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- 1 370c.1 Saint Augustine Recalls Punishment for Youthful Ball Games
- 2 790c.1 Princess Nausica and Maids Play Catch
- 3 824.1 15-Year-Old Chinese Emperor Criticized for Excessive Ball-Playing
- 4 850c.1 Nausicaa & Maids Play Ball while Laundry Dries
- 5 1540c.2 Nobleman Recalls "Palm Play" in Royal Court
- 6 1555c.1 English Poet Condones Students' Yens "To Tosse the Ball, To Rene Base, Like Men of War"
- 7 1586c.1 Sydney Cites Stoolball
- 8 1680.3 John Bunyan's Son Yields to "Drunkenness, Card-playing, Stoolball," Maypole Dancing
- 9 1706.2 Book About a Scotsman Mentions "Cat and Doug" and Other Diversions
- 10 1720c.4 Game of Base was "A Peculiar Favorite"
- 11 1729.1 At Harvard, Batt and Ball "Stirs Our Bloud Greatly"
- 12 1750s.3 1857 Writer Reportedly Dates New England Game of "Base" to 1750s
- 13 1755c.7 Prominent Patriot Regrets Wasting Time Playing Cat (and Fives)
- 14 1761.1 Princeton Faculty [NJ] Disparages "Playing at Ball"
- 15 1761.3 School Trustees Prohibit Playing Ball and Other Diversions, Ignoring Advice of Ben Franklin
- 16 1770c.3 Future Professor Sneaks a Smoke When He Can't Play Bat and Ball
- 17 1771.1 Dartmouth President Finds Gardening "More Useful" Than Ballplaying
- 18 1771.2 Province of New Hampshire Prohibits Christmas "Playing With Balls" in the Streets
- 19 1780.10 Dartmouth College Fine for Ballplay - Two Shillings
- 20 1781.2 "Antient" Harvard Custom: Freshmen Furnish the Bats, Balls
- 21 1781.3 "Game at Ball" Variously Perceived at Harvard College
- 22 1782.3 NH Diarist Notes that Local Youths "Play Ball Before My Barn"
- 23 1784.1 UPenn Bans Ball Playing Near Open University Windows
- 24 1786.1 "Baste Ball" Played at Princeton
- 25 1787.1 Ballplaying Prohibited at Princeton - Shinny or Early Base Ball?
- 26 1790s.1 Doctor in DE Recalls His "Youthfull Folley": Includes Ball-playing
- 27 1795.5 Playing At Ball in the Untamed West (Now Kentucky?)
- 28 1797.1 Daniel Webster Writes of "Playing Ball" While at Dartmouth
- 29 1800c.1 Sports at Exeter Academy include "Old-Fashioned Bat and Ball". . . and Football
- 30 1800c.11 “Sky-ball”, “Cat and Ball” Remembered in Southern PA
- 31 1801.3 Book Portrays "Bat and Ball" as Inferior to Cricket
- 32 1802.3 New England Woman Sees Ballplaying in Virginia, Perhaps by "All Colors"
- 33 1802.4 Philadelphia Book: "Bat and Ball is an Inferior Kind of Cricket"
- 34 1803.4 Middlebury College VT Bans Ballplaying
- 35 1805.1 Williams College Bans Dangerous Ball-playing
- 36 1808.3 Students get 10 lashes for playing bandy
- 37 1810c.4 Union College [Upstate NY] Students Play Baseball-Like Game
- 38 1810c.10 Minister Reflects on Early Nineteenth Century Sports and Entertainments
- 39 1811.5 Bat-ball Recalled at Exeter
- 40 1815c.5 RI Boy Did A Little Ball-Playing
- 41 1816.12 Oxfordshire Churchman Urges Base-Ball Fields for Girls
- 42 1817.4 In Brunswick ME, Bowdoin College Sets 20-Cent Fine for Ballplaying
- 43 1818.6 Scots Ballplaying Variants -- Including 'Ba'-baises' -- Found to the North
- 44 1820s.9 In Middletown CT, "Wicket" Recalled, but Not Base Ball.
- 45 1820s.12 Boys Are Attracted to Sports of "Playing Ball or Goal" in Bangor ME
- 46 1820s.20 Horace Greeley Lacks the Knack, Fears Getting Whacked
- 47 1820s.21 College Prez Was a Klutz at Ball and Cricket
- 48 1820c.30 Early African American baseball
- 49 1820s.31 "Many Different Kinds of Ball" Remembered
- 50 1820s.33 Harvard Man: "We had Baseball"
- 51 1820s.34 Impromptu Ballplaying Recalled at Transylvania University
- 52 1821.7 1821 Etching Shows Wicket Game in Progress
- 53 1823c.9 Kentucky Abolitionist Recalls Playing Base-ball
- 54 1824.1 Longfellow on Life at Bowdoin College: "Ball, Ball, Ball"
- 55 1824.6 Oliver Wendell Holmes Recalls Schoolboy Baseball and Phillips Academy in MA
- 56 1824.7 Bat and Ball, Cricket are Sunday Afternoon Pastimes
- 57 1826.3 Base Ball Associated with Boston Gymnasium Proposal?
- 58 1827.3 First Oxford-Cambridge Cricket Match Held
- 59 1827.6 A Tip for Good Health: Cricket for the Blokes, Bass-ball for the Lasses
- 60 1827.7 NY Boy Celebrates "Releasement" from School By Playing Ball
- 61 1828.13 In Christian Story, a Young Girl Chooses Batting Over Tatting
- 62 1828.16 Base-ball Cited as a Suitable "Nonsuch for Eyes and Arms" of Australian Ladies
- 63 1829.3 Small Cambridge MA Schoolground Crimps Base and Cricket Play
- 64 1800s.11 "Bat and Ball" Can't Compete with Organ-Grinding
- 65 1830s.5 Wicket Played in The Western Reserve [OH]
- 66 1830s.12 Watching Wicket Ball in Buffalo NY
- 67 1830s.15 In Buffalo NY, Balls Formed from Fish Noses
- 68 1830s.19 NH Lad Had Happy Games of Ball
- 69 1830s.20 In GA, Men Played Fives, Schoolboys Played Base and Town Ball
- 70 1830s.21 Future OH Senator Has Little Interest in Playing Ball
- 71 1830c.30 "Old Boys" Play Throwback Game to 100 Tallies in Ohio
- 72 1830c.33 The Balk Rule Existed Before the 1845 Knick Rules?
- 73 1830s.34 1883 Account Reflects on Details of "Town Ball" Played Decades Earlier in PA
- 74 1832.3 Mary's Book of Sports [New Haven CT] Has Drawing of "Playing at Ball"
- 75 1832.5 Boston Spelling/Reading Book Describes Cricket and "Playing at Ball"
- 76 1834.8 A Ballplaying Death in PA
- 77 1835c.17 CT Lad Plays Base Ball Much of the Morning
- 78 1836.6 Georgetown U Students "play Ball"
- 79 1836c.11 Recollections of a Jersey City Boy -- And A Different Rule for Plugging
- 80 1836.13 "Errant Rogue," in Poem, Prefers Ball to Study
- 81 1839.7 MA :Paper Sees Desecration in Older "Bat and Ball" Players
- 82 1840c.34 Ball-Playing at Marshall College in PA
- 83 1840.38 Boston-Style "Bat and Ball" Seen in Honolulu HI
- 84 1840c.39 Cricket [or Maybe Wicket?] Played by Harvard Class of 1841
- 85 1840s.45 Amherst Alum Cites Round Ball, Wicket, Cricket on Campus in the Past
- 86 1840s.46 The Balk -- From the Knicks, Prior US Games, or Abroad?
- 87 1842.3 Harvard Man George Hoar Writes of Playing "Simple Game We Called Base"
- 88 1842c.9 Haverford Students Form Cricket Team of Americans
- 89 1842.11 Rounders Reported at Swiss School
- 90 1842.12 Use in VA of "base ball"
- 91 1844.6 Novel Cites "the Game of Bass in the Fields"
- 92 1844c.18 Springtime Ballplaying on the Common -- by Girls
- 93 1845c.7 Former Catcher Recalls Ballgame with Soaking and "Fugleing" in NYS
- 94 1845c.24 Future Congressman Plays Ball at Phillips Andover?
- 95 1846.6 Walt Whitman Sees Boys Playing "Base" in Brooklyn: "Glorious"
- 96 1846.13 Spring Sports at Harvard: "Bat & Ball" and Cricket
- 97 1846.23 New Jersey Youths Spotted "playing 'base ball'"
- 98 1847.14 Holiday Encroached by Round Ball, Long Ball, Old Cat
- 99 1847.17 US Traveler Sees Baseball-Like Game in Northeastern France
- 100 1847.18 Holiday Round Ball in NH
- 101 1849c.4 A. G. Mills and Boyhood Friend Recall "Base Ball" at a Brooklyn School
- 102 1850s.15 Gunnery School in CT Imports Base Ball from NY
- 103 1850s.16 Wicket Play in Rochester NY
- 104 1850c.17 Patch Baseball Played in Upstate New York
- 105 1850s.18 Baseball's Beginnings at U Penn?
- 106 1850c.26 Needed: More Festival Days - Like Fast Day? For Ballplaying
- 107 1850c.34 Tut-ball Played at Young Ladies School in England
- 108 1850c.35 U. of Michigan Alum Recalls Baseball, Wicket, Old-Cat Games
- 109 1850c.36 Wicket Ball in Amherst MA
- 110 1850s.43 South Carolina College Students Make Do with Town Ball, "Cat"
- 111 1850s.45 Future NL President Plays ball in Mohawk Valley of New York
- 112 1850c.46 Worcester Man Recalls Round Ball in the 1850s
- 113 1850s.48 'Bama Boys Play Town Ball on Campus
- 114 1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
- 115 1850c.56 Roundball Recalled in Maine
- 116 1851.2 Early Ballplaying on the SF Plaza (Horses Beware!)
- 117 1851.3 Wicket Players in MA Found Liable
- 118 1851.5 Robert E. Lee Promotes Cricket at West Point?
- 119 1852c.11 Hartford Lads Play Early Morning Wicket on Main Street
- 120 1852.12 Ball-playing Prohibited Near UNC Buildings
- 121 1852.17 Dickens Names Cricket, but not Stoolball or Rounders, Among "Merriest" Games
- 122 1853c.1 "Rounders" Said to be Played at Phillips Andover School
- 123 1853.6 When Boys Collect, A Spontaneous Game of Ball is Possible
- 124 1853.7 Didactic Novel Pairs "Bass-Ball" and Rounders at Youths' Outing
- 125 1853.11 Catcher Felled in ME
- 126 1853c.13 At Harvard, Most Students Played Baseball and Football, Some Cricket or Four-Old-Cat
- 127 1854.10 Ball Played at Hobart College, Geneva NY
- 128 1854.13 English Visitor Sees Wicket at Harvard
- 129 1854.19 Sixty-foot Liner Breaks Schoolhouse Window in "Game of Bass"
- 130 1855c.10 "New Game" of Wicket Played in HI
- 131 1855.12 Students Bring Cricket to Saint John and Fredericton NB
- 132 1855.29 Even the Australians Are Bothered by Sunday Baseball
- 133 1855.40 First Jr. Base Ball Club Founded
- 134 1856.17 Letter to "Spirit" Describes Roundball in New England
- 135 1856.19 Five-Player Base Ball Reported in NY, WI
- 136 1856.26 Youths Are "Playing Ball" in San Francisco
- 137 1856.31 First Scholastic Play?
- 138 1857.23 Princeton Freshmen Establish Nassau Base Ball Club
- 139 1857c.34 Wicket Played at Eastern OH College; Future President Excels
- 140 1857.38 President's Peace Medal Depicts Baseball Game in Background
- 141 1858.8 Harvard Student Magazine Notes "Multitude" Playing Base or Cricket There
- 142 1858.29 First Recorded College Game at Williams College
- 143 1858.33 Earliest Games in Chicago IL?
- 144 1858c.44 Wolverines and Wicket
- 145 1858.47 Brooklynite Takes A Census - There Are 59 Junior Clubs in Brooklyn
- 146 1858.48 Three Youth Clubs in Rochester NY Disdain the NY Game
- 147 1858.51 At Harvard, Two Clubs Play Series of Games by New York Rules
- 148 1858.53 At Kenyon College, Base Ball Takes Unusual Form
- 149 1858c.57 Modern Base Ball Gets to Exeter Prep [from Doubleday's Home Town!]
- 150 1859.1 First Intercollegiate Ballgame: Amherst 73, Williams 32
- 151 1859.2 Collegiate Game [the First Played by NY Rules?] in NYC
- 152 1859.11 Union College Forms Base Ball Team
- 153 1859.17 Club Forms at College of New Jersey
- 154 1859.38 NYU Forms a Base Ball Club
- 155 1859.51 Girls Play Base Ball at Eagleswood School
- 156 1860.18 Juniors Organize in NYC
- 157 1860.23 NY Game Gets to ME
- 158 1860.25 Wicket and Base Ball at Kenyon College, OH
- 159 1860.63 "Good Old-fashioned Base Ball" in Hawaii
- 160 1860s.86 Ballplaying Remembered in Dedham Massachusetts
- 161 1861.23 War Sinks Silver Balls
- 162 1862.6 Harvard Seeks Base Ball Rivals, Settles on Brown
- 163 1863.2 New Marlboro Match Base Ball Co. Goes Hybrid
- 164 1864.38 Base Ball On The Rebound
- 165 1864.49 "Base Ball" and "Bat and Ball" Seen as the Same Game
- 166 1866.15 Vassar has First female Base ball club?
- 167 1867.4 Cummings' Curve Curtails Crimson's Clouting
- 168 1867.21 Wisconsin's First State Base Ball Tourney Lists $1500 in Prizes
- 169 1867.23 Celebrity Spectators
- 170 1868.1 Elizabeth Cady Stanton describes Female Baseball Game in Peterboro, NY
- 171 1869c.4 Diana Base Ball Club of Northwestern Female Seminary
- 172 1870c.17 Rutherford Hayes Sees Harm to Hearing in Ballplaying
- 173 1870c.8 Base Ball Comes to Massachusetts Youth
370c.1 Saint Augustine Recalls Punishment for Youthful Ball Games
In his Confessions, Augustine of Hippo - later St. Augustine - recalls his youth in Northern Africa, where his father served as a Roman official. "I was disobedient, not because I chose something better than [my parents and elders] chose for me, but simply from the love of games. For I liked to score a fine win at sport or to have my ears tickled by the make-believe of the stage." [Book One, chapter 10] In Book One, chapter 9, Augustine had explained that "we enjoyed playing games and were punished for them by men who played games themselves. However, grown up games are known as 'business. . . . Was the master who beat me himself very different from me? If he were worsted by a colleague in some petty argument, he would be convulsed in anger and envy, much more so than I was when a playmate beat me at a game of ball."
Saint Augustine's Confessions, Book One, text supplied by Dick McBane, February 2008.
Can historians identify the "game of ball" that Augustine might have played in the fourth Century? Are the translations to "game of ball," "games," and "sport" still deemed accurate?
790c.1 Princess Nausica and Maids Play Catch
From Pope's translation of Homer's Odyssey:
O'er the green mead the sporting virgins play, Their shining veils unbound, along the skies, Tost and retost, the ball incessant flies.
Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England: From the Earliest Period, Including the Rural and Domestic Recreations, May Games, Mummeries, Pageants, Processions and Pompous Spectacles (London: Methuen & Co., 1801), p. 91.
824.1 15-Year-Old Chinese Emperor Criticized for Excessive Ball-Playing
Ching Tsung was the new Chinese emperor at the age of 15. "As soon as he could escape from the morning levee, the young Emperor rushed off to play ball. His habits were well known in the city, and in the summer of 824 someone suggested to a master-dyer named Chang Shao that, as a prank, he should slip into the Palace, lie on the Emperor's couch and eat his dinner, 'for nowadays he is always away, playing ball or hunting.'" The prank was carried out, but those prankish dyers . . . well, they died as a result.
Waley, Arthur, The Life and Times of Po Chu-I, 772-846 [Allen and Unwin, London, 1949], p. 157. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.
Do we know what Chinese "ballplaying" was like in the ninth century?
850c.1 Nausicaa & Maids Play Ball while Laundry Dries
|Nausicaa, going to a river near that place to wash the clothes of her father, mother, and brethren, while the clothes were drying played with her maids at ball; and Odysseus coming forth is fed and clothed, and led on his way to the house of her father, King Alcinous.|
The Odyssey, Homer, Book VI
Even Homer nods
1540c.2 Nobleman Recalls "Palm Play" in Royal Court
So cruel prison how could betide,alas,
As proud Windsor [Castle]? Where I in lust [pleasure] and joy
With a king's son my childish years did pass
. . .
Where each of us did plead the other's right;
The palm play [handball?], where despoiled [disrobed] for the game,
With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love
Have missed the ball and got sight of our dame,
[The full selection, and email notes by John Bowman, are shown below.]
Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey), So Cruel a Prison, Norton Anthology of Poetry, 3rd edition, 1983: from Songes and sonettes, written by the right honourable Lorde Henry Howard, late Earle of Surrey (London, A. R. Tottel, 1557).
We are not certain that "palm play" could have been a baserunning game. It may be an Anglicized form of jeu de paume, a likely French antecedent to tennis.
The reference to "large grene courtes" in the full ball-play stanza suggests a tennis or handball-type pastime.
Have scholars indicated the likely nature of "palm play?" Could it have involved the batting of a ball with the palm?
1555c.1 English Poet Condones Students' Yens "To Tosse the Ball, To Rene Base, Like Men of War"
"To shote, to bowle, or caste the barre,
To play tenise, or tosse the ball,
Or to rene base, like men of war,
Shall hurt thy study naught at all."
Crowley, Robert, "The Scholar's Lesson," circa 1555, in J. M. Cowper, The Select Works of Robert Crowley [N. Truber, London, 1872], page 73. Submitted by John Bowman, 7/16/2004. Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see pages 230 and 312. Cited in Thomas L. Altherr, “There is Nothing Now Heard of, in Our Leisure Hours, But Ball, Ball, Ball,” The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1999 (McFarland, 2000), pp. 188.
Any idea what "rene base" might have meant in those days? Could it refer to a much older form of the team-tag game later known as prisoner's base?
1586c.1 Sydney Cites Stoolball
Lady Mary Dudley, Sir Philip Sydney
"A time there is for all, my mother often sayes
When she with skirts tuckt very hie, with gyrles at stoolball playes"
Sir Philip Sydney, Arcadia: Sonnets , page 493. Note: citation needs confirmation.
Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586) died at age 31 in 1586.
As of October 2012, this early stoolball ref. is the only one I see that can be interpreted as describing baserunning in stoolball - but it still may merely describe running by a fielder, not a batter. (LMc, Oct/2012)
Sydney's mother was the sister of Robert Dudley, noted in item #1500s.2 above as a possible stoolball player in the time of Eliizabeth I.
Further interpretations are welcome as to Sydney's meaning.
