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BC 2,000,000c.1 Overhand Throwing Evolves in Primates
"A suite of physical changes -- such as the lowering and widening of the shoulders, and expansion of the waist, and a twisting of the humerus -- make humans especially good at throwing . . . it wasn't until the appearance of Homo erectus, about 2 million years ago" that this combination of alterations came together.
Note: Chimpanzees can only throw like a dartboard-contestant or a straight-arm cricket bowler.
Stone-tipped spears only appeared about a half a million years ago. "That means that for about 1.5 million years, when people hunted, they basically had nothing more lethal to throw than a pointed wooden stick . . . . If you want to kill something with that, you have to be able to throw that pretty hard, and you have to be accurate. Imagine how important it must have been to our ancestors to throw hard and fast."
Peter Reuell, "Right Down the Middle, Explained," Harvard Gazette, June 27, 2013.
See http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/06/right-down-the-middle-explained/ (includes video of human throwing motion). It describes a paper by Neil T. Roach, et. a., "Elastic Energy Storage in the Shoulder, Nature, volume 498 (June 27, 2013), pp. 483-487.
The article asserts, without supporting detail, that straight-arm (cricket-style) throwing is less effective.
Do British researchers agree that cricket-style bowling would be less effective as a hunting technique?
BC3000c.1 A Baserunning Ballgame in the Stone Age?
In 1937 the Italian demography researcher Corrado Gini undertook to study a group of blond-haired Berbers in North Africa, and discovered that they played a batting/baserunning game in the sowing season.
They called the game Om El Mahag. It employed a "mother's base" and a "father's base, and baserunners were retired if their soft-toss pitch resulted in a caught fly or if they were plugged when running between bases.
[A] Contemporary experts were persuaded that the "blondness of the Berbers suggests that they brought the game with them from Europe" some fifty or more centuries earlier when cold northern climates drove civilization southward.
[B] For later accounts of this research and its interpretation, see below.
[A] Erwin Mehl, "Baseball in the Stone Age (English translation), Western Folklore, volume 7, number 2 (April 1948), page 159.
[B] For a succinct recent summary, see David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It (UNebraska Press, 2005), pages 95-100. For a rollicking but undocumented take on possible very early safe haven games, including Om El Mahag, see Harold Peterson, The Man Who Invented Baseball (Scribner's, 1969), pages 42-46.
Today's reader will want to determine how modern demography sees the advent of blond-haired Berbers and the evidence on the preservation of games and cultural rituals over scores of human generations.
Peterson sees a striking resemblance of Om El Mahag to Guts Muths' "German game" as described in 1796.
Has this game been observed in other North African communities since 1937? Are alternative explanations of Om El Mahag now offered, including a much more recent importation from cricket-playing and baseball-playing areas?
-2500.2 Tale of Game in Sumer, Possibly Using Ball and Mallet.
Gilgamesh was a celebrated Sumerian king who probably reigned 2800-2500 BCE. His legend appears in several later poems.
In one, he drops a mikku and a pukku, used in a ceremony or game, into the underworld.
One scholar, Andrew George, suggests that the objects were a ball and a mallet. George translates the game played as something like a polo game where humans are ridden instead of horses.
When the two objects are lost, Gilgamesh is said in this interpretation to weep;
'O my ball! O my mallet!
O my ball, which I have not enjoyed to the full!
O my mallet, with which I have not had my fill of play!'
The Epic of Gilgamesh, dated as early at 2100 BCE.
Mark Pestana, who tipped Protoball off on the Sumerian reference, suggest two texts for further insight:
 Damrosch, David, The Buried Book: The Loss and Rediscovery of the Great Epic of Gilgamesh (New York, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2007). For specific reference to the ball & mallet, page 232. Damrosch’s comment on the primacy of Andrew George’s interpretation: “For Gilgamesh, the starting point is Andrew George’s The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation. . . "This is the best and most complete translation of the epic ever published, including newly discovered passages not included in any other translation.” (Damrosch, page 295)
 George, Andrew, The Epic of Gilgamesh: A New Translation (London, England: Penguin Books, 1999). This book includes a complete translation of the Standard version, a generous helping of fragments of the Old Babylonian version, plus the Sumerian “ur-texts” of the individual Gilgamesh poems. The quote I included describing the ball game is to be found on page 183.
In the Supplemental Text, below, we provide an excerpt from a translation by Andrew George from his "Gilgamesh and the Netherworld."
Mark Pestana, who submitted this item to Protoball, observes, "Polo? Croquet? Golf? Rounders? I think it's interesting that the spot of the ball is marked at the end of the first day."
See Mark's full coverage in the Supplemental Text, below.
Have other scholars commented on Mr. George's ballplaying interpretation of the Gilgamesh epic?
BC2000c.3 Egyptian Tomb Has Earliest Depiction of Catching (Fielding) a Ball?
The main chamber of Tomb 15 at Beni Hasan has a depiction of catching a ball, as well as throwing. Two women, each riding on the back of another woman, appear to be doing some form of ball-handling. The image of one woman pretty clearly depicts her in the act of catching ("fielding”) a ball, and the other is quite plausibly about to throw a ball toward her.
Henderson, Robert W.,Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], page 19; the image itself is reproduced opposite page 28.
BC1460.1 Egyptian Tomb Inscriptions Show Bats, Balls
Wall inscriptions in Egyptian royal tombs depict games using bats and balls.
According to Egyptologist Peter Piccione, "A wall relief at the temple of Deir et-Bahari showing Thutmose III playing under the watchful eye of the goddess Hathor dates to 1460 BC. Priests are depicted catching the balls . . . this was really a game."
Per Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 20.
Henderson's source may be his ref #127-- Naville, E., "The Temple of Deir el Bahari (sic)," Egyptian Exploration Fund. Memoirs, Volume 19, part IV, plate C [London, 1901]. Also, Batting the Ball, by Peter A. Piccione, "Pharaoh at the Bat," College of Charlestown Magazine (Spring/Summer 2003), p.36. See
also http://www.cofc.edu/~piccione/sekerhemat.html, as accessed 12/17/08.
1440c.1 Fresco at Casa Borromeo shows Female Ball Players
In a ground floor room at the Casa Borromeo in Milan, Italy is a room with wall murals depicting the amusements of Fifteenth Century nobility. One of the images depicts five noble women playing some sort of bat and ball game. One woman holds a bat and is preparing to hit a ball to a group of four women who prepare to catch the ball using the folds of their dresses. This Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs published an article about the Casa Borromeo frescoes in 1918 and included a black and white photo of the female ball players. A color version of the fresco is available online.
Lionel Cust, "The Frescoes in the Casa Borromeo at Milan," The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 33, No. 184 (July 1918), 8. Link to color image: http://www.storiadimilano.it/Arte/giochiborromeo/giochiborromeo.htm
Note: This drawing is listed as "contemporary" on the premise that it was meant to depict ballplaying in the 1400s.
1500s.2 Queen Elizabeth's Dudley Plays Stoolball at Wotton Hill?
Lord Robert Dudley; Queen Elizabeth I
According to a manuscript written in the 1600s, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and his "Trayne" "came to Wotton, and thence to Michaelwood Lodge . . . and thence went to Wotton Hill, where hee paid a match at stobball."
Internal evidence places ths event in the fifteenth year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, which would be 1547-48. Elizabeth I named her close associate [once rumored to be her choice as husband] Dudley to became Earl of Leicester in the 1564, and he died in 1588.
Caveat: "Stobbal" is usually used to denote a field game resembling field hockey or golf; thus, this account may not relate to stoolball per se.
The Wotton account was written by John Smyth of Nibley (1567-1640) in his Berkeley Manuscripts [Sir John McLean, ed., Gloucester, Printed by John Bellows, 1883]. Smyth's association with Berkeley Castle began in 1589, and the Manuscripts were written in about 1618, so it is not a first-hand report.
Note: Is it possible to determine the approximate date of this event?
1565.1 Bruegel's "Corn Harvest" Painting Shows Meadow Ballgame
Bruegel the Elder
"We had paused right in front of [the Flemish artist] Bruegel the Elder's "Corn Harvest" (1565), one of the world's great paintings of everyday life . . . .[M]y eye fell upon a tiny tableau at the left-center of the painting in which young men appeared to be playing a game of bat and ball in a meadow distant from the scything and stacking and dining and drinking that made up the foreground. . . . There appeared to be a man with a bat, a fielder at a base, a runner, and spectators as well as participants in waiting. The strange device opposite the batsman's position might have been a catapult. As I was later to learn with hurried research, this detain is unnoted in the art-history studies."
From John Thorn, "Play's the Thing," Woodstock Times, December 28, 2006. See thornpricks.blogspot.com/2006/12/bruegel-and-me_27.html, accessed 1/30/07.
1586c.1 Sydney Cites Stoolball
Sir Philip Sydney, Lady Mary Dudley
"A time there is for all, my mother often sayes
When she with skirts tuckt very hie, with gyrles at stoolball playes"
Sir Philip Sydney, Arcadia: Sonnets , page 493. Note: citation needs confirmation.
Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586) died at age 31 in 1586.
As of October 2012, this early stoolball ref. is the only one I see that can be interpreted as describing baserunning in stoolball - but it still may merely describe running by a fielder, not a batter. (LMc, Oct/2012)
Sydney's mother was the sister of Robert Dudley, noted in item #1500s.2 above as a possible stoolball player in the time of Eliizabeth I.
Further interpretations are welcome as to Sydney's meaning.
1609.1 Polish Origins of Baseball Perceived in Jamestown VA Settlement
"Soon after the new year , [we] initiated a ball game played with a bat . . . . Most often we played this game on Sundays. We rolled up rags to make balls . . . Our game attracted the savages who sat around the field, delighted with this Polish sport."
A 1975 letter from Matthew Baranski letter to the HOF said:
"For your information and records, I am pleased to inform you that after much research I have discovered that baseball was introduced to America by the Poles who arrived in Jamestown in 1609. . . . Records of the University of Krakow, the oldest school of higher learning in Poland show that baseball or batball was played by the students in the 14th century and was part of the official physical culture program."
The 1609 source is Zbigniew Stefanski, Memorial Commercatoris [A Merchant's Memoirs], (Amsterdam, 1625), as cited in David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It, page 101. Stefanski was a skilled Polish workingman who wrote a memoir of his time in the Jamestown colony: an entry for 1609 related the Polish game of pilka palantowa(bat ball). Another account by a scholar reported adds that "the playfield consisted of eight bases not four, as in our present day game of baseball." If true, this would imply that the game involved running as well as batting.
1975 Letter: from Matthew Baranski to the Baseball Hall ofFame, March 23, 1975. [Found in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center.] Matthew Baranski himself cites First Poles in America1608-1958, published by the Polish Falcons of America, Pittsburgh, but unavailable online as of 7/28/09. We have not confirmed that sighting.
See also David Block, "Polish Workers Play Ball at Jamestown Virginia: An Early Hint of Continental Europe's Influence on Baseball," Base Ball (Origins Issue), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pp.5-9.
Per Maigaard's 1941 survey of "battingball games" includes a Polish variant of long ball, but does not mention pilka palantowa by name. However, pilka palantowa may merely be a longer/older term for palant, the Polish form of long ball still played today.
The likelihood that pilka palantowa left any legacy in America is fairly low, since the Polish glassblowers returned home after a year and there is no subsequent mention of any similar game in colonial Virginia
1612c.1 Play Attributed to Shakespeare Cites Stool-ball
A young maid asks her wooer to go with her. "What shall we do there, wench?" She replies, "Why, play at stool-ball; what else is there to do?"
Fletcher and Shakespeare, The Two Noble Kinsmen [London], Act V, Scene 2, per W. W. Grantham, Stoolball Illustrated and How to Play It [W. Speaight, London, 1904], page 29. David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 170, gives 1634 as the publication date of this play, which was reportedly performed in 1612, and mentions that doubts have been expressed as to authorship, so Shakespeare [1564-1616] may not have contributed. Others surmise that The Bard wrote Acts One and Five, which would make him the author of the stoolball reference. See also item #1600c.2 above. Note: can we find further specifics? Russell-Goggs, in "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 320, notes that the speaker is the "daughter of the Jailer."
1621.1 Some Pilgrims "Openly" Play "Stoole Ball" on Christmas Morning: Governor Clamps Down
Governor Willliam Bradford
Governor Bradford describes Christmas Day 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, MA; "most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on ye day. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye street at play, openly; some at pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball and shuch like sport. . . . Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly."
Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation, [Harvey Wish, ed., Capricorn Books, 1962], pp 82 - 83. Henderson cites Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856. See his ref 23. Full text supplied by John Thorn, 6/25/2005. Also cited and discussed by Thomas L. Altherr, “There is Nothing Now Heard of, in Our Leisure Hours, But Ball, Ball, Ball,” The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1999 (McFarland, 2000), p. 190
Bradford explained that the issue was not that ball-playing was sinful, but that playing openly while others worked was not good for morale.
Note: From scrutinizing early reports of stoolball, Protoball does not find convincing evidence that it was a base-running game by the 1600s.
1630c.3 At Oxford, Women's Shrovetide Customs Include Stooleball
"In the early seventeenth century, an Oxford fellow, Thomas Crosfield, noted the customs of Shrovetide as '1. frittering. 2. throwing at cocks. 3. playing at stooleball in ye Citty by women & footeball by men.'" Shrovetide was the Monday and Tuesday [that Tuesday being Mardi Gras in some quarter] preceding Ash Wednesday and the onset of Lent.
Griffin, Emma, "Popular Recreation and the Significance of Space," (publication unknown), page 36.
The original source is shown as the Crosfield Diary entry for March 1, 1633, page 63. Thanks to John Thorn for supplementing a draft of this entry. One citation for the diary is F. S. Boas, editor, The Diary of Thomas Crosfield (Oxford University Press, London, 1935).
Can we find and inspect the 1935 Boas edition of the diary?
1661.1 Galileo Galilei Discovers . . . Backspin!
The great scientist wrote, in a treatise discussing how the ball behaves in different ball games, including tennis: "Stool-ball, when they play in a stony way, . . . they do not trundle the ball upon the ground, but throw it, as if to pitch a quait. . . . . To make the ball stay, they hold it artificially with their hand uppermost, and it undermost, which in its delivery hath a contrary twirl or rolling conferred upon it by the fingers, by means whereof in its coming to the ground neer the mark it stays there, or runs very little forwards."
(see Supplemental Text, below, for a longer excerpt, which also includes the effect of "cutting" balls in tennis as a helpful tactic.)
Galileo Galilei, Mathematical Collections and Translations. "Inglished from his original Italian copy by Thomas Salusbury" (London, 1661), page 142.
Provided by David Block, emails of 2/27/2008 and 9/13/2015.
David further asks: "could it be that this is the source of the term putting "English" on a ball?"
Can we really assume that Galileo was familiar with 1600s stoolball and tennis? Is it possible that this excerpt reflects commentary by Salusbury, rather that strict translation from the Italian source?
1700.1 One of the Earliest Public Notices of a Cricket Match?
"Of course, there are many bare announcements of matches played before that time [the 1740's]. In 1700 The Postboy advertised one to take place on Clapham Common."
Note: An excerpt from a Wikipedia entry accessed on 10/17/08 states: "A series of matches, to be held on Clapham Common [in South London - LMc] , was pre-announced on 30 March by a periodical called The Post Boy. The first was to take place on Easter Monday and prizes of £10 and £20 were at stake. No match reports could be found so the results and scores remain unknown. Interestingly, the advert says the teams would consist of ten Gentlemen per side but the invitation to attend was to Gentlemen and others. This clearly implies that cricket had achieved both the patronage that underwrote it through the 18th century and the spectators who demonstrated its lasting popular appeal."
Thomas Moult, "The Story of the Game," in Moult, ed., Bat and Ball: A New Book of Cricket (The Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1960; reprinted from 1935), page 27. Moult does not further identify this publication.
Caveat: The Wikipedia entry is has incomplete citations and could not be verified.
Can we confirm this citation, and that it refers to cricket? Do we know of any earlier public announcements of safe-haven games?
1725c.1 Wicket Played on Boston Common at Daybreak
Judge Samuel Sewell
"March, 15. Sam. Hirst [Sewall's grandson, reportedly, and a Harvard '23 man -- (LMc)] got up betime in the morning, and took Ben Swett with him and went into the [Boston MA] Common to play at Wicket. Went before any body was up, left the door open; Sam came not to prayer; at which I was most displeased.
"March 17th. Did the like again, but took not Ben with him. I told him he could not lodge here practicing thus. So he lodg'd elsewhere. He grievously offended me in persuading his Sister Hannam not to have Mr. Turall, without enquiring of me about it. And play'd fast and loose in a vexing matter about himself in a matter relating to himself, procuring me great Vexation."
Diary of Samuel Sewall, in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Published by the Society, Boston, 1882) Volume VII - Fifth Series, page 372. As cited by Thomas L. Altherr, “There is Nothing Now Heard of, in Our Leisure Hours, But Ball, Ball, Ball,” The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1999 (McFarland, 2000), p. 190.
While this is the first known reference to ballplaying on Boston Common, there are several later ones. See Brian Turner, "Ballplaying and Boston Common; A Town Playground for Boys . . . and Men," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 21-24.
1732.1 "Struck a Ball Over the (163-foot) Weather-cock" in New York
"The same Day a Gentleman in this City, for a Wager of 10l [ten pounds] struck a Ball over the Weather-Cock of the English Church, which is above 163 Feet high. He had half a Day allow'd him to perform it in, but he did it in less than half the Time."
American Weekly Mercury, Philadelphia, July 6, 1732, page 3, column 2;
from a series of paragraphs/sentences datelined *New-York, July 3. The preceding paragraph had begun "On Friday last."
Protoball doesn't know of other early references to pop-fly hitting.
Is it fair to assume that the gentleman used a bat to propel the ball?
Are such feats known in England?
Is a 160-foot weather-vane plausible? That's well over 10 stories, no?
1744.1 First Laws of Cricket are Written in England
[A] Ford's crisp summary of the rules: "Toss for pitching wickets and choice of innings; pitch 22 yards; single bail; wickets 22 inches high; 4-ball overs; ball between 5 and 6 ounces; 'no ball' defined; modes of dismissal - bowled, caught, stumped, run out, obstructing the field."
The 5-ounce ball is, likely, heavier than balls used in very early US ballplaying.
[B] Includes the 4-ball over, later changed to 6 balls. [And to 8 balls in Philadelphia in 1790 -LMc]. The 22 yard pitching distance is one-tenth of the length of a furlong, which is one-eighth of a mile.
[A] John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 17.
[B] Cashman, Richard, "Cricket," in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 87.
The rules are listed briefly at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1744_English_cricket_season [as accessed 1/31/07]. The rules were written by a Committee under the patronage of "the cricket-mad Prince of Wales" -- Frederick, the son of George II.
For a recent review of the 1744 cricket rules and their relevance to base ball, see Beth Hise, "How is it, Umpire? The 1744 Laws of Cricket and Their Influence on the Development of Baseball in America," Base Ball (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 25-31.
1749.2 Aging Prince Spends "Several Hours" Playing Bass-Ball in Surrey
Prince of Wales, Lord Middlesex
"On Tuesday last, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Lord Middlesex, played at Bass-Ball (sic), at Walton in Surry (sic); notwithstanding the Weather was extreme bad, they continued playing several hours."
Whitehall Evening Post, September 19. 1749. David Block's 2013 find was reported at the SABR.org website on 6/19/2103, and it includes interview videos and links to related documentation. Confirmed 6/19/2013 as yielding to a web search of <block royal baseball sabr>.
Block points out that this very early reference to base-ball Indicates that the game was played by adults -- the Prince was 38 years old in 1749, further weakening the view that English base-ball was played mainly by juveniles in its early history.
The location of the game was Walton-on-Thames in Surrey.
Comparing the 1749 game with modern baseball, Block estimates that the bass-ball was likely played on a smaller scale, with a much softer ball, with batted ball propelled the plaayers' hands, not with a bat, and that runners could be put out by being "plugged" (hit with a thrown ball) between bases.
Only two players were named for this account. Was that because the Prince and Lord Middlesex both led clubs not worthy of mentioning, or was there a two-player version of the game then (in the 1800s competitive games of cricket were similarly reported with only two named players)?
1751.1 First Recorded US Cricket Match Played, "For a Considerable Wager," in NYC; New Yorkers Win, 167-80
"Last Monday afternoon, a match at cricket was play'd on our Common for a considerable Wager, by eleven Londoners, against eleven New Yorkers: The game was play'd according to the London Method; and those who got most notches in two Hands, to be the Winners: The New Yorkers went in first, and got 81; Then the Londoners went in, and got but 43; Then the New Yorkers went in again, and got 86; and the Londoners finished the Game with getting only 37 more."
This was the first recorded cricket match played in New York City, and took place on grounds where Fulton Fish Market now stands, "by a Company of Londoners - the London XI - against a Company of New Yorkers." (The New Yorkers won, 167-80.)
New YorkPost-Boy, 4/29/51. Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: John reports that the sources are multiple: clip from Chadwick Scrapbooks; see also, "the first recorded American cricket match per se was in New York in 1751 on the site of what is today the Fulton Fish Market in Manhattan. A team called New York played another described as the London XI 'according to the London method' - probably a reference to the 1744 Code which was more strict that the rules governing the contemporary game in England. Also, and dispositively, from Phelps-Stokes, I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1922), Volume IV, page 628.Vol. VI, Index—ref. against Chronology and Chronology Addenda (Vol. 4A or 6A); [CRICKET] Match on Commons April 29, 1751; and finally, Phelps Stokes, V. 4, p. 628, 4/29/1751: "…this day, a great Cricket match is to be played on our commons, by a Company of Londoners against a Company of New-Yorkers. New-York Post-Boy, 4/29/51." The New Yorkers won by a total score of 167 to 80. New York Post-Boy, 5/6/51. This game is also treated by cricket historians Wisden  and Lester .
Also see New York Gazette, May 6, 1751, page 2, column 2, per George Thompson..
1751.3 New Yorkers Beat London Players in "Great Cricket Match", 167-80
“…this day, a great Cricket match is to be played on our commons, by a Company of Londoners against a Company of New-Yorkers. New-York Post-Boy, 4/29/51.
The game played for “a considerable Wager,” there being 11 players on each side, and “according to the London Method: and those who got most Notches in two Hands, to be the Winners.” The New Yorkers won by a total score of 167 to 80. New York Post-Boy, 5/6/51.
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1922), Volume IV, page 628.
1755.3 Young Diarist Goes to "Play at Base Ball" in Surrey
On the day after Easter in 1755, 18-year-old William Bray recorded the following entry in his diary:
"After Dinner Went to Miss Seale's to play at Base Ball, with her, the 3 Miss Whiteheads, Miss Billinghurst, Miss Molly Flutter, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Ford, H. Parsons & Jolly. Drank tea and stayed till 8."
The story of this 2006 find is told in Block, David, "The Story of William Bray's Diary," Base Ball, volume , no. 2 (Fall 2007), pp. 5-11.
See also John Thorn's blog entry at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/09/05/the-story-of-william-brays-diary/.
see also Sam_Marchiano_and_the_1755_Bray_Diary_Find for an interview with film-maker Sam Marciano, whose documentary led to this new find in 2005.
Block points out that this diary entry is (as of 2008) among the first four appearances of the term "base ball," [see #1744.2 and #1748.1 above, and #1755.4 below]. It shows adult and mixed-gender play, and indicates that "at this time, baseball was more of a social phenomenon than a sporting one. . . . played for social entertainment rather than serious entertainment." [Ibid, page 9.]
William Bray is well known as a diarist and local historian in Surrey. His diary, in manuscript, came to light in England during the 2008 filming of Ms Sam Marchiano's award-winning documentary, "Base Ball Discovered."
1758.1 Military Unit Plays "Bat and Ball" in Northern NYS
In 1758, Benjamin Glazier recorded in his diary that "Captain Garrish's company played 'bat and ball'" near Fort Ticonderoga.
Benjamin Glazier, French and Indian War Diary of Benjamin Glazier of Ipswich,1758-1760. Essex Institute Historical Collections, volume 86 (1950), page 65, page 68. The original diary is held at the Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem MA.
Note: Brian Turner notes, August 2014, that: "I've had to cobble together the above citation without seeing the actual publication or the original ms. The Hathi Trust allows me to search for page numbers of vol. 86, but not images of those pages, and when I put in "bat and ball" I get hits on p. 65 and p. 68. P. 65 also provides hits for "Ticonderoga" and "Gerrish's," so that would be the most likely place for all the elements to be cited. The original clue came from a website on the history of Fort Ticonderoga, but I can no longer find that website."
Fort Ticonderoga is about 100 miles N of Albany NY at the southern end of Lake Champlain. Ipswich MA is about 10 miles N of Salem MA.
Can the date of the diary entry be traced?
1777.1 Revolutionary War Prisoner Watches Ball-Playing in NYC Area
Jabez Fitch, an officer from Connecticut, noted in March 1777, as a prisoner in British-held New York: "we lit [sic] a number of our Offrs . . . who were Zealously Engaged at playing ball . . . .
His diary mentioned two other times he saw comrades playing ball.
Sabine, William H. W., ed., "The New York Diary of Lieutenant Jabez Fitch of the 17th (Connecticut) Regiment from August 22, 1776 to December 15, 1777 [private printing, 1954], pp. 126, 127, and 162. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It; see p.237.
The numbers of players seems to weaken the suggestion that "playing ball" meant hand ball in these cases.
1777.2 Mass. Sailor Plays Ball in English Prison
Held as a POW in Plymouth, England, Newburyport MA sailor Charles Herbert wrote on April 2, 1777: "Warm, and something pleasant, and the yard begins to dry again, so that we can return to our former sports; these are ball and quoits . . . "
A Relic of the Revolution, Containing a Full and Particular Account of the Sufferings and Privations of All the American Prisoners Captured on the High Seas, and Carried to Plymouth, England, During the Revolution of 1776 [Charles S. Pierce, Boston, 1847], p. 109. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It [ref # 35]; see p. 237
1777.4 British POWs Linger in Colonies -- Did They Help Sew Base Ball's Seeds?
Nearly 5000 of British General Burgoyne's troops, surrendered in their 1777 loss at Saratoga, remained in American camps for several years. They were known to play the game of "bat and ball" as they were interned variously in Cambridge MA, Virginia, and central Pennsylvania, and to have maintained a store of hickory sticks, ostensibly for the purpose of such play. Nearly a third of them deserted over the years, some settling in America. Could they not have helped acquaint the new nation with their English game?
Brian Turner, "Sticks or Clubs: Ball Play Along the Route of Burgoyne's "Convention Army", Base Ball, volume 11 (2019), pp. 1 -16.
In 1778, a court-martial reviewed a claim that interned soldiers outside Boston possessed some dangerous weapons, and in defense "Burgoyne introduced into evidence a set of 'hickory sticks designed to play at bat and ball'."
1778.1 American Surgeon Sees Ball-Playing in English Prison
"23rd [May 1778]. This forenoon as some of the prisoners was playing ball, it by chance happened to lodge n the eave spout. One climbed up to take the ball out, and a sentry without the wall seeing him, fired at him, but did no harm."
Coan, Marion, ed., "A Revolutionary Prison Diary: The Journal of Dr. Jonathan Haskins," New England Quarterly, volume 17, number 2 [June 1944], p. 308. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref # 36; see pages 237-238.
1778.3 MA Sergeant Found Some Time and "Plaid Ball"
Benjamin Gilbert, a Sergeant from Brookfield MA, mentioned ball-playing in his diary several times between 1778 and 1782. The locations included the lower Hudson valley.
Symmes, Rebecca D., ed., A Citizen Soldier in the American Revolution: The Diary of Benjamin Gilbert of Massachusetts and New York (New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown, 1980), pp. 30 and 49; and "Benjamin Gilbert Diaries 1782 - 1786," G372, NYS Historical Association Library, Cooperstown. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref # 30. (See page 236.)
1778.4 Ewing Reports Playing "At Base" and Wicket at Valley Forge - with the Father of his Country
[A] George Ewing, a Revolutionary War soldier, tells of playing a game of "Base" at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: "Exercisd in the afternoon in the intervals playd at base."
Ewing also wrote: "[May 2d] in the afternoon playd a game at Wicket with a number of Gent of the Arty . . . ." And later . . . "This day [May 4, 1778] His Excellency dined with G Nox and after dinner did us the honor to play at Wicket with us."
"Q. What did soldiers do for recreation?
"A: During the winter months the soldiers were mostly concerned with their survival, so recreation was probably not on their minds. As spring came, activities other than drills and marches took place. "Games" would have included a game of bowls played with cannon balls and called "Long Bullets." "Base" was also a game - the ancestor of baseball, so you can imagine how it might be played; and cricket/wicket. George Washington himself was said to have took up the bat in a game of wicket in early May after a dinner with General Knox! . . . Other games included cards and dice . . . gambling in general, although that was frowned upon."
Valley Forge is about 20 miles NE of Philadelphia.
[A] Ewing, G., The Military Journal of George Ewing (1754-1824), A Soldier of Valley Forge [Private Printing, Yonkers, 1928], pp 35 ["base"] and 47 [wicket]. Also found at John C. Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. Volume: 11. [U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1931]. page 348. The text of Ewing's diary is unavailable at Google Books as of 11/17/2008.
[B] From the website of Historic Valley Forge;
see http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/youasked/067.htm, accessed 10/25/02. Note: it is possible that the source of this material is the Ewing entry above, but we're hoping for more details from the Rangers at Valley Forge. In 2013, we're still hoping, but not as avidly.
See also Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball: Baseball and Baseball-Type Games in the Colonial Era, Revolutionary War, and Early American Republic.." Nine, Volume 8, number 2 (2000)\, p. 15-49. Reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It – see page 236.
Caveat: It is unknown whether this was a ball game, rather than prisoner's base, a form of tag played by two teams, and resembling the game "Capture the Flag."
Note: "Long Bullets" evidently involved a competition to throw a ball down a road, seeing who could send the ball furthest along with a given number of throws. Another reference to long bullets is found at http://protoball.org/1830s.20.
Is Ewing's diary available now?
1778.5 Cricket Game To Be Played at Cannon's Tavern, New York City
"The game of Cricket, to be played on Monday next, the 14th inst., at Cannon's Tavern, at Corlear's Hook. Those Gentlemen that choose to become Members of the Club, are desired to attend. The wickets to be pitched at two o'Clock"
Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: from Phelps-Stokes, Vol. VI, Index—ref. against Chronology and Chronology Addenda (Vol. 4aA or 6A); also, Vol. V, p.1068 (6/13/1778): Royal Gazette, 6/13/1778. Later, the cricket grounds were "where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground " Royal Gazette, 6/17/1780.
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1068.
Phelps Stokes cites Royal Gazette, 6/13/1778 and that a later 1780 note that the cricket grounds were "where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground" (Royal Gazette, 6/17/1780.)
1778.6 NH Loyalist Plays Ball in NY; Mentions "Wickett"
The journal of Enos Stevens, a NH man serving in British forces, mentions playing ball seven times from 1778 to 1781. Only one specifies the game played in terms we know: "in the after noon played Wickett" in March of 1781.
C. K. Boulton, ed., "A Fragment of the Diary of Lieutenant Enos Stevens, Tory, 1777-1778," New England Quarterly v. 11, number 2 (June 1938), pages 384-385, per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, reference #33; see p. 337. Tom notes that the original journal is at the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier VT.
1778.7 Cricket Club To Play at New York Tavern
Vol. V, p.1068 (6/13/1778): “The game of Cricket, to be played on Monday next, the 14th inst., at Cannon’s Tavern, at Corlear’s Hook. Those Gentlemen that choose to become Members of the Club, are desired to attend. The wickets to be pitched at two o’Clock” Royal Gazette, 6/13/1778.
Later, the cricket grounds were “where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground.” Royal Gazette, 6/17/1780.
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1068.
1779.2 Lieutenant Reports Playing Ball, and Playing Bandy Wicket
"Samuel Shute, a New Jersey Lieutenant, jotted down his reference to playing ball in central Pennsylvania sometime between July 9 and July 22, 1779; 'until the 22nd, the time was spent playing shinny and ball.' Incidentally, Shute distinguished among various sports, referring elsewhere in his journal to 'Bandy Wicket.' He did not confuse baseball with types of field hockey [bandy] and cricket [wicket] that the soldiers also played." Thomas Altherr.
"Journal of Lt. Samuel Shute," in Frederick Cook, ed., Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 [Books for Libraries Press, Freeport NY, reprint of the 1885 edition], p. 268. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref # 28. Also cited in Thomas L. Altherr, “There is Nothing Now Heard of, in Our Leisure Hours, But Ball, Ball, Ball,” The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1999 (McFarland, 2000), p. 194.
On bandy: Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Dover, 1964 (reprint: originally published in 1894), volume I. [Page not shone; listed games are presented alphabetically]
Shinny, Wikipedia says, denotes field hockey and ice hockey. Thus, by "ball," Shute was not referring to field hockey. If he was not denoting handball, he may have been adverting to some early form of base ball.
According to Alice B. Gomme, Bandy Wicket refers to the game of cricket, played with a bandy (a curved stick) instead of a bat.
Can we locate and inspect Shute's reference to bandy wicket?
1779.3 Revolutionary War Soldier H. Records Regimental Ball-Playing PA
"In the spring of 1779, Henry Dearborn, a New Hampshire officer, was a member of the American expedition in northeast Pennsylvania, heading northwards to attack the Iroquois tribal peoples. In his journal for April 3rd, Dearborn jotted down . . . 'all the Officers of the Brigade turn'd out & Played at a game of ball the first we have had this yeare.'
