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- 1 -700c.1 First Known Written Depiction of Ball Play?
- 2 1749.2 Aging Prince Spends "Several Hours" Playing Bass-Ball in Surrey
- 3 1750s.3 1857 Writer Reportedly Dates New England Game of "Base" to 1750s
- 4 1800c.11 “Sky-ball”, “Cat and Ball” Remembered in Southern PA
- 5 1809.1 Americans in London Play "A Game Called Ball," Seen as a "Novelty" By Locals
- 6 1810s.9 19th Century Glossarist Describes "Bat and Ball" Rules
- 7 1828.1 Boy's Own Book [London] Describes "Rounders," Stoolball, Feeder
- 8 1828.17 Man Recalls July 4th Game Sixty Years Earlier
- 9 1828.19 Game of Base Mentioned in Account of Life at Harvard
- 10 1830c.30 "Old Boys" Play Throwback Game to 100 Tallies in Ohio
- 11 1830c.33 The Balk Rule Existed Before the 1845 Knick Rules?
- 12 1830s.34 1883 Account Reflects on Details of "Town Ball" Played Decades Earlier in PA
- 13 1831.1 A Ball Club Forms in Philadelphia; It Later Adopts Base Ball, and Lasts to 1887
- 14 1832c.2 Two NYC Clubs Known to Play Pre-modern Base Ball -- Use the Plugging of Runners
- 15 1832.10 Doc Adams' Sister Writes of Bat and Ball Play
- 16 1836c.11 Recollections of a Jersey City Boy -- And A Different Rule for Plugging
- 17 1836c.12 Game With Plugging of Runners Later Recalled in Jersey City
- 18 1837.6 Olympic Ball Club Constitution Requires Umpires
- 19 1839.1 Graves Letters of 1905 Say that Doubleday Invented Base Ball
- 20 1840.38 Boston-Style "Bat and Ball" Seen in Honolulu HI
- 21 1840s.46 The Balk -- From the Knicks, Prior US Games, or Abroad?
- 22 1841.11 Scottish Dictionary Calls "Cat and Dog" a Game for Three
- 23 1842.13 Cricket and Bass Long Played in Pittsfield MA
- 24 1844.17 Hilarious "Base Ball" and "Two Old Cat" Recalled by Chicagoan
- 25 1845c.6 NY Man: "We Used to Say Come Let Us Play Ball or Base Ball"
- 26 1845c.7 Former Catcher Recalls Ballgame with Soaking and "Fugleing" in NYS
- 27 1845.30 Base Ball and Bagpipes and Whisky on the Fourth!
- 28 1846.14 English Crew Teaches Rounders to Baltic Islanders
- 29 1847.14 Holiday Encroached by Round Ball, Long Ball, Old Cat
- 30 1847.18 Holiday Round Ball in NH
- 31 1848.18 Litchfield CT Bests Wolcottville in Wicket
- 32 1849c.4 A. G. Mills and Boyhood Friend Recall "Base Ball" at a Brooklyn School
- 33 1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
- 34 1850.52 Game of Wicket Near Springfield Goes Bad
- 35 1850s.55 Round Ball, Played Near Boston, As Recalled in 1870s Celebrations
- 36 1850c.56 Roundball Recalled in Maine
- 37 1850s.57 "Antiquated Base Ball Club" Plays Throwback Game in Newark
- 38 1850s.58 In Paterson NJ, Old Fashioned Game Played After Civil War
- 39 1850s.59 The Antiquarian Knicks -- Purveyors of "The Greatest Game of Base Ball Ever Played"
- 40 1852.16 Two Wicket Groups Vie in Litchfield CT
- 41 1853.19 Boston Clubs Play for Ten Boxes of Cigars
- 42 1854.23 Ah, Spring! Base-ball! Wicket! Gould! (Gould?)
- 43 1855c.10 "New Game" of Wicket Played in HI
- 44 1855.37 Barre Club Challenge to Six Nearby MA Towns -- $100 Grand Prize Planned
- 45 1855.43 In Boston, Olympic Beats Elm Tree, 75-46
- 46 1855.45 Unitarians' Christian Register Defends Base Ball on Fast Day
- 47 1856.10 French Work Describes Poisoned Ball and La Balle au Baton
- 48 1856.15 Excelsior Base Ball Club Forms in Albany NY
- 49 1856.17 Letter to "Spirit" Describes Roundball in New England
- 50 1856.34 A Three-Inning Game of Wicket at Great Barrington
- 51 1856.35 Future Star Dickey Pearce Discovers the Decade-old No-Plugging Rule
- 52 1856.36 Variant Schoolboy Ballgames Described North of NYC
- 53 1857.12 The First Vintage Games?
- 54 1857.20 Clerks Take on Clerks in Albany, Field 16-Player Teams
- 55 1857.45 Sharon MA Victory in Boston Seen As State Championship
- 56 1859.4 Base Ball Club Forms in Augusta GA: Town Ball Also Reported
- 57 1859.47 Buffalo base ball club sticks to "old-fashioned" game
- 58 1860.32 Milwaukee Press Not Unanimous About the "Miserable" New York Rules
- 59 1860.71 "Bound Rule" Universal in American Baseball-- Rules Committee
- 60 1860s.86 Ballplaying Remembered in Dedham Massachusetts
- 61 1860.92 "Old Fashioned Game" Reported, and Disparaged, in Milwaukee
- 62 1862.55 They Do It Differently in Philadelphia
- 63 1866.5 Modern Game Compared to Traditional Town Ball in IL
- 64 1866.9 New England Association Forms , Intends to "Ignore the New York Game"
- 65 1866.10 Throwback Game of Cat-and-Dog Seen in Pittsburgh
- 66 1867.16 Baseball's Resemblance to English Rounders Discussed
- 67 1867.25 The End for the Massachusetts Game?
- 68 1870c.8 Base Ball Comes to Massachusetts Youth
- 69 1874.2 Tennessee Visitor Lauds Local "Base-ball, Shinny, Baste Grounds"
-700c.1 First Known Written Depiction of Ball Play?
[A] "There is a famous scene in the Odyssey where a princess named Nausicaa goes down to the river bank with her attending maidens to wash come clothes. As their garments are drying in the sun, and while Ulysses is sleeping nearby in the bushes, the women engage in a game of ball. For eons, writers have cited this scene as the earliest literary reference to humans playing with a ball."
[B] ". . . Nausicaa/ With other virgins, did at stool-ball play;/ . . ./ The Queene now (for the upstroke) strooke the ball/Quite wide of the other maids; and made it fall/Amidst the whirlpooles. At which, out shriekt all;/And with the shrieke, did wise Ulysses wake."
[A] David Block, Pastime Lost (U Nebraska Press, 2019), pp 53-54. See also pp 55-56.
[B] George Chapman (translator), The Whole Works of Homer, (London, 1606), p. 89.
Note: For one recent review of knowledge of very early ball play by humans, see John Fox, The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game (Harper, 2012), pp. 30-47.
The date of the Odyssey, given here as circa 700 BCE, is not even generally agreed to by scholars. Don't take it literally; it is presented only because formatted chronology listings need to place an entry somewhere, or otherwise omit them entirely
See also chronology entry 1788.3 for a later translation that uses "baste ball" instead of stool-ball as the game played by the women.
Non-written depictions of ball play also exist in various ancient art forms.
Some writers see the Odyssey verse as describing a game resembling dodgeball.
1749.2 Aging Prince Spends "Several Hours" Playing Bass-Ball in Surrey
Lord Middlesex, Prince of Wales
"On Tuesday last, his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Lord Middlesex, played at Bass-Ball (sic), at Walton in Surry (sic); notwithstanding the Weather was extreme bad, they continued playing several Hours."
Whitehall Evening Post, September 19. 1749.
David Block's 2013 find was reported at the SABR.org website on 6/19/2103, and it includes interview videos and links to related documentation. Confirmed 6/19/2013 as yielding to a web search of <block royal baseball sabr>.
Block points out that this very early reference to base-ball indicates that the game was played by adults -- the Prince was 38 years old in 1749, further weakening the view that English base-ball was played mainly by juveniles in its early history.
The location of the game was Walton-on-Thames in Surrey.
Comparing the 1749 game with modern baseball, Block estimates that the bass-ball was likely played on a smaller scale, with a much softer ball, with batted ball propelled the players' hands, not with a bat, and that runners could be put out by being "plugged" (hit with a thrown ball) between bases.
Only two players were named for this account. Was that because the Prince and Lord Middlesex both led clubs not worthy of mentioning by name, or was there a two-player version of the game then (in the 1800s competitive games of cricket were similarly reported with only two named players)?
1750s.3 1857 Writer Reportedly Dates New England Game of "Base" to 1750s
"Dear Spirit: . . .
"I shall state [here] that which has come under my observation, and also some of my friends, during the last four years of the ball-playing mania . . .
Base ball cannot date back to so far as [cricket], but the game has no doubt, been played in this country for at least one century. Could we only invoke the spirit of some departed veteran of he game, how many items of interest might we be able to place before the reader.
"New England, we believe, has always been the play-ground for our favorite game; and the boys of the various villages still play by the same rules their fathers did before them. We also find that many games are played, differing but little from the well-known game of Base.
" . . . Although I am a resident of State of New York, I hope to do her no wrong by thinking that the New England States were, and are, the ball grounds of this country, and that many of our present players were originally from those States.
"The game of Base, as played there, was as follows: They would take the bat, 'hand over hand,' as the present time, 'whole hand or none.' After the sides were chosen, the bases would be placed so as to form a square, each base about twenty yards from the other. The striker would stand between the first and fourth base, equi-distant from each. The catcher was always expected to take the ball without a bound and it was always thrown by a player who would stand between the second and third bases. A good catcher would take the ball before the bat cold strike it. A hand was out if a man was running the bases should be struck with the ball which was thrown at him while he was running. He was allowed either a pace or a jump to the base which he was striving to reach; or if a ball was caught flying or on first bound. There was no rule to govern the striker as to the direction he should knock the ball, and of course no such thing as foul balls. The whole side had to be put out, and if the last man could strike a ball a sufficient distance to make all the bases, he could take in one of the men who had been put out. The ball was not quite the same as the one in present use, and varied very much in size and weight, it also was softer and more springy.
"The bats were square, flat, or round -- some preferring a flat bat, and striking with it so that th4 edge, or small side, would come in contact with the ball. Another arrangement of bases is, to have the first about two yards from the striker (on this right), the second about fifty down the field, and the third, or home, about five. . . .
