Chronology:Greater New York City
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1845.1 Knicks Adopt Playing Rules on September 23
As apparently scribed by William Wheaton, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City organizes and adopts twenty rules for baseball (six organizational rules, fourteen playing rules). These rules are later seen as the basis for the game we now call baseball.
The Knickerbockers are credited with establishing foul lines; abolishing plugging (throwing the ball at the runner to make an out); instituting the tag-out and force-out; and introducing that balk rule. However, the Knickerbocker rules do not specify a pitching distance or the nature of the ball.
The distance from home to second base and from first to third base is set at forty-two paces. In 1845 the "pace" was understood either as a variable measure or as precisely two-and-a-half feet, in which case the distance from home to second would have been 105 feet and the "Knickerbocker base paths" would have been 74-plus feet. It is not obvious that the "pace" of 1845 would have been interpreted as the equivalent of three feet, as more recently defined.
The Knickerbocker rules provide that a winner will be declared when twenty-one aces are scored but each team must have an equal number of turns at bat; the style of delivery is underhand in contrast to the overhand delivery typical in town ball; balls hit beyond the field limits in fair territory (home run in modern baseball) are limited to one base.
The Knickerbocker rules become known as the New York Game in contrast to game later known as the Massachusetts Game that was favored in and around the Boston area.
A detailed recent annotation of the 20 rules appears in John Thorn,Baseball in the Garden of Eden, pages 69-77.
See Also "Larry McCray, "The Knickerbocker Rules -- and The Long History of the One-Bounce Fielding Rule, Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 93-97.
About 30 years later, reporter William Rankin wrote that Alexander Cartwright introduced familiar modern rules to the Knickerbocker Club, including 90-foot baselines.
As of 2016, recent scholarship has shown little evidence that Alexander Cartwright played a central role in forging or adapting the Knickerbocker rules. See Richard Hershberger, The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth (Baseball Research Journal, 2014), and John Thorn, "The Making of a New York Hero" dated November 2015, at cartwright/.">http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/11/30/abner-cartwright/.
John's concluding paragraph is: "Recent scholarship has revealed the history of baseball's "creation" to be a lie agreed upon. Why, then, does the legend continue to outstrip the fact? "Creation myths, wrote Stephen Jay Gould, in explaining the appeal of Cooperstown, "identify heroes and sacred places, while evolutionary stories provide no palpable, particular thing as a symbol for reverence, worship, or patriotism."
1845.4 NY and Brooklyn Sides Play Two-Game Series of "Time-Honored Game of Base:" Box Score Appears
[A] The New York Base Ball Club and the Brooklyn Base Ball Club compete at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, by uncertain rules and with eight players to the side. On October 21, New York prevailed, 24-4 in four innings (21 runs being necessary to record the victory). The two teams also played a rematch in Brooklyn, at the grounds of the Star Cricket Club on Myrtle Avenue, on October 25, and the Brooklyn club again succumbed, this time by the score of 37-19, once more in four innings. For these two contests box scores were printed in New York newspapers. There are some indications that these games may have been played by the brand new Knickerbocker rules.
[B] The first game had been announced in The New York Herald and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on October 21. The BDE announcement refers to "the New York Bass Ball Club," and predicts that the match will "attract large numbers from this and the neighboring city."
For a long-lost account of an earlier New York - Brooklyn game, see #1845.16 below.
Detailed accounts of these games are shown in supplement text, below.
[A] New York Morning News, October 22 and 25, 1845. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 11-13.
[B] Sullivan, p. 11; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 4, number 253 (October 21, 1845), page 2, column 3
For a detailed discussion of the significance of this game, see Melvin Adelman, "The First Baseball Game, the First Newspaper References to Baseball," Journal of Sport History Volume 7, number 3 (Winter 1980), pp 132 ff.
The games are summarized in John Thorn, "The First Recorded Games-- Brooklyn vs. New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 6-7
Hoboken leans on the early use of Elysian Fields to call the town the "Birthplace of Baseball." It wasn't, but in June 2015 John Zinn wrote a thoughtful appreciation of Hoboken's role in the establishment of the game. See http://amanlypastime.blogspot.com/, essay of June 15, 2015, "Proving What Is So."
For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,” p 1 – 9: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0btLf16riTacFVEUV9CUi1UQ3c/
1845.5 Brooklyn and New York to Go Again in Hoboken
"Brooklyn vs. New York. - An interesting game of Base Ball will come off at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, to-day, commencing at 10 A. M., between the New York and Brooklyn Clubs."
This game appears to have been the first game between what were called "picked nine" -- in our usage, "all-star clubs" from base ball players in two major local regions.
New York Sun, November 10, 1845, page 2, column. 6. Submitted by George Thompson, June 2005.
See also David Dyte, "Baseball in Brooklyn, 1845-1870: The Best There Was," Base Ball Journal Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins). pages 98-102.
1845c.15 Doc Adams, Ballmaker: The Hardball Becomes Hard
[A]The Knickerbockers developed and adopted the New York Game style of baseball in September 1845 in part to play a more dignified game that would attract adults. The removal of the "soaking" rule allowed the Knickerbockers to develop a harder baseball that was more like a cricket ball.
[B]Dr. D.L. Adams of the Knickerbocker team stated that he produced baseballs for the various teams in New York in the 1840s and until 1858, when he located a saddler who could do the job. He would produce the balls using 3 to 4 oz of rubber as a core, then winding with yarn and covering with leather.
[A]Gilbert, "The Birth of Baseball", Elysian Fields, 1995, pp. 16- 17.
[B]Dr. D.L. Adams, "Memoirs of the Father of Baseball," Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Sullivan reprints this article in Early Innings, A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908, pages 13-18.
Rob Loeffler, "The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007.
1845.17 Intercity Cricket Match Begins in NY
"CRICKET MATCH. St. George's Club of this city against the Union Club of Philadelphia. The two first elevens of these clubs came together yesterday for a friendly match, on the ground of the St. George's Club, Bloomingdale Road. The result was as follows, on the first innings: St. George's 44, Union Club of Philadelphia 33 [or 63 or 83; image is indistinct]. Play will be resumed to-day."
New York Herald, October 7, 1845.
1845.18 On "Second Anniversary," The NY Club Plays Intramural Game
"NEW YORK BASE BALL CLUB: The second Anniversary of the Club came off yesterday, on the ground in the Elysian fields." The game matched two nine-player squads, and ended with a 24-23 score. "The Club were honored by the presence of representatives from the Union Star Cricket Club, the Knickerbocker Clubs, senior and junior, and other gentlemen of note." NY Club players on the box score included Case, Clair, Cone, Gilmore, Granger, Harold, Johnson, Lalor, Lyon, Murphy, Seaman, Sweet [on both sides!], Tucker, Venn, Wheaton, Wilson, and Winslow.
New York Herald, November 11, 1845. Posted to 19cBB by John Thorn, 3/31/2008.
1846.1 Knicks Play NYBBC in First Recorded Match Game
The Knickerbockers meet the New York Base Ball Club at the Elysian Fields of Hoboken, New Jersey, in the first match game played under the 1845 rules. The Knickerbockers lose the contest 23-1. Some historians regard this game as the first instance of inter-club or match play under modern [Knickerbocker] rules.
1846.2 Brooklyn BBC Established, May Become "Crack Club of County?"
"A number of our most respectable young men have recently organized themselves into a club for the purpose of participating in the healthy and athletic sport of base ball. From the character of the members this will be the crack club of the County. A meeting of this club will be held to-morrow evening at the National House for the adoption of by-laws and the completion of its organization."
"Brooklyn City Base Ball Club," Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 5, number 162 (July 6, 1846), page 2, column 2.
1846.6 Walt Whitman Sees Boys Playing "Base" in Brooklyn: "Glorious"
In July of 1846 a Brooklyn Eagle piece by Walt Whitman read:
"In our sun-down perambulations of late, through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing "base," a certain game of ball. We wish such sights were more common among us. In the practice of athletic and manly sports, the young men of nearly all our American cities are very deficient. Clerks are shut up from early morning till nine or ten o'clock at night . . . . Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms . . . the game of ball is glorious."
"City Intelligence," Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 5 number 177 (July 23, 1846), page 2, column 3. Reprinted in Herbert Bergman, ed., Walt Whitman. The Journalism. Vol. 1: 1834 - 1846. (Collected Works of Walt Whitman) [Peter Lang, New York, 1998], volume 1, page 477. Full Eagle citation submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2004. .
Note: Whitman's text also presented at John Thorn's Our Game at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/opening-day-e5f9021c5dda.
1847c.1 Henry Chadwick Plays a "Scrub" Game of Baseball?
"My first experience on the field in base ball on American soil was in 1847, when one summer afternoon a party of young fellows visited the Elysian Fields, and after watching some ball playing on the old Knickerbocker field we made up sides for a scrub game . . . ."
Per Frederick Ivor-Campbell, "Henry Chadwick," in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, et. al, eds., Baseball's First Stars [SABR, Cleveland, 1996], page 26. No reference given. Fred provided a fuller reference on 10/2/2006: the quote is from an unidentified newspaper column, copyright 1887 by O.P. Caylor, mounted in Henry Chadwick Scrapbooks, Volume 2. On 1/13/10, Gregory Christiano contributed a facsimile of the Caylor article, "Base Ball Reminiscences."
Fred adds: "I wouldn't trust the precision of the date 1847, though it was about that time." Fred sees no evidence that Chadwick played between this scrub game and 1856.
1848.1 Knickerbocker Rules and By-laws Are Printed; Original Phrase Deleted
The earliest known printing of the September 1845 rules. By-laws and Rules of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club [New York, W. H. B. Smith Book and Fancy Job Printer], Its rule 15 deletes the phrase "it being understood, however, that in no instance is a ball to be thrown at him [the baserunner]."
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223. David Block posting to 19CBB, 6/16/2005.
David also feels that a new rule appeared in the 1848 list that a runner cannot score a run on a force out for the third out. David Block posting to 19CBB, 1/5/2006.
1848.4 The Knicks' Defensive Deployment, Thanksgiving Day Game
In the Knickerbockers' Thanksgiving Day, 1848, intramural game, two squads of eight squared off. Each featured three (out) fielders, basemen at fist, second, and third, a pitch(er), and a behind. My notes further reflect the further use of "behind" in the 8/30/56 match between the Knicks and the Empires. The Empires elected to play without a shortstop while positioning two men 'behind'"
19CBB posting by John Thorn, 7/23/2005. The source is presumably the Knick game books, held in the Spalding Collection, New York Public Library
1849.1 Knicks Sport First Uniform - White Shirt, Blue Pantaloons
"April 24, 1849: The first baseball uniform is adopted at a meeting of the New York Knickerbocker Club. It consists of blue woolen pantaloons, a white flannel shirt, and a straw hat."
accessed 6/20/2005. No source is given.
but see #1838c.8 above - LM
1851.7 Christmas Bash Includes "Good Old Fashioned Game of Baseball"
"On Christmas day, the drivers, agents, and other employees of the various Express Companies in the City, had a turnout entirely in character. . . . There were between seventy-five and eighty men in the company . . . . They then went to the residence of A. M. C. Smith, in Franklin st., and thence to the Red House in Harlem, where the whole party has a good old fashioned game of base ball, and then a capital dinner at which A. M. C. Smith presided."
New York Daily Tribune, December 29, 1851.
Richard added: "Finally this is a very rare contemporary cite of baseball for this period. Between the baseball fad of the mid-1840s and its revival in the mid-1850s, baseball is rarely seen outside the pages of the Knickerbocker club books." John Thorn contributed a facsimile of the Tribune article.
Can we surmise that by using the term "old fashioned game," the newspaper is distinguishing it from the Knickerbocker game?
1851.9 The Beginning of Match Play Between Organized Clubs
"Some baseball games are historic even thought few details of the contest survive. A case in point is the June 3, 1851 Knickerbocker-Washington game. Although the only surviving information is the line score, the match is remembered because it marked the beginning of ongoing match play."
John Zinn, "Match Play: Knickerbockers of New York vs. Washington of New York," in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pages 8-9.
This is game #4 of the SABR 19th Century Committee's top 100 games of the 1800s.The Knickerbockers won the June 3 game, 21-11, in 8 innings.
Two weeks later, the two clubs met again and the Knickerbockers prevailed again, 22-20, in 10 innings.
The era of repetitive match play among organized base ball clubs had begun.
1852.3 Eagle Ball Club Rulebook Appears
By-laws and Rules of the Eagle Ball Club [New York, Douglas and Colt], 1852
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
The cover of this rulebook states that the club had formed in 1840 (See item #1840.6 above).
1852.13 Gotham Club Forms; Knicks Have First Rival Team
"The Gotham Base Ball Club, of New York, was organized early in 1852, with Mr. Tuche as its first President. Among its veteran players were Messrs. Winslow, Vail, Murphy, and Davis. At the time of the organization of the Gotham, their only competitor was the famous Knickerbockers, and the years between 1852 and 1853 will be remembered for their interesting contests between them."
John Freyer and Mark Rucker, Peverelly's National Game (Arcadia, 2005), page 21; A reprint of Charles Peverelly, American Pastimes, 1866.
1853.5 Knicks, Gothams Play Season Opener on July 1 and Again on October 18
[A] July Game
"BASE BALL AT HOBOKEN: The first friendly game of the season, between the Gotham and Knickerbocker Base Ball Clubs was played on the grounds of the latter on the 5th inst. The game was commenced on Friday the 1st, but owing to the storm had to be postponed, the Knickerbockers making nine aces to two of the Gothams, the following is the score for both days."
The Knicks won, 21-12, according to an abbreviated box score, which uses "No. of Outs" [and not "Hands Lost"] in the left-hand column, and "Runs," [not "Aces", as in the article] in the right-hand column. Paul Wendt estimates that this is the first certain Knick-rules box score known for an interclub match, and the first since the October 1845 games (see "1845.4 and #1845.16 above). 18 outs are recorded for each club, so six innings were played, "Twenty-one runs constituting the game."
The Knickerbocker lineup was Brotherson, Dick, Adams, Niebuhr, Dupignac, Tryon, Parisen, Tucker, and Waller. The Gotham lineup was W. H. Fancott [Van Cott], Thos. Fancott [Van Cott], J. C. Pinkny, Cudlip, Winslow Jr, Winslow Sr, Lalor, and Wadsworth.
[B] October Game
"Friend P -- The return game of Base Ball between the Gotham and Knickerbockers, was played last Friday, at the Red House, and resulted in favor of he Knickerbockers. The following is the score (21 runs constituting the game.)"
A box score follows, with columns headed "Runs" and "Outs." The score was 21-14, and evidently took nine innings.
"This was the finest, and at one time the closest match, that has ever been played between the two clubs. All that the Gothamites want is a little more practice at the bat; then the Knicks will have to stir themselves to sustain the laurels which they have worn so long."
The Knickerbocker lineup was Adams, De Bost, Tucker, Niebuhr, Tryon, Dick, Brotherson, Davis and Eager. The Gotham lineup was T. Van Cott, Wm. Van Cott, Miller, Cudlipp, Demilt, Pinckney, Wadsworth, Salzman, and Winslow.
[A] Letter from "F.W.T.", 7/6/1853, Base Ball at Hoboken, to The Spirit of the Times, Volume 23, number 21, Saturday July 9, 1853, page 246, column 1.
See also John Thorn, "The Baseball Press Emerges," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 106-110.
[B] Letter from "F.W.T.", 10/18/1853, "Base Ball Match," Spirit of the Times, volume 23, number 36 (Saturday, October 22, 1853), page 432, column 2; supplied by Craig Waff, September 2008.
Paul Wendt writes that the July game account included the first known box score of a game surely played by Knickerbocker rules.
Note the early appearance of informal usage: "Knicks" for "Knickerbockers" and "Gothamites" for "Gotham Club."
1853.9 Strolling Past a Ballgame in Elysian Fields
George Thompson has uncovered a long account of a leisurely visit to Elysian Fields, one that encounters a ball game in progress.
A few excerpts: "We have passed so quickly from the city and its hubbub, that the charm of this delicious contrast is absolutely magical.
"What a motley crowd! Old and young, men women and children . . . . Well-dressed and badly dressed, and scarcely dressed at all - Germans, French, Italians, Americans, with here and there a mincing Londoner, his cockney gait and trim whiskers. This walk in Hoboken is one of the most absolutely democratic places in the world. . . . . Now we are on the smoothly graveled walk. . . . Now let us go round this sharp curve . . . then along the widened terrace path, until it loses itself in a green and spacious lawn . . . [t]his is the entrance to the far-famed Elysian Fields.
"The centre of the lawn has been marked out into a magnificent ball ground, and two parties of rollicking, joyous young men are engaged in that excellent and health-imparting sport, base ball. They are without hats, coats or waistcoats, and their well-knit forms, and elastic movements, as that bound after bounding ball, furnish gratifying evidence that there are still classes of young men among us as calculated to preserve the race from degenerating."
George G. Foster, Fifteen Minutes Around New York (1854). The piece was written in 1853.
1853.10 The First Base Ball Reporters - Cauldwell, Bray, Chadwick
Henry Chadwick may be the Father of Baseball and a HOF member, but it is William Cauldwell in 1853 who is usually credited as the first baseball scribe.
John Thorn sees the primacy claims this way: As for Chadwick, "He was not baseball's first reporter — that distinction goes to the little known William H. Bray, like Chadwick an Englishman who covered baseball and cricket for the Clipper from early 1854 to May 1858 (Chadwick succeeded him on both beats and never threw him a nod afterward).
