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1609.1 Polish Origins of Baseball Perceived in Jamestown VA Settlement
US South, VA
"Soon after the new year , [we] initiated a ball game played with a bat . . . . Most often we played this game on Sundays. We rolled up rags to make balls . . . Our game attracted the savages who sat around the field, delighted with this Polish sport."
A 1975 letter from Matthew Baranski letter to the HOF said:
"For your information and records, I am pleased to inform you that after much research I have discovered that baseball was introduced to America by the Poles who arrived in Jamestown in 1609. . . . Records of the University of Krakow, the oldest school of higher learning in Poland show that baseball or batball was played by the students in the 14th century and was part of the official physical culture program."
The 1609 source is Zbigniew Stefanski, Memorial Commercatoris [A Merchant's Memoirs], (Amsterdam, 1625), as cited in David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It, page 101. Stefanski was a skilled Polish workingman who wrote a memoir of his time in the Jamestown colony: an entry for 1609 related the Polish game of pilka palantowa(bat ball). Another account by a scholar reported adds that "the playfield consisted of eight bases not four, as in our present day game of baseball." If true, this would imply that the game involved running as well as batting.
1975 Letter: from Matthew Baranski to the Baseball Hall ofFame, March 23, 1975. [Found in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center.] Matthew Baranski himself cites First Poles in America1608-1958, published by the Polish Falcons of America, Pittsburgh, but unavailable online as of 7/28/09. We have not confirmed that sighting.
See also David Block, "Polish Workers Play Ball at Jamestown Virginia: An Early Hint of Continental Europe's Influence on Baseball," Base Ball (Origins Issue), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pp.5-9.
Per Maigaard's 1941 survey of "battingball games" includes a Polish variant of long ball, but does not mention pilka palantowa by name. However, pilka palantowa may merely be a longer/older term for palant, the Polish form of long ball still played today.
The likelihood that pilka palantowa left any legacy in America is fairly low, since the Polish glassblowers returned home after a year and there is no subsequent mention of any similar game in colonial Virginia
1709.1 A Form of [Two-man and Four-man] Cricket Played in Virginia
In an April 25, 1709 diary entry, William Byrd, owner of the Virginia plantation Westover, wrote: "I rose at 6 o'clock and said my prayers shortly. Mr. W-l-s and I fenced and I beat him. Then we played at cricket, Mr. W-l-s and John Custis against me and Mr. [Hawkins], but we were beaten. I ate nothing but milk for breakfast . . ."
On May 6 of the same year he noted: "I rose about 6 o'clock and Colonel Ludwell, Nat Harrison, Mr. Edwards and myself played at cricket, and I won a bit [presumably an eighth of a Spanish dollar]. Then we played at whist and I won. About 10 o'clock we went to breakfast and I ate some boiled rice." Another undated entry showed that cricket was not just an early-morning pastime: "About 10 o'clock Dr. Blair, and Major and Captain Harrison came to see us. After I had given them a glass of sack we played cricket. I ate boiled beef for my dinner. Then we played at shooting with arrows...and went to cricket again till dark."
Wright, Louis B., and Marion Tinling, eds., The Secret Diary of William Byrd of Westover 1709-1712 [Dietz Press, Richmond, 1941], pages 25-26 and 31. We have no page reference for the third mention of cricket, which appears in a short article on Smithsonian.com, as accessed 1/20/2007. Thanks to John Thorn for reference data [email of 2/1/2008].
1737.2 Doctor Writes of North Carolina Game Resembling Ireland's Trap Ball
Brickell, an Irishman, writes of NC Indians: "They have [a] game which is managed with a Battoon, and very much resembles our Trap-ball."
Brickell, John., The Natural History of North Carolina [James Carson, Dublin, 1737], p. 336. Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 20.
1737.3 Cricket Played in Georgia Town Square
Georgia planter William Stephens: "Many of our Townsmen, Freeholders, Inmates, and Servants were assembled in the principal Square, at Cricket and divers other athletick Sports."
A Journal of the Proceedings in Georgia, II, page 217, as cited in Lester, ed., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [U Penn, 1951], page 4. Lester cites this account as the first mention of American cricket.
1747.1 Poet Thomas Gray: "Urge the Flying Ball."
"What idle progeny succeed
Thomas Gray, "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College," lines 28-30. Accessed 12/29/2007 at http://www.thomasgray.org. "Rolling circle" had been drafted as "hoop," and thus does not connote ballplay. Cricket writers have seen "flying ball" as a cricket reference, but a Gray scholar cites "Bentley's Print" as a basis for concluding that Gray was referring to trap ball in this line. Steel and Lyttelton note that this poem was first published in 1747. Note: is it fair to assume that Gray is evoking student play at Eton in this ode? Do modern scholars agree with the 1747 publication date?
