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1845c.6 NY Man: "We Used to Say Come Let Us Play Ball or Base Ball"
Andrew Peck writes: "We used to say them come let us play Ball or Base Ball . . . . I used to play it at school from 1845-1850 [Peck was about 9 in 1845]. We used more of a flat bat and solid rubber ball. The balls we made ourselves [from strips of rubber overshoes - ed.] . . . . I forget now as to many points of the game, but I do remember that we used to run bases, and the opposite side to ours would try to get the ball, and you would have to be hit with it before out while running your base to get home."
John Thorn, email of 2/10/2008, reports that Peck attened school in "upper NY State.
Letter from Andrew Peck, Canada Lake, NY, to the Mills Commission, September 1, 1907.
1845c.7 Former Catcher Recalls Ballgame with Soaking and "Fugleing" in NYS
"1845 to 1849 I caught for a village nine in Ticonderoga, NY, upon a diamond shaped field having a boy on each base. The game differed from the present in that we were all umpires and privileged to soak the runner between bases.
"The ball was yarn (with rubber around the centre, large as a small English walnut), covered with fine calf-skin - dressed side out, and therefore smooth and about the size of a Spalding ball. It was a beautiful thing to handle, difficult to knock into pieces, and was thrown from the center - straight and swift to the catcher's hands, wherever they were held; over the head, or between the legs, and was called "fugleing" and barred only by mutual consent."
Letter from Albert H. Pratt to the Mills Commission, August 1905.
1845.8 Magazine Article Likens Ladies' Gait to Ballplayers' Screw Ball
Author[?], "The New Philosophy," The Knickerbocker, volume 26, November 1845 [New York], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 207 - 208. The author, unimpressed at a new tightly-laced clothing fashion that affects how women walk, says their walking "motion very much resembles that of one who, in playing 'base,' screws his ball, and the expression is among boys; or of a man rolling what is known among the players of ten pins as a 'screw ball.'" Note: presumably the baseball reference is to a pitcher's attempt to make the ball curve.
Important in its confirmation that pitchers in this baseball predecessor game were trying to retire batters, not acting as "feeders"
1856.15 Excelsior Base Ball Club Forms in Albany NY
[A] "Albany Excelsior Base Ball Club This Club was organized May 12, 1856."
[B] "The match game of Base Ball between the Empire and Excelsior Clubs, came off yesterday on the Cricket Grounds...Excelsior winning by 3."
[A] Porter's Spirit of the Times, May 23, 1857.
[B] Albany Evening Journal June 11, 1856
It appears that the Empire Club and the Athlete Club of Albany had already existed at that time. The Empire - Excelsior game cited was apparently not played according to the Knickerbocker rules.
1856.30 "Ball playing" Schoolboy Essay
A game at ball is a very nice play. The boys have a bat, and they hit a ball with it and knock it away. Sometimes the boys miss the ball, and then the catcher catches it, and they have to be out. There are two kinds of ball playing: the base ball and the cat and dog ball. When the boys play cat and dog ball, they have two bats and four boys. Two of the boys take the bats, and the other two throw the ball from one to the other past the boys who have the bats, at the same time one throws the other tries to catch him out. Nyack, Dec. 1856 T.--Dis. 4."
Rockland Co. Journal, Dec. 27, 1856
Per Richard Hershberger, "the one example of the genre I know of from anything like this early."
1857.20 Clerks Take on Clerks in Albany, Field 16-Player Teams
"An exciting match of Base Ball was played on the Washington Parade Ground, Albany, on Friday, 29th alt., between the State House Clerks and the Clerks of City Bank - sixteen on a side. The play resulted in favor of the State House boys, they making 86 runs in three innings, against 72 made by the Bank Clerks."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, vol. 40 number 14 (June 6, 1857).
Sixteen players? Three innings? Does this sound like the NY game to you?
1860.7 Excelsiors Conduct Undefeated Western NY Road Trip. . ."First Tour Ever? First $500 Player Ever?
[A] "The Excelsiors of Brooklyn leave for Albany, starting the first tour ever taken by a baseball club. They will travel 1000 miles in 10 days and play games in Albany, Troy, Buffalo, Rochester, and Newburgh."
[B] In announcing the tour, a Troy paper noted: "The Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, who have pretty well reduced base ball to a science, and who pay their pitcher [Jim Creighton] $500 a year, are making a crusade through the provinces for the purpose of winning laurels."
[C] News of the triumphant return of the Excelsiors appeared in The item started: "The Excelsior , the crack club of Brooklyn, and one of the best in the United States, returned home of Thursday of last week, after a very pleasant tour to the Western part of the State. During their trip, they played games with several [unnamed] clubs, and we believe were successful on every occasion."
[A] Baseballlibrary.com - chronology entry for 6/30/1860.
[B] "Base Ball," Troy Daily Whig Volume 26, number 8013 (Tuesday, July 3, 1860), page 3, column 5. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
[C] "Base Ball," Spirit of the Times, Volume 30, number 24 (Saturday, July 21, 1860), page 292, column 1. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
Craig Waff, "The Grand Excursion-- The Excelsiors of South Brooklyn vs. Six Upstate New York Teams", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 24-27
The New York Sunday Mercury noted on April 29 that the Excelsior were organizing a tour, and announced on June 17 that arrangements had been completed.
1860.49 Troy NY Writer: "Every Newspaper" Covers Base Ball Games, Some Showing Regrettable "Petty Meanness"
"The present season bids fair to out-rival all previous ones in respect to ball-playing every newspaper which we take up is sure to contain the particulars related to matches played or about to be played. We are glad to see that our young men, particularly those engaged in sedentary persuits [sic], are taking a lively interest in this noble game. In our opinion, nothing can serve better to invigorate both mind and body, than out door exercise. In ball-playing, every muscle is brought into play, and the intellectual capacities, very often are taxed to the utmost. But, in order that the parties may partake of the game with a lively zest, it is necessary that every branch of the game should be played in a friendly spirit. Many are the games which have been played, the beauty of which have been spoiled by the spirit of petty meanness and jealously [sic] creeping into the heart of the players. We were much pained and mortified upon a recent occasion, to see an incident of the kind alluded to, and we are confident that we speak the sentiments of many others, when we declare, that it destroyed what interest we had in the match. But this evil is not alone confined to this vicinity. It is noticeable in New York, Brooklyn, Rochester and other places and if the remonstrances of the press can have any influence towards checking the evil, we promise to perform our part in the good work."
"Local Matters: Base Ball," The Troy Daily Whig, Volume 26, number. 8009 (28 June 1860), page 3, column 4:
1864.41 Legal Pitching Deliveries
"Base Ball in Albany...The Mutual Club had a fine time in Utica...although the Utica nine had a pitcher who "bowled" the ball to the bat, he being a cricketer...by the way, bowling is fair, provided full pitched balls be sent in, as it is neither a jerk nor a throw, and what is neither one nor the other is fair pitching, according to the rules."
Brooklyn Daily eagle, Sept. 2, 1864