On April 17th, he wrote: 'we are oblige'd to walk 4 miles to day to find a place leavel enough to play ball.'
Dearborn's two notations, meager as they were, suggests that the game of ball that they played was more than whimsical recreation."
Brown, Lloyd, and H. Peckham, eds., Revolutionary War Journals of Henry Dearborn 1775 - 1783 Books for Libraries Press, Freeport NY, 1969 (original edition 1939), pp 149 - 150. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref # 1.
The above account is found in Thomas L. Altherr, “There is Nothing Now Heard of, in Our Leisure Hours, But Ball, Ball, Ball,” The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1999 (McFarland, 2000), p. 193
When don't know the nature of this game, nor whether it was a base-running game.
1779.4 French Official Sees George Washington Playing Catch "For Hours"
"To-day he [George Washington] sometimes throws and catches the ball for whole hours with his aides-de-camp."
-- from a letter by Francois Marquis de Barbe-Marbois, September 1779. Observed at a camp at Fishkill NY.
Chase, E. P., ed., Our Revolutionary Forefathers: The Letters of Francois Marquis de Barbe-Marbois during his Residence in the United States as Secretary of the French Legation 1779 - 1785 (Duffield and Company, NY, 1929), p. 114. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," Nine, v. 8, no. 2, (2000); reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It; see pp. 236-237.
Note: An online source has Washington at Fishkill in late September 1778.
1779.5 Army Lieutenant Cashiered for "Playing Ball with Serjeants"
Lieutenant Michael Dougherty, 6th Maryland Regiment, was cashiered at a General Court Martial at Elizabeth Town on April 10, 1779, in part for a breach of the 21st article, 14th section of the rules and articles of war "unofficer and ungentlemanlike conduct in associating and playing ball with Serjeants on the 6th instant."
Fitzpatrick, John C., ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Sources, 1745-1799, vol. 14 [USGPO, Washington, 1931], page 378.
1780.1 NYC Press Cites Regular Monday Cricket Matches Again
A cricket match is advertised to be played on this day, and continued every Monday throughout the summer, "on the Ground where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground."
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1111, also citing New York Mercury, June 19, 1780.
Regular Monday matches had been noted in the previous summer: see Chronology entry 1779.1
1780.2 Challenges for Cricket Matches between Englishmen and Americans
On August 19, 11 New Yorkers issued this challenge: "we, in this public manner challenge the best eleven Englishmen in the City of New York to play the game of Cricket . . . for any sum they think proper to stake." On August 26, the Englishmen accepted, suggesting a stake of 100 guineas. On September 6, the news was that the match was on: "at the Jew's Burying-ground, WILL be played on Monday next . . . the Wickets to be pitched at Two O'Clock." We seem to lack a report of the outcome of this match.
Royal Gazette, August 19, 1780, page 3 column 4; August 26, 1780, page 2 column 2; and September 6, 1780, page 3 column 4.
Also cited in I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1115.
1780.8 Regular Monday NYC Cricket Matches Planned Again.
A cricket match is advertised to be played on this day, and continued every Monday throughout the summer, “on the Ground where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground.” New York Mercury, June 19, 1780
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1111.
1780.9 Americans and Englishmen Encouraged to Meet on NYC Cricket Field
Challenges for cricket matches between ‘Americans’ and ‘Englishmen” are issued through the newspaper Royal Gazette, 8/19. 8/26, 1780.
The cricket field is at the Jews’ Burying ground.” Royal Gazette, 9/6/80.
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1115.
1781.1 Teen Makes White Leather Balls for British Officers' Ball-Playing
"These officers [British soldiers captured at the Battle of Saratoga] were full of cash and frolicked and gamed much. One amusement in which they indulged much, was playing at ball. A Ball-Alley was fitted up at the Court-House, where some of them were to be seen at almost all hours of the day."
"Whilst the game of ball was coming off one day at the Court House, an American officer and a British officer, who were among the spectators, became embroiled in a dispute."
The writer, Samuel Dewees, went on to describe how, as a teen, he had fashioned balls and sold them to the British for a quarter each.
Hanna, John S., ed., A History of the Life and Services of Captain Samuel Dewees, A Native of Pennsylvania, and Soldier of the Revolutionary and Last Wars [Robert Neilson, Baltimore, 1844], p. 265- 266. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref #37: see p. 238.
For more on the ball-playing habits of the "Convention Army" of captured British soldiers from 1778 to 1781, see Brian Turner, "Sticks or Clubs: Ball Play Among the Route of Burgoyne's 'Convention Army,' Base Ball, volume 11 (2019), pp. 1-16.
In the game of wicket, the "alley" included the space directly between the two wickets.
Is "alley" used by cricketers in the same way?
1782.2 Ball Played at Albany During War
"We passed muster [late in the war] and layed about in Albany about six weeks . . . . The officers would bee a playing at Ball on the comon, their would be an other class piching quaits, an other set a wrestling."
-- Joel Shepard, a farmer in Montague MA.
Spear, John A., ed., "Joel Shepard Goes to War," New England Quarterly, volume 1, number 3 [July 1928], p. 344. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref # 38; see page 239.
1782.4 Cricket To Be Played Near NYC Shipyards
Cricket is to be played “on the green, near the Ship Yards.” Royal Gazette, 7/13/1782
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1150.
1784.1 UPenn Bans Ball Playing Near Open University Windows
"[The college] yard is intended for the exercise and recreation of the youth . . . [but don't] "play ball against any of the wall of the University, whilst the windows are open."
RULES for the Good Government and Discipline of the SCHOOL in the UNIVERSITY of PENNSYLVANIA (Francis Bailey, Philadelphia PA, 1784). Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, p. 239 (ref #41.)
Does it sound like hand ball ("fives") may be the troublesome type of play?
1788.2 Noah Webster, CT Ballplayer?
"Connecticut lexicographer and writer Noah Webster may have been referring to a baseball- type game when he wrote his journal entry for March 24-25, 1788: 'Take a long walk. Play at Nines at Mr Brandons. Very much indisposed.'"
Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It; see page 241. Altherr cites the diary as Webster, Noah, "Diary," reprinted in Notes on the Life of Noah Webster, E. E. F Ford, ed., (privately printed, New York, 1912), page 227 of volume 1.
Note: "Nines seems an unusual name for a ball game; do we find it elsewhere? Could he have been denoting nine-pins or nine-holes? John Thorn, in 2/3/2008, says he inclines to nine-pins as the game alluded to.
1795.6 Future Tennessee Governor, at age 50, "Played at Ball"
"Sat. [August] 22 played at ball self and son John vs. Messrs Aitken and Anderson beat them four Games."
The Journal of John Sevier, published in Vols V and VI of the Tennessee Historical Magazine, 1919-1920.
Accessed via <sevier "22 played at ball"> search, 6/30/2014.
Editor's footnote #73 (1919?): "'Played at ball.' Sevier and son beat their antagonists four games. There were not enough (players?) for town-ball, nor for baseball, evolved from town-ball, and not yet evolved. There were not enough for bullpen. The game was probably cat-ball."
Revolutionary War veteran John Sevier was nearly 50 years old in August 1795. He became Tennessee's first governor in the following year. His son John was 29 in 1795.
1796.2 Williams College Student Notes Ballplaying in Winter Months
A Williams College student's diary begun in 1796 (when he was 19) and continued for several years, includes a half dozen references to playing ball, but they do not describe the nature of the game. His first such entry, from April 22, 1796, is "I exercise considerable, playing ball."
Tarbox, Increase N., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D. D. 1796 - 1854 (Beacon Press, Boston, 1886), volume 1, pp. 8, 29, 32, 106, and 128. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, (See page 241 and ref #55. The college is in Williamstown MA. He notes ballplaying later in Sheffield and Danbury CT
1797.4 "Grand Match" of Stoolball Pits Sussex and Kentish Ladies
"A grand Match of Stool-ball, between 11 Ladies of Sussex, in Pink, against 11 Ladies of Kent, in Blue Ribands."
Source: an undated reproduction, which notes "this is a reproduction of the original 1797 Diversions programme." The match was scheduled for 10am on Wednesday, August 16, 1797. Provided from the files of the National Stoolball Association, June 2007.
1797.5 In NC, Negroes Face 15 Lashes for Ballplaying
A punishment of 15 lashes was specified for "negroes, that shall make a noise or assemble in a riotous manner in any of the streets [of Fayetteville NC] on the Sabbath day; or that may be seen playing ball on that day."
North-Carolina Minerva (March 11, 1797), excerpted in G. Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (Chapel Hill NC, 1937), page 551; as cited in Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 29.
1799.1 Historical Novel, Set in About 1650, Refers to Cricket, Base-ball
Oliver Cromwell, Jane Austen
A fictional character in a novel set in the mid-17th Century recalls how, when his clerkship to a lawyer ended, a former playmate took his leave by saying:
"Ah! no more cricket, no more base-ball, they are sending me to Geneva."
Cooke, Cassandra, Battleridge" an Historical tale, Founded on facts. In Two Volumes. By a Lady of Quality (G. Cawthorn, London, 1799).
Block advises, August 2015:
That Cassandra Cooke, writing in the late 18th century, would have her readers believe that baseball was part of the vernacular in the early 17th century is certainly interesting, but since one contemporary reviewer labelled her book "despicable" there is absolutely no reason to think she had any more insight into the era than we do 216 years later.
David Block (BBWKI, page 183; see also his 19CBB advice, below) notes that Cooke was in correspondence with her cousin Jane Austen in 1798, when both were evidently writing novels containing references to base-ball. Also submitted to Protoball 8/19/06 by Ian Maun.
Cooke, like Austen, did seem to believe that readers in the early 1800s might be familiar with base- ball.
1802.3 New England Woman Sees Ballplaying in Virginia, Perhaps by "All Colors"
[A (April 25, 1802)] "Saw great numbers of people of all ages, ranks, and colours, sporting away the day -- some playing ball, some riding the wooden horses . . . . , others drinking, smoaking, etc."
[B (May 9, 1802)] "the inhabitants employed as they usually are on Sundays, some taking the air in coaches, some playing at ball, at nine pins, marbles, and every kind of game, even horseracing."
Diarist Ruth Henshaw Bascom had moved from New England to the Norfolk area in 1801.
[A] A. G. Roeber, ed., A New England Woman's Perspective on Norfolk, Virginia, 1801-102: Excerpts from the Diary of Ruth Henshaw Bascom, (Worcester MA, American Antiquarian Society, 1979), pp. 308-309.
[B] A. G. Roeber, ed., A New England Woman's Perspective on Norfolk, Virginia, 1801-102: Excerpts from the Diary of Ruth Henshaw Bascom, (Worcester MA, American Antiquarian Society, 1979), pp. 311.
Tom Altherr comments that while Mrs. Bascom disdained such activities on Sundays, she had "left valuable evidence of the seemingly commonplace status ball play had in her day in the South. Moreover, despite the ambiguity of her [May 9] diary entry, African Americans may have been playing ball, perhaps even with whites."
1803.1 Ontario Diarist Reports Joining Men "Jumping and Playing Ball"
"I went to Town [York, Ontario] . . . walk'd out and joined a number of men jumping and playing Ball, perceived a Mr. Joseph Randle to be the most active." -- Ely Playter, York tavernkeeper.
[Playter, Ely], "Extracts from Ely Playter's Diary, April 13, 1803," reprinted in Edith G. Firth, ed., The Town of York 1793 - 1815: A Collection of Documents of Early Toronto (The Champlain Society, Toronto, 1962), p. 248. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, page 247 and ref #89.
1805.1 Williams College Bans Dangerous Ball-playing
". . . the students in the College and scholars in the Grammar School, shall not be permitted to play at ball, or use any other sport or diversion, in or near the College Edifice, by which the same may be exposed to injury."
The Laws of Williams College (H. Willard, Stockbridge, 1805), p. 40. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, p.239; ref #42.
1805.4 Enigmatic Report: NY Gentlemen Play Game of "Bace," and Score is Gymnastics 41, Sons of Diagoras 34.
"Yesterday afternoon a contest at the game of Bace took place on "the Gymnasium," near Tylers' between the gentlemen of two different clubs for a supper and trimmings . . . . Great skill and activity it is said was displayed on both sides, but after a severe and well maintained contest, Victory, which had at times fluttered a little form one to the other, settled down on the heads of the Gymnastics, who beat the Sons of Diagoras 41 to 34."
New York Evening Post, April 13, 1805, page 3 column 1. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.
George Thompson has elaborated on this singular find at George Thompson, "An Enigmatic 1805 "Game of Bace" in New York," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 55-57.
Note: So, folks . . . was this a baserunning ball game, some version of prisoner's base (a team tag game resembling our childhood game Capture the Flag) with scoring, or what?
John Thorn [email of 2/27/2008] has supplied a facsimile of the Post report, and also found meeting announcements for the Diagoras in the Daily Advertiser for 4/11 and 4/12/1805.
David Block (see full text in Supplemental Text, below) offers his 2017 thoughts on this entry:
"My opinion on whether that game was baseball or prisoner's base has gone back and forth over the years. As of now I tend to lean 60-40 to baseball. Other than the example from Chapman that John cited, I've never come across a use of the term bace to signify either game. Even if I had it wouldn't mean much as the word "base" has been used freely over the years for both of them. The mention of a score in the 1805 article is significant. Rarely are scores indicated in any of the reports of prisoner's base (prison base, prison bars, etc.) that I've come across. Usually they just indicate one side or the other as winner."
Special credit for anyone who can add to our understanding of this item!
1806.4 Minister from New England Plays Ball in Western Reserve [OH]
April 8 : "Visited. Played at little ball."
May: "Rainy. Played ball some."
Volume 1 of this diary is not available via Google Books as of 11/15/2008. To view Volume 2, which has later New England references, use a Google Books "'robbins d. d.' diary" search.
Increase Tarbox, ed., The Diary of Thomas Robbins, D.D. 1796-1854, Volume 1 (Boston, 1886) pages 285 and 287. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 32.
Tom Altherr writes : "This may be the earliest recorded evidence of ball play in Ohio." Note: Protoball knows of no earlier reference as of 2008.
Robbins was 33 years old in 1806.
In 1806, after leaving the Western Reserve, Robbins played again in Norwalk CT, and played there again in 1808.
It would be helpful to know where Robbins lived in the Western Reserve.
1811.7 Cause of Death: "Surfeit of Playing Ball"
"DIED. Last Evening of surfeit, playing ball, M[r] John McKibben, merchant of this city."
New York Spectator, September 11, 1811, page 2.
John Thorn adds: "It is surely a coincidence that John McKibbin, Jr. was president of the Magnolia Ball Club of 1843, about which I have written. The Magnolias' McKibbin and his father were born in Ireland.
1815c.2 US Prisoners of War in England Play Ball - at Great Peril, It Turned Out
A ball game reportedly led to the killing and wounding of many US prisoners in England's Dartmoor prison in April 1815:
"On the 6th of April, 1815, as a small party were amusing themselves at a game of ball, some one of the number striking it with too much violence, it flew over the wall fronting the prison and the sentinels on the other side of the same were requested to heave the ball back, but refused; on which the party threatened to break through to regain their ball, and immediately put their threats into execution; a hole was made in the wall sufficiently large for a man to pass thro' - but no one attempted it."
500 British soldiers appeared, and the prisoners were fired upon en masse.
"Massacre of the 6th of April," American Watchman, June 24, 1815. Accessed via subscription search, 2/14/2009.
- "The Judicial Report of the Massacre at Dartmoor Prison," in John Melish, "Description of Dartmor Prison, with an Account of the Massacre of the Prisoners" (Philadelphia, J.Bioren, 1816) Per Altherr, ref #97.
- [Waterhouse, Benjamin], A Journal of a Young Man of Massachusetts, Late a Surgeon on Board an American Privateer, Who Was Captured at Sea by the British in May, Eighteen Hundred and Thirteen, and Was Confined First, at Melville Island, Halifax, then at Chatham, on England, and Last, at Dartmoor Prison (Rowe and Hooper, Boston, 1816), p. 186. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 247-249 and ref #92.
- "Journal of Nathaniel Pierce of Newburyport [MA], Kept at Dartmoor Prison, 1814 - 1815," Historical Collections of Essex Institute, volume 73, number 1 [January 1937], p. 40. Per Altherr's refs #91 - #98.
- [Andrews, Charles] The Prisoner's Memoirs, or Dartmoor Prison (private printing, NYC, 1852), p.110. Per Altherr's refs #93 and 95.
- [Valpey, Joseph], Journal of Joseph Valpey, Jr. of Salem, November 1813- April 1815 (Michigan Society of Colonial Wars, Detroit, 1922), p. 60. Per Altherr's ref #96.
- Herbert A. Kenny, Cape Ann: Cape America (J. B. Lippincott, 1971), pp. 83-4. (From The Centennial Address of Dr. Lemuel) See excerpt at Supplemental Text, below.
Some observers assume that ballplaying was mainly a juvenile pastime in this time period. Clearly the players in this case, and in other instances of military play, were of age.
Can we be certain that this was a base-running game? Can we rule out that the game was a vigorous 1800's form of handball?
1815.8 Eyewitness On the Massacre of Seven U.S Soldiers at Dartmoor Prison in England
"Two days before this [the argument over bread shortages after which the prisoners helped themselves to the bread supplies], viz., April 6, 1815. Governor S [Shortland] returned to his station. On learning what had transpired on the evening of the 4th, he declared (as we were told) that he would be revenged on us. On this 6th day, P.M., some of the prisoners were playing ball in No. 7 yard. Several times the ball was knocked over the wall, and was as often thrown back by the soldiers when kindly asked to do so. Presently one of he prisoners cried out in quite an authoritative manner, 'Soldier, throw back the ball.' And because it failed to come, some of the ball-players said, 'We will make a hole in the wall and get it.' Two or three of them began pecking out the mortar with small stones. A sentinel on the wall ordered them to desist. This they did not do until spoken to again. I was walking back and forth by he place during the time, with others, but did not suppose they could make a hole with the stones they were using, or that anything touching that matter was of much or any importance. Aside from that trifling affair, the prisoners were as orderly and as obedient as at any time in the past."
[Bates then described the killing of the ball-playing prisoners and concluded that seven were killed and sixty wounded.] .
Joseph Bates, The Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates (Battle Creek, 1868), pp. 51-52, per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 39.
OK, was the game played a batting/baserunning game or a form of handball? Does the term "knocked" over the wall give any clue?
1817.4 In Brunswick ME, Bowdoin College Sets 20-Cent Fine for Ballplaying
"No student shall, in or near any College building, play at ball, or use any sport or diversion, by which such building may be exposed to injury, on penalty of being fined not exceeding twenty cents, or being suspended if the offence be often repeated."
Of Misdemeanors and Criminal Offences, in Laws of Bowdoin College (E. Goodale, Hallowell ME, 1817), page 12. Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, page 239.
The college is about 25 miles NE of Portland, and near the Maine coast.
1820c.24 Waterbury CT Jaws Drop as Baptist Deacon Takes the Field
"after the 'raising' of this building, at which, as was customary on such occasions, there was a large gathering of people who came to render voluntary assistance, the assembled company adjourned to the adjacent meadow (now owned by Charles Frost) for a game of baseball, and that certain excellent old ladies were much scandalized that prominent Baptists, among them Deacon Porter, should show on such an occasion so much levity as to take part in the game."
Joseph Anderson, ed., The Town and City of Waterbury, Connecticut, from the Aboriginal Period to the Year 1895, Volume III (Price and Lee, New Haven CT, 1896), page 673n. Accessed 2/3/10 via Google Books search (Waterbury aboriginal III).
1820c.30 Early African American baseball
Excerpt of interview with "A Colored Resident. Henry Rosecranse Columbus, Jr."
"The bosses used to come and bet on the horses, and they had a great deal of fun. After the races they used to play ball for egg nog.”
Reporter—“Was it base ball as now played?”
Mr. Rosecranse—“Something like it, only the ball wasn’t near so hard, and we used to have much more fun playing.”
Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, August 19, 1881, "A Colored Resident. Henry Rosecranse Columbus, Jr. Some Incidents in the Life of an Old Resident of Kingston."
1821.5 NY Mansion Converted to Venue Suitable for Base, Cricket, Trap-Ball
In May and June 1821, an ad ran in some NY papers announcing that the Mount Vernon mansion was now open as Kensington House. It could accommodate dinners and tea parties and clubs. What's more, later versions of the ad said: "The grounds of Kensington Hose are spacious and well adapted to the playing of the noble game of cricket, base, trap-ball, quoits and other amusements; and all the apparatus necessary for the above games will be furnished to clubs and parties."
Richard Hershberger posted to 19CBB on Kensington House on 10/7/2007, having seen the ad in the June 9, 1821 New YorkGazette and General Advertiser. Richard suggested that "in this context "base is almost certainly baseball, not prisoner's base." John Thorn [email of 3/1/2008] later found a May 22, 1821 Kensington ad in the Evening Post that did not mention sports, and ads starting on June 2 that did.
Richard points out that the ad's solicitation to "clubs and parties" may indicate that some local groups were forming to play the mentioned games long before the first base ball clubs are known to have played.
June 9, 1821 New YorkGazette and General Advertiser
See also Richard Hershberger, "New York Mansion Converted -- An Early Sighting of Base Ball Clubs?,"Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 58-60.
Have we found any further indications that 1820-era establishments may have served to host regular base ball clubs?
1821.7 1821 Etching Shows Wicket Game in Progress
This engraving was done by John Cheney in 1821 at the age of 20. It was originally engraved on a fragment of an old copper kettle. It is reported that he was living in Hartford at the time.
It is one of the earliest known depictions of wicket.
The etching depicts six players playing wicket. The long, low wickets are shown and two runners, prominently carrying large bats, are crossing between them as two fielders appear to pursue a large ball in flight. Two wicketkeepers stand behind their wickets.
Biographical background from "Memoir of John Cheney," by Edna Dow Cheney (Lee and Shepherd, Boston, 1889), page 10.
For an account of Baseball Historian John Thorn's 2013 rediscovery and pursuit of this engraving, go to http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/02/05/the-oldest-wicket-game-newly-found/
An interesting aspect of this drawing is that there appear to be four defensive players and only two offensive players . . . unless the two seated gentlemen in topcoats have left them on while waiting to bat. One might speculate that the wicketkeepers are permanently on defense and the other pairs alternate between offense and defense when outs are made. Another possibility is that all players rotate after each out, as was later seen in scrub forms of base ball.
Also note the relative lack of open area beyond the wickets. Perhaps, as in single-wicket cricket, running was permitted only for balls hit forward from the wicket.
We welcome other interpretations of this image.
1823.1 National Advocate Reports "Base Ball" Game in NYC
The National Advocate of April 25, 1823, page 2, column 4, states: "I was last Saturday much pleased in witnessing a company of active young men playing the manly and athletic game of 'base ball' at the (Jones') Retreat in Broadway [on the west side of Broadway between what now is Washington Place and Eighth Street]. I am informed they are an organized association, and that a very interesting game will be played on Saturday next at the above place, to commence at half past 3 o'clock, P.M. Any person fond of witnessing this game may avail himself of seeing it played with consummate skill and wonderful dexterity.... It is surprising, and to be regretted that the young men of our city do not engage more in this manual sport; it is innocent amusement, and healthy exercise, attended with but little expense, and has no demoralizing tendency."
See also 1821.5 for possible NYC ballplaying in this era.
1825c.1 Thurlow Weed Recalls Baseball in Rochester NY
"A baseball club, numbering nearly fifty members, met every afternoon during the ball playing season. Though the members of the club embraced persons between eighteen and forty, it attracted the young and old. The ball ground, containing some eight or ten acres, known as Mumford's meadow . . . ." -- Thurlow Weed
[Weed goes on to list prominent local professional people, including doctors and lawyers, among the players.]
The experience is also represented in a 1947 novel, Grandfather Stories. "[The game] was clearly baseball, not town ball, as the old man described the positioning of the fielders and mentioned that it took three outs to retire the batting side." -- Tom Altherr.
Weed, Thurlow, Life of Thurlow Weed [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1883], volume 1, p. 203. Per Robert Henderson ref #159.
Samuel Hopkins Adams, Grandfather Stories (Random House, 1955 -- orig pub'd 1947), 146-149.
Did Weed advert to 3-out half innings, or did Adams?
1827.1 Brown U Student Reports "Play at Ball"
Brown College (Providence, RI) student Williams Latham notes in his diary:
On March 22: "We had a great play at ball today noon."
On April 9: "We this morning . . . have been playing ball, But I have never received so much pleasure from it here as I have in Bridgewater. They do not have more than 6 or 7 on a side, so that a great deal of time is spent in running after the ball, neither do they throw so fair ball, They are afraid the fellow in the middle will hit it with his bat-stick."
"The Diary of Williams Latham, 1823 - 1827," quoted in W. C. Bronson, The History of Brown University 1764 - 1914 (Providence, Brown University, 1914), p. 245. Per Henderson, Bat, Ball, and Bishop (Rockport Press, 1947), p.147, ref # 101. See also Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball: Baseball and Baseball-Type Games in the Colonial Era, Revolutionary War, and Early American Republic.." Nine, Volume 8, number 2 (2000), p. 15-49. Reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It – see page 240.
"The fellow in the middle?" Does this suggest the lack of foul ground?
What/where is Bridgewater? Was Bridgewater MA Latham's home town, maybe?
1827.2 Story Places Baseball in Rochester NY
A story, evidently set in 1880 in Rochester, involves three boys who convince their grandfather to attend a Rochester-Buffalo game. The grandfather contrasts the game to that which he had played in 1827.
He describes intramural play among the 50 members of a local club, with teams of 12 to 15 players per side, a three-out-side-out rule, plugging, a bound rule, and strict knuckles-below-knees pitching. He also recalls attributes that we do not see elsewhere in descriptions of early ballplaying: a requirement that each baseman keep a foot on his base until the ball is hit, a seven-run homer when the ball went into a sumac thicket and the runners re-circled the bases, coin-flips to provide "arbitrament" for disputed plays, and the team with the fewest runs in an inning being replaced by a third team for the next inning ["three-old-cat gone crazy," says one of the boys]. The grandfather's reflection does not comment on the use of stakes instead of bases, the name used for the old game, the relative size or weight of the ball, or the lack of foul ground - in fact he says that outs could be made on fouls.
Samuel Hopkins Adams, "Baseball in Mumford's Pasture Lot," Grandfather Stories (Random House, New York, 1947), pp. 143 - 156. Full text is unavailable via Google Books as of 12/4/2008.
Adams' use of a frame-within-a-frame device is interesting to baseball history buffs, but the authenticity of the recollected game is hard to judge in a work of fiction. Mumford's lot was in fact an early Rochester ballplaying venue, and Thurlow Weed (see entry #1825c.1) wrote of club play in that period. Priscilla Astifan has been looking into Adams' expertise on early Rochester baseball. See #1828c.3 for another reference to Adams' interest in baseball about a decade before the modern game evolved in New York City.
We welcome input on the essential nature of this story. Fiction? Fictionalized memoir? Historical novel?
1828c.3 Upstate Author Carried Now-Lost 1828 Clipping on Base Ball in Rochester
[A] "Your article on baseball's origins reminded me of an evening spent in Cooperstown with the author Samuel Hopkins Adams more than 30 years ago. Over a drink we discussed briefly the folk tale about the "invention" of baseball in this village in 1839.
"Even then we knew that the attribution to Abner Doubleday was a myth. Sam Adams capped the discussion by pulling from his wallet a clipping culled from a Rochester newspaper dated 1828 that described in some detail the baseball game that had been played that week in Rochester."
[B] Adams' biography also notes the author's doubts about the Doubleday theory: asked in 1955 about his novel Grandfather Stories, which places early baseball in Rochester in 1827 [sic], he retorted "'I am perfectly willing to concede that Cooperstown is the home of the ice cream soda, the movies and the atom bomb, and that General Doubleday wrote Shakespeare. But," and he then read a newspaper account of the [1828? 1830?] Rochester game."
[C] "Will Irwin, a baseball historian, tells us he was informed by Samuel Hopkins of a paragraph in an 1830 newspaper which notes that a dance was to be held by the Rochester Baseball Club."
[A] Letter from Frederick L. Rath, Jr, to the Editor of the New York Times, October 5, 1990.
[B] Oneonta Star, July 9. 1965, citing Samuel V. Kennedy, Samuel Hopkins Adams and the Business of Writing (Syracuse University Press, 1999), page 284.
[C] Bill Beeny, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, March 17, 1965.
Priscilla Astifan has looked hard for such an article, and it resists finding. She suspects the article appeared in a newspaper whose contents were not preserved.
1828.16 Base-ball Cited as a Suitable "Nonsuch for Eyes and Arms" of Australian Ladies
Am Australian periodical saw limitations in a book on healthful activities for women and girls. The book is Calisthenic Exercises: Arranged for the Private Tuition of Ladies, is attributed to a Signor Voarino and was published in London in 1827.
"Signor Voarino, as a foreigner, perhaps was not aware that we had diversions like these just mentioned, and many others of the same kind — such, for example (for our crtical knowledge is limited) as hunt the slipper, which gives dexterity of hand and ham; leap frog, which strengthens the back (only occasionally indulged in, we believe, by merry girls;) romps, which quicken all the faculties; tig, a rare game for universal corporeal agility; base-ball, a nonsuch for eyes and arms ! [probably a typo for a semicolon--jt] ladies' toilet, for vivacity and apprehension; spinning the plate, for neatness and rapidity; grass-hopping (alias shu-cock) for improving in muscularity and fearlessness--all these, and hundreds more, we have had for ages; s[o] that it looks ridiculous to bring out as a grand philosophical discovery, the art of instructing women how to have canes or sticks laid on their backs."
The Australian (Sydney), May 14, 1828, page 4. This excerpt appears in a column called "British Sayings and Doings."
(In February 2017 David Block notes that he has seen a copy of the original issue of the "London Literary Gazette" in which the review of Signor Voarino's book first appeared.)
This book is also described in item 1827.10. Protoball is attempting to determine whether the Voarino book itself touches on other baserunning games in the 1820s.
1829c.1 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Plays Ball as a Harvard student.
Several sources report that Oliver Wendell Holmes playing ball at Harvard.
[actual Holmes text is still needed]
Krout, John A, Annals of American Sport (Yale University Press, New Haven, 1929), p. 115. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, p. 240, ref 49. Richard Hershberger, posting to 19CBB on 10/8/2007, found an earlier source - Caylor, O. P., "Early Baseball Days," Washington Post, April 11, 1896. John Thorn reports [email of 2/15/2008] that Holmes biographies do not mention his sporting interests. Note: We still need the original source for the famous Harvard story. Holmes graduated in 1829; the date of play is unconfirmed.
See entry #1824.6 above on Holmes' reference to prep school baseball at Phillips Academy.
We still need the original source for the famous Harvard story. Holmes graduated in 1829; the date of play as cited is unconfirmed. The Holmes story reportedly appears in JM Ward's "Base Ball: How to Become a Player," where he says OWH told it "to the reporter of a Boston paper." (Ward page citation?)
Small Puzzle: Harvard's 19th Century playing field was "Holmes Field;" was it named for this Holmes? Harvard is in Cambridge MA.
1829.2 Round Ball Played in MA
From a letter to the Mills Commission: "Mr. Lawrence considers Round Ball and Four Old Cat one and the same game; the Old Cat game merely being the they could do when there were not more than a dozen players, all told. . . . Mr. Lawrence says, as a boy, he played Round Ball in 1829.
"So far as Mr. Lawrence's argument goes for Round Ball being the father of Base Ball it is all well enough, but there are two things that cannot be accounted for; the conception of the foul ball, and the abolishment of the rules that a player could be put out by being hit by a thrown ball. No one remembers the case of a player being injured by being hit by a thrown ball, so that cannot be the reason for that change. The foul rule made the greatest skill of the Massachusetts game count for nothing - the batting skill - the back handed and slide batting. Mr. Stoddard told me that there were 9 of the 14 Upton batters who never batted ahead."
Henry Sargent Letter to the Mills Commission, June 25, 1905.
1830s.16 Future President Lincoln Plays Town Ball, Joins Hopping Contests
James Gurley (Gourley?) knew Abraham Lincoln from 1834, when Lincoln was 25. In 1866 he gave an informal interview to William Herndon, the late President's biographer and former law partner in Springfield IL. His 1866 recollection:
"We played the old-fashioned game of town ball - jumped - ran - fought and danced. Lincoln played town ball - he hopped well - in 3 hops he would go 40.2 [feet?] on a dead level. . . . He was a good player - could catch a ball."
Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, eds., Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements About Abraham Lincoln (U Illinois Press, 1998), page 451.
See also Beveridge, Albert J., Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858 (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1928), Volume I, page 298. The author provides source for this info as: "James Gourley's" statement, later established as 1866. Weik MSS. Per John Thorn, 7/9/04.
There is some ambiguity about the city intended in this recollection. Springfield IL and New Salem IL seem mostly likely locations.
A previous Protoball entry, listed as #1840s.16: "He [Abraham Lincoln in the 1840s] joined with gusto in outdoor sports foot-races, jumping and hopping contests, town ball, wrestling . . . " Source: a limited online version of the 1997 book edited by Douglas L Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, Herndon's Informants (U of Illinois Press, 1997 or 1998). Posted to 19CBB on 12/11/2007 by Richard Hershberger. Richard notes that the index to the book promises several other references to Lincoln's ballplaying but [Jan. 2008] reports that the ones he has found are unspecific.. Note: can we chase this book down and collect those references?