1750s.2 Town Ball and Cat Played in NC Lowlands?
One biographer has estimated: "Of formalized games, choices for males [in NC] appear to have been 'town-ball, bull-pen,' 'cat,' and 'prisoner's base,' whatever exhibitions of dexterity they may have involved" Chalmers G. Davidson, Piedmont Partisan: The Life and Times of Brigadier-General William Lee Davidson (Davidson College, Davidson NC, 1951), page 20. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 32.
Caution: This is a very early claim for town ball, preceding even New England references to roundball or like games. It would be useful to examine C. Davidson's sources. Note: Can we determine what region of NC is under discussion? Text of the biography is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/15/2008. Prisoner's base is not a ball game, and bull-pen is not a safe-haven game.
1754.1 Marylanders Play "Great Cricket Match for a Good Sum"
"We hear that there is to be a great cricket match for a good sum played on Saturday next, near Mr. Aaron Rawling's Spring, between eleven young men of this city [Annapolis] and the same number from Prince George's County [now a Washington suburban community]"
Bradford's Journal, August 1, 1754, as cited in Lester's A Century of Philadelphia Cricket (UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951), page 5.
1773.3 Ball-Playing by Slaves Is Eyed in SC
"We present as a growing Evil, the frequent assembling of Negroes in the Town [Beaufort, SC] on Sundays, and playing games of Trap-ball and Fives, which is not taken proper notice of by Magistrates, Constables, and other Parish Officers."
Tom Altherr, Originals, Volume 2, Number 11 (November 2009), page 1. Tom sees this reference as "possibly the earliest which refers to African Americans, slaves or also possibly a few free blacks, playing a baseball-type game [although it is not clear if it involved any running], and playing frequently. Beaufort SC is about 40 miles NE of Savannah GA, near the coastline.
1785.1 Thomas Jefferson: Hunting is More Character-building Than Ballplaying
"Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind."
Thomas Jefferson [VA]. letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785, in Julian P. Boyd, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson [Princeton University Press, 1953], volume 8, p. 407. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," Nine, 2000; reprinted in David Block, ref # 55.
1790s.4 Southern Pols Calhoun and Crawford: Ballplaying Schoolmates?
"These two illustrious statesmen [southern leaders John C. Calhoun and William H. Crawford], who had played town ball and marbles and gathered nuts together . . . were never again to view each other except in bonds of bitterness."
J. E. D. Shipp, Giant Days: or the Life and Times of William H. Crawford [Southern Printers, 1909], page 167. Caveat: Crawford was ten years older than Calhoun, so it seems unlikely that they were close in school. Both leaders had attended Waddell's school [in GA] but that school opened in 1804 [see #1804.1] when Crawford was 32 years old, so their common school must have preceded their time at Waddell's.
1795.2 Survey Reports Cricket in New England, Playing at Ball in TN
Winterbotham, William, An Historical, Geographical, Commercial and Philosophical View of the American United States [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 180. Coverage of New England [volume 2, page 17] reports that "The healthy and athletic diversions of cricket, foot ball, quoits, wrestling, jumping, hopping, foot races, and prison bars, are universally practiced in the country, and some of them in the most populous places, and by people of almost all ranks." The Tennessee section [volume 3, page 235] mentions the region's fondness for sports, including "playing at ball." Block notes that Winterbotham is sometimes credited with saying that bat and ball was popular in America before the Revolutionary War, and that adults played it, but reports that scholars, himself included, have not yet confirmed such wording at this point.
1795.5 Playing At Ball in the Untamed West
"Wrestling, jumping, running foot races, and playing at ball, are the common diversions." W. Winterbotham, An Historical Geographical, Commercial, and Philosophical View of the American United States, Volume 3 (London, 1795), page 235. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30-31. Tom notes [ibid] that Winterbotham was writing about Federal territory south of the Ohio River. Note: KY, maybe? Volume 3 of this work is not accessible via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.
1797.5 In NC, Negroes Face 15 Lashes for Ballplaying
A punishment of 15 lashes was specified for "negroes, that shall make a noise or assemble in a riotous manner in any of the streets [of Fayetteville NC] on the Sabbath day; or that may be seen playing ball on that day." North-Carolina Minerva (March 11, 1797), excerpted in G. Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (Chapel Hill NC, 1937), page 551; as cited in Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 29
1802c.1 South Carolina Man Lists Ball-Playing Among Local Amusements
Drayton, John, A View of South-Carolina, As Respects Her Natural and Civil Concerns [W. P. Young, Charleston SC, 1854], p. 88. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 83.
1804.1 SC School Opens, Students Play Town Ball and Bull Pen
At Moses Waddell's "famous academy" established in Wilkington in 1804, "instead of playing baseball or football, boys took their recreation in running jumping, wrestling, playing town ball and bull pen."