Isolated game accounts had been penned in 1853 by William Cauldwell of the Mercury and Frank Queen of the Clipper, who with William Trotter Porter of Spirit of the Times may be said to have been baseball's pioneer promoters.
John Thorn, "Pots and Pans and Bats and Balls," posted January 23, 2008 at
See also Turkin and Thompson, The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball (Doubleday, 1979), page 585.
1853.14 Base Ball Hits the Sports Pages? Sunday Mercury, Spirit of the Times Among First to Cover Game Regularly
[A] "The Sunday Mercury reportedly began coverage on May 1,of 1853]"
[B] "On July 9, 1853, The Spirit of the Times mentioned baseball for the first time, printing a letter reporting a game between the Gotham and Knickerbocker Clubs."
[C] Spirit of the Times began to cover cricket in 1837 . . . . Not until July 9, 1853, however, did it give notice to a baseball match . . . the same one noted in the fledgling [New York] Clipper one week later."
[A] Email from Bob Tholkes, 2/12/2010 and 2/18/2012.
[B]William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 163.
[C] John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Shuster, 2011), page 104.
Has someone already analyzed the relative role of assorted papers in the first baseball boom?
1853c.15 Scholar Ponders: Why Were the Knickerbockers So Publicity-Shy?
"Robert Henderson helps us understand why the Knickerbocker Club made no apparent effort to engage in friendly contests with other teams [from 1845 through 1851]: the club itself was on the verge of collapse in the early years because many of its members failed to show up for scheduled practices.
" . . . There was no mention of baseball in the press until 1853, with the exception of a few references to the New York Club in 1845. . . . The failure of he Knickerbockers to ensure public recognition of their organization probably indicated a defensive posture toward involvement in baseball. Given their social status and the prevailing attitude toward ballplaying, their reaction is not surprising; after all, they were grown men of some stature playing a child's game. They could rationalize their participation by pointing to the health and recreational benefits of baseball, but their social insecurities and their personal doubts concerning the manliness of the game inhibited them from openly announcing the organization."
Melvin Adelman, A Sporting Time: New York City and the Rise of Modern Athletics, 1820-1870 (U of Illinois Press, 1986), page 124.
Adelman's reference [page 325] to the unpublished Henderson piece: Robert Henderson, "Adams of the Knickerbockers," unpublished MS, New York Racquet and Tennis Club.
Adelman does not mention that until 1854 there were few other known clubs for the KBBC to challenge to match games.
[A] Was it common for sporting or other clubs to seek publicity prior to 1853?
[B] What evidence exists that the Club felt ashamed to play "a child's game," or that earlier varieties of base-running games were not played by older youths and adults? This chronology has numerous accounts of adult play before 1853.
1853.16 Kelly Deserves Credit for Originating Shorthand Scoring System
Credit for the shorthand scoring system belongs not to Chadwick but to Michael J. Kelly of the Herald. The box score — beyond the recording of outs and runs—may be Kelly's invention as well, but cricket had supplied the model."
John Thorn, "Pots and Pans and Bats and Balls," posted January 23, 2008 at
1853.17 Initial Regular Newspaper Coverage Pairs Base Ball with Cricket
In its initial items upon beginning coverage of Knickerbocker Rules Base Ball in May, 1853 (the first such coverage known since the game reports of 1845), the New York Sunday Mercury mentioned that both the cricket and base ball clubs were opening play, perhaps because both were practicing at the Red House grounds.
New York Sunday Mercury, May 1, 1853, and May 29, 1853
1853.18 "the national out-door game"
Approximating the usual later designation of base ball as the "national pastime", the New York Sunday Mercury referred to it as the "national out-door game."
New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 2, 1853
Since at the time only three clubs, all in New York City, were playing Knickerbocker Rules Base Ball, the Mercury necessarily was referring to the group of safe-haven games under various names played throughout the United States since colonial times.
1854.1 Three NY Clubs Meet: Agreed Rules Now Specify Pitching Distance "Not Less Than 15 Paces""
[A] Concordance: The Knickerbocker, Eagle, and Gotham Club agree to somewhat expanded rules. Sullivan writes: "In 1854 a revised version of the original Knickerbocker rules was approved by a small committee of NY baseball officials, including Dr. (Doc) Adams. This document describes the first known meeting of baseball club representatives. Three years later, a much larger convention would result in the NABBP."
[B] Pitching: The New York Game rules now specify the distance from the pitcher's point to home base as "not less than fifteen paces."
[C] The Ball: "The joint rules committee, convening at Smith's Tavern, New York, increased the weight of the ball to 5½ to 6 ounces and the diameter to 2¾ to 3½ inches, (corresponding to a circumference varying from 8 5/8 to 11 inches)."
[A] John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), page 83.The rules standardization was announced in the New York Sunday Mercury, April 2, 1854.
[B] The 17 playing rules [the 1845 rules listed 14 rules] are reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 (University of Nebraska Press, 1995}, pp. 18-19.
[C] Peverelly, 1866, Book of American Pastimes, pp. 346 - 348. Submitted by Rob Loeffler, 3/1/07. See "The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007.
Do we know what pitching distances were used in games played before 1854?
Is it seen as merely coincidental that the specifications of a base ball were so close to those of a cricket ball?
1854.4 Was Lewis Wadsworth the First Paid Player?
"For years, [Al] Reach had been the player identified as the first to receive a salary and/or other inducements, as his move from the Eckfords of Brooklyn to the Athletics could not otherwise be explained. Over the last twenty years, though, the "mantle" has more generally been accorded to Creighton and his teammate Flanley, who were simultaneously "persuaded" to leave the Star Club and join the Excelsiors. Your mention of Pearce - especially at this very early date of 1856 - is the first I have heard.
"In the very early days of match play, before the advent of widely observed anti-revolver provisions (with a requirement that a man belong to a club for thirty days before playing a game on their behalf) it is possible that a team may have paid a player, or provided other "emoluments" (such as a deadhead job), for purposes of muscling up for a single game. The earliest player movement that wrinkles my nose in the regard are that of Lewis Wadsworth 1854 (Gothams to Knickerbockers) and third basemen Pinckney in 1856 (Union to Gothams). The Knicks responded to the Pinckney move by offering membership to Harry Wright, already a professional player in another sport -- cricket."
John Thorn posting to 19CBB listserve group, July 5, 2004, 1:39 PM.
1854.5 Excelsior Club Forms in Brooklyn
Constitution and By-Laws of the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, 1854. The Excelsior Club is organized "to improve, foster, and perpetuate the American game of Base Ball, and advance morally, socially and physically the interests of its members." Its written constitution, Seymour notes, is very similar in wording to the Knickerbocker constitution.
Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
Is this the first base ball club organized in Brooklyn?
1854.7 Empire Club Constitution Appears
Constitution, by-laws and rules of the Empire Ball Club; organized October 23rd, 1854 [New York, The Empire Club]
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
We have no record of the Empire Club playing match games in 1854, but the following April, they took the field.
1854.9 Van Cott Letter Summarizes Year in Base Ball in NYC; Foresees "Higher Position" for 1855 Base Ball
"There are now in this city three regularly organized Clubs [the Knickerbockers, Gothams, and Eagles], who meet semi-weekly during the playing season, about eight months in each year, for exercise in the old fashioned game of Base Ball . . . . There have been a large number of friendly, but spirited trials of skill, between the Clubs, during the last season, which have showed that the game has been thoroughly systematized. . . The season for play closed about the middle of November, and on Friday evening, December 15th, the three Clubs partook of their annual dinner at Fijux's . . . . The indications are that this noble game will, the coming season, assume a higher position than ever, and we intend to keep you fully advised . . . as we deem your journal the only medium in this country through which the public receive correct information." . . . December 19th, 1854."
William Van Cott, "The New York Base Ball Clubs," Spirit of the Times, Volume 24, number 10, Saturday, December 23, 1854, page 534, column 1. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008. The full letter is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 (University of Nebraska Press, 1995), pages 19-20.
The New York Daily Times, vol. 4 number 1015 (December 19, 1854), page 3, column 1, carried a similar but shorter notice. Text and image provided by Craig Waff, 4/30/2007. Richard Hershberger reported on 1/15/2010 that it also appeared in the New York Daily Tribune on December 19, and sent text and image along too.
For the context of the Van Cott letter, see Bill Ryczek, "William Van Cott Writes a Letter to the Sporting Press," Base Ball, Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pp. 111-113.
Bill ponders (page 112) what might have moved Van Cott to distribute his letter to the three newspapers: "Possibly it was to recruit more members for the three clubs, though that was unlikely, since membership was rather exclusive and decidedly homogeneous [ethnically] . . . . Was he trying to encourage the formation of additional clubs, or was he attempting to generate publicity for the existing clubs and members? The Knickerbockers, baseball's pioneer club, had made virtually no attempt to expand the game they had formalized."
1854.16 The Eagle Club's Field Diagram - A Real Diamond
John Thorn has supplied an image of the printed "Plan of the Eagle Ball Club Bases" from its 1854 rulebook.
"Revised Constitution, by-laws and rules of the Eagle Ball Club," (Oliver and Brother, New York, 1854).
It seems possible that he who designed this graphic did not intend it to be taken literally, but it sure is different. Folks around MIT here would call it a squashed rhombus. Using the diagram's own scale for 42 paces, and accepting the questionable guess that most people informally considered a pace to measure 3 feet, the four basepaths each measure 132 feet. But the distance from home to 2B is just 79 feet, and from 1B to 3B it's 226 feet (for football fans: that's about 75 yards). Foul ground ("Outside Range" on the diagram) leaves a fair territory that is not marked in a 90 degree angle, but at . . . wait a sec, I'll find a professor and borrow a protractor, ah, here . . . a 143 degree angle.
Do we have evidence that the Eagle preferred, at least initially, a variant playing field? Or did the Eagle Club just assign this diagramming exercise to some Harvard person?
Is this image published in some recent source?
1854.20 Empire Club Begins Play
"The Empire Bass Ball Club played their first regular  season game at McCarthy's ground, Hoboken, yesterday afternoon. This club, consisting of some thirty young men, mostly clerks in the lower part of the City, was organized last year nearly at the close of the season."
"Empire Bass Ball Club," New York Daily Times Volume 4, number 1125 (Thursday, April 26, 1855), page 8, column 1.
1855.1 The Confidence Game Frustrated
"On Friday morning last (August 24) an impudent scamp in a very genteel garb entered the house of Mr. Gregory in Sussex street, and informed the servant girl that her master was about to play a game of base ball in Brooklyn, and wanted his uniform, a suit of clothes for a ball, &c...The girl believing him gave him all the articles required, when he said further, in a confidential way, that he had forgotten the cigars, a box of which would be found not yet opened. This was his mistake, for no cigars were in the house, and the girl, being now placed on her guard, immediately unpacked what she had previously packed, and said she would take the articles herself...To this the gentleman of course objected, but the girl was honest and determined. She accordingly took the articles to the office of Mr. Gregory, and found that he had not the slightest intention to leave the city. The rogue of course escaped, and no account has been heard from him since."
New York Sun, Aug. 28, 1855. P
Hershberger: "Make of this what you will."
1855c.3 Demo Game of Wicket, Seen as a CT Game, Later Played in Brooklyn
In 1880 the Brooklyn Eagle and New York Times carried long articles that include a description of the game of wicket, described as a Connecticut game not seen in Brooklyn for about 25 years:
[A] "Instead of eleven on a side, as in cricket, there are thirty, and instead of wickets used by cricketers their wickets consist of two pieces of white wood about an inch square and six feet long, placed upon two blocks three inches from the ground. The ball also differs from that used in cricket or base ball, it being almost twice the size, although it only weighs nine ounces. The bat also differs from that used in cricket and base ball, it being more on the order of a lacrosse bat, although of an entirely different shape, and made of hard, white wood. The space between the wickets is called the alley, and is seventy-five feet in length and ten feet in width. Wicket also differs from cricket in the bowling, which can be done from either wicket, at the option of the bowlers, and there is a centre line, on the order of the ace line in racket and hand ball, which is called the bowler's mark, and if a ball is bowled which fails to strike the ground before it reaches this line it is considered a dead ball, or no bowl, and no play can be made from it, even if the ball does not suit the batsman. The alley is something on the order of the space cut out for and occupied by the pitcher and catcher of a base ball club, the turf being removed and the ground rolled very hard for the accommodation of the bowlers."
[B] "The game of wicket, a popular out-door sport in Connecticut, where it originated half a century ago, was played for the first time in this vicinity yesterday. Wicket resembles cricket in some respect, but it lacks the characteristics which mark the latter as a particularly scientific pastime. In wicket each full team numbers 30 players instead of 111, as in cricket. The wickets of the Connecticut game are also different, , being about 5 feet wide and only 3 inches above the ground, and having a bar of white wood resting on two little blocks. The space between wickets measures 75 feet by 10 feet, and is termed the 'alley'. . . . [No scorebook is use to record batting or fielding.] The bat sued is 38 inches long, and bears a strong resemblance to a Fiji war-club, the material being well-seasoned willow. The Ball, although much larger than a cricket ball, is just as light and no quite so hard. . . . If a delivered ball fails to hit the ground before the [midway] mark it is called a 'no ball' and no runs for it are counted. The game was originated in the neighborhood of Bristol.
"Yesterday's match was played between the Bristol Wicket Club, the champions of Connecticut, and the Ansonia Company, of Brooklyn, on he grounds of the Brooklyn Athletic Club."
Bristol won the two-inning match 162-127.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 41 number 239 (August 28, 1880), page 1, column 8.
"A Queer Game Called Wicket," New York Times, 8/28/1880.
There are inconsistencies in these accounts to be resolved.
1855.4 NY Herald Previews Several June Games for Five Area Clubs
"BASE BALL. Our readers are perfectly aware that the good old fashioned game of base ball is at present receiving much attention among the lovers of sport and manly exercise. Five clubs are organized and in operation in this city and Brooklyn, composed of some thirty or forty members each, and are in continual practice. Three of them play at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, one on every afternoon during the week the Knickerbocker Club on Monday and Thursday, the Eagle Club on Tuesday and Friday, and the Empire Club on Wednesday and Saturday. One other, the Gotham Club, plays at the Red House, Harlem, on Tuesday and Friday afternoons. The Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, we understand, have not as yet arranged their days of practice. We would recommend such of our readers who have sufficient leisure, to join one of these clubs. The benefit to be derived, especially to the man of sedentary habits, is incalculable, and the blessing of health and a diminished doctor's bill may reasonably be expected to flow from a punctual attendance. On Friday, the first of June, the Knickerbocker and Gotham Clubs will play a match at the Red House, Harlem, and the Eagle and Empire Clubs will also play a match at the Elysian Fields on Friday, the 15th of June. Matches between the Knickerbocker and Eagle and the Gotham and Eagle Clubs are also expected to come off during the month of June. The play takes place during the afternoon, commencing at about three o'clock"
New York Herald, May 26, 1855, page 1, column. 1. Submitted by George Thompson, June 2005.
1855.5 Seymour Research Note: "7 Clubs Organized" [But We Now Know of 30]
"1855 -- seven clubs organized. In 1856 four more."
Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
He cites Robert Weaver, Amusements and Sports (Greenwood, 1939), page 98 ff.
Note: Seymour did not name the seven listed clubs; drat.
As of mid-2013, Protoball lists a total of 30 clubs operating in the NYC area New York State: nine were in Brooklyn (Atlantic, Bedford, Columbia, Continental, Eckford, Excelsior, Harmony, Putnam, and Washington), five in Manhattan (Baltic, Eagle, Empire, Gotham, and Knickerbocker -- all but the Baltic playing one or more games at Hoboken), two (Atlantic of Jamaica, Astoria) in Queens, and two (Union, Young America) in Morrisania [Bronx]. See [[http://protoball.org/Clubs_in_NY]] In addition, twelve clubs are listed in New Jersey (Empire, Excelsior, Fear Not, Newark Senior, Newark Junior, Oriental-cum-Olympic, Pavonia, Palisades, Pioneer, St. John, and Washington). See[[http://protoball.org/Clubs_in_NJ]].
These clubs played in about 35 reported match games; over fifteen reports of intramural play are also known. There are reports of only one junior club (in NJ) and match play by one "second nine" (a Knickerbocker match game).
Corrections and additions are welcome.
1855.6 Jersey City Club is Set Up
Jersey City BBC forms.
Constitution and By-Laws of the Pioneer Base Ball Club of Jersey City [New York, W. and C. T. Barton], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
1855.7 Cricket Becoming "The National Game" in US: "Considerable Progress" Seen
[A] "Cricket is becoming the fashionable game - the national game, it might be said."
[B] Things looked rosy for cricket in New York, too. In a report of the results of a June match between St. George's second eleven and the New York clubs first string [which won by 74 runs], this upbeat assessment was included: "We shall look for stirring times amongst the cricketers this season. Last week St. George's best Philadelphia. Next Wednesday the 1st Elevens contend for mastery between St. George and New-York. The "Patterson," "Newark," "Harlem," "Washington," Williamsburgh," "Albany," "Utica," and last, though not least the Free Academy Cricket Clubs, have matches on the tapis [sic?]. Even the Deaf and Dumb Institution are likely to have a cricket ground, as the pupils have had it introduced, and are playing the game . . . . This healthful game seems to be making considerable progress amongst us."
[A] "New York Correspondence," Washington Evening Star, June 18, 1855, page 2. This statement is expressed in the context of the influence of John Bull [that is, England] in the US.
[B] "Cricket," New York Daily Times, Thursday, June 21, 1855.
