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1704.1 Traveler Observes Ball-Playing in CT
Madame Knight, "in her inimitable journal of her ride from Boston to New York in 1704, speaks of ball-playing in Connecticut."
"The Game of Wicket and Some Old-Time Wicket Players," in George Dudley Seymour, Papers and Addresses of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut, Volume II of the Proceedings of the Society, [n. p., 1909.] page 284. Submitted by John Thorn, 7/11/04. John notes 9/3/2005 that Seymour observes that Madame Knight does not specifically name the sport as wicket, but he excludes cricket as a possibility because cricket was not then known to have been played in America before 1725; however, John adds, we now have a cricket reference in Virginia from 1709. [See #1709.1, below.]
1725c.1 Wicket Played on Boston Common at Daybreak
Judge Samuel Sewell
"March, 15. Sam. Hirst [Sewall's grandson, reportedly, and a Harvard '23 man -- (LMc)] got up betime in the morning, and took Ben Swett with him and went into the [Boston MA] Common to play at Wicket. Went before any body was up, left the door open; Sam came not to prayer; at which I was most displeased.
"March 17th. Did the like again, but took not Ben with him. I told him he could not lodge here practicing thus. So he lodg'd elsewhere. He grievously offended me in persuading his Sister Hannam not to have Mr. Turall, without enquiring of me about it. And play'd fast and loose in a vexing matter about himself in a matter relating to himself, procuring me great Vexation."
Diary of Samuel Sewall, in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Published by the Society, Boston, 1882) Volume VII - Fifth Series, page 372
While this is the first known reference to ballplaying on Boston Common, there are several later ones. See Brian Turner, "Ballplaying and Boston Common; A Town Playground for Boys . . . and Men," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 21-24.
1778.4 Ewing Reports Playing "At Base" and Wicket at Valley Forge - with the Father of his Country
Wicket, Base (Prisoner's Base)
[A] George Ewing, a Revolutionary War soldier, tells of playing a game of "Base" at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: "Exercisd in the afternoon in the intervals playd at base."
Ewing also wrote: "[May 2d] in the afternoon playd a game at Wicket with a number of Gent of the Arty . . . ." And later . . . "This day [May 4, 1778] His Excellency dined with G Nox and after dinner did us the honor to play at Wicket with us."
"Q. What did soldiers do for recreation?
"A: During the winter months the soldiers were mostly concerned with their survival, so recreation was probably not on their minds. As spring came, activities other than drills and marches took place. "Games" would have included a game of bowls played with cannon balls and called "Long Bullets." "Base" was also a game - the ancestor of baseball, so you can imagine how it might be played; and cricket/wicket. George Washington himself was said to have took up the bat in a game of wicket in early May after a dinner with General Knox! . . . Other games included cards and dice . . . gambling in general, although that was frowned upon."
Valley Forge is about 20 miles NE of Philadelphia.
[A] Ewing, G., The Military Journal of George Ewing (1754-1824), A Soldier of Valley Forge [Private Printing, Yonkers, 1928], pp 35 ["base"] and 47 [wicket]. Also found at John C. Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. Volume: 11. [U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1931]. page 348. The text of Ewing's diary is unavailable at Google Books as of 11/17/2008.
[B] From the website of Historic Valley Forge;
see http://www.ushistory.org/valleyforge/youasked/067.htm, accessed 10/25/02. Note: it is possible that the source of this material is the Ewing entry above, but we're hoping for more details from the Rangers at Valley Forge. In 2013, we're still hoping, but not as avidly.
Caveat: It is unknown whether this was a ball game, rather than prisoner's base, a form of tag played by two teams, and resembling the game "Capture the Flag."
Note: "Long Bullets" evidently involved a competition to throw a ball down a road, seeing who could send the ball furthest along with a given number of throws. Another reference to long bullets is found at http://protoball.org/1830s.20.
Is Ewing's diary available now?
1778.6 NH Loyalist Plays Ball in NY; Mentions "Wickett"
The journal of Enos Stevens, a NH man serving in British forces, mentions playing ball seven times from 1778 to 1781. Only one specifies the game played in terms we know: "in the after noon played Wickett" in March of 1781. C. K. Boulton, ed., "A Fragment of the Diary of Lieutenant Enos Stevens, Tory, 1777-1778," New England Quarterly v. 11, number 2 (June 1938), pages 384-385, per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, reference #33. Tom notes that the original journal is at the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier VT.
1779.2 Lieutenant Reports Playing Ball, and Playing Bandy Wicket
"Samuel Shute, a New Jersey Lieutenant, jotted down his reference to playing ball in central Pennsylvania sometime between July 9 and July 22, 1779; 'until the 22nd, the time was spent playing shinny and ball' Incidentally, Shute distinguished among various sports, referring elsewhere in his journal to 'Bandy Wicket.' He did not confuse baseball with types of field hockey [bandy] and cricket [wicket] that the soldiers also played." Thomas Altherr. Note: Gomme says that "bandy wicket" was a name for cricket in England. [XXX add cite here]
[Shute, Samuel], "Journal of Lt. Samuel Shute," in Frederick Cook, ed., Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 [Books for Libraries Press, Freeport NY, reprint of the 1885 edition], p. 268. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 28.
1786.2 Game Called Wicket Reported in England
"The late game of Wicket was decided by an extraordinary catch made by Mr. Lenox, to which he ran more than 40 yards, and received the ball between two fingers." Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (London), 6/27/1786. Provided by Richard Hershberger, email of 2/3/2008. Richard adds: "I know of only one other English citation of "wicket" as the name of a game. I absolutely do not assume that it was the same as the game associated with Connecticut."
1787.2 VT Man's Letter Says "Three Times is Out at Wicket"
Levi Allen to Ira Allen, July 7, 1787, in John J. Duffy, ed., Ethan Allen and His Kin, Correspondence, 1772 - 1819 [University Press of New England, Hanover NH, 1998], volume 1, p. 224. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 75.
1791.1 "Bafeball" Among Games Banned in Pittsfield MA - also Cricket, Wicket
In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in order to promote the safety of the exterior of the newly built meeting house, particularly the windows, a by-law is enacted to bar "any game of wicket, cricket, baseball, batball, football, cats, fives, or any other game played with ball," within eighty yards of the structure. However, the letter of the law did not exclude the city's lovers of muscular sport from the tempting lawn of "Meeting-House Common." This is the first indigenous instance of the game of baseball being referred to by that name on the North American continent. It is spelled herein as bafeball. "Pittsfield is baseball's Garden of Eden," said Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto.
An account of this find (a re-find, technically) is at John Thorn, "1791 and All That: Baseball and the Berkshires," Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Volume 1, Number 1 (Spring 2007) pp. 119-126.
Per John Thorn: The History of Pittsfield (Berkshire County),Massachusetts, From the Year 1734 to the Year 1800. Compiled and Written, Under the General Direction of a Committee, by J. E. A. Smith. By Authority of the Town. [Lea and Shepard, 149 Washington Street, Boston, 1869], 446-447. The actual documents themselves repose in the Berkshire Athenaeum.
While this apppears to be the first American use of the term "base ball," see item 1786.1 above, in which a Princeton student notes having played "baste ball" five years earlier. See item 1786.1.
The town of Northampton MA issued a similar order in 1791, but omitted base ball and wicket from the list of special games of ball. See item 1791.2. Northampton is about 40 miles SE of Pittsfield.
John Thorn's essay on the Pittsfield regulation is found at John Thorn, "The Pittsfield "Baseball" By-law: What it Means," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, Number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 46-49.
