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- 1 1600c.2 Shakespeare Mentions Rounders? Pretty Doubtful
- 2 1612c.1 Play Attributed to Shakespeare Cites Stool-ball
- 3 1784.2 Seymour Notation Adverts to Evidence that Town Ball Was Exported to England
- 4 1790s.3 Britannica: Stickball Dates to Late 18th Century?
- 5 1820c.6 Modified Version of Rounders Played in New England.
- 6 1825.13 1906 Baseball History Sees Rounders in US, 1825-1840
- 7 1828.1 Boy's Own Book [London] Describes "Rounders," Stoolball, Feeder
- 8 1835c.16 Graduate Grimly Recalls Rounders at Greenwich School in England
- 9 1838.7 English Anthology of Games Puts "Squares" Among Safe-Haven Ballgames
- 10 1839.4 London Magazine Covers "Games with a Ball," Including Stoolball, Tip-Cat
- 11 1840.19 Baseball Arrives in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
- 12 1841.1 Compendium Describes [Pentagonal] 5-Base Rounders, Feeder
- 13 1842c.10 Athletic Welsh Lad Plays Rounders
- 14 1842.11 Rounders Reported at Swiss School
- 15 1844.3 Clone of 1841 Book Covering Rounders and Feeder Appears
- 16 1846.3 New "Original and Unusual" Manual Has New Slants on Rounders, Trap-ball
- 17 1847.5 Halliwell's 960-Page Dictionary Cites Base-ball, Rounders, Tut-ball
- 18 1847.9 Li'l Prince's Birthday Party Includes Cricket, Rounders.
- 19 1847.13 "Boy's Treasury" Describes Rounders, Feeder, Stoolball, Etc.
- 20 1848.5 New York "Boys' Book" of Games Covers Stoolball, Rounders, Wicket
- 21 1848.6 London Book Describes Two Rounders Variants
- 22 1850.7 Englishman's Book of Games Refers to Rounders, Feeder
- 23 1850s.24 In NYC - Did "Plugging" Actually Persist to the mid-1850s?
- 24 1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
- 25 1852.6 Exciting [Adult] Rounders in the Arctic
- 26 1852.17 Dickens Names Cricket, but not Stoolball or Rounders, Among "Merriest" Games
- 27 1853c.1 "Rounders" Said to be Played at Phillips Andover School
- 28 1853.2 Dutch Handbook for Boys Covers "Engelsch Balspel," Trap-ball, Tip-cat
- 29 1853.7 Didactic Novel Pairs "Bass-Ball" and Rounders at Youths' Outing
- 30 1853.12 English Cleric Promotes Co-ed Rounders
- 31 1854.8 Historian Describes Facet of 1850s "School Boys' Game of Rounders"
- 32 1855c.8 New British Manual of Sports Describes Rounders
- 33 1855.25 Text Perceives Rounders and Cricket, in Everyday French Conversations
- 34 1856.7 First Official Use of the Term "Rounders" Appears?
- 35 1857.4 London Rounders Players Arrested
- 36 1857.31 Rounders "Now Almost Entirely Displaced by Cricket:" English Scholar
- 37 1858.11 British Sports Anthology Shows Evolved Rounders, Other Safe Haven Games
- 38 1858.23 "The Playground" Gives Insight into Rounders, Trap-ball, and Cricket Rules and Customs
- 39 1859.15 Games and Sports Covers Rounders, Feeder, Trap-ball, Northern Spell
- 40 1860.6 Chadwick's Beadle's Appears, and the Baseball Literature is Launched
- 41 1861.4 Henry Chadwick Links Base Ball to Rounders - But It's More "Scientific"
- 42 1861.47 Base Ball, Cricket, Are 2 of 5 Beadles' Dime Pubs in 1861
1600c.2 Shakespeare Mentions Rounders? Pretty Doubtful
"Shakespeare mentions games of "base" and "rounders. Lovett, Old Boston Boys, page 126."
Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Caveat: We have not yet confirmed that Lovett or Shakespeare used the term "rounders." Gomme [page 80], among others, identifies the Bard's use of "base" in Cymbeline as a reference to prisoner's base, which is not a ball game. John Bowman, email of 5/21/2008, reports that his concordance of all of Shakespeare's words shows has no listing for "rounders" . . . nor for "stoolball," for that matter [see #1612c.1, below], 'tho that may because Shakespeare's authorship of Two Noble Kinsmen is not universally accepted by scholars..
1612c.1 Play Attributed to Shakespeare Cites Stool-ball
A young maid asks her wooer to go with her. "What shall we do there, wench?" She replies, "Why, play at stool-ball; what else is there to do?"
