1805.4

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Enigmatic Report: NY Gentlemen Play Game of "Bace," and Score is Gymnastics 41, Sons of Diagoras 34.

Salience Prominent
Tags Pre-Knicks NYC
City/State/Country: New York, NY, United States
Game Base
Age of Players Adult
Text

"Yesterday afternoon a contest at the game of Bace took place on "the Gymnasium," near Tylers' between the gentlemen of two different clubs for a supper and trimmings . . . . Great skill and activity it is said was displayed on both sides, but after a severe and well maintained contest, Victory, which had at times fluttered a little form one to the other, settled down on the heads of the Gymnastics, who beat the Sons of Diagoras 41 to 34."

 

Sources

New York Evening Post, April 13, 1805, page 3 column 1. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.

George Thompson has elaborated on this singular find at George Thompson, "An Enigmatic 1805 "Game of Bace" in New York," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 55-57.

Comment

Note: So, folks . . . was this a baserunning ball game, some version of prisoner's base (a team tag game resembling our childhood game Capture the Flag) with scoring, or what?

John Thorn [email of 2/27/2008] has supplied a facsimile of the Post report, and also found meeting announcements for the Diagoras in the Daily Advertiser for 4/11 and 4/12/1805.

David Block (see full text in Supplemental Text, below) offers his 2017 thoughts on this entry:

"My opinion on whether that game was baseball or prisoner's base has gone back and forth over the years. As of now I tend to lean 60-40 to baseball. Other than the example from Chapman that John cited, I've never come across a use of the term bace to signify either game. Even if I had it wouldn't mean much as the word "base" has been used freely over the years for both of them. The mention of a score in the 1805 article is significant. Rarely are scores indicated in any of the reports of prisoner's base (prison base, prison bars, etc.) that I've come across. Usually they just indicate one side or the other as winner."

 

 

 

 

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Submitted by George Thompson, David Block
Submission Note 19CBB Posting, Email to Protoball
Has Supplemental Text Yes



Comments

<comments voting="Plus" />

Supplemental Text

 

 Email from David Block, 2/19/2017:

"Gents,

Just a quick note to follow up on John's blog post from last week about the 1805 "bace" game. My opinion on whether that game was baseball or prisoner's base has gone back and forth over the years. As of now I tend to lean 60-40 to baseball. Other than the example from Chapman that John cited, I've never come across a use of the term bace to signify either game. Even if I had it wouldn't mean much as the word "base" has been used freely over the years for both of them. The mention of a score in the 1805 article is significant. Rarely are scores indicated in any of the reports of prisoner's base (prison base, prison bars, etc.) that I've come across. Usually they just indicate one side or the other as winner. There are a couple of exceptions. I know of one English example from 1737 where a newspaper reported on a match of prison-bars between eleven men from the city of Chester against a like number from the town of Flint in Wales. "The Cheshire gentlemen got 11, and the Flintshire gentlemen 2," it noted. I've also seen another English report from 1801, also of prison-bars, where one side was said to have "produced a majority of five prisoners." Still, George's example is American, where I suspect that, even at that early date, baseball was probably the more popular game of the two.

Regarding "baste," I have seen at least two dozen examples of the term "baste-ball" used in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. It's clear from context that this was an alternate spelling of base-ball, along with bass-ball. I don't doubt the same was true for the few instances of baste-ball's use in America.

Best to all,
David"