1855.13 Spirit Gives Season Plans for 5 Base Ball Clubs
"Base Ball -- The interest in the game if Base Ball appears to be on the increase, and it bids fair to become our most popular game. There are now four clubs in constant practice, vis, Gotham, Knickerbocker, Eagle, and Empire . . . . "
The practice and match schedules for the Knickerbockers, Eagles, Empires, Gothams and [Brooklyn] Excelsior appeared in June.
"Base Ball," Spirit of the Times June 2, 1855.
Full text is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 20-21.
1855.15 2000 Demurely Watch Englishmen-heavy Cricket at Hoboken NJ
"A Game that few Yankees Understand
"The scene at the Cricket Ground at Hoboken, for the last three days, has been worth a long ride to see . . . .
"[A] most pleasing picture. It had a sort of old Grecian aspect - yet it was an English one essentially. Nine-tenths of the immense number of visitors, we guess from the universal dropping of their h's were English. But it is a game that a Yankee may be proud to play well. It speaks much for the moral effect of the game, though we were on the ground some three hours, and not less than 2,000 were there, we heard not a rough or profane word, nor saw an action that a lady might not see with propriety. It costs three cents to get to Hoboken and for thousands of New-Yorker there can be no greater novelty that to watch a game of cricket."
New York Daily Times, vol. 4 number 1168 (June 15, 1855), page 1, column 6. Posted to 19CBB on 9/11/2007.
1855.19 Clipper Editor: NYC Now Has Five Clubs "in Good Condition"
In March 1855, the editor of the Clipper listed five teams that were "in good condition" and the locations of their twice-a-week practices - Gothams at Red House, Harlem; Knickerbockers, Eagle, and Empire at Elysian Fields at Hoboken , and the Excelsiors in Brooklyn.
New York Clipper, March 3, 1855; from the Mears Collection.
Articles published later in the New York Clipper, the Spirit of the Times, the New-York Daily Times, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced the first appearance in print of 18 new clubs in the Greater NYC region during 1855.
1855.20 Base Ball Games Reach Really Modern Duration; Score is 52-38
[A] Having more energy, apparently, than what it takes to score 21 runs, the [NJ] Pioneer Club's intramural game in September 1855 took 3 and a quarter hours, and eight innings. Final score: single men, 52, marrieds 38.
[B] In December, the Putnams undertook to play a game [intramurally]to 62 runs, and started at 9AM to give themselves ample time. But "they found it impossible to get through; they played twelve innings and made 31 and 36."
[C] "At East Brooklyn a new club, the Continentals, of which H. C. Law is president, played from 9 till 5 o'clock."
[A] Spirit of the Times, Volume 25, number 31 (Saturday, September 15, 1855), page 367, column 3.
[B and C] Spirit of the Times, (Saturday, December 8, 1855), page 511, column 3.
Note: these results seems like deliberates exceptions to the 21-run rule; are there others? Was the 21-run rule proving too short for practice games?
1855.21 Spirit Eyes Three-Year Knicks-Gothams Rivalry
The Spirit of the Times gave more than perfunctory coverage to the September match-up between the Knickerbockers and Gothams at Elysian Fields on Thursday, September 13. The box score remains rudimentary [only runs scored are listed for the two lineups], but the report notes that there were "about 1000 spectators, including many ladies, who manifested the utmost excitement, but kept admirable order [gee, thanks, ladies - LMc]." It must have felt a little like a World Series game: "The Knickerbockers [who lost to the Gothams in June] came upon the ground with a determination to maintain the first rank among the Ball Clubs."
The Knicks won, 21-7, in only five innings. The Spirit tabulated the rivals' history of all seven games played since July 1853, listed below. The Knicks won 4, lost 2 (both losses at Red House), and tied one [12-12 in 12 innings; Peverelly, pages 16 and 21, says that darkness interceded]. The longest contest went 16 innings [a Gothams home victory on 6/30/1854], and the shortest was the current one.
The three-year rivalry:
7/14/53, Elysian Fields; Knicks 21-12, 6 innings
10/14/53, Red House; Knicks 21-14, 9 i
6/30/54, RH; Gothams 21-16, 16 i
9/23/54, EF; Knicks 24-13, 9 i
10/26/54, RH; Tied 12-12, 12 i
6/1/55, RH; Gothams 21-12, 11 i
9/13/55, EF; Knicks 21-7, 5 i
Spirit of the Times, Volume 25, number 32 (Saturday, September 22, 1855), page 373 [first page of 9/22 issue], column 3.
Craig Waff reported that, as far as he could tell, this was the first game in which the size of the assembled crowd was reported.
1855.22 The Search for Base Ball Supremacy Begins? (It's the Knicks, For Now)
"These two Clubs [Knickerbocker and Gotham] who rank foremost in the beautiful and healthy game of Base Ball, met on Thursday . . . . The Knickerbockers came upon the ground with a determination to maintain the first rank among the Ball Clubs, and they won the match handsomely [score: 22-7]."
Craig thinks this may be one of the first attempts to tap a club as the best in the game; thus the long road to naming baseball "champions" begins. The game had been played at Elysian Fields on September 13.
"Base Ball: Knickerbockers vs. Gotham Club," Spirit of the Times Volume 25, number 32 (September 22, 1855), page 373, column 3.
1855.23 Modern Base Ball Rules Appear in NYC, Syracuse Papers
[A] The current 17 rules of base ball are printed in the Sunday Mercury and in the Spirit of the Times early in the 1855 playing season -- 12 years after the Knickerbocker Club's initial 13 playing rules were formulated.
[B] Without accompanying comment, the 17 rules for playing the New York style of base ball also appear in the Syracuse Standard.
The 1854 rules include the original 13 playing rules in the Knickerbocker game plus four rules added in in New York after 1845. The Knickerbocker, Gotham, and Eagle clubs agreed to the revision in 1854.
[A] Sunday Mercury, April 29, 1855; Spirit, May 12, 1855. Bill Ryczek writes that these news accounts marked the first printing of the rules; see Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 163. Earlier, the initial printing had been reported in December of 1856 [Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2006), page 22]. The Sunday Mercury and Spirit accounts were accompanied by a field diagram and a list of practice locations and times for the Eagle, Empire, Excelsior, Gotham, and Knickerbocker clubs.
[B] Syracuse Standard, May 16, 1855.
For a succinct account of the evolution of the 1854 rules, see John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pages 82-83.
One might speculate that someone in the still-small base ball fraternity decided to publicize the young game's official rules, perhaps to attract more players.
As of mid-2013, we know of 30 clubs playing base ball in 1855, all in downstate New York and New Jersey.
1855c.24 Manufacture of Base Balls Begins in NYC
[A] "Prior to the mass manufacturing of baseballs, each one was hand-made and consisted of strips of rubber twisted around a round shape (or, earlier, any solid substance, such as a rock or bullet), covered [wound?] with yarn and then with leather or cloth. Needless to say, the quality and consistency of the early balls varied considerable. In the mid-1850s, two men, Harvey Ross, a sail maker who was a member of the Atlantics, and John Van Horn, a shoemaker who was a member of the Union Club or Morrisania, began to manufacture baseballs on a regular basis. Van Horn took rubber strips from the old shoes in his shop and cut them up to provide the centers for his baseballs."
[B] Peter Morris notes that Henry Chadwick recalled that "even with only two ball makers, the demand [for balls] in the 1850s was so limited" that ballmaking remained a sidelight for both ballmakers.
William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 35. For more details, Bill recommends Chapter 9 of Peter Morris' A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2006).
Peter Morris, A Game of Inches, page 397. He cites the March 13, 1909 Sporting Life and the 1890 Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide as sources.
1855.27 In Brooklyn, the Washington Club and Putnams Lift Off
On July 31, 1855, according to Craig Waff's Protoball Games Tabulation, the first games were played by new clubs in Brooklyn. Both were intramural games, and both seem to have complied with the Knickerbockers' 21-run rule for deciding a game.
The Putnams appear to be the first Brooklyn club to see action, with their June 28 contest in NYC against the Astoria Club. The Putnams played their first match game in Brooklyn on August 4, when they defeated the Knickerbockers at their home grounds.
Here is the Daily Eagle's [8/4/1855] inartful account of the Washington Club's second practice outing on August 3. "The Washington Base Ball Club of this city E.D. [Eastern District of Brooklyn] , met on the old Cricket ground near Wyckoff's Wood's for Ball practice yesterday afternoon. The following is a list of the plays:" There follows a simple box score showing two 7-member teams and a final score of 31-19.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 8/4/1855.
1855.28 Thanksgiving is for Football? Not in Gotham, Not Yet
[A] "[Thanksgiving] day was unpleasantly raw and cold; but various out of door amusements were greatly in vogue. Target companies looking blue and miserable were every where. Every vacant field in the out skirts was filled with Base Ball Clubs; a wonderfully popular institution the past season, but vastly inferior to the noble game of Cricket in all respects."
[B]Responding to Dennis' find, Craig Waff, posting to the 19CBB listserve, cited two accounts that confirm the holiday hubbub. The Clipper wrote, "There seemed to be a general turn-out of the Base Ball Clubs in this city and vicinity, on Thursday, 29th Nov. Among those playing were the Continental, Columbia, Putnam, Empire, Eagle, Knickerbocker, Gotham, Baltic, Pioneer, and Excelsior Clubs."The Spirit of the Times caught the same, er, spirit, noting that the Continentals played from 9am to 5pm, and that the Putnams "commenced at 9 o'clock with the intention of playing 63 aces, but found it impossible to get through; they played twelve innings, and made 31 and 36 . . . ."
[A] "Viola," "Men and Things in Gotham," Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, December 10, 1855, page 2. Facsimile contributed August 29, 2009 by Dennis Pajot. This traveler's report preceded the advent of Association base ball in Milwaukee by years.
[B] Clipper: [Undated clip in the Mears Collection]. The Spirit of the Times (December 8, 1855, page 511).
1855.30 Early Season Game Goes to Knicks, 27-14; Wadsworth Chided
In what appears to be only the second game of the 1855 season [http://protoball.org/images/3/35/GT.NYC.pdf ], "a grand match of this national game" took place on 6/5/1855 at Elysian Fields, pitting the Knicks against the Eagles.
A nine run 4th inning put the Knicks into the [imaginary] win column after leading only 12-11 after two. Player positions aren't listed, but DeBost [Knicks] and Place [Eagles] are noted as "behind men."
The reporter added: "Wadsworth [Knicks] makes too many foul balls; he must alter his play." Adams led off for the Knickerbockers and DeBost scored five runs.
"Base Ball. Knickerbocker vs. Eagle Club," New York Herald, June 6, 1855.
1855.31 Competitive Base Ball Suddenly Fills NY Metropolitan Area
At the end of the 1854 season, there were evidently only three organized Manhattan clubs, and they had only played seven match games all year. Most games were intrmural contests.
In the first two months of the 1855 season, ten other clubs were at play, including four in Brooklyn and four in New Jersey. By the end of 1855, 22 clubs were on the field, and 82 games had been reported.
Things would never be the same again.
See Larry McCray, "Recent Ideas about the Spread of Base Ball after 1854" (draft), October 2012.
Data on reported 1855 games and clubs is taken from the Protoball Games Tabulation, version 1.0, compiled by Craig Waff.
It remains possible that the increase was, in part, a reporting effect, as game reports were more frequently seen as a service to newspaper readers in these years.
1855c.32 Numerous Base Ball Clubs Now Active in NYC
Numerous clubs, many of them colonized by former members of the New Yorks and the Knickerbockers, form in the New York City area and play under the Knickerbocker rules. Interclub competition becomes common and baseball matches begin to draw large crowds of spectators. The capacity for spectators in the New York Game is aided by the foul lines which serve to create a relatively safe area for spectators to congregate and yet remain close to the action without interfering with play. This feature of the New York Game is in sharp contrast to cricket and to the Massachusetts Game, both of which are played "in the round" without foul lines.
This item is from the original Thorn and Heitz chronology, which did not give sources. The explosion of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey clubs 1855-1859 is clear from a perusal of the Craig Waff's Protoball Games Tab http://protoball.org/images/3/35/GT.NYC.pdf
1855.34 Sporting Press Notices Base Ball, Regularizes Reporting
"There was little baseball reported in Spirit [of the Times] until 1855, and what did appear was limited to terse accounts of games (with box scores) submitted by members of the competing clubs. The primary [sports-page] emphasis was on four-legged sport and cricket, which often received multiple columns of coverage. Apparently, editor William Porter felt that baseball was less interesting than articles such as "The World's Ugliest Man." As interest in baseball grew, The Spirit's coverage of the sport expanded. On May 12, 1855, the journal printed the rules of baseball for the first time and soon began to report more frequently on games that took place in New York and its vicinity."
William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 163.
In its issue of November 11, 1854, Spirit of the Times complained that base ball game reports were not being received.
[A] Was this turn to base ball more conspicuous in other papers earlier?
[B] Has anyone tried to measure the relative coverage of base ball and cricket over time in these crossover years?
1855.35 New Jersey Club Comes Over to the NY Game
[A] "[The Tribune] reports on a game of 9/25/1855 between the Fear Naught Base Ball Club of Hudson City, New Jersey and the Excelsior Club of Jersey City. They played five innings each with nine players on each side. The Excelsiors won 27-7. The item also notes that he Excelsiors intend to challenge the Gotham Club of New York. This is a very early game played by a New Jersey [based] club. It is also interesting because the Excelsiors are known to have also played a non-NY game version, making them a rare example of a club playing two versions in the same season."
['B] "The Excelsior Club of Jersey City was organized July 19, 1855."
[A] New York Daily Tribune, September 27, 1855.
[B] New York Daily Tribune, July 20, 1855.
The deployment of nine players is interesting because the none-player rule was not adopted until 1957; this may indicate that nine-player teams were already conventional beforehand.
Hudson City became part of Jersey City [1850 pop. about 6800; 1860 pop. about 22,000] in 1870.
Can we specify any of the rules in older game played earlier in 1855 by the Excelsiors?
1855.36 African American Clubs Play in NJ
"BASE BALL -- A match game of Base Ball was played between the St. John's and Union Clubs (colored) yesterday afternoon. Two innings were played when it commenced to rain. The St. John's Club made ten runs and the Union Club only two. The game is to be played again on Friday at 2 o'clock, on the grounds of the St. John's Club, foot of Chestnut Street."
Newark Daily Mercury, October 24, 1855.
Is this the first known report of African American club play of the New York game?
See Supplemental Text, below, for John Zinn's view on this question.
1855.38 First Printing of Rules
The New York Sunday Mercury of April 29, 1855 contained an article with a field diagram, playing rules, names, practice days, and grounds of several clubs, and comments on the upcoming season. Much of this material was reprinted on May 12 in The Spirit of the Times.
1855.41 Swift and Wild
An unusually informative game report on the match of Sep. 19 in Jersey City between the Columbia Club of Brooklyn and the Pioneer Club of Jersey City notes:
New York Clipper Sept. 22, 1855
The unidentified reporter doesn't sound enamored of swift pitching, but evidently it was already a feature of interclub matches in 1855.
1855.42 Interclub Meeting Attempt Fizzles
"The Convention of representatives from the Base-Ball Clubs met at "The Gotham", Bowery, on Friday evening. there are twenty-three of these organizations in New York and Brooklyn, Jersey City and Newark; of which eight were represented by committees and other by letters. The object of the convention is to make arrangements for a banquet and ball, and to establish general rules for the various Clubs. Without taking any definite action on these matters the Convention adjourned, to meet on Saturday evening, the 15th inst., when an opportunity for more general representation of the various Clubs will be given."
New York Evening Express, Dec. 10, 1855
So far as is known, the follow-up meeting did not come off.
1856.1 Harry and George Wright Both at St. George CC in New York
Baseball Hall of Fame member Harry Wright is on the first eleven of the St. George Cricket Club and his younger brother, George Wright, age 9, also to become a baseball Hall of Famer, is the Dragons' mascot.
Chadwick Scrapbooks, Vol. 20.
For much more on George Wright, see the multi-part profile from John Thorn's Our Game blog in September 2016. The initial segment is at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2016/09/20/who-was-george-wright/.
1856.2 Excelsiors Publish Constitution
Constitution and By-laws of the Excelsior Base Ball Club (Brooklyn, G. C. Roe),
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
1856.3 Putnams Rules Arrive on the Scene
Rules and By-laws of Base Ball Putnam Base Ball Club [Brooklyn, Baker and Godwin]
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224.
Chip Atkison post, 19cBB, 8/27/2003.
1856.4 Seventy Games Played, All in New York City Area.
"In the summer of 1856 . . . there were 53 games in New York and the metropolitan area."
We know of only 7 match games, played among three base ball clubs, in 1853; the game had not grown significantly in the 8 years since the Knickerbocker rules had been agreed to.
Two summers later, however the game was clearly taking off. While Harold Seymour knew of 53 games, we now have a record of 70 games played by 26 clubs (see the Protoball Games Tabulation compiled by Craig Waff).
The games were still played to 21 runs in 1856, with an average score of 24 to 12, aand they lasted about six innings. 1856 was the last year that the game would be confined to the New York area, as in 1857 it was beginning to spread to distant cities. As had been forecast in a note in the Knickerbocker minuted for 1855, base ball was getting ready to become the national pastime.
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 24. [No ref given.]
Craig Waff and Larry McCray, "The New York Game in 1856," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 114-117.
1856.5 New York Sunday Mercury and Porter's Spirit of the Times Term Base Ball the "National Pastime"
The New York Sunday Mercury refers to base ball as "The National Pastime." Letter to the editor from "a baseball lover," December 5, 1856. Date contributed by John Thorn. Craig Waff adds that the letter was reprinted as a part of the long article, "Base Ball, Cricket, and Skating," Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 1, number 16 (December 20, 1856), pp. 260 - 261.