1680.3 John Bunyan's Son Yields to "Drunkenness, Card-playing, Stoolball," Maypole Dancing
"Bunyan repeatedly emphasized that children should be taught about hell, and that they are accursed. 'Upon the Disobedient Child is written strictly from the parents' point of view. 'The rod of correction....is appointed by God for parents to use' Bunyan had written in Mr Badman, 'that thereby they might keep their children from hell.' But flogging in this case was not successful. 'Since this young Badman would not be ruled at home', his father put him out as an apprentice to a good man of his acquaintance.This familiar seventeenth-century practice did not work either. Bunyan's own eldest son, John, though apparently properly flogged in childhood, was by 1680 mixing with bad company (including another son of a member of Bunyan's church) and later took to 'drunkenness, card-playing, stoolball', and dancing round the maypole."
Christopher Hill, John Bunyan; A Turbulent, Seditious, and Factious People: John Bunyan and his Church (1989), page 270.
Another source attributes Hill's source as Particia Bell, "John Bunyan in Bedfordshire," in The John Bunyan Lectures (Bedfordshire Educational Service, 1978), pp. 35-36.
John Bunyan (1628-1688) was a Baptist preacher and author of The Pilgrim's Progress (1678 and 1684).
So . . . the quote was, perhaps, from a 1680 lecture by John Bunyan himslef?
1706.2 Book About a Scotsman Mentions "Cat and Doug" and Other Diversions
[Author?] The Scotch rogue; or, The life and actions of Donald MacDonald, a Highland Scot [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 176. The [apparently fictional] hero recalls; "I was but a sorry proficient in learning: being readier at cat and doug, cappy-hole, riding the burley hacket, playing at kyles and dams, spangboder, wrestling, and foot-ball (and such other sports as we use in our country) than at my book."
Block identifies "cat and doug," or cat and dog, as a Scots two-base version of the game of cat that was most commonly played in Scotland. It was the likely forbear of the American game of two-old-cat."
David Block, Baseball Before Knew It (U Nebraska Press, 2007), page 176.
For more on cat-and-dog, see http://protoball.org/Cat-and-Dog.
1720c.4 Game of Base was "A Peculiar Favorite"
"Notwithstanding bloody affrays [in war times] between the English and Indians, they were generally of familiar terms in times of peace, and often mingled together in athletic sports. The game of 'base' was a peculiar favorite with our young townsmen, and the friendly Indians, and the hard beach of 'Garrison Cove' afforded fine ground for it."
W. Southgate, The History of Scarborough, 1633 - 1783, Collections of the Maine Historical Society, Volume III (Portland, 1853), page 148. G-Books search <"bloody affrays like these">, 4/2/2013.
One wishes there was more evidence that this form of "base" was a ball-game, and not a game like tag or capture-the-flag. If "base" was a ball-game, this report of native American play nearly 3 centuries ago is certainly remarkable.
Scarborough Maine is about 8 miles SW of Portland ME (then still a part of Massachusetts).
1729.1 At Harvard, Batt and Ball "Stirs Our Bloud Greatly"
From Harvard College,
In a letter written from Harvard College dated March 30, 1729 to Nicholas Gilman, John Seccomb wrote: “The Batchelors Play Batt & Ball mightily now adays which Stirs our bloud greatly”
Nicholas Gilman papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, as cited in Clifford K. Shipton, New England Life in the Eighteenth Century (Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 287.
Brian Turner notes that this find "predates by 33 years the 1762 ban on bat-and-ball (along with foot-ball, cricket, and throwing snow-balls and stones in the streets of Salem -- see entry 1762.2). It also predates by two decades a reference in a 1750s French & Indian war diary kept by Benjamin Glazier of Ipswich." (See entry 1758.1)
Gilman was from a leading family of New Hampshire, mainly centered in Exeter, a bit inland from Portsmouth, where Elwyn gave a description of 1810's "bat & ball," in which he certainly seems to name a specific game. (See entry 1810s.9). Seccomb, also spelled Seccombe, was born and lived in Medford, Mass., and later in life wound up in Nova Scotia -- not because he was a Loyalist, but for other reasons.
Brian notes that "By “Batchelors,” Gilman probably means students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, hence the categorization of this entry under "Youth." For over two centuries, 14 was the age at which boys entered Harvard." (Email of 9/1/2014.)
1750s.3 1857 Writer Reportedly Dates New England Game of "Base" to 1750s
"Dear Spirit: . . .
"I shall state [here] that which has come under my observation, and also some of my friends, during the last four years of the ball-playing mania . . .
Base ball cannot date back to so far as [cricket], but the game has no doubt, been played in this country for at least one century. Could we only invoke the spirit of some departed veteran of he game, how many items of interest might we be able to place before the reader.
"New England, we believe, has always been the play-ground for our favorite game; and the boys of the various villages still play by the same rules their fathers did before them. We also find that many games are played, differing but little from the well-known game of Base.
" . . . Although I am a resident of State of New York, I hope to do her no wrong by thinking that the New England States were, and are, the ball grounds of this country, and that many of our present players were originally from those States.
"The game of Base, as played there, was as follows: They would take the bat, 'hand over hand,' as the present time, 'whole hand or none.' After the sides were chosen, the bases would be placed so as to form a square, each base about twenty yards from the other. The striker would stand between the first and fourth base, equi-distant from each. The catcher was always expected to take the ball without a bound and it was always thrown by a player who would stand between the second and third bases. A good catcher would take the ball before the bat cold strike it. A hand was out if a man was running the bases should be struck with the ball which was thrown at him while he was running. He was allowed either a pace or a jump to the base which he was striving to reach; or if a ball was caught flying or on first bound. There was no rule to govern the striker as to the direction he should knock the ball, and of course no such thing as foul balls. The whole side had to be put out, and if the last man could strike a ball a sufficient distance to make all the bases, he could take in one of the men who had been put out. The ball was not quite the same as the one in present use, and varied very much in size and weight, it also was softer and more springy.
"The bats were square, flat, or round -- some preferring a flat bat, and striking with it so that th4 edge, or small side, would come in contact with the ball. Another arrangement of bases is, to have the first about two yards from the striker (on this right), the second about fifty down the field, and the third, or home, about five. . . .
"Yours, respectfully, X"
Base Ball Correspondence," Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 3, number 8 (October 24, 1857), page 117, column 2. The full text of the October 20 letter from "X" is on the VBBA website, as of 2008, at:
The writer present no evidence as to the earliest dates of known play.
The game described by "X" resembles the MA game as it was to be codified a year later except: [a] "a good catcher would frequently take the ball before the bat cold strike it," [b] the runner "was allowed either a pace or jump to the base which he was striving t reach," [c] the bound rule was in effect, [d] all-out-side-out innings were used, [e] the ball was "softer and more spongy" than 1850's ball, [f] the bats were square, flat, or round," and [g] there was a second field layout, with three bases. [This variation reminds one of cricket, wicket, and "long town or "long-town-ball, except for the impressive 150-foot distance to the second base]."
Can we interpret the baserunning rule allowing "a pace or jump to the base [the runner] was striving to reach?" Plugging didn't count if the runner was close to the next base," perhaps?
1755c.7 Prominent Patriot Regrets Wasting Time Playing Cat (and Fives)
"I have been ashamed, likewise, in recollecting how much time I have wasted when a boy in playing cat and fives and steal-clothes, &etc . . . . that might have been been more profitably employed in getting my lessons or reading instructing books . . . '
(Letter from Philadelphia dated April 21, 1812 from Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, to the young son of a friend.)
"Letter of Dr. Benjamin Rush," The Weekly Register (Baltimore), July 24, 1813. Cited in Thomas L. Altherr, “There is Nothing Now Heard of, in Our Leisure Hours, But Ball, Ball, Ball,” The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1999 (McFarland, 2000), p. 191.
1761.1 Princeton Faculty [NJ] Disparages "Playing at Ball"
"A minute of the Princeton faculty of May, 1761, frowns upon students "playing at ball."
Bentley, et. al., American College Athletics [Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, New York, 1929], pages 14-15. Submitted by John Thorn, 6/6/04.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
1761.3 School Trustees Prohibit Playing Ball and Other Diversions, Ignoring Advice of Ben Franklin
" in Woody(ed.), "Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsilvania, 1761, pp. 156-57.)
"But physical education as a consciously organized activity in the college program was almost completely lacking before the late nineteenth century. Viewed in many instances as a contributor to indecorous behavior, Minutes of Trustees, Educational Views of Benjamin Franklin, Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin
"A sound mind in a sound body is a maxim to which our collegiate forbears of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would probably have subscribed, I, March 10, Professors or Tutors, Wrestle, and as a possible source of distraction from the pursuit of serious study, and swimming, and to strengthen and render active their bodies, but about which they did little. Benjamin Franklin, etc." (Source: Benjamin Franklin, for example, in 1761, leaping, make any indecent Noise, or behave in any way rudely in the College Yard or Streets adjacent.'" (Source: College Academy and Charitable School, or come in or out thro the Windows, or play Ball or use any Kind of Diversion within the Walls of the Building; nor shall they in the Presence of the Trustees, play Ball, pp. 131 ff)., tended to place a damper upon the exuberant spirit of youth: 'None shall climb over the Fences of the College Yard, the early tendency was to discourage rather than to foster participation in it. Thus, the rules for student deportment formulated by the trustees of the College, they be frequently exercised in running, urged that in order to keep the scholars of his proposed academy "in health, wrestling
"A sound mind in a sound body is a maxim to which our collegiate forbears of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries would probably have subscribed, but about which they did little. Benjamin Franklin, for example, urged that in order to keep the scholars of his proposed academy "in health, and to strengthen and render active their bodies, they be frequently exercised in running, leaping, wrestling, and swimming, etc." (Source: Benjamin Franklin, "Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsilvania, " in Woody (ed.), Educational Views of Benjamin Franklin, pp. 156-57.)
"But physical education as a consciously organized activity in the college program was almost completely lacking before the late nineteenth century. Viewed in many instances as a contributor to indecorous behavior, and as a possible source of distraction from the pursuit of serious study, the early tendency was to discourage rather than to foster participation in it. Thus, the rules for student deportment formulated by the trustees of the College, Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia, in 1761, tended to place a damper upon the exuberant spirit of youth: 'None shall climb over the Fences of the College Yard, or come in or out thro the Windows, or play Ball or use any Kind of Diversion within the Walls of the Building; nor shall they in the Presence of the Trustees, Professors or Tutors, play Ball, Wrestle, make any indecent Noise, or behave in any way rudely in the College Yard or Streets adjacent.'" (Source: College Academy and Charitable School, Minutes of Trustees, I, March 10, 1761, pp. 131 ff).
Saul Sack, History of Higher Education in Pennsylvania Volume: 2. (Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg PA, 1963) , p.632.
John Thorn adds (email of 9/25/16):
"Possibly of interest: Franklin had dissociated himself from the Academy of Philadelphia (the "college" in question) in 1756:
1770c.3 Future Professor Sneaks a Smoke When He Can't Play Bat and Ball
"When Saturday afternoon chanced to be rainy, and no prospect of bat and ball on the common, some half a dozen of us used now and then, to meet in an old wood-shed, that we shall never forget, and fume it away to our own wonderful aggrandizement."
"Use of Tobacco from Dr. Waterhouse's Lecture before Harvard University," American Repertory, September 3, 1829 ("from the Columbian Centinel.") Accessed via subscription search, May 5, 2009. From internal references, this appears to be an account of the well-known public anti-smoking lecture by Professor Benjamin Waterhouse in November 1804.
Caution: dating this reference requires some assumptions. Waterhouse was born in 1754, and thus, if this recollection is authentic, he speaks of a penchant for ballplaying [and smoking] he held in his teens. He was born at Newport, RI and remained there until 1780.
1771.1 Dartmouth President Finds Gardening "More Useful" Than Ballplaying
Dartmouth College's founding president Eleazar Wheelock thought his students should "turn the course of their diversions and exercises for their health, to the practice of some manual arts, or cultivation of gardens and other lands at the proper hours of leisure." That would be "more useful" than the tendency of some non-Dartmouth students to engage in "that which is puerile, such as playing with balls, bowls and other ways of diversion."
Eleazar Wheelock, A Continuation of the Narrative , as quoted in W. D. Quint, The Story of Dartmouth College (Little, Brown, Boston, 1914) , page 246. Submitted by Scott Meacham, 8/21/06. Dartmouth is in Hanover NH.
1771.2 Province of New Hampshire Prohibits Christmas "Playing With Balls" in the Streets
"WHEREAS as iit often happens that many disorders are occasioned within the town of Portsmouth . . . by boys and fellows playing with balls in the public street: . . . [when] there is danger of breaking the windows of any building, public or private, may be ordered to remove to any place where there shall be no such danger."
"An Act to prevent and punish Disorders usually committed on the twenty-fifth Day of December . . . ," 23 December 1771, New Hampshire (Colony) Temporary Laws, 1773 (Portsmouth, NH), page 53. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 25.
1780.10 Dartmouth College Fine for Ballplay - Two Shillings
"If any student shall play ball or use any other diversion that exposes the College or hall windows within three rods of either he shall be fined two shillings . . . " In 1782 the protected area was extended to six rods.
-- Dartmouth College, 1779.
John King Lord, A History of Dartmouth College 1815-1909 (Rumford Press, Concord NH, 1913), page 593. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 35 and refs #38 through 40. See also Chron entry #1771.1.
1781.2 "Antient" Harvard Custom: Freshmen Furnish the Bats, Balls
"The Freshmen shall furnish Batts, Balls, and Foot-balls, for the use of the students, to be kept at the Buttery."
Rule 16, "President, Professors, and Tutor's Book," volume IV. The list of rules is headed "The antient Customs of Harvard College, established by the Government of it."
Conveyed to David Block, April 18, 2005, by Professor Harry R. Lewis, Harvard University, Cambridge MA. Dr. Lewis adds, "The buttery was a sort of supply room, not just for butter. Who is to say what the "Batts" and "Balls" were to be used for, but it is interesting that any bat and ball game could already have been regarded as ancient at Harvard in 1781."
Dr. Lewis has written a essay on early ballplaying at Harvard College; see Harry Lewis, "Protoball at Harvard: from Pastime to Contest," Base Ball Journal (Special Origins Issue), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 41-45.
1781.3 "Game at Ball" Variously Perceived at Harvard College
"And that no other person was present in said area, except a boy who, they say was playing with a Ball From the testimony some of the persons in the kitchen it appeared that the company there assembled were very noisy That some game at Ball was played That some of the company called on the Boy to keep tally; which Boy was seen by the same person, repeated by running after the Ball, with a penknife & stick in his hand, on which stick notches were cut That a Person who tarried at home at Dr. Appleton's was alarmed by an unusual noise about three o'clock, & on looking out the window, saw in the opening between Hollis & Stoughton, four or five persons, two of whom were stripped of their coats, running about, sometimes stooping down & apparently throwing something . . ."
Source: Harvard College Faculty Records (Volume IV, 1775-1781), call number UAIII 5.5.2, page 220 (1781).
Posted to 19CBB by Kyle DeCicco-Carey [date?]
1782.3 NH Diarist Notes that Local Youths "Play Ball Before My Barn"
"Caleb Washburn, young Benjamin Hall, Tom Wells the younger and El play ball before my barn."
Stabler, Lois K., ed., Very Poor and of a Lo Make: The Journal of Abner Sanger (Peter E. Randall, Portsmouth NH, 1896), p. 416. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It; see page 245 and ref #77.
This somewhat cryptic journal entry is for April 27, 1782.
The game could be barn ball, we could guess, although that game is typically described as two boys and a barn, with plugging.
Like, who is El?
1784.1 UPenn Bans Ball Playing Near Open University Windows
"[The college] yard is intended for the exercise and recreation of the youth . . . [but don't] "play ball against any of the wall of the University, whilst the windows are open."
RULES for the Good Government and Discipline of the SCHOOL in the UNIVERSITY of PENNSYLVANIA (Francis Bailey, Philadelphia PA, 1784). Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, p. 239 (ref #41.)
Does it sound like hand ball ("fives") may be the troublesome type of play?
1786.1 "Baste Ball" Played at Princeton
From a Princetlon student's diary:
"A fine day, play baste ball in the campus but am beaten for I miss both catching and striking the ball."
Smith, John Rhea, March 22 1786, in "Journal at Nassau Hall," Princeton Library MSS, AM 12800. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 240 (ref # 45). Also found in Gerald S. Couzens, A Baseball Album [Lippincott and Crowell, NY, 1980], page 15. Per Guschov, page 153.
This use of the tern "baste ball" precedes the first known use of "base ball" in the US: see protoball entry 1791.1.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
An article has appeared about Smith's journal. See Woodward, Ruth, "Journal at Nassau Hall," PULC 46 (1985), pp. 269-291, and PULC 47 (1986), pp 48-70. Note: Does this article materially supplement our appreciation of Smith's brief comment?
1787.1 Ballplaying Prohibited at Princeton - Shinny or Early Base Ball?
"It appearing that a play at present much practiced by the smaller boys . . . with balls and sticks," the faculty of Princeton University prohibits such play on account of its being dangerous as well as "low and unbecoming gentlemen students."
Quoted without apparent reference in Henderson, pp. 136-7. Sullivan, on 7/29/2005, cited Warnum L. Collins, "Princeton," page 208, per Harold Seymour's dissertation.
Wallace quotes the faculty minute [November 26, 1787] in George R. Wallace, Princeton Sketches: The Story of Nassau Hall (Putnam's Sons, New York, 1894), page 77, but he does not cite Collins. The Wallace book was accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Book search for "'princeton sketches.'" The college is in Princeton NJ.
Caveat: Collins - and Wallace -believed that the proscribed game was shinny, and Altherr makes the same judgment - 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), pages 35-36.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
Can we determine why this "shiny" inference was made?
1790s.1 Doctor in DE Recalls His "Youthfull Folley": Includes Ball-playing
"My sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth yeares were spent in youthfull folley. Fidling, frolicking, ball playing and hunting . . . . These are called inocent amusements and were not caried very far by me." -- Future Doctor William Morgan.
Hancock, Harold B., ed., "William Morgan's Autobiography and Diary: Life in Sussex County, 1780 - 1857," Delaware History, volume 19, number 1 [Spring/Summer 1980], pp. 43 - 44. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 246 and ref # 84.
1795.5 Playing At Ball in the Untamed West (Now Kentucky?)
"Wrestling, jumping, running foot races, and playing at ball, are the common diversions."
W. Winterbotham, An Historical Geographical, Commercial, and Philosophical View of the American United States, Volume 3 (London, 1795), page 235. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30-31. Volume 3 of this work is not accessible via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.
Tom notes [ibid] that Winterbotham was writing about Federal territory south of the Ohio River. Note: KY, maybe?
1797.1 Daniel Webster Writes of "Playing Ball" While at Dartmouth
Daniel Webster, in private correspondence, writes of "playing at ball," while a student at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.
Webster, Daniel, Private Correspondence, Fletcher Webster, ed. [Little Brown, Boston 1857], volume 1, p. 66. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, p. 240 (ref #46).
