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1621.1 Some Pilgrims "Openly" Play "Stoole Ball" on Christmas Morning: Governor Clamps Down
Governor Willliam Bradford
Governor Bradford describes Christmas Day 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, MA; "most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on ye day. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye street at play, openly; some at pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball and shuch like sport. . . . Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly."
Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation, [Harvey Wish, ed., Capricorn Books, 1962], pp 82 - 83. Henderson cites Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856. See his ref 23. Full text supplied by John Thorn, 6/25/2005. Also cited and discussed by Thomas L. Altherr, “There is Nothing Now Heard of, in Our Leisure Hours, But Ball, Ball, Ball,” The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1999 (McFarland, 2000), p. 190
Bradford explained that the issue was not that ball-playing was sinful, but that playing openly while others worked was not good for morale.
Note: From scrutinizing early reports of stoolball, Protoball does not find convincing evidence that it was a base-running game by the 1600s.
1659.1 Stuyvesant: No Tennis, Ball-Playing, Dice on Fast Day
"We shall interdict and forbid, during divine service on the [fasting] day aforesaid, all exercise and games of tennis, ball-playing, hunting, plowing and sowing, and moreover all unlawful practice such as dice, drunkenness . . ." proclaimed Peter Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant was Director-General of New Netherlands.
Manchester, Herbert, Four Centuries of Sport in America (Publisher?, 1931). Email from John Thorn, 1/24/097. Query: Can we determine what area was affected by this proclamation? How does this proclamation relate to #1656.1 above?
1700.1 One of the Earliest Public Notices of a Cricket Match?
"Of course, there are many bare announcements of matches played before that time [the 1740's]. In 1700 The Postboy advertised one to take place on Clapham Common."
Note: An excerpt from a Wikipedia entry accessed on 10/17/08 states: "A series of matches, to be held on Clapham Common [in South London - LMc] , was pre-announced on 30 March by a periodical called The Post Boy. The first was to take place on Easter Monday and prizes of £10 and £20 were at stake. No match reports could be found so the results and scores remain unknown. Interestingly, the advert says the teams would consist of ten Gentlemen per side but the invitation to attend was to Gentlemen and others. This clearly implies that cricket had achieved both the patronage that underwrote it through the 18th century and the spectators who demonstrated its lasting popular appeal."
Thomas Moult, "The Story of the Game," in Moult, ed., Bat and Ball: A New Book of Cricket (The Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1960; reprinted from 1935), page 27. Moult does not further identify this publication.
Caveat: The Wikipedia entry is has incomplete citations and could not be verified.
Can we confirm this citation, and that it refers to cricket? Do we know of any earlier public announcements of safe-haven games?
1720.2 Holiday in Kent: Cricket, Stool-Ball, Tippling, Kissing
In 1907, a kindred spirit of ours reported [in a listserve-equivalent of the day] on his attempts to find early news coverage of cricket. He reports on a 1720 article he sees as "the first newspaper reference I have yet found to cricket as a popular game:"
"The Holiday coming on, the Alewives of Islington, Kentish Town, and several adjacent villages . . . . The Fields will swarm with Butchers'; Wives and Oyster-Women . . . diverting themselves with their Offspring, whilst their Spouses and Sweethearts are sweating at Ninepins, some at Cricket, others at Stool-Ball, besides an amorous Couple in every Corner . . . Much Noise and Cutting in the Morning; Much Tippling all Day; and much Reeling and Kissing at Night."
Alfred F. Robbins, "Replies: The Earliest Cricket Report," Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc, September 7, 1907, page 191. Provided by John Thorn, 2/8/2008, via email. He reports his source as Read's Weekly Journal, or British-Gazeteer, June 4, 1720, and advises that he has omitted phrases not "welcome to the modern taste. Accessed via Google Books 10/18/2008.
1771.2 Province of New Hampshire Prohibits Christmas "Playing With Balls" in the Streets
"WHEREAS as iit often happens that many disorders are occasioned within the town of Portsmouth . . . by boys and fellows playing with balls in the public street: . . . [when] there is danger of breaking the windows of any building, public or private, may be ordered to remove to any place where there shall be no such danger."
"An Act to prevent and punish Disorders usually committed on the twenty-fifth Day of December . . . ," 23 December 1771, New Hampshire (Colony) Temporary Laws, 1773 (Portsmouth, NH), page 53. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 25.
1796.2 Williams College Student Notes Ballplaying in Winter Months
A Williams College student's diary begun in 1796 (when he was 19) and continued for several years, includes a half dozen references to playing ball, but they do not describe the nature of the game. His first such entry, from April 22, 1796, is "I exercise considerable, playing ball."
Tarbox, Increase N., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D. D. 1796 - 1854 (Beacon Press, Boston, 1886), volume 1, pp. 8, 29, 32, 106, and 128. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, (See page 241 and ref #55. The college is in Williamstown MA. He notes ballplaying later in Sheffield and Danbury CT
1816.5 In "The Year Without a Summer," CT Lads Play Ball on Christmas Day
"My father [Charles Mallory] arrived there [Mystic CT] on Christmas Day and found some of his acquaintances playing ball in what was called Randall's Orchard."
Baughman, James, The Mallorys of Mystic: Six Generations in American Maritime Enterprise [Wesleyan University Press, 1972], page 12. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/19/2004.
