Chronology:Ball in the Culture
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- 1 -2500.2 Tale of Game in Sumer, Possibly Using Ball and Mallet.
- 2 850c.1 Nausicaa & Maids Play Ball while Laundry Dries
- 3 1846.16 Base Ball as Therapy in MA?
- 4 1850s.55 Round Ball, Played Near Boston, As Recalled in 1870s Celebrations
- 5 1853.9 Strolling Past a Ballgame in Elysian Fields
- 6 1855.1 The Confidence Game Frustrated
- 7 1855.29 Even the Australians Are Bothered by Sunday Baseball
- 8 1856.29 Ball Play in Children's Song
- 9 1856.30 "Ball playing" Schoolboy Essay
- 10 1856.33 First Ball of the Base Ball Clubs Attracts 200 Couples at Niblo's Saloon
- 11 1857.9 Calls for an American National Game
- 12 1857.38 President's Peace Medal Depicts Baseball Game in Background
- 13 1857.39 First Baseball Attendance of a Thousand or More
- 14 1857.41 Base Ball Verse for Adults
- 15 1859.36 Why Cover Sports?
- 16 1859.66 Proto-Sports Bar
- 17 1859.61 Base Ball Lampooned
- 18 1859.62 Plea for Amateurism
- 19 1859.63 What Must I Do to Be Physically Saved?
- 20 1859.65 New For 1859: Rumors of Player Movement
- 21 1860c.4 Four Teams of African-Americans, All in the NYC Area, Are Reported
- 22 1860.37 Late Surge Lifts Douglas' over Abe Lincoln's Side in Chicago IL
- 23 1860.67 Base Ball on Ice
- 24 1860.70 Space Wanted
- 25 1860.73 Batting Cage Debuts
- 26 1860.76 Trade Games Proliferate
- 27 1860.77 Treat Us Special
- 28 1860.79 Regatta Cancelled Due To Base Ball
- 29 1860.80 Muffin Matches--Low Skills, High Comedy
- 30 1860.84 Jolly Good Fellows
- 31 1860.89 Holder Whiffs Smoking
- 32 1860.90 Atlantics' "Lucky Seventh" Yields Nine Runs; The Start of Some Base Ball Lore?
- 33 1861c.3 Lincoln and Baseball: The Presidential Years
- 34 1861.41 Base Ball A Silver Lining
- 35 1861.42 Welcome Back
- 36 1862.1 Brooklyn Games Organized as Benefits for Sick and Wounded Soldiers
- 37 1862.18 Impact of War Lessens in NYC
- 38 1864.35 Government Promotes Base Ball
- 39 1864.39 Helping the Sanitary Commission
- 40 1864.43 Like It or Lump It, Gents
- 41 1865.9 The Abolition of Suppers to Clubs
- 42 1865.11 Atlantic Ball Committee Issues Fanciful Invitation
- 43 1865.13 Elysian? Yes. Sacred? No.
- 44 1865.15 Base Ball for the Haute Monde
- 45 1865.18 Atlantic Get Championship Flag
- 46 1865.20 Eagle Eyes Height and Weight
- 47 1867.9 Your Tax Dollars At Work/Play
- 48 1867.12 Post-War Spread of Baseball Noted
- 49 1869.10 In Reconstruction SC, Riot Follows a Ball Game
-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?
850c.1 Nausicaa & Maids Play Ball while Laundry Dries
|Nausicaa, going to a river near that place to wash the clothes of her father, mother, and brethren, while the clothes were drying played with her maids at ball; and Odysseus coming forth is fed and clothed, and led on his way to the house of her father, King Alcinous.|
The Odyssey, Homer, Book VI
Even Homer nods
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?
1850s.55 Round Ball, Played Near Boston, As Recalled in 1870s Celebrations
[A] "I was very much pleased to witness that old-fashioned game of ball played on the Fair grounds at Milford last week Tuesday afternoon. . . . It was certainly a lively game, interspersed with wit, humor, and a general good feeling."
Full text, including a 36-line poem, is in Supplementary Text, below.
[B] 1878 – "Round Ball Game. This game came off as advertised on the Town Park last Thursday afternoon. Below is the score for the respective sides:" [Box score shows Milford 25, Independents 12.]
[A] J. H. Cunnabel, Milford (MA) Journal, September 22, 1875.
[B] Milford Journal ,August 14, 1878
We have dated this entry as reflecting 1850s play of round ball. This dating is highly uncertain. One of the named participants (John Puffer), is identified by Joanne Hulbert as a participant in Holliston MA ballplaying in the 1850s.
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.