Is there a claim that this is the earliest appearance of the term "national pastime" to denote base ball?
1856.8 Knickerbocker Rules Meeting Held
At the close of 1856 it was decided that a revision of the rules was necessary, and a meeting of the Knickerbockers was held and a new code established. The outcome of this was the first actual convention of ball clubs.
John Thorn adds that the session was held December 6 at Smith's Hotel at 462 Broome Street, and that it was a Knicks-only meeting.
The Tribune Book of Open-Air Sports, page 71, quoted in Weaver, Amusements and Sports, page 98, according to Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
1856.12 Gothams 21, Knicks 7; Fans Show Greatest Interest Ever; "Revolver" Controversy
"Yesterday the cars of the Second and Third avenue Railroads were crowded for hours with the lovers of ball playing, going out to witness the long-talked of match between the "Gotham" and "Knickerbocker" Clubs. We think the interest to see this game was greater than any other match ever played."
The Times account includes a box score detailing "hands out" and "runs" for each player. The text uses "aces" as well as "runs," and employs the term "inning," not "innings." It notes players who "made some splendid and difficult catches in the long field."
In its coverage, Porter's Spirit of the Times noted that the Knicks criticized the use by the Gotham of a Unions of Morrisania player, Pinckney.
"Base Ball Match," New York Daily Times, September 6, 1856, page 8.
Porter's Spirit of the Times, September 13, 1856.
1856.13 General Base Ball Rules Are Published
Rules and By-laws of Base Ball (New York, Hosford), 1856.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224
David Block reports that these rules are generic, not restricted to one club.
This may be the first publication specifically devoted to base ball.
1856.14 Manly Virtues of Base Ball Extolled; 25 Clubs Now Playing in NYC Area
"The game of Base Ball is one, when well played, that requires strong bones, tough muscle, and sound mind; and no athletic game is better calculated to strengthen the frame and develop a full, broad chest, testing a man's powers of endurance most severely . . ." I have no doubt that some twenty-five Clubs . . . could be reckoned up within a mile or two of New-York, that stronghold of 'enervated' young men."
"Base Ball [letter to the editor], New York Times, September 27, 1856.
Full text is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 21-22.
1856.16 Cricket "The Great Match at Hoboken" [US vs. Canada]
"The Great Match at Hoboken!!! The United States Victorious!! Canada vs. United States"
The American team was spiced with English-born talent, including Sam Wright, father to Harry and George Wright. Matthew Brady took photos. A crowd of 8,000 to 10,000 was estimated.
Porter's Spirit of the Times, September 20, 1856.
1856.22 Young Brooklyn Clubs Play, But Reporter is Unimpressed
The Harmony Club beat the Continentals, 21-15, in the "intense heat" of Brooklyn, but the scathing of the players didn't end there. "The play was miserably poor, neither party being entitled to be called good players. Bad, however, as was the play of the Harmony Club, that of the Continentals was infinitely worse. - Mr. Brown, the catcher, being the only good player amongst the whole. They all require a good deal of practice before again attempting to play a match."
"Base Ball. - Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 16, 1856, page 2
1856.27 Manhattan Cricket Club Forms
The Manhattan Cricket Club is formed and includes New York City baseball players Frank Sebring and Joseph Russell of the Empire Base Ball Club.
Chadwick Scrapbooks, Vol. 20
1856.28 Knicks Call for Convention of Clubs
The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club at its meeting of Dec. 6, 1856, issued a call for a convention of the base ball clubs and appointed a special committee chaired by D. L. (Doc) Adams to supervise same. The clubs were requested to "select three representatives to meet at No 462 Broome street, in the city of New York, on Thursday, the 22d day of January, 1857." The Knick's resolution did not specify a purpose for the convention.
New York Herald, December 22, 1856; Spirit of the Times, January 3, 1857
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.
1856.32 Empire Club Fields Two Catchers at Elysian Fields
On August 30, 1856 the Knickerbocker and Empire clubs played to a 21-21 tie
in eight innings in a match at the Elysian Fields. While the Knicks
positioned themselves as a conventional nine--three "fielders," one
"behind," three basemen, a shortstop (the inventor Adams himself), and a
pitcher, their opponents elected to use no shortstop and TWO men playing
source not referenced
Was this taken from the Knickerbocker game accounts?
1856.33 First Ball of the Base Ball Clubs Attracts 200 Couples at Niblo's Saloon
Seven clubs participated in the first Ball of the Base Ball Clubs, "at Niblo's", attracting about 200 couples. The evening was pronounced "very satisfactory".
Organizers are discussed in the Supplemental Material, from Richard Hershberger, below
New York Tribune, January 25, 1856
New York Atlas, January 6, 1856.
1857.1 Rules Modified to Specify Nine Innings, 90-Foot Base Paths, Nine-Player Teams, but not the Fly Rule
"The New York Game rules are modified by a group of 16 clubs who send representatives to meetings to discuss the conduct of the New York Game. The Knickerbocker Club recommends that a winner be declared after seven innings but nine innings are adopted instead upon the motion of Lewis F. Wadsworth. The base paths are fixed by D.L. Adams at 30 yards - the old rule had specified 30 paces and the pitching distance at 15 yards. Team size is set at nine players." The convention decided not to eliminate bound outs, but did give fly outs more weight by requiring runners to return to their bases after fly outs.
Roger Adams writes that the terms "runs" and "innings" first appear in the 1857 rules, as well as the first specifications of the size and weight of the base ball.
Follow-up meetings were held on January 28 and February 3 to finalize the rule changes.
New York Evening Express, January 23, 1857; New York Herald, January 23, 1857; Porter's Spirit of the Times, January 31, February 28, March 7, 1857; Spirit of the Times, January 31, 1857 (Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 122-24).
The text of the March 7 Porter's Spirit article is found at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2016/04/04/the-baseball-convention-of-1857-a-summary-report/. In addition to the complete text of the 35 rules, this article includes commentary on 8 or 10 of the Convention's decisions (chiefly the consideration of the fly rule). The coverage leaves the impression that the Knickerbockers supported a rules convention mainly to engineer the adoption of a fly rule and thus to swing the game into the cricket practice for retiring runners.
For other full accounts of the convention, see Frederick Ivor-Campbell, "Knickerbocker Base Ball: The Birth and Infancy of the Modern Game," Base Ball, Volume 1, Number 2 (Fall 2007), pages 55-65, and John Freyer & Mark Rucker, Peverelly's National Game (2005), p. 17.
See also Eric Miklich, "Nine Innings, Nine Players, Ninety Feet, and Other Changes: The Recodification of Baseball Rules in 1857," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, Issue 1, Fall 2011 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 118-121; and R. Adams, "Nestor of Ball Players," found in typescript in the Chadwick Scrapbooks. (Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek, December 29, 2009.)
In a systematic review of Games Tabulation data from the New York Clipper, the only exception to the use of a 9-player team for match games among senior clubs was a single 11-on-11 contest in Jersey City in 1855.
The rules were also amended to forbid "jerked" pitches. Jerking was not defined. See Peter Morris's A Game of Inches (2006), p. 72.
1857.3 Long Island Cricket Club Forms
The Long Island Cricket Club is formed. The membership includes baseball player John Holder of the Brooklyn Excelsiors.
Note" add info on the significance of this club?
1857.6 Seymour: Cricket Groups Meet to Try to Form US [National] Cricket Club
Per Seymour, "devotees" of cricket met in New York to "organize a United States Central Club to mentor the sport..."
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 14. [No ref given.]
1857.9 Calls for an American National Game
[A]The editor of the Spirit of the Times: There "should be some one game peculiar to the citizens of the United States," in that "the Germans have brought hither their Turnverein Association . . . and various other peculiarities have been naturalized."
[B] Spirit also claimed that baseball "must be regarded as a national pastime"
[A]Porter's Spirit of the Times, January 31, 1857, quoted in Willke, Base Ball in its Adolescence, page 121, Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
[B] Adelman, Melvin L., New York City and the Rise of Modern Athletics, 1820-70 (1986), p. 135.
[B] Adelman regarded Spirit's claim as "premature" because New York Rules baseball had not spread beyond the immediate area in 1857, but a more likely perspective is that such claims for baseball at this time stemmed from its presence nationwide in various forms since the colonial era.
1857.13 The First Game Pic?
"On Saturday, September 12, 1857, 'Porter's Spirit of the Times,' a weekly newspaper devoted to sports and theater, featured a woodcut that, as best can be determined, was the first published image of a baseball game.?
Vintage Base Ball Association site, http://vbba.org/ed-interp/ 1857elysian fieldsgame.html
1857.14 Sunrise Base Ball
"The Nassau and Charter Oak clubs scheduled three games at 5 a.m. in Brooklyn, apparently to impress players and spectators that 'there is a cheaper and better way to health than to pay doctor's bills.'"
Carl Wittke, "Baseball in its Adolescence," Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, Volume 61, no. 2, April 1952, page 119. Wittke cites Porter's Spirit, July 4, 1857 as his source.
Wittke took liberties with, or misunderstood, his source. The remark quoted in Porter's referred to the morning practice hours of the clubs, not to games.
1857.15 US Editor Promotes Cricket as the "National Game"
"Hitherto, one great obstacle to the progress of the game [cricket] in this country has been the assertion made by certain ignorant and prejudiced parties, the Cricket is only played by Englishmen. . . . But it is not so.
"Cricket," New York Clipper, May 16, 1857. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], page 25.
1857.18 Porter's Project: Collect Rules of Play
"To Base Ball Clubs We will feel obliged if such of the Base Ball Club in this vicinity and throughout the country, as have printed Rules of Play, will send us a copy of the same."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, September 26, 1857.
Our holy grail! Our lost ark! Is there evidence that replies were received and analyzed?
1857.19 Wicket Described in February Porter's
Implying that wet weather had left a bit of a news vacuum, Porter's explained it would "give place to the following communications in relation to the game of 'Wicket,' of which we have ourselves no personal knowledge or experience."
What followed were  a request for playing rules a Troy, NY wicket club, and  an appeal:
"I would like to see the old game of Wicket (not Cricket) played. It is a manly game and requires the bowler to be equal to playing a good game of ten pins. The ground is made smooth and level, say six feet wide by sixty to ninety in length. The ball from five to five and a half inches in diameter, hand wound, and well covered. The bat of light wood, say bass. [A rough field diagram is supplied here] The wicket is placed at each end, and on the top of a peg drove in the ground just high enough to let the ball under the wicket, which is a very light piece of wood lying on top of the pegs. The rules are very similar to those of cricket. Can a club be started? Yours, Wicket. [New York]"
Porter's Spirit of the Times, Saturday, February 14, 1857. Accessed via subscription search, May 15, 2009.
1857.22 Atlantic Club Becomes Base Ball Champ?
"The Atlantic Club defeats the Eckford Club, both of Brooklyn [NY], to take the best-of-3-games match and claim the championship for 1857. The baseball custom now is that the championship can only be won by a team beating the current titleholder 2 out of 3 games." A date of October 22, 1857 is given for this accomplishment.
Charlton, James, ed., The Baseball Chronology (Macmillan, 1991), page 14. No reference is given.
Note: Craig Waff asks whether clubs could formally claimed annual championships this early in base ball's evolution; email of 10/28/2008. He suggests that, under the informal conventions of the period, the Gothams [who had wrested the honor from the Knickerbockers in September 1856], held it throughout 1857.
Note that within one year of the rules convention of 1856-7, on-field superiority may have already passed from Manhattan to Brooklyn.
Tholkes- Charlton's remark at best refers to Brooklyn clubs only. The Atlantic had defeated the Gotham in September, but lost a return match on October 31 (a match which Peverelly mistakenly places in 1858). They did not play a third game. Neither Peverelly nor the author of the "X" letter in Porter's Spirit in December 1857, claims a championship, informal or formal, for the 1857 Atlantics, nor is it stated that in 1857 they flew at their grounds the whip pennant which later became emblematic of the informal championship.
1857.33 Clipper Thinks Base Ball is Catching On
"The National Game: The game of Base Ball is fact taking hold of the attention of our young men and in different cities we perceive new organizations constantly spring up. It is one of the most exhilarating or our field sports, and cannot fail eventually to become extremely popular everywhere. A visit to the Elysian Fields, at Hoboken, any fine day, will convince those disposed to find fault with our sports and pastimes that they err . . . ."
New York Clipper, June 20, 1857.
1857.39 First Baseball Attendance of a Thousand or More
"There were thousands of ladies and gentlemen on the ground to witness this game."
New York Times, July 10, 1857, about Eagles - Gotham game at the Elysian Fields. Post be Craig Waff on 19cBB, 4/23/2010
Lacking enclosed fields, turnstiles or ticket stubs, attendances are only visual estimates.
Waff counted 39 attendance estimates of one thousand or more in the NYC area prior to the Civil War.
1857.40 Rules Experiment Suggested-- Six outs
"We have, in a former number, recommended a new rule...It is to make six out all out, instead of making three and all out. A player who is caught out on the fly, being marked 00, or two out to his side."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, March 7, 1857.
Seen by Porter's as a compromise solution to the controversy over continuing the bound catch rule.
1857.42 The "X" Letters
"DEAR SPIRIT:- As the season for playing Ball, and other out-door sports has nearly passed away, and as you have fairly become the chronicle for Cricket and Base Ball, I take the liberty of writing to you, and to the Ball players through you, a few letters, which I hope will prove of some interest to your readers."
Between October 1857 and January 1858, New York- based Porter’s Spirit of the Times, which covered Knickerbocker Rules base ball on a regular basis, published a series of 14 anonymous letters concerning the game. Identifying himself only as “X”, the author’s stated purpose was to “induce some prominent player to write or publish a book on the game.” The letters described the origins of the game, profiled prominent clubs in New York and Brooklyn, offered advice on starting and operating a club, on equipment, and on position play, and, finally, commented on the issues of the day in the base ball community. As the earliest such effort, the letters are of interest as a window into a base ball community poised for the explosive growth which followed the Fashion Race Course games of 1858.
Porter's Spirit of the Times, Oct. 24, 1857 - Jan. 23, 1858
The identity of "X" has not been discovered.
1858.1 Fifty Clubs Said Active in New York Area - Plus Sixty Junior Clubs
That same spring, Porter's estimated that there were 30 to 40 base ball and cricket teams on Long Island [which then included Brooklyn] alone.
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 24; probable source: "The Base Ball Convention," Porter's Spirit of the Times, vol. 4, no. 3, March 20, 1858, p. 37, cols. 2-3
1858.9 Brooklyn Daily Eagle Contrasts Base Ball and Cricket
"Base ball is the favorite game, as it is more simple in its rules, and a knowledge of them is easily acquired. Cricket is the most scientific of the two and requires more skill and judgment in the use of the bat, especially, than base."
"Cricket and Base Ball," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 22, 1858.
1858.20 Knicks Compose 17-Verse Song on Current Base Ball
Chorus: Then shout, shout for joy, and let the welkin ring,/ In praises of our noble game, for health is sure to bring;/ Come, my brave Yankee boys, there's room enough for all,/ So join in Uncle Samuel's sport - the pastime of base ball."
The song was sung in honor of the Excelsiors at a dinner in August 1858.
Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 30-32.
Reprinted in Henry Chadwick, The Game of Base Ball (Munro, 1868, reprint Camden House, 1983), pp. 178-80.
Reprinted in "Ball Days, A Song of 1858", Our Game, Thorn, http://ourgame. mlblogs.com/?s=Ball+Days%2C+A+Song+of+1858. July 18, 2012
1858.21 Times Editorial: "We Hail the New Fashion With Delight"
"We hail the new fashion [base ball fever] with delight. It promises, besides it host of other good works, to kill out the costly target excursions. We predict that it will spread from the City to the country, and revive there, where it was dying out, a love of the noble game; that it will bring pale faces and sallow complexions into contempt; that it will make sad times for the doctors, and insure our well-beloved country a generation of stalwart men, who will save her independence."
From the concluding paragraph of "Athletic Sports," New York Times, August 28, 1858, page 4. John Thorn believes that "costly target excursions refer to hunting fox, grouse and other game."
1858.25 Your Base Ball Stringer, Mr. W. Whitman
Reporter Whitman wrote a workmanlike [all-prose] account of a game [Atlantic 17, Putnam 13] for the Brooklyn Daily Times in June 1858.
Walt Whitman, "On Baseball, 1858," in John Thorn, ed., The Complete Armchair Book of Baseball [Galahad Books, New York, 1997; originally published 1985 and 1987] pp 815-816.
1858.38 Baseball Recommended for Brooklyn Schools-- Easier than Cricket
". . . we think it would be an addition to every school, that would lead to great advantages to mental and bodily health, if each had a cricket or ball club attached to it. There are between 30 and 40 Base Ball Clubs and six Cricket Clubs on Long Island [Brooklyn counted as Long Island then] . . . . Base ball if the favorite game, as it is more simple in its rules, and a knowledge of it is more easily acquired. Cricket is the most scientific of the two and requires more skill and judgement in the use of the bat, especially, than base.
"The Ball Season of 1858," Brooklyn Eagle, March 22, 1858; reprinted in Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 7 (Saturday, March 27, 1858), page 78, column 2
1858.40 Cricket Plays Catch-up; Plans a National Convention
"CRICKET CONVENTION FOR 1858. - A Convention of delegates from the various Cricket Clubs of the United States will take place, pursuant to adjournment from last year, at the Astor House [on May 3]. Important business will be transacted."
