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Town-ball Played in Ohio with "Lazarus" Rule

Salience Noteworthy
Location Ohio
Game Town Ball
Notables Mark Hanna, Repubican Senator from Ohio, 1897-1904

"Town-ball was base-ball in the rough. I recall some distinctive features: If a batter missed a ball and the catcher behind took it, he was 'caught out.' Three 'nips' also put him out. He might be caught out on 'first bounce.' If the ball were thrown across his path while running base, he was out. One peculiar feature was that the last batter on a side might bring his whole side in by successfully running to first base and back six times in succession, touching first base with his bat after batting. This was not often, but sometimes done; and we were apt to hold back our best batter to the last, which we called 'saving up for six-maker.' This phrase became a general proverb for some large undertaking; and to say of one 'he's a six-maker,' meant that he was a tip-top fellow in whatever he undertook, and no higher compliment could be passed.  I have no definite recollection of he Senator's special success at ball, his favorite game; in the broad fields of subsequent life he certainly became a 'six maker.'"



Source: Henry C. McCook, The Senator: A Threnody (George W. Jacobs, Philadelphia, 1905), page 208. This passage is excerpted from the annotations to a long poem written in honor the memory of Senator Marcus Hanna of OH. The likely location of the games was in Lisbon, in easternmost OH - about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh PA.. The verse itself: "Shinny and marbles, flying kite and ball, / Hat-ball and hand-ball and, best loved of all!-/ Town-ball, that fine field sport, that soon/ By natural growth and skilful change, became/ Baseball, by use and popular acclaim/ Our nation's favorite game" [Ibid. page 54].  McCook's note describes hat-ball as a plugging game, and hand-ball as a game for one sides of one, two, or three boys that was played "against a windowless brick gable wall."

Posted to 19CBB on 8/13/2007, by Richard Hershberger, supplemented by 8/14/2007 and 12/19/2008 emails.

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Note: were "nips" foul tips?

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Submitted by Richard Hershberger, 19CBB posting, 8/13/2007


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