1855.1 The Confidence Game Frustrated
"On Friday morning last (August 24) an impudent scamp in a very genteel garb entered the house of Mr. Gregory in Sussex street, and informed the servant girl that her master was about to play a game of base ball in Brooklyn, and wanted his uniform, a suit of clothes for a ball, &c...The girl believing him gave him all the articles required, when he said further, in a confidential way, that he had forgotten the cigars, a box of which would be found not yet opened. This was his mistake, for no cigars were in the house, and the girl, being now placed on her guard, immediately unpacked what she had previously packed, and said she would take the articles herself...To this the gentleman of course objected, but the girl was honest and determined. She accordingly took the articles to the office of Mr. Gregory, and found that he had not the slightest intention to leave the city. The rogue of course escaped, and no account has been heard from him since."
New York Sun, Aug. 28, 1855. P
Hershberger: "Make of this what you will."
1855.29 Even the Australians Are Bothered by Sunday Baseball
"Sabbath Desecration. - A correspondent requests us to call attention to the practice of a number of boys and young men, who congregate in Mr. Wilkinson's paddock, near Patrick and Murray Streets, on Sunday afternoons, for playing at cricket, base-ball, &c., making a great noise, and offending the eyes and ears of persons of moral and religious feeling."
Colonial Times[Hobart], Saturday, September 22, 1855, page 3.
Subsequent comments on 19CBB from Bob Tholkes and Richard Hershberger [11/23/09] led to conjecture that this form of "base-ball" arrived Down Under directly from its English roots, for in 1855 American presence was largely restricted to the gold fields. Note: Hobart is on the northern coast of the island that has been known as Tasmania since 1856.
1856.29 Ball Play in Children's Song
The New Year's number of a children's magazine, Stu-dent & Schoolmate, featured a musical piece entitled "The Holiday Song" in 1856. The second stanza went as follows:
Hark! we hear our schoolmates call,
And we see the whizzing ball
From the bat stick flying;
Bat the ball,
One and all,
Great and small,
Keep the ball a flying.
"The Holiday Song," in Student & Schoolmate: A Monthly Reader for School & Home Instruc-tion Containing Original Dialogues, Speeches, Bio-graphy, History, Travels, Poetry, Music, Science, Anecdotes, Problems, Puz-zles, etc., January 1, 1856, p. 108. Reprinted in Originals, Newsletter of the Origins Committee of SABR, Vol. 4 No. 12. Dec. 2011
1856.30 "Ball playing" Schoolboy Essay
A game at ball is a very nice play. The boys have a bat, and they hit a ball with it and knock it away. Sometimes the boys miss the ball, and then the catcher catches it, and they have to be out. There are two kinds of ball playing: the base ball and the cat and dog ball. When the boys play cat and dog ball, they have two bats and four boys. Two of the boys take the bats, and the other two throw the ball from one to the other past the boys who have the bats, at the same time one throws the other tries to catch him out. Nyack, Dec. 1856 T.--Dis. 4."
Rockland Co. Journal, Dec. 27, 1856
Per Richard Hershberger, "the one example of the genre I know of from anything like this early."
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.
1857.9 Calls for an American National Game
[A]The editor of the Spirit of the Times: There "should be some one game peculiar to the citizens of the United States," in that "the Germans have brought hither their Turnverein Association . . . and various other peculiarities have been naturalized."
[B] Spirit also claimed that baseball "must be regarded as a national pastime"
[A]Porter's Spirit of the Times, January 31, 1857, quoted in Willke, Base Ball in its Adolescence, page 121, Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
[B] Adelman, Melvin L., New York City and the Rise of Modern Athletics, 1820-70 (1986), p. 135.
[B] Adelman regarded Spirit's claim as "premature" because New York Rules baseball had not spread beyond the immediate area in 1857, but a more likely perspective is that such claims for baseball at this time stemmed from its presence nationwide in various forms since the colonial era.
1857.38 President's Peace Medal Depicts Baseball Game in Background
United States Government
"A base ball game is depicted on the 1857 Indian Peace Medal issued by the Buchanan Administration in 1857. The Indian Peace Medal was "presented by a government agent to the chief of a tribe that the government considered to be friendly, or that it desired to become so...the frontier game of baseball, in all its variety, was already perceived as the national game..."
Thorn, John, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011), p. 114.
See also https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/our-baseball-presidents-ec1617be6413 (accessed Feb 2018).
"For President Buchanan in 1857, a new reverse to the (latest "Indian Peace") Medal was commissioned from engraver Joseph Wilson . . . . [The medal showed] in the distance, a simple home with a woman standing in the doorway -- and a baseball game being playing in the foreground. . . .
"No matter what some gentlemen were saying in New York at the "national" conventions of area clubs, the frontier game of baseball, in all its variety, was already perceived as the national game."
-- John Thorn, "Our Baseball Presidents," Our Game posting, February 2018.
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.