1819.4 In Hartford CT: Legislative Session Associated with Ball-playing?
In a report on the new session of the Connecticut legislature: "In Hartford and the region about the same, those who usually play ball during the day and dance at night on such occasions, did not at this time wholly abandon the ancient uses of Connecticut."
Indiana Central, June 8, 1819, reprinting an article datelined New Haven CT from May 5. Accessed 4/9/09 via subscription search.
1820s.14 New England Lad Recalls Assorted Games, Illicit Fast Day Ballplaying
Alfred Holbrook was born in 1816. His autobiography, Reminiscences of the Happy Life of a Teacher (Elm Street, Cincinnati, 1885), includes youthful memories that would have occurred in the 1820s.
"The [school-day] plays of those times, more than sixty years ago, were very similar to the plays of the present time. Some of these were "base-ball," in which we chose sides, "one hole cat," "two hole cat," "knock up and catch," Blackman," "snap the whip," skating, sliding down hill, rolling the hoop, marbles, "prisoner's base," "football," mumble the peg," etc. Ibid. page 35. Note: was "knock up and catch" a fungo game, possibly?
"Now, it was both unlawful and wicked to play ball on fast-day, and none of my associates in town were ever known to engage in such unholy enterprises and sinful amusements on fast-days; [p 52/53] but other wicked boys, with whom I had nothing to do, made it their special delight and boast to get together in some quiet, concealed place, and enjoy themselves, more especially because it was a violation of law. Not infrequently, however, they found the constable after them. . . ." "Soon after, this blue law, perhaps the only one in the Connecticut Code, was repealed. Then the boys thought no more of playing on fast-days than on any other." Ibid, pp 52-53.
1820s.25 In Western MA, Election Day Saw Town vs. Town Wicket Matches
"'Election Day' was, however, the universal holiday, and the prevailed amongst the farmers that corn planting must be finished by that day for its enjoyment. It was a day of general hilarity, with no prescribed forms of observation, though ball playing was ordinarily included in the exercises, and frequently the inhabitants of adjacent towns were pitted against one another in the game of wicket. Wrestling, too, was a common amusement on that day, each town having its champions."
Charles J. Taylor, History of Great Barrington (Bryan and Co., Great Barrington MA, 1882), page 375. Accessed 2/3/10 via Google Books search (taylor great barrington). Note: this passage is not clearly set in time; "1820s" is a guess, but 1810s or 1830s is also a possibility.
1828.17 Man Recalls July 4th Game Sixty Years Earlier
Holidays, Pre-modern Rules
In May 1888, a Boston Globe story reflected the recollection of a game played on July 4, 1828 between the Typhoons and the Hurricanes. A man recalls that at age 20 he played short stop that day.
Boston Globe, May 29, 1888, page 5. (Text not secured as of September 2018.)
As of 2018, we do not know the location, game type, or rules for this game.
It is interesting that the man identified his position as short stop, perhaps indicating that predecessor baserunning games in New England had already developed skill positions' decades before the Knickerbocker club formed.
Can someone help us obtain the text of this newspaper piece?
1830c.2 Thoreau Associates "Fast Day" with Base-Ball Played in Russet Fields
"April 10 . Fast-Day. . . . . I associate this day, when I can remember it, with games of baseball played over beyond the hills in the russet fields toward Sleepy Hollow, where the snow was just melted and dried up.
Submitted by David Nevard. On 8/2/2005, George Thompson submitted the following reference: Torrey, Bradford, Journal of Henry David Thoreau vol. 8, page 270. He notes that Princeton University Press is publishing a new edition, but isn't up to 1856 yet.
1831.5 "Cricket, Base, and Long Ball" Played in Worcester MA on Election Day
When the Massachusetts Legislature announced that Election Day would be moved from May to January, a protest was lodged in a newspaper, recalling:
". . then amusements were planned; then were hunting matches and fishing parties made; then was the quoit hurled in the air; then were cricket, base, and long-ball played; then were sports of every kind, appropriate to the season, sought after and enjoyed with particular zest."
'Lection Day, National Aegis (Worcester Massachusetts), June 15, 1831, page 1, as cited in David Block, Polish Workers Play Ball at Jamestown, Virginia, Base Ball, volume 5, number 2 (Spring 2011), page 8. (The National Aegis credits the New York Constellation with the article, but David Block notes that the subject is clearly the lot of Massachusetts children not those in New York City.)
1833.11 MA Clergyman Notes "Usual" Fast Day Defections For Mattapoisett Ballplaying
As one of his several diary references to ballplaying [see also #1796.2 and #1806.4] Thomas Robbins D.D. in 1833 wrote this diary entry about Fast Day in Mattapoisett MA: "Fast. Meetings well attended . . . . A part of the people were off playing ball, according to their usual practice . . . . Am very much fatigued. The afternoon exercise was very long. Read."
On December 28, 1829 at Stratford CT, he wrote: "Last week the boys played ball." On May 28, 1839 [what was Abner Graves doing that day?] at Mattapoisett he wrote "Very pleasant. Thermometer rose to 70 [degrees]. Some playing ball."
