captured by Native Americans, a youth sees them playing a game of ball. The "ball" was part of a sturgeon's head covered with deerskin strips, the club was of hickory, some number of safe-haven bases were formed by small piles of stones, and there was plugging. "Their principal object seemed to be, to send the ball as far as possible, in order for the striker of it, to run around the great space of ground, which was comprised within the area formed by the piles of stones." There is no mention of a pitcher, and if a batter-runner was put out, he would replace the fielder who made the putout. Some games would last for days.

Female Robinson Crusoe, A Tale of the American Wilderness [J. W. Bell, New York, 1837], pp 176-178. Per RH ref 58. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 4-5.

For Text: David Block carries three paragraphs of text from this story in Appendix 7, page 283, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

Year
1837
Item
1837.2
Edit

1837.3 Yale Student Sees College Green Covered With Ballplaying

Tags:

College

Location:

New England

Year
1837
Item
1837.3
Edit

1837.4 Trap-ball Found in Book of "Many Exercises and Exercises for Ladies"

Tags:

Females

Walker, Donald, Games and Sports; Being an Appendix to Manly Exercises and Exercises for Ladies [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 201. Most of this text covers gymnastic routines, but trap-ball is also included. Note: Is this an early use of the term "manly" in sports?

Year
1837
Item
1837.4
Edit

1837.5 "One-Old-Cat" Appears in Children's Story

Gallaudet, Edward, The Jewel, or, Token of Friendship [New York, Bancroft and Holley], page 90, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 201. One sentence appears in a story called The Barlow Knife: "Just then, two of his playmates coming along with a ball, Dick put his knife in his pocket, and went to join them in a game of 'one-old-cat.' Block's comment is that "[t]he brief mention in this story is noteworthy because, despite the game's reputed popularity during the first decades of the nineteenth century, no other reference to the name can be found before 1850. One-old-cat was a form of scrub baseball that required as few as three players and may have been played in America as early as the colonial era."

Year
1837
Item
1837.5
Edit

1837.6 Olympic Ball Club Constitution Requires Umpires

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

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.

Sources:

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. 

Year
1837
Item
1837.6
Edit

1837.7 Canton Illinois Bans Sunday Cricket, Cat, Town-Ball, Etc.

Tags:

Bans

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Cricket

Section 36 of the Canton IL ordinance passed on 3/27/1837 said:

"any person who shall on the Sabbath day play at bandy, cricket, cat, town-ball, corner-ball, over-ball, fives, or any other game of ball, in any public place, shall . . . " [be fined one dollar].

http://www.illinoisancestors.org/fulton/1871_canton/pages95_126.html#firstincorporation, as accessed 1/1/2008. Information provided by David Nevard 6/11/2007. See also #1837.8, below. Canton IL is about 25 miles SW of Peoria.

On January 31, 2010, Jeff Kittel indicated that he has found the text in another source: History of Fulton County, Illinois (Chapman & Co., Peoria, 1879), pp 527-528. Accessed 2/6/10 via Google Books search ("history of fulton" 1879). Jeff, noting that the ban appeared just 37 days after Canton was incorporated, adds:

"It seems that they had a lively community of ballplayers in Fulton County. Obviously, if they're passing laws against the playing of ball, ball-playing is so widely prevalent, and there is such a variety of ball games being played, then pre-modern baseball had been played in the community for some time. It's fascinating that one of the first things they did, upon incorporation, was ban ball-playing on the Sabbath."

Year
1837
Item
1837.7
Edit

1837.8 Well, As Goes Canton, So Goes Indianapolis

Tags:

Bans

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Cricket

Section 34 of an Indianapolis IN ordinance said:

"Any person who shall on the Sabbath day play at cricket, bandy, cat, town ball, corner ball, or any other game of ball within the limits of the corporation, or shall engage in pitching quoits or dollars in any public place therein, shall on conviction pay the sum of one dollar for each offense."  [See the very similar #1837.7, above.] 

Richard pointed out in 2008 that these very similar regulations give us the earliest citation for the term "town ball" he knows of, but in 2014 he found the very similar 1834 prohibition on Springfield IL at 1834.9

Sources:

Indiana Journal, May 13, 1837.

Comment:

Note: A dollar fine for "pitching dollars?"

Year
1837
Item
1837.8
Edit

1837.9 Hoboken, NJ - Already a Mecca for Ballplayers

Age of Players:

Adult

"Young men that go to Hoboken to play ball must not drink too much brandy punch. It is apt to get into their heads. Now it is a law in physics that brandy in a vacuum gets impudent and big."

Sources:

New York Herald (April 26, 1837), page? Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 10/27/2008.

Year
1837
Item
1837.9
Edit

1837.10 In Recession, Doughty Ex-Workers Play Ball, Leave Town for Home

Location:

New England

"One of the most interesting places in New England for the beauty of its scenery the extent of its manufactories, and the industry of its inhabitants, is the town of Haverhill Mass. At Haverhill more shoes are made, Lynn excepted, than at any place in this country. Nine-tenths of the mechanics, not long since, in consequence of the hard times, were thrown out of employ. The assembled together, laughed at their misfortunes, marched through the streets, played ball for a day and as soon as possible exchanged the shoe-shop for the farm house."

"New England Girls and Young Men," Jamestown [NY] Journal, July 19, 1837. This story is evidently based on a report in the Haverhill Gazette. Accessed via subscription search May 20, 2009. Haverhill MA is about 30 miles north of Boston and near the NH border. A serious recession gripped the US economy in 1837.

Year
1837
Item
1837.10
Edit

1837.11 "Wide Strike Zone" Fails to Level Lords-vs-Commoners Cricket Match in England

"[O]n one memorable occasion . . . in July, 1837, Mr. Ward proposed, as a method of equalizing the Gentlemen and Players, that the former should defend [three] wickets of twenty-seven by eight inches; the latter [defend] four stumps thirty-six by twelve [inches]. This was called the "Barn-door Match," or "Ward's Folly," and notwithstanding the great odds against them, the Players won in a single innings by ten runs."

Robert MacGregor, Pastimes and Players (Chatto and Windus, 1881), page 17. Accessed 2/7/2010 via Google Books search (macgregor pastimes).

Year
1837
Item
1837.11
Edit

1837c.12 Erasmus Hall School Alum Recalls Three-Base Game with Plugging

Game:

Base Ball

On July 3, 2009, David Dyte posted the following account on the 19CBB listserve:

"In 1894, the Brooklyn Eagle published an article recounting the various games played by Colonel John Oakey, a former A.D.A., when he was a child growing up in Brooklyn and Flatbush [NY]. From 1837 he attended the Erasmus Hall Academy, and told this story:

'Erasmus Hall academy 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 binders, 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 cries 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.'"

Circa
1837
Item
1837c.12
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

1838c.1 NY Game Reportedly Played on Long Island Well Before Knicks Formed

"Mr. Charles Bost [DeBost- LMc.] the catcher and captain of the Knickerbockers, played baseball on Long Island fifty years ago, (i.e., in 1838) and it was the same game the Knickerbockers afterward played."

As told by Knickerbocker captain Charles DeBost in 1888, covered at Henderson, p. 150, no ref given. Note: Henderson puts these words in quotation marks, but does not indicate whom he is quoting.

Circa
1838
Item
1838c.1
Edit

1838.2 St. George Cricket Club Forms in NYC

Game:

Cricket

The St. George Cricket Club of New York City is formed, composed of English-born American residents. Its professional player was Sam Wright, father of baseball notables Harry and George Wright.

Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: Source is Chadwick Scrapbooks, Volume 20.

Year
1838
Item
1838.2
Edit

1838.3 Cooper Novel Home as Found Mentions Ballplaying in Cooperstown

"'Do you refer to the young men on the lawn, Mr. Effington? . . . Why, sir, I believe they have always played ball in that precise locality.'

He called out in a wheedling tone to their ringleader, a notorious street brawler. 'A fine time for sport, Dickey; don't you think there would be more room in the broad street than on this crowded lawn, where you lose our ball so often in the shrubbery?'

'This place will do, on a pinch,' bawled Dickey, 'though it might be better. If it weren't for the plagued house, we couldn't ask for a better ball-ground. . . '

'Well, Dickey . . . , there is no accounting for tastes, but in my opinion, the street would be a much better place to play ball in than this lawn . . . There are so many fences hereabouts . . . It's true the village trustees say there shall be no ball-playing in the street [see item #1816.1 above - LM], but I conclude you don't much mind what they say or threaten.'"

Thus James Fenimore Cooper, in his novel Home As Found, describes the return of the Effingham family to Templeton and their ancestral home in Cooperstown, NY. The passage is thought to be based on a similar incident in Cooper's life in 1834 or 1835. In an unidentified photocopy held in the HOF's "Origins of Baseball" file, the author of A City on the Rise, at page 11, observes that "Cooper was the first writer to connect the game with the national character, and to recognize its vital place in American life." Another source calls this "the first literary ball game:"

http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/cooperstown/baseball.html. Caveat: In a 1/24/2008 posting to 19BCC, Richard Hershberger writes: I believe the consensus on the Cooper reference is that it likely was something more hockey-like than baseball-like."

James Fenimore Cooper, Home as Found [W.A. Townsend and Co., New York 1860] Chapter 11. The 1838 first edition was published by Lea and Blanchard in Philadelphia - data submitted by John Thorn, 7/11/2004.

Year
1838
Item
1838.3
Edit

1838.4 First Recorded Base Ball game in Canada [as reported in 1886]?

Location:

Canada

Game:

Base Ball

Residents of Oxford County gather near Beachville, Ontario, to play the first recorded game of baseball in Canada (reported only in 1886). The Canadian version uses five bases, a three strikes rule and three outs to a side. Foul lines are described.

Ford, Dr. Adam E., Sporting Life, May 5, 1886. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 9-11. For more historical data on this event, see Nancy B. Bouchier and Robert Knight Brown, "A Critical Examination of a Source on Early Ontario Baseball: The Reminiscences of Adam E. Ford," Journal of Sport History, volume 15 [Spring 1988], pp. 75-87. This paper concludes that the New York game reached Ontario no earlier than 1849.

Caveat: Richard Hershberger, email of 1/14/2008, expresses the possibility that aspects of the Ford account are the result of a "confused recollection, with genuine old features and modern features misremembered and attributed to the old game." One problem is that the foul territory as described in 1886 is hard to fathom; Richard also notes that use of the 3-out-all-out rule would make this game the only non-NYC game with three-out innings. Ford also implies that games were then finished at the end of an agreed number of innings, not by reaching an agreed number of scores. He also states that older players in the 1838 game had played a like game in their youth. Adam Ford was seven years old in 1838.

For full text of Dr. Ford's 1886 letter, see the supplemental text.

Year
1838
Item
1838.4
Edit
Source Text

1838.5 At GA, "Baseball and Cricket Had Not Evolved"

Tags:

College

Location:

US South

Game:

Cricket

"Games and gymnasiums as a regular part of college work, and hence regular organizations of students for athletics, were unknown at that time. Athletics and games there were indeed a plenty, but as purely spontaneous expressions of abounding vitality. I was light, active, and fleet of foot, and became very expert in gymnastics and as a player of town-ball, for baseball and cricket had not yet evolved." [LeConte writes of his college years at the University of Georgia in Athens. He entered as a freshman in January 1838.]

