Chronology:Most Aged

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1598.2 Italian-English Dictionary Includes Cat, Trap

Florio, John, A world of wordes or Most copious, and exact dictionarie in Italian and English [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 167. This dictionary defines lippa as "a cat or trap as children use to play with."

1598.3 - First Known Appearance of the Term "Cricket"

[Cf #1550c.2 above.] A 1598 trial in the Surrey town of Guildford includes a statement by John Derrick, then aged 59. According to a 1950 history of Guildford's Royal Grammar School, "[H]e stated that he had known the [disputed] ground for fifty years or more and that 'when he was a scholar in the free school of Guildford, he and several of his fellows did run and play there at cricket and other plays.' This is believed to be the first recorded mention of cricket."

Brown, J. F., The Story of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, 1950, page 6. Note: it would be interesting to see the original reference, and to know how 1550 was chosen as the reported year of play.

Year
1598
Item
1598.2
Edit

1825c.12 Rochester Senior: "How the Game of Ball Was Played"

Writing in 1866, a man ("W") in Rochester NY described the game he had played "forty years since." That game featured balls made from raveled woolen stockings and covered by a shoemaker, a softer ball - "not as hard as a brick" than the NY ball, no fixed team size, soft tosses from the pitcher who took no run-up, "tick" hitting, the bound rule, plugging, a mix of flat and round bats. He suggests organizing a throw-back game to show 1860's youth "what grey heads can do."

"W," "The Game of Base Ball in the Olden Time," Rochester Evening Express (July 10, 1866), page 3, column 4. Provided by Priscilla Astifan, 2006. To read the full text, go here. Note: the writer does not say where he played these games, mentioning that he moved to Rochester three years before.

Circa
1825
Item
1825c.12
Edit
Source Text

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

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

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

1850s.33 Round Ball, Old Cat Played in Northwest MA Town

Location:

New England

"There was, of course, coasting, skating, swimming, gool, fox and hounds . . . round ball; two and four old cat, with soft yarn balls thrown at the runner."

 

Sources:

G. Stanley Hall, "Boy Life in a Massachusetts Town Forty Years Ago," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society Volume 7 (1892), page 113. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("g.stanley hall" "boy life"). Hall grew up on a large farm in Ashfield MA, which is in the NW corner of the commonwealth, and about 55 miles east of Albany NY.

Comment:

 It is interesting that the game of wicket is not mentioned, given Ashland's location in western MA.

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".]  This is the only entry that uses "gool" as the actual name of the game.

Decade
1850s
Item
1850s.33
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

1791.2 Northampton MA Prohibits Downtown Ballplaying (and Stone-Throwing)

Tags:

Bans

Location:

New England

Game:

Bat-Ball

"Both the meeting-house and the Court House suffered considerable damage, especially to their windows by ball playing in the streets, consequently in 1791, a by-law was enacted by which 'foot ball, hand ball, bat ball and or any other game of ball was prohibited within ten rods of the Court House easterly or twenty rods of the Meeting House southwesterly, neither shall they throw any stones at or over the said Meeting House on a penalty of 5s, one half to go to the complainant and the rest to the town.'"

 

Sources:

J. R. Trumbull, History of Northampton, Volume II (Northampton, 1902), page 529. Contributed by John Bowman, May 9, 2009.

Comment:

It is interesting that neither base-ball nor wicket is named in a town that is not so far from Pittsfield. See item 1791.1.

Year
1791
Item
1791.2
Edit

BC700c.1 Ball-Pitching in the Bible?

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

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

Sources:

Isaiah 22:18.

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

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

 

Warning:

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

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

Comment:

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

Query:

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

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

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

Tags:

Famous

Age of Players:

Juvenile

 

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

 

As it fell out on a holy day.

 The drops of rain did fall, did fall,

Our Saviour asked leave of his mother Mary

  If he might go play at ball.

 

"To play at ball, my own dear son,

   It's time you was going or gone,

But be sure let me hear no complain of you

   At night when you do come home."

. . .

 

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

 

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

Sources:

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

Query:

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

Circa
1400
Item
1400c.1
Edit
Source Text

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

Game:

Palm Play

Age of Players:

Youth

 

So cruel prison how could betide,alas,

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

With a king's son my childish years did pass

. . .