Meriwether, Colyer, History of Higher Education in South Carolina[Washington GPO, 1889], chapter II, page 39. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Note: The terminology in this source appears more current than 1804, and it would be wise to consider whether it accurately depicts 1804 events. In addition, Seymour's note does not make clear whether the play described occurred at the time of the establishment of the academy, or later in its history.
1804.3 A "Match at Ball" in Northwest Louisiana?
In a listing of articles in North Louisiana History, we spy this citation: Morgan Peoples, "Caddoes Host 'Match at Ball," Volume 11, Number 3 (Summer 1980), pp. 353-36. Query: Can we retrieve the actual article and discover the particulars? Caddo Parish is just northwest of Shreveport LA. It appears that Caddo tribe was in this area, and we might speculate that the hosted games were Indian ballgames.
1805.6 In SC, Some Slaves Use Sundays for Ballplaying
"The negroes when not hurried have this day [Sunday] for amusement & great numbers are seen about, some playing ball, some with things for sale & some dressed up going to meeting."
Edward Hooker, Diaries, 1805-1830: MS 72876 and 72877, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford CT; per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 29-30. Tom [ibid, page 29] describes Hooker as a recent Yale graduate who in 1805 was a newly-arrived tutor in Columbia, SC. Tom says "this may be the first recorded evidence of slaves [p29/30] playing ball.
1807.3 Lost Poet Remembers College Ballplay, Maybe in Baltimore
Garrett Barry wrote in his sentimental verse "On Leaving College:"
"I'll fondly tract, with fancy's aid,/The spot where all our sports were made./ . . .
The little train forever gay,/With joy obey'd the pleasing call,/And nimbly urged the flying ball."
Barry, Garrett, "On Leaving College," in Poems, on Several Occasions (Cole and Co., Baltimore, 1807), no page given: Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see pages 240. Note: Can we determine from biographical information where and when Barry attended college? Is it significant that Barry reprises the phrase "urge the flying ball," seen as a cricket phrase in Pope [see #1730.1] and Gray [#1747.1]? Did Barry live/play in MD? 2008 update: John Thorn [email of 2/3/2008] discovers that others have been unable to determine exactly who the poet was, as there were three people with the name Garrett Barry in that area at that time. One of the three, who died at thirty in 1810, attended St. Mary's College in Baltimore.
1812c.1 Young Andrew Johnson Plays Cat and Bass Ball and Bandy in Raleigh NC
[At age four] "he spent many hours at games with boys of the neighborhood, his favorite being 'Cat and Bass Ball and Bandy,' the last the 'choyst' game of all."
Letter from Neal Brown, July 15, 1867, in Johnson Mss., Vol. 116, No. 16,106.[Publisher?]
Listed Source seems incomplete or garbled. Help?
1812.2 Soldier Van Smoot's Diary Notes Playing Catch at New Orleans LA
Peter Van Smoot, an Army private present at the Battle of New Orleans, writes in his diary: "I found a soft ball in my knapsack, that I forgot I had put there and started playing catch with it."
Note: Citation needed. John Thorn, 6/15/04: "I don't recognize this one"
1815c.7 New Englander Writes of Ballyards in Virginia
"I saw a young man betted upon, for five hundred dollars, at a foot race. Indeed every thing is decided by a wager . . . . What would a northern man think, to see a father, and a sensible and respected one, too, go out with a company, and play marbles? At some cross-roads, or smooth shaven greens, you may a wooden wall, high and broad as the side of a church, erected for men to play ball against."
"Arthur Singleton" (Henry Cogswell Knight), "Letters from the South and West," Salem [MA] Gazette, July 30, 1824. This paper extracted portions of a new book, which had been written between 1814 and 1819, by Knight, who was reared in Massachusetts and graduated from Brown in 1812. Online text unavailable 2/3/10. Query: The ballplaying facility as described seems uncongenial for cricket or a baserunning game, unless it was a form of barn-ball. Isn't a form of hand-ball a more likely possibility? Was handball, or fives, common in VA at this stage?
1816.10 Norfolk VA Cricket Club Reported
Richard Hershberger [emails of 1/28/09 and 2/4/10] reports seeing advertisements in the American Beacon for a Norfolk Cricket Club from 1816 to 1820:
"CRICKET CLUB. A meeting of the Subscribers to this Club, will be held at the Exchange Coffee House, this evening at 6 o'clock, for the purpose of draughting Rules and Regluations for the government."
American Beacon(Norfolk VA), October 25, 1816. Subsequent notices were for playing times.