LeConte, Joseph. The Autobiography of Joseph Le Conte (D. Appleton & Company, New York, 1903), page 46. Provided by John Thorn, email of 7/9/04

Year
1838
Item
1838.5
Edit

1838.6 Yikes, Here it is Again!

The Poetic Gift; or Alphabet in Rhyme [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 202. Another chapbook. Mister Babcock again dusts off that baseball woodcut from the 1832 Mary's Book of Sports (see item #1832.3 item above).

Year
1838
Item
1838.6
Edit

1838.7 English Anthology of Games Puts "Squares" Among Safe-Haven Ballgames

Game:

Rounders

Montague, W., The Youth's Encyclopedia of Health: with Games and Play Ground Amusements [London, W. Emans], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 202-203. This book covers trap-ball, listing the ways that a batter could be put out. But then, there's "squares."

Reports Block: "a short passage describ[es] a game called squares, which was nearly identical to early baseball and rounders. The text depicts four bases laid out in a square, although it is ambiguous as to whether home plate was one of the four bases or a separate location. The bases are described as being a 'considerable distance' apart, which suggests that the dimensions may have been larger than other versions of early baseball. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only instance of the name 'squares' being used as a pseudonym for baseball or rounders. The author was obviously not impressed with the pastime, concluding . . . : 'There is nothing particular[ly] fascinating in this game.'" Note: follow up to reflect games covered.

For Text: David Block carries a paragraph of text in Appendix 7, page 284, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

Year
1838
Item
1838.7
Edit

1838c.8 First US Baseball Poem[?]: There is No "Puling Cry" in Baseball

"Walter Colton Abbott, of Michigan, sends to The Gazette a copy of what he believed to be the first verse of rhyme inspired by the national game. It was published in the New York News and Courier about the year 1838, and is as follows:

"Then dress, then dress, brave gallants all,/ Don uniforms amain;/ Remember fame and honor call/ Us to the field again/ No shrewish tears shall fill our eye/ When the ball club's in our hand,/ If we lose we will not sigh,/ Nor plead a butter hand./ Let piping swain and craven jay/ Thus weep and puling cry,/ Our business is like men to play,/ Or know the reason why."

National Daily Baseball Gazette, April 20, 1887. Submitted by John Thorn 8/9/2002 Note: Assuming the date is recalled correctly [help?] this rhyme is notable for the reference to uniforms, for the notion that the "national game" was in full swing in 1838, and for the emphasis on manly demeanor. "A butter hand" refers to the butterfingers jibe. A later letter to the Gazette's editor stated that the verse was adapted from William Motherwell's "Song of the Cavalier."

Circa
1838
Item
1838c.8
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

1838.10 Brooklyn's First Cricket Match?

Game:

Cricket

[A] "It was in the fall of 1838 that we remember the first cricket match played in Brooklyn. The game of course, was a great novelty to the Brooklyn people of the time, except to such portion of them as wren of English birth. . . . The contestants were Nottingham men and Sheffielders." Sheffield won, 167 to 44.

 [B] Ryczek's Baseball-s First Inning (page 101) calls this contest the "first widely-reported 'modern' cricket match."

Sources:

"Sporting Reminiscences," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 16, 1873.

William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 101.

Year
1838
Item
1838.10
Edit

1838.11 On a Day Trip to Camden NJ, Philly Man Documents Olympic Club

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Town Ball

"Messrs Editors - Feeling desirous the other day of breathing air somewhat purer [than Philadelphia PA's, I took the ferry to Camden]. I took up a stroll into the bordering woods; it being a lovely day, all nature seemed to be in vegetation. A small distance from the woods, I beheld a party of young men (the majority of whom I afterwards distinguished to be Market street merchants) and who styled themselves the "Olympic Club," a title well answering to its name by the manner in which the party amused itself in the recreant pleasure of town ball, and several other games. In my estimation, there is much benefit to be derived from a club of this nature. Young men who are confined to the daily toils of business, and who can get away . . . should avail themselves of the opportunity to become associated with the "Olympic Club." Signed, H.M.O.

Public Ledger(Philadelphia PA) May 14, 1838. Posted by Richard Hershberger to the 19CBB listserve, April 1, 2009. Subscription search. Richard notes that this becomes the earliest Philly ref to town ball, and pushes back from 1858 the earliest contemporary account of the Olympics. 1838 is also the reported date of the Club's constitution. Note: The writer and editor obviously expected readers to be familiar with town ball, and the name town ball.

Year
1838
Item
1838.11
Edit

1839.1 Graves Letters of 1905 Say that Doubleday Invented Base Ball

Game:

Town Ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

[A] Abner Doubleday, who was to become a Civil War notable, is much later (1905) said to have "invented" baseball at Cooperstown, New York, according to the findings of the Mills Commission (1905-1907), a group of baseball magnates appointed by the American and National League Presidents to investigate the origins of baseball. The Commission bases its findings almost entirely on letters received from Abner Graves, a resident of Cooperstown in his childhood. The Commission's findings are soon discredited by historians who proclaim the "Doubleday Invention" to be entirely a myth.

The Doubleday game, according to Graves' offerings, retained the plugging of runners, eleven players per team, and flat bats that were four inches wide. Graves sees the main improvement of the Doubleday game that it limited the size of teams, while town ball permitted "twenty to fifty boys in the field."

Graves believed that Abner Doubleday was 16 or 17 years old when he saw him lay out his improved game [in fact, Doubleday was 20 in 1839, and at West Point]. Graves himself declined to fix a year to the Doubleday plan, suggesting that it might have occurred in 1839, 1840, or 1841. In choosing 1839, the Commission rested its story on the memory of a boy who was then 5 years old.

 [B] Mark Pestana provides a scenario of this game, which he considers more likely to have taken place in 1840.

[C] As Pestana does, Hugh MacDougall wonders if Graves was confusing (General) Abner Doubleday with his younger cousin, Abner D. Doubleday, who was closer to Graves' age and was in Cooperstown at the time.

Sources:

[A] Three Letters from Abner Graves -- two letters to the Mills Commission, April 3, 1905 and November 17, 1905 and one of unknown details. To read them, go here.

[B] Mark Pestana, "The Legendary Doubleday Game", Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 3-5

[C] Hugh MacDougall, Abner Graves: The Man who Brought Baseball to Cooperstown, 2011. 

Year
1839
Item
1839.1
Edit
Source Text

1839.2 NYC Ordinances Permit No Ballplaying, "Or Any Other Sport Whatsoever."

Tags:

Bans

On May 8, the New York City By-laws and Ordinancesprohibit ball playing: "No person shall play at ball, quoits, or any other sport or play whatsoever, in any public place in the City of New York, nor throw stones nor run foot races in or over or upon the same, under the penalty of five dollars for each offence."

Source is By-Laws and Ordinances of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonality of the City of New York. Revised 1838-1839 [William B. Townsend, New York, 1839], page 215.

Year
1839
Item
1839.2
Edit

1839.3 Rutherford Hayes Plays Ball as Student at Kenyon College, OH

In a May 13 letter to his brother, the future President observed: "Playing ball is all the fashion here now and it is presumed that I can beat you at that if not at chess."

 

Sources:

Williams, C. R., ed., Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes: Nineteenth President of the United States volume 1 [Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, Columbus OH, 1922], page 33. 

Year
1839
Item
1839.3
Edit

1839.4 London Magazine Covers "Games with a Ball," Including Stoolball, Tip-Cat

Game:

Rounders

The Saturday Magazine [London], number 430, March 16, 1839, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 203. "Games with a Ball" treats stool-ball, trap-ball, tip-cat, among other games, and owes much to Strutt (see 1801 entry, above). The writer advises, "[Stool-ball] differs but very little from the game of rounders which is much played at the present day at the west of England." Block observes: "It is curious that the author equates rounders and stool-ball, since the former utilized a bat while Strutt's sketch of stool-ball stated that the ball was struck by the bare hand."

Year
1839
Item
1839.4
Edit

1839.5 Cricket Clubs Form in Upstate NY

Game:

Cricket

"Besides New York City and Boston, early organized cricket teams appeared in Albany, Troy and Schenectady, New York in 1839."

Spirit of the Times, September 5, 1839, page 246. 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 14. Caveat: John Thorn questions the accuracy of this article, noting that the Spirit had covered cricket in Albany, Schenectady and Troy in 1838 [email of 2/9/2008].

Year
1839
Item
1839.5
Edit

1839c.6 Doc Adams Enters the Field

Game:

Base Ball

"Adams, known to all as 'Doc,' began to play baseball in 1839. "I was always interested in athletics while in college and afterward, and soon after going to New York I began to play base ball just for exercise, with a number of other young medical men. Before that there had been a club called the New York Base Ball Club, but it had no very definite organization and did not last long. Some of the younger members of that club got together and formed the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club . . . . The players included merchants, lawyers, Union Bank clerks, insurance clerks, and others who were at liberty after 3 o'clock in the afternoon."

From John Thorn, "Doc Adams" in the SABR Biography Project. See http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=639&pid=16943, accessed 12/5/2008. The source for the quoted material, offered when Adams was 81years old, is "Dr. D. L. ADAMS; Memoirs of the Father of Base Ball; He Resides in New Haven and Retains an Interest in the Game," The Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Caveat: the year that Adams began playing is not clear. We know that he finished medical school in Boston in 1838, and he recalls that he next began to practice and that "soon after going" to NYC he began to play. [Email from John Thorn, 2/9/2008.]

Circa
1839
Item
1839c.6
Edit

1840.1 Doc Adams Plays a Ball Game in NYC He [Later] Understands to be Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

D.L. Adams plays a game in New York City that he understands to be base ball, "...with a number of other young medical men. Before that there had been a club called the New York Base Ball Club, but it had no very definite organization and did not last long." The game played by Adams was the same as that played by the men who would become the Knickerbockers. The game was played with an indeterminate number of men to the side, although eight was customary.

Adams, Daniel L, "Memoirs of the Father of Base Ball," Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Per Sullivan, p.14. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 (University of Nebraska Press, 1995), pp. 13-18. Note: the Sullivan extract does not mention 1840; it there another reference that does? John Thorn - email of 12/4/2008 - suggests that the game employed a four-base configuration, not the five bases and square configuration in other games. "The polygonal field sometimes ascribed to the later pre-Knickerbocker players was the likely standard prior to 1830."

Year
1840
Item
1840.1
Edit

1840c.2 Base Ball Reported in Erie PA Area, with Plugging

Game:

Base Ball

"I am now in my eighty-third year, and I know that seventy years ago (i.e., in 1840) as a boy at school in a country school district in Erie County, PA, I played Base Ball with my schoolmates; and I know it was a common game long before my time. It had just the same form as the Base Ball of today, and the rules of the game were nearly the same as they are now. One bad feature of the old game, I am glad to say, is not now permitted. The catchers, both the one behind the batter and those on the field, could throw the ball and hit the runner between the bases with all the swiftness he could put into it - "burn him," it was said.

Letter from Andrew H. Caughey to New YorkTribune, 1910. From Henderson, p. 150-151, no reference given.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.2
Edit

1840c.3 Influx of English Immigrants Brings "Rough Form" of Cricket to NE and Philadelphia PA?

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Cricket

Per Rader, p. 90; [no citation given.] Caveat: recent research does not support this assertion. Caution: the evidence for this needs to be obtained.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.3
Edit

1840s.4 Preppies Brought Base Ball to College Campuses?

Tags:

College

Location:

New England

"Apart from rowing and track, baseball was the only other intercollegiate sport to generate much interest prior to 1869. Boys from the eastern academies introduced a version of baseball to college campuses in the 1840s and 1850s."