1859.36 Why Cover Sports?
"OUT-DOOR SPORTS are gaining in favor and popularity among our people,-- and hence a 'Sporting' department is come to be as much a necessity in the New York Express as it is in any of the London journals. This is not to be regretted. It tends to muscular development; and as there is nothing we Americans so much need as 'muscle', the turf, yachting, cricket, base ball, etc., are things which, combining healthful exercise and innocent amusement, are to be encouraged."
New York Evening Express, June 25, 1859
1859.66 Proto-Sports Bar
ENGLISH PLUM PUDDING AND ROAST BEEF FOR DINNER, TO-DAY. Also partridges, green turtle soup, and steaks.
RICHARDSON & McLEOD, 106 Maiden lane, corner Pearl.
Call and see the cricket and base ball books and bulletins.
New York Herald, Sep. 7, 1859
This may not actually have been the first establishment to cater to base ballists. The New York Sunday Mercury noted on Jan. 9, 1859, that "Mr. William P. Valentine, president of the Phantom Base Ball Club, has opened a dining saloon in Broadway, adjoining Wallack's Theatre, which he styles the 'Home Base'."
1859.61 Base Ball Lampooned
"OUR SPORTSMAN. Sporting matters are beginning to lost their summer time piquancy, and the racing season will soon be gone, at least in this country. The cricketers and base ball heroes still keep up an excitement among themselves.
Apropos of base ball. Conversing with a member of one of the Ball Clubs, we noticed a deformity in his hand.
'What is the matter with your finger?"
'Struck by a ball and drove up--' was the reply 'but it is a noble game.'
'Precisely--and your thumb, it is useless, is it not?'
'Yes, struck with a ball and broken.'
'That finger joint?'
'A ball struck it. No better game to improve a man's physical condition, strengthen one's sinews."
'You walk lame; that foot, isn't it?'
'No; it's the--the--the--well, a bat flew out of a player's had and hit my knee pan. He had the innings."
'One of your front teeth is gone?'
'Knocked loose by a ball--an accident though.'
'Your right hand and your nose have been peeled--how's that?'
'Slipped down, at second base--mere scratch.'
'And you like all this fun?'
'Glory in it, sir. It is a healthy game, sir.'
We can't say we coincided with the enthusiastic member. Perhaps we are rather timid concerning the welfare and safety of our limbs--and this timidity has an undue influence on our mind. Be that as it may, we have no inclination to try our hand at the game...we will drop the subject with the same celerity which would mark our process of dropping one of those leather covered balls, were it to come in violent contact with our delicate fingers."
New York Atlas, Sep. 18, 1859
1859.62 Plea for Amateurism
CRICKETING. That eleven men who have devoted their youth and manhood to playing cricket, and have made their living thereby, should be able to beat twice that number who have played that game occasionally for exercise and recreation, is not at all surprising...We have steadily and ardently favored the recent efforts made in this country for the creation and diffusion of a popular taste for muscular outdoor amusements. We believe our industrious people have too few holidays, and devote too few hours to health-giving, open-air recreations... and we should be glad to hear of the inclosure of of a public play-ground, and formation of a ball-club in every township in the Union...But play should be strictly a recreation, never a business. As a pursuit, we esteem it a very bad one...Let us have ball-clubs, cricket-clubs, and as many more such as you please, but not professional cricket-players any more than professional card-players. We trust that the Eleven of All England are to have no imitators on this side of the ocean."
New York Tribune, Oct. 8, 1859
The All England Eleven played in Canada, New York City, Philadelphia, and Rochester in the fall of 1859, playing on occasion against 22 opponents, to provide competition.
1859.63 What Must I Do to Be Physically Saved?
"For a great many years, a great many people, particularly in this great country, have been asking what they should do to be physically saved?...We are pretty sure that the mania for cricket, which has followed the base ball madness, will not be without its blessings...we cannot imagine a dyspeptic cricketer-- no! not after he has received many balls in the pit of his stomach."
In a two-part series under the title "Muscle Looking Up" The New York Tribune explored the past and present of the physical culture movement in the United States, noting approvingly the trend to emphasize sportive exercise, and hoping that it will be extended to approval of exercise for both men and women.
New York Herald Tribune, Oct. 7 and Oct. 15, 1859
1859.65 New For 1859: Rumors of Player Movement
[A] "RESIGNATION-- We understand that Brown (formerly catcher for the Eckford Club), and Post (catcher for the Astoria) have resigned, and become members of the Putnam Base Ball Club. Both of these gentlemen have stood A no. 1 in their respective clubs, and their retirement must prove a serious loss thereto, while the Putnams become materially strengthened by the addition to their number."
[B] "BALL PLAY-- ...We notice that several important changes have taken place in the Brooklyn clubs. Amongst others we learn that Pidgeon, of the Eckford, has joined the Atlantic; Brown, also of the Eckford, has gone into the Putnam club; and Grum in the Excelsior. The Stars have divided themselves, and many of them, Creighton and Flanley in particular, having joined the Excelsior. Dickinson goes into the Atlantic. The trial for the championship, next season, will be between the Atlantic, Excelsior, and Putnam's...We have not heard of any particular changes in the leading clubs of New York...The Union of Morrisania will gain one or two strong players next season.