"Yours, respectfully, X"
Base Ball Correspondence," Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 3, number 8 (October 24, 1857), page 117, column 2. The full text of the October 20 letter from "X" is on the VBBA website, as of 2008, at:
The writer present no evidence as to the earliest dates of known play.
The game described by "X" resembles the MA game as it was to be codified a year later except: [a] "a good catcher would frequently take the ball before the bat cold strike it," [b] the runner "was allowed either a pace or jump to the base which he was striving t reach," [c] the bound rule was in effect, [d] all-out-side-out innings were used, [e] the ball was "softer and more spongy" than 1850's ball, [f] the bats were square, flat, or round," and [g] there was a second field layout, with three bases. [This variation reminds one of cricket, wicket, and "long town or "long-town-ball, except for the impressive 150-foot distance to the second base]."
Can we interpret the baserunning rule allowing "a pace or jump to the base [the runner] was striving to reach?" Plugging didn't count if the runner was close to the next base," perhaps?
1800c.11 “Sky-ball”, “Cat and Ball” Remembered in Southern PA
“On this very spot I hit the ball against the gable; just there I often stuck the lever which sent the ball aloft in ‘sky-ball’; down yonder we played cat and ball . . .”
[A man in his 70's remembers ballgames played in his youth in south central PA]
D. X. Junkin, The Reverend George Junkin, DD, LLD: A Historical Biography (Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1871), page 538.
"It seems to me that sky-ball was a trapball-type game." -- Tom Altherr, 2.19.2021
A gable is an end-wall of a structure. Tom suggests that the first game reported may have been barn ball.
Any idea what 'cat and ball' might have been? In February 2021 Protoball does not find that phrase. It is conceivable that the author misheard his father's use of "bat and ball" as "cat and ball."
1809.1 Americans in London Play "A Game Called Ball," Seen as a "Novelty" By Locals
"On Wednesday a match for 80 guineas, at a game called Ball. was played by Eight American Gentlemen, in a field on the side of the Commercial-road. The novelty of the game attracted the attention of the passing multitude, who departed highly gratified."
Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser (London), June 23, 1809, page 2. See David Block, Pastime Lost: The Humble, Original, and Now Completely Forgotten Game of English Baseball (University of Nebraska Press, 2019), page 237.
Block adds: "Other games besides baseball, of course, could haave borne the label Ball on that occasion, but none seem obvious. Cricket, football, trsp-ball, stool-ball, golf, and various games in the hockey family ,including bandy, hurling, and shinty,all had a presence in the British Isles in that era, but there is no reason the passing multitude in London that day would have considered any of them a "novelty."
Does the sum of 80 guineas as the game's stakes imply anything about the players?
1810s.9 19th Century Glossarist Describes "Bat and Ball" Rules
When Alfred Elwyn composed his 1859 glossary entry for “ball,” his example was “bat and ball” played in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he was born in 1804.
“The one we call ‘bat and ball’ may be an imperfect form of cricket, though we played this [cricket] in the same or nearly the same manner as in England, which would make it probable that the ‘bat and ball’ was a game of Yankee invention” (p.18).
“[S]ides were chosen, not limited to any particular number, though seldom more than six or eight. . . .The individual . . . first chosen, of the side that was in, took the bat position at a certain assigned spot. One of his adversaries stood at a given distance in front of him to throw the ball, and another behind him to throw back the ball if it were not struck, or to catch it. . . . After the ball was struck, the striker was to run; stones were placed some thirty or forty feet apart, in a circle, and he was to touch each one of them, till he got back to the front from which he started. If the ball was caught by any of the opposite party who were in the field, or if not caught, was thrown at and hit the boy who was trying to get back to his starting place, their party was in; and the boy who caught the ball, or hit his opponent, took the bat. A good deal of fun and excitement consisted in the ball not having been struck to a sufficient distance to admit of the striker running round before the ball was in the hands of his adversaries. If his successor struck it, he must run, and take his chance, evading the ball as well as he could by falling down or dodging it. While at the goals he could not be touched; only in the intervals between them.” (p.19)
Alfred L. Elwyn, Glossary of Supposed Americanisms (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1859), pp. 18-20.
Using stones for bases fits Carver’s 1834 description of “base or goal ball.” Elwyn also specifies that an inning was “one out, side out,” a feature of the Massachusetts game later codified in 1858. And, of course, that old New England favorite, “soaking.”
Do we have any way to tell the ages of the participants in the recalled game?
1828.1 Boy's Own Book [London] Describes "Rounders," Stoolball, Feeder
The Boy's Own Book is published in London and contains a set of rules for "stool-ball," [p. 26], "trap, bat, and ball," [p. 27], "northern-spell," [p. 28], "rounders," [p.28], and "feeder" [p. 29]. The rounders entry states: "this is a favorite game with bat and ball, especially in the west of England." The entry for feeder, in its entirety: "This game is played with three bases only, and a player takes the place of feeder, who remains so until he puts one of the other players out, by catching his ball or striking him while running from base to base, as at Rounders; the one who is put out taking the place of feeder to the others, and thus the game goes on. There are no sides at this game." The entry for northern spell describes a game without running or fielding, in which the object is to hit the ball farthest - "this pastime possesses but little variety, and is by no means so amusing to the bystanders as Trapball."
Altherr uses a reference to an 1829 US version: The Boy's Own Book [Munroe and Francis, Boston, 1829], pp. 18-19, per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 65. David Block, page 192-193, describes the wide popularity of this text in England and the US, running through many editions through the 1880s, and also identifies this book as Henderson's key evidence in his refutation of the Doubleday theory of baseball's origin 11 years later.
Clarke, W., Boy's Own Book (London, Vizetelly Branston), 1828: second edition. This book is reportedly still available (Appleton Books, 1996), according to Tim Wiles at the Giamatti Research Library. Note:
Tom Altherr uses a reference to an 1829 US version: The Boy's Own Book (Munroe and Francis, Boston, 1829), pp. 18-19, per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, (Nebraska, 2005), pp. 229ff.
 David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 192-193, describes the wide popularity of this text in England and the US, running through many editions through the 1880s, and also identifies this book as Robert Henderson's key evidence in his refutation of the Doubleday theory of baseball's origins 11 years later.
 In 2021 Protoball asked David Block why the Boy's Own Book had not mentioned English base ball among ballplaying versions as late as 1828:
"English Baseball was omitted because it was an under-the-radar game even back then. It was largely unknown in London and thus largely unknown to Clark and, apparently, to anyone else who may have helped him write The Boy’s Own Book."
(Email from David Block, 9/21/21)
1828.17 Man Recalls July 4th Game Sixty Years Earlier
In May 1888, a Boston Globe story reflected the recollection of a game played on July 4, 1828 between the Typhoons and the Hurricanes. A man recalls that at age 20 he played short stop that day.
Boston Globe, May 29, 1888, page 5. (Text not secured as of September 2018.)
As of 2018, we do not know the location, game type, or rules for this game.
It is interesting that the man identified his position as short stop, perhaps indicating that predecessor baserunning games in New England had already developed skill positions' decades before the Knickerbocker club formed.
Can someone help us obtain the text of this newspaper piece?
1828.19 Game of Base Mentioned in Account of Life at Harvard
The Harvard Register, Feb. 1828; from an article entitled “Life in College.”
"There are some other features of college life we fain would sketch but our pen confesses its weakness in the attempt. Would we could call upon the Engine to give out a history of the
exertions of those who managed it in days of yore; or that we could contrive to make the Delta yield up a narrative of the sports it has witnessed. It could tell , before it took its
present gallows appearance, of Cricket - Base - and Foot ball; it could tell how many pedal members began the game with white, unspotted skins, but limped off at its conclusion
tinged with variegated hues.”
The Harvard Register, Feb. 1828; from an article entitled “Life in College.”
"Pedal members"? A pretty good Harvard friend of Protoball can't explain this term.
1830c.30 "Old Boys" Play Throwback Game to 100 Tallies in Ohio
Ball Playing -- Old Boys at it!
Base-ball was a favorite game of the early settlers at the gatherings which brought men and boys together -- such as raisings, bees, elections, trainings, Fourth of Julys, etc., etc., and we are glad to see that the manly sport is still in vogue, at least in 'benighted Ashtabula.' We learn by the Sentinel that a matched game came off at Jefferson on the 4th, fourteen selected players on each side, chosen by Judge Dann and Squire Warren. The party winning the first hundred scores was to be the victor. Judge Dann's side won the game by eleven scores. The Sentinel says:
There were thirteen innings without a tally. [This suggests that, at least by 1859, this game used one-out-side-out innings.] The highest number of scores was made by James R. Giddings, a young chap of sixty-four, who led the field, having made a tally as often as the club came to his hand. The game excited great interest, and was witnessed by a large number of spectators. The supper was prepared by 'our host' at the Jefferson House.
Note: Protoball's PrePro data base shows another reference to a group, including Giddings, playing this predecessor game in Jefferson; see http://protoball.org/In_Jefferson_OH_in_July_1859.
Cleveland [Ohio] Daily Leader, Saturday July 9, 1859, First Edition.
See clipping at http://www.newspapers.com/clip/2414996/18590709_cleveland/.
We have assigned this to a date of ca. 1830 on the basis that players in their sixties seem to have played this (same) game as young adults. Comments welcome on this assumption. Were the southern shores of Lake Erie settled by Europeans at that date?
Ashtabula (1850 population: 821 souls) is about 55 miles NE of Cleveland OH and a few miles from Lake Erie. The town of Jefferson OH is about 8 miles inland [S] of Ashtabula.
"The Sentinel" is presumably the Ashtabula Sentinel.
Further commentary on the site and date of this remembered game are welcome.
Was the Ashtabula area well-settled by 1830?
1830c.33 The Balk Rule Existed Before the 1845 Knick Rules?
