Chronology:Western New York
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1816.1 Cooperstown NY Bans Downtown Ballplaying Near Future Site of HOF
On June 6, 1816, trustees of the Village of Cooperstown, New York enacted an ordinance: "Be it Ordained That no person shall play at Ball in Second or West Street (now Pioneer and Main Streets), in this village, under a penalty of one dollar, for each and every offence."
Otsego Herald, number 1107, June 6, 1816, p. 3. The Herald carried the same notice on June 13, page 3. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball: Baseball and Baseball-Type Games in the Colonial Era, Revolutionary War, and Early American Republic.." Nine, Volume 8, number 2 (2000), p. 15-49. Reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It – see page 245 and ref #75.
Note: those streets intersect a half block from the Hall of Fame, right?
1820s.18 Syracuse NY Ball Field Remembered as Base Ball Site
David Block reports: "In the lengthy 'Editor's Table' section of this classic monthly magazine [The Knickerbocker], the editor described a nostalgic visit that he and two old school chums had taken to the academy that they had attended near Syracuse. 'We went out upon the once-familiar green, as if it were again 'play time', and called by name upon our old companions to come over once more and play 'bass-ball.' But they answered not; they came not! The old forms and faces were gone; the once familiar voices were silent.'"
"Editor's Table," The Knickerbocker (S. Hueston, New York, 1850), page 298. Contributed by David Block 2/27/2008.
The Editor, Lewis Gaylord Clark, was born in 1810, and attended the Onondaga Academy. He was thus apparently recalling ball-playing from sometime in the 1820s. Onondaga Academy was, evidently, about 3 miles SW of downtown Syracuse.
Can we get better data on Clark's age while at the Academy?
1822.5 Ball-playing Disallowed in Front of Hobart College Residence
"The rules for Geneva Hall in 1822 are still preserved. The residents were not allowed to cut or saw firewood, or play ball or quoits, in front of the building."
Warren Hunting Smith, Hobart and William Smith; the History of Two Colleges (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva NY, 1972. Provided by Priscilla Astifan, email of 2/4/2008.
1825c.1 Thurlow Weed Recalls Baseball in Rochester NY
"A baseball club, numbering nearly fifty members, met every afternoon during the ball playing season. Though the members of the club embraced persons between eighteen and forty, it attracted the young and old. The ball ground, containing some eight or ten acres, known as Mumford's meadow . . . ." -- Thurlow Weed
[Weed goes on to list prominent local professional people, including doctors and lawyers, among the players.]
The experience is also represented in a 1947 novel, Grandfather Stories. "[The game] was clearly baseball, not town ball, as the old man described the positioning of the fielders and mentioned that it took three outs to retire the batting side." -- Tom Altherr.
Weed, Thurlow, Life of Thurlow Weed [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1883], volume 1, p. 203. Per Robert Henderson ref #159.
Samuel Hopkins Adams, Grandfather Stories (Random House, 1955 -- orig pub'd 1947), 146-149.
Did Weed advert to 3-out half innings, or did Adams?
1825c.12 Rochester Senior: "How the Game of Ball Was Played"
Writing in 1866, a man ("W") in Rochester NY described the game he had played "forty years since." That game featured balls made from raveled woolen stockings and covered by a shoemaker, a softer ball - "not as hard as a brick" than the NY ball, no fixed team size, soft tosses from the pitcher who took no run-up, "tick" hitting, the bound rule, plugging, a mix of flat and round bats. He suggests organizing a throw-back game to show 1860's youth "what grey heads can do."
"W," "The Game of Base Ball in the Olden Time," Rochester Evening Express (July 10, 1866), page 3, column 4. Provided by Priscilla Astifan, 2006. To read the full text, go here. Note: the writer does not say where he played these games, mentioning that he moved to Rochester three years before.
1827.2 Story Places Baseball in Rochester NY
A story, evidently set in 1880 in Rochester, involves three boys who convince their grandfather to attend a Rochester-Buffalo game. The grandfather contrasts the game to that which he had played in 1827.
