|Misc BB Firsts|
|Add a Misc BB First|
|About the Chronology|
|Tom Altherr Dedication|
|Add a Chronology Entry|
- 1 1500s.1 Ballplaying Permitted at College of Tours in France, If Done 'Cum Silentio'
- 2 1729.1 At Harvard, Batt and Ball "Stirs Our Bloud Greatly"
- 3 1747.1 Poet Thomas Gray: "Urge the Flying Ball."
- 4 1760s.1 Harvard Man Recalls Cricket, "Various Games of Bat and Ball" on Campus
- 5 1761.1 Princeton Faculty [NJ] Disparages "Playing at Ball"
- 6 1761.2 School Rule in PA; No Ballplaying in the College Yard, Especially in Front of Trustees and Profs
- 7 1771.1 Dartmouth President Finds Gardening "More Useful" Than Ballplaying
- 8 1780.10 Dartmouth College Fine for Ballplay - Two Shillings
- 9 1781.2 "Antient" Harvard Custom: Freshmen Furnish the Bats, Balls
- 10 1781.3 "Game at Ball" Variously Perceived at Harvard College
- 11 1784.1 UPenn Bans Ball Playing Near Open University Windows
- 12 1786.1 "Baste Ball" Played at Princeton
- 13 1787.1 Ballplaying Prohibited at Princeton - Shinny or Early Base Ball?
- 14 1793.1 Engraving Shows Game with Wickets at Dartmouth College
- 15 1796.2 Williams College Student Notes Ballplaying in Winter Months
- 16 1797.1 Daniel Webster Writes of "Playing Ball" While at Dartmouth
- 17 1803.4 Middlebury College VT Bans Ballplaying
- 18 1805.1 Williams College Bans Dangerous Ball-playing
- 19 1807.3 Lost Poet Remembers College Ballplay, Maybe in Baltimore
- 20 1810c.4 Union College [Upstate NY] Students Play Baseball-Like Game
- 21 1810s.5 Harvard Library Worker Recalls Occasional Bi-racial Ball Play in Harvard Yard
- 22 1815.6 Group at Dartmouth Ponders Worth of Ballplaying, Nocturnal Cowhunting
- 23 1817.4 In Brunswick ME, Bowdoin College Sets 20-Cent Fine for Ballplaying
- 24 1818.1 Yale Student Reports Cricket on Campus
- 25 1818.3 "Baseball" at West Point NY?
- 26 1820c.13 A Wry View of Cricket Match on Yale Campus
- 27 1810s.10 Ballplaying at Bowdoin College
- 28 1820c.27 Columbia College (NY) Students, Locals, Play at Battery Grounds
- 29 1820s.33 Harvard Man: "We had Baseball"
- 30 1820s.34 Impromptu Ballplaying Recalled at Transylvania University
- 31 1822.5 Ball-playing Disallowed in Front of Hobart College Residence
- 32 1824.1 Longfellow on Life at Bowdoin College: "Ball, Ball, Ball"
- 33 1824.5 Ballplaying Now Condoned at Dartmouth College
- 34 1825.5 Base Ball Called One of the College Sports as Early as 1825.
- 35 1825c.14 Future Ohio Governor is "Best Ball Player at the College"
- 36 1827.1 Brown U Student Reports "Play at Ball"
- 37 1829c.1 Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Plays Ball as a Harvard student.
- 38 1830s.22 Ballplaying Recurs in Abolitionist's Life -- From Age 10 to Harvard
- 39 1834.5 Cricket Play Begins at Haverford College
- 40 1836.1 "Old-fashioned 'Ball'" Popular in Waterville ME
- 41 1836.6 Georgetown U Students "play Ball"
- 42 1836.13 "Errant Rogue," in Poem, Prefers Ball to Study
- 43 1837.3 Yale Student Sees College Green Covered With Ballplaying
- 44 1838.5 At GA, "Baseball and Cricket Had Not Evolved"
- 45 1839.3 Rutherford Hayes Plays Ball as Student at Kenyon College, OH
- 46 1840s.4 Preppies Brought Base Ball to College Campuses?
- 47 1840s.28 At Hobart College, "Wicket and Baseball Played in Summer"
- 48 1840c.34 Ball-Playing at Marshall College in PA
- 49 1840c.39 Cricket [or Maybe Wicket?] Played by Harvard Class of 1841
- 50 1841.13 At Yale, Wicket Now Seen as "Ungenteel"
- 51 1842.3 Harvard Man George Hoar Writes of Playing "Simple Game We Called Base"
- 52 1842c.9 Haverford Students Form Cricket Team of Americans
- 53 1843.4 On Yale's Green, Many a "Brisk Game of Wicket"
- 54 1845.19 Painter Depicts Some Type of Old-Fashioned Ball?
- 55 1846.7 Amherst Juniors Drop Wicket Game, 77 to 53: says Young Billjamesian
- 56 1846.8 Amherst Alum Recalls How Wicket Was Played
- 57 1846.13 Spring Sports at Harvard: "Bat & Ball" and Cricket
- 58 1848.8 Cricket Flourishes at Haverford College PA
- 59 1848c.9 Young Benjamin Harrison Plays Town Ball, Baste in OH
- 60 1850s.18 Baseball's Beginnings at U Penn?
- 61 1850c.35 U. of Michigan Alum Recalls Baseball, Wicket, Old-Cat Games
- 62 1850c.36 Wicket Ball in Amherst MA
- 63 1850s.43 South Carolina College Students Make Do with Town Ball, "Cat"
- 64 1850s.48 'Bama Boys Play Town Ball on Campus
- 65 1851.5 Robert E. Lee Promotes Cricket at West Point?
- 66 1852.12 Ball-playing Prohibited Near UNC Buildings
- 67 1853c.13 At Harvard, Most Students Played Baseball and Football, Some Cricket or Four-Old-Cat
- 68 1854.10 Ball Played at Hobart College, Geneva NY
- 69 1854.13 English Visitor Sees Wicket at Harvard
- 70 1856.31 First Scholastic Play?
- 71 1857.23 Princeton Freshmen Establish Nassau Base Ball Club
- 72 1857c.34 Wicket Played at Eastern OH College; Future President Excels
- 73 1858.8 Harvard Student Magazine Notes "Multitude" Playing Base or Cricket There
- 74 1858.29 First Recorded College Game at Williams College
- 75 1858c.44 Wolverines and Wicket
- 76 1858.51 At Harvard, Two Clubs Play Series of Games by New York Rules
- 77 1858.53 At Kenyon College, Base Ball Takes Unusual Form
- 78 1859.1 First Intercollegiate Ballgame: Amherst 73, Williams 32
- 79 1859.2 Collegiate Game [the First Played by NY Rules?] in NYC
- 80 1859.11 Union College Forms Base Ball Team
- 81 1859.17 Club Forms at College of New Jersey
- 82 1859.38 NYU Forms a Base Ball Club
- 83 1860.23 NY Game Gets to ME
- 84 1860.25 Wicket and Base Ball at Kenyon College, OH
- 85 1860.63 "Good Old-fashioned Base Ball" in Hawaii
- 86 1862.6 Harvard Seeks Base Ball Rivals, Settles on Brown
1500s.1 Ballplaying Permitted at College of Tours in France, If Done 'Cum Silentio'
"Parisian legislators were more sympathetic with regard to games than their English contemporaries. Even the Founder of the Cisterian College of St Bernard contemplated that permission might be obtained for games, though not before dinner or after the bell rang for vespers. A sixteenth century code of statutes for the College of Tours, while recording the complaints of the neighbors about the noise made by the scholars playing ball ('de insolentiis, exclamationibus et ludis palmariis dictorum scholarium, qui ludent . . . pilis durissimis') permitted the game under less noisy conditions ('pilis seu scopes mollibus et manu, ac cum silentio et absque clamoribus tumultuosis.')