Note: In The Tented Field, Tom Melville writes that a 1989 book has the Norfolk Club being founded in 1803 in imitation of English customs (page 164, note 10). Patricia Click, in Spirit of the Times (UVa Press, 1989), page 119, cites the October 1, 1803 issue of the "Norfolk and Portsmouth Herald" [likely then the "Norfolk Herald"] in reference to an observation [page 73] about the social makeup of cricket clubs. Query: can we find out what the 1803 paper actually says about cricket, if anything?
1818.4 Cricket Reported in Louisville KY?
"It is not unreasonable to speculate that as the immigrants came down the Ohio River . . . they brought with them the leisure activities hat had already developed in the cities along the Atlantic coast. There are reports of a form of cricket being played in the city as early at 1818."
Bailey, Bob, "Beginnings; From Amateur Teams to Disgrace in the National League," , page 1. Bob (email, 1/27/2013), further quotes Dean Sullivan's master's thesis, Ball-oriented Sport in a Southern City: A Study of the Organizational Evolution of Baseball in Louisville (George Mason University): "Ball-oriented sports had been reported in Kentucky as early as 1818, when travelers stumbled upon a primitive game of cricket."
Note: The original source of the 1818 reference may have been lost. Bob reports that Dean Sullivan thesis cited Harold Peterson's The Man Who Invented Baseball (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1973), page 24. However, Peterson gives no source. A dead end?
Are there other sightings of this 1818 cricket account?
1821.2 Cricket Not New in SC
"The members of the old cricket club are requested to attend a meeting of [sic?] the Carolina Coffee House tomorrow evening."
Charleston Southern Patriot, January 23, 1821, per Holliman, American Sport 1785 - 1835, page 68.
1823c.9 Kentucky Abolitionist Played Base-ball
"I had ever been devoted to athletic sports - riding on horseback . . . playing base-ball, bandy, foot-ball and all that - so I had confidence in my prowess." C. Clay, The Life of Cassius Marcellus Clay; Memoirs, Writings and Speeches, Volume 1 (Brennan and Co., Cincinnati, 1886), page 35. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 31. Clay was 13 years old and at a KY College in 1823. His book, which makes no other reference to ball-playing, was accessed 11/15/2008 via a Google Books search for "life of cassius."
1825c.4 John Oliver Plays Base Ball in Baltimore
"John W. Oliver recalls having baseball in Baltimore, Maryland. His family moved from England when he was three. "He remembers very distinctly having played the game of Base Ball when a boy. He states that his earliest recollection of the playing of the game was when he was about ten years of age, and at that time the game was played in this manner: The batter held the ball in one hand and a flat stick in the other, tossed the ball into the air and hit on the return, and then ran to either one, two, or three bases depending on the number of boys playing the game. If the ball was caught on the fly or the batter hit with the ball while running the bases, he was out. These bases, so called, at that time, were either stones or pieces of sod was removed [sic], or bare places where grass was scraped off. He remembers seeing the game played frequently while an apprentice boy, but always in this manner, never with a pitcher or a catcher, but sometimes with sides, which were chosen somewhat in the manner in which they are now chosen by boys; that is, by one catching a bat in his hand and another placing his hand on top, alternating in this manner until the last one had hold of the end of the bat, which he swung around his head. I never saw the game played with stakes or poles used for bases instead of stones or sods. Never heard of a game of Rounders. One Old Cat, Two Old Cat, Three Old Cat have seen played, but never have taken part in it myself."
Full text of Mills Commission summary of information from John W. Oliver, Editor, Yonkers Statesman, under date of September 26, 1905. From the Giamatti Center at Cooperstown. Note: we wish we could ascertain what were Oliver's own words, given the artlessness of this summary. Oliver was about 90 when debriefed in 1905.
1825c.6 Cricket Played at Southern Outings
In the South, "cricket was played even at the end of house raisings and trainings. The game was played along with quoits and other games of skill and strength. Parties were formed to go on fishing trips and picnics, and during the outing, cricket was one of the games played." Jennie Holliman, American Sports 1785 - 1835 (Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1975), page 68.
Holliman here cites The American Farmer, vol. 8, no 143 (1825), which John Thorn found online [email of 2/9/2008], and which does not make a strong case for cricket's ubiquity. This piece suggests that an ideal way to spend a Saturday near Baltimore is to have a fishing contest until dinnertime, and "after dinner pitch quoits, or play at cricket, or bowl at nine-pins." "Sporting Olio," American Farmer, Containing Original Essays and Selections on Rural Economics, July 22, 1825, page 143.
1827.9 Baltimore MD Bans Ballplaying on Sundays and within City Limits
"CITY OF BALTIMORE. 36. AN ORDINANCE to restrain evil practices therein mentioned. . . .[Sec. 3] it shall not be lawful for any person to play at bandy or ball, to fly a kite or throw a stone or any other missile in . . . any street, lane, or alley opened for public use within the limits of the city." Section 7 covers Sabbath play, again including ball, and adding "pitching quoits or money." The penalty was $1.00. The ordinance is dated March 2, 1827.
Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser, March 13, 1827, page 3. Posted to the 19CBB listserve November 2009 by George Thompson. Note:
One type of ballplaying that was banned was that described by young John Oliver at entry #1825c.4, above.
1828.15 1828 Advertisement for the Cricket Club in New Orleans
The New Orleans Louisiana Advertiser, Feb. 27, 1828, carries an ad saying "Weather permitting, the Cricket Club will meet on the 2d of March, at 10 a.m."
The New Orleans Louisiana Advertiser, Feb. 27, 1828
1830s.20 In GA, Men Played Fives, Schoolboys Played Base and Town Ball
"Men as well as boys played the competitive games of 'Long Bullets' and 'Fives,' the latter played against a battery built by nailing planks to twenty-foot poles set to make the [p31/32] 'battery' at least fifty feet wide. The school boys played 'base,' 'bull-pen,' 'town ball' and 'shinny' too." Jessie Pearl Rice, J. L. M. Curry: Southerner, Statesman, and Educator (King's Crown Press, New York, 1949), pages 6-7.
Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 31-32. The full text of the Rice biography is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/15/2008. Long-bullets involved distance throwing. Fives is a team game resembling one-wall hand-ball. Curry's school was in Lincoln County GA, about 30 miles NE of Augusta.
1838.5 At GA, "Baseball and Cricket Had Not Evolved"
"Games and gymnasiums as a regular part of college work, and hence regular organizations of students for athletics, were unknown at that time. Athletics and games there were indeed a plenty, but as purely spontaneous expressions of abounding vitality. I was light, active, and fleet of foot, and became very expert in gymnastics and as a player of town-ball, for baseball and cricket had not yet evolved." [LeConte writes of his college years at the University of Georgia in Athens. He entered as a freshman in January 1838.]
LeConte, Joseph. The Autobiography of Joseph Le Conte (D. Appleton & Company, New York, 1903), page 46. Provided by John Thorn, email of 7/9/04
1840c.23 Old-Fashioned Ballgame Noted in Antebellum GA
"A number of gentlemen are about to form another base ball club, the game to be played after the fashion in the South twenty years ago, when old field schools were the scenes of trial of activity, and rosy cheeked girls were the umpires"
Macon Daily Telegraph, March 2, 1860. Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 9/11/2007.
1840.24 Unusual Georgia Townball Described in Unusual Detail
Richard Hershberger located [and posted to 19CBB on 8/29/2007] a long recollection of "Old Field Games in 1840" including townball. The account, a reprint of an earlier document, appears in James S. Lamar, "Pioneer Days in Georgia," Columbus [GA] Enquirer, March 18, 1917, [page?].
"Townball" used a circular area whose size and number of [equidistant] bases varied with available space and with number of players [no standard team size is given, but none of the forty boys in school need be left out]. Instead of a diamond, a circle of up to 50 yards in diameter marked the basepaths; thus, a batter would cover on the order of 450 feet in scoring a run. There was a three-strike rule, and a batter could decide not to run on a weak hit unless he had used up two strikes. A member of the batting side pitched, and not aggressively. The ball was small [the core had a 2-inch diameter and was consisted of tightly-would rubber strips, often wound around a lead bullet]. The core was buckskin and the ball was very bouncy. Bats might be round, flat, or paddle-shaped. A ball caught on the fly or first bound was an out. There was plugging. Stealing was disallowed, and leading may have been. Innings were all-out-side-out. There is no mention of backward hitting or foul ground. "If young people want to play ball, Townball is the game. If they simply want to see somebody else play ball, then Baseball may be better"
Full text was accessed at http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/georgiabooks/id:gb0361 on 10/22/2008, and is available here. Note: Lamar's text dates the game at 1840, when he was 10 to 11 years old. One can not tell when the text was written; the last date cited in the text is 1854, but the townball section seems to compare it with baseball from a much later time. The Digital Library of Georgia uses a date of "19—." See: http://dlg.galileo.usg.edu/meta/html/dlg/zlgb/meta_dlg_zlgb_gb0361.html. Lamar died in 1908; other sources say 1905.
1840s.32 Ballplaying by Slaves is Part of a Normal Plantation Sunday in GA
"The slaves had finished the tasks that had been assigned to them in the morning and were now enjoying holiday recreations. Some were trundling the hoop, some were playing ball, some were dancing at the sound of the fiddle . . . In this manner the Sabbath is usually spent on a Southern plantation." Emily Burke, Pleasure and Pain: Reminiscences of Georgia in the 1840s (Beehive Press, Savannah, GA, 1991), pages 40-41. Originally published in Ohio in 1850. Text unavailable 11/08 on Google Books.
Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30. Tom [ibid] describes Burke as a northern schoolteacher.
1840c.33 Future University Head Plays Two Types of Ball in NC
Kemp Battle, who moved to Raleigh NC at age 8, and who would stay to become President of the University of North Carolina, wrote later of two forms of local ballplaying. The first involved high and low pitching to the batter's taste, leading and stealing, plugging - the ball was loosely wrapped—the bound rule, a three-strike rule, and one-out-side-out innings. [The absence of foul ground, team size, and nature/spacing of bases are not mentioned.] The second form, "known as old hundred or town ball" used all-out-side-out innings, with the last batter able to revive vanquished team members with certain feats.
W. Battle, ed., Memories of an Old-Time Tar Heel (U of NC Press, Chapel Hill NC, 1945), pages 36 and 57. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 31. The text of the Battle book is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.
1840s.36 VA Lad Plays Chermany at Recess
"Our recess games were chiefly chermany and bandy ("hockey").
Moncure Daniel Conway, Autobiography: Memories and Experiences (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1905), page 35. Accessed via Google Books 12/16/2008, search "conway autobiography." The recesses were enjoyed at a school in Fredericksburg VA, which Conway attended from about 1842 to 1847, ages 10 to 15. Chermany has been described as a "variety of baseball" played in Virginia and perhaps elsewhere in the South: Frederic Gomes Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall, Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1985), page 604. Fredericksburg is about 55 miles north of Richmond and about 55 miles SW of Washington DC. Thanks to Tom Altherr for the lead to "chermany" [email of 12/10/2008].
1841.15 Base and Wicket in New Orleans?
"Who has not played 'barn ball' in boyhood, 'base' in his youth and 'wicket' in his adulthood?" New Orleans Picayune, 1841. This cite is found in Tom Melville, The Tented Field: A History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State U Press, Bowling Green, 1998), page 6. He attributes it, apparently, to Dale Somers, The Rise of Sports in New Orleans (LSU Press, Baton Rouge, 1972), page 48. Note: Melville is willing to identify the sport as the one that was played mostly in the CT-central MA area . . . but it is conceivable that the writer intended to denote cricket instead? Do we have other references to wicket in LA?
The original article is in the New Orleans Times Picayune, May 31, 1841, and references a reminisce in a Cleveland OH newspaper article. [ba]
1841.18 Louisiana Editor Endorses Formation of Clubs for Ballplaying
Playing off the Cleveland Daily Herald defense of ballplaying [#1841.17], a New Orleans editor challenged the people of Louisiana: "[T]hose who desire now and then to spend a day in freedom and pleasure, adding powerfully both to physical and mental vigor, can never do better than to dash away into some of the commons in the vicinity of our own Crescent City and choose sides for an old fashioned game of ball. We have 'clubs' and 'societies' for almost every other purpose ever thought of. Who will first move the formation of a club to indulge in the manly and refreshing sport of ball-playing?"
"Playing Ball," The Daily Picayune [New Orleans] , Volume 5, number 101 (May 25, 1841), page 2. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 40-41.
1844.13 Wicket Play in New Orleans LA?
"The members of the New Orleans Wicket Club, are requested to meet at the Field, This Day, Thursday at 5 o'clock, PM, precisely."
Times Picayune, November 7, 1844. Accessed via subscription search, March 27, 2009. Contributed by Richard Hereshberger, March 8, 2009.
1845c.25 Early Cricket Clubs in the South
Tom Melville, "A History of Cricket in America," p. 15: "Cricket clubs were also appearing in other areas of the country, such as Charleston, South Carolina (where the local club seems to have been associated with that city's prestigious Jockey Club)... Natchez, Mississippi... and in Macon, Georgia by 1845."
Tom Melville, "A History of Cricket in America," p. 15
1847.11 Curling is "Bass Ball," or "Goal," or "Hook-em-Snivy," on the Ice?
In response to an article from the Alabama Reporter belittling the sport of curling, the Spirit of the Times writer attempts to describe curling to Southerners like this: "What is 'Curling,' eh? Why, did you ever play 'bass ball,' or 'goal,' or 'hook-em-snivy,' on the ice? Well, curling is not like either. In curling, sides are chosen; each player has a bat, one end of which is turned up, somewhat like a plough-handle, with which to knock a ball on ice without picking it up as in the game of foot-ball, which curling resembles." Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008. "
The <em>Alabama Reporter, a</em>s reprinted in <em>Spirit of the Times, </em> January 16, 1847, page 559.
David Block explains, 2/27/2008: "Clearly, the writer had curling confused with ice hockey, which was itself an embryonic sport that the time." Or maybe he confused it with ice-hurling, which actually employs a ball.
