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Aging Prince Spends "Several Hours" Playing Bass-Ball in Surrey

Salience Prominent
Tags English Base Ball, Famous, Pre-modern Rules
City/State/Country: England
Game Bass Ball
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Adult
Notables Prince of Wales, Lord Middlesex

"On Tuesday last, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Lord Middlesex, played at Bass-Ball (sic), at Walton in Surry (sic); notwithstanding the Weather was extreme bad, they continued playing several Hours."


Whitehall Evening Post, September 19. 1749. 

David Block's 2013 find was reported at the SABR.org website on 6/19/2103, and it includes interview videos and links to related documentation.  Confirmed  6/19/2013 as yielding to a web search of <block royal baseball sabr>.


Block points out that this very early reference to base-ball indicates that the game was played by adults -- the Prince was 38 years old in 1749, further weakening the view that English base-ball was played mainly by juveniles in its early history.

The location of the game was Walton-on-Thames in Surrey.

 Comparing the 1749 game with modern baseball, Block estimates that the bass-ball was likely played on a smaller scale, with a much softer ball, with batted ball propelled the players' hands, not with a bat, and that runners could be put out by being "plugged" (hit with a thrown  ball) between bases.


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Only two players were named for this account.  Was that because the Prince and Lord Middlesex both led clubs not worthy of mentioning by name, or was there a two-player version of the game then (in the 1800s competitive games of cricket were similarly reported with only two named players)?

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Submitted by David Block
Submission Note Email of 5/31/2013


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