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New York "Boys' Book" of Games Covers Stoolball, Rounders, Wicket

Salience Noteworthy
City/State/Country: United States
Game Rounders, Stoolball, Wicket
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Juvenile

A large section of The Boy's Book of Sports, attributed to "Uncle John," describes more than 200 games, including, rounders (pp. 20-21), stool-ball (pp. 18-19), and wicket (labeled as cricket: page 73).

Rounders (pp.20-21) employs a two-foot round bat, a hard "bench ball," and four or five stones used as bases and arranged in a circle. Play starts when a "feeder" delivers a ball to a striker who tries to hit it and run from base to base without getting hit.  There is a one-strike rule.  The feeder is allowed to feign a delivery and hit a runner who leaves a base.  Struck balls that are caught retire the batting side.  There is a Lazarus rule.

Stoolball (pp. 18-19) is described as a two-player game or a game with teams.  A stool is defended by a player by his hand, not a bat.  Base running rules appear to be the same as in rounders.

David Block notes that "The version of rounders the book presents is generally consistent with others from the period, with perhaps a little more detail than most. Given the choice of games included [and, perhaps, the exclusion of familiar American games], he believes the author is English, "[y]et I find no evidence of its publication in Great Britain prior to [1848]." This 184-page section was apparently later published in London in 1850 and in Philadelphia in 1851.

The book includes an unusual treatment of wicket.  The author states that "this is the simple Cricket of the country boys."  In reporting on this book, Richard Hershberger advances he working hypothesis that wicket and cricket were used interchangeably in the US.

There is no reference to base ball, base, or goal ball in this book.


Boy's Own Book of Sports, Birds, and Animals (New York, Leavitt and Allen, 1848), per David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, pages 209-210.


While the preface to this book stresses that it is designed to be limited to "sports which prevail in our country," it includes sections on stoolball and rounders, neither known to have been played very widely here. 

Can we rule out the possibility that this book reflects English play, and was written for an English readership?  If so, why is cricket not included?  Because cricket is for older players?



The author's assertion that wicket was commonly played by boys is unusual.  The reported heaviness of wicket's ball, and its heavy bat, seem to mark the game for older players. 

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One wonders whether an earlier English edition of this book was later published; it is not online as of February 2013.

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Submitted by Dave Block
Submission Note Baseball before We Knew It, p. 209-210


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