He describes intramural play among the 50 members of a local club, with teams of 12 to 15 players per side, a three-out-side-out rule, plugging, a bound rule, and strict knuckles-below-knees pitching. He also recalls attributes that we do not see elsewhere in descriptions of early ballplaying: a requirement that each baseman keep a foot on his base until the ball is hit, a seven-run homer when the ball went into a sumac thicket and the runners re-circled the bases, coin-flips to provide "arbitrament" for disputed plays, and the team with the fewest runs in an inning being replaced by a third team for the next inning ["three-old-cat gone crazy," says one of the boys]. The grandfather's reflection does not comment on the use of stakes instead of bases, the name used for the old game, the relative size or weight of the ball, or the lack of foul ground - in fact he says that outs could be made on fouls.
Samuel Hopkins Adams, "Baseball in Mumford's Pasture Lot," Grandfather Stories (Random House, New York, 1947), pp. 143 - 156. Full text is unavailable via Google Books as of 12/4/2008.
Adams' use of a frame-within-a-frame device is interesting to baseball history buffs, but the authenticity of the recollected game is hard to judge in a work of fiction. Mumford's lot was in fact an early Rochester ballplaying venue, and Thurlow Weed (see entry #1825c.1) wrote of club play in that period. Priscilla Astifan has been looking into Adams' expertise on early Rochester baseball. See #1828c.3 for another reference to Adams' interest in baseball about a decade before the modern game evolved in New York City.
We welcome input on the essential nature of this story. Fiction? Fictionalized memoir? Historical novel?
1828c.3 Upstate Author Carried Now-Lost 1828 Clipping on Base Ball in Rochester
[A] "Your article on baseball's origins reminded me of an evening spent in Cooperstown with the author Samuel Hopkins Adams more than 30 years ago. Over a drink we discussed briefly the folk tale about the "invention" of baseball in this village in 1839.
"Even then we knew that the attribution to Abner Doubleday was a myth. Sam Adams capped the discussion by pulling from his wallet a clipping culled from a Rochester newspaper dated 1828 that described in some detail the baseball game that had been played that week in Rochester."
[B] Adams' biography also notes the author's doubts about the Doubleday theory: asked in 1955 about his novel Grandfather Stories, which places early baseball in Rochester in 1827 [sic], he retorted "'I am perfectly willing to concede that Cooperstown is the home of the ice cream soda, the movies and the atom bomb, and that General Doubleday wrote Shakespeare. But," and he then read a newspaper account of the [1828? 1830?] Rochester game."
[C] "Will Irwin, a baseball historian, tells us he was informed by Samuel Hopkins of a paragraph in an 1830 newspaper which notes that a dance was to be held by the Rochester Baseball Club."
[A] Letter from Frederick L. Rath, Jr, to the Editor of the New York Times, October 5, 1990.
[B] Oneonta Star, July 9. 1965, citing Samuel V. Kennedy, Samuel Hopkins Adams and the Business of Writing (Syracuse University Press, 1999), page 284.
[C] Bill Beeny, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, March 17, 1965.
Priscilla Astifan has looked hard for such an article, and it resists finding. She suspects the article appeared in a newspaper whose contents were not preserved.
1830s.12 Watching Wicket Ball in Buffalo NY
"[The Indians] would lounge on the steps of the 'Old First Church,' where they could look at our young men playing wicket ball in front of the church (no fences there then):, and this was a favorite ball ground."
" . . . the boys, who must always have their fun, did not always 'Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy,' but would make a holiday of it by a vigorous game of ball, in some secluded spot in the suburbs of he town . . . "
Samuel M. Welch, Home History: Recollections of Buffalo During the Decade from 1830 to 1840, or Fifty Years Since [P. Paul and bro., Buffalo, 1890], pages 112 and 220. Submitted by John Thorn 9/13/2006. Also see Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38.
Are these Welch's own recollections?
1830s.15 In Buffalo NY, Balls Formed from Fish Noses
Writing over 50 years later, Samuel Welch recalled:
"the fish I bought as a small boy at that time [1830-1840], at one cent per pound, mainly to get its noses for cores for our balls, to make them bound, to play the present National Game."
Welch also recalls the local enthusiasm for ballplaying: "the boys, who must have their fun, did not always 'Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy,' but would make a holiday of it by a vigorous game of ball, in some secluded spot in the suburbs of the town."
Welch, Samuel L., Home History. Recollections of Buffalo during the Decade from 1830 to 1840, or Fifty Years Since (Peter Paul and Brother, Buffalo, 1891), page 353 and page 220, respectively. [Text unavailable via Google Books as of 11/16/2008.] See also Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball: Baseball and Baseball-Type Games in the Colonial Era, Revolutionary War, and Early American Republic.." Nine, Volume 8, number 2 (2000), p. 15-49. Reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It – see pages 245-6, and ref #82.
1830.17 NYS Squirrel Hunters Stop for Ballplaying
From an account that appeared 53 later, involving a 25-year-old who lived about 20 miles south of Buffalo NY:
"Mr. Wickham had a great taste for hunting, and he relates the incidents of a squirrel hunt that took place in Collins in 1830. Two sides were chosen, consisting of eight hunters on a side, and the party that scored the most points by producing the tails of the game secured, were declared the victors. . . . About 4 o'clock P.M. the hunters came in and the scores counted up and it was found that Timothy Clark's side were victorious by over one hundred counts and the day's sport wound up by an old fashioned game of .base ball, in which Timothy Clark's men again came off victorious."
Erasmus Briggs, History of the Original Town of Concord, Being the Present Towns of Concord, Collins, N. Collins, and Sardinia Erie County New York (Rochester, Union and Advertiser Company's Print, 1883), page 526. Submitted by David Nevard, 2/22/07.
1832.8 Buffalo NY Council and "Playing at Ball"
Nobody knows when baseball was first played in Buffalo. There is evidence to show it was played in some form at least as far back as 1832, the year the city was incorporated. Ordinance #19 of the first city charter reads as follows: 'The City Council shall have the authority to make laws regulating the rolling of hoops, flying of kites, playing at ball, or any other amusement having a tendency to annoy persons passing in the streets and sidewalks of the city, or to frighten teams of horses."
Overfield, Joseph, 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball (Partner's Press, Kenmore NY, 1985), page 17.
1838.3 Cooper Novel Home as Found Mentions Ballplaying in Cooperstown
"'Do you refer to the young men on the lawn, Mr. Effington? . . . Why, sir, I believe they have always played ball in that precise locality.'
He called out in a wheedling tone to their ringleader, a notorious street brawler. 'A fine time for sport, Dickey; don't you think there would be more room in the broad street than on this crowded lawn, where you lose our ball so often in the shrubbery?'
'This place will do, on a pinch,' bawled Dickey, 'though it might be better. If it weren't for the plagued house, we couldn't ask for a better ball-ground. . . '
'Well, Dickey . . . , there is no accounting for tastes, but in my opinion, the street would be a much better place to play ball in than this lawn . . . There are so many fences hereabouts . . . It's true the village trustees say there shall be no ball-playing in the street [see item #1816.1 above - LM], but I conclude you don't much mind what they say or threaten.'"
Thus James Fenimore Cooper, in his novel Home As Found, describes the return of the Effingham family to Templeton and their ancestral home in Cooperstown, NY. The passage is thought to be based on a similar incident in Cooper's life in 1834 or 1835. In an unidentified photocopy held in the HOF's "Origins of Baseball" file, the author of A City on the Rise, at page 11, observes that "Cooper was the first writer to connect the game with the national character, and to recognize its vital place in American life." Another source calls this "the first literary ball game:"
http://external.oneonta.edu/cooper/cooperstown/baseball.html. Caveat: In a 1/24/2008 posting to 19BCC, Richard Hershberger writes: I believe the consensus on the Cooper reference is that it likely was something more hockey-like than baseball-like."
James Fenimore Cooper, Home as Found [W.A. Townsend and Co., New York 1860] Chapter 11. The 1838 first edition was published by Lea and Blanchard in Philadelphia - data submitted by John Thorn, 7/11/2004.
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.
