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1656.1 Dutch Prohibit "Playing Ball," Cricket on Sundays in New Netherlands.
In October 1656 Director-General Peter Stuyvesant announced a stricter Sabbath Law in New Netherlands, including fine of a one pound Flemish for "playing ball," cricket, tennis, ninepins, dancing, drinking, etc.
Source: 13: Doc Hist., Volume Iv, pp.13-15, and Father Jogues' papers in NY Hist. Soc. Coll., 1857, pp. 161-229, as cited in Manual of the Reformed Church in America (Formerly Ref. Prot. Dutch Church), 1628-1902, E. T. Corwin, D.D., Fourth Edition (Reformed Church in America, New York, 1902.) Provided by John Thorn, email of 2/1/2008.
Note: It would be useful to ascertain what Dutch phrase was translated as "playing ball," and whether the phrase denotes a certain type of ballplay. The population of Manhattan at this time was about 800 [were there enough resident Englishmen to sustain cricket?], and the area was largely a fur trading post. Is it possible that the burghers imported this text from the Dutch homeland?
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?
1676.1 The "Citty of New Yorke" Sets a Fine for Sunday "Gameing or Playing: Ten Guilders
The Mayor and Aldermen of New York that none should "att any Time hereafter willfully or obstinately prophane the Sabbath daye by . . . Playinge att Cards Dice Tables or any other Vnlawful Games whatsoeuer," banning "alsoe the disorderly Assemblyes of Children In ye Streets and other Places To the disturbance of Others with Noyse." Consequences? "Ye Person or Persons soe found drinkinge Gameing or Playing Either in Priuate or Publicke Shall forfeict Tenn Guildrs for Euery such offence." Note that ballplaying was not specifically prohibited.
Dated November 13, 1676. Laws of the City of New York [Publication data?], page 27.
1761.1 Princeton Faculty [NJ] Disparages "Playing at Ball"
"A minute of the Princeton faculty of May, 1761, frowns upon students "playing at ball."
Bentley, et. al., American College Athletics [Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, New York, 1929], pages 14-15. Submitted by John Thorn, 6/6/04.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
1766.1 Cricket Balls Advertised in US by James Rivington
In 1766 "James Rivington imported battledores and shuttlecocks, cricket-balls, pillets, best racquets for tennis and fives, backgammon tables with men, boxes, and dice."
Singleton, Esther, Social New York Under the Georges [New York, 1902], page 265. [Cited by Dulles, 1940.] Caveat: Singleton does not provide a source at this location; however, from context [see pp. 91-92] her direct quotation seems likely to be taken from a contemporary Rivington advertisement. Caution: John Thorn is unable to find online evidence of cricket ball imports before 1772, per email of 2/2/2008.
1777.1 Revolutionary War Prisoner Watches Ball-Playing in NYC Area
Sabine, William H. W., ed., The New York Diary of Lieutenant Jabez Finch of the 17th (Connecticut) Regiment from August 22, 1776 to December 15, 1777 [private printing, 1954], pp. 126, 127, and 162. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 34.
1778.5 Cricket Game To Be Played at Cannon's Tavern, New York City
"The game of Cricket, to be played on Monday next, the 14th inst., at Cannon's Tavern, at Corlear's Hook. Those Gentlemen that choose to become Members of the Club, are desired to attend. The wickets to be pitched at two o'Clock"
Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: from Phelps-Stokes, Vol. VI, Index—ref. against Chronology and Chronology Addenda (Vol. 4aA or 6A); also, Vol. V, p.1068 (6/13/1778): Royal Gazette, 6/13/1778. Later, the cricket grounds were "where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground " Royal Gazette, 6/17/1780.
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1068.
Phelps Stokes cites Royal Gazette, 6/13/1778 and that a later 1780 note that the cricket grounds were "where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground" (Royal Gazette, 6/17/1780.)
1778.6 NH Loyalist Plays Ball in NY; Mentions "Wickett"
The journal of Enos Stevens, a NH man serving in British forces, mentions playing ball seven times from 1778 to 1781. Only one specifies the game played in terms we know: "in the after noon played Wickett" in March of 1781. C. K. Boulton, ed., "A Fragment of the Diary of Lieutenant Enos Stevens, Tory, 1777-1778," New England Quarterly v. 11, number 2 (June 1938), pages 384-385, per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, reference #33. Tom notes that the original journal is at the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier VT.
1779.1 Cricket Played On Grounds near NYC's Brooklyn Ferry.
August 9, 1779, match between Brooklyn and Greenwich Clubs: "A Set of Gentlemen" propose playing a cricket match this day, and every Monday during the summer season, "on the Cricket Ground near Brooklyn Ferry." The company "of any Gentleman to join the set in the exercise" is invited. A large Booth is erected for the accommodation of spectators:" New York Mercury, 8/9/1779
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1922), Volume IV, page 1092.
1780.1 NYC Press Cites Regular Monday Cricket Matches Again
A cricket match is advertised to be played on this day, and continued every Monday throughout the summer, "on the Ground where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground."
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1111, also citing New York Mercury, June 19, 1780.
Regular Monday matches had been noted in the previous summer: see Chronology entry 1779.1
1780.2 Challenges for Cricket Matches between Englishmen and Americans
On August 19, 11 New Yorkers issued this challenge: "we, in this public manner challenge the best eleven Englishmen in the City of New York to play the game of Cricket . . . for any sum they think proper to stake." On August 26, the Englishmen accepted, suggesting a stake of 100 guineas. On September 6, the news was that the match was on: "at the Jew's Burying-ground, WILL be played on Monday next . . . the Wickets to be pitched at Two O'Clock." We seem to lack a report of the outcome of this match.