Rait, Robert S., Life in the Medieval University [Cambridge University Press, 1912], p. 83. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.
1729.1 At Harvard, Batt and Ball "Stirs Our Bloud Greatly"
From Harvard College,
In a letter written from Harvard College dated March 30, 1729 to Nicholas Gilman, John Seccomb wrote: “The Batchelors Play Batt & Ball mightily now adays which Stirs our bloud greatly”
Nicholas Gilman papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, as cited in Clifford K. Shipton, New England Life in the Eighteenth Century (Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 287.
Brian Turner notes that this find "predates by 33 years the 1762 ban on bat-and-ball (along with foot-ball, cricket, and throwing snow-balls and stones in the streets of Salem -- see entry 1762.2). It also predates by two decades a reference in a 1750s French & Indian war diary kept by Benjamin Glazier of Ipswich." (See entry 1758.1)
Gilman was from a leading family of New Hampshire, mainly centered in Exeter, a bit inland from Portsmouth, where Elwyn gave a description of 1810's "bat & ball," in which he certainly seems to name a specific game. (See entry 1810s.9). Seccomb, also spelled Seccombe, was born and lived in Medford, Mass., and later in life wound up in Nova Scotia -- not because he was a Loyalist, but for other reasons.
Brian notes that "By “Batchelors,” Gilman probably means students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, hence the categorization of this entry under "Youth." For over two centuries, 14 was the age at which boys entered Harvard." (Email of 9/1/2014.)
1747.1 Poet Thomas Gray: "Urge the Flying Ball."
"What idle progeny succeed
Thomas Gray, "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College," lines 28-30. Accessed 12/29/2007 at http://www.thomasgray.org. "Rolling circle" had been drafted as "hoop," and thus does not connote ballplay. Cricket writers have seen "flying ball" as a cricket reference, but a Gray scholar cites "Bentley's Print" as a basis for concluding that Gray was referring to trap ball in this line. Steel and Lyttelton note that this poem was first published in 1747. Note: is it fair to assume that Gray is evoking student play at Eton in this ode? Do modern scholars agree with the 1747 publication date?
1760s.1 Harvard Man Recalls Cricket, "Various Games of Bat and Ball" on Campus
Writing of the Buttery on the Harvard campus in Cambridge MA, Sidney Willard later recalled that "[b]esides eatable, everything necessary for a student was there sold, and articles used in the play-grounds, as bats, balls, &c. . . . [w]e wrestled and ran, played at quoits, at cricket, and various games of bat and ball, whose names perhaps are obsolete."
Sidney Willard, Memories of Youth and Manhood [John Bartlett, Cambridge, 1855], volume 1, pp 31 and 316. Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 44.
1761.1 Princeton Faculty [NJ] Disparages "Playing at Ball"
"A minute of the Princeton faculty of May, 1761, frowns upon students "playing at ball."
Bentley, et. al., American College Athletics [Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, New York, 1929], pages 14-15. Submitted by John Thorn, 6/6/04.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
1761.2 School Rule in PA; No Ballplaying in the College Yard, Especially in Front of Trustees and Profs
"None shall climb over the Fences of the College Yard, or come in or out thro the Windows, or play Ball or use any Kind of Diversion within the Walls of the Building; nor shall they in the Presence of the Trustees, Professors or Tutors, play Ball, Wrestle, make any indecent Noise, or behave in any way rudely in the College Yard or Streets adjacent."
Sack, Saul, History of Higher Education in Pennsylvania, vol. 2 [Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, 1963], page 632. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004. Note: do we know the college? UPa?
1771.1 Dartmouth President Finds Gardening "More Useful" Than Ballplaying
Dartmouth College's founding president Eleazar Wheelock thought his students should "turn the course of their diversions and exercises for their health, to the practice of some manual arts, or cultivation of gardens and other lands at the proper hours of leisure." That would be "more useful" than the tendency of some non-Dartmouth students to engage in "that which is puerile, such as playing with balls, bowls and other ways of diversion."
Eleazar Wheelock, A Continuation of the Narrative , as quoted in W. D. Quint, The Story of Dartmouth College (Little, Brown, Boston, 1914) , page 246. Submitted by Scott Meacham, 8/21/06. Dartmouth is in Hanover NH.
1780.10 Dartmouth College Fine for Ballplay - Two Shillings
"If any student shall play ball or use any other diversion that exposes the College or hall windows within three rods of either he shall be fined two shillings . . . " In 1782 the protected area was extended to six rods.
-- Dartmouth College, 1779.
John King Lord, A History of Dartmouth College 1815-1909 (Rumford Press, Concord NH, 1913), page 593. 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 35 and refs #38 through 40. See also Chron entry #1771.1.
1781.2 "Antient" Harvard Custom: Freshmen Furnish the Bats, Balls
"The Freshmen shall furnish Batts, Balls, and Foot-balls, for the use of the students, to be kept at the Buttery."
Rule 16, "President, Professors, and Tutor's Book," volume IV. The list of rules is headed "The antient Customs of Harvard College, established by the Government of it."
Conveyed to David Block, April 18, 2005, by Professor Harry R. Lewis, Harvard University, Cambridge MA. Dr. Lewis adds, "The buttery was a sort of supply room, not just for butter. Who is to say what the "Batts" and "Balls" were to be used for, but it is interesting that any bat and ball game could already have been regarded as ancient at Harvard in 1781."
Dr. Lewis has written a essay on early ballplaying at Harvard College; see Harry Lewis, "Protoball at Harvard: from Pastime to Contest," Base Ball Journal (Special Origins Issue), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 41-45.
1781.3 "Game at Ball" Variously Perceived at Harvard College
"And that no other person was present in said area, except a boy who, they say was playing with a Ball From the testimony some of the persons in the kitchen it appeared that the company there assembled were very noisy That some game at Ball was played That some of the company called on the Boy to keep tally; which Boy was seen by the same person, repeated by running after the Ball, with a penknife & stick in his hand, on which stick notches were cut That a Person who tarried at home at Dr. Appleton's was alarmed by an unusual noise about three o'clock, & on looking out the window, saw in the opening between Hollis & Stoughton, four or five persons, two of whom were stripped of their coats, running about, sometimes stooping down & apparently throwing something . . ."
Source: Harvard College Faculty Records (Volume IV, 1775-1781), call number UAIII 5.5.2, page 220 (1781).
Posted to 19CBB by Kyle DeCicco-Carey [date?]
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?
1786.1 "Baste Ball" Played at Princeton
From a Princetlon student's diary:
"A fine day, play baste ball in the campus but am beaten for I miss both catching and striking the ball."
Smith, John Rhea, March 22 1786, in "Journal at Nassau Hall," Princeton Library MSS, AM 12800. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 240 (ref # 45). Also found in Gerald S. Couzens, A Baseball Album [Lippincott and Crowell, NY, 1980], page 15. Per Guschov, page 153.
This use of the tern "baste ball" precedes the first known use of "base ball" in the US: see protoball entry 1791.1.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
An article has appeared about Smith's journal. See Woodward, Ruth, "Journal at Nassau Hall," PULC 46 (1985), pp. 269-291, and PULC 47 (1986), pp 48-70. Note: Does this article materially supplement our appreciation of Smith's brief comment?
1787.1 Ballplaying Prohibited at Princeton - Shinny or Early Base Ball?
"It appearing that a play at present much practiced by the smaller boys . . . with balls and sticks," the faculty of Princeton University prohibits such play on account of its being dangerous as well as "low and unbecoming gentlemen students."
Quoted without apparent reference in Henderson, pp. 136-7. Sullivan, on 7/29/2005, cited Warnum L. Collins, "Princeton," page 208, per Harold Seymour's dissertation.