Benjamin Rader, American Sports (Prentice-Hall, 1983), page 74: no citation given. Caveat: Recent research calls this assertion into some question, as we now have many prior references to college ballplaying, including cricket and wicket. See http://retrosheet.org/Protoball/Sub.College.htm.

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.4
Edit

1840.5 Chadwick [Later] Reports That "The New York Club" is Organized

At a later time, Henry Chadwick, the first baseball publicist, writes . . ."New York Game originated in 1840...."

Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 161-162. No reference given.

Year
1840
Item
1840.5
Edit

1840.6 New NY Club Forms - Later to Reconstitute as Eagle Base Ball Club

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] In 1840, the Eagle Ball Club of New York is organized to play an unknown game of Ball; in 1852 the club reconstitutes itself as the Eagle Base Ball Club and begins to play the New York Game.

[B] William Wood wrote that the Eagle Club "originally played in the 'old-fashioned way' of throwing the ball to the batter and at the runner in order to put him out."

Sources:

[A] Eagle Base Ball Club Constitution of 1852.

[B]  William Wood, Manual of Physical Exercises (Harper Bros., 1867), pp. 189-190.  See Thorn weblog of 7/16/2005.

 

Year
1840
Item
1840.6
Edit

1840.7 One-handed Bat Shown in Book of Children's Verse

The Book of Seasons, A Gift for the Young [Boston, Wm Crosby], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 203. Block describes an engraving in this book of verse as depicting "three players: a pitcher, a fielder, and a striker standing ready with a short, one-handed bat."

Year
1840
Item
1840.7
Edit

1840.8 Babcock, This Time, Uses a Different Woodcut

The Child's Own Story Book, or Simple Tales [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 204. A woodcut in this chapbook portrays trap-ball in the background.

Year
1840
Item
1840.8
Edit

1840.9 Englishman Sees Base-ball as Commonly Played by Adult Men and Women

Tags:

Females

Blaine, Delabare P., An Encyclopedia of Rural Sports [London, Longman, Orme, Brown, and Longmans], page 131, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 204. The book's slight treatment of ball games states: "There are few of us of either sex but have engaged in base-ball since our majority."

Year
1840
Item
1840.9
Edit

1840.10 St. George, NY Cricket Club, [Accidentally] Plays Toronto for a $250 Side Bet

Location:

Canada

Game:

Cricket

"On the afternoon of August 28, 1840 eighteen members of the St. George's Club [of NY] turned up in Toronto following an exhausting journey through the state of New York by coach and across Lake Ontario by steamer. When they asked about the Toronto Cricket Club, they were told that the members of the Toronto Cricket Club had no knowledge of any such cricket match. [It turned out that an invitation had been sent as a hoax by someone.] Mr. Phillpotts himself was not around and the embarrassed officials of the Toronto Cricket Club hastily called a meeting. Following this meeting, a challenge match was organized between the two clubs for a stake of fifty pounds ($250) a side. A large number of spectators turned out and the band of the 34th Regiment entertained the gathering. His Excellency, Sir George Arthur, the Governor of Upper Canada, witnessed the match which the New Yorkers won by 10 wickets. Following this match, the St. George's Club and the Toronto Cricket Club planned a more proper encounter between the two countries at New York in 1844." From the Dreamcricket website's chronology of American cricket [accessed 10/30/2008]:

http://www.dreamcricket.com/dreamcricket/news.hspl?nid=7254&ntid=4

Year
1840
Item
1840.10
Edit

1840.11 Cover of Widespread School Reader Shows Two Boys Playing Ball

Sanders, Charles W., The School Reader, First Book, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 204. . Different publishers released this 120-page reader in New York, Chicago, Buffalo, Cazenovia NY, Auburn NY, Detroit, and Cincinnati.

Year
1840
Item
1840.11
Edit

1840.12 Chapbook of Games: "Now a Knock, and Swift it Flies"

The Village Green; or, Sports of Youth [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 204. Yes, another chapbook comes out of New Haven, and yes, it again uses the much-traveled woodcut from Mary's Book of Sports from 1832, but now we have some verbal action: "Now a knock, and swift it flies/O'er the plain the troop are flying,/ Joy is sparkling in their eyes,/ As to catch it all are trying."

Year
1840
Item
1840.12
Edit

1840c.13 In Rural OH, Boy Takes Risk of Being "Knocked Breathless" in Sock-About

"On the boisterous playground he took his unavoidable risk of . . . being knocked breathless by a hard ball in 'Sock-about.'"

Venable, W. H., A Buckeye Boyhood (Robert Clarke, Cincinnati, 1911), page 57. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Seymour's annotation says that the book "covers 1836 to 1858 life on Ohio farm." Note: Are we confident that "Sock-about" is a baseball-like game, and not a strong form of a schoolyard game like dodge ball?

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.13
Edit

1840c.14 Chapbook Shows a Ball Game, Recycles the "Butter Fingers" Lines

Juvenile Melodies [New York and Philadelphia, Turner and Fisher], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 204. This chapbook resembles Rose of Affection (see 1835 entry above), including the sad glimpse of the boy who Missed That Catch.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.14
Edit

1840c.15 R is for Richard "With His Bat and Ball"

The Spring of Knowledge or the Alphabet Illustrated [London, J. L. Marks], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 204. The page for the letter R has the caption "Master Richard with his ball and bat." The illustration shows the lad hitting a ball with a bat, with a trap visible at his feet.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.15
Edit

1840.16 "Town Ball" Noted by Traveler from Philadelphia to Cape Island NJ

"Having recently returned from a visit to Cape Island [now Cape May - LMc], I cannot forbear expressing the pleasure it has afforded me . . . [an account of several features follows]. For those who are fond of athletic exercise, some provision has been made; and to see a game of "town ball" played, awakens a desire to participate in the enjoyment . . . ."

"Cape Island," North American and Daily Advertiser, Philadelphia PA, Sunday, July 25, 1840, Issue 416, column D. Provided by John Thorn, email, 10/14/207. Note: Is it safe to infer that Cape Island is on the NJ shore, near Cape May? [N.B.: serial #1840.16 was formerly assigned to stories of Abe Lincoln's ballplaying as a young man; see #1830s.16 for that item.]

Year
1840
Item
1840.16
Edit

1840c.17 Town Ball and Ballmaking in OH

Game:

Town Ball

"Among the favorite games engaged in my the larger boys, special mention may be made of 'Three Corner Cat,' and of 'Town Ball,' the latter sport being a simple form of what has developed into the national game of baseball. Improvised playing-balls were made, not unusually, by winding strong woolen yarn tightly around a central mass of India-rubber, and covering the compact sphere with soft, tough leather cut to the proper shape by a shoemaker."

W. H. Venable, A Buckeye Boyhood [publisher? Date?], page 126. Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.17
Edit

1840.19 Baseball Arrives in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada

Location:

Canada

Game:

Rounders

"The story of baseball in Saint John has a Spalding-Chadwick twist to it. As early as the year 1840, there have been mentions of the sport of baseball in the Port City. As D. R. Jack noted in his Centennial Prize Essay (1783-1883): 'It was a common practice with many of the leading merchants of St. John to assemble each fine summer afternoon after the business day was over . . . where a fine playground has been prepared, and engage in a game of cricket or baseball. This practice was continued until about 1840.' Whether of not this was actually the game of "Rounders" or "Town Ball" is debatable.

Brian Flood, Saint John: A Sporting Tradition 1785-1985 [Henry Flood, 1985], pages 18-19.

Year
1840
Item
1840.19
Edit

1840.20 Base and Cricket are Experimental Astronomy?

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Cricket

"Bat and Ball - Toys, no doubt, have their philosophy, and who knows how deep is the origin of a boy's delight in a spinning top? In playing with bat-balls, perhaps he is charmed with some recognition of the movement of the heavenly bodies, and a game of base or cricket is a course of experimental astronomy, and my young master tingles with a faint sense of being a tyrannical Jupiter driving sphere madly from their orbit."

[Journal entry, June 1, 1840]

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson 1820-1876 [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1911] Volume 5, page 410. Submitted by Wendy Knickerbocker 11/30/2005 posting to 19CBB; citation submitted 1/7/2007.

Year
1840
Item
1840.20
Edit

1840s.21 Early Ball Contents: Nuts, Bullets, Rocks, Fish-eyes

Prior to 1845, baseballs are constructed of cores consisting of nuts, bullets, rocks or shoe rubber gum and even sturgeon eyes wrapped with yarn and covered in leather or sheepskin in the lemon-peel style or the belt/gusset ball style. Both cover styles were identical to those used in feathery golf balls from the 1700s. Typically homemade, the sizes ranged anywhere from 5.1 to 9.8 inches in circumference and could weigh anywhere from 1 oz. to 7 oz. with the typical baseball weighing 3 oz. Because outs were made by "soaking" a runner in games preceding the New York game, the early baseballs were evidently typically lighter.

Submitted by Rob Loeffler, 3/1/07. See "The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007. See also #1835c.14, #1840c.17.

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.21
Edit

1840.22 CT and MA Teams Match Up for Five Games of Wicket

"WICKET BALL - The ball players of this city [Hartford CT] met with those of Granville Mass. [about 12 miles east of Springfield] in accordance with a challenge from the latter . . . on Wednesday last, for the purpose of trying their skill at the game of 'Wicket.' The sides were made up of 25 men each, and the arrangement was to play nine games, but the Hartford players beating them five times in succession, the game was considered fairly decided, and the remaining four games were not played." Then th e two sides shared dinner.

Pittsfield Sun, Sunday, July 2, 1840; reprinted from the Hartford Times. Provided by Richard Hershberger, 6/19/2007. Note: It may be that the match was a best-of-nine set of games to a specified number of runs. Was this arrangement common in wicket?

Year
1840
Item
1840.22
Edit

1840c.23 Old-Fashioned Ballgame Noted in Antebellum GA

Location:

US South

Game:

Base Ball

"A number of gentlemen are about to form another base ball club, the game to be played after the fashion in the South twenty years ago, when old field schools were the scenes of trial of activity, and rosy cheeked girls were the umpires"

Macon Daily Telegraph, March 2, 1860. Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 9/11/2007.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.23
Edit

1840.24 Unusual Georgia Townball Described in Unusual Detail

Location:

US South

Game:

Base Ball

Richard Hershberger located [and posted to 19CBB on 8/29/2007] a long recollection of "Old Field Games in 1840" including townball. The account, a reprint of an earlier document, appears in James S. Lamar, "Pioneer Days in Georgia," Columbus [GA] Enquirer, March 18, 1917, [page?].

"Townball" used a circular area whose size and number of [equidistant] bases varied with available space and with number of players [no standard team size is given, but none of the forty boys in school need be left out]. Instead of a diamond, a circle of up to 50 yards in diameter marked the basepaths; thus, a batter would cover on the order of 450 feet in scoring a run. There was a three-strike rule, and a batter could decide not to run on a weak hit unless he had used up two strikes. A member of the batting side pitched, and not aggressively. The ball was small [the core had a 2-inch diameter and was consisted of tightly-would rubber strips, often wound around a lead bullet]. The core was buckskin and the ball was very bouncy. Bats might be round, flat, or paddle-shaped. A ball caught on the fly or first bound was an out. There was plugging. Stealing was disallowed, and leading may have been. Innings were all-out-side-out. There is no mention of backward hitting or foul ground. "If young people want to play ball, Townball is the game. If they simply want to see somebody else play ball, then Baseball may be better"

Full text was accessed at http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/georgiabooks/id:gb0361 on 10/22/2008, and is available here. Note: Lamar's text dates the game at 1840, when he was 10 to 11 years old. One can not tell when the text was written; the last date cited in the text is 1854, but the townball section seems to compare it with baseball from a much later time. The Digital Library of Georgia uses a date of "19—." See: http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/meta/html/dlg/zlgb/meta_dlg_zlgb_gb0361.html. Lamar died in 1908; other sources say 1905.