On 7/31/2005, George Thompson added that "Volume 17, page 66 of the National Edition of his Writings and Speeches is supposed to have a reference by one Hotchkiss to Webster playing ball at Dartmouth."
Altherr [p. 27] puts this date "at the turn of the century." Do we know where the 1797 date originated? Was Webster at Dartmouth then?
1800c.1 Sports at Exeter Academy include "Old-Fashioned Bat and Ball". . . and Football
"At the turn of the century ball-playing at Exeter was commonplace, according to a historian of that school. 'The only games seem to have been old-fashioned 'bat and ball', which, in the spring, was played on the grounds of the Academy building, and football. The former differed widely from the modern game of base ball, which was introduced later. The old game had fewer rules, and was played with a soft leather ball.'" -- Tom Altherr
Cunningham, Frank H., Familiar Sketches of the Phillips Exeter Academy and Surroundings (James R. Osgood and Company, Boston, 1883), p. 281. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It; see page 245 and ref # 79.
Is there a way to check the approximate year that the historian is depicting in this passage?
1800c.11 “Sky-ball”, “Cat and Ball” Remembered in Southern PA
“On this very spot I hit the ball against the gable; just there I often stuck the lever which sent the ball aloft in ‘sky-ball’; down yonder we played cat and ball . . .”
[A man in his 70's remembers ballgames played in his youth in south central PA]
D. X. Junkin, The Reverend George Junkin, DD, LLD: A Historical Biography (Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1871), page 538.
"It seems to me that sky-ball was a trapball-type game." -- Tom Altherr, 2.19.2021
A gable is an end-wall of a structure. Tom suggests that the first game reported may have been barn ball.
Any idea what 'cat and ball' might have been? In February 2021 Protoball does not find that phrase. It is conceivable that the author misheard his father's use of "bat and ball" as "cat and ball."
1801.3 Book Portrays "Bat and Ball" as Inferior to Cricket
"CRICKET. This play requires more strength than some boys possess, to manage the ball in a proper manner; it must therefore be left to the more robust lads, who are fitter for such athletic exercises. Bat and ball is an inferior kind of cricket, and more suitable for little children, who may safely play at it, if they will be careful not to break windows."
Youthful Sports[London], pp 47-48., per David Block, page 184. An 1802 version of this book, published in Baltimore, is similar to the chapbook at #1801.2, but does not include trap-ball.
1802.3 New England Woman Sees Ballplaying in Virginia, Perhaps by "All Colors"
[A (April 25, 1802)] "Saw great numbers of people of all ages, ranks, and colours, sporting away the day -- some playing ball, some riding the wooden horses . . . . , others drinking, smoaking, etc."
[B (May 9, 1802)] "the inhabitants employed as they usually are on Sundays, some taking the air in coaches, some playing at ball, at nine pins, marbles, and every kind of game, even horseracing."
Diarist Ruth Henshaw Bascom had moved from New England to the Norfolk area in 1801.
[A] A. G. Roeber, ed., A New England Woman's Perspective on Norfolk, Virginia, 1801-102: Excerpts from the Diary of Ruth Henshaw Bascom, (Worcester MA, American Antiquarian Society, 1979), pp. 308-309.
[B] A. G. Roeber, ed., A New England Woman's Perspective on Norfolk, Virginia, 1801-102: Excerpts from the Diary of Ruth Henshaw Bascom, (Worcester MA, American Antiquarian Society, 1979), pp. 311.
Tom Altherr comments that while Mrs. Bascom disdained such activities on Sundays, she had "left valuable evidence of the seemingly commonplace status ball play had in her day in the South. Moreover, despite the ambiguity of her [May 9] diary entry, African Americans may have been playing ball, perhaps even with whites."
1802.4 Philadelphia Book: "Bat and Ball is an Inferior Kind of Cricket"
CRICKET. This play requires more strength than some boys possess. . . it must therefore be left to more robust lads, who are fitter. . . . Bat and ball in an inferior kind of cricket, and more suitable for little children . . . if they will be careful not to break windows."
Youthful Sports (Jacob Johnson, Philadelphia, 1802), pp 47-48, 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 243.
1803.4 Middlebury College VT Bans Ballplaying
"To prevent, as far as possible, the damages before enumerated, viz. breaking of glass, &c. the students in College and members of the Academy shall not be permitted to play at ball or use any other sport or diversion in or near the College-building." [A first offense brought a fine, a second offense brought suspension.]
-- The Laws of Middlebury College, 1803.
"Of the location of Students, Damages, and Glass," in Laws of Middlebury-College in Midlebury [sic] in Vermont, Enacted by the President and Fellows, the 17th Day of August, 1803, page 14. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 35 and ref #37.
1805.1 Williams College Bans Dangerous Ball-playing
". . . the students in the College and scholars in the Grammar School, shall not be permitted to play at ball, or use any other sport or diversion, in or near the College Edifice, by which the same may be exposed to injury."
The Laws of Williams College (H. Willard, Stockbridge, 1805), p. 40. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, p.239; ref #42.
1808.3 Students get 10 lashes for playing bandy
Ruth W. Fink, "Recreational Pursuits in the Old South" (Research Quarterly, 1952) p. 36 says that in 1808 a school in Stokes County, NC punished students playing bandy at school with 10 lashes. Cites Coon, "North Carolina Schools..."
1810c.4 Union College [Upstate NY] Students Play Baseball-Like Game
"Between the college building and Green Street [in Schenectady] was a large [Union] College play-ground. Their principal game was somewhat of a rudimentary type of base-ball, a crooked stick was used as a bat and a ball made of yarn took the place of the common ball now used."
The [Union College] Concordiensis, Volume VI, number 8 (May 1883). page 203.
Cited as a game 'on the old West College playground' in Somers, Wayne, Encyclopedia of Union College History [Union College Press, Schenectady NY, 2003], page 89.
This item appears to be a reminiscence by the 90-year old William K. Fuller, who had entered Union at age 13 (c. 1806) and graduated in 1810.
1810c.10 Minister Reflects on Early Nineteenth Century Sports and Entertainments
"The sorts and entertainments were very simple [around 1800] . . . games of ball, not base-ball, as is now [1880s?] the fashion, yet with wickets . . . "
"But as to sports and entertainments in general, there were more of them in those days than now. We had more holidays, more games in the streets -- of ball-playing, of quoits, of running, leaping, and wrestling."
m. Dewey, ed., Autobiography and Letters of Orville Dewey, D. D. (Boston, 1883), pp. 19 and 21. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38.
If these 1800-era memories were composed in around 1880, we should be cautious.
Wow, leaping again! Do we need a History of Leaping website?
1811.5 Bat-ball Recalled at Exeter
"Next to football, baseball has always been the most popular sport at Exeter. Alpheus S. Packard, who entered in 1811, mentions "bat-ball" as played in his day."
Crosbie, Laurence M., The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History , page 233. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005. Crosbie does not, evidently, give a citation for Packard.
1815c.5 RI Boy Did A Little Ball-Playing
Adin Ballou grew up in a minister's home in Cumberland, RI, and his amusements were of the "homely and simple kinds, such as hunting, fishing, wrestling, wrestling, jumping, ball-playing , quoit-pitching . . .Card-playing was utterly disallowed."
"W. Heywood, ed., Autobiography of Adin Ballou (Vox Populi Press, Lowell MA, 1896), page 13. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30.
The autobiography was accessed 11/15/2008 via a Google Books search for "adin ballou."
The book has no references to wicket, cricket or roundball.
1816.12 Oxfordshire Churchman Urges Base-Ball Fields for Girls
Base-ball, as an outdoor means of recreation for girls, was praised by an English churchwarden in a manuscript history of the Oxfordshire village of Watlington. The writer, John Badcock, made his point despite having it almost swallowed within an unusually convoluted sentence: “It is contrary to reason and common sense to expect that the most sober-minded, if wholly restrained from a game of cricket, or some other amusement--& the other sex from base-ball, or some recreation peculiar to themselves, & exclusively their own, would fill up every leisure hour of a fine summer's evening better, or perhaps so well, in any other way.” Mr. Badcock went on to argue that the lord of the manor, or some other landowner, should take a section of otherwise unusable land and create appropriate playing fields for boys and girls."
An Historical & Descriptive Account of Watlington, Oxfordshire, by John Badcock (1816), handwritten manuscript in the collection of the Oxfordshire History Centre, PAR279/9/MS/1, (former reference: MSS.D.D.Par.Wat-lington c.11)
1817.4 In Brunswick ME, Bowdoin College Sets 20-Cent Fine for Ballplaying
"No student shall, in or near any College building, play at ball, or use any sport or diversion, by which such building may be exposed to injury, on penalty of being fined not exceeding twenty cents, or being suspended if the offence be often repeated."
Of Misdemeanors and Criminal Offences, in Laws of Bowdoin College (E. Goodale, Hallowell ME, 1817), page 12. Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, page 239.
The college is about 25 miles NE of Portland, and near the Maine coast.
1818.6 Scots Ballplaying Variants -- Including 'Ba'-baises' -- Found to the North
"Neither Hadrian's Wall nor the Scottish border hampered the northward propagation of games resembling tut-ball and pize-ball. . . . schoolchildren in Scotland from the Borders area up to the Highlands occasionally played the original English baseball. However, in certain regions a mishmash of homegrown variations were more the norm. The historical record of these pastimes is often confused, with sources contradicting each other in describing them, making the task of detecting their precise nature a bit of a challenge. Many of their names are derivative of the term bases. For example, the 1818 Dictionary of the Scottish Language defined the word ba'-baises as 'the name of a particular game at ball.' . . . That transforms "ba'-baises' into "ball-bases,' which is essentially baseball backwards."
David Block, Pastime Lost (U Nebraska, 2019), pp 186-187.
1820s.9 In Middletown CT, "Wicket" Recalled, but Not Base Ball.
"[In the summer] ball was the chief amusement, and if the weather permitted (and my impression is that it generally did permit) the open green about the meeting-house and the school-house was constantly occupied by the players, little boys, big boys, and even men (for such we considered the biggest boys who consented to join the game) . . . . These grown-up players usually devoted themselves to a game called 'wicket,' in which the ball was impelled along the ground by a wide, peculiarly-shaped bat, over, under, or through a wicket, made by a slender stick resting on two supports. I never heard of baseball in those days." -- John Howard Redfield
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, pp. 246-247 and ref #86.
The description of field play of wicket seems a little odd; as if the stick-handlers's aim was to score by dislodging a wicket, and thus resembling field hockey. Were two separate games conflated in memory?
1820s.12 Boys Are Attracted to Sports of "Playing Ball or Goal" in Bangor ME
But a day seems to have elapsed since meeting with our neighboring boys, we took delight in [flying kites and prancing our horses] or engaged ourselves in the more active sports of 'playing ball' or 'goal. -- Albert Ware Paine, telling of boyhood in Bangor Maine.
Paine, Albert Ware, "Auto-Biography," reprinted in Lydia Augusta Paine Carter, The Discovery of a Grandmother (Henry H. Carter, Newton MA, 1920), p. 240. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It; see p. 245 and ref #80.
Note: Dean Sullivan [7/29/2004] observes that Harold Seymour puts the year of play at Bangor at 1836, citing both pages 198 and 240 of The Discovery of a Grandmother. But Payne was born in 1812, and was not a "boy" in 1836, so this event needs further examination.
Also:This item needs to be reconciled with #1823c.4, below.
1820s.20 Horace Greeley Lacks the Knack, Fears Getting Whacked
"Ball was a common diversion in Vermont while I lived there; yet I never became proficient at it, probably for want of time and practice. To catch a flying ball, propelled by a muscular arm straight at my nose, and coming so swiftly that I could scarcely see it, was a feat requiring a celerity of action, an electric sympathy of eye and brain and hand . . . . Call it a knack, if you will; it was quite beyond my powers of acquisition. 'Practice makes perfect.' I certainly needed the practice, though I am not sure that any amount of it would have made me a perfect ball-player."
Horace Greeley, Recollections of a Busy Life (J. B. Ford, New York, 1869), page 117. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30.
This book was accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search "greeley recollections owen."
Tom Altherr places the time as the early 1820s. Greeley, born in New Hampshire in 1811, was apprenticed a Poultney VT printer in about 1825.
Poultney VT is on the New York border, about 70 miles NNW of Albany NY. Greeley does not mention the games of wicket or round ball or base ball.
1820s.21 College Prez Was a Klutz at Ball and Cricket
"I could not jump the length of my leg nor run as fast as a kitten . . . . At ball and cricket I 'followed in the chase not like a hound that hunts, but one that fills up the cry.'"
-- John Howard Raymond, later President of Vassar College.
Harriet Raymond Lloyd, ed., Life and Letters of John Howard Raymond, Late President of Vassar College (Ford, Howard and Hulbert, New York, 1881), page 38. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 34. Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search for <john howard raymond>. Raymond, born in New York in 1814, summered as a boy in Norwalk CT.
1820c.30 Early African American baseball
Excerpt of interview with "A Colored Resident. Henry Rosecranse Columbus, Jr."
"The bosses used to come and bet on the horses, and they had a great deal of fun. After the races they used to play ball for egg nog.”
Reporter—“Was it base ball as now played?”
Mr. Rosecranse—“Something like it, only the ball wasn’t near so hard, and we used to have much more fun playing.”
Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, August 19, 1881, "A Colored Resident. Henry Rosecranse Columbus, Jr. Some Incidents in the Life of an Old Resident of Kingston."
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.
1820s.33 Harvard Man: "We had Baseball"
"Boating[,] which now prevails so largely in Harvard, had not yet come, but we had baseball and football in their season."
-- James Freeman Clarke, Harvard Class of 1829
E. Hale, ed., James Freman Clarke: Autobiography, Diary, and Correspondence (Boston, 1891), page 44.
1820s.34 Impromptu Ballplaying Recalled at Transylvania University
"Inter-collegiate or intramural sports in the college were almost nonexistent. There were periods of relaxation in the afternoons, and impromptu ballgames, or ice-skating, racing, walking, etc., but there was no gymnasium, and no organized or supervised physical education."
-- Albea Godbold, author, 1944
John D. Wright, Transylvania: Tutor to the West (Lexington KY, 1975), p. 95. This material is footnoted to Albea Godbold, The Church College in the South (Durham, 1944), page 102 [not inspected by Protoball as of 2020]. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 33.
Transylvania University was the first college located west of the Allegheny Mountains, and the first in Kentucky. One prominent graduate was Jefferson Davis [insert your joke here.]
This section of the book is evidently an account of life at the university in the 1820s.
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.
1823c.9 Kentucky Abolitionist Recalls Playing Base-ball
"I had ever been devoted to athletic sports - riding on horseback . . . playing base-ball, bandy, foot-ball and all that - so I had confidence in my prowess."
-- Cassius Marcellus Clay, on his outdoor activities at St. Joseph College in Kentucky in about 1823.
Cassius Marcellus Clay, The Life of Cassius Marcellus Clay; Memoirs, Writings and Speeches, Volume 1 (Brennan and Co., Cincinnati, 1886), page 35. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 31.
Clay's book, which seems to make no other reference to ball-playing, was accessed 11/15/2008 via a Google Books search for <life of cassius>.
1824.1 Longfellow on Life at Bowdoin College: "Ball, Ball, Ball"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, then a student at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, writes: "This has been a very sickly term in college. However, within the last week, the government seeing that something must be done to induce the students to exercise, recommended a game of ball now and then; which communicated such an impulse to our limbs and joints, that there is nothing now heard of, in our leisure hours, but ball, ball, ball. . . . [S]ince, there has been a thorough-going reformation from inactivity and turpitude."
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, letter to his father Stephen Longfellow, April 11, 1824, in Samuel Longfellow, ed., Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with Extracts from His Journals and Correspondence [Ticknor and Company, Boston 1886],volume 1, p. 51. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Also cited in Thomas L. Altherr, “There is Nothing Now Heard of, in Our Leisure Hours, But Ball, Ball, Ball,” The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture 1999 (McFarland, 2000), p. 187.
Reprinted in Andrew Hilen, ed., Henry Wadsworth Longefellow, the Letters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, vol. 1 1814 - 1836 [Harvard University Press, 1966], page 87. Submitted by George Thompson, 7/31/2005.
1824.6 Oliver Wendell Holmes Recalls Schoolboy Baseball and Phillips Academy in MA
"[At Phillips] Bodily exercise was not, however, entirely superseded by spiritual exercises, and a rudimentary form of base-ball and the heroic sport of foot-ball were followed with some spirit."
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., "Cinders from the Ashes," The Works of Oliver Wendel Holmes Volume 8 (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1892), page 251. He went on to recollect visiting the school in 1867, when he "sauntered until we came to a broken field where there was quarrying and digging going on, our old base-ball ground." Ibid, page 255.
This essay originally appeared in The Atlantic Monthly Volume 23 (January 1869). page 120.
Note: see item #1829c.1 below for Holmes' Harvard ballplaying.
Are we sure we haven't got Holmes pere et fils confused? OWH Sr (1809-1894), the poet and novelist, attended Andover and Harvard in the 1820s. OWH Jr (1841-1935) attended Harvard in the 1850s, served in the Civil War and became a justice of the US Supreme Court.--WCH
1824.7 Bat and Ball, Cricket are Sunday Afternoon Pastimes
"on Sunday, after afternoon service, the young people joined in foot-ball and hurling, bat and ball, or cricket."
Does the context of this excerpt reveal anything further about the region, circumstance, or participants in this ball-playing?
1826.3 Base Ball Associated with Boston Gymnasium Proposal?
Messrs. William Sullivan and John G. Coffin have petitioned the Councils of Boston for the use of a piece of public ground, for two years, for the establishment of a Gymnastic School–a measure of doubtful propriety, we apprehend. If a boy wants to play; let him play but do not spoil the fun by dictating the modus operandi–a game of base ball, or foot ball, is worth a dozen gymnasiums, where the eye of surveillance is to check the flow of animal spirits.
United States Gazette (Philadelphia) March 28, 1826
Was the Gymnasium actually established in Boston? Was ballplaying among its activities?
1827.3 First Oxford-Cambridge Cricket Match Held
Per Stephen Green, interview at Lords Cricket Ground, 2006. Also noted in John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 21. Ford does not give a citation for this account.
Was inter-college competition common in other English sports at this time? Rowing, maybe?
1827.6 A Tip for Good Health: Cricket for the Blokes, Bass-ball for the Lasses
"With the same intention [that is children's health], the games of cricket, prison bars, foot ball, &c. will be useful, as children grow up, and are strong enough to endure such exercise.
"With regard to girls, these amusements may be advantageously supplanted by bass-ball, battledore and shuttlecock, and similar and playful pursuits."
William Newnham, The Principles of Physical, Intellectual, Moral, and Religious Education, Volume 1 (London, 1827), page 123. Uncovered and provided by Mark Aubrey, email of 1/30/2008.
