Chronology: 1846 - 1850
1846 - 1850
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The chronology from 1846 to 1850 (117 entries)
1846.1 Knicks Play NYBBC in First Recorded Match Game
The Knickerbockers meet the New York Base Ball Club at the Elysian Fields of Hoboken, New Jersey, in the first match game played under the 1845 rules. The Knickerbockers lose the contest 23-1. Some historians regard this game as the first instance of inter-club or match play under modern [Knickerbocker] rules.
1846.2 Brooklyn BBC Established, May Become "Crack Club of County?"
"A number of our most respectable young men have recently organized themselves into a club for the purpose of participating in the healthy and athletic sport of base ball. From the character of the members this will be the crack club of the County. A meeting of this club will be held to-morrow evening at the National House for the adoption of by-laws and the completion of its organization."
"Brooklyn City Base Ball Club," Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 5, number 162 (July 6, 1846), page 2, column 2.
1846.3 New "Original and Unusual" Manual Has New Slants on Rounders, Trap-ball
The Every Boy's Book of Games, Sports, and Diversions [London, Vickers], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 208 - 209. Not to be mistaken for the 1841 Every Boy's Book (see entry #1841.1, above), this book is called "original and unusual" by Block. For one thing, it includes two forms of trap-ball, the second being the "Essex" version referred to in the 1801 Strutt opus.
The book's description of rounders is unique in written accounts of the game. Rounders, it says, has holes instead of bases, can have from four to eight of them, runners starting game at every base [all with bats, and all running on hit balls], and outs are recorded if the fielding team throws the ball anywhere between the bases that form a runner's base path. Concludes Block: "In its four-base form, this version of rounders is remarkably similar to the American game of four-old-cat. Yes, the very game that Albert Spalding classified in 1905 as the immediate predecessor to town-ball, and which was part of his proof that baseball could not have descended from 'the English picnic game of rounders,' was, at least in this one instance, identified [sic?- LM] as none other than rounders." Note: Does the book identify rounders with old-cat games, or does Block so that?
1846.4 New Primer by Sanders Repeats Illustration from 1840 Reader
Sanders, Charles W., Sanders' Pictorial Primer, or, An Introduction to "Sanders' First Reader [New York, Newman and Ivison and other pub'rs in NY, Philadelphia, and Newburgh NY], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 209. As in Sanders' 1840 Reader, the cover has the same illustration of two boys playing with a bat and ball in a schoolyard.
1846.5 Knicks Play Only Intramural Games Through 1850.
The Knickerbockers continue to play intramural matches at Elysian Fields, but play no further interclub matches until 1851.
Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, Club Books 1854-1868, from the Albert G. Spalding Collection of Knickerbocker Base Ball Club's Club Books, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations. Per Gushov, p. 167.
1846.6 Walt Whitman Sees Boys Playing "Base" in Brooklyn: "Glorious"
In July of 1846 a Brooklyn Eagle piece by Walt Whitman read: "In our sun-down perambulations of late, through the outer parts of Brooklyn, we have observed several parties of youngsters playing "base," a certain game of ball. We wish such sights were more common among us. In the practice of athletic and manly sports, the young men of nearly all our American cities are very deficient. Clerks are shut up from early morning till nine or ten o'clock at night . . . . Let us go forth awhile, and get better air in our lungs. Let us leave our close rooms . . . the game of ball is glorious."
"City Intelligence," Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 5 number 177 (July 23, 1846), page 2, column 3. Reprinted in Herbert Bergman, ed., Walt Whitman. The Journalism. Vol. 1: 1834 - 1846. (Collected Works of Walt Whitman) [Peter Lang, New York, 1998], volume 1, page 477. Full Eagle citation submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2004. .
1846.7 Amherst Juniors Drop Wicket Game, 77 to 53: says Young Billjamesian
"Friday, October 16. At prayers as usual. Studied Demosthenes till breakfast time. After breakfast came off the great match between our class and the juniors. We beat them 77 to 53. They had on the ground nineteen men out of twenty-nine, and we thirty out of thirty-five. Had the remainder of both classes been there, at the same rate we should have beaten them 90 to 81. As a class they were completely used up. Their players, however, averaged about 0.23 each more than ours. The whole was played out in about an hour. The victory was completely ours, a result different from what I expected. Got a lesson in Demosthenes and went to recitation." On October 3, the MA diarist had written: "played a game of wicket, with a party of fellows . . . . Had a fine game, though I, knowing little of the rules, was soon bowled out. Then came home and wrote journal till 5PM. Then to prayers and afterward to supper."
Hammond, William G., Remembrance of Amