Chronology: 1781 - 1815
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The chronology from 1781 to 1815 (142 entries)
- 1 1781.1 Teen Makes White Leather Balls for British Officers' Ball-Playing
- 2 1781.2 "Antient" Harvard Custom: Freshmen Furnish the Bats, Balls
- 3 1781.3 "Game at Ball" Variously Perceived at Harvard College
- 4 1782.1 Cricket Match Scheduled for the Green, Near Shipyards,
- 5 1782c.2 Ball Played at Albany During War
- 6 1782.3 NH Diarist Notes that Local Youths "Play Ball Before My Barn"
- 7 1782.4 Cricket To Be Played Near NYC Shipyards
- 8 1784.1 UPenn Bans Ball Playing Near Open University Windows
- 9 1784.2 Seymour Notation Adverts to Evidence that Town Ball Was Exported to England
- 10 1785.1 Thomas Jefferson: Hunting is Better for Character-building Than Ballplaying
- 11 1785.2 Cricket, Long After Reaching Tazmania, Gets Past Hadrian's Wall
- 12 1786.1 "Baste Ball" Played at Princeton
- 13 1786.2 Game Called Wicket Reported in England
- 14 1787.1 Ballplaying Prohibited at Princeton - Shinny or Early Base Ball?
- 15 1787.2 VT Man's Letter to Brother Says "Three Times is Out at Wicket"
- 16 1787.3 Marylebone Cricket Club, Later Official Custodian of the Game, is Founded
- 17 1787.4 US Publisher Offers Books "More Pleasurable Than Bat and Ball"
- 18 1787.5 NY Newspaper Prints "Laws of the Noble Game of Cricket"
- 19 1788.1 Cricketer Experiments with Round-Arm Bowling
- 20 1788.2 Noah Webster, CT Ballplayer?
- 21 1788.3 New Interpretation of Homer Translations Cites ‘Baste-Ball’.
- 22 1789.1 A Tale of Two Cricket Traditions?
- 23 1789.2 New York Children's Pastimes Recalled: Old Cat, Rounders Cited
- 24 1789.3 Stoolball Played at Brighthelmstone in Sussex
- 25 1790s.1 Doctor in DE Recalls His "Youthfull Folley": Includes Ball-playing
- 26 1790s.2 Boston Merchant Recalls "Playing Ball on the Common Before Breakfast"
- 27 1790s.3 Britannica: Stickball Dates to Late 18th Century?
- 28 1790s.4 Southern Pols Calhoun and Crawford: Ballplaying Schoolmates?
- 29 1790.5 John Adams Refers to Cricket in Argument about Washington's New Title
- 30 1790s.6 Cricket as Played in Hamburg Resembled the U.S. Game of Wicket?
- 31 1790s.7 In Boston, "Boys Played Ball in the Streets?"
- 32 1790.8 British Paper Snitches on Ringer Playing on a County Cricket Club
- 33 1790.9 Careful Scorer Starts "Complete Lists" of the Yearly Grand Cricket Matches
- 34 1790.10 "Young Man's Amusements" Include "Bat and Ball"
- 35 1790s.11 Future Ship Captain Chooses Reading Over Boyish Sports
- 36 1791.1 "Bafeball" Among Games Banned in Pittsfield MA - also Cricket, Wicket
- 37 1791.2 Northampton MA Prohibits Downtown Ballplaying (and Stone-Throwing)
- 38 1791.3 Salem MA Diary Covers "Puerile Sports" Including Bat & Ball, and "Rickets"
- 39 1792.1 Sporting Magazine Begins Its Cricket Reports in England
- 40 1793.1 Engraving Shows Game with Wickets at Dartmouth College
- 41 1793.2 Big Stakes for Cricket, Indeed
- 42 1793.3 "Curious Cricket Match" Planned in England Among Tripeds
- 43 1793.5 Lady Cricketers Play Again in Sussex
- 44 1794.1 New York Cricket Club Meets "Regularly"
- 45 1794.2 Historian Cites "Club-ball"
- 46 1795.1 Portsmouth NH Bans Cricket and Other Ball Games
- 47 1795.2 Survey Reports Cricket in New England, Playing at Ball in TN
- 48 1795.3 Playing Ball Cited as Major New England Diversion
- 49 1795.4 Deerfield's Fine for Playing Ball: Six Cents
- 50 1795.5 Playing At Ball in the Untamed West (Now Kentucky?)
- 51 1796.1 Gutsmuths describes [in German, yet] "Englische Base-Ball"
- 52 1796.2 Williams College Student Notes Ballplaying in Winter Months
- 53 1796.3 Eton Cricketers Flogged at School for Playing Match. Ouch.
- 54 1796.4 Early Geographer Sees Variety of Types New England Ballplaying
- 55 1797.1 Daniel Webster Writes of "Playing Ball" While at Dartmouth
- 56 1797.2 Newburyport MA Bans Cricket and Other Ball Games
- 57 1797.3 Fayetteville NC Bans Sunday Ballplaying by African-Americans
- 58 1797.4 "Grand Match" of Stoolball Pits Sussex and Kentish Ladies
- 59 1797.5 In NC, Negroes Face 15 Lashes for Ballplaying
- 60 1797.6 "Ample Space" Allowed "For Cricket, For Bat and Ball . . . "
- 61 1798.2 Cricket Rules Revised a Little
- 62 1799.1 Historical Novel, Set in About 1650, Refers to Cricket, Base-ball
- 63 1799.2 NY Cricket Club Schedules Match Among Members
- 64 1799.3 Will Satan Snag the Sunday Player?
- 65 1800c.1 Sports at Exeter Academy include "Old-Fashioned Bat and Ball". . . and Football
- 66 1800.2 John Knox Owns a "Ball Alley" and Racquets Court in NYC, 1800-1803.
- 67 1800c.3 Col. Jas. Lee Recalls Playing Baseball as a Youth.
- 68 1800c.4 Four Old Cat and Three Old Cat Well Known in MA
- 69 1800.5 History of North America: Cricket and Football are "Universally Practiced."
- 70 1800.6 Children's Story Includes Promise to Provide Bats and Balls
- 71 1800c.7 William Cullen Bryant Remembers Base-Ball
- 72 1800c.9 Most English Counties Play Cricket
- 73 1800.10 Hudson NY Council Prohibits Boys' Ballplaying, Preserves Turf. Etc.
- 74 1801.1 Joseph Strutt Says Stoolball Still Played in North of England; But He Slights Cricket
- 75 1801.2 Chapbook Includes Engraving Depicting Trap-Ball
- 76 1801.3 Book Portrays "Bat and Ball" as Inferior to Cricket
- 77 1801.4 Cricket Challenge in GA
- 78 1801.5 Sunday Ballplaying Eyed Everywhere: "Is This a Christian Country?"
- 79 1802c.1 South Carolina Man Lists Ball-Playing Among Local Amusements
- 80 1802.2 Wordsworth Seems to Laud "Englishness" of Cricket
- 81 1802.3 New England Woman Sees Ballplaying in Virginia, Perhaps by "All Colors"
- 82 1802.4 Philadelphia Book: "Bat and Ball is an Inferior Kind of Cricket"
- 83 1803.1 Ontario Diarist Reports Joining Men "Jumping and Playing Ball"
- 84 1803.2 Cricket Club Forms, Lasts a Year in NYC
- 85 1803.3 Cricket Reaches Australia
- 86 1803.4 Middlebury College VT Bans Ballplaying
- 87 1803.5 Vermont Paper Associates Adult Tradesmen with Ballplaying
- 88 1804.1 SC School Opens, Students Play Town Ball and Bull Pen
- 89 1804.2 Another Chapbook, Another Trap-ball Engraving
- 90 1804.3 A "Match at Ball" in Northwest Louisiana?
- 91 1804.5 Hudson (NY) Bee Prints "The Laws of Cricket"
- 92 1805.1 Williams College Bans Dangerous Ball-playing
- 93 1805.2 Portland ME Bans "Playing at Bat and Ball in the Streets" in 1805, Retains Ban in 1824
- 94 1805.3 Book of Games Covers Cricket, Trap-Ball
- 95 1805.4 Enigmatic Report: NY Gentlemen Play Game of "Bace," and Score is Gymnastics 41, Sons of Diagoras 34.
- 96 1805.5 The Term "Bace" Not Related to Ballplaying, in Cornwall
- 97 1805.6 In SC, Some Slaves Use Sundays for Ballplaying
- 98 1805c.7 NH Versfier Recalls Ballplaying at Exeter
- 99 1805.8 Yale Grad Compares Certain English Ballgames to New England's
- 100 1805.9 Belfast ME Had Ballplaying as Early as 1805
- 101 1806.1 British Children's Book Includes Scene of "Trap and Ball"
- 102 1806.2 Children's Poem Traces Bouncing Ball
- 103 1806.3 Mister Beldham Really Loads One Up on Cricket Pitch
- 104 1806.4 Minister from New England Plays Ball in Western Reserve [OH]
- 105 1807.1 Book Includes Hermit's Promise to Bring Children "Bats, Balls &c"
- 106 1807.2 Games Recalled at Phillips Exeter Academy
- 107 1807.3 Lost Poet Remembers College Ballplay, Maybe in Baltimore
- 108 1808.1 Wall Streeters Are Bearish on Ballplaying "and Other Annoyances"
- 109 1808.2 First Cricket Club in Boston is Established, Then Fades
- 110 1808.3 Students get 10 lashes for playing bandy
- 111 1809.1 Americans in London Play "A Game Called Ball," Seen as a "Novelty" By Locals
- 112 1810c.1 "Poisoned Ball" Appears in French Book of Games
- 113 1810.2 Children's Book Describes Trap Ball and its Benefits
- 114 1810.3 Children's Book Recommends Regular Play with "Trap, Bat, Ball," etc.
- 115 1810c.4 Union College [Upstate NY] Students Play Baseball-Like Game
- 116 1810s.5 Harvard Library Worker Recalls Occasional Bi-racial Ball Play in Harvard Yard
- 117 1810.6 Cricket a "Popular Recreation" in Sydney
- 118 1810c.7 Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison Plays Ball as Barefoot Youth
- 119 1810c.8 Future Lord Prefers Studies to Rounders, Cricket
- 120 1810s.9 19th Century Glossarist Describes "Bat and Ball" Rules
- 121 1810c.10 Minister Reflects on Early Nineteenth Century Sports and Entertainments
- 122 1810s.11 19th C. Glossarist describes "Base"
- 123 1811.1 Book Printed in Philadelphia Gives Details of Trap Ball in England
- 124 1811.2 NYCC Calls Meeting - First Cricket Meeting Since 1804?
