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Roundball Recalled in Maine

Salience Noteworthy
Tags Pre-modern Rules
City/State/Country: Norway, ME, United States
Immediacy of Report Retrospective
Age of Players Youth

Before modern base ball arrived around 1865, local boys played (in addition to "three-year-old cat" and barnball, the game of Roundball):

 ""The infield was not a diamond, but a parallelogram of varying proportions with the 'gools,' or bases, at the four corners as in Baseball, but the striker or batter stood midway between the first and fourth base, running three and a half bases in place of four bases as in Baseball.  In Roundball a runner was put out between bases by being 'plunked' or 'spotted' by a ball thrown by a rival player.  The ball was such as could be made from yarn raveled from a cast-off stocking, sometimes with a large bullet at the center to give it weight for long throws, and was covered with calf-skin begged from the family shoemaker."


Percival J. Parris, "Oxford County Baseball in 1865," Norway Advertiser Democrat, April 13, 1945.  Cited in Peter Morris, "Pennesseewassees of Norway, Maine," Baseball Pioneers (McFarland, 2012), page 9.


Our dating of this reflection as c1850 is arbitrary. Parris writes only the the (unnamed) game was known before game the modern game arrived in 1864-65.  This reflection was reported in 1945 -- 95 years after 1850, when Parris himself was in his mid-90s'


The game described bears at least a superficial resemblance to the Massachusetts Game, whose rules were to be codified in MA in 1858..

Norway ME is about 50 miles north of Portland ME.  Its population in 1850 was about 1950 souls.

As of November, this entry contains one of three Protoball items that cite "gools" as a nme of bases in an early baserunning game. 

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Submitted by Brian Turner
Submission Note email of 11/3/2020


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