"Cricket and Base Ball," Spirit of the Times (Volume 28, number 4 (Saturday, April 10, 1858), page 102, column 3.
Note: Do we know the outcome? Was cricket attempting to counteract baseball's surge? If so, how? Why didn't it work?
1858.47 Brooklynite Takes A Census - There Are 59 Junior Clubs in Brooklyn
"Dear Spirit:- . . . I have busied myself for a week or two past in finding out the names of the different junior clubs, which, if you will be kind enough to publish, will probably give information to some. The following are the names, without reference to their standing: Enterprise, Star, Resolute, Ashland, Union, National, Ringgold, Oakland, Clinton, Pacific, Active, Oneida, Fawn, Island, Contest, Metropolitan, Warren, Pastime Jrs., Excelsior Jrs., Atlantic Jrs., Powhattan, Niagara, Sylvan, Independence, Mohawk, Montauk, Favorita, Red Jacket, American Eagle, E Pluribus Unum, Franklin, Washington, Jackson, Jefferson, Arctic, Fulton, Endeavor, Pocahontas, Crystal, Independent, Liberty, Brooklyn Star, Lone Star, Eagle Jrs., Putnam Jrs., Contest, "Never Say Die," Burning Star, Hudson, Carlton, Rough and Ready, Relief, Morning Star, City, Young America, America, Columbus, Americus, Columbia, Willoughby. The above are the names as I have collected them from reliable persons . . . The above list consists of only the junior clubs of Brooklyn. Yours, A Friend of the Juniors."
"Junior Base-Ball Clubs," Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 5, number 7 (October 18, 1858), page 100, column 2.
The Contest squad appears twice on the list.
1858.62 Baseball Player Compensation
"It is very unwise for any individual to give his services to a club, as a player at matches, in the shape of a 'quid pro quo' for his liabilities as a member, unless he has in his possession, a resolution, duly verified by the officers of the club, to support him in the matter. Otherwise the very first time he happens to be unfortunate in his play at a match, he can, under the by-laws of his club, be either suspended or expelled for the non-payment of dues..."
New York Sunday Mercury Aug. 29, 1858
The Mercury was commenting on the situation of Lem Bergen, a prominent player for the Atlantic of Brooklyn, expelled by the club near the end of the 1857 season. Apparently an informal dues waiver was an early form of player compensation.
1858.63 Another Early African American Club
BASE BALL MATCH -- The darkies of this village and Flushing determined not to be outdone by their white brethren, have recently organized a Club under the name of the "Henson Base Ball Club" of Jamaica, and the "Hunter Base Ball Club" of Flushing. The first match between these two Clubs was played on Saturday last in Flushing and resulted in the defeat of the Henson Club by 15 runs.
The return match will be played in this village on Saturday next, January 1st.
Jamaica, New York "Long Island Farmer", Dec. 28, 1858
from Richard H: Antebellum African American clubs are not my strength, but I believe that the Henson club was known, while the Hunter was not, at least to me.
1858.64 Sunday Mercury Acknowledges English Origin of Base Ball
In response to a letter sent by "A Used-Up Old Cricketer", the New York Sunday Mercury, presumably editor William Cauldwell, acknowledged that base ball was undoubtedly the descendant of the game of the same name long played in England.
New York Sunday Mercury Aug. 15, 1858
1858.4 National Association of Base Ball Players Forms
"[A] "We should add that the convention have adopted, as the title of the permanent organization, 'The National Association of Base Ball Players,' and the association is delegated with power to act upon, and decide, all questions of dispute, and all departures from the rules of the game, which may be brought before it on appeal."
William H. van Cott is elected NABBP President. The chief amendment to the playing rules was to permit called strikes. The "Fly game" was again rejected, by a vote of 18-15.
[B] "The delegates adopted a constitution and by-laws and began the governance of the game of baseball that would continue [to 1870]."
The NA was not a league in the sense of the modern American and National Leagues, but more of a trade association in which membership as easily obtained. . . . Admission was open to any club that made a written application . . . and paid a five dollar admission fee and five dollars in annual dues (later reduced to two dollars per year). The Association met in convention each year, at which time new clubs were admitted."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, April 11, 1858.
Other coverage: New York Evening Express, March 11, 1858; New York Sunday Mercury, March 14 and 28, 1858; Porter's Spirit of the Times, March 20, 1858; New York Herald, March 14, 1858; New York Clipper, March 20 & April 3, 1858.
[B] William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 49.
Formation of the NABBP, according to the New York Clipper, was really a "misnomer" because there were "no invitations to clubs of other states," and no one under age 21 can join." "National indeed! Truth is a few individuals wormed into the convention and have been trying to mould men and things to suit their views. If real lovers of the game wish it to spread over the country as cricket is doing they might cut loose from parties who wish to act for and dictate to all who participate. These few dictators wish to ape the New York Yacht Club in their feelings of exclusiveness. Let the discontented come out and organize an association that is really national - extend invitations to base ball players every where to compete with them and make the game truly national."
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.
1859.3 24,000 Attend US-England All-Star Cricket Match at Elysian Fields
In 1859, over 24,000 attended a cricket match at Elysian Fields in Hoboken between an al-star American team and a touring English eleven.
Benjamin Rader, American Sports; From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Spectators Prentice-Hall, 1983, page 91. Original source not given.
Can we find out more about this game?
1859.6 African-American Game is Played by "Henson Club" July 4 and/or November 15
[A] Report of July 4 game between Henson and Unknown Clubs
[B] "November 15, 1859 - The first recorded game between two black teams occurred between the Unknowns of Weeksville and the Henson Club of Jamaica (Queens) in Brooklyn, NY."
[A] New York Anglo-African, July 30, 1859. Per Dean Sullivan, pages 34-36.
[B] Email from Larry Lester; taken from his chronology of African American baseball, 8/17/2007.
Chris Hauser, in an email on 9/26/2007, estimates that this notice appeared in the New York Anglo-African, and was referenced in Leslie Heaphy's Negro League Baseball.
Note: Can we get text from the sourced citation [A] , and a source for the text citation [B] ? Was this one game or two? How can we find out more about the "Henson club" and the Unknowns?
1859.14 New York Tribune Compares the NY "Baby" Game and NE Game
[A] "That [NY Tribune] article was a discussion, I believe, of the two games, the New York game and the Massachusetts round ball game, with a view to decide which was the standard game. So far as we know, this newspaper indicates that [text obscured] became a sport of national interest. The fact that the club of a little country town up in Massachusetts should be weighed in the balance against a New York club, in the columns of the first paper of the country marks a beginning of national attention to the game."
George Thompson located this article and posted it to 19CBB on 3/1/2007. The editorial says, in part:
"The so-called 'Base Ball' played by the New York clubs - what is falsely called the 'National' game - is no more like the genuine game of base ball than single wicket is like a full field of cricket. The Clubs who have formed what they choose to call the 'National Association,' play a bastard game, worthy only of boys ten years of age. The only genuine game is known as the 'Massachusetts Game . . . .' If they [the visiting cricketers] want to find foes worthy of their steel, let them challenge the 'Excelsior' Club of Upton, Massachusetts, now the Champion club of New England, and which club could probably beat, with the greatest ease, the best New-York nine, and give them three to one. The Englishmen may be assured that to whip any nine playing the New-York baby game will never be recognized as a national triumph."
[B] This suggestion was met with derision by a writer for the New York Atlas on October 30: that northern game is known for it "ball stuffed with mush; bat in the shape of a paddle twelve inches wide; bases about ten feet apart; run on all kinds of balls, fair or foul, and throw the ball at the player running the bases." [Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek 12/29/2009.]
[C] A gentleman from Albany NY wrote to the Excelsiors, saying he was "desirous of organizing a genuine base ball club in our city."
[A] New York Tribune, October 18, 1859, as described in Henry Sargent letter to the Mills Commission, [date obscured; a response went to Sargent on July 21, 1905, suggesting that the Tribune article had arrived "after we had gone to press with the other matter and consequently it did not get in.]. The correspondence is in the Mills Commission files, item 65-29.
[B] New York Atlas on October 30, 1859.
[C] Letter from F. W. Holbrook to George H. Stoddard, October 22, 1859; listed as document 67-30 in the Spalding Collection, accessed at the Giamatti Center of the HOF.
1859.20 Two More BB Clubs Issue Rules
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224, lists new rules in 1859 for the Harlem BB Club in NY and the Mercantile BB Club in Philadelphia.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 224
1859.21 Porter's: MA Game Will Surely Die
"This thing cannot last, and the Massachusetts game will surely die a natural death when the New England clubs come to realize the superiority of base ball, "The New York Game," as played under the rules adopted by the NABBP."
Editorial, Porter's Spirit of the Times? October 1859?? From the ninth segment of Rankin's 1910 history??
Not found in Porter's Spirit of the Times, Oct. 1 - Oct. 8, 1859)
1859.26 NY Herald Weighs Base Ball against Cricket
A detailed comparison of base ball and cricket appeared in the
"[C]ricket could never become a national sport in America - it is too slow, intricate and plodding a game for our go-ahead people."
"The home base [in base ball] is marked by a flat circular iron plate, painted white. The pitcher's point . . . is likewise designated by a circular iron plate painted white . . . ."
"The art of pitching consists in throwing it with such force that the batsman has not time to wind his bat to hit it hard, or so close to his person that he can only hit it with a feeble blow."
"[The baseball is] not so heavy in proportion to its size as a cricket ball."
"Sometimes the whole four bases are made in one run."
"The only points in which a the base ball men would have any advantage over the cricketers, in a game of base ball, are two - first, in the batting, which is overhand, and done with a narrower bat, and secondly, in the fact that the bell being more lively, hopping higher, and requiring a different mode of catching. But the superior activity and practice of the [cricket] Eleven in fielding would amply make up for this."
It occupies about two hours to play a game of base ball - two days to play a game of cricket." "[B]ase ball is better adapted for popular use than cricket. It is more lively and animated, gives more exercise, and is more rapidly concluded. Cricket seems very tame and dull after looking at a game of base ball.
"It is suited to the aristocracy, who have leisure and love ease; base ball is suited to the people . . . . "
In the American game the ins and outs alternate by quick rotation, like our officials, and no man can be out of play longer than a few minutes."
New York Herald, October 16, 1859, page 1, columns 3-5.
1859.27 Reader Catches "A Slight Error" - Base Ball is English, not American
"Allow me to correct a slight error in a leading article of to-day's issue on the cricket match. It is there stated that the game of "base ball" is an American game. It is played in every school in England, and has been for a century or more, under the name of "Rounders," and is essentially an English game.
New York Herald, October 16, 1859, page 1 column 5. Posted to 19CBB on 3/1/2007 by George Thompson.
1859.29 Annual Meeting of NABBP Decides: Bound Rule, No Pros
The fly rule lost by a 32-30 vote. Compensation for playing any game was outlawed. The official ball shrunk slightly in weight and size. Matches would be decided by single games.
"Base Ball," The New York Clipper (March 26, 1859).
The paper worried that easy fielding would "reduce the 'batting' part of the game to a nonentity
1859.30 The First Triple Play, Maybe?
Neosho [New Utrecht] beat the Wyandank [Flatbush] 49-11, with one Wyandank rally cut short in a new way, one that capitalized on the new tag-up rule.
"The game was played according to the new Convention rules of 1859, under one of which it was observed that the Neosho put out three hands of their opponents with one ball, by catching the ball 'on the fly,' and then passing it to two bases in immediate succession so as at the same time to put out both men who were returning to those bases."
"First Base Ball Match of the Season," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Volume 18 number 91 (Monday, April 18, 1859), page 11 column 1.
1859.35 Base Ball Community Eyes Use of Central Park
A "committee on behalf of the Base Ball clubs" recently conferred with NY's Central Park Commissioners about opening Park space for baseball. Under discussion is a proviso that "no club shall be permitted to use the grounds unless two-thirds of the members be residents of this city."
"BASE BALL IN THE CENTRAL PARK," The New York Clipper (January 22, 1859), page number omitted from scrapbook clipping.
This issue has been on the minds of baseball at least since the first Rules Convention. The sentiment is that other sports have access that baseball does not. See #1857.2 above.
According to the New York Times of December 11,1858, the Central Park Commission had referred the ballplayers' appeal to a committee. [Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek, 12/29/09.]
Is there a good account of this negotiation and its outcome in the literature? How and when was the issue resolved?
1859.36 Why Cover Sports?
"OUT-DOOR SPORTS are gaining in favor and popularity among our people,-- and hence a 'Sporting' department is come to be as much a necessity in the New York Express as it is in any of the London journals. This is not to be regretted. It tends to muscular development; and as there is nothing we Americans so much need as 'muscle', the turf, yachting, cricket, base ball, etc., are things which, combining healthful exercise and innocent amusement, are to be encouraged."
New York Evening Express, June 25, 1859
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.
1859.43 And It's Pittsburgh We Call the Pirates?
In a game account from August 1859, the writer observes, "with a spicing of New York first rate players, Chicago may expect to stand in the front rank of Base Ball cities."
"Atlantic Club vs. Excelsior Club - Progress of Base Ball in the Great West.," New York Morning Express (August 20, 1859), page 4, column 1. Posted to 19CBB 3/16/2007 by George Thompson.
1859.54 First Reference to Change-of-Pace Pitching?
In a discussion of the early evolution of fast ("swift") pitching, Richard Hershberger noted:
"For what it is worth, my earliest reference to a change of pace is from 1859:
"[Eckford vs. Putnam 7/1/1859] Mr. Pidgeon (their pitcher) at first annoyed the strikers on the opposite side somewhat, by his style of pitching–first very slow, then a very swift ball; but the Putnam players soon got posted, and were on the look-out for the 'gay deceivers.'"
New York Sunday Mercury July 3, 1859
1859.55 First Fly Baseball Game
On June 30, 1859, the Knickerbocker Club hosted the Excelsior club of South Brooklyn in the first interclub match played without the bound rule. The 1859 NABBP convention had okayed such games if agreed upon between the clubs.
New York Sunday Mercury, July 3, 1859
Craig Waff, "Caught on the Fly-- Excelsiors of South Brooklyn vs. the Knickerbockers of New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), p. 16-17
1859.56 Base Ball Players Outnumber Cricketers Ten to One
At the American Cricket Convention in April 1859:
"Mr. Wallace, of the St. George's club, stated that there would be a cricket ground in the Central Park, but it would not be finished this year, and when finished, the base ball players would claim it. As there were ten base ball players for one cricket player, it was very doubtful as to who would get the ground, though the Commissioners were willing to favor the cricketers."
New York Sun, May 3, 1859
1859.58 NABBP Makes One Little Rule Change
"Rule 16.-- No ace or base can be made upon a foul ball, nor when a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground ; and the ball shall in the former instance be considered dead and not in play until it shall first have been settled in the hands of the pitcher. In either case, the players running the bases shall return to them."
New York Sunday Mercury, March 20, 1859
The NABBP meeting had decisively rejected the "fly game", 47-15, but accepted this compromise: when a ball was caught on the fly, runners had "tag up" before advancing. On balls caught on one bounce, they did not.
1859.59 Clear Score
"Leggett batted beautifully throughout, his score being the highest and only clear one of the match."
New York Clipper, Aug.13, 1859
Henry Chadwick, the father of baseball statistics, primarily measured runs and outs in his early work. One of his few additions was the clear score, which counted the number of games where a batter made his base every time he batted, and made no outs, either as a batter or a base runner.
1859.66 Proto-Sports Bar
ENGLISH PLUM PUDDING AND ROAST BEEF FOR DINNER, TO-DAY. Also partridges, green turtle soup, and steaks.
RICHARDSON & McLEOD, 106 Maiden lane, corner Pearl.
Call and see the cricket and base ball books and bulletins.
New York Herald, Sep. 7, 1859
This may not actually have been the first establishment to cater to base ballists. The New York Sunday Mercury noted on Jan. 9, 1859, that "Mr. William P. Valentine, president of the Phantom Base Ball Club, has opened a dining saloon in Broadway, adjoining Wallack's Theatre, which he styles the 'Home Base'."
1859.60 Please Do Not Kill the Umpire
After the Jersey City Courier had excoriated the umpire, Mr. Morrow of the Knickerbocker, for his efforts in a game between the Empire and Excelsior Clubs, Joe Leggett, captain of the Excelsior, wrote to the New York Sunday Mercury defending him, and the Mercury editorialized as follows:
"Every gentleman who officiates as umpire is selected by the captains, but the position, in consequence of the grumbling, and not unfrequently insulting remarks of outsiders, has become so unenviable, that it is difficult to get any one to assume the place...we do think that common decency, and gentlemanly courtesy, should, under the circumstances of the case, restrain all comment upon the proceedings, on the part of the spectators of a match."
Jersey City Courier, Sep. 15, 1859
New York Sunday Mercury, Sep. 18, 1859
In the New York City area, umpires were players from other clubs who umpired upon request.
1859.61 Base Ball Lampooned
"OUR SPORTSMAN. Sporting matters are beginning to lost their summer time piquancy, and the racing season will soon be gone, at least in this country. The cricketers and base ball heroes still keep up an excitement among themselves.
Apropos of base ball. Conversing with a member of one of the Ball Clubs, we noticed a deformity in his hand.
'What is the matter with your finger?"
'Struck by a ball and drove up--' was the reply 'but it is a noble game.'
'Precisely--and your thumb, it is useless, is it not?'
'Yes, struck with a ball and broken.'
'That finger joint?'
'A ball struck it. No better game to improve a man's physical condition, strengthen one's sinews."