Year
1840
Item
1840.24
Edit
Source Text

1840c.25 Wicket Played with "Huge Bat" at Barkhamsted CT

Writing in 1879, a man who had lived in the area [about 20 miles NW of Hartford] until 1845 recalls the wicket of his youth.

"Wicket ball" is recalled as having baselines of 20 to 40 feet, an 8-10-foot-wide wicket, a yarn ball 6-10 inches in diameter, hitting "in any direction," and "a huge bat, heavy enough to fell an ox when swung by brawny arms." "It was a healthy, enjoyable game, but that huge ball, hurled with almost giant strength, often caused stomach sickness." Some games were played against teams from neighboring towns.

Lee, William Wallace, "Historical Address," Barkhamsted, Conn., and its Centennial - 1879 (Republican Steam Printers, Meriden CT, 1881), page 67. Text posted to 19CBB 8/13/2007 by Richard Hershberger. Note: The date recalled is merely surmised, and may be wrong. Advice on the period described is welcomed.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.25
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

1840c.27 New Hampshire Farm Boy Plays Baseball, Two Old Cat, Drive

Location:

New England

The [farm] work did not press, usually, and there was plenty of time to learn shooting . . . and for playing the simple games that country boys then understood. Baseball, for instance, - not the angry and gambling game it has since become, - and the easier games of 'one old cat,' 'two old cat,' and 'drive,' played with balls . . . . In such games girls did not join; and the game of cricket, which has long prevailed in England, and in which girls in school now [1905] take part, never was domesticated in New England."

F. B. Sanborn, New Hampshire Biography and Autobiography (private printing, 1905), page 13. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search (sanborn "hampshire biography"). Sanborn was born in 1831 and spent his boyhood in Hampton Falls, NH, which is near the Atlantic coast and about 10 miles south of Portsmouth NH.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.27
Edit

1840s.28 At Hobart College, "Wicket and Baseball Played in Summer"

Tags:

College

Game:

Wicket

At upstate NY's Hobart College in Geneva, "Social events were among the few recreations available; there were no intercollegiate athletics, and no concerted sports at all. . . . wicket and baseball were played in summer, there was skating in winter, and that was about all." Warren Hunting Smith, Hobart and William Smith; the History of Two College (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva NY, 1972), page 123. Caveat: The author is imprecise about the date of this observation; this passage appears in the chapter "Student Life Before 1860," and our impression is that he refers to the 1840s . . . but the 1830s or 1850s cannot be ruled out. Provided by Priscilla Astifan, email of 2/4/2008. Priscilla notes that this book also details a number of somewhat destructive student pranks and drinking. "When I read about all the pranks and dissipation, carousing, etc., I see why base ball and other sports were considered a welcome diversion when they became popular." [Email of 10/22/2008.]

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.28
Edit

1840s.29 Rural Boys "Played Bass Ball" in Western Ohio

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.29
Edit

1840s.30 Ballplayer Recalls Boyhood Matches, Ballmaking, Adult Play

Tags:

Holidays

Location:

New England

On Fast Day [page 68]: "The town meeting was succeeded in April by Fast Day, appointed always for a Thursday. For some unknown reason Thursday in New England was an almost sacred day, a sort of secular Sabbath . . . . Boys were not generally compelled to attend the Fast Day religious service. It had ceased to be as strictly kept as before. In villages and towns there was customarily a match game of ball, very unlike the current [1910] base ball. Boys played [p68/69] with boys and men with men. The New England bootmakers, of whom there were some in most villages, were the leaders in these games."

On ball-making, and on plugging [page 174] : "Our ingenuity was exercised in weaving watch chains in various patterns with silk twist; in making handsome bats for ball, and in making the balls themselves with the raveled yarn of old stockings, winding it over a bit of rubber, and sewing on a cover of fine thin calf skin. This ball did not kill as it struck one, and, instead of being thrown to the man on the bases was more usually at thee man running between them. He who could make a good shot of that kind was much applauded, and he who was hit was laughed at and felt very sheepish. That was true sport, plenty of fun and excitement, yet not too serious and severe. The issue of the game was talked over for a week. I did my daily stint of stitching with only one thing in mind, to [p174/175] play ball when through; for the boys played every afternoon. When there was to be a match game the men practiced after the day's work was done."

On bootmakers [page 170]: "The smaller [bootmaking] shops were the centers for the gossip, rumors, and discussions which agitated the community. There men sharpened their wits upon each other, played practical jokes, sang, argued the questions of that [p170/171] day, especially slavery, and arranged every week from early spring to late autumn a match game of ball either among themselves or the bootmakers of neighboring towns for Saturday afternoon, which was their half holiday."

John Albee, Confessions of Boyhood (R.G. Badger, Boston, 1910). Albee was born in 1833 and grew up in Bellingham MA, about 30 miles SW of Boston and in the heart of Round Ball [Mass game] territory, with neighboring towns of Holliston, Medway, Sharon, and Dedham. The book is found via a "confessions of boyhood" search via Google Books, as accessed 11/14/2008.

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.30
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

1840s.32 Ballplaying by Slaves is Part of a Normal Plantation Sunday in GA

Location:

US South

"The slaves had finished the tasks that had been assigned to them in the morning and were now enjoying holiday recreations. Some were trundling the hoop, some were playing ball, some were dancing at the sound of the fiddle . . . In this manner the Sabbath is usually spent on a Southern plantation." Emily Burke, Pleasure and Pain: Reminiscences of Georgia in the 1840s (Beehive Press, Savannah, GA, 1991), pages 40-41. Originally published in Ohio in 1850. Text unavailable 11/08 on Google Books.

Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30. Tom [ibid] describes Burke as a northern schoolteacher.

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.32
Edit

1840c.33 Future University Head Plays Two Types of Ball in NC

Location:

US South

Game:

Oddball

Kemp Battle, who moved to Raleigh NC at age 8, and who would stay to become President of the University of North Carolina, wrote later of two forms of local ballplaying. The first involved high and low pitching to the batter's taste, leading and stealing, plugging - the ball was loosely wrapped—the bound rule, a three-strike rule, and one-out-side-out innings. [The absence of foul ground, team size, and nature/spacing of bases are not mentioned.] The second form, "known as old hundred or town ball" used all-out-side-out innings, with the last batter able to revive vanquished team members with certain feats.

W. Battle, ed., Memories of an Old-Time Tar Heel (U of NC Press, Chapel Hill NC, 1945), pages 36 and 57. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 31. The text of the Battle book is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.33
Edit

1840c.34 Ball-Playing at Marshall College in PA

Tags:

College

"The College did not supply the students [p167/168] of that day with a gymnasium as an incentive to physical exercise; but they themselves naturally found out the kind of recreations they needed . . . . [In addition to local excursions,] [s]ometimes ball-playing was the recreation, and sometimes it was leaping or jumping, that brought the largest crowd"

Theodore Appel, Recollections of College Life, at Marshall College, Mercersburg, Pa., from 1839 to 1845 (Daniel Miller, Reading PA, 1886), pp. 167-168. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 33. Mercersburg is about 60 miles SW of Harrisburg and about 10 miles from the border with Maryland. The text was accessed 11/16/2008 via a Google Books search "appel mercersburg."

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.34
Edit

1840.35 Carlisle PA Bans Playing Ball

Tags:

Bans

"It shall not be lawful for any person or persons . . . to frequent and use the market-house as a place for playing ball or any other game." "An Ordinance Relating to Nuisances and Other Offences Passed the 30th November, 1840," in Chatter and Ordinances of the Borough of Carlisle (Carlisle Herald Office, Carlisle, 1841), page 43. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 37. The fine was up to $10.00. Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search for "carlisle ordinances." Carlisle PA is about 20 miles WSW of Harrisburg in southern PA.

Year
1840
Item
1840.35
Edit

1840s.36 VA Lad Plays Chermany at Recess

Location:

US South

Game:

Oddball

"Our recess games were chiefly chermany and bandy ("hockey").

Moncure Daniel Conway, Autobiography: Memories and Experiences (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1905), page 35. Accessed via Google Books 12/16/2008, search "conway autobiography." The recesses were enjoyed at a school in Fredericksburg VA, which Conway attended from about 1842 to 1847, ages 10 to 15. Chermany has been described as a "variety of baseball" played in Virginia and perhaps elsewhere in the South: Frederic Gomes Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall, Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1985), page 604. Fredericksburg is about 55 miles north of Richmond and about 55 miles SW of Washington DC. Thanks to Tom Altherr for the lead to "chermany" [email of 12/10/2008].

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.36
Edit

1840c.37 The Boyhood of Fallen Ohio Union Officer Had Included "Touch the Base"

Game:

Base Ball

Major-General James McPherson was the highest-ranking Ohioan to die in the Civil War. His family has mover from Western New York State to Ohio, where he was born and grew up in Sandusky OH. A family member recalls:

"He was fond of all out-door sports and manly games . . . . 'Touch the base' was the favorite game, and of all who engaged in the romp, none were more eager or happy than 'Jimmy.'" Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Generals and Soldiers Volume 1 (Moore Wilstach and Baldwin, Cincinnati, 1868), page 561. Query: Do we know what "touch the base" was? A base-oriented ball game? A species of tag? Akin to prisoner's base?

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.37
Edit

1840.38 Boston-Style "Bat and Ball" Seen in Honolulu HI

Age of Players:

Youth

"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 . . . ."

 

Sources:

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.

Year
1840
Item
1840.38
Edit

1840c.39 Cricket [or Maybe Wicket?] Played by Harvard Class of 1841

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Youth

"Games of ball were played almost always separately by the classes, and in my case cricket prevailed. There were not even matches between classes, so far as I remember, and certainly not between colleges. . . . The game was the same then played by boys on Boston Common, and was very unlike what is now [1879] called cricket. Balls, bats, and wickets were all larger than in the proper English game; the bats especially being much longer, twice as heavy, and three-cornered instead of flat. . . . What game was it? Whence it came? It seemed to bear the same relation to true cricket that the old Massachusetts game of base-ball bore to the present 'New York' game, being less artistic, but more laborious."

 

Sources:

Member of the Class of 1841, "Harvard Athletic Exercises Thirty Years Ago," Harvard Advocate [Cambridge MA], Volume 17, number 9 (June 12, 1879), page 131. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search <"wickets were all larger" "harvard advocate">.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.39
Edit

1840s.40 American Cricketers Play in Canada

Location:

Canada

Game:

Cricket

"American cricketers had gone to Canada as early as 1840, and there were several matches between the two countries in the next several years. Although the contests were ostensibly between the United States and Canada, the American eleven was generally comprised entirely of Englishmen."

William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (MacFarland, 2009), page 104. Ryczek's source may have been the Chadwick Scrapbooks.

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.40
Edit

1840s.41 Town Ball Recalled in Central IL

Location:

Illinois

Game:

Town Ball

"Men had the hunt, the chase, the horse-race, foot-race, the jolly meetings at rude elections . . . pitching horseshoes - instead of quoits, town-ball and bull-pen."

James Haines, "Social Life and Scenes in the Early Settlement of Central Illinois," Transactions of the Illinois State Historical Society for the Year 1905 (Illinois State Journal Co, Springfield, 1906), page 38. Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search ("quoits, town-ball and"). The author addressed local amusements before 1850.