"A Balk is a Base."--Any one having a remembrance of the ball games of his youth must recollect that in the game of base, if the tosser made a balk to entice the individual making the round from his post, the latter had the right to walk to the next base unscathed. Pity it is that the Hudson folks engaged in the late political movement in Columbia County did not remember that "a balk is a base" in the games of children of a larger growth." (Note: This led into a lengthy diatribe on local politics that I did not attempt to make sense of. - David Block)
Rondout Freeman , June 5, 1847:
"Here is another early example of baseball terminology being used to illustrate a non-sports topic."The text appeared in the June 5, 1847 issue of the Roundout Freeman (Roundout was a Hudson River community that has since been swallowed by the town of Kingston)."I had always supposed that the balk rule was introduced by the crafters of the New York game, but this passage suggests it began to be practiced at some earlier time."-- David Block, 11/12/2010"I wrote in my book [R. Hershberger. Strike Four, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019, page 37] that the balk rule seemed to be novel to the 1845 Knickerbocker rules. Evidently not. While this is two years later, it also is from [nearly] a hundred miles away in Kingston, NY, and presented as a homespun saying from the writer's youth." -- Richard Hershberger, 19CBB posting, 12/9/2020
Added Local color: "Rondout has been since 1870, an unincorporated hamlet within the city of Kingston (where I lived for decade; it was called "Rondout" because of its adjoining Roundout Creek, which fed into the Hudson River). The Rondout Freeman in its first incarnation may have indeed lasted till 1847 (founded 1845):https://www.loc.gov/item/sn86071034/.
"Hudson is a large city about 25 miles north of Kingston, on the other side of the Hudson River, in Columbia County. Today a bridge connects my hometown of Catskill (west bank) with Hudson (east bank). Taghkanic is the proper spelling of the tribe for whom today is named the Taconic Parkway." - John Thorn, email of 12/10/2020.
Is a balk rule known in cricket or English Base Ball? Or in any pre-1845 baserunning game?
Protoball welcomes further comment on the possible origin of the balk rule.
1830s.34 1883 Account Reflects on Details of "Town Ball" Played Decades Earlier in PA
"Old Town Ball: Reminiscences of the Game by a Very Old Boy.
"I deem it probable that a description of the the game called 'Town Ball' fifty years ago, from which base ball of the present originated, will prove interesting to your readers. I propose to give it to them as it comes back to me through the mental mist of half a century."
As described, the old game used:
 at least four players on a side, but the average team size was about eight.
 a flipped paddle to determine first ups.
 four bases, called "corners" and set about 50 feet apart
 home was called "the holes."
 the pitching distance was 30 feet.
 the batting "paddle" was about two feet long and 4 inches wide, wielded with one or two hands
 the ball was 2 inches in diameter, made of cork and rubber strips, wrapped yarn and then in a buckskin cover.
 there was a balk rule, and fast pitching was disallowed.
 There was a bound rule, and plugging. Innings were all-out-side-out
 A Lazarus rule allowed a side to earn a new inning if its last batter hit three straight homers
Players came from "Pipe Town, Hog Town, Scotch Hill, the Point and Bayard's Town. Sligo and Allegheny" were often foes.
Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, May 2, 1883
Some portions of this image were indistinct, and some areas were clipped off.
Richard Hershberger: "A hole was definitely a feature of very early baseball (and very early cricket, too). I expect this is a vestige of that practice, which had disappeared in most American baseball. It is the use of "holes" equating these with "home plate" that I wonder about. Were there more than one hole at home?
Note: Willughby, writing around 1650, describes a baserunning game (hornebillets) that used holes instead of bases, and that is similar to the old-cat game. See Hornebillets.
1831.1 A Ball Club Forms in Philadelphia; It Later Adopts Base Ball, and Lasts to 1887
The Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia unites with a group of ball players based in Camden, NJ
Orem writes: "An association of Town Ball players began playing at Camden, New Jersey on Market Street in the Spring of 1831."
Orem says, without citing a source, that "On the first day but four players appeared, so the game was "Cat Ball," called in some parts of New England at the time "Two Old Cat." Later accounts report that the club formed in 1833, although J. M. Ward  also dated the formation of the club to 1831.
Orem notes that "so great was the prejudice of the general public against the game at the time that the players were frequently censured by their friends for indulging in such a childish amusement."
* * *
In January 2017, Richard Hershberger reported (19CBB posting) that after more than five decades, the club disbanded in 1887 -- see Supplemental Text, below.
The Olympic Club played Town Ball until it switched to modern base ball in 1860. See Chronology entry 1860.64.
* * *
For a reconstruction of the rules of Philadelphia town ball, see Hershberger, below. Games were played under the term "town ball" in Cincinnati as well as Philadelphia and a number of southern locations (for an unedited map of 23 locations with references to town ball, conduct an Enhanced Search for <town ball>.
* * *
The club is credited with several firsts in American baserunning games:
 1833: first game played between two established clubs -- see Chronology entry 1833c.12.
 1837: first team to play in uniforms -- see Chronology entry 1837.14.
 1969: First interracial game -- See Chronology entry 1869.3.
* * *
[Orem, Preston D., Baseball (1845-1881) From the Newspaper Accounts(self-published, Altadena CA, 1961), page 4.]
Constitution of the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia [private printing, 1838]. Parts reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 5-8.
Richard Hershberger, "A Reconstruction of Philadelphia Town Ball," Base Ball, Volume 1 number 2 (Fall 2007), pp. 28-43. Online as of 2017 at:
For a little more on the game of town ball, see http://protoball.org/Town_Ball.
The "firsts" tentatively listed above are for the US play of baserunning games other than cricket. Further analysis is needed to confirm or disconfirm its elements.
Protoball would welcome an analysis of the US history of town ball and its variants.
It seems plausible that town ball was being played years earlier in the Philadelphia. Newspaper accounts refer to cricket "and other ball games" being played locally as as early as 1822. See Chronology entry 1822.3.
Is it accurate to call this a "town ball" club? When was it formed? Dean Sullivan dates it to 1837, while J. M. Ward [Ward's Base Ball Book, page 18] sets 1831 as the date of formation. The constitution was revised in 1837, but the Olympic Club merged with the Camden Town ball Club in 1833, and that event is regarded as the formation date of the Olympics. The story of the Olympics is covered in "Sporting Gossip," by "the Critic" in an unidentified photocopy found at the Giamatti Research Center at the HOF. What appears to be a continuation of this article is also at the HOF. It is "Evolution of Baseball from 1833 Up to the Present Time," by Horace S. Fogel, and appeared in The Philadelphia Daily Evening Telegraph, March 22-23, 1908.
2 Are we certain that the "firsts" listed in this entry predate the initial appearance of the indicated innovations in American cricket?
1832c.2 Two NYC Clubs Known to Play Pre-modern Base Ball -- Use the Plugging of Runners
[A] "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."
[B] 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 these two clubs to the Knickerbockers and Gothams (but not Magnolias) stem from common membership rolls?
Can we find additional sources on the two 1832 clubs? Do we have any notion of Wood's possible sources?
1832.10 Doc Adams' Sister Writes of Bat and Ball Play
In a June 1832 letter to her 17-year-old brother at Amherst, the 10-year-old Nancy Ann Adams wrote, "I felt very lonesome after you and the rest were gone. I have not played with your bat and ball as you bid me."
Her brother is Daniel Lucius "Doc" Adams, who was to become a key member of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club about eight years later.
Letter, Nancy A. Adams to D. L. Adams, 7/15/1832, from Mount Vernon NH.
John Thorn notes: "The game that the future Doc Adams played with these objects is not known."
"A game called "bat and ball" is known to have been played in NH, and her wording echoes that name.
"Even a hint that a girl would be tempted to take up a bat and ball is notable in US ballplaying history."
1836c.11 Recollections of a Jersey City Boy -- And A Different Rule for Plugging
From John Thorne, July 28, 2015:
"This just in from Ben Zimmer, a Facebook friend who writes for the Wall
Street Journal. Important, I think.
'You might be interested in another early baseball example -- it's from the Jersey Journal from Jersey City (where I live!), written in 1871 but recalling a protoball club of the 1830s:'
"While here let me say to the Champion Base Ball Club, for their information, that in eighteen hundred and thirty-six and seven we had a base ball club that could not be beaten. It was composed of such men as Jerry O'Meara, Peter Bentley, J.C. Morgan, Jos. G. Edge, &c. I acted as the spare pitcher to the first nine. In those days the game was played by throwing the ball at the man running the bases, and whoever was hit was out. if he could not jump to the base from where he was hit. I would rather get hit by any member of the club than by Bentley, for he was a south-paw or left-hander, and he used to strike and throw an unmerciful ball."
"Recollections of a Jersey City Boy, No. 3.," Jersey City Evening Journal, Dec. 13, 1871, p. 1, col. 3
John Zinn: It feels to me that the author is conflating a number of different things (his role, for example) into a club that played in the late 1830's. However even if he is off by 10 years, a club of some kind in the late 1840's would be something new and, as John Thorn suggests, important.
Peter Bentley later became the town's mayor.
John Zinn: The article in question is the third in a series that appeared in the Evening Journal late in 1871. I've been able to find the first two (it's not clear if there were any more) and this is the only reference to base ball.
John Zinn, "Base Ball Before the Knickerbockers", October 1, 2015: "[I]nformation provided in the articles about the author's life and activities was so specific as to positively identify him as Stephen Quaife, an English immigrant, whose family moved to Jersey City in 1827 when he was only one. Identifying Quaife, however, immediately ruled out his claim of having "acted as the spare pitcher on the first nine," since he was only about 10 at the time. Quaife's name did, however, ring a vague bell and a look at Jersey City's first base ball clubs finds him listed as a pitcher in a box score of a July 11, 1855 inter squad game of the Pioneer Club, founded that June. Clearly Quaife was conflating his own brief base ball career with whatever he knew or thought he knew about another club 20 years earlier.
"This 1871 account of a club some 35 years earlier has the same problem as other descriptions of pre-New York games in New Jersey, they are all retrospective, none come from contemporary sources. . . .
"There is, however, some further evidence of pre-New York base ball in Jersey City. The July 12, 1855 Jersey City Daily Telegraph article describing the game Quaife did play in, clearly states there were 11 on a side and that five games were played in one day . . ."
"Quaife's account further supports the idea that young men in New Jersey were in the field with bats and balls well before the state's first clubs were formed in 1855."
1836c.12 Game With Plugging of Runners Later Recalled in Jersey City
"While here let me say to the Champion Base Ball Club, for their information, that in eighteen hundred and thirty-six and seven we had a base ball club that could not be beaten. It was composed of such men as Jerry O'Meara, Peter Bentley, J. C. Morgan, Jos. G. Edge, &c. I acted as a spare pitcher for the first nine. In those days the game was played by throwing the ball at the man running the bases, and whoever got hit was out, if he could not jump to the bases from where he was hit. I would rather get hit by any other member of the club than by Bentley, for he was a south-paw or left-hander, and he used to strike and throw an unmerciful ball. The ball ground was a portion of the time Nevins and Townsend's block, in front of St. Matthew's Church . . . . "
Jersey Journal, December 13, 1871, page 1, column 3 -- "Recollections of a Jersey City Boy, No. 3."
