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- 1 1821.7 1821 Etching Shows Wicket Game in Progress
- 2 1850s.15 Gunnery School in CT Imports Base Ball from NY
- 3 1852c.11 Hartford Lads Play Early Morning Wicket on Main Street
- 4 1859.24 CT State Wicket Championship Attracts 4000
- 5 1860c.11 Man Played Base Ball in CT Before the War
- 6 1860.30 CT Wicketers Trounce CT Cricketers at Wicket
- 7 1860.56 Three Hartford CT Base Ball Clubs on the Move
1821.7 1821 Etching Shows Wicket Game in Progress
This engraving was done by John Cheney in 1821 at the age of 20. It was originally engraved on a fragment of an old copper kettle. It is reported that he was living in Hartford at the time.
It is one of the earliest known depictions of wicket.
The etching depicts six players playing wicket. The long, low wickets are shown and two runners, prominently carrying large bats, are crossing between them as two fielders appear to pursue a large ball in flight. Two wicketkeepers stand behind their wickets.
Biographical background from "Memoir of John Cheney," by Edna Dow Cheney (Lee and Shepherd, Boston, 1889), page 10.
For an account of Baseball Historian John Thorn's 2013 rediscovery and pursuit of this engraving, go to http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/02/05/the-oldest-wicket-game-newly-found/
An interesting aspect of this drawing is that there appear to be four defensive players and only two offensive players . . . unless the two seated gentlemen in topcoats have left them on while waiting to bat. One might speculate that the wicketkeepers are permanently on defense and the other pairs alternate between offense and defense when outs are made. Another possibility is that all players rotate after each out, as was later seen in scrub forms of base ball.
Also note the relative lack of open area beyond the wickets. Perhaps, as in single-wicket cricket, running was permitted only for balls hit forward from the wicket.
We welcome other interpretations of this image.
1850s.15 Gunnery School in CT Imports Base Ball from NY
"The Gunnery [School] in Washington CT imported baseball from NY when Judge William Van Cott's sons came to the school in the late 1850s (we don't have exact dates). They had been playing different versions of the game with neighboring town teams and pick up teams for quite some time. The Litchfield Enquirer carried the box scores. The teams were not exclusively students, some adults played."
Paula Krimsky, 19CBB posting, 10/26/2006.
Mark Rhodes, Metropolitan Baseball n a Small Town Setting (Gunn Scholar Series, volume II (2004). Available via archives of the Gunnery School. Box scores from the Litchfield Enquirer are available on microfiche from the Litchfield Historical Society.
We have not inspected the data on play at the Gunnery School to determine if New York rules were used.
Washington, Connecticut (2000 census about 3,600) is about 40 miles W of Hartford, and about 15 miles NW of Waterbury.
1852c.11 Hartford Lads Play Early Morning Wicket on Main Street
"Wicket was played in various locations of the city [of Hartford CT] . . . . But the best games of all in many respects were the early morning games, played by clerks . . . for four or five months [a year] on Main street . . . .
"It was customary for the first [clerk] who was first awake at 5 o'clock to dress, and make rounds of the [State House] square, knocking on the doors and shouting 'Wicket.' By 5:30 enough would be out to begin playing, and soon with 15 to 20 on a side the game was in full swing.
"There was very little passing of teams and but little danger of beaking store windows, although cellar windows would be broken, and paid for. Most stores had outside shutters to the windows, and were thus protected. These games would end about 6:45, in time to open the stores at 7 o'clock. It was good exercise, and very enjoyable, and I have no doubt that many of our older merchants and bankers will recall with pleasure the good old wicket games in State House Square in 1852-3-4."
J. G. Rathbun, unidentified article circa 1907, Chadwick Scrapbooks, as cited in Peter Morris, But Didn't We Have Fun? (Ivan R. Dee, 2008), pages 14-15.
It is interesting that the game could be played in the limited area of a broad city street.
1859.24 CT State Wicket Championship Attracts 4000
"When Bristol played New Britain at wicket for the championship of the state before four thousand spectators in 1859, the Hartford Press reported that there prevailed 'the most remarkable order throughout, and the contestants treated each other with faultless courtesy.'"
A special four-car train carried spectators to the match, leaving Hartford CT at 7:30 AM.
John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 8.
This game is also covered in Norton, Frederick C., "That Strange Yankee Game, Wicket," Bristol Connecticut (City Printing Co., Hartford, 1907), pages 295-296. Available via Google Books: try search: "'Monday, July 18, 1859' Bristol."
See also Larry McCray, "State Championship Wicket Game in Connecticut: A Hearty Hurrah for a Doomed Pastime," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 132-135.
1860c.11 Man Played Base Ball in CT Before the War
"I am a native of Hartford, Conn., and have, from early boyhood, taken a great interest in all Out Door Sports that are clean and manly. As a boy I played One, Two, Three, and Four Old Cat; also the old game of "Wicket." I remember that before the Civil War, I don't remember how long, we played base ball at my old home, Manchester, Harford County, CT."
1860.30 CT Wicketers Trounce CT Cricketers at Wicket
Was wicket an inferior game? "the game [of wicket] certainly reached a level of technical sophistication equal to these two sports [base ball and cricket]. This was clearly demonstrated during a wicket match at Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1860 when a team of local wicket players easily defeated a team of experience local cricket players."
Tom Melville, The Tented Field: the History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State U Popular Press, Bowling Green OK, 1998), page 10. Melville cites the source of the match as the Waterbury American (August 31, 1860), page 21.
Can we locate and examine this 1860 article? A: It is apparently not online.
1860.56 Three Hartford CT Base Ball Clubs on the Move
The Alligator, Rough and Ready, and Independent Base Ball Clubs announced meetings on a late October day.
Hartford Daily Courant, October 27, 1860. Accessed via subscription search, May 21, 2009.