Fletcher and Shakespeare, The Two Noble Kinsmen [London], Act V, Scene 2, per W. W. Grantham, Stoolball Illustrated and How to Play It [W. Speaight, London, 1904], page 29. David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 170, gives 1634 as the publication date of this play, which was reportedly performed in 1612, and mentions that doubts have been expressed as to authorship, so Shakespeare [1564-1616] may not have contributed. Others surmise that The Bard wrote Acts One and Five, which would make him the author of the stoolball reference. See also item #1600c.2 above. Note: can we find further specifics? Russell-Goggs, in "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 320, notes that the speaker is the "daughter of the Jailer."
1784.2 Seymour Notation Adverts to Evidence that Town Ball Was Exported to England
"Rounders not a serious game until 1889 in Britain. But at least close resemblance. Evidence Town Ball introduced by Amer. to Br. 1784 - between Rounders and Base Ball."
Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Note: it would be good to find such evidence soon.
1790s.3 Britannica: Stickball Dates to Late 18th Century?
"Stickball is a game played on a street or other restricted area, with a stick, such as a mop handle or broomstick, and a hard rubber ball. Stickball developed in the late 18th century from such English games as old cat, rounders, and town ball. Stickball also relates to a game played in southern England and colonial Boston in North America called stoolball. All of these games were played on a field with bases, a ball, and one or more sticks. The modern game is played especially in New York City on the streets where such fixtures as a fire hydrant or an abandoned car serve as bases."
Britannica Online search conducted 5/25/2005. Note: No sources are provided for this unique report of early stickball. It also seems unusual to define town ball as an English game. Caveat: We find no reference to the term "rounders" until 1828. See #1828.1 below.
1820c.6 Modified Version of Rounders Played in New England.
"About 1820 a somewhat modified version of the old English game of rounders was played on the New England commons, and twenty years later the game had spread and become "town ball." In 1833 the first regularly organized ball club was formed in Philadelphia with the sonorous title of "The Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia." About 1850 the game gained vogue in New York."
Barbour, Ralph H., The Book of School and College Sports [D. Appleton and Co., New York, 1904] page 143. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Thanks to Mark Aubrey for locating a pdf of the baseball section of this text, June 2007. Barbour does not provide sources for his text.
1825.13 1906 Baseball History Sees Rounders in US, 1825-1840
"'Rounders,' from which modern baseball is generally believed to have derived its origin, was a very simple game - so simple, in fact, that girls could play it. It was played with a ball and bats and was practiced in this country as early as 1825 [p. 437] . . . Rounders was popular between 1825 and 1840, but meantime there had been many other forms of ball playing. [.p 438]"
George V. Tuohey, "The Story of Baseball," The Scrap Book (Munsey, New York, 1906), pp. 437ff. Caution: Tuohey gives no evidentiary support for this observation, and the Protoball sub-chronology [http://retrosheet.org/Protoball/Sub.Rounders.htm] for rounders shows no firm evidence that a game then called rounders was popular in the US.
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)
1835c.16 Graduate Grimly Recalls Rounders at Greenwich School in England
The memories aren't pleasant. "We endured hunger, cold, and cruelty." Exercise was taken mainly in gymnastics: "As there was no cricket-field, our amusements were much curtailed, a poor game of rounders being the only source of amusement in that line."
"Greenwich School Forty Years Ago," Fraser's Magazine Volume 10 (1874), page 246. Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search ("poor game of rounders").
1838.7 English Anthology of Games Puts "Squares" Among Safe-Haven Ballgames
Montague, W., The Youth's Encyclopedia of Health: with Games and Play Ground Amusements [London, W. Emans], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 202-203. This book covers trap-ball, listing the ways that a batter could be put out. But then, there's "squares."
Reports Block: "a short passage describ[es] a game called squares, which was nearly identical to early baseball and rounders. The text depicts four bases laid out in a square, although it is ambiguous as to whether home plate was one of the four bases or a separate location. The bases are described as being a 'considerable distance' apart, which suggests that the dimensions may have been larger than other versions of early baseball. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only instance of the name 'squares' being used as a pseudonym for baseball or rounders. The author was obviously not impressed with the pastime, concluding . . . : 'There is nothing particular[ly] fascinating in this game.'" Note: follow up to reflect games covered.
For Text: David Block carries a paragraph of text in Appendix 7, page 284, of Baseball Before We Knew It.
1839.4 London Magazine Covers "Games with a Ball," Including Stoolball, Tip-Cat
The Saturday Magazine [London], number 430, March 16, 1839, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 203. "Games with a Ball" treats stool-ball, trap-ball, tip-cat, among other games, and owes much to Strutt (see 1801 entry, above). The writer advises, "[Stool-ball] differs but very little from the game of rounders which is much played at the present day at the west of England." Block observes: "It is curious that the author equates rounders and stool-ball, since the former utilized a bat while Strutt's sketch of stool-ball stated that the ball was struck by the bare hand."