Increase N. Tarbox, ed., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D.D. 1796-1854, Volume 2 (Beacon Press, Boston, 1887), pages 163, 302, and 527. Accessed 11/15/2008 via a Google Books "'robbins d. d.' diary" search. Searches of the text for cricket, wicket, and round-ball are unfruitful.
Mattapoisett is about 50 miles south of Boston.
1835c.5 Base Ball Recalled as Very Popular at Exeter
"The games of bat-and-ball in former years were various, but most popular were "four old cat" and base ball. The latter alone survives to this day , and in a very changed condition. . . . A very large proportion of the students participated in the sport; and the old residents will readily recall with what regularity. Fast day used to be devoted to the base ball of the period."
Charles H. Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire: A Historical Sketch (News Letter Press, Exeter NH, 1883), page 83. Caveat: The section in which this excerpt resides evidently games played half a century earlier, but other interpretations are possible.
1840s.30 Ballplayer Recalls Boyhood Matches, Ballmaking, Adult Play
On Fast Day [page 68]: "The town meeting was succeeded in April by Fast Day, appointed always for a Thursday. For some unknown reason Thursday in New England was an almost sacred day, a sort of secular Sabbath . . . . Boys were not generally compelled to attend the Fast Day religious service. It had ceased to be as strictly kept as before. In villages and towns there was customarily a match game of ball, very unlike the current  base ball. Boys played [p68/69] with boys and men with men. The New England bootmakers, of whom there were some in most villages, were the leaders in these games."
On ball-making, and on plugging [page 174] : "Our ingenuity was exercised in weaving watch chains in various patterns with silk twist; in making handsome bats for ball, and in making the balls themselves with the raveled yarn of old stockings, winding it over a bit of rubber, and sewing on a cover of fine thin calf skin. This ball did not kill as it struck one, and, instead of being thrown to the man on the bases was more usually at thee man running between them. He who could make a good shot of that kind was much applauded, and he who was hit was laughed at and felt very sheepish. That was true sport, plenty of fun and excitement, yet not too serious and severe. The issue of the game was talked over for a week. I did my daily stint of stitching with only one thing in mind, to [p174/175] play ball when through; for the boys played every afternoon. When there was to be a match game the men practiced after the day's work was done."
On bootmakers [page 170]: "The smaller [bootmaking] shops were the centers for the gossip, rumors, and discussions which agitated the community. There men sharpened their wits upon each other, played practical jokes, sang, argued the questions of that [p170/171] day, especially slavery, and arranged every week from early spring to late autumn a match game of ball either among themselves or the bootmakers of neighboring towns for Saturday afternoon, which was their half holiday."
John Albee, Confessions of Boyhood (R.G. Badger, Boston, 1910). Albee was born in 1833 and grew up in Bellingham MA, about 30 miles SW of Boston and in the heart of Round Ball [Mass game] territory, with neighboring towns of Holliston, Medway, Sharon, and Dedham. The book is found via a "confessions of boyhood" search via Google Books, as accessed 11/14/2008.
1840s.31 Lem: Juvenile Fiction's Boy Who Loved Round-ball
Lem may be fiction's only round-ball hero.
On pages 93-97, the novel lays out the game that was played by Lem [born 1830] and his playmates, which seems to follow the customs of the Massachusetts game, but without stakes as bases. The passage includes a field diagram, some terminology ["the bases . . . were four in number, and were called 'gools,' a word which probably came from 'goals.'"], and ballmaking technique. Lem is, alas, sidelined for the season when he is plugged "in the hollow of the leg" while gool-running [Page 97] Other references:
On spring, pp 92-93: "Ball-playing began early in the spring; [p92/93] it was the first of the summer games to come out.
On Fast Day, p. 93: "I am afraid that Lem's only notion of Fast Day was that that was the long-expected day when, for the first time that year, a game of ball was played on the Common."
On the pleasant effects of a change in the path of the Gulf Stream, pp. 228-229: "no slushy streets, and above all, no cold barns to go into to feed turnips to the cold cows! A land where top-time, kite-[p228/229] time, and round-ball-time would always be in season. Think of it!"
On making teams for simulating Revolutionary War tussles, p. 107: "We can't all be Americans; and we have agreed to choose sides, as we do in round ball."
Noah Brookes, Lem: A New England Village Boy: His Adventures and his Mishaps (Scribner's Sons, New York, 1901). Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search "Lem boy."
See Supplemental Text, below, for Bill Lyons' description of the author and the work.
As of Jan 2013, this is one of three uses of "gool" instead of "goal" in ballplaying entries, all in the 1850s and found in western MA and ME. [To confirm/update, do an Enhanced Search for "gool".] One of these, at 1850s.33 uses "gool" as the name of the game. See also Supplemental Text, below.
We welcome comment on the authenticity of Brooks' depiction of ballplaying in the 1840s, and whether how the game depicted compares to the MA game.
1841.16 Fast Day Choice in ME: Hear a "Fact Sermon" or Play Ball?
"Thursday wind northeast cloudy & cool fast day the people assemble at Holts to play Ball & some quarreling I fear it would be better to go to meeting and hear a fact sermon as once was the fasion." "Journal of Jonathan Phillips of Turner, Maine (1841), entry for April 22. Source:
http://files.usgwarchives.org/me/androscoggin/turner/diary/phillips.txt, accessed 11/14/2008. Phillips was born in Sylvester [not Turner] ME in 1780. Turner is now a town of about 5000 souls and is about 60 miles north of Portland and 30 miles west of Augusta. Note: Is the "fact sermon" simply a typo for "fast sermon?"
