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- 1 1776.2 NJ Officer Plays Ball Throughout His Military Service
- 2 1779.2 Lieutenant Reports Playing Ball, and Playing Bandy Wicket
- 3 1835c.15 Grown Man Mourns as Trenton's Playing Fields Vanish
- 4 1845.19 Painter Depicts Some Type of Old-Fashioned Ball?
- 5 1850s.39 African-American Girl Sees Base Ball at Elysian Fields
- 6 1856.21 Trenton Club Forms for "Invigorating Amusement"
- 7 1857.12 The First Vintage Games?
- 8 1857.23 Princeton Freshmen Establish Nassau Base Ball Club
- 9 1858.16 Four Jailed for "Criminal" Sunday Play in NJ
- 10 1859.17 Club Forms at College of New Jersey
- 11 1859.28 New Yorker Dies Playing Base Ball
- 12 1859.51 Girls Play Base Ball at Eagleswood School
- 13 1865.6 Detachment Forms BB Club in Trenton
1776.2 NJ Officer Plays Ball Throughout His Military Service
Lt. Ebenezer Elmer, a New Jersey office, noted several instances of ball-playing in New York State in 1776 and in New Jersey in 1777. His initial entries cite the game of whirl, and later ones note that ball was played "again."
"Journal of Lieutenant Ebenezer Elmer, of the Third Regiment of New Jersey Troops in the Continental Service," Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society , volume 1, number 1, pp. 26, 27, 30, and 31, and volume 3, number 2, pp.98. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref # 29.
What was the game of "whirl?"
1779.2 Lieutenant Reports Playing Ball, and Playing Bandy Wicket
"Samuel Shute, a New Jersey Lieutenant, jotted down his reference to playing ball in central Pennsylvania sometime between July 9 and July 22, 1779; 'until the 22nd, the time was spent playing shinny and ball.' Incidentally, Shute distinguished among various sports, referring elsewhere in his journal to 'Bandy Wicket.' He did not confuse baseball with types of field hockey [bandy] and cricket [wicket] that the soldiers also played." Thomas Altherr.
"Journal of Lt. Samuel Shute," in Frederick Cook, ed., Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 [Books for Libraries Press, Freeport NY, reprint of the 1885 edition], p. 268. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref # 28. Also cited in 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. 194.
On bandy: Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Dover, 1964 (reprint: originally published in 1894), volume I. [Page not shone; listed games are presented alphabetically]
Shinny, Wikipedia says, denotes field hockey and ice hockey. Thus, by "ball," Shute was not referring to field hockey. If he was not denoting handball, he may have been adverting to some early form of base ball.
According to Alice B. Gomme, Bandy Wicket refers to the game of cricket, played with a bandy (a curved stick) instead of a bat.
Can we locate and inspect Shute's reference to bandy wicket?
1835c.15 Grown Man Mourns as Trenton's Playing Fields Vanish
A Trenton NJ commentator pauses to rue the destruction of a favorite old tavern, adding that in the last twenty years "[w]e have seen whole streets spring up as if by magic, The fields where we played ball are now filled with machinery."
"Local Items," Trenton State Gazette, August 16, 1853. Accessed via subscription search May 20, 2009.
1845.19 Painter Depicts Some Type of Old-Fashioned Ball?
A painting by Asher Durand [1796 - 1886] painting An Old Man's Reminiscences may include a visual recollection of a game played long before. Thomas Altherr ["A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It] describes the scene: "a silver-haired man is seated in the left side of he painting and he watches a group of pupils at play in front of a school, just having been let out for the day or for recess. Although this painting is massive, the details, without computer resolution, are a bit fuzzy. But it appears that there is a ballgame of some sort occurring. One lad seems to be hurling something and other boys are arranged around him in a pattern suspiciously like those of baseball-type games." Tom surmises that the old man is likely reflecting on his past.
Asher Durand, An Old Man's Reminiscences (1845), Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany NY. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 40. For a credit-card-sized image - even the schoolhouse is iffy - go to
http://www.albanyinstitute.org/collections/Hudson/durand.htm, as accessed 11/17/2008. Dick McBane [email iof 2/6/09] added some helpful details of Durand's life, but much remains unclear. Query: Can we learn more about Durand's - a member of the Hudson River School of landscape artists, originally hailing from New Jersey - own background and youth?
1850s.39 African-American Girl Sees Base Ball at Elysian Fields
"Along with chores and family time at home, there were excursions farther afield. Maritcha [Lyons] recalled day trips across the Hudson to the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, where people took in baseball games, had picnics, and revelled in other fresh-air activities."
Tonya Bolden, Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2005), page 12.
Maritcha Lyons was born in New York City in 1848.
1856.21 Trenton Club Forms for "Invigorating Amusement"
"BASE BALL CLUB. - A number of gentlemen of this city have formed themselves into a club for the practice of the invigorating amusement of Base Ball. Their practicing ground is on the common east of the canal. We hope that this will be succeeded by a Cricket Club."