Earlier versions of this find were submitted by Richard Hershberger (2007) and John Thorn (2004).
1830s.20 In GA, Men Played Fives, Schoolboys Played Base and Town Ball
"Men as well as boys played the competitive games of 'Long Bullets' and 'Fives,' the latter played against a battery built by nailing planks to twenty-foot poles set to make the 'battery' at least fifty feet wide. The school boys played 'base,' 'bull-pen,' 'town ball' and 'shinny' too."
Jessie Pearl Rice, J. L. M. Curry: Southerner, Statesman, and Educator (King's Crown Press, New York, 1949), pages 6-7. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 31-32.
The full text of the Rice biography is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.
Long-bullets involved distance throwing, often along roadsides. Fives is a team game resembling one-wall hand-ball.
Curry's school was in Lincoln County GA, about 30 miles NE of Augusta.
Team hand-ball? Really? Wasn't it usually a one-on-one game?
1830c.30 "Old Boys" Play Throwback Game to 100 Tallies in Ohio
Ball Playing -- Old Boys at it!
Base-ball was a favorite game of the early settlers at the gatherings which brought men and boys together -- such as raisings, bees, elections, trainings, Fourth of Julys, etc., etc., and we are glad to see that the manly sport is still in vogue, at least in 'benighted Ashtabula.' We learn by the Sentinel that a matched game came off at Jefferson on the 4th, fourteen selected players on each side, chosen by Judge Dann and Squire Warren. The party winning the first hundred scores was to be the victor. Judge Dann's side won the game by eleven scores. The Sentinel says:
There were thirteen innings without a tally. [This suggests that, at least by 1859, this game used one-out-side-out innings.] The highest number of scores was made by James R. Giddings, a young chap of sixty-four, who led the field, having made a tally as often as the club came to his hand. The game excited great interest, and was witnessed by a large number of spectators. The supper was prepared by 'our host' at the Jefferson House.
Note: Protoball's PrePro data base shows another reference to a group, including Giddings, playing this predecessor game in Jefferson; see http://protoball.org/In_Jefferson_OH_in_July_1859.
Cleveland [Ohio] Daily Leader, Saturday July 9, 1859, First Edition.
See clipping at http://www.newspapers.com/clip/2414996/18590709_cleveland/.
We have assigned this to a date of ca. 1830 on the basis that players in their sixties seem to have played this (same) game as young adults. Comments welcome on this assumption. Were the southern shores of Lake Erie settled by Europeans at that date?
Ashtabula (1850 population: 821 souls) is about 55 miles NE of Cleveland OH and a few miles from Lake Erie. The town of Jefferson OH is about 8 miles inland [S] of Ashtabula.
"The Sentinel" is presumably the Ashtabula Sentinel.
Further commentary on the site and date of this remembered game are welcome.
Was the Ashtabula area well-settled by 1830?
1831.1 A Ball Club Forms in Philadelphia; It Later Adopts Base Ball, and Lasts to 1887
The Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia unites with a group of ball players based in Camden, NJ
Orem writes: "An association of Town Ball players began playing at Camden, New Jersey on Market Street in the Spring of 1831."
Orem says, without citing a source, that "On the first day but four players appeared, so the game was "Cat Ball," called in some parts of New England at the time "Two Old Cat." Later accounts report that the club formed in 1833, although J. M. Ward  also dated the formation of the club to 1831.
Orem notes that "so great was the prejudice of the general public against the game at the time that the players were frequently censured by their friends for indulging in such a childish amusement."
* * *
In January 2017, Richard Hershberger reported (19CBB posting) that after more than five decades, the club disbanded in 1887 -- see Supplemental Text, below.
The Olympic Club played Town Ball until it switched to modern base ball in 1860. See Chronology entry 1860.64.
* * *
For a reconstruction of the rules of Philadelphia town ball, see Hershberger, below. Games were played under the term "town ball" in Cincinnati as well as Philadelphia and a number of southern locations (for an unedited map of 23 locations with references to town ball, conduct an Enhanced Search for <town ball>.
* * *
The club is credited with several firsts in American baserunning games:
 1833: first game played between two established clubs -- see Chronology entry 1833c.12.
 1837: first team to play in uniforms -- see Chronology entry 1837.14.
 1969: First interracial game -- See Chronology entry 1869.3.
* * *
[Orem, Preston D., Baseball (1845-1881) From the Newspaper Accounts(self-published, Altadena CA, 1961), page 4.]
Constitution of the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia [private printing, 1838]. Parts reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 5-8.
Richard Hershberger, "A Reconstruction of Philadelphia Town Ball," Base Ball, Volume 1 number 2 (Fall 2007), pp. 28-43. Online as of 2017 at:
For a little more on the game of town ball, see http://protoball.org/Town_Ball.
The "firsts" tentatively listed above are for the US play of baserunning games other than cricket. Further analysis is needed to confirm or disconfirm its elements.
Protoball would welcome an analysis of the US history of town ball and its variants.
It seems plausible that town ball was being played years earlier in the Philadelphia. Newspaper accounts refer to cricket "and other ball games" being played locally as as early as 1822. See Chronology entry 1822.3.
Is it accurate to call this a "town ball" club? When was it formed? Dean Sullivan dates it to 1837, while J. M. Ward [Ward's Base Ball Book, page 18] sets 1831 as the date of formation. The constitution was revised in 1837, but the Olympic Club merged with the Camden Town ball Club in 1833, and that event is regarded as the formation date of the Olympics. The story of the Olympics is covered in "Sporting Gossip," by "the Critic" in an unidentified photocopy found at the Giamatti Research Center at the HOF. What appears to be a continuation of this article is also at the HOF. It is "Evolution of Baseball from 1833 Up to the Present Time," by Horace S. Fogel, and appeared in The Philadelphia Daily Evening Telegraph, March 22-23, 1908.
2 Are we certain that the "firsts" listed in this entry predate the initial appearance of the indicated innovations in American cricket?
1832c.2 Two NYC Clubs Known to Play Pre-modern Base Ball
"The history of the present style of playing Base Ball (which of late years has been much improved) was commenced by the Knickerbocker Club in 1845. There were two other clubs in the city that had an organization that date back as far as 1832, the members of one of which mostly resided in the first ward, the lower part of the city, the other in the upper part of the city (9th and 15th wards). Both of these clubs played in the old-fashioned way of throwing the ball and striking the runner, in order to put him out. To the Knickerbocker Club we are indebted for the present improved style of playing the game, and since their organization they have ever been foremost in altering or modifying the rules when in their judgment it would tend to make the game more scientific."
John Thorn has added: The club from lower Manhattan evolves into the New York Club (see entry 1840.5) and later splits into the Knickerbockers and Gothams. The club from upper Manhattan evolves into the Washington Club (see entry 1843.2) which in turn gives way to the Gothams.
William Wood, Manual of Physical Exercises. (Harper Bros., 1867), pp. 189-90. Per John Thorn, 6/15/04. Note: Wood provides no source.
Reported in Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pages 32 and 307.
Wood was only about 13 years old in 1832, according to Fred E. Leonard, Pioneers of Modern Physical Training (Association Pres, New York, 1915), page 121. Text provided by John Thorn, 6/12/2007.
Does the lineage from Ward clubs to Knickerbockers and Gothams (but not Magnolias) stem from common membership rolls?
Is the quoted verbiage from Wood in 1867 or from John Thorn in 2007?
1833c.12 America's First Interclub Ballgame, in Philadelphia
[A] In Philadelphia PA, the Olympic Club and an unnamed club merged in 1833, but only after they had, apparently, played some games against one another. "Since . . . there weren't any other ball clubs, either formal or informal, anywhere else until at least 1842, this anonymous context would have to stand as the first ball game between two separate, organized club teams anywhere in the United States." The game was a form of town ball.
[B] Richard Hershberger describes the Olympic's opponent as "a loose of collection of friends who had been playing (town ball) together for two years," and considers it a match game in that "both sides had existence outside of that game." He dates one of the games to July 4, 1833, as the Olympic club had been formed to play a game on the holiday.
[A] John Shiffert, Base Ball in Philadelphia (McFarland, 2006), page 17.
[B] Richard Hershberger, "In the Beginning-- Olympics vs. Camden", Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 1-2.
1834.10 Plattsburgh NY Sets Fifty Cent Fine for Ball Play
"It is ordained, by the Trustees of the Village of Plattsburgh, that no person shall, at any time after the 22d of April, 1834, play ball, either in Bridge-street or Margaret-street, in said Village, under a penalty of fifty cents for each offence, to be sued for and recovered with costs."
This ordinance was approved by the village board of trustees on 4/19/1834.
Plattsburgh Republican, April 19, 1834, page 3, column 5.
Plattsburgh NY (1840 population not ascertained) is about 70 miles S of Montreal Canada and on the western shore of Lake Champlain. It is about 25 miles S of the Canadian border.
1836.5 Yanks and British Play Baserunning Game with Plugging . . . in Canton, China
[A] "One day it occurred to me that . . . we might have a Game of ball . . . . Well I had bats and a ball made, and we got up a sort of game; the next day some of the English found their way down to us and we have since had several games."
[B] In his March 1836 letter home, from Canton, China, the 23-year-old John Murray Forbes referred to playing ball with Englishmen there. He asked his wife to imagine him "throwing the ball at this man, running like mad to catch it, or, when my innings come, running the rounds jumping breast high to avoid being hit, or falling down to the ground for the same purpose."
He also noted: “We have been very steady at our ball exercise. Is it not funny the idea of a parcel of men going out to play like schoolboys? [ . . .] The English have one trait in which they differ widely from us; they keep up their boyish games through life. [. . .] Cricket and Ball of all sorts is played in England by men of all ages.”
[C] In a passage from his 1899 memoir about the same incident, Forbes reminded readers who were no longer familiar with retiring baserunners by "plugging" them that a runner could be "pelted by the hard ball as he tried to run in, for it was then the fashion to throw at the runner, and if hit he was out for the inning."
[A] David Block, Pastime Lost (University of Nebraska Press, 2019), page 237. Block sites Brian Turner, Cogswell's Bat, pp 65-66 (source needed).
[B] Sarah Forbes Hughes, ed., Letters (Supplementary) of John Murray Forbes [George H. Ellis Co., Boston, 1905] volume 1, page 25.
[C] Sarah Forbes Hughes, ed., Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1899] volume 1, page 86.
Submitted by John Bowman, 7/16/2004 and supplemented by Brian Turner, 7/23/2013.
John Bowman adds: "Forbes was a Massachusetts man, and one supposes that when he played baseball at the Round Hill school in Northampton (see item #1823.6 above) , 'soaking' or 'plugging' was then a routine aspect of the game."
Can we clarify what game Forbes played (rounders? round ball?).
Reader Reply: I would suggest that this is reasonably persuasive evidence that Brits and Yanks were playing effectively the same game, under whatever name. No mention of rules disputes or confusion arises; and one gets the distinct impression, in parallel with ca. 1830s rules descriptions, that both national contingents set to without fuss and that there was little if any difference between English "rounders" and American "X-ball." --WCHicklin (date unspecified).
1836.10 Wicket Challenge Issued in Granby MA
"Fifteen young men of Salmon Brook and Mechanicville, Granby, challenge and are ready to meet the same number of young men, of Southwick village, to play the rub game at Wicket Ball, near C. Hayes' Hotel, Granby, to be determined upon by the parties, 2 weeks from today.
Capt D.C. Hays, R. G. Hillyer, Chas Holcomb, D. C. Roe
Hartford CT Patriot and Eagle, Volume 2, Issue 62, (May 7, 1836), page 3.
Granby CT is about 15 miles N of Hartford CT, on the MA border.
1836c.12 Game With Plugging of Runners Later Recalled in Jersey City
"While here let me say to the Champion Base Ball Club, for their information, that in eighteen hundred and thirty-six and seven we had a base ball club that could not be beaten. It was composed of such men as Jerry O'Meara, Peter Bentley, J. C. Morgan, Jos. G. Edge, &c. I acted as a spare pitcher for the first nine. In those days the game was played by throwing the ball at the man running the bases, and whoever got hit was out, if he could not jump to the bases from where he was hit. I would rather get hit by any other member of the club than by Bentley, for he was a south-paw or left-hander, and he used to strike and throw an unmerciful ball. The ball ground was a portion of the time Nevins and Townsend's block, in front of St. Matthew's Church . . . . "
Jersey Journal, December 13, 1871, page 1, column 3 -- "Recollections of a Jersey City Boy, No. 3."
There is considerable uncertainty as to the dating of this item at c1836..
John Zinn further researched the players named in the 1871 account, and wrote on 7/28/2015: "It feels to me that the author [whom John identifies as John W. Pangborn] is conflating a number of different things (his role, for example) into a club that played in the late 1830's. However even if he is off by 10 years, a club of some kind in the late 1840's would be something new and, as John [Thorn] suggests, important." John Zinn also reported 7/28/2015 that Bentley was 31 years old in 1836, and that Edge was 22; John W. Pangborn, the suspected 1871 author, was born in 1825 so was only 12 in 1837.
Further commenting on the credibility of this 1871 account, Richard Hershberger [19cbb posting, 7/28/2015] adds: "Going from general trends of the day, the [1871 author's] use of the word "club" is very likely anachronistic. Organized clubs playing baseball were extremely rare before the 1840s in New York and the 1850s everywhere else. On the other hand, informal play was common, and local competition between loosely organized groups is well attested. My guess is that this was some variant or other. As for plugging, its mention increases the credibility of the account. Even as early as 1871, plugging was being forgotten in the haze of the past. Old-timers describing the game of their youth therefore routinely mentioned plugging as a distinctive feature. So putting this together, this looks to me like a guy reminiscing about quasi-organized (at most) play of his youth, using the anachronistic vocabulary of a "club."
If dated correctly, this find would seems to be a very early use of "south-paw" to denote a left-hander, although it is not explicitly claimed that the term had been used in 1836. One source (Dickson. Baseball Dictionary, 3rd ed., page 791) indicates that the first use of "south-paw" in a base ball context was in 1858, although a 2015 web search reveals that the term itself dates back to 1813.
1837.1 A Founder of the Gothams Remembers "First Ball Organization in the US"
William R. Wheaton, who would several years later help found the Knickerbockers [and write their playing rules], described how the Gothams were formed and the changes they introduced. "We had to have a good outdoor game, and as the games then in vogue didn't suit us we decided to remodel three-cornered cat and make a new game. We first organized what we called the Gotham Baseball Club. This was the first ball organization in the United States, and it was completed in 1837.
"The first step we took in making baseball was to abolish the rule of throwing the ball at the runner and ordered instead that it should be thrown to the baseman instead, who had to touch the runner before he reached the base. During the [earlier] regime of three-cornered cat there were no regular bases, but only such permanent objects as a bedded boulder or and old stump, and often the diamond looked strangely like an irregular polygon. We laid out the ground at Madison Square in the form of an accurate diamond, with home-plate and sand bags for bases."
" . . . it was found necessary to reduce the new rules to writing. This work fell to my hands, and the code I them formulated is substantially that in use today. We abandoned the old rule of putting out on the first bound and confined it to fly catching."
"The new game quickly became very popular with New Yorkers, and the numbers of clubs soon swelled beyond the fastidious notions of some of us, and we decided to withdraw and found a new organization, which we called the Knickerbocker."
See Full Text Below
Brown, Randall, "How Baseball Began, National Pastime, 24 , pp 51-54. Brown's article is based on the newly-discovered "How Baseball Began - A Member of the Gotham Club of Fifty Years Ago Tells About It, San Francisco Daily Examiner, November 27, 1887, page 14.
See also: Randall Brown, "The Evolution of the New York Game," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 81-84.
Note that while Wheaton calls his group the "first ball organization," in fact the Philadelphia club that played Philadelphia town ball had formed several years earlier.
Note: Brown knows that the unsigned article was written by Wheaton from internal evidence, such as the opening of the article, in the voice of an unnamed reporter: “An old pioneer, formerly a well-known lawyer and politician, now living in Oakland, related the following interesting history of how it originated to an EXAMINER reporter: ‘In the thirties I lived at the corner of Rutgers street and East Broadway in New York. I was admitted to the bar in ’36, and was very fond of physical exercise….’”
Wheaton wrote that the Gotham Club abandoned the bound rule . . . but if so, the Knickerbockers later re-instituted it, and it remained in effect until the 1860s.
Wheaton also recalled that the Knickerbockers at some point changed the base-running rule, which had dictated that whenever a batter "struck out" [made an out, we assume, as strikeouts came later], base-runners left the field. Under a new interpretation, runners only came in after the third out was recorded.
1837.6 Olympic Ball Club Constitution Requires Umpires
The constitution does not shed light on the nature of the game played. Membership was restricted to those above the age of twenty-one. One day per month was set for practice "Club day". Note: Sullivan dates the constitution at 1837, but notes that it was printed in 1838.
The constitution specifies that the club recorder shall act as "umpire", to settle disputes.
Constitution of the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia [Philadelphia, John Clark], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 5-8.
1837.9 Hoboken, NJ - Already a Mecca for Ballplayers
"Young men that go to Hoboken to play ball must not drink too much brandy punch. It is apt to get into their heads. Now it is a law in physics that brandy in a vacuum gets impudent and big."
New York Herald (April 26, 1837), page? Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 10/27/2008.
1837.14 The First Uniforms in US Baserunning Games?
“In 1833, a group of Philadelphia players formed a team, the Olympics. By 1837, the team had a clubhouse at Broad and Wallace Streets, a constitution, records of their games, and uniforms - dark blue pants, a scarlet-trimmed white shirt, and a white cap trimmed in blue.”
Murray Dubin, "The Old, Really Old, Ball Game Both Philadelphia and New York Can Claim As the Nation's First Team," The Inquirer, October 28, 2009.
See http://articles.philly.com/2009-10-28/sports/25272492_1_modern-baseball-baseball-rivalry-cities, accessed 8/16/2014. (Login required as of 2/20/2018.)
The article does not give a source for the 1837 description of the Olympic Club uniform.
Richard Hershberger adds, in email of 2/20/2018:
"The entry lacks a source for the Olympic uniform. I don't have a description, but the club's 1838 constitution mentions the uniform several times: the Recorder, who is to have the pattern uniform, and duty of the members to provide themselves with said uniform, with a fine of 25 cents a month for failure to do so, with the Recorder noting these on the month Club Day."
What is the original documentation of this uniform specification?
Do we know if earlier cricket clubs in the US used club uniforms? In Britain? Are prior uniforms known for other sports?
1840.1 Doc Adams Plays a Ball Game in NYC He [Later] Understands to be Base Ball
D.L. Adams plays a game in New York City that he understands to be base ball, "...with a number of other young medical men. Before that there had been a club called the New York Base Ball Club, but it had no very definite organization and did not last long." The game played by Adams was the same as that played by the men who would become the Knickerbockers. The game was played with an indeterminate number of men to the side, although eight was customary.
Adams, Daniel L, "Memoirs of the Father of Base Ball," Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Per Sullivan, p.14. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 (University of Nebraska Press, 1995), pp. 13-18. Note: the Sullivan extract does not mention 1840; it there another reference that does? John Thorn - email of 12/4/2008 - suggests that the game employed a four-base configuration, not the five bases and square configuration in other games. "The polygonal field sometimes ascribed to the later pre-Knickerbocker players was the likely standard prior to 1830."
1840.6 New NY Club Forms - Later to Reconstitute as Eagle Base Ball Club
[A] In 1840, the Eagle Ball Club of New York is organized to play an unknown game of Ball; in 1852 the club reconstitutes itself as the Eagle Base Ball Club and begins to play the New York Game.
[B] William Wood wrote that the Eagle Club "originally played in the 'old-fashioned way' of throwing the ball to the batter and at the runner in order to put him out."
[A] Eagle Base Ball Club Constitution of 1852.
[B] William Wood, Manual of Physical Exercises (Harper Bros., 1867), pp. 189-190. See Thorn weblog of 7/16/2005.
1840.44 Hartford Players Best Granville MA Players at Wicket
"WICKET BALL -- The ball players of this city met those of Granville, Mass., in accordance with a challenge from the latter, at Salmon Brook, about 17 miles from here (half way between the two places) on Wednesday last, for the purpose of trying their skill at the game of 'Wicket.' The sides were made up of 25 men each, and the arrangement was to play nine games, but the Hartford players beating them five times in succession, the game was considered fairly decided, and the remaining four games were not played. The affair, we understand, passed off very pleasantly, and the parties separated, with the utmost harmony, after partaking of a dinner provided for the occasion."
Hartford Times, June 27, 1840, page 3.
Granville MA -- 1850 population about 1300 -- is about 22 miles NW of Hartford, very near the MA-CT border. Hartford's population in 1840 was about 9500.
1843.6 Magnolia Ball Club Summoned to Elysian Fields Game
"NEW YORK MAGNOLIA BALL CLUB - Vive la Knickerbocker. - A meeting of the members of the above club will take place this (Thursday) afternoon, 2nd instant, at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken [NJ]. It is earnestly requested that every member will be present, willing and eager to do his duty. Play will commence precisely as one o'clock. Chowder at 4 o'clock"
Associated with this ball club is an engraved invitation to its first annual ball, which has the first depiction of men playing baseball, and shows underhand pitching and stakes for bases.
New York Herald[classified ads section], November 2, 1843. Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 11/11/2007.
For much more from John on the find, and its implications, go to http://thornpricks.blogspot.com/2007/11/really-good-find-more-magnolia-blossoms.html.
See also John Thorn, "Magnolia Ball Club Predates Knickerbocker," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 89-92.
1844.15 Whigs 81 Runs, Loco Focos 10 Runs, in "Political" Contest Near Canadian Border
"A matched, political game of bass Ball came off in this village on Friday last. Twelve Whigs on one side, and twelve Loco Focos on the other. Rules of the game, one knock and catch out, each one out for himself, each side one inns. The Whigs counted 81 and the Locos 10. The game passed off very pleasantly, and our political opponents, we must say, bore the defeat admirably."
Note: The Whigs were a major political party in this era, and the Loco Focos were then a splinter group within the opposing Democratic Party.
Frontier Sentinel [Ogdensburg, NY], April 23, 1844, page 3, column 1.
The Frontier Sentinel was published 1844-1847 in Ogdensburg (St. Lawrence County) NY.
Ogdensburg [1853 population was "about 6500"] is about 60 miles downriver [NE] on the St. Lawrence River from Lake Ontario. It is about 60 miles south of Ottawa, about 120 miles north of Syracuse, and about 125 miles SW (upriver) of Montreal. Its first railroad would arrive in 1850.
The HOF's Tom Shieber, who submitted this find, notes that this squib may just be metaphorical in nature, and that no ballplaying had actually occurred. But why then report a plausible game score?
Comment is welcome on the interpretation of the three cryptic rule descriptions for this 12-player game.
 "One knock and catch out?" Could this be taken to define one-out-side-out innings? Or, that ticks counted as outs if caught behind the batter? Or something else? Note: Richard Hershberger points out that 1OSO rules could not have likely allowed the scoring of 81 runs with no outs. That would imply that the clubs may have used the All-Out-Side-Out rule.
 "Each one out for himself?" Could batters continue in the batting order until retired? That too, then, might imply the use of an All-Out-Side-Out inning format
 "Each side one inns?" So the Whigs made those 81 "counts" in a single inning?
Richard Hershberger also surmises that the first two rules are meant to be conjoined: "One knock and catch out, each one out for himself." That would declare that [a] caught fly balls (and, possibly, caught one-bound hits?) were to be considered outs, and that [b] batters who are put out would lose their place in the batting order that inning; but were there any known variants games for which such catches would not be considered outs?
1845.1 Knicks Adopt Playing Rules on September 23
As apparently scribed by William Wheaton, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City organizes and adopts twenty rules for baseball (six organizational rules, fourteen playing rules). These rules are later seen as the basis for the game we now call baseball.
The Knickerbockers are credited with establishing foul lines; abolishing plugging (throwing the ball at the runner to make an out); instituting the tag-out and force-out; and introducing that balk rule. However, the Knickerbocker rules do not specify a pitching distance or the nature of the ball.
The distance from home to second base and from first to third base is set at forty-two paces. In 1845 the "pace" was understood either as a variable measure or as precisely two-and-a-half feet, in which case the distance from home to second would have been 105 feet and the "Knickerbocker base paths" would have been 74-plus feet. It is not obvious that the "pace" of 1845 would have been interpreted as the equivalent of three feet, as more recently defined.
The Knickerbocker rules provide that a winner will be declared when twenty-one aces are scored but each team must have an equal number of turns at bat; the style of delivery is underhand in contrast to the overhand delivery typical in town ball; balls hit beyond the field limits in fair territory (home run in modern baseball) are limited to one base.
The Knickerbocker rules become known as the New York Game in contrast to game later known as the Massachusetts Game that was favored in and around the Boston area.
A detailed recent annotation of the 20 rules appears in John Thorn,Baseball in the Garden of Eden, pages 69-77.
See Also "Larry McCray, "The Knickerbocker Rules -- and The Long History of the One-Bounce Fielding Rule, Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 93-97.
About 30 years later, reporter William Rankin wrote that Alexander Cartwright introduced familiar modern rules to the Knickerbocker Club, including 90-foot baselines.
As of 2016, recent scholarship has shown little evidence that Alexander Cartwright played a central role in forging or adapting the Knickerbocker rules. See Richard Hershberger, The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth (Baseball Research Journal, 2014), and John Thorn, "The Making of a New York Hero" dated November 2015, at cartwright/.">http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/11/30/abner-cartwright/.
John's concluding paragraph is: "Recent scholarship has revealed the history of baseball's "creation" to be a lie agreed upon. Why, then, does the legend continue to outstrip the fact? "Creation myths, wrote Stephen Jay Gould, in explaining the appeal of Cooperstown, "identify heroes and sacred places, while evolutionary stories provide no palpable, particular thing as a symbol for reverence, worship, or patriotism."
1845.4 NY and Brooklyn Sides Play Two-Game Series of "Time-Honored Game of Base:" Box Score Appears
[A] The New York Base Ball Club and the Brooklyn Base Ball Club compete at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, by uncertain rules and with eight players to the side. On October 21, New York prevailed, 24-4 in four innings (21 runs being necessary to record the victory). The two teams also played a rematch in Brooklyn, at the grounds of the Star Cricket Club on Myrtle Avenue, on October 25, and the Brooklyn club again succumbed, this time by the score of 37-19, once more in four innings. For these two contests box scores were printed in New York newspapers. There are some indications that these games may have been played by the brand new Knickerbocker rules.
[B] The first game had been announced in The New York Herald and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on October 21. The BDE announcement refers to "the New York Bass Ball Club," and predicts that the match will "attract large numbers from this and the neighboring city."
For a long-lost account of an earlier New York - Brooklyn game, see #1845.16 below.
Detailed accounts of these games are shown in supplement text, below.
[A] New York Morning News, October 22 and 25, 1845. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 11-13.
[B] Sullivan, p. 11; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 4, number 253 (October 21, 1845), page 2, column 3
For a detailed discussion of the significance of this game, see Melvin Adelman, "The First Baseball Game, the First Newspaper References to Baseball," Journal of Sport History Volume 7, number 3 (Winter 1980), pp 132 ff.
The games are summarized in John Thorn, "The First Recorded Games-- Brooklyn vs. New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 6-7
Hoboken leans on the early use of Elysian Fields to call the town the "Birthplace of Baseball." It wasn't, but in June 2015 John Zinn wrote a thoughtful appreciation of Hoboken's role in the establishment of the game. See http://amanlypastime.blogspot.com/, essay of June 15, 2015, "Proving What Is So."
For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,” p 1 – 9: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0btLf16riTacFVEUV9CUi1UQ3c/
1845.5 Brooklyn and New York to Go Again in Hoboken
"Brooklyn vs. New York. - An interesting game of Base Ball will come off at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, to-day, commencing at 10 A. M., between the New York and Brooklyn Clubs."
This game appears to have been the first game between what were called "picked nine" -- in our usage, "all-star clubs" from base ball players in two major local regions.
New York Sun, November 10, 1845, page 2, column. 6. Submitted by George Thompson, June 2005.
See also David Dyte, "Baseball in Brooklyn, 1845-1870: The Best There Was," Base Ball Journal Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins). pages 98-102.
1845c.15 Doc Adams, Ballmaker: The Hardball Becomes Hard
[A]The Knickerbockers developed and adopted the New York Game style of baseball in September 1845 in part to play a more dignified game that would attract adults. The removal of the "soaking" rule allowed the Knickerbockers to develop a harder baseball that was more like a cricket ball.
[B]Dr. D.L. Adams of the Knickerbocker team stated that he produced baseballs for the various teams in New York in the 1840s and until 1858, when he located a saddler who could do the job. He would produce the balls using 3 to 4 oz of rubber as a core, then winding with yarn and covering with leather.
[A]Gilbert, "The Birth of Baseball", Elysian Fields, 1995, pp. 16- 17.
[B]Dr. D.L. Adams, "Memoirs of the Father of Baseball," Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Sullivan reprints this article in Early Innings, A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908, pages 13-18.
Rob Loeffler, "The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007.
1845.16 Brooklyn 22, New York 1: The First-Ever "Modern" Interclub Match?
[A]"The Base Ball match between eight Brooklyn players, and eight players of New York, came off on Friday on the grounds of the Union Star Cricket Club. The Yorkers were singularly unfortunate in scoring but one run in their three innings. Brooklyn scored 22 and of course came off winners."
On 11/11/2008, Lee Oxford discovered identical text in a second NY newspaper, which included this detail: "After this game had been decided, a match at single wicket cricket came off between two members of the Union Star Club - Foster and Boyd. Foster scored 11 the first and 1 the second innings. Boyd came off victor by scoring 16 the first innings."
[A] New York Morning News, Oct. 13, 1845, p.2.
[B]The True Sun (New York City), Monday, October 13, 1845, page 2, column 5.
Earlier cited in Tom Melville, The Tented Field: A History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State University Press, 1998), page 168, note 38: "Though the matches played between the Brooklyn and New York clubs on 21 and 25 October 1845 are generally recognized as being the earliest games in the "modern" era, they were, in fact, preceded by an even earlier game between those two clubs on October 12." [In fact this game was played on October 11.] Thanks to Tim Johnson [email, 12/29/2008] for triggering our search for the missing game. See #1845.4 and #1845.5 above.
Richard Hershberger adds that one can not be sure that these were the same sides that played on October 21/25, noting that the Morning Post refers here just to New York "players", and not to the New York Club.
See also 1845.4 for the October 21/25 games.
What is the evidence that this game was played by the Knickerbocker rules?
1845.17 Intercity Cricket Match Begins in NY
"CRICKET MATCH. St. George's Club of this city against the Union Club of Philadelphia. The two first elevens of these clubs came together yesterday for a friendly match, on the ground of the St. George's Club, Bloomingdale Road. The result was as follows, on the first innings: St. George's 44, Union Club of Philadelphia 33 [or 63 or 83; image is indistinct]. Play will be resumed to-day."
New York Herald, October 7, 1845.
1845.18 On "Second Anniversary," The NY Club Plays Intramural Game
"NEW YORK BASE BALL CLUB: The second Anniversary of the Club came off yesterday, on the ground in the Elysian fields." The game matched two nine-player squads, and ended with a 24-23 score. "The Club were honored by the presence of representatives from the Union Star Cricket Club, the Knickerbocker Clubs, senior and junior, and other gentlemen of note." NY Club players on the box score included Case, Clair, Cone, Gilmore, Granger, Harold, Johnson, Lalor, Lyon, Murphy, Seaman, Sweet [on both sides!], Tucker, Venn, Wheaton, Wilson, and Winslow.
New York Herald, November 11, 1845. Posted to 19cBB by John Thorn, 3/31/2008.
1845.27 Early Town-Ball Mention
""Instead of the former amusements, which gave so much activity and health to those who partook of them, and gave so much offense to those who pretend to be the engineer of our morals, we have Billiards, Cricket matches, Town-Ball, Bowling-alleys, &c., for those who can spare the time to partake of the amusement ."
Spirit of the Times, May 3, 1845, p.106, letter from a Philadelphia correspondent. Posted on 19cbb by David Ball, Aug. 27, 2007
This isn't the first attestation of the term "town ball" but it's very early.
1845.28 Knickerbocker Rules Reflect Use of Pickoff Move
"A runner cannot be put out in using all possibleusingmaking one base, when a baulk is made by the pitcher."
Knickerbocker Rule #19, adopted September 23, 1845. Referenced in Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (2010), p. 14.
The presence of a balk rule in the original rules indicates that pitchers were using all possible means to prevent runners from moving from base to base.
1846.1 Knicks Play NYBBC in First Recorded Match Game
The Knickerbockers meet the New York Base Ball Club at the Elysian Fields of Hoboken, New Jersey, in the first match game played under the 1845 rules. The Knickerbockers lose the contest 23-1. Some historians regard this game as the first instance of inter-club or match play under modern [Knickerbocker] rules.
1846.2 Brooklyn BBC Established, May Become "Crack Club of County?"
"A number of our most respectable young men have recently organized themselves into a club for the purpose of participating in the healthy and athletic sport of base ball. From the character of the members this will be the crack club of the County. A meeting of this club will be held to-morrow evening at the National House for the adoption of by-laws and the completion of its organization."