1827.7 NY Boy Celebrates "Releasement" from School By Playing Ball
"In consequence of a dismission from school this afternoon, I play at ball . . . and perhaps you will say that I might have been better employed . . . If so are your thoughts, I can tell you, that you are much mistaken. If you have ever been confined to a study where every exertion of intellect was required, for any length of time, you must, upon releasement therefrom, have felt the pleasure of relaxation."
-- Nathaniel Moore, Student at Clinton Academy, East Hampton, Long Island.
Nathaniel Moore, "Diaries 1827-1828," Manuscript Division, New York Public Library, 106-L-1, May 26, 1827. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 36 and ref #45.
1828.13 In Christian Story, a Young Girl Chooses Batting Over Tatting
A very strict school mistress scolds the title character: "You can't say three times three without missing; you'd rather play at bass-ball, or hunt the hedges for wild flowers, than mend your stockings."
A.M.H. [only initials are given], "The Gipsey Girl," in The Amulet, Or Christian and Literary Remembrancer (W. Baynes and Son, London, 1828), pp 91-104. This short moral tale is set in England, and the girl is described as being eight or nine years old. Accessed 2/4/10 via Google Books search ("amulet or christian" 1828).
Reported by Tom Altherr, "Some Findings on Bass Ball," Originals, February 2010. This story was reprinted as "The Gipsy Girl," in The Cabinet Annual: A Christmas and New Year's Gift for 1855 (E. H. Butler, Philadelphia, 1855) page 93ff:
1828.16 Base-ball Cited as a Suitable "Nonsuch for Eyes and Arms" of Australian Ladies
Am Australian periodical saw limitations in a book on healthful activities for women and girls. The book is Calisthenic Exercises: Arranged for the Private Tuition of Ladies, is attributed to a Signor Voarino and was published in London in 1827.
"Signor Voarino, as a foreigner, perhaps was not aware that we had diversions like these just mentioned, and many others of the same kind — such, for example (for our crtical knowledge is limited) as hunt the slipper, which gives dexterity of hand and ham; leap frog, which strengthens the back (only occasionally indulged in, we believe, by merry girls;) romps, which quicken all the faculties; tig, a rare game for universal corporeal agility; base-ball, a nonsuch for eyes and arms ! [probably a typo for a semicolon--jt] ladies' toilet, for vivacity and apprehension; spinning the plate, for neatness and rapidity; grass-hopping (alias shu-cock) for improving in muscularity and fearlessness--all these, and hundreds more, we have had for ages; s[o] that it looks ridiculous to bring out as a grand philosophical discovery, the art of instructing women how to have canes or sticks laid on their backs."
The Australian (Sydney), May 14, 1828, page 4. This excerpt appears in a column called "British Sayings and Doings."
(In February 2017 David Block notes that he has seen a copy of the original issue of the "London Literary Gazette" in which the review of Signor Voarino's book first appeared.)
This book is also described in item 1827.10. Protoball is attempting to determine whether the Voarino book itself touches on other baserunning games in the 1820s.
1829.3 Small Cambridge MA Schoolground Crimps Base and Cricket Play
his new Cambridge school too small. "[N]one of the favorite games of foot-ball, hand-ball, base or cricket could be played in the grounds with any satisfaction, for the ball would be constantly flying over the fence, beyond which he boys could not go without asking special leave. This was a damper on the more ranging & athletic exercises."
-- Charles Henry Dana, on the limitations of school ground play at his new school in Cambridge MA
Robert Metdorf, ed., An Autobiographical Sketch (1815-1842) (Shoe String Press, Hamden CT, 1953), pages 51-52. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38. The text of the autobiography is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/16/2008.
Charles Henry Dana, later the author of Two Years Before the Mast and a leading abolitionist, was 14 in 1829.
1800s.11 "Bat and Ball" Can't Compete with Organ-Grinding
Rhapsodizing about old organ-ground music, a father writes: "Oh! It makes me feel young again to hear it - for I cannot forget how I used to throw down my books and slate - yes, my very bat and ball, and scamper off to hear it."
"The Grinding Organ," in Ladies Magazine (Putnam and Hunt, Boston, 1829), page 379. Posted to the 19CBB listserve February 17, 2010, by Hugh MacDougall. Accessed 2/18/2010 via Google Books search ("swiss or savoyard" "bonny doon").
It would be useful to know when and where the author's youth was spent; Hugh points out that the clip's reference to "muster day" implies that writer is likely depicting New England practices. If the "father" was in his thirties [pure conjecture] he is here reflecting on bat and ball play from the 1800-1810 period.
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 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.
1830s.19 NH Lad Had Happy Games of Ball
"I had many happy hours with the village boys in games of ball and I spy. "
A. Andrews, ed., Christopher C. Andrews: Recollections: 1829-1922 (Arthur H. Clark, Cleveland, 1928), page 25. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30. Tom notes that Andrews lived in the Upper Village of Hillsboro NH.
The text of the Andrews book is not accessible via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.
Hillsboro NH is about 25 miles NW of Manchester NH.
1830s.20 In GA, Men Played Fives, Schoolboys Played Base and Town Ball
"Men as well as boys played the competitive games of 'Long Bullets' and 'Fives,' the latter played against a battery built by nailing planks to twenty-foot poles set to make the 'battery' at least fifty feet wide. The school boys played 'base,' 'bull-pen,' 'town ball' and 'shinny' too."
Jessie Pearl Rice, J. L. M. Curry: Southerner, Statesman, and Educator (King's Crown Press, New York, 1949), pages 6-7. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 31-32.
The full text of the Rice biography is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.
Long-bullets involved distance throwing, often along roadsides. Fives is a team game resembling one-wall hand-ball.
Curry's school was in Lincoln County GA, about 30 miles NE of Augusta.
Team hand-ball? Really? Wasn't it usually a one-on-one game?
1830s.21 Future OH Senator Has Little Interest in Playing Ball
"Notwithstanding his studious habits as a boy [Clement Vallandigham] was fond of out-door sports, although never very fond of what the youngsters call playing. He much preferred going out gunning or fusing, to playing ball, or any of the other games so eagerly pursued as a general thing, by boys."
James L. Vallandigham, A Life of Clement L. Vallandigham (Turnbell Brothers, Baltimore, 1872), page 10. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 32. Clement Vallandigham was born in 1820 in Lisbon OH and grew up there. The biography, barren for our purposes was accessed 11/15/2008 via a "life of clement" Google Books search.
1830c.30 "Old Boys" Play Throwback Game to 100 Tallies in Ohio
Ball Playing -- Old Boys at it!
Base-ball was a favorite game of the early settlers at the gatherings which brought men and boys together -- such as raisings, bees, elections, trainings, Fourth of Julys, etc., etc., and we are glad to see that the manly sport is still in vogue, at least in 'benighted Ashtabula.' We learn by the Sentinel that a matched game came off at Jefferson on the 4th, fourteen selected players on each side, chosen by Judge Dann and Squire Warren. The party winning the first hundred scores was to be the victor. Judge Dann's side won the game by eleven scores. The Sentinel says:
There were thirteen innings without a tally. [This suggests that, at least by 1859, this game used one-out-side-out innings.] The highest number of scores was made by James R. Giddings, a young chap of sixty-four, who led the field, having made a tally as often as the club came to his hand. The game excited great interest, and was witnessed by a large number of spectators. The supper was prepared by 'our host' at the Jefferson House.
Note: Protoball's PrePro data base shows another reference to a group, including Giddings, playing this predecessor game in Jefferson; see http://protoball.org/In_Jefferson_OH_in_July_1859.
Cleveland [Ohio] Daily Leader, Saturday July 9, 1859, First Edition.
See clipping at http://www.newspapers.com/clip/2414996/18590709_cleveland/.
We have assigned this to a date of ca. 1830 on the basis that players in their sixties seem to have played this (same) game as young adults. Comments welcome on this assumption. Were the southern shores of Lake Erie settled by Europeans at that date?
Ashtabula (1850 population: 821 souls) is about 55 miles NE of Cleveland OH and a few miles from Lake Erie. The town of Jefferson OH is about 8 miles inland [S] of Ashtabula.
"The Sentinel" is presumably the Ashtabula Sentinel.
Further commentary on the site and date of this remembered game are welcome.
Was the Ashtabula area well-settled by 1830?
1830c.33 The Balk Rule Existed Before the 1845 Knick Rules?
"A Balk is a Base."--Any one having a remembrance of the ball games of his youth must recollect that in the game of base, if the tosser made a balk to entice the individual making the round from his post, the latter had the right to walk to the next base unscathed. Pity it is that the Hudson folks engaged in the late political movement in Columbia County did not remember that "a balk is a base" in the games of children of a larger growth." (Note: This led into a lengthy diatribe on local politics that I did not attempt to make sense of. - David Block)
Rondout Freeman , June 5, 1847:
"Here is another early example of baseball terminology being used to illustrate a non-sports topic."The text appeared in the June 5, 1847 issue of the Roundout Freeman (Roundout was a Hudson River community that has since been swallowed by the town of Kingston)."I had always supposed that the balk rule was introduced by the crafters of the New York game, but this passage suggests it began to be practiced at some earlier time."-- David Block, 11/12/2010"I wrote in my book [R. Hershberger. Strike Four, Rowman and Littlefield, 2019, page 37] that the balk rule seemed to be novel to the 1845 Knickerbocker rules. Evidently not. While this is two years later, it also is from [nearly] a hundred miles away in Kingston, NY, and presented as a homespun saying from the writer's youth." -- Richard Hershberger, 19CBB posting, 12/9/2020
Added Local color: "Rondout has been since 1870, an unincorporated hamlet within the city of Kingston (where I lived for decade; it was called "Rondout" because of its adjoining Roundout Creek, which fed into the Hudson River). The Rondout Freeman in its first incarnation may have indeed lasted till 1847 (founded 1845):https://www.loc.gov/item/sn86071034/.
"Hudson is a large city about 25 miles north of Kingston, on the other side of the Hudson River, in Columbia County. Today a bridge connects my hometown of Catskill (west bank) with Hudson (east bank). Taghkanic is the proper spelling of the tribe for whom today is named the Taconic Parkway." - John Thorn, email of 12/10/2020.
Is a balk rule known in cricket or English Base Ball? Or in any pre-1845 baserunning game?
Protoball welcomes further comment on the possible origin of the balk rule.
1830s.34 1883 Account Reflects on Details of "Town Ball" Played Decades Earlier in PA
"Old Town Ball: Reminiscences of the Game by a Very Old Boy.
"I deem it probable that a description of the the game called 'Town Ball' fifty years ago, from which base ball of the present originated, will prove interesting to your readers. I propose to give it to them as it comes back to me through the mental mist of half a century."
As described, the old game used:
 at least four players on a side, but the average team size was about eight.
 a flipped paddle to determine first ups.
 four bases, called "corners" and set about 50 feet apart
 home was called "the holes."
 the pitching distance was 30 feet.
 the batting "paddle" was about two feet long and 4 inches wide, wielded with one or two hands
 the ball was 2 inches in diameter, made of cork and rubber strips, wrapped yarn and then in a buckskin cover.
 there was a balk rule, and fast pitching was disallowed.
 There was a bound rule, and plugging. Innings were all-out-side-out
 A Lazarus rule allowed a side to earn a new inning if its last batter hit three straight homers
Players came from "Pipe Town, Hog Town, Scotch Hill, the Point and Bayard's Town. Sligo and Allegheny" were often foes.
Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, May 2, 1883
Some portions of this image were indistinct, and some areas were clipped off.
Richard Hershberger: "A hole was definitely a feature of very early baseball (and very early cricket, too). I expect this is a vestige of that practice, which had disappeared in most American baseball. It is the use of "holes" equating these with "home plate" that I wonder about. Were there more than one hole at home?
Note: Willughby, writing around 1650, describes a baserunning game (hornebillets) that used holes instead of bases, and that is similar to the old-cat game. See Hornebillets.
1832.3 Mary's Book of Sports [New Haven CT] Has Drawing of "Playing at Ball"
A miniature 8-page book shows four boys playing at ball. "What more boys at play! I should not think you could see at play. Oh, it is too late to play at ball, my lads. The sun has set. The birds have gone to roost. It is time for you to seek your homes."
Mary's Book of Sports. With Beautiful Pictures [S. Babcock, New Haven CT, 1832].
1832.5 Boston Spelling/Reading Book Describes Cricket and "Playing at Ball"
In part four of this book, cricket play is treated in some detail, and a small woodcut of ball play has the caption, "This picture is intended to represent the Franklin school house in Boston. It is now recess time, and some lads are playing at ball on the green lawn before the portico of the brick building."
The Child's Own Book (Boston, Munroe and Francis, 1832), cited by Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 195.
1834.8 A Ballplaying Death in PA
"A young man named Geo. Goble, residing near Wilkes-barre PA, while playing ball, a few days since, accidentally received a blow from a ball club, from the effects of which he died in twenty four hours after."
Rhode Island Republican, vol. 25, number 3 (March 26, 1834), page 3, column 2. Provided by Craig Waff, 8/29/2007 email. The identical story appeared in the New York Sun, March 19, 1834, page 3 - per EBay sale accessed 6/12/2007.
1835c.17 CT Lad Plays Base Ball Much of the Morning
After buying a book that would hold his diary entries for the next year and beyond, 11 year old James Terry wrote in his first entry, dated April 4, 1835, "Then played base ball til noon, then went to get wintergreen . . . ."
Two days later he wrote "got my dinner; then went to watch the boys play ball; then went to the store." On June 1, 1836, he wrote that some local boys "went and played ball and I stood and looked on. I then went up to my chamber and stayed there a while."
Unpublished journal of James Terry, written near what is now Thomaston CT.
Thomaston, CT is about 10 miles N of Waterbury CT and about 20 miles SW of Hartford.
James Terry, son of a prominent clock manufacturer, later founded what became the well-known Eagle Lock Company.
Terry's initial diary entry April 4 entry begins "This morning I painted my stick: then thought I would begin to write a journal" just before recording his ballplaying. He adds that he later "went and see-sawed. and then I painted my stick again, then ate supper."
Is it possible that the stick was his base ball bat? Were painted bats common then?
1836.6 Georgetown U Students "play Ball"
In a letter to a friend in 1836, a Georgetown Student wrote, "the Catholics think it no harm to play Ball, Draughts, or play the Fiddle and dance of a Sunday . . . "
Cited in Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see page 241, cited as follows: Georgetown Student Letter, August 27, 1836, quoted in Betty Spears and Richard Swanson, History of Sport and Physical Activity in the United States, Second Edition (William C. Brown, Dubuque, 1983), page 85.
1836c.11 Recollections of a Jersey City Boy -- And A Different Rule for Plugging
From John Thorne, July 28, 2015:
"This just in from Ben Zimmer, a Facebook friend who writes for the Wall
Street Journal. Important, I think.
'You might be interested in another early baseball example -- it's from the Jersey Journal from Jersey City (where I live!), written in 1871 but recalling a protoball club of the 1830s:'
"While here let me say to the Champion Base Ball Club, for their information, that in eighteen hundred and thirty-six and seven we had a base ball club that could not be beaten. It was composed of such men as Jerry O'Meara, Peter Bentley, J.C. Morgan, Jos. G. Edge, &c. I acted as the spare pitcher to the first nine. In those days the game was played by throwing the ball at the man running the bases, and whoever was hit was out. if he could not jump to the base from where he was hit. I would rather get hit by any member of the club than by Bentley, for he was a south-paw or left-hander, and he used to strike and throw an unmerciful ball."
"Recollections of a Jersey City Boy, No. 3.," Jersey City Evening Journal, Dec. 13, 1871, p. 1, col. 3
John Zinn: It feels to me that the author is conflating a number of different things (his role, for example) into a club that played in the late 1830's. However even if he is off by 10 years, a club of some kind in the late 1840's would be something new and, as John Thorn suggests, important.
Peter Bentley later became the town's mayor.
John Zinn: The article in question is the third in a series that appeared in the Evening Journal late in 1871. I've been able to find the first two (it's not clear if there were any more) and this is the only reference to base ball.
John Zinn, "Base Ball Before the Knickerbockers", October 1, 2015: "[I]nformation provided in the articles about the author's life and activities was so specific as to positively identify him as Stephen Quaife, an English immigrant, whose family moved to Jersey City in 1827 when he was only one. Identifying Quaife, however, immediately ruled out his claim of having "acted as the spare pitcher on the first nine," since he was only about 10 at the time. Quaife's name did, however, ring a vague bell and a look at Jersey City's first base ball clubs finds him listed as a pitcher in a box score of a July 11, 1855 inter squad game of the Pioneer Club, founded that June. Clearly Quaife was conflating his own brief base ball career with whatever he knew or thought he knew about another club 20 years earlier.
"This 1871 account of a club some 35 years earlier has the same problem as other descriptions of pre-New York games in New Jersey, they are all retrospective, none come from contemporary sources. . . .
"There is, however, some further evidence of pre-New York base ball in Jersey City. The July 12, 1855 Jersey City Daily Telegraph article describing the game Quaife did play in, clearly states there were 11 on a side and that five games were played in one day . . ."
"Quaife's account further supports the idea that young men in New Jersey were in the field with bats and balls well before the state's first clubs were formed in 1855."
1836.13 "Errant Rogue," in Poem, Prefers Ball to Study
The Dissipated Collegian
"Tis said there was a certain wight,
Whose mother-wit was very bright,
An errant rogue, and even bolder
Than many rogues a good deal older; . . .
This wight of ours disdained to study
And hated books in soul and body;
His lessons, therefore, were neglected
Though he as often was corrected;
But when there was a chance to play,
Our rogue would slily run away;
Yet, had he given due attention,
(So powerful was his comprehension,)
He might have been the first of all
In science, as in playing ball;
He might have done as great exploits
In study as in pitching quoits; . . . .
Selection of Juvenile and Miscellaneous Poems, Written or Translated by Roswell Park, (Desilver, Thomas ad Co., Philadelphia, 1836),. page 44.
Roswell Park was born at Lebanon, Conn., in 1807, graduated at West Point, and at Union College in 1831. He died July 16, 1869. Whether he was an errant wight is not yet known by Protoball.
Was "collegian" a term for a university student, back then?
1839.7 MA :Paper Sees Desecration in Older "Bat and Ball" Players
. . . we must be permitted to say, when we see boys six feet high and thirty years old, desecrating the very hours of public worship to ‘bat and ball,’ or some other idle game, we feel pained that principle has fallen so low that even decorum is not preserved.
For fuller text, see Supplemental Text, below
Newburyport Herald, Thursday, March 28, 1839
The text does not mention Fast Day explicitly.
Newburyport MA (1840 population about 7000) is near the northeastern corner of the state, and 35 miles NE of Boston. As of 2020, this is the 6th pre-1840 reference to Newburyport in Protoball.