- 125 1811.3 NY Paper Carries Notice for "English Trap Ball" at a Military Ground
- 126 1811.4 Chapbook Shows Baseball-like Game Under "Trap-ball" Heading
- 127 1811.5 Bat-ball Recalled at Exeter
- 128 1811.6 Women Cricketers Play for Large Purse
- 129 1811.7 Cause of Death: "Surfeit of Playing Ball"
- 130 1812c.1 Young Andrew Johnson Plays Cat and Bass Ball and Bandy in Raleigh NC
- 131 1812.2 Soldier Van Smoot's Diary Notes Playing Catch at New Orleans LA
- 132 1812.3 NYC Council Finds Ball Playing Among "Abounding Immoralities"
- 133 1813.1 Newburyport MA Reminder - "Playing Ball in the Streets" is Unlawful
- 134 1813.2 War of 1812 General in OH Said to Play Ball with "Lowest" Soldiers
- 135 1815c.1 US Prisoners in Ontario at End of War of 1812 Play Ball
- 136 1815c.2 US Prisoners of War in England Play Ball - at Great Peril, It Turned Out
- 137 1815.3 German Book Apparently Shows a Batting Game
- 138 1815.4 Six-Hour "Wicket" Match Played in Canada
- 139 1815c.5 RI Boy Did A Little Ball-Playing
- 140 1815.6 Group at Dartmouth Ponders Worth of Ballplaying, Nocturnal Cowhunting
- 141 1815c.7 New Englander Writes of Ballyards in Virginia
- 142 1815.8 Eyewitness On the Massacre of Seven U.S Soldiers at Dartmoor Prison in England
1781.1 Teen Makes White Leather Balls for British Officers' Ball-Playing
"These officers [British soldiers captured at the Battle of Saratoga] were full of cash and frolicked and gamed much. One amusement in which they indulged much, was playing at ball. A Ball-Alley was fitted up at the Court-House, where some of them were to be seen at almost all hours of the day."
"Whilst the game of ball was coming off one day at the Court House, an American officer and a British officer, who were among the spectators, became embroiled in a dispute."
The writer, Samuel Dewees, went on to describe how, as a teen, he had fashioned balls and sold them to the British for a quarter each.
Hanna, John S., ed., A History of the Life and Services of Captain Samuel Dewees, A Native of Pennsylvania, and Soldier of the Revolutionary and Last Wars [Robert Neilson, Baltimore, 1844], p. 265- 266. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref #37: see p. 238.
For more on the ball-playing habits of the "Convention Army" of captured British soldiers from 1778 to 1781, see Brian Turner, "Sticks or Clubs: Ball Play Among the Route of Burgoyne's 'Convention Army,' Base Ball, volume 11 (2019), pp. 1-16.
In the game of wicket, the "alley" included the space directly between the two wickets.
Is "alley" used by cricketers in the same way?
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?]
1782c.2 Ball Played at Albany During War
"We passed muster [late in the war] and layed about in Albany about six weeks . . . . The officers would bee a playing at Ball on the comon, their would be an other class piching quaits, an other set a wrestling."
-- Joel Shepard, a farmer in Montague MA.
Spear, John A., ed., "Joel Shepard Goes to War," New England Quarterly, volume 1, number 3 [July 1928], p. 344. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, ref # 38; see page 239.
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?
1782.4 Cricket To Be Played Near NYC Shipyards
Cricket is to be played “on the green, near the Ship Yards.” Royal Gazette, 7/13/1782
I. N. Phelps Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909 : compiled from original sources (New York, Robert H. Dodd), 1926), Volume V, page 1150.
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?
1784.2 Seymour Notation Adverts to Evidence that Town Ball Was Exported to England
"Rounders not a serious game until 1889 in Britain. But at least close resemblance. Evidence Town Ball introduced by Amer. to Br. 1784 - between Rounders and Base Ball."
Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Note: it would be good to find such evidence soon.
1785.1 Thomas Jefferson: Hunting is Better for Character-building Than Ballplaying
"Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind."
Thomas Jefferson [VA]. letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785, in Julian P. Boyd, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson [Princeton University Press, 1953], volume 8, p. 407. 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 241.
1785.2 Cricket, Long After Reaching Tazmania, Gets Past Hadrian's Wall
"It is difficult to believe that the English soldiers who flooded into Scotland in 1745/1746 did not bring cricket with them, but evidence has not yet emerges. The well-known 'first cricket match in Scotland' took place at Earl Cathcart's seat at Schow Park, Alloa, in September 1785, when Hon. Colonel Talbot's XI played the Duke of Atholl's XI. . . . Most of the players were English: no further matches in Scotland followed from it. However, a Scot, the Duke of Hamilton, had already joined the MCC, and a traveler hoping to inspect Hamilton Place in 1785 found that 'as the Duke plays cricket every afternoon, strangers don't get admittance then.'" John Burnett, Riot, Revelry and Rout: Sport in Lowland Scotland before 1860 (Tuckwell Press, 2000), page 252. Burnett footnotes this passage The Scottish Antiquary, 11 (1897), 82. Note: we don't yet know which of the events are documented there.
Another source reports that the Talbot/Atholl match was played on September 8, 1785, for 1000 pounds per man. L. Stephen and S. Lee, eds., Dictionary of National Biography (Macmillan, New York, 1908), entry on Thomas Graham, Baron Lynedoch, page 359.
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?
1786.2 Game Called Wicket Reported in England
"The late game of Wicket was decided by an extraordinary catch made by Mr. Lenox, to which he ran more than 40 yards, and received the ball between two fingers." Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (London), 6/27/1786. Provided by Richard Hershberger, email of 2/3/2008. Richard adds: "I know of only one other English citation of "wicket" as the name of a game. I absolutely do not assume that it was the same as the game associated with Connecticut."
1787.1 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?
1787.2 VT Man's Letter to Brother Says "Three Times is Out at Wicket"
"Three times is Out at wicket, next year if Something is not done I will retire to the Green Mountains."
Levi Allen to Ira Allen, July 7, 1787, in John J. Duffy, ed., (University Press of New England, Hanover NH, 1998), volume 1, p. 224. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It; see page 245 and ref #78.
Levi Allen, in Vermont, wrote to Ira Allen, in Quebec.
Do we know how old the brothers were in 1787? Do we know where they might have become with wicket?
Three times of what? Is wicket known to have 3-out-side-out half-innings? I couldn't mean three strikes, right? Maybe three non-forward hits?
1787.3 Marylebone Cricket Club, Later Official Custodian of the Game, is Founded
Interview with Stephen Green at Lords. Note: needs verification. Also Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19. Ford does not give a citation for this account.
1787.4 US Publisher Offers Books "More Pleasurable Than Bat and Ball"
The last page of a US-printed reader encourages the reader to come to Thomas' book store, where "they may be suited with Something ore valuable than Cakes, prettier than Tops, handsomer than Kites, more pleasurable than Bat and Ball, more entertaining than either Scating or Sliding, and durable as marbles."
Thomas, Isaiah, publisher, The Royal Primer: or, An Easy and Pleasant Guide to the Art of Reading [Worcester], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 179.
1787.5 NY Newspaper Prints "Laws of the Noble Game of Cricket"
"At the request of several of our Correspondents, we insert the following Laws of the noble Game of Cricket, which govern all the celebrated Players in Europe."
Independent Journal [New York], May 19, 1787. Accessed via subscription genealogybank.com search, 4/9/09. Note: the rules do not use the term "innings," and instead employ "hands."
1788.1 Cricketer Experiments with Round-Arm Bowling
Says John Ford: "Tom Walker is said to have experimented with round-arm bowling." John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19. Ford does not give a citation for this account. Caveat: The Encyclopedia Brittanica on Nyren's estimate of about 1790 for Walker's innovation; A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, Eleventh Edition, (Encyclopeida Brittanica Company, New York, 1910) Volume VII, page 439, accessed 10/19/2008, as advised by John Thorn, email of 2/2/2008..
1788.2 Noah Webster, CT Ballplayer?
"Connecticut lexicographer and writer Noah Webster may have been referring to a baseball- type game when he wrote his journal entry for March 24-25, 1788: 'Take a long walk. Play at Nines at Mr Brandons. Very much indisposed.'"
Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It; see page 241. Altherr cites the diary as Webster, Noah, "Diary," reprinted in Notes on the Life of Noah Webster, E. E. F Ford, ed., (privately printed, New York, 1912), page 227 of volume 1.
Note: "Nines seems an unusual name for a ball game; do we find it elsewhere? Could he have been denoting nine-pins or nine-holes? John Thorn, in 2/3/2008, says he inclines to nine-pins as the game alluded to.
1788.3 New Interpretation of Homer Translations Cites ‘Baste-Ball’.
From a new interpretation of Homer's Odyssey, describing Princess Nausicaa:
"[S]he is the very pattern of excellence,…she drives four in hand and manages her whip with utmost skill, …she sings most charmingly, and, in fine, is not above playing a game of baste-ball with her attendants."
"The Trifler," by Timothy Touchstone, Number XXIX, Dec. 13, 1788, p. 374
This passage is discussed in David Block, Pastime Lost (UNebraska Press, 2019), pp 53-55.
"Baste-ball" is one of several alternate spellings of baseball that are found in 18th and 19th century writings.
"The Trifler" was a weekly satirical literary journal that ran for less than one year. Its authors, writing under the nom de plume Timothy Touchstone, were reputed to be two Cambridge students and two Oxford students, all under the age of 20.
An earlier (1616) translator used the term "stool-ball," a game well known in England, for the ballplaying scene. Block explains: "Stool-ball by then [1780s] was fading in popularity. Instead, girls and young women of he towns and villages of southern England were embracing the game of baseball." (Pastime Lost, page 56.)
1789.1 A Tale of Two Cricket Traditions?
Ford reports that "A cricket tour to France arranged, but cancelled at the last minute because of the French Revolution. Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19. Ford does not give a citation for this account.
1789.2 New York Children's Pastimes Recalled: Old Cat, Rounders Cited
" . . . outside school hours, the boys and girls of 1789 probably had as good a time as childhood ever enjoyed. Swimming and fishing were close to every doorstep The streets, vacant lots, and nearby fields resounded with the immemorial games of old cat, rounders, hopscotch, I spy, chuck farthing and prisoner's base . . . . The Dutch influence made especially popular tick-tack, coasting, and outdoor bowling."
Monaghan, Frank, and Marvin Lowenthal, This Was New York: The Nation's Capital in 1789 (Books for Libraries Press, 1970 - originally published 1943 , Chapter 8, "The Woman's World," pages 100-101. Portions of this book are revealed on Google Books, as accessed 12/29/2007. According to the book's index, "games" were also covered on pages 80, 81, 115, 177, and 205, all of which were masked. The volume includes "hundreds of footnotes in the original draft," according to accompanying information. Caveat: We find no reference to the term "rounders" until 1828. See #1828.1 below.