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.41
Edit

1840s.42 Town Ball Club Finds Spot in NYC For Playing

Game:

Town Ball

"In the early '40s a town ball club arranged to hold its games on a vacant plot across from the Harlem Railroad depot on 27th and Fourth."

Randall Brown, "How Baseball Began," The National Pastime, 2004, page 53. Brown does not give a source. Query: do we know of other references to town ball in New York? Can we find the source for this entry?

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.42
Edit

1840c.43 Lad in Southern Illinois Played Four Old Cat

Location:

Illinois

"We played marbles and we played a game of ball in which there were four corners, four batters, and four catchers, 'for old cat' as it was then called."

Fred Lockley, "Reminiscences of William H. Packwood," The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society Volume 16 (1915-1916), page 37. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search ("william h. packwood"). Packwood was born in 1832 and as a boy lived in Sparta, IL, about 50 miles SE of St. Louis.

Circa
1840
Item
1840c.43
Edit

1840.44 Hartford Players Best Granville MA Players at Wicket

Game:

Wicket

Age of Players:

Adult

"WICKET BALL -- The ball players of this city met those of Granville, Mass., in accordance with a challenge from the latter, at Salmon Brook, about 17 miles from here (half way between the two places) on Wednesday last, for the purpose of trying their skill at the game of 'Wicket.' The sides were made up of 25 men each, and the arrangement was to play nine games, but the Hartford players beating them five times in succession, the game was considered fairly decided, and the remaining four games were not played.  The affair, we understand, passed off very pleasantly, and the parties separated, with the utmost harmony, after partaking of a dinner provided for the occasion."

Sources:

Hartford Times, June 27, 1840, page 3.

Comment:

Granville MA -- 1850 population about 1300 -- is about 22 miles NW of Hartford, very near the MA-CT border.  Hartford's population in 1840 was about 9500.

Year
1840
Item
1840.44
Edit

1841.1 Compendium Describes [Pentagonal] 5-Base Rounders, Feeder

Game:

Rounders

Williams, J. L., The Every Boy's Book, a Compendium of All the Sports and Recreations of Youth [London, Dean and Munday], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 205. This big book covered hundreds of children's pastimes, including feeder, the German game "ball-stock" (ball-stick), and a version of rounders that, unlike the 1828 Boy's Own Book (see 1828 entry above) is played with five bases laid out in a pentagon instead of four in a diamond, and counter-clockwise running.

For Text: David Block carries two long paragraphs and a field diagram of feeder, and a two-paragraph description of rounders, in Appendix 7, pages 284-286, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

Year
1841
Item
1841.1
Edit

1841.2 Boston Common Ballplaying Scene Appears on Writing Tablet

Location:

New England

Specimens of Penmanship [Bridgeport, CT, J. B. Sanford], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 206. The image first appeared in Carver's Book of Sports (see 1834 entry).

Year
1841
Item
1841.2
Edit

1841.3 Chapbook Gives "Papa's Advice:" Don't Play During Study Hours!

Instruction and Amusement for the Young [New Haven, S. Babcock], page 23, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 205. This chapbook has a wee drawing of ball play on the cover, and the poem "Papa's Advice to Herbert," which includes: "When grandmamma calls,/ Give up bat and balls,/ And quickly your lessons begin." Shades of John Bunyan!

Year
1841
Item
1841.3
Edit

1841.4 Babcock Adds Woodcut of Trap-ball to New Chapbook

Gilbert, Ann, and Jane Taylor, The Snow-drop: A Collection of Rhymes for the Nursery [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 205 - 206. This 24-page chapbook includes a trap-ball scene and a "small baseball image," notes Block.

Year
1841
Item
1841.4
Edit

1841.5 Cover of Chapbook Shows Boys Playing Ball

The Gift of Friendship [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 205. We're getting the impression that kids liked ballplaying in these years . . . or at least that publishers believed that they did.

Year
1841
Item
1841.5
Edit

1841.6 School Reader Shows Batter and Pitcher

Sanders, Charles W., The School Reader. Third Book [New York, M. Newman], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 205. Sanders includes a schoolyard scene involving a batter and pitcher.

Year
1841
Item
1841.6
Edit

1841.7 "Games of Ball and Bat" Played in Nova Scotia

Location:

Canada

"The Nova Scotian newspaper of July 1, 1841, 26 years before Canadian confederation, noted that on 24 Jude 1841 the St. Mary's Total Abstinence Society of Halifax sailed to Dartmouth across the bay and there between 700 and 800 met, and at which, 'Quadrille and Contra dances were got up on the green - and games of ball and bat, and such sports proceeded.'"

William Humber, "Baseball and Canadian Identity," College Quarterly, volume 8 number 3 [summer 2005] page? Submitted by John Thorn 3/30/2006.

Year
1841
Item
1841.7
Edit

1841.8 Philadelphia Cricket Club Issues Challenge for Matches at $50 to $100

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Cricket

"The Philadelphia Ledger for November 1, 1841, carried an advertisement from the Wakefield Mills Cricket Club challenging 'the best eleven in the city to play two home-and-home games for from $50 to $100.'"

John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia PA, 1951], page 15.

Year
1841
Item
1841.8
Edit

1841.9 County-wide Wicket Challenge Issued Near Rochester NY

Game:

Wicket

"A CHALLENGE. The undersigned, Amateur (Wicket) Ball Players, of the Town of Chili, Monroe County, propose, within 20 players, to meet any other Club, or same number of men in this county, and play a game of three ins a side, any time between the first and fifteenth of July next. The game to be played at Chapman's corner, eight miles west from Rochester. . . . Chili, June 24, 1841." RochesterRepublican, June 18, 1841

Noted by Priscilla Astifan, 19CBB posting, 1/28/2007. Priscilla adds: "Pioneer baseball players' [in Rochester] memoirs have mentioned Wicket as one of baseball's early predecessors here and that some of the best pioneer baseball players had been skilled wicket players.

Year
1841
Item
1841.9
Edit

1841.10 Bloomfield CT Wicket Challenge: "One Shamble Shall Be Out"

Game:

Wicket

"The Ball Players of Bloomfield and vicinity, respectfully invite the Pall Players of the city of Hartford to . . . play at Wicket Ball, the best in nine games for Dinner and Trimmings. The Rules to be as follows: [1] The ball to be rolled and to strike the once or more before it reaches the wicket. [2] The ball to be fairly caught flying or at the first bound. [3] The striker may defend his wicket with his bat as he may choose. [4] One shamble shall be out. [5] Each party may choose one judge or talisman."

Hartford Daily Courant, June 23, 1841, page 3. Notes: Is the bound rule [2] usual in wicket? What is rule 3 getting at? What is rule 4 getting at?

Year
1841
Item
1841.10
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

1841.12 Fond OH Editor on Youthful Ball-playing: "We Like It"

Game:

Base Ball

"PLAYING BALL, is among the very first of the 'sports' of our early years. Who had not teased his grandmother for a ball, until the 'old stockings' have been transformed one that would bound well? Who has not played 'barn ball' in his boyhood, 'base' in his youth, and 'wicket' in his manhood? There is fun, and sport, and healthy exercise, in a game of 'ball.' We like it; for with it is associated recollections of our earlier days. And we trust we will never be too old to feel and' take delight' in the amusements which interested us in our boyhood."

Cleveland Daily Herald, April 15, 1841, provided by John Thorn [find date] 2007. Note: Wicket was the main manhood sport in Ohio?

Year
1841
Item
1841.12
Edit

1841.13 At Yale, Wicket Now Seen as "Ungenteel"

Tags:

College

Location:

New England

Commenting on the lack of exercise at Yale, a student wrote:

"The is one great point in which the English have the advantage over us: they understand how to take care of their health . . . every Cantab [student at Cambridge U] takes his two hours' exercise per diem, by walking, riding, rowing, fencing, gymnastics, &c. How many Yalensians take one hour's regular exercise? . . . The gymnasium has vanished, wicket has been voted ungenteel, scarce even a freshman dares to put on a pair of skates, . . .

Yale Literary Magazine, vol. 7 (November 1841), pages 36-37. as cited in Betts, John R., "Mind and Body in Early American Thought," The Journal of American History, vol. 54, number 4 (March 1968), page 803. Provided by John Thorn, email, 7/10/2007. Note the absence of cricket as a university activity at both schools.

Year
1841
Item
1841.13
Edit

1841.14 NY State Senator Tests the Sabbath Law

NY State Senator Minthorne Tompkins, whose property opens on a lot "well calculated for a game of ball . . . has been much diverted of late with the sport of the boys, who have numbers some three hundred strong on [Sabbath Day]. . . . The Sunday officers believing it to be their duty to stop this open violation of the laws of the State, took measures to effect it, but Senator T. believing the law wrong, too measures to sustain it, and when the officers appeared on the ground Sunday fortnight, the Senator also appeared, and told the boys that he would protect them, if they would protect him. Thus they entered into an alliance offensive and defensive, and the officers, after a little brush with the honorable ex-senator, he having given his name as responsible for their deeds, left the premises in charge of the victors, they conceiving that among three hundred opponents, discretion was the greater part of valor. The ex-senator appeared at the upper police before Justice Palmer, and after a hearing, entered bail for an appearance at the Court of Sessions, to answer the offense of interfering with the duties of the officers, etc. He refused to pay the costs of suit . . . . Justice Palmer discovering that the ex-senator's lawyers, John A. Morrill and Thomas Tucker, Esqrs. were about obtaining a writ of habeas corpus, concluded to let him go without getting the costs, in order that the case might be tested before the Court of Sessions. Thus the affair stands at present, and when it comes up before trial will present a curious aspect." New York Herald, December 21,1841. Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/2/2008.


Richard adds, "Alas, a search does not turn up the resolution to this case".

Year
1841
Item
1841.14
Edit

1841.15 Base and Wicket in New Orleans?

Location:

US South

"Who has not played 'barn ball' in boyhood, 'base' in his youth and 'wicket' in his adulthood?" New Orleans Picayune, 1841. This cite is found in Tom Melville, The Tented Field: A History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State U Press, Bowling Green, 1998), page 6. He attributes it, apparently, to Dale Somers, The Rise of Sports in New Orleans (LSU Press, Baton Rouge, 1972), page 48. Note: Melville is willing to identify the sport as the one that was played mostly in the CT-central MA area . . . but it is conceivable that the writer intended to denote cricket instead? Do we have other references to wicket in LA?

Year
1841
Item
1841.15
Edit

1841.16 Fast Day Choice in ME: Hear a "Fact Sermon" or Play Ball?

Tags:

Holidays

"Thursday wind northeast cloudy & cool fast day the people assemble at Holts to play Ball & some quarreling I fear it would be better to go to meeting and hear a fact sermon as once was the fasion." "Journal of Jonathan Phillips of Turner, Maine (1841), entry for April 22. Source:

http://files.usgwarchives.org/me/androscoggin/turner/diary/phillips.txt, accessed 11/14/2008. Phillips was born in Sylvester [not Turner] ME in 1780. Turner is now a town of about 5000 souls and is about 60 miles north of Portland and 30 miles west of Augusta. Note: Is the "fact sermon" simply a typo for "fast sermon?"