1840s.28 At Hobart College, "Wicket and Baseball Played in Summer"
At upstate NY's Hobart College in Geneva, "Social events were among the few recreations available; there were no intercollegiate athletics, and no concerted sports at all. . . . wicket and baseball were played in summer, there was skating in winter, and that was about all." Warren Hunting Smith, Hobart and William Smith; the History of Two College (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva NY, 1972), page 123. Caveat: The author is imprecise about the date of this observation; this passage appears in the chapter "Student Life Before 1860," and our impression is that he refers to the 1840s . . . but the 1830s or 1850s cannot be ruled out. Provided by Priscilla Astifan, email of 2/4/2008. Priscilla notes that this book also details a number of somewhat destructive student pranks and drinking. "When I read about all the pranks and dissipation, carousing, etc., I see why base ball and other sports were considered a welcome diversion when they became popular." [Email of 10/22/2008.]
1841.9 County-wide Wicket Challenge Issued Near Rochester NY
"A CHALLENGE. The undersigned, Amateur (Wicket) Ball Players, of the Town of Chili, Monroe County, propose, within 20 players, to meet any other Club, or same number of men in this county, and play a game of three ins a side, any time between the first and fifteenth of July next. The game to be played at Chapman's corner, eight miles west from Rochester. . . . Chili, June 24, 1841." RochesterRepublican, June 18, 1841
Noted by Priscilla Astifan, 19CBB posting, 1/28/2007. Priscilla adds: "Pioneer baseball players' [in Rochester] memoirs have mentioned Wicket as one of baseball's early predecessors here and that some of the best pioneer baseball players had been skilled wicket players.
1846.11 Suspicious Rochester NY Idler Observed Playing Wicket
"You speak . . . of Harrington, the express robber as being in prison here. This is incorrect. He isn't, neither has he been in jail since his arrival here, unless you can call the Eagle Hotel a jail. . . . [W]hen the weather has been pleasant, he has occupied his time in playing wicket in the public square; or playing the fiddle in his room . . . to solace and relieve the tedium of his boredom."
Rochester Police Officer Jacob Wilkinson letter of April 7, 1946, as quoted in "The Express Robbery," The National Police Gazette, Volume 1, Number 32 [April 18, 1846], page 277. Submitted by John Thorn, 9/2/2006. Note: It is possible to construe wicket as a daily Rochester occurrence from this snippet.
1848.17 Cricket Along the Erie Canal
On 12/11/09, Richard Hershberger posted a clip, datelined Utica NY, from the Oneida Morning Herald of December 5, 1848 that offered a $10 reward for recovery of a hand roller - presumably one used to smooth a playing area - by the Star of the West Cricket Club.
Richard added: "I found this while looking a cricket in the area, which was surprisingly vibrant. There was active inter-city play between the Erie Canal cities [such cities include Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo NY]. This item is a simply fantastic look at a practical side to the game. A $10 reward strikes me as downright extravagant. That must have been quite a piece of wood. Baseball clubs didn't need to fool with this sort of thing, which would make the game accessible to all classes."
1855c.1 "Massachusetts Run-Around" Recalled
"This [Massachusetts Run-Around] was ever a popular game with us young men, and especially on Town Meeting days when there were great contests held between different districts, or between the married and unmarried men, and was sometimes called Town Ball because of its association with Town Meeting day."
"It was an extremely convenient game because it required as a minimum only four on a side to play it, and yet you could play it equally as well with seven or eight. . . . There were no men on the bases; the batter having to make his bases the best he could, and with perfect freedom to run when and as he chose to, subject all the time to being plugged by the ball from the hand of anyone. It was lively jumping squatting and ducking in all shapes with the runner who was trying to escape being plugged. When he got around without having been hit by the ball, it counted a run. The delivery of the ball was distinctly a throw, not an under-hand delivery as was later the case for Base Ball. The batter was allowed three strikes at the ball. In my younger days it was extremely popular, and indulged in by everyone, young and old."
T. King, letter to the Mills Commission, November 24, 1905; accessed at the Giamatti Center, HOF.
The game of "run around" is mentioned in the Sycamore (IL) True Republican, May 29, 1878
Did King grow up in MA? Do we know why this ref. is dated c1855?
