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1785.3 Men's Stool Ball Match Set in Kent: Winner to Receive 150 Guineas . . . and Some Roasted Lamb!



Age of Players:


"Stool-Ball.  To be played in Lynsted Park, near the Parish of Sittingbourn, For One Hundred and Fifty Guineas.  On Monday, the 16th of this Instant May, A Game of Stool Ball.  The players, on this Occasion, will be complemented with a LAMB ROASTED WHOLE, By Mr. Chapman. Homestall Lane is fixed on to divide  the County. THE RETURNED MATCH is to be played at Boughton, when another Lamb will be given, at the WHITE HORSE, by Mr. Chapman, of Lynsted.

"The Gentlemen are required to to meet, in Consequence of the above Match, on Friday next, May 6, at the Swan, Greenstreet.  [emphasis in original]"



Kentish Gazette, May 4, 1785.

-- "While mentions of stool ball in literature go back centuries, this is the earliest “serious” contest of the game I’m aware of. It’s especially interesting because the competitors were men. Of course, we have no idea what form of the game they were playing, but presumably it more closely resembled the structured form that women began playing in the 19th century as opposed to the milkmaid version of centuries past."  
-- "Sittingbourn lies between London and Canterbury. The Swan is a pub that still operates, near Sittingbourn.  Homestall Lane appears to be the dividing line between the Sittingbourne area and a second area to the east centered on the town of Boughten-under-Blean. Use of the term 'county' is a bit puzzling as it is obvious that this competition did not include participants representing the entire county of Kent."
"The White Horse Inn, the venue for the return match, is also still in operation today. Despite the fact that both the Swan and the White Horse are more than 235 years old, neither is listed among the top ten oldest public houses in Kent. Both sit astride the ancient London-Canterbury Road along which traveled the pilgrims documented by Chaucer in Canterbury Tales. Indeed, the White Horse Inn was mentioned in one of the tales (according to the inn's website.)"
-- "A guinea from 1785 is worth roughly $100 today." [So the stakes amounted to $15,000 in today's dollars?]
--  "I should have more important things than this to occupy me on a rainy [San Francisco] Sunday afternoon, but apparently not. Undoubtedly, we are scrutinizing this item more closely than it would ordinarily merit, but in Covid times I am happy for the distraction."
from David Block, emails of 12/14-15/2020
As of December 2020, Protoball's Chronology  has over 65 references to stoolball prior to 1785, and 20 more from 1785 to 1860.   Vey few of them cite male players, and fewer still cite male-only play or large stakes for winning.

Is the Homestall Lane ref meant to convey that the competing sides within the county are to be determined by a player's residence on one or the other of the lane? [See Block reply above.]




1870.10 Philly Paper Lists Betting Odds for US Championship Match in Brooklyn


Brooklyn, NY



Age of Players:


"The Athletic Base Ball Club [of Philadelphia]has again been defeated, making the sixth thrashing [of 11-10] which they have received during the present season.  This afternoon [September 15] they played on the Union Grounds, in Brooklyn, the deciding game for the championship of the United States, with the Mutual Club . . . .  Bets were freely offered prior to the game of a hundred to fifty . . . but even at these heavy odds there were few takers."  The crowd was reported as about three thousand persons.


"Another Defeat," Philadelphia Inquirer, September 16, 1870.  As reproduced on Richard Hershberger's Facebook posting, September 15, 2020 


"Note also how the betting line is featured prominently in the account. The baseball press routinely decried the influence of gambling on baseball, while carefully reporting the odds. Consistency was not a priority here.

"The crowd of three thousand seems a bit low. It is respectable for this era, but a really big game would draw a lot more. The Philadelphians claimed that that the A's held the championship, with this loss passing it to the Mutuals. No one outside Philadelphia really believed the A's held the championship, or more would have turned out today."

-- Richard Hershberger, 9/15/2020