Base (Prisoner's Base)

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Game Base (Prisoner's Base)
Game Family Hook-em-snivy Hook-em-snivy
Regions Britain, US
Eras 1700s, 1800s, Pre-1700, Predecessor
Invented No

Sometimes seen as a name for base ball. While some references to “base” most likely denote Prisoner’s Base (a team form of tag similar in nature to modern Capture the Flag and, perhaps,  today’s Laser Tag), others denote a ball game. David Block reports that the earliest clear appearance of “base” as a ball game is from New England in 1831, and that his source groups base with cricket and cat as young men’s ballgames.


Thomas Altherr, "Base Is Not Always Baseball: Prisoner's Base From the 13th to the 20th Centuries." Base Ball, Volune 3, number 1 (Spring 2009), pp 67-79.

See also 19cBB posting, October 17, 2007.

See also 1852.17 -- A work by Charles Dickens titled "The Child's Story" (1852) in which Dickens writes: "They were active ... at cricket and all games of ball; the prisoners base, hare and hounds, follow up leader, and more sports than I can think of."
A description of Prisoner's base can be found in the Salisbury, NC The Old North State, Jan. 28, 1870. [ba]
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