1857.21 Buffalo NY Sees its First Club
"The first organized, uniform team was the Niagaras who played their first games in 1857 . . . . The Niagaras were, of course, strictly an amateur nine. They played their first games after 'choosing up' among themselves, and then [later] played matches against other Buffalo nines as they became organized"
Overfield, Joseph, 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball (Partner's Press, Kenmore NY, 1985), page 17. Overfield does not cite a source.
Per Peter Morris in Base Ball Pioneers 1850-1870 (2012, p.101), the formation of the Niagaras was announced in the Buffalo Express on September 12, 1857.
1857.35 New York Game Likely Comes to Rochester NY
[A] the town's first team, the Live Oak Club, formed in 1857.
[B] A member of the club, quoted in 1902, also gave 1857 as the inaugural year, noting that the club "played unnoticed" that season.
[A] Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (August 6, 1869),
[B] Rochester Post Express, May 1, 1902.
Rochester baseball historian Priscilla Astifan [email of March 24, 2010] points out that it seems certain that the National Association rules were in effect in 1858, as seen in published box scores in that year.
One source, however, suggests a different club and an earlier year for base ball's local debut. "The first baseball club in Rochester was organized about 1855. . . . The first club was the Olympics." The 1855 Source: "Baseball Half a Century Ago," Rochester Union and Advertiser, March 24, 1903. The article does not refer to evidence for this claim, and Priscilla Astifan cannot find any, either.
1858.12 Base Ball, Meet Tin Pan Alley
Blodgett, J. (composer), "The Base Ball Polka" [Buffalo, Blodgett and Bradford]. Block marks this as the first baseball sheet music, as composed by a member of the Niagara Base Ball Club of Buffalo. "On the title page, under an emblem of two crossed bats over a baseball, is a dedication 'To the Flour City B. B. Club of Rochester, N.Y. by the Niagara B. B. Club.'"
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 218.
1858.22 Rochester NY Editor: Base Ball to Curb Tobacco, Swearing (If Not Spitting)
"We hail then with pleasure, the introduction in our city of the game of base ball and the formation of the many clubs to enjoy this healthful activity. It will impart vigor, health and good feeling. It is a manly sport . . . [and] will contribute as much to good morals as it does to pleasure. . . . The stimulus of outdoor exercises will supplant the morbid and pernicious craving for tobacco. . . . It is a luxury to see our young men together, in the innocent enjoyment of a healthful sport. Let a father who was once a ball player too . . . have the privilege of looking on without the pain of hearing a profane word . . . Signed, X."
"Field Sports," Rochester Democrat and American (August 12, 1858), page 3, column 2.
1858.27 Flour Citys First Base Ball Club in Rochester
"The Flour City was the first club formed in Rochester, an occasion that was announced in the Rochester Democrat and American on May 3, 1858...(they) played Rochester's first reported match game on the hot afternoon of June 18..." Priscilla Astifan, in Base Ball Pioneers 1850-1870 (McFarland, 2012), p.92
Rochester Democrat and American, May 3, 1858
Rochester Union and Advertiser, June 19, 1858
A claim that the Live Oaks, or the Olympics, preceded the Flour Citys appears above - see #1855.14.
1858.41 Buffalo NY Feels Spring Fever, Expects Many New BB Clubs
"The Niagara Club, of Buffalo, also played oin Saturday, on the vacant lot on Main Street, above the Medical College. We learn that several other clubs will soon organize, so that some rare sort may be anticipated the coming season. The Cricket Club will soon be out in full force . . . . We are pleased to notice this disposition to indulge in manly sports. "Cricket and Base Ball,"
Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 7 (Saturday, March 27, 1858), page 78, column 2
1858.48 Three Youth Clubs in Rochester NY Disdain the NY Game
In Rochester, the West End Base Ball Club, the Washington club, and the Union club showed no love for the NYC rules. The West End Club, for example, declared that it would have "nothing to do with the new fangled tossing, but throw the ball with a wholesome movement, in the regular old-fashioned base ball style. It is not clear that the clubs persisted in their preference, or whether their rules were a hybrid of old and new ways.
The clubs' announcements appeared in the Rochester Daily Union and Advertiser for July 2 and 3, 1858, and in the Rochester Democrat and Advertiser for July 21, 1858.