"Base Ball Club," Trenton (NJ) State Gazette (May 26, 1856) no page provided.
Is this the first known NJ club well outside the NY metropolitan area?
1857.12 The First Vintage Games?
[A] "the first regular match" of the 'Knickerbocker Antiquarian Base Ball Club (who play the old style of the game)'" was played in Nov. 1857.
[B] In October, 1857, the Liberty Club of New Brunswick, NJ, played a group of "Old Fogies" who played "the old-fashioned base ball, which, as nearly everyone knows, is entirely different from base ball as now played."
[A] Porter's Spirit of the Times, Nov. 14, 1857, p.165.
[B] New York Clipper, Oct. 10, 1857
[A] Rules played are unknown. The score was 86-69, and three players are listed in the box score as "not out". 11 on each side.
1857.23 Princeton Freshmen Establish Nassau Base Ball Club
"In the fall of '57, a few members of the [College of New Jersey, now Princeton University] Freshmen [sic] class organized the Nassau Baseball [sic] Club to play baseball although only a few members had seen the game and fewer still had played. [A description follows of attempts to clear a playing area, a challenge being made to the Sophomores, and the selection of 15 players for each side.] After each party had played five innings, the Sophomores had beaten their antagonists by twenty-one rounds, and were declared victorious." The account goes on to report that the next spring, "baseball clubs of all descriptions were organized on the back campus and 'happiness on such occasions seemed to rule the hour.'" The account also reflects on the coming of base ball: "in seven years  a new game superseded handball in student favor - it was 'town ball' or the old Connecticut game."
Source: "Baseball at Princeton," Athletics at Princeton: A History (Presbrey Company, New York, 1901), page 66. Available on Google Books. Original sources are not provided.
Caution: The arrival of the New York style of play was still a year into the future.
Query:  "The old CT game?" Wasn't that wicket?
1858.16 Four Jailed for "Criminal" Sunday Play in NJ
"Report of the City Marshal - City Marshal Ellis reports that for the month ending yesterday, 124 persons were committed to the City Prison, charged with the following criminal offences: Drunkenness, 79; assault, 6; picking pockets, 1; vagrancy, 9; playing ball on Sunday, 4, felonious assault, 1 . . . . Nativity - Ireland, 84; England, 12; Scotland, 4; Germany, 7; United States, 16; colored, 1. Total, 124." Others were jailed for selling diseased meat, perjury, stealing, robbery, and embezzlement.
Jersey City Items," New York Times, June 1, 1858, page 8.
1859.17 Club Forms at College of New Jersey
"The Nassau Base Ball Club is organized on the Princeton campus by members of the class of 1862"
Frank Presby and James H Moffat, Athletics at Princeton (Frank Presby Co., 1901), p.67
Anachronism alert-- in 1862 Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey.
See also item #1857.23
1859.28 New Yorker Dies Playing Base Ball
"Yesterday afternoon, THOMAS WILLIS, a young man, residing at No. 46 Greenwich-street, met with a sad accident while playing ball in the Elysian Fields, Hoboken. Acting in the capacity of "fielder" he ran after the ball, which rolled into a hole about fifteen feet deep. Slipping and falling in his eagerness to obtain it, his head struck a sharp rock, which fractured his skull. Medical attendance was immediately procured, but the injury was pronounced fatal."
New York Evening Express, October 22, 1859, page 3 column 3. Posted to 19CBB on 3/1/2007 by George Thompson.
1859.51 Girls Play Base Ball at Eagleswood School
Francis Dana Gage
In 1859, the women's rights advocate and abolitionist Frances Dana Barker Gage wrote a letter from St. Louis to physician friends at the Glen Haven Water Cure in New York. She informed them of positive advancements in physical fitness for students at the Eagleswood School in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Among the games both male and female students were playing was base ball.
Gage concluded that she was planning to ask the principal at Dansville Seminary (in St. Louis?) to add baseball to its program for girls too.
"Muscle Looking Up," Austin, Harriet, N., Dr. and Jackson, James. C., Dr., eds., The Letter-Box, Vols 1 and 2, 1858-9, (Dansville, NY: M. W. Simmons, 1859), 99.
Is this the first time, as far as we know, that females played base ball by modern rules?
1865.6 Detachment Forms BB Club in Trenton
“Mr Reporter: The game of ball spoke of in the Gazette on June 5th, as between the Model School B. B. Club and the Veteran Corps, is a mistake. The players belonged to the Old Detachment N. J. Vols., and are men detached from different New Jersey Regiments in the field, and have been doing duty at Camp Perrine. The name taken for the organization is the Old Detachment Base Ball Club. W. H. Dodd, Sec’y.”
Trenton State Gazette, June 7, 1865. Accessed via Genealogybank, 5/20/09. Camp Perrine was in Trenton.