Royal Gazette, August 19, 1780, page 3 column 4; August 26, 1780, page 2 column 2; and September 6, 1780, page 3 column 4.
Also cited in I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1115.
1786.1 "Baste Ball" Played at Princeton
"Baste Ball" is played by students on the campus of Princeton University in NJ. From a student's diary:
"A fine day, play baste ball in the campus but am beaten for I miss both catching and striking the ball."
Smith, John Rhea, March 22 1786, in "Journal at Nassau Hall," Princeton Library MSS, AM 12800. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 44. Also found in Gerald S. Couzens, A Baseball Album [Lippincott and Crowell, NY, 1980], page 15. Per Guschov, page 153.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
An article has appeared about Smith's journal. See Woodward, Ruth, "Journal at Nassau Hall," PULC 46 (1985), pp. 269-291, and PULC 47 (1986), pp 48-70. Note: Does this article materially supplement our appreciation of Smith's brief comment?
1787.1 Ballplaying Prohibited at Princeton - Shinny or Early Base Ball?
"It appearing that a play at present much practiced by the smaller boys . . . with balls and sticks," the faculty of Princeton University prohibits such play on account of its being dangerous as well as "low and unbecoming gentlemen students."
Quoted without apparent reference in Henderson, pp. 136-7. Sullivan, on 7/29/2005, cited Warnum L. Collins, "Princeton," page 208, per Harold Seymour's dissertation.
Wallace quotes the faculty minute [November 26, 1787] in George R. Wallace, Princeton Sketches: The Story of Nassau Hall (Putnam's Sons, New York, 1894), page 77, but he does not cite Collins. The Wallace book was accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Book search for "'princeton sketches.'" The college is in Princeton NJ.
Caveat: Collins - and Wallace -believed that the proscribed game was shinny, and Altherr makes the same judgment - see Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 35-36.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
Can we determine why this "shiny" inference was made?
1787.5 NY Newspaper Prints "Laws of the Noble Game of Cricket"
"At the request of several of our Correspondents, we insert the following Laws of the noble Game of Cricket, which govern all the celebrated Players in Europe."
Independent Journal [New York], May 19, 1787. Accessed via subscription genealogybank.com search, 4/9/09. Note: the rules do not use the term "innings," and instead employ "hands."
1789.2 New York Children's Pastimes Recalled: Old Cat, Rounders Cited
" . . . outside school hours, the boys and girls of 1789 probably had as good a time as childhood ever enjoyed. Swimming and fishing were close to every doorstep The streets, vacant lots, and nearby fields resounded with the immemorial games of old cat, rounders, hopscotch, I spy, chuck farthing and prisoner's base . . . . The Dutch influence made especially popular tick-tack, coasting, and outdoor bowling."
Monaghan, Frank, and Marvin Lowenthal, This Was New York: The Nation's Capital in 1789 (Books for Libraries Press, 1970 - originally published 1943 , Chapter 8, "The Woman's World," pages 100-101. Portions of this book are revealed on Google Books, as accessed 12/29/2007. According to the book's index, "games" were also covered on pages 80, 81, 115, 177, and 205, all of which were masked. The volume includes "hundreds of footnotes in the original draft," according to accompanying information. Caveat: We find no reference to the term "rounders" until 1828. See #1828.1 below.
1794.1 New York Cricket Club Meets "Regularly"
"By 1794 the New York Cricket Club was meeting regularly, usually at Battins Tavern at six o'clock in the evenings. Match games were played between different members of the club, wickets being pitched exactly at two o'clock." Holliman, Jennie, American Sports (1785-1835) [Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1975], page 67.
Holliman cites Wister, W. R., Some Reminiscences of Cricket in Philadelphia Before 1861, page 5, for the NYCC data.
1799.2 NY Cricket Club Schedules Match Among Members
"A number of members of the Cricket Club having met on the old ground on Saturday last, by appointment it was unanimously agreed to meet on Thursday next, at the same place, at half past 2 o'clock. Wickets will be pitched at 3 o'clock exactly."
Commercial Advertiser, June 18, 1799, page 3 column 1. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.
1801.5 Sunday Ballplaying Eyed Everywhere: "Is This a Christian Country?"
"A few weeks ago I saw on a Sunday afternoon, one party of boys playing at ball in Broad-street; another at the upper end of Pearl-street; and a third in the Park. Is this a Christian country? Are there no laws, human or divine, to enforce the religious observance of the Sabbath? . . . . Are our Magistrates asleep, or are they afraid of losing their popularity, if they should carry the laws into execution?"
New York Evening Post, December 23, 1801, submitted 10/12/2004 by John Thorn. On 8/2/2005, George Thompson spotted a similar or repeat of this piece in the Evening Post, December 31, 1801, page 3 column 2.
1803.2 Cricket Club Forms, Lasts a Year in NYC
An informal group called the "New York Cricket Club" is headquartered in New York City at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, No. 11 Nassau Street. The club flourishes for a year and then dies.
Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: The source is a Chadwick Scrapbook clip. "St. George was preceded in NYC by a club whose headquarters were at the Old Shakespeare in Nassau St.- This group was called the New York Club- it flourished for a year or so, then died." George Thompson has located an announcement of a club meeting in the Daily Advertiser, March 23, 1803, page 3 column 3, and another that appeared in the Commercial Advertiser on July 2 [page 3, column 2], July 7 [page 3, column 3], and July 8 [page 3, column 3. In early 1804, the Evening Post, February 10, [page 34 column 3] called another meeting at the same Nassau Street address. Submitted to Protoball 8/2/2005.
