1621.1

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Some Pilgrims "Openly" Play "Stoole Ball" on Christmas Morning: Governor Clamps Down

Salience Prominent
Tags Famous, Holidays
Location MA
City/State/Country: Plymouth, MA, United States
Game Stoolball
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Adult
Holiday Christmas
Notables Governor Willliam Bradford
Text

Governor Bradford describes Christmas Day 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, MA; "most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on ye day. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye street at play, openly; some at pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball and shuch like sport. . . . Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly."

 

Sources

Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation, [Harvey Wish, ed., Capricorn Books, 1962], pp 82 - 83. Henderson cites Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856. See his ref 23. Full text supplied by John Thorn, 6/25/2005. Also cited and discussed  by Thomas L. Altherr, “There is Nothing Now Heard of, in Our Leisure Hours, But Ball, Ball, Ball,” The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1999 (McFarland, 2000), p. 190

Comment

Bradford explained that the issue was not that ball-playing was sinful, but that playing openly while others worked was not good for morale.

Note: From scrutinizing early reports of stoolball, Protoball does not find convincing evidence that it was a base-running game by the 1600s.

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