1840c.34 Ball-Playing at Marshall College in PA
"The College did not supply the students of that day with a gymnasium as an incentive to physical exercise; but they themselves naturally found out the kind of recreations they needed . . . . [In addition to local excursions], [s]ometimes ball-playing was the recreation, and sometimes it was leaping or jumping, that brought the largest crowd"
Theodore Appel, Recollections of College Life, at Marshall College, Mercersburg, Pa., from 1839 to 1845 (Daniel Miller, Reading PA, 1886), pp. 167-168. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 33 and ref #27. Mercersburg is about 60 miles SW of Harrisburg and about 10 miles from the border with Maryland. The text was accessed 11/16/2008 via a Google Books search <appel mercersburg>."
"Leaping and jumping games?
1840.38 Boston-Style "Bat and Ball" Seen in Honolulu HI
"Sports in Honolulu. One evidence of the increasing civilization in this place, and not the least gratifying, is to see the ardor with which the native youth of both sexes engage in the same old games which used to warm our blood not long since. There's good old bat and ball, just the same as when was ran from the school house to the 'Common' to exercise our skill that way; and then there is something which looks much like 'quorum,' and 'tag' too . . . ."
Polynesian, December 26, 1840. Posted to the 19CBB listserve by George Thompson January 3, 2010. Accessed via subscription search May 4, 2009. George sees the column as likely written by the newspaper's editor, James Jarves, who was born in Boston in 1818.
1840c.39 Cricket [or Maybe Wicket?] Played by Harvard Class of 1841
"Games of ball were played almost always separately by the classes, and in my case cricket prevailed. There were not even matches between classes, so far as I remember, and certainly not between colleges. . . . The game was the same then played by boys on Boston Common, and was very unlike what is now  called cricket. Balls, bats, and wickets were all larger than in the proper English game; the bats especially being much longer, twice as heavy, and three-cornered instead of flat. . . . What game was it? Whence it came? It seemed to bear the same relation to true cricket that the old Massachusetts game of base-ball bore to the present 'New York' game, being less artistic, but more laborious."
Member of the Class of 1841, "Harvard Athletic Exercises Thirty Years Ago," Harvard Advocate [Cambridge MA], Volume 17, number 9 (June 12, 1879), page 131. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search <"wickets were all larger" "harvard advocate">.
1840s.45 Amherst Alum Cites Round Ball, Wicket, Cricket on Campus in the Past
"Various athletic sports have always, to a greater or less degree, prevailed among the students. Prominent among these is, of course, the game of ball in its various forms of Base Ball, Cricket, and Wicket. . . 'Wicket' and 'Round Ball' were quite common once, though of late years [c1870], 'Base Ball' has entirely super[s]eded them."
George Cutting, Student Life at Amherst College, Its Organizations, their Membership, and History (Amherst, Massachusetts, 1871), page 112.
Dating this entry in the 1840s is highly arbitrary. It is included only because it suggests that round ball and wicket were locally seen as common past activities at this fine college as of 1871.
Cutting is listed as a member of the Class of 1871, and thus probably had little direct knowledge of early campus sports. His impressions to round ball and perhaps wicket may have been relayed informally from older persons on campus.
Can we assess the accuracy of his summary? Is wicket known to be played in the vicinity or in other colleges?
1840s.46 The Balk -- From the Knicks, Prior US Games, or Abroad?
[A] " 'A Balk is a Base' --Any one having a remembrance of the ball games of his youth, must recollect that in the game of base if the tosser made a balk to entice the individual make the round from his post, the latter had the right to walk to the next base unscathed. Pity it is that the Hudson folks engages in the late political movement n Columbia County did not remember that 'a balk is a base' in the children of a larger growth. When the frequent and flagrant outrages of the Taghkanic Anti Renters had apparently aroused the people of Columbia County to a true sense of their position and duty every friend of good order rejoiced."
[B] The ball is “dead,” to the extent of putting a player out, when either a “ball” or a “baulk” is called. The rule is the same as in cricket. For instance, a “no ball” in cricket can be hit by the batsman, and he can score a run on it, but if the ball be caught it is not considered an out. So in base ball when a baulk is called, and the striker chances to hit the ball and it be caught, he is not out, and he can take his base on it on the grounds of his being “a player running the bases,” which he is when he hits a ball that is not foul. The ball, though “dead” as regards putting a player out, is not “dead” so as to prevent the striker counting what he is entitled to count under the rule
[A]"A Balk is a Base," Roundout Freeman, June 5, 1847 (volume II, issue 46), page 2. [Brad Shaw, email to Protoball 1/26/2017]
[B] New York Clipper, Saturday, September 8, 1866. See https://protoball.org/Clipping:Interpreting_the_dead_ball_on_a_ball_or_a_balk;_the_rule_the_same_as_in_cricket
Dating this item as "1840s" is speculative, and turns on the ages of the Freeman Arguments for an alternative dating are welcome.
Is it obvious why a balk is in some way considered comparable to a "flagrant outrage?"
Was the balk known in earlier baserunning games in England, or elsewhere?
Do histories of cricket shed further light on the origin, nature, or rationale for, automatic batter-runner advances despite catches of balls hit when a "no ball" has been called?
Do we often see early rule variants for players of different ages?
1842.3 Harvard Man George Hoar Writes of Playing "Simple Game We Called Base"
George F. Hoar, a student at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, writes: "The only game which was much in vogue was foot-ball. There was a little attempt to start the English game of cricket and occasionally, in the spring, an old-fashioned simple game which we called base was played."
Hoar, George F. Autobiography of Seventy Years [Pubr?, 1903], page 120. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
1842c.9 Haverford Students Form Cricket Team of Americans
"Haverford College [Haverford PA] students, however, played cricket with English hosiery weavers prior to 1842, the year the students formed the first all-American team."
Lester, John A., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket (U of Penn Press, Philadelphia, 1951), pages 9-11; as cited in Gelber, Steven M., "'Their Hands Are All Out Playing:' Business and Amateur Baseball, 1845-1917," Journal of Sport History, Vol. 11, number 1 (Spring 1984), page 15. Lester cites "a manuscript diary kept by an unknown student . . . under the date 1834."
Haverford is about 10 miles NW of downtown Philadelphia.
Iis Lester saying this is the first Haverford all-native team, first US all-native team, or what?
Can we resolve the discrepancy between 1834 and 18"before 1842" as the time that the club formed?
1842.11 Rounders Reported at Swiss School
An 1842 reference indicates that rounders was played at an international agricultural school near Bern.
"During a general game, in which some of the masters join (rounders I think the English boys called it) I have observed . . . "
Letters from Hofwyl by a Parent on the Educational Institutions of De Fellenberg, (Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, London, 1842), page 90.
Accessible on Google Books 11/14/2013 via <letters from hofwyl> search.
From David Block: "Unless I'm forgetting something, this may be the earliest example we have of baseball or rounders being played outside of Britain or North America. (I don't count the 1796 description of English baseball by J.C.F. Gutsmuths because there is no evidence that the game was actually played in Germany.)
Was the game dissimilar from the European "battingball games" reported by Maigaard?
Can we determine whether the players were youths or juveniles?
1842.12 Use in VA of "base ball"
"Some of us after this engaged in a game of base ball, as a pleasant recreation."
Memoir and Sermons of the Rev. William Duval, published in Richmond, Virginia in 1854 by his colleague the Rev. Cornelius Walker. Duval was born in 1822 outside of Richmond, and the family moved into town when he was a small child. In 1842 he entered the Virginia Theological Seminary, a major Episcopal seminary in Alexandria, Virginia. There he kept a diary. The entry above is for October 3, 1842. per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, July 27, 2011
I have been preaching for some time now that "base ball" and "round ball" and "town ball" were regional dialectal synonyms for the same game. For the most part there is a clear division between "base ball" territory and "town ball" territory, with "town ball" being used in Pennsylvania, the Ohio River watershed, and the South.
I have come across what seems to be an unblemished early use of "base ball" in Virginia...It is perfectly obvious that "base ball" is an older term than "town ball". Presumably "base ball" was the term used throughout anglophone North America in colonial times, and "town ball" arose in some place (my guess is Pennsylvania, but I can't begin to prove it) and spread west and south. So this Virginia example could be a survival of the older term, or it could be a random later borrowing from the north.
1844.6 Novel Cites "the Game of Bass in the Fields"
"And you boys let out racin', yelpin,' hollerin,' and whoopin' like mad with pleasure, and the playground, and the game of bass in the fields, or hurly on the long pond on the ice, . . . "
Thomas C. Haliburton, The Attache: or Sam Slick in England [Bentley, London, 1844] no page cited, per William Humber, "Baseball and Canadian Identity," College Quarterly volume 8 Number 3 [Spring 2005] no page cited. Humber notes that this reference has been used to refute Nova Scotia's claim to be the birthplace of modern ice hockey ["hurly"]. Submitted by John Thorn, 3/30/2006.
Note: Understanding the author's intent here is complicated by the fact that he was Canadian, Sam Slick was an American character, and the novel is set in Britain.
Is "bass" a ballgame, or was prisoner's base sometimes thought of as a "field game?"
1844c.18 Springtime Ballplaying on the Common -- by Girls
"Girls of fourteen -- daughters of plebeians -- play round ball on the Common. It is a free exercise."
Boston Post, April 24, 1844, page 2, column 2.
By "plebeian," the writer presumably meant "not upper-class."
Did "It is a free exercise" mean roughly what it means today?
1845c.7 Former Catcher Recalls Ballgame with Soaking and "Fugleing" in NYS
"1845 to 1849 I caught for a village nine in Ticonderoga, NY, upon a diamond shaped field having a boy on each base. The game differed from the present in that we were all umpires and privileged to soak the runner between bases.
"The ball was yarn (with rubber around the centre, large as a small English walnut), covered with fine calf-skin - dressed side out, and therefore smooth and about the size of a Spalding ball. It was a beautiful thing to handle, difficult to knock into pieces, and was thrown from the center - straight and swift to the catcher's hands, wherever they were held; over the head, or between the legs, and was called "fugleing" and barred only by mutual consent."
Letter from Albert H. Pratt to the Mills Commission, August 1905.
1845c.24 Future Congressman Plays Ball at Phillips Andover?
"The Honorable William W. Crapo remembers walking often to Lawrence [MA] to watch the construction of the great dam. Now and then we hear, quite casually, of a game of 'rounders' or of a strange rough-and-tumble amusement called football; but . . . there were no organized teams of contests with other schools."
C. M. Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover (Houghton Mifflin, 1917), page 449.
Note that this enigmatic excerpt does not directly attribute to Crapo these references to ballplaying.
Note that there is reason to ask whether these games, or the ones described in 1853.7, were known as "rounders" when they were played. As far as we know, his sources did not use the name rounders, and Fuess may be imposing his assumption, in 1917, that base ball's predecessor was formerly known as rounders. His book observes, elsewhere, that in warm weather students "tried to improve their skill at the rude game of "rounders," out of which, about 1860, baseball was beginning to evolve."
If Fuess implies that these observations were made by Crapo, they could date to c. 1845, when the future legislator was a student at Phillips Andover at age 15. Crapo, from southern MA, was a member of the Yale class of 1852.
Did Crapo leave behind autobiographical accounts that we could check for youthful ballplaying recollections? Do we find contemporary usage of the term "rounders" in this area?
1846.6 Walt Whitman Sees Boys Playing "Base" in Brooklyn: "Glorious"
In July of 1846 a Brooklyn Eagle piece by Walt Whitman read:
"In our sun-down perambulations of late, through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing "base," a certain game of ball. We wish such sights were more common among us. In the practice of athletic and manly sports, the young men of nearly all our American cities are very deficient. Clerks are shut up from early morning till nine or ten o'clock at night . . . . Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms . . . the game of ball is glorious."
"City Intelligence," Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 5 number 177 (July 23, 1846), page 2, column 3. Reprinted in Herbert Bergman, ed., Walt Whitman. The Journalism. Vol. 1: 1834 - 1846. (Collected Works of Walt Whitman) [Peter Lang, New York, 1998], volume 1, page 477. Full Eagle citation submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2004. .
Note: Whitman's text also presented at John Thorn's Our Game at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/opening-day-e5f9021c5dda.
1846.13 Spring Sports at Harvard: "Bat & Ball" and Cricket
"In the spring there is no playing of football, but "bat-and-ball" & cricket."
From "Sibley's Private Journal," entry for August 31, 1846, as supplied to David Block by letter of 4/18/2005 from Prof. Harry R. Lewis at Harvard, Cambridge MA.
Lewis notes that the Journal is "a running account of Harvard daily life in the mid nineteenth century."
1846.23 New Jersey Youths Spotted "playing 'base ball'"
We saw a number of youths engaged at playing “base ball,” last week, in the green between Hoboken and the Otto Cottage. “Base ball” is a fine, healthy game, but should not be allowed in such a crowded thoroughfare, where women and children are constantly passing and liable to be severely hurt.
The Atlas (New York) May 31, 1846
So -- base ball was not the exclusive practice of adult clubs in Manhattan.
1847.14 Holiday Encroached by Round Ball, Long Ball, Old Cat
"FAST. This time-hallowed, if not time-honored occasion, was observed n the usual way. The ministers preached t pews exhibiting a beggarly emptiness, upon the sins of the nation -- a frightful subject enough, heaven knows. The b-hoys smoked cigars, kicked football, payed [sic] round ball, long ball, an [sic] old cat, and went generally into the outward observances peculiar to the occasion."
[A] Nashua Telegraph, as reported in New Hampshire Statesman, and State Journal (Concord, New Hampshire), April 30, 1847, column B.
[B] Nashua Telegraph, as reported (without the typos) in the Boston Currier, April 14, 1847
 Stephen Katz observes: "The "fast" referred to was probably Thanksgiving, celebrated on April 13, 1847."
 "Long Ball" also cited, is generally known as a baserunning bat-and-ball game in Europe. However, Stephen Katz (email of 2/5/2021) notes that, according to an article in the Connecticut Courant, April 23, 1853, it was locally the name of something like a fungo game: "Reader, did you ever see a bevy of boys playing what they call long ball? One stands and knocks and the others try to catch the ball, and the fortunate one gets to take the place of the knocker."
 "B-hoys?" Stephen Katz checked Wikipedia for us, and learned that "B'Hoy" was a slang word used to describe the young men "of the rough-and-tumble working class working class culture of Lower Manhattan in the later 1840's." He also pointed to various newspaper sources showing that its meaning evolved to refer generally to ruffians, or unwholesome or unsavory lads or young men.
Were Fast Day and Thanksgiving distinct holidays in 1847?
1847.17 US Traveler Sees Baseball-Like Game in Northeastern France
A Boston newspaper published a letter from a Bostonian traveling in Rheims, France, about his visit to a boys' school there:
"They played all my old plays. There close to a triumphal arch under which Roman Emperors had passed; under the dark walls and gothic towers of a city older than Christianity itself . . . . these boys, as if to mock all antiquity and all venerable things, were playing all the very plays of my school-boy days, 'tag' and 'gould' and 'base ball' and 'fox and geese,' &c."
Rheims is about 90 miles NE of Paris
Boston Olive Branch, January 9, 1847, page 3, "European Correspondence."
Finder David Block's comment, 11/2015: "Hard to know what to make of this. Maybe he spied a game that resembled baseball (theque?). And what is gould? I've never heard of it before."
Comments, research tips, speculation welcomed.
And . . . what is the game called "gould?"
1847.18 Holiday Round Ball in NH
"Fast. This time-hallowed, if not time-honored occasion, was observed in the usual way. The ministers preached to pews exhibiting a beggarly emptiness, upon the sins of the nation -- a frightful subject enough, heaven knows. The b-hoys smoked cigars, kicked football, played round ball, long ball, and old cat, and went generally into the outward observances peculiar to the occasion. [Nashua (NH) Telegraph]."
Nashua Telegraph, as reported in the Boston Currier, April 14, 1847
Stephen Katz observes: "The "fast" referred to was probably Thanksgiving, celebrated on April 13, 1847."
"Long ball": See 1853.20.
"B-hoys": See 1847.14.
Can we determine the ages of the players?
1849c.4 A. G. Mills and Boyhood Friend Recall "Base Ball" at a Brooklyn School
A. G. Mills and schoolmate W. S. Cogswell exchanged letters, 55 years later, on the plugging game they called "base ball" as youths.
Mills to Cogswell 1/10/1905: "Among the vivid recollections of my early life at Union Hall Academy [of Jamaica, Long Island, NY] is a game of ball in which I played, where the boys of the side at bat were put out by being hit with the ball. My recollection is that we had first base near the batsman's position; the second base was a tree at some distance, and the third base was the home base, also near the batsman's position."
Cogswell to Mills 1/19/1905: "My recollection of the game of Base Ball, as we played it for years at Union Hall, say from 1849 to 1856, is quite clear. "
"You are quite right about the three bases, their location and the third base being home.
"The batsman in making a hit went to the first base, unless the ball was caught either on a fly or on first bound. In running the bases he was out by being touched or hit with the ball while further from any base than he could jump. The bases were not manned, the ball being thrown at a runner while trying for a base. The striker was not obliged to strike till he thought he had a good ball, but was out the first time he missed the ball when striking, and it was caught by the catcher either on the fly or on the first bound. There was no limit to the number of players and a side was not out till all the players had been disposed of. If the last player could make three home runs that put the side back in again. When there were but few players there was a rule against 'Screwing,' i.e., making strikes that would be called 'foul.' We used flat bats, and it was considered quite an art to be able to "screw" well, as that sent the ball away from the bases."
More details, from John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011; pp 27-28), are seen below in the supplemental text below.
A. G. Mills letter to Colonel Wm S. Cogswell, January 10, 1905, and Wm. S. Cogswell letter to A. G. Mills, January 19, 1905. From the Mills Collection, Giamatti Center, HOF. Thanks to Jeremy LeBlanc for information on Union Hall Academy (email, 9/23/2007).
Note: This exchange and its significance are treated in John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Shuster, 2011), page 27.
John Thorn notes that in 1905 Mills was beginning to gather evidence for use in his famous "Mills Commission" report on base ball's beginnings. (Email of 1/4/2016).
John suggests that the Union Hall game may be the game that William R. Wheaton, another Union Hall student, called "three cornered cat" in his 1887 recollections of base ball's origin (email, 1/4/2016). The game of Corner Ball is known from the 1830s to about 1860, but is usually seen as a form of dodge ball played mostly by youths, and lacking batting and baserunning. Is it possible that Corner Ball morphed, retaining its essential plugging but adding batting and base advancement, by the time it was played in the Brooklyn school? Was this a transitional form in base ball's lineage? See also http://protoball.org/Three-Cornered_Cat and http://protoball.org/Corner_Ball.
As of January 2016, no other usages of "three-cornered cat" are known.
1850s.15 Gunnery School in CT Imports Base Ball from NY
"The Gunnery [School] in Washington CT imported baseball from NY when Judge William Van Cott's sons came to the school in the late 1850s (we don't have exact dates). They had been playing different versions of the game with neighboring town teams and pick up teams for quite some time. The Litchfield Enquirer carried the box scores. The teams were not exclusively students, some adults played."
Paula Krimsky, 19CBB posting, 10/26/2006.