1805.4 Enigmatic Report: NY Gentlemen Play Game of "Bace," and Score is Gymnastics 41, Sons of Diagoras 34.
"Yesterday afternoon a contest at the game of Bace took place on "the Gymnasium," near Tylers' between the gentlemen of two different clubs for a supper and trimmings . . . . Great skill and activity it is said was displayed on both sides, but after a severe and well maintained contest, Victory, which had at times fluttered a little form one to the other, settled down on the heads of the Gymnastics, who beat the Sons of Diagoras 41 to 34."
New York Evening Post, April 13, 1805, page 3 column 1. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.
George Thompson has elaborated on this singular find at George Thompson, "An Enigmatic 1805 "Game of Bace" in New York," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 55-57.
Note: So, folks . . . was this a baserunning ball game, some version of prisoner's base (a team tag game resembling our childhood game Capture the Flag) with scoring, or what?
John Thorn [email of 2/27/2008] has supplied a facsimile of the Post report, and also found meeting announcements for the Diagoras in the Daily Advertiser for 4/11 and 4/12/1805.
David Block (see full text in Supplemental Text, below) offers his 2017 thoughts on this entry:
"My opinion on whether that game was baseball or prisoner's base has gone back and forth over the years. As of now I tend to lean 60-40 to baseball. Other than the example from Chapman that John cited, I've never come across a use of the term bace to signify either game. Even if I had it wouldn't mean much as the word "base" has been used freely over the years for both of them. The mention of a score in the 1805 article is significant. Rarely are scores indicated in any of the reports of prisoner's base (prison base, prison bars, etc.) that I've come across. Usually they just indicate one side or the other as winner."
Special credit for anyone who can add to our understanding of this item!
1808.1 Wall Streeters Are Bearish on Ballplaying "and Other Annoyances"
The minutes of the NYC Common Council record a "Petition of sundry inhabitants in Wall Street complaining against the practice of boys playing ball before the Fire Engine House adjoining the City Hall, and other annoyances . . . "
Minutes of the Common Council of the city of New York, 1784-1831, April 18, 1808, page 95 [Volume V.] Volume eighteen of manuscript minutes (continued) February 15, 1808 to June 27, 1808.
1811.3 NY Paper Carries Notice for "English Trap Ball" at a Military Ground
"At Dyde's Military Grounds. Up the Broadway, to-morrow afternoon, September 14, the game of English Trap Ball will be played, full as amusing as Crickets and the exercise not so violent:"
New York Evening Post, September 13, 1811, page 3 column 3. Submitted by George Thompson 8/2/2005.
Three days later: "The amusements at Dyde's to-morrow, Tuesday the 17th September, will be Rifle Shooting for he prize, and English Trap Ball. The gentlemen who have promised to attend to form a club to play at Trap Ball are respectfully requested to attend."
New York Evening Post, September 16, 1811, page 3 column 3. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.
And four days later, notice was made that "Trap Ball, Quoits, Cricket, &c." would be played at the ground. However, more space is now given to rifle and pistol shooting contests.
New York Evening Post, September 20, 1811, page 3 column 3. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.
1812.3 NYC Council Finds Ball Playing Among "Abounding Immoralities"
"Your Committee will not pretend to bring before the Board the long and offending catalogue of abounding immoralities . . . but point out some . . . . Among the most prevalent on the Lords Day called Sunday, are . . . Horse Riding for pleasure . . . Skating ['] Ball playing, and other Plays by Boys and Men, and even Horse-racing." Minutes of the Common Council of the city of New York, 1784-1831, March 18, 1812, page 72 [Volume VII.] Submitted by John Thorn 1/24/07
1817.3 Ball Play Banned in New York NY
"New York City outlawed ball play in the Park, Battery, and Bowling-Green in 1817."
Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 245. Altherr's citation [page 320]: "A law relative to the Park, Batery, and Bowling-Green," in Laws and Ordinances Ordained and Established by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonality of the City of New York (T. and J. Swords, New York, 1817), page 118.
1820.3 English Cricketers Play Two-Day Match Again New Yorkers
"The most outstanding cricket matches of the period were those in New York. In fact, the matches of note were played in that city. These contests took place between members of different clubs, and often the sport lasted for two days. Great was the interest if any English player happened to be present to participate in the sport. On June 16, 1820, eleven expert English players matched eleven New Yorkers at Brooklyn, the contest lasting two days." Holliman, Jennie, American Sports (1785 - 1835) [Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1975], page 68.
Holliman cites the New York Evening Post June 16, 1820. See also Lester, ed., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [U Penn, 1951], page 5. Tom Melville, The Tented Field (Bowling Green U, Bowling Green, 1998), page 7, adverts to a similar Englishmen/Americans match, giving it a date of June 1, 1820. He seems to cite The New York Evening Post of June 19, 1820, page 2 for this match, and so June 16 seems like a likelier date.
1820c.26 Octogenarian Recalls Frequency of Play, How Balls Were Made in NY
"If a base-ball were required, the boy of 1816 founded it with a bit of cork, or, if he were singularly fortunate, with some shreds of india-rubber; then it was wound with yarn frm a ravelled stocking, and some feminine member of his family covered it with patches of a soiled glove."
Charles H. Haswell, Reminiscences of An Octogenarian of the City of New York (1816 to 1860) (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1897), page 77. Accessed 2/2/10 via Google Books search (haswell octogenarian).