1840.19 Baseball Arrives in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
"The story of baseball in Saint John has a Spalding-Chadwick twist to it. As early as the year 1840, there have been mentions of the sport of baseball in the Port City. As D. R. Jack noted in his Centennial Prize Essay (1783-1883): 'It was a common practice with many of the leading merchants of St. John to assemble each fine summer afternoon after the business day was over . . . where a fine playground has been prepared, and engage in a game of cricket or baseball. This practice was continued until about 1840.' Whether of not this was actually the game of "Rounders" or "Town Ball" is debatable.
Brian Flood, Saint John: A Sporting Tradition 1785-1985 [Henry Flood, 1985], pages 18-19.
1841.1 Compendium Describes [Pentagonal] 5-Base Rounders, Feeder
Williams, J. L., The Every Boy's Book, a Compendium of All the Sports and Recreations of Youth [London, Dean and Munday], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 205. This big book covered hundreds of children's pastimes, including feeder, the German game "ball-stock" (ball-stick), and a version of rounders that, unlike the 1828 Boy's Own Book (see 1828 entry above) is played with five bases laid out in a pentagon instead of four in a diamond, and counter-clockwise running.
For Text: David Block carries two long paragraphs and a field diagram of feeder, and a two-paragraph description of rounders, in Appendix 7, pages 284-286, of Baseball Before We Knew It.
1842c.10 Athletic Welsh Lad Plays Rounders
"I became fleet on my legs, and a good climber, I was an expert at ball catching in rounders (cricket being unknown in Wales at the time), and when I left school, my name was the only one inscribed or the loftiest trees."
Josiah Hughes, Australia Revisited in 1890 (Nixon and Jarvis, Bangor, 1891), page 482. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search ("josiah hughes" revisited). Hughes, born in 1829 in Wales, here recalls his time at a school in Holywell in the north of Wales.
1842.11 Rounders Reported at Swiss School
An 1842 reference indicates that rounders was played at an international agricultural school near Bern.
"During a general game, in which some of the masters join (rounders I think the English boys called it) I have observed . . . "
Letters from Hofwyl by a Parent on the Educational Institutions of De Fellenberg, (Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, London, 1842), page 90.
Accessible on Google Books 11/14/2013 via <letters from hofwyl> search.
From David Block: "Unless I'm forgetting something, this may be the earliest example we have of baseball or rounders being played outside of Britain or North America. (I don't count the 1796 description of English baseball by J.C.F. Gutsmuths because there is no evidence that the game was actually played in Germany.)
Was the game dissimilar from the European "battingball games" reported by Maigaard?
Can we determine whether the players were youths or juveniles?
1844.3 Clone of 1841 Book Covering Rounders and Feeder Appears
Williams, Samuel, Boy's Treasury of Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations [London, D. Bogue], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 206 - 207. The original book was The Every Boy's Book (see #1841.1 entry). Lea and Blanchard would publish the first US edition of Boy's Treasury in 1847.
1846.3 New "Original and Unusual" Manual Has New Slants on Rounders, Trap-ball
The Every Boy's Book of Games, Sports, and Diversions [London, Vickers], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 208 - 209. Not to be mistaken for the 1841 Every Boy's Book (see entry #1841.1, above), this book is called "original and unusual" by Block. For one thing, it includes two forms of trap-ball, the second being the "Essex" version referred to in the 1801 Strutt opus.
The book's description of rounders is unique in written accounts of the game. Rounders, it says, has holes instead of bases, can have from four to eight of them, runners starting game at every base [all with bats, and all running on hit balls], and outs are recorded if the fielding team throws the ball anywhere between the bases that form a runner's base path. Concludes Block: "In its four-base form, this version of rounders is remarkably similar to the American game of four-old-cat. Yes, the very game that Albert Spalding classified in 1905 as the immediate predecessor to town-ball, and which was part of his proof that baseball could not have descended from 'the English picnic game of rounders,' was, at least in this one instance, identified [sic?- LM] as none other than rounders." Note: Does the book identify rounders with old-cat games, or does Block so that?
1847.5 Halliwell's 960-Page Dictionary Cites Base-ball, Rounders, Tut-ball
Halliwell, James O., A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words [London, J. R. Smith, 1847], 2 volumes, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 209 - 210. The "base-ball" entry: "a country game mentioned in Moor's Suffolk Words, p. 238" (see item #1823.2 above). Rounders is just "a boy's game at balls." Tut-ball is "a sort of stobball." Other games are similarly covered, but Block does not quote them. It seems that Halliwell was not a fan of sport. Note: can a list of the other safe-haven games be made?