Mark Rhodes, Metropolitan Baseball n a Small Town Setting (Gunn Scholar Series, volume II (2004). Available via archives of the Gunnery School. Box scores from the Litchfield Enquirer are available on microfiche from the Litchfield Historical Society.
We have not inspected the data on play at the Gunnery School to determine if New York rules were used.
Washington, Connecticut (2000 census about 3,600) is about 40 miles W of Hartford, and about 15 miles NW of Waterbury.
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.17 Patch Baseball Played in Upstate New York
The autobiography of a Yale dropout ["because of ill health"] attributes his later recovery to "playing the old fashioned game of patch baseball." Skip McAfee [email, 8/16/2007] points out that "patch baseball" is an early variation of baseball that uses plugging runners to put them out.
Platt, Thomas C., The Autobiography of Thomas Collier Platt (B. W. Dodge, New York, 1910), page 3. Platt's home was Owego NY, about 70 miles south of Syracuse and near the Pennsylvania border. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("patch baseball" platt).
1850s.18 Baseball's Beginnings at U Penn?
"Baseball was first played by Penn students before the Civil War when the University was still located at its Ninth Street campus. The game was probably played casually by students in the 1850s."
http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/sports/baseball/1800s/hist1.html, as accessed 1/3/2008. No reference is supplied.
Is there some way to discover the documentary basis for this report?
1850c.26 Needed: More Festival Days - Like Fast Day? For Ballplaying
"[T]hey committed a radical error in abolishing all the Papal holidays, or in not substituting something therefore. We have Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, and Fast-Day when the young men play ball. We need three times as many festivals."
Arethusa Hall, compiler, Life and Character of the Reverend Sylvester Judd (Crosby, Nichols and Co., Boston, 1854), page 330. The book compiles ideas and views from Judd's writings. Judd was born in 1813 and died at 40 in 1853. John Corrigan (see #1850s.25) quotes a James Blake as capturing popular attitudes about Fast Day.
Writing of Fast Day 1851, Blake said "Fast & pray says the Governor, Feast & play says the people." John Corrigan, "The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century," in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 45. Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is James Barnard Blake, "Diary, April 10, 1851, American Antiquarian Society.
What were the Catholic festivals that were eliminated? Were any tradfitionally associated with ballplaying?
1850c.34 Tut-ball Played at Young Ladies School in England
"'Tut-ball,' as played at a young ladies' school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. The players stood together in their 'den,' behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out' and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of the three brickbats, called 'tuts,' which were set up at equal distances on the ground, in such positions that a player running past them all would describe a complete circle by the time she returned to the den. The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball, and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so, she took her place in the den, and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical to 'rounders.'"
Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (David Nutt, London, 1898), page 314. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (gomme tutt-ball 1898). Gomme adds that "pize-ball" is a similar game, and that in the past Tut-ball was played on Ash Wednesday in the belief that it would ward off sickness at harvest time. Shifnal, Shropshire, is in the west of England, about 25 miles northwest of Birmingham.
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.
1850s.43 South Carolina College Students Make Do with Town Ball, "Cat"
"Much of the trouble of the (U. of S. Carolina) professors have have no doubt been obviated if there had been outdoor sports or athletics to relieve pent up animal spirits. A game of ball, perhaps, 'town ball,' or 'cat', was played."
Edwin L. Green, A History of the University of South Carolina (The State Company, 1916), page 242.
The text does not state the exact period that is described in this account.
1850s.45 Future NL President Plays ball in Mohawk Valley of New York
1885-1902, National League President, Nicholas Young
"I was born [in 1840] in Amsterdam in the beautiful Mohawk Valley, and while I played barn ball, one old cat, and two old cat in my early boyhood days, cricket was my favorite game, and until I enlisted in the army I never played a regular game of base ball, or the New York game as it was then called."
Letter, Nicholas Young to A. G. Mills, December 2, 1902, in the Mills Commission file at the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was resonding to the Mills Commission's call for knowledge on the origins of base ball.
Young first played base ball in 1863 his cricket friends in the Army could not find opponents to play the game. See entry 1863.19.
1850c.46 Worcester Man Recalls Round Ball in the 1850s
"I will now call your attention to some of the games and amusements indulged in by Worcester boys of fifty or sixty years ago . . . .
"There were various games of ball played in my day. I remember barn-ball, two and three old cat, and round ball. This last was very much like baseball of to-day . . . .
"There were bases of goals, and instead of catching out, the ball was thrown at the player when running bases and if hit he knew it at once and was out. The balls were hard and thrown with force and intent to hit the runner, but an artful dodger could generally avoid being hit.
"On Fast Day there was always a game of ball on he north side of the Common, played by men and older boys, and this attracted large crowd of interested lookers on."
Nathaniel Paine, School Day Reminiscences, Proceedings of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume XIX (1903), pages 46 and 49.
1850s.48 'Bama Boys Play Town Ball on Campus
"Remembering his days as a student at the University of Alabama in the 1850s, George Little wrote of the penchant for playing town ball: 'Our favorite outdoor game was town ball. This game was played very much like the modern game of baseball but was played with a soft rubber ball. The ball was thrown at the runner and if he was hit between bases he was out.'"
George Little, Memoirs of George Little (Weatherford Printing Company, Tuscaloosa, 1924), age 14. As reported by Tom Altherr, Town Ball at the University of Alabama in the 1850s, Originals, volume 3, number 10 (October 2010), page 2.
1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
"Yorkshire: Now only played by boys, but half a century ago [1850's] by Adults on Ash Wednesday, believing that unless they did so they would fall sick in harvest time. This is a very ancient game, and was elsewhere called stool-ball. [West Yorkshire]. Shropshire: Tut-ball; as played at a young ladies school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. (See also 1850c.34). The players stood together in their 'den,'behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out', and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of three brick-bats, called 'tuts' . . . . The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so she took her place in the den and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical with rounders."
Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (Henry Frowd, London, 1905), page 277. Part or all of this entry appears to credit Burne's Folklore (1883) as its source.
Note: This describes a scrub form of tutball/rounders. It suggests that all hitting was forward, thus in effect using a foul line, as would make sense with a single fielder.
The claim that tutball and stoolball used the same rules is surprising; stoolball is fairly uniformly described as having but two bases or stools, and using a bat.
1850c.56 Roundball Recalled in Maine
Before modern base ball arrived around 1865, local boys played (in addition to "three-year-old cat" and barnball, the game of Roundball):
""The infield was not a diamond, but a parallelogram of varying proportions with the 'gools,' or bases, at the four corners as in Baseball, but the striker or batter stood midway between the first and fourth base, running three and a half bases in place of four bases as in Baseball. In Roundball a runner was put out between bases by being 'plunked' or 'spotted' by a ball thrown by a rival player. The ball was such as could be made from yarn raveled from a cast-off stocking, sometimes with a large bullet at the center to give it weight for long throws, and was covered with calf-skin begged from the family shoemaker."
Percival J. Parris, "Oxford County Baseball in 1865," Norway Advertiser Democrat, April 13, 1945. Cited in Peter Morris, "Pennesseewassees of Norway, Maine," Baseball Pioneers (McFarland, 2012), page 9.
Our dating of this reflection as c1850 is arbitrary. Parris writes only the the (unnamed) game was known before game the modern game arrived in 1864-65. This reflection was reported in 1945 -- 95 years after 1850, when Parris himself was in his mid-90s'
The game described bears at least a superficial resemblance to the Massachusetts Game, whose rules were to be codified in MA in 1858..
Norway ME is about 50 miles north of Portland ME. Its population in 1850 was about 1950 souls.
As of November, this entry contains one of three Protoball items that cite "gools" as a nme of bases in an early baserunning game.
1851.2 Early Ballplaying on the SF Plaza (Horses Beware!)
From February 1851 through January 1852, there are six reports of ballplaying in San Francisco:
 February 4, 1851. "Sport -- A game of base ball was played upon the Plaza yesterday afternoon by a number of the sorting gentlemen about town."
 February 4, 1851. Sports on the Plaza. "The plaza has at last been turned to some account by our citizens. Yesterday quite a crowd collected upon it, to take part in and witness a game of ball, many taking a hand. We were much better pleased at it, than to witness the crowds in the gambling saloons which surround the square."
 February 6, 1851. "Base-Ball --This is becoming quite popular among our sporting gentry, who have an exercise upon the plaza nearly every day. This is certainly better amusement than 'bucking' . . . ."
 March 1, 1851. "Our plaza . . . has gone through a variety of stages -- store-house, cattle market, auction stand, depository of rubbish, and lately, playground. Numbers of boys and young men daily amuse themselves by playing ball upon it -- this is certainly an innocent recreation, but occasionally the ball strikes a horse passing, to the great annoyance of he driver."
 March 25, 1851. "There [at the Plaza] the boys play at ball, some of them using expressions towards their companions, expressions neither flattering, innocent nor commendable. Men, too, children of a larger growth, do the same things."
 January 14, 1852. "Public Play Ground -- For the last two or three evenings the Plaza has been filled with full grown persons engaged very industrially in the game known as 'town ball.' The amusement is very innocent and healthful, and the place peculiarly adapted for that purpose."
 Alta California, Feb, 4, 1851
 "Sports on the Plaza," Daily California Courier, February 4, 1851.
 "Base-Ball," Alta California, February 6, 1851.
 "The Plaza," San Francisco Herald, March 1, 1851.
 "The Corral," Alta California, March 25, 1851.
 "Public Playground," Alta California, January 14, 1852.
See Angus Macfarlane, The [SF] Knickerbockers -- San Francisco's First Baseball Team?," Base Ball, volume 1, number 1 (Spring 2007), pp. 7-20.
Angus Macfarlane's research shows that many New Yorkers were in San Francisco in early 1851, and in fact several formed a "Knickerbocker Association." Furthermore he discovered that several key members of the eastern Knickerbocker Base Ball Club -- including de Witt, Turk, Cartwright, Wheaton, Ebbetts, and Tucker -- were in town. "[I]n various manners and at various times they crossed each other's paths." Angus suggests that they may have been involved in the 1851 games, so it is possible that they were played by Knickerbocker rules . . . at a time when in New York most games were still intramural affairs within the one or two base ball clubs playing here.
What do we know about "the Plaza" in those days, and its habitués and reputation?
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.
1851.5 Robert E. Lee Promotes Cricket at West Point?
Robert E. Lee
A twenty-one year old cricket enthusiast visited West Point from England, and remarked on "the beautiful green sward they had and just the place to play cricket. . . . The cadets played no games at all. . . . It was the first time that I had a glimpse of Colonel Robert E. Lee [who was to become Superintendent of West Point]. He was a splendid fellow, most gentlemanly and a soldier every inch. . . .
"Colonel Lee said he would be greatly obliged to me if I would teach the officers how to play cricket, so we went to the library. . . .Lieutenant Alexander asked for the cricket things. He said, 'Can you tell me, Sir, where the instruments and apparatus are for playing cricket?' The librarian know nothing about them and so our project came to an end."
"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.
Robert E. Lee is reported to have become Superintendent of West Point in September 1852; and had been stationed in Baltimore until then; can Calthrop's date be reconciled?
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.
1852.12 Ball-playing Prohibited Near UNC Buildings
"There shall be no ball playing in or among the College buildings or against the walls. All athletic exercises must be kept at a distance, so as to prevent damage to the buildings and interruption to study."
Acts of the General Assembly and Ordinances of the Trustees for the Organization and Government of he University of North Carolina (Raleigh, NC; North Carolina Institution for the Dumb and the Blind, 1852), page 21. Per Originals, volume 5, number 5 (May 2012), page 2b
Tom Altherr suggests that "The ordinance certainly prohibited handball games, such as fives, but it could have as easily targeted base ball-type games."
1852.17 Dickens Names Cricket, but not Stoolball or Rounders, Among "Merriest" Games
[In a Dickens short story, a traveler meets a handsome youth, and they spend time together.]
"They had the merriest games that were ever played . . . They were active afoot, and on horseback; at cricket and all games of ball; the prisoners base, hare and hounds, follow up leader, and more sports than I can think of."
Charles Dickens, "The Child's Story" (1852).
See also Dickens on ballplaying at pp 128, 212, and 271 (note) of David Block, Pastime Lost (U Nebraska Press, 2019).
"David Block's book Pastimes Lost cites Dickens mentioning games of ball in his letters" reported Bruce Allardice, 3/24/2021.
Dickens did mention rounders in an 1849 letter to an acquaintance during a holiday at the Isle of Wight: "I . . . have had a great game of rounders every afternoon." (Block, pp. 212 and 271.)
Block also notes another Dickens reference to people "playing at ball," but the site was apparently known as a racket ground, may not have have involved a baserunning game.
1853c.1 "Rounders" Said to be Played at Phillips Andover School
[A] "The game of "rounders," as it was played in the days before the Civil War, had only a faint resemblance to our modern baseball. For a description of a typical contest, which took place in 1853, we are indebted to Dr. William A. Mowry:"
[Nine students had posted a challenge to play "a game of ball," and that challenge was accepted by eleven other students.] "The game was a long one. No account was made of 'innings;' the record was merely of runs. When one had knocked the ball, had run the bases, and had reached the 'home goal,' that counted one 'tally.' The game was for fifty tallies. The custom was to have no umpire, and the pitcher stood midway between the second and third bases, but nearer the center of the square. The batter stood midway between the first and fourth base, and the catcher just behind the batter, as near or as far as he pleased.
'Well, we beat the eleven [50-37].' [Mowry then tells of his success in letting the ball hit the bat and glance away over the wall "behind the catchers," which allowed him to put his side ahead in a later rubber game after the two sides had each won a game.]
[B] "We had baseball and football on Andover Hill forty years ago, but not after the present style. Baseball was called round ball, and the batter that was most adept at fouls, made the most tallies. The Theologues were not too dignified in those days to play matches with the academy. There was some sport in those match games."
[A] Claude M. Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover [Houghton Mifflin, 1917], pp. 449-450.
Researched by George Thompson, based on partial information from reading notes by Harold Seymour. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("history of phillips").
A note-card in the Harold Seymour archive at Cornell describes the Mowry recollection.
[B] William Hardy, Class of 1853, as cited in Fred H. Harrison, Chapter 2, The Hard-Ball Game, Athletics for All: Physical Education and Athletics at Phillips Academy, Andover, 1778-1978 (Phillips Academy, 1983), accessed 2/21/2013 at http://www.pa59ers.com/library/Harrison/Athletics02.html. Publication information for the Hardy quote is not seen on this source.
It appears that Fuess, the 1917 author, viewed this game as rounders, but neither the Mowry description nor the Hardy reference uses that name. It is possible that Fuess was an after-the-fact devotee of he rounders theory of base ball. The game as described is indistinguishable from round ball as played in New England, and lacks features [small bat, configuration of bases] used in English rounders during this period. The placement of the batter, the use of "tallies" for runs, and the 50-inning game length suggests that the game played may have been a version of what was to be encoded as the Massachusetts Game in 1858.
Wikipedia has an entry for prolific historian William A Mowry (1829-1917). A Rhode Islander, his schooling is not specified, but he entered Brown University in 1854, and thus may have been a Phillips Andover senior in 1853.
Hardy's 1853 reference to the "Theologues" is, seemingly, a local theological seminary -- presumably the nearby Andover Theological Seminary -- whose teams played many times from the 1850s to the 1870s against Phillips Andover. Hardy's note may thus mark the first known interscholastic match of a safe haven ballgame in the United States.
A prestigious preparatory school, Phillips Academy is in Andover MA and about 20 miles N of Boston.
Can we identify the seminary with the rival club, and determine whether it has any record of early ballplaying?
1853.6 When Boys Collect, A Spontaneous Game of Ball is Possible
" . . . when they [the 'little fellows'] asked the men where the town-meeting was, they were told that it was in the church. So it is for the men, but that the boys' town-meeting is out [outdoors?] where you can buy peanuts and gingercake, and see all your cousins from almost everywhere, and stand around and find out what is going on, and play a game of ball with the boy from Oysterponds, and another from Mattitue, on the same side."
New York Times, April 26, 1853.
1853.7 Didactic Novel Pairs "Bass-Ball" and Rounders at Youths' Outing
"The rest of the party strolled about the field, or joined merrily in a game of bass-ball or rounders, or sat in the bower, listening to the song of birds." .
Cricket receives three references (pages 75, 110, and 211)in this book. The first of these, unlike the bass-ball/rounders account, separates English boys from English girls after a May tea party: "Some of the gentlemen offered prizes of bats and balls, and skipping-ropes, for feats of activity or skill in running, leaping, playing cricket, &c. with the boys; and skipping, and battledore and shuttlecock with the girls."
Trap-ball receives one uninformative mention in the book (page 211).
A Year of Country Life: or, the Chronicle of the Young Naturalists (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1853), page 115.
As a way of teaching nature [each chapter introduces several birds, insects, and "wild plants"] this book follows a group of boys and girls of unspecified age [post-pubescent, we guess] through a calendar year. The bass-ball/rounders reference above is one of the few times we run across both terms in a contemporary writing. So, now: Is the author denoting are there two distinct games with different rules, or just two distinct names for the same game? The syntax here leaves that distinction muddy, as it could be the former answer if the children played bass-ball and rounders separately that [June] day.
Richard's take on the bass-ball/rounders ambiguity: "It is possible that there were two games the party played . . . but the likelier interpretation is that this was one game, with both names given to ensure clarity." David Block [email of 2/27/2008] agrees with Richard. Richard also says "It is possible that as the English dialect moved from "base ball" to "rounders," English society concurrently moved from the game being played primarily played by boys and only sometimes being played by girls. I am not qualified to say."
1853.11 Catcher Felled in ME
"Melancholy Accident. - In Pownal, on the 5th inst Oren Cutter, 16 years of age, son of Reuben Cutter, Postmaster of Yarmouth, while 'catching behind' at a game of ball, was struck on the back of his head by a bat. Though suffering much pain, the lad was able to walk home, and after some external application, retired for the night, his friends not thinking or anything serious. In a short time, however, a noise was heard from the room, and on going to him he was found to be dying. The blow was received about sunset, and he died about 10."
PortlandJournal of Literature and Politics, May 21, 1853. Attributed to the Portland Mirror. Accessed 2/17/09 via subscription search.
Pownal ME is about 20 miles north of Portland.
1853c.13 At Harvard, Most Students Played Baseball and Football, Some Cricket or Four-Old-Cat
Reflecting back nearly sixty years later, the secretary of the class of 1855 wrote: "In those days, substantially all the students played football and baseball [MA round ball, probably], while some played cricket and four-old-cat."
"News from the Classes," Harvard Graduates Magazine Volume 18 (1909-1910). Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("e.h.abbot, sec."). From an death notice of Alexander Agassis, b. 1835
1854.10 Ball Played at Hobart College, Geneva NY
"Baseball in Geneva began, at least on an organized basis, in 1860. Informal games had taken place at Hobart College as early as 1854, and at the nearby Walnut Hill School . . . . The boys were organized into teams in 1856 or 1857."