'You walk lame; that foot, isn't it?'
'No; it's the--the--the--well, a bat flew out of a player's had and hit my knee pan. He had the innings."
'One of your front teeth is gone?'
'Knocked loose by a ball--an accident though.'
'Your right hand and your nose have been peeled--how's that?'
'Slipped down, at second base--mere scratch.'
'And you like all this fun?'
'Glory in it, sir. It is a healthy game, sir.'
We can't say we coincided with the enthusiastic member. Perhaps we are rather timid concerning the welfare and safety of our limbs--and this timidity has an undue influence on our mind. Be that as it may, we have no inclination to try our hand at the game...we will drop the subject with the same celerity which would mark our process of dropping one of those leather covered balls, were it to come in violent contact with our delicate fingers."
New York Atlas, Sep. 18, 1859
1859.62 Plea for Amateurism
CRICKETING. That eleven men who have devoted their youth and manhood to playing cricket, and have made their living thereby, should be able to beat twice that number who have played that game occasionally for exercise and recreation, is not at all surprising...We have steadily and ardently favored the recent efforts made in this country for the creation and diffusion of a popular taste for muscular outdoor amusements. We believe our industrious people have too few holidays, and devote too few hours to health-giving, open-air recreations... and we should be glad to hear of the inclosure of of a public play-ground, and formation of a ball-club in every township in the Union...But play should be strictly a recreation, never a business. As a pursuit, we esteem it a very bad one...Let us have ball-clubs, cricket-clubs, and as many more such as you please, but not professional cricket-players any more than professional card-players. We trust that the Eleven of All England are to have no imitators on this side of the ocean."
New York Tribune, Oct. 8, 1859
The All England Eleven played in Canada, New York City, Philadelphia, and Rochester in the fall of 1859, playing on occasion against 22 opponents, to provide competition.
1859.63 What Must I Do to Be Physically Saved?
"For a great many years, a great many people, particularly in this great country, have been asking what they should do to be physically saved?...We are pretty sure that the mania for cricket, which has followed the base ball madness, will not be without its blessings...we cannot imagine a dyspeptic cricketer-- no! not after he has received many balls in the pit of his stomach."
In a two-part series under the title "Muscle Looking Up" The New York Tribune explored the past and present of the physical culture movement in the United States, noting approvingly the trend to emphasize sportive exercise, and hoping that it will be extended to approval of exercise for both men and women.
New York Herald Tribune, Oct. 7 and Oct. 15, 1859
1859.64 The Old Hidden Ball Trick
"STAR (OF SOUTH BROOKLYN) VS. ATLANTIC (OF BEDFORD).-- ...Flannelly, the first striker, was put out on second base by a dodge on the part of Oliver, who made a feint to throw the ball, and had it hid under his arm, by which he caught Flannelly-- an operation, however, which we do not much admire."
New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 23, 1859
The first known use of this stratagem, but apparently not original. Conceivably, it's use preceded the Knickerbocker rules.
See below for later observations about the sneaky move in 1876 and later.
1859.65 New For 1859: Rumors of Player Movement
[A] "RESIGNATION-- We understand that Brown (formerly catcher for the Eckford Club), and Post (catcher for the Astoria) have resigned, and become members of the Putnam Base Ball Club. Both of these gentlemen have stood A no. 1 in their respective clubs, and their retirement must prove a serious loss thereto, while the Putnams become materially strengthened by the addition to their number."
[B] "BALL PLAY-- ...We notice that several important changes have taken place in the Brooklyn clubs. Amongst others we learn that Pidgeon, of the Eckford, has joined the Atlantic; Brown, also of the Eckford, has gone into the Putnam club; and Grum in the Excelsior. The Stars have divided themselves, and many of them, Creighton and Flanley in particular, having joined the Excelsior. Dickinson goes into the Atlantic. The trial for the championship, next season, will be between the Atlantic, Excelsior, and Putnam's...We have not heard of any particular changes in the leading clubs of New York...The Union of Morrisania will gain one or two strong players next season.
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, Nov. 20, 1859
[B] New York Clipper, Nov. 26, 1859
After the Eckford Club contradicted the claim that several players were resigning and moving to other clubs, the Clipper issued a retraction on December 3: "...we are pleased to learn that it is not correct, for we do not approve of these changes at all."
1860.2 Ten Thousand Players!
At the annual meeting of the National Association, held on the 14th of last March, sixteen new clubs were admitted as members, and eighteen others were admitted at the meeting held on the 12th of December-- making in all eighty-eight senior clubs now represented in the National Association of Base Ball Players. As each of these clubs now average from thirty-five to forty members, the total number of ball-players so represented in the Association, may be safely estimated at three thousand. In addition to this large number, there are probably as many as one hundred senior clubs in this city and vicinity, and in the cities throughout the State, which have not yet joined the Association, and which have, perhaps, a membership of not less than three thousand. And if we add to these the not less than two hundred junior clubs of New York, Brooklyn, and vicinity-- comprising at least two thousand members-- it will be a safe calculation to say, that the game of base ball during the season of 1860 afforded amusement and invigorating exercise to at least TEN THOUSAND ACTIVE MEMBERS of base-ball clubs."
New York Sunday Mercury, Dec. 30, 1860
Not all club members played, but considering that Mercury editor William Cauldwell was only taking in Greater New York City, his figure is conservative.
1860c.4 Four Teams of African-Americans, All in the NYC Area, Are Reported
[A] “The earliest known account of a ball game involving African Americans appeared in the New York Anglo-African on July 30, 1859. In this Fourth of July contest, ‘the venerable Joshua R. Giddings made the highest score, never missing the ball when it came to him.’ Giddings was a sixty-four-year-old white Republican Congressman known for his passionate opposition to slavery.”
[B] "We, the members of the Colored Union Base Ball Club, return our sincere thanks to you for publishing the score of the game we played with the Unknown, of Weeksville on the 28th ult. [September 28, 1860]). We go under the name the "Colored Union," for, if we mistake not, there is a white club called the Union in Williamsburg at the present time." The letter goes on to report a game against the Unknown Club on October 5, 1860. The Colored Union club eventually won with 6 runs in the ninth.
[A] Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 34-35
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, October 14, 1860, col. 5-6. Cited in Dixon, Phil, and Patrick J. Hannigan, The Negro Baseball Leagues: A Photographic History [Amereon House, 1992], pp. 31-2
The four were the Unknown (Weeksville), Monitor (Brooklyn), Henson (Jamaica), and Union (Brooklyn). Weeksville was a town founded by freedmen. Its population in the 1850s was about 500.
For a sample of a contemporary humorous treatment, see the account of the 1862 game between the Unknown and Monitor Clubs in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 17, 1862.
1860.6 Chadwick's Beadle's Appears, and the Baseball Literature is Launched
The first annual baseball guide appears. It is emblematic, perhaps, of the transformation of base ball into a spectator sport. The 40-page guide includes rules for Knickerbocker ball, the new NABBP ("Association") rules, rules for the Massachusetts game, and for rounders. Chadwick includes a brief history of base ball, saying it is of "English origin" and "derived from rounders."
Block observes: "For twenty-five years his pronouncements remained the accepted definition of the game's origins. Then the controversy erupted. First John Montgomery Ward and then Albert Spalding attacked Chadwick's theory. Ultimately, their jingoistic efforts saddled the nation with the Doubleday Myth."
Chadwick, Henry, Beadle's Dime Base-Ball Player: A Compendium of the Game, Comprising Elementary Instructions of the American Game of Base Ball [New York, Irwin P. Beadle].
Per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, (2005), page 221.
See also 1861.47.
Chadwick emigrated from western England, and is reported to have been familiar with rounders there.
His claim that American base ball had evolved from English rounders was long refuted by fans of the American game.
In 1871 Chadwick identified Two-Old-Cat as the parent of American base ball. See 1871.20
Is it possible that English rounders itself had evolved from English base ball as played in the eighteenth century?
1860.10 Atlantics Are Challenged to Play MA Game for $1000 Stake, But Decline
[A] "In a long talk with "Bill" Lawrence, who put up the money for the Upton-Medway game, and himself a player on the mechanics Club of Worcester, he tells me that just before the war - he thinks in 1860 - he went to New York with Mr. A. J. Brown (now dead), of Worcester, and challenged the Atlantics of Brooklyn to come to Worcester and play the Uptons for 1000 dollars; the game to be the "Massachusetts Game" and not the "New York Game," which was the game played by the Atlantics. The winner to get the entire $1,000; the loser nothing. After a good deal of consideration the challenge was not taken up by the Atlantics, on the ground that the players could not spare sufficient time for the practice requisite for such an important match; the officials of the Atlantic Club at the same time scoffing at the idea that could beat the Uptons or any other Club."
[B] In a posting to 19CBB on 7/31/2005 [message 4], Joanne Hulbert reports on four articles from the Worcester Daily Spy that record the rumor of the "great match game of base ball," as well as a return match in New York if Upton wins, and the Atlantics' turndown, "probably on account of the expenditure of time and money . . . as well as to their objection to playing by any but the New York game."
Letter from Henry Sargent, Worcester MA to the Mills Commission, June 25, 1905.
Worcester Daily Spy [July 16, July 17, July 17, and August 4.]
1860.17 Base Ball vs. Cricket
In a lengthy article, The Clipper (probably Henry Chadwick) explores the comparison of cricket to baseball, and the question of the suitability of baseball players as cricketers. Proposes matches between cricketers and baseballists. The Clipper returned to one point, the superiority of baseballists as fielders, in articles on Nov. 10 and Nov. 17, 1860.
New York Clipper, April 28, 1860
1860.18 Juniors Organize in NYC
[A] THE CONVENTION OF THE JUNIOR CLUBS.-- On Friday evening last,in accordance with an invitation from the Powhatan Club, of Brooklyn, a convention of delegates from the junior clubs was held at their rooms, for the purpose of forming an organization for the better regulation of matches...The following delegates were present from their respective clubs: (delegates from 31 clubs listed)
[B] THE JUNIOR CONVENTION.-- The second meeting of the delegates from the Junior Clubs was held , at Brooklyn, and the report of the Committee on Constitutions and By Laws was received and accepted. The Constitution of the Senior organization was accepted with...amendments...the Bylaws of the Seniors were adopted without amendment." The convention adopted the name "National Association of Junior Base Ball Players."
[C] The new association's first meeting convened in New York City on January 9, 1861.
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 7, 1860
[B] New York Clipper, Oct. 20, 1860
[C] New York Sunday Mercury, Jan. 20, 1861
The Junior clubs had been excluded from membership in the National Association of Base Ball Players at the time of its formation in 1858.
1860.19 Second Annual Chadwick Guide Prints Season Stats for the Year
This second annual guide printed 1860 statistics for players and teams and contains rule revisions.
Chadwick, Henry, Beadle's Dime Base-Ball Player for 1861 [New York, Ross and Tousey], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 222.
1860.21 Clipper Backs Off Fly Game Support
"We have hitherto warmly advocated the adoption of the "fly game"...but our experience this season has led us to modify our views somewhat...base ball is a superior school for fielding to cricket...(because of) the greater degree of activity required to field well...owing principally to the additional effort necessary...to catch the ball on the bound...any alteration of the rules in relation to the catch on the bound will not have that tendency to improve the character of the fielding ...that many suppose it will."
New York Clipper, Nov. 10, 1860
The "Fly game" again failed of passage at the NABBP convention in December 1860.
1860.22 Educatin' the Readers
[A] "BALL PLAY. A CORRECT SCORE OF A BASE BALL MATCH.-- We give the following score of the contest between the Atlantic and Star Club, as a sample of how the scores of all first-class matches should be kept, in order that a complete analysis of the player's play may be obtained at the close of the year...We trust that the National Association will present to the next convention some plan of scoring that can be generally adopted, like that of the cricket clubs, which is a complete system...Next season we shall give more space to base ball...In the meantime, we shall present to our readers many interesting articles in reference to the game..."
[B] Between February and April, 1860, the Clipper followed uo with a series of six articles on various aspects of the game, from starting a club to playing the positions.
[C] Later in the year: "NEW SCORE BOOK.-- We have recently been shown an improved score book for the game of base ball, just published by Messrs. Richardson and McLeod, 106 Maiden-lane. It is a vast improvement on the old score book, and must commend itself to general adoption by base ball clubs, as it contains the rules and regulations of the game as adopted by the National Association of Base Ball Clubs (sic), with admirably arranged columns . The score book is sufficient for one hundred games, at the low price of two dollars."
[A] New York Clipper, Jan. 14, 1860
[B] New York Clipper, Feb. 18, 1860 - April 7, 1860
[C] Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, June 9, 1860.
The Clipper's effort was part of Henry Chadwick's push to encourage the formation of clubs and make base ball a more "scientific" game, by publishing instructions and collecting statistics.
Richardson and McLeod ran a restaurant at 106 Maiden Lane that catered to base ballists. See 1859.66
The instructional material mirrored the "X" Letters published in Porter's Spirit of the Times in 1857-1858. See 1857.42
1860.40 "Championship" Game: Atlantic 20, Eckford 11
"Great Match for the Championship. Atlantic vs. Eckford. The Atlantics Victorious" The article notes: "the results of the games this season between the Atlantics and the Excelsiors led them [sic] latter to withdraw entirely from the battle for the championship, which next season will lay between the Eckfords and Atlantics." by Craig Waff, September 2008.
New York Clipper Volume 8, number 30 (November 10, 1860), page 237, column 1.
The article includes a play-by-account of the game, and unusually detailed box scores, including fielding plays and a five-column "how put out" table. Also included were counts for "passed balls on which bases were run" , "struck out" , "catches missed on the fly" [9, by six named players], "catches missed on the bound" , and "times left on base" 
1860.42 Shut Out Reported as the First Ever; Excelsiors 25, St. George Nine 0
This game, played on the St. George grounds at Hoboken, occurred on November 8, 1860.
[A] "the score of the Excelsiors being 25 to nothing for their antagonists! This is the first match on record that has resulted in nine innings being played without each party making runs." It was the last game of the season for the Excelsiors, who played two "muffin" players and allowed St. George borrow a catcher [Harry Wright] from the Knickerbockers and a pitcher from the Putnams.
[B] "a match was played at Hoboken, between a picked nine of the St. George's Cricket Club -- players noted for their superior fielding qualifications as cricketers-- and nine of the well-known Excelsior Club, of South Brooklyn."
[A] "Excelsiors vs., St. George," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Volume 19, number 269 (Saturday, November 10, 1860), page 2, column 5.
[B] "Base Ball," Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, November 17, 1860.
According to the WSOT article, the Excelsior lineup included Creighton as pitching and third batter, Brainerd at 2B, and Leggett as catcher. Mr. Welling of the Knickerbockers served as umpire.
1860.54 Yes, The Game Would Move Right Along . . . But Would it be Cricket?
"Whenever the cricket community realized that American participation and interest were low, they talked about changing the rules. Some Americans suggested three outs per inning and six innings a game."
William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 103. Attributed to the Chadwick Scrapbooks.
Were there really several such proposals? Can we guess what impediments required that it take another century to invent one-day and 20/20 cricket?
1860.60 Atlantics vs. Excelsiors: The Thorny Idea of Onfield Supremacy
[A] "This match will create unusual interest, as it will decide which Club is entitled to the distinction of being perhaps the 'first nine in America."
[B] "The Atlantics now wear the 'belt,' and this contest will be a regular battle for the championship."
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 13, 1860.
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 16, 1860.
See also Craig B. Waff, "Atlantics and Excelsiors Compete for the 'Championship,'" Base Ball Journal, volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 139-142.
Craig Waff, "No Gentlemen's Game-- Excelsiors vs. Atlantics at the Putnam Grounds, Brooklyn", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 28-31
The naming of a championship base ball club was apparently not much considered when match games were first played frequently in the mid-1850s. But as the 1860 season progressed, press accounts regularly speculated about what nine was the best. The teams split their first two games, setting the stage for a final showdown, and a crowd of 15,000 to 20,000 assembled to see if the Excelsior could gain glory by toppling the storied Atlantic nine again. They led, 8-6 in the sixth inning, but Atlantic partisans in the crown became so rowdy that Excelsior captain Joe Leggett removed his club from the field for their safety, leaving the matter unresolved.
1860.61 Colored Union Club Beats Unknowns, 33-24, in Brooklyn
"We, the members of the Colored Union Base Ball Club, return our sincere thanks to you for publishing the score of the game we played with the Unknown, of Weeksville on the 28th ult. [September 28, 1860]).
"We go under the name the "Colored Union," for, if we mistake not, there is a white club called the Union in Williamsburg at the present time."
The letter goes on to report a game against the Unknown Club on October 5, 1860. The Colored Union club eventually won with 6 runs in the ninth.
New York Sunday Mercury, October 14, 1860, col. 5-6.
Weeksville was a town founded by freedmen. Its population in the 1850s was about 500.
How does this game relate to entry 1860.9 above?
1860.66 Unwanted Walk-Off
This is the first instance I have read about, describing a player being thrown out
attempting to steal a base, which ended a match.
Here are those involved -
Excelsior - J. Whiting (3rd baseman), sixth batter; Reynolds (shortstop),
Charter Oak - Murphy, catcher; Randolph, 2nd base
Umpire - A. J. Bixby of the Eagle Club
Charter Oak 12, Excelsior 11
".and the Whiting, who had to take the bat, became the object of especial
interest - the issue of the game greatly depending on his particular fate.
He struck a good ball, but had a very narrow escape in reaching first base.