There is considerable uncertainty as to the dating of this item at c1836..
John Zinn further researched the players named in the 1871 account, and wrote on 7/28/2015: "It feels to me that the author [whom John identifies as John W. Pangborn] is conflating a number of different things (his role, for example) into a club that played in the late 1830's. However even if he is off by 10 years, a club of some kind in the late 1840's would be something new and, as John [Thorn] suggests, important." John Zinn also reported 7/28/2015 that Bentley was 31 years old in 1836, and that Edge was 22; John W. Pangborn, the suspected 1871 author, was born in 1825 so was only 12 in 1837.
Further commenting on the credibility of this 1871 account, Richard Hershberger [19cbb posting, 7/28/2015] adds: "Going from general trends of the day, the [1871 author's] use of the word "club" is very likely anachronistic. Organized clubs playing baseball were extremely rare before the 1840s in New York and the 1850s everywhere else. On the other hand, informal play was common, and local competition between loosely organized groups is well attested. My guess is that this was some variant or other. As for plugging, its mention increases the credibility of the account. Even as early as 1871, plugging was being forgotten in the haze of the past. Old-timers describing the game of their youth therefore routinely mentioned plugging as a distinctive feature. So putting this together, this looks to me like a guy reminiscing about quasi-organized (at most) play of his youth, using the anachronistic vocabulary of a "club."
If dated correctly, this find would seems to be a very early use of "south-paw" to denote a left-hander, although it is not explicitly claimed that the term had been used in 1836. One source (Dickson. Baseball Dictionary, 3rd ed., page 791) indicates that the first use of "south-paw" in a base ball context was in 1858, although a 2015 web search reveals that the term itself dates back to 1813.
1837.6 Olympic Ball Club Constitution Requires Umpires
The constitution does not shed light on the nature of the game played. Membership was restricted to those above the age of twenty-one. One day per month was set for practice "Club day". Note: Sullivan dates the constitution at 1837, but notes that it was printed in 1838.
The constitution specifies that the club recorder shall act as "umpire", to settle disputes.
Constitution of the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia [Philadelphia, John Clark], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.
Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 5-8.
1839.1 Graves Letters of 1905 Say that Doubleday Invented Base Ball
[A] Abner Doubleday, who was to become a Civil War notable, is much later (1905) said to have "invented" baseball at Cooperstown, New York, according to the findings of the Mills Commission (1905-1907), a group of baseball magnates appointed by the American and National League Presidents to investigate the origins of baseball. The Commission bases its findings almost entirely on letters received from Abner Graves, a resident of Cooperstown in his childhood. The Commission's findings are soon discredited by historians who proclaim the "Doubleday Invention" to be entirely a myth.
The Doubleday game, according to Graves' offerings, retained the plugging of runners, eleven players per team, and flat bats that were four inches wide. Graves sees the main improvement of the Doubleday game that it limited the size of teams, while town ball permitted "twenty to fifty boys in the field."
Graves believed that Abner Doubleday was 16 or 17 years old when he saw him lay out his improved game [in fact, Doubleday was 20 in 1839, and at West Point]. Graves himself declined to fix a year to the Doubleday plan, suggesting that it might have occurred in 1839, 1840, or 1841. In choosing 1839, the Commission rested its story on the memory of a boy who was then 5 years old.
[B] Mark Pestana provides a scenario of this game, which he considers more likely to have taken place in 1840.
[C] As Pestana does, Hugh MacDougall wonders if Graves was confusing (General) Abner Doubleday with his younger cousin, Abner D. Doubleday, who was closer to Graves' age and was in Cooperstown at the time.
[A] Three Letters from Abner Graves -- two letters to the Mills Commission, April 3, 1905 and November 17, 1905 and one of unknown details. To read them, go here.
[B] Mark Pestana, "The Legendary Doubleday Game", Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 3-5
[C] Hugh MacDougall, Abner Graves: The Man who Brought Baseball to Cooperstown, 2011.
1840.38 Boston-Style "Bat and Ball" Seen in Honolulu HI
"Sports in Honolulu. One evidence of the increasing civilization in this place, and not the least gratifying, is to see the ardor with which the native youth of both sexes engage in the same old games which used to warm our blood not long since. There's good old bat and ball, just the same as when was ran from the school house to the 'Common' to exercise our skill that way; and then there is something which looks much like 'quorum,' and 'tag' too . . . ."
Polynesian, December 26, 1840. Posted to the 19CBB listserve by George Thompson January 3, 2010. Accessed via subscription search May 4, 2009. George sees the column as likely written by the newspaper's editor, James Jarves, who was born in Boston in 1818.
1840s.46 The Balk -- From the Knicks, Prior US Games, or Abroad?
[A] " 'A Balk is a Base' --Any one having a remembrance of the ball games of his youth, must recollect that in the game of base if the tosser made a balk to entice the individual make the round from his post, the latter had the right to walk to the next base unscathed. Pity it is that the Hudson folks engages in the late political movement n Columbia County did not remember that 'a balk is a base' in the children of a larger growth. When the frequent and flagrant outrages of the Taghkanic Anti Renters had apparently aroused the people of Columbia County to a true sense of their position and duty every friend of good order rejoiced."
[B] The ball is “dead,” to the extent of putting a player out, when either a “ball” or a “baulk” is called. The rule is the same as in cricket. For instance, a “no ball” in cricket can be hit by the batsman, and he can score a run on it, but if the ball be caught it is not considered an out. So in base ball when a baulk is called, and the striker chances to hit the ball and it be caught, he is not out, and he can take his base on it on the grounds of his being “a player running the bases,” which he is when he hits a ball that is not foul. The ball, though “dead” as regards putting a player out, is not “dead” so as to prevent the striker counting what he is entitled to count under the rule
[A]"A Balk is a Base," Roundout Freeman, June 5, 1847 (volume II, issue 46), page 2. [Brad Shaw, email to Protoball 1/26/2017]
[B] New York Clipper, Saturday, September 8, 1866. See https://protoball.org/Clipping:Interpreting_the_dead_ball_on_a_ball_or_a_balk;_the_rule_the_same_as_in_cricket
Dating this item as "1840s" is speculative, and turns on the ages of the Freeman Arguments for an alternative dating are welcome.
Is it obvious why a balk is in some way considered comparable to a "flagrant outrage?"
Was the balk known in earlier baserunning games in England, or elsewhere?
Do histories of cricket shed further light on the origin, nature, or rationale for, automatic batter-runner advances despite catches of balls hit when a "no ball" has been called?
Do we often see early rule variants for players of different ages?
1841.11 Scottish Dictionary Calls "Cat and Dog" a Game for Three
In cat-and-dog, two holes are cut at a distance of thirteen yards. At each hole stands a player with a club, called a "dog." [. . . ] His object is to keep the cat out of the hole. "If the cat be struck, he who strikes it changes places with the person who holds the other club, and as often as the positions are changed one is counted as won in the game by the two who hold the clubs.
Jamieson, Scotch Dictionary (Edinburgh, 1841). As cited in A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 4.Detail provided by John Thorn, email of 2/10/2008.
Note that this is not described as a team game. A winner is that player who most frequently puts a ball into a goal.
Does Jamieson describe other ballgames?
1842.13 Cricket and Bass Long Played in Pittsfield MA
[excerpt comes in a discussion of Pittsfield MA] --
"It is a forest tree one of the old aboriginal growth when the town was settled, and in the mind of every native citizen, is
associated with all the sunny hours and fairy visions of childhood. Beneath it the boys play their games of cricket and
bass, and have played them an hundred years; the swain whispers there his soft tale to the ruddy cheeked lass he loves;
the school-girls circle round it, in their soft-toned merriment."
Sketches of New England, John Carver, (New York, 1842.)
1844.17 Hilarious "Base Ball" and "Two Old Cat" Recalled by Chicagoan
Gale's "Reminiscences of Early Chicago and Vicinity" (1902) pp. 213-214 talks about his school days in 1844: "in the immediate vicinity of the school we could indulge in a game of 'two old cat' or in the hilarious sport of 'base ball.' We had no regulation balls or clubs, or even rules." Goes on the describe how the students made balls and bats.
This was at Bennett's school, in modern downtown at the southwest corner of State and Madison.
Gale's "Reminiscences of Early Chicago and Vicinity" (1902) pp. 213-214
This information is also listed at http://protoball.org/In_Chicago_in_1844undefined
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.
1845.30 Base Ball and Bagpipes and Whisky on the Fourth!
1846.14 English Crew Teaches Rounders to Baltic Islanders
"In 1846 a three-master . . . from London stranded on the island. . . . The captain spent the winter with the local minister, and the sailors with the peasants. According to information given by a man named Matts Bisa, the visitors taught the men of Runö a new batting game. As the cry "runders" shows, his game was the English rounders, a predecessor of baseball. It was made part of the old cult game."
This game was conserved on the island, at least until 1949.
Erwin Mehl, "A Batting Game on the Island of Runö," Western Folklore vol 8, number 3, (1949?), page 268.
Ruhnu Island (formerly cited as "Runo") is a small island off the northern coast of Estonia. Its current population about 100 souls. It was formerly occupied by Swedes.
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?
1848.18 Litchfield CT Bests Wolcottville in Wicket
"THOSE GAMES OF WICKET --
which Wolcottville challenged Litchfield to play, came off on our green, last Saturday afternoon; 25 players on a side; . . .
[Scoring report shows Litchfield winning over three innings, 232 to 150.]
"This is the first effort to revive "BANTAM," since the Bat and Ball, were buried (literally buried,) 10 years ago, after two severe floggings, by this same Wolcottville."
Litchfield Republican, July 6, 1848, page 2.
Litchfield CT (1850 pop. about 3,950) is about 30 miles W of Hartford. Wolcottville is evidently the original name of Torrington CT, which reports a population of about 1900 in 1850. Torrington is about 5 miles NE of Litchfield.
1849c.4 A. G. Mills and Boyhood Friend Recall "Base Ball" at a Brooklyn School
A. G. Mills and schoolmate W. S. Cogswell exchanged letters, 55 years later, on the plugging game they called "base ball" as youths.