Wallace quotes the faculty minute [November 26, 1787] in George R. Wallace, Princeton Sketches: The Story of Nassau Hall (Putnam's Sons, New York, 1894), page 77, but he does not cite Collins. The Wallace book was accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Book search for "'princeton sketches.'" The college is in Princeton NJ.
Caveat: Collins - and Wallace -believed that the proscribed game was shinny, and Altherr makes the same judgment - see 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 35-36.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
Can we determine why this "shiny" inference was made?
1793.1 Engraving Shows Game with Wickets at Dartmouth College
A copper engraving showing Dartmouth College appeared in Massachusetts Magazine in February 1793. It is the earliest known drawing of the College, and shows a wicket-oriented game being played in the yard separating college buildings. College personnel suggest is an early form of cricket, given the tall wicket which is not known for the New England pastime of wicket.
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
1797.1 Daniel Webster Writes of "Playing Ball" While at Dartmouth
Daniel Webster, in private correspondence, writes of "playing at ball," while a student at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.
Webster, Daniel, Private Correspondence, Fletcher Webster, ed. [Little Brown, Boston 1857], volume 1, p. 66. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, p. 240 (ref #46).
On 7/31/2005, George Thompson added that "Volume 17, page 66 of the National Edition of his Writings and Speeches is supposed to have a reference by one Hotchkiss to Webster playing ball at Dartmouth."
Altherr [p. 27] puts this date "at the turn of the century." Do we know where the 1797 date originated? Was Webster at Dartmouth then?
1803.4 Middlebury College VT Bans Ballplaying
"To prevent, as far as possible, the damages before enumerated, viz. breaking of glass, &c. the students in College and members of the Academy shall not be permitted to play at ball or use any other sport or diversion in or near the College-building." [A first offense brought a fine, a second offense brought suspension.]
-- The Laws of Middlebury College, 1803.
"Of the location of Students, Damages, and Glass," in Laws of Middlebury-College in Midlebury [sic] in Vermont, Enacted by the President and Fellows, the 17th Day of August, 1803, page 14. 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 35 and ref #37.
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.
1807.3 Lost Poet Remembers College Ballplay, Maybe in Baltimore
Garrett Barry wrote in his sentimental verse "On Leaving College:"
"I'll fondly tract, with fancy's aid,/The spot where all our sports were made./ . . .
The little train forever gay,/With joy obey'd the pleasing call,/And nimbly urged the flying ball."
Barry, Garrett, "On Leaving College," in Poems, on Several Occasions (Cole and Co., Baltimore, 1807), no page given: Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see pages 240. Note: Can we determine from biographical information where and when Barry attended college? Is it significant that Barry reprises the phrase "urge the flying ball," seen as a cricket phrase in Pope [see #1730.1] and Gray [#1747.1]? Did Barry live/play in MD? 2008 update: John Thorn [email of 2/3/2008] discovers that others have been unable to determine exactly who the poet was, as there were three people with the name Garrett Barry in that area at that time. One of the three, who died at thirty in 1810, attended St. Mary's College in Baltimore.
1810c.4 Union College [Upstate NY] Students Play Baseball-Like Game
"Between the college building and Green Street [in Schenectady] was a large [Union] College play-ground. Their principal game was somewhat of a rudimentary type of base-ball, a crooked stick was used as a bat and a ball made of yarn took the place of the common ball now used."
The [Union College] Concordiensis, Volume VI, number 8 (May 1883). page 203.
Cited as a game 'on the old West College playground' in Somers, Wayne, Encyclopedia of Union College History [Union College Press, Schenectady NY, 2003], page 89.
This item appears to be a reminiscence by the 90-year old William K. Fuller, who had entered Union at age 13 (c. 1806) and graduated in 1810.
1810s.5 Harvard Library Worker Recalls Occasional Bi-racial Ball Play in Harvard Yard
"During my employment at Cambridge [MA] the College yard continued without gates. The Stage passed through it; and though I was very attentive to the hour, I could not always avoid injury from the Stage horn. Blacks and Whites occasionally played together at ball in the College yard."
William Croswell, letter drafted to the Harvard Corporation, December 1827. Papers of William Croswell, Call number HUG 1306.5, Harvard University Archives.
Supplied by Kyle DeCicco-Carey, 8/8/2007.
Finder Kyle DeCicco-Carey notes that Croswell was an 1780 Harvard graduate who worked in the college library 1812-1821.
1815.6 Group at Dartmouth Ponders Worth of Ballplaying, Nocturnal Cowhunting
Dartmouth College in Hanover NH had a religious society, the Religiosi. "In April, 1815, at one of the meetings, a 'conversation was held on the propriety, or rather the impropriety, of professed [Christians - bracketed in original] joining in the common amusement of ballplaying with the students for exercise.'" Shortly thereafter "there were many spirited remarks on the subject of nocturnal cowhunting, and the society was unanimous in condemning it." John King Lord, A History of Dartmouth College 1815-1909 (Rumford Press, Concord NH, 1913), page 564. Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search of "'history of Dartmouth.'" Note: Did they condone diurnal cowhunting?
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.
1818.1 Yale Student Reports Cricket on Campus
A student at Yale University reports that cricket and football are played on campus [need cite]. Lester, however, says that he doubts the student saw English cricket, and that, given that the site is CT, it was probably wicket. Lester notes that wicket involved sides of 30 to 35 players, and was played in an alley 75 feet long, and with oversized bats.
Lester, ed., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [U Penn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 7.
1818.3 "Baseball" at West Point NY?
"Although playing ball games near the barracks was prohibited, cadets could play 'at football' near Fort Clinton or north of the large boulder neat the site of the present Library. [Benjamin] Latrobe makes curious mention of a game call 'baseball' played in this area. Unfortunately, he did not describe the game. Could it be that cadets in the 1818-1822 period played the game that Abner Doubleday may have modified later to become the present sport?"
Pappas, George S., To The Point: The United States Military Academy 1802 - 1902 [Praeger, Westport Connecticut, 1993], page 145. Note: Pappas evidently does not give a source for the Latrobe statement. I assume that the 1818-1822 dates correspond to Latrobe's time at West Point.
1820c.13 A Wry View of Cricket Match on Yale Campus
"On the green and easy slope where those proud columns stand,
In Dorian mood, with academe and temple on each hand,
The foot-ball and the cricket-match upon my vision rise
With all the clouds of classic dust kicked in each other' eyes."
This verse is incorporated without attribution in Brooks Mather Kelley, Yale: a History (Yale University Press, New Haven CT, 1974), page 214. Kelley's commentary: "[Cricket] may have been a sport at Yale then [in the Colonial period]. The first clear reference to it, owever, is in one stanza of a poem about Yale life in 1818 to 1822." Ibid. Is Yale shielding us from some racy student rhymes? Oh, not to worry: From a rival Ivy League source we see that Lester identifies the poet as William Cromwell - John A. Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket (U of Penn Press, Philadelphia PA, 1951), page7. Note: OK, so who was William Cromwell, and why did he endow so many chairs at Yale?
1810s.10 Ballplaying at Bowdoin College
Nehemiah Cleaveland and Alpheus Spring Packard, History of Bowdoin College with Biographical Sketches of the Graduates (Osgood and Company, Boston, 1882). 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.
"The student of earlier years had not the resources for healthful physical recreation of the present day [1880s]. We had football and baseball, though the latter was much less formal and formidable than the present game" [Page 96]. Note: the precise time referenced here is hard to specify; but the authors graduated in 1813 and 1816, and the context seems to suggest the 1810-1830 period.