1844.10 Fast Day Game in NH on the Common - Unless Arborism Goes Too Far
"In Keene, New Hampshire, residents used the town common for the Fast Day ball game in 1844." Harold Seymour, Baseball; the People's Game (Oxford University Press, 1990), page 201. The book does not provide a source for this report.
Seymour's source may be David R. Proper, "A Narrative of Keene, New Hampshire, 1732-1967" in "Upper Ashuelot:" A History of Keene, New Hampshire (Keene History Committee, Keene NH, 1968), page 88. as accessed on 11/13/2008 at:
http://www.ci.keene.nh.us/library/upperashuelot/part8.pdf. This account describes the arguments against planting 141 trees along Keene streets, one being that trees "would impair use of the Common as a parade ground for military and civic reviews, as a market place for farmers and their teams, as a field for village baseball games on Fast Day, as an open space for wood sleds in winter, and as a free area for all the activity of Court Week." Note: Is it fair to infer that [a] Fast Day games were a well-established tradition by 1844, and that [b] ballplaying on the Common was much less often seen on other days of the year? What was Court Week?
1844.11 Why Fast Day Comes Only Once a Year?
"Thursday April 4th. A very warm day it is fast day* & I have played ball so much that I am to tired I can hardly set up I don't think I shall want to have fast day come again for a year." Diary of Edward Jenner Carpenter of Greenfield MA, available online at:
http://www.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=126 as accessed November 17th 2008. Carpenter was an 18 year old apprentice to a Greenfield cabinet-maker. Greenfield is in NW MA, about 15 miles from the VT border and about 40 miles north of Northampton.
1845.22 Barre MA Skips the "Old Annual Game of Ball" on Election Day
"'Old Election' passed over the town on Wednesday, with as little notice as any crusty curmudgeon might wish. A few people were abroad with 'clean fixens' on and there was an imposing parade of 'boy's training.' Even the old annual game of ball was forgotten, and the holiday was guiltless of any other display of unusual mirth."
"Old Election," Barre Gazette, May 30, 1845. Accessed via subscription search, 2/14/2009. Barre is in central MA, about 25 miles NW of Worcester. Great Barrington MA also associated Election Day with ballplaying - a game of wicket. See item #1820s.25. Query: How common a custom was it to celebrate Election Day with a ballgame? When did the custom start, and when did it die out? Can we start it up again?
1846.9 Town Ball in Rockford IL
"I came West 59 years ago, in 1846, and found "Town Ball" a popular game at all Town meetings. I do not recall an instance of a money bet on the game; but, at Town meeting, the side losing had to buy the ginger bread and cider." [July letter]
"[Town Ball] was so named because it was mostly played at "Town Meetings." It had as many players on a side as chose to play; but the principal players were "Thrower" and "Catcher." There were three bases and a home plate. The players were put out by being touched with ball [sic] or hit with thrown ball, when off the base. You can readily see that the present game [1900's baseball] is an evolution from Town Ball." [April letter]
Letters from H. H. Waldo, Rockford IL, to the Mills Commission, April 8 and July 7, 1905.
1847.14 Fast Day Rites Encroached by Round Ball, Long Ball, Old Cat
"FAST. This time-hallowed, if not time-honored occasion, was observed n the usual way. The ministers preached t pews exhibiting a beggarly emptiness . . . . The b-boys smoked cigars, kicked football, payed [sic] round ball, long ball, an [sic] old cat, and went generally into the outward observances peculiar to the occasion."
New Hampshire Statesman, and State Journal (Concord, New Hampshire), April 30, 1847, column B (originally from the Nashua Telegraph).
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
1848.16 Fast-Day Notice to NH Subscribers
"Next Thursday being "Fast Day," we shall issue our paper as usual on the following Tuesday, although our compositors will doubtless take a game with bat and ball."
New-Hampshire Gazette, April 11, 1848. Accessed May 4, 2009 via subscription search.
1849.11 Character in Fictional Autobiography Played Cricket, Base-Ball
"On fourths of July, training days and other occasions, young men from the country around, at a distance of fifteen or twenty miles, would come for the purpose of competing for the championship of these contests, in which, in which, as the leader of the school, I soon became conspicuous. Was there a game at cricket or base-ball to be played, my name headed the list of the athletae."
The following page has an isolated reference to the ball grounds at the school. Mayo was from upstate NY. The fifth edition  of Kaloolah is available via Google Books, and was accessed on 10/24/2008; the ballplaying references in this edition are on pages 20 and 21.
W.S. Mayo, Kaloolah, or Journeying to the Djebel Kumri. An Autobiography (George P. Putnam, New York, 1849), page 20.
Posting to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger, 1/24/2008. Richard considers this the first appearance of base-ball in American fiction, as the games in #1837.2 and #1838.4 above are not cited as base ball and could be another type of game.
1850s.25 If It's May Day, Boston Needs All its Sam Malones at the Commons!
"On the first of May each year, large crowds filled the [Boston] Commons to picnic, play ball or other games, and take in entertainment."