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, Nov. 20, 1859
[B] New York Clipper, Nov. 26, 1859
After the Eckford Club contradicted the claim that several players were resigning and moving to other clubs, the Clipper issued a retraction on December 3: "...we are pleased to learn that it is not correct, for we do not approve of these changes at all."
1860c.4 Four Teams of African-Americans, All in the NYC Area, Are Reported
[A] “The earliest known account of a ball game involving African Americans appeared in the New York Anglo-African on July 30, 1859. In this Fourth of July contest, ‘the venerable Joshua R. Giddings made the highest score, never missing the ball when it came to him.’ Giddings was a sixty-four-year-old white Republican Congressman known for his passionate opposition to slavery.”
[B] "We, the members of the Colored Union Base Ball Club, return our sincere thanks to you for publishing the score of the game we played with the Unknown, of Weeksville on the 28th ult. [September 28, 1860]). We go under the name the "Colored Union," for, if we mistake not, there is a white club called the Union in Williamsburg at the present time." The letter goes on to report a game against the Unknown Club on October 5, 1860. The Colored Union club eventually won with 6 runs in the ninth.
[A] Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 34-35
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, October 14, 1860, col. 5-6. Cited in Dixon, Phil, and Patrick J. Hannigan, The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History [Amereon House, 1992], pp. 31-2
The four were the Unknown (Weeksville), Monitor (Brooklyn), Henson (Jamaica), and Union (Brooklyn). Weeksville was a town founded by freedmen. Its population in the 1850s was about 500.
For a sample of a contemporary humorous treatment, see the account of the 1862 game between the Unknown and Monitor Clubs in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 17, 1862.
1860.37 Late Surge Lifts Douglas' over Abe Lincoln's Side in Chicago IL
Abraham Lincoln, and Stephen F. Douglas
"Base Ball and Politics. - We do not approve of their thus being brought into contact, but as a match took place at Chicago on the 24th ult., between nine [Stephen] Douglas me and nine [Abe] Lincoln men of the Excelsior Club, we feel in duty bound to report it."
New York Clipper, July 1860.
Tied after eight innings, the outcome was prophetic for the ensuing election (in the state legislature) for the U. S. Senate: Douglas 16, Lincoln 14.
1860.67 Base Ball on Ice
"A GAME OF BASE BALL ON THE ICE.-- ...when it is taken into consideration that the players had skates on, the score may be called a remarkably good one-- equal to the majority of games which take place on terra firma."
New York Sunday Mercury, Jan. 22, 1860
The Live Oak Club of Rochester had played a team of players from other clubs in that city, and defeated them 30-29, 12 per side.
A side effect of the skating craze which arose in the same period as the base ball craze, ice base ball was played well into the 1880s.
1860.70 Space Wanted
'BASE BALL. MORE PLAYGROUNDS WANTED.-- We have often wondered why the owners of unproductive property up-town, lying contiguous to the railroads on the east and west sides of the city (New York City), did not seize upon the idea of converting their lands into grounds for the use of base ball clubs, and thus...realize a rental sufficient to pay handsomely for the investment...twenty good places would be in active demand."
New York Sunday Mercury, March 4, 1860.
The Sunday Mercury had received a letter from a New York player speculating, among other things, that the Brooklyn clubs were overwhelming New York opponents because of their superior and much more convenient facilities. The lette was reprinted in the same issue.
1860.73 Batting Cage Debuts
[A] (ad) "CRICKET COURT, 654 BROADWAY.-- CRICKET AND Base Ball Practice.-- The spacious saloon, 654 Broadway, is now open. Gentlemen wishing to perfect themselves in the above game will do well to call, as they will always find wickets pitched and a professional bowler to give instructions to those who require it."
[A] New York Herald, April 4, 1860
New York Sunday Mercury, April 8, 1860
Spirit of the Times, June 2, 1860
1860.76 Trade Games Proliferate
Games between teams of employees from "commercial establishments" proliferated in 1860, to not everyone's enjoyment:
"A SUGGESTION.-- We observe that matches at base ball are being put up by business establishments. The World and Times newspapers had a match...We presume we shall next have a contest between Spaulding's Prepared Glue and the Retired Physician, or a Standish's Pills nine vs. Townsend's Sarsparilla. Why not? A little gratuitous advertsiing may, perhaps, be got in this way. But, for goodness' sake, gentlemen, don't run the thing into the ground."