Minor Myers, Jr., and Dorothy Ebersole, Baseball in Geneva: Notes to Accompany An Exhibition at the Prout Chew Museum, May 20 to September 17, 1988 [Geneva Historical Society, Geneva, 1988], page 1.
Note: This brochure seems to imply that New York rules governed this game, but does not say so.
Geneva NY is about 45 miles east of Rochester NY and about 55 miles west of Syracuse, at the northern end of Seneca Lake. "The Public Schools of Geneva, NY before 1839", an article in History of Ontario County, New York (G. Conover, ed.), 1893, describes Walnut Hill School as follows:
"The Walnut Hill School, an institution designed for the especial work of educating boys, was established in 1852 and was located at the south end of Main street, on the site now in part occupied by the residence of Wm. J. King. Of the history of this once popular school, but little reliable data is obtainable, though it is known that the course pf study was thorough and the discipline excellent. During most of its career its principal was Rev. Dr. T. C. Reed, who was assisted by three competent teachers. The school was discontinued in 1875."
1854.13 English Visitor Sees Wicket at Harvard
"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.
1854.19 Sixty-foot Liner Breaks Schoolhouse Window in "Game of Bass"
"WARREN BUEL, as he came, bright and early, into the play-ground in the rear of the old school-house; 'hoighho! See what a nice new bat I bought at the cabinet-shop this morning. And father gave me money enough to buy a new India-rubber ball, so that I have both a new bat and a new ball.'
"'Hurrah! for a game now,' shouted HARRY WILLIAMS, taking the ball from the hands of Warren, and bounding it high over his head. 'Let it be a game of bass. Come, Warren, and select some one to choose sides with you.'
"Warren peleeted [selected?] some favorite playmate, and the choosing went on amid loud words, and still louder laughter. 'Now throw up for the "'first ins,"' said the boy whom Warren had selected to choose with him. Up went the bat; and as it descended, Warren grasped it about midway of the smaller part. 'Whole hand or none!' shouted BRUCE RAWLEY, the largest boy of the school, and a noisy, troublesome fellow. Accordingly the whole hand was declared in favor of Harry's party, and the others drew back, leaving two of their number to 'throw and catch.'
"When it came Bruce's turn to knock, he kept his bat motionless by his side until the ball came fair. Then drawing back his arms at full length, he dealt the elastic ball such a blow that it went bounding and skipping up the ascending lawn, a distance of twenty yards or more, and crash through the school-room window.
"'O, Bruce' exclaimed Warren, with the tears gathering in his eyes, 'you have lost my new ball, and father will not buy me another before the next quarter.'
"'What is one ball?' replied Bruce, with a sneer. 'I have lost a dozen already, and the term is not half out yet.'"
R. C. Knowles, Hiding One's Faults, Youth's Casket -- An Illustrated Magazine for the Young (Volume III, 1854), page 151. G-books search <"warren buel"> on 4/3/2013.
The illustration accompanying this short story shows two boys looking down at a ball and cricket bat on the ground.
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."
1855.12 Students Bring Cricket to Saint John and Fredericton NB
"[C]ricket was brought to Saint John by the students who went to the Collegiate School in Fredericton. At that time, cricket was far more advanced in the 'celestial' city. When the students returned to Saint John [from Fredericton], they brought with them the game of cricket. The military leased to the new club a large field behind the military barracks. They formed the 'Saint John Cricket Club' in the year 1855."
Brian Flood, Saint John: A Sporting Tradition 1785-1985 [Neptune Publishing, Saint John, 1985], page 20.
1855.29 Even the Australians Are Bothered by Sunday Baseball
"Sabbath Desecration. - A correspondent requests us to call attention to the practice of a number of boys and young men, who congregate in Mr. Wilkinson's paddock, near Patrick and Murray Streets, on Sunday afternoons, for playing at cricket, base-ball, &c., making a great noise, and offending the eyes and ears of persons of moral and religious feeling."
Colonial Times[Hobart], Saturday, September 22, 1855, page 3.
Subsequent comments on 19CBB from Bob Tholkes and Richard Hershberger [11/23/09] led to conjecture that this form of "base-ball" arrived Down Under directly from its English roots, for in 1855 American presence was largely restricted to the gold fields. Note: Hobart is on the northern coast of the island that has been known as Tasmania since 1856.
1856.17 Letter to "Spirit" Describes Roundball in New England
"I have thought, perhaps, a statement of my experience as to the Yankee method of playing 'Base,' or 'Round' ball, as we used to call it, may not prove uninteresting."
"There were six to eight players upon each side, the latter number being the full complement. The two best players upon each side -- first and second mates, as they were called by common consent -- were catcher and thrower. These retained their positions in the game, unless they chose to call some other player, upon their own side, to change places with them. A field diagram follows." [It shows either 6 or 10 defensive positions, depending on whether each base was itself a defensive station.]
"The ball was thrown, not pitched or tossed, as the gentleman who has seen "Base" played in New York tells me it is; it was thrown, an with vigor too . . . . "
"Base used to be a favorite game with the students of the English High and Latin Schools pf Boston , a few years ago . . . Boston Common affords ample facilities for enjoying the sport, and Wednesday and Saturday afternoons in the spring and fall, players from different classes in these schools, young men from fifteen to nineteen years of age used to enjoy it.
"Base is also a favorite game upon the green in front of village school-houses in the country throughout New England; and in this city [Boston] , on Fast Day, which is generally appointed in early April, Boston Common is covered with amateur parties of men and boys playing Base. The most attractive of these parties are generally composed of truckmen. . . the skill they display, generally attracts numerous spectators."
Other comments on 1850s Base/Roundball in New England.are found in Supplemental Text, below.
"Base Ball, How They Play the Game in New England: by An Old Correspondent" Porter's Spirit of the Times, Dec. 27, 1856, p.276. This article prints a letter written in Boston on December 20, 1856. It is signed by Bob Lively.
The 1858 Dedham rules (two years after this letter) for the Massachusetts Game specified at least ten players on a team. The writer does not call the game the "MA game," and does not mention the use of stakes as bases, or the one-out-all-out rule.
1856.19 Five-Player Base Ball Reported in NY, WI
Two games of five-on-five baseball appear in the Spirit of the Times, starting in 1856. The '56 game matched the East Brooklyn junior teams for the Nationals and the Continentals. The Nationals won 37-10. In 1857, an item taken from the Waukesha (WI) Republican of June 6, pitted Carroll College freshmen and "an equal number of residents of this village. They played two games to eleven tallies, and one to 21 tallies. The collegians won all three games. Neither account remarks on the team sizes. Other five-on-five matches appeared in 1858.
Spirit of the Times, Volume 26, number 39 (Saturday, November 8, 1856), page 463, column 3.
Spirit of the Times Volume 27, number 20 (June 27, 1857), page 234, column 2.
Was 5-player base ball common then? Did it follow special rules? How do 4 fielders cover the whole field?
1856.26 Youths Are "Playing Ball" in San Francisco
"The only reference to any ballplaying activity reported in the SF papers between 1852 and 1860 was a complaint to the editor of the Bulletin by a good Christian on February 13, 1856 who complained about boys and young men plaing ball on the sabbath."
San Francisco Bulletin, 2/13/1856.
1856.31 First Scholastic Play?
"The young gentlemen of the Free Academy have formed themselves into two clubs, called the O. G.'s and Q. P. D.'s-- (Query, the Cupidities?) They had a day's play recently at Hoboken, when the O. G.'s-- probably "Old Greys"-- won, scoring 21 runs to 17 of their opponents."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, Nov. 8, 1856.
1857.23 Princeton Freshmen Establish Nassau Base Ball Club
"In the fall of '57, a few members of the [College of New Jersey, now Princeton University] Freshmen [sic] class organized the Nassau Baseball [sic] Club to play baseball although only a few members had seen the game and fewer still had played. [A description follows of attempts to clear a playing area, a challenge being made to the Sophomores, and the selection of 15 players for each side.] After each party had played five innings, the Sophomores had beaten their antagonists by twenty-one rounds, and were declared victorious." The account goes on to report that the next spring, "baseball clubs of all descriptions were organized on the back campus and 'happiness on such occasions seemed to rule the hour.'" The account also reflects on the coming of base ball: "in seven years  a new game superseded handball in student favor - it was 'town ball' or the old Connecticut game."
Source: "Baseball at Princeton," Athletics at Princeton: A History (Presbrey Company, New York, 1901), page 66. Available on Google Books. Original sources are not provided.
Caution: The arrival of the New York style of play was still a year into the future.
Query:  "The old CT game?" Wasn't that wicket?
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.
1857.38 President's Peace Medal Depicts Baseball Game in Background
United States Government
"A base ball game is depicted on the 1857 Indian Peace Medal issued by the Buchanan Administration in 1857. The Indian Peace Medal was "presented by a government agent to the chief of a tribe that the government considered to be friendly, or that it desired to become so...the frontier game of baseball, in all its variety, was already perceived as the national game..."
Thorn, John, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011), p. 114.
See also https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/our-baseball-presidents-ec1617be6413 (accessed Feb 2018).
"For President Buchanan in 1857, a new reverse to the (latest "Indian Peace") Medal was commissioned from engraver Joseph Wilson . . . . [The medal showed] in the distance, a simple home with a woman standing in the doorway -- and a baseball game being playing in the foreground. . . .
"No matter what some gentlemen were saying in New York at the "national" conventions of area clubs, the frontier game of baseball, in all its variety, was already perceived as the national game."
-- John Thorn, "Our Baseball Presidents," Our Game posting, February 2018.
1858.8 Harvard Student Magazine Notes "Multitude" Playing Base or Cricket There
"[On] almost any evening or pleasant Saturday, . . . a shirt-sleeved multitude from every class are playing as base or cricket . . .
"Mens Sana," Harvard Magazine 4 (June 1858), page 201.
1858.29 First Recorded College Game at Williams College
"On Saturday last [May 29] a Game of Ball was played between the Sophomore and Freshmen Classes of Williams College. The conditions were three rounds of 35 tallies - best two in three winning. The Sophs won the first, and the Freshmen the two last. It was considered one of the best contested Games ever played by the students."
"Williamstown [MA]," The Pittsfield Sun, vol. 58, number 3011 (June 3, 1858, page 2, column 5. Posted to 19CBB on 8/14/2007 by Craig Waff. The best-of-three format is familiar in the history of the Massachusetts game.
Does the final sentence imply that earlier games of ball had recently been played?
1858.33 Earliest Games in Chicago IL?
 "A match game was played yesterday [7/7/1858] afternoon between the Union Base Ball Club, of this city, and the Downer's grove Base Ball Club. . . . A spacious tent was erected on the Club's grounds, corner of West Harrison and Halstead Streets. The Downer's Grove Club came of (sic) victorious, the 'country boys' being excellent players."
 The Excelsior Club downed Union, 8/29/1858. The score was Excelsior 17, Union 11.
 Growth in Chicago was slow. Although its population was nearing 110,000 in 1860, it still had only four base ball clubs.
"Base Ball Match," Chicago Daily Press and Tribune, vol. 12 number 6 (Thursday, July 8, 1858), page 1 column 4. Posted to 19CBB on 9/11/2007 by Craig Waff.
Chicago Daily Times and Tribune, September 1, 1858, page 1 column 4. Posted to 19CBB on 9/11/2007 by Craig Waff.
 Steven Freedman, "The Baseball Fad in Chicago, 1865-1870," Journal of Sport History, Volume 5 number 2 (Summer 1978), page 42.
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).
1858.47 Brooklynite Takes A Census - There Are 59 Junior Clubs in Brooklyn
"Dear Spirit:- . . . I have busied myself for a week or two past in finding out the names of the different junior clubs, which, if you will be kind enough to publish, will probably give information to some. The following are the names, without reference to their standing: Enterprise, Star, Resolute, Ashland, Union, National, Ringgold, Oakland, Clinton, Pacific, Active, Oneida, Fawn, Island, Contest, Metropolitan, Warren, Pastime Jrs., Excelsior Jrs., Atlantic Jrs., Powhattan, Niagara, Sylvan, Independence, Mohawk, Montauk, Favorita, Red Jacket, American Eagle, E Pluribus Unum, Franklin, Washington, Jackson, Jefferson, Arctic, Fulton, Endeavor, Pocahontas, Crystal, Independent, Liberty, Brooklyn Star, Lone Star, Eagle Jrs., Putnam Jrs., Contest, "Never Say Die," Burning Star, Hudson, Carlton, Rough and Ready, Relief, Morning Star, City, Young America, America, Columbus, Americus, Columbia, Willoughby. The above are the names as I have collected them from reliable persons . . . The above list consists of only the junior clubs of Brooklyn. Yours, A Friend of the Juniors."
"Junior Base-Ball Clubs," Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 5, number 7 (October 18, 1858), page 100, column 2.
The Contest squad appears twice on the list.
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.
1858.51 At Harvard, Two Clubs Play Series of Games by New York Rules
The Lawrence Base Ball Club and a club from the Harvard Law School played "regular matches" on campus. The Lawrence Club's 1858 Constitution stipulated that "the Game played by this Club shall be that known under the name of the 'New York Game of Base Ball'" under its March 1858 rules, and that it would play no other game. The dates of the games against the law school and the nature of that club as not known, but accounts exist of intramural games in 1858.
"The Lawrence Base Ball Club," The Harvard Graduates' Magazine, Volume 25 (March 1917), pp 346-350. Accessed 2/16/10 via Google Books search ("lawrence base").
1858.53 At Kenyon College, Base Ball Takes Unusual Form
The Kenyon Club, comprised of Kenyon students, lost to the boys from Milnor Hall at the College, losing 93 to 68 in three innings. Each side fielded eleven players. The box score reveals an unusual feature. Players scored widely varying runs in an inning; Denning, for example scored 10 times in the first inning for the Kenyon Club, while three of his teammates did not score at all. This might indicate that either an all-out/side out game was played, or a cricket-style rule allowed each batter to retain his ups until he was retired.
The College is in Central OH, about 45 miles NE of Columbus.
"Base Ball at Kenyon College," New York Clipper, May 15, 1858.
1858c.57 Modern Base Ball Gets to Exeter Prep [from Doubleday's Home Town!]
"The present game [of baseball] was introduced by George A. Flagg, '62 [and three others and] Frank Wright, '62. Most enthusiastic of these early players was Mr. Flagg, who abandoned the Massachusetts style of baseball for the New York style. The ball then used was a small bag of shot wound with yarn, and could be batted much further than the present baseball. The men just named played among themselves and with town teams. Mr. Wright, of Auburn, New York, was perhaps more responsible than anyone else for bringing the game to New England."
Laurence M. Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History (1923), page 233. Posted to the 19CBB listserve on [date?] by George Thompson. Accessible in snippet view 2/19/2010 via Google Books search (crosbie exeter flagg).
Is c1858 a creditable guess as to when lads in the class of '62 might have begun playing at Exeter? Is a full view available online? Phillips Exeter is in Exeter NH, about 50 miles N of Boston and about 12 miles SW of Portsmouth.
1859.1 First Intercollegiate Ballgame: Amherst 73, Williams 32
In the first intercollegiate baseball game ever played, Amherst defeats Williams 73-32 in 26 innings, played under the Massachusetts Game rules. The contest is staged in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a neutral site, at the invitation of the Pittsfield Base Ball Club.
The two schools also competed at chess that weekend. A two-page broadsheet tells of Amherst taking on Williams in both base ball and chess. Headline: "Muscle and mind!"
The New York Clipper thought that the game's wimpy ball lessened the fun: "The ball used by Amherst was small, soft, and with so little elasticity that a hard throw upon the floor would cause of rebound of scarcely a foot." Ryczek goes on to say that the ball, while more suitable for plugging than the Association ball, detracted from the excitement of the game because it was not or could not be hit or thrown far.
Pittsfield Sun, July 7, 1859. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 32-34. Also, Durant, John, The Story of Baseball in Words and Pictures [Hastings House, NY, 1947], p .10. Per Millen, note # 35.
Amherst Express, Extra, July 1 - 2, 1859 [Amherst, MA], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 219.
New York Clipper, cited in William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 127 and attributed to the July 16 issue of the Clipper..
Jim Overmyer, "Baseball Goes to College-- Amherst vs. Williams", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 19-20.
A 9/27/2014 New York Times article about the game, by historian Michael Beschloss, appears at https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/27/upshot/the-longest-game-williams-vs-amherst.html.
For a stern critique of the student time spent away from studying, see The Congregationalist [Boston], September 2, 1859, cited at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/amherst-and-williams-play-the-first-intercollegiate-game-of-baseball-1859-b1c0255f6338, posted January 15, 2018.
A research note by Jim Overmyer on why the game occurred in Pittsfield appears as Supplemental Text below.
For a stern critique of the student time spent away from studying, see The Congregationalist [Boston], September 2, 1859, cited at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/amherst-and-williams-play-the-first-intercollegiate-game-of-baseball-1859-b1c0255f6338, posted January 15, 2018.
1859.2 Collegiate Game [the First Played by NY Rules?] in NYC
Students at St. John's College [now Fordham College] played a game against St. Francis Xavier's College on Nov. 3, 1859, using the new Association rules. The teams apparently were not regarded as representing their schools, but were base ball clubs formed from among students, and were called the Rose Hill BBC (Fordham) and the Social BBC (St. Xavier's College).
Per Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], p. 32. Sullivan dates the game November 3, 1859, but does not give a source.
New York Sunday Mercury, Nov. 13, 1859, p. 3, carried the result and a box score showing a 33-11 victory for St. John's.
It is not clear whether this qualifies as the first intercollegiate game by modern rules.
The St. Francis Xavier's College in this story is presumably College of St. Francis Xavier, a Mahattan institution that closed in 1913.
Brian McKenna, on 11/8/2015, reports that St. Francis was a college preparatory high school, and suggests that the St. John's side used high school players too.
1859.17 Club Forms at College of New Jersey
"The Nassau Base Ball Club is organized on the Princeton campus by members of the class of 1862"
Frank Presby and James H Moffat, Athletics at Princeton (Frank Presby Co., 1901), p.67
Anachronism alert-- in 1862 Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey.
See also item #1857.23
1859.38 NYU Forms a Base Ball Club
The students of New York University were reported to have formed a club. "The Club number 15 to 20 members, and are to meet semi-monthly or oftener, for practice, probably at Hoboken. We hope soon to be able to announce that all our Universities, Colleges, and Schools, have similar institutions attached to them."
New York Clipper, April 9, 1859.
1859.51 Girls Play Base Ball at Eagleswood School
Francis Dana Gage
In 1859, the women's rights advocate and abolitionist Frances Dana Barker Gage wrote a letter from St. Louis to physician friends at the Glen Haven Water Cure in New York. She informed them of positive advancements in physical fitness for students at the Eagleswood School in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Among the games both male and female students were playing was base ball.
Gage concluded that she was planning to ask the principal at Dansville Seminary (in St. Louis?) to add baseball to its program for girls too.
"Muscle Looking Up," 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), 99.
Is this the first time, as far as we know, that females played base ball by modern rules?