Before his successor (Reynolds) struck, Whiting made a dash for second base,
when the ball, well-thrown by Murphy, was quickly received by Randolph, and
placed upon Whiting just in the nick of time; he was within six inches of
the base when touched by the ball, and decided "out" by the umpire."
New York Sunday Mercury, May 20, 1860
1860.69 Knickerbockers, Inc.
[A] 'Our Albany Correspondence.-- ...Some half a dozen notices were sent in this morning for the future introduction of bills (in the New York State Assembly) organizing as many base ball clubs in the City of New York, indicating that the lovers of this game are making extensive preparations to become skilled in the mysteries of the game."
[B] "NEW-YORK LEGISLATURE. ASSEMBLY...BILLS PASSED. ...By Mr. COLE (William L. Cole, New York County 5th District)-- a bill to incorporate the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York.
[C] "BASE BALL.-- ...We notice in the proceedings of the State Legislature at Albany, that the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of this city has been chartered. The object of this, we believe, is to enable them to secure from the Central Park commissioners jurisdiction of the ground to be allotted for base ball players.
[A] New York Herald, Jan. 14, 1860
[B] New York Tribune, Jan. 21, 1860
[C] New York Sunday Mercury, Feb. 5, 1860
1860.70 Space Wanted
'BASE BALL. MORE PLAYGROUNDS WANTED.-- We have often wondered why the owners of unproductive property up-town, lying contiguous to the railroads on the east and west sides of the city (New York City), did not seize upon the idea of converting their lands into grounds for the use of base ball clubs, and thus...realize a rental sufficient to pay handsomely for the investment...twenty good places would be in active demand."
New York Sunday Mercury, March 4, 1860.
The Sunday Mercury had received a letter from a New York player speculating, among other things, that the Brooklyn clubs were overwhelming New York opponents because of their superior and much more convenient facilities. The lette was reprinted in the same issue.
1860.71 "Bound Rule" Universal in American Baseball-- Rules Committee
"All the various modifications of Base Ball, which have so long been played in different parts of the country, have universally recognized the 'first bound', consequently, it is closely associated with all our boyish recollections, and is cherished with the same tenacity, and for the same reason, that the English cricketer adheres to the 'fly'."
New York Sunday Mercury, March 18, 1860. Recommendations of the NABBP Committee on Rules and Regulation to the NABBP Convention.
The Committee nonetheless recommended adopting the "fly game".
1860.72 Fly Game Again Swatted Down
For the fourth year in a row, the NABBP convention of March, 1860, rejected the adoption of the "fly game"; batters could still be put out by catching their hits on the first bound:
"The yeas and nays were then called for by Mr. Brown, and seconded by a sufficient number of others (four) to necessitate the taking of the vote in that manner. The vote was then taken, with the following result: Ayes, 37, nays, 55.
New York sunday Mercury, March 18, 1860
1860.73 Batting Cage Debuts
[A] (ad) "CRICKET COURT, 654 BROADWAY.-- CRICKET AND Base Ball Practice.-- The spacious saloon, 654 Broadway, is now open. Gentlemen wishing to perfect themselves in the above game will do well to call, as they will always find wickets pitched and a professional bowler to give instructions to those who require it."
[A] New York Herald, April 4, 1860
New York Sunday Mercury, April 8, 1860
Spirit of the Times, June 2, 1860
1860.75 Chichester Redesigns the Base
[A] "BALL PLAY. KNICKERBOCKER CLUB.-- ...The Knickerbockers, we noticed, introduced on their grounds the new bases...An iron circle is fastened to one side of the base, and a screw with a nut head is inserted in the base-post, and the base is placed on it, and the head of the screw enters the iron circle on the base, similarly to a key into a lock. The base revolves on this centre, but never moves away from it, and is easily taken up at the close of the game by turning it round once...They are to be had at Mr. Chic[h]ester's, we believe, in Wall street."
[B] A second article adds that the Putnam and Eagle clubs were using the base, too, and that Chichester was a member of Brooklyn's Putnam Club.
[A] New York Clipper, April 21, 1860
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 30, 1860
1860.76 Trade Games Proliferate
Games between teams of employees from "commercial establishments" proliferated in 1860, to not everyone's enjoyment:
"A SUGGESTION.-- We observe that matches at base ball are being put up by business establishments. The World and Times newspapers had a match...We presume we shall next have a contest between Spaulding's Prepared Glue and the Retired Physician, or a Standish's Pills nine vs. Townsend's Sarsparilla. Why not? A little gratuitous advertsiing may, perhaps, be got in this way. But, for goodness' sake, gentlemen, don't run the thing into the ground."
New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 7, 1860
1860.77 Treat Us Special
"BASE BALL. ACCOMMODATIONS FOR REPORTING.-- We would suggest to clubs, uponn whose grounds matches are played during the season, the propriety of providing a small table and a few chairs for the accommodation of the press. We have frequently found all the best places for seeing a match monopolized by members of the playing club, while we have been compelled to do our reporting on the back of some kindly-disposed gentleman on the outside circle. The Eckford, Excelsior, and a few other clubs we might name, manage this business better; and all ought to follow their example."
New York Sunday Mercury, May 20, 1860
1860.78 Unenforced Rules Get Chadwick's Goat
On two occasions in 1860 Henry Chadwick, as part of his campaign to improve the game on the field, published articles urging umpires to consistently enforce rules for which such enforcement was lacking:
[A] "HINTS TO UMPIRES.-- SEC. 5...The rule...requires the ball to be pitched for the striker, and not the catcher, which is so generally done when a player is on the first base...Section 6...the pitcher makes a baulk when he either jerks a ball to the bat, has either foot in advance of the line of his position, or moves his hand or arm with the apparent purpose of pitching the ball without actually delivering it. Section 17...I certainly consider it the duty of the umpire to declare a ball fair, by keeping silent, when it touches the ground perpendicularly from the bat, when the striker stands back of the line of his base."
[B] THE DUTIES OF UMPIRES IN BALL MATCHES.-- ...few if any umpires have had the courage or independence to enforce (the rules)...(section 6) the rule that describes a baulk, is so misinterpreted. that it is only occasionally that we hear of a baulk being called...when a striker has stood at the home base long enough to allow a dozen balls, not plainly out of reach, to pass him, he should be at once made to declare where he wants a ball, and the first ball that comes within the distance pointed out, if not struck at, should be declared one strike (section 37)...If this were done, a stop would be put to the unmanly and mean "waiting game"...Another rule Umpires neglect to enforce, is that which requires the striker to stand on the line of his base..."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, May 27, 1860
[B] New York Clipper, Sep. 29, 1860
[B] indicates that [A] did not have the desired effect...
1860.79 Regatta Cancelled Due To Base Ball
"THE BROOKLYN YACHT CLUB.-- The Third Annual Regatta of the Brooklyn Yacht Club was to have taken place on Thursday, from the foot of Court street, but in consequence of a Base Ball Match fixed for the same day, it was postponed until Monday next, 25th inst. The Base Ball Ground is in the immediate vicinity of the Club House, and as a number of the members of the Yacht Club are also connected with Base Ball Clubs, it was thought policy to not have two great attractions at one time."
New York Evening Express, June 22, 1860
The Excelsior Club of South Brooklyn, whose grounds adjoined the Yacht Club, defeated the Charter Oak Club, also of Brooklyn, 36-9. The Yacht Club opened its 2nd-story veranda for viewing the games.
1860.80 Muffin Matches--Low Skills, High Comedy
[A] "THE MUFFIN MATCH.-- The match between the muffs of the Putnam and Excelsior Clubs, of Brooklyn...was, as we anticipated, an extraordinary affair, and productive of much amusement...People who can hold a ball (except by accident) when it is thrown to them, reflect upon their associate muffs, and don't deserve to have a place...we may mention one striking tableau...(Clark), having struck the ball, set out with all his might and main for the first base, which was carefully guarded by the ever-vigilant Andriese. Clark overran the base, and the ball overran Andriese; each, however, ran for the object of his pursuit, and Clark picked up the base...and held it aloft as a trophy of victory; while Andriese, quickly grabbing up the ball from the ground, turned a double somerset, and landing on one leg, projected the hand which held the ball gracefully toward the base, high in air, and called for judgment. Inasmuch as Clark, though under the base, had two fingers and a thumb over it, the umpire decided that he 'had the base', and wasn't out."
[B] "Muffin" was evidently new slang:
"'MUFFIN.'-- Base Ball...bids fair to enrich the copious vocabulary of the English language by a new term-- the word 'muffin'. A 'muff' (is)...a ball-player noted for catching anything but the ball...'Muffin" is an elongation of the word, and 'the muffins' is understood to be a collection of individuals, whose fingers are pretty much all thumbs-- in other words a collection of muffs...The word will find its way into more general acceptance and may hereafter puzzle some future philologist."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, July 1, 1860
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 22, 1860
Interclub muffin matches were an occasional feature, mostly before the Civil War, between the larger clubs.
1860.81 Creighton Analyzed-- Is He Cheating?
"BASE BALL. EXCELSIOR VS. PUTNAM.--...We have heard so much of late...about the pitching of Creighton...and its fatal effect upon those who bat against it, that we determined to judge of the matter for ourselves, and accordingly we were prepared to watch his movements pretty closely, in order to ascertain whether he did pitch fairly or not, and whether his pitching was a 'jerk,' 'an underhand throw,' or a 'fair square pitch,'...it was unquestioningly the latter..."
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 6, 1860
The article concluded that Creighton's success was due not to speed but to delivering a ball that was rising as it reached the batter, not coming in straight.
1860.82 Famous Baseballists Turn To Cricket
CRICKET.-- Long Island vs. Newark.-- The first contest between two American elevens on Long Island took place at East New-York yesterday...considerable interest was created among the base-ball players of Long Island, from the fact that players from each of the first nines of the Excelsior, Atlantic, and Putnam Clubs were to take part in it; and accordingly the largest collection of spectators ever seen on the East New-York grounds collected yesterday...the result was a well contested game of four innings...the time occupied in playing the innings being under five hours, the shortest regular game of cricket on record."
New York Tribune, Sep. 6, 1860
The players, their names helpfully italicized in the box score, were Edward Pennington and Charles Thomas of the Eureka BBC of Newark, James Creighton and John Whiting of the Excelsior, Dick Pearce and Charley Smith of the Atlantic, and Thomas Dakin of the Putnam. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted in its report on Sep. 6 that "The base ball players showed themselves to as much advantage as at their favorite game."
Creighton was successful in cricket both as a bowler and batsman. At the time of his death in Oct. 1862 he was considered the best American player in the New York area.
1860.84 Jolly Good Fellows
Base Ball. ATLANTIC, OF BROOKLYN vs. LIBERTY, OF NEW BRUNSWICK.--About six o'clock both Clubs partook of a sumptuous repast at the Montauk Restaurant, near Fulton ferry...More than one hundred gentlemen entered heartily into the spirit of the occasion...Mr. Prendergast...sung 'Fondly I'm Dreaming' in capital style...Judge Provost, of N. B., followed in a humorous speech complimenting both Clubs on their excellent play...'The Brunswickers were worsted today, next year they would come out silk-and-cotton'...Mr. Pete O'Brien, of the Atlantics--the very cut of a comic singer--set the table in a roar with with quite a budget of the drollest of Irish songs."
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 9, 1860
The game ball-- the "trophy ball"---was also presented to the president of the winning club during the party.
1860.89 Holder Whiffs Smoking
Holder, who was indulging in the pleasures of the weed, while at the bat, struck out.
Game report, Excelsior BBC of Brooklyn vs. Putnam BBC of Brooklyn, August 4, 1860, in New York Sunday Mercury, August 5, 1860
Smoking is hazardous to your success in base ball.
1861.22 Ad Biz
"(advertisement) JOHN C. WHITING, 87 FULTON STREET, N. Y., manufacturer of BASE BALLS and Wholesale and Retail Dealer in everything appertaining to BASE BALL and CRICKET. Agent for Chicester's Improved SELF-FASTENING BASES, and the PATENT CONCAVE PLATES for Ball Shoes, which are free from all the danger, and answer all the purposes, of spikes."
New York Sunday Mercury, Dec. 8, 1861
With thousands in the Greater New York City area playing the game, providers of playing grounds, playing manuals, and equipment sprang up.
1861.23 War Sinks Silver Balls
[A] "CONTESTS FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP.-- Additional interest will be imparted to the ensuing base ball season by the playing of a series of contests between the senior, as well as between the junior clubs, for a silver champion ball (and)...will initiate a new system of general rivalry, which will, we hope, be attended with the happiest results to the further progress and popularity of the game of base ball.
[B] "We learn from Daniel Manson, chairman pro tem. of the Junior National Association, that the Committee on Championship have resolved to postpone the proposed match games for the championship...Among the reasons...is the fact that quite a number of the more advanced players, from the clubs selected for the championship, have enlisted for the war."
[C] The senior-club silver ball competition, offered not by the national association but by the Continental BBC, a non-contender, was also not held due to the war. In 1862, with the war then appearing to be of indefinite duration, the Continental offered it as a prize to the winner of the informal championship matches, with those games played as a benefit for the families of soldiers.
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, April 7, 1861
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, May 12, 1861
[A] "BASE BALL. The excitement incident to the new and warlike attitude of our national affairs also monopolized the attention of everybody during the past week; and out-door sports, like everything else, were for the time forgotten."
[B] "BASE BALL'. For the time being, base ball is almost entirely laid aside. Not one of the senior clubs has yet mustered sufficient numbers on the regular play-days to have a game...Several of the clubs have, we understand, resolved to postpone regular field exercise until after the Fourth of July."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, April 21, 1861
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, April 28, 1861
1861.40 Shortstops to Soldiers
[A] "BASE BALL...So many of the best players, belonging to the first nines of the more prominent base ball clubs, have enlisted and gone with different regiments to the seat of war, that there will be some difficulty in getting up any matches of special interest this season."
[B] "BASE BALL...Hundreds of the best base all players in the States are now withing or on their way to Washington, ready to prove to the world, that while in times of peace they are enthusiastic devotees of the National Game, they are no less ready, in time of war, to make any sacrifice..."
[C] "CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WAR.-- The Star and Exercise Clubs, of Brooklyn, have together contributed nearly forty volunteers for the war. Good boys!"
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, April 28, 1861
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, May 5, 1861
[C] New York Sunday Mercury, May 26, 1861
1861.41 Base Ball A Silver Lining
[A] "The first base ball match of the season came off yesterday...It was thought that cannon balls would supersede base balls this season-- that our meetings and delightful measures would be exchanged for the pride, pomp, and circumstances of glorious war, but even in their ashes live our wonted fires, and though faint and few, we are fearless still. The event of yesterday is therefore generally regarded as a promising sign of the times."
[B] "THE HOBOKEN BASE BALL CLUBS.-- The ball grounds at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, begin to wear a very lively look...Several important matches are nearly arranged...The return of the Seventh, National Guard, added a reinforcement of some forty members to our prominent base ball clubs."
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 6, 1861
[B] Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, June 16, 1861
1861.42 Welcome Back
[A] "THE RETURN OF THE 13TH REGIMENT. MEETING OF BASE BALL PLAYERS. A meeting of one delegate from each base ball club of this city will meet at Paul ,Mead's, No. 1 Willoughby street, this evening, to make arrangements for receiving the base ball players connected with the 13th Regt."
[B] "RETURN OF THE 13TH REGIMENT. THE BASE BALL CLUBS. The Base-Ball Clubs were fully represented (13 clubs listed)...The clubs all formed on Furman street, right resting on Fulton. Each member was provided with a badge, bearing the motto, 'Base-Ball, Fraternity'. They occupied the advance of the column."
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 29, 1861
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 30, 1861
1861.43 Donkey Ball
With far fewer interclub matches available, novelty matches somewhat filled the gap. Donkey ball was the most successful.
"A NOVEL BASE BALL MATCH. The novel features of the match were, the side making the least number of runs won the game, and the players having the least runs and most outs won the ball. The players on each side were matched against each other, the runs made by the first striker on one side being credited to the first striker on the other side, and so on...This, of course, led each side to strive for excellence in batting, just as much as if they were scoring runs for themselves."
New York Clipper, Nov. 30, 1861
1861.45 Shrunken NABBP Meeting Does Little
"BASE BALL. Annual Meeting of the National Association of Base Ball Players....The attendance of delegates was not so large as we had hope to see..the delegates of thirty-one clubs answered to their names...The Committee on Rules...reported that they had no changes in the Rules to recommend...only one proposition had been submitted to them (discussion of a proposition to change the rule for deciding the outcome of a game called by darkness was tabled; a resolution to donate the Association's surplus funds to war relief was also tabled, as the funds were small...the existing rebellion, which has enlisted amny base-ball players in the service of the country, has had a tendency to temporarily disorganize many of the base ball clubs."
New York Sunday Mercury, Dec. 15, 1861
Three clubs were admitted to the Association; of 80 existing members, nine were expelled due to non-payment of dues for two years, and 27 more listed who had not paid for 1861.
1862.5 Brooklynites and Philadelphians Play Series of Games
Various assortments of leading players from Brooklyn and Philadelphia vied in both cities in 1862. Philadelphia sent an all-star assortment north in June, where it lost to Newark and to select nines in Brooklyn's eastern and western districts, but beat an aggregation of Hoboken players. Two select Brooklyn nines headed south and played two all-Philly sides in early July.
At the end of August, the Mutual club traveled to Philadelphia, winning 2 of 3 against Phila clubs. In October, the Eckford traveled to Philadelphia for a week of play against individual local clubs, and also played an "amalgamated nine" of locals, winning all games played.