1789.3 Stoolball Played at Brighthelmstone in Sussex
"From the 'Jernal' of John Burgess of Ditchling (Sussex) he wrote on Augest 17th 1789 that he went to Brighthelmstone 'to see many divertions which included Stoolball'."
The XVth (1938) Annual Report of the Stoolball Association for Great Britain [unpublished]. Provided by Kay and John Price, Fall 2009.
A web search doesn't lead to this journal entry, but does locate a similar one:
"[August 19, 1788] Went to Brighthelmstone to see many Divertions on account of the Rial Family that is the Duke of Yorks Berth day Cricketing Stool Ball Foot Ball Dancing &c. fire works &c." A side note was that some estimated that 20,000 persons attended.
Sussex Archaeological Society, Archaeololgical Collections, Volume XL. (1896), "Some Extracts from the Journal and Correspondence of Mr. John Burgess, of Ditchling, Sussex, 1785-1815," page 156. Accessed 1/31/10 via Google Books search ("john burgess" ditchling).
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.
1790s.2 Boston Merchant Recalls "Playing Ball on the Common Before Breakfast"
" [Five of us] were playing ball on the common before breakfast: and the ball fell into a hole where one of the booth's stakes had been driven the day before . . . putting the hand down something jingled and we found several dollars in silver . . . We were small boys then all of us, and I was the youngest." -- Jonathan Mason
Mason, Jonathan, "Recollections of a Septuagenarian," Downs Special Collection, Winterthur Library [Winterthur, Delaware], Document 30, volume 1, pp. 20 - 21. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 246 and ref # 85.
1790s.3 Britannica: Stickball Dates to Late 18th Century?
"Stickball is a game played on a street or other restricted area, with a stick, such as a mop handle or broomstick, and a hard rubber ball. Stickball developed in the late 18th century from such English games as old cat, rounders, and town ball. Stickball also relates to a game played in southern England and colonial Boston in North America called stoolball. All of these games were played on a field with bases, a ball, and one or more sticks. The modern game is played especially in New York City on the streets where such fixtures as a fire hydrant or an abandoned car serve as bases."
Britannica Online search conducted 5/25/2005. Note: No sources are provided for this unique report of early stickball. It also seems unusual to define town ball as an English game. Caveat: We find no reference to the term "rounders" until 1828. See #1828.1 below.
1790s.4 Southern Pols Calhoun and Crawford: Ballplaying Schoolmates?
"These two illustrious statesmen [southern leaders John C. Calhoun and William H. Crawford], who had played town ball and marbles and gathered nuts together . . . were never again to view each other except in bonds of bitterness."
J. E. D. Shipp, Giant Days: or the Life and Times of William H. Crawford [Southern Printers, 1909], page 167. Caveat: Crawford was ten years older than Calhoun, so it seems unlikely that they were close in school. Both leaders had attended Waddell's school [in GA] but that school opened in 1804 [see #1804.1] when Crawford was 32 years old, so their common school must have preceded their time at Waddell's.
1790.5 John Adams Refers to Cricket in Argument about Washington's New Title
"Cricket was certainly known in Boston as early as 1790, for John Adams, then Vice-President of the United States, speaking in the debate about the choice of an appropriate name for the chief officer of the United States, declared that 'there were presidents of fire companies and of a cricket club.'" John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 5.
1790s.6 Cricket as Played in Hamburg Resembled the U.S. Game of Wicket?
"[D]escriptions of the game [cricket] from Hamburg in the 1790s show significant variations often quite similar to outdated provisions of American "Wicket," which may well not be due to error on the part of the author, but rather to acute observation. For example, the ball was bowled alternatively from each end (i.e. not in 'overs'). Moreover, the ball has to be 'rolled' and not 'thrown' (i.e., bowled in the true sense, not the pitched ball). And the striker is out if stops the ball from hitting the wicket with his foot or his body generally. There is no more reason to believe that there was uniformity in the Laws covering cricket in England, the British Isles, or in Europe than there was in weights and measures." Rowland Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Grown and Development Throughout the World (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1970), page 72. Note: Bowen does not give a source for this observation.
1790s.7 In Boston, "Boys Played Ball in the Streets?"
Boston MA, with only 18,000 inhabitants, was sparsely populated. "Boys played ball in the streets without disturbance, or danger from the rush of traffic." Edmund Quincy, Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts (Fields, Osgood and Company, 1869), page 37. Writing 70 years later, the biographer here is painting a picture of the city when his father Josiah finished school and moved there at 18. He does not document this observation. One might speculate that Josiah had told Edmund about the ballplaying. Accessed on 11/16/2088 via Google Books search for "'life of josiah quincy.'"
1790.8 British Paper Snitches on Ringer Playing on a County Cricket Club
"The Grand Match between the Noblemen of Mary-le Bonne Club, and the County of Middlesex, is put off, owing to the gentlemen going out of town."
Their best batter, C. Foxton, does not live in Middlesex, but in Surrey, which is unknown to the Noblemen."
"Cricket," Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, Monday June 21, 1790. Contributed by Gregory Christiano, 12/2/09.
1790.9 Careful Scorer Starts "Complete Lists" of the Yearly Grand Cricket Matches
Example: Samuel Britcher, Scorer, Complete List of All the Grand Matches of Cricket that Have Been Played in the Year of 1793, with a Correct State of Each Innings (London), 26 pages. Included are one-page scoresheets for 25 games from May 13 to September 9, 1793. Provided by John Thorn, email of 1/17/2008. Each scoresheet includes the match's stake: 12 are played for 1000 guineas, 11 are for 500 guineas, one is for 50 guineas, and one is for 25 guineas. In four matches, a side of 22 men played a side of 11 men, in one match each side had three men, and one match was between just Mr. Brudennall and Mr. Welch. An All England club played in 5 matches, and the Mary-Le-Bone played in 9 matches. Three matches took 4 days, 8 took 3 days, 13 took two days, and one took one day. Now you know.
Beth Hise adds, January 12, 2010: "Britcher appears to have been the first official MCC scorer. He published small books annually between 1790 and 1803, with an additional volume covering 1804/5. He recorded matches that he attended, shedding considerable light onto the early days of cricket. Those matches ranged widely, from those between the Kennington and Middlesex Clubs, to one between the One Arm and One Leg sides (won by the One Legs by 103 runs).
1790.10 "Young Man's Amusements" Include "Bat and Ball"
'[A]t the same time a game called simply 'bat and ball' began to be appear in English writings. A 1790 book listed a young man's amusements as including 'marbles, bat and ball [and] hop-step-and-jump.'"
David Block, German Book Describes das English Base-ball, Base Ball, volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), page 51. The original source is Incidents of Youthful Life; or, the True History of William Langley (1790), page 94.
1790s.11 Future Ship Captain Chooses Reading Over Boyish Sports
"[Reading] took precedence [over] Kites, Marbles, Balls, Shinny Sticks, and all other Boyish Sports.) -- John Hamilton, of Wilmington DE
John Hamilton, "Some Reminiscences of Wilm't'n and My Youthful Days," Delaware History, v.1 no. 2 (July 1946), page 91.
What dates this reflection to the 1790s?
1791.1 "Bafeball" Among Games Banned in Pittsfield MA - also Cricket, Wicket
In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in order to promote the safety of the exterior of the newly built meeting house, particularly the windows, a by-law is enacted to bar "any game of wicket, cricket, baseball, batball, football, cats, fives, or any other game played with ball," within eighty yards of the structure. However, the letter of the law did not exclude the city's lovers of muscular sport from the tempting lawn of "Meeting-House Common." This is the first indigenous instance of the game of baseball being referred to by that name on the North American continent. It is spelled herein as bafeball. "Pittsfield is baseball's Garden of Eden," said Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto.
An account of this find (a re-find, technically) is at John Thorn, "1791 and All That: Baseball and the Berkshires," Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Volume 1, Number 1 (Spring 2007) pp. 119-126.
Per John Thorn: The History of Pittsfield (Berkshire County),Massachusetts, From the Year 1734 to the Year 1800. Compiled and Written, Under the General Direction of a Committee, by J. E. A. Smith. By Authority of the Town. [Lea and Shepard, 149 Washington Street, Boston, 1869], 446-447. The actual documents themselves repose in the Berkshire Athenaeum.
While this apppears to be the first American use of the term "base ball," see item 1786.1 above, in which a Princeton student notes having played "baste ball" five years earlier. See item 1786.1.
The town of Northampton MA issued a similar order in 1791, but omitted base ball and wicket from the list of special games of ball. See item 1791.2. Northampton is about 40 miles SE of Pittsfield.
John Thorn's essay on the Pittsfield regulation is found at John Thorn, "The Pittsfield "Baseball" By-law: What it Means," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, Number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 46-49.
1791.2 Northampton MA Prohibits Downtown Ballplaying (and Stone-Throwing)
"Both the meeting-house and the Court House suffered considerable damage, especially to their windows by ball playing in the streets, consequently in 1791, a by-law was enacted by which 'foot ball, hand ball, bat ball and or any other game of ball was prohibited within ten rods of the Court House easterly or twenty rods of the Meeting House southwesterly, neither shall they throw any stones at or over the said Meeting House on a penalty of 5s, one half to go to the complainant and the rest to the town.'"
J. R. Trumbull, History of Northampton, Volume II (Northampton, 1902), page 529. Contributed by John Bowman, May 9, 2009.
It is interesting that neither base-ball nor wicket is named in a town that is not so far from Pittsfield. See item 1791.1.
1791.3 Salem MA Diary Covers "Puerile Sports" Including Bat & Ball, and "Rickets"
"Puerile Sports usual in these parts of New England . . . . Afterwards the Bat & Ball and the Game at Rickets. The Ball is made of rags covered with leather in quarters & covered with double twine, sewed in Knots over the whole. The Bat is from 2 to 3 feet long, round on the back side but flattened considerable on the face, & round at the end, for a better stroke. The Ricket is played double, & is full of violent exercise of running."
The Diary of William Bentley, D.D., Volume I (Essex Institute, Salem MA, 1905), pp 253-254. Contributed by Brian Turner, March 6, 2009. Bentley later noted that Bat & Ball is played at the time of year when "the weather begins to cool." Bentley [1759-1819] was a prominent and prolific New England pastor who served in Salem MA. Query: Any idea what the game of rickets/ricket was?
1792.1 Sporting Magazine Begins Its Cricket Reports in England
Ford reports that this 1792 saw "First publication of the Sporting Magazine which featured cricket scores and reports. . . . Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19. Ford does not give a citation for this account, but John Thorn [email, 2/2/2008] found an ad announcing the new magazine: "Sporting Magazine," The General Evening Post (London), Tuesday Octobver 23, 1792, bottom of column four. 21 topics are listed as the scope of the new publication, starting with racing, hunting, and coursing: cricket is the only field sport listed.