Only one of the book's many sketches of alumni, however, mentions ballplaying of any type. The sketch for James Patten, Class of 1823, includes this: "He entered college at the mature age of twenty-four, was a respectable scholar, spoke with a decided brogue, and played ball admirably. . . . When last heard from he was an acting magistrate and a rich old bachelor." [Page 276] The sketch for Longfellow, who in 1824 wrote of constant campus ballplaying [see #1824.1], does not allude to sport.
1820c.27 Columbia College (NY) Students, Locals, Play at Battery Grounds
"Of those [students] of Columbia, I write advisedly - they were not members of a boat club, base-ball, or foot-ball team. On Saturday afternoons, in the fall of the year, a few students would meet in the 'hollow' on the Battery, and play an irregular game of football . . . As this 'hollow' was the locale of base-ball, "marbles," etc., and as it has long since been obliterated, and in its existence was the favorite resort of schoolboys and all others living in the lower part of the city, it is worthy of record"
Haswell recalls the Battery grounds as "very nearly the entire area bounded by Whitehall and State Streets, the sea wall line, and a line about two hundred feet to the west; it was of an uniform grade, fully five feet below that of the street, it was nearly uniform in depth, and as regular in its boundary as a dish."
Charles Haswell, Reminiscences of an Octogenarian of the City of New York (1816 to 1860) (Harper and Brothers, New York, 1896), pages 81-82. Citation supplied by John Thorn, email of 2/3/2008. Accessed 2/4/10 via Google Books search (octogenarian 1816).
1820s.33 Harvard Man: "We had Baseball"
"Boating[,] which now prevails so largely in Harvard, had not yet come, but we had baseball and football in their season."
-- James Freeman Clarke, Harvard Class of 1829
E. Hale, ed., James Freman Clarke: Autobiography, Diary, and Correspondence (Boston, 1891), page 44.
1820s.34 Impromptu Ballplaying Recalled at Transylvania University
"Inter-collegiate or intramural sports in the college were almost nonexistent. There were periods of relaxation in the afternoons, and impromptu ballgames, or ice-skating, racing, walking, etc., but there was no gymnasium, and no organized or supervised physical education."
-- Albea Godbold, author, 1944
John D. Wright, Transylvania: Tutor to the West (Lexington KY, 1975), p. 95. This material is footnoted to Albea Godbold, The Church College in the South (Durham, 1944), page 102 [not inspected by Protoball as of 2020]. 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 33.
Transylvania University was the first college located west of the Allegheny Mountains, and the first in Kentucky. One prominent graduate was Jefferson Davis [insert your joke here.]
This section of the book is evidently an account of life at the university in the 1820s.
1822.5 Ball-playing Disallowed in Front of Hobart College Residence
"The rules for Geneva Hall in 1822 are still preserved. The residents were not allowed to cut or saw firewood, or play ball or quoits, in front of the building."
Warren Hunting Smith, Hobart and William Smith; the History of Two Colleges (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva NY, 1972. Provided by Priscilla Astifan, email of 2/4/2008.
1824.1 Longfellow on Life at Bowdoin College: "Ball, Ball, Ball"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, then a student at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, writes: "This has been a very sickly term in college. However, within the last week, the government seeing that something must be done to induce the students to exercise, recommended a game of ball now and then; which communicated such an impulse to our limbs and joints, that there is nothing now heard of, in our leisure hours, but ball, ball, ball. . . . [S]ince, there has been a thorough-going reformation from inactivity and turpitude."
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, letter to his father Stephen Longfellow, April 11, 1824, in Samuel Longfellow, ed., Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with Extracts from His Journals and Correspondence [Ticknor and Company, Boston 1886],volume 1, p. 51. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. 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. 187.
Reprinted in Andrew Hilen, ed., Henry Wadsworth Longefellow, the Letters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, vol. 1 1814 - 1836 [Harvard University Press, 1966], page 87. Submitted by George Thompson, 7/31/2005.
1824.5 Ballplaying Now Condoned at Dartmouth College
During 1824 the village of Hanover NH authorized "the playing at ball or any game in which ball is used on the public common in front of Dartmouth College, set apart by the Trustees thereof among the purposes for a playground for their students." John K. Lord, A History of the Town of Hanover New Hampshire [Dartmouth Press, Hanover NH, 1928], page 23. Submitted by Scott Meacham 8/21/2006.
1825.5 Base Ball Called One of the College Sports as Early as 1825.
"What we know as Base Ball was played in its primitive form as far back as the beginning of the last [19th] century, and many of the oldest inhabitants remember seeing it played. It was one of the college sports as early as 1825."
Francis C. Richter, Richter's History and Records of Base Ball; The American Nation's Chief Sport [McFarland, 2005], page 4. Originally published in 1914. Cited as Richter, History and Records , page 12, by Harold Seymour - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Seymour notes that Richter was editor of Sporting Life in 1906.
1825c.14 Future Ohio Governor is "Best Ball Player at the College"
John Brough was the Governor of Ohio from 1864 to 1865. At the age of 11 his father died and he took on work as a type-setter. In 1825 he "entered the Ohio University, at Athens, where he pursued a scientific course, with the addition of Latin . . . . He was fleet of foot and the best ball player at college."
Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Generals and Soldiers Volume 1 (Moore Wilstach and Baldwin, Cincinnati, 1868), page 1022. Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search ("ohio in the war"). Athens OH is in Eastern Ohio near the WV border, and about 70 miles SE of Columbus.
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?
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.
1830s.22 Ballplaying Recurs in Abolitionist's Life -- From Age 10 to Harvard
You may think of Thomas Wentworth Higginson [b. 1823] as a noted abolitionist, or as the mentor of Emily Dickinson, but he was also a ballplayer and sporting advocate [see also #1858.17]. Higginson's autobiography includes several glimpses of MA ballplaying:
- at ten he knew many Harvard students - "their nicknames, their games, their individual haunts, we watched them at football and cricket [page 40]"
- at his Cambridge school "there was perpetual playing of ball and fascinating running games [page 20]".
- he and his friends "played baseball and football, and a modified cricket, and on Saturdays made our way to the tenpin alleys [page 36]".
- once enrolled at Harvard College [Class of 1841] himself, he used "the heavy three-cornered bats and large balls of the game we called cricket [page 60]." Note: sounds a bit like wicket?
- in his early thirties he was president of a cricket club [and a skating club and a gymnastics club] in Worcester MA. [Pages 194-195]
See also #1858.17.
Source: Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1898). 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 33-34 and ref #29. Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search for <cheerful yesterdays>.
1834.5 Cricket Play Begins at Haverford College
"The first cricket club of entirely native-born American youth was founded at Haverford College in PA. In a manuscript diary kept by an unknown student during the first two years of the existence of the college, under the date of 1834, occurs this entry: 'About this time a new game was introduced among the students called Cricket. The school was divided into several clubs or associations, each of which was provided with the necessary instruments for playing the game.'"
John A. Lester, ed., , A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 11. Lester does not provide a source.
1836.1 "Old-fashioned 'Ball'" Popular in Waterville ME
"Baseball and foot ball did not, in those days, ensnare the athletic sympathies and activities of [p36/p37] college boys, but old-fashioned 'ball' and quoits were popular."
Asahel C. Kendrick, Martin B. Anderson: A Biography (American Baptist Publications Society, Philadelphia, 1895), pp 36-37. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Seymour's note implies that the section heading in which this text appears is "(1836) "Ball" at Waterville [Later Colby College]." Sources found by John Thorn [email of 2/9/2008] and Mark Aubrey [email of 1/30/2008].
1836.6 Georgetown U Students "play Ball"
In a letter to a friend in 1836, a Georgetown Student wrote, "the Catholics think it no harm to play Ball, Draughts, or play the Fiddle and dance of a Sunday . . . "
Cited in Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see page 241, cited as follows: Georgetown Student Letter, August 27, 1836, quoted in Betty Spears and Richard Swanson, History of Sport and Physical Activity in the United States, Second Edition (William C. Brown, Dubuque, 1983), page 85.