1800.2 John Knox Owns a "Ball Alley" and Racquets Court in NYC, 1800-1803.
Item from John Thorn, 6/25/04. Note: It seems possible that a "ball alley" is for bowling, but wicket was also played on what was termed an alley.
1805.8 Yale Grad Compares Certain English Ballgames to New England's
"July 9 [1805, we think] . . . . The mode of playing ball differs a little from that practiced in New-England. Instead of tossing up the ball out of one's own hand, and then striking it, as it descends, they lay is into the heel of a kind of wood shoe; and upon the instep a spring is fixed, which extends within the hollow to the hinder part of the shoe; the all is placed where the heel of the foot would commonly be, and a blow applied on the other end of the spring, raises the ball into the air, and, as it descends, it receives a blow from the bat.
"They were playing also at another game resembling our cricket, but differing from it in this particular, that he perpendicular pieces which support the horizontal one, are about eighteen inches high, and are three in number, whereas with us they are only two in number, and about three or four inches high."
The writer, Benjamin Silliman, thus implies that an American [or at least Connecticut] analog to trap ball was played, using fungo-style batting [trap ball was not usually a running game, so the American game may have been a simple form of fungo].
His second comparison is consistent with our understanding or how English cricket and American wicket were played in about 1800. However, it seems odd that he would refer to "our cricket" and not "our wicket: possibly a form of cricket - using, presumably, the smaller ball - was played in the US that retained the older long, low wickets known in 1700 English cricket.
Benjamin Silliman, Journal of Travels in England, Holland, and Scotland, Volume 1 (Boston, 1812 - 1st edition 1810), page 245. Accessed via Google Books, 2/12/2014 via search of <Silliman "journal of travels">.
From David Block, 2/12/2014:
"This reference raises some questions, which may not be answerable. Was he implying that striking a ball, fungo-style, was the general method of ball-play in New England, or was he only making a more narrow comparison to how a self-serve type of ball game was played at home. If the latter, might this have been 'bat-ball'?"
"It appears that the author was previously unaware of English cricket. What he refers to as "our cricket" is obviously wicket. This was an educated man, but it was also apparently his first trip overseas. My first reaction was to be very surprised at his apparent ignorance of English cricket, but it may well be that things that seem like obvious knowledge to us today may not have been so in the America of two hundred years ago."
1820s.9 In Middletown CT, "Wicket" Recalled, but Not Base Ball.
Delaney, ed., Life in the Connecticut River Valley 1800 - 1840 from the Recollections of John Howard Redfield [Connecticut River Museum, Essex CT, 1988], p. 35. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 82.
1820s.25 In Western MA, Election Day Saw Town vs. Town Wicket Matches
"'Election Day' was, however, the universal holiday, and the prevailed amongst the farmers that corn planting must be finished by that day for its enjoyment. It was a day of general hilarity, with no prescribed forms of observation, though ball playing was ordinarily included in the exercises, and frequently the inhabitants of adjacent towns were pitted against one another in the game of wicket. Wrestling, too, was a common amusement on that day, each town having its champions."
Charles J. Taylor, History of Great Barrington (Bryan and Co., Great Barrington MA, 1882), page 375. Accessed 2/3/10 via Google Books search (taylor great barrington). Note: this passage is not clearly set in time; "1820s" is a guess, but 1810s or 1830s is also a possibility.
1820s.31 "Many Different Kinds of Ball" Remembered
In a charming 1867 volume, a father delivered an extended disquisition about ball games in his youth in New England. That was definitely before 1840 and more likely in the 1820s, or the 1830s at the latest. (The book had an 1860 copyright registration, so the author penned it in that year or in the 1850s). The detail of this recounting merits full excerpting:
“I think the boys used to play ball more when I was young than they do now. It was a great game at that time, not only among the boys, but with grown-up people. I know that playing ball is getting into fashion again, but I don’t think it is as common even yet as it used to be. We had, I remember, a good many different kinds of ball.There was “barn-ball,” when there were only two boys to play, one to throw the ball against the barn and make it bound back, and the other to strike at it with his club. Then there was “two-hold-cat,” when there were four boys, two to be in and knock, and two to throw. Then there was “base-ball,” when there were a good many to play. In base-ball we chose sides, and we might have as many as we pleased on each side -- five or fifty, or any other number.
“Then there was “wicket-ball,” as we called it in the part of the country where I lived. In this game, two sticks, some five or six feet long, were laid on some little blocks near the ground, and the ball, which was a large one, was rolled on the ground, andthe one that rolled it tried to knock off this stick, while the one that was in andhad the bat or club, was to strike the ball and not let it knock the stick off. If the stick was struck off, then the one knocker was “out.” Or if he hit the ball and raised it in the air, and any one on the other side caught it, he was “out.” I find that ball-playing changes some, and is different in different parts of the country, but it was a very wide-awake sport, and there was no game in which I took more delight. On ‘Lection-day, as it was called, of which I have spoken before, all the boys and young men, and even men who were older, thought they must play ball. On town-meeting days and training days, this game was almost always going on.”
Winnie and Walter’s Talks with Their Father about Old Times Boston: J.E. Tilton and Company, 1867), pp. 54-56.
Allowing for the somewhat “in-my-day” tone, there are a few interesting items in this passage. Note the unusual spelling of two old cat or two o’cat. Was there some action of holding the ball, holding the bat, holding the runner that inspired the use of the word “hold?” The initial claim that ball play was more popular in his youth is at first a head-scratcher given the surge of popularity of baseball in the1850s and 1860s.
But what if he reckoning was accurate, if only for his part of New England? That would be interesting evidence for baseball historians trying to measure the trajectory of the game’s development. Did what he called “base-ball” more resemble town-ball, or did the word “base-ball” have a wider currency that we have suspected? The description of wicket-ball seems slightly askew from other accounts--regional variation or memory lapse? Last, the civic holidays that ball play accompanied were not always in clement seasons. Training days tended to be during milder or hot weather, but town meeting and election days often occurred in March and November. The author’s points about the importance of ball play may be stronger than at first glance, if the players did not let the prospect of foul weather discourage their zeal.
1821.7 1821 Etching Shows Wicket Game in Progress
This engraving was done by John Cheney in 1821 at the age of 20. It was originally engraved on a fragment of an old copper kettle. It is reported that he was living in Hartford at the time.
It is one of the earliest known depictions of wicket.
The etching depicts six players playing wicket. The long, low wickets are shown and two runners, prominently carrying large bats, are crossing between them as two fielders appear to pursue a large ball in flight. Two wicketkeepers stand behind their wickets.
Biographical background from "Memoir of John Cheney," by Edna Dow Cheney (Lee and Shepherd, Boston, 1889), page 10.
For an account of Baseball Historian John Thorn's 2013 rediscovery and pursuit of this engraving, go to http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/02/05/the-oldest-wicket-game-newly-found/
An interesting aspect of this drawing is that there appear to be four defensive players and only two offensive players . . . unless the two seated gentlemen in topcoats have left them on while waiting to bat. One might speculate that the wicketkeepers are permanently on defense and the other pairs alternate between offense and defense when outs are made. Another possibility is that all players rotate after each out, as was later seen in scrub forms of base ball.
Also note the relative lack of open area beyond the wickets. Perhaps, as in single-wicket cricket, running was permitted only for balls hit forward from the wicket.
We welcome other interpretations of this image.
1825.8 Wicket Bat Reportedly Long [and Still?] Held in Deerfield MA Collection
The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association reported that, as of 1908, it retained a wicket bat dating from 1825-30. Submitted by John Thorn, 1/13/2007. Note: John is trying to ascertain whether the bat remains in the collection.