1793.1 Engraving Shows Game with Wickets at Dartmouth College
A copper engraving showing Dartmouth College appeared in Massachusetts Magazine in February 1793. It is the earliest known drawing of the College, and shows a wicket-oriented game being played in the yard separating college buildings. College personnel suggest is an early form of cricket, given the tall wicket which is not known for the New England pastime of wicket.
1793.2 Big Stakes for Cricket, Indeed
"A game of cricket for 1000 guineas a side between sides raised by the Earl of Winchilsea and Lord Darnley." John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1770-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19. Ford does not give a source for this event.
1793.3 "Curious Cricket Match" Planned in England Among Tripeds
"CURIOUS CRICKET MATCH. A young nobleman, of great notoriety in the [illegible: baut-ton? A corrupton of beau ton?], had made a match of a singular nature, with one of the would-be members of the jockey club, for a considerable sum of money, to be played by Greenwich pensioners, on Blackheath, sometime in the present month. The 11 on one side are to have only one arm each; and the other, to have both their arms and only one leg each. The nobleman has not at present made his election, whether he intends to back the legs or the wings - but the odds are considerably in favour of the latter."
Independent Chronicle and Universal Advertiser, August 29, 1793, as taken from an unknown London newspaper. Posted to 19CBB 7/30/2007 by Richard Hershberger. John Thorn, email of 2/2/2008, found an identical account: "Curious Cricket Match," World, Monday, May 13, 1793, column two, at the fold. Perhaps the Independent found August to be a slow news month?
1793.5 Lady Cricketers Play Again in Sussex
The married women and maids of Bury, in Sussex, are to play their return match of cricket, before the commencement of the harvest; and we hear that considerable bets are depending on their show of Notches, which at the conclusion of their lasst game, the umpires declared to be much in favour of the sturdy matrons."
The Morning Post, Wednesday, July 17, 1793. Contributed by Gregory Christiano, December 2, 2009.
1794.1 New York Cricket Club Meets "Regularly"
"By 1794 the New York Cricket Club was meeting regularly, usually at Battins Tavern at six o'clock in the evenings. Match games were played between different members of the club, wickets being pitched exactly at two o'clock." Holliman, Jennie, American Sports (1785-1835) [Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1975], page 67.
Holliman cites Wister, W. R., Some Reminiscences of Cricket in Philadelphia Before 1861, page 5, for the NYCC data.
1794.2 Historian Cites "Club-ball"
David Block finds an earlier reference to "club-ball" than Strutt's. It is James Pettit Andrews, The History of Great Britain (Cadell, London, 1794.), page 438. Email from David, 2/27/08.
David explains" that in Baseball Before We Knew It, "I took the historian Joseph Strutt to task for making it seem as if a 14th century edict under the reign Edward III [see #1300s.2 above] offered proof that a game called "club-ball" existed. It now appears that I may have done Mr. Strutt a partial injustice. A history book published seven years before Strutt's translates the Latin pilam bacculoreum the same way he did, as club-ball (which I believe leaves the impression that the game was a distinct one, and not a generic reference to ball games played with a stick or staff.) I still hold Strutt guilty for his baseless argument that this alleged 14th century game was the ancestor of cricket and other games played with bat and ball. Andrews, in his history of England, cites a source for his passage on ball games, but I can not make it out from the photocopy in my possession."
1795.1 Portsmouth NH Bans Cricket and Other Ball Games
In March 1795 Portsmouth NH imposed a fine of from 50 cents to $3.30 pus court costs for those who "play cricket or any game in which a ball is used."
By-Laws of the Town of Portsmouth, Passed at their Annual Meeting Held March 25, 1795 (John Melcher, Portsmouth), pp. 5 - 6. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It. See page 244 and ref #67.
1795.2 Survey Reports Cricket in New England, Playing at Ball in TN
Winterbotham, William, An Historical, Geographical, Commercial and Philosophical View of the American United States [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 180. Coverage of New England [volume 2, page 17] reports that "The healthy and athletic diversions of cricket, foot ball, quoits, wrestling, jumping, hopping, foot races, and prison bars, are universally practiced in the country, and some of them in the most populous places, and by people of almost all ranks." The Tennessee section [volume 3, page 235] mentions the region's fondness for sports, including "playing at ball." Block notes that Winterbotham is sometimes credited with saying that bat and ball was popular in America before the Revolutionary War, and that adults played it, but reports that scholars, himself included, have not yet confirmed such wording at this point.
1795.3 Playing Ball Cited as Major New England Diversion
What are the diversions of the New England people? "Dancing is a favorite one of both sexes. Sleighing in winter, and skating, playing ball, gunning, and fishing are the principal."
Johnson, Clifton, and Carl Withers, Old Time Schools and School-Books [Dover, New York, 1963], page 41. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.
1795.4 Deerfield's Fine for Playing Ball: Six Cents
A long list of punishable offenses at Deerfield included six cents for "playing ball near school." This was a minor fine, the same sanction as getting a drop of tallow on a book, tearing a page of a book, or leaving one's room during study. In contrast, a one dollar assessment was made for playing cards, backgammon, or checkers, or walking or visiting on Saturday night or Sunday.
Marr, Harriet Webster, The Old New England Academies Founded Before 1826 [Comet Press, New York, 1959], page 142.
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?
1796.1 Gutsmuths describes [in German, yet] "Englische Base-Ball"
Johann Gutsmuths, an early German advocate of physical education, devotes a chapter of his survey of games to "Ball mit Freystaten (oder das Englische Base-ball)" that is, Ball with free station, or English base-ball. He describes the game in terms that seem similar to later accounts of rounders and base-ball in English texts. The game is described as one-out, side-out, having a three-strike rule, and placing the pitcher a few steps from the batsman.
Block advises [11/6/2005 communication] that Gutsmuths provides "the first hard, unambiguous evidence associating a bat with baseball . . . . We can only speculate as to when a bat was first employed in baseball, but my intuition is that it happened fairly early, probably by the mid-18th century."
Gutsmuths Johann C. F., Spiele zur Uebung und Erholung des Korpers und Geistes fur die Jugend, ihre Erzieher und alle Freunde Unschuldiger Jugendfreuden [Schnepfenthal, Germany] per David Block, page 181.. This roughly translates as: Games for the Exercise and Recreation of Body and Spirit for the Youth and His Educator and All Friends of Innocent Joys of Youth.
For Translated Text: David Block carries a four-page translation of this text in Appendix 7, pages 275-278, of Baseball Before We Knew It.
In 2011, David Block added to his assessment of Gutsmuth in "German Book Describes das Englische Base Ball; But Was it Baseball or Rounders?," in Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 50-54. He notes the absence of the use of bats in base-ball in England, except in this single source, while rounders play commonly involved a bat.
1796.2 Williams College Student Notes Ballplaying in Winter Months
A Williams College student's diary begun in 1796 (when he was 19) and continued for several years, includes a half dozen references to playing ball, but they do not describe the nature of the game. His first such entry, from April 22, 1796, is "I exercise considerable, playing ball."
Tarbox, Increase N., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D. D. 1796 - 1854 (Beacon Press, Boston, 1886), volume 1, pp. 8, 29, 32, 106, and 128. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, (See page 241 and ref #55. The college is in Williamstown MA. He notes ballplaying later in Sheffield and Danbury CT
1796.3 Eton Cricketers Flogged at School for Playing Match. Ouch.
Ford summarizes a bad day for Etonians: "Eton were beaten by Westminster School on Hounslow Heath and on return to college were flogged by the headmaster; it would seem that this was for playing rather than for losing." See John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 20. Ford does not give a citation for this account.
1796.4 Early Geographer Sees Variety of Types New England Ballplaying
"Q: What is the temper of the New-England people?
A: They are frank and open . . . .
Q: What are their diversions?
A: Dancing is a favorite of both sexes. Sleigh-riding in winter, and skating, playing ball (of which there are several different games), gunning and fishing . . . "
Nathaniel Dwight, A Short But Comprehensive System of Geography (Charles R. and George Webster, Albany NY) 1796), page 128. Provided by John Thorn, 2/17/2008 email.
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?
1797.2 Newburyport MA Bans Cricket and Other Ball Games
"Voted and ordered, that if any person shall play at foot-ball, cricket,or any other play or game with a ball or balls in any of the streets, lanes, or alleys of this town, . . ." a fine of 25 cents to one dollar was to be assessed.
Bye-Laws of Newburyport: Passed by the Town at Regular Meetings, and Approved by the Court of General Justice of the Peace for the County of Essex, Agreeably to a Law of this Commonwealth (Newburyport, 1797), p. 1. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, page 244 and ref #68.
1797.4 "Grand Match" of Stoolball Pits Sussex and Kentish Ladies
"A grand Match of Stool-ball, between 11 Ladies of Sussex, in Pink, against 11 Ladies of Kent, in Blue Ribands."
Source: an undated reproduction, which notes "this is a reproduction of the original 1797 Diversions programme." The match was scheduled for 10am on Wednesday, August 16, 1797. Provided from the files of the National Stoolball Association, June 2007.
1797.5 In NC, Negroes Face 15 Lashes for Ballplaying
A punishment of 15 lashes was specified for "negroes, that shall make a noise or assemble in a riotous manner in any of the streets [of Fayetteville NC] on the Sabbath day; or that may be seen playing ball on that day."
North-Carolina Minerva (March 11, 1797), excerpted in G. Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (Chapel Hill NC, 1937), page 551; as cited in Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 29.
1797.6 "Ample Space" Allowed "For Cricket, For Bat and Ball . . . "
"A 1797 newspaper article, praising the layout of a new school ground, noted "it affords ample space for cricket, for bat and ball, or any other school-boy exercise."
David Block, German Book Describes das English Base-ball, Base Ball, volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), page 51. The original source is Westminster School, The Oracle and Pubic Advertiser (London), August 24, 1797.
1798.2 Cricket Rules Revised a Little
Rule changes: [A] Instead of requiring a single ball to be used throughout a match, a new rule specified a new ball for each innings. [B] Fielders can be substituted for, but the replacement players cannot bat.
Peter Scholefield, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishers, Kent Town Australia, 1990], pages 14 and 9, respectively.
In addition, Ford reports that "the size of the wicket was increased to 24 inches high by 7 inches wide with two bails." John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 20. Ford does not give a citation for this account.
1799.1 Historical Novel, Set in About 1650, Refers to Cricket, Base-ball
Jane Austen, Oliver Cromwell
A fictional character in a novel set in the mid-17th Century recalls how, when his clerkship to a lawyer ended, a former playmate took his leave by saying:
"Ah! no more cricket, no more base-ball, they are sending me to Geneva."
Cooke, Cassandra, Battleridge" an Historical tale, Founded on facts. In Two Volumes. By a Lady of Quality (G. Cawthorn, London, 1799).
Block advises, August 2015:
That Cassandra Cooke, writing in the late 18th century, would have her readers believe that baseball was part of the vernacular in the early 17th century is certainly interesting, but since one contemporary reviewer labelled her book "despicable" there is absolutely no reason to think she had any more insight into the era than we do 216 years later.