New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 7, 1860
1860.77 Treat Us Special
"BASE BALL. ACCOMMODATIONS FOR REPORTING.-- We would suggest to clubs, uponn whose grounds matches are played during the season, the propriety of providing a small table and a few chairs for the accommodation of the press. We have frequently found all the best places for seeing a match monopolized by members of the playing club, while we have been compelled to do our reporting on the back of some kindly-disposed gentleman on the outside circle. The Eckford, Excelsior, and a few other clubs we might name, manage this business better; and all ought to follow their example."
New York Sunday Mercury, May 20, 1860
1860.79 Regatta Cancelled Due To Base Ball
"THE BROOKLYN YACHT CLUB.-- The Third Annual Regatta of the Brooklyn Yacht Club was to have taken place on Thursday, from the foot of Court street, but in consequence of a Base Ball Match fixed for the same day, it was postponed until Monday next, 25th inst. The Base Ball Ground is in the immediate vicinity of the Club House, and as a number of the members of the Yacht Club are also connected with Base Ball Clubs, it was thought policy to not have two great attractions at one time."
New York Evening Express, June 22, 1860
The Excelsior Club of South Brooklyn, whose grounds adjoined the Yacht Club, defeated the Charter Oak Club, also of Brooklyn, 36-9. The Yacht Club opened its 2nd-story veranda for viewing the games.
1860.80 Muffin Matches--Low Skills, High Comedy
[A] "THE MUFFIN MATCH.-- The match between the muffs of the Putnam and Excelsior Clubs, of Brooklyn...was, as we anticipated, an extraordinary affair, and productive of much amusement...People who can hold a ball (except by accident) when it is thrown to them, reflect upon their associate muffs, and don't deserve to have a place...we may mention one striking tableau...(Clark), having struck the ball, set out with all his might and main for the first base, which was carefully guarded by the ever-vigilant Andriese. Clark overran the base, and the ball overran Andriese; each, however, ran for the object of his pursuit, and Clark picked up the base...and held it aloft as a trophy of victory; while Andriese, quickly grabbing up the ball from the ground, turned a double somerset, and landing on one leg, projected the hand which held the ball gracefully toward the base, high in air, and called for judgment. Inasmuch as Clark, though under the base, had two fingers and a thumb over it, the umpire decided that he 'had the base', and wasn't out."
[B] "Muffin" was evidently new slang:
"'MUFFIN.'-- Base Ball...bids fair to enrich the copious vocabulary of the English language by a new term-- the word 'muffin'. A 'muff' (is)...a ball-player noted for catching anything but the ball...'Muffin" is an elongation of the word, and 'the muffins' is understood to be a collection of individuals, whose fingers are pretty much all thumbs-- in other words a collection of muffs...The word will find its way into more general acceptance and may hereafter puzzle some future philologist."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, July 1, 1860
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 22, 1860
Interclub muffin matches were an occasional feature, mostly before the Civil War, between the larger clubs.
1860.84 Jolly Good Fellows
Base Ball. ATLANTIC, OF BROOKLYN vs. LIBERTY, OF NEW BRUNSWICK.--About six o'clock both Clubs partook of a sumptuous repast at the Montauk Restaurant, near Fulton ferry...More than one hundred gentlemen entered heartily into the spirit of the occasion...Mr. Prendergast...sung 'Fondly I'm Dreaming' in capital style...Judge Provost, of N. B., followed in a humorous speech complimenting both Clubs on their excellent play...'The Brunswickers were worsted today, next year they would come out silk-and-cotton'...Mr. Pete O'Brien, of the Atlantics--the very cut of a comic singer--set the table in a roar with with quite a budget of the drollest of Irish songs."
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 9, 1860
The game ball-- the "trophy ball"---was also presented to the president of the winning club during the party.
1860.89 Holder Whiffs Smoking
Holder, who was indulging in the pleasures of the weed, while at the bat, struck out.
Game report, Excelsior BBC of Brooklyn vs. Putnam BBC of Brooklyn, August 4, 1860, in New York Sunday Mercury, August 5, 1860
Smoking is hazardous to your success in base ball.
1860.90 Atlantics' "Lucky Seventh" Yields Nine Runs; The Start of Some Base Ball Lore?
"That seventh inning, which was thereafter called 'the lucky seventh,' was a memorable one in the annals of the Atlantics' career, for a finer display of batting was never before seen in this vicinity."
(Trailing the Excelsior Club 12-6 after six, the Atlantics scored nine runs in the 7th.
For a fuller game description see Supplemental Text, below.
New York Clipper, as cited in the Brooklyn Eagle of December 25, 1910.
My researcher friends and I have gone around previously about the origins of the seventh inning stretch, so I'll not revisit that today. However, I can recall as a boy learning that the seventh was a lucky inning for the home team. Apart from the magical properties assigned to the number 7, here may be the origin of that notion in baseball. -- John Thorn, October 2016
Note: For some other ideas about the origins of "lucky seventh," see Paul Dickson, The Dicksom Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009 Norton), page 513.
