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Use in VA of "base ball"

Salience Noteworthy
Tags Contemp. "Base Ball" usage
City/State/Country: Alexandria, VA, United States
Game Base Ball
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Youth

"Some of us after this engaged in a game of base ball, as a pleasant recreation."


Memoir and Sermons of the Rev. William Duval, published in Richmond, Virginia in 1854 by his colleague the Rev. Cornelius Walker. Duval was born in 1822 outside of Richmond, and the family moved into town when he was a small child. In 1842 he entered the Virginia Theological Seminary, a major Episcopal seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. There he kept a diary. The entry above is for October 3, 1842. per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, July 27, 2011


I have been preaching for some time now that "base ball" and "round ball" and "town ball" were regional dialectal synonyms for the same game. For the most part there is a clear division between "base ball" territory and "town ball" territory, with "town ball" being used in Pennsylvania, the Ohio River watershed, and the South.

 I have come across what seems to be an unblemished early use of "base ball" in Virginia...It is perfectly obvious that "base ball" is an older term than "town ball". Presumably "base ball" was the term used throughout anglophone North America in colonial times, and "town ball" arose in some place (my guess is Pennsylvania, but I can't begin to prove it) and spread west and south. So this Virginia example could be a survival of the older term, or it could be a random later borrowing from the north.

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Submitted by Bob Tholkes,
Submission Note 2/21/2015


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