John Corrigan, "The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century," in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 44. Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search ("business of the heart"). Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is William Gray Brooks, "Diary, May 1, 1858."
1850c.26 Needed: More Festival Days - Like Fast Day? For Ballplaying
"[T]hey committed a radical error in abolishing all the Papal holidays, or in not substituting something therefore. We have Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, and Fast-Day when the young men play ball. We need three times as many festivals."
Arethusa Hall, compiler, Life and Character of the Reverend Sylvester Judd (Crosby, Nichols and Co., Boston, 1854), page 330. The book compiles ideas and views from Judd's writings. Judd was born in 1813 and died at 40 in 1853. John Corrigan (see #1850s.25) quotes a James Blake as capturing popular attitudes about Fast Day.
Writing of Fast Day 1851, Blake said "Fast & pray says the Governor, Feast & play says the people." John Corrigan, "The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century," in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 45. Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is James Barnard Blake, "Diary, April 10, 1851, American Antiquarian Society.
What were the Catholic festivals that were eliminated? Were any tradfitionally associated with ballplaying?
1850.32 NH Ballplaying Washed Out on Fast Day
"Fast Day. Disappointment fastened upon a thousand boys and girls, who calculated on a first rate, tall time on Fast Day. It seemed as if al the water valves in the clouds were opened, and we dare assert that rain never fell faster. The sun didn't shine, the birds didn't sing, the boys didn't play ball . . . "
"Fast Day," New-Hampshire Gazette, April 9, 1850. Accessed via 4/9/09 subscription search.
1850c.34 Tut-ball Played at Young Ladies School in England
"'Tut-ball,' as played at a young ladies' school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. The players stood together in their 'den,' behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out' and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of the three brickbats, called 'tuts,' which were set up at equal distances on the ground, in such positions that a player running past them all would describe a complete circle by the time she returned to the den. The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball, and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so, she took her place in the den, and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical to 'rounders.'"
Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (David Nutt, London, 1898), page 314. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (gomme tutt-ball 1898). Gomme adds that "pize-ball" is a similar game, and that in the past Tut-ball was played on Ash Wednesday in the belief that it would ward off sickness at harvest time. Shifnal, Shropshire, is in the west of England, about 25 miles northwest of Birmingham.
1850c.46 Worcester Man Recalls Round Ball in the 1850s
"I will now call your attention to some of the games and amusements indulged in by Worcester boys of fifty or sixty years ago . . . .
"There were various games of ball played in my day. I remember barn-ball, two and three old cat, and round ball. This last was very much like baseball of to-day . . . .
"There were bases of goals, and instead of catching out, the ball was thrown at the player when running bases and if hit he knew it at once and was out. The balls were hard and thrown with force and intent to hit the runner, but an artful dodger could generally avoid being hit.
"On Fast Day there was always a game of ball on he north side of the Common, played by men and older boys, and this attracted large crowd of interested lookers on."
Nathaniel Paine, School Day Reminiscences, Proceedings of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume XIX (1903), pages 46 and 49.
1850s.49 Round Ball Played North of Portland, Maine with "Cat Stick" and "Gools"
"Fast Day was a holiday. Usually that day Loring Hill had become bare of snow and, if so, here was a game of round ball on it.
"The Village Square, where now stands the round iron water tank was often a lively scene. Baseball and "Nines" did not then exist. But round ball was played, sides being chosen by two players putting alternate hands on the bat (or as we called it the cat stick), the one first reaching the top having the first choice. The ball was not hard but soft and a player was put out either by being caught out as now, or by being struck by the ball thrown at him when running for a base, or as we said then a gool, meaning goal. It was a soft ball, compared with now, but it sometimes stung pretty smartly.
Alfred Cole and Charles F. Whitman, Buckfield, Oxford County, Maine (Journal Printshop, Lewiston, 1915)., page 894.
Buckland is about 45 miles north of Portland.
The ages of players is not clear.
As of Jan 2013, this is one of three uses of "gool" instead of "goal" in ballplaying entries, all in the 1850s and found in western MA and ME. [To confirm/update, do an enhanced search for "gool".] One of these 1850s.33 uses "gool" as the name of the game.
1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
"Yorkshire: Now only played by boys, but half a century ago [1850's] by Adults on Ash Wednesday, believing that unless they did so they would fall sick in harvest time. This is a very ancient game, and was elsewhere called stool-ball. [West Yorkshire]. Shropshire: Tut-ball; as played at a young ladies school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. (See also 1850c.34). The players stood together in their 'den,'behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out', and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of three brick-bats, called 'tuts' . . . . The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so she took her place in the den and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical with rounders."
Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (Henry Frowd, London, 1905), page 277. Part or all of this entry appears to credit Burne's Folklore (1883) as its source.
Note: This describes a scrub form of tutball/rounders. It suggests that all hitting was forward, thus in effect using a foul line, as would make sense with a single fielder.
The claim that tutball and stoolball used the same rules is surprising; stoolball is fairly uniformly described as having but two bases or stools, and using a bat.
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?
1855c.1 "Massachusetts Run-Around" Recalled
"This [Massachusetts Run-Around] was ever a popular game with us young men, and especially on Town Meeting days when there were great contests held between different districts, or between the married and unmarried men, and was sometimes called Town Ball because of its association with Town Meeting day."