1847.9 Li'l Prince's Birthday Party Includes Cricket, Rounders.
Richard Hershberger relates: The Preston Guardian (Preston, England) of August 14, 1847 reported on the birthday celebration of Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria's fourth child, who was three years old. The activities included a long list of physical activities, including ' . . . Dancing, cricket, quoits, trap bat and ball, and rounders . . . . ' No mention of "base ball," but we wouldn't expect one if "base ball" and "rounders" were synonyms. Posted to 19CBB, 2/5/2008.
1847.13 "Boy's Treasury" Describes Rounders, Feeder, Stoolball, Etc.
The Boy's Treasury, published in New York, contains descriptions of feeder [p. 25], Rounders [p. 26], Ball Stock [p. 27], Stool-Ball [p. 28], Northern Spell [p. 33] and Trap, Bat, and Ball [p 33]. The cat games and barn ball and town ball are not listed. In feeder, the ball is served from a distance of two yards, and the thrower is the only member of the "out" team. There is a three-strike rule and a dropped-third rule. The Rounders description says "a smooth round stick is preferred by many boys to a bat for striking the ball." Ball Stock is said to be "very similar to rounders." In stool ball, "the ball must be struck by the hand, and not with a bat."
The rules given for rounders are fairly detailed, and include the restriction that, in at least one circumstance, a fielder must stay "the length of a horse and cart" away from baserunners when trying to plug them out on the basepaths. For feeder and rounders, a batter is out if not able to hit the ball in three "offers."
Feeder appears to follow most rounders playing rules, but takes a scrub form (when any player is out he, he becomes the new feeder) and not a team form; perhaps feeder was played when too few players were available to form two teams.
The Boy's Treasury of Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations (Clark, Austin and Company, New York, 1850), fourth edition. The first edition appeared in 1847, and appears to have identical test for rounders and feeder.
Rounders and Feeder texts are cloned from 1841.1, as is 1843.3
It seems peculiar that rounders and ball stock are seen as similar; it is not clear that ball stock was a baserunning.
We have scant evidence that rouunders was played extensively in the US; could this book be derivative of an English pubication?
:Apparently so: the copy on Google Books says "Third American Edition," and the Preface is intensely redolent of English patriotism (" the noble and truly English game of CRICKET... ARCHERY once the pride of England") Whicklin (talk) 04:08, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
1848.5 New York "Boys' Book" of Games Covers Stoolball, Rounders, Wicket
A large section of The Boy's Book of Sports, attributed to "Uncle John," describes more than 200 games, including, rounders (pp. 20-21), stool-ball (pp. 18-19), and wicket (labeled as cricket: page 73).
Rounders (pp.20-21) employs a two-foot round bat, a hard "bench ball," and four or five stones used as bases and arranged in a circle. Play starts when a "feeder" delivers a ball to a striker who tries to hit it and run from base to base without getting hit. There is a one-strike rule. The feeder is allowed to feign a delivery and hit a runner who leaves a base. Struck balls that are caught retire the batting side. There is a Lazarus rule.
Stoolball (pp. 18-19) is described as a two-player game or a game with teams. A stool is defended by a player by his hand, not a bat. Base running rules appear to be the same as in rounders.
David Block notes that "The version of rounders the book presents is generally consistent with others from the period, with perhaps a little more detail than most. Given the choice of games included [and, perhaps, the exclusion of familiar American games], he believes the author is English, "[y]et I find no evidence of its publication in Great Britain prior to ." This 184-page section was apparently later published in London in 1850 and in Philadelphia in 1851.
The book includes an unusual treatment of wicket. The author states that "this is the simple Cricket of the country boys." In reporting on this book, Richard Hershberger advances he working hypothesis that wicket and cricket were used interchangeably in the US.
There is no reference to base ball, base, or goal ball in this book.
Boy's Own Book of Sports, Birds, and Animals (New York, Leavitt and Allen, 1848), per David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, pages 209-210.
While the preface to this book stresses that it is designed to be limited to "sports which prevail in our country," it includes sections on stoolball and rounders, neither known to have been played very widely here.
Can we rule out the possibility that this book reflects English play, and was written for an English readership? If so, why is cricket not included? Because cricket is for older players?
The author's assertion that wicket was commonly played by boys is unusual. The reported heaviness of wicket's ball, and its heavy bat, seem to mark the game for older players.
One wonders whether an earlier English edition of this book was later published; it is not online as of February 2013.