Do we know what is meant by the note that Creighton "batted out of the pitcher's position?"
(In reply, John Thorn (email, 10/4/16) writes, "For a while batting orders were constructed by numbered position, so that the lineup would be pitcher, catcher, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, LF, CF, RF. But I speculate. . . .")
1861c.3 Lincoln and Baseball: The Presidential Years
[A] "We boys, for hours at a time, played "town ball" [at my grandfather's estate in Silver Spring, MD] on the vast lawn, and Mr. [Abe] Lincoln would join ardently in the sport. I remember vividly how he ran with the children; how long were his strides, and how far his coat-tails stuck out behind, and how we tried to hit him with the ball, as he ran the bases."
[B] "Years after the Civil War, Winfield Scott Larner of Washington remembered attending a game played on an old Washington circus lot in 1862...Lincoln, followed by his son Tad...made his way up to where he could see the game...On departing Lincoln and Tad accepted three loud cheers from the crowd."
[A] Recollection [c.1890?] of Frank P. Blair III in Ida M. Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 (Lincoln Memorial Association, New York, 1900), page 88.
[B] The Evening Star (Washington, D. C.), July 12, 1914. Quoted in American Baseball: From Gentleman's Sport to the Commissioner System (university of Oklahoma Press, 1966), p.11.
Blair, whose grandfather was Lincoln's Postmaster General, lived in Silver Spring, MD, just outside Washington. Blair was born in 1858 or 1859.
1861.41 Base Ball A Silver Lining
[A] "The first base ball match of the season came off yesterday...It was thought that cannon balls would supersede base balls this season-- that our meetings and delightful measures would be exchanged for the pride, pomp, and circumstances of glorious war, but even in their ashes live our wonted fires, and though faint and few, we are fearless still. The event of yesterday is therefore generally regarded as a promising sign of the times."
[B] "THE HOBOKEN BASE BALL CLUBS.-- The ball grounds at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, begin to wear a very lively look...Several important matches are nearly arranged...The return of the Seventh, National Guard, added a reinforcement of some forty members to our prominent base ball clubs."
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 6, 1861
[B] Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, June 16, 1861
1861.42 Welcome Back
[A] "THE RETURN OF THE 13TH REGIMENT. MEETING OF BASE BALL PLAYERS. A meeting of one delegate from each base ball club of this city will meet at Paul ,Mead's, No. 1 Willoughby street, this evening, to make arrangements for receiving the base ball players connected with the 13th Regt."
[B] "RETURN OF THE 13TH REGIMENT. THE BASE BALL CLUBS. The Base-Ball Clubs were fully represented (13 clubs listed)...The clubs all formed on Furman street, right resting on Fulton. Each member was provided with a badge, bearing the motto, 'Base-Ball, Fraternity'. They occupied the advance of the column."
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 29, 1861
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 30, 1861
1862.1 Brooklyn Games Organized as Benefits for Sick and Wounded Soldiers
Three games were announced in June 1862 for which net proceeds would be used for sick and wounded Union soldiers. The Eckfords and the Atlantics would play for a silver ball donated by the Continental Club. William Cammeyer provided the enclosed Union grounds without charge. Admission fees of 10 cents were projected to raise $6000 for soldiers' relief. The Eckford won the Silver Ball by winning two of three games.
"Relief for the Sick and Wounded," Brooklyn Eagle, June 21, 1862, page 2.
Craig Waff, "The 'Silver Ball' Game-- Eckfords vs. Atlantics at the Union Grounds", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 39-42
1862.18 Impact of War Lessens in NYC
[A] "BALL PLAYERS OFF TO THE WAR.-- But few of the fraternity, in comparison with the number who left in May, 1861, have gone off to the war this time in the militia regiments...All the clubs have their representatives in the several regiments...but the hegira of warlike ball-players is nothing near as great as in 1861, the necessity not being as pressing..."
[B] "Base Ball. The return of the 47th and 13th regiments has given quite an impetus to ball playing, and the vigor and energy that characterizes the ball player are again displaying themselves in the various clubs."
[C] "BASE BALL. THE BALTIC BASE BALL CLUB OF NEW YORK. It is really a pleasure to welcome the 'Old Baltics' again to the base ball field. At the commencement of the rebellion a great many of the most active and prominent members of this club, patriotically enlisted under and fought for the 'old flag;' this was the main cause of the club's temporary disbandment..."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, June 1, 1862
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sep. 9, 1862
[C] Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, Nov. 29, 1862
In an editorial printed on Aug. 9, 1862 Fitzgerald's City Item, of Philadelphia listed arguments for continuing base ball during the war.