Year
1841
Item
1841.16
Edit

1841.17 Clevelanders Play Ball at Sunset on Water Street

Game:

Wicket

A Cleveland OH newspaper writer was moved to respond to reader [Edith] who groused about "infantile sports:"

"Playing Ball is among the very first of the 'sports' of our early years. Who has not teased his grandmother for a ball, until the 'old stockings' have been transformed into one that would bound well? Who has not played 'barn ball' in his boyhood, 'base' in his youth, and 'wicket' in his manhood? - There is fun, and sport, and healthy exercise, in a game of 'ball.' We like it; for with it is associated recollections of our earlier days. And we trust we shall never be too old to feel and to 'take delight' in the amusements which interested us in our boyhood. If 'Edith' wishes to see 'a great strike' and 'lots of fun,' let her walk down Water Street some pleasant afternoon towards 'set of sun' and see the 'Bachelors' make the ball fly.

ClevelandDaily Herald (April 15, 1841). Posted to 19CBB on August 21, 2008 by Kyle DeCicco-Carey. Note: Are they playing wicket? Another game? What types of Clevelanders would have congregated on Water Street?

Year
1841
Item
1841.17
Edit

1841.18 Louisiana Editor Endorses Formation of Clubs for Ballplaying

Location:

US South

Playing off the Cleveland Daily Herald defense of ballplaying [#1841.17], a New Orleans editor challenged the people of Louisiana: "[T]hose who desire now and then to spend a day in freedom and pleasure, adding powerfully both to physical and mental vigor, can never do better than to dash away into some of the commons in the vicinity of our own Crescent City and choose sides for an old fashioned game of ball. We have 'clubs' and 'societies' for almost every other purpose ever thought of. Who will first move the formation of a club to indulge in the manly and refreshing sport of ball-playing?"

"Playing Ball," The Daily Picayune [New Orleans] , Volume 5, number 101 (May 25, 1841), page 2. Per 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 40-41.

Year
1841
Item
1841.18
Edit

1842.1 NYC Group Begins Play, Later [1845] Will Form Knickerbocker Base Ball Club

A group of young men begin to gather in Manhattan for informal ball games. The group plays ball under an evolving set of rules from which emerges as a distinct version of baseball. In the autumn of 1845 the group will organize formally as the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City.

Peverelly, Charles A., The Book of American Pastimes [New York, 1866], p. 368. Per Henderson, p. 162, and ref 133.

Henry Chadwick later wrote: "The veteran Knickerbocker Base Ball club, of New York, was the first club to take the field as a regular organization in the Metropolitan district and the last to leave it when amateur ball playing of the genuine order disappeared from our city. Ball players of an older growth than those of the school play ground used to gather in the vacant fields existing in 1842 near Thirtieth street and Third and Fourth avenues, but it was not until 1845 that the spirit of enterprise had extended itself sufficiently among them to lead to any organization being formed calculated to legitimize the game as then played." Chadwick, Henry, "Base Ball Reminiscences," The National Daily Base Ball Gazette April 24, 1887, [second installment].

Year
1842
Item
1842.1
Edit

1842.3 Harvard Man George Hoar Writes of Playing "Simple Game We Called Base"

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Youth

George F. Hoar, a student at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, writes: "The only game which was much in vogue was foot-ball. There was a little attempt to start the English game of cricket and occasionally, in the spring, an old-fashioned simple game which we called base was played."

 

Sources:

Hoar, George F. Autobiography of Seventy Years [Pubr?, 1903], page 120. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.

Year
1842
Item
1842.3
Edit

1842.4 Duke of Wellington Requires Cricket Ground for Every Military Barrack.

Wisden's history of cricket [1966]. Note: Way cool, but not very American.

Year
1842
Item
1842.4
Edit

1842.5 Spelling Book Seems to Show a Fungo Game

Cobb, Lyman, Cobb's New Spelling Book, in Six Parts [New York, Caleb Bartlett], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 206. Brock summarizes: "An engraving on the frontispiece of this book pictures a baseball scene outside of a school building. One boy is shown getting ready to fungo a baseball to two awaiting fielders, while two other boys stand around with bats in their hands."

Year
1842
Item
1842.5
Edit

1842.6 Missing Poem Describes Ball Playing

The Poem is called "Autumn." Note - XXX the text needs to be retrieved from John Thorn's attachment. Submitted by John Thorn, 11/7/2004.

Book of the Seasons [B. B. Mussey, Boston, 1842], page 6.

Year
1842
Item
1842.6
Edit

1842c.7 Cricket and Town Ball Recalled in Philadelphia PA

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Cricket

"The first cricket I ever saw was on a field near Logan Station . . . about 1842. The hosiery weavers at Wakefield Mills [cf #1841.8 above] near by had formed a club under the leadership of Lindley Fisher, a Haverford cricketer. . . . [My brother and I] had played Town Ball, the forerunner of baseball today, at Germantown Academy, and our handling of the ball was appreciated by the Englishmen.

John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 9. Lester does not provide a source here, but his bibliography lists: Wister, William Rotch, Some Reminiscences of Cricket I Philadelphia Before 1861 [Allen, Philadelphia, 1904].

Circa
1842
Item
1842c.7
Edit

1842.8 Sad Boy, Grounded, Misses His Recess Sports

[Describing the unhappy lot of a boy prohibited from going out to recess:]

"the poor fellow could only look through the window, in perfect misery, upon the sports without - his favorite game of 'wicket,' or 'two old cat,' or 'goal,' or the 'snapping of the whip,' - and hear the shouts when the players were 'caught out,' or the wicket was knocked off, or someone had performed a feat of great agility."

"Schoolboy Days, "The New-England Weekly Review (Hartford, CT), Issue 5, column D, January 29, 1842. Posted by Richard Hershberger on 12/11/ 2007.

Year
1842
Item
1842.8
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

1842c.10 Athletic Welsh Lad Plays Rounders

Game:

Rounders

"I became fleet on my legs, and a good climber, I was an expert at ball catching in rounders (cricket being unknown in Wales at the time), and when I left school, my name was the only one inscribed or the loftiest trees."

Josiah Hughes, Australia Revisited in 1890 (Nixon and Jarvis, Bangor, 1891), page 482. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search ("josiah hughes" revisited). Hughes, born in 1829 in Wales, here recalls his time at a school in Holywell in the north of Wales.

Circa
1842
Item
1842c.10
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

1842.12 Use in VA of "base ball"

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"Some of us after this engaged in a game of base ball, as a pleasant recreation."

Sources:

Memoir and Sermons of the Rev. William Duval, published in Richmond, Virginia in 1854 by his colleague the Rev. Cornelius Walker. Duval was born in 1822 outside of Richmond, and the family moved into town when he was a small child. In 1842 he entered the Virginia Theological Seminary, a major Episcopal seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. There he kept a diary. The entry above is for October 3, 1842. per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, July 27, 2011

Comment:

I have been preaching for some time now that "base ball" and "round ball" and "town ball" were regional dialectal synonyms for the same game. For the most part there is a clear division between "base ball" territory and "town ball" territory, with "town ball" being used in Pennsylvania, the Ohio River watershed, and the South.

 I have come across what seems to be an unblemished early use of "base ball" in Virginia...It is perfectly obvious that "base ball" is an older term than "town ball". Presumably "base ball" was the term used throughout anglophone North America in colonial times, and "town ball" arose in some place (my guess is Pennsylvania, but I can't begin to prove it) and spread west and south. So this Virginia example could be a survival of the older term, or it could be a random later borrowing from the north.

Year
1842
Item
1842.12
Edit

1843.2 NY's Washington Club:" Playing Base Ball Before the Knickerbockers Did?

Game:

Base Ball

"The honors for the place of birth of baseball are divided. Philadelphia claims that her 'town ball' was practically baseball and that it was played by the Olympic Club from 1833 to 1859. It is also claimed that the Washington Club in 1843 was the first to play the game. Certainly the New York Knickerbocker Club, founded in 1845, was the first to establish a code of rules."

Reeve, Arthur B., Beginnings of Our Great Games, Outing Magazine, April 1910, page 49, per John Thorn, 19CBB posting, 6/17/05. Reeve evidently does not provide a source for the Washington Club claim . . . nor his assertion that it had no "code of rules." John notes that Outing appeared from 1906 to 1911. Note: It would be good to have evidence on whether this club played the New York game or another variation of early base ball.

Year
1843
Item
1843.2
Edit

1843.3 Playing Ball at Recess

Children at Play [Cincinnati, W. T. Truman], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 206. Alongside a fresh woodcut: "Here are some boys playing at ball. They have just come out of school, and are very eager to spend all the recess in play." But for now, studies come first, fellows: "Bat and ball is a very good play for the summer season."

Year
1843
Item
1843.3
Edit

1843.4 On Yale's Green, Many a "Brisk Game of Wicket"

Tags:

College

Location:

New England

Game:

Wicket

"Were it spring or autumn you should see a brave set-to at football on the green, or a brisk game of wicket." Ezekiel P. Belden, Sketches of Yale College (Saxton and Miles, New York, 1843), page 153.

Year
1843
Item
1843.4
Edit

1843c.5 Chapbook: Trap Ball and Cricket and Windows Don't Mix

Game:

Cricket

Sports for All Seasons [New York, T. W. Strong],

The problem: "Trap ball and Cricket are juvenile Field Sports, and not fit to be played near the houses . . . where it generally ends in the ball going through a window." The solution: "[A]fter having their pocket money stopped for some time to replace the glass they had broken, they pitched their traps and wickets in a more suitable place."

Circa
1843
Item
1843c.5
Edit

1843.6 Magnolia Ball Club Summoned to Elysian Fields Game

Age of Players:

Adult

"NEW YORK MAGNOLIA BALL CLUB - Vive la Knickerbocker. - A meeting of the members of the above club will take place this (Thursday) afternoon, 2nd instant, at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken [NJ]. It is earnestly requested that every member will be present, willing and eager to do his duty. Play will commence precisely as one o'clock. Chowder at 4 o'clock"

Associated with this ball club is an engraved invitation to its first annual ball, which has the first depiction of men playing baseball, and shows underhand pitching and stakes for bases.

 

Sources:

New York Herald[classified ads section], November 2, 1843. Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 11/11/2007.

For much more from John on the find, and its implications, go to http://thornpricks.blogspot.com/2007/11/really-good-find-more-magnolia-blossoms.html.

See also John Thorn, "Magnolia Ball Club Predates Knickerbocker," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 89-92.

Year
1843
Item
1843.6
Edit

1843.7 Robber Caught Again: "Third Time and Out"

"[Accused robber] Parks has escaped from the hands of justice twice, and twice been retaken. The third time and "out," as the boys say in the game of ball."

New YorkHerald, March 4, 1843. Provided by John Thorn, 10/16/2007.

Year
1843
Item
1843.7
Edit

1843.8 Man Flashes Large Wad at New York-Philly Cricket Match, Is Then Nabbed for Robbery

Location:

Philadelphia

Game:

Cricket

"Important Arrest: A few days since, at the last match game of cricket played near New York, between the New York and Philadelphia competitors for a large sum of money, a person, whose name is William Rushton, from Philadelphia, was present, making large offers to bet upon the result of the game, and exhibiting large sums of money to the spectators for that purpose." This excess evidently led to his later arrest for the robbery of a bank porter on the Brooklyn ferry early in 1843.

"Important Arrest," The Sun [New York? Philadelphia?], August 12, 1843. Accessed via subscription search May 5, 2009.

Year
1843
Item
1843.8
Edit

1843.9 New York Cricket Club Forms with American Membership

Game:

Cricket

The New York Cricket Club is formed on October 9, 1843. The club consists at first of American-born sporting men affiliated with William T. Porter's sporting weekly Spirit of the Times. The American-born emphasis stands in contrast to the British-oriented St. George Club.

Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: Source is "Reminiscence of a Man About Town" from The Clipper, by Paul Preston, Esq.; No. 34: The New York Cricket Club: On an evening in 1842 or '43, a meeting of the embryo organization was held at the office of The Spirit of the Times—a dozen individuals—William T. Porter elected pres., John Richards v.p., Thomas Picton Sec'y — formed as rival to St. George Club- only NY was designed to bring in Americans, not just to accommodate Britons, as St. George was. The original 12 members were affiliated with the Spirit. The first elected member: Edward Clark, a lawyer, then artist William Tylee Ranney, then Cuyp the bowler.

Year
1843
Item
1843.9
Edit

1844.1 "Round Ball" Played in Bangor ME: Cony's Side 50, Hunt's Side 49

Location:

New England

Game:

Base Ball

Year
1844
Item
1844.1
Edit

1844.2 First US-Canada Cricket Match Held

Location:

Canada

Game:

Cricket

The St. George's Club played an All-Canada team for $1000

Wisden's history of cricket, 1966. Also: Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Seymour cites "Manchester" as his source for the $1000 stake.

Year
1844
Item
1844.2
Edit

1844.3 Clone of 1841 Book Covering Rounders and Feeder Appears

Game:

Rounders

Williams, Samuel, Boy's Treasury of Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations [London, D. Bogue], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 206 - 207. The original book was The Every Boy's Book (see #1841.1 entry). Lea and Blanchard would publish the first US edition of Boy's Treasury in 1847.

Year
1844
Item
1844.3
Edit

1844.4 The Popular McGuffey's Reader Adds a New Woodcut of Ball Play

Tags:

Images

McGuffey, Wm H., McGuffey's Newly Revised Eclectic First Reader [Cincinnati, W. B. Smith], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 207. Block finds that the [original?] 1836 version of the revered reader lacked any ball-play content. The new edition adds a simple woodcut and this caption: "The boys play with balls. John has a bat in his hand. I can hit the ball."

Year
1844
Item
1844.4
Edit

1844.5 New Noah Webster Speller Has Woodcut of Ball Play on a Village Green

Tags:

Images

Webster, Noah, The Pictorial Elementary Spelling Book [New York, Coolidge], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 207. Block notes that "[a] woodcut in this work pictures a scene of children on a village green playing various games including baseball."

Year
1844
Item
1844.5
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

1844.7 English Gent in NYC Goes Off to a Ball Game

Game:

Base Ball

"As I went down to the office I was met by Henry Sedgwick at the corner of a street. He was hunting up some of a party who were going off in a sailing boat down the East river to play at Base ball in some of the meadows. He persuaded me to be of the party. I sld not have gone however I had not expected to see a great display of miseries and grievances. . . . [on board the boat] it 'came on rainy' and we brewed some whisky punch to whet our spirits inwardly . . . . At last we came to old Ferry point where we landed, and went in the mizzle to play at ball in the meadow, leaving our captain to cook Chowder for us."

Cayley, George J.," Diary, 1844," manuscript at the New-York Historical Society, entry for April 9, 1844, pages 138-141. Posted to 19CBB by George Thompson, 11/18/2007. George adds that the writer was an 18-year-old Englishman working in a city office, and that the game probably took place in what is now Brooklyn.

Year
1844
Item
1844.7
Edit

1844c.8 Base Ball Begins in Westfield MA?

"no ball playing has been going on during the past summer [1869] on the old ball ground at the south end of the park. . . . [I have?] spent many a happy hour ball-playing on that ground . . . . I have known that ground for twenty-five years and I have never known a serious accident to happen to passers-by."

"Ball Playing," Western Hampden Times, September 1869, written by "1843." As cited in Genovese, Daniel L, The Old Ball Ground: The Chronological History of Westfield Baseball (2004), pages 1-2. Genovese concludes, "That would mean that baseball was played in Westfield at least as far back as 1844, and probably further [Genovese, page 2.]. Westfield MA is about 8 miles west of Springfield. MA. Note: Could the writer have played wicket or other ballgames at the old ground?

Circa
1844
Item
1844c.8
Edit

1844.9 Print Medium Credited with New Popularity of Cricket in Britain

"I attribute the Extension of the Game of Cricket very much to the Paper [Bells Life] of which I am the Editor. Having been the Editor Twenty Years, I can recollect when the Game of Cricket was not so popular as it is at the present Moment; but the Moment the Cricketers found themselves the Object of Attention almost every Village had its Cricket Green. The Record of their Prowess in Print created a Desire still more to extend their Exertions and their Fame." Cited without reference by 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 35.

Bateman agrees: "At a time when print culture . . . was creating a sense of national consciousness, cricket was writing itself into an element of national culture" [Ibid.]

Year
1844
Item
1844.9
Edit

1844.10 Fast Day Game in NH on the Common - Unless Arborism Goes Too Far

Tags:

Holidays

Game:

Base Ball

"In Keene, New Hampshire, residents used the town common for the Fast Day ball game in 1844." Harold Seymour, Baseball; the People's Game (Oxford University Press, 1990), page 201. The book does not provide a source for this report.

Seymour's source may be David R. Proper, "A Narrative of Keene, New Hampshire, 1732-1967" in "Upper Ashuelot:" A History of Keene, New Hampshire (Keene History Committee, Keene NH, 1968), page 88. as accessed on 11/13/2008 at:

http://www.ci.keene.nh.us/library/upperashuelot/part8.pdf. This account describes the arguments against planting 141 trees along Keene streets, one being that trees "would impair use of the Common as a parade ground for military and civic reviews, as a market place for farmers and their teams, as a field for village baseball games on Fast Day, as an open space for wood sleds in winter, and as a free area for all the activity of Court Week." Note: Is it fair to infer that [a] Fast Day games were a well-established tradition by 1844, and that [b] ballplaying on the Common was much less often seen on other days of the year? What was Court Week?

Year
1844
Item
1844.10
Edit

1844.11 Why Fast Day Comes Only Once a Year?

Tags:

Holidays

"Thursday April 4th. A very warm day it is fast day* & I have played ball so much that I am to tired I can hardly set up I don't think I shall want to have fast day come again for a year." Diary of Edward Jenner Carpenter of Greenfield MA, available online at:

http://www.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=126 as accessed November 17th 2008. Carpenter was an 18 year old apprentice to a Greenfield cabinet-maker. Greenfield is in NW MA, about 15 miles from the VT border and about 40 miles north of Northampton.

Year
1844
Item
1844.11
Edit

1844.12 English Tale Pictures "Working People" Playing Bass-ball, Cricket

Tags:

Fiction

"I was lately walking, on a fine spring evening, in the suburbs of a country town . . . . My ramble brought me to a pubic-house by the roadside . . . . There is nothing to me more delightful than to see the young working people amusing themselves after the labours of the day. A village-green, with its girls and boys playing at bass-ball, and its grown-up lads at cricket, is one of those English sights which I hope no false refinement will ever banish from amongst us."

"A Game at Skittles: A Tale," Volume of Varieties (Charles Knight, London, 1844), page 122. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("skittles a tale"). Source: Tom Altherr, "Some Findings on Bass Ball," Originals, February 2010, page 2.

Year
1844
Item
1844.12
Edit

1844.13 Wicket Play in New Orleans LA?

Location:

US South

Game:

Wicket

"The members of the New Orleans Wicket Club, are requested to meet at the Field, This Day, Thursday at 5 o'clock, PM, precisely."

Times Picayune, November 7, 1844. Accessed via subscription search, March 27, 2009. Contributed by Richard Hereshberger, March 8, 2009.

Year
1844
Item
1844.13
Edit

1844.14 "At Base, They Cannot Hit Him With the Ball."

Tags:

Fiction

Age of Players:

Juvenile

A small work of juvenile fiction published in 1844 contains this description of a youthful ballplayer:  "Johnny is a real good hand to play with the older boys, too. At base, they cannot hit him with the ball, any more than if he were made of air. Sometimes he catches up his feet, and lets it pass under him, sometimes he leans one way, and sometimes another, or bows his head; any how, he always dodges it." 

Another scene describes several boys sitting on a fence and watching "a game of base."

Sources:

Willie Rogers, or Temper Improved, (Samuel B. Simpkins, Boston), 1844.

Comment:

David Block observes: "the sentence describing the boy's skill at taking evasive action when threatened by soaking seems significant to me. I don't recall ever seeing this skill discussed before, and, although long obsolete, it must have stood as one of the more valuable tools of the base runner in the era of soaking/plugging ."  

Year
1844
Item
1844.14
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

1845.1 Knicks Adopt Playing Rules on September 23

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

As apparently scribed by William Wheaton, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City organizes and adopts twenty rules for baseball (six organizational rules, fourteen playing rules). These rules are later seen as the basis for the game we now call baseball.

The Knickerbockers are credited with establishing foul lines; abolishing plugging (throwing the ball at the runner to make an out); instituting the tag-out and force-out; and introducing that balk rule. However, the Knickerbocker rules do not specify a pitching distance or the nature of the ball.

The distance from home to second base and from first to third base is set at forty-two paces. In 1845 the "pace" was understood either as a variable measure or as precisely two-and-a-half feet, in which case the distance from home to second would have been 105 feet and the "Knickerbocker base paths" would have been 74-plus feet. It is not obvious that the "pace" of 1845 would have been interpreted as the equivalent of three feet, as more recently defined.

The Knickerbocker rules provide that a winner will be declared when twenty-one aces are scored but each team must have an equal number of turns at bat; the style of delivery is underhand in contrast to the overhand delivery typical in town ball; balls hit beyond the field limits in fair territory (home run in modern baseball) are limited to one base.

The Knickerbocker rules become known as the New York Game in contrast to game later known as the Massachusetts Game that was favored in and around the Boston area.

Sources:

A detailed recent annotation of the 20 rules appears in John Thorn,Baseball in the Garden of Eden, pages 69-77.

See Also "Larry McCray, "The Knickerbocker Rules -- and The Long History of the One-Bounce Fielding Rule, Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 93-97.

 

Warning:

About 30 years later, reporter William Rankin wrote that Alexander Cartwright introduced familiar modern rules to the Knickerbocker Club, including 90-foot baselines.  

As of 2016, recent scholarship has shown little evidence that Alexander Cartwright played a central role in forging or adapting the Knickerbocker rules.  See Richard Hershberger, The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth (Baseball Research Journal, 2014), and John Thorn, "The Making of a New York Hero" dated November 2015, at cartwright/.">http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/11/30/abner-cartwright/.

John's concluding paragraph is: "Recent scholarship has revealed the history of baseball's "creation" to be a lie agreed upon. Why, then, does the legend continue to outstrip the fact?  "Creation myths, wrote Stephen Jay Gould, in explaining the appeal of Cooperstown, "identify heroes and sacred places, while evolutionary stories provide no palpable, particular thing as a symbol for reverence, worship, or patriotism."

Year
1845
Item
1845.1
Edit

1845.3 [Item removed from version 10; John Thorn advises that contemporary accounts confirm

Year
1845
Item
1845.3
Edit

1845.4 NY and Brooklyn Sides Play Two-Game Series of "Time-Honored Game of Base:" Box Score Appears

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] The New York Base Ball Club and the Brooklyn Base Ball Club compete at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, by uncertain rules and with eight players to the side. On October 21, New York prevailed, 24-4 in four innings (21 runs being necessary to record the victory). The two teams also played a rematch in Brooklyn, at the grounds of the Star Cricket Club on Myrtle Avenue, on October 25, and the Brooklyn club again succumbed, this time by the score of 37-19, once more in four innings. For these two contests box scores were printed in New York newspapers. There are some indications that these games may have been played by the brand new Knickerbocker rules.