David Block (BBWKI, page 183; see also his 19CBB advice, below) notes that Cooke was in correspondence with her cousin Jane Austen in 1798, when both were evidently writing novels containing references to base-ball. Also submitted to Protoball 8/19/06 by Ian Maun.
Cooke, like Austen, did seem to believe that readers in the early 1800s might be familiar with base- ball.
1799.2 NY Cricket Club Schedules Match Among Members
"A number of members of the Cricket Club having met on the old ground on Saturday last, by appointment it was unanimously agreed to meet on Thursday next, at the same place, at half past 2 o'clock. Wickets will be pitched at 3 o'clock exactly."
Commercial Advertiser, June 18, 1799, page 3 column 1. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.
1799.3 Will Satan Snag the Sunday Player?
"Take care that here on Sunday/None of you play at ball,/For fear that on the Monday/The Devil takes you all." Inscription on the Church Wall of a small village in Wales.
Mercantile Advertiser, August 3, 1799, page 2, column 3.
Weekly Museum, April 19, 1800, Vol. 12, No. 27. page 2.
We have no indication as to when the inscription was carved.
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.3 Col. Jas. Lee Recalls Playing Baseball as a Youth.
Lee was made an honorary member of the Knickerbocker Club in 1846, when he made this observation.
Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 150. No ref given. Also referenced in Peterson, p. 68, but again without a citation
1800c.4 Four Old Cat and Three Old Cat Well Known in MA
"Four Old Cat and Three Old Cat were as well known to Massachusetts boys as round ball. I knew both games in 1862, and Mr. Stoddard tells me that his father knew them and played them between 1800 and 1820. They bore the same relation to Round Ball that "Scrub" does to Base Ball now. The boys got together when there was leisure for any game and if there were enough to make for a game even if they were 2 or 3 short of the regulation 14 on a side they played round ball. If there were not enough more than a dozen all told, they contented themselves with four old cat, or with three old cat if there were still less players. . . . The main thing to be remembered is that Four and Three Old Cat seem to be co-eval with Massachusetts Round Ball, and even considered a modification of Round Ball for a less number of players than the regular game required."
Letter from Henry Sargent, Grafton, MA, to the Mills Commission, May 31, 1905.
1800.5 History of North America: Cricket and Football are "Universally Practiced."
"The athletic and healthy diversion of cricket, football, etc. . . are universally practiced in this country." Edward Oliphant, History of North America (Edinburgh, 1800), page? Cited in Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [U Penn, 1951], page 7.
1800.6 Children's Story Includes Promise to Provide Bats and Balls
A story in this popular children's book includes a character who, pleased with the deportment of some youths during a visit, says, "If you do me the honour of another visit, I shall endeavor to provide bats, balls, &c."
The Prize for Youthful Obedience [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 183. Note: Block notes that American editions of this book appeared in 1803 and thereafter: see #1807.1 below, for example.
1800c.7 William Cullen Bryant Remembers Base-Ball
"I have not mentioned other sports and games of the boys of that day which is to say, of seventy or eighty years since - such as wrestling, running, leaping, base-ball, and the like, for in thee there was nothing to distinguish them from the same pastimes at the present day."
William Cullen Bryant, "The Boys of my Boyhood," St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks, December 1876, page 102. Submitted by David Ball 6/4/06
1800c.9 Most English Counties Play Cricket
"Village cricket spread widely and by the end of the century cricket had been recorded in most counties in England." John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 20.
1800.10 Hudson NY Council Prohibits Boys' Ballplaying, Preserves Turf. Etc.
"An ordinance to preserve the turf or soil on the parade, and to regulate the sale of lamb in the city, and also to prevent boys playing ball or hoop on Warren or Front streets, passed the 14th June, 1800."
Hudson [NY] Bee, April 19, 1803. Found by John Thorn, who lives 30 minutes south of the town: email of 2/17/2008.
1801.1 Joseph Strutt Says Stoolball Still Played in North of England; But He Slights Cricket
Strutt, Joseph., The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England [London, 1801]. Need page reference [is on page 102 of 1903 edition]. Strutt's account does not portray stoolball as a running game, or one that uses a bat. Strutt also treats cricket [but only cursorily], trap-ball, and tip-cat . . . but not rounders or base-ball. David Block [page 183] points out that Strutt views a game he calls "club ball" as the precursor to this set of games, but notes that modern scholars are skeptical about this proposition.
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.
1801.5 Sunday Ballplaying Eyed Everywhere: "Is This a Christian Country?"
"A few weeks ago I saw on a Sunday afternoon, one party of boys playing at ball in Broad-street; another at the upper end of Pearl-street; and a third in the Park. Is this a Christian country? Are there no laws, human or divine, to enforce the religious observance of the Sabbath? . . . . Are our Magistrates asleep, or are they afraid of losing their popularity, if they should carry the laws into execution?"
New York Evening Post, December 23, 1801, submitted 10/12/2004 by John Thorn. On 8/2/2005, George Thompson spotted a similar or repeat of this piece in the Evening Post, December 31, 1801, page 3 column 2.
1802c.1 South Carolina Man Lists Ball-Playing Among Local Amusements
"[A]musements are few: consisting of dancing, horse racing, ball playing and rifle shooting."
Drayton, John, A View of South-Carolina, As Respects Her Natural and Civil Concerns [W. P. Young, Charleston SC, 1854], p. 88. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, page 247 ref #87.
Can we determine the SC location recalled, why Tom dated it as circa 1802, or what form the ballplaying took?
1802.2 Wordsworth Seems to Laud "Englishness" of Cricket
"Here, on our native soil, we breathe once more./The cock that crows, the smoke that curls, that sound/Of bells; those boys that in yonder meadow-ground/In white-sleev'd shirts are playing; and the roar/Of the waves breaking on the chalky shore/ All, all are English . . ."
From Wordsworth's sonnet "Composed in the valley near Dover on the day of Landing," [1802 and 1807] The Complete Poetical Works of Wiliam Wordsworth, Volume IV (Houghton and Mifflin, Boston, 1919), page 98 Accessed via Google Books on 10/20/2008..
According to Bateman, this reference is shown to be cricket because Wordsworth's sister's diary later contains a reference to white-shirted players at a cricket match near Dover. See Anthony Bateman,"'More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;' Culture,, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 33, note 20: Bateman cites the diary entry as The Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, vol. 2, E. de Selincourt, ed., (London, 1941), page 8. John Thorn [email of 2/3/2008] discovers that Dorothy Wordsworth's diary entry for July 10, 1820 observes: "When within a mile of Dover, saw crowds of people at a cricket-match, the numerous cambatants dressed in 'whitesleeved shirts,' and it was on the very same field where, when we 'trod the grass of England' once again, twenty years ago we has seen an Assemblage of Youths engaged in the same sport,so very like the present that all might have been the same! [footnote2:See my brother's Sonnet 'Here, on our native soil' etc.]"
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.
1803.1 Ontario Diarist Reports Joining Men "Jumping and Playing Ball"
"I went to Town [York, Ontario] . . . walk'd out and joined a number of men jumping and playing Ball, perceived a Mr. Joseph Randle to be the most active." -- Ely Playter, York tavernkeeper.
[Playter, Ely], "Extracts from Ely Playter's Diary, April 13, 1803," reprinted in Edith G. Firth, ed., The Town of York 1793 - 1815: A Collection of Documents of Early Toronto (The Champlain Society, Toronto, 1962), p. 248. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, page 247 and ref #89.
1803.2 Cricket Club Forms, Lasts a Year in NYC
An informal group called the "New York Cricket Club" is headquartered in New York City at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, No. 11 Nassau Street. The club flourishes for a year and then dies.
Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: The source is a Chadwick Scrapbook clip. "St. George was preceded in NYC by a club whose headquarters were at the Old Shakespeare in Nassau St.- This group was called the New York Club- it flourished for a year or so, then died." George Thompson has located an announcement of a club meeting in the Daily Advertiser, March 23, 1803, page 3 column 3, and another that appeared in the Commercial Advertiser on July 2 [page 3, column 2], July 7 [page 3, column 3], and July 8 [page 3, column 3. In early 1804, the Evening Post, February 10, [page 34 column 3] called another meeting at the same Nassau Street address. Submitted to Protoball 8/2/2005.
1803.3 Cricket Reaches Australia
"The first mention of cricket in Australia is in the Sydney Gazette of 8 January 1804. 'The late intense weather has been very favourable to the amateurs of cricket who have scarce lost a day for the last month.'"
Egan, Jack, The Story of Cricket in Australia (ABC Books, 1987), page 6. It is believed that the players included officers and/or men from the Calcutta, which arrived in Sydney in December 1803. (Ibid., page 10.)
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.
1803.5 Vermont Paper Associates Adult Tradesmen with Ballplaying
A letter to the editor of the Green Mountain Patriot takes issue with another writer who evidently thinks that "the farmer, the mechanic, and the merchant" should do more dancing when they attend local balls. They attend for another reason - "the same reason, whether criminal or lawful, that they meet together to play a game of ball, of quoits, or ride out on horseback." For "pleasing amusement."
The Green Mountain Patriot (Peachum, VT), August 17, 1803.
1804.1 SC School Opens, Students Play Town Ball and Bull Pen
At Moses Waddell's "famous academy" established in Wilkington in 1804, "instead of playing baseball or football, boys took their recreation in running jumping, wrestling, playing town ball and bull pen."
Meriwether, Colyer, History of Higher Education in South Carolina[Washington GPO, 1889], chapter II, page 39. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Note: The terminology in this source appears more current than 1804, and it would be wise to consider whether it accurately depicts 1804 events. In addition, Seymour's note does not make clear whether the play described occurred at the time of the establishment of the academy, or later in its history.
1804.2 Another Chapbook, Another Trap-ball Engraving
Youthful Sports[London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 185. Block reports that this book is quite different from the 1801 book by the same title.
1804.3 A "Match at Ball" in Northwest Louisiana?
In a listing of articles in North Louisiana History, we spy this citation: Morgan Peoples, "Caddoes Host 'Match at Ball," Volume 11, Number 3 (Summer 1980), pp. 353-36. Query: Can we retrieve the actual article and discover the particulars? Caddo Parish is just northwest of Shreveport LA. It appears that Caddo tribe was in this area, and we might speculate that the hosted games were Indian ballgames.
1805.1 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.
1805.2 Portland ME Bans "Playing at Bat and Ball in the Streets" in 1805, Retains Ban in 1824
[A] "[N]o person shall play at the game of bat and ball or shall strike any ball with a bat or other machine in the streets, lanes, or squares of the town on penalty of fifty cents."