1836.13 "Errant Rogue," in Poem, Prefers Ball to Study
The Dissipated Collegian
"Tis said there was a certain wight,
Whose mother-wit was very bright,
An errant rogue, and even bolder
Than many rogues a good deal older; . . .
This wight of ours disdained to study
And hated books in soul and body;
His lessons, therefore, were neglected
Though he as often was corrected;
But when there was a chance to play,
Our rogue would slily run away;
Yet, had he given due attention,
(So powerful was his comprehension,)
He might have been the first of all
In science, as in playing ball;
He might have done as great exploits
In study as in pitching quoits; . . . .
Selection of Juvenile and Miscellaneous Poems, Written or Translated by Roswell Park, (Desilver, Thomas ad Co., Philadelphia, 1836),. page 44.
Roswell Park was born at Lebanon, Conn., in 1807, graduated at West Point, and at Union College in 1831. He died July 16, 1869. Whether he was an errant wight is not yet known by Protoball.
Was "collegian" a term for a university student, back then?
1837.3 Yale Student Sees College Green Covered With Ballplaying
"[March 1837, New Haven CT] It is about time now for playing ball, and the whole green is covered with students engaged in that fine game: for my part, I could never made a ball player. I can't see where the ball is coming soon enough to put the ball-club in its way."
Whitney, Josiah D., letter to his sister, March 1837, reprinted in E. T. Brewster, Life and Letters of Josiah Dwight Whitney [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1909. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 50.
1838.5 At GA, "Baseball and Cricket Had Not Evolved"
"Games and gymnasiums as a regular part of college work, and hence regular organizations of students for athletics, were unknown at that time. Athletics and games there were indeed a plenty, but as purely spontaneous expressions of abounding vitality. I was light, active, and fleet of foot, and became very expert in gymnastics and as a player of town-ball, for baseball and cricket had not yet evolved." [LeConte writes of his college years at the University of Georgia in Athens. He entered as a freshman in January 1838.]
LeConte, Joseph. The Autobiography of Joseph Le Conte (D. Appleton & Company, New York, 1903), page 46. Provided by John Thorn, email of 7/9/04
1839.3 Rutherford Hayes Plays Ball as Student at Kenyon College, OH
In a May 13 letter to his brother, the future President observed: "Playing ball is all the fashion here now and it is presumed that I can beat you at that if not at chess."
Williams, C. R., ed., Diary and Letters of Rutherford Birchard Hayes: Nineteenth President of the United States volume 1 [Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society, Columbus OH, 1922], page 33.
1840s.4 Preppies Brought Base Ball to College Campuses?
"Apart from rowing and track, baseball was the only other intercollegiate sport to generate much interest prior to 1869. Boys from the eastern academies introduced a version of baseball to college campuses in the 1840s and 1850s."
Benjamin Rader, American Sports (Prentice-Hall, 1983), page 74: no citation given. Caveat: Recent research calls this assertion into some question, as we now have many prior references to college ballplaying, including cricket and wicket. See http://retrosheet.org/Protoball/Sub.College.htm.
1840s.28 At Hobart College, "Wicket and Baseball Played in Summer"
At upstate NY's Hobart College in Geneva, "Social events were among the few recreations available; there were no intercollegiate athletics, and no concerted sports at all. . . . wicket and baseball were played in summer, there was skating in winter, and that was about all." Warren Hunting Smith, Hobart and William Smith; the History of Two College (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva NY, 1972), page 123. Caveat: The author is imprecise about the date of this observation; this passage appears in the chapter "Student Life Before 1860," and our impression is that he refers to the 1840s . . . but the 1830s or 1850s cannot be ruled out. Provided by Priscilla Astifan, email of 2/4/2008. Priscilla notes that this book also details a number of somewhat destructive student pranks and drinking. "When I read about all the pranks and dissipation, carousing, etc., I see why base ball and other sports were considered a welcome diversion when they became popular." [Email of 10/22/2008.]
1840c.34 Ball-Playing at Marshall College in PA
"The College did not supply the students of that day with a gymnasium as an incentive to physical exercise; but they themselves naturally found out the kind of recreations they needed . . . . [In addition to local excursions], [s]ometimes ball-playing was the recreation, and sometimes it was leaping or jumping, that brought the largest crowd"
Theodore Appel, Recollections of College Life, at Marshall College, Mercersburg, Pa., from 1839 to 1845 (Daniel Miller, Reading PA, 1886), pp. 167-168. 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 33 and ref #27. Mercersburg is about 60 miles SW of Harrisburg and about 10 miles from the border with Maryland. The text was accessed 11/16/2008 via a Google Books search <appel mercersburg>."
"Leaping and jumping games?
1840c.39 Cricket [or Maybe Wicket?] Played by Harvard Class of 1841
"Games of ball were played almost always separately by the classes, and in my case cricket prevailed. There were not even matches between classes, so far as I remember, and certainly not between colleges. . . . The game was the same then played by boys on Boston Common, and was very unlike what is now  called cricket. Balls, bats, and wickets were all larger than in the proper English game; the bats especially being much longer, twice as heavy, and three-cornered instead of flat. . . . What game was it? Whence it came? It seemed to bear the same relation to true cricket that the old Massachusetts game of base-ball bore to the present 'New York' game, being less artistic, but more laborious."
Member of the Class of 1841, "Harvard Athletic Exercises Thirty Years Ago," Harvard Advocate [Cambridge MA], Volume 17, number 9 (June 12, 1879), page 131. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search <"wickets were all larger" "harvard advocate">.
1841.13 At Yale, Wicket Now Seen as "Ungenteel"
Commenting on the lack of exercise at Yale, a student wrote:
"The is one great point in which the English have the advantage over us: they understand how to take care of their health . . . every Cantab [student at Cambridge U] takes his two hours' exercise per diem, by walking, riding, rowing, fencing, gymnastics, &c. How many Yalensians take one hour's regular exercise? . . . The gymnasium has vanished, wicket has been voted ungenteel, scarce even a freshman dares to put on a pair of skates, . . .
Yale Literary Magazine, vol. 7 (November 1841), pages 36-37. as cited in Betts, John R., "Mind and Body in Early American Thought," The Journal of American History, vol. 54, number 4 (March 1968), page 803. Provided by John Thorn, email, 7/10/2007. Note the absence of cricket as a university activity at both schools.
1842.3 Harvard Man George Hoar Writes of Playing "Simple Game We Called Base"
George F. Hoar, a student at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, writes: "The only game which was much in vogue was foot-ball. There was a little attempt to start the English game of cricket and occasionally, in the spring, an old-fashioned simple game which we called base was played."
Hoar, George F. Autobiography of Seventy Years [Pubr?, 1903], page 120. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
1842c.9 Haverford Students Form Cricket Team of Americans
"Haverford College [Haverford PA] students, however, played cricket with English hosiery weavers prior to 1842, the year the students formed the first all-American team."
Lester, John A., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket (U of Penn Press, Philadelphia, 1951), pages 9-11; as cited in 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 15. Lester cites "a manuscript diary kept by an unknown student . . . under the date 1834."
Haverford is about 10 miles NW of downtown Philadelphia.
Iis Lester saying this is the first Haverford all-native team, first US all-native team, or what?
Can we resolve the discrepancy between 1834 and 18"before 1842" as the time that the club formed?
1843.4 On Yale's Green, Many a "Brisk Game of Wicket"
"Were it spring or autumn you should see a brave set-to at football on the green, or a brisk game of wicket." Ezekiel P. Belden, Sketches of Yale College (Saxton and Miles, New York, 1843), page 153.