"Brooklyn City Base Ball Club," Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 5, number 162 (July 6, 1846), page 2, column 2.
1846.14 English Crew Teaches Rounders to Baltic Islanders
"In 1846 a three-master . . . from London stranded on the island. . . . The captain spent the winter with the local minister, and the sailors with the peasants. According to information given by a man named Matts Bisa, the visitors taught the men of Runö a new batting game. As the cry "runders" shows, his game was the English rounders, a predecessor of baseball. It was made part of the old cult game."
This game was conserved on the island, at least until 1949.
Erwin Mehl, "A Batting Game on the Island of Runö," Western Folklore vol 8, number 3, (1949?), page 268.
Ruhnu Island (formerly cited as "Runo") is a small island off the northern coast of Estonia. Its current population about 100 souls. It was formerly occupied by Swedes.
1846.16 Base Ball as Therapy in MA?
According to the State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, when "useful labor" wasn't possible for inmates, the remedies list: "chess, cards, backgammon, rolling balls, jumping the rope, etc., are in-door games; and base-ball, pitching quoits, walking and riding, are out-door amusements."
Annual Report of the Trustees of the State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, December 1846. Posted to 19CBB on 11/1/2007 by Richard Hershberger.
Was "base-ball" a common term in MA then?
1846.20 Very Early Knicks Game Washed Out . . . in Brooklyn
"Brooklyn Star Cricket Club.The first meeting of this association for the
season came off yesterday, on their ground in the Myrtle avenue.The
weather was most unfavorable for the sport promised---a game of cricket
between the members of the club, a base ball game between the members of
the Knickerbocker Club . . . , Shortly after, a violent storm of wind, hail, and
rain came on, which made them desist from their endeavors for some time,
and the company which was somewhat numerous, left the
ground. Notwithstanding, like true cricketers, the majority of the club
kept the field, but not with much effect.The wind, hail, rain, and snow
prevailed to such extent that play was out of the question; but they did
the best they could, and in the first innings the seniors of the club
made some 48, while the juniors only scored some 17 or 18.The game was
not proceeded with further."
N. Y. Herald April 14, 1846.
This item is extracted from a 19CBB interchange among Bob Tholkes, John Thorn, and Richard Hershberger, which touched on the somewhat rare later travels of the Knickerbockers and the nature and conditions of several playing fields from 185 to 1869. Text is included as Supplement Text below.
1846.21 A "Badly Defined" and Soggy April Game, In Brooklyn Alongside Star Cricket Club?
"Brooklyn Star Cricket Club.–The first meeting of this association for the season came off yesterday, on their grounds in the Myrtle avenue. The weather was most unfavorable for the sport promised–a game of cricket between the members of the club, a base ball game between the members of the Knickerbocker Club, and a pedestrian match for some $20 between two aspirants for pedestrian fame. It was past 12 o’clock ere the amusements of the day commenced. Shortly after, a violent storm of wind, hail, and rain came on, which made them desist from their endeavors for some time, and the company, which was somewhat numerous, left the ground. Notwithstanding, like true cricketers, the majority of the club kept the field, but not with much effect. The wind, hail, rain and, snow prevailed to such extent that play was out of the question; but they did the best they could, and in the first innings the seniors of the club made some 48, while the juniors only scored some 17 or 18. The game was not proceeded with further. In the interim, a game of base ball was proceeded with by some novices, in an adjoining field, which created a little amusement; but it was so badly defined, that we know not who were the conquerors; but we believe it was a drawn game. Then succeeded the pedestrian match of 100 yards..."
New York Herald, April 14, 1846.
From Richard Hershberger, email of 9/2/16: "I believe this is new. At least it is new to me, and not in the Protoball Chronology."
"The classic version of history of this period has the Knickerbockers springing up forth from the head of Zeus and playing in splendid isolation except for that one match game in 1846. This version hasn't been viable for some years now, though it is the nature of things that it will persist indefinitely. This Herald item shows the Knickerbockers as a part of a ball-playing community."
Richard points out that the "novices" who played base ball were unlikely to have been regular Knick players, whose skills would have been relatively advanced by 1846 (second email of 9/2/16).
Note: Jayesh Patel's Flannels on the Sward (Patel, 2013), page 112, mentions that the Star Club was founded in 1843. His source appears to be Tom Melville's Tented Field.
In 1846, Brooklyn showed a few signs of base ball enthusiasm: about two months later (see entry 1846.2) a Brooklyn Base Ball Club was reported, and in the same month Walt Whitman observed "several parties of youngsters" playing a ball game named "base" -- see 1846.6.
Do we know of other field days like this one in this early period? Can we guess who organized this one, and why? Do we know if the Knicks traveled to Brooklyn that day?
1846.22 Loss of "Fine Grassy Fields" for Base Ball and Quoits is Decried in Manhattan
"The heavy rain-storm has taken off every vestige of snow in the upper part of the city, and the ground is settling and verging into a tolerable walking condition. A casual glance at the region between 23d and 40th streets yesterday, convinced us that the usual spring business in the way of Sunday amusements is to open on the most extensive scale in the course of a few weeks. Play-grounds, however, are becoming scarce below 40th street, and "the boys" are consequently driven further out. The city authorities (Corporations have no souls) are tearing down, filling up, grading and extending streets each way from the Fifth Avenue, and have destroyed all the fine grassy fields where the rising generation once set their bounds for base-ball and quoit-pitching. Some were there, yesterday, in spite of soft turf and little of it, trying their favorite games."
New York True Sun March 15, 1846
From finder Richard Hershberger:
"This is consistent with Peverelly's account, which has the proto-Knickerbockers playing at 27th street 1842-43, moving to Murray Hill (which is what, around 34th Street?) in 1844, and throwing in the towel and going to New Jersey in 1845. My guess is that this provoked the formation of the club, since the Elysian Fields ground needed to be paid for, with the club the vehicle for doing this."
1847c.1 Henry Chadwick Plays a "Scrub" Game of Baseball?
"My first experience on the field in base ball on American soil was in 1847, when one summer afternoon a party of young fellows visited the Elysian Fields, and after watching some ball playing on the old Knickerbocker field we made up sides for a scrub game . . . ."
Per Frederick Ivor-Campbell, "Henry Chadwick," in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, et. al, eds., Baseball's First Stars [SABR, Cleveland, 1996], page 26. No reference given. Fred provided a fuller reference on 10/2/2006: the quote is from an unidentified newspaper column, copyright 1887 by O.P. Caylor, mounted in Henry Chadwick Scrapbooks, Volume 2. On 1/13/10, Gregory Christiano contributed a facsimile of the Caylor article, "Base Ball Reminiscences."
Fred adds: "I wouldn't trust the precision of the date 1847, though it was about that time." Fred sees no evidence that Chadwick played between this scrub game and 1856.
1847.14 Fast Day Rites Encroached by Round Ball, Long Ball, Old Cat
"FAST. This time-hallowed, if not time-honored occasion, was observed n the usual way. The ministers preached t pews exhibiting a beggarly emptiness . . . . The b-boys smoked cigars, kicked football, payed [sic] round ball, long ball, an [sic] old cat, and went generally into the outward observances peculiar to the occasion."
New Hampshire Statesman, and State Journal (Concord, New Hampshire), April 30, 1847, column B (originally from the Nashua Telegraph).
1847.15 Soldiers Play Ball During Western Trip
"Saturday March the 6th. We drilled as before and through the day we play ball and amuse ourselves the best way we can. It is very cool weather and clothing scarce."
Bill Swank adds: "Private Azariah Smith (age 18 years) was a member of the Mormon Battalion (United States Army) that marched almost 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa To San Diego, California during the Mexican War. Hostilities had ended shortly before their arrival in San Diego. On March 6, 1847, his Company B was in bivouac at Mission San Luis Rey (Oceanside, CA) when Smith made his journal entry.
"During the summer of 1847, Smith was mustered out of the army and traveled north to Coloma, CA. Remarkably, he was also present when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill, as noted in his diary on January 24, 1848."
Smith, Azariah, The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith [Utah State University, Logan UT, 1996], page 78. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.
Email from Bill Swank, March 6, 2013
This game was presumably a pre-modern form of ballplaying.
1847.16 Cricket Match in Hawaii
The [Honolulu] Polynesian, July 3, 1847, reports on a "Match of Cricket" in that city between two clubs, the Modeste and the Honolulu, with the former winning. Another mention of a cricket game is in same, Aug. 28, 1847.
There was a large English community in Honolulu at this time. And Hawaii was an independent country.
The [Honolulu] Polynesian, July 3, 1847
1848.1 Knickerbocker Rules and By-laws Are Printed; Original Phrase Deleted
The earliest known printing of the September 1845 rules. By-laws and Rules of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club [New York, W. H. B. Smith Book and Fancy Job Printer], Its rule 15 deletes the phrase "it being understood, however, that in no instance is a ball to be thrown at him [the baserunner]."
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223. David Block posting to 19CBB, 6/16/2005.
David also feels that a new rule appeared in the 1848 list that a runner cannot score a run on a force out for the third out. David Block posting to 19CBB, 1/5/2006.
1848.10 Ballgame Marks Anniversary in MA
"In Barre, Massachusetts [about 20 miles northwest of Worcester], the anniversary of the organization of government was celebrated by a game of ball - round or base ball, we suppose - twelve on a side. It took four hours to play three heats, and the defeated party paid for a dinner at the Barre Hotel."
North American and United States Gazette, June 7, 1848.
Trenton State Gazette (NJ), pg. 1, June 8, 1848.
A team size of 12 and three-game match are consistent with some Mass game contests.
This seems to have been a Philadelphia paper; why would it carry - or reprint - this central-MA story?
1848.18 Litchfield CT Bests Wolcottville in Wicket
"THOSE GAMES OF WICKET --
which Wolcottville challenged Litchfield to play, came off on our green, last Saturday afternoon; 25 players on a side; . . .
[Scoring report shows Litchfield winning over three innings, 232 to 150.]
"This is the first effort to revive "BANTAM," since the Bat and Ball, were buried (literally buried,) 10 years ago, after two severe floggings, by this same Wolcottville."
Litchfield Republican, July 6, 1848, page 2.
Litchfield CT (1850 pop. about 3,950) is about 30 miles W of Hartford. Wolcottville is evidently the original name of Torrington CT, which reports a population of about 1900 in 1850. Torrington is about 5 miles NE of Litchfield.
1848.19 Organization Men at the KBBC in 1848
"Early references to the Knickerbockers' 1845 rules credit both William H. Tucker and William R. Wheaton, with (Hall of Famer Alexander) Cartwright seldom if ever getting a mention until (Duncan) Curry made an offhand remark to reporter Will Rankin during an 1877 stroll in the park (and even this remark was initially reported as a reference to "Wadsworth" as the diagram-giver; only in 1908 was Rankin's recall of Curry's attribution morphed into Cartwright).
Curry and Cartwright perhaps deserve more credit for the organization of the
club (i.e., its by-laws) than the rules. In the 1848 Club Constitution, p.
Committee to Revise Constitution and By-Laws:
D.L. Adams, Pres.
A.J. Cartwright, Jr., Vice Pres
Eugene Plunkett, Sec'y
Duncan F. Curry
19cbb post by John Thorn, June 9, 2003, referencing the 1848 revision of the Knick's constitution and bylaws (see 1848.1)
As of 2016, recent scholarship has shown little evidence that Alexander Cartwright played a central role in forging or adapting the Knickerbocker rules. See Richard Hershberger, The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth (Baseball Research Journal, 2014), and John Thorn, "The Making of a New York Hero" dated November 2015, at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/11/30/abner-cartwright/.
John's concluding paragraph is: "Recent scholarship has revealed the history of baseball's "creation" to be a lie agreed upon. Why, then, does the legend continue to outstrip the fact? "Creation myths, wrote Stephen Jay Gould, in explaining the appeal of Cooperstown, "identify heroes and sacred places, while evolutionary stories provide no palpable, particular thing as a symbol for reverence, worship, or patriotism."
1849.1 Knicks Sport First Uniform - White Shirt, Blue Pantaloons
"April 24, 1849: The first baseball uniform is adopted at a meeting of the New York Knickerbocker Club. It consists of blue woolen pantaloons, a white flannel shirt, and a straw hat."
accessed 6/20/2005. No source is given.
but see #1838c.8 above - LM
1849.3 NY Game Shown to "Show Me" State of MO
"Indigenous peoples west of the Mississippi may not have seen the game until 1849 when Alexander Cartwright, near Independence, Missouri, noted baseball play in his April 23rd diary entry: 'During the past week we have passed the time in fixing wagon covers . . . etc., varied by hunting and fishing and playing baseball [sic]. It is comical to see the mountain men and Indians playing the new game. I have a ball with me that we used back home.'"
Altherr, Thomas L., "North American Indigenous People and Baseball: 'The One Single Thing the White Man Has Done Right,'" in Altherr, ed., Above the Fruited Plain: Baseball in the Rocky Mountain West, SABR National Convention Publication, 2003, page 20.
Some scholars have expressed doubt about the authenticity of this diary entry, which differs from an earlier type-script version.
Is Tom saying that there were no prior safe-haven ball games [cricket, town ball, wicket] out west, or just that the NY game hadn't arrived until 1849?
1849.10 Ladies' Wicket in England?
"BAT AND BALL AMONG THE LADIES. Nine married ladies beat nine single ones at a game of wicket in England recently. The gamesters were all dressed in white - the married party with blue trimmings and the others in pink."
Milwaukee[WI] Sentinel and Gazette, vol. 5, number 116 (September 4, 1849), page 2, column 2. Provided by Craig Waff, email of 8/14/2007.
Beth Hise [email of 3/3/2008] reports that the wearing of colored ribbons was a much older tradition.
Note: One may ask if something got lost in the relay of this story to Wisconsin. We know of no wicket in England, and neither wicket or cricket used nine-player teams.
Was cricket, including single-wicket cricket, known in any part of England as "wicket?"
1849.13 Did Cartwright Play Ball on His Way to California?
"April 23, 1849 [evidently the day before Cartwright left Independence MO for California] During the past week we have passed the time in fixing the wagon covers, stowing away property etc., varied by hunting , fishing, swimming and playing base-ball. I have the ball and book of Rules with me that we used in forming the Knickerbocker Base-ball Club back home."
Cartwright family typed copy of lost handwritten diary by Alexander Cartwright, as cited in Monica Nucciarone, Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend (UNebraska Press, 2009), page 31. Nucciarone adds that this version differs from the transcription in a Hawaii museum, in that the baseball references only appear in the family's version.
The legend is that Cartwright played his way west. Nucciarone, page 30: "[W]hile it's easy to imagine Cartwright playing baseball when he could and spreading the new game across the country as he went, it's much more difficult to prove he did this. The evidence is scant and inconsistent."
1849.14 Westfield Upsets Granville in Wicket
"BALL-PLAYING -- Westfield vs. Granville --
"The match of wicket ball made between the players of Westfield and Granville, came off about midway between the two towns, yesterday. There were 30 on each side, and the winners in three of five games were to be awarded the victory. On the first game, the Westfield boys led by about 10 ball; on the second about 20, and the third about 40; and so won the game. The conquerors in many a well fought field were vanquished; or, as our correspondent expresses it, 'the Gibraltar of ball playing is taken.' The Granville players were never beaten before but once, by a party from Hartford.
"Over 400 persons were on the ground, and the greatest excitement existed throughout the whole strife. A supper followed the result. The tables were set in a grove near Loomis's Hotel. The beaten party paid the bills."
Springfield Republican, July 6, 1849.
The score is reported in "balls," not the more common "tallies."
Westfield MA (1850 pop. about 4200) is about 30 miles N of Hartford CT and about 10 miles W of Springfield MA. Granville MA (1850 pop. about 1300) is about 8 miles SW of Westfield.
1849.15 Knickerbockers Lose Impromptu Match to Group of "Amateurs"
RURAL SPORTS.--We can testify to a most superb game of old
fashioned base-ball at the Champs d'Elysses, at Hoboken, on
Friday of last week, and bear it in mind the more strongly from
the remaining stiffness from three hours play. While on the
ground, a party of the Knickerbocker Club arrived, and selected
another portion of the field for themselves. When they had
finished, the amateurs with whom we had taken a hand, challenged
the regulars to a match, and both parties stripped and went at it
till night drew the curtains and shut off the sport. At the
closing of the game the amateurs stood eleven and the
Knickerbocker four. On the glory of this result, the amateurs
challenged the regulars to a meeting on the same day this week,
for the cost of a chowder to be served up, upon the green between
them. When it is known that the editors of the American
Statesman and National Police Gazette played among the amateurs,
and particularly that Dr. Walters, the Coroner of the city kept
the game, the result will probably not produce surprise.
National Police Gazette, June 9, 1849
Finder Richard Hershberger lists the following followup comments and questions (his full email is shown below):
"There is a lot to digest here. Just a couple of quick thoughts
The Knickerbockers couldn't catch a break! I'll have to look up
when they first managed to win a game.
I don't have ready access to the Knickerbocker score book. What
appears there for this day?
Is this the first appearance of George Wilkes in connection with
Sadly, the genealogy bank run of the Gazette is missing the June
16 issue. Is there another run out there?
You notice how early and how often baseball was characterized as
"old fashioned"? I would not take the use here as relating to
the rules used. There was a baseball fad in New York in the mid-1840s. It had
died out by 1849, with the Knickerbockers the only unambiguously
recorded organized survivor. Here we have an informal late
See above Comments.
1849.16 Two Eight-player Teams Play Bass Ball at Elysian Fields
"An exciting game of Bass Ball came off at the Elysian Fields on Thursday last. The club was organized at the “Pewter Mug” (kept by that patriotic and devoted friend of the “Sage of Lindenwald,” the Widow Lynch), and proceeded to the ground; where Doctor Ingraham, of the Statesman, and John Midmer, Esq., were selected as captains.
Ingraham, having the first choice, selected Messrs Malbrun, Bouts, McConnell, Watson, Wells, and our friend, Captain Joe Cornell, of the sheriff's office.
Midmer made up his side with Messrs. John M.. Rue (the best player of the party), Chase, Alderman Fream, John Robbins, Aaron Butterfield, Car, and Burrett.
Doctor Walters, the coroner, was appointed game-keeper and judge—twenty-one ins the game. All things being in readiness, the sport commenced, and the game was warmly contested for about three hours, with various prospects of success. Night coming on, and there being no liquor in the neighborhood, the judge decided that neither party could win. The decision was cheerfully submitted to by all; and it was agreed, unanimously, to meet at the same place next Friday, and finish the game. With this understanding, the party made the best of their way to York, where the individual performances were duly discussed, and the sportsmen themselves amply refreshed—of course. The issue of this great game is certainly “highly important,” and we hope to be able to announce it next Sunday."
New York Atlas, April 29, 1849 and May 6, 1849.
Note: Richard's full May 2019 19CBB posting appears in the Supplemental Text, below.
We assume that the phrase"21 ins the game" means that the first side to score 21 runs was the game's winner.
Richard asks: "I don't recognize the individuals. These clearly are men of substance, so I expect they can be tracked down. The mention of "the club" is intriguing. Is this an actual organized club, with or without baseball as its primary purpose? Or is that an informal usage?"
1850s.14 With Rise of Overarm Bowling, Padding Becomes Regular Part of Cricket
"The early 19th century saw the introduction of pads for batsmen. The earliest were merely wooden boards tied to the batsman's legs. By the 1850s, as overarm bowling and speed became the fashion, pads were regularly used. Older players scorned their introduction, but by this time they were deemed essential."
Peter Scholefield, compiler, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishing, Kent Town Australia, 1990], page 10.
It would be interesting to know how much velocity of deliveries increased with the change to overhand throwing.
1850s.19 Occupational, Company Teams Appear
"Starting in the 1850s and increasing slowly through the 1880s, sporting papers carried stories and scores of teams composed of men from the same occupation or men who worked in the same firm. Beginning with the Albany State House clerks playing the City Bank clerks in 1857, the Clipper listed dozens of similar teams over the next twenty-five years."
Gelber, Steven M., "'Their Hands Are All Out Playing:' Business and Amateur Baseball, 1845-1917," Journal of Sport History, Vol. 11, number 1 (Spring 1984), page 22. Gelber cites The Clipper, June 6, 1857, page 54, presumably for the Albany story.
On page 14 Gelber notes the rise of blue collar teams, the most famous being the Eckfords in Brooklyn, which comprised shipwrights and mechanics.
1850s.21 "Shoddy" Lords Opts for Mechanical Grass-Cutter
"The art of preparing a pitch came surprisingly late in cricket's evolution. . . . [The grounds were] shoddily cared for . . . . Attitudes were such that in the 1850s, when an agricultural grass-cutter was purchased, one of the more reactionary members of the MCC committee conscripted a group of navvies [unskilled workers] to destroy it. This instinctive Luddism suffered a reverse with the death of George Summer in 1870 and that year a heavy roller was at last employed on the notorious Lord's square."
Simon Rae, It's Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 215.
1850.22 British Trade Unionists Play Base Ball
Richard Hershberger found an account of blue collar base ball in England. A union journal described a May 21 march in which "hundreds of good and true Democrats" participated. Boating down the Thames from London, the group got to Gravesend [Kent] and later reached "the spacious grounds of the Bat and Ball Tavern," where they took up various activities, including "exhilarating" games of "cricket, base ball, and other recreations."
"Grand Whitsuntide Chartist Holiday," Northern Star and National Trades' Journal, Volume 13, Number 657 (May 25, 1850), page 1. Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/5/2008.
This is mentioned in a newspaper article on a Chartist excursion to Gravesend, in the Leeds "Star of Freedom," May 25, 1850. The Bat and Ball Tavern still stands in Gravesend, and the "spacious grounds" refers to a cricket field adjacent to the tavern, which also exists today. Another article on this excursion, in "Reynolds' Newspaper," May 26, 1850, merely mentions cricket playing. [ba]
1850.23 English Novel Briefly Mentions Base-Ball
"Emma, drawing little Charles toward her, began a confidential conversation with him on the subject of his garden and companions at school, and the comparative merits of cricket and base-ball."
Catherine Anne Hubback, The Younger Sister, Volume I (London, Thomas Newby 1850), page 166. Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008. Mrs. Hubback was the niece of Jane Austen.
1850s.25 If It's May Day, Boston Needs All its Sam Malones at the Commons!
"On the first of May each year, large crowds filled the [Boston] Commons to picnic, play ball or other games, and take in entertainment."
John Corrigan, "The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century," in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 44. Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search ("business of the heart"). Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is William Gray Brooks, "Diary, May 1, 1858."
1850c.26 Needed: More Festival Days - Like Fast Day? For Ballplaying
"[T]hey committed a radical error in abolishing all the Papal holidays, or in not substituting something therefore. We have Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, and Fast-Day when the young men play ball. We need three times as many festivals."
Arethusa Hall, compiler, Life and Character of the Reverend Sylvester Judd (Crosby, Nichols and Co., Boston, 1854), page 330. The book compiles ideas and views from Judd's writings. Judd was born in 1813 and died at 40 in 1853. John Corrigan (see #1850s.25) quotes a James Blake as capturing popular attitudes about Fast Day.
Writing of Fast Day 1851, Blake said "Fast & pray says the Governor, Feast & play says the people." John Corrigan, "The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century," in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 45. Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is James Barnard Blake, "Diary, April 10, 1851, American Antiquarian Society.
What were the Catholic festivals that were eliminated? Were any tradfitionally associated with ballplaying?
1850s.27 Cricket Outshines Base Ball in Press Coverage
"During the 1850s and early 1860s, coverage of cricket in the sporting press generally exceeded that of baseball."
Writing more specifically about the Spirit of the Times, Bill Ryczek says: "There was little baseball reported in The Spirit until 1855, and what did appear was limited to terse accounts of games (with box scores) submitted by members of the competing clubs. The primary emphasis was on four-legged sport and cricket, which often received multiple columns of coverage . . . . As interest in baseball grew, The Spirit's coverage of the sport expanded. On May 12, 1855, the journal printed the rules of baseball for the first time and soon began to report more frequently on games that took place in New York and its vicinity (Baseball's First Inning, page 163)."
William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 108, page 163.
The number of base ball games known in the new York area doubled in 1855, in 1856, in 1857, and in 1859. It is surprising to see an argument that cricket coverage still led as late as the early 1860's
1850s.31 Town Ball Played in Southeast MO
"The men found amusement . . . in such humble sports as marbles and pitching horseshoes. There were also certain athletic contests, and it was no uncommon thing for the men of the neighborhood to engage in wrestling and in the jumping match. This was before the day of baseball, but the men had a game, out of which baseball probably developed, which was called 'town ball.'"
Robert S. Douglass, History of Southeast Missouri (Lewis Publishing, 1912), page 441. Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (douglass southeast).
Douglass is not explicit about the period referenced here, but that it is before the Civil War.
Jeff notes that the author is covering small towns in Southeast MO located away from the Mississippi River and isolated from one another.
1850s.39 African-American Girl Sees Base Ball at Elysian Fields
"Along with chores and family time at home, there were excursions farther afield. Maritcha [Lyons] recalled day trips across the Hudson to the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, where people took in baseball games, had picnics, and revelled in other fresh-air activities."
Tonya Bolden, Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2005), page 12.
Maritcha Lyons was born in New York City in 1848.
1850c.44 Twenty or So Cricket Clubs Dot the US
"During the late 1840s there was an increase in the number of cricket clubs in New York and nationally. At least six clubs were formed in the metropolitgan area, [but most] survived for only a few years. . . . George Kirsch maintains that by 1850 at least twenty cricket clubs, enrolling perhaps 500 active payers, existed in more than a dozen American communities."
Melvin Adelson, A Sporting Time (U. of Illinois Press, 1886), page 104. Adelson cites Kirsch, "American Cricket," in Journal of Sport Hstory, volume 11 (Spring 1984), page 28.
Do these estimates jibe with current assessments?
1850c.46 Worcester Man Recalls Round Ball in the 1850s
"I will now call your attention to some of the games and amusements indulged in by Worcester boys of fifty or sixty years ago . . . .
"There were various games of ball played in my day. I remember barn-ball, two and three old cat, and round ball. This last was very much like baseball of to-day . . . .
"There were bases of goals, and instead of catching out, the ball was thrown at the player when running bases and if hit he knew it at once and was out. The balls were hard and thrown with force and intent to hit the runner, but an artful dodger could generally avoid being hit.
"On Fast Day there was always a game of ball on he north side of the Common, played by men and older boys, and this attracted large crowd of interested lookers on."
Nathaniel Paine, School Day Reminiscences, Proceedings of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume XIX (1903), pages 46 and 49.
1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
"Yorkshire: Now only played by boys, but half a century ago [1850's] by Adults on Ash Wednesday, believing that unless they did so they would fall sick in harvest time. This is a very ancient game, and was elsewhere called stool-ball. [West Yorkshire]. Shropshire: Tut-ball; as played at a young ladies school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. (See also 1850c.34). The players stood together in their 'den,'behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out', and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of three brick-bats, called 'tuts' . . . . The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so she took her place in the den and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical with rounders."
Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (Henry Frowd, London, 1905), page 277. Part or all of this entry appears to credit Burne's Folklore (1883) as its source.
Note: This describes a scrub form of tutball/rounders. It suggests that all hitting was forward, thus in effect using a foul line, as would make sense with a single fielder.
The claim that tutball and stoolball used the same rules is surprising; stoolball is fairly uniformly described as having but two bases or stools, and using a bat.
1850.52 Game of Wicket Near Springfield Goes Bad
GAME OF WICKET BALL --
"The Granville ball players challenged the Westfield players, recently, to a game of ball. The challenge was accepted, and the game came off, on Saturday last, about one mile this side of East Granville. They were to have thirty men on a side, the best in five to be declared victorious, and the defeated party to pay the suppers for all. The following is the tally:
[Each club won two games, and the fifth game was listed as Westfield 112, Granville 25 . . . with only ten Granville players evidently on the field....]
"On the fourth [fifth?] game, the Granville players made but a few rounds, and becoming disheartened, declined to finish the game, and refused, also, to pay for the suppers. Great excitement ensured, and we are sorry to learn that some personal collision was he consequence. Several blows were exchanged. There was great excitement during the day, there being from 600 to 800 people upon he ground. The Westfield players, not to lose their supper, paid for it themselves, and went home."
Springfield Republican, July 23, 1850
In the game account, runs are termed "crosses." In the text they are called "rounds."
Granville is about 15 miles SW of Springfield, and Westfield is about 10 miles E of Springfield.
1850c.54 Doc Adams Creates Modern Shortstop Position
"I used to play shortstop, and I believe I was the first to occupy that place, as it had formerly been left uncovered."
"Doc Adams Remembers", The Sporting News, Feb. 29, 1896.
Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, Game Books 1845-1868, from the Albert G. Spalding Collection of Knickerbocker Base Ball Club's Club Books, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Also described in John Thorn, "Daniel Lucas Adams (Doc)," in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, et. al, eds., Baseball's First Stars [SABR, Cleveland, 1996], page 1, and in Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011), page 33.
The limited availability of positions played in early game reports and summaries makes the establishment of Adams's claim to have been the first to play the shortstop position tenuous. A page in the Knick's Game Books from July 1850 show that in one practice game he played "F" for "Field" instead of his usual position of "behind" (catcher), and so may be when he first took the position. Otherwise, there is no inidication in a primary source that he played the position until 1855.
Daniel.Lucius (Doc) Adams (see entry for 1840), was a member and officer of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York and the National Association of Base Ball Players from 1845- 1862. Under his chairmanship, the NABBP Rules Committee standardized the now-familiar 90-foot basepaths and 9-inning games.
1851.1 Sport of Cricket Gets its First Comprehensive History Book
Pycroft, James, The Cricket Field; or, The History and Science of Cricket [London? Pub'r?], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 220.
A Boston edition appeared in 1859 [Mayhew and Baker, publisher].
This book's first chapter, "The Origins of the Game of Cricket," is seen by Block as "if not the earliest, one of the finest early studies of cricket history. The author exhumes a great number of references to cricket and its antecedents dating back to the year 1300."
1851.2 Early Ballplaying on the SF Plaza (Horses Beware!)
From February 1851 through January 1852, there are six reports of ballplaying in San Francisco:
 February 4, 1851. "Sport -- A game of base ball was played upon the Plaza yesterday afternoon by a number of the sorting gentlemen about town."
 February 4, 1851. Sports on the Plaza. "The plaza has at last been turned to some account by our citizens. Yesterday quite a crowd collected upon it, to take part in and witness a game of ball, many taking a hand. We were much better pleased at it, than to witness the crowds in the gambling saloons which surround the square."
 February 6, 1851. "Base-Ball --This is becoming quite popular among our sporting gentry, who have an exercise upon the plaza nearly every day. This is certainly better amusement than 'bucking' . . . ."
 March 1, 1851. "Our plaza . . . has gone through a variety of stages -- store-house, cattle market, auction stand, depository of rubbish, and lately, playground. Numbers of boys and young men daily amuse themselves by playing ball upon it -- this is certainly an innocent recreation, but occasionally the ball strikes a horse passing, to the great annoyance of he driver."
 March 25, 1851. "There [at the Plaza] the boys play at ball, some of them using expressions towards their companions, expressions neither flattering, innocent nor commendable. Men, too, children of a larger growth, do the same things."
 January 14, 1852. "Public Play Ground -- For the last two or three evenings the Plaza has been filled with full grown persons engaged very industrially in the game known as 'town ball.' The amusement is very innocent and healthful, and the place peculiarly adapted for that purpose."
 Alta California, Feb, 4, 1851
 "Sports on the Plaza," Daily California Courier, February 4, 1851.
 "Base-Ball," Alta California, February 6, 1851.
 "The Plaza," San Francisco Herald, March 1, 1851.
 "The Corral," Alta California, March 25, 1851.
 "Public Playground," Alta California, January 14, 1852.
See Angus Macfarlane, The [SF] Knickerbockers -- San Francisco's First Baseball Team?," Base Ball, volume 1, number 1 (Spring 2007), pp. 7-20.
Angus Macfarlane's research shows that many New Yorkers were in San Francisco in early 1851, and in fact several formed a "Knickerbocker Association." Furthermore he discovered that several key members of the eastern Knickerbocker Base Ball Club -- including de Witt, Turk, Cartwright, Wheaton, Ebbetts, and Tucker -- were in town. "[I]n various manners and at various times they crossed each other's paths." Angus suggests that they may have been involved in the 1851 games, so it is possible that they were played by Knickerbocker rules . . . at a time when in New York most games were still intramural affairs within the one or two base ball clubs playing here.
What do we know about "the Plaza" in those days, and its habitués and reputation?
1851.4 Very Early Game in Illinois Involves Joliet, Lockport?
"There were well established teams throughout the state of Illinois as early as those of Chicago, if not earlier. The Lockport Telegraph of August 6, 1851, tells of a game between the Hunkidoris of Joliet and the Sleepers of Lockport [IL]."
Federal Writers' Project -- Illinois, Baseball in Old Chicago, (McClurg, 1939). page 1. [From GBooks search for <"Joliet and the Sleepers">, 3/28/2013].
This entry appears to be in error caused by a mistake in binding local newspapers, and the cited Telegraph article may have appears as late as 1880.
From a 5/24/2013 email to Protoball from Bruce Allardice:
I've found proof that the 1939 WPA report on an 1851 game between Lockport and Joliet is incorrect. Below is what I've added to the Lockport entry in protoball:
"The book "19th Century Baseball in Chicago" (Rucker and Fryer) p. 13 asserts that the Lockport Telegraph of Aug. 6, 1851 reported on a game between the Hunkidoris of Joliet and the Sleepers of Lockport. The book credits a 1939 WPA report on early Chicago area baseball for this.