[B] "It is ordered by the town, That no person shall play at the game of bat and ball, or shall strike any ball with a bat or other machine, or throw any stones, brickbats, clubs or snow balls, in the streets, lanes, or squares of the town, on penalty of fifty cents for each offence [sic]."
[A] By Laws of the Town of Portland, in the County of Cumberland, 2nd Edition (John McKown, Portland, 1805), p. 15. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball" (2000), reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, see p. 244 and note #70.
[B] By-Laws of the Town of Portland, (Adams and Paine, printers, 1824).
It seems plausible that the fuller language also appeared in the 1805 printing, but was not reported in Tom's 2000 account.
Can we imagine what "other machines" were employed to propel balls in the streets of Portland? Note: Additional origins researchers' comments on the meaning or "other machines" is shown in Supplemental Text, below.
1805.3 Book of Games Covers Cricket, Trap-Ball
Among the games described in this book are cricket and trap-ball, which has this concise account, in the form of a dialog: "you know, of course, that when I hit the trigger, the ball flies up, and that I must give it a good stroke with the bat. If I strike at the ball and miss my aim, or if, when I have struck it, either you or Price catch it before it has touched the ground, or if I have hit the trigger more than twice, without striking the ball, I am out and one of you take the bat, and come in, as it is called."
The Book of Games, or, a History of Juvenile Sports: Practiced at the Kingston Academy [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 185.
1805.4 Enigmatic Report: NY Gentlemen Play Game of "Bace," and Score is Gymnastics 41, Sons of Diagoras 34.
"Yesterday afternoon a contest at the game of Bace took place on "the Gymnasium," near Tylers' between the gentlemen of two different clubs for a supper and trimmings . . . . Great skill and activity it is said was displayed on both sides, but after a severe and well maintained contest, Victory, which had at times fluttered a little form one to the other, settled down on the heads of the Gymnastics, who beat the Sons of Diagoras 41 to 34."
New York Evening Post, April 13, 1805, page 3 column 1. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.
George Thompson has elaborated on this singular find at George Thompson, "An Enigmatic 1805 "Game of Bace" in New York," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 55-57.
Note: So, folks . . . was this a baserunning ball game, some version of prisoner's base (a team tag game resembling our childhood game Capture the Flag) with scoring, or what?
John Thorn [email of 2/27/2008] has supplied a facsimile of the Post report, and also found meeting announcements for the Diagoras in the Daily Advertiser for 4/11 and 4/12/1805.
David Block (see full text in Supplemental Text, below) offers his 2017 thoughts on this entry:
"My opinion on whether that game was baseball or prisoner's base has gone back and forth over the years. As of now I tend to lean 60-40 to baseball. Other than the example from Chapman that John cited, I've never come across a use of the term bace to signify either game. Even if I had it wouldn't mean much as the word "base" has been used freely over the years for both of them. The mention of a score in the 1805 article is significant. Rarely are scores indicated in any of the reports of prisoner's base (prison base, prison bars, etc.) that I've come across. Usually they just indicate one side or the other as winner."
Special credit for anyone who can add to our understanding of this item!
1805.5 The Term "Bace" Not Related to Ballplaying, in Cornwall
"BACE. Prisoner's bace (or base). A game so called. It is an ancient pastime mentioned in the records of Edward 3d (1327 to 1377.)"
Jago, Fred W. P. The Ancient Language and the Dialect of Cornwall (Netherton and Worth, Truro, 1882), page 101. Note: cf #1805.4, above. Can we find other reference books on usages in Surrey, Sussex, London, etc.?
1805.6 In SC, Some Slaves Use Sundays for Ballplaying
"The negroes when not hurried have this day [Sunday] for amusement & great numbers are seen about, some playing ball, some with things for sale & some dressed up going to meeting." -- Edward Hooker
Edward Hooker, Diaries, 1805-1830: MS 72876 and 72877, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford CT; per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 29-30. Tom [ibid, page 29] describes Hooker as a recent Yale graduate who in 1805 was a newly-arrived tutor in Columbia, SC.
Tom Altherr says "this may be the first recorded evidence of slaves [see p29/30] playing ball.
How about the evidence in 1797.5?
1805c.7 NH Versfier Recalls Ballplaying at Exeter
"Oh, then what fire in every vein, /What health the boons of life endear'd, /How oft the call, / To urge the ball / Across the rapid plain, / I heard."
Jeremiah Fellowes, "Irregular Ode, Written Near _____ [sic] Academy,"
Reminiscences, Moral Poems, and Translations (Exeter NH, 1824), pages 144-146. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base <, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 41. The poetry, dedicated to the Principal of Phillips Exeter Academy, was accessed 11/17/2008 via Google Books search <fellowes moral>."
Fellowes, born in 1791, attended Exeter starting in 1803, and graduated from Bowdoin in 1810. The verse is about the Exeter Academy, and thus the poet is recalling events from c1805. See #1741c.1 for the first of several "urge the ball" usages.
1805.8 Yale Grad Compares Certain English Ballgames to New England's
"July 9 [1805, we think] . . . . The mode of playing ball differs a little from that practiced in New-England. Instead of tossing up the ball out of one's own hand, and then striking it, as it descends, they lay is into the heel of a kind of wood shoe; and upon the instep a spring is fixed, which extends within the hollow to the hinder part of the shoe; the all is placed where the heel of the foot would commonly be, and a blow applied on the other end of the spring, raises the ball into the air, and, as it descends, it receives a blow from the bat.
"They were playing also at another game resembling our cricket, but differing from it in this particular, that he perpendicular pieces which support the horizontal one, are about eighteen inches high, and are three in number, whereas with us they are only two in number, and about three or four inches high."
The writer, Benjamin Silliman, thus implies that an American [or at least Connecticut] analog to trap ball was played, using fungo-style batting [trap ball was not usually a running game, so the American game may have been a simple form of fungo].
His second comparison is consistent with our understanding or how English cricket and American wicket were played in about 1800. However, it seems odd that he would refer to "our cricket" and not "our wicket: possibly a form of cricket - using, presumably, the smaller ball - was played in the US that retained the older long, low wickets known in 1700 English cricket.
Benjamin Silliman, Journal of Travels in England, Holland, and Scotland, Volume 1 (Boston, 1812 - 1st edition 1810), page 245. Accessed via Google Books, 2/12/2014 via search of <Silliman "journal of travels">.
From David Block, 2/12/2014:
"This reference raises some questions, which may not be answerable. Was he implying that striking a ball, fungo-style, was the general method of ball-play in New England, or was he only making a more narrow comparison to how a self-serve type of ball game was played at home. If the latter, might this have been 'bat-ball'?"
"It appears that the author was previously unaware of English cricket. What he refers to as "our cricket" is obviously wicket. This was an educated man, but it was also apparently his first trip overseas. My first reaction was to be very surprised at his apparent ignorance of English cricket, but it may well be that things that seem like obvious knowledge to us today may not have been so in the America of two hundred years ago."
1805.9 Belfast ME Had Ballplaying as Early as 1805
"High Street, at Hopkins's Corner, was the favorite battle-ground for ball-players, as early as 1805."
"Ball-playing seems to have been extensively practiced in 1820. At the town meeting that year, it was voted 'that the game of ball, and the pitching of quoits within [a specified area] be prohibited."
Joseph Williamson, History of the City of Belfast (Loring Short and Harmon, Portland, 1877), page 764. Accessed 2/2/10 via Google Books search ("hopkins's corner" ball).
1806.1 British Children's Book Includes Scene of "Trap and Ball"
"Edgar and Jane, the protagonists of a British children's book published in 1806 in Baltimore, The Children in the Wood, wanndered into a Briotish town where children were playing at trap and ball.
English, Clara, The Children in the Wood, an Instructive Tale [Warner and Hanna, Baltimore, 1806], p. 29. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, See page 241 and ref #57.
Trap and ball is not known to be a base-running game.
1806.2 Children's Poem Traces Bouncing Ball
THE VILLAGE GREEN. "On the cheerful village green,/ Skirted round with houses small,/ All the boys and girls are seen,/Playing there with hoop and ball/ . . . ./Then ascends the worsted ball;/ High it rises in the air;/Or against the cottage wall,/Up and down it bounces there."
BALL. "My good little fellow, don't throw your ball there/you'll break the neighbors's window I know/ . . . As the ball had popp'd in, so the neighbor popp'd out/ And with a good horsewhip he beat him about . . ."
Gilbert, Ann, Original Poems, for Infant Minds, 2 volumes (Kimber, Conrad, Philadelphia, 1806), vol. 2, page 120; Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, see page 242.
Altherr reports that "Gilbert described some sort of ball play as common on the village commons." (See Block, Ibid., page 241). Can we determine Gilbert's usage in calling such play common? Does the clue that the ball was "worsted" (woolen, or made of wool cloth?) add a helpful clue as to the nature of the game played?
1806.3 Mister Beldham Really Loads One Up on Cricket Pitch
"Ball tampering has been around since time immemorial. The first recorded instance of a bowler deliberately changing the condition of a ball occurred in 1806, when Beldham, Robinson and Lambert played Bennett, Fennex, and Lord Frederisk Beauclerk in a single-wicket match at Lord's. It was a closely fought match, but Beauclerk's last innings looked to be winning the game. As Pycroft recalls in The Cricket Field:
'"His lordship had then lately introduced sawdust when the ground was wet. Beldham, unseen, took a lump of wet dirt and sawdust, and stuck it on the ball, and took the wicket. This, I heard separately from Beldham, Bennett, and also Fennex, who used to mention it as among the wonders of his long life.'"
Simon Rae, It's Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 199. Pycroft's account appears at John Pycroft, The Cricket Field: Or the History and Science of Cricket, American Edition (Mayhew and Baker, Boston, 1859), page 214 - as accessed via Google Books 10/20/2008.
1806.4 Minister from New England Plays Ball in Western Reserve [OH]
April 8 : "Visited. Played at little ball."
May: "Rainy. Played ball some."
Volume 1 of this diary is not available via Google Books as of 11/15/2008. To view Volume 2, which has later New England references, use a Google Books "'robbins d. d.' diary" search.
Increase Tarbox, ed., The Diary of Thomas Robbins, D.D. 1796-1854, Volume 1 (Boston, 1886) pages 285 and 287. 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.
Tom Altherr writes : "This may be the earliest recorded evidence of ball play in Ohio." Note: Protoball knows of no earlier reference as of 2008.
Robbins was 33 years old in 1806.
In 1806, after leaving the Western Reserve, Robbins played again in Norwalk CT, and played there again in 1808.
It would be helpful to know where Robbins lived in the Western Reserve.
1807.1 Book Includes Hermit's Promise to Bring Children "Bats, Balls &c"
"A hermit who had been watching some children playing ball games approved of their play and promised 'to provide bats, balls, &c' at his next visit."
The Prize for Youthful Obedience (Jacob Johnson, Philadelphia, 1807), part II, page 16. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, see page 242-3 and ref # 60. Note: This book is an American edition book earlier published in London see #1800.6 above.