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

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

With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love

Have missed the ball and got sight of our dame,  

 

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

Sources:

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

Comment:

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

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

 

Query:

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

Circa
1540
Item
1540c.2
Edit
Source Text

1860.46 First International Game Played by New York Rules

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

In a game played in what is now Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Queen City Club of Buffalo defeated the Burlington Club of Hamilton, Ontario, 30-25. 

 

 

Sources:

[A] This game appears on the Protoball Games Tabulation [WNY Table] compiled by Craig Waff. It was reported as "the first match ever played by Clubs from the United States and Canada." in the Buffalo Morning Express on August 18, 1860.

[B] Joseph Overfield, The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball (Partner's Press, 1985), page 17. Overfield does not cite a primary source for this event.

[C] Hamilton Spectator, August 18, 1860.

Warning:

The New York Sunday Mercury of June 3, 1860, carries the box score of a "NEW YORK vs. CANADA' game in Schenectady, NY, between the Mohawk Club and the "Union Club of Upper Canada". The box indicates that the game was played by the New York Rules. However, the political unit called Upper Canada went out of existence in 1841.  A youthful nineteenth century prank?  See also "Supplemental Information," below, for further commentary. 

Comment:

[Source B] Joseph Overfield notes that the Buffalo NY team called the Queen Cities played a team from Hamilton, Ontario in August 1860, and says that it was the first international contest played by the National Association rules.

[Source C] In 2014, Bill Humber located an Ontario source for the game, the Hamilton Spectator of August 18, 1860.  Bill notes that the village of Clifton Ontario later became the town of Niagara Falls, Ontario.  Bill reports that the crowd attending the game may have been at a tight-rope walking exhibition over the Niagara Gorge that day. 

Year
1860
Item
1860.46
Edit
Source Text

1866.5 Modern Game Compared to Traditional Town Ball in IL

"Base Ball resembles our old-fashioned favorite game of Town Ball sufficiently to naturalize it very quickly. It is governed by somewhat elaborate rules, but the practice is quite simple.  Nine persons on a side, including the Captains, play it.  Four bases are placed ninety feet apart, in the figure of a diamond. The Batsman, Ball Pitcher, and one Catcher, take the same position as in Town Ball.  Of the outside, besides the Pitcher and Catcher, one is posted at each base, one near the Pitcher, called the “Short Stop,”—whose duty is the same as the others in the field—to stop the ball.  The Innings take the bat in rotation, as in Town Ball,—and are called by the Scorer.  The ball is pitched, not thrown to them—a distance of fifty feet.  The Batsman is permitted to strike at three “fair” balls, without danger of being put out by a catch, but hit or miss, must run at the third “fair” ball.  He may "tip" or hit a foul.

The full article, with commentary from finder Richard Hershberger, is found below in the Supplemental Text section.

 

Sources:

Illinois State Journal, May 10, 1866.

Query:

() Any idea why this morsel hadn't turned up before 2014?

() By 1860, the modern game seems well-established in Chicago -- was it still unfamiliar elsewhere in IL as late as 1866? 

() The writer seems unfamiliar with the modern force-out rule; wasn't that introduced prior in base ball prior to 1866?

() Is it possible that the absence of a comment about the modern no-plugging rule means that local town ball already used a no-plugging rule?

() Many throwback articles mention that the new ball is harder than traditional balls.  Could local town ball have already employed hard balls?

Year
1866
Item
1866.5
Edit
Source Text

BC 3500000 c.1 The Thumb Comes into Play

Ever try to throw a ball, even a non-breaking pitch, without using your thumb?

"The carpometacarpal joint of Australopithecus afarensis would have allowed he range of thumb movement necessary for both key grips used in baseball."

This extinct hominid (think Lucy), thought to be as close to Homo sapiens as any species then alive, lived in eastern Africa.  Their hands weren't yet adapted to throwing, but their thumbs had evolved in that general direction.