1848.6 London Book Describes Two Rounders Variants
Richardson, H. D., Holiday Sports and Pastimes for Boys [London, Wm S. Orr], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 211-212. This book's section "Games with Toys" includes two variants of rounders. Block's summary:
"The first of these is of a somewhat cricket-like game. A wicket of two 'stumps,' or sticks, with no crosspiece [bail], was set up behind the batter, with three other stumps as corners of an equilateral triangle in front of the batter. A bowler served the ball, as in cricket, and, if the batter hit it, he attempted to touch each of the stumps in succession, as in baseball. The batter was out if he missed the ball, if the struck ball was caught on the fly, of if a fielder touches one the stumps with the ball before a base runner reached it. It is noteworthy that this cricket-baseball hybrid did not include the practice of 'soaking' or 'plugging' the runner with the thrown ball.
"The book's second version of rounders is a more traditional variety, with no wicket behind the batter. It featured a home base and three others marked with sticks as in the previous version. The author distinguishes this form of rounders the other in its use of a 'pecker or feeder' rather than a 'bowler.' He also points out that 'in this game it is sought to strike, not the wicket, but the player, and if struck with the ball when absent from one of the rounders, or posts, he is out.' (Of all the known published descriptions of the game in the nineteenth century, this is the only one to use the term 'rounders' to denote bases. [DB]) This second version of the game also featured 'taking of the rounders,' which elsewhere was generally known as 'hitting for the rounder.' This option was exercised when all members of a side were out, and the star player then had three pitches with which to attempt to hit a home run. If he was successful, his team retained its at-bat."
Note: Were none of the other traditional English safe-haven games - cricket, stool-ball, etc., included in this book?
1850.7 Englishman's Book of Games Refers to Rounders, Feeder
David Block only mentions one passage of interest - a section on "rounders, or feeder," a shortened version of what had appeared in 1828 in The Boy's Own Book (see item #1828.1).
Mallary, Chas D., The Little Boy's Own Book; Consisting of Games and Pastimes . . . . (Henry Allman, London, 1850), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 213-214.
1850s.24 In NYC - Did "Plugging" Actually Persist to the mid-1850s?
John Thorn feels that "while the Knick rules of September 23, 1845 (and, by William R. Wheaton's report in 1887, the Gothams practice in the 1830s and 1840s) outlawed plugging/soaking a runner in order to retire him, other area clubs were slow to pick up the point."
"Henry Chadwick wrote to the editor of the New York Sun, May 14, 1905: 'It happens that the only attractive feature of the rounders game is this very point of 'shying' the ball at the runners, which so tickled Dick Pearce [in the early 1850s, when he was asked to go out to Bedford to see a ball club at play]. In fact, it was not until the '50s that the rounders point of play in question was eliminated from the rules of the game, as played at Hoboken from 1845 to1857.'"
"The Gotham and the Eagle adopted the Knick rules by 1854 . . . but other
clubs may not have done so till '57."
Henry Chadwick, letter to the editor, New York Sun, May 14, 1905. See also John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), page 112.
We invite further discussion on this point. The text of the Wheaton letter is found at entry #1837.1 above.
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.
1852.6 Exciting [Adult] Rounders in the Arctic
Osborn, Lieut. Sherard, Stray Leaves from an Arctic journal; or, Eighteen Months in the Polar Regions (London, Longman + Co), page 77, "Shouts of laughter! Roars of 'Not fair, not fair! Run again!' 'Well done, well done!' from individuals leaping and clapping their hands with excitement, arose from many a ring, in which 'rounders' with a cruelly hard ball, was being played."
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 214.
It seems unusual that a rounders ball would be characterized as hard; perhaps softer versions were used when younger players played the game, and one might guess that even in adult play, the ball would be seen as softer than the cricket ball.
1852.17 Dickens Names Cricket, but not Stoolball or Rounders, Among "Merriest" Games
[In a Dickens short story, a traveler meets a handsome youth, and they spend time together.]
"They had the merriest games that were ever played . . . They were active afoot, and on horseback; at cricket and all games of ball; the prisoners base, hare and hounds, follow up leader, and more sports than I can think of."
Charles Dickens, "The Child's Story" (1852).
See also Dickens on ballplaying at pp 128, 212, and 271 (note) of David Block, Pastime Lost (U Nebraska Press, 2019).
"David Block's book Pastimes Lost cites Dickens mentioning games of ball in his letters" reported Bruce Allardice, 3/24/2021.
Dickens did mention rounders in an 1849 letter to an acquaintance during a holiday at the Isle of Wight: "I . . . have had a great game of rounders every afternoon." (Block, pp. 212 and 271.)
Block also notes another Dickens reference to people "playing at ball," but the site was apparently known as a racket ground, may not have have involved a baserunning game.