1845.19 Painter Depicts Some Type of Old-Fashioned Ball?
A painting by Asher Durand [1796 - 1886] painting An Old Man's Reminiscences may include a visual recollection of a game played long before. Thomas Altherr ["A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It] describes the scene: "a silver-haired man is seated in the left side of he painting and he watches a group of pupils at play in front of a school, just having been let out for the day or for recess. Although this painting is massive, the details, without computer resolution, are a bit fuzzy. But it appears that there is a ballgame of some sort occurring. One lad seems to be hurling something and other boys are arranged around him in a pattern suspiciously like those of baseball-type games." Tom surmises that the old man is likely reflecting on his past.
Asher Durand, An Old Man's Reminiscences (1845), Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany NY. 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 40. For a credit-card-sized image - even the schoolhouse is iffy - go to
http://www.albanyinstitute.org/collections/Hudson/durand.htm, as accessed 11/17/2008. Dick McBane [email iof 2/6/09] added some helpful details of Durand's life, but much remains unclear. Query: Can we learn more about Durand's - a member of the Hudson River School of landscape artists, originally hailing from New Jersey - own background and youth?
1846.7 Amherst Juniors Drop Wicket Game, 77 to 53: says Young Billjamesian
"Friday, October 16. At prayers as usual. Studied Demosthenes till breakfast time. After breakfast came off the great match between our class and the juniors. We beat them 77 to 53. They had on the ground nineteen men out of twenty-nine, and we thirty out of thirty-five. Had the remainder of both classes been there, at the same rate we should have beaten them 90 to 81. As a class they were completely used up. Their players, however, averaged about 0.23 each more than ours. The whole was played out in about an hour. The victory was completely ours, a result different from what I expected. Got a lesson in Demosthenes and went to recitation." On October 3, the MA diarist had written: "played a game of wicket, with a party of fellows . . . . Had a fine game, though I, knowing little of the rules, was soon bowled out. Then came home and wrote journal till 5PM. Then to prayers and afterward to supper."
Hammond, William G., Remembrance of Amherst: An Undergraduate's Diary, 1846-1848. [Columbia University Press, New York, 1946], page 26. Per John Thorn 7/04/2003. Note: is it conclusive from this excerpt's context that the MA students were playing wicket on October 16?
1846.8 Amherst Alum Recalls How Wicket Was Played
Dr. Edward Hitchcock gives this account of the game of wicket at is MA college:
"In my days baseball was neither a science nor an art, but we played 'wicket'. On smooth and level ground about 20 feet apart were placed two 'wickets,' pine sticks 1 inch square and 8 to 10 feet long, supported on a block at each end so as to be easily knocked off. The ball was made of yarn, covered with stout leather, about six inches in diameter and bowled with all the power of the wicket tender at each end. The aim was to roll it as swiftly as possible at the opposite wicket and knock it down if possible. This was defended by the man with a broad bat, 3 feet long, and the oval about 8 inches [across], who must defend his wicket. If the bowler could by [bowling] a fair ball, striking twice between the wickets, knock down the opposite wicket, the striker was out. But if the batter could by a direct or sideways hit send the ball sideways or overhead the outside men, they [ i.e. ., the batter and his teammate at the opposite end] could run till the ball was in the hands of the bowler. But the bowler to get the batter out must with the ball in his hand knock the wicket outwards before the batter could strike his bat outside a line three feet inside the wicket . . . . This game was played on the lowest part of the 'walk' under the trees which now extends from chapel to the church."
Hitchcock, Edward, "Recollections," in George F. Whicher, ed., Remembrance of Amherst: An Undergraduate's Diary, 1846-1848. [Columbia University Press, 1946], page 188. Per John Thorn 7/04/2003.
1846.13 Spring Sports at Harvard: "Bat & Ball" and Cricket
"In the spring there is no playing of football, but "bat-and-ball" & cricket."
From "Sibley's Private Journal," entry for August 31, 1846, as supplied to David Block by letter of 4/18/2005 from Prof. Harry R. Lewis at Harvard, Cambridge MA.
Lewis notes that the Journal is "a running account of Harvard daily life in the mid nineteenth century."
1848.8 Cricket Flourishes at Haverford College PA
"The College was closed in 1845. When it reopened in 1848, cricket sprang up again under the leadership of an English tutor in Dr. Lyons' school nearby. Two cricket clubs, the Delian and the Lycaean, were formed, and then a third the Dorian."
John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 11. Lester does not provide a source.
1848c.9 Young Benjamin Harrison Plays Town Ball, Baste in OH
[As a teenage student at Farmer's College, near Cincinnati OH, Harrison] "[w]hile closely applying himself to study, always standing fair in his classes, respected by instructors and popular with his associates, prompt in recitation and obedient to rules, nevertheless he found time for amusement and sport, such as snow-balling, town-ball, bull-pen, shinny, and baste, all more familiar to lads in that day than this."
Life and Public Services of Hon. Benjamin Harrison [Sedgewood Publishing Company, 1892], page 53.
1850s.18 Baseball's Beginnings at U Penn?
"Baseball was first played by Penn students before the Civil War when the University was still located at its Ninth Street campus. The game was probably played casually by students in the 1850s."
http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/sports/baseball/1800s/hist1.html, as accessed 1/3/2008. No reference is supplied.
Is there some way to discover the documentary basis for this report?
1850c.35 U. of Michigan Alum Recalls Baseball, Wicket, Old-Cat Games
A member of the class of 1849 recalls college life: "Athletics were not regularly organized, nor had we any gymnasium. We played base-ball, wicket ball, two-old-cat, etc., but there was not foot-ball."
"Cricket was undoubtedly the first sport to be organized in the University, as the Palladium for 1860-61 gives the names of eight officers and twenty-five members of the "Pioneer Cricket Club," while the Regents' Report for June, 1865, shows an appropriation of $50 for a cricket ground on the campus."
The college history later explains: "The game of wicket, which was a modification of cricket, was played with a soft ball five to seven inches in diameter, and with two wickets (mere laths or light boards) laid upon posts about four inches high and some forty feet apart. The 'outs' tried to bowl them down, and the 'ins' to defend them with curved broad-ended bats. It was necessary to run between the wickets at each strike."
Wilfred Shaw, The University of Michigan (Harcourt Brace, New York, 1920), pp 234-235. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("wilfred shaw" michigan).
The dates of wicket play are not given.
1850c.36 Wicket Ball in Amherst MA
"For exercise the students played wicket ball and shinny."
The author here appears to be referring to the latter years of service of Edward Hitchcock, President of Amherst College from 1844 to 1854.
Alice M. Walker, Historic Homes of Amherst (Amherst Historical Society, Amherst MA, 1905), page 99. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (walker "historic homes"). Amherst MA is about 25 miles north of Springfield MA.
1850s.43 South Carolina College Students Make Do with Town Ball, "Cat"
"Much of the trouble of the (U. of S. Carolina) professors have have no doubt been obviated if there had been outdoor sports or athletics to relieve pent up animal spirits. A game of ball, perhaps, 'town ball,' or 'cat', was played."
Edwin L. Green, A History of the University of South Carolina (The State Company, 1916), page 242.
The text does not state the exact period that is described in this account.
1850s.48 'Bama Boys Play Town Ball on Campus
"Remembering his days as a student at the University of Alabama in the 1850s, George Little wrote of the penchant for playing town ball: 'Our favorite outdoor game was town ball. This game was played very much like the modern game of baseball but was played with a soft rubber ball. The ball was thrown at the runner and if he was hit between bases he was out.'"