"It was an extremely convenient game because it required as a minimum only four on a side to play it, and yet you could play it equally as well with seven or eight. . . . There were no men on the bases; the batter having to make his bases the best he could, and with perfect freedom to run when and as he chose to, subject all the time to being plugged by the ball from the hand of anyone. It was lively jumping squatting and ducking in all shapes with the runner who was trying to escape being plugged. When he got around without having been hit by the ball, it counted a run. The delivery of the ball was distinctly a throw, not an under-hand delivery as was later the case for Base Ball. The batter was allowed three strikes at the ball. In my younger days it was extremely popular, and indulged in by everyone, young and old."
T. King, letter to the Mills Commission, November 24, 1905; accessed at the Giamatti Center, HOF.
Did King grow up in MA? Do we know why this ref. is dated c1855?
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).
1856.17 Letter to "Spirit" Describes Roundball in New England
"I have thought, perhaps, a statement of my experience as to the Yankee method of playing 'Base,' or 'Round' ball, as we used to call it, may not prove uninteresting."
"There were six to eight players upon each side, the latter number being the full complement. The two best players upon each side -- first and second mates, as they were called by common consent -- were catcher and thrower. These retained their positions in the game, unless they chose to call some other player, upon their own side, to change places with them. A field diagram follows." [It shows either 6 or 10 defensive positions, depending on whether each base was itself a defensive station.]
"The ball was thrown, not pitched or tossed, as the gentleman who has seen "Base" played in New York tells me it is; it was thrown, an with vigor too . . . . "
"Base used to be a favorite game with the students of the English High and Latin Schools pf Boston , a few years ago . . . Boston Common affords ample facilities for enjoying the sport, and Wednesday and Saturday afternoons in the spring and fall, players from different classes in these schools, young men from fifteen to nineteen years of age used to enjoy it.
"Base is also a favorite game upon the green in front of village school-houses in the country throughout New England; and in this city [Boston] , on Fast Day, which is generally appointed in early April, Boston Common is covered with amateur parties of men and boys playing Base. The most attractive of these parties are generally composed of truckmen. . . the skill they display, generally attracts numerous spectators."
Other comments on 1850s Base/Roundball in New England.are found in Supplemental Text, below.
"Base Ball, How They Play the Game in New England: by An Old Correspondent" Porter's Spirit of the Times, Dec. 27, 1856, p.276. This article prints a letter written in Boston on December 20, 1856. It is signed by Bob Lively.
The 1858 Dedham rules (two years after this letter) for the Massachusetts Game specified at least ten players on a team. The writer does not call the game the "MA game," and does not mention the use of stakes as bases, or the one-out-all-out rule.
1858.45 1000 Watch November Base Ball in New Bedford MA. Brr.
"At the conclusion of the game (played on Thanksgiving Day), Mr. Cook, in a few appropriate remarks in behalf of the Bristol County Club, presented the Union Club with a splendid ball. Cheers were then given by the respective Clubs and they separated to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners. About 1000 spectators were present.
"In the afternoon there were several 'scrub' games, that is games which the various Clubs unite and play together. The regular Ball season is considered to close with Thanksgiving, though many games will doubtless be played through the winter when the weather will permit."
The New Bedford Evening Standard (November 26, 1858)
1858.67 Boston Area Ballgames Noted in 1858
"It is interesting to note that on Fast Day, April 1858, there was a ball game played in Trapelo, Captain Lawrence's team defeating Capt. Lovejoy's team by a score of 50 points to 43. Later in the year a Mechanics Ball Club was organized [in Waltham] and played a game on the Common with the Olympics of Boston. They were beaten by a score of 54 to 21. Twelve men played on a side."
Edmund L. Sanderson, Waltham as a Precinct of Watertown and as a Town 1630 - 1884. Waltham Hist. Soc., 1936, page 70.
Trapelo is a neighborhood of Waltham, located near its border with Lexington.
Can we determine whether this game was played by the new Massachusetts rules or traditional local custom?
1861.6 The Clipper Looks Back on the 1861 Season
Some general points:
The War: "[D]espite the interruptions and drawbacks occasioned by the great rebellion [it] has been really a very interesting year in the annals of the game, far more than was expected . . . ; but the game has too strong a foothold in popularity to be frowned out of favor by lowering brows of 'grim-faced war,' and if any proof was needed that our national game is a fixed institution of the country, it would be found in the fact that it has flourished through such a year of adverse circumstances as those that have marked the season of 1861."
HolidayPlay: "On the 4th of July, all the club grounds were fully occupied, that day, like Thanksgiving, being a ball playing day."
Juiced Ball? On July 23, it was Eagles 32, Eckfords 23, marking the Eckfords' first loss since 1858. "The feature of the contest was the unusual number of home runs that were made on both sides, the Eckfords scoring no less than 11, of which Josh Snyder alone made four, and the Eagles getting five." 3000 to 4000 fans watched this early slugfest.
The Clipper (date omitted in scrapbook clipping) printed a long review of the 1861 season. It appeared in the issues of Jan. 11, Jan. 18, and Jan. 25, 1862.