Haswell also reflected on Easter observances of the era. They were subdued, save for the coloring of eggs by some schoolboys. "For a few weeks during the periods of Easter and Paas, the cracking of eggs by boys supplanted marbles, kite-flying, and base-ball."
1820c.27 Columbia College (NY) Students, Locals, Play at Battery Grounds
"Of those [students] of Columbia, I write advisedly - they were not members of a boat club, base-ball, or foot-ball team. On Saturday afternoons, in the fall of the year, a few students would meet in the 'hollow' on the Battery, and play an irregular game of football . . . As this 'hollow' was the locale of base-ball, "marbles," etc., and as it has long since been obliterated, and in its existence was the favorite resort of schoolboys and all others living in the lower part of the city, it is worthy of record"
Haswell recalls the Battery grounds as "very nearly the entire area bounded by Whitehall and State Streets, the sea wall line, and a line about two hundred feet to the west; it was of an uniform grade, fully five feet below that of the street, it was nearly uniform in depth, and as regular in its boundary as a dish."
Charles Haswell, Reminiscences of an Octogenarian of the City of New York (1816 to 1860) (Harper and Brothers, New York, 1896), pages 81-82. Citation supplied by John Thorn, email of 2/3/2008. Accessed 2/4/10 via Google Books search (octogenarian 1816).
1821.5 NY Mansion Converted to Venue Suitable for Base, Cricket, Trap-Ball
In May and June 1821, an ad ran in some NY papers announcing that the Mount Vernon mansion was now open as Kensington House. It could accommodate dinners and tea parties and clubs. What's more, later versions of the ad said: "The grounds of Kensington Hose are spacious and well adapted to the playing of the noble game of cricket, base, trap-ball, quoits and other amusements; and all the apparatus necessary for the above games will be furnished to clubs and parties."
Richard Hershberger posted to 19CBB on Kensington House on 10/7/2007, having seen the ad in the June 9, 1821 New YorkGazette and General Advertiser. Richard suggested that "in this context "base is almost certainly baseball, not prisoner's base." John Thorn [email of 3/1/2008] later found a May 22, 1821 Kensington ad in the Evening Post that did not mention sports, and ads starting on June 2 that did.
Richard points out that the ad's solicitation to "clubs and parties" may indicate that some local groups were forming to play the mentioned games long before the first base ball clubs are known to have played.
June 9, 1821 New YorkGazette and General Advertiser
See also Richard Hershberger, "New York Mansion Converted -- An Early Sighting of Base Ball Clubs?,"Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 58-60.
Have we found any further indications that 1820-era establishments may have served to host regular base ball clubs?
1823.1 National Advocate Reports "Base Ball" Game in NYC
The National Advocate of April 25, 1823, page 2, column 4, states: "I was last Saturday much pleased in witnessing a company of active young men playing the manly and athletic game of 'base ball' at the (Jones') Retreat in Broadway [on the west side of Broadway between what now is Washington Place and Eighth Street]. I am informed they are an organized association, and that a very interesting game will be played on Saturday next at the above place, to commence at half past 3 o'clock, P.M. Any person fond of witnessing this game may avail himself of seeing it played with consummate skill and wonderful dexterity.... It is surprising, and to be regretted that the young men of our city do not engage more in this manual sport; it is innocent amusement, and healthy exercise, attended with but little expense, and has no demoralizing tendency."
See also 1821.5 for possible NYC ballplaying in this era.
1827.8 Lithograph Shows Ballplaying in City Hall Park, NY
John Thorn (emails of 9/1/2009) has unearthed an engraving of City Hall Park that depicts a ball game in progress in the distance. My best squint shows me pitcher, batsman, a close-in catcher, two distant fielders and three spectators (two seated). Old cat? Single-wicket cricket? Scrub base ball?
The lithograph, titled "The Park, 1827," is published as the frontispiece Valentine's Manual for the Corporation of the City of New York (1855). For a wee image, try a Google Web search of <"the park, 1827/McSpedon">.
We welcome other interpretations of the depicted ballgame.
1828.8 View of NYC Ballplayers "A Worse Menace Than Traffic"
"Let anyone visit Washington Parade, and he will find large groups of men and boys playing ball and filling the air with shouts and yells."
Evening Posteditorial no date given. This quote comes from Berger, Meyer, "In the Ball Park Every Man's a King," New YorkTimes, April 14, 1935. Submitted by John Thorn, fall 2005.
1828.11 Ballplaying Boys in NYC Perturb the Congregations in Church
A "mob of boys, constantly engaged in playing ball [so that] . . . on the Sabbath, while Congregations are in Church, there is more noise and clamour in the vicinity than on any other day [from this] squad of loungers, commencing their daily potations and smoking."
Commercial Advertiser (NY), January 28, 1828, page 2, column 4. Contributed by George Thompson, email of January 9, 2009.
1828.12 Police Nine 1, Men and Boy Sabbath-Breakers 0
It is reported that Alderman Peters of NY's Ninth Ward, "together with High Constable Hays, at the head of eight or ten of the peace Officers . . . arrest a number of men and boys for breaking the Sabbath by playing ball in a vacant lot.:
New York Evening Post, December 22, 1828, page 2, column 2: and Commercial Advertiser, December 23, 1828, page 2, columns 2-3. Contributed by George Thompson, email of January 9, 2009.
