Chronology:Bat and Ball
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- 1 1755.6 NYS Traveler Notes Dutch Boys Playing "Bat and Ball"
- 2 1790.10 "Young Man's Amusements" Include "Bat and Ball"
- 3 1797.6 "Ample Space" Allowed "For Cricket, For Bat and Ball . . . "
- 4 1801.3 Book Portrays "Bat and Ball" as Inferior to Cricket
- 5 1802.4 Philadelphia Book: "Bat and Ball is an Inferior Kind of Cricket"
- 6 1805.2 Portland ME Bans "Playing at Bat and Ball in the Streets" in 1805, Retains Ban in 1824
- 7 1824.7 Bat and Ball, Cricket are Sunday Afternoon Pastimes
- 8 1832.10 Doc Adams' Sister Writes of Bat and Ball Play
- 9 1840.38 Boston-Style "Bat and Ball" Seen in Honolulu HI
- 10 1853.4 School Reader has Description of Bat and Ball
- 11 1855.43 In Boston, Olympic Beats Elm Tree, 75-46
- 12 1857.10 Rib-and-Ball Game in the Arctic: Baseball Fever Among the Chills?
- 13 1867.19 "Bat and Ball" featured in Chicago picnic
1755.6 NYS Traveler Notes Dutch Boys Playing "Bat and Ball"
Gideon Hawley (1727-1807), traveling through the area where Binghamton now is, wrote: "even at the celebration of the Lord's supper [the Dutch boys] have been playing bat and ball the whole term around the house of God."
Hawley, Gideon, Rev. Gideon Hawley's Journal [Broome County, NY 1753], page 1041. Collection of Tom Heitz. Per Patricia Millen, From Pastime to Passion , page 2.
Writing in 2011, Brian Turner discerns that "bat and ball" maybe the name of a defined game, and not just a generic term. See Brian Turner, "Bat and Ball: A Distinct Game or a Generic Term?", Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 37-40. He finds several uses of the phrase in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, most of them north and east of Boston.
1790.10 "Young Man's Amusements" Include "Bat and Ball"
'[A]t the same time a game called simply 'bat and ball' began to be appear in English writings. A 1790 book listed a young man's amusements as including 'marbles, bat and ball [and] hop-step-and-jump.'"
David Block, German Book Describes das English Base-ball, Base Ball, volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), page 51. The original source is Incidents of Youthful Life; or, the True History of William Langley (1790), page 94.
1797.6 "Ample Space" Allowed "For Cricket, For Bat and Ball . . . "
"A 1797 newspaper article, praising the layout of a new school ground, noted "it affords ample space for cricket, for bat and ball, or any other school-boy exercise."
David Block, German Book Describes das English Base-ball, Base Ball, volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), page 51. The original source is Westminster School, The Oracle and Pubic Advertiser (London), August 24, 1797.
1801.3 Book Portrays "Bat and Ball" as Inferior to Cricket
"CRICKET. This play requires more strength than some boys possess, to manage the ball in a proper manner; it must therefore be left to the more robust lads, who are fitter for such athletic exercises. Bat and ball is an inferior kind of cricket, and more suitable for little children, who may safely play at it, if they will be careful not to break windows."
Youthful Sports[London], pp 47-48., per David Block, page 184. An 1802 version of this book, published in Baltimore, is similar to the chapbook at #1801.2, but does not include trap-ball.
1802.4 Philadelphia Book: "Bat and Ball is an Inferior Kind of Cricket"
CRICKET. This play requires more strength than some boys possess. . . it must therefore be left to more robust lads, who are fitter. . . . Bat and ball in an inferior kind of cricket, and more suitable for little children . . . if they will be careful not to break windows."
Youthful Sports (Jacob Johnson, Philadelphia, 1802), pp 47-48, per 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 243.
1805.2 Portland ME Bans "Playing at Bat and Ball in the Streets" in 1805, Retains Ban in 1824
[A] "[N]o person shall play at the game of bat and ball or shall strike any ball with a bat or other machine in the streets, lanes, or squares of the town on penalty of fifty cents."
[B] "It is ordered by the town, That no person shall play at the game of bat and ball, or shall strike any ball with a bat or other machine, or throw any stones, brickbats, clubs or snow balls, in the streets, lanes, or squares of the town, on penalty of fifty cents for each offence [sic]."