1853c.1 "Rounders" Said to be Played at Phillips Andover School
[A] "The game of "rounders," as it was played in the days before the Civil War, had only a faint resemblance to our modern baseball. For a description of a typical contest, which took place in 1853, we are indebted to Dr. William A. Mowry:"
[Nine students had posted a challenge to play "a game of ball," and that challenge was accepted by eleven other students.] "The game was a long one. No account was made of 'innings;' the record was merely of runs. When one had knocked the ball, had run the bases, and had reached the 'home goal,' that counted one 'tally.' The game was for fifty tallies. The custom was to have no umpire, and the pitcher stood midway between the second and third bases, but nearer the center of the square. The batter stood midway between the first and fourth base, and the catcher just behind the batter, as near or as far as he pleased.
'Well, we beat the eleven [50-37].' [Mowry then tells of his success in letting the ball hit the bat and glance away over the wall "behind the catchers," which allowed him to put his side ahead in a later rubber game after the two sides had each won a game.]
[B] "We had baseball and football on Andover Hill forty years ago, but not after the present style. Baseball was called round ball, and the batter that was most adept at fouls, made the most tallies. The Theologues were not too dignified in those days to play matches with the academy. There was some sport in those match games."
[A] Claude M. Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover [Houghton Mifflin, 1917], pp. 449-450.
Researched by George Thompson, based on partial information from reading notes by Harold Seymour. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("history of phillips").
A note-card in the Harold Seymour archive at Cornell describes the Mowry recollection.
[B] William Hardy, Class of 1853, as cited in Fred H. Harrison, Chapter 2, The Hard-Ball Game, Athletics for All: Physical Education and Athletics at Phillips Academy, Andover, 1778-1978 (Phillips Academy, 1983), accessed 2/21/2013 at http://www.pa59ers.com/library/Harrison/Athletics02.html. Publication information for the Hardy quote is not seen on this source.
It appears that Fuess, the 1917 author, viewed this game as rounders, but neither the Mowry description nor the Hardy reference uses that name. It is possible that Fuess was an after-the-fact devotee of he rounders theory of base ball. The game as described is indistinguishable from round ball as played in New England, and lacks features [small bat, configuration of bases] used in English rounders during this period. The placement of the batter, the use of "tallies" for runs, and the 50-inning game length suggests that the game played may have been a version of what was to be encoded as the Massachusetts Game in 1858.
Wikipedia has an entry for prolific historian William A Mowry (1829-1917). A Rhode Islander, his schooling is not specified, but he entered Brown University in 1854, and thus may have been a Phillips Andover senior in 1853.
Hardy's 1853 reference to the "Theologues" is, seemingly, a local theological seminary -- presumably the nearby Andover Theological Seminary -- whose teams played many times from the 1850s to the 1870s against Phillips Andover. Hardy's note may thus mark the first known interscholastic match of a safe haven ballgame in the United States.
A prestigious preparatory school, Phillips Academy is in Andover MA and about 20 miles N of Boston.
Can we identify the seminary with the rival club, and determine whether it has any record of early ballplaying?
1853.2 Dutch Handbook for Boys Covers "Engelsch Balspel," Trap-ball, Tip-cat
Dongens! Wat zal er gespeld worden? (Boys! What Shall We Play?) (Leeuwarden, G. T. N. Suringar, 1853), A 163-page book of games and exercises for young boys, described by David Block as "loaded with hand-colored engravings." The book's section on ball games includes a translation of the 1828 rounders rules from The Boy's Own Book (see 1828.1 entry, above) but is diagrammed with a diamond-shaped infield, under the heading Engelsch balspel (English ball). A second game is De wip (the whip), a kind of trap ball. Also [[De kat]], which Block identifies as English tip-cat.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 215.
In 2016, an 1845 edition of this book was discovered, and Protoball began to explore translations of its text. See http://protoball.org/1845.29.
1853.7 Didactic Novel Pairs "Bass-Ball" and Rounders at Youths' Outing
"The rest of the party strolled about the field, or joined merrily in a game of bass-ball or rounders, or sat in the bower, listening to the song of birds." .
Cricket receives three references (pages 75, 110, and 211)in this book. The first of these, unlike the bass-ball/rounders account, separates English boys from English girls after a May tea party: "Some of the gentlemen offered prizes of bats and balls, and skipping-ropes, for feats of activity or skill in running, leaping, playing cricket, &c. with the boys; and skipping, and battledore and shuttlecock with the girls."
Trap-ball receives one uninformative mention in the book (page 211).
A Year of Country Life: or, the Chronicle of the Young Naturalists (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1853), page 115.