 

Sources:

Richard W. Young, "Evolution of the human hand: the role of throwing and

clubbing,"Journal of Anatomy (2003), pp165–174. 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1571064

Comment:

Four of our metacarpal bones are aligned in the back of our hands. This fifth is between our wrist and or thumb knuckle. 

Circa
3500000 B.C.
Item
BC 3500000 c.1
Edit
Source Text

1661.1 Galileo Galilei Discovers . . . Backspin!

Tags:

Famous

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Galileo

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

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

 

 

Sources:

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

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

Comment:

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

Query:

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

Year
1661
Item
1661.1
Edit
Source Text

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

Game:

Unknown

Age of Players:

Adult

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

Sources:

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

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

Comment:

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

Query:

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

Are such feats known in England?

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

 

Year
1732
Item
1732.1
Edit
Source Text

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

Tags:

Military

Age of Players:

Adult

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

Sources:

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

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

 

Comment:

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

Query:

Can the date of the diary entry be traced?

Year
1758
Item
1758.1
Edit

1779.6 Dartmouth College Fine for Ballplay - Two Shillings

Tags:

Bans, College

Game:

Play ball

Age of Players:

Youth

"If any student shall play ball or use any other deversion [sic] that exposes the College or hall windows within three rods of either he shall be fined two shillings . . . " In 1782 the protected area was extended to six rods.

Sources:

 John King Lord, A History of Dartmouth College 1815-1909 (Rumford Press, Concord NH, 1913), page 593. 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 35. See also Chron entry #1771.1.

Year
1779
Item
1779.6
Edit
Source Text

1828c.3 Upstate Author Carried Now-Lost 1828 Clipping on Base Ball in Rochester

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[A] "Your article on baseball's origins reminded me of an evening spent in Cooperstown with the author Samuel Hopkins Adams more than 30 years ago. Over a drink we discussed briefly the folk tale about the "invention" of baseball in this village in 1839.

"Even then we knew that the attribution to Abner Doubleday was a myth. Sam Adams capped the discussion by pulling from his wallet a clipping culled from a Rochester newspaper dated 1828 that described in some detail the baseball game that had been played that week in Rochester."

[B] Adams' biography also notes the author's doubts about the Doubleday theory: asked in 1955 about his novel Grandfather Stories, which places early baseball in Rochester in 1827 [sic], he retorted "'I am perfectly willing to concede that Cooperstown is the home of the ice cream soda, the movies and the atom bomb, and that General Doubleday wrote Shakespeare. But," and he then read a newspaper account of the [1828? 1830?] Rochester game."

[C] "Will Irwin, a baseball historian, tells us he was informed by Samuel Hopkins of a paragraph in an 1830 newspaper which notes that a dance was to be held by the Rochester Baseball Club."

Sources:

[A] Letter from Frederick L. Rath, Jr, to the Editor of the New York Times, October 5, 1990.

[B] Oneonta Star, July 9. 1965, citing Samuel V. Kennedy, Samuel Hopkins Adams and the Business of Writing (Syracuse University Press, 1999), page 284.

[C] Bill Beeny, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, March 17, 1965.

Comment:

 Priscilla Astifan has looked hard for such an article, and it resists finding.  She suspects the article appeared in a newspaper whose contents were not preserved.

Circa
1828
Item
1828c.3
Edit

1829.9 Pupil in Class Seen to "Scamper like a Boy at Bass-ball"

Game:

Bass-ball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Under the heading "School-boy Anecdote," this item tells of a "pupil in one of the common schools in New-York" who responded in an oral spelling quiz with an indistinct answer.  The teacher pressed him on his answer:  "Did you say 'a' or 'e'?"

"Why, you take ary [sic] one on 'em!" said the boy, and he scampered [to the front of the classroom] "like a boy at bass-ball, and placed himself at the head of the class."

Sources:

Carried in the New-Hampshire Statesman and Concord Register, [Concord, NH], June 6, 1829, page 4, column 3:  Attributed to the Berkshire American (no date given).

Comment:

One source identifies the Berkshire American as being published in Pittsfield MA 1825-28.

Pittsfield is in westernmost MA and within 10 miles of the New York border.  It is about 35 miles SE of Albany NY.

Year
1829
Item
1829.9
Edit
Source Text
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