1830s.5 Wicket Played in The Western Reserve [OH]
"How far the Connecticut game of wicket has travelled I cannot say, but it is certain that when the Western Reserve region of Ohio was settled from Connecticut, the game was taken along. Our member [of the Connecticut Society of Colonial War], Professor Thomas Day Seymour of Yale, tells me that wicket was a favorite game of the students at Western Reserve College then located at Hudson Ohio . . . . 'Up to 1861,' he says, 'the standard games at our college were wicket and baseball, with wicket well in the lead. This game was in no sense a revival. A proof of this is the fact that young men coming to college [from?] all over the Reserve were accustomed to the game at home. My impression is that my father recognized the game as familiar to him his boyhood [probably in New England], but of this I am not absolutely certain. The ball was about 5 and a half inches in diameter; the wickets were about 4 inches above the ground, and about 5 feet long. The bats were very heavy, -- of oak, about 50 inches long, with an almost circular lower end of (say) 8 inches in diameter. The ball was so heavy that most bowlers merely rolled it with such a twist that they could impart; but some bowlers almost threw it. Mark Hanna was a star player about 1860, and the rule had to be called on his that the ball must touch ghe ground three times before it struck the wicket. The bats were so heavy that only the strong (and quick) batter dared to wait until the ball was opposite him and then strike. I was always satisfied to steer the ball off to one side. The rules favored the batter and many runns were made.'"
Letter from Thomas Day Seymour to "My dear Kinsman" from New Haven CT, April 25, 1905. Reproduced in "The Game of Wicket and Some Old-Time Wicket Players," in George Dudley Seymour, Papers and Addresses of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut, Volume II of the Proceedings of the Society, (n. p., 1909.) page 289.
Yale Professor T. D Seymour was born in 1848, and thus about 12 years old in the days he saw wicket played at Western Reserve College in 1860. Hudson OH is about 25 miles SE of Cleveland. George Dudley Seymour (p. 289) decribes the local cummunity as "of pure Connecticut stock."
1830s.12 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 from of the church: (no fences there then), and this was a favorite ball ground."
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], page 112. Submitted by John Thorn 9/13/2006.
1830c.27 Lenox Academy Students Play Wicket
Recalling a genial local sheriff, the author writes: "We well remember the urbanity of his manner as he passed the students of Lenox Academy, always bowing to them and greeting them with a pleasant salutation, which tended to increase their self-respect . . . .As he drove by us when we were playing 'wicket' - the game of ball them fashionable - he did not drive his stylish horse and gig over our wickets, as many took a malicious pleasure in doing, but turned aside, with a pleasant smile . . . ."
J. E. A. Smith, The History of Pittsfield From the Year 1800 to the Year 1876 (C. W. Bryan & Co., Springfield MA, 1876), pp 401-402. Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search (history pittsfield 1876). Lenox Academy was in Lenox MA, about 7 miles S of Pittsfield, and about 35 miles SE of Albany NY. Caveat: It is difficult to estimate a date for this anecdote. The gentleman, Major Brown, lived in Pittsfield from 1812 to 1838. As the event seems to be the author's personal recollection, verifying if and when he attended the Lenox Academy may narrow the range of possibilities.
1834.6 In Wicket, It's Hartford CT 146, Litchfield CT 126
The contest took three "ins." "Thus, it appears that the 'Bantam Players' 'barked up the wrong tree.' The utmost harmony existed, and every one appeared to enjoy the sport."
Connecticut Courant, volume 70, Issue 3618, page 3 (probably reprinted from the Hartford Times.) Submitted by John Thorn 9/29/2006.
1836.10 Wicket Challenge Issued in Granby MA
"Fifteen young men of Salmon Brook and Mechanicville, Granby, challenge and are ready to meet the same number of young men, of Southwick village, to play the rub game at Wicket Ball, near C. Hayes' Hotel, Granby, to be determined upon by the parties, 2 weeks from today.
Capt D.C. Hays, R. G. Hillyer, Chas Holcomb, D. C. Roe
Hartford CT Patriot and Eagle, Volume 2, Issue 62, (May 7, 1836), page 3.
Granby CT is about 15 miles N of Hartford CT, on the MA border.
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.]
1840.44 Hartford Players Best Granville MA Players at Wicket
"WICKET BALL -- The ball players of this city met those of Granville, Mass., in accordance with a challenge from the latter, at Salmon Brook, about 17 miles from here (half way between the two places) on Wednesday last, for the purpose of trying their skill at the game of 'Wicket.' The sides were made up of 25 men each, and the arrangement was to play nine games, but the Hartford players beating them five times in succession, the game was considered fairly decided, and the remaining four games were not played. The affair, we understand, passed off very pleasantly, and the parties separated, with the utmost harmony, after partaking of a dinner provided for the occasion."
Hartford Times, June 27, 1840, page 3.
Granville MA -- 1850 population about 1300 -- is about 22 miles NW of Hartford, very near the MA-CT border. Hartford's population in 1840 was about 9500.
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.
1841.10 Bloomfield CT Wicket Challenge: "One Shamble Shall Be Out"
"The Ball Players of Bloomfield and vicinity, respectfully invite the Pall Players of the city of Hartford to . . . play at Wicket Ball, the best in nine games for Dinner and Trimmings. The Rules to be as follows:  The ball to be rolled and to strike the once or more before it reaches the wicket.  The ball to be fairly caught flying or at the first bound.  The striker may defend his wicket with his bat as he may choose.  One shamble shall be out.  Each party may choose one judge or talisman."
Hartford Daily Courant, June 23, 1841, page 3. Notes: Is the bound rule  usual in wicket? What is rule 3 getting at? What is rule 4 getting at?
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]
1841.17 Clevelanders Play Ball at Sunset on Water Street
A Cleveland OH newspaper writer was moved to respond to reader [Edith] who groused about "infantile sports:"
"Playing Ball is among the very first of the 'sports' of our early years. Who has not teased his grandmother for a ball, until the 'old stockings' have been transformed into one that would bound well? Who has not played 'barn ball' in his boyhood, 'base' in his youth, and 'wicket' in his manhood? - There is fun, and sport, and healthy exercise, in a game of 'ball.' We like it; for with it is associated recollections of our earlier days. And we trust we shall never be too old to feel and to 'take delight' in the amusements which interested us in our boyhood. If 'Edith' wishes to see 'a great strike' and 'lots of fun,' let her walk down Water Street some pleasant afternoon towards 'set of sun' and see the 'Bachelors' make the ball fly.
ClevelandDaily Herald (April 15, 1841). Posted to 19CBB on August 21, 2008 by Kyle DeCicco-Carey. Note: Are they playing wicket? Another game? What types of Clevelanders would have congregated on Water Street?
1843.4 On Yale's Green, Many a "Brisk Game of Wicket"
"Were it spring or autumn you should see a brave set-to at football on the green, or a brisk game of wicket." Ezekiel P. Belden, Sketches of Yale College (Saxton and Miles, New York, 1843), page 153.
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.
1846.7 Amherst Juniors Drop Wicket Game, 77 to 53: says Young Billjamesian
"Friday, October 16. At prayers as usual. Studied Demosthenes till breakfast time. After breakfast came off the great match between our class and the juniors. We beat them 77 to 53. They had on the ground nineteen men out of twenty-nine, and we thirty out of thirty-five. Had the remainder of both classes been there, at the same rate we should have beaten them 90 to 81. As a class they were completely used up. Their players, however, averaged about 0.23 each more than ours. The whole was played out in about an hour. The victory was completely ours, a result different from what I expected. Got a lesson in Demosthenes and went to recitation." On October 3, the MA diarist had written: "played a game of wicket, with a party of fellows . . . . Had a fine game, though I, knowing little of the rules, was soon bowled out. Then came home and wrote journal till 5PM. Then to prayers and afterward to supper."