As a way of teaching nature [each chapter introduces several birds, insects, and "wild plants"] this book follows a group of boys and girls of unspecified age [post-pubescent, we guess] through a calendar year. The bass-ball/rounders reference above is one of the few times we run across both terms in a contemporary writing. So, now: Is the author denoting are there two distinct games with different rules, or just two distinct names for the same game? The syntax here leaves that distinction muddy, as it could be the former answer if the children played bass-ball and rounders separately that [June] day.
Richard's take on the bass-ball/rounders ambiguity: "It is possible that there were two games the party played . . . but the likelier interpretation is that this was one game, with both names given to ensure clarity." David Block [email of 2/27/2008] agrees with Richard. Richard also says "It is possible that as the English dialect moved from "base ball" to "rounders," English society concurrently moved from the game being played primarily played by boys and only sometimes being played by girls. I am not qualified to say."
1853.12 English Cleric Promotes Co-ed Rounders
"In school at Westbourne I generally examine boys and girls together, and I find this always produces a greater degree of attention and emulation, each being ashamed to lose credit in the eyes of he other.
"In the playground they [boys and girls] have full permission to play together, if they like . . . but they very seldom do play together, because boys' amusements and girls' amusements are of a different character, and if, as happens at rare intervals, I do see a dozen boys and girls going down a slide together in the winter, or engaged in a game of rounders in the summer, I believe both parties are improved by their temporary coalition."
Rev. Henry Newland, Confirmation and First Communion (Joseph Masters, London, 1853), page 240. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("henry newland" mdcccliii).
Newland was Vicar of Westbourne, near Bournemouth and about 100 miles SW of London.
1854.8 Historian Describes Facet of 1850s "School Boys' Game of Rounders"
A cricket historian describes an early attribute of cricket"
" . . . the reason we hear sometimes of he Block-hole was . . . because between these [two] two-feet-asunder stumps [the third stump in the wicket had not yet been introduced] there was cut a hole big enough to contain a ball, and (as now with the school boy's game of rounders) the hitter was made out in running a notch by the ball being popped into [a] hole (whence 'popping crease') before the point of the bat could reach it."
James Pycroft, The Cricket Field , page 68.
Note: Pycroft was first published in 1851. See item #1851.1. Was this material in the first edition?
1855c.8 New British Manual of Sports Describes Rounders
An English sports manual includes a description and diagram of rounders that Block characterizes as "generally consistent with other accounts of rounders and pre-1845 baseball." This version of the game used a pentagon-shaped infield and counterclockwise base running.
Walsh, J. H. ("Stonehenge"), Manual of British Rural Sports (London, G. Routledge, 1855), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 216.
1855.25 Text Perceives Rounders and Cricket, in Everyday French Conversations
An 1855 French conversation text consistently translates "balle au camp" as "rounders." It also translates "crosse" to "cricket."
A double is seen in "deux camps," as "En voila une bonne! Deux camps pour celle-la" is translated as "That is a good one! Two bases for that."
W. Chapman, Every-Day French Talk (J. B. Bateman, London, 1855), pages 16, 20, 21. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search <"chapman teacher" "french talk" 1855>. The English titles for the translated passages are The Playground and Returning From School.
It is unclear whether the original poems are the English versions or the French versions; if the latter, it seems plausible that these safe-haven games were known in France.
Would a French person agree that "balle au camp" is rounders by another name? Should we researcher thus chase after that game too? Perhaps a French speaker among us could seek la verite from le Google on this?
1856.7 First Official Use of the Term "Rounders" Appears?
Zoernik, Dean A., "Rounders," in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 329.
Note: Whaaaat? See #1828.1 above, and the Rounders Subchronology.
1857.4 London Rounders Players Arrested
A group of "youths and lads" were arrested by a park constable for "playing at a game called rounders." Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/5/2008.
The Morning Chronicle, March 17, 1857
1857.31 Rounders "Now Almost Entirely Displaced by Cricket:" English Scholar
"Writing in 1857, "Stonehenge" noted that 'it [rounders] was [p. 232/233] formerly a very favourite game in some of our English counties, but is now almost entirely displaced by cricket.' . . . documentary evidence of it is hard to find before the chapter in William Clarke's Boys' Own Book of 1828."
Tony Collins, et al., Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports (Routledge, 2005), pages 232-233.
Rounders made a comeback later, at least as a school yard game played mostly be female players. Is it clear whether the game was played significantly among men and boys before 1857?
1858.11 British Sports Anthology Shows Evolved Rounders, Other Safe Haven Games
Block notes that this "comprehensive and detailed anthology of sports and games includes the full [but unnamed - LM] spectrum of baseball's English relatives." The rounders description of rounders features 5 bases, plus a home base. Block considers the changes described for rounders since the first (1828) account, and descries "the steady divergence of rounders and baseball during those decades to the point of becoming two distinct sports."