Mills to Cogswell 1/10/1905: "Among the vivid recollections of my early life at Union Hall Academy [of Jamaica, Long Island, NY] is a game of ball in which I played, where the boys of the side at bat were put out by being hit with the ball. My recollection is that we had first base near the batsman's position; the second base was a tree at some distance, and the third base was the home base, also near the batsman's position."
Cogswell to Mills 1/19/1905: "My recollection of the game of Base Ball, as we played it for years at Union Hall, say from 1849 to 1856, is quite clear. "
"You are quite right about the three bases, their location and the third base being home.
"The batsman in making a hit went to the first base, unless the ball was caught either on a fly or on first bound. In running the bases he was out by being touched or hit with the ball while further from any base than he could jump. The bases were not manned, the ball being thrown at a runner while trying for a base. The striker was not obliged to strike till he thought he had a good ball, but was out the first time he missed the ball when striking, and it was caught by the catcher either on the fly or on the first bound. There was no limit to the number of players and a side was not out till all the players had been disposed of. If the last player could make three home runs that put the side back in again. When there were but few players there was a rule against 'Screwing,' i.e., making strikes that would be called 'foul.' We used flat bats, and it was considered quite an art to be able to "screw" well, as that sent the ball away from the bases."
More details, from John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011; pp 27-28), are seen below in the supplemental text below.
A. G. Mills letter to Colonel Wm S. Cogswell, January 10, 1905, and Wm. S. Cogswell letter to A. G. Mills, January 19, 1905. From the Mills Collection, Giamatti Center, HOF. Thanks to Jeremy LeBlanc for information on Union Hall Academy (email, 9/23/2007).
Note: This exchange and its significance are treated in John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Shuster, 2011), page 27.
John Thorn notes that in 1905 Mills was beginning to gather evidence for use in his famous "Mills Commission" report on base ball's beginnings. (Email of 1/4/2016).
John suggests that the Union Hall game may be the game that William R. Wheaton, another Union Hall student, called "three cornered cat" in his 1887 recollections of base ball's origin (email, 1/4/2016). The game of Corner Ball is known from the 1830s to about 1860, but is usually seen as a form of dodge ball played mostly by youths, and lacking batting and baserunning. Is it possible that Corner Ball morphed, retaining its essential plugging but adding batting and base advancement, by the time it was played in the Brooklyn school? Was this a transitional form in base ball's lineage? See also http://protoball.org/Three-Cornered_Cat and http://protoball.org/Corner_Ball.
As of January 2016, no other usages of "three-cornered cat" are known.
1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
"Yorkshire: Now only played by boys, but half a century ago [1850's] by Adults on Ash Wednesday, believing that unless they did so they would fall sick in harvest time. This is a very ancient game, and was elsewhere called stool-ball. [West Yorkshire]. Shropshire: Tut-ball; as played at a young ladies school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. (See also 1850c.34). The players stood together in their 'den,'behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out', and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of three brick-bats, called 'tuts' . . . . The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so she took her place in the den and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical with rounders."
Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (Henry Frowd, London, 1905), page 277. Part or all of this entry appears to credit Burne's Folklore (1883) as its source.
Note: This describes a scrub form of tutball/rounders. It suggests that all hitting was forward, thus in effect using a foul line, as would make sense with a single fielder.
The claim that tutball and stoolball used the same rules is surprising; stoolball is fairly uniformly described as having but two bases or stools, and using a bat.
1850.52 Game of Wicket Near Springfield Goes Bad
GAME OF WICKET BALL --
"The Granville ball players challenged the Westfield players, recently, to a game of ball. The challenge was accepted, and the game came off, on Saturday last, about one mile this side of East Granville. They were to have thirty men on a side, the best in five to be declared victorious, and the defeated party to pay the suppers for all. The following is the tally:
[Each club won two games, and the fifth game was listed as Westfield 112, Granville 25 . . . with only ten Granville players evidently on the field....]
"On the fourth [fifth?] game, the Granville players made but a few rounds, and becoming disheartened, declined to finish the game, and refused, also, to pay for the suppers. Great excitement ensured, and we are sorry to learn that some personal collision was he consequence. Several blows were exchanged. There was great excitement during the day, there being from 600 to 800 people upon he ground. The Westfield players, not to lose their supper, paid for it themselves, and went home."
Springfield Republican, July 23, 1850
In the game account, runs are termed "crosses." In the text they are called "rounds."
Granville is about 15 miles SW of Springfield, and Westfield is about 10 miles E of Springfield.
1850s.55 Round Ball, Played Near Boston, As Recalled in 1870s Celebrations
[A] "I was very much pleased to witness that old-fashioned game of ball played on the Fair grounds at Milford last week Tuesday afternoon. . . . It was certainly a lively game, interspersed with wit, humor, and a general good feeling."
Full text, including a 36-line poem, is in Supplementary Text, below.
[B] 1878 – "Round Ball Game. This game came off as advertised on the Town Park last Thursday afternoon. Below is the score for the respective sides:" [Box score shows Milford 25, Independents 12.]
[A] J. H. Cunnabel, Milford (MA) Journal, September 22, 1875.
[B] Milford Journal ,August 14, 1878
We have dated this entry as reflecting 1850s play of round ball. This dating is highly uncertain. One of the named participants (John Puffer), is identified by Joanne Hulbert as a participant in Holliston MA ballplaying in the 1850s.
1850c.56 Roundball Recalled in Maine
Before modern base ball arrived around 1865, local boys played (in addition to "three-year-old cat" and barnball, the game of Roundball):
""The infield was not a diamond, but a parallelogram of varying proportions with the 'gools,' or bases, at the four corners as in Baseball, but the striker or batter stood midway between the first and fourth base, running three and a half bases in place of four bases as in Baseball. In Roundball a runner was put out between bases by being 'plunked' or 'spotted' by a ball thrown by a rival player. The ball was such as could be made from yarn raveled from a cast-off stocking, sometimes with a large bullet at the center to give it weight for long throws, and was covered with calf-skin begged from the family shoemaker."
Percival J. Parris, "Oxford County Baseball in 1865," Norway Advertiser Democrat, April 13, 1945. Cited in Peter Morris, "Pennesseewassees of Norway, Maine," Baseball Pioneers (McFarland, 2012), page 9.
Our dating of this reflection as c1850 is arbitrary. Parris writes only the the (unnamed) game was known before game the modern game arrived in 1864-65. This reflection was reported in 1945 -- 95 years after 1850, when Parris himself was in his mid-90s'
The game described bears at least a superficial resemblance to the Massachusetts Game, whose rules were to be codified in MA in 1858..
Norway ME is about 50 miles north of Portland ME. Its population in 1850 was about 1950 souls.
As of November, this entry contains one of three Protoball items that cite "gools" as a nme of bases in an early baserunning game.
1850s.57 "Antiquated Base Ball Club" Plays Throwback Game in Newark
"The 'Knickerbocker Antiquated Base Ball Club' played a match on Wednesday afternoon on the South Park, in the presence of a large number of spectators. W. H. Whittemore's side scored 86 to 69 scored by Jos. Trawin's side. The game was for an oyster dinner, which the defeated party provided."
Newark Daily Advertiser, November 6, 1857; see John Zinn's A Manly Pastime blog for 9/17/2014 at https://amanlypastime.blogspot.com/2014/09/reconstructing-early-new-jersey-base.html
The period when this old fashioned game -- and the others described in A Manly Pastime was actually played in the celebrated past is not known. We have listed "1850s" here for the dates of play merely in order to secure a place for the facts in our chronology.
John Zinn, 2014: "Witnessing part of a Philadelphia town ball match renewed my interest in the game or games played in New Jersey before 1855, especially what it would have been like to play in such a game. Town ball was the name for the Philadelphia game and other non-New York games, but there's no evidence the name was used in New Jersey. Many years later, "old style," "old fashioned," and even "antiquarian" were the popular descriptive adjectives for bat and ball games the participants claimed were different from "modern" base ball. Since, however there are no contemporary sources of information about those games, there is no way to know for certain whether they were called town ball , base ball or something else. More importantly, the lack of contemporary accounts forces any attempt at reconstruction to rely on newspaper descriptions, years later, of re-creations of early games, not unlike trying to understand the New York game solely by watching vintage base ball."
Note: John's reflections on this game, and other 1860's reports of OFBB in Newark and Paterson NJ are carried in Supplemental Text, below. They are from a 2014 blog entry cited above.
1850s.58 In Paterson NJ, Old Fashioned Game Played After Civil War
"An interesting game of old fashioned base ball was played on Saturday, at the Red Woods, between the Finishing and Blacksmith Shops of Grant's Locomotive Works, which resulted in a victory for the Finishing Shop. The following is the score" [Box Score reflects 49-40 score in 9 innings, teams of 11 players, and a game time of 2h30m.]
Paterson Daily Press, August 20, 1867. This and three other 1867 finds are reported in John Zinn's A Manly Pastime baseball blog of 10/2/2014.
The dates that these games were originally seen are not reported. We have assigned them to "the 1850s," but they may have been played before that.
"The Summer of Old-Fashioned Base Ball
1850s.59 The Antiquarian Knicks -- Purveyors of "The Greatest Game of Base Ball Ever Played"
"Ye Knickers at Ye Bat and Ye Ball -- The Greatest Game of Base Ball Ever Played."
[Headline for the report on a throwback game played in 1873 by a group, known as the Antiquarian Knickerbockers, that yearly reminded fans how base ball had looked before the modern game came to New Jersey.]
Newark Evening Journal, May 30, 1873. See also John Zinn's summary of the club at http://amanlypastime.blogspot.com/2012/05/antiquarian-knickerbockers.html
This item is assigned a dating of "1850s," but we lack data on when the club first played, and conceivably it reflected rules in place locally before that.
John Zinn, in his base ball blog at A Manly Pastime, has summarized what we know about the club in his entry for May 16, 2012. His overview is shown in the Supplemental Text, below.
1852.16 Two Wicket Groups Vie in Litchfield CT
"That Game of Wicket,
Between the two Branches of Bantam Players (the Factory and Up-Town Branches,) came off on the Public Green in this Village, on Saturday last, with the following result"
[In three innings, the score was Factory Branch 141, Up Town Branch 111.]
Litchfield Republican, July 8, 1852, page 2.
What were "bantam players?" Does the term suggest the ages of the players?
