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- 1 1690.1 Literary Simile: "Catch it Like a Stool-Ball"
- 2 1706.2 Book About a Scotsman Mentions "Cat and Doug" and Other Diversions
- 3 1799.1 Historical Novel, Set in About 1650, Refers to Cricket, Base-ball
- 4 1816c.11 Jane Austen Writes of "Baseball" in Northanger Abbey.
- 5 1819.2 Scott's Ivanhoe Mentions Stool-ball
- 6 1821.8 English Tale Pictures "Working People" Playing Bass-ball, Cricket
- 7 1824.3 English Writing Cites Base-ball as Girls' Pastime, Limns Cricket Match
- 8 1825.16 Mitford Story Centers on Cricket, Touches on Juvenile Baseball
- 9 1830s.13 "Baseball" Found in Several Works by Mary Russell Mitford
- 10 1830c.28 Fictional Mom Recalls Liking to Bat Ball as a Girl
- 11 1837.2 Ball Game Described in Fictional Account of Western Indians
- 12 1838.3 Cooper Novel Home as Found Mentions Ballplaying in Cooperstown
- 13 1840s.31 Lem: Juvenile Fiction's Boy Who Loved Round-ball
- 14 1844.6 Novel Cites "the Game of Bass in the Fields"
- 15 1844.14 "At Base, They Cannot Hit Him With the Ball."
- 16 1849.11 Character in Fictional Autobiography Played Cricket, Base-Ball
- 17 1850.23 English Novel Briefly Mentions Base-Ball
- 18 1850s.37 Near Richmond VA, Games of Round Cat and Chermany
- 19 1852.10 Fictional "Up-Country" Location Cites Bass-Ball and Wicket
- 20 1852.14 A Pleasant Beech Grove, Where the Boys Played Bass Ball
- 21 1853.7 Didactic Novel Pairs "Bass-Ball" and Rounders at Youths' Outing
- 22 1853.15 You've Got to Play Along to Get Along?
- 23 1854.18 Bass Ball and Truth-telling
- 24 1858.37 In English Novel, Base-Ball Doesn't Occupy Boys Very Long
- 25 1860.15 Adolescent Novel Describes Base Ball Game
1690.1 Literary Simile: "Catch it Like a Stool-Ball"
Anon., The Pagan Prince: or a Comical History of the Heroik Atchievements of the Palatine of Eboracum [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 175. In this comical prose work, protection in battle was said to be provided by four Arch Angels - who, "when they see a Cannon Ball coming toward ye from any corner of the Wind, will catch it like a stool-ball and throw it to the Devil."
1706.2 Book About a Scotsman Mentions "Cat and Doug" and Other Diversions
[Author?] The Scotch rogue; or, The life and actions of Donald MacDonald, a Highland Scot [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 176. The [apparently fictional] hero recalls; "I was but a sorry proficient in learning: being readier at cat and doug, cappy-hole, riding the burley hacket, playing at kyles and dams, spangboder, wrestling, and foot-ball (and such other sports as we use in our country) than at my book."
Block identifies "cat and doug," or cat and dog, as a Scots two-base version of the game of cat that was most commonly played in Scotland. It was the likely forbear of the American game of two-old-cat."
David Block, Baseball Before Knew It (U Nebraska Press, 2007), page 176.
For more on cat-and-dog, see http://protoball.org/Cat-and-Dog.
1799.1 Historical Novel, Set in About 1650, Refers to Cricket, Base-ball
Oliver Cromwell, Jane Austen
A fictional character in a novel set in the mid-17th Century recalls how, when his clerkship to a lawyer ended, a former playmate took his leave by saying:
"Ah! no more cricket, no more base-ball, they are sending me to Geneva."
Cooke, Cassandra, Battleridge" an Historical tale, Founded on facts. In Two Volumes. By a Lady of Quality (G. Cawthorn, London, 1799).
Block advises, August 2015:
That Cassandra Cooke, writing in the late 18th century, would have her readers believe that baseball was part of the vernacular in the early 17th century is certainly interesting, but since one contemporary reviewer labelled her book "despicable" there is absolutely no reason to think she had any more insight into the era than we do 216 years later.