1864.35 Government Promotes Base Ball
"GOVERNMENT BALL GROUNDS.-- The game of base ball has lately received such an indorement (sic) at the hands of the U. S. government as will go far toward giving it permanency as the national game of ball in America. Not only have base ball matches been encouraged by the military authorities, at the various army stations, as a means of recreation, as a means of recreation and exercise for the soldiers, in hours of relaxation from active service...but the naval authorities have recently made arrangements by which our sailors can similarly enjoy a pleasurable sport and healthy exercise at the same time. A large space of ground, lately recovered from the swamp lands adjoining the Navy yard, has been prepared as a ball ground, and during the summer the sailors and marines on board the several vessels at the depot are to use it when off duty. ...Ball players are being made by the hundred in our army. The few members of clubs who happen to get into the different regiments that have emanated from the Metropolis have inoculated the whole service with the love of the game, and during last year, for the first time, we believe, that base ball matches took place in every State in the Union-- or out of it, as the case may be--this side of the Mississippi."
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 30, 1864
1864.39 Helping the Sanitary Commission
"A BALL-PLAYING JUBILEE IN PHILADELPHIA.-- Wednesday, May 25, and the three days following it, are going to be devoted to a regular gala-time in ball-play in the City of Brotherly Love, the 25th inst. being the occasion on which the grand match was suggested to the ball-players of Pennsylvania and New Jersey is to take place-- the contest being one for the benefit of the United States Sanitary Commission-- the contestants being selected nines from the prominent clubs of New Jersey and Pennsylvania."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, May 15, 1864
[B] Philadelphia Illustrated New Age, May 25, 1864
The United States Sanitary Commission was a private relief agency created by federal legislation on June 18, 1861, to support sick and wounded soldiers of the U.S. Army during the American Civil War. It operated across the North, raised an estimated $25 million in Civil War era revenue and in-kind contributions
1864.43 Like It or Lump It, Gents
[A] "ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.-- ...If any club is dissatisfied with our reports of their games, let them personally inform us of the fact; not go to our employers to revenge any fancied injury or trying to injure us. The base ball clubs must either take our reports as we give them, in our endeavor to do impartial justice to all, or they will not have a line of notice emanating from our pen...the next time the club our correspondent refers to see their name written by us in any paper with which we are connected, it will be when they behave to us like other clubs...we do not harbor ill will towards a solitary member of the Atlantic club...but there is a principle involved...it being the right of a reporter of base ball matches to fairly criticise the actions of players..."
[B] "ATLANTIC VS. GOTHAM.-- ...Our reporter will give a full account of the proceedings, as the satisfactory explanations made to him by the Secretary of the Club on Friday, have, as far as he is concerned, entirely restored the friendly relations which had previously been interrupted."
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 29, 1864
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sept. 17, 1864
1865.9 The Abolition of Suppers to Clubs
"THE ABOLITION OF SUPPERS TO CLUBS.-- The following are the clubs whose presidents have appended their signatures to the resolution putting a stop to clubs entertainments to their adversaries after matches played among themselves. This season no suppers or refreshments will be tendered to any of the clubs playing matches with each other named in the following list, except it be done by private parties and not at the expense of the club. All visiting clubs from out-of-town localities will be hospitably received as usual. The clubs signed the resolution in the following order: Mutual, Star, Newark, Eagle, Resolute, Atlantic, Empire, Gotham, and Active. The others will also sign it before the month expires."
New York Sunday Mercury, April 16, 1865
Notable for their absence: the Knickerbocker and the Excelsior of Brooklyn.
1865.11 Atlantic Ball Committee Issues Fanciful Invitation
"Base Ball. THE ATLANTIC CLUB BALL.-- The members of the Atlantic Club give their fifth soiree dansante, on Thursday Evening, January 10th, on which occasion they should have a delightful time, at Gothic Hall Adams st. The Atlantics are Pacific-ally inclined, and bent on Union with their Athletic brethren of several ball clubs. Their motto is Excelsior as players, and the Star of their destiny is Victory. Their Enterprise leads to Mutual efforts to excel, and patriotically they desire to see the Eagle resume its Empire over the whole land. Though they have never met the Knickerbocker or Gotham on the field they hope to do so next season, when they intend showing them how Active they are in the fly game. Resolute in achieving the laurels of the championship, that being the Keystone of their temple of fame, they fought bravely for the lead, and when the last game was ended their cry was Eureka. Their old friends of the Eckford, it is to be hoped, will meet them at the Gothic Hall on this festive occasion, for it is to be a fraternal gathering of representatives from all the clubs, from Ontario lake to Nassau island, and from Camden to Utica.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 6, 1865
Fanciful, but containing a reminder that the Atlantic were the champion club of 1864, and apparently forgetful of the Club's matches with the Gotham in 1857 and 1858, which ended with the Gotham's ending of the series.