1853.19 Boston Clubs Play for Ten Boxes of Cigars
"The Aurora Ball Club and Olympic Ball Club will play best 3 in 5 games at Base ball on Tremont street mall on Friday next at half past 5 o'clock for 10 boxes of Havana Cigars. The public are invited to be present. A sufficient force will be in attendance to prevent confusion." [Full Item]
Boston Herald, September 7, 1853;
Boston Herald, September 18, 1854; Boston Daily Bee, July 30 and September 10, 1853.
The rules for this match are not known.
Protoball suggests that this game was played by early Mass Game rules, based on the use of the best-of-five format, but this is mere speculation.
Four years later, the Olympic Club's written rules show similarity to the Dedham rules for the Massachusetts Game that appeared in 1858.
Best-of-three and best-of-five formats are later seen in matches in MA and upstate NY; the "best-of" format may have been common in the game or games that evolved into the Mass Game.
2021 Note: earlier, we had asked, "Do we know any more about the Aurora Club?"
On 10.6/2021, the ever-vigilant Richard Hershberger wrote:
Was a form of unpleasant "confusion" anticipated? Like what? Did the "sufficient force" imply that constables might be present to prevent a rumble?
Was this game given other newspaper coverage?
What do we know about where the "Tremont Street Mall" was? Was it not on Boston Common?
1854.23 Ah, Spring! Base-ball! Wicket! Gould! (Gould?)
"Go out into the glorious sunlight, little children, into the free warm air. Frolic and play, roll your hoops, and jump your rope, little girl, and throw the ball, and run races and play gould [sic] and base-ball, and over the house, and wicket, little boys. Be happy, and merry, and lively, and jolly, little children. Call back to your cheek the red flush of health and beauty. Be not afraid of the sunlight, though it darken the whiteness of your brow. Let the south wind play upon your cheek, though it brings a freckle upon your bright young face. A little while, and you can go out into the fields, and wander over the meadows and along the pleasant brooks, culling the wild flowers, and hearing the glad songs of the spring birds, as they sport among the branches of the trees above you. The glorious Spring Time is Come. There will be no more bleak storms, no more chill snows, no more cold north winds. The winter is over and gone. The time of glad blossoms and sweet flowers, and green leaves, is at hand."
Daily Commercial Register (Sandusky, Ohio) April 27, 1854, quoting the Albany Register.
From Brian Turner, 11/3/2020, on the nature of "gould":
"As best I can tell based on examples I've put together for an article I'm doing for Base Ball, "gould" (AKA "gool") are regional pronunciations of "goal." The region in which those terms occur includes western Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, mostly in rural communities where (I surmise) old-time game names may have survived into the 19th century. Peter Morris has identified two instances associated with Norway, Maine, where "gool" is used as synonymous with "base" as late as the 1860s, but when one of those the incidents was recalled in the 1870s, it's clear that the use struck the lads of Bowdoin attending the game as risible. The use of "goal" for "base" is consistent with Robin Carver's 1834 inclusion of the term in The Book of Sports. One must be cautious about anointing every use of "goal" or "gool" or goold" as synonymous with base and therefore "base ball," since, like base by itself, goal can be used to describe other sorts of games. By itself, "base" can refer to Prisoner's Base, a running game that seems to resemble tag. So too "goal" by itself.
Is it fair to suppose that the Register was published in Albany NY? There was a paper there of that name in the 1850s (per internet search of 11/2/2020).
Is wicket play by little boys known?
1855c.10 "New Game" of Wicket Played in HI
[A] "In 1855 the new game of wicket was introduced at Punahou [School] and for a few years was the leading athletic game on the campus. . . . [The] fiercely contested games drew many spectators from among the young ladies and aroused no common interest among the friends of the school."
[B] "One game they all enjoyed was wicket, often watched by small Mary Burbank. Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a large rounder end. It was a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to the ground."
 Through further digging, John Thorn suggests the migration of wicket to Hawaii through the Hawaii-born missionary Henry Obookiah. At age 17, Obookiah traveled to New Haven and was educated in the area. He may well have been exposed to wicket there. He died in 1818, but not before helping organize a ministry [Episcopalian?] in Hawaii that began in 1820.
See also John Thorn's 2016 recap in the supplementary text, below.
[A] J. S. Emerson, "Personal Reminiscences of S. C. Armstrong," The Southern Workman Volume 36, number 6 (June 1907), pages 337-338. Accessed 2/12/10 via Google Books search ("punahou school" workman 1907). Punahou School, formerly Oahu College, is in Honolulu.
[B] Ethel M.Damon M. , Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii [Pacific Books, Palo Alto, 1957], page 41.
[C] John's source is the pamphlet Hawaiian Oddities, by Mike Jay [R. D. Seal, Seattle, ca 1960]. [Personal communication, 7/26/04.]
Damon added: "Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a larger rounder end.t was a a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to thee ground."
1855.37 Barre Club Challenge to Six Nearby MA Towns -- $100 Grand Prize Planned
"August 11, 1855 -- Barre. The Gazette says the Barre boys will challenge their neighbors in he towns surrounding, to play a [at?] round ball.
"The Barre boys either have or are about to extend a challenge to one of the other of the adjoining towns for a grand game of round, of [or?] base ball, the victors to throw the glove to one of the other towns, and so on, till it is settled, which one of the seven shall be victor over the other six. A grand prize of one hundred dollars, more or less, to be raised, by general contributions and awarded to the party which shall be finally successful. The six surrounding and adjoining towns are Hardwick, Dana, Petersham, Hubbardstown, Oakham, and New Braintree. The seventh is Barre, which is in the centre, and equidistant from them all."
Barre MA (1855 pop. about 3000) is about 60 miles W of Boston. Hardwick, Hubbardstown, Oakham, New Braintree and Petersham are 8-10 miles from Barre. Poor Dana MA was disincorporated in 1938.
Do we know if this plan was carried out? How was the victor decided among participating towns?
1855.43 In Boston, Olympic Beats Elm Tree, 75-46
"BAT AND BALL -- The Olympic was challenged by the Elm Tree Club, at a game of ball to be played on the Common, which was accepted and played this morning, on the grounds of the Elm Tree Club. The game was fixed at 75, and was promptly won by the Olympics, the opposite side getting only 46 tallies. Each club had 25 rounds."
Boston Traveler, May 31, 1855.
The item title of "Bat and Ball" is interesting. This term is believed to be the name of a distinct baserunning game in the area in earlier times. Note also the use of "rounds" instead of "innings."
As of 10/21/2014, this is the only known contemporary ref to the Elm Tree club of Boston.
1855.45 Unitarians' Christian Register Defends Base Ball on Fast Day
The Boston-based Christian Register, "Devoted to Unitarian Christianity," appeared to respond to critics of Fast Day ballplaying in an unsigned article titled "Why Give It Up?"
"A game of ball out-doors on Fast Day will not do those who play so much harm as the game of poker that they will play in-doors tomorrow . . . ."
"Fast Day -- by some collusion of the Governor with the prophets of the weather, is almost always pleasant. It is apt to be the first day that savors of Spring. And so, -- even serious men stray into their gardens before sunset, -- look at the peach buds, and show children where the corn is to be, and where the peas. . . . And those who are not serious, -- are hoping to murder one or two robins, or using the dried grass for the first game, so often the last, of base ball or foot ball."last,
Christian Register, Boston, March 31, 1855
We do not know the circulation of this 1855 paper beyond Boston. (We do know that it covered a Worcester MA story at entry 1849.6)
The reference to players playing poker suggests that they were adults.
Was the writer saying, in "so often the last" game, that base ball and/or foot ball was not played much after Fast Day?
Do we know what Boston-area foot ball like in 1855?
1856.10 French Work Describes Poisoned Ball and La Balle au Baton
Beleze, Par G., Jeux des adolescents [Paris, L. Hachette et Cie], This author's portrayal of balle empoisonee is seen as similar to its earlier coverage up to 40 years before; its major variant involves two teams who exchange places regularly, outs are recorded by means of caught flies and runners plugged between bases, and four or five bases comprise the infield. Hitters, however, used their bare hands as bats. Block sees the second game, la balle au baton, as a scrub game played without teams. The ball was put in play by fungo hits with a bat, and was reported to be most often seen in Normandie, where it was known as teque or theque.
per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 217.
The game of Grand Theque [big stick] is explored in "Les Jeux de plein air. La Grand Theque," la Revue des Sportes, Dec. 12, 1888, and in "un tres ancien jeu normand. La Teque," le viquet (1994). These French language sources claim that Teque is related to Rounders and Baseball, and also claim that Teque/Rounders is the predecessor game to baseball. See the Origins Committee Newsletter, May 2021, for more. [ba]
Is it significant that this book features games for adolescents, not younger children?
Answer: the articles cited in the comment make clear that Grand Theque, at least, was played by adults as well as children. [ba]
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.
1856.17 Letter to "Spirit" Describes Roundball in New England
"I have thought, perhaps, a statement of my experience as to the Yankee method of playing 'Base,' or 'Round' ball, as we used to call it, may not prove uninteresting."
"There were six to eight players upon each side, the latter number being the full complement. The two best players upon each side -- first and second mates, as they were called by common consent -- were catcher and thrower. These retained their positions in the game, unless they chose to call some other player, upon their own side, to change places with them. A field diagram follows." [It shows either 6 or 10 defensive positions, depending on whether each base was itself a defensive station.]
"The ball was thrown, not pitched or tossed, as the gentleman who has seen "Base" played in New York tells me it is; it was thrown, an with vigor too . . . . "
"Base used to be a favorite game with the students of the English High and Latin Schools pf Boston , a few years ago . . . Boston Common affords ample facilities for enjoying the sport, and Wednesday and Saturday afternoons in the spring and fall, players from different classes in these schools, young men from fifteen to nineteen years of age used to enjoy it.
"Base is also a favorite game upon the green in front of village school-houses in the country throughout New England; and in this city [Boston] , on Fast Day, which is generally appointed in early April, Boston Common is covered with amateur parties of men and boys playing Base. The most attractive of these parties are generally composed of truckmen. . . the skill they display, generally attracts numerous spectators."
Other comments on 1850s Base/Roundball in New England.are found in Supplemental Text, below.
"Base Ball, How They Play the Game in New England: by An Old Correspondent" Porter's Spirit of the Times, Dec. 27, 1856, p.276. This article prints a letter written in Boston on December 20, 1856. It is signed by Bob Lively.
The 1858 Dedham rules (two years after this letter) for the Massachusetts Game specified at least ten players on a team. The writer does not call the game the "MA game," and does not mention the use of stakes as bases, or the one-out-all-out rule.