David Block (BBWKI, page 183; see also his 19CBB advice, below) notes that Cooke was in correspondence with her cousin Jane Austen in 1798, when both were evidently writing novels containing references to base-ball. Also submitted to Protoball 8/19/06 by Ian Maun.
Cooke, like Austen, did seem to believe that readers in the early 1800s might be familiar with base- ball.
1816c.11 Jane Austen Writes of "Baseball" in Northanger Abbey.
Jane Austen mentions "baseball" in her novel Northanger Abbey, published in 1818, after her death.
"Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books . . . . But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine; so read all such works as heroines must read. . . "
Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey (London, 1851), page.3.
"Northanger Abbey was published posthumously in 1818, and while most scholars agree the first draft was written in the 1798-99 time period, there is no evidence that Austen's early draft included the baseball reference. It was submitted for publication in 1803 under the name “Susan,” but never went to press. The text was revised between 1816 and 1817, but did not get published until after Austen’s death that summer." (from David Block, 9/16/2020).
Note: The 2008 "Masterpiece" TV version of this novel included a brief scene in which Catherine, at the age of about 17, plays a baseball-like game [rounders-based, arguably] involving posts with flags as bases.
Did the original printing cite "baseball" or "base ball"?
It might be interesting to know how the Masterpiece drama's screenwriter arrived at this depiction.
1819.2 Scott's Ivanhoe Mentions Stool-ball
[The Jester speaks] "I came to save my master, and if he will not consent, basta! I can but go away home again. Kind service can not be checked from hand to hand like a shuttle-cock or stool-ball. I'll hang for no man . . . ."
Scott, Walter, Ivanhoe; A Romance (D. Appleton and Co., New York, 1904), page 257. Reference provided by John Thorn 6/11/2007.
1821.8 English Tale Pictures "Working People" Playing Bass-ball, Cricket
"There is nothing to me more delightful than to see the young working people amusing themselves after the labours of the day. A village green, with its girls and boys playing at bass-ball, and its grown-up lads at cricket, is one of those English sights which I hope no false refinement will ever banish from among us."
A Game at Skittles," (author identified as "Editor K."), published within a larger work entitled The Plain Englishman, Vol. II, London, 1821, Hatchard and Son, p. 267
Note: This entry was formerly listed for 1844 from prior sources.
1824.3 English Writing Cites Base-ball as Girls' Pastime, Limns Cricket Match
[A] "Better than playing with her doll, better even than base-ball, or sliding or romping, does she like to creep of an evening to her father's knee."
[B]Bateman states that Our Village, a collection of short stories and vignettes, which was initially serialized in The Lady's Magazine in the late 1820's, contains the first comprehensive prose description of a cricket match."
[A] Mitford, Mary Russell, Our Village [London, R. Gilbert], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 191. Block notes that this was published in New York in 1828, and Tom Altherr [email of April 2, 2009] adds that Philadelphia editions appeared in 1835 and 1841.
[B] Bateman, Anthony,"'More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;' Culture,, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 34.
While this chron entry is dated circa 1824, the installation of sections of Our Village may have begun in 1826.
1825.16 Mitford Story Centers on Cricket, Touches on Juvenile Baseball
"Then comes a sun burnt gipsy of six . . . . her longing eyes fixed on a game of baseball at the corner of the green till she reaches the cottage door . . . . So the world wags until ten; then the little damsel gets admission to the charity school, her thoughts now fixed on button-holes and spelling-books those ensigns of promotion; despising dirt and baseball, and all their joys."
From "Jack Hatch," taken from the Village Sketches of Mary Russell Mitford, The Albion: A Journal of News, Politics, and Literature September 9 1828, volume 7, page 65.
This item was originally dated 1828, and adjusted to 1825 in 2020.
Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006 and by David Ball 6/4/2006. David explains further: "The title character is first introduced as a cricketer, 'Jack Hatch the best cricketer in the parish, in the county, in the country!' The narrator hears tell of this wonder, who turns out to be a paragon of all the skills but is never able to meet him in person, finally hearing that he has died. Mitford treats cricket (with tongue admittedly somewhat in cheek) as an epic contest in which the honor of two communities is at stake. In the opening, very loosely connected section, on the other hand, baseball is described as a child's game, to be put away early in life."
In 2020, David Block advised: "This story appeared in several publications prior to 1828. There is a handwritten copy sent from Mitford to her publisher, Ackerman, in the collection of the Houghton Library. I believe this story first appeared in print in late 1825.
1830s.13 "Baseball" Found in Several Works by Mary Russell Mitford
Submitted by Hugh MacDougall, Cooperstown NY, 12/6/2006:
"Everyone knows of Jane Austen's use of the term baseball in her novel Northanger Abbey (see item #1798.1). I recently came across, online, an 1841 anthology of works by the English essayist Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1865). A search revealed five uses of the work "baseball." What is intriguing is that every reference seems to assume that "baseball" whatever it is is a familiar rough and tumble game played by girls (and apparently girls only) between the ages of 6 and 10 or so.."
The "baseball" usages:
 "The Tenants of Beechgrove:" "But better than playing with her doll, better even than baseball, or sliding and romping, does she like to creep of an evening to her father's knee:
 "Jack Hatch" see item #1828.9 above for two references.
 "Our Village [introduction]": " . . . Master Andrew's four fair-haired girls who are scrambling and squabbling at baseball on the other." (See item #1824.3 above.)
 Belford Regis: "What can be prettier than this, unless it be the fellow-group of girls . . . who are laughing and screaming round the great oak; then darting to and fro, in a game compounded of hide-and-seek and baseball. Now tossing the ball high, high amidst the branches; now flinging it low along the common, bowling as it were, almost within reach of the cricketers; now pursuing, now retreating, jumping shouting, bawling almost shrieking with ecstasy; whilst one sunburnt black-eyed gipsy throws forth her laughing face from behind the trunk of an old oak, and then flings a newer and gayer ball fortunate purchase of some hoarded sixpence among her happy playmates.
David Block's forthcoming 2019 book may address the rules of English Base-Ball in this period.
MacDougall asks: "Mary Mitford seems to have a pretty good idea of what the girls are playing, when they play at 'baseball' but it seems to have little or nothing to do with the sport we now call by that name. Does anyone know what it was?"
1830c.28 Fictional Mom Recalls Liking to Bat Ball as a Girl
Tom Altherr located a fictional story in The Child's Friend (January 1848) in which a mother recounts to her son, George, how she 'liked boys' playthings best' when she was a little girl and could 'drive hoop, spin top, bat ball, jump, and climb' as well as her brothers could."
The Child's Friend, January 1848. Full citation needed. Submitted by Deb Shattuck, May 2013.
It is, of course, difficult to specify a reasonable date for a fictional account like this one.
1837.2 Ball Game Described in Fictional Account of Western Indians
For Text: David Block carries three paragraphs of text from this story in Appendix 7, page 283, of Baseball Before We Knew It.
Captured by Native Americans, a youth sees them playing a game of ball. The "ball" was part of a sturgeon's head covered with deerskin strips, the club was of hickory, some number of safe-haven bases were formed by small piles of stones, and there was plugging.
"Their principal object seemed to be to send the ball as far as possible, in order for the striker of it, to run around the great space of ground, which was comprised within the area formed by the piles of stones."
There is no mention of a pitcher, and if a batter-runner was put out, he would replace the fielder who made the putout. Some games would last for days.
Female Robinson Crusoe, A Tale of the American Wilderness [J. W. Bell, New York, 1837], pp 176-178. Per RH ref 58.
Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908, University of Nebraska Press, 1995, pp. 4-5.
1838.3 Cooper Novel Home as Found Mentions Ballplaying in Cooperstown
"'Do you refer to the young men on the lawn, Mr. Effington? . . . Why, sir, I believe they have always played ball in that precise locality.'
He called out in a wheedling tone to their ringleader, a notorious street brawler. 'A fine time for sport, Dickey; don't you think there would be more room in the broad street than on this crowded lawn, where you lose our ball so often in the shrubbery?'