1858.49 Nation Plays Nation - Senecas and Tuscaroras Have an Inter-tribal Game of Base Ball?
"At 2 o'clock a grand annual National Base Ball play, on the [county fair] ground, for a purse of $50, between the Tuscarora and the Seneca tribes of Indians."
Buffalo Daily Courier, September 22, 1858, reporting on the schedule of the Erie County agricultural exhibition. Posted to the 19CBB listserve [date?] by Richard Hershberger.
Richard Hershberger adds: "I usually interpret the word 'national' in this era to mean the New York game." He asks if inter-tribal play was common then. Erie County includes Buffalo.
Note: Gene Draschner notes that the Senecas and Tuscaroras met to play "a game of ball" (lacrosse?) in 1842. Source: Alexandria (VA) Gazette, September 26, 1842, citing the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, date unspecified. See 1842 event description in the 19C Clippings data base at https://protoball.org/Clipping:THE_INDIAN_SPORTS.
So -- was inter-tribal play was common then?
1858.54 OFBB Variant Played in Buffalo NY; 11 Players, 12 Innings
"Old Fashion Base Ball - The Buffalo Base Ball Club, of this city [Buffalo NY], and the Frontier Club, of Suspension Bridge, will play their first match game, on the grounds of the Buffalo Club . . . . They play by the rules adopted by the Massachusetts State Convention of Ball Players, being the so-called 'old-fashioned base,' or 'round ball' - not the 'toss' or 'national' game. Rare playing may be expected, as this game requires more activity than any other, and the players ore the 'best eleven' from the best two clubs in Western New York."
Buffalo Daily Courier, October 14, 1858. Posted to 19CBB September 1, 2009.
On October 18, the Courier reported that Buffalo won, 80-78, in 12 innings. Player's positions are given, and they include 4 basemen and a short stop, a "thrower" a catcher, and a second "behind."
While the teams nodded to the new [May 1858] Dedham rules for the Massachusetts game, their actual practice varied. The game was evidently played to twelve innings, not to 100 tallies. By 1859, this Buffalo Club played a game according to a three-out-side-out [3OSO] rule availed. Richard wonders if the 12-inning, 3OSO game, found in two other game accounts, was a peculiarity of the Buffalo area.
1858.59 Ladies and Gentlemen of Dansville NY Play Ball in Afternoons
[A] (p. 51). A letter the Rev. Abram Pryor [?], Editor, Central Reformer, McGrawville, NY wrote to his readers on May 8th from Glen Haven: "The patients instead of being querulous and hypochondriacal, are as cheerful and good natured a company of men and women as one often meets. You can exercise your taste in physical amusements. They range from jumping the rope or a dance, to rowing a boat or walking five miles before breakfast. If you do not like to play ball, you can pitch quoits or hunt partridges . . . or fish for salmon trout."
[B] The entry for Wednesday, March 30, 1859 says: "Our ladies and gentlemen amuse themselves much by ball playing afternoons, and by playing, talking and singing, evenings."
[A] The Letter Box, Vol. 1, No. 6 (15 July 1858). in: Austin, Harriet, N., Dr. and Jackson, James. C., Dr., eds., The Letter-Box. Vols 1 and 2, 1858-9, (Dansville, NY: M. W. Simmons, 1859), 51.
[B] "Doings Current," The Letter Box, Vol. 2, No. 5 (May 1859). in: Austin, Harriet, N., Dr. and Jackson, James. C., Dr., eds., The Letter-Box. Vols 1 and 2, 1858-9, (Dansville, NY: M. W. Simmons, 1859), 37.
Dansville NY (2010 population about 4700) is about 40 miles S of Rochester in western NY. Per the Dansville Historical Society, the facility in question was a water cure (hydropathy) center called Our Home on the Hillside.
1859.25 Buffalo Editor on NY Game - "Child's Play"
"Do our [Buffalo] Base Ball Clubs play the game of the "National Association" - the New York and Brooklyn club game? If so they are respectfully informed by the New York Tribune [see item #1859.14] that the style of Base Ball - what is falsely called the "National" game - is no more like the genuine game of base ball than single wicket is like a full field of cricket. It says, the clubs who have formed what they choose to call the "National Association," play a bastard game, worthy only of boys of ten years of age.