Pardon, George, Games for All Seasons [London, Blackwood], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 218.
1858.23 "The Playground" Gives Insight into Rounders, Trap-ball, and Cricket Rules and Customs
George Forrest, The Playground: or, The Boy's Book of Games [G. Rutledge, London, 1858, pp. 67-72]. Available via Google Books.
The manual covers rounders, cricket, and trapball - but not stoolball.
Among the features shown: when only a few players were available, backward hits were not in play; leading and pickoffs were used in rounders; the rounders bat is three feet long; two strikes and you're out in trapball; and when a cat is used in place of a ball in rounders, plugging is not allowed.
1859.15 Games and Sports Covers Rounders, Feeder, Trap-ball, Northern Spell
Games and Sports for Young Boys [London, Warne and Routledge] This book's descriptions of rounders, feeder, trap-ball, and northern spell were cloned from the 1841 publication The Every Boy's Book, but many new woodcuts seem to have been inserted.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 221.
1860.6 Chadwick's Beadle's Appears, and the Baseball Literature is Launched
The first annual baseball guide appears. It is emblematic, perhaps, of the transformation of base ball into a spectator sport. The 40-page guide includes rules for Knickerbocker ball, the new NABBP ("Association") rules, rules for the Massachusetts game, and for rounders. Chadwick includes a brief history of base ball, saying it is of "English origin" and "derived from rounders."
Block observes: "For twenty-five years his pronouncements remained the accepted definition of the game's origins. Then the controversy erupted. First John Montgomery Ward and then Albert Spalding attacked Chadwick's theory. Ultimately, their jingoistic efforts saddled the nation with the Doubleday Myth."
Chadwick, Henry, Beadle's Dime Base-Ball Player: A Compendium of the Game, Comprising Elementary Instructions of the American Game of Base Ball [New York, Irwin P. Beadle].
Per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, (2005), page 221.
See also 1861.47.
Chadwick emigrated from western England, and is reported to have been familiar with rounders there.
His claim that American base ball had evolved from English rounders was long refuted by fans of the American game.
Is it possible that English rounders itself had evolved from English base ball as played in the eighteenth century?
1861.4 Henry Chadwick Links Base Ball to Rounders - But It's More "Scientific"
"The game of base ball is, as our readers are for the most part aware, an American game exclusively, as now played, although a game somewhat similar has been played in England for many years, called 'rounders,' but which is played more after the style of the Massachusetts game. New York, however, justly lays claim to being the originators of what is termed the American Game, which has been so improved in all its essential points by them, and it scientific points so added to, that it does not stand second to either [rounders or the Mass game?] in its innate excellencies, or interesting phrases, to any national game in any country in the world, and is every way adapted to the tastes of all who love athletic exercises in the country."
Chadwick article in The New York Clipper (October 26, 1861).
This is an excerpt from a Hoboken game account.
1861.47 Base Ball, Cricket, Are 2 of 5 Beadles' Dime Pubs in 1861
"13 April, 1861. Beadles' Dime Books. We have received another batch of the wonderfully cheap and excellent works published by BEADLE & CO., 141 William Street, New York. They are the “Dime Chess instructor,” “Book of Cricket,” “Baseball Player,” “Guide To Swimming,” “Florida, or, The Iron will,” by Mrs. Denison, and “General Anthony Wayne, the Hero of Two Wars,” by G. J. Victor. They are all published at ten cents each, in convenient form, with clear type, good ink and paper. Excessive cheapness has given to the publications of this house an immense sale all over the country. The liberal enterprise of the proprietors fully deserves this gratifying result."
Note: This notice does not mention Henry Chadwick as editor of the Beadle Base Ball Player series.
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, 1861; provided by John Thorn, posting to the 19CBB listserve, December 5, 2017.
For the full text of the Beadle 1860 "Base Ball Player," see http://vbba.org/rules-and-customs/1860-beadles-full-text/.
For an account of Beadles Base Ball books, 1860 through 1881, see https://www.ulib.niu.edu/badndp/misc-bdbp-b.html.
See also 1860.6 Chadwick's Beadle's Appears, and the Baseball Literature is Launched.
Contents of the 1860 Beadles publication include:
 a description of the game of rounders
 the 1845 Knickerbocker Rules (14 sections on field rules)
 A listing of 22 clubs formed 1845-1857
 The 1858 establishment of the NABBP
 The NABBP Rules of 1860 (38 sections)
 The 1858 Rules of the Massachusetts Game (21 Sections)
Rules for the Formation of a Club
The 1861 edition is reported to include player averages (runs per game)