'This place will do, on a pinch,' bawled Dickey, 'though it might be better. If it weren't for the plagued house, we couldn't ask for a better ball-ground. . . '
'Well, Dickey . . . , there is no accounting for tastes, but in my opinion, the street would be a much better place to play ball in than this lawn . . . There are so many fences hereabouts . . . It's true the village trustees say there shall be no ball-playing in the street [see item #1816.1 above - LM], but I conclude you don't much mind what they say or threaten.'"
Thus James Fenimore Cooper, in his novel Home As Found, describes the return of the Effingham family to Templeton and their ancestral home in Cooperstown, NY. The passage is thought to be based on a similar incident in Cooper's life in 1834 or 1835. In an unidentified photocopy held in the HOF's "Origins of Baseball" file, the author of A City on the Rise, at page 11, observes that "Cooper was the first writer to connect the game with the national character, and to recognize its vital place in American life." Another source calls this "the first literary ball game:"
http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/cooperstown/baseball.html. Caveat: In a 1/24/2008 posting to 19BCC, Richard Hershberger writes: I believe the consensus on the Cooper reference is that it likely was something more hockey-like than baseball-like."
James Fenimore Cooper, Home as Found [W.A. Townsend and Co., New York 1860] Chapter 11. The 1838 first edition was published by Lea and Blanchard in Philadelphia - data submitted by John Thorn, 7/11/2004.
1840s.31 Lem: Juvenile Fiction's Boy Who Loved Round-ball
Lem may be fiction's only round-ball hero.
On pages 93-97, the novel lays out the game that was played by Lem [born 1830] and his playmates, which seems to follow the customs of the Massachusetts game, but without stakes as bases. The passage includes a field diagram, some terminology ["the bases . . . were four in number, and were called 'gools,' a word which probably came from 'goals.'"], and ballmaking technique. Lem is, alas, sidelined for the season when he is plugged "in the hollow of the leg" while gool-running [Page 97] Other references:
On spring, pp 92-93: "Ball-playing began early in the spring; [p92/93] it was the first of the summer games to come out.
On Fast Day, p. 93: "I am afraid that Lem's only notion of Fast Day was that that was the long-expected day when, for the first time that year, a game of ball was played on the Common."
On the pleasant effects of a change in the path of the Gulf Stream, pp. 228-229: "no slushy streets, and above all, no cold barns to go into to feed turnips to the cold cows! A land where top-time, kite-[p228/229] time, and round-ball-time would always be in season. Think of it!"
On making teams for simulating Revolutionary War tussles, p. 107: "We can't all be Americans; and we have agreed to choose sides, as we do in round ball."
Noah Brookes, Lem: A New England Village Boy: His Adventures and his Mishaps (Scribner's Sons, New York, 1901). Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search "Lem boy."
See Supplemental Text, below, for Bill Lyons' description of the author and the work.
As of Jan 2013, this is one of three uses of "gool" instead of "goal" in ballplaying entries, all in the 1850s and found in western MA and ME. [To confirm/update, do an Enhanced Search for "gool".] One of these, at 1850s.33 uses "gool" as the name of the game. See also Supplemental Text, below.
We welcome comment on the authenticity of Brooks' depiction of ballplaying in the 1840s, and whether how the game depicted compares to the MA game.
1844.6 Novel Cites "the Game of Bass in the Fields"
"And you boys let out racin', yelpin,' hollerin,' and whoopin' like mad with pleasure, and the playground, and the game of bass in the fields, or hurly on the long pond on the ice, . . . "
Thomas C. Haliburton, The Attache: or Sam Slick in England [Bentley, London, 1844] no page cited, per William Humber, "Baseball and Canadian Identity," College Quarterly volume 8 Number 3 [Spring 2005] no page cited. Humber notes that this reference has been used to refute Nova Scotia's claim to be the birthplace of modern ice hockey ["hurly"]. Submitted by John Thorn, 3/30/2006.
Note: Understanding the author's intent here is complicated by the fact that he was Canadian, Sam Slick was an American character, and the novel is set in Britain.