Hammond, William G., Remembrance of Amherst: An Undergraduate's Diary, 1846-1848. [Columbia University Press, New York, 1946], page 26. Per John Thorn 7/04/2003. Note: is it conclusive from this excerpt's context that the MA students were playing wicket on October 16?
1846.8 Amherst Alum Recalls How Wicket Was Played
Dr. Edward Hitchcock gives this account of the game of wicket at is MA college:
"In my days baseball was neither a science nor an art, but we played 'wicket'. On smooth and level ground about 20 feet apart were placed two 'wickets,' pine sticks 1 inch square and 8 to 10 feet long, supported on a block at each end so as to be easily knocked off. The ball was made of yarn, covered with stout leather, about six inches in diameter and bowled with all the power of the wicket tender at each end. The aim was to roll it as swiftly as possible at the opposite wicket and knock it down if possible. This was defended by the man with a broad bat, 3 feet long, and the oval about 8 inches [across], who must defend his wicket. If the bowler could by [bowling] a fair ball, striking twice between the wickets, knock down the opposite wicket, the striker was out. But if the batter could by a direct or sideways hit send the ball sideways or overhead the outside men, they [ i.e. ., the batter and his teammate at the opposite end] could run till the ball was in the hands of the bowler. But the bowler to get the batter out must with the ball in his hand knock the wicket outwards before the batter could strike his bat outside a line three feet inside the wicket . . . . This game was played on the lowest part of the 'walk' under the trees which now extends from chapel to the church."
Hitchcock, Edward, "Recollections," in George F. Whicher, ed., Remembrance of Amherst: An Undergraduate's Diary, 1846-1848. [Columbia University Press, 1946], page 188. Per John Thorn 7/04/2003.
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.
1846.19 One-Horse Wagon's Driver 1, Wicket Players 0
A man drives his wagon along a road in Great Barrington MA, passing though was a dozen wicket players think of as their regular playing grounds. A throw hits the man in the pit of his stomach [now remember, wicket balls were darned heavy]. Naturally, he sues the players for trespass.
The defendants' case: "at the time of the accident, Fayar Hollenbeck, on of the defendants, whose part in the game was to catch the ball after it had been struck, and to throw it back to the person whose business it was to roll it, was stationed in a northeasterly direction from the latter, who was atone of the wickets. The plaintiff had passed the wicket a little, and was west of a direct line from Hollenbeck to the person at the wicket. At this moment, Hollenbeck threw the ball with an intention to throw it to the person at the wicket; but the ball being wet, it slipped in his hand, when he was in the act of throwing it, and was thus turned from the intended direction, and struck the plaintiff."
In the fall of 1848, the MA Supreme Court found for the traveler, saying, but much less succinctly, that the roads were built for travelers and that wicket was obviously too dangerous to play there.
Luther S. Cushing, Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Volume 1 (Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1865), pp. 453-457. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (cushing "vosburgh vs. john").
1848.18 Litchfield CT Bests Wolcottville in Wicket
"THOSE GAMES OF WICKET --
which Wolcottville challenged Litchfield to play, came off on our green, last Saturday afternoon; 25 players on a side; . . .
[Scoring report shows Litchfield winning over three innings, 232 to 150.]
"This is the first effort to revive "BANTAM," since the Bat and Ball, were buried (literally buried,) 10 years ago, after two severe floggings, by this same Wolcottville."
Litchfield Republican, July 6, 1848, page 2.
Litchfield CT (1850 pop. about 3,950) is about 30 miles W of Hartford. Wolcottville is evidently the original name of Torrington CT, which reports a population of about 1900 in 1850. Torrington is about 5 miles NE of Litchfield.
1849.10 Ladies' Wicket in England?
"BAT AND BALL AMONG THE LADIES. Nine married ladies beat nine single ones at a game of wicket in England recently. The gamesters were all dressed in white - the married party with blue trimmings and the others in pink."
Milwaukee[WI] Sentinel and Gazette, vol. 5, number 116 (September 4, 1849), page 2, column 2. Provided by Craig Waff, email of 8/14/2007.
Beth Hise [email of 3/3/2008] reports that the wearing of colored ribbons was a much older tradition.
Note: One may ask if something got lost in the relay of this story to Wisconsin. We know of no wicket in England, and neither wicket or cricket used nine-player teams.
Was cricket, including single-wicket cricket, known in any part of England as "wicket?"
1849.14 Westfield Upsets Granville in Wicket
"BALL-PLAYING -- Westfield vs. Granville --
"The match of wicket ball made between the players of Westfield and Granville, came off about midway between the two towns, yesterday. There were 30 on each side, and the winners in three of five games were to be awarded the victory. On the first game, the Westfield boys led by about 10 ball; on the second about 20, and the third about 40; and so won the game. The conquerors in many a well fought field were vanquished; or, as our correspondent expresses it, 'the Gibraltar of ball playing is taken.' The Granville players were never beaten before but once, by a party from Hartford.
"Over 400 persons were on the ground, and the greatest excitement existed throughout the whole strife. A supper followed the result. The tables were set in a grove near Loomis's Hotel. The beaten party paid the bills."
Springfield Republican, July 6, 1849.
The score is reported in "balls," not the more common "tallies."
Westfield MA (1850 pop. about 4200) is about 30 miles N of Hartford CT and about 10 miles W of Springfield MA. Granville MA (1850 pop. about 1300) is about 8 miles SW of Westfield.
1850s.16 Wicket Play in Rochester NY
"The immediate predecessor of baseball was wickets. This was a modification of cricket and the boys who excelled at that became crack players of the latter sport of baseball. In wickets there had to be at least eight men, stationed as follows: Two bowlers, two stump keepers or catchers, two outfielders and two infielders or shortstops. . . .
"The wickets were placed sixty feet apart, and consisted of two 'stumps' about six inches in height above the ground and ten feet apart. . . . The ball was as large as a man's head, and of peculiar manufacture. Its center was a cube of lead weighing about a pound and a half. About this were tightly wound rubber bands . . . and the whole sewed in a thick leather covering. This ball was delivered with a stiff straight-arm underhand cast . . . . Three out was side out, and the ball could be caught on the first bound or on the fly. . . . if the ball could be fielded so as to throw the wicket over before [the batter] could touch the stumps, he was out."
The stumps are recalled as being ten feet long, so "the batsman standing in the middle had to keep a lively lookout."
Baseball Half a Century Ago, Rochester Union and Advertiser, March 21, 1903.
1850c.35 U. of Michigan Alum Recalls Baseball, Wicket, Old-Cat Games
A member of the class of 1849 recalls college life: "Athletics were not regularly organized, nor had we any gymnasium. We played base-ball, wicket ball, two-old-cat, etc., but there was not foot-ball."
"Cricket was undoubtedly the first sport to be organized in the University, as the Palladium for 1860-61 gives the names of eight officers and twenty-five members of the "Pioneer Cricket Club," while the Regents' Report for June, 1865, shows an appropriation of $50 for a cricket ground on the campus."
The college history later explains: "The game of wicket, which was a modification of cricket, was played with a soft ball five to seven inches in diameter, and with two wickets (mere laths or light boards) laid upon posts about four inches high and some forty feet apart. The 'outs' tried to bowl them down, and the 'ins' to defend them with curved broad-ended bats. It was necessary to run between the wickets at each strike."