1856.34 A Three-Inning Game of Wicket at Great Barrington
"BALL PLAYING - A game of Wicket was played at Gt. Barrington on the 11th inst., and a supper partaken at the Berkshire House in the evening. C. M. Emerson, Esq. was the leader of one party and John Price, Esq. of the other. The game was a close one; the aggregate count of three innings being 192 and 187. The side of Captain Emerson beat."
Pittsfield Sun, April 24, 1856, page 2.
Great Barrington, MA (1860 population about 3900) is about 20 miles south of Pittsfield MA and near the SW corner of the state.
1856.35 Future Star Dickey Pearce Discovers the Decade-old No-Plugging Rule
"I was working at my trade in 1856," said Dick, "and old Cale Sniffen, who was the pitcher of the Atlantic Club at that time, asked me to go out with him and see the club practice. I told him I did not know a thing about the game. 'Never mind that,' said Cale, "I'll show you.' So I went out with him one day to the old field where the Atlantics played in 1856, and which adjoined the Long Island Cricket Club's grounds. At that time I used to take a hand in with the boys in practicing old-fashioned base ball, in which we used to plug fellows when they ran bases, by putting out through throwing the ball at them. Well, I went out with Cale and he got me into a game, and the first chance I had to catch a fellow running bases, I sent the ball at him hot, and it hit him in the eye. Then I learned the new rule was to throw the ball to the base player and let him touch the runner."
The Sporting Life, January 4, 1888.
For an overview of Pearce's baseball life, see Briana McKenna's article at http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/db8ea477.
Finder Richard Hershberger adds that this account "has a couple interesting features. The New York game by 1856 was well into its early expansion phase, but we see here where it still wasn't really all that widely known, even in Brooklyn. Pearce also cuts through the nonsense about what baseball's, meaning the New York game, immediate ancestor was, and what it was called.
"There was in the 1880s a widespread collective amnesia about this, opening the way for Just So stories about Old Cat and such. Pearce correctly calls the predecessor game "base ball," just like they had at the time it was played."
Note: Pearce was born in 1836, and thus was nine when the Knickerbocker rule replacing plugging/soaking/burning had appeared. Eleven years later, lads in Brooklyn had evidently made the adjustment.
Do we have any additional information on where in Brooklyn Pearce and his friends were playing the old-fashioned game in the 1850s?
1856.36 Variant Schoolboy Ballgames Described North of NYC
"A game at ball is a very nice play. The boys have a bat. and
they hit the 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. Sometimes
they knock it over the fence, and then the boy that knocked it over has 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.—
Rockland County Journal (Nyack, N. Y.), December 27, 1856
("An essay by a school boy on base ball & "cat & dog ball".
Report of District School No. 4. Orangetown Nyack. Principal
Department, for week ending December 19, 1856")
The schoolboy author's name wasn't published -- just the lone initial, "T."
Nyack NY (1870 population about 3500) is about 25 miles north of New York City, just north of the Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River.
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.
1857.20 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?
1857.45 Sharon MA Victory in Boston Seen As State Championship
"A much more pleasing picture is the recreation enjoyed by the boys of the 33rd [MA] Regiment. There were thirteen Sharon boys in the regiment and most of them had been members of the Sharon Massapoags, the state baseball champions of 1857. They were very fond of telling their [Civil War] soldier friends of this exciting occasion in which they defeated their rivals, the Olympics, in three straight games. They had borrowed red flannel shirts from the Stoughton Fire Department and contended for the championship on Boston Common. The last train for Sharon left around four o'clock. By special arrangement with the Providence R. R. they had been allowed to ride home in an empty freight attached to a regular train."
Amy Morgan Rafter Pratt, The History of Sharon, Massachusetts to 1865 (Boston U master's thesis, 1935, page74. Search string: <morgan rafter pratt>.
1859.4 Base Ball Club Forms in Augusta GA: Town Ball Also Reported
[A] A classified ad announcing the meeting of the "Base Ball Club of Augusta."
[B] "Baseball Club formed in Augusta in 1859"
[C] In 1860 it was reported that the Base Ball Club of Augusta had formed the previous year. It reported on this "noble and manly game" as played on November 7, 1860." "There were 6 innings. Doughty's side made 32 rounds; Russell's side made 20 rounds."
[D] "Town Ball. - On the 24th ult., the young men of Augusta, Ga., met on the Parade Ground, and organized themselves in two parties for enjoying a friendly game at this hearty game." They played two innings, and "W.D.'s side scored 43, squeezing the peaches on P. B.'s, who managed only 19.
[A] The Augusta Daily Constitutionalist of December 21, 1859.
[B] see note #42 of Patricia Millen, From Pastime to Passion: Baseball and the Civil War (Heritage, 2001), page 80. From a 9/15/1985 clipping found at the Giamatti Center, Cooperstown.
[C] The Daily Chronicle and Sentinel [Augusta?] 1860, specific date unreported.
[D] Source missing at Protoball.
This entry needs clarification and perhaps other work to add sources.
Is there any indication that Association rules were used by the reported base bal club?
1859.47 Buffalo base ball club sticks to "old-fashioned" game
[A] "The Alden Club, we believe, take exception to the rules and regulations laid down by their competitors...and are desirous of playing another game with the Bethany Club (of Genesee County), according to their own base ball rules."
[B] "The matched game of Base Ball between the Buffalo and Alden clubs was played yesterday afternoon on the Niagara's grounds on Main st. The match was a closely contested one, and resulted in favor of the Buffalo Club, who scored forty-six to thirty-eight runs made by the Alden Club in the twelve innings. The Alden Club have played several matches and have never been beaten before. The game was the old-fashioned one, which calls for more muscle than the New England game."
[A] "The Ball Match Yesterday," Buffalo Daily Courier (August 13, 1859), page 3, column 2.
[B] Buffalo Daily Courier, September 2 and September 5, 1859
The Alden club fielded 15 players to the confront the Niagaras' 12; they included two "behinds" as well as a catcher, two left fielders, two right fielders, a fourth baseman, and one more team member listed simply as "fielder." Both teams' pitchers were termed "throwers." The game was evidently limited to 12 innings instead of to a set total of tallies, as was found in other upstate "old-fashioned base ball" games of this period. Taken at face value, this account implies that three games were played in the region at the time - the New York game, the New England game, and this game. Alden NY is 20 miles due east of downtown Buffalo.
A return match was hosted by the Alden club on September 3rd, with the Buffalo New York and Erie railroad offering half-price fares to fans. Alden won, "by 96 to 22 tallies."
1860.32 Milwaukee Press Not Unanimous About the "Miserable" New York Rules
In May 1860, The Milwaukee Sentinel quoted The [Daily Milwaukee] News as recently reporting that the Janesville Base Ball Club expected to challenge a Milwaukee club to "a friendly contest" that year. The News added: "Unfortunately however, the Janesville club plays the good old fashioned game of Base Ball, while our clubs play under the new code, (which we must here beg leave to say is, in our estimation, a miserable one, and in no way calculated to develope[sic] skill or excite interest . . .)"
The previous day, the Milwaukee Sentinel had responded to the News piece calling the new rules "miserable" by writing that "We don't think much of the judgement of the News. The game of Base Ball, as now played by all the clubs in the Eastern States, is altogether ahead of 'the old fashioned game,' both in point of skill and interest."
The Daily Milwaukee News of May 17, 1860 offered this: "Waiting for a ball to bound, instead of catching it on the fly . . . and various other methods of play adopted by this new-fangled game, looks to us altogether too great a display of laziness and inactivity to suit our notions of a genuine, well and skillfully conducted game of Base Ball. . . . We shall soon expect to hear that the game of Base Ball is played with the participants lying at full length upon the grass." Give us the 'old fashioned game' or none at all."
Daily Milwaukee News, May 15, 1860
Milwaukee Sentinel, May 16, 1860
Janesville Daily Gazette, September 1, 1860
The Janesville WI ball club wasn't so sure about this new Eastern game, and apparently continued to play by the old rules: On September 1, 1860, the Janesville Daily Gazette carried a box score for a game between the Janesville Base Ball Club and the Bower City Base Ball Club of Janesville reporting a 'match game' on August 31.
Bower City won, 50 tallies to 38 tallies. The game, played to "first 50 tallies" listed 10 players per team and likely took 11 3-out innings. The account does not describe the rules in force for this contest.
As of November 2020, Protoball shows one ballgame and six club entries that cite Bower City Clubs.
Janesville WI is about 60 miles SW of Milwaukee.
What is the date of the Daily Milwaukee News piece in which the rules are described as "miserable"?
1860.71 "Bound Rule" Universal in American Baseball-- Rules Committee
"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".
1860s.86 Ballplaying Remembered in Dedham Massachusetts
"Sixty-five years ago the boys had a ball club which was known as the "Winthrops" who played on a pasture lot beyond Mr. White's house on east Street. Ball playing was frequently enjoyed upon the fields of owners who were willing to allow public use to be made of such land. A record is here given of a game that took place at a time when the ball was thrown at the runner between bases to put him out. The score is here appended -- that the present [1930's] generation may know what a real ball game was like in the early days of the game [partial box score listed]. Masks were not invented then, so a cap pulled well down over the eyes have to do duty for a mask."
Frank Smith, A History of Dedham Massachusetts (Transcript Press, 1936), page 358.
Does Smith reveal his source for the pre-1970 box score?
1860.92 "Old Fashioned Game" Reported, and Disparaged, in Milwaukee
In May 1860, The [Milwaukee] Sentinel quoted The News as recently reporting that the Janesville Base Ball Club expected to challenge a Milwaukee club to "a friendly contest" that year. The News added: "Unfortunately however, the Janesville club plays the good old fashioned game of Base Ball, while our clubs play under the new code, (which we must here beg leave to say is, in our estimation, a miserable one, and in no way calculated to develope[sic] skill or excite interest . . .)"
The Sentinel argued back: "We don't think much of the judgement of the News. The game of Base Ball, as now played by all the clubs in the Eastern States, is altogether ahead of 'the old fashioned game,' both in point of skill and interest. Indeed, until the 'new code' was adopted here, it was impossible to excite interest enough to get up a club. Now we have two large clubs in full blast, and more coming. The game is a very lively, attractive and manly, one, and is daily growing in popular favor."
Milwaukee Sentinel, May 16, 1860
Janesville Daily Gazette, September 1, 1860
On September 1, 1860, the Janesville Daily Gazette carried a box score for a game between the Janesville Base Ball Club and the Bower City Base Ball Club of Janesville reporting a 'match game' on August 31.