Is "bass" a ballgame, or was prisoner's base sometimes thought of as a "field game?"
1844.14 "At Base, They Cannot Hit Him With the Ball."
A small work of juvenile fiction published in 1844 contains this description of a youthful ballplayer: "Johnny is a real good hand to play with the older boys, too. At base, they cannot hit him with the ball, any more than if he were made of air. Sometimes he catches up his feet, and lets it pass under him, sometimes he leans one way, and sometimes another, or bows his head; any how, he always dodges it."
Another scene describes several boys sitting on a fence and watching "a game of base."
Willie Rogers, or Temper Improved, (Samuel B. Simpkins, Boston), 1844.
David Block observes: "the sentence describing the boy's skill at taking evasive action when threatened by soaking seems significant to me. I don't recall ever seeing this skill discussed before, and, although long obsolete, it must have stood as one of the more valuable tools of the base runner in the era of soaking/plugging ."
1849.11 Character in Fictional Autobiography Played Cricket, Base-Ball
"On fourths of July, training days and other occasions, young men from the country around, at a distance of fifteen or twenty miles, would come for the purpose of competing for the championship of these contests, in which, in which, as the leader of the school, I soon became conspicuous. Was there a game at cricket or base-ball to be played, my name headed the list of the athletae."
The following page has an isolated reference to the ball grounds at the school. Mayo was from upstate NY. The fifth edition  of Kaloolah is available via Google Books, and was accessed on 10/24/2008; the ballplaying references in this edition are on pages 20 and 21.
W.S. Mayo, Kaloolah, or Journeying to the Djebel Kumri. An Autobiography (George P. Putnam, New York, 1849), page 20.
Posting to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger, 1/24/2008. Richard considers this the first appearance of base-ball in American fiction, as the games in #1837.2 and #1838.4 above are not cited as base ball and could be another type of game.
1850.23 English Novel Briefly Mentions Base-Ball
"Emma, drawing little Charles toward her, began a confidential conversation with him on the subject of his garden and companions at school, and the comparative merits of cricket and base-ball."
Catherine Anne Hubback, The Younger Sister, Volume I (London, Thomas Newby 1850), page 166. Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008. Mrs. Hubback was the niece of Jane Austen.
1850s.37 Near Richmond VA, Games of Round Cat and Chermany
"There was a big field near his old home where he and the other boys, black and white, had played "round cat" and "chermany" in the summers before the war and had set their rabbit-traps in seasons of frost and snow."
Armistead C. Gordon, "His Father's Flag," Scribner's Magazine Volume 62 (1917), page 443. This fictional story of the son of a Confederate soldier killed during the Civil War is set near Dragon Swamp. (There are two VA places called Dismal Swamp; one is about 85 miles SE of Richmond. The other is about 50 miles E of Richmond.)
The two games named are known as ballgames played in the south. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (scribners "volume lxii").
1852.10 Fictional "Up-Country" Location Cites Bass-Ball and Wicket
"Both houses were close by the road, and the road was narrow; but on either side was a strip of grass, and in process of time, I appeared and began ball-playing upon the green strip, on the west side of the road. At these times, on summer mornings, when we were getting well warm at bass-ball or wicket, my grandfather would be seen coming out of his little swing-gate, with a big hat aforesaid, and a cane. He enjoyed the game as much as the youngest of us, but came mainly to see fair play, and decide mooted points."
There is a second incidental reference to wicket: "this is why it is pleasant to ride, walk, play at wicket, or mingle in city crowds" . . . [i.e., to escape endless introspection]. Ibid, page 90.
L.W. Mansfield, writing under the pseudonym "Z. P.," or Zachary Pundison, Up-country Letters (D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1852), page 277 and page 90.
Provided by David Block. David notes: "This is a published collection of letters that includes one dated March 1851, entitled 'Mr. Pundison's Grandfather.' In it the author is reminiscing about events of 20 years earlier."
It might be informative to learn whether this novel has a particular setting (wicket is only known in selected areas) and/or where Mansfield lived.