Wilfred Shaw, The University of Michigan (Harcourt Brace, New York, 1920), pp 234-235. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("wilfred shaw" michigan).
The dates of wicket play are not given.
1850c.36 Wicket Ball in Amherst MA
"For exercise the students played wicket ball and shinny."
The author here appears to be referring to the latter years of service of Edward Hitchcock, President of Amherst College from 1844 to 1854.
Alice M. Walker, Historic Homes of Amherst (Amherst Historical Society, Amherst MA, 1905), page 99. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (walker "historic homes"). Amherst MA is about 25 miles north of Springfield MA.
1850.52 Game of Wicket Near Springfield Goes Bad
GAME OF WICKET BALL --
"The Granville ball players challenged the Westfield players, recently, to a game of ball. The challenge was accepted, and the game came off, on Saturday last, about one mile this side of East Granville. They were to have thirty men on a side, the best in five to be declared victorious, and the defeated party to pay the suppers for all. The following is the tally:
[Each club won two games, and the fifth game was listed as Westfield 112, Granville 25 . . . with only ten Granville players evidently on the field....]
"On the fourth [fifth?] game, the Granville players made but a few rounds, and becoming disheartened, declined to finish the game, and refused, also, to pay for the suppers. Great excitement ensured, and we are sorry to learn that some personal collision was he consequence. Several blows were exchanged. There was great excitement during the day, there being from 600 to 800 people upon he ground. The Westfield players, not to lose their supper, paid for it themselves, and went home."
Springfield Republican, July 23, 1850
In the game account, runs are termed "crosses." In the text they are called "rounds."
Granville is about 15 miles SW of Springfield, and Westfield is about 10 miles E of Springfield.
1851.3 Wicket Players in MA Found Liable
"In a recent case which occurred at Great Barrington, an action was brought against some 12 or 15 young men, by an old man, to recover damages for a spinal injury received by him and occasioned by a wicket ball, which frightened his horse and threw him from his wagon. The boys were playing in the street. . . . . If this were fully understood, there would be less of the dangerous and annoying practice so common in our streets."
"Caution to Ball Players n the Street," The Pittsfield Sun, volume 51, issue 2647 (June 12, 1851), page 2.
1851.6 Word-man Noah Webster Acknowledges Only Wicket
"Wicket, n. A small gate; a gate by which the chamber of canal locks is emptied; a bar or rod, used in playing wicket."
Noah Webster, A Dictionary of the English Language, Abridged from the American Dictionary (Huntington and Savage, New York, 1851), page 399.Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("used in playing wicket").
No other ballgames are carried in this dictionary. Webster was from Connecticut.
1852.10 Fictional "Up-Country" Location Cites Bass-Ball and Wicket
Wicket, Base Ball
"Both houses were close by the road, and the road was narrow; but on either side was a strip of grass, and in process of time, I appeared and began ball-playing upon the green strip, on the west side of the road. At these times, on summer mornings, when we were getting well warm at bass-ball or wicket, my grandfather would be seen coming out of his little swing-gate, with a big hat aforesaid, and a cane. He enjoyed the game as much as the youngest of us, but came mainly to see fair play, and decide mooted points."
There is a second incidental reference to wicket: "this is why it is pleasant to ride, walk, play at wicket, or mingle in city crowds" . . . [i.e., to escape endless introspection]. Ibid, page 90.
L.W. Mansfield, writing under the pseudonym "Z. P.," or Zachary Pundison, Up-country Letters (D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1852), page 277 and page 90.
Provided by David Block. David notes: "This is a published collection of letters that includes one dated March 1851, entitled 'Mr. Pundison's Grandfather.' In it the author is reminiscing about events of 20 years earlier."
It might be informative to learn whether this novel has a particular setting (wicket is only known in selected areas) and/or where Mansfield lived.
1852c.11 Hartford Lads Play Early Morning Wicket on Main Street
"Wicket was played in various locations of the city [of Hartford CT] . . . . But the best games of all in many respects were the early morning games, played by clerks . . . for four or five months [a year] on Main street . . . .
"It was customary for the first [clerk] who was first awake at 5 o'clock to dress, and make rounds of the [State House] square, knocking on the doors and shouting 'Wicket.' By 5:30 enough would be out to begin playing, and soon with 15 to 20 on a side the game was in full swing.
"There was very little passing of teams and but little danger of beaking store windows, although cellar windows would be broken, and paid for. Most stores had outside shutters to the windows, and were thus protected. These games would end about 6:45, in time to open the stores at 7 o'clock. It was good exercise, and very enjoyable, and I have no doubt that many of our older merchants and bankers will recall with pleasure the good old wicket games in State House Square in 1852-3-4."
J. G. Rathbun, unidentified article circa 1907, Chadwick Scrapbooks, as cited in Peter Morris, But Didn't We Have Fun? (Ivan R. Dee, 2008), pages 14-15.
It is interesting that the game could be played in the limited area of a broad city street.
1852.16 Two Wicket Groups Vie in Litchfield CT
"That Game of Wicket,
Between the two Branches of Bantam Players (the Factory and Up-Town Branches,) came off on the Public Green in this Village, on Saturday last, with the following result"
[In three innings, the score was Factory Branch 141, Up Town Branch 111.]
Litchfield Republican, July 8, 1852, page 2.
What were "bantam players?" Does the term suggest the ages of the players?
1854.13 English Visitor Sees Wicket at Harvard
Wicket, American Cricket
"It was in the spring of 1854 . . . that I stepped into the Harvard College yard close to the park. There I saw several stalwart looking fellows playing with a ball about the size of a small bowling ball, which they aimed at a couple of low sticks surmounted by a long stick. They called it wicket. It was the ancient game of cricket and they were playing it as it was played in the reign of Charles the First [1625-1649 - LMc]. The bat was a heavy oak thing and they trundled the ball along the ground, the ball being so large it could not get under the sticks.
"They politely invited me to take the bat. Any cricketer could have stayed there all day and not been bowled out. After I had played awhile I said, "You must play the modern game cricket." I had a ball and they made six stumps. Then we went to Delta, the field where the Harvard Memorial Hall now stands. We played and they took to cricket like a duck to water. . . .I think that was the first game of cricket at Harvard."
"The Boyhood of Rev. Samuel Robert Calthrop." Compiled by His daughter, Edith Calthrop Bump. No date given. Accessed 10/31/2008 at http://www-distance.syr.edu/SamCalthropBoyhoodStory.html.
Actually, Mr. Calthrop may have come along about 95 years too late to make that claim: see #1760s.1 above.
1855c.3 Demo Game of Wicket, Seen as a CT Game, Later Played in Brooklyn
In 1880 the Brooklyn Eagle and New York Times carried long articles that include a description of the game of wicket, described as a Connecticut game not seen in Brooklyn for about 25 years:
[A] "Instead of eleven on a side, as in cricket, there are thirty, and instead of wickets used by cricketers their wickets consist of two pieces of white wood about an inch square and six feet long, placed upon two blocks three inches from the ground. The ball also differs from that used in cricket or base ball, it being almost twice the size, although it only weighs nine ounces. The bat also differs from that used in cricket and base ball, it being more on the order of a lacrosse bat, although of an entirely different shape, and made of hard, white wood. The space between the wickets is called the alley, and is seventy-five feet in length and ten feet in width. Wicket also differs from cricket in the bowling, which can be done from either wicket, at the option of the bowlers, and there is a centre line, on the order of the ace line in racket and hand ball, which is called the bowler's mark, and if a ball is bowled which fails to strike the ground before it reaches this line it is considered a dead ball, or no bowl, and no play can be made from it, even if the ball does not suit the batsman. The alley is something on the order of the space cut out for and occupied by the pitcher and catcher of a base ball club, the turf being removed and the ground rolled very hard for the accommodation of the bowlers."