We have not the least idea whether it is the "National Association" game or the "Massachusetts" game that our Clubs play, but we suppose it must be the latter, as we are certain their sport is no "child's play."
Editorial, "Base Ball - Who Plays the Genuine Game?," Buffalo Morning Express, October 20, 1859. From Priscilla Astifan's posting on 19CBB, 2/19/2006. [Cf #1859.14, above.]
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."
1859.48 Wicket Club and Base Ball Club Play Demo Matches for Novelty's Sake
"Novel Ball Match - The Buffalo Dock Wicket Club have invited [the Buffalo Niagaras] to play a game of wicket, and a return game of base ball. It is intended, not as a trial of skill, (for neither club knows anything of the other's game, and it was expressly stipulated that neither should practice the other's) but merely for he novelty and sport of the thing; each club expecting to appear supremely ridiculous at the other's game."
Buffalo Daily Courier, September 10, 1859.
The Buffalo Morning Express later reported that the Niagaras lost the wicket game, and that attendance was good; the result of the base ball game is not now known.
1860.7 Excelsiors Conduct Undefeated Western NY Road Trip. . ."First Tour Ever? First $500 Player Ever?
[A] "The Excelsiors of Brooklyn leave for Albany, starting the first tour ever taken by a baseball club. They will travel 1000 miles in 10 days and play games in Albany, Troy, Buffalo, Rochester, and Newburgh."
[B] In announcing the tour, a Troy paper noted: "The Excelsior Club of Brooklyn, who have pretty well reduced base ball to a science, and who pay their pitcher [Jim Creighton] $500 a year, are making a crusade through the provinces for the purpose of winning laurels."
[C] News of the triumphant return of the Excelsiors appeared in The item started: "The Excelsior , the crack club of Brooklyn, and one of the best in the United States, returned home of Thursday of last week, after a very pleasant tour to the Western part of the State. During their trip, they played games with several [unnamed] clubs, and we believe were successful on every occasion."
[A] Baseballlibrary.com - chronology entry for 6/30/1860.
[B] "Base Ball," Troy Daily Whig Volume 26, number 8013 (Tuesday, July 3, 1860), page 3, column 5. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
[C] "Base Ball," Spirit of the Times, Volume 30, number 24 (Saturday, July 21, 1860), page 292, column 1. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
Craig Waff, "The Grand Excursion-- The Excelsiors of South Brooklyn vs. Six Upstate New York Teams", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 24-27
The New York Sunday Mercury noted on April 29 that the Excelsior were organizing a tour, and announced on June 17 that arrangements had been completed.
1860.45 Competitive "Old-Fashioned" Game Still Alive in Syracuse NY
Sources: Syracuse Journal, June 14, June 21, and July 11, 1860; and Syracuse Standard, August 5, 1859.
About 20% of the games covered in available 1860 newspaper accounts of base ball in Syracuse depict "old-fashioned base ball" as played by a set of five area clubs. The common format for these games was a best-two-of-three match of games played to 25 "tallies" [not runs]. A purse of $25 was not uncommon. Teams exceeded nine players. However, no account laid out the details of the playing rules, or how they differed from those of the National Association. An 1859 article suggested that the game was the same as "Massachusetts "Base Ball," giving the only firm clue as to its rules.
1860.46 First International Game Played by New York Rules
In a game played in what is now Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Queen City Club of Buffalo defeated the Burlington Club of Hamilton, Ontario, 30-25.
[A] This game appears on the Protoball Games Tabulation [WNY Table] compiled by Craig Waff. It was reported as "the first match ever played by Clubs from the United States and Canada." in the Buffalo Morning Express on August 18, 1860.
[B] Joseph Overfield, The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball (Partner's Press, 1985), page 17. Overfield does not cite a primary source for this event.
[C] Hamilton Spectator, August 18, 1860.