The authors are correct in what the 1939 report said. However, the 1939 report was incorrect. I talked to the librarian at the Lockport Public Library who told me that the 8-6-51 issue of the Telegraph was mistakenly bound with a newspaper from many years later, and that the Hunkidoris game article is from a newspaper 30 years later."
I also looked at a microfilm copy of the 8-6-51 issue of the Lockport newspaper, and found no mention of baseball.
Too bad, If it had been true, it would have been the first verified baseball game outside the New York area.
The librarian (now retired, and volunteering at the Will County Historical Society) is familiar with the issue, but can't remember what newspaper or date the Hunkidori game was mentioned in.
1851.7 Christmas Bash Includes "Good Old Fashioned Game of Baseball"
"On Christmas day, the drivers, agents, and other employees of the various Express Companies in the City, had a turnout entirely in character. . . . There were between seventy-five and eighty men in the company . . . . They then went to the residence of A. M. C. Smith, in Franklin st., and thence to the Red House in Harlem, where the whole party has a good old fashioned game of base ball, and then a capital dinner at which A. M. C. Smith presided."
New York Daily Tribune, December 29, 1851.
Richard added: "Finally this is a very rare contemporary cite of baseball for this period. Between the baseball fad of the mid-1840s and its revival in the mid-1850s, baseball is rarely seen outside the pages of the Knickerbocker club books." John Thorn contributed a facsimile of the Tribune article.
Can we surmise that by using the term "old fashioned game," the newspaper is distinguishing it from the Knickerbocker game?
1851.9 The Beginning of Match Play Between Organized Clubs
"Some baseball games are historic even thought few details of the contest survive. A case in point is the June 3, 1851 Knickerbocker-Washington game. Although the only surviving information is the line score, the match is remembered because it marked the beginning of ongoing match play."
John Zinn, "Match Play: Knickerbockers of New York vs. Washington of New York," in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pages 8-9.
This is game #4 of the SABR 19th Century Committee's top 100 games of the 1800s.The Knickerbockers won the June 3 game, 21-11, in 8 innings.
Two weeks later, the two clubs met again and the Knickerbockers prevailed again, 22-20, in 10 innings.
The era of repetitive match play among organized base ball clubs had begun.
1852.3 Eagle Ball Club Rulebook Appears
By-laws and Rules of the Eagle Ball Club [New York, Douglas and Colt], 1852
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
The cover of this rulebook states that the club had formed in 1840 (See item #1840.6 above).
1852.6 Exciting [Adult] Rounders in the Arctic
Osborn, Lieut. Sherard, Stray Leaves from an Arctic journal; or, Eighteen Months in the Polar Regions (London, Longman + Co), page 77, "Shouts of laughter! Roars of 'Not fair, not fair! Run again!' 'Well done, well done!' from individuals leaping and clapping their hands with excitement, arose from many a ring, in which 'rounders' with a cruelly hard ball, was being played."
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 214.
It seems unusual that a rounders ball would be characterized as hard; perhaps softer versions were used when younger players played the game, and one might guess that even in adult play, the ball would be seen as softer than the cricket ball.
1852.7 San Francisco Plaza Again Active, This Time with "Town Ball;"
"For the last two or three evenings the Plaza has been filled with full grown persons engaged very industriously in the game known as 'town ball.' The amusement is very innocent and healthful . . . . The scenes are extremely interesting and amusing, and the place is peculiarly adapted for that purpose."
"Public Play Ground," Alta California, January 14, 1852
On June 11, 2007, John Thorn reported a similar CA find: "A game of "town ball" which was had on the Plaza during the week, reminded us of other days and other scenes. California Dispatch, January 2, 1852.
In the prior year (see item #1851.2) the game at the Plaza had been called base ball in two news accounts, and town ball in none that we now have. Note the account of prior base ball in SF at 1851.2 above. Angus explains that six former members of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club in Manhattan were then in SF, and thus the reported games may have been played by modern rules.
Angus adds - email of 1/16/2008 - that this appears to be the last SF-area mention of base ball or town ball until 1859.
1852.8 Adult Town Ball Seen in on a Sunday in IL
"[N]ot a great while ago, [I] saw a number of grown men, on a Sabbath morning, playing town-ball."
"I grieve to say the stores all do business on the Sabbath. We hope, by constantly showing the people their transgression, to break up this [commerce] , the source of so much other sin."
Rev. E. B. Olmsted, The Home Missionary [Office of the American Home Missionary Society] Volume 24, Number 1 [May 1852], page 188.
The location of the game was Cairo, Illinois.
1852.13 Gotham Club Forms; Knicks Have First Rival Team
"The Gotham Base Ball Club, of New York, was organized early in 1852, with Mr. Tuche as its first President. Among its veteran players were Messrs. Winslow, Vail, Murphy, and Davis. At the time of the organization of the Gotham, their only competitor was the famous Knickerbockers, and the years between 1852 and 1853 will be remembered for their interesting contests between them."
John Freyer and Mark Rucker, Peverelly's National Game (Arcadia, 2005), page 21; A reprint of Charles Peverelly, American Pastimes, 1866.
1853.5 Knicks, Gothams Play Season Opener on July 1 and Again on October 18
[A] July Game
"BASE BALL AT HOBOKEN: The first friendly game of the season, between the Gotham and Knickerbocker Base Ball Clubs was played on the grounds of the latter on the 5th inst. The game was commenced on Friday the 1st, but owing to the storm had to be postponed, the Knickerbockers making nine aces to two of the Gothams, the following is the score for both days."
The Knicks won, 21-12, according to an abbreviated box score, which uses "No. of Outs" [and not "Hands Lost"] in the left-hand column, and "Runs," [not "Aces", as in the article] in the right-hand column. Paul Wendt estimates that this is the first certain Knick-rules box score known for an interclub match, and the first since the October 1845 games (see "1845.4 and #1845.16 above). 18 outs are recorded for each club, so six innings were played, "Twenty-one runs constituting the game."
The Knickerbocker lineup was Brotherson, Dick, Adams, Niebuhr, Dupignac, Tryon, Parisen, Tucker, and Waller. The Gotham lineup was W. H. Fancott [Van Cott], Thos. Fancott [Van Cott], J. C. Pinkny, Cudlip, Winslow Jr, Winslow Sr, Lalor, and Wadsworth.
[B] October Game
"Friend P -- The return game of Base Ball between the Gotham and Knickerbockers, was played last Friday, at the Red House, and resulted in favor of he Knickerbockers. The following is the score (21 runs constituting the game.)"
A box score follows, with columns headed "Runs" and "Outs." The score was 21-14, and evidently took nine innings.
"This was the finest, and at one time the closest match, that has ever been played between the two clubs. All that the Gothamites want is a little more practice at the bat; then the Knicks will have to stir themselves to sustain the laurels which they have worn so long."
The Knickerbocker lineup was Adams, De Bost, Tucker, Niebuhr, Tryon, Dick, Brotherson, Davis and Eager. The Gotham lineup was T. Van Cott, Wm. Van Cott, Miller, Cudlipp, Demilt, Pinckney, Wadsworth, Salzman, and Winslow.
[A] Letter from "F.W.T.", 7/6/1853, Base Ball at Hoboken, to The Spirit of the Times, Volume 23, number 21, Saturday July 9, 1853, page 246, column 1.
See also John Thorn, "The Baseball Press Emerges," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 106-110.
[B] Letter from "F.W.T.", 10/18/1853, "Base Ball Match," Spirit of the Times, volume 23, number 36 (Saturday, October 22, 1853), page 432, column 2; supplied by Craig Waff, September 2008.
Paul Wendt writes that the July game account included the first known box score of a game surely played by Knickerbocker rules.
Note the early appearance of informal usage: "Knicks" for "Knickerbockers" and "Gothamites" for "Gotham Club."
1853.9 Strolling Past a Ballgame in Elysian Fields
George Thompson has uncovered a long account of a leisurely visit to Elysian Fields, one that encounters a ball game in progress.
A few excerpts: "We have passed so quickly from the city and its hubbub, that the charm of this delicious contrast is absolutely magical.
"What a motley crowd! Old and young, men women and children . . . . Well-dressed and badly dressed, and scarcely dressed at all - Germans, French, Italians, Americans, with here and there a mincing Londoner, his cockney gait and trim whiskers. This walk in Hoboken is one of the most absolutely democratic places in the world. . . . . Now we are on the smoothly graveled walk. . . . Now let us go round this sharp curve . . . then along the widened terrace path, until it loses itself in a green and spacious lawn . . . [t]his is the entrance to the far-famed Elysian Fields.
"The centre of the lawn has been marked out into a magnificent ball ground, and two parties of rollicking, joyous young men are engaged in that excellent and health-imparting sport, base ball. They are without hats, coats or waistcoats, and their well-knit forms, and elastic movements, as that bound after bounding ball, furnish gratifying evidence that there are still classes of young men among us as calculated to preserve the race from degenerating."
George G. Foster, Fifteen Minutes Around New York (1854). The piece was written in 1853.
1853.10 The First Base Ball Reporters - Cauldwell, Bray, Chadwick
Henry Chadwick may be the Father of Baseball and a HOF member, but it is William Cauldwell in 1853 who is usually credited as the first baseball scribe.
John Thorn sees the primacy claims this way: As for Chadwick, "He was not baseball's first reporter — that distinction goes to the little known William H. Bray, like Chadwick an Englishman who covered baseball and cricket for the Clipper from early 1854 to May 1858 (Chadwick succeeded him on both beats and never threw him a nod afterward).
Isolated game accounts had been penned in 1853 by William Cauldwell of the Mercury and Frank Queen of the Clipper, who with William Trotter Porter of Spirit of the Times may be said to have been baseball's pioneer promoters.
John Thorn, "Pots and Pans and Bats and Balls," posted January 23, 2008 at
See also Turkin and Thompson, The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball (Doubleday, 1979), page 585.
1853.14 Base Ball Hits the Sports Pages? Sunday Mercury, Spirit of the Times Among First to Cover Game Regularly
[A] Email from Bob Tholkes, 2/12/2010 and 2/18/2012.
[B]William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 163.
[C] John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Shuster, 2011), page 104.
Has someone already analyzed the relative role of assorted papers in the first baseball boom?
1853c.15 Scholar Ponders: Why Were the Knickerbockers So Publicity-Shy?
"Robert Henderson helps us understand why the Knickerbocker Club made no apparent effort to engage in friendly contests with other teams [from 1845 through 1851]: the club itself was on the verge of collapse in the early years because many of its members failed to show up for scheduled practices.
" . . . There was no mention of baseball in the press until 1853, with the exception of a few references to the New York Club in 1845. . . . The failure of he Knickerbockers to ensure public recognition of their organization probably indicated a defensive posture toward involvement in baseball. Given their social status and the prevailing attitude toward ballplaying, their reaction is not surprising; after all, they were grown men of some stature playing a child's game. They could rationalize their participation by pointing to the health and recreational benefits of baseball, but their social insecurities and their personal doubts concerning the manliness of the game inhibited them from openly announcing the organization."
Melvin Adelman, A Sporting Time: New York City and the Rise of Modern Athletics, 1820-1870 (U of Illinois Press, 1986), page 124.
Adelman's reference [page 325] to the unpublished Henderson piece: Robert Henderson, "Adams of the Knickerbockers," unpublished MS, New York Racquet and Tennis Club.
Adelman does not mention that until 1854 there were few other known clubs for the KBBC to challenge to match games.
[A] Was it common for sporting or other clubs to seek publicity prior to 1853?
[B] What evidence exists that the Club felt ashamed to play "a child's game," or that earlier varieties of base-running games were not played by older youths and adults? This chronology has numerous accounts of adult play before 1853.
1853.19 Boston Clubs Play for Ten Boxes of Cigars
"The Aurora Ball Club and Olympic Ball Club will play best 3 in 5 games at Base ball on Tremont street mall on Friday next at half past 5 o'clock for 10 boxes of Havana Cigars. The public are invited to be present. A sufficient force will be in attendance to prevent confusion." [Full Item]
Boston Herald, September 7, 1853.
The rules for this match are not known.
Four years later, the Olympic Club's written rules show similarity to the Dedham rules for the Massachusetts Game that appeared in 1858.
Best-of-three and best-of-five formats are later seen in matches in MA and upstate NY; the "best-of" format may have been common in the game or games that evolved into the Mass Game.
Was a form of unpleasant "confusion" anticipated? Like what?
Do we know any more about the Aurora Club?
1854.1 NY Rules Now Specify Pitching Distance "Not Less Than 15 yards;" Ball Specs Defined
[A] Pitching. The New York Game rules now specify the distance from the pitcher's point to home base as "not less than fifteen yards."
Sullivan writes: "In 1854 a revised version of the original Knickerbocker rules was approved by a small committee of NY baseball officials, including Dr. [Doc] Adams. This document describes the first known meeting of baseball club representatives. Three years later, a much larger convention would result in the NABBP."
The point of the meeting was for the Knickerbockers, Gotham, and Eagle Clubs to adopt and use the same rules.
[B] The Ball. The joint rules committee, convening at Smith's Tavern, New York, increased the weight of the ball to 5½ to 6 ounces and the diameter to 2¾ to 3½ inches, (corresponding to a circumference varying from 8 5/8 to 11 inches).
The rules standardization was announced in the New York Sunday Mercury, April 2, 1854.
[A] The 17 playing rules [the 1845 rules number 14] are reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 18-19.
[B] Peverelly, 1866, Book of American Pastimes, pp. 346 - 348. Submitted by Rob Loeffler, 3/1/07. See "The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007.
Do we know what pitching distance was used in games played before 1854?
Is it seen as coincidental that the specifications of a base ball were so close to those of a cricket ball?
1854.2 First New England Team, the Olympics, Forms to Play Round Ball
"The first regularly organized team in New England was the Boston Olympics of 1854. The Elm Trees followed in 1855 and the Green Mountains two years later."
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 27. [No ref given.]
It seems plausible, given similarity of phrasing, that this finding comes from George Wright's November 1904 review of baseball history. See#1854.3 below.
There is also similar treatment in Lovett, Old Boston Boys, (Riverside Press, 1907), page 129.
Is there any detailed indication, or educated guess, as to what rules the Olympics uses in 1854?
1854.3 Organized Round Ball in New England Morphs Toward the "MA Game"
"'Base Ball in New England.' The game of ball for years a favorite sport with the youth of the country, and long before the present style of playing was in vogue, round ball was indulged in to a great extent all over the land. The first regularly organized Ball Club in this section was doubtless the Olympic Club, of Boston, which was formed in 1854, and for a year or more this club had the field entirely to themselves.
"In 1855 the Elm Trees organized, existing but a short time, however. In 1856 a new club arose, the 'Green Mountains,' and some exciting games were played between this Club and the Olympics. Up to this point the game as played by these clubs was known as the Massachusetts game; but it was governed by no regular code or rules and regulations . . . ."
Wright, George, Account of November 15, 1904, for the Mills Commission: catalogued by the Mills Commission as Exhibit 36-19; accessed at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown.
Note: We have other no evidence that the term "Massachusetts Game" was actually in use as early as 1854. The earliest it is found is 1858.
There is a newspaper account of the Olympic Club from 1853, when it played the "Aurora Ball Club." See item 1853.17 As of 10/2014, this is the only known reference to the Aurora Club.
1854.4 Was Lewis Wadsworth the First Paid Player?
"For years, [Al] Reach had been the player identified as the first to receive a salary and/or other inducements, as his move from the Eckfords of Brooklyn to the Athletics could not otherwise be explained. Over the last twenty years, though, the "mantle" has more generally been accorded to Creighton and his teammate Flanley, who were simultaneously "persuaded" to leave the Star Club and join the Excelsiors. Your mention of Pearce - especially at this very early date of 1856 - is the first I have heard.
"In the very early days of match play, before the advent of widely observed anti-revolver provisions (with a requirement that a man belong to a club for thirty days before playing a game on their behalf) it is possible that a team may have paid a player, or provided other "emoluments" (such as a deadhead job), for purposes of muscling up for a single game. The earliest player movement that wrinkles my nose in the regard are that of Lewis Wadsworth 1854 (Gothams to Knickerbockers) and third basemen Pinckney in 1856 (Union to Gothams). The Knicks responded to the Pinckney move by offering membership to Harry Wright, already a professional player in another sport -- cricket."
John Thorn posting to 19CBB listserve group, July 5, 2004, 1:39 PM.
1854.5 Excelsior Club Forms in Brooklyn
Constitution and By-Laws of the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, 1854. The Excelsior Club is organized "to improve, foster, and perpetuate the American game of Base Ball, and advance morally, socially and physically the interests of its members." Its written constitution, Seymour notes, is very similar in wording to the Knickerbocker constitution.
Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
Is this the first base ball club organized in Brooklyn?
1854.7 Empire Club Constitution Appears
Constitution, by-laws and rules of the Empire Ball Club; organized October 23rd, 1854 [New York, The Empire Club]
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
We have no record of the Empire Club playing match games in 1854, but the following April, they took the field.
1854.8 Historian Describes Facet of 1850s "School Boys' Game of Rounders"
A cricket historian describes an early attribute of cricket"
" . . . the reason we hear sometimes of he Block-hole was . . . because between these [two] two-feet-asunder stumps [the third stump in the wicket had not yet been introduced] there was cut a hole big enough to contain a ball, and (as now with the school boy's game of rounders) the hitter was made out in running a notch by the ball being popped into [a] hole (whence 'popping crease') before the point of the bat could reach it."
James Pycroft, The Cricket Field , page 68.
Note: Pycroft was first published in 1851. See item #1851.1. Was this material in the first edition?
1854.9 Van Cott Letter Summarizes Year in Base Ball in NYC; Foresees "Higher Position" for 1855 Base Ball
"There are now in this city three regularly organized Clubs [the Knickerbockers, Gothams, and Eagles], who meet semi-weekly during the playing season, about eight months in each year, for exercise in the old fashioned game of Base Ball . . . . There have been a large number of friendly, but spirited trials of skill, between the Clubs, during the last season, which have showed that the game has been thoroughly systematized. . . The season for play closed about the middle of November, and on Friday evening, December 15th, the three Clubs partook of their annual dinner at Fijux's . . . . The indications are that this noble game will, the coming season, assume a higher position than ever, and we intend to keep you fully advised . . . as we deem your journal the only medium in this country through which the public receive correct information." . . . December 19th, 1854."
William Van Cott, "The New York Base Ball Clubs," Spirit of the Times, Volume 24, number 10, Saturday, December 23, 1854, page 534, column 1. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008. The full letter is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 (University of Nebraska Press, 1995), pages 19-20.
The New York Daily Times, vol. 4 number 1015 (December 19, 1854), page 3, column 1, carried a similar but shorter notice. Text and image provided by Craig Waff, 4/30/2007. Richard Hershberger reported on 1/15/2010 that it also appeared in the New York Daily Tribune on December 19, and sent text and image along too.
For the context of the Van Cott letter, see Bill Ryczek, "William Van Cott Writes a Letter to the Sporting Press," Base Ball, Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pp. 111-113.
Bill ponders (page 112) what might have moved Van Cott to distribute his letter to the three newspapers: "Possibly it was to recruit more members for the three clubs, though that was unlikely, since membership was rather exclusive and decidedly homogeneous [ethnically] . . . . Was he trying to encourage the formation of additional clubs, or was he attempting to generate publicity for the existing clubs and members? The Knickerbockers, baseball's pioneer club, had made virtually no attempt to expand the game they had formalized."
1854.14 Finally, Cricket Played in America Without Mostly English Immigrants!
[A] "The first organization composed mostly of American natives was the Philadelphia Cricket Club, formed in 1854."
[B] It was in 1854 that an all-US match occurred, maybe the first ever. The New York Times on August 11, 1854, covered a match played the previous week between New York and Newark, noting, "this ends the first match played in the United States between Americans. Let us hope it will not be the last." The New York club won this match, and Newark won a return match on August 1.
[A] William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 105. No source given.
[B] Email from Beth Hise. She cites William Rotch Wister, Some Reminiscences of Cricket in Philadelphia before 1861 (Allen, Lane, and Scott, 1904).
Note: This assumes that the elevens at Haverford (see #1848.8 above) don't qualify for this honor.
1854.15 Sacramento "Hombres" Play Ball Before Several Hundred, Break Stuff
"A Game of Ball - People will have recreation occasionally, whether it be considered exactly dignified or not. Yesterday afternoon there was a game of ball played on J street which created no little amusement for several hundred persons. The sport lasted a full hour, until finally some unlucky hombre sent the ball through the window of a drug store, penetrating and fracturing a large glass jar, much to the chagrin of the gentlemanly apothecary, who had not anticipated such unceremonious a carronade."
Daily Democratic State Journal (Sacramento CA), March 24, 1854.
Richard adds: "Of course this raises the usual questions of what "a game of ball" means. Clearly it is a bat-and-ball game, and given the documented earlier games of baseball (in some form or other) in California and the absence of documented references of the other usual suspects such as wicket in California, it is a reasonable guess that this was [a form of] baseball. I am less willing to make the leap to its being the New York game."
1854.16 The Eagle Club's Field Diagram - A Real Diamond
John Thorn has supplied an image of the printed "Plan of the Eagle Ball Club Bases" from its 1854 rulebook.
"Revised Constitution, by-laws and rules of the Eagle Ball Club," (Oliver and Brother, New York, 1854).
It seems possible that he who designed this graphic did not intend it to be taken literally, but it sure is different. Folks around MIT here would call it a squashed rhombus. Using the diagram's own scale for 42 paces, and accepting the questionable guess that most people informally considered a pace to measure 3 feet, the four basepaths each measure 132 feet. But the distance from home to 2B is just 79 feet, and from 1B to 3B it's 226 feet (for football fans: that's about 75 yards). Foul ground ("Outside Range" on the diagram) leaves a fair territory that is not marked in a 90 degree angle, but at . . . wait a sec, I'll find a professor and borrow a protractor, ah, here . . . a 143 degree angle.
Do we have evidence that the Eagle preferred, at least initially, a variant playing field? Or did the Eagle Club just assign this diagramming exercise to some Harvard person?
Is this image published in some recent source?
1854.17 Pre-modern Base Ball in Michigan
"A single tantalizing glimpse survives of a baseball club in Michigan before 1857. In 1897, the Detroit Free Press observed:
'It may be of interest to lovers of the sport to know where the first club was organized in the state of Michigan. Birmingham claims that distinction. Forty-three years ago, nine young men, ages ranging from 20 to 30 years, decided that it would be a good thing to have a baseball club and by practice to become able to play that fascinating game, not for gate receipts and grand stand money, but for fun, pure and simple. Accordingly, they practiced and, representing the town of Bloomfield, challenged the adjoining township of Troy to a trial of skill. The two teams lined up in front of the National hotel . . . one bright spring day at shortly after 12 o'clock, and the first game began. It was played for a supper of ham and eggs, the losing side to pay for same. Bloomfield won by a score of 100 to 60. The game was not finished until after 5 o'clock in the evening. The ball played with was a soft one, weighing four ounces. Old time rules of course governed the game, one of them being that a base runner could be put out if hit by a thrown ball anywhere between the bases. Many men were put out this way.
'Elated by their victory, the young men of Bloomfield decided to organize a baseball team, the constitution and by-laws were drafted and adopted and every Saturday a certain number of hours were devoted to practice. That summer the team won many games. . . .
'In those days the team that first scored a hundred tallies (generally marked on a stick with a jack-knife, opposite edges used for the two clubs) carried off the honors of the day.'"
Detroit Free Press, April 19, 1897, per Peter Morris. Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan (U of Michigan Press, ), pp 15-16.
The use of "tallies" for runs was common for the form of base ball played in Massachusetts, and winning by scoring 100 runs was to be encoded in in the Massachusetts Game rules of 1858.
Bloomfield MI is about 5 miles NW of Birmingham MI, which is about 15 miles NW of Detroit. Troy MI is about 7 miles E of Bloomfield.
1854.20 Empire Club Begins Play
"The Empire Bass Ball Club played their first regular  season game at McCarthy's ground, Hoboken, yesterday afternoon. This club, consisting of some thirty young men, mostly clerks in the lower part of the City, was organized last year nearly at the close of the season."
"Empire Bass Ball Club," New York Daily Times Volume 4, number 1125 (Thursday, April 26, 1855), page 8, column 1.
1854.21 Interclub Second Nine Play
[A] "Friend P.-- Although rather late, I will take the liberty of sending you the result of a Home-and-Home Match of Base Ball played recently between the second nine of the Knickerbocker and the first nine of the Eagle Club..."
[B] "BASE BALL. A match of this beautiful and national game was played on Friday last, between the Eagle and Knickerbocker Clubs...Six of the best men of the Knickerbocker Club were barred from playing in this match."
[A] Spirit of the Times, November 25, 1854
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, November 12, 1854
The first instance of selection of a second nine by an organized club, prompted by acceptance of a match with an opponent (the Eagle) regarded as too inexperienced to be competitive with the Knicks' best players. Second nine interclub play would continue throughout the amateur era, and continue into the professional era in the form of reserve nines.
1854.22 "Greatest Game of Base Ball Ever Played in this Country"
An Old Fashioned Base-Ball Club
The Stoneham 'One Hundred and Fifty' Held the Championship Forty Years Ago
"Forty years ago Stoneham was the greatest base ball town in New England and the Kearsarge Base Ball Club held the championship. In these days base ball playing has dwindled down to such an insignificant proportion that it only takes nine men on a side to play a game, but forty years ago this Spring the Kearsarge Club had no fewer than 150 players and a club that could get the best of them in a game of 'three-year-old-cat' [sic] had to be pretty spry. The club had a reunion at Maker's Hotel last evening, and after dinner talked baseball as it ought to be played now and as it was played in the days when the club was the leading social as well as the only athletic club in Stoneham in addition to being champion of New England. The reunion was attended by about fifty of the oldest players. Myron J. Ferris was the orator of the occasion, and he talked until the umpire called him out. During his address he recalled to the minds of those present the events of the greatest game ever played in this country. It was the game between the Kearsarge and Ashland clubs, and was played on the Boston Common forty years ago.
"The Kearsarge team won, and when the members got back to Stoneham that evening they were given about as much an ovation as were the soldiers when they returned from the war. Richard Park was the umpire of that memorable game and he was present last evening and told how he helped the team win. Then he told of the base ball league that which was formed after the war. This was a wonderful league then, but what would the baseball public think now if the Stoneham, and Peabody then South Danvers, and Saugus with a few other little towns should get up a base ball league. The league was prosperous and the players had a good time. Other speakers gave interesting accounts of baseball forty years ago."
Boston Evening Transcript, March 23, 1894, page 3.
Variant uses of "base ball" and "baseball" are as printed.
Can readers provide insight as to what game was played on Boston Common in 1854, whether there was a post Civil War league in this area, and otherwise help us interpret this account?
1855c.3 Demo Game of Wicket, Seen as a CT Game, Later Played in Brooklyn
In 1880 the Brooklyn Eagle and New York Times carried long articles that include a description of the game of wicket, described as a Connecticut game not seen in Brooklyn for about 25 years:
[A] "Instead of eleven on a side, as in cricket, there are thirty, and instead of wickets used by cricketers their wickets consist of two pieces of white wood about an inch square and six feet long, placed upon two blocks three inches from the ground. The ball also differs from that used in cricket or base ball, it being almost twice the size, although it only weighs nine ounces. The bat also differs from that used in cricket and base ball, it being more on the order of a lacrosse bat, although of an entirely different shape, and made of hard, white wood. The space between the wickets is called the alley, and is seventy-five feet in length and ten feet in width. Wicket also differs from cricket in the bowling, which can be done from either wicket, at the option of the bowlers, and there is a centre line, on the order of the ace line in racket and hand ball, which is called the bowler's mark, and if a ball is bowled which fails to strike the ground before it reaches this line it is considered a dead ball, or no bowl, and no play can be made from it, even if the ball does not suit the batsman. The alley is something on the order of the space cut out for and occupied by the pitcher and catcher of a base ball club, the turf being removed and the ground rolled very hard for the accommodation of the bowlers."
[B] "The game of wicket, a popular out-door sport in Connecticut, where it originated half a century ago, was played for the first time in this vicinity yesterday. Wicket resembles cricket in some respect, but it lacks the characteristics which mark the latter as a particularly scientific pastime. In wicket each full team numbers 30 players instead of 111, as in cricket. The wickets of the Connecticut game are also different, , being about 5 feet wide and only 3 inches above the ground, and having a bar of white wood resting on two little blocks. The space between wickets measures 75 feet by 10 feet, and is termed the 'alley'. . . . [No scorebook is use to record batting or fielding.] The bat sued is 38 inches long, and bears a strong resemblance to a Fiji war-club, the material being well-seasoned willow. The Ball, although much larger than a cricket ball, is just as light and no quite so hard. . . . If a delivered ball fails to hit the ground before the [midway] mark it is called a 'no ball' and no runs for it are counted. The game was originated in the neighborhood of Bristol.
"Yesterday's match was played between the Bristol Wicket Club, the champions of Connecticut, and the Ansonia Company, of Brooklyn, on he grounds of the Brooklyn Athletic Club."
Bristol won the two-inning match 162-127.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 41 number 239 (August 28, 1880), page 1, column 8.
"A Queer Game Called Wicket," New York Times, 8/28/1880.
There are inconsistencies in these accounts to be resolved.
1855.5 Seymour Research Note: "7 Clubs Organized" [But We Now Know of 30]
"1855 -- seven clubs organized. In 1856 four more."
Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
He cites Robert Weaver, Amusements and Sports (Greenwood, 1939), page 98 ff.
Note: Seymour did not name the seven listed clubs; drat.
As of mid-2013, Protoball lists a total of 30 clubs operating in the NYC area New York State: nine were in Brooklyn (Atlantic, Bedford, Columbia, Continental, Eckford, Excelsior, Harmony, Putnam, and Washington), five in Manhattan (Baltic, Eagle, Empire, Gotham, and Knickerbocker -- all but the Baltic playing one or more games at Hoboken), two (Atlantic of Jamaica, Astoria) in Queens, and two (Union, Young America) in Morrisania [Bronx]. See [[http://protoball.org/Clubs_in_NY]] In addition, twelve clubs are listed in New Jersey (Empire, Excelsior, Fear Not, Newark Senior, Newark Junior, Oriental-cum-Olympic, Pavonia, Palisades, Pioneer, St. John, and Washington). See[[http://protoball.org/Clubs_in_NJ]].
These clubs played in about 35 reported match games; over fifteen reports of intramural play are also known. There are reports of only one junior club (in NJ) and match play by one "second nine" (a Knickerbocker match game).
Corrections and additions are welcome.
1855.6 Jersey City Club is Set Up
Jersey City BBC forms.
Constitution and By-Laws of the Pioneer Base Ball Club of Jersey City [New York, W. and C. T. Barton], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
1855.7 Cricket Becoming "The National Game" in US: "Considerable Progress" Seen
[A] "Cricket is becoming the fashionable game - the national game, it might be said."
[B] Things looked rosy for cricket in New York, too. In a report of the results of a June match between St. George's second eleven and the New York clubs first string [which won by 74 runs], this upbeat assessment was included: "We shall look for stirring times amongst the cricketers this season. Last week St. George's best Philadelphia. Next Wednesday the 1st Elevens contend for mastery between St. George and New-York. The "Patterson," "Newark," "Harlem," "Washington," Williamsburgh," "Albany," "Utica," and last, though not least the Free Academy Cricket Clubs, have matches on the tapis [sic?]. Even the Deaf and Dumb Institution are likely to have a cricket ground, as the pupils have had it introduced, and are playing the game . . . . This healthful game seems to be making considerable progress amongst us."
[A] "New York Correspondence," Washington Evening Star, June 18, 1855, page 2. This statement is expressed in the context of the influence of John Bull [that is, England] in the US.
[B] "Cricket," New York Daily Times, Thursday, June 21, 1855.
1855.13 Spirit Gives Season Plans for 5 Base Ball Clubs
"Base Ball -- The interest in the game if Base Ball appears to be on the increase, and it bids fair to become our most popular game. There are now four clubs in constant practice, vis, Gotham, Knickerbocker, Eagle, and Empire . . . . "
The practice and match schedules for the Knickerbockers, Eagles, Empires, Gothams and [Brooklyn] Excelsior appeared in June.
"Base Ball," Spirit of the Times June 2, 1855.
Full text is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 20-21.
1855.15 2000 Demurely Watch Englishmen-heavy Cricket at Hoboken NJ
"A Game that few Yankees Understand
"The scene at the Cricket Ground at Hoboken, for the last three days, has been worth a long ride to see . . . .
"[A] most pleasing picture. It had a sort of old Grecian aspect - yet it was an English one essentially. Nine-tenths of the immense number of visitors, we guess from the universal dropping of their h's were English. But it is a game that a Yankee may be proud to play well. It speaks much for the moral effect of the game, though we were on the ground some three hours, and not less than 2,000 were there, we heard not a rough or profane word, nor saw an action that a lady might not see with propriety. It costs three cents to get to Hoboken and for thousands of New-Yorker there can be no greater novelty that to watch a game of cricket."
New York Daily Times, vol. 4 number 1168 (June 15, 1855), page 1, column 6. Posted to 19CBB on 9/11/2007.