[B] The first game had been announced in The New York Herald and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on October 21. The BDE announcement refers to "the New York Bass Ball Club," and predicts that the match will "attract large numbers from this and the neighboring city." 

For a long-lost account of an earlier New York - Brooklyn game, see #1845.16 below.

Detailed accounts of these games are shown in supplement text, below.

Sources:

[A] New York Morning News, October 22 and 25, 1845. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 11-13. 

[B] Sullivan, p. 11; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 4, number 253 (October 21, 1845), page 2, column 3

For a detailed discussion of the significance of this game, see Melvin Adelman, "The First Baseball Game, the First Newspaper References to Baseball," Journal of Sport History Volume 7, number 3 (Winter 1980), pp 132 ff.

The games are summarized in John Thorn, "The First Recorded Games-- Brooklyn vs. New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 6-7

Comment:

Hoboken leans on the early use of Elysian Fields to call the town the "Birthplace of Baseball."  It wasn't, but in June 2015 John Zinn wrote a thoughtful appreciation of Hoboken's role in the establishment of the game.  See   http://amanlypastime.blogspot.com/, essay of June 15, 2015, "Proving What Is So."  


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/

Year
1845
Item
1845.4
Edit
Source Text

1845.5 Brooklyn and New York to Go Again in Hoboken

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Brooklyn vs. New York. - An interesting game of Base Ball will come off at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, to-day, commencing at 10 A. M., between the New York and Brooklyn Clubs."

This game appears to have been the first game between what were called "picked nine" -- in our usage, "all-star clubs" from base ball players in two major local regions.

Sources:

New York Sun, November 10, 1845, page 2, column. 6. Submitted by George Thompson, June 2005.

See also David Dyte, "Baseball in Brooklyn, 1845-1870: The Best There Was," Base Ball Journal Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins). pages 98-102.

Year
1845
Item
1845.5
Edit

1845.8 Magazine Article Likens Ladies' Gait to Ballplayers' Screw Ball

Location:

NY State

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Unknown

Author[?], "The New Philosophy," The Knickerbocker, volume 26, November 1845 [New York], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 207 - 208. The author, unimpressed at a new tightly-laced clothing fashion that affects how women walk, says their walking "motion very much resembles that of one who, in playing 'base,' screws his ball, and the expression is among boys; or of a man rolling what is known among the players of ten pins as a 'screw ball.'" Note: presumably the baseball reference is to a pitcher's attempt to make the ball curve.

Comment:

Important in its confirmation that pitchers in this baseball predecessor game were trying to retire batters, not acting as "feeders"

Year
1845
Item
1845.8
Edit

1845.9 Cover of Children's Book Depicts Ball Play

Tags:

Images

Teller, Thomas, The History of a Day [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 207. The cover of this children's book has a small illustration of boys playing ball.

Year
1845
Item
1845.9
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

1845.11 Bookman Babcock, He Just Keeps On Truckin'

Teller, Thomas, The Mischievous Boy; a Tale of Tricks and Troubles [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 208. Another chapbook from our favorite chap, this one with a cover featuring tiny engravings, including one of ballplaying.

Year
1845
Item
1845.11
Edit

1845.12 Cleveland OH Bans "Any Game of Ball"

Tags:

Bans

Location:

Ohio

"[I]t shall be unlawful for any person or persons to play at any game of Ball . . . whereby the grass or grounds of any Pubic place or square shall be defaced or injured." (Fine is $5 plus costs of prosecution.)

Cleveland City Council Archives, 1845. March 4, 1845 Link provided by John Thorn 11/6/2006. For an image of the ordinance, go to:

http://omp.ohiolink.edu/OMP/Printable?oid=1048668&scrapid=2742, accessed /2/2008. This site refers to an earlier ban: "Although as earlier city ordinance outlawed the playing of baseball in the Public Square in Cleveland, the public was not easily dissuaded from playing . . . ." Note: is the earlier Cleveland ban findable?

On 3/6/2008, Craig Waff posted a note to 19CBB that in 1857 it was reported that "this truly national game is daily played in the pubic square," but that a city official suggested that it violated a local ordinance (presumably that of 3/4/1845), and then reported that there in fact was no such law. "The crowd sent up a shout and renewed the game, which continued until dark." "Base Ball in Cleveland, Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 2, number 7 (April 18, 1857, page 109, column 1.P

Year
1845
Item
1845.12
Edit

1845c.13 Town-ball in IN Later [and Vaguely?] Recalled

Game:

Town Ball

"Town-ball is one of the old games from which the scientific but not half so amusing "national game" of base-ball has since evolved. . . . There were no scores, but a catch or a cross-out in town-ball put the whole side out, leaving others to take the bat or "paddle" as it was appropriately called."

Edward Eggleston, "Some Western School-Masters," Scribner's Monthly, March 1879. Submitted by David Nevard, 1/26/2007. David notes that this is mainly a story about boys tarrying at recess, and can be dated 1845-1850. In other games, a "cross-out" denotes the retiring of a runner by throwing the ball across his forward path. Contemporary Georgia townball [see #1840.24 above] often used paddles. Egglestoiin was an Hoosier historian and novelist. Note: "No scores?

Circa
1845
Item
1845c.13
Edit

1845.14 All-England Eleven Tours England

An All-England XI formed by William Clark makes missionary journeys all over England.

Barclay's [History of Cricket?] Section IV. XXX We need a minimally competent citation or better source or better note-taking habits.

Year
1845
Item
1845.14
Edit

1845c.15 Doc Adams, Ballmaker: The Hardball Becomes Hard

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A]The Knickerbockers developed and adopted the New York Game style of baseball in September 1845 in part to play a more dignified game that would attract adults. The removal of the "soaking" rule allowed the Knickerbockers to develop a harder baseball that was more like a cricket ball. 

[B]Dr. D.L. Adams of the Knickerbocker team stated that he produced baseballs for the various teams in New York in the 1840s and until 1858, when he located a saddler who could do the job. He would produce the balls using 3 to 4 oz of rubber as a core, then winding with yarn and covering with leather. 

 

Sources:

[A]Gilbert, "The Birth of Baseball", Elysian Fields, 1995, pp. 16- 17.

[B]Dr. D.L. Adams, "Memoirs of the Father of Baseball," Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Sullivan reprints this article in Early Innings, A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908, pages 13-18.

Rob Loeffler, "The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007.

Circa
1845
Item
1845c.15
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

1845.17 Intercity Cricket Match Begins in NY

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

"CRICKET MATCH. St. George's Club of this city against the Union Club of Philadelphia. The two first elevens of these clubs came together yesterday for a friendly match, on the ground of the St. George's Club, Bloomingdale Road. The result was as follows, on the first innings: St. George's 44, Union Club of Philadelphia 33 [or 63 or 83; image is indistinct]. Play will be resumed to-day."

 

Sources:

New York Herald, October 7, 1845. 

Year
1845
Item
1845.17
Edit

1845.19 Painter Depicts Some Type of Old-Fashioned Ball?

Location:

New Jersey

Game:

Cricket

A painting by Asher Durand [1796 - 1886] painting An Old Man's Reminiscences may include a visual recollection of a game played long before. Thomas Altherr ["A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It] describes the scene: "a silver-haired man is seated in the left side of he painting and he watches a group of pupils at play in front of a school, just having been let out for the day or for recess. Although this painting is massive, the details, without computer resolution, are a bit fuzzy. But it appears that there is a ballgame of some sort occurring. One lad seems to be hurling something and other boys are arranged around him in a pattern suspiciously like those of baseball-type games." Tom surmises that the old man is likely reflecting on his past.

Asher Durand, An Old Man's Reminiscences (1845), Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany NY. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 40. For a credit-card-sized image - even the schoolhouse is iffy - go to

http://www.albanyinstitute.org/collections/Hudson/durand.htm, as accessed 11/17/2008. Dick McBane [email iof 2/6/09] added some helpful details of Durand's life, but much remains unclear. Query: Can we learn more about Durand's - a member of the Hudson River School of landscape artists, originally hailing from New Jersey - own background and youth?

Year
1845
Item
1845.19
Edit

1845.20 Painting Shows Crossed Bats and Some Balls in School

Tags:

Images

The painting shows a five-year-old boy meeting his new schoolmaster, is by Francis William Edmonds, and Thomas Altherr describes it: "A pair of crossed bats and at least four balls resting in a corner of the schoolroom foyer at the lower right. The painting's message is some what ambiguous: Is the boy surrendering his play time to the demands of studiousness, or are baseball and kite-flying the common recreations for the [school] master's charges?"

Francis William Edmonds, The New Scholar (1845) Manoogian Collection, Natinal Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 40. A small dark image appears on page 186 of Young America: Childhood in 19th-century Art and Culture, as accessed 11/17/2008 via Google Books search for "edmonds 'new scholar.'"

Year
1845
Item
1845.20
Edit

1845.21 St. George's Cricket Club Plays Series with All-Canada Eleven

Location:

Canada

Game:

Cricket

On August 1, 1845, St. George's played the first match in Montreal, losing 215 to 154. Later in the month, a crowd reported at 3000 souls saw All-Canada take a 83-49 lead over the New York club at the club's home grounds on NY's 27th Street.

Extensive coverage of the first innings of the second match appears at "The Grand Cricket Match - St. George's Club of this City against All Canada," Weekly Herald, August 30, 1845. Accessed via subscription search, May 5, 2009.

Year
1845
Item
1845.21
Edit

1845.22 Barre MA Skips the "Old Annual Game of Ball" on Election Day

Tags:

Holidays

Location:

New England

"'Old Election' passed over the town on Wednesday, with as little notice as any crusty curmudgeon might wish. A few people were abroad with 'clean fixens' on and there was an imposing parade of 'boy's training.' Even the old annual game of ball was forgotten, and the holiday was guiltless of any other display of unusual mirth."

"Old Election," Barre Gazette, May 30, 1845. Accessed via subscription search, 2/14/2009. Barre is in central MA, about 25 miles NW of Worcester. Great Barrington MA also associated Election Day with ballplaying - a game of wicket. See item #1820s.25. Query: How common a custom was it to celebrate Election Day with a ballgame? When did the custom start, and when did it die out? Can we start it up again?

Year
1845
Item
1845.22
Edit

1845.23 In Cricket, Pha Foursome Defeats NY Quad, 27-19, Pockets $500

Game:

Cricket

A cricket match was reported in early September that lined up four players from the St. George Club on New York against four Philadelphians, for a purse of $500. The visiting Philadelphia quartet took a 27- 11 lead in the first innings, and held it for the win. Of the match's 46 runs, 23 were racked up as wide balls. Query: Was this style of rump match common? With only four fielders why was the scoring so low; this match must have been played according to the rules of single wicket, which employs a 180-degree foul line.

"Sporting Intelligence," New YorkHerald, Tuesday, September 2, 1845. Contributed by Gregory Christiano August 1, 2009.

Year
1845
Item
1845.23
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.25 Early Cricket Clubs in the South

Location:

US South

Tom Melville, "A History of Cricket in America," p. 15: "Cricket clubs were also appearing in other areas of the country, such as Charleston, South Carolina (where the local club seems to have been associated with that city's prestigious Jockey Club)... Natchez, Mississippi... and in Macon, Georgia by 1845."

Sources:

Tom Melville, "A History of Cricket in America," p. 15

Circa
1845
Item
1845c.25
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