[B] "The game of wicket, a popular out-door sport in Connecticut, where it originated half a century ago, was played for the first time in this vicinity yesterday. Wicket resembles cricket in some respect, but it lacks the characteristics which mark the latter as a particularly scientific pastime. In wicket each full team numbers 30 players instead of 111, as in cricket. The wickets of the Connecticut game are also different, , being about 5 feet wide and only 3 inches above the ground, and having a bar of white wood resting on two little blocks. The space between wickets measures 75 feet by 10 feet, and is termed the 'alley'. . . . [No scorebook is use to record batting or fielding.] The bat sued is 38 inches long, and bears a strong resemblance to a Fiji war-club, the material being well-seasoned willow. The Ball, although much larger than a cricket ball, is just as light and no quite so hard. . . . If a delivered ball fails to hit the ground before the [midway] mark it is called a 'no ball' and no runs for it are counted. The game was originated in the neighborhood of Bristol.
"Yesterday's match was played between the Bristol Wicket Club, the champions of Connecticut, and the Ansonia Company, of Brooklyn, on he grounds of the Brooklyn Athletic Club."
Bristol won the two-inning match 162-127.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 41 number 239 (August 28, 1880), page 1, column 8.
"A Queer Game Called Wicket," New York Times, 8/28/1880.
There are inconsistencies in these accounts to be resolved.
1855c.10 "New Game" of Wicket Played in HI
[A] "In 1855 the new game of wicket was introduced at Punahou [School] and for a few years was the leading athletic game on the campus. . . . [The] fiercely contested games drew many spectators from among the young ladies and aroused no common interest among the friends of the school."
[B] "One game they all enjoyed was wicket, often watched by small Mary Burbank. Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a large rounder end. It was a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to the ground."
 Through further digging, John Thorn suggests the migration of wicket to Hawaii through the Hawaii-born missionary Henry Obookiah. At age 17, Obookiah traveled to New Haven and was educated in the area. He may well have been exposed to wicket there. He died in 1818, but not before helping organize a ministry [Episcopalian?] in Hawaii that began in 1820.
See also John Thorn's 2016 recap in the supplementary text, below.
[A] J. S. Emerson, "Personal Reminiscences of S. C. Armstrong," The Southern Workman Volume 36, number 6 (June 1907), pages 337-338. Accessed 2/12/10 via Google Books search ("punahou school" workman 1907). Punahou School, formerly Oahu College, is in Honolulu.
[B] Ethel M.Damon M. , Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii [Pacific Books, Palo Alto, 1957], page 41.
[C] John's source is the pamphlet Hawaiian Oddities, by Mike Jay [R. D. Seal, Seattle, ca 1960]. [Personal communication, 7/26/04.]
Damon added: "Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a larger rounder end.t was a a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to thee ground."
1855.26 Tolland CT 265, Otis-Sandisfield MA 189 In Wicket Match
[A] "The ball players of Sandisfield and Otis, thinking themselves equal for almost all things, sent a challenge to the Tolland players for a match game in the former town, on Friday the 14th. Tolland accepted, and with twenty-five players on each side the game commenced, resulting in the complete triumph of he challenged or Tolland party, whose tally footed up 265 crosses, to 189 for the other side."
[B] In August, Barre MA arranged a game with players from Petersham MA and Hardwick MA. Barre MA is about 40 miles NE of Springfield, and the two other towns are about 7 miles from Barre.
[A] The [Lowell MA?] Sun, September 27, 1855, attributed to the Springfield Republican.
[B] Barre Patriot, August 17, 1855.
Accessed May 5, 2009 via subscription search.
Tolland CT is about 20 miles NE of Hartford CT and 20 miles SE of Springfield MA. The two MA villages are about 30 miles W of Springfield.
1855.33 Wicket Club Plays in Ohio -- Ladies Bestow MVP Prize
"This evening members of the "Excelsior Wicket Club" contest for the prize of a boquet [sic], to be awarded the player who makes the most innings.
The ladies are to be on the club ground--the Huron Park--and award the prize to the winner. Happy fellow, he! May there be steady hands and cool heads that some nice young man shall win very sweet smiles as well as the sweet flowers."
Sandusky Register, 5/12/1855.
Richard Hershberger, who dug up this notice, notes that this club was an early case of an organized wicket club.
New England generally was a late comer to organized clubs as the medium for team sports. Cricket is the exception, with some clubs in imitation of the English model and, from the 1840s on, clubs largely composed of English immigrants.
"Wicket followed a model of village teams, with no obvious sign of formal club structures of constitutions and officers and the like. We don't see that until the mid-1850s, and then more with baseball than with wicket. Even with what where nominally baseball clubs, I suspect that many were actually closer to the village team model, with a bit of repackaging."
Sandusky OH (1855 pop. probably around 7000) is in northernmost OH, about 50 miles SE of Toledo and about 50 miles W of Cleveland.
Do we know what "makes the most innings" means in the newspaper account?
1856.25 Boston Paper Reports 192-187 Squeaker in Western MA
"A great game of ball, says the Berkshire Courier, cam off in that village on Friday last. The parties numbers 17 on a side, composed of lawyers, justices, merchants mechanics, and in fact a fair proportion of the village populations were engages wither as participants or spectators . . . . The excitement was intense . . . best of all the game was a close one, the aggregate count in [illeg: 8?] innings being 192 and 187."
BostonEvening Transcript, April 18, 1856. Accessed bia subscription search 2/17/2009.
Berkshire MA is about 5 miles NE of Pittsfield and about 10 miles E of New York state border.
This may have been a wicket match. One wonders why a Friday match would have been held.
1856.34 A Three-Inning Game of Wicket at Great Barrington
"BALL PLAYING - A game of Wicket was played at Gt. Barrington on the 11th inst., and a supper partaken at the Berkshire House in the evening. C. M. Emerson, Esq. was the leader of one party and John Price, Esq. of the other. The game was a close one; the aggregate count of three innings being 192 and 187. The side of Captain Emerson beat."
Pittsfield Sun, April 24, 1856, page 2.
Great Barrington, MA (1860 population about 3900) is about 20 miles south of Pittsfield MA and near the SW corner of the state.
1857.19 Wicket Described in February Porter's
Implying that wet weather had left a bit of a news vacuum, Porter's explained it would "give place to the following communications in relation to the game of 'Wicket,' of which we have ourselves no personal knowledge or experience."
What followed were  a request for playing rules a Troy, NY wicket club, and  an appeal:
"I would like to see the old game of Wicket (not Cricket) played. It is a manly game and requires the bowler to be equal to playing a good game of ten pins. The ground is made smooth and level, say six feet wide by sixty to ninety in length. The ball from five to five and a half inches in diameter, hand wound, and well covered. The bat of light wood, say bass. [A rough field diagram is supplied here] The wicket is placed at each end, and on the top of a peg drove in the ground just high enough to let the ball under the wicket, which is a very light piece of wood lying on top of the pegs. The rules are very similar to those of cricket. Can a club be started? Yours, Wicket. [New York]"
Porter's Spirit of the Times, Saturday, February 14, 1857. Accessed via subscription search, May 15, 2009.
1857.27 Game of Wicket Reaches IA
"BALL GAMES IN THE WEST. - It is with pleasure that we observe the gradual progression of these healthy and athletic games westward. A Wicket Club has recently been organized in Clinton City , Iowa, which is looked on with much favor by the young men of that locality."