1855.16 Scholar Deems 1855 the Peak of Cricket-playing in America
"By 1855, Cricket was clearly the leading ball game . . . . Clearly, there was no opposition to cricket because it was English . . . . However, the growth of cricket between 1855 and 1861 was minor compared to the advances made in baseball. The Spirit summarized the general attitude of the press in 1859 when it wrote that 'cricket has its admirers, but it is evident that it will never have the universality that baseball will.' [page 107]
"In essence, cricket failed because it was too advanced and too institutionalized for a society that lacked a manly ball-playing tradition. Americans drew from the only heritage they had -- that of a child's game." [page 110]
Melvin Adelman, "Chapter 5 --The Failure of Cricket as an American Sport," A Sporting Time: New York City and the Rise of Modern Athletics, 1820-1870 (U Illinois Press, 1986) 97 - 120.
Adelman cites the Spirit source as December 3, 1859, issue 29, page 505.
Adelman bases his analysis on the premise that base ball's predecessor games were played mainly be juveniles. This premise can be questioned. Even discounting play by university youths up to 1845, adult play in the military and elsewhere was hardly rare before the Gothams and Knickerbockers formed in New York around 1840, as many entries in this chronology indicate.
1855.20 Base Ball Games Reach Really Modern Duration; Score is 52-38
[A] Having more energy, apparently, than what it takes to score 21 runs, the [NJ] Pioneer Club's intramural game in September 1855 took 3 and a quarter hours, and eight innings. Final score: single men, 52, marrieds 38.
[B] In December, the Putnams undertook to play a game [intramurally]to 62 runs, and started at 9AM to give themselves ample time. But "they found it impossible to get through; they played twelve innings and made 31 and 36."
[C] "At East Brooklyn a new club, the Continentals, of which H. C. Law is president, played from 9 till 5 o'clock."
[A] Spirit of the Times, Volume 25, number 31 (Saturday, September 15, 1855), page 367, column 3.
[B and C] Spirit of the Times, (Saturday, December 8, 1855), page 511, column 3.
Note: these results seems like deliberates exceptions to the 21-run rule; are there others? Was the 21-run rule proving too short for practice games?
1855.21 Spirit Eyes Three-Year Knicks-Gothams Rivalry
The Spirit of the Times gave more than perfunctory coverage to the September match-up between the Knickerbockers and Gothams at Elysian Fields on Thursday, September 13. The box score remains rudimentary [only runs scored are listed for the two lineups], but the report notes that there were "about 1000 spectators, including many ladies, who manifested the utmost excitement, but kept admirable order [gee, thanks, ladies - LMc]." It must have felt a little like a World Series game: "The Knickerbockers [who lost to the Gothams in June] came upon the ground with a determination to maintain the first rank among the Ball Clubs."
The Knicks won, 21-7, in only five innings. The Spirit tabulated the rivals' history of all seven games played since July 1853, listed below. The Knicks won 4, lost 2 (both losses at Red House), and tied one [12-12 in 12 innings; Peverelly, pages 16 and 21, says that darkness interceded]. The longest contest went 16 innings [a Gothams home victory on 6/30/1854], and the shortest was the current one.
The three-year rivalry:
7/14/53, Elysian Fields; Knicks 21-12, 6 innings
10/14/53, Red House; Knicks 21-14, 9 i
6/30/54, RH; Gothams 21-16, 16 i
9/23/54, EF; Knicks 24-13, 9 i
10/26/54, RH; Tied 12-12, 12 i
6/1/55, RH; Gothams 21-12, 11 i
9/13/55, EF; Knicks 21-7, 5 i
Spirit of the Times, Volume 25, number 32 (Saturday, September 22, 1855), page 373 [first page of 9/22 issue], column 3.
Craig Waff reported that, as far as he could tell, this was the first game in which the size of the assembled crowd was reported.
1855.22 The Search for Base Ball Supremacy Begins? (It's the Knicks, For Now)
"These two Clubs [Knickerbocker and Gotham] who rank foremost in the beautiful and healthy game of Base Ball, met on Thursday . . . . The Knickerbockers came upon the ground with a determination to maintain the first rank among the Ball Clubs, and they won the match handsomely [score: 22-7]."
Craig thinks this may be one of the first attempts to tap a club as the best in the game; thus the long road to naming baseball "champions" begins. The game had been played at Elysian Fields on September 13.
"Base Ball: Knickerbockers vs. Gotham Club," Spirit of the Times Volume 25, number 32 (September 22, 1855), page 373, column 3.
1855.23 Modern Base Ball Rules Appear in NYC, Syracuse Papers
[A] The current 17 rules of base ball are printed in the Sunday Mercury and in the Spirit of the Times early in the 1855 playing season -- 12 years after the Knickerbocker Club's initial 13 playing rules were formulated.
[B] Without accompanying comment, the 17 rules for playing the New York style of base ball also appear in the Syracuse Standard.
The 1854 rules include the original 13 playing rules in the Knickerbocker game plus four rules added in in New York after 1845. The Knickerbocker, Gotham, and Eagle clubs agreed to the revision in 1854.
[A] Sunday Mercury, April 29, 1855; Spirit, May 12, 1855. Bill Ryczek writes that these news accounts marked the first printing of the rules; see Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 163. Earlier, the initial printing had been reported in December of 1856 [Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2006), page 22]. The Sunday Mercury and Spirit accounts were accompanied by a field diagram and a list of practice locations and times for the Eagle, Empire, Excelsior, Gotham, and Knickerbocker clubs.
[B] Syracuse Standard, May 16, 1855.
For a succinct account of the evolution of the 1854 rules, see John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pages 82-83.
One might speculate that someone in the still-small base ball fraternity decided to publicize the young game's official rules, perhaps to attract more players.
As of mid-2013, we know of 30 clubs playing base ball in 1855, all in downstate New York and New Jersey.
1855.27 In Brooklyn, the Washington Club and Putnams Lift Off
On July 31, 1855, according to Craig Waff's Protoball Games Tabulation, the first games were played by new clubs in Brooklyn. Both were intramural games, and both seem to have complied with the Knickerbockers' 21-run rule for deciding a game.
The Putnams appear to be the first Brooklyn club to see action, with their June 28 contest in NYC against the Astoria Club. The Putnams played their first match game in Brooklyn on August 4, when they defeated the Knickerbockers at their home grounds.
Here is the Daily Eagle's [8/4/1855] inartful account of the Washington Club's second practice outing on August 3. "The Washington Base Ball Club of this city E.D. [Eastern District of Brooklyn] , met on the old Cricket ground near Wyckoff's Wood's for Ball practice yesterday afternoon. The following is a list of the plays:" There follows a simple box score showing two 7-member teams and a final score of 31-19.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 8/4/1855.
1855.28 Thanksgiving is for Football? Not in Gotham, Not Yet
[A] "[Thanksgiving] day was unpleasantly raw and cold; but various out of door amusements were greatly in vogue. Target companies looking blue and miserable were every where. Every vacant field in the out skirts was filled with Base Ball Clubs; a wonderfully popular institution the past season, but vastly inferior to the noble game of Cricket in all respects."
[B]Responding to Dennis' find, Craig Waff, posting to the 19CBB listserve, cited two accounts that confirm the holiday hubbub. The Clipper wrote, "There seemed to be a general turn-out of the Base Ball Clubs in this city and vicinity, on Thursday, 29th Nov. Among those playing were the Continental, Columbia, Putnam, Empire, Eagle, Knickerbocker, Gotham, Baltic, Pioneer, and Excelsior Clubs."The Spirit of the Times caught the same, er, spirit, noting that the Continentals played from 9am to 5pm, and that the Putnams "commenced at 9 o'clock with the intention of playing 63 aces, but found it impossible to get through; they played twelve innings, and made 31 and 36 . . . ."
[A] "Viola," "Men and Things in Gotham," Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, December 10, 1855, page 2. Facsimile contributed August 29, 2009 by Dennis Pajot. This traveler's report preceded the advent of Association base ball in Milwaukee by years.
[B] Clipper: [Undated clip in the Mears Collection]. The Spirit of the Times (December 8, 1855, page 511).
1855.30 Early Season Game Goes to Knicks, 27-14; Wadsworth Chided
In what appears to be only the second game of the 1855 season [http://protoball.org/images/3/35/GT.NYC.pdf ], "a grand match of this national game" took place on 6/5/1855 at Elysian Fields, pitting the Knicks against the Eagles.
A nine run 4th inning put the Knicks into the [imaginary] win column after leading only 12-11 after two. Player positions aren't listed, but DeBost [Knicks] and Place [Eagles] are noted as "behind men."
The reporter added: "Wadsworth [Knicks] makes too many foul balls; he must alter his play." Adams led off for the Knickerbockers and DeBost scored five runs.
"Base Ball. Knickerbocker vs. Eagle Club," New York Herald, June 6, 1855.
1855.31 Competitive Base Ball Suddenly Fills NY Metropolitan Area
At the end of the 1854 season, there were evidently only three organized Manhattan clubs, and they had only played seven match games all year. Most games were intrmural contests.
In the first two months of the 1855 season, ten other clubs were at play, including four in Brooklyn and four in New Jersey. By the end of 1855, 22 clubs were on the field, and 82 games had been reported.
Things would never be the same again.
See Larry McCray, "Recent Ideas about the Spread of Base Ball after 1854" (draft), October 2012.
Data on reported 1855 games and clubs is taken from the Protoball Games Tabulation, version 1.0, compiled by Craig Waff.
It remains possible that the increase was, in part, a reporting effect, as game reports were more frequently seen as a service to newspaper readers in these years.
1855c.32 Numerous Base Ball Clubs Now Active in NYC
Numerous clubs, many of them colonized by former members of the New Yorks and the Knickerbockers, form in the New York City area and play under the Knickerbocker rules. Interclub competition becomes common and baseball matches begin to draw large crowds of spectators. The capacity for spectators in the New York Game is aided by the foul lines which serve to create a relatively safe area for spectators to congregate and yet remain close to the action without interfering with play. This feature of the New York Game is in sharp contrast to cricket and to the Massachusetts Game, both of which are played "in the round" without foul lines.
This item is from the original Thorn and Heitz chronology, which did not give sources. The explosion of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey clubs 1855-1859 is clear from a perusal of the Craig Waff's Protoball Games Tab http://protoball.org/images/3/35/GT.NYC.pdf
1855.33 Wicket Club Plays in Ohio -- Ladies Bestow MVP Prize
"This evening members of the "Excelsior Wicket Club" contest for the prize of a boquet [sic], to be awarded the player who makes the most innings.
The ladies are to be on the club ground--the Huron Park--and award the prize to the winner. Happy fellow, he! May there be steady hands and cool heads that some nice young man shall win very sweet smiles as well as the sweet flowers."
Sandusky Register, 5/12/1855.
Richard Hershberger, who dug up this notice, notes that this club was an early case of an organized wicket club.
New England generally was a late comer to organized clubs as the medium for team sports. Cricket is the exception, with some clubs in imitation of the English model and, from the 1840s on, clubs largely composed of English immigrants.
"Wicket followed a model of village teams, with no obvious sign of formal club structures of constitutions and officers and the like. We don't see that until the mid-1850s, and then more with baseball than with wicket. Even with what where nominally baseball clubs, I suspect that many were actually closer to the village team model, with a bit of repackaging."
Sandusky OH (1855 pop. probably around 7000) is in northernmost OH, about 50 miles SE of Toledo and about 50 miles W of Cleveland.
Do we know what "makes the most innings" means in the newspaper account?
1855.34 Sporting Press Notices Base Ball, Regularizes Reporting
"There was little baseball reported in Spirit [of the Times] until 1855, and what did appear was limited to terse accounts of games (with box scores) submitted by members of the competing clubs. The primary [sports-page] emphasis was on four-legged sport and cricket, which often received multiple columns of coverage. Apparently, editor William Porter felt that baseball was less interesting than articles such as "The World's Ugliest Man." As interest in baseball grew, The Spirit's coverage of the sport expanded. On May 12, 1855, the journal printed the rules of baseball for the first time and soon began to report more frequently on games that took place in New York and its vicinity."
William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 163.
In its issue of November 11, 1854, Spirit of the Times complained that base ball game reports were not being received.
[A] Was this turn to base ball more conspicuous in other papers earlier?
[B] Has anyone tried to measure the relative coverage of base ball and cricket over time in these crossover years?
1855.35 New Jersey Club Comes Over to the NY Game
[A] "[The Tribune] reports on a game of 9/25/1855 between the Fear Naught Base Ball Club of Hudson City, New Jersey and the Excelsior Club of Jersey City. They played five innings each with nine players on each side. The Excelsiors won 27-7. The item also notes that he Excelsiors intend to challenge the Gotham Club of New York. This is a very early game played by a New Jersey [based] club. It is also interesting because the Excelsiors are known to have also played a non-NY game version, making them a rare example of a club playing two versions in the same season."
['B] "The Excelsior Club of Jersey City was organized July 19, 1855."
[A] New York Daily Tribune, September 27, 1855.
[B] New York Daily Tribune, July 20, 1855.
The deployment of nine players is interesting because the none-player rule was not adopted until 1957; this may indicate that nine-player teams were already conventional beforehand.
Hudson City became part of Jersey City [1850 pop. about 6800; 1860 pop. about 22,000] in 1870.
Can we specify any of the rules in older game played earlier in 1855 by the Excelsiors?
1855.37 Barre Club Challenge to Six Nearby MA Towns -- $100 Grand Prize Planned
"August 11, 1855 -- Barre. The Gazette says the Barre boys will challenge their neighbors in he towns surrounding, to play a [at?] round ball.
"The Barre boys either have or are about to extend a challenge to one of the other of the adjoining towns for a grand game of round, of [or?] base ball, the victors to throw the glove to one of the other towns, and so on, till it is settled, which one of the seven shall be victor over the other six. A grand prize of one hundred dollars, more or less, to be raised, by general contributions and awarded to the party which shall be finally successful. The six surrounding and adjoining towns are Hardwick, Dana, Petersham, Hubbardstown, Oakham, and New Braintree. The seventh is Barre, which is in the centre, and equidistant from them all."
Barre MA (1855 pop. about 3000) is about 60 miles W of Boston. Hardwick, Hubbardstown, Oakham, New Braintree and Petersham are 8-10 miles from Barre. Poor Dana MA was disincorporated in 1938.
Do we know if this plan was carried out? How was the victor decided among participating towns?
1855.38 First Printing of Rules
The New York Sunday Mercury of April 29, 1855 contained an article with a field diagram, playing rules, names, practice days, and grounds of several clubs, and comments on the upcoming season. Much of this material was reprinted on May 12 in The Spirit of the Times.
1855.39 Pastime of Despots
King Ferdinand II
"Description of a Modern Tyrant" (Ferdinand II of the Kingdom of Naples) ...his favorite old games, foot-racing and tumbling, base ball and wrestling..." Describes Ferdinand as "the scoundrel king of Naples."
Newark Advertiser, Dec. 21, 1855; by an unidentified correspondent in Rome. Summarized in Originals, Newsletter of the Origins Committee of SABR, Vol. 3 no. 11, Nov. 2010.
1855.41 Swift and Wild
An unusually informative game report on the match of Sep. 19 in Jersey City between the Columbia Club of Brooklyn and the Pioneer Club of Jersey City notes:
New York Clipper Sept. 22, 1855
The unidentified reporter doesn't sound enamored of swift pitching, but evidently it was already a feature of interclub matches in 1855.
1855.42 Interclub Meeting Attempt Fizzles
"The Convention of representatives from the Base-Ball Clubs met at "The Gotham", Bowery, on Friday evening. there are twenty-three of these organizations in New York and Brooklyn, Jersey City and Newark; of which eight were represented by committees and other by letters. The object of the convention is to make arrangements for a banquet and ball, and to establish general rules for the various Clubs. Without taking any definite action on these matters the Convention adjourned, to meet on Saturday evening, the 15th inst., when an opportunity for more general representation of the various Clubs will be given."
New York Evening Express, Dec. 10, 1855
So far as is known, the follow-up meeting did not come off.
1855.43 In Boston, Olympic Beats Elm Tree, 75-46
"BAT AND BALL -- The Olympic was challenged by the Elm Tree Club, at a game of ball to be played on the Common, which was accepted and played this morning, on the grounds of the Elm Tree Club. The game was fixed at 75, and was promptly won by the Olympics, the opposite side getting only 46 tallies. Each club had 25 rounds."
Boston Traveler, May 31, 1855.
The item title of "Bat and Ball" is interesting. This term is believed to be the name of a distinct baserunning game in the area in earlier times. Note also the use of "rounds" instead of "innings."
As of 10/21/2014, this is the only known contemporary ref to the Elm Tree club of Boston.
1856.1 Harry and George Wright Both at St. George CC in New York
Baseball Hall of Fame member Harry Wright is on the first eleven of the St. George Cricket Club and his younger brother, George Wright, age 9, also to become a baseball Hall of Famer, is the Dragons' mascot.
Chadwick Scrapbooks, Vol. 20.
For much more on George Wright, see the multi-part profile from John Thorn's Our Game blog in September 2016. The initial segment is at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2016/09/20/who-was-george-wright/.
1856.2 Excelsiors Publish Constitution
Constitution and By-laws of the Excelsior Base Ball Club (Brooklyn, G. C. Roe),
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
1856.3 Putnams Rules Arrive on the Scene
Rules and By-laws of Base Ball Putnam Base Ball Club [Brooklyn, Baker and Godwin]
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224.
Chip Atkison post, 19cBB, 8/27/2003.
1856.4 Seventy Games Played, All in New York City Area.
"In the summer of 1856 . . . there were 53 games in New York and the metropolitan area."
We know of only 7 match games, played among three base ball clubs, in 1853; the game had not grown significantly in the 8 years since the Knickerbocker rules had been agreed to.
Two summers later, however the game was clearly taking off. While Harold Seymour knew of 53 games, we now have a record of 70 games played by 26 clubs (see the Protoball Games Tabulation compiled by Craig Waff).
The games were still played to 21 runs in 1856, with an average score of 24 to 12, aand they lasted about six innings. 1856 was the last year that the game would be confined to the New York area, as in 1857 it was beginning to spread to distant cities. As had been forecast in a note in the Knickerbocker minuted for 1855, base ball was getting ready to become the national pastime.
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 24. [No ref given.]
Craig Waff and Larry McCray, "The New York Game in 1856," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 114-117.
1856.8 Knickerbocker Rules Meeting Held
At the close of 1856 it was decided that a revision of the rules was necessary, and a meeting of the Knickerbockers was held and a new code established. The outcome of this was the first actual convention of ball clubs.
John Thorn adds that the session was held December 6 at Smith's Hotel at 462 Broome Street, and that it was a Knicks-only meeting.
The Tribune Book of Open-Air Sports, page 71, quoted in Weaver, Amusements and Sports, page 98, according to Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
1856.9 Working Men Play at Dawn on Boston Common
A team of truckmen played on Boston Common, often at 5AM so as not to interfere with their work.
New York Clipper, July 19, 1856 [page?] Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
1856.12 Gothams 21, Knicks 7; Fans Show Greatest Interest Ever; "Revolver" Controversy
"Yesterday the cars of the Second and Third avenue Railroads were crowded for hours with the lovers of ball playing, going out to witness the long-talked of match between the "Gotham" and "Knickerbocker" Clubs. We think the interest to see this game was greater than any other match ever played."
The Times account includes a box score detailing "hands out" and "runs" for each player. The text uses "aces" as well as "runs," and employs the term "inning," not "innings." It notes players who "made some splendid and difficult catches in the long field."
In its coverage, Porter's Spirit of the Times noted that the Knicks criticized the use by the Gotham of a Unions of Morrisania player, Pinckney.
"Base Ball Match," New York Daily Times, September 6, 1856, page 8.
Porter's Spirit of the Times, September 13, 1856.
1856.14 Manly Virtues of Base Ball Extolled; 25 Clubs Now Playing in NYC Area
"The game of Base Ball is one, when well played, that requires strong bones, tough muscle, and sound mind; and no athletic game is better calculated to strengthen the frame and develop a full, broad chest, testing a man's powers of endurance most severely . . ." I have no doubt that some twenty-five Clubs . . . could be reckoned up within a mile or two of New-York, that stronghold of 'enervated' young men."
"Base Ball [letter to the editor], New York Times, September 27, 1856.
Full text is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 21-22.
1856.15 Excelsior Base Ball Club Forms in Albany NY
[A] "Albany Excelsior Base Ball Club This Club was organized May 12, 1856."
[B] "The match game of Base Ball between the Empire and Excelsior Clubs, came off yesterday on the Cricket Grounds...Excelsior winning by 3."
[A] Porter's Spirit of the Times, May 23, 1857.
[B] Albany Evening Journal June 11, 1856
It appears that the Empire Club and the Athlete Club of Albany had already existed at that time. The Empire - Excelsior game cited was apparently not played according to the Knickerbocker rules.
1856.16 Cricket "The Great Match at Hoboken" [US vs. Canada]
"The Great Match at Hoboken!!! The United States Victorious!! Canada vs. United States"
The American team was spiced with English-born talent, including Sam Wright, father to Harry and George Wright. Matthew Brady took photos. A crowd of 8,000 to 10,000 was estimated.
Porter's Spirit of the Times, September 20, 1856.
1856.17 Letter to "Spirit" Describes Roundball in New England
"I have thought, perhaps, a statement of my experience as to the Yankee method of playing 'Base,' or 'Round' ball, as we used to call it, may not prove uninteresting."
"There were six to eight players upon each side, the latter number being the full complement. The two best players upon each side -- first and second mates, as they were called by common consent -- were catcher and thrower. These retained their positions in the game, unless they chose to call some other player, upon their own side, to change places with them. A field diagram follows." [It shows either 6 or 10 defensive positions, depending on whether each base was itself a defensive station.]
"The ball was thrown, not pitched or tossed, as the gentleman who has seen "Base" played in New York tells me it is; it was thrown, an with vigor too . . . . "
"Base used to be a favorite game with the students of the English High and Latin Schools pf Boston , a few years ago . . . Boston Common affords ample facilities for enjoying the sport, and Wednesday and Saturday afternoons in the spring and fall, players from different classes in these schools, young men from fifteen to nineteen years of age used to enjoy it.
"Base is also a favorite game upon the green in front of village school-houses in the country throughout New England; and in this city [Boston] , on Fast Day, which is generally appointed in early April, Boston Common is covered with amateur parties of men and boys playing Base. The most attractive of these parties are generally composed of truckmen. . . the skill they display, generally attracts numerous spectators."
Other comments on 1850s Base/Roundball in New England.are found in Supplemental Text, below.
"Base Ball, How They Play the Game in New England: by An Old Correspondent" Porter's Spirit of the Times, Dec. 27, 1856, p.276. This article prints a letter written in Boston on December 20, 1856. It is signed by Bob Lively.
The 1858 Dedham rules (two years after this letter) for the Massachusetts Game specified at least ten players on a team. The writer does not call the game the "MA game," and does not mention the use of stakes as bases, or the one-out-all-out rule.
1856.18 First Reported Canadian Base Ball Game Occurs, in Ontario
"September 12, 1856 -"The first reported game of Canadian baseball is played in London, ONT, with the London Club defeating the Delaware club 34-33."
"London [ON], Sept. 15, 1856. Editor Clipper: Within the past few months several Base Ball clubs have been organized in this vicinity, and the first match game was played between the London and Delaware clubs, on Friday, the 12th inst." The box score reveals that the 34-33 score eventuated when the clubs stood at 26-23 after the first inning, and then London outscored Delaware 11-7 in the second inning.
Charlton, James, ed., The Baseball Chronology (Macmillan, 1991), page 13
"Base Ball in Canada," The New York Clipper Volume 4, number 23 (September 27, 1856), page 183.
Is it likely that the New York rules would have produced this much scoring per inning . . . or was it set up as a two-inning contest? Can we confirm/disconfirm that this was the first Canadian game in some sense [keeping in mind that Beachville game report at #1838.4 above]?
1856.20 Exciting Round Ball Game Played on Boston Common, Ends With 100-to-98 Tally
[A] "EXCITING GAME OF BASE BALL. - The second trial game of Base Ball took place on the Boston Common, Wednesday morning, May 14th, between the Olympics and the Green Mountain Boys. The game was one hundred ins, and after three hours of exciting and hard playing, it was won by the Olympics, merely by two, the Green Mountain Boys counting 98 tallies. . . . The above match was witnessed by a very large assemblage, who seemed to take a great interest in it."
The article also prints a letter protesting the rules for a prior game between the same teams. The Olympics explained that were compelled to play a game in which their thrower stood 40 feet from the "knocker" while their opponent's thrower stood at 20 feet. In addition, the Green Mountain catcher [sic] moved around laterally, and a special six-strike rule was imposed that confounded the Olympics. It appears that this game followed an all-out-side-out rule. The reporter said the Olympics found these conditions "unfair, and not according to the proper rules of playing Round or Base Ball."
[B] the Daily Atlas briefly mentioned the game, noting "There was a large crowd of spectators, although the flowers and birds of springs, and a wheelbarrow race at the same time . . . tended to draw off attention." A week later, the Boston Post reported that the Green Mountain Boys took a later contest, "the Olympics making 84 rounds to the G.M. Boys 119."
[A] Albert S. Flye, "Exciting Game of Base Ball," New York Clipper Volume 4, number 5 (May 25, 1856), page 35. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
[B] The Boston Daily Atlas, May 15, 1856.
Note: does this article imply that previously, base ball on the Common was relatively rare?
1856.21 Trenton Club Forms for "Invigorating Amusement"
"BASE BALL CLUB. - A number of gentlemen of this city have formed themselves into a club for the practice of the invigorating amusement of Base Ball. Their practicing ground is on the common east of the canal. We hope that this will be succeeded by a Cricket Club."
"Base Ball Club," Trenton (NJ) State Gazette (May 26, 1856) no page provided.
Is this the first known NJ club well outside the NY metropolitan area?
1856.27 Manhattan CC Forms
The Manhattan Cricket Club is formed and includes New York City baseball players Frank Sebring and Joseph Russell of the Empire Base Ball Club.
Chadwick Scrapbooks, Vol. 20
1856.28 Knicks Call for Convention of Clubs
The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club at its meeting of Dec. 6, 1856, issued a call for a convention of the base ball clubs and appointed a special committee chaired by D. L. (Doc) Adams to supervise same. The clubs were requested to "select three representatives to meet at No 462 Broome street, in the city of New York, on Thursday, the 22d day of January, 1857." The Knick's resolution did not specify a purpose for the convention.
New York Herald, December 22, 1856; Spirit of the Times, January 3, 1857
1856.32 Hind Catcher
On August 30, 1856 the Knickerbocker and Empire clubs played to a 21-21 tie
in eight innings in a match at the Elysian Fields. While the Knicks
positioned themselves as a conventional nine--three "fielders," one
"behind," three basemen, a shortstop (the inventor Adams himself), and a
pitcher, their opponents elected to use no shortstop and TWO men playing
source not referenced
1856.33 First Ball of the Base Ball Clubs Attracts 200 Couples at Niblo's Saloon
Seven clubs participated in the first Ball of the Base Ball Clubs, "at Niblo's", attracting about 200 couples. The evening was pronounced "very satisfactory".
Organizers are discussed in the Supplemental Material, from Richard Hershberger, below
New York Tribune, January 25, 1856
New York Atlas, January 6, 1856.
1856.34 A Three-Inning Game of Wicket at Great Barrington
"BALL PLAYING - A game of Wicket was played at Gt. Barrington on the 11th inst., and a supper partaken at the Berkshire House in the evening. C. M. Emerson, Esq. was the leader of one party and John Price, Esq. of the other. The game was a close one; the aggregate count of three innings being 192 and 187. The side of Captain Emerson beat."
Pittsfield Sun, April 24, 1856, page 2.
Great Barrington, MA (1860 population about 3900) is about 20 miles south of Pittsfield MA and near the SW corner of the state.
1856.35 Future Star Dickey Pearce Discovers the Decade-old No-Plugging Rule
"I was working at my trade in 1856," said Dick, "and old Cale Sniffen, who was the pitcher of the Atlantic Club at that time, asked me to go out with him and see the club practice. I told him I did not know a thing about the game. 'Never mind that,' said Cale, "I'll show you.' So I went out with him one day to the old field where the Atlantics played in 1856, and which adjoined the Long Island Cricket Club's grounds. At that time I used to take a hand in with the boys in practicing old-fashioned base ball, in which we used to plug fellows when they ran bases, by putting out through throwing the ball at them. Well, I went out with Cale and he got me into a game, and the first chance I had to catch a fellow running bases, I sent the ball at him hot, and it hit him in the eye. Then I learned the new rule was to throw the ball to the base player and let him touch the runner."
The Sporting Life, January 4, 1888.
For an overview of Pearce's baseball life, see Briana McKenna's article at http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/db8ea477.
Finder Richard Hershberger adds that this account "has a couple interesting features. The New York game by 1856 was well into its early expansion phase, but we see here where it still wasn't really all that widely known, even in Brooklyn. Pearce also cuts through the nonsense about what baseball's, meaning the New York game, immediate ancestor was, and what it was called.
"There was in the 1880s a widespread collective amnesia about this, opening the way for Just So stories about Old Cat and such. Pearce correctly calls the predecessor game "base ball," just like they had at the time it was played."
Note: Pearce was born in 1836, and thus was nine when the Knickerbocker rule replacing plugging/soaking/burning had appeared. Eleven years later, lads in Brooklyn had evidently made the adjustment.
Do we have any additional information on where in Brooklyn Pearce and his friends were playing the old-fashioned game in the 1850s?
1856.37 English excursion features cricket and "base-ball"
The "Windsor and Eton Express," July 12, 1856, reports on a July 10th annual excursion of the Slough "Literary and Scientific Institute" at Henry Labouchere's estate at Stoke Park (near Slough, in Buckinghamshire) in which "some betook themselves to cricket, some to archery, base-ball and other amusements." Most of the reporting is on the cricket match between Slough and Wycombe players.
There are no further details as to the "base-ball" game played.
Today Stoke Park is a private golf club and sporting estate.
The "Windsor and Eton Express," July 12, 1856
1857.1 Rules Modified to Specify Nine Innings, 90-Foot Base Paths, Nine-Player Teams, but not the Fly Rule
"The New York Game rules are modified by a group of 16 clubs who send representatives to meetings to discuss the conduct of the New York Game. The Knickerbocker Club recommends that a winner be declared after seven innings but nine innings are adopted instead upon the motion of Lewis F. Wadsworth. The base paths are fixed by D.L. Adams at 30 yards - the old rule had specified 30 paces and the pitching distance at 15 yards. Team size is set at nine players." The convention decided not to eliminate bound outs, but did give fly outs more weight by requiring runners to return to their bases after fly outs.
Roger Adams writes that the terms "runs" and "innings" first appear in the 1857 rules, as well as the first specifications of the size and weight of the base ball.
Follow-up meetings were held on January 28 and February 3 to finalize the rule changes.
New York Evening Express, January 23, 1857; New York Herald, January 23, 1857; Porter's Spirit of the Times, January 31, February 28, March 7, 1857; Spirit of the Times, January 31, 1857 (Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 122-24).
The text of the March 7 Porter's Spirit article is found at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2016/04/04/the-baseball-convention-of-1857-a-summary-report/. In addition to the complete text of the 35 rules, this article includes commentary on 8 or 10 of the Convention's decisions (chiefly the consideration of the fly rule). The coverage leaves the impression that the Knickerbockers supported a rules convention mainly to engineer the adoption of a fly rule and thus to swing the game into the cricket practice for retiring runners.
For other full accounts of the convention, see Frederick Ivor-Campbell, "Knickerbocker Base Ball: The Birth and Infancy of the Modern Game," Base Ball, Volume 1, Number 2 (Fall 2007), pages 55-65, and John Freyer & Mark Rucker, Peverelly's National Game (2005), p. 17.
See also Eric Miklich, "Nine Innings, Nine Players, Ninety Feet, and Other Changes: The Recodification of Baseball Rules in 1857," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, Fall 2011 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 118-121; and R. Adams, "Nestor of Ball Players," found in typescript in the Chadwick Scrapbooks. (Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek, December 29, 2009.)
In a systematic review of Games Tabulation data from the New York Clipper, the only exception to the use of a 9-player team for match games among senior clubs was a single 11-on-11 contest in Jersey City in 1855.
The rules were also amended to forbid "jerked" pitches. Jerking was not defined. See Peter Morris's A Game of Inches (2006), p. 72.
1857.3 Long Island Cricket Club Forms
The Long Island Cricket Club is formed. The membership includes baseball player John Holder of the Brooklyn Excelsiors.
Note" add info on the significance of this club?
1857.5 The Tide Starts Turning in New England - Trimountain Club Adopts NY Game
"BASE BALL IN BOSTON. - Another club has recently organized in Boston, under the title of the Mountain [Tri-Mountain, actually - Boston had three prominent city hills then - LMc] Base Ball Club. They have decided upon playing the game the same as played in New York, viz.: to pitch instead of throwing the ball, also to place the men on the bases, and not throw the ball at a man while running, but to touch him with it when he arrives at the base. If a ball is struck [next word, perhaps "beyond," is blacked out: "outside" is written in margin] the first and third base, it is to be considered foul, and the batsman is to strike again. This mode of playing, it is considered, will become more popular than the one now in vogue, in a short time. Mr. F. Guild, the treasurer of the above named club, is now in New York, and has put himself under the instructions of the gentlemen of the Knickerbocker. . . . "
A letter from "G.", of Boston, corrected this note in the following issue, on June 20: Edward Saltzman, an Empire Club member who had moved to that city, had founded the club and provided instruction.