1861.29 3rd NH Celebrates Thanksgiving in SC “In Playing Ball, Turkey Shooting”
Writing to the editor of the Manchester NH Farmer’s Cabinet, a soldier Mudsill noted that while awaiting further orders on the South Carolina island of Port Royal in November 1861, the 3rd NH observed a “regular, old-fashioned New England Thanksgiving Thursday, away down here in Dixie?” The pumpkin pies and plum pudding were missing, but “the day was passed in playing ball, turkey shooting, and in the afternoon a pole was erected and the regimental flag run up, amid a thousand cheers.” He does not further describe the ball game.
Source: “Our Army Correspondence: Letter from the N. H. Third,” Farmer’s Cabinet, December 12, 1861.. Accessed via Genealogybank subscription, 5/21/09.
1861.58 13th Massachusetts looks forward to an "exciting game"
The Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph, Nov. 23, 1861 prints a Nov. 15th letter from a soldier of the 13th MA, in Williamsport, MD: "We are to have a game of base ball on that day [Thanksgiving], between the right and left wings of the regiment, and it will be an exciting one. We also play frequently at foot-ball."
The Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph, Nov. 23, 1861
1861.63 Thanksgiving game of 25th Massachusetts
The Worcester (MA) Spy, Nov. 27, 1861, prints a letter from the 25th Massachusetts datelined Camp Hicks, Annapolis, Nov. 21, where in a Thanksgiving game, company H defeated company A 31-22. The game ended at 5 pm by mutual agreement. Gives a box score. "The game was a hard fought one, lasting three hours, and engaged in by the best players of both companies."
The Worcester (MA) Spy, Nov. 27, 1861
1861.67 Base ball at Camp Vermont
The Burlington Weekly Free Press, Dec. 19, 1861 prints a Dec. 6th letter from the 12th Vermont, at Camp Vermont, near Alexandria: After a game of foot ball on Thanksgiving, "many joined in games of base ball."
See also chronology 1862.39.
The Burlington Weekly Free Press, Dec. 19, 1861
1862.1 Brooklyn Games Organized as Benefits for Sick and Wounded Soldiers
Three games were announced in June 1862 for which net proceeds would be used for sick and wounded Union soldiers. The Eckfords and the Atlantics would play for a silver ball donated by the Continental Club. William Cammeyer provided the enclosed Union grounds without charge. Admission fees of 10 cents were projected to raise $6000 for soldiers' relief. The Eckford won the Silver Ball by winning two of three games.
"Relief for the Sick and Wounded," Brooklyn Eagle, June 21, 1862, page 2.
Craig Waff, "The 'Silver Ball' Game-- Eckfords vs. Atlantics at the Union Grounds", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 39-42
1862.14 22nd MA beats 13th NY in the Massachusetts Game
"Fast Day (at home) April 3, there was no drill, and twelve of our enlisted men challenged an equal number from the Thirteenth New York, to a game of base-ball, Massachusetts game. We beat the New-Yorkers, 34 to 10."
J. L. Parker and R. G. Carter, History of the Twenty-Second Massachusetts Infantry (The Regimental Association, Boston, 1887), pages 79-80.
Fast Day in MA was traditionally associated with ballplaying. The 22nd MA, organized in Lynnfield MA (about 15 miles N of Boston), was camped at Falmouth VA in April, as was the 13th NY. The 13th was from Rochester and would likely have known the old-fashioned game. PBall file: CW-126.
1862.19 The 39th Massachusetts Plays Ball
The regimental history of the 39th MA has two passing references to ballplaying. On Thanksgiving Day of 1862, "There was a release from the greater part of camp duties and the time thus secured was devoted to baseball, football and other diversions so easily devised by the American youth" [p. 50]. The regimental camp was in southern MD, within 15 miles of Washington. April 2, 1863 "was the regular New England Fast Day, and a holiday was proclaimed by the Colonel . . . . [T]here was no failure in taking part in the races, sparring-matches, and various games, of at least witnessing them. The baseball game was between the men of Sleeper's Battery and those selected from the 39th with the honors remaining with the Infantry, though the cannoneers were supposed to be particularly skillful in the throwing of balls." [page 64]. The regiment was now in Poolesville MD, about 30 miles NW of Washington.
Alfred S. Roe, The Thirty-Ninth Regiment. Massachusetts Volunteers 1862-1865 (Regimental Veteran Association, Worcester, 1914). Accessed 6/3/09 on Google Books via "'thirty-ninth' roe" search. PBall file: CW-26.
The regiment was drawn from the general Boston area.
1862.22 Crowd of 40,000 Said to Watch Christmas Day Game on SC Coast
"In Hilton Head, South Carolina, on Christmas Day in 1862, recalled Colonel A. G. Mills in 1923, his regiment, the 165th New York Infantry, Second Duryea's Zouaves, [engaged a?] picked nine from the other New York regiments in that vicinity.' Supposedly, the game was cheered on by a congregation of 40,000!" Mills eventually served as President of the National League and chair of the Mills Commission on the origins of baseball.
Patricia Millen, From Pastime to Passion: Baseball and the Civil War (Heritage Books, 2001), pp 21-22. Millen cites A. G. Mills, "The Evening World's Baseball Panorama." Mills Papers, Giamatti Center, Baseball HOF. The account also appears in A. Spalding, Americas' National Game (American Sports Publishing, 1911), pp 95.96. PBall file -- CW-30
Is this crowd estimate reasonable? Are other contemporary or reflective accounts available?
