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1850c.35 U. of Michigan Alum Recalls Baseball, Wicket, Old-Cat Games
A member of the class of 1849 recalls college life: "Athletics were not regularly organized, nor had we any gymnasium. We played base-ball, wicket ball, two-old-cat, etc., but there was not foot-ball."
"Cricket was undoubtedly the first sport to be organized in the University, as the Palladium for 1860-61 gives the names of eight officers and twenty-five members of the "Pioneer Cricket Club," while the Regents' Report for June, 1865, shows an appropriation of $50 for a cricket ground on the campus."
The college history later explains: "The game of wicket, which was a modification of cricket, was played with a soft ball five to seven inches in diameter, and with two wickets (mere laths or light boards) laid upon posts about four inches high and some forty feet apart. The 'outs' tried to bowl them down, and the 'ins' to defend them with curved broad-ended bats. It was necessary to run between the wickets at each strike."
Wilfred Shaw, The University of Michigan (Harcourt Brace, New York, 1920), pp 234-235. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("wilfred shaw" michigan).
The dates of wicket play are not given.
1850c.51 A Form of Cricket
"Until the advent of 'hard' baseball in the late 1850s, boys in Kalamazoo 'played a form of cricket with a big soft ball as large as a modern football, but round and made at home of twine and leather and owled over a level field to knock down wickets less than its own height from the ground.'"
Peter Morris, But Didn't We Have Fun?i (Ivan R Dee, 2008), p.16, quoting the Kalamazoo Telegraph, Dec. 10, 1901.
1854.17 Pre-modern Base Ball in Michigan
"A single tantalizing glimpse survives of a baseball club in Michigan before 1857. In 1897, the Detroit Free Press observed:
'It may be of interest to lovers of the sport to know where the first club was organized in the state of Michigan. Birmingham claims that distinction. Forty-three years ago, nine young men, ages ranging from 20 to 30 years, decided that it would be a good thing to have a baseball club and by practice to become able to play that fascinating game, not for gate receipts and grand stand money, but for fun, pure and simple. Accordingly, they practiced and, representing the town of Bloomfield, challenged the adjoining township of Troy to a trial of skill. The two teams lined up in front of the National hotel . . . one bright spring day at shortly after 12 o'clock, and the first game began. It was played for a supper of ham and eggs, the losing side to pay for same. Bloomfield won by a score of 100 to 60. The game was not finished until after 5 o'clock in the evening. The ball played with was a soft one, weighing four ounces. Old time rules of course governed the game, one of them being that a base runner could be put out if hit by a thrown ball anywhere between the bases. Many men were put out this way.
'Elated by their victory, the young men of Bloomfield decided to organize a baseball team, the constitution and by-laws were drafted and adopted and every Saturday a certain number of hours were devoted to practice. That summer the team won many games. . . .
'In those days the team that first scored a hundred tallies (generally marked on a stick with a jack-knife, opposite edges used for the two clubs) carried off the honors of the day.'"
Detroit Free Press, April 19, 1897, per Peter Morris. Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan (U of Michigan Press, ), pp 15-16.
The use of "tallies" for runs was common for the form of base ball played in Massachusetts, and winning by scoring 100 runs was to be encoded in in the Massachusetts Game rules of 1858.
Bloomfield MI is about 5 miles NW of Birmingham MI, which is about 15 miles NW of Detroit. Troy MI is about 7 miles E of Bloomfield.
1857.8 First Western club, the Franklin Club, forms in Detroit
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 14. [No ref given.]
Morris, Peter, Baseball Fever: Early Baseball in Michigan [University of Michigan Press, 2003], pp.22-28
1858c.44 Wolverines and Wicket
"Wicket was then about our only outdoor sport - and it was a good one, too - and I remembered that we challenged the whole University to a match game."
Lyster Miller O'Brien, "The Class of 1858," University of Michigan, 1858-1913 (Holden, 1913), page 52. Accessed in snippet view via Google Books search ("match game" wicket).