The New York Clipper, June 13, 1857 (per handwritten notation in clipping book; Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008) and June 20, 1857
The Tri-Mountain Club's 1857 by-laws simply reprint the original 13 rules of the Knickerbocker Club: facsimile from "Origins of Baseball" file at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown.
Note: does "place the men on bases" refer to the fielders? Presumably in the MA game such positioning wasn't needed because there was plugging, and there were no force plays at the bases?
1857.6 Seymour: Cricket Groups Meet to Try to Form US [National] Cricket Club
Per Seymour, "devotees" of cricket met in New York to "organize a United States Central Club to mentor the sport..."
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 14. [No ref given.]
1857.8 First Western club, the Franklin Club, forms in Detroit
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 14. [No ref given.]
Morris, Peter, Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan [University of Michigan Press, 2003], pp.22-28
1857.12 The First Vintage Games?
[A] "the first regular match" of the 'Knickerbocker Antiquarian Base Ball Club (who play the old style of the game)'" was played in Nov. 1857.
[B] In October, 1857, the Liberty Club of New Brunswick, NJ, played a group of "Old Fogies" who played "the old-fashioned base ball, which, as nearly everyone knows, is entirely different from base ball as now played."
[A] Porter's Spirit of the Times, Nov. 14, 1857, p.165.
[B] New York Clipper, Oct. 10, 1857
[A] Rules played are unknown. The score was 86-69, and three players are listed in the box score as "not out". 11 on each side.
1857.13 The First Game Pic?
"On Saturday, September 12, 1857, 'Porter's Spirit of the Times,' a weekly newspaper devoted to sports and theater, featured a woodcut that, as best can be determined, was the first published image of a baseball game.?
Vintage Base Ball Association site, http://vbba.org/ed-interp/ 1857elysian fieldsgame.html
1857.14 Sunrise Base Ball
"The Nassau and Charter Oak clubs scheduled three games at 5 a.m. in Brooklyn, apparently to impress players and spectators that 'there is a cheaper and better way to health than to pay doctor's bills.'"
Carl Wittke, "Baseball in its Adolescence," Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, no. 2, April 1952, page 119. Wittke cites Porter's Spirit, July 4, 1857 as his source.
Wittke took liberties with, or misunderstood, his source. The remark quoted in Porter's referred to the morning practice hours of the clubs, not to games.
1857.16 Early Use of the Term "Town Ball" in NY Clipper
The article reported a "Game of Town Ball" in Germantown PA.
New YorkClipper, September 19, 1857.
Information posted by David Block to 19CBB 11/1/2002. David writes that this is the earliest "town ball" game account he knows of.
1857.17 Base Ball in Melbourne?
"The first recorded baseball event in Australia was a series of three games between Collingwood and Richmond. The scores were astronomical, with Collingwood winning the second match 350-230! The early Australian baseball players were probably playing a variation of cricket, rounders, and the New York Game and possibly counting each base attained as a run."
Joe Clark, A History of Australian Baseball (U Nebraska Press, 2003), page 5.
Similarly: Phil Lowry reports a 3-inning game in Melbourne, Victoria on February 21 or 28, 1857. The score was 350 to 230, and rules called for a run to be counted each time a baserunner reached a new base." Posting to 19CBB by Phil Lowry 11/1/2006.
Clark then cites "a well-traveled myth in the American baseball community . . . that the first baseball played in Australia was by Americans on the gold fields of Ballarat in 1857 . . . . No documentation has ever been produced for a Ballarat gold fields game [also page 5]."
1857.20 Clerks Take on Clerks in Albany, Field 16-Player Teams
"An exciting match of Base Ball was played on the Washington Parade Ground, Albany, on Friday, 29th alt., between the State House Clerks and the Clerks of City Bank - sixteen on a side. The play resulted in favor of the State House boys, they making 86 runs in three innings, against 72 made by the Bank Clerks."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, vol. 40 number 14 (June 6, 1857).
Sixteen players? Three innings? Does this sound like the NY game to you?
1857.21 Buffalo NY Sees its First Club
"The first organized, uniform team was the Niagaras who played their first games in 1857 . . . . The Niagaras were, of course, strictly an amateur nine. They played their first games after 'choosing up' among themselves, and then [later] played matches against other Buffalo nines as they became organized"
Overfield, Joseph, 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball (Partner's Press, Kenmore NY, 1985), page 17. Overfield does not cite a source.
Per Peter Morris in Base Ball Pioneers 1850-1870 (2012, p.101), the formation of the Niagaras was announced in the Buffalo Express on September 12, 1857.
1857.22 Atlantic Club Becomes Base Ball Champ?
"The Atlantic Club defeats the Eckford Club, both of Brooklyn [NY], to take the best-of-3-games match and claim the championship for 1857. The baseball custom now is that the championship can only be won by a team beating the current titleholder 2 out of 3 games." A date of October 22, 1857 is given for this accomplishment.
Charlton, James, ed., The Baseball Chronology (Macmillan, 1991), page 14. No reference is given.
Note: Craig Waff asks whether clubs could formally claimed annual championships this early in base ball's evolution; email of 10/28/2008. He suggests that, under the informal conventions of the period, the Gothams [who had wrested the honor from the Knickerbockers in September 1856], held it throughout 1857.
Note that within one year of the rules convention of 1856-7, on-field superiority may have already passed from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Tholkes- Charlton's remark at best refers to Brooklyn clubs only. The Atlantic had defeated the Gotham in September, but lost a return match on October 31 (a match which Peverelly mistakenly places in 1858). They did not play a third game. Neither Peverelly nor the author of the "X" letter in Porter's Spirit in December 1857, claims a championship, informal or formal, for the 1857 Atlantics, nor is it stated that in 1857 they flew at their grounds the whip pennant which later became emblematic of the informal championship.
1857.25 Season Opens in Boston with May Olympics Victory, Best-of-Three Format
"OPENING OF THE SEASON IN BOSTON. Our young friends in Boston have stolen a march upon New York, in the matter of Base Ball, having taken the lead in initiating the sport for 1857, by playing an exciting game on Boston Common on the 14th inst. The following report of the match we copy from the Boston Daily Chronicle."
The Daily Chronicle report described a best of three games, games decided at 25 tallies, twelve-man, one-out-side-out match between the Olympics and Bay State. The Olympics won, 25-12 and 25-13, the second game taking 14 innings. The "giver" and catcher for each club were named. In otherwise identical coverage, the New York Clipper [hand-noted as "May" in the Mears clipping book] added that the Bay State club had afterward challenged the Olympics to re-match involving eight-player teams. A later Clipper item [date unspecified in clipping book] reported that on May 28, 1857, the Olympics won the follow-up match, 16-25, 25-21, and 25-8
1857.26 Baltimore Clubs Adopt the New Game
"Baltimore became a great center of the baseball in the very early days of the game. The Excelsiors were in the field in 1857, the Waverlys in 1858, and the Baltimores in 1859. Another club disputed the latter's right to the [club name], and a game played for the name the first formed club won."
George V. Tuohey, "The Story of Baseball," The Scrap Book Volume 1, July, 1906 (Munsey, New York, 1906), page 442. Accessed 2/16/10 via Google Books search ("baltimores in 1859").
According to Peter Morris in Base Ball Pioneers (McFarland, 2012, p. 253), the first club, the Excelsior, took the field in 1858. Source: William R. Griffith, The Early History of Amateur Baseball in the State of Maryland, (Baltimore, n.p.1997), p. 4.
The first club was formed in direct homage to the Excelsiors of Brooklyn.
1857.27 Game of Wicket Reaches IA
"BALL GAMES IN THE WEST. - It is with pleasure that we observe the gradual progression of these healthy and athletic games westward. A Wicket Club has recently been organized in Clinton City , Iowa, which is looked on with much favor by the young men of that locality."
New York Clipper, June 13, 1857. Facsimile provide by Craig Waff, September 2008.
Also covered in Porter's Spirit of the Times, June 20, 1857
1857.29 Six-Player Town-ball Teams Play for Gold in Philly
[A] "TOWN BALL. - The young men of Philadelphia are determined to keep the ball rolling . . . On Friday, 20th ult. (10/20/1857 we think) the United States Club met on their grounds, corner of 61st and Hazel streets . . . each individual did his utmost to gain the prize, at handsome gold ring, which was eventually awarded to Mr. T. W. Taylor, his score of 26 being the highest." Each team had six players, and the team Taylor played on won, 117 to 82.
[B] "In 1858, a Philadelphia correspondent with the pen name 'Excelsior' wrote to the New York Clipper . . . about early ball play in New York, , and called town ball, the Philadelphia favorite, 'comparatively unknown in New York.'"
[A] New York Clipper (November 1857--as handwritten in clippings collection; 1857, but no date is given).
[B] John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), page 26. The date of this Clipper account is not noted.
Do we now know any more about this event? Was it an intramural game? Was a six-player side common in Philadelphia town ball? Was a gold ring a typical prize for winning?
1857.30 Olympic Club's Version of MA Game Rules Published
The Olympic Ball Club's rules, adopted in 1857, appear in Porter's Spirit of the
Times, June 27, 1857 [page?]. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
The rules show variation from the 1858 rules [see #1858.3 below] that are sometimes seen as uniform practice for the Massachusetts game in earlier years. Examples: games are decided at "say 25" tallies, not at 100; minimum distance from 1B to 2B and 3B to 4B is 50 feet, and from 4B to 1B and 2B to 3B is 40 feet, not 60 feet in a square; pitching distance is 30 feet, not 35 feel; in playing a form of the game cited as "each one for himself" entails a two-strike at-bat and a game is set at a fixed number of innings, not the number of tallies; the bound rule is in effect, not the fly rule. The Olympic rules do not mention the size of the team, the size of the ball, whether the thrower or specify the use of stakes as bases.
Porter's Spirit of the Times, June 27, 1857 [page?].
Cannot confirm this source. The rules described appeared in the New York Clipper, October 10, 1857.
1857.32 Daybreak Club Forms in Providence RI
"Base Ball at Providence - We have received a notification of the formation of the Aurora Base Ball Club at this place, and in accordance with their name, the members meet from 5 to 7 o'clock in the morning. They have been out seven times since March, notwithstanding the pluvious state of the atmospheric phenomena this season."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, Saturday, May 9, 1857.
Is this item newsworthy because it is an early Providence ballclub, because it is a pioneering daybreak club, or neither?
1857.35 New York Game Likely Comes to Rochester NY
[A] the town's first team, the Live Oak Club, formed in 1857.
[B] A member of the club, quoted in 1902, also gave 1857 as the inaugural year, noting that the club "played unnoticed" that season.
[A] Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (August 6, 1869),
[B] Rochester Post Express, May 1, 1902.
Rochester baseball historian Priscilla Astifan [email of March 24, 2010] points out that it seems certain that the National Association rules were in effect in 1858, as seen in published box scores in that year.
One source, however, suggests a different club and an earlier year for base ball's local debut. "The first baseball club in Rochester was organized about 1855. . . . The first club was the Olympics." The 1855 Source: "Baseball Half a Century Ago," Rochester Union and Advertiser, March 24, 1903. The article does not refer to evidence for this claim, and Priscilla Astifan cannot find any, either.
1857.39 First Baseball Attendance of a Thousand or More
"There were thousands of ladies and gentlemen on the ground to witness this game."
New York Times, July 10, 1857, about Eagles - Gotham game at the Elysian Fields. Post be Craig Waff on 19cBB, 4/23/2010
Lacking enclosed fields, turnstiles or ticket stubs, attendances are only visual estimates.
Waff counted 39 attendance estimates of one thousand or more in the NYC area prior to the Civil War.
1857.41 Base Ball Verse for Adults
Nor will the SPIRIT e'er forget thy names/Base Ball, and Cricket, noble, manly games,/Where Health herself beholds the wicket fall,/ and Joy goes flying for the bounding ball,/And the gay greensward, studded with bright eyes/Of maid, who mark the glorious exercise,/Clap their white hands, and shout for very fun,/In free applause of every gallant run.-- New Year's Address
Porter's Spirit of the Times, Jan. 3, 1857
Prior base ball verses were aimed at juveniles...this is the earliest aimed at adult players and the ladies who cheered them on.
1857.42 The "X" Letters
"DEAR SPIRIT:- As the season for playing Ball, and other out-door sports has nearly passed away, and as you have fairly become the chronicle for Cricket and Base Ball, I take the liberty of writing to you, and to the Ball players through you, a few letters, which I hope will prove of some interest to your readers."
Between October 1857 and January 1858, New York- based Porter’s Spirit of the Times, which covered Knickerbocker Rules base ball on a regular basis, published a series of 14 anonymous letters concerning the game. Identifying himself only as “X”, the author’s stated purpose was to “induce some prominent player to write or publish a book on the game.” The letters described the origins of the game, profiled prominent clubs in New York and Brooklyn, offered advice on starting and operating a club, on equipment, and on position play, and, finally, commented on the issues of the day in the base ball community. As the earliest such effort, the letters are of interest as a window into a base ball community poised for the explosive growth which followed the Fashion Race Course games of 1858.
Porter's Spirit of the Times, Oct. 24, 1857 - Jan. 23, 1858
The identity of "X" has not been discovered.
1857.43 Deliberate Bad Pitches Noted
In the game of round ball or Massachusetts ball between the Bay State and Olympic Clubs, the Bay States had "very low balls given them, while those they gave were swift and of the right height."
Spirit of the Times, May 30, 1857.
The tactic of trying to get batters to chase bad pitches probably is as old as competitive pitching, but is not previously documented.
1857.44 Not Glued or Sewn to Second Base
"The basemen are not confined strictly to their bases, but must be prepared to occupy them if a player is running toward them. "
Porter's Spirit of the Times, December 26, 1857
Placement of basemen on their bags in contemporary illustrations has led to an assumption that that is where they customarily played. Not so.
1857.45 Sharon MA Victory in Boston Seen As State Championship
"A much more pleasing picture is the recreation enjoyed by the boys of the 33rd [MA] Regiment. There were thirteen Sharon boys in the regiment and most of them had been members of the Sharon Massapoags, the state baseball champions of 1857. They were very fond of telling their [Civil War] soldier friends of this exciting occasion in which they defeated their rivals, the Olympics, in three straight games. They had borrowed red flannel shirts from the Stoughton Fire Department and contended for the championship on Boston Common. The last train for Sharon left around four o'clock. By special arrangement with the Providence R. R. they had been allowed to ride home in an empty freight attached to a regular train."
Amy Morgan Rafter Pratt, The History of Sharon, Massachusetts to 1865 (Boston U master's thesis, 1935, page74. Search string: <morgan rafter pratt>.
1857.47 On Boston Common, "Several Parties Engaged in Matches of Base Ball"
"The Common was thronged with citizens many of whom engaged in ball-playing. The Bay State Cricket Club were out in full force and had fine sport. Several parties engaged in matches at base ball, enjoying the exercise exceedingly, and furnishing a large amount of amusement to the spectators."
"Fast Day", Boston Herald, April 17, 1857, page 4.
1857.48 First Known Appearance of Term "New York Game"
"The Tri-Mountain Base Ball Club has been organized... This Club has decided to play the "New York Game," which consists in pitching instead of throwing the ball."
See also item 1857.5
Boston Herald, June 15, 1857
Richard Hershberger notes: "The earliest citation in Dickson's Baseball Dictionary is from 1859. It is interesting that the first use seems to come from the Boston side of things, and predates the Dedham convention (which laid out the rules of the Massachusetts Game). The point is the same as it would be over the next few years, to conveniently distinguish versions of baseball."
So this find antedates a baseball first.
John Thorn notes:
"The phrase "New York Game" may have owed something to the fact that the
principal Tri-Mountain organizer had been a player with the Gotham Base
Ball Club of New York, whose roots predated the formation of the
Bob Tholkes notes:
"'New York' instead of 'national:' in what turned out to be a shrewd marketing move, was referring to a "national" pastime, implicitly sweeping aside regional variations, and in March 1858 called their organization the National Association, which the New York Clipper (April 3, 1858)considered a howl."
1858.2 New York All-Stars Beat Brooklyn All-Stars, 2 games to 1; First Admission Fee [A Dime] Charged
"The Great Base Ball Match of 1858, which was a best 2 out of 3 games series, embodies four landmark events that are pivotal to the game's history"
1. It was organized base ball's very first all-star game.
2. It was the first base ball game in the New York metropolitan area to be played on an enclosed ground.
3. It marked the first time that spectators paid for the privilege of attending a base ball game -- a fee of 10 cents gave admission to the grounds.
4. The game played on September 10, 1858 is at present  the earliest known instance of an umpire calling strike on a batter." The New York Game had adopted the called strike for the 1858 season. It is first known to have been employed (many umpires refused to do so) at a New York vs. Brooklyn all-star game at Fashion Race Course on Long Island. The umpire was D.L. (Doc) Adams of the Knickerbockers, who also chaired the National Association of Base Ball Players Rules Committee. But see Warning, below.
These games are believed to have been the first the newspapers subjected to complete play-by-play accounts, in the New York Sunday Mercury, July 25, 1858.
The New York side won the series, 2 games to 1. But Brooklyn was poised to become base ball's leading city.
Schaefer, Robert H., "The Great Base Ball Match of 1858: Base Ball's First All-Star Game," Nine, Volume 14, no 1, (2005), pp 47-66. See also Robert Schaefer, "The Changes Wrought by the Great Base Ball Match of 1858," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 122-126.
Coverage of the game in Porter's Spirit of the Times, July 24, 1858, is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 27-29.
The Spirit article itself is "The Great Base Ball Match," Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 24 (Saturday, July 24, 1858), page 288, column 2. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
"The All-Star Game You Don't Know", Our Game, http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/07/08/the-all-star-game-you-dont-know/, by John Thorn
See also John Zinn, "The Rivalry Begins: Brooklyn vs. New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century.(SABR, 2013), pp.10-12.
Richard Hershberger (email of 10/6/2014) points out that the Sunday Mercury account of this game's key at bat "makes it clear that they were swinging strikes."
These games were reoportedly most intensely-covered base ball event to date-- items on the planning and playing of the "Fashion Race Course" games began during the first week in June. Coverage can be found in both the sporting weeklies (New York Clipper, New York Sunday Mercury, Porter's Spirit Of The Times, The Spirit Of The Times) and several dailies (New York Evening Express, New York Evening Post, New York Herald, New York Tribune). Note --Craig Waff turned up 26 news accounts for the fashion games in Games Tab 1.0: see http://protoball.org/Games_Tab:Greater_New_York_City#date1859-9-7.
The Sunday Mercury's path-breaking play-by-play accounts were probably written by Mercury editor William Cauldwell and are enlivened with colorful language and descriptions, such as describing a batting stance as "remindful of Ajax Defying the lamp-lighter", a satire on the classical sculpture, Ajax Defying the Lightning.
This series of games has also been cited as the source of the oldest known base balls: "Doubts about the claims made for the 'oldest' baseball treasured as relics have no existence concerning two balls of authenticated history brought to light by Charles De Bost . . . . De Bost is the son of Charles Schuyler De Bost, Captain and catcher for the Knickerbocker Baseball Club in the infancy of the game." The balls were both inscribed with the scores of the Brooklyn - NY Fashion Course Games of July and September 1858. Both balls have odd one-piece covers the leather having been cut in four semi-ovals still in one piece, the ovals shaped like the petals of a flower." Source: 'Oldest Baseballs Bear Date of 1858,' unidentified newspaper clipping, January 21, 1909, held in the origins of baseball file at the Giamatti Center at the HOF.
If this game did not give us the first called strikes, when did suchactually appear?
1858.3 At Dedham MA, Team Representatives Formulate Mass Game Rules
The representatives of ten clubs meet at Dedham, Massachusetts, to form the Massachusetts Association Base Ball Players and to adopt twenty-one rules for their version of base ball. The Massachusetts Game reaffirms many of the older rule practices such as plugging the runner (throwing the ball at the runner to make a put-out). The Massachusetts Game rivals the New York Game for a time but eventually loses support as the popularity of the New York Game expands during the Civil War.
The 36-page Mayhew/Baker manual covers the rules and field layouts for both games. It gamely explains that both game require "equal skill and activity," but leans toward the Mass game, which "deservedly holds the first place in the estimation of all ball players and the public." Still, it admits, the New York game "is fast becoming in this country what cricket is to England, a national game."
The May 15 1858 Boston Traveller reported briefly on the new compact, adding "We congratulate the lovers of this noble and manly pastime." On June 1, the Boston Herald reported on the first game played (before a crowd of 2000-3000 at the Parade Grounds) under the new rules, won in 33 innings by the Winthrops over the Olympics 100-27, and carried a box score.
The Base Ball Player's Pocket Companion [Mayhew and Blake, Boston, 1859], pp. 20-22. Per Sullivan, p. 22. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 26-27. See also David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 219.
Contemporary reports on the convention can be found in the Boston Herald, May 24, 1858; the Spirit of the Times, May 22, 1858; and Porter's Spirit of the Times, May 29, 1858.
For the rules themselves, see below.
1858.5 Seven More Clubs Publish Their Rules
They include base ball clubs in Stamford CT [Mazeppa BB Club], Newburgh NY [Newburgh BB Club], Louisville [KY]? [Louisville BB Club], New York City [Independent BB Club], South Brooklyn [Olympic BB Club], Jersey City [Hamilton BB Club], and, formed to play the Massachusetts Game, the Takewambait BB Club of Natick MA.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224
1858.7 Newly Reformed Game of Town Ball Played in Cincinnati OH
Clippings from Cincinnati in 1858 report on the Gymnasts' Town Ball Club match of July 22, 1858: "They played for the first time under their new code of bye laws, which are more stringent than the old rules." The game has five corners [plus a batter's position, making the basepaths a rhombus in general shape], sixty feet apart, meaning 360 feet to score. The fly rule was in effect, and plugging was disallowed, and the rules carefully require that a batsman run every time he hits the ball.
The New York Clipper carried at least four reports of Cincinnati town ball play between June and October of 1858. The earliest is in the edition of June 26, 1858 - Volume 6, number 10, page 76. Coverage suggests that teams of eight players were not uncommon, although teams of 13 and 11 were also reported.
An oddity: in a July intramural contest, batter Bickham claimed 58 runs of his team's 190 total, while the second most productive batsman mate scored 30, and 5 of his 10 teammates scored fewer than 6 runs each. One wonders what rule, or what typo, would lead to that result.
1858.10 Four-day Attendance of 40,000 Souls Watch Famous Roundball Game in Worcester
"One of the most celebrated games of roundball was played on the Agricultural Grounds in Worcester, Mass., in 1858. It was between the Medways of Medway and the Union Excelsiors. It was for $1000 a side. It took four days to play the game. The attendance was more than 10,000 at each day a play [sic]. In the neighboring towns the factories gave their employees holidays to see the game."
"H. S.," [Henry Sargent?] of Grafton, MA, "Roundball," New York Sun, May 8, 1905, p.6. From an unidentified clipping found in the Giamatti Center. The clipping is noted as "60-27" and it may be from the Spalding Collection.
David Nevard raises vital questions about this account: "I have my doubts about this item - it just doesn't seem to fit. 1) The club names don't sound right. The famous club from Medway was the Unions, not the Medways, and I haven't seen any other mention of Union Excelsiors. 2) Lowry's evolution of the longest Mass Game does not mention this one. He shows the progression (in 1859) as 57 inns, 61 inns, 211 inns. It seems like a 4 day game in 1858 would have lasted longer than 57 innings. 3) It's a recollection 50 years after the fact. $1000, 10,000 people." [Email to Protoball, 2/27/07.]
The source also contains a lengthy description of "Massachusetts roundball", reprinted in Exposition in Class-Room Practice by Theodore C. Mitchell and George R. Carpenter, 1906, p. 239
Can we either verify or disprove the accuracy of this recollection?
1858.14 Adult Play [Finally!] Signaled in New Manual for Cricket and Base Ball
Manual of Cricket and Base Ball [Boston, Mayhew and Baker],. Only four of this manual's 24 pages are given over to base ball, the newly composed rules for the MA game. Block: "Its historical significance lies in the fact that this was the first treatment of baseball as a pastime for adults in a book made available to the general public."
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 218-219
The need for a manual may have been first expressed in the 14 "X" letters, an anonymous series of correspondence from "X" to Porter's Spirit of the Times. The writer mentioned that the purpose of the letters, which examined prominent teams and players and gave instructions for playing and for operating a team, was to spur the publication of a manual. The first letter appeared on October 24, 1857.
1858.15 Base Ball Arrives in Heaven? "No, This is Iowa"
"John Liepa of Indianola presented a history of early baseball and the origins of the game in the state. John has pinpointed 1858 as the first reference to baseball in Iowa (in the city of Davenport), although naturally that is subject to change."
From a report of the Field of Dreams SABR Chapter [the Iowa chapter] meeting at the Bob Feller Museum in Van Meter, IA, October 16, 2004.
John Thorn [email, 2/10/2008] suggests that the source may be the Davenport Daily Gazette, June 2, 1858, which states "The baseball clubs were both out yesterday afternoon."
1858.19 First KY Box Score Appears in Louisville Newspaper
"The beginnings of [Louisville] baseball on an organized basis are also lost in the mists of the 19th century. There were probably neighborhood teams competing within the city in the 1850s. But the first recorded box score in local papers appeared in the July 15, 1858 Daily Democrat. Two teams made up of members of the Louisville Base Ball Club faced one another in a contest where the final score was 52-41, a score not unusual for the period. The paper also notes that there were several other ball clubs organized in the city.
"Not much is known about the Louisville Base Ball Club. It was probably not more than a year or two old by the time of the 1858 box score."
Possible describing the same July game, but reporting different dates, The New York Clipper said: "BASE BALL IN LOUISVILLE - The game of Base Ball is making its way westward. In Louisville they have a well-organized club, called the 'Louisville Base Ball Club.' They played a game on the 18th, with the following result [box score for 52-42 intramural game shown]"
"Chapter 1 - Beginnings: From Amateur Teams to Disgrace in the National League," mimeo, Bob Bailey, 1999, page 2.
New York Clipper, July 31, 1858
Louisville Daily Democrat, July 15, 1858
Porter's Spirit of the Times reported on July 17, 1858 that the Louisville BBC had been organized on June 10, 1858.
1858.20 Knicks Compose 17-Verse Song on Current Base Ball
Chorus: Then shout, shout for joy, and let the welkin ring,/ In praises of our noble game, for health is sure to bring;/ Come, my brave Yankee boys, there's room enough for all,/ So join in Uncle Samuel's sport - the pastime of base ball."
The song was sung in honor of the Excelsiors at a dinner in August 1858.
Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 30-32.
Reprinted in Henry Chadwick, The Game of Base Ball (Munro, 1868, reprint Camden House, 1983), pp. 178-80.
Reprinted in "Ball Days, A Song of 1858", Our Game, Thorn, http://ourgame. mlblogs.com/?s=Ball+Days%2C+A+Song+of+1858. July 18, 2012
1858.21 Times Editorial: "We Hail the New Fashion With Delight"
"We hail the new fashion [base ball fever] with delight. It promises, besides it host of other good works, to kill out the costly target excursions. We predict that it will spread from the City to the country, and revive there, where it was dying out, a love of the noble game; that it will bring pale faces and sallow complexions into contempt; that it will make sad times for the doctors, and insure our well-beloved country a generation of stalwart men, who will save her independence."
From the concluding paragraph of "Athletic Sports," New York Times, August 28, 1858, page 4. John Thorn believes that "costly target excursions refer to hunting fox, grouse and other game."
1858.27 Flour Citys First Base Ball Club in Rochester
"The Flour City was the first club formed in Rochester, an occasion that was announced in the Rochester Democrat and American on May 3, 1858...(they) played Rochester's first reported match game on the hot afternoon of June 18..." Priscilla Astifan, in Base Ball Pioneers 1850-1870 (McFarland, 2012), p.92
Rochester Democrat and American, May 3, 1858
Rochester Union and Advertiser, June 19, 1858
A claim that the Live Oaks, or the Olympics, preceded the Flour Citys appears above - see #1855.14.
1858.28 The MA Ball: Smaller, Lighter, "Double 8" Cover Design
Dedham Rules of the Massachusetts Game specifies that "The ball must weigh not less than two, nor more than two and three-quarter ounces, avoirdupois. It must measure not less than six and a half, nor more than eight and a half inches in circumference, and must be covered with leather."
William Cutler of Natick, MA reportedly designs the Figure 8 cover. The design was sold to Harrison Harwood. Harwood develops the first baseball factory (H. Harwood and Sons) in Natick, Massachusetts. Baseballs that are manufactured at this facility include the Figure 8 design as well as the lemon peel design.
"The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007, at http://protoball.org/The_Evolution_of_the_Baseball_Up_To_1872.
1858.31 Bristol CT Bests Waterbury in Wicket
Bristol beat Waterbury by 110 runs in a wicket game on Bristol's Federal Hill Green on September 9, 1858. No game details appeared. "The game not only attracted attention in this section of the State, but it assumed such proportions that New Yorkers became interested and it was reported in much detail in the NY Sunday Mercury a few days later. The newspaper remarked at the time that Bristol had a wicket team to be proud of.
The New York newspapers had a chance to tell the same story twenty-two years later when the Bristols went to Brooklyn and defeated the club of that city"
Norton, Frederick C., "That Strange Yankee Game, Wicket," Bristol Connecticut (City Printing Co., Hartford, 1907); available on Google Books.
Can we find the Mercury story and/or coverage in Bristol and Waterbury papers? Add page reference.
1858.32 Ballplaying Interest Hits New Bedford MA
"Yet Another: A number of seamen, now in port, have formed a Club entitled the 'Sons of the Ocean Base Ball Club.' They play on the City commons, on Thursdays, and we are requested to state that the members challenge any of the other clubs in the city to a trial either of New York or Massachusetts game."
New Bedford Evening Standard, September 13, 1858, as referenced at "Early days of Baseball in New Bedford, ca. 1858. http://scvbb.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/early-days-of-baseball-in-new-bedford-ca-1858/, [or google "'south coast vintage' 1858"], as accessed on 1/4/2008. This was evidently the first recorded mention of the NY game in the area. The website relates how the several New Bedford clubs debated which regional game to play in 1858, with the MA game prevailing at that point.
1858.35 New York Game Seen in Boston: Portland [ME] 47, Tri-Mountains 42.
Here is how the new game was explained to Bostonians: "The bases are placed at the angles of a rhombus instead of a square, the home base being the position of the striker; provision is made for "foul hits," and the ball is caught on the 'bound' as well as on the 'fly.' The game consists of nine innings instead of one hundred tallies, and the ball is pitched, not thrown." The absence of stakes and plugging is not mentioned. Nor is the larger, heavier ball.
The New York Clipper (date and page omitted from Mears Collection) reprinted a Boston news account that remarked: "Unusual interest attached to the game among lovers of field sports, from the fact that it was announced to be played according to the rules of the New York clubs which differ essentially from the rules of the game as played here., and also from the fact that one of the parties to the match came from a neighboring city." Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
Mainers see the game thus: "It took awhile but this modern game - and its popularity - moved steadily north. By 1858 we know it had arrived in Maine . . . because an article in the September 11th issue of the Portland Daily Advertiser heralded the fact that the Portland Base Ball Club had ventured to Boston to play the Tri-Mountain Base Ball Club of that city. The game was played September 9th on the Boston Common." Portland won, 47- 42.
The Boston Herald article on this game is reprinted in Soos, Troy, Before the Curse: The Glory Days of New England Baseball 1858-1918 (Parnassus, Hyannis MA, 1997), page 5. Soos reports that this is the first time that the Tri-Mountains had found a rival willing to play the New York game [Ibid.].
"Anderson, Will, Was Baseball Really Invented in Maine? (Will Anderson, publisher, Portland, 1992), page 1.
A game account and box score appears in the New York Sunday Mercury, September 26, 1858.
This watershed game was also noted in Wright, George, "Base Ball in New England," November 15, 1904, retained as Exhibit 36-19 in the Mills Commission files.
Casey Tibbits, "The New York Rules in New England-- Portland Eons vs. Tri-Mountains", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 13-15
Review of the New York Clipper did not find the reported game account.
The item in the Portland Advertiser of September 14, 1858, read, "PORTLAND BASE BALL CLUB.-- The Tri-Mountain B.B.C. of Boston, gave an invitation to our club to try a match with them. The trial came off yesterday on Boston Common, nine to a side. The Tri-Mountain Club has been in existence about two years, ours about two months. The result of the match was our boys got 47 runs, the Tri-Mountains 42, making the former the winners by 5 runs. We understand our club has or will give an invitation to the Boston boys to meet them in our city for a match game."
1858.40 Cricket Plays Catch-up; Plans a National Convention
"CRICKET CONVENTION FOR 1858. - A Convention of delegates from the various Cricket Clubs of the United States will take place, pursuant to adjournment from last year, at the Astor House [on May 3]. Important business will be transacted."
"Cricket and Base Ball," Spirit of the Times (Volume 28, number 4 (Saturday, April 10, 1858), page 102, column 3.
Note: Do we know the outcome? Was cricket attempting to counteract baseball's surge? If so, how? Why didn't it work?