New York Clipper, June 13, 1857. Facsimile provide by Craig Waff, September 2008.
Also covered in Porter's Spirit of the Times, June 20, 1857
1857c.34 Wicket Played at Eastern OH College; Future President Excels
"In the street, in front of [Hiram College] President Hinsdale's (which was then Mr. Garfield's house), is the ground where we played wicket ball; Mr. Garfield was one of our best players."
F. M. Green, Hiram College (Hubbell Printing, Cleveland, 1901), page 156. Accessed via Google Books search ("Hiram College" green).
James A. Garfield was Principal and Professor at Hiram College from 1856-1859. He was about 26 in 1857, and had been born and reared in Eastern Ohio. Hiram Ohio is about 30 miles SE of Cleveland.
1858.26 Wicket, as Well as Cricket and Base Ball, Reported in Baltimore MD
"Exercise clubs and gymnasia are spring up everywhere. The papers have daily records of games at cricket, wicket, base ball, etc."
Editorial, "Physical Education," Graham's American Monthly of Literature, art, and Fashion, Volume 53, Number 6 [December 1858], page 495.
1858.30 Playing Rules Given for New Britain CT Wicket Ball Match
"The great game of Wicket Ball between a party of the married and unmarried men of New Britain, came off on Saturday. There were 25 each on a side, and both sides were composed of the 'crack' players of the town." A large number of out-of-town attendees was noted. A box score was included.
Among the stated rules noted as differing from Hartford rules: wickets set 75 feet apart, "flying balls only out," no leading, "last ball to count 4; but the strikers must make four crosses,' a nine-inch ball, and a three-game format in which the total runs "crossings" determined the victor.
"Ball-Playing at New Britain," Hartford Daily Courant, June 21, 1858, page 2.
1858.31 Bristol CT Bests Waterbury in Wicket
Bristol beat Waterbury by 110 runs in a wicket game on Bristol's Federal Hill Green on September 9, 1858. No game details appeared. "The game not only attracted attention in this section of the State, but it assumed such proportions that New Yorkers became interested and it was reported in much detail in the NY Sunday Mercury a few days later. The newspaper remarked at the time that Bristol had a wicket team to be proud of.
The New York newspapers had a chance to tell the same story twenty-two years later when the Bristols went to Brooklyn and defeated the club of that city"
Norton, Frederick C., "That Strange Yankee Game, Wicket," Bristol Connecticut (City Printing Co., Hartford, 1907); available on Google Books.
Can we find the Mercury story and/or coverage in Bristol and Waterbury papers? Add page reference.
1858c.44 Wolverines and Wicket
"Wicket was then about our only outdoor sport - and it was a good one, too - and I remembered that we challenged the whole University to a match game."
Lyster Miller O'Brien, "The Class of 1858," University of Michigan, 1858-1913 (Holden, 1913), page 52. Accessed in snippet view via Google Books search ("match game" wicket).
1858.52 Grand Wicket Match in Waterbury CT
Local interest in wicket is seen has having crested in 1858 in western Connecticut. "Games were played annually with clubs from other towns in the state, and the day on which these meetings took place was frequently made a general holiday."
J. Anderson, ed., The Town and City of Waterbury, Volume 3 (Price and Lee, New Haven, 1896), pp. 1102-1103. Accessed 2/16/10 via Google Books search ("mattatuck ball club").
In August 1858, the local Mattatuck club hosted "the great contest" between New Britain and Winsted. The mills were shut down and brass bands escorted the clubs from the railway station to the playing field. New Britain won, and 150 were seated at a celebratory dinner. Local wicket was to die out by about 1860. The Waterbury Base Ball Club began in 1864. Waterbury is about 30 miles SW of Hartford CT. Winsted is about 30 miles north of Waterbury, and New Britain is about 20 miles to the east.
1858.61 IL "Base Ball and Wicket Club" Takes the Field
Base Ball -- Ottawa vs. Marseilles
"Some two weeks ago the Marseilles Base Ball Club challenged the Base Ball and Wicket Club of Ottawa to a trial of skill. - The challenge was promptly accepted, and Friday of last week fixed as the day and Marseilles the place for the game. At the time appointed, although the weather was intensely hot, the game was played with great spirit, yet with the utmost good feeling throughout, on both sides...
"J.H. Burlison, of Ottawa, and A.B. Thompson, of Marseilles acted as the Umpires. The time occupied in the game as 3 hours and 40 minutes.
"The Ottawa boys, it will be seen, came out 21 points ahead. The Marseilles boys took their defeat in great good humor, and had prepared a grand supper at the close of the contest, which however, owing to the late hour and their fatigue, the Ottawa boys did not remain to discuss".
A spare box score shows the Ottawa Club winning a three-inning contest, 230 to 207. It appears to have been a game of wicket.
Ottawa Free Trader, June 26, 1858
A wicket club in Illinois? Really?
Jeff Kittel notes: "Protoball doesn't have any references to wicket clubs in Illinois during this period, although there is a reference to a 1857 club in Iowa. Ottawa and Marseilles are in LaSalle County, Illinois, on the Illinois River, about 50 miles southwest of Chicago. It's possible that the game experienced a period of popularity in central Illinois and Iowa. Clinton City, where the Iowa wicket club was located, is on the Mississippi, about sixty miles west of Ottawa and Marseilles. Now the headline says that this was a game of base ball, rather than wicket, but the box score, which I attached, is kind of odd - three innings, possibly playing first to 200 runs. Sadly, they don't give us any information on the number of players per side."
1859.8 Sixty Play for Their Suppers
"On Saturday last New Marlborough and Tolland played a game of ball for a supper - Tolland beat. There were 30 players on a side."
Tolland CT is about 20 miles NE of Hartford, and New Marlborough MA is in the SW corner of MA, about 25 miles S of Pittsfield. Looks like this was a game of wicket.
Pittsfield Sun, June 23, 1859. Accessed via subscription search February 17, 2009.
1859.24 CT State Wicket Championship Attracts 4000
"When Bristol played New Britain at wicket for the championship of the state before four thousand spectators in 1859, the Hartford Press reported that there prevailed 'the most remarkable order throughout, and the contestants treated each other with faultless courtesy.'"
A special four-car train carried spectators to the match, leaving Hartford CT at 7:30 AM.
John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 8.
This game is also covered in Norton, Frederick C., "That Strange Yankee Game, Wicket," Bristol Connecticut (City Printing Co., Hartford, 1907), pages 295-296. Available via Google Books: try search: "'Monday, July 18, 1859' Bristol."
See also Larry McCray, "State Championship Wicket Game in Connecticut: A Hearty Hurrah for a Doomed Pastime," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 132-135.
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.
1860c.11 Man Played Base Ball in CT Before the War
Wicket, Base Ball
"I am a native of Hartford, Conn., and have, from early boyhood, taken a great interest in all Out Door Sports that are clean and manly. As a boy I played One, Two, Three, and Four Old Cat; also the old game of "Wicket." I remember that before the Civil War, I don't remember how long, we played base ball at my old home, Manchester, Harford County, CT."
1860.25 Wicket and Base Ball at Kenyon College, OH
[After a report on Kenyon's base ball club, including "the great fever which has raged for the laudable exercise of ball playing:"] "The heavier game of wicket has also had many admirers, and we doubt not but that many of them will live longer and be happier men on account of wielding the heavy bats."
University Quarterly (Kenyon College, July 1860), page 198: Accessed 2/17/10 via Google Books search ("heavier game of wicket").
