Local-Origins Project

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Note: This project was suspended when Larry was hospitalized in late 2014.

In mid-2014 Protoball launched a new activity on the local origins of base ball. About a dozen local research groups, listed below, are working to fill in data in the Pre-pro Baseball data base of about 6,000 Clubs and Games in widespread local areas. We invite you to join in by researching a local town, county, or state that is of interest to you. This effort is encompassing both the modern ("New York rules") form of base ball and the predecessor base-running games (base, wicket, round-ball, cricket, etc.) that were known to have been played in each geographical area.

Contents

How to Join

Contact Larry McCray via lmccray@mit.edu. He will welcome you to the project and help you get started.

Some Local-Origins Resources

[1] A Search Guide for new researchers

New information on an area's earliest clubs and ballgames is likely to be found in 19th Century newspaper accounts. We have compiled list of searchable national and local data bases (most of them free) to help new researchers to get started. This document includes practical search tips from several of the most-experienced Origins-Era diggers. Version 1.1 of this guide is found at Protoball Search Aid. We welcome additional listings and suggestions for improving later versions of the Search Tips guide. Before searching for new data, it may be useful to familiarize yourself on currently-held data in your geographical area of interest. We are particularly interested in finding earlier data that what is now on the Protoball site.

[2] Chicagoan Bruce Allardice has compiled some slides on early base ball in Illinois. See Illinois Charts

[3] Some Online Sources that May Help You Interpret Local Data

A. Population Data -- In may cases, decadal local census data can be found by doing a search for the town at https://www.wikipedia.org. The 10-year population record is usually found on the lower right of the town's Wikipedia page.

[4] Main Topics to be Treated in the L.O. project (version 1.4, Sept 2014)

Issues

Issue 1 – Uniforms -- Early uniforms and their significance [1st round completed August: for version 1.0 of a compilation, see Uniforms.

Issue 2 – The Grounds -- What made for a suitable local playing site . . . . location, surface topography, or what? [1st round completed in September 2014: for Version 1.0 of the compiled research inputs, see The_Grounds.

Issue 3 – BBF -- What was the nation’s “Base Ball Fever” (1865-1870) experience like in your area? [discussion introduced September 23]

Issue 4 (our ‘cleanup hitter?’) – Patterns of Spread -- How do we explain the observed patterns of local propagation of base ball . . . population shifts, transportation technologies, news media effects, etc.

Issue 5 – Predecessor Pastimes -- What prior ballgames, if any, were played in the area . . . by adults, youths, juveniles, females before the NY game reached the area? Were local on-field/off-field variations maintained in some areas?

Issue 6 – Accounts -- How did game accounts evolve locally? What were local box-score summaries like?? Was quantification and/or statistics important in the local popularity of the game?

Issue 7 – Media Effects --The galvanizing role of local and of distant news coverage, if any

Issue 8 – Gambling's Role -- Was local gambling an essential factor in the diffusion of the game?

Issue 9 – The Big Tours -- Were the broad regional tours by famous clubs an important part of base ball’s local appeal?

Issue 10 – The Beneficiaries -- Is it clear who profited from the growth of the game in your area? Did that affect the game on the field? How?

Issue 11 – Competing Pastimes -- What other pastimes, if any, rivaled early base ball . . . and is it clear why base ball seemed to win out over them?

Issue 12 – Playing to Win -- Playing to win vs. playing just for fellowship or exercise || was there an emergence of claims of local on-field supremacy in your area –championship claims, rivalries, tourneys, etc.?

Issue 13 – Club Makeup-- Did club rosters reflect ethnic or social divisions, gradations in athletic talent, players’ ages, or what? Did minority groups form their own clubs?


Study Groups

Arkbaseball.com Website (tentative participant)

Boston Chapter of SABR

  • Main Contact: Joanne Hulbert, Dixie Tourangeau, Larry McCray
  • Continuity Editor: Larry McCray, Brian Sheehy
  • Special Interest: The Massachusetts Game, the conversion to the New York Game

Bronx Project

Essex Base Ball Club

Halsey Hall SABR Chapter (Minnesota)

  • Main Contact: Rich Arpi
  • Regional Focus: Minnesota and the Dakotas
  • Special Interest: MN Base Ball Through the 19th Century

Illinois Project

Maryland Project

  • Main Contact: Marty Payne
  • Continuity Editor: Marty Payne
  • Regional Focus: Maryland (emphasis on the Eastern Shore)

Missouri Project

New Jersey Project

  • Main Contact: John Zinn
  • Continuity Editor: John Zinn
  • Regional Focus: The State of New Jersey

Pacific Northwest Chapter of SABR

Rochester Baseball Historical Society

SABR Chapter of Rhode Island (tentative participant)

  • Main Contact: Rick Harris
  • Continuity Editor: Rick Harris
  • Regional Focus: Rhode Island

SABR Field of Dreams Chapter (tentative participant)

  • Main Contact: Tim Rask
  • Continuity Editor: Jophn Liepa
  • Regional Focus: Iowa

Tennessee Association of Vintage Base Ball

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