1832c.2 Two NYC Clubs Known to Play Pre-modern Base Ball
Pre-Knicks NYC, Pre-modern Rules
"The history of the present style of playing Base Ball (which of late years has been much improved) was commenced by the Knickerbocker Club in 1845. There were two other clubs in the city that had an organization that date back as far as 1832, the members of one of which mostly resided in the first ward, the lower part of the city, the other in the upper part of the city (9th and 15th wards). Both of these clubs played in the old-fashioned way of throwing the ball and striking the runner, in order to put him out. To the Knickerbocker Club we are indebted for the present improved style of playing the game, and since their organization they have ever been foremost in altering or modifying the rules when in their judgment it would tend to make the game more scientific."
John Thorn has added: The club from lower Manhattan evolves into the New York Club (see entry 1840.5) and later splits into the Knickerbockers and Gothams. The club from upper Manhattan evolves into the Washington Club (see entry 1843.2) which in turn gives way to the Gothams.
William Wood, Manual of Physical Exercises. (Harper Bros., 1867), pp. 189-90. Per John Thorn, 6/15/04. Note: Wood provides no source.
Reported in Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pages 32 and 307.
Wood was only about 13 years old in 1832, according to Fred E. Leonard, Pioneers of Modern Physical Training (Association Pres, New York, 1915), page 121. Text provided by John Thorn, 6/12/2007.
Does the lineage from Ward clubs to Knickerbockers and Gothams (but not Magnolias) stem from common membership rolls?
Is the quoted verbiage from Wood in 1867 or from John Thorn in 2007?
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.
1837.1 A Founder of the Gothams Remembers "First Ball Organization in the US"
William R. Wheaton, who would several years later help found the Knickerbockers [and write their playing rules], described how the Gothams were formed and the changes they introduced. "We had to have a good outdoor game, and as the games then in vogue didn't suit us we decided to remodel three-cornered cat and make a new game. We first organized what we called the Gotham Baseball Club. This was the first ball organization in the United States, and it was completed in 1837.
"The first step we took in making baseball was to abolish the rule of throwing the ball at the runner and ordered instead that it should be thrown to the baseman instead, who had to touch the runner before he reached the base. During the [earlier] regime of three-cornered cat there were no regular bases, but only such permanent objects as a bedded boulder or and old stump, and often the diamond looked strangely like an irregular polygon. We laid out the ground at Madison Square in the form of an accurate diamond, with home-plate and sand bags for bases."
" . . . it was found necessary to reduce the new rules to writing. This work fell to my hands, and the code I them formulated is substantially that in use today. We abandoned the old rule of putting out on the first bound and confined it to fly catching."
"The new game quickly became very popular with New Yorkers, and the numbers of clubs soon swelled beyond the fastidious notions of some of us, and we decided to withdraw and found a new organization, which we called the Knickerbocker."
See Full Text Below
Brown, Randall, "How Baseball Began, National Pastime, 24 , pp 51-54. Brown's article is based on the newly-discovered "How Baseball Began - A Member of the Gotham Club of Fifty Years Ago Tells About It, San Francisco Daily Examiner, November 27, 1887, page 14.
See also: Randall Brown, "The Evolution of the New York Game," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 81-84.
Note that while Wheaton calls his group the "first ball organization," in fact the Philadelphia club that played Philadelphia town ball had formed several years earlier.
Note: Brown knows that the unsigned article was written by Wheaton from internal evidence, such as the opening of the article, in the voice of an unnamed reporter: “An old pioneer, formerly a well-known lawyer and politician, now living in Oakland, related the following interesting history of how it originated to an EXAMINER reporter: ‘In the thirties I lived at the corner of Rutgers street and East Broadway in New York. I was admitted to the bar in ’36, and was very fond of physical exercise….’”
Wheaton wrote that the Gotham Club abandoned the bound rule . . . but if so, the Knickerbockers later re-instituted it, and it remained in effect until the 1860s.
Wheaton also recalled that the Knickerbockers at some point changed the base-running rule, which had dictated that whenever a batter "struck out" [made an out, we assume, as strikeouts came later], base-runners left the field. Under a new interpretation, runners only came in after the third out was recorded.
1837.9 Hoboken, NJ - Already a Mecca for Ballplayers
"Young men that go to Hoboken to play ball must not drink too much brandy punch. It is apt to get into their heads. Now it is a law in physics that brandy in a vacuum gets impudent and big."
New York Herald (April 26, 1837), page? Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 10/27/2008.
1837c.12 Erasmus Hall School Alum Recalls Three-Base Game with Plugging
On July 3, 2009, David Dyte posted the following account on the 19CBB listserve:
"In 1894, the Brooklyn Eagle published an article recounting the various games played by Colonel John Oakey, a former A.D.A., when he was a child growing up in Brooklyn and Flatbush [NY]. From 1837 he attended the Erasmus Hall Academy, and told this story:
'Erasmus Hall academy had a fine play ground surrounding it. Here John Oakey and his school fellows played many a game of three base ball. The boys who played were called binders, pitchers, catchers, and outers, and in order to put a boy out it was necessary to strike him with the ball. On one occasion John Oakey threw the ball from second base and put another boy out. The boy said he did not feel the ball and therefore he had not been put out. John made up his mind that the next time he caught that chap between the bases he would not say afterward that he did not feel the ball. It was only a few days after that an opportunity occurred. John let the ball go for all he was worth and caught the boy in the back. He went down in a heap, but instantly sprang to his feet and cries out, "It didn't hit me; it didn't hit me." But John Oakey and all the boys knew better. For a week after that boy had a lame back, but he would never acknowledge that the ball did it.'"