The crowd estimate is exaggerated. There weren't anywhere near 40,000 troops on the island at that time. [ba]
1862.39 Vermonters Play Manly Sport of Football, (and Base Ball) in Virginia
Thanksgiving in Fairfax County in northernmost VA: “At 2 o’clock, the regiment turned out on the parade ground. The colonel had procured a foot ball. Sides were arranged by the lieutenant colonel and two or three royal games of foot ball – most manly of sports, and closest in its mimicry of actual warfare – were played. . . . Many joined in games of base ball; others formed rings and watched friendly contests of the champion wrestlers of the different companies . . . . It was a “tall time” all around.”
George G. Benedict, “Letter from George Grenville Benedict, December 6, 1862,” Army Life in Virginia: Letters from the Twelfth Regiment (Free Press, Burlington, 1895), pp 80-81. Accessed 6/3/09 on Google Books via “army life in Virginia” search. Benedict, from Burlington, had been an editor and postmaster before the Civil War, and later became a state senator. The regiment appears to have been raised in the Burlington area. Submitted by Jeff Kittel, 5/12/09.
1862.63 Right and Left wings of 13th NY in Sufolk, VA
The Brooklyn Evening Star, July 9, 1862 prints a 7-5-62 letter from the 13th NY Regt. at Camp Cook, Suffolk, VA: "As soon as we got dinner settled, we got up a game of ball between the right and left wings. It was a very interesting game, and lasted all the afternoon. The Left Wing being 18 runs to 11--Company C in the left wing, of course."
This game is also reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 12, 1862. From Camp "Crook," on July 4th. See also The New York Sunday Mercury, July 13, 27, 1862 for other games of the 13th at Camp Crook.
The Brooklyn Evening Star, July 9, 1862
1862.68 Christmas Day on Hilton Head
"The New South" a union army newspaper, Dec. 27, 1862 reports on a Dec. 25th game at Hilton Head between the Van Brunt and Frazer base ball clubs. James L. Frazer was colonel of the 47th NY and George B. Van Brunt was then major of the 47th. The 47th was raised in NYC and Brooklyn.
A Charles Van Brunt had headed an early New Jersey team.
"The New South" Dec. 27, 1862
1863.49 Union Men Celebrate Thanksgiving with “Grand Game of Townball”
“During the [Thanksgiving] holiday of 1863, twenty picked men from the brigade [2nd Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac] and some of the members of the old ‘Honey Run Club’ from the Germantown, Pennsylvania area reportedly played ball.”
Patricia Millen, Passion to Pastime: Baseball and the Civil War (Heritage Books, 2001), page 24. Millen cites the New York Clipper for November 14th and November 28, 1863. The location of the game is not indicated in the book.
See also 1862.84. The Clipper of Nov. 14th indicates that the game would be town ball, played on the 25th at the parade ground of the 2nd brigade, 2nd division, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac, then stationed in VA.
1863.80 New Years Day on Hilton Head
"The New South" Jan. 3, 1863 reports a game on New Years Day among Major Van Brunt's provost guard. He was major of the 47th New York.
"The New South" Jan. 3, 1863
1870c.8 Base Ball Comes to Massachusetts Youth
"I well remember when baseball made its first appearance in our quiet little community."
 Charles Sinnott writes that in early childhood "the little boys' ball game was either "Three-old-cats" or "Four-Old Cats," and describes both variations.
 He recalls that "The game that bore the closest resemblance to our modern baseball was "roundstakes" or "rounders." In some communities it was know (sic) as "townball." He recalls this game as marked by the plugging of runners, use a soft ball, featuring stakes or stones as bases, compulsory running -- including for missed third strikes, an absence of foul territory, an absence of called strikes or balls, and teams of seven to ten players on a team. "It was originally an old English game much played in the colonies."
 In describing the new game of base ball, he recalls adjustment to the harder ball ("it seemed to us like playing with a croquet ball"), gloves only worn by the catchers, an umpire who was hit in the eye by a foul tip, fingers "knocked out of joint" by the hard ball, a bloody nose from a missed fly ball, and "that we unanimously pronounced [base ball] superior to our fine old game of roundstakes."
SEE FULL CHAPTER TEXT AT "SUPPLEMENTAL TEXT," BELOW --
Chapter 13, "The Coming of Baseball," in When Grandpa Was a Boy: Stories of My Boyhood As Told to My Children and Grandchildren, by Charles Peter Sinnott (four types pages; presumed unpublished; from the Maxwell Library Archives, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater MA).
Protoball does not know of other use of "roundstakes" as a predecessor game in the US.
Duxbury MA (1870 population about 2300) is about 35 miles south of Boston.
Sinnott died in 1943. On the date of his hundredth birthday, in August 1959, his family distributed 100 copies of his boyhood memoirs.
 Is the date "1870c" reasonable for the item? Sinnott was born in 1859, and writes that he was in his teens when he first saw base ball. His old-cat games would have come in the mid-1860s.
 It is presumed that Sinnott stayed in or near his birthplace, Duxbury MA, for the events he writes of. Is that reasonable?