Chronology:Antedated Firsts

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1781s.4 Long Ball in Vermont

Age of Players:

Unknown

The Rutland County Herald (Rutland, VT), July 19, 1848, referred to "long ball" being played in the 1700s at Fort Ranger in Rutland. The fort was the headquarters of the Vermont troops until 1781. Located near the center of town, it “naturally became the rendezvous of the town, the favorite resort of idlers, loungers, and loafers.” Townsfolk would gather there on the Sabbath to gossip and exchange their wares, “and here did the idle soldiery and congenial lazzarone exercise their skill and strength in the exciting games of long ball, &c.”

Sources:

Rutland County Herald (Rutland, VT), July 19, 1848.

Comment:

According to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913, "lazzarone" referred to "the homeless idlers of Naples who live by chance work or begging." 

Decade
1781s
Item
1781s.4
Edit

1830c.33 The Balk Rule Existed Before the 1845 Knick Rules?

Age of Players:

Youth

"A Balk is a Base."--Any one having a remembrance of the ball games of his youth must recollect that in the game of base, if the tosser made a balk to entice the individual making the round from his post, the latter had the right to walk to the next base unscathed. Pity it is that the Hudson folks engaged in the late political movement in Columbia County did not remember that "a balk is a base" in the games of children of a larger growth." (Note: This led into a lengthy diatribe on local politics that I did not attempt to make sense of. - David Block)
Sources:

Rondout Freeman , June 5, 1847:

Comment:
"Here is another early example of baseball terminology being used to illustrate a non-sports topic."
 
The text appeared in the June 5, 1847 issue of the Roundout Freeman (Roundout was a Hudson River community that has since been swallowed by the town of Kingston).
 
"I had always supposed that the balk rule was introduced by the crafters of the New York game, but this passage suggests it began to be practiced at some earlier time."
 
-- David Block, 11/12/2010
 
"I wrote in my book [R. Hershberger. Strike Four, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019, page 37] that the balk rule seemed to be novel to the 1845 Knickerbocker rules. Evidently not. While this is two years later, it also is from [nearly] a hundred miles away in Kingston, NY, and presented as a homespun saying from the writer's youth." -- Richard Hershberger, 19CBB posting, 12/9/2020
 

Added Local color:  "Rondout has been since 1870, an unincorporated hamlet within the city of Kingston (where I lived for decade; it was called "Rondout" because of its adjoining Roundout Creek, which fed into the Hudson River). The Rondout Freeman in its first incarnation may have indeed lasted till 1847 (founded 1845):https://www.loc.gov/item/sn86071034/.

"Hudson is a large city about 25 miles north of Kingston, on the other side of the Hudson River, in Columbia County.  Today a bridge connects my hometown of Catskill (west bank) with Hudson (east bank).  Taghkanic is the proper spelling of the tribe for whom today is named the Taconic Parkway."  - John Thorn, email of 12/10/2020.


Query:

 

Is a balk rule known in cricket or English Base Ball?   Or in any pre-1845 baserunning game?

Protoball welcomes further comment on the possible origin of the balk rule.

 
 
Circa
1830
Item
1830c.33
Edit

1840s.46 The Balk -- From the Knicks, Prior US Games, or Abroad?

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Youth

 [A] " 'A Balk is a Base' --Any one having a remembrance of the ball games of his youth, must recollect that in the game of base if the tosser made a balk to entice the individual make the round from his post, the latter had the right to walk to the next base unscathed. Pity it is that the Hudson folks engages in the late political movement n Columbia County did not remember that 'a balk is a base' in the children of a larger growth. When the frequent and flagrant outrages of the Taghkanic Anti Renters had apparently aroused the people of Columbia County to a true sense of their position and duty every friend of good order rejoiced."

 

[B] The ball is “dead,” to the extent of putting a player out, when either a “ball” or a “baulk” is called. The rule is the same as in cricket. For instance, a “no ball” in cricket can be hit by the batsman, and he can score a run on it, but if the ball be caught it is not considered an out. So in base ball when a baulk is called, and the striker chances to hit the ball and it be caught, he is not out, and he can take his base on it on the grounds of his being “a player running the bases,” which he is when he hits a ball that is not foul. The ball, though “dead” as regards putting a player out, is not “dead” so as to prevent the striker counting what he is entitled to count under the rule
.

Sources:

[A]"A Balk is a Base," Roundout Freeman, June 5, 1847 (volume II, issue 46), page 2.  [Brad Shaw, email to Protoball 1/26/2017]

[B] New York Clipper, Saturday, September 8, 1866.  See https://protoball.org/Clipping:Interpreting_the_dead_ball_on_a_ball_or_a_balk;_the_rule_the_same_as_in_cricket 

Warning:

Dating this item as "1840s" is speculative, and turns on the ages of the Freeman  Arguments for an alternative dating are welcome.  