The New York Sunday Mercury of June 3, 1860, carries the box score of a "NEW YORK vs. CANADA' game in Schenectady, NY, between the Mohawk Club and the "Union Club of Upper Canada". The box indicates that the game was played by the New York Rules. However, the political unit called Upper Canada went out of existence in 1841. A youthful nineteenth century prank? See also "Supplemental Information," below, for further commentary.
[Source B] Joseph Overfield notes that the Buffalo NY team called the Queen Cities played a team from Hamilton, Ontario in August 1860, and says that it was the first international contest played by the National Association rules.
[Source C] In 2014, Bill Humber located an Ontario source for the game, the Hamilton Spectator of August 18, 1860. Bill notes that the village of Clifton Ontario later became the town of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Bill reports that the crowd attending the game may have been at a tight-rope walking exhibition over the Niagara Gorge that day.
1860.47 Old-Fashioned Base Ball in Buffalo NY
On July 4, 1860, a Buffalo newspaper reported "a very exciting and interesting game of old fashioned Base Ball" that had been played in Akron NY - about 20 miles east of Buffalo.
Buffalo Morning Express (July 10, 1860), page 3.
This game featured 15 players on each side and a 3-out-side-out rule.
1860.48 "Veterans of 1812" Play OFBB . . . Annually?
One of the earliest instances of an apparent "throwback" game occurred in August 1860, when a newspaper reported that the "Veterans of 1812" held their "annual Ball play" in the village of Seneca Falls NY, east of Geneva and southeast of Rochester NY.
[A] The "old warriors," after a morning of parading through local streets, marched to a field where "the byes were quickly staked out," sides were chosen, and the local vets "were the winners of the game by two tallies."
[B] "...[they] seemed to be inspired with renewed energy by the memory of youthful days and the spirit (?) of boyhood, and displayed a degree of skill and activity in the noble game of base ball that showed they had once been superior players..."
[A] Seneca Falls Reveille, August 18, 1860, reported by Priscilla Astifan.
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, August 19, 1860, reported by Gregory Christiano.
We would presume that this was not modern base ball. It seems plausible that the vets had played ball together during their war service, and that this game was played in remembrance of good times past.
Further insight is welcome from readers.
1860.51 Base Ball Is Reaching Remote Spots in New York State
"The Dunkirk Journal says that the young men of that village have organized a 'young American Base Ball club. . . . [we in Jamestown, too] should be glad to see [base ball] engaged in by our clerks and business men generally during the summer"
Jamestown[NY] Journal, April 20, 1860. Accessed by subscription search May 21, 2009.
Dunkirk NY is about 45 miles SW of Buffalo on the shore of Lake Erie. Jamestown NY is about 60 miles S of Buffalo.
1860.67 Base Ball on Ice
"A GAME OF BASE BALL ON THE ICE.-- ...when it is taken into consideration that the players had skates on, the score may be called a remarkably good one-- equal to the majority of games which take place on terra firma."
New York Sunday Mercury, Jan. 22, 1860
The Live Oak Club of Rochester had played a team of players from other clubs in that city, and defeated them 30-29, 12 per side.
A side effect of the skating craze which arose in the same period as the base ball craze, ice base ball was played well into the 1880s.
1861.16 NY Regiment Plays "Favorite Game" After Dress Parade in Elmira NY
"After [the camp's dress] parade, which generally lasted about an hour, the camp was alive with fun and frolic . . . leap-frog, double-duck, foot and base-ball or sparring, wrestling, and racing, shared their attention."
A visitor to the camp wrote the next day, "I was not surprised . . . to see how extensively the amusements which had been practiced in their leisure hours in the city [Buffalo?], were continued in camp. Boxing with gloves, ball-playing, running and jumping, were among these. The ball clubs were well represented here, and the exercise of their favorite game is carried on spiritedly by the Buffalo boys." [page 43.] PBall file: CW-123.
J. Harrison Mills, Chronicles of the Twenty-First Regiment, New York Volunteers (21st Veteran Assn., Buffalo, 1887), page 42.
The newly-formed regiment, evidently raised in the Buffalo area, was at camp in Elmira in May 1861 in this recollection, and would deploy to Washington in June.
Duplicate of 1861.34?