1858.41 Buffalo NY Feels Spring Fever, Expects Many New BB Clubs
"The Niagara Club, of Buffalo, also played oin Saturday, on the vacant lot on Main Street, above the Medical College. We learn that several other clubs will soon organize, so that some rare sort may be anticipated the coming season. The Cricket Club will soon be out in full force . . . . We are pleased to notice this disposition to indulge in manly sports. "Cricket and Base Ball,"
Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 7 (Saturday, March 27, 1858), page 78, column 2
1858.42 In Downstate Illinois, New Club Wins by 134 Rounds
"BASEBALL IN ILLINOIS. - The Alton [IL] Base-Ball Club . . . a meeting was held on the evening of May 18, to organize a club . . . . The Upper Alton Base Ball Club . . . sent us a challenge, to play a match game, on Saturday, the 19th of June, which was accepted by our club; each side had five innings, and thirteen players each, with the following result: The Alton Base-Ball Club made 224 rounds. The Upper Alton Base-Ball Club made 90 rounds. Alton IL is a Mississippi River town 5 miles north of St. Louis. Missouri.
." "Base-Ball", Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 4, number 20 (July 17, 1858), p. 309, columns. 2-3
1858.43 CT Man Reports 13-on-8 games, Asks for Some Rules
"Dear Spirit: The base-ball mania has attacked a select few in New Haven . . . the (self-assumed) best eight challenged the mediocre and miserable thirteen, who constitute the rest of this [unnamed] club. Best two in three, no grumbling, were the conditions . . . [The Worsts won, 48-40, 35-17, 33-27; sounds like a fixed-innings match.]. But what I meant to write you about, was to ask where we can obtain a full statement and explanation of the rules and principles of base-ball."
"BASE-BALL IN NEW HAVEN," Porter's Spirit of the Times, July 17, 1858.
1858.46 New York Game Arrives in Baltimore MD
"Mr. George Beam, of Orendorf, Beam and Co., Wholesale Grocers . . . visiting New York City in 1858, was invited by Mr. Joseph Leggett [a NYC grocer] to witness one of the games of the Old Excelsior Base Ball Club, of New York City. Mr. Beam became so much enthused, that on his return to Baltimore City . . . it resulted in the organization of the Excelsior B.B. Club. The first meeting was held in 1858. . . . The almost entire membership of the club was composed of business men. . . . [p 203/204] The score book of the club having been lost, and the old members having no recollection of any games played in 1859, except with the Potomac Club of Washington D.C., it is quite probable that the time was devoted to practice." In 1860 they played the NY Excelsiors along Madison Avenue in NY.
Griffith also notes that "[T]he ball used in the early sixties was about one-third larger, and one-third heavier, than the present one, than the present  one, and besides was what is known as a 'lively ball,' and for those reasons harder to hold." Ibid, page 202.
Griffith implies, but does not state, that this was the first Baltimore club to play by NY rules. This journal article appears to be an extract of pages 1-11 of Griffith's The Early History of Amateur Baseball in the State of Maryland 1858-1871 (John Cox's Sons, Baltimore, 1897).
William Ridgely Griffith, "The Early History of Amateur Base Ball in the State of Maryland," Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 87, number 2, Summer 1992), pages 201-208.
1858.49 Nation Plays Nation - Senecas and Tuscaroras Have a Ballgame
"At 2 o'clock a grand annual National Base Ball play, on the [county fair] ground, for a purse of $50, between the Tuscarora and the Seneca tribes of Indians."
Richard adds: "I usually interpret the word 'national' in this era to mean the New York game." He asks if inter-tribal play was common then. Erie County includes Buffalo.
Buffalo Daily Courier, September 22, 1858, reporting on the schedule of the Erie County agricultural exhibition. Posted to the 19CBB listserve [date?] by Richard Hershberger.
1858.50 New York Game Reaches Philadelphia
[A] "Although the Minerva Club was established in 1857, it members lived a quiet and largely unpublicized existence. The first report of the New York game of baseball in the city was an item noting an 1858 Thanksgiving Day match between two teams composed of members of the Pennsylvania Tigers Social Base Ball and Quoit Club."
[B] Also: "PENN TIGERS BASE BALL CLUB. - The Two Nines of this club played their first match on Monday, 13th inst, at Philadelphia, Boyce's party beating Broadhead's by only one run, the totals being 24 and 23."
Unidentified clipping in the Mears collection; by context it may have appeared in late spring of 1859.
[A] William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 115. His source for the 1858 game is the New York Clipper, November 27, 1858.
[B] From Craig Waff's Games Tab 1.0.
"The quoits part seems to have dropped out of usage pretty quickly, and they changed their name to the Winona BBC the following year. The Winonas disbanded in 1864, bequeathing their trophies to the Keystones."
1858.52 Grand Wicket Match in Waterbury CT
Local interest in wicket is seen has having crested in 1858 in western Connecticut. "Games were played annually with clubs from other towns in the state, and the day on which these meetings took place was frequently made a general holiday."
J. Anderson, ed., The Town and City of Waterbury, Volume 3 (Price and Lee, New Haven, 1896), pp. 1102-1103. Accessed 2/16/10 via Google Books search ("mattatuck ball club").
In August 1858, the local Mattatuck club hosted "the great contest" between New Britain and Winsted. The mills were shut down and brass bands escorted the clubs from the railway station to the playing field. New Britain won, and 150 were seated at a celebratory dinner. Local wicket was to die out by about 1860. The Waterbury Base Ball Club began in 1864. Waterbury is about 30 miles SW of Hartford CT. Winsted is about 30 miles north of Waterbury, and New Britain is about 20 miles to the east.
1858.54 OFBB Variant Played in Buffalo NY; 11 Players, 12 Innings
"Old Fashion Base Ball - The Buffalo Base Ball Club, of this city [Buffalo NY], and the Frontier Club, of Suspension Bridge, will play their first match game, on the grounds of the Buffalo Club . . . . They play by the rules adopted by the Massachusetts State Convention of Ball Players, being the so-called 'old-fashioned base,' or 'round ball' - not the 'toss' or 'national' game. Rare playing may be expected, as this game requires more activity than any other, and the players ore the 'best eleven' from the best two clubs in Western New York."
Buffalo Daily Courier, October 14, 1858. Posted to 19CBB September 1, 2009.
On October 18, the Courier reported that Buffalo won, 80-78, in 12 innings. Player's positions are given, and they include 4 basemen and a short stop, a "thrower" a catcher, and a second "behind."
While the teams nodded to the new [May 1858] Dedham rules for the Massachusetts game, their actual practice varied. The game was evidently played to twelve innings, not to 100 tallies. By 1859, this Buffalo Club played a game according to a three-out-side-out [3OSO] rule availed. Richard wonders if the 12-inning, 3OSO game, found in two other game accounts, was a peculiarity of the Buffalo area.
1858.55 First Club Forms in St. Paul MN
"In December (1858) the first base-ball club was organized, It was called the Olympic: S. P. Jennison, captain."
C. C. Andrews, History of St. Paul, Minnesota (D. Mason and Co., Syracuse, 1890), page 75.
Several Olympic games were covered in the St. Paul Daily Times in 1859, starting in June.
1858.56 Mr. Babcock Shows Base Ball to San Franciscans
"Allow me to correct an error which appeared in your last issue in relation to the first game of base ball played in California. The game was introduced by Mr. William Babcock of the Atlantic Base Ball Club, of Brooklyn, and was played . . . on the grounds opposite South Park, in the city of San Francisco [CA] on the 10th day of Nov., 1858." A box score is included. It shows W. V. Babcock as batting leadoff, pitching, scoring 3 runs, and also, "[o]wing to the scarcity of parties understanding the game, Mr. Babcock acted as umpire."
"Correspondence. Base Ball in California," Sunday Mercury, January 6, 1861, page 8.
"Not Like They Used to Play: A Veteran of the Diamond Tells of the Early Days," August 8, 1892. (Interview with W. Babcock.) Received from John Thorn, 12/16/12.
SF early baseball specialist Angus Macfarlane points out that this game was not carried in any SF newspaper still extant, despite the fact that many were lauding the game just a few months later (email of 12/15/12). Another report (also lacking a local reference) of the foundation of a club, the San Francisco BBC, appeared in the Spirit of the Times on 3/27/1858. Images exist of a "Boston BBC of San Francisco" organized in 1857, but no further references are known.
Wm Babcock had played with the Gotham Club in the early 1850's, founded and pitched for the Atlantic Club in 1855, and caught "Western Fever" in about 1858 and went to SF.
1858.58 First Chicago Club Forms
[A] "A team called the Unions is said to have played in Chicago in 1856, but the earliest newspaper report of a game is found in the Chicago Daily Journal of August 17, 1858, which tells of a match game between the Unions and the Excelsiors to be playing on August 19. A few other games ere mentioned during the same year."
[B] "Though baseball match games had been played in Illinois since the very early 1850's, the first Chicago Club, the Union, was not established until 1856."
[C] "There seems to be some doubt as to when the first baseball club was organized at Chicago, but it has been stated that a club called the Unions played town ball there in 1856."
[D] If these claims are discounted, modern base ball can dated in Chicago in 1858 when a convention of clubs takes place and the Knick rules are published.
[A] Edwina Guilfoil, et. al., Baseball in Old Chicago (Federal Writers' Project of Works Project Administration, 1939), unpaginated page 4.
[B] John R. Husman, "Ohio's First Baseball Game," Presented at the 34th SABR Convention, July 2004.
[C] Alfred Spink, The National Game (Southern Illinois Press, 2000 -- first edition 1910), page 63.
[D] "A Knickerbocker," Base Ball, Chicago Press and Tribune, July 9, 1858.
None of these sources gives a reference to evidence of the 1856 formation of the Union Club, so we here rely on the documented reference to a planned 1858 game.
Jeff Kittel (email of 3/9/2013) notes that there is an August 1857 Chicago Tribune article on a cricket club called the Union Club; perhaps later memories confused the cricket or town ball clubs with a modern-rules base ball club?
Jeff also notes that "[A date of] late 1857/1858 fits the time frame for the spread of the game south and west of Chicago - into Western Iowa by 1858 and St. Louis by 1859, with hints that it's in central Illinois by 1859/60. That spread pattern also fits the economic/cultural spread model that we've kicked around."
Can we find any clear basis for the report of 1856 establishment of modern base ball?
1858.59 Ladies and Gentlemen of Dansville NY Play Ball in Afternoons
[A] (p. 51). A letter the Rev. Abram Pryor [?], Editor, Central Reformer, McGrawville, NY wrote to his readers on May 8th from Glen Haven: "The patients instead of being querulous and hypochondriacal, are as cheerful and good natured a company of men and women as one often meets. You can exercise your taste in physical amusements. They range from jumping the rope or a dance, to rowing a boat or walking five miles before breakfast. If you do not like to play ball, you can pitch quoits or hunt partridges . . . or fish for salmon trout."
[B] The entry for Wednesday, March 30, 1859 says: "Our ladies and gentlemen amuse themselves much by ball playing afternoons, and by playing, talking and singing, evenings."
[A] The Letter Box, Vol. 1, No. 6 (15 July 1858). in: Austin, Harriet, N., Dr. and Jackson, James. C., Dr., eds., The Letter-Box. Vols 1 and 2, 1858-9, (Dansville, NY: M. W. Simmons, 1859), 51.
[B] "Doings Current," The Letter Box, Vol. 2, No. 5 (May 1859). in: Austin, Harriet, N., Dr. and Jackson, James. C., Dr., eds., The Letter-Box. Vols 1 and 2, 1858-9, (Dansville, NY: M. W. Simmons, 1859), 37.
Dansville NY (2010 population about 4700) is about 40 miles S of Rochester in western NY. Per the Dansville Historical Society, the facility in question was a water cure (hydropathy) center called Our Home on the Hillside.
1858.60 Natick MA Company Introduces the "Figure 8" Base Ball Stitching
"In 1858, H.P. Harwood and Sons of Natick, MA (c/o North Avenue and Main Street) became the first factory to produce baseballs. They also were the first in the production of the two-piece figure-eight stitch cover baseball, the same that is used today. The figure-eight stitching was devised by Col. William A Cutler and a new wound core was developed by John W. Walcott, horsehide and then cowhide were used for the cover."
From Eric Miklich, “Evolution of Baseball Equipment (Continued)”
By Eric Miklich at http://www.19cbaseball.com/equipment-3.html,
Peter Morris' A Game of Inches finds other claims to the invention of the current figure 8 stitching pattern. See section 9.1.4 at page 275 of the single-volume, indexed edition of 2010.
1858.61 IL "Base Ball and Wicket Club" Takes the Field
Base Ball -- Ottawa vs. Marseilles
"Some two weeks ago the Marseilles Base Ball Club challenged the Base Ball and Wicket Club of Ottawa to a trial of skill. - The challenge was promptly accepted, and Friday of last week fixed as the day and Marseilles the place for the game. At the time appointed, although the weather was intensely hot, the game was played with great spirit, yet with the utmost good feeling throughout, on both sides...
"J.H. Burlison, of Ottawa, and A.B. Thompson, of Marseilles acted as the Umpires. The time occupied in the game as 3 hours and 40 minutes.
"The Ottawa boys, it will be seen, came out 21 points ahead. The Marseilles boys took their defeat in great good humor, and had prepared a grand supper at the close of the contest, which however, owing to the late hour and their fatigue, the Ottawa boys did not remain to discuss".
A spare box score shows the Ottawa Club winning a three-inning contest, 230 to 207. It appears to have been a game of wicket.
Ottawa Free Trader, June 26, 1858
A wicket club in Illinois? Really?
Jeff Kittel notes: "Protoball doesn't have any references to wicket clubs in Illinois during this period, although there is a reference to a 1857 club in Iowa. Ottawa and Marseilles are in LaSalle County, Illinois, on the Illinois River, about 50 miles southwest of Chicago. It's possible that the game experienced a period of popularity in central Illinois and Iowa. Clinton City, where the Iowa wicket club was located, is on the Mississippi, about sixty miles west of Ottawa and Marseilles. Now the headline says that this was a game of base ball, rather than wicket, but the box score, which I attached, is kind of odd - three innings, possibly playing first to 200 runs. Sadly, they don't give us any information on the number of players per side."
1858.62 Baseball Player Compensation
"It is very unwise for any individual to give his services to a club, as a player at matches, in the shape of a 'quid pro quo' for his liabilities as a member, unless he has in his possession, a resolution, duly verified by the officers of the club, to support him in the matter. Otherwise the very first time he happens to be unfortunate in his play at a match, he can, under the by-laws of his club, be either suspended or expelled for the non-payment of dues..."
New York Sunday Mercury Aug. 29, 1858
The Mercury was commenting on the situation of Lem Bergen, a prominent player for the Atlantic of Brooklyn, expelled by the club near the end of the 1857 season. Apparently an informal dues waiver was an early form of player compensation.
1858.63 Another Early African American Club
BASE BALL MATCH -- The darkies of this village and Flushing determined not to be outdone by their white brethren, have recently organized a Club under the name of the "Henson Base Ball Club" of Jamaica, and the "Hunter Base Ball Club" of Flushing. The first match between these two Clubs was played on Saturday last in Flushing and resulted in the defeat of the Henson Club by 15 runs.
The return match will be played in this village on Saturday next, January 1st.
Jamaica, New York "Long Island Farmer", Dec. 28, 1858
from Richard H: Antebellum African American clubs are not my strength, but I believe that the Henson club was known, while the Hunter was not, at least to me.
1858c.65 Fat and Lean Base Ball Club Organized in Buffalo
"A 'Fat and Lean Base Ball Club' has been organized in Buffalo. Nine of the members are pursy as Falstaff--the other nine are spare as John of Gaunt."
Weekly Vincennes (IN) Gazette, (20 Oct 1858). Available digitally through Accessible Archives.
1858.4 National Association of Base Ball Players Forms
"[A] "We should add that the convention have adopted, as the title of the permanent organization, 'The National Association of Base Ball Players,' and the association is delegated with power to act upon, and decide, all questions of dispute, and all departures from the rules of the game, which may be brought before it on appeal."
William H. van Cott is elected NABBP President. The chief amendment to the playing rules was to permit called strikes. The "Fly game" was again rejected, by a vote of 18-15.
[B] "The delegates adopted a constitution and by-laws and began the governance of the game of baseball that would continue [to 1870]."
The NA was not a league in the sense of the modern American and National Leagues, but more of a trade association in which membership as easily obtained. . . . Admission was open to any club that made a written application . . . and paid a five dollar admission fee and five dollars in annual dues (later reduced to two dollars per year). The Association met in convention each year, at which time new clubs were admitted."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, April 11, 1858.
Other coverage: New York Evening Express, March 11, 1858; New York Sunday Mercury, March 14 and 28, 1858; Porter's Spirit of the Times, March 20, 1858; New York Herald, March 14, 1858; New York Clipper, March 20 & April 3, 1858.
[B] William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 49.
Formation of the NABBP, according to the New York Clipper, was really a "misnomer" because there were "no invitations to clubs of other states," and no one under age 21 can join." "National indeed! Truth is a few individuals wormed into the convention and have been trying to mould men and things to suit their views. If real lovers of the game wish it to spread over the country as cricket is doing they might cut loose from parties who wish to act for and dictate to all who participate. These few dictators wish to ape the New York Yacht Club in their feelings of exclusiveness. Let the discontented come out and organize an association that is really national - extend invitations to base ball players every where to compete with them and make the game truly national."
1858.67 Boston Area Ballgames Noted in 1858
"It is interesting to note that on Fast Day, April 1858, there was a ball game played in Trapelo, Captain Lawrence's team defeating Capt. Lovejoy's team by a score of 50 points to 43. Later in the year a Mechanics Ball Club was organized [in Waltham] and played a game on the Common with the Olympics of Boston. They were beaten by a score of 54 to 21. Twelve men played on a side."
Edmund L. Sanderson, Waltham as a Precinct of Watertown and as a Town 1630 - 1884. Waltham Hist. Soc., 1936, page 70.
Trapelo is a neighborhood of Waltham, located near its border with Lexington.
Can we determine whether this game was played by the new Massachusetts rules or traditional local custom?
1858.68 Thoreau Ponders Manliness in the Church and Base Ball
"The church! It is eminently the timid institution, and the heads and pillars of it are constitutionally and by principle the greatest cowards in the community. The voice that goes up from the monthly concerts is not so brave and so cheering as that which rises from the frog-ponds of the land. The best 'preachers,' so called, are an effeminate class; their bravest thoughts wear petticoats. If they have any manhood they are sure to forsake the ministry, though they were to turn their attention to baseball*."
(*Note: "baseball" is an editor's choice of word-form: John Bowman reports that two Thoreau journal references themselves [see also chronology item #1830c.2] are written "base-ball" and "base ball").
Henry David Thoreau, Journal entry for November 16, 1858, Journals.
The thrust of Thoreau's entry has puzzled us a little.
John Bowman writes: "This is but a small excerpt from a journal entry that is all but rabid about organized religion and its churches, which Thoreau attacks for being afraid to confront the hard truths and realities of our lives.
Exactly what he means by that final phrase -- 'though they were to turn their attention to base ball' -- has been debated, but my interpretation is as follows: He seems to be saying that, in particular, its ministers/preachers are so cowardly as to be 'effeminate,' and if any of them were truly manly they would do better to leave the ministry and engage in some other activity -- even playing base ball, despite its questionable value, would be preferable.
But others may have read this differently."
Feel free to throw more light on what Thoreau is saying here.
1859.4 Base Ball Club Forms in Augusta GA: Town Ball Played Also/Instead
"Baseball Club formed in Augusta in 1859," unidentified clipping at the Giamatti Research Center, Cooperstown, September 15, 1985. Per Millen note # 42.
"Town Ball. - On the 24th ult., the young men of Augusta, Ga., met on the Parade Ground, and organized themselves in two parties for enjoying a friendly game at this hearty game." They played two innings, and "W.D.'s side scored 43, squeezing the peaches on P. B.'s, who managed only 19.
Query: Is there any indication that Association rules were used by the reported club?
From another source: The Daily Chronicle and Sentinal [Augusta?] in 1860 reported that the Base Ball Club of Augusta had formed the previous year. It reported on this "noble and manly game" as played on November 7, 1860"
"There were 6 innings. Doughty's side made 32 rounds; Russell's side made 20 rounds."
The New York Clipper (date and page omitted; date inferred from scrapbook placement). Facsimile from page 25 (column 3, third story) of a Mears Collection scrapbook.
From an unidentified clipping marked [in hand] "September 15, 1985 Augusta GA," in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center of the Hall of Fame.
1859.5 First [or Second?] Pacific Coast Club, the Eagles, Forms
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 26. [No ref given]
John Thorn, on July 11, 2004, advised Protoball that "a challenge to the citation is a photo at the NBL of the Bostons of San Francisco, with a handwritten contemporary identification 'organized 1857'."
1859.6 African-American Game is Played by "Henson Club" July 4 and/or November 15
[A] Report of July 4 game between Henson and Unknown Clubs
[B] "November 15, 1859 - The first recorded game between two black teams occurred between the Unknowns of Weeksville and the Henson Club of Jamaica (Queens) in Brooklyn, NY."
[A] New York Anglo-African, July 30, 1859. Per Dean Sullivan, pages 34-36.
[B] Email from Larry Lester; taken from his chronology of African American baseball, 8/17/2007.
Chris Hauser, in an email on 9/26/2007, estimates that this notice appeared in the New York Anglo-African, and was referenced in Leslie Heaphy's Negro League Baseball.
Note: Can we get text from the sourced citation [A] , and a source for the text citation [B] ? Was this one game or two? How can we find out more about the "Henson club" and the Unknowns?
1859.7 Southern Game Takes Place in Aristocratic Setting
"A report on one game in 1859 told of 'commodious tents for the ladies spread under the umbrageous branches of the fine old live oaks,' where refreshments were served by the 'polite stewards of the clubs."
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 40. [No ref given.]
Quote is from Porter's Spirit of the Times, October 1, 1859.
1859.8 Sixty Play for Their Suppers
"On Saturday last New Marlborough and Tolland played a game of ball for a supper - Tolland beat. There were 30 players on a side."
Tolland CT is about 20 miles NE of Hartford, and New Marlborough MA is in the SW corner of MA, about 25 miles S of Pittsfield. Looks like this was a game of wicket.
Pittsfield Sun, June 23, 1859. Accessed via subscription search February 17, 2009.
1859.9 Excelsiors and Union Club play for $500 and MA Championship
The two clubs were the Excelsior Club of Upton MA and the Union Club of Medway MA. The Excelsiors won, 100-56, and received $500 in gold. "The game, in which 80 innings were played, occupied nearly 11 hours, and proved quite a treat to those who witnessed it. In 1860 the two clubs would meet for a $1000 purse.
5000 spectators attended the match, including "delegations from many of the clubs throughout the state." Posted to 19CBB on 3/1/2007 by George Thompson.
Writing of this match nearly fifty years later, "H.S" [Presumably Henry Sargent] said it was his recollection that "The attendance was more than 10,000 at each day's play. In the neighboring towns the factories gave their employees holidays to see the game." "H. S.," "Roundball: Baseball's Predecessor and a Famous Massachusetts Game," The New York Sun (Monday, May 8, 1905) page not known. The article features many other aspects of roundball.
The New-York Tribune (October 12, 1859), page 5 column 2
New York Clipper, October 22, 1859.
Joanne Hulbert, "The Massachusetts Champions-- Excelsiors of Upton vs. Unions of Medway", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 22-23
Joanne Hulbert, David Nevard, John Thorn, and Craig Waff helped untangle previous versions of this material [H. S. had recalled the big game as taking place in 1858]. Gregory Christiano contributed a facsimile of the Clipper article in 2009.
1859.12 MA Championship: Unions 100, Winthrop 71, in 101 Innings
"The most interesting and exciting game of base ball ever played in Massachusetts. took place at the Agricultural Fair grounds, in boston, on Monday and Tuesday, 26th and 27th September, between the union Club of Medway, and the Winthrop club of Holliston. The match was for the championship of the State..."
Wilkes Spirit of the Times, October 15, 1859. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
Also covered in the New York Clipper, Oct. 15, 1859.
1859.13 First Tour of English Eleven to US and Canada
The All England Eleven confronted 22 US players in a match at the Camac Estate Cricket Ground in Philadelphia, October 10-13, 1859. England overtook the US, 155-154 with seven wickets in hand. The US side comprised 13 Philadelphians and 9 New Yorkers.
The AEE also thumped 22 players from the US and Canada in Rochester NY. In all, the tour comprised eight matches.
John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket, UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951), pages 19-21.
Facsimile of Clipper coverage of the Philadelphia match contributed by Gregory Christiano, 2009.
1859.14 New York Tribune Compares the NY "Baby" Game and NE Game
[A] "That [NY Tribune] article was a discussion, I believe, of the two games, the New York game and the Massachusetts round ball game, with a view to decide which was the standard game. So far as we know, this newspaper indicates that [text obscured] became a sport of national interest. The fact that the club of a little country town up in Massachusetts should be weighed in the balance against a New York club, in the columns of the first paper of the country marks a beginning of national attention to the game."
George Thompson located this article and posted it to 19CBB on 3/1/2007. The editorial says, in part:
"The so-called 'Base Ball' played by the New York clubs - what is falsely called the 'National' game - is no more like the genuine game of base ball than single wicket is like a full field of cricket. The Clubs who have formed what they choose to call the 'National Association,' play a bastard game, worthy only of boys ten years of age. The only genuine game is known as the 'Massachusetts Game . . . .' If they [the visiting cricketers] want to find foes worthy of their steel, let them challenge the 'Excelsior' Club of Upton, Massachusetts, now the Champion club of New England, and which club could probably beat, with the greatest ease, the best New-York nine, and give them three to one. The Englishmen may be assured that to whip any nine playing the New-York baby game will never be recognized as a national triumph."
[B] This suggestion was met with derision by a writer for the New York Atlas on October 30: that northern game is known for it "ball stuffed with mush; bat in the shape of a paddle twelve inches wide; bases about ten feet apart; run on all kinds of balls, fair or foul, and throw the ball at the player running the bases." [Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek 12/29/2009.]
[C] A gentleman from Albany NY wrote to the Excelsiors, saying he was "desirous of organizing a genuine base ball club in our city."
[A] New York Tribune, October 18, 1859, as described in Henry Sargent letter to the Mills Commission, [date obscured; a response went to Sargent on July 21, 1905, suggesting that the Tribune article had arrived "after we had gone to press with the other matter and consequently it did not get in.]. The correspondence is in the Mills Commission files, item 65-29.
[B] New York Atlas on October 30, 1859.
[C] Letter from F. W. Holbrook to George H. Stoddard, October 22, 1859; listed as document 67-30 in the Spalding Collection, accessed at the Giamatti Center of the HOF.
1859.20 Two More BB Clubs Issue Rules
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224, lists new rules in 1859 for the Harlem BB Club in NY and the Mercantile BB Club in Philadelphia.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224
1859.24 CT State Wicket Championship Attracts 4000
"When Bristol played New Britain at wicket for the championship of the state before four thousand spectators in 1859, the Hartford Press reported that there prevailed 'the most remarkable order throughout, and the contestants treated each other with faultless courtesy.'"
A special four-car train carried spectators to the match, leaving Hartford CT at 7:30 AM.
John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 8.
This game is also covered in Norton, Frederick C., "That Strange Yankee Game, Wicket," Bristol Connecticut (City Printing Co., Hartford, 1907), pages 295-296. Available via Google Books: try search: "'Monday, July 18, 1859' Bristol."
See also Larry McCray, "State Championship Wicket Game in Connecticut: A Hearty Hurrah for a Doomed Pastime," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 132-135.
1859.25 Buffalo Editor on NY Game - "Child's Play"
"Do our [Buffalo] Base Ball Clubs play the game of the "National Association" - the New York and Brooklyn club game? If so they are respectfully informed by the New York Tribune [see item #1859.14] that the style of Base Ball - what is falsely called the "National" game - is no more like the genuine game of base ball than single wicket is like a full field of cricket. It says, the clubs who have formed what they choose to call the "National Association," play a bastard game, worthy only of boys of ten years of age.
We have not the least idea whether it is the "National Association" game or the "Massachusetts" game that our Clubs play, but we suppose it must be the latter, as we are certain their sport is no "child's play."
Editorial, "Base Ball - Who Plays the Genuine Game?," Buffalo Morning Express, October 20, 1859. From Priscilla Astifan's posting on 19CBB, 2/19/2006. [Cf #1859.14, above.]
1859.28 New Yorker Dies Playing Base Ball
"Yesterday afternoon, THOMAS WILLIS, a young man, residing at No. 46 Greenwich-street, met with a sad accident while playing ball in the Elysian Fields, Hoboken. Acting in the capacity of "fielder" he ran after the ball, which rolled into a hole about fifteen feet deep. Slipping and falling in his eagerness to obtain it, his head struck a sharp rock, which fractured his skull. Medical attendance was immediately procured, but the injury was pronounced fatal."
New York Evening Express, October 22, 1859, page 3 column 3. Posted to 19CBB on 3/1/2007 by George Thompson.
1859.29 Annual Meeting of NABBP Decides: Bound Rule, No Pros
The fly rule lost by a 32-30 vote. Compensation for playing any game was outlawed. The official ball shrunk slightly in weight and size. Matches would be decided by single games.
"Base Ball," The New York Clipper (March 26, 1859).
The paper worried that easy fielding would "reduce the 'batting' part of the game to a nonentity
1859.30 The First Triple Play, Maybe?
Neosho [New Utrecht] beat the Wyandank [Flatbush] 49-11, with one Wyandank rally cut short in a new way, one that capitalized on the new tag-up rule.
"The game was played according to the new Convention rules of 1859, under one of which it was observed that the Neosho put out three hands of their opponents with one ball, by catching the ball 'on the fly,' and then passing it to two bases in immediate succession so as at the same time to put out both men who were returning to those bases."
"First Base Ball Match of the Season," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Volume 18 number 91 (Monday, April 18, 1859), page 11 column 1.
1859.31 New Orleans Leans Toward MA Game?
"New Orleans experiences a boom in 1859 when 7 teams were started and two more followed the next year. These early New Orleans LA nines first used Massachusetts rules, but by 1860 they had all switched to NABBP rules."
Somers, Dale, The Rise of Sports in New Orleans 1850-1900 (Louisiana State Press, Baton Rouge, 1972), footnote 73 on pages 49-50.
Richard Hershberger [email of 10/19/2009] notes that, in examining the article on the MA game, he found that the sides had ten players each, but seems otherwise to reflect Association rules. He notes that outside of match games, it was not unusual for clubs to depart from the having nine players on a side.
1859.32 Morning Express Opposes Bound Rule, Tag-up Rule: Wants More Runs!
Reporting on the imminent Knicks-Excelsiors game:
[A] "We believe that the rule, which is allowed by the Convention, of putting a man out, if the ball is caught on the first bound, is to be laid aside in this match. The more manly game of taking the ball on the fly, is alone to be retained. . . .. We do not know whether the men are to return to their bases in the event of a ball being caught on the fly; but it appears to us, that it would be as fair to one team as the other if the bases could be retained, if made before the ball had got to there, [and] it would cause more runs to be made, and a much more lively and satisfactory game."
[B] A fortnight later, a return match "in the test game of catching the ball on the fly" was scheduled for August 2, 1859:
[A] New York Morning Express (June 30, 1859), page 3, column 6. Posted to 19CBB by George Thompson, 3/18/2007.
[B] "Knickerbocker vs. Excelsior," New York Morning Post (July 13, 1859), page 3, column 7. A long inning-by-inning game account appears at New York Morning Express (August 3, 1859), page 3, column 7.
The fly rule was not voted in for five more years.
1859.35 Base Ball Community Eyes Use of Central Park
A "committee on behalf of the Base Ball clubs" recently conferred with NY's Central Park Commissioners about opening Park space for baseball. Under discussion is a proviso that "no club shall be permitted to use the grounds unless two-thirds of the members be residents of this city."
"BASE BALL IN THE CENTRAL PARK," The New York Clipper (January 22, 1859), page number omitted from scrapbook clipping.
This issue has been on the minds of baseball at least since the first Rules Convention. The sentiment is that other sports have access that baseball does not. See #1857.2 above.
According to the New York Times of December 11,1858, the Central Park Commission had referred the ballplayers' appeal to a committee. [Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek, 12/29/09.]
Is there a good account of this negotiation and its outcome in the literature? How and when was the issue resolved?
1859.37 In Wisconsin, Bachelors Win 100-68
"FOX LAKE CLUB. - The Married and Unmarried members of the Wisconsin Club measured their respective strength in a bout at base ball on the 15th inst. The former scored 68 and the latter 100."
New York Clipper (July 2, 1859.)
Fox Lake is 75 miles northeast of Milwaukee. Sounds like they played the MA game, no?
1859.39 Club Organized in St. Louis MO
"CLUB ORGANIZED, - A base ball club was organized in St. Louis, Mo, on the 1st inst. It boasts of being the first organization of the kind in that city, but will not, surely, long stand alone. It numbers already 18 members, officers as follows: President, C. D. Paul; Vice do, J. T. Haggerty; Secretary, C. Thurber; Treasurer, E. R. Paul. They announce their determination to be ready to play matches in about a month.
New York Clipper, September 3, 1859.
In a 4/1/2013 email, Jeff Kittel confirms the date and source of this account, and estimates that this is he oldest primary evidence of base ball, and of a base ball club, in St. Louis.
1859.40 Devotion to MA Game Erodes Significantly
"BASE BALL. - Massachusetts has 37 clubs which play what is known as the Massachusetts game; and 13 which play the New York game."
New York Clipper, July 17, 1859