Comment:
[] "I had always supposed that the balk rule was introduced by the crafters of the New York game, but this passage suggests it began to be practiced at some earlier time."  David Block, 19CBB posting, 1/28/2014.
 

[] "I wrote in my book [R. Hershberger. Strike Four, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019, page 37] that the balk rule seemed to be novel to the 1845 Knickerbocker rules. Evidently not. While this is two years later, it also is from [nearly] a hundred miles away in Kingston, NY, and presented as a homespun saying from the writer's youth." -- Richard Hershberger, 12/9/2020.

[] Added Local color:  "Rondout has been, since 1870, an unincorporated hamlet within the city of Kingston (where I lived for decade; it was called "Rondout" because of its adjoining Roundout Creek, which fed into the Hudson River). The Rondout Freeman in its first incarnation may have indeed lasted till 1847 (founded 1845):https://www.loc.gov/item/sn86071034/.

"Hudson is a large city about 25 miles north of Kingston, on the other side of the Hudson River, in Columbia County.  Today a bridge connects my hometown of Catskill (west bank) with Hudson (east bank).  Taghkanic is the proper spelling of the tribe for whom today is named the Taconic Parkway."  - John Thorn, email of 12/10/2020.

[]The terms "balk" and "baulk" are both used in period sources.  As of December 2020, a search of "balk" fetches 91 hits in  Richard Hershberger's generous 19C Clippings file; a "balk OR baulk" search yields 102 hits.  There are no hits for "balk" or "Baulk"  in David Block's file on English baseball-like games.

[] As of 12/12/2020, Protoball has no other record of the balk prior to 1845.  

For a succinct summary of our desultory learning about balks/baulks from 2010 to 2020, see the Supplementary Text, below.

 



Query:

Is it obvious why a balk is in some way considered comparable to a "flagrant outrage?"

Was the balk known in earlier baserunning games in England, or elsewhere?

Do histories of cricket shed further light on the origin, nature, or rationale for, automatic batter-runner advances despite catches of balls hit when a "no ball" has been called?

Do we often see early rule variants for players of different ages?

Decade
1840s
Item
1840s.46
Edit

1857.48 First Known Appearance of Term "New York Game"

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"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

Sources:

Boston Herald, June 15, 1857

Comment:

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
Knickerbocker BBC."

https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/early-baseball-in-boston-d86107fb8560

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."

 

 

Year
1857
Item
1857.48
Edit

1864.58 Early Use of "Battery" As Pitcher-Catcher Pairing

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

[Active vs. Eureka 7/24/1864]  "As regards the pitching, 'Walker's battery' proved to be very effective in aiding to achieve the result..."  


from Richard Hershberger's 19CBB posting, September 21, 2017: "Walker was the pitcher for the Actives.  I take the form 'Walker's battery' to be a riff off the military usage of the day of naming a unit by its commander, e.g. "Sykes' Division."  Walker here is the commander of the battery, which consists of himself and Rooney, the catcher."





 

 

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury July 10, 1864

 

 

Comment:

Note:  

A few days earlier, Richard had noticed the use of "battery" in a July 26 game report:  see Supplementary Text, below.

The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, page 86, citing the Chadwick Scrapbooks, had the first use of "battery" as 1868 (third edition).

 

 

 

Query:

Is the reported date correct?  A July 24 match was reported on July 10? 

Year
1864
Item
1864.58
Edit
Source Text

1867.22 Eureka! A Press Credential

Location:

US

Game:

Base Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"The plan introduced by the Eureka Club of having tickets for the regular reporters of the press, none other to occupy seats near the scorer, should be adopted by all our clubs and public ground proprietors."

Sources:

New York Sunday Mercury, June 23, 1867

Comment:

As of March 2021, this appears to be the earliest reference to a right -- in the form of special tickets -- to exclusive seating being bestowed to reporters. 

Peter Morris discusses press coverage arrangements in Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2006), section 14.5.3, pp 403 ff.  He cites  two Henry Chadwick sources of press areas in June and August 1867 at the Brooklyn Union Grounds and then the Capitoline and Irvington grounds. 

Query:

Are earlier cases known?

Is it known whether these press accommodations were normally granted by a ball club, like the Eureka, or by the owner of the ballfield?

Year
1867
Item
1867.22
Edit

1869.14 First Known Inter-racial Game of Base-Ball

Age of Players:

Adult

"A very interesting game of base-ball was played on the Newtown Grounds on Saturday afternoon, August 7, between the Black Hawks (colored), of Africa, and the Alerts (white) of Plainville. . . . "

The account included a box score showing the Black Hawks as winners, 47-43.

Sources:

Cincinnati Enquirer, August 11, 1869.

Comment:

Newtown OH (1880 pop. about 400) is about 10 miles east of Cincinnati, and is across the Little Miami River from Plainville OH.

Previously the September 3, 1869 Pythians-Olympic match in Philadelphia was seen as the first game between a white and non-white club. See 1869.3

Year
1869
Item
1869.14
Edit