1838c.1 NY Game Reportedly Played on Long Island Well Before Knicks Formed
"Mr. Charles Bost [DeBost- LMc.] the catcher and captain of the Knickerbockers, played baseball on Long Island fifty years ago, (i.e., in 1838) and it was the same game the Knickerbockers afterward played."
As told by Knickerbocker captain Charles DeBost in 1888, covered at Henderson, p. 150, no ref given. Note: Henderson puts these words in quotation marks, but does not indicate whom he is quoting.
1838.2 St. George Cricket Club Forms in NYC
The St. George Cricket Club of New York City is formed, composed of English-born American residents. Its professional player was Sam Wright, father of baseball notables Harry and George Wright.
Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: Source is Chadwick Scrapbooks, Volume 20.
1838.10 Brooklyn's First Cricket Match?
[A] "It was in the fall of 1838 that we remember the first cricket match played in Brooklyn. The game of course, was a great novelty to the Brooklyn people of the time, except to such portion of them as wren of English birth. . . . The contestants were Nottingham men and Sheffielders." Sheffield won, 167 to 44.
[B] Ryczek's Baseball-s First Inning (page 101) calls this contest the "first widely-reported 'modern' cricket match."
"Sporting Reminiscences," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 16, 1873.
William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 101.
1839c.6 Doc Adams Enters the Field
"Adams, known to all as 'Doc,' began to play baseball in 1839. "I was always interested in athletics while in college and afterward, and soon after going to New York I began to play base ball just for exercise, with a number of other young medical men. Before that there had been a club called the New York Base Ball Club, but it had no very definite organization and did not last long. Some of the younger members of that club got together and formed the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club . . . . The players included merchants, lawyers, Union Bank clerks, insurance clerks, and others who were at liberty after 3 o'clock in the afternoon."
From John Thorn, "Doc Adams" in the SABR Biography Project. See http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=639&pid=16943, accessed 12/5/2008. The source for the quoted material, offered when Adams was 81years old, is "Dr. D. L. ADAMS; Memoirs of the Father of Base Ball; He Resides in New Haven and Retains an Interest in the Game," The Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Caveat: the year that Adams began playing is not clear. We know that he finished medical school in Boston in 1838, and he recalls that he next began to practice and that "soon after going" to NYC he began to play. [Email from John Thorn, 2/9/2008.]
1840.1 Doc Adams Plays a Ball Game in NYC He [Later] Understands to be Base Ball
D.L. Adams plays a game in New York City that he understands to be base ball, "...with a number of other young medical men. Before that there had been a club called the New York Base Ball Club, but it had no very definite organization and did not last long." The game played by Adams was the same as that played by the men who would become the Knickerbockers. The game was played with an indeterminate number of men to the side, although eight was customary.
Adams, Daniel L, "Memoirs of the Father of Base Ball," Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Per Sullivan, p.14. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 (University of Nebraska Press, 1995), pp. 13-18. Note: the Sullivan extract does not mention 1840; it there another reference that does? John Thorn - email of 12/4/2008 - suggests that the game employed a four-base configuration, not the five bases and square configuration in other games. "The polygonal field sometimes ascribed to the later pre-Knickerbocker players was the likely standard prior to 1830."
1840.5 Chadwick [Later] Reports That "The New York Club" is Organized
At a later time, Henry Chadwick, the first baseball publicist, writes . . ."New York Game originated in 1840...."
Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 161-162. No reference given.
1840.6 New NY Club Forms - Later to Reconstitute as Eagle Base Ball Club
[A] In 1840, the Eagle Ball Club of New York is organized to play an unknown game of Ball; in 1852 the club reconstitutes itself as the Eagle Base Ball Club and begins to play the New York Game.
[B] William Wood wrote that the Eagle Club "originally played in the 'old-fashioned way' of throwing the ball to the batter and at the runner in order to put him out."
[A] Eagle Base Ball Club Constitution of 1852.
[B] William Wood, Manual of Physical Exercises (Harper Bros., 1867), pp. 189-190. See Thorn weblog of 7/16/2005.
1840.10 St. George, NY Cricket Club, [Accidentally] Plays Toronto for a $250 Side Bet
"On the afternoon of August 28, 1840 eighteen members of the St. George's Club [of NY] turned up in Toronto following an exhausting journey through the state of New York by coach and across Lake Ontario by steamer. When they asked about the Toronto Cricket Club, they were told that the members of the Toronto Cricket Club had no knowledge of any such cricket match. [It turned out that an invitation had been sent as a hoax by someone.] Mr. Phillpotts himself was not around and the embarrassed officials of the Toronto Cricket Club hastily called a meeting. Following this meeting, a challenge match was organized between the two clubs for a stake of fifty pounds ($250) a side. A large number of spectators turned out and the band of the 34th Regiment entertained the gathering. His Excellency, Sir George Arthur, the Governor of Upper Canada, witnessed the match which the New Yorkers won by 10 wickets. Following this match, the St. George's Club and the Toronto Cricket Club planned a more proper encounter between the two countries at New York in 1844." From the Dreamcricket website's chronology of American cricket [accessed 10/30/2008]:
1840s.42 Town Ball Club Finds Spot in NYC For Playing
"In the early '40s a town ball club arranged to hold its games on a vacant plot across from the Harlem Railroad depot on 27th and Fourth."
Randall Brown, "How Baseball Began," The National Pastime, 2004, page 53. Brown does not give a source. Query: do we know of other references to town ball in New York? Can we find the source for this entry?