[A] By Laws of the Town of Portland, in the County of Cumberland, 2nd Edition (John McKown, Portland, 1805), p. 15. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball" (2000), reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, see p. 244 and note #70.
[B] By-Laws of the Town of Portland, (Adams and Paine, printers, 1824).
It seems plausible that the fuller language also appeared in the 1805 printing, but was not reported in Tom's 2000 account.
Can we imagine what "other machines" were employed to propel balls in the streets of Portland? Note: Additional origins researchers' comments on the meaning or "other machines" is shown in Supplemental Text, below.
1824.7 Bat and Ball, Cricket are Sunday Afternoon Pastimes
"on Sunday, after afternoon service, the young people joined in foot-ball and hurling, bat and ball, or cricket."
Does the context of this excerpt reveal anything further about the region, circumstance, or participants in this ball-playing?
1832.10 Doc Adams' Sister Writes of Bat and Ball Play
In a June 1832 letter to her 17-year-old brother at Amherst, the 10-year-old Nancy Ann Adams wrote, "I felt very lonesome after you and the rest were gone. I have not played with your bat and ball as you bid me."
Her brother is Daniel Lucius "Doc" Adams, who was to become a key member of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club about eight years later.
Letter, Nancy A. Adams to D. L. Adams, 7/15/1832, from Mount Vernon NH.
John Thorn notes: "The game that the future Doc Adams played with these objects is not known."
"A game called "bat and ball" is known to have been played in NH, and her wording echoes that name.
"Even a hint that a girl would be tempted to take up a bat and ball is notable in US ballplaying history."
1840.38 Boston-Style "Bat and Ball" Seen in Honolulu HI
"Sports in Honolulu. One evidence of the increasing civilization in this place, and not the least gratifying, is to see the ardor with which the native youth of both sexes engage in the same old games which used to warm our blood not long since. There's good old bat and ball, just the same as when was ran from the school house to the 'Common' to exercise our skill that way; and then there is something which looks much like 'quorum,' and 'tag' too . . . ."
Polynesian, December 26, 1840. Posted to the 19CBB listserve by George Thompson January 3, 2010. Accessed via subscription search May 4, 2009. George sees the column as likely written by the newspaper's editor, James Jarves, who was born in Boston in 1818.
1853.4 School Reader has Description of Bat and Ball
Sanders, Charles W., The School Reader; First Book (Newburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, assorted publishers). This is another Sanders reader (see entries above for 1840, 1841, 1846), this one with an illustration of four boys playing a ball game at recess. A drawing is titled "Boys Playing at Bat and Ball."
Oddly enough, two of the four boys seem to be carrying bats. One appears to have hit the ball toward a boy in the foreground, and a second boy stands near to him, with a bat in hand, watching him prepare to catch the ball. "[H]e will catch the ball when it comes down. Then it will be his turn to take the bat and knock the ball."
No bases or wickets are apparent in the drawing. No pitching or baserunning is mentioned.
per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 215.
In 2013, David Block notes that the 1858 edition of this book includes a different image, where a fifth player appears, and three of them hold bats: see below: "In the newer  edition, all five of the boys are standing around a tree . . . . The bats, especially in the 1858 illustration, appear to be flat-faced, though not as broad as a cricket bat. There are no visible wickets or bases . . . It is impossible to know what sort of game(s) the artists were trying to represent, although my impression is of some sort of fungo game, with one player hitting the ball in the air and the others trying to catch or retrieve. The one who succeeds gets to bat next. Just a guess.
(Email from David Block, 2/7/2013.)
Is it possible that this is a fungo-style game? Is it possible that may other "plaing ball" references denote fungo games?
Do we know of any other fungo games in which more than a single bat is used?
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.
1857.10 Rib-and-Ball Game in the Arctic: Baseball Fever Among the Chills?
Kane, Elisah Kent, Arctic Explorations: the Second Grinnell Expedition in Search of Sir John Franklin, 1853, '54, '55, volume 2 [Philadelphia, Childs and Peterson]. The author, observing a native village, watches as "children, each one armed with the curved rib of some big amphibian, are playing bat and ball among the drifts." Block notes that the accompanying engraving playing with long, curved bones as bats.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 218.
1867.19 "Bat and Ball" featured in Chicago picnic
The Chicago Tribune, July 18, 1867 has an ad for the 6th annual St. George's Day picnic. Among the "old English sports" to be played at the picnic are cricket and "trap, bat and ball."
The Chicago Tribune, July 18, 1867