1865.13 Elysian? Yes. Sacred? No.
"The old (Elysian Field baseball) grounds have lately been greatly improved. Trees have been cut down, rocks have been taken up, hollows filled up and hills levelled, and in fact everything has been done to make the field one of the finest ball grounds in the country. Permanent seats are to be placed on the boundary line set apart for spectators, and henceforth no difficulty will be experienced in keeping the crowd from interfering with the players around the catcher's and first and third base player's positions."
New York Clipper, May 13, 1865
1865.15 Base Ball for the Haute Monde
"Base Ball. EXCELSIOR OF BROOKLYN VS. KNICKERBOCKER OF NEW YORK. The Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, which in 1860 was the model club of the United States, and which, socially speaking, has but few equals now, had a friendly game with their old competitors of the veteran Knickerbocker Club, the Nestors of base ball, yesterday, at Hoboken, and a most enjoyable meeting it was. On this interesting occasion the busy denizens of Wall street, Exchange place, &c., threw aside their speculative ideas for the time being, and ignoring oil and gold stocks seek the green turf, and with bats and balls chase dull care away in brilliant style."
New York Herald, July 8, 1865
1865.18 Atlantic Get Championship Flag
"FLAG PRESENTATION. Just as the game (Empire vs. Atlantic) commenced, a member of the Atlantic club, on behalf of Miss Emma Jean Boerum, presented to the Atlantic Base Ball Club a streamer 150 feet long. The Empire Club run it up their flag staff and it will henceforth wave as an emblem of championship until some club shall take it away. Such gifts are held in high esteem by the Atlantic boys, coming from the fair sex and so unexpectedly."
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 22, 1865
1865.20 Eagle Eyes Height and Weight
"The following table will give the champion nine, their age and weight...
Name Age Weight
Pearce,c 28 145 pounds
Pratt, p 21 140 "
Start, 1st b 23 160 "
Crane, 2d b 20 180 "
C. J. Smith, 3d b 29 150 "
Galvin, ss 23 160 "
Chapman, l f 22 155 "
P. O'Brien, c f 39 150 "
Sid. Smith, r f 23 135 "
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 24, 1865
First appearance of players' physical information, a staple of newspaper articles for many years.
1867.9 Your Tax Dollars At Work/Play
"...a number of the players had clerkships in that department and in
fact a fairly frequently reprinted quotation calls the Second Auditor's
office was "the birthplace of baseball in Washington."
19cbb post by David Ball, Dec. 16, 2002, quoting the Washington Star, 8/14/27 and Washington Evening Star, 10/1/33.
Creation of phantom jobs for ballplayers was a commonplace in baseball's amateur era.
1867.12 Post-War Spread of Baseball Noted
"The Base Ball Mania
Since the cruel war was over, the patriotism of our nation's young
men has commenced to manifest itself in the shape of a general
mania--no, not mania, but passion--for the game of base ball, generally
denominated our "national game," with evident propriety, seeing that it
is much better and much more generally played in American than in other
countries. The popularity of base ball was greatly increased,
especially at the West, within the present season. In Wisconsin, where,
three years ago, there was scarcely a club playing anything like the
"regulation" game, there are now probably not less than a hundred
clubs, all in the "full tide of successful operation." Nearly every
country newspaper that we take up contains either an account of a match
between the club of Dodge's Corners and the invincible First Nine of
Smithville, or else a notice for the "Irrepressibles," the "Athletics,"
the "Badgers," or the "Gophers" to turn out for practice on Saturday
afternoon. An immense amount of proper healthy physical exercise if
thus afforded, and a fearful amount of muscle and dexterity developed.
And at the same time the youths who thus disport themselves can have
the satisfaction of realizing that they are practicing at our great
nation's own patriotic game. "
Milwaukee Sentinel, July 25, 1867, per 19cbb post by Dennis Pajot, Jan. 28, 2010
1869.10 In Reconstruction SC, Riot Follows a Ball Game
In July 1869, a party of over 100 people, including a base ball club and a colored brass band, traveled south from Savannah to Charleston SC to play the Carolina Base Ball Club.
Savannah triumphed, 35-17, before a large, mixed-race crowd, which spilled onto the playing field after the game and before a throwing contest was to be held. Police and bayonet-wielding troops were summoned; a melee ensued, and in the process the Savannah band kept playing "Dixie."
Three weeks later, the Savannah Club returned. It won again, 57-36. And again there was violence, but it was limited this time.
Richard Hershberger, The Baseball Riot of 1869, Ordinary Times, February 4 2016. See http://ordinary-gentlemen.com/2016/02/04/the-baseball-race-riot-of-1869/. Richard's own sources are listed at the end of his article.
Richard contemplates whether to call this a base ball riot. "There clearly is an argument that baseball is incidental to the riot." The story shows where sports history and cultural history overlap.
For more on the Savannah club, see http://protoball.org/Savannah_Base_Ball_Club.