1841.14 NY State Senator Tests the Sabbath Law
NY State Senator Minthorne Tompkins, whose property opens on a lot "well calculated for a game of ball . . . has been much diverted of late with the sport of the boys, who have numbers some three hundred strong on [Sabbath Day]. . . . The Sunday officers believing it to be their duty to stop this open violation of the laws of the State, took measures to effect it, but Senator T. believing the law wrong, too measures to sustain it, and when the officers appeared on the ground Sunday fortnight, the Senator also appeared, and told the boys that he would protect them, if they would protect him. Thus they entered into an alliance offensive and defensive, and the officers, after a little brush with the honorable ex-senator, he having given his name as responsible for their deeds, left the premises in charge of the victors, they conceiving that among three hundred opponents, discretion was the greater part of valor. The ex-senator appeared at the upper police before Justice Palmer, and after a hearing, entered bail for an appearance at the Court of Sessions, to answer the offense of interfering with the duties of the officers, etc. He refused to pay the costs of suit . . . . Justice Palmer discovering that the ex-senator's lawyers, John A. Morrill and Thomas Tucker, Esqrs. were about obtaining a writ of habeas corpus, concluded to let him go without getting the costs, in order that the case might be tested before the Court of Sessions. Thus the affair stands at present, and when it comes up before trial will present a curious aspect." New York Herald, December 21,1841. Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/2/2008.
Richard adds, "Alas, a search does not turn up the resolution to this case".
1842.1 NYC Group Begins Play, Later  Will Form Knickerbocker Base Ball Club
A group of young men begin to gather in Manhattan for informal ball games. The group plays ball under an evolving set of rules from which emerges as a distinct version of baseball. In the autumn of 1845 the group will organize formally as the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City.
Peverelly, Charles A., The Book of American Pastimes [New York, 1866], p. 368. Per Henderson, p. 162, and ref 133.
Henry Chadwick later wrote: "The veteran Knickerbocker Base Ball club, of New York, was the first club to take the field as a regular organization in the Metropolitan district and the last to leave it when amateur ball playing of the genuine order disappeared from our city. Ball players of an older growth than those of the school play ground used to gather in the vacant fields existing in 1842 near Thirtieth street and Third and Fourth avenues, but it was not until 1845 that the spirit of enterprise had extended itself sufficiently among them to lead to any organization being formed calculated to legitimize the game as then played." Chadwick, Henry, "Base Ball Reminiscences," The National Daily Base Ball Gazette April 24, 1887, [second installment].
1843.2 NY's Washington Club:" Playing Base Ball Before the Knickerbockers Did?
"The honors for the place of birth of baseball are divided. Philadelphia claims that her 'town ball' was practically baseball and that it was played by the Olympic Club from 1833 to 1859. It is also claimed that the Washington Club in 1843 was the first to play the game. Certainly the New York Knickerbocker Club, founded in 1845, was the first to establish a code of rules."
Reeve, Arthur B., Beginnings of Our Great Games, Outing Magazine, April 1910, page 49, per John Thorn, 19CBB posting, 6/17/05. Reeve evidently does not provide a source for the Washington Club claim . . . nor his assertion that it had no "code of rules." John notes that Outing appeared from 1906 to 1911. Note: It would be good to have evidence on whether this club played the New York game or another variation of early base ball.
1843.6 Magnolia Ball Club Summoned to Elysian Fields Game
"NEW YORK MAGNOLIA BALL CLUB - Vive la Knickerbocker. - A meeting of the members of the above club will take place this (Thursday) afternoon, 2nd instant, at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken [NJ]. It is earnestly requested that every member will be present, willing and eager to do his duty. Play will commence precisely as one o'clock. Chowder at 4 o'clock"
Associated with this ball club is an engraved invitation to its first annual ball, which has the first depiction of men playing baseball, and shows underhand pitching and stakes for bases.
New York Herald[classified ads section], November 2, 1843. Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 11/11/2007.
For much more from John on the find, and its implications, go to http://thornpricks.blogspot.com/2007/11/really-good-find-more-magnolia-blossoms.html.
See also John Thorn, "Magnolia Ball Club Predates Knickerbocker," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 89-92.
1843.9 New York Cricket Club Forms with American Membership
The New York Cricket Club is formed on October 9, 1843. The club consists at first of American-born sporting men affiliated with William T. Porter's sporting weekly Spirit of the Times. The American-born emphasis stands in contrast to the British-oriented St. George Club.
Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: Source is "Reminiscence of a Man About Town" from The Clipper, by Paul Preston, Esq.; No. 34: The New York Cricket Club: On an evening in 1842 or '43, a meeting of the embryo organization was held at the office of The Spirit of the Times—a dozen individuals—William T. Porter elected pres., John Richards v.p., Thomas Picton Sec'y — formed as rival to St. George Club- only NY was designed to bring in Americans, not just to accommodate Britons, as St. George was. The original 12 members were affiliated with the Spirit. The first elected member: Edward Clark, a lawyer, then artist William Tylee Ranney, then Cuyp the bowler.
1844.7 English Gent in NYC Goes Off to a Ball Game
"As I went down to the office I was met by Henry Sedgwick at the corner of a street. He was hunting up some of a party who were going off in a sailing boat down the East river to play at Base ball in some of the meadows. He persuaded me to be of the party. I sld not have gone however I had not expected to see a great display of miseries and grievances. . . . [on board the boat] it 'came on rainy' and we brewed some whisky punch to whet our spirits inwardly . . . . At last we came to old Ferry point where we landed, and went in the mizzle to play at ball in the meadow, leaving our captain to cook Chowder for us."