1862.20 Wisconsin Man's Diary Included a Dozen References to Ballplaying
Private Jenkin Jones sprinkled 12 references to ballplaying in his Civil War Diary. They range from December 1862 to February 1865. Most are very brief notes, like the "played ball in the afternoon" he recorded in Memphis in February 1863 [page 34]. The more revealing entries:
· Oxford, 12/62: "The delightful weather succeeded in enticing most of the boys form their well-worn decks and cribbage boards, bringing them out in ball playing, pitching quoits,etc. Tallied for an interesting game of base ball" [pp 19/20]
· Huntsville, 3/64: "Games daily in camp, ball, etc." [p. 184]
· Huntsville, 3/64: "Played ball all of the afternoon" [p.193]
· Fort Hall, 4/64: "[Col. Raum] examined our quarters and fortifications, after which he and the other officers turned in that had a game of wicket ball." [p.203]
· Etowah Bridge, 9/64: "a championship game of base-ball was played on the flat between the non-veterans and the veterans. The non-veterans came off victorious by 11 points in 61." [p. 251]
· Chattanooga, 2/65: "The 6th Badger boys have been playing ball with our neighbors, Buckeyes, this afternoon. We beat them three games of four.
Jenkin Lloyd Jones, An Artilleryman's Diary (Wisconsin History Commission, 1914). Accessed on Google Books 6/3/09 via "'wisconsin history commission' 'No. 8'" search. PBall file: CW-28.
Jones was from Spring Green, WI, which is about 30 miles west of Madison and 110 miles west of Milwaukee WI. Jones later became a leading Unitarian minister and a pacifist.
1863.1 Ballplaying Peaks in the Civil War Camps
[A] "[In April 1863] the Third Corps and the Sixth Corps baseball teams met near White Oak Church, Virginia, to play for the championship of the Army of the Potomac."
[B] "Ballplaying in the Civil War Camps increased rapidly during the War, reaching a peak of 82 known games in April 1863 -- while the troops still remained in their winter camps. Base ball was by a large margin the game of choice among soldiers, but wicket, cricket, and the Massachusetts game were occasionally played. Play was much more common in the winter camps than near the battle fronts."
[C] Note: In August 2013 Civil War scholar Bruce Allardice added this context to the recollected Army-wide "championship game":
"The pitcher for the winning team was Lt. James Alexander Linen (1840-1918) of the 26th NJ, formerly of the Newark Eureka BBC. Linen later headed the bank, hence the mention in the book. In 1865 Linen organized the Wyoming BBC of Scranton, which changed its name to the Scranton BBC the next year. The 26th NJ was a Newark outfit, and a contemporary Newark newspaper says that many members of the prewar Eurekas and Adriatics of that town had joined the 26th. The 26th was in the Sixth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, stationed at/near White Oak Church near Fredericksburg, VA. April 1863, the army was in camp. The book says Linen played against Charlie Walker a former catcher of the Newark Adriatics who was now catcher for the "Third Corps" club.
"With all that being said, in my opinion the clubs that played this game weren't 'corps' clubs, but rather regimental and/or brigade clubs that by their play against other regiments/brigades claimed the Third and Sixth Corps championships.
"Steinke's "Scranton", page 44, has a line drawing and long article on Linen which mentions this game. See also the "New York Clipper" website, which has a photo of Linen."
[A] History. The First National Bank of Scranton, PA (Scranton, 1906), page 37. This is, at this time (2011), the only known reference to championship games in the warring armies.
As described in Patricia Millen, On the Battlefield, the New York Game Takes Hold, 1861-1865, Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 149-152.
[B] Larry McCray, Ballplaying in Civil War Camps.
[C] Bruce Allardice, email to Protoball of August, 2013.
[D] (((add Steinke ref and Clipper url here?)))
Note Civil War historian Bruce Allardice's caveat, above: "In my opinion the clubs that played weren't 'corps' clubs, but rather regimental or brigade clubs that by their play other regiments/brigades claimed the Third and Sixth Corps championships."
Is it possible that a collection of trophy balls, at the Hall of Fame or elsewhere, would provide more evidence of the prevalence of base ball in the Civil War?
1863.8 Wisconsin Soldier Reportedly “Died While Playing Wicket”
“March 2 . Jas Mitchell falls. Died while playing wicket.”
Diary entry, presumably by Captain Milo E. Palmer, 12th Regiment, in Deborah B. Martin, History of Brown County Wisconsin (S. J. Clarke Publishing, Chicago, 1913), page 216. The 12th Wisconsin was near “Coliersville” [Collierville?] TN in early March, according to the diary entries. Collierville is about 15 miles SW of Memphis. The 12th WI seems to have been raised in the Madison WI area. The book was accessed 6/7/09 on Google Books via “of brown county” search. No other cited diary entries refer to ballplaying. Caution: It is unconfirmed that “playing wicket” in this case referred to ballplaying. It seems plausible that wicket was played in the 1850s-1860s in WI, but it hardly seems a mortally risky game, and it seems possible that “playing wicket” has a military meaning here. Input from readers on this issue is most welcome.
1863.121 Soldiers Play Wicket in Little Rock
From the Civil War journal of James B. Lockney, Wisconsin 28th Regiment.
"In Camp near Little Rock. Ark Wednesday Sept 30, 1863.
Today was rainy in the A.M. & drizzled some P.M. The boys had a game of Wicket the first time I ever saw it played. They used clubs of hurdles and a large ball about 6 in. in diameter. Some of the Officers took part & the game passed off quietly."
Note that the camp was probably in what is now the Little Rock city limits. [Caleb Hardwick]
1864.94 Wicket Match
A match game of wicket in Waterbury Saturday between the club of that city and the East Hartford Club, resulting in the defeat of the latter.
Waterbury first inning 111
Waterbury second inning 147
East Hartford first inning 82
East Hartford second inning 43
The defeated party paid the suppers according to the agreement of the match
October 1, 1864 Connecticut Courant
1865.2 Illinois Soldier Plays Wicket Near War’s End
“Washington March 29 65. . . . Put up fence round our Q’rs played wicket ball Evening bought cigars and smoked.” “Monday Apr. 3rd Lost and found my Pocket Book Played Wicket Traded watches.” “Tuesday Apr. 4th Played ball.”
Milo Deering Dailey, Civil War Diary of 1865. Accessed 6/22/09 by Google Web search: “’milo deering dailey.’” The diary covers February through-June 1865. Dailey was with the 112th Illinois, which was organized in Peoria IL. The regiment was in North Carolina in early April, closing on Raleigh from the east. Washington NC is about 95 miles E of Raleigh.
1865.26 Otis MA Bests Lee MA at Wicket, 236 - 232
Lee, August 21, 1865
"To the Editor of the Pittsfield Sun: --
"The long-talked-of match game of wicket ball between the Otis and Lee Clubs, took place on Saturday last, resulting in a victory for the former. The game was well-contests, booth sides manifesting extraordinary skill and zeal, and aside from the one-sided decisions of the Referee, nothing occurred to mar the harmony of the occasion. The following was the result:
"Lee. First Innings 78, Second Innings 80, Third Innings 74, Total 232.
"Otis. First Innings 73, Second Innings 79, Third Innings 84, Total 236.
"It appears that the Otis Club were allowed to furnish a Referee -- and they furnished one who was a resident of [nearby] Sandisfield. In the minor details, when called upon to decide a question, he was so manifestly unjust as to bring forth showers of hisses from the spectators.
"The Lee Club have again challenged the Otis Club to play a match game for $50 and the suppers. If the challenge is accepted, it is to be hoped that an impartial referee may be chosen, who will be acceptable to both Clubs."
Pittsfield Sun, August 24, 1865, page 2.