1807.2 Games Recalled at Phillips Exeter Academy
In about 1889, Col. George Kent wrote this verse in response to an inquiry about student games from 1807 at Exeter:
"But pastimes and games of a much better sort,
Lent aid to our outdoor and innocent sport,
Such as marbles and foot ball, cat, cricket and base,
With occasional variance by a foot race."
Bell, Charles H., Phillips Exeter Academy [1883?], p. 102. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes. the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
1807.3 Lost Poet Remembers College Ballplay, Maybe in Baltimore
Garrett Barry wrote in his sentimental verse "On Leaving College:"
"I'll fondly tract, with fancy's aid,/The spot where all our sports were made./ . . .
The little train forever gay,/With joy obey'd the pleasing call,/And nimbly urged the flying ball."
Barry, Garrett, "On Leaving College," in Poems, on Several Occasions (Cole and Co., Baltimore, 1807), no page given: Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see pages 240. Note: Can we determine from biographical information where and when Barry attended college? Is it significant that Barry reprises the phrase "urge the flying ball," seen as a cricket phrase in Pope [see #1730.1] and Gray [#1747.1]? Did Barry live/play in MD? 2008 update: John Thorn [email of 2/3/2008] discovers that others have been unable to determine exactly who the poet was, as there were three people with the name Garrett Barry in that area at that time. One of the three, who died at thirty in 1810, attended St. Mary's College in Baltimore.
1808.1 Wall Streeters Are Bearish on Ballplaying "and Other Annoyances"
The minutes of the NYC Common Council record a "Petition of sundry inhabitants in Wall Street complaining against the practice of boys playing ball before the Fire Engine House adjoining the City Hall, and other annoyances . . . "
Minutes of the Common Council of the city of New York, 1784-1831, April 18, 1808, page 95 [Volume V.] Volume eighteen of manuscript minutes (continued) February 15, 1808 to June 27, 1808.
1808.2 First Cricket Club in Boston is Established, Then Fades
The first formally organized cricket club is established in Boston, Massachusetts.
Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: The source is Chadwick Scrapbook, Volume 20. John has found a meeting announcement for the club in the Boston (MA) Gazette for November 17, 1808. Note: Ryczek dates this event as 1809 in Baseball's First Inning (2009), page 101.
Richard Hershberger [email of 2/4/10] reports that the last mention of the Club he has found is an 1809 notice that the club's annual dinner will take place the following day. Source: New England Palladium, October 24, 1809.
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..."
1809.1 Americans in London Play "A Game Called Ball," Seen as a "Novelty" By Locals
"On Wednesday a match for 80 guineas, at a game called Ball. was played by Eight American Gentlemen, in a field on the side of the Commercial-road. The novelty of the game attracted the attention of the passing multitude, who departed highly gratified."
Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser (London), June 23, 1809, page 2. See David Block, Pastime Lost: The Humble, Original, and Now Completely Forgotten Game of English Baseball (University of Nebraska Press, 2019), page 237.
Block adds: "Other games besides baseball, of course, could haave borne the label Ball on that occasion, but none seem obvious. Cricket, football, trsp-ball, stool-ball, golf, and various games in the hockey family ,including bandy, hurling, and shinty,all had a presence in the British Isles in that era, but there is no reason the passing multitude in London that day would have considered any of them a "novelty."
Does the sum of 80 guineas as the game's stakes imply anything about the players?
1810c.1 "Poisoned Ball" Appears in French Book of Games
The rules for "Poisoned Ball" are described in a French book of boy's games: "In a court, or in a large square space, four points are marked: one for the home base, the others for bases which must be touched by the runners in succession, etc."
To See the Text: David Block carries a three-paragraph translation of text in Appendix 7, page 279, of Baseball Before We Knew It.
David notes that the French text does not say directly that a bat is used in this game; the palm may have been used to "repel" the ball.
Les Jeux des Jeunes Garcons [Paris, c.1810]. Per Robert Henderson. Note: David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It, at page 186-187, dates this book at 1815, some of the doubt perhaps arising from the fact that the earliest [undated?] extant copy is a fourth edition.
We have one other reference to poisoned ball, from about three decades later. See item 1850c.8.
This game has similarity to base ball; could a French-speaking digger take a few moments to sort out whether more is known about the rules, origins, and fate of the game?
1810.2 Children's Book Describes Trap Ball and its Benefits
A book published in Philadelphia and New York depicts trap ball, "one of the most pleasing sports that youth can exercise in. It strengthens the the arms, exercises the legs [but is not a running game], and adds pleasure to the mind."
Youthful Amusements (Johnson and Warner, Philadelphia, 1810), pp. 37 and 40. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, see page 243 and ref #62. The same text later appeared in Remarks on Children's Play (Samuel Wood and Sons, New York, 1819), p. 32. Per Altherr ref #64 in Block. This book describes thirty games and includes an engraving of trap-ball.
Tom Altherr indicates that Remarks on Children's Play (Samuel Wood and Son, New York, 1819), "repeated the same comments of the 1810 Youthful Amusements book." See 1810.2.
1810.3 Children's Book Recommends Regular Play with "Trap, Bat, Ball," etc.
"Youthful Recreations . . . [says] that it should be the right of every child to have an hour of recreation each day with sports, among bat and ball-type games." -- Tom Altherr
Youthful Recreations (Jacob Johnson, Philadelphia, 1810), no pagination. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, see page 243 and ref # 63.
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.
1810s.5 Harvard Library Worker Recalls Occasional Bi-racial Ball Play in Harvard Yard
"During my employment at Cambridge [MA] the College yard continued without gates. The Stage passed through it; and though I was very attentive to the hour, I could not always avoid injury from the Stage horn. Blacks and Whites occasionally played together at ball in the College yard."
William Croswell, letter drafted to the Harvard Corporation, December 1827. Papers of William Croswell, Call number HUG 1306.5, Harvard University Archives.
Supplied by Kyle DeCicco-Carey, 8/8/2007.
Finder Kyle DeCicco-Carey notes that Croswell was an 1780 Harvard graduate who worked in the college library 1812-1821.
1810.6 Cricket a "Popular Recreation" in Sydney
"Cricket had become a more popular recreation by 1810. . . . [The 1810 proclamation naming Sydney's Hyde Park noted that the area had been previously known as "'the Racecourse,' 'The Exercising Ground,' and 'The Cricket Ground,']"
Egan, Jack, The Story of Cricket in Australia (ABC Books, 1987), page 10. Egan does not give a reference for the proclamation itself.
1810c.7 Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison Plays Ball as Barefoot Youth
"[T]he lovely old town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, in which he spent the fist twenty-five years of his life, was ever dear to him. As a boy, barefoot he rolled the hoop through the streets, played a marbles and at bat and ball, swam in the Merrimack . . ."
Wendell Phillips Garrison, "William Lloyd Garrison's Origin and Early Life, The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine Volume 30 (1885), page 592. Accessed via Google Books search 2/2/10 ("garrison's origin"). Newburyport MA is about 35 miles north of Boston and near the New Hampshire border.
1810c.8 Future Lord Prefers Studies to Rounders, Cricket
Young Thomas Babbington Macaulay "did not take kindly, his co-temporaries tell us, to foot-ball, cricket, or a game of rounders, preferred history to hockey, and poetry to prisoner's base."
H. G. J. Clements, Lord Macaulay, His Life and Writings (Whittaker and Co., London, 1860), page 16. Accessed 2/2/10 via Google Books search (macaulay "2 lectures").
1810s.9 19th Century Glossarist Describes "Bat and Ball" Rules
When Alfred Elwyn composed his 1859 glossary entry for “ball,” his example was “bat and ball” played in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he was born in 1804.
“The one we call ‘bat and ball’ may be an imperfect form of cricket, though we played this [cricket] in the same or nearly the same manner as in England, which would make it probable that the ‘bat and ball’ was a game of Yankee invention” (p.18).
“[S]ides were chosen, not limited to any particular number, though seldom more than six or eight. . . .The individual . . . first chosen, of the side that was in, took the bat position at a certain assigned spot. One of his adversaries stood at a given distance in front of him to throw the ball, and another behind him to throw back the ball if it were not struck, or to catch it. . . . After the ball was struck, the striker was to run; stones were placed some thirty or forty feet apart, in a circle, and he was to touch each one of them, till he got back to the front from which he started. If the ball was caught by any of the opposite party who were in the field, or if not caught, was thrown at and hit the boy who was trying to get back to his starting place, their party was in; and the boy who caught the ball, or hit his opponent, took the bat. A good deal of fun and excitement consisted in the ball not having been struck to a sufficient distance to admit of the striker running round before the ball was in the hands of his adversaries. If his successor struck it, he must run, and take his chance, evading the ball as well as he could by falling down or dodging it. While at the goals he could not be touched; only in the intervals between them.” (p.19)
Alfred L. Elwyn, Glossary of Supposed Americanisms (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1859), pp. 18-20.
Using stones for bases fits Carver’s 1834 description of “base or goal ball.” Elwyn also specifies that an inning was “one out, side out,” a feature of the Massachusetts game later codified in 1858. And, of course, that old New England favorite, “soaking.”
Do we have any way to tell the ages of the participants in the recalled game?
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?
1810s.11 19th C. Glossarist describes "Base"
Base, or BASE. Prison base, or bars, was a game played by school-boys in our time, and is probably still played in New England; it is an old amusement, and is mentioned by Spenser and Shakspeare. It appears to exist still in England, and Nare's Glossary gives an account of it. Our manner of playing it was much changed from that of our ancestors. There were no opposite parties in our game, but the boys separated from a certain goal, or base, leaving one of their number at it; at a given signal he was to go in search of them, and pursue and if possible overtake one, who then took his place at the goal ; but if all got back to the base without being touched, then the same boy mast take his chance again. Its great amusement was in being a trial of speed. Strutt says that it was known as early as the time of Edward III.
Elwyn, Alfred, Glossary of Supposed Americanisms. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1859
1811.1 Book Printed in Philadelphia Gives Details of Trap Ball in England
"A ringing endorsement of trap ball . . . the most detailed description pf [trap ball] in the period." - Tom Altherr
The Book of Games; Or, a History of the Juvenile Sports Practiced at Kingston Academy (Johnson and Warner, Philadelphia, 1811), pp. 15 - 20. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, page 243 and ref #64.
Altherr explains that Kingston Academy is British.
This book appears to be a reprint of the 1805 London publication above at 1805.3.
1811.3 NY Paper Carries Notice for "English Trap Ball" at a Military Ground
"At Dyde's Military Grounds. Up the Broadway, to-morrow afternoon, September 14, the game of English Trap Ball will be played, full as amusing as Crickets and the exercise not so violent:"
[Three days later] "The amusements at Dyde's to-morrow, Tuesday the 17th September, will be Rifle Shooting for he prize, and English Trap Ball. The gentlemen who have promised to attend to form a club to play at Trap Ball are respectfully requested to attend."