From Richard Hershberger, 12/8/09: "What makes this so interesting is that the response speaks of "bass ball" played on ice. This is a decade before such games were commonly reported, suggesting that the [later] practice by organized clubs was borrowed from older, informal play on ice."
Could gentle readers please enlighten Protoball on the nature and fate of "hook-em-snivy," in AL or the South or elsewhere? I asked Mister Google about the word, and he rather less helpfully and rather more cryptically than usual, said this: "My Quaker grandmother, born in Maryland in 1823, used [the word] in my hearing when she was about seventy years old. She said that it was a barbarism in use among common people and that we must forget it.
1850s.1 Accounts of Ballplaying by Slaves
Wiggins, Kenneth, "Sport and Popular Pastimes in the Plantation Community: The Slave Experience," Thesis, University of Maryland, 1979. Per Millen, notes #26-29.
Note: the dates and circumstances and locations of these cases are unclear in Millen. One refers to plugging.
Can we find out details on the content of the Wiggins monograph>?
1850s.4 New Orleans LA: Clubs Formed by German and Irish immigrants to play Base Ball
"Beginning in the 1850's, the Germans and the Irish took up the sport [baseball] with alacrity. In New Orleans, for example, the Germans founded the Schneiders, Laners, and Landwehrs, and the Irish formed the Fenian Baseball Club. . . . Baseball invariably accompanied the ethnic picnics of the Germans, Irish, French, and, later, Italians."
Per Benjamin G. Rader, American Sports: From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Spectators [Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1983], page 93. No source provided.
I've checked New Orleans newspapers 1855-1860 and found no mention of these asserted clubs, let alone that they played baseball.
Can we now determine when the these clubs formed, and details on their play and durability? Do we see ethnic clubs in other cities in the 1850s?
1850s.13 Trap Ball, Stool Ball, Well Established in Louisville KY
US South, Kentucky
"Other forms of bat and ball games, like trap-ball and stool-ball, became well established in Louisville in the decade preceding the Civil War."
Bob Bailey, "Chapter 1 - Beginnings: From Amateur Teams to Disgrace in the National League (mimeo, 1990)', page 1. Bob (email, 1/27/2013) notes that his source for this observation is The Boy's Own Book: A Complete Encyclopedia of all the Diversions, Athletic, and Recreative, of Boyhood and Youth (Louisville, Morton and Griswold, 1854), page 67.
Can we obtain original sources?
1850s.37 Near Richmond VA, Games of Round Cat and Chermany
"There was a big field near his old home where he and the other boys, black and white, had played "round cat" and "chermany" in the summers before the war and had set their rabbit-traps in seasons of frost and snow."
Armistead C. Gordon, "His Father's Flag," Scribner's Magazine Volume 62 (1917), page 443. This fictional story of the son of a Confederate soldier killed during the Civil War is set near Dragon Swamp. (There are two VA places called Dismal Swamp; one is about 85 miles SE of Richmond. The other is about 50 miles E of Richmond.)
The two games named are known as ballgames played in the south. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (scribners "volume lxii").
1858.46 New York Game Arrives in Baltimore MD
"Mr. George Beam, of Orendorf, Beam and Co., Wholesale Grocers . . . visiting New York City in 1858, was invited by Mr. Joseph Leggett [a NYC grocer] to witness one of the games of the Old Excelsior Base Ball Club, of New York City. Mr. Beam became so much enthused, that on his return to Baltimore City . . . it resulted in the organization of the Excelsior B.B. Club. The first meeting was held in 1858. . . . The almost entire membership of the club was composed of business men. . . . [p 203/204] The score book of the club having been lost, and the old members having no recollection of any games played in 1859, except with the Potomac Club of Washington D.C., it is quite probable that the time was devoted to practice." In 1860 they played the NY Excelsiors along Madison Avenue in NY.
Griffith also notes that "[T]he ball used in the early sixties was about one-third larger, and one-third heavier, than the present one, than the present  one, and besides was what is known as a 'lively ball,' and for those reasons harder to hold." Ibid, page 202.
Griffith implies, but does not state, that this was the first Baltimore club to play by NY rules. This journal article appears to be an extract of pages 1-11 of Griffith's The Early History of Amateur Baseball in the State of Maryland 1858-1871 (John Cox's Sons, Baltimore, 1897).
William Ridgely Griffith, "The Early History of Amateur Base Ball in the State of Maryland," Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 87, number 2, Summer 1992), pages 201-208.
1861.1 Chadwick Tries to Start Richmond VA Team, but the Civil War Intervenes
Bill Hicklin notes (email of Feb 4, 2016) that "Chadwick visited his wife's family frequently and was disappointed that, as of the verge of the Civil War, there appeared to be no base ball clubs there at all."