George Little, Memoirs of George Little (Weatherford Printing Company, Tuscaloosa, 1924), age 14. As reported by Tom Altherr, Town Ball at the University of Alabama in the 1850s, Originals, volume 3, number 10 (October 2010), page 2.
1851.5 Robert E. Lee Promotes Cricket at West Point?
Robert E. Lee
A twenty-one year old cricket enthusiast visited West Point from England, and remarked on "the beautiful green sward they had and just the place to play cricket. . . . The cadets played no games at all. . . . It was the first time that I had a glimpse of Colonel Robert E. Lee [who was to become Superintendent of West Point]. He was a splendid fellow, most gentlemanly and a soldier every inch. . . .
"Colonel Lee said he would be greatly obliged to me if I would teach the officers how to play cricket, so we went to the library. . . .Lieutenant Alexander asked for the cricket things. He said, 'Can you tell me, Sir, where the instruments and apparatus are for playing cricket?' The librarian know nothing about them and so our project came to an end."
"The Boyhood of Rev. Samuel Robert Calthrop." Compiled by His Daughter, Edith Calthrop Bump. No date given. Accessed 10/31/2008 at http://www-distance.syr.edu/SamCalthropBoyhoodStory.html.
Robert E. Lee is reported to have become Superintendent of West Point in September 1852; and had been stationed in Baltimore until then; can Calthrop's date be reconciled?
1852.12 Ball-playing Prohibited Near UNC Buildings
"There shall be no ball playing in or among the College buildings or against the walls. All athletic exercises must be kept at a distance, so as to prevent damage to the buildings and interruption to study."
Acts of the General Assembly and Ordinances of the Trustees for the Organization and Government of he University of North Carolina (Raleigh, NC; North Carolina Institution for the Dumb and the Blind, 1852), page 21. Per Originals, volume 5, number 5 (May 2012), page 2b
Tom Altherr suggests that "The ordinance certainly prohibited handball games, such as fives, but it could have as easily targeted base ball-type games."
1853c.13 At Harvard, Most Students Played Baseball and Football, Some Cricket or Four-Old-Cat
Reflecting back nearly sixty years later, the secretary of the class of 1855 wrote: "In those days, substantially all the students played football and baseball [MA round ball, probably], while some played cricket and four-old-cat."
"News from the Classes," Harvard Graduates Magazine Volume 18 (1909-1910). Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("e.h.abbot, sec."). From an death notice of Alexander Agassis, b. 1835
1854.10 Ball Played at Hobart College, Geneva NY
"Baseball in Geneva began, at least on an organized basis, in 1860. Informal games had taken place at Hobart College as early as 1854, and at the nearby Walnut Hill School . . . . The boys were organized into teams in 1856 or 1857."
Minor Myers, Jr., and Dorothy Ebersole, Baseball in Geneva: Notes to Accompany An Exhibition at the Prout Chew Museum, May 20 to September 17, 1988 [Geneva Historical Society, Geneva, 1988], page 1.
Note: This brochure seems to imply that New York rules governed this game, but does not say so.
Geneva NY is about 45 miles east of Rochester NY and about 55 miles west of Syracuse, at the northern end of Seneca Lake. "The Public Schools of Geneva, NY before 1839", an article in History of Ontario County, New York (G. Conover, ed.), 1893, describes Walnut Hill School as follows:
"The Walnut Hill School, an institution designed for the especial work of educating boys, was established in 1852 and was located at the south end of Main street, on the site now in part occupied by the residence of Wm. J. King. Of the history of this once popular school, but little reliable data is obtainable, though it is known that the course pf study was thorough and the discipline excellent. During most of its career its principal was Rev. Dr. T. C. Reed, who was assisted by three competent teachers. The school was discontinued in 1875."
1854.13 English Visitor Sees Wicket at Harvard
"It was in the spring of 1854 . . . that I stepped into the Harvard College yard close to the park. There I saw several stalwart looking fellows playing with a ball about the size of a small bowling ball, which they aimed at a couple of low sticks surmounted by a long stick. They called it wicket. It was the ancient game of cricket and they were playing it as it was played in the reign of Charles the First [1625-1649 - LMc]. The bat was a heavy oak thing and they trundled the ball along the ground, the ball being so large it could not get under the sticks.
"They politely invited me to take the bat. Any cricketer could have stayed there all day and not been bowled out. After I had played awhile I said, "You must play the modern game cricket." I had a ball and they made six stumps. Then we went to Delta, the field where the Harvard Memorial Hall now stands. We played and they took to cricket like a duck to water. . . .I think that was the first game of cricket at Harvard."
"The Boyhood of Rev. Samuel Robert Calthrop." Compiled by His daughter, Edith Calthrop Bump. No date given. Accessed 10/31/2008 at http://www-distance.syr.edu/SamCalthropBoyhoodStory.html.
Actually, Mr. Calthrop may have come along about 95 years too late to make that claim: see #1760s.1 above.
1856.31 First Scholastic Play?
"The young gentlemen of the Free Academy have formed themselves into two clubs, called the O. G.'s and Q. P. D.'s-- (Query, the Cupidities?) They had a day's play recently at Hoboken, when the O. G.'s-- probably "Old Greys"-- won, scoring 21 runs to 17 of their opponents."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, Nov. 8, 1856.
1857.23 Princeton Freshmen Establish Nassau Base Ball Club
"In the fall of '57, a few members of the [College of New Jersey, now Princeton University] Freshmen [sic] class organized the Nassau Baseball [sic] Club to play baseball although only a few members had seen the game and fewer still had played. [A description follows of attempts to clear a playing area, a challenge being made to the Sophomores, and the selection of 15 players for each side.] After each party had played five innings, the Sophomores had beaten their antagonists by twenty-one rounds, and were declared victorious." The account goes on to report that the next spring, "baseball clubs of all descriptions were organized on the back campus and 'happiness on such occasions seemed to rule the hour.'" The account also reflects on the coming of base ball: "in seven years  a new game superseded handball in student favor - it was 'town ball' or the old Connecticut game."
Source: "Baseball at Princeton," Athletics at Princeton: A History (Presbrey Company, New York, 1901), page 66. Available on Google Books. Original sources are not provided.
Caution: The arrival of the New York style of play was still a year into the future.
Query:  "The old CT game?" Wasn't that wicket?
1857c.34 Wicket Played at Eastern OH College; Future President Excels
"In the street, in front of [Hiram College] President Hinsdale's (which was then Mr. Garfield's house), is the ground where we played wicket ball; Mr. Garfield was one of our best players."
F. M. Green, Hiram College (Hubbell Printing, Cleveland, 1901), page 156. Accessed via Google Books search ("Hiram College" green).
James A. Garfield was Principal and Professor at Hiram College from 1856-1859. He was about 26 in 1857, and had been born and reared in Eastern Ohio. Hiram Ohio is about 30 miles SE of Cleveland.
1858.8 Harvard Student Magazine Notes "Multitude" Playing Base or Cricket There
"[On] almost any evening or pleasant Saturday, . . . a shirt-sleeved multitude from every class are playing as base or cricket . . .
"Mens Sana," Harvard Magazine 4 (June 1858), page 201.
1858.29 First Recorded College Game at Williams College
"On Saturday last [May 29] a Game of Ball was played between the Sophomore and Freshmen Classes of Williams College. The conditions were three rounds of 35 tallies - best two in three winning. The Sophs won the first, and the Freshmen the two last. It was considered one of the best contested Games ever played by the students."
"Williamstown [MA]," The Pittsfield Sun, vol. 58, number 3011 (June 3, 1858, page 2, column 5. Posted to 19CBB on 8/14/2007 by Craig Waff. The best-of-three format is familiar in the history of the Massachusetts game.
Does the final sentence imply that earlier games of ball had recently been played?