Bower City won, 50 tallies to 38 tallies. The game, played to "first 50 tallies" listed 10 players per team and likely took 11 3-out innings. The account does not describe the rules in force for this contest.
As of November 2020, Protoball shows 1 ballgame and 6 club entries that cite Bower City Clubs.
1862.55 They Do It Differently in Philadelphia
"THE GRAND MATCHES IN PHILADELPHIA. BROOKLYN VS. PHILADELPHIA...On the first day's play, there was no chalk line made between the home and 1st and 3rd bases, as the rule requires...It would be well, to,, to mark the home base line of six feet in length on which the striker is required to stand. Every player running the bases should be required to touch them...In cases of foul balls, too, the player running the bases should remain on the base, after he has returned to it, until the ball has been settled in the hands of the pitcher...we would also call the Philadelphians' attention to Section 20 of the rules. It applies to the striker as well as anyone else. (Section 20 deals with obstruction).
[A] New York Clipper, July 12, 1862
1866.5 Modern Game Compared to Traditional Town Ball in IL
"Base Ball resembles our old-fashioned favorite game of Town Ball sufficiently to naturalize it very quickly. It is governed by somewhat elaborate rules, but the practice is quite simple. Nine persons on a side, including the Captains, play it. Four bases are placed ninety feet apart, in the figure of a diamond. The Batsman, Ball Pitcher, and one Catcher, take the same position as in Town Ball. Of the outside, besides the Pitcher and Catcher, one is posted at each base, one near the Pitcher, called the â€œShort Stop,â€â€”whose duty is the same as the others in the fieldâ€”to stop the ball. The Innings take the bat in rotation, as in Town Ball,â€”and are called by the Scorer. The ball is pitched, not thrown to themâ€”a distance of fifty feet. The Batsman is permitted to strike at three â€œfairâ€ balls, without danger of being put out by a catch, but hit or miss, must run at the third â€œfairâ€ ball. He may "tip" or hit a foul.
The full article, with commentary from finder Richard Hershberger, is found below in the Supplemental Text section.
Illinois State Journal, May 10, 1866.
() Any idea why this morsel hadn't turned up before 2014?
() By 1860, the modern game seems well-established in Chicago -- was it still unfamiliar elsewhere in IL as late as 1866?
() The writer seems unfamiliar with the modern force-out rule; wasn't that introduced prior in base ball prior to 1866?
() Is it possible that the absence of a comment about the modern no-plugging rule means that local town ball already used a no-plugging rule?
() Many throwback articles mention that the new ball is harder than traditional balls. Could local town ball have already employed hard balls?
1866.9 New England Association Forms , Intends to "Ignore the New York Game"
"Convention of Base Ball Players --
"A convention of delegates from clubs that play the New England game, was held at the Parker House this morning, to organize a 'New England Association,' which shall ignore the New York game. Twenty gentlemen were present, and were presided over by Mr. Richard Parks of Stoneham, with Mr. C. A. Brown as Secretary. The clubs represented were:
"Excelsior of Upton, Wyoma of Lynn, Liberty of Danvers, Alpha of Ashland, Active of Salem, Wenuchess of Lynn, Union of Danvers, Warren of South Danvers, Warren of Randolph, Peabody of Danvers, and Kearsarge of Stoneham.
"The association was duly formed, and the following officers were chosen to serve till next April:
"Daniel A.Caskin, of Danvers, President; J. Albert Parker, of Ashland, and William Kinsley, of Randolph, Vice Presidents; Richard Park [sic], of Stoneham, Secretary; Moses Kimball, of Danvers, Treasurer.
"The constitution of the Massachusetts Club [sic] was taken as a basis, and all desirable alterations made in it, after which the meeting adjourned till next April."
Boston Traveler, September 15, 1866. Note: In his article on the Kearsarge Club in Base Ball Founders (McFarland, 2013 -- pages 304-307), Peter Morris cites two other sources of this event: Boston Daily Advertiser, September 17, 1866, and Springfield Republican, September 18,1866, page 4.
 Was there actually a single "Massachusetts Club" constitution in 1866 to draw from? Did it have the same playing rules as the New England rules adopted in 1858?
 Richard "Parks" or Richard "Park"?
 Do we have records of these 11 clubs playing in 1866, or earlier?
 "Wenuchess" Club? Peter Morris' guess is "Wencehuse"
1866.10 Throwback Game of Cat-and-Dog Seen in Pittsburgh
"Cat and Dog -- An interesting trial of skill at this old time game was played at Pittsburgh Pa., on the 5th inst., between the Athletics, of South Pittsburgh, and the Enterprise of Mt. Washington. The game was witnessed by a large crowd of ladies and gentlemen.
[The printed box score shows three players on each side, a pitcher-catcher and two fielders. The result was the Athletics, 180 "measures" and the Enterprise 120 measures. There is no indication of the use of innings, side-out rule, or fly rule]
[This spare account leaves the impression of a one-time throwback demonstration.]
New York Clipper, 15 September 1866.
Pittsburgh Commercial, September 6, 1866.
Protoball would welcome input on how the rules of this game differed, if at all, from other games using "cat" in their names.
1867.16 Baseball's Resemblance to English Rounders Discussed
"I have mentioned base-ball as one of our principal out-door games. We play cricket, but base-ball is to our lads what cricket is to yours. It is the English ball game “rounders,” but developed into something much more interesting and important. It is preferred to cricket, because the play is more varied and less formal; but nevertheless it has become a very formidable and solemn game." Sydney Morning Herald, April 11, 1867, quoting the London Spectator
[from “Yankee Pastimes” by “A Yankee”], Sydney Morning Herald April 11, 1867, quoting the London Spectator.
Finder Richard Hershberger also notes, 6/3/2016:
The distinction between baseball as a developed version of rounders and baseball as a development from rounders is subtle, but I think it is important. In the first, baseball/rounders is perceived as a family of closely related games, some more and some less developed. In the second, baseball is a single game defined by an official set of rules, descended but distinct from rounders. The former emphasizes the similarities, the latter the differences. This is a necessary precursor to the later claim that baseball is completely unrelated to rounders.
This is a late example of the formula that baseball and rounders are the same game, albeit baseball a more developed form. You can find such statements in the 1850s, but by 1867 the more typical version was that baseball developed from rounders. Here is English commentary on the  American baseball tourists:
"Baseball is an American modification, and, of course, an improvement of the old English game of rounders..." New York Sunday Mercury, August 16, 1874, quoting the London Post of August 1, 1874
Is Protoball correct in thinking that the unnamed American's quote had appeared in an earlier "Yankee Pastimes" column in the London Spectator, and was then cited in the Sydney (Australia?) Morning Herald of April 11, 1867?
1867.25 The End for the Massachusetts Game?
"The Massachusetts Base Ball Association, composed of clubs playing what is know [sic] as the Massachusetts game, has been broken up, and most of the clubs are now practicing the National game."
Boston American Traveler, July 20, 1867.
Bob Tholkes, 5/6/2021: "Didn't know there was a funeral announcement."
Richard Hershberger, 5/6/2021: "I don't know of any report of the association meeting or otherwise showing any sign of life after the war."
In a 5/9/2021 search, Protoball doesn't find one after 1866 either.
Note: Protoball has an 1868 clipping of a throwback game (28 innings, score 24-23) played by Mass rules. See https://protoball.org/Clipping:The_Mohawk_Club_reverts_to_amateur.
Might the New England Base Ballist, still alive in 1868, show more about the final passing on the game?
All in all, does the Mass Game differ in major ways from English Base Ball as we now understand it?
1870c.8 Base Ball Comes to Massachusetts Youth
"I well remember when baseball made its first appearance in our quiet little community."
 Charles Sinnott writes that in early childhood "the little boys' ball game was either "Three-old-cats" or "Four-Old Cats," and describes both variations.
 He recalls that "The game that bore the closest resemblance to our modern baseball was "roundstakes" or "rounders." In some communities it was know (sic) as "townball." He recalls this game as marked by the plugging of runners, use a soft ball, featuring stakes or stones as bases, compulsory running -- including for missed third strikes, an absence of foul territory, an absence of called strikes or balls, and teams of seven to ten players on a team. "It was originally an old English game much played in the colonies."
 In describing the new game of base ball, he recalls adjustment to the harder ball ("it seemed to us like playing with a croquet ball"), gloves only worn by the catchers, an umpire who was hit in the eye by a foul tip, fingers "knocked out of joint" by the hard ball, a bloody nose from a missed fly ball, and "that we unanimously pronounced [base ball] superior to our fine old game of roundstakes."
SEE FULL CHAPTER TEXT AT "SUPPLEMENTAL TEXT," BELOW --
Chapter 13, "The Coming of Baseball," in When Grandpa Was a Boy: Stories of My Boyhood As Told to My Children and Grandchildren, by Charles Peter Sinnott (four types pages; presumed unpublished; from the Maxwell Library Archives, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater MA).
Protoball does not know of other use of "roundstakes" as a predecessor game in the US.
Duxbury MA (1870 population about 2300) is about 35 miles south of Boston.
Sinnott died in 1943. On the date of his hundredth birthday, in August 1959, his family distributed 100 copies of his boyhood memoirs.
 Is the date "1870c" reasonable for the item? Sinnott was born in 1859, and writes that he was in his teens when he first saw base ball. His old-cat games would have come in the mid-1860s.
 It is presumed that Sinnott stayed in or near his birthplace, Duxbury MA, for the events he writes of. Is that reasonable?
1874.2 Tennessee Visitor Lauds Local "Base-ball, Shinny, Baste Grounds"
"Chattanooga possesses some advantages that sister towns cannot boast of. For base-ball, shinny, baste grounds and shanty buildings, she can not be surpassed."
(Attributed to a visiting editor of the Cleveland Banner.)
Knoxville Press and Messenger, March 18, 1874, page 5
As of February 2017, data on early ballplaying in the Chattanooga area are sparse. They include five accounts of soldierly play during the Civil War and brief mentions of area base ball clubs after the war
Protoball believes "shinny" to be a game resembling field hockey and ice hockey, and not a baserunning game.
Protoball has only two other reports of the game of "baste" in a Princeton student's diary in 1786 and in a biography of Benjamin Harrison on his teenage activities in the Cincinnati area. A good guess is that baste was a variant spelling of "base," a base ball precursor.
The Cleveland Banner is a newspaper in Cleveland TN.