[And four days later] "Trap Ball, Quoits, Cricket, &c." would be played at the ground. However, more space is now given to rifle and pistol shooting contests.
New York Evening Post, September 13, 1811, page 3 column 3. Submitted by George Thompson 8/2/2005.
New York Evening Post, September 16, 1811, page 3 column 3. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.
New York Evening Post, September 20, 1811, page 3 column 3. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005. [This third cite is also found in 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 247 and ref #90.]
1811.4 Chapbook Shows Baseball-like Game Under "Trap-ball" Heading
Remarks on Children's Play [New York], per David Block, page 185-186. Block reports that the trap-ball page included the usual rules for trap-ball, but that the accompanying woodcut depicts a game in which a batter receives a pitched ball, with no trap in sight.
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.
1811.6 Women Cricketers Play for Large Purse
Two noblemen arrange for eleven women of Surrey to play eleven women of Hampshire for a stake of 500 guineas a side.
Ford, John, Cricket: and Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], pp. 20-21. Ford does not give a reference for this event.
1811.7 Cause of Death: "Surfeit of Playing Ball"
"DIED. Last Evening of surfeit, playing ball, M[r] John McKibben, merchant of this city."
New York Spectator, September 11, 1811, page 2.
John Thorn adds: "It is surely a coincidence that John McKibbin, Jr. was president of the Magnolia Ball Club of 1843, about which I have written. The Magnolias' McKibbin and his father were born in Ireland.
1812c.1 Young Andrew Johnson Plays Cat and Bass Ball and Bandy in Raleigh NC
[At age four] "he spent many hours at games with boys of the neighborhood, his favorite being 'Cat and Bass Ball and Bandy,' the last the 'choyst' game of all."
Letter from Neal Brown, July 15, 1867, in Johnson Mss., Vol. 116, No. 16,106.[Publisher?]
Listed Source seems incomplete or garbled. Help?
1812.2 Soldier Van Smoot's Diary Notes Playing Catch at New Orleans LA
Peter Van Smoot, an Army private present at the Battle of New Orleans, writes in his diary: "I found a soft ball in my knapsack, that I forgot I had put there and started playing catch with it."
Note: Citation needed. John Thorn, 6/15/04: "I don't recognize this one"
1812.3 NYC Council Finds Ball Playing Among "Abounding Immoralities"
"Your Committee will not pretend to bring before the Board the long and offending catalogue of abounding immoralities . . . but point out some . . . . Among the most prevalent on the Lords Day called Sunday, are . . . Horse Riding for pleasure . . . Skating ['] Ball playing, and other Plays by Boys and Men, and even Horse-racing." Minutes of the Common Council of the city of New York, 1784-1831, March 18, 1812, page 72 [Volume VII.] Submitted by John Thorn 1/24/07
1813.1 Newburyport MA Reminder - "Playing Ball in the Streets" is Unlawful
"Parents and Guardians are also requested to forbid, those under their care, playing Ball in the streets of the town; as by this unlawful practice much inconvenience and injury is sustained." Newburyport [MA] Herald, May 4, 1813, Volume 17, Issue 10, page 1 [classified advertisement]. Submitted by John Thorn 1/24/07. Newburyport MA is about 35 miles north of Boston and near the New Hampshire border.
1813.2 War of 1812 General in OH Said to Play Ball with "Lowest" Soldiers
General Robert Crooks was in Ohio during the War of 1812 to deal with Indian uprisings. One published letter-writer was not impressed: "These troops despise every species of military discipline and all the maxims of propriety and common sense . . . . Gen. Crooks would frequently play ball and wrestle with the lowest description of common soldiers, his troops were never seen on parade . . . "
"Extract of a Letter dated Marietta, Feb. 3, 1813," Washingtonian, May 5, 1813. Accessed via subscription search, 4/9/2009.
1815c.1 US Prisoners in Ontario at End of War of 1812 Play Ball
Fairchild, G. M., ed., Journal of an American at Fort Malden and Quebec in the War of 1812 (private printing, Quebec, 1090 (sic; 1900?), no pagination. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 87.)
1815c.2 US Prisoners of War in England Play Ball - at Great Peril, It Turned Out
A ball game reportedly led to the killing and wounding of many US prisoners in England's Dartmoor prison in April 1815:
"On the 6th of April, 1815, as a small party were amusing themselves at a game of ball, some one of the number striking it with too much violence, it flew over the wall fronting the prison and the sentinels on the other side of the same were requested to heave the ball back, but refused; on which the party threatened to break through to regain their ball, and immediately put their threats into execution; a hole was made in the wall sufficiently large for a man to pass thro' - but no one attempted it."
500 British soldiers appeared, and the prisoners were fired upon en masse.
"Massacre of the 6th of April," American Watchman, June 24, 1815. Accessed via subscription search, 2/14/2009.
- "The Judicial Report of the Massacre at Dartmoor Prison," in John Melish, "Description of Dartmor Prison, with an Account of the Massacre of the Prisoners" (Philadelphia, J.Bioren, 1816) Per Altherr, ref #97.
- [Waterhouse, Benjamin], A Journal of a Young Man of Massachusetts, Late a Surgeon on Board an American Privateer, Who Was Captured at Sea by the British in May, Eighteen Hundred and Thirteen, and Was Confined First, at Melville Island, Halifax, then at Chatham, on England, and Last, at Dartmoor Prison (Rowe and Hooper, Boston, 1816), p. 186. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 247-249 and ref #92.
- "Journal of Nathaniel Pierce of Newburyport [MA], Kept at Dartmoor Prison, 1814 - 1815," Historical Collections of Essex Institute, volume 73, number 1 [January 1937], p. 40. Per Altherr's refs #91 - #98.
- [Andrews, Charles] The Prisoner's Memoirs, or Dartmoor Prison (private printing, NYC, 1852), p.110. Per Altherr's refs #93 and 95.
- [Valpey, Joseph], Journal of Joseph Valpey, Jr. of Salem, November 1813- April 1815 (Michigan Society of Colonial Wars, Detroit, 1922), p. 60. Per Altherr's ref #96.
- Herbert A. Kenny, Cape Ann: Cape America (J. B. Lippincott, 1971), pp. 83-4. (From The Centennial Address of Dr. Lemuel) See excerpt at Supplemental Text, below.
Some observers assume that ballplaying was mainly a juvenile pastime in this time period. Clearly the players in this case, and in other instances of military play, were of age.
Can we be certain that this was a base-running game? Can we rule out that the game was a vigorous 1800's form of handball?
1815.3 German Book Apparently Shows a Batting Game
Taschenbuch fur das Jahr 1815 der Liebe und Freundschaft [Frankfurt am Main] per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 186. Block reports that the April section of this yearly book has an engraving of children playing a bat-and-ball game. Note: Does the game appear to use bases?
1815.4 Six-Hour "Wicket" Match Played in Canada
"On the 29th May, a grant [sic] Match of Wicket was played at Chippawa, Upper Canada, by 22 English ship wrights, for a stake of 150 dollars. The parties were distinguished by the Pueetergushene and the Chippawa party. The game was won in 56 runs by the former. It continued 6 hours.
"The winners challenge any eleven gentlemen in the state of New York, for any sum they may wish to play for. The game was succeeded by a supper in honor of King Charles, and the evening in spent [sic] with great hilarity."
Mechanics' Gazette and Merchants' Daily Advertiser, June 9,1815, reprinting from the Buffalo Gazette. Provided by Richard Hershberger, 7/30/2007. Note: It seems unusual for Englishmen to be playing wicket, and for wicket to field 11-man teams. Could this be a cricket match reported as wicket? Is it clear why a Buffalo NY newspaper would report on a match in "Upper Canada," or whereever Chippawa is? Do we know what a "grant match" is? A typo for "grand match," probably?
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.
1815.6 Group at Dartmouth Ponders Worth of Ballplaying, Nocturnal Cowhunting
Dartmouth College in Hanover NH had a religious society, the Religiosi. "In April, 1815, at one of the meetings, a 'conversation was held on the propriety, or rather the impropriety, of professed [Christians - bracketed in original] joining in the common amusement of ballplaying with the students for exercise.'" Shortly thereafter "there were many spirited remarks on the subject of nocturnal cowhunting, and the society was unanimous in condemning it." John King Lord, A History of Dartmouth College 1815-1909 (Rumford Press, Concord NH, 1913), page 564. Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search of "'history of Dartmouth.'" Note: Did they condone diurnal cowhunting?
1815c.7 New Englander Writes of Ballyards in Virginia
"I saw a young man betted upon, for five hundred dollars, at a foot race. Indeed every thing is decided by a wager . . . . What would a northern man think, to see a father, and a sensible and respected one, too, go out with a company, and play marbles? At some cross-roads, or smooth shaven greens, you may a wooden wall, high and broad as the side of a church, erected for men to play ball against."
"Arthur Singleton" (Henry Cogswell Knight), "Letters from the South and West," Salem [MA] Gazette, July 30, 1824. This paper extracted portions of a new book, which had been written between 1814 and 1819, by Knight, who was reared in Massachusetts and graduated from Brown in 1812. Online text unavailable 2/3/10. Query: The ballplaying facility as described seems uncongenial for cricket or a baserunning game, unless it was a form of barn-ball. Isn't a form of hand-ball a more likely possibility? Was handball, or fives, common in VA at this stage?
1815.8 Eyewitness On the Massacre of Seven U.S Soldiers at Dartmoor Prison in England
"Two days before this [the argument over bread shortages after which the prisoners helped themselves to the bread supplies], viz., April 6, 1815. Governor S [Shortland] returned to his station. On learning what had transpired on the evening of the 4th, he declared (as we were told) that he would be revenged on us. On this 6th day, P.M., some of the prisoners were playing ball in No. 7 yard. Several times the ball was knocked over the wall, and was as often thrown back by the soldiers when kindly asked to do so. Presently one of he prisoners cried out in quite an authoritative manner, 'Soldier, throw back the ball.' And because it failed to come, some of the ball-players said, 'We will make a hole in the wall and get it.' Two or three of them began pecking out the mortar with small stones. A sentinel on the wall ordered them to desist. This they did not do until spoken to again. I was walking back and forth by he place during the time, with others, but did not suppose they could make a hole with the stones they were using, or that anything touching that matter was of much or any importance. Aside from that trifling affair, the prisoners were as orderly and as obedient as at any time in the past."
[Bates then described the killing of the ball-playing prisoners and concluded that seven were killed and sixty wounded.] .
Joseph Bates, The Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates (Battle Creek, 1868), pp. 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 39.
OK, was the game played a batting/baserunning game or a form of handball? Does the term "knocked" over the wall give any clue?