1860.18 Juniors Organize in NYC
[A] THE CONVENTION OF THE JUNIOR CLUBS.-- On Friday evening last,in accordance with an invitation from the Powhatan Club, of Brooklyn, a convention of delegates from the junior clubs was held at their rooms, for the purpose of forming an organization for the better regulation of matches...The following delegates were present from their respective clubs: (delegates from 31 clubs listed)
[B] THE JUNIOR CONVENTION.-- The second meeting of the delegates from the Junior Clubs was held , at Brooklyn, and the report of the Committee on Constitutions and By Laws was received and accepted. The Constitution of the Senior organization was accepted with...amendments...the Bylaws of the Seniors were adopted without amendment." The convention adopted the name "National Association of Junior Base Ball Players."
[C] The new association's first meeting convened in New York City on January 9, 1861.
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 7, 1860
[B] New York Clipper, Oct. 20, 1860
[C] New York Sunday Mercury, Jan. 20, 1861
The Junior clubs had been excluded from membership in the National Association of Base Ball Players at the time of its formation in 1858.
1860.23 NY Game Gets to ME
"The first documented game of baseball to actually be played in Maine took place on October 10, 1860. . . . that October saw the Sunrise Club of Brunswick host the senior class team of Bowdoin [College] at the Topsham Fair Grounds."
Anderson, Will, Was Baseball Really Invented in Maine? (Will Anderson, Publisher, Portland, 1992), page 1. Anderson appears to rely on The Brunswick Telegraph, October 12, 1860.
Topsham Fair Grounds are 1 1/2 miles from Brunswick, across the Androscoggin River
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").
1860.63 "Good Old-fashioned Base Ball" in Hawaii
"Quite an interesting game of ball came off yesterday afternoon on the Esplinade between the Punahou Boys and the Town Boys...The 'boys' of a larger growth...had a good old-fashioned game of base ball on Sheriff Brown's premises...Success to the sport."
The Polynesian, April 7, 1860. Quoted in Monica Nucciarone, Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Legend (University of Nebraska Press, 2009), p.197
1860s.86 Ballplaying Remembered in Dedham Massachusetts
"Sixty-five years ago the boys had a ball club which was known as the "Winthrops" who played on a pasture lot beyond Mr. White's house on east Street. Ball playing was frequently enjoyed upon the fields of owners who were willing to allow public use to be made of such land. A record is here given of a game that took place at a time when the ball was thrown at the runner between bases to put him out. The score is here appended -- that the present [1930's] generation may know what a real ball game was like in the early days of the game [partial box score listed]. Masks were not invented then, so a cap pulled well down over the eyes have to do duty for a mask."
Frank Smith, A History of Dedham Massachusetts (Transcript Press, 1936), page 358.
Does Smith reveal his source for the pre-1970 box score?
1861.23 War Sinks Silver Balls
[A] "CONTESTS FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP.-- Additional interest will be imparted to the ensuing base ball season by the playing of a series of contests between the senior, as well as between the junior clubs, for a silver champion ball (and)...will initiate a new system of general rivalry, which will, we hope, be attended with the happiest results to the further progress and popularity of the game of base ball.
[B] "We learn from Daniel Manson, chairman pro tem. of the Junior National Association, that the Committee on Championship have resolved to postpone the proposed match games for the championship...Among the reasons...is the fact that quite a number of the more advanced players, from the clubs selected for the championship, have enlisted for the war."
[C] The senior-club silver ball competition, offered not by the national association but by the Continental BBC, a non-contender, was also not held due to the war. In 1862, with the war then appearing to be of indefinite duration, the Continental offered it as a prize to the winner of the informal championship matches, with those games played as a benefit for the families of soldiers.
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, April 7, 1861
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, May 12, 1861
1862.6 Harvard Seeks Base Ball Rivals, Settles on Brown
"Base-Ball, the second in importance of [Harvard] University sports, is even younger than Rowing [which still prevailed]. It originated apparently, in the old game of rounders. Up to 1862 there were two varieties of base-ball - the New York and the Massachusetts game. In the autumn of 1862 George A. Flagg and Frank Wright organized the Base Ball Club of the Class of '66, adopting the New York rules; and in the following spring the city of Cambridge granted use of the Common for practice. A challenge was sent to several colleges: Yale replied that they had no club, but hoped soon to have one; but a game was arranged with Brown sophomores, and played at Providence [RI] June 27, 1863. The result was Harvard's first victory."
D. Hamilton Hurd, compiler, History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts (J. W. Lewis, Philadelphia, 1890), page 137. Accessed 2/18/10 via Google Books search <"flagg and frank" hurd>.
Frank Wright wrote another version in James Lovett, Old Boston Boys and the Games They Played (Riverside Press, 1907). Accessed in Google Books.
This was not Harvard's introduction to the New York game. See entry 1858.51.
Flagg and Wright reportedly had played avidly at Phillips Exeter Academy. See entry #1858c.57 above.
1863.2 New Marlboro Match Base Ball Co. Goes Hybrid
Apparently not liking either the New York Rules or Massachusetts Game Rules, the two formal sets available to them, the boys of the South Berkshire Institute, a prep school in New Marlborough, MA, drew up a hybrid game. Their version is rare in that its documentation has survived.
Richard Hershberger, "The 'New Marlboro Match Base Ball Co.' of 1863", in Base Ball (McFarland, Spring 2010), p. 87. The documents, part of an autograph album, are part of a private collection.
1864.38 Base Ball On The Rebound
[A] "THE SEASON OF 1864...The prospects for a successful season for 1864 are more favorable than those of any season since 1861..."
[B] "THE OPENING PLAY OF THE SEASON. NOT since 1861 has there been a season that has opened more auspiciously for the welfare of the game than the present one; and the prospects are that we shall have one of the most enjoyable series of matches of any year since base ball was inaugurated as our national game of ball."
[C] 'THE JUNIOR FRATERNITY.-- Not a week passes that some new junior organization does not spring into existence..."
[D] "MATCHES FOR SEPTEMBER.-- ...We are glad to note the fact that not even in the palmy days of 1860, when every vacant lot or available space for playing ball was occupied by junior clubs, have these young players been so numerous as this season."
[E] "THE SEASON OF 1864.-- Taking into consideration the existence of civil war in the country, the ball-playing season of 1864 has been the most successful and advantageous to the interests of our national game known in the annals of baseball...We are glad also to record the fact, that among the marked features of the past season none has been more promising for the permanence of the game than the great increase of junior players and clubs."
[A] New York Clipper, April 16, 1864
[B] New York Clipper, May 14, 1864
[C] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 22, 1864
[D] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sep. 9, 1864
[E] New York Sunday Mercury, Nov. 13, 1864
1864.49 "Base Ball" and "Bat and Ball" Seen as the Same Game
An 1864 schoolbook lesson presents “Base-ball” and “Bat-and-Ball” as two names for the same game.
After describing football, the authors describe “another game, which is called base ball, or bat and ball. [. . .] The ball used in this game is much smaller and is driven through the air with a round piece of wood called a bat, with which the boy strikes the ball” (pp. 72-73)
George S. Hilliard and Loomis Joseph Campbell, The Second Reader for Primary Schools, (Philadelphia: Eldredge and Brother, 1864), pp. 72-73.
Of special interest here is co-author George S. Hilliard, whose background may explain why he regarded base-ball and bat and ball as the same game. Hilliard (1808 – 1879) was born in Machias on the coast of Maine, where the term “the bat and ball” was used to describe a specific baseball-like game (see B. Turner, “The Bat and Ball,” Base Ball (Spring 2011). Starting in 1828, Hilliard was an instructor at the Round Hill School in Northampton, MA, where baseball-like games were part of the physical education curriculum (see, entry 1823.6; also see B. Turner, “Cogswell’s Bat,” Base Ball (Spring 2010)).
1866.15 Vassar has First female Base ball club?
The Vassar Encyclopedia (online) cites a letter from a Vassar student in 1866 saying she'd joined one of the base ball clubs on the college. The encyclopedia suggest the club might have been the Laurels or the Abenakis. Several sources claim this is the first verified proof of a female base ball club.
The Vassar Encyclopedia
1867.4 Cummings' Curve Curtails Crimson's Clouting
Candy Cummings claimed that he first used his curve ball successfully (after numerous previous attempts) in a game against Harvard College on Oct. 7, 1867
Mark Pestana,"Candy Cummings Debuts the Curve-- Excelsiors vs. Harvard", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century SABR, (2013), pp. 60-61
Candy Cummings, "How I Pitched the First Curve", The Baseball Magazine, Aug. 1908. Cummings dated his first boyish attempts at a curve to the summer of 1863.
There are many issues with any individual claim to invention of the curve ball.
1867.21 Wisconsin's First State Base Ball Tourney Lists $1500 in Prizes
"FIRST ANNUAL STATE BASE BALL TOURNAMENT OF WISCONSIN, $1500 IN PRIZES TO BE AWARDED. There will be a State Base Ball Tournament at Beloit, Wis. commencing Tuesday, 30 September, 1867. Under the auspices of the Wisconsin Association of Base Ball Players.
"The following are the prizes to be awarded. . . ."
"A New Baseball Discovery," John Thorn, June 17, 2013, posted at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/a-new-baseball-discovery-a1d8f579388.
(John found the 7-foot broadside for the tournament at the Beloit Historical Society, and posted it in a short article about the experience.)
Top first class prize -- $100 cash and $100 Gold Mounted Bat
Junior prizes (under age 18), "Pony Clubs" (under age 15)
Prizes for top out-of-state club, plus several "special" prizes: best pitcher, best catcher, most homers, best runner, best thrower.
From John Pregler: "The Beloit Free Press published the following complete list of the prizes awarded at the Beloit Base Ball Tournament:
Senior Clubs - First Class: 1st prize, Cream City of Milwaukee; 2nd prize: Whitewater of Whitewater; 3rd prize: Badgers of Beloit.
Second Class: 1st, Capital City Jr. of Madison; 2nd: Delavan of Delavan; 3rd, Eagle of Beloit.
Juniors: 1st, Badger Jr of Beloit; 2nd, Excelsior Jr of Janesville.
Pony: Rock River Jr of Beloit
Outside the State - Seniors: 1st, Phoenix of Belvidere, IL; 2nd, Mutual of Chicago" - Janesville Gazette, Sept. 19, 1867
[A] Is "Pony Club" a common term for teen clubs?
[B] Wasn't $1500 a tidy sum in 1867?
-- from John Thorn, 9/22/20: "$1500 was a hefty prize: $27,783.73 in 2019 dollars (via Consumer Price Index adjustment)."
1867.23 Celebrity Spectators
Robert E. Lee
The following is the result of a game of base ball played by the Beechenbrook and Arlington Base Ball clubs, on the Institute ground, at Lexington, Virginia, May 4th. The game was witnessed by General R. E. Lee, Custis Lee, General Smith, and a very large concourse of people. After its termination the winners were presented with a handsome set of flags by the Misses Lee, daughters of the General.
Louisville Daily Courier, Louisville, KY, May 27, 1867.
Custis Lee, General Lee's son, had served on Lee's staff during the war. General Smith was superintendent at VMI. The flags referred to were probably foul-line flags used to mark the foul lines on fields not enclosed.
1868.1 Elizabeth Cady Stanton describes Female Baseball Game in Peterboro, NY
THE LAST SPORTING SENSATION
A FEMALE BASE BALL CLUB AT PETERBORO’ (sic, w/ apostrophe)
At Peterboro’, (sic, apostrophe) N. Y. the young ladies, jealous of the healthy sports enjoyed by the more muscular portion of mankind, have organized a base ball club, and have already arrived at a creditable degree of proficiency in play. There are about fifty members belonging to it, from which a playing nine has been chosen headed by Miss Nannie Miller, as captain. This nine have played several games outside the town and away from the gaze of the curious who would naturally crowd around such a beautiful display. Having thus perfected themselves, this nine lately played a public game in the town of Peterboro’ (sic, apostrophe), as may well be supposed, before a large and anxious multitude of spectators. The natures of the female playing nine are as follows, - Nannie Miller, catcher; Clara Mills, pitcher; Mary Manning, first base; Frank (sic) Richardson, second base; Bertha Powell, third base; Jennie Hand, short stop; Hattie Ferris, left field; Maggie Marshall, right field; Mary Frothingham, centre field.
This constitutes the Senior Nine, and on the occasion of their first exhibition they played the Junior Nine of the same club. Their dress consists of short blue and white tunics, reaching to the knees, straw caps, jauntily trimmed, white stockings and stout gaiter shoes, the whole forming a combination that is at once most easy and exceedingly beautiful. As the two nines came upon the ground it would be hard to tell which one of them had the greatest number of friends present, for loud and continuous cheers and clapping pf hands marked the entrance of either one.
Without loss of time Mrs. J. S. Smith was chosen umpire, and Miss Martin and Mrs. Benning as scorers. The penny was flipped to see who should first go to bat, and the Juniors won it. Hattie Harding took up the bat and the remainder of the nine stood ready to follow suit. But alas! Hattie was caught out on a fly, and before her friends had time to make a single score they were sent to the field. From the moment the Seniors went to bat they had things their own way. Notwithstanding the best efforts of the Juniors they would either foul out or knock the ball high, and innings after innings were given up without a run to mark their stay at bat.
Bertha Powell gave six runs by outrageous muffs in the third and fourth innings. With this exception, however, the Senior nine acquitted themselves well, and nearly every member showed some particular points of fine play. But the Juniors were sadly beaten and have much to learn yet, especially in the choice of balls to strike at. Mary Sterns played at second base very well, and we shall not be surprised to see her one of the Senior playing nine next year.
At the conclusion of the game a number of gentlemen invited both nine to sit down to a fine repast, after discussing which they enjoyed some good singing and participated in a little speech-making, wherein the beautiful sporting belles were complimented and extolled.
The score below tells the story of the game, - [box score]
Seniors: Miller, c; Mills p, Manning, 1b; Richardson 2b; Powell, 3b; Hand, ss; Ferris lf; Marshall, rf; Frothingham, cf. Total runs – 27
Juniors: Clark, c; Hare, p; Colwell (?), 1b; Sterns, 2b; Dyer, 3b; Lains (?), ss; Pratt, lf; Galluria, rf; Frothingham, cf. Total runs – 5
[no other information, article ends here]
New York Clipper, August 29, 1868
NOTE: DEB SHATTUCK HAS SUPPLEMENTAL DATA ON THIS EVENT AND WILL BE AMENDING THIS ENTRY ACCORDINGLY IN DECEMBER 2013.
Peterboro, NY - if that was the site of the game, is about 25 miles E of Syracuse, and, not that you asked, about 50 miles NW of Cooperstown.
Did this club form at a ladies' school, a secondary school, a finishing school? What was the age of the players?
1869c.4 Diana Base Ball Club of Northwestern Female Seminary
In the fall of 1869, a number of newspapers reported on the existence of the Diana Female Base Ball Club at the "Northwestern Seminary" at Evanston. There has been some confusion in secondary sources about this team, with some scholars linking it to Northwestern University. This is incorrect. The Northwestern Female College (as it was known) was a separate institution from the University. The latter did not admit its first female student until Fall semester 1869. One female student could not have organized a baseball club. Further evidence that the Diana Base Ball Club was composed of younger girls, not college women, is the fact that a junior "pony club" of boys challenged them to a match game. (There is no evidence this game was ever played.) By way of further clarification, the Northwest Female College operated until 1871 when its trustees handed over responsibility for educating young women to the trustees of the newly-chartered Evanston College for Ladies. The original intent of the founders was to operate as the Women's Department of Northwestern University. This did not happen until 1874 when it became the Women's College of Northwestern University. Frances Willard, who would later gain international fame as head of the Women's Christian Temperance Union was a graduate of the Northwestern Female College and first president of the Evanston College for Ladies.
Chicago Times (22 Oct 1869), p. 6. Quoted in: Robert Pruter, "Youth Baseball in Chicago, 1868-1890: Not Always Sandlot Ball," Journal of Sport History, 26.1 (Spring 1999): 1-28. Also, The National Chronicle (Boston) (30 Oct 1869), p. 259, “All Shapes and Sizes,” Bangor Daily Whig & Courier (8 Nov 1869), n.p., “The Playground: Our National Game,” Oliver Optic's Magazine: Our Boys and Girls (20 Nov. 1869): 639.
1870c.17 Rutherford Hayes Sees Harm to Hearing in Ballplaying
MY DEAR BOY -- I see by the Journal you are playing base-ball and that you play well. I am pleased with this. I like to have my boys enjoy and practice all athletic sports and games, especially riding, towing, hunting, and ball playing. But I am a little afraid, from [what] Uncle says, that overexertion and excitement in playing baseball will injure your hearing. Now, you are old enough to judge of this and to regulate your conduct accordingly. If you find there is any injury you ought to resolve to play only for a limited time -- say an hour or an hour and a half on the same day. . . . We had General Sherman at our house Wednesday evening with a pleasant party."
Cited in John Thorn, Our Game posting, February 2018, "Our Baseball Presidents."
This original source is not given here.
What is the source of the Hayes letter?
1870c.8 Base Ball Comes to Massachusetts Youth
"I well remember when baseball made its first appearance in our quiet little community."
 Charles Sinnott writes that in early childhood "the little boys' ball game was either "Three-old-cats" or "Four-Old Cats," and describes both variations.
 He recalls that "The game that bore the closest resemblance to our modern baseball was "roundstakes" or "rounders." In some communities it was know (sic) as "townball." He recalls this game as marked by the plugging of runners, use a soft ball, featuring stakes or stones as bases, compulsory running -- including for missed third strikes, an absence of foul territory, an absence of called strikes or balls, and teams of seven to ten players on a team. "It was originally an old English game much played in the colonies."
 In describing the new game of base ball, he recalls adjustment to the harder ball ("it seemed to us like playing with a croquet ball"), gloves only worn by the catchers, an umpire who was hit in the eye by a foul tip, fingers "knocked out of joint" by the hard ball, a bloody nose from a missed fly ball, and "that we unanimously pronounced [base ball] superior to our fine old game of roundstakes."
SEE FULL CHAPTER TEXT AT "SUPPLEMENTAL TEXT," BELOW --
Chapter 13, "The Coming of Baseball," in When Grandpa Was a Boy: Stories of My Boyhood As Told to My Children and Grandchildren, by Charles Peter Sinnott (four types pages; presumed unpublished; from the Maxwell Library Archives, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater MA).
Protoball does not know of other use of "roundstakes" as a predecessor game in the US.
Duxbury MA (1870 population about 2300) is about 35 miles south of Boston.
Sinnott died in 1943. On the date of his hundredth birthday, in August 1959, his family distributed 100 copies of his boyhood memoirs.
 Is the date "1870c" reasonable for the item? Sinnott was born in 1859, and writes that he was in his teens when he first saw base ball. His old-cat games would have come in the mid-1860s.
 It is presumed that Sinnott stayed in or near his birthplace, Duxbury MA, for the events he writes of. Is that reasonable?