Chronology:Long Ball (European baserunning game)
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- 1 1830s.29 PA Schoolboys Recalled as Playing Town Ball and Long Ball
- 2 1831.5 "Cricket, Base, and Long Ball" Played in Worcester MA on Election Day
- 3 1847.14 Holiday Encroached by Round Ball, Long Ball, Old Cat
- 4 1847.18 Holiday Round Ball in NH
- 5 1853.20 Hartford Courant describes Long Ball
- 6 1860.88 Bloomfield CT has a Long Ball Club
1830s.29 PA Schoolboys Recalled as Playing Town Ball and Long Ball
"Here we played town ball, corner ball, sow ball and long ball. Sometimes we would jump, to see how high we could leap; then it was hop, step and jump. Once in a while we played ring, provided the girls would help, and generally they would..."
Samuel Penniman Bates, Jacob Fraise, Warner Beers, History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Containing a History of the County, its Townships, Towns, Villages, Schools, Churches, Industries, Etc; Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men; Biographies; History of Pennsylvania, Statistical and Miscellaneous Matter, etc. (Chicago: Warner, Beers and Company, 1887), page 300.
This observation is attributed to John B. Kaufman, a teacher turned surveyor in Franklin County, PA , reflecting on his childhood spent in a log school house in "50 odd years ago": Kaufman was born in 1827. Find confirmed 10/9/2014 via search of <"john b. kaufman" "long ball">
Franklin County PA is in south central PA, on the Maryland border. Its population in 1830 was about 35,000.
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.)
1847.14 Holiday 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, upon the sins of the nation -- a frightful subject enough, heaven knows. The b-hoys 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."
[A] Nashua Telegraph, as reported in New Hampshire Statesman, and State Journal (Concord, New Hampshire), April 30, 1847, column B.
[B] Nashua Telegraph, as reported (without the typos) in the Boston Currier, April 14, 1847
 Stephen Katz observes: "The "fast" referred to was probably Thanksgiving, celebrated on April 13, 1847."
 "Long Ball" also cited, is generally known as a baserunning bat-and-ball game in Europe. However, Stephen Katz (email of 2/5/2021) notes that, according to an article in the Connecticut Courant, April 23, 1853, it was locally the name of something like a fungo game: "Reader, did you ever see a bevy of boys playing what they call long ball? One stands and knocks and the others try to catch the ball, and the fortunate one gets to take the place of the knocker."
 "B-hoys?" Stephen Katz checked Wikipedia for us, and learned that "B'Hoy" was a slang word used to describe the young men "of the rough-and-tumble working class working class culture of Lower Manhattan in the later 1840's." He also pointed to various newspaper sources showing that its meaning evolved to refer generally to ruffians, or unwholesome or unsavory lads or young men.
Were Fast Day and Thanksgiving distinct holidays in 1847?
1847.18 Holiday Round Ball in NH
"Fast. This time-hallowed, if not time-honored occasion, was observed in the usual way. The ministers preached to pews exhibiting a beggarly emptiness, upon the sins of the nation -- a frightful subject enough, heaven knows. The b-hoys smoked cigars, kicked football, played round ball, long ball, and old cat, and went generally into the outward observances peculiar to the occasion. [Nashua (NH) Telegraph]."
Nashua Telegraph, as reported in the Boston Currier, April 14, 1847
Stephen Katz observes: "The "fast" referred to was probably Thanksgiving, celebrated on April 13, 1847."
"Long ball": See 1853.20.
"B-hoys": See 1847.14.
Can we determine the ages of the players?
1853.20 Hartford Courant describes Long Ball
The Connecticut Courant, April 23, 1853, has a description of Long Ball: "Reader, did you ever see a bevy of boys playing what they call 'Long Ball'? One stands and knocks and the others try to catch the ball, and the fortunate one takes the place of the knocker. Did you ever watch their eager faces as the striker was making his efforts to raise the ball -- the eyes all directed to one point -- the fever of expectation on every face -- the jumping round when the ball rises -- and the scrambling and jostling and pulling when the ball is falling -- and then the looks of envy as the winner runs off with his prize?"
The Connecticut Courant, April 23, 1853
The "knocker" was the "striker," i.e., the batter (per Stephen Katz).