1852.14 A Pleasant Beech Grove, Where the Boys Played Bass Ball
"A little way from the school-house . . . was a pleasant beech grove, where the boys played bass ball, and where the girls carried disused benches and see-sawed over fallen logs."
Alice Carey, Clovernook: or, Recollections of Our Neighborhood in the West (Redfield, Clinton Hall NY, 1852), page 280. G-Book search: <"beech grove" "alice carey">.
The state or locality of this scene is not obvious.
Is this a recollection or a work of fiction?
1853.7 Didactic Novel Pairs "Bass-Ball" and Rounders at Youths' Outing
"The rest of the party strolled about the field, or joined merrily in a game of bass-ball or rounders, or sat in the bower, listening to the song of birds." .
Cricket receives three references (pages 75, 110, and 211)in this book. The first of these, unlike the bass-ball/rounders account, separates English boys from English girls after a May tea party: "Some of the gentlemen offered prizes of bats and balls, and skipping-ropes, for feats of activity or skill in running, leaping, playing cricket, &c. with the boys; and skipping, and battledore and shuttlecock with the girls."
Trap-ball receives one uninformative mention in the book (page 211).
A Year of Country Life: or, the Chronicle of the Young Naturalists (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1853), page 115.
As a way of teaching nature [each chapter introduces several birds, insects, and "wild plants"] this book follows a group of boys and girls of unspecified age [post-pubescent, we guess] through a calendar year. The bass-ball/rounders reference above is one of the few times we run across both terms in a contemporary writing. So, now: Is the author denoting are there two distinct games with different rules, or just two distinct names for the same game? The syntax here leaves that distinction muddy, as it could be the former answer if the children played bass-ball and rounders separately that [June] day.
Richard's take on the bass-ball/rounders ambiguity: "It is possible that there were two games the party played . . . but the likelier interpretation is that this was one game, with both names given to ensure clarity." David Block [email of 2/27/2008] agrees with Richard. Richard also says "It is possible that as the English dialect moved from "base ball" to "rounders," English society concurrently moved from the game being played primarily played by boys and only sometimes being played by girls. I am not qualified to say."
1853.15 You've Got to Play Along to Get Along?
Frank Forrester [Daniel Wise], Ralph Rattler: or, The Mischief-Maker (Brown Taggart and Chase, 1853), pp. 12-14: "In one episode, Ralph, a supercilious sort, refused an invitation to play ball with his Belmont Academy fellow students, because he dressed better than they did. . . . this scorn backfired for Ralph as he found making any friends very hard. Ball play, apparently, was a marker of social acceptance"
Tom Altherr, Ball Playing . . . as a Moral Backdrop in Children's Literature, in Originals, volume 5, number 5 (May 2012), pp 1 - 2.
1854.18 Bass Ball and Truth-telling
"Tucked away in the 1854 Youth's Casket was a . . . moralistic tale centered on lying . . . ."
Three lads play "game of bass" with a new bat and ball, and one of them hits the ball so hard it breaks a school window. . . . One of them is punished for lying to cover up his mate's act.
"Hiding One's Faults," in The Youth's Casket; An Illustrated Magazine for the Young (E. F. Beadle, Buffalo, 1854), pages 151-152.
Cited in Tom Altherr, "Another Base Ball Reference," Originals, volume 4, number 12 (December 2011), page 2.
1858.37 In English Novel, Base-Ball Doesn't Occupy Boys Very Long
The boys were still restless - ". . . they were rather at a loss for a game. They had played at base-ball and leap-frog; and rival coaches, with six horses at full speed, have been driven several times around the garden, to the imminent risk of box-edgings, and the corner of flower beds: what were they to do?" . The boys appear to be roughly 8 to 10 years old.
Anon., "Robert Wilmot," in The Parents' Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction (Smith, Elder and Co., London, 1858), page 59
1860.15 Adolescent Novel Describes Base Ball Game
In this moral tale, Nat hits a triumphant home run, "turning a somersault as he came in."
Thayer William M., The Bobbin Boy; or, How Nat Got His Learning (J. E. Tilton, Boston, 1860), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 221-222.