1858c.44 Wolverines and Wicket
"Wicket was then about our only outdoor sport - and it was a good one, too - and I remembered that we challenged the whole University to a match game."
Lyster Miller O'Brien, "The Class of 1858," University of Michigan, 1858-1913 (Holden, 1913), page 52. Accessed in snippet view via Google Books search ("match game" wicket).
1858.51 At Harvard, Two Clubs Play Series of Games by New York Rules
The Lawrence Base Ball Club and a club from the Harvard Law School played "regular matches" on campus. The Lawrence Club's 1858 Constitution stipulated that "the Game played by this Club shall be that known under the name of the 'New York Game of Base Ball'" under its March 1858 rules, and that it would play no other game. The dates of the games against the law school and the nature of that club as not known, but accounts exist of intramural games in 1858.
"The Lawrence Base Ball Club," The Harvard Graduates' Magazine, Volume 25 (March 1917), pp 346-350. Accessed 2/16/10 via Google Books search ("lawrence base").
1858.53 At Kenyon College, Base Ball Takes Unusual Form
The Kenyon Club, comprised of Kenyon students, lost to the boys from Milnor Hall at the College, losing 93 to 68 in three innings. Each side fielded eleven players. The box score reveals an unusual feature. Players scored widely varying runs in an inning; Denning, for example scored 10 times in the first inning for the Kenyon Club, while three of his teammates did not score at all. This might indicate that either an all-out/side out game was played, or a cricket-style rule allowed each batter to retain his ups until he was retired.
The College is in Central OH, about 45 miles NE of Columbus.
"Base Ball at Kenyon College," New York Clipper, May 15, 1858.
1859.1 First Intercollegiate Ballgame: Amherst 73, Williams 32
In the first intercollegiate baseball game ever played, Amherst defeats Williams 73-32 in 26 innings, played under the Massachusetts Game rules. The contest is staged in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a neutral site, at the invitation of the Pittsfield Base Ball Club.
The two schools also competed at chess that weekend. A two-page broadsheet tells of Amherst taking on Williams in both base ball and chess. Headline: "Muscle and mind!"
The New York Clipper thought that the game's wimpy ball lessened the fun: "The ball used by Amherst was small, soft, and with so little elasticity that a hard throw upon the floor would cause of rebound of scarcely a foot." Ryczek goes on to say that the ball, while more suitable for plugging than the Association ball, detracted from the excitement of the game because it was not or could not be hit or thrown far.
Pittsfield Sun, July 7, 1859. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 32-34. Also, Durant, John, The Story of Baseball in Words and Pictures [Hastings House, NY, 1947], p .10. Per Millen, note # 35.
Amherst Express, Extra, July 1 - 2, 1859 [Amherst, MA], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 219.
New York Clipper, cited in William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 127 and attributed to the July 16 issue of the Clipper..
Jim Overmyer, "Baseball Goes to College-- Amherst vs. Williams", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 19-20.
A 9/27/2014 New York Times article about the game, by historian Michael Beschloss, appears at https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/27/upshot/the-longest-game-williams-vs-amherst.html.
For a stern critique of the student time spent away from studying, see The Congregationalist [Boston], September 2, 1859, cited at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/amherst-and-williams-play-the-first-intercollegiate-game-of-baseball-1859-b1c0255f6338, posted January 15, 2018.
A research note by Jim Overmyer on why the game occurred in Pittsfield appears as Supplemental Text below.
For a stern critique of the student time spent away from studying, see The Congregationalist [Boston], September 2, 1859, cited at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/amherst-and-williams-play-the-first-intercollegiate-game-of-baseball-1859-b1c0255f6338, posted January 15, 2018.
1859.2 Collegiate Game [the First Played by NY Rules?] in NYC
Students at St. John's College [now Fordham College] played a game against St. Francis Xavier's College on Nov. 3, 1859, using the new Association rules. The teams apparently were not regarded as representing their schools, but were base ball clubs formed from among students, and were called the Rose Hill BBC (Fordham) and the Social BBC (St. Xavier's College).
Per Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], p. 32. Sullivan dates the game November 3, 1859, but does not give a source.
New York Sunday Mercury, Nov. 13, 1859, p. 3, carried the result and a box score showing a 33-11 victory for St. John's.
It is not clear whether this qualifies as the first intercollegiate game by modern rules.
The St. Francis Xavier's College in this story is presumably College of St. Francis Xavier, a Mahattan institution that closed in 1913.
Brian McKenna, on 11/8/2015, reports that St. Francis was a college preparatory high school, and suggests that the St. John's side used high school players too.
1859.17 Club Forms at College of New Jersey
"The Nassau Base Ball Club is organized on the Princeton campus by members of the class of 1862"
Frank Presby and James H Moffat, Athletics at Princeton (Frank Presby Co., 1901), p.67
Anachronism alert-- in 1862 Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey.
See also item #1857.23
1859.38 NYU Forms a Base Ball Club
The students of New York University were reported to have formed a club. "The Club number 15 to 20 members, and are to meet semi-monthly or oftener, for practice, probably at Hoboken. We hope soon to be able to announce that all our Universities, Colleges, and Schools, have similar institutions attached to them."
New York Clipper, April 9, 1859.
1860.23 NY Game Gets to ME
"The first documented game of baseball to actually be played in Maine took place on October 10, 1860. . . . that October saw the Sunrise Club of Brunswick host the senior class team of Bowdoin [College] at the Topsham Fair Grounds."
Anderson, Will, Was Baseball Really Invented in Maine? (Will Anderson, Publisher, Portland, 1992), page 1. Anderson appears to rely on The Brunswick Telegraph, October 12, 1860.
Topsham Fair Grounds are 1 1/2 miles from Brunswick, across the Androscoggin River
1860.25 Wicket and Base Ball at Kenyon College, OH
[After a report on Kenyon's base ball club, including "the great fever which has raged for the laudable exercise of ball playing:"] "The heavier game of wicket has also had many admirers, and we doubt not but that many of them will live longer and be happier men on account of wielding the heavy bats."
University Quarterly (Kenyon College, July 1860), page 198: Accessed 2/17/10 via Google Books search ("heavier game of wicket").
1860.63 "Good Old-fashioned Base Ball" in Hawaii
"Quite an interesting game of ball came off yesterday afternoon on the Esplinade between the Punahou Boys and the Town Boys...The 'boys' of a larger growth...had a good old-fashioned game of base ball on Sheriff Brown's premises...Success to the sport."
The Polynesian, April 7, 1860. Quoted in Monica Nucciarone, Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Legend (University of Nebraska Press, 2009), p.197
1862.6 Harvard Seeks Base Ball Rivals, Settles on Brown
"Base-Ball, the second in importance of [Harvard] University sports, is even younger than Rowing [which still prevailed]. It originated apparently, in the old game of rounders. Up to 1862 there were two varieties of base-ball - the New York and the Massachusetts game. In the autumn of 1862 George A. Flagg and Frank Wright organized the Base Ball Club of the Class of '66, adopting the New York rules; and in the following spring the city of Cambridge granted use of the Common for practice. A challenge was sent to several colleges: Yale replied that they had no club, but hoped soon to have one; but a game was arranged with Brown sophomores, and played at Providence [RI] June 27, 1863. The result was Harvard's first victory."
D. Hamilton Hurd, compiler, History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts (J. W. Lewis, Philadelphia, 1890), page 137. Accessed 2/18/10 via Google Books search <"flagg and frank" hurd>.
Frank Wright wrote another version in James Lovett, Old Boston Boys and the Games They Played (Riverside Press, 1907). Accessed in Google Books.
This was not Harvard's introduction to the New York game. See entry 1858.51.
Flagg and Wright reportedly had played avidly at Phillips Exeter Academy. See entry #1858c.57 above.