Sources: various, including overviews at "Philadelphia vs. Brooklyn," Wilkes Spirit, July 12, 1862, and "Base Ball Match," Philadelphia Inquirer, October 22, 1862.
1862.18 Impact of War Lessens in NYC
[A] "BALL PLAYERS OFF TO THE WAR.-- But few of the fraternity, in comparison with the number who left in May, 1861, have gone off to the war this time in the militia regiments...All the clubs have their representatives in the several regiments...but the hegira of warlike ball-players is nothing near as great as in 1861, the necessity not being as pressing..."
[B] "Base Ball. The return of the 47th and 13th regiments has given quite an impetus to ball playing, and the vigor and energy that characterizes the ball player are again displaying themselves in the various clubs."
[C] "BASE BALL. THE BALTIC BASE BALL CLUB OF NEW YORK. It is really a pleasure to welcome the 'Old Baltics' again to the base ball field. At the commencement of the rebellion a great many of the most active and prominent members of this club, patriotically enlisted under and fought for the 'old flag;' this was the main cause of the club's temporary disbandment..."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, June 1, 1862
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sep. 9, 1862
[C] Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, Nov. 29, 1862
In an editorial printed on Aug. 9, 1862 Fitzgerald's City Item, of Philadelphia listed arguments for continuing base ball during the war.
1862.25 Hitting Creighton: Patience Pays
"The question will naturally be asked, how came the Unions to score so well against Creighton's pitching? and the reply is, that they waited until they got a ball to suit them, Creighton delivering, on an average, 20 or 30 balls to each striker in four of the six innings played."
New York Sunday Mercury, Aug. 2, 1862
The report goes on to disclose the secrets of Creighton's success as a pitcher. The Union of Morrisania club had defeated Creighton and the Excelsior of South Brooklyn, 12-4.
1863.56 Have Fast Ball Will Travel
[A] THE ATHLETIC CLUB OF PHILADELPHIA.--...Pratt, the well-known pitcher of the club...has been desirous for some time past of belonging to one of our leading clubs here; and during the visit of the Athletics to New York, Pratt being offered a good situation here, accepted it, and at once had his name proposed as a member of the Atlantic Club...Of course, he will henceforth be their pitcher...His accession to the Atlantic nine will strengthen them in what they have considered their weak point...We presume that the Atlantics will not play their match with the Eckfords until they can get Pratt in their nine..."
[B] "THE ATHLETIC CLUB OF PHILADELPHIA.-- A great change has suddenly occurred in the formation of the first nine of the Athletic club of Philadelphia. Pratt, their able pitcher, resigned from the club the day of his arrival in Philadelphia, the reason he assigned being that he had been offered a good situation in New York, and had joined the Atlantic club of Brooklyn, and henceforth he was to be the pitcher of that noted club, an honor no doubt that he was exceeding ambitious of obtaining."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, July 12, 1863
[B] New York Clipper, July 18, 1863
Tom Pratt was age 19.
1863.62 The Times Calls a Spade a Spade-- Base Ball is Obliterating Cricket
...cricket has been almost obliterated by base ball, which, but ten years since, was in its infancy...The main cause of this is, that a few cricketers...play pretty much all the matches for the few Clubs that exist only in name; while Bass Ball Clubs play their matches with their bona fide members, and consequently their medium players always have a prospect before them of being chosen to play..."
New York Times, Sep. 25, 1863
1863.63 NABBP Curbs Swift Pitching, Swats Fly Rule Again
The (NABBP) meeting of December 9 (1863) adopted all recommendations made by the Rules Committee. Though the suggestion of counting wild pitches as runs was not approved, three measures were taken to curb fast, wild pitching: a back line was added to the pitcher’s position, ending the practice of taking a run-up to increase speed, as in cricket; pitchers were required to have both feet on the ground at the time of delivery; and, finally, walks...:
"Should a pitcher repeatedly fail to deliver fair balls to the striker, for the apparent purpose of delaying the game, or for any other cause, the umpire after warning him, shall call one ball, and if the pitcher persists in such action, two and three balls, and when three balls have been called, the striker shall be entitled to his first base, and should any base be occupied at that time each player occupying them shall be entitled to one base.
The exception to the meeting’s unanimous acceptance of the Rules Committee’s action concerned the fly game, which, as with all previous attempts, was rejected, by a vote of 25 to 22.
Robert Tholkes, "A Permanent American Institution: The Base Ball Season of 1863", in Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Vol.7 (2013), pp. 143-153
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 10, 1863
1863.64 No It Isn't! Yes It Is!
Harper's Weekly: "In New York, it is well known, there are several base-ball clubs which play periodically. the same thing is true of Boston, Philadelphia, and perhaps one or two other cities. But is base-ball so popular that it is a regular and well-understood diversion in most of the counties of most of the States of the Union?...We see no evidence that either base-ball or any other athletic game is so generally practiced by our people as to be called a popular American game."
A reader wrote in to disagree:
"Now, sir, even you are mistaken. For twenty years (as long as I can remember about it) base-ball has been a 'popular game' wherever I have lived; and from careful inquiry, and knowledge obtained by personal observation, I can assure you that the game is a popular one...Who that has attended country 'raisings' does not know this...Though among us we have not regularly organized clubs, yet it is by no means difficult to find enough who are desirous of engaging in so healthful and agreeable an exercise...It is the game at our district schools during intermission hours, and often engaged in by youths of both sexes.
Truly, F. H. GUTWITS
Avoca, Steuben Co., N. Y.
Harper's Weekly, Oct. 15 & Nov. 5, 1859
1863.65 Ravaged By War
The Sunday Mercury, in its summary of the (NABBP) meeting on December 13, 1863, first noted that the disappointing attendance (28 clubs, compared to 32 in 1862)...The convention’s action in dropping 29 clubs, one more than attended the meeting, from the rolls because of inactivity in 1862 and 1863 indicated the scope of the war’s impact...In addition to diminished activity in New York City, Brooklyn, Boston, and Philadelphia, the widespread formation of clubs and beginning of match play in the west and in some southern states before the war came to a halt in most locales. The contributors to Base Ball Pioneers 1850-1870 (Morris et al, eds.,2012) found interclub play on a regular basis continuing in 1863 only in upstate New York and in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, including its inauguration that year at the University of Michigan. Other places, such as Baltimore, Washington, D. C., Altoona and Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, Chicago and Freeport, Illinois, St. Louis, and perhaps San Francisco) retained single clubs that relied on rare intercity visits for interclub competition. In a far greater number of locales, from Minnesota to Louisiana and from Maine to Augusta and Macon, Georgia, organized play apparently ceased.
Robert Tholkes, "A Permanent American Institution: The Base Ball Season of 1863", in Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Vol. 7 (2013), pp. 143-153
1864.36 NABBP Holds Special Meetings
[A] "THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION.-- Pursuant to a call issued by the President of the National Association of Base-Ball Players, a meeting of the delegates to the last Convention was held at the Gotham Cottage, No. 298 Bowery, on Tuesday evening last, February 23, the object being to take such action as might be necessary to procure an act of incorporation for the association, and also to take into consideration the alleged misconduct of the late Treasurer, in refusing to make a proper transfer of the funds, etc., of the Association to the new incumbent."
[B] "THE MEETING OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION.-- The adjourned meeting of the members of the National Association took place at the Gotham Cottage, No. 298 Bowery, on Tuesday evening last, March 8th...The first business of the meeting being the consideration of the action of the late Treasurer, Mr. Cozans (explained)..that a more satisfactory explanation had been made,..Mr. Brown's affairs, as Treasurer of the Association, would be found to be all correct."
[C] "The second meeting of the National Association, at Gotham Cottage, Bowery, New York, took place last evening...The principal business was the appointment of three committees...First, a committee to examine into the books and papers of the officers of the association and to ascertain the position and standing of the clubs whose delegates comprise those officials...Second, of a committee to secure an act of incorporation for the association...and third, a committee to meet with the Central Park Commissioners with a view to securing the use of the Park Base Ball Ground this season..."
[D] "THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE N. A. B. B. PLAYERS (on May 11)...statements were made by members of the three committees referred to..the act of incorporation could not be obtained except from the State Legislature at their next session, and in consequence of this fact the committee on Central Park grounds had not deemed it necessary to take measures to procure the same, as it was requisite that the Association should be a corporate body..."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, February 28, 1864
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, March 13, 1864
[C] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 9, 1864
[D] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 12, 1864
1864.38 Base Ball On The Rebound
[A] "THE SEASON OF 1864...The prospects for a successful season for 1864 are more favorable than those of any season since 1861..."
[B] "THE OPENING PLAY OF THE SEASON. NOT since 1861 has there been a season that has opened more auspiciously for the welfare of the game than the present one; and the prospects are that we shall have one of the most enjoyable series of matches of any year since base ball was inaugurated as our national game of ball."
[C] 'THE JUNIOR FRATERNITY.-- Not a week passes that some new junior organization does not spring into existence..."
[D] "MATCHES FOR SEPTEMBER.-- ...We are glad to note the fact that not even in the palmy days of 1860, when every vacant lot or available space for playing ball was occupied by junior clubs, have these young players been so numerous as this season."
[E] "THE SEASON OF 1864.-- Taking into consideration the existence of civil war in the country, the ball-playing season of 1864 has been the most successful and advantageous to the interests of our national game known in the annals of baseball...We are glad also to record the fact, that among the marked features of the past season none has been more promising for the permanence of the game than the great increase of junior players and clubs."
[A] New York Clipper, April 16, 1864
[B] New York Clipper, May 14, 1864
[C] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 22, 1864
[D] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sep. 9, 1864
[E] New York Sunday Mercury, Nov. 13, 1864
1864.40 Signals for Throwing to Base
"THE SIXTH RULE OF THE GAME...all pitchers should follow the example of the Excelsior players in 1860. The pitcher and catcher of the Excelsiors had regular signals whereby the pitcher knew when to throw to the bases. This is the only right plan to pursue in playing this point of the game."
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 13, 1864
1864.42 Is THIS How Bunting Started?
"EXCELSIOR VS. ENTERPRISE.-- The "muffins" of these clubs played their return game yesterday on the Excelsior grounds...The feature of the play was the batting of Prof. Bassler of the Enterprise team...Being an original of the first water, he adopted an original theory in reference to batting, which we are obliged to confess is not of the most striking character. His idea is not a bad one though, it being to hit the ball slightly so as to have it drop near the home base, therefore necessitating the employment of considerable skill on the part of the pitcher to get at the ball, pick it up and throw it accurately to first base."
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sept. 16, 1864
1864.43 Like It or Lump It, Gents
[A] "ANSWERS TO CORRESPONDENTS.-- ...If any club is dissatisfied with our reports of their games, let them personally inform us of the fact; not go to our employers to revenge any fancied injury or trying to injure us. The base ball clubs must either take our reports as we give them, in our endeavor to do impartial justice to all, or they will not have a line of notice emanating from our pen...the next time the club our correspondent refers to see their name written by us in any paper with which we are connected, it will be when they behave to us like other clubs...we do not harbor ill will towards a solitary member of the Atlantic club...but there is a principle involved...it being the right of a reporter of base ball matches to fairly criticise the actions of players..."
[B] "ATLANTIC VS. GOTHAM.-- ...Our reporter will give a full account of the proceedings, as the satisfactory explanations made to him by the Secretary of the Club on Friday, have, as far as he is concerned, entirely restored the friendly relations which had previously been interrupted."
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 29, 1864
[B] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sept. 17, 1864
1864.45 Playing for Prizes
"ECKFORD vs. MUTUAL-- AN INTERESTING GAME. -- These clubs played their return match together on the Union ballgrounds, Brooklyn, on Monday last...considerable interest being taken in the match, from the fact that it was the last of the season in which the Mutual first-nine would be engaged, and also that the Mutuals had offered a series of prizes to their players, amounting to one hundred dollars, as an incentive to extra exertions."
New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 16, 1864
1864.46 Wicket Match-- Baseballers vs. Cricketers
"BASEBALL PLAYERS vs. CRICKETERS-- ATLANTIC vs. WILLOW.-- ...On tuesday last, three of the members of the Atlantic Club undertook to play a game of single-wicket with three members of the Willow Cricket Club..."
New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 30, 1864
The play is described extensively.
1864.47 "Union" Games Started 1864 Season
[A] "...These practice games are simply nothing more or less than substitutes for the useless and uninteresting ordinarily played on practice days by our first-class clubs. It has been suggested, time and again...that they devote one day in a week...to practicing their men together as a whole against the field; but as yet, not a solitary club has ever practiced their best players together in this way...It is this neglect on the part of or clubs, to improve the character of the practice games on their club grounds, that has led to the arrangement of these Union Practice Games.”
[B] “THE GRAND PRIZE-MATCH IN BROOKLYN. The prize-game of the series of Union practice-games inaugurated by Mr. Chadwick, which took place on Saturday, May 21st...proved to be a complete success in every respect, and one of the best-played and most interesting games seen for several seasons past...(it) afforded those present proof of the advantage of such a class of games...”
[C] “THE SECOND PRIZE-GAME IN BROOKLYN.—...the Atlantics refused to play according to the rules of these series of games...They also seemed to regard the match as one on which their standing as a playing-club was concerned, rather than...one of a series of games designed to test the merits of the flygame.”
[D] "The Eckford was defeated by the field at the so-called prize game, and the Atlantic won the game with the field. The prize game, so far as it interferes with the rules of the Convention, should be frowned down by all clubs, as it was repudiated by the Atlantic and Enterprise clubs.”
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 21, 1864
[B] Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, May 28, 1864
[C] New York Sunday Mercury, June 5, 1864
[D] New York Evening Express, June 13, 1864
See Supplemental Text for further newspaper coverage.
1864.48 NABBP Hobbles Pitchers
[A] “THE NEW RULES.—...’Section 5. Should the pitcher repeatedly fail to deliver to the striker fair balls, for the apparent purpose of delaying the game, or for any other cause, the umpire, after warning him, shall call one ball, and if the pitcher persists in such action, two and three balls; when three balls shall have been called, the striker shall be entitled to the first base, and should any base be occupied at that time, each player occupying them shall be entitled to one base. Section 6. The pitcher’s position shall be designated by two lines, four yards in length, drawn at right angles to a line from home to second base, having their centres upon that line at two fixed iron plates, placed at points fifteen and sixteen yards distant from the home-base, and for the striker...Section 7...whenever the pitcher draws back his hand, or moves with the apparent purpose or pretention to deliver the ball, he shall so deliver it, and must have neither foot in advance of the line of his position or off the ground at the time of delivering the ball; and if he fails in either of these particulars then it shall be declared a balk.’”
—“THE NEW RULES—adopted by the last Convention, promise to work out a desirable reform. The Pitcher can no longer push a game into the dark, by the old style of baby-play, but is ‘compelled’ to deliver balls to the Striker, or else a base is given. And then again, instead of taking a wide range, in which to swing a bill and move the feet, he must keep within his circumscribed limit, and deliver a fair ball.”
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, March 27, 1864
[B] New York Evening Express, April 22, 1864
For various reasons, umpires enforced the new rules only inconsistently. See Supplemental Text.
1865.9 The Abolition of Suppers to Clubs
"THE ABOLITION OF SUPPERS TO CLUBS.-- The following are the clubs whose presidents have appended their signatures to the resolution putting a stop to clubs entertainments to their adversaries after matches played among themselves. This season no suppers or refreshments will be tendered to any of the clubs playing matches with each other named in the following list, except it be done by private parties and not at the expense of the club. All visiting clubs from out-of-town localities will be hospitably received as usual. The clubs signed the resolution in the following order: Mutual, Star, Newark, Eagle, Resolute, Atlantic, Empire, Gotham, and Active. The others will also sign it before the month expires."
New York Sunday Mercury, April 16, 1865
Notable for their absence: the Knickerbocker and the Excelsior of Brooklyn.
1871.3 Coup d'grace for the Amateur Era
"In March 1871, ten members of the National Association met in New York for the purpose of forming a new group...This act essentially killed the National Association."
Marshall Wright, The National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870, p.328
1871.20 Chadwick Agrees: The Parent of Base Ball is Two-Old-Cat . . . Not English Rounders, After All?
"We do not believe that cricket will ever be naturalized here, but that its rival is destined for evermore to be the national game. To those who would object to our explanation that it is fanciful, we can only say that we believe it violates none of the known laws of reasoning, and that it certainly answers the great end of accounting for the facts. To those other objectors, who would contend that our explanation supposes a gradual modification of the English into the American game, while it is a matter of common learning that the latter is of no foreign origin, but the lineal descent of that favorite of boyhood, 'Two-Old-Cat,' we would say that, fully agreeing with them as to the historical fact, we have always believed it to be so clear as not to need further evidence, and that for the purposes of this article the history of the matter is out of place. We have throughout spoken of cricket as changing' into base ball, not because we suppose these words represent the actual origin of the latter, but to bring more vividly before the mind the differences between the two. He would indeed be an unfaithful chronicler who should attempt to question the hoary antiquity of Two-Old-Cat, or the parental relation in which it stands to base ball."
Henry Chadwick, 1871 Base Ball Manual
Bill Hicklin, 3/9/2016:
"It's one of the commonplaces of the old origins debate that led to the Mills Commission that Henry Chadwick was foremost among those arguing that baseball evolved directly from rounders, and indeed he said so many times. In opposition stood those patriotic Americans such as Ward who claimed an indigenous heritage from the Old Cat games."
David Block, et al: Could Chadwick have believed that Two-Old-Cat was also the parent of British Rounders? The term was known over there before rounders was, no?
Page and pub site of the 1871 Manual?