Ward, Geoffrey C., and Ken Burns, Baseball: An Illustrated History [Knopf, 1994], p.12, no ref given.
John Thorn, email of 2/10/2008, suggests that Beadle may have more detail.
Schiff, Millen, and Kirsch also cite Chadwick's attempt, but do not give a clear date, or a source.
Is there a primary source for this claim?
1861.18 Confederate Base Ball Players Finds Field "Too Boggy" in VA
"Confederate troops played townball as well as more modern versions of the game in their army camps. In November 1861 the Charleston Mercury of South Carolina reported that Confederate troops were stuck in soggy camps near Centreville, Fairfax County, [northern] Virginia. Heavy rains created miserably wet conditions so that 'even the base ball players find the green sward in front of the camp, too boggy for their accustomed sport.'" Centreville is adjacent to Manassas/Bull Run. 40,000 Confederate troops under Gen. Johnson had winter quarters there [the town's population had been 220] in 1861/62.
Charleston Mercury, November 4, 1861, page. 4, column 5. Mentioned without citation in Kirsch, Baseball in Blue and Gray (Princeton U, 2003), page 39. PBall file: CW-6
1861.20 Confederate Soldier's Diary Reports on Town Ball Playing, 1861-1863
December 1861 (Texas?): "There is nothing unusual transpiring in Camp. The boys are passing the time playing Town-Ball."
January 1862 (Texas?): "All rocking along finely, Boys playing Town-Ball"
March 1863 (USA prison camp, IL?): The Rebels have at last found something to employ both mind and body; as the parade ground has dried up considerably in the past few days, Town Ball is in full blast, and it is a blessing for the men."
March 1863 (USA prison camp, IL?): "Raining this morning, which will interfere with ball playing, but the manufacture of rings 'goes bravely on,' and I might say receives a fresh impetus by the failure of the 'Town-ball' business."
W. W. Heartsill, Fourteen Hundred and 91 Days in the Confederate Army: A Journal Kept by W. W. Heartsill: Day-by-Day, of the W. P. Lane (Texas) Rangers, from April 19th 1861 to May 20th 1865. Submitted by Jeff Kittel, 5/12/09. Available online at The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries Database, at http://solomon.cwld.alexanderstreet.com/. PBall file: CW10.
Heartsill joined Lane's Texas Rangers early in the War at age 21. He was taken prisoner in Arkansas in early 1862, and exchanged for Union prisoners in April 1863. He then joined Bragg's Army in Tennessee, and was assigned to a unit put in charge of a Texas prison camp of Union soldiers. There are no references to ballplaying after 1863.
manufacture of rings?
POWs commonly fashioned hair or bone rings to while away the time [ba].
1861.80 Left and Right Wings of 9th NY Play
. Right and left wings of the 9th NY play. Sgt.Major Burtis, an old member of the
Gotham club, pitchers the left wing to a 40-6 victory. Gives a box score.
New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 13, 1861
1862.81 VA Artillerymen play town ball
Walbrook Swank, "Confederate Letters" p. 70 prints a letter from Charles T. Shelton (1839-63), a UVA grad who served in Virginia's Botetourt Artillery:
Our company is engaged in a game of town Ball..."
From the online snippet it is unclear where/when the letter was written. The unit was transferred to East Tennessee in 1862, and in late 1862 was sent with Stevenson's division to defend Vicksburg, MS. He mentions the game was familiar from his days in school.
Walbrook Swank, "Confederate Letters" p. 70
1863.94 Army Chaplain Plays ball in the Army of the Cumberland
The Boston Daily Advertiser, Nov. 5, 1863, picks up a Chicago Evening Journal article on Army chaplains in the Army of the Cumberland (then stationed around Chattanooga, TN), saying a chaplain of an Illinois regiment has been seen "dressing a wound... playing ball, running a race, as well as heard him making a prayer and preaching a sermon."
The Boston Daily Advertiser, Nov. 5, 1863
1863.125 115th NY soldier Plays Ball
From auction catalog on www.invaluable.com, March 30, 2018, the 1863 Civil War Diary of David L. Mann:
Description: Manuscript diary of Private David L. Mann, New York 115th Infantry, Company E. Mann was a POW at Harper's Ferry in 1862 and notes he returned to Harper's Ferry, as well as Gettysburg, several times. A small selection from the diary, April 17th, "Boys are playing ball." June 13, "Attacked. Hold the enemy 1800 strong in check until the train is out of danger." June 14th, "Skirmished all day." Further discussions of metal caskets for dead soldiers, fighting, scouting, picketing, a drunken captain sounding a false alarm to saddle up. About 40% written in.
[the location is not given, but is probably VA]