Cayley, George J.," Diary, 1844," manuscript at the New-York Historical Society, entry for April 9, 1844, pages 138-141. Posted to 19CBB by George Thompson, 11/18/2007. George adds that the writer was an 18-year-old Englishman working in a city office, and that the game probably took place in what is now Brooklyn.
1845.4 NY and Brooklyn Sides Play Two-Game Series of "Time-Honored Game of Base:" Box Score Appears
[A] The New York Base Ball Club and the Brooklyn Base Ball Club compete at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, by uncertain rules and with eight players to the side. On October 21, New York prevailed, 24-4 in four innings (21 runs being necessary to record the victory). The two teams also played a rematch in Brooklyn, at the grounds of the Star Cricket Club on Myrtle Avenue, on October 25, and the Brooklyn club again succumbed, this time by the score of 37-19, once more in four innings. For these two contests box scores were printed in New York newspapers. There are some indications that these games may have been played by the brand new Knickerbocker rules.
[B] The first game had been announced in The New York Herald and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on October 21. The BDE announcement refers to "the New York Bass Ball Club," and predicts that the match will "attract large numbers from this and the neighboring city."
For a long-lost account of an earlier New York - Brooklyn game, see #1845.16 below.
Detailed accounts of these games are shown in supplement text, below.
[A] New York Morning News, October 22 and 25, 1845. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 11-13.
[B] Sullivan, p. 11; Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 4, number 253 (October 21, 1845), page 2, column 3
For a detailed discussion of the significance of this game, see Melvin Adelman, "The First Baseball Game, the First Newspaper References to Baseball," Journal of Sport History Volume 7, number 3 (Winter 1980), pp 132 ff.
The games are summarized in John Thorn, "The First Recorded Games-- Brooklyn vs. New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 6-7
Hoboken leans on the early use of Elysian Fields to call the town the "Birthplace of Baseball." It wasn't, but in June 2015 John Zinn wrote a thoughtful appreciation of Hoboken's role in the establishment of the game. See http://amanlypastime.blogspot.com/, essay of June 15, 2015, "Proving What Is So."
For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,” p 1 – 9: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0btLf16riTacFVEUV9CUi1UQ3c/
1845c.15 Doc Adams, Ballmaker: The Hardball Becomes Hard
Equipment, Pre-Knicks NYC
[A]The Knickerbockers developed and adopted the New York Game style of baseball in September 1845 in part to play a more dignified game that would attract adults. The removal of the "soaking" rule allowed the Knickerbockers to develop a harder baseball that was more like a cricket ball.
[B]Dr. D.L. Adams of the Knickerbocker team stated that he produced baseballs for the various teams in New York in the 1840s and until 1858, when he located a saddler who could do the job. He would produce the balls using 3 to 4 oz of rubber as a core, then winding with yarn and covering with leather.
[A]Gilbert, "The Birth of Baseball", Elysian Fields, 1995, pp. 16- 17.
[B]Dr. D.L. Adams, "Memoirs of the Father of Baseball," Sporting News, February 29, 1896. Sullivan reprints this article in Early Innings, A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908, pages 13-18.
Rob Loeffler, "The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007.
1845.16 Brooklyn 22, New York 1: The First-Ever "Modern" Interclub Match?
[A]"The Base Ball match between eight Brooklyn players, and eight players of New York, came off on Friday on the grounds of the Union Star Cricket Club. The Yorkers were singularly unfortunate in scoring but one run in their three innings. Brooklyn scored 22 and of course came off winners."
On 11/11/2008, Lee Oxford discovered identical text in a second NY newspaper, which included this detail: "After this game had been decided, a match at single wicket cricket came off between two members of the Union Star Club - Foster and Boyd. Foster scored 11 the first and 1 the second innings. Boyd came off victor by scoring 16 the first innings."
[A] New York Morning News, Oct. 13, 1845, p.2.
[B]The True Sun (New York City), Monday, October 13, 1845, page 2, column 5.
Earlier cited in Tom Melville, The Tented Field: A History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State University Press, 1998), page 168, note 38: "Though the matches played between the Brooklyn and New York clubs on 21 and 25 October 1845 are generally recognized as being the earliest games in the "modern" era, they were, in fact, preceded by an even earlier game between those two clubs on October 12." [In fact this game was played on October 11.] Thanks to Tim Johnson [email, 12/29/2008] for triggering our search for the missing game. See #1845.4 and #1845.5 above.
Richard Hershberger adds that one can not be sure that these were the same sides that played on October 21/25, noting that the Morning Post refers here just to New York "players", and not to the New York Club.
See also 1845.4 for the October 21/25 games.
What is the evidence that this game was played by the Knickerbocker rules?
1845.17 Intercity Cricket Match Begins in NY
"CRICKET MATCH. St. George's Club of this city against the Union Club of Philadelphia. The two first elevens of these clubs came together yesterday for a friendly match, on the ground of the St. George's Club, Bloomingdale Road. The result was as follows, on the first innings: St. George's 44, Union Club of Philadelphia 33 [or 63 or 83; image is indistinct]. Play will be resumed to-day."
New York Herald, October 7, 1845.
1860.71 "Bound Rule" Universal in American Baseball-- Rules Committee
Pre-Knicks NYC, Pre-modern Rules
"All the various modifications of Base Ball, which have so long been played in different parts of the country, have universally recognized the 'first bound', consequently, it is closely associated with all our boyish recollections, and is cherished with the same tenacity, and for the same reason, that the English cricketer adheres to the 'fly'."
New York Sunday Mercury, March 18, 1860. Recommendations of the NABBP Committee on Rules and Regulation to the NABBP Convention.
The Committee nonetheless recommended adopting the "fly game".