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The Balk Rule Existed Before the 1845 Knick Rules?

Salience Noteworthy
Tags Antedated Firsts, Pre-modern Rules
City/State/Country: NY, United States
Immediacy of Report Retrospective
Age of Players Youth
"A Balk is a Base."--Any one having a remembrance of the ball games of his youth must recollect that in the game of base, if the tosser made a balk to entice the individual making the round from his post, the latter had the right to walk to the next base unscathed. Pity it is that the Hudson folks engaged in the late political movement in Columbia County did not remember that "a balk is a base" in the games of children of a larger growth." (Note: This led into a lengthy diatribe on local politics that I did not attempt to make sense of. - David Block)

Rondout Freeman , June 5, 1847:

"Here is another early example of baseball terminology being used to illustrate a non-sports topic."
The text appeared in the June 5, 1847 issue of the Roundout Freeman (Roundout was a Hudson River community that has since been swallowed by the town of Kingston).
"I had always supposed that the balk rule was introduced by the crafters of the New York game, but this passage suggests it began to be practiced at some earlier time."
-- David Block, 11/12/2010
"I wrote in my book [R. Hershberger. Strike Four, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019, page 37] that the balk rule seemed to be novel to the 1845 Knickerbocker rules. Evidently not. While this is two years later, it also is from [nearly] a hundred miles away in Kingston, NY, and presented as a homespun saying from the writer's youth." -- Richard Hershberger, 19CBB posting, 12/9/2020

Added Local color:  "Rondout has been since 1870, an unincorporated hamlet within the city of Kingston (where I lived for decade; it was called "Rondout" because of its adjoining Roundout Creek, which fed into the Hudson River). The Rondout Freeman in its first incarnation may have indeed lasted till 1847 (founded 1845):https://www.loc.gov/item/sn86071034/.

"Hudson is a large city about 25 miles north of Kingston, on the other side of the Hudson River, in Columbia County.  Today a bridge connects my hometown of Catskill (west bank) with Hudson (east bank).  Taghkanic is the proper spelling of the tribe for whom today is named the Taconic Parkway."  - John Thorn, email of 12/10/2020.

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Is a balk rule known in cricket or English Base Ball?   Or in any pre-1845 baserunning game?

Protoball welcomes further comment on the possible origin of the balk rule.

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Submitted by David Block
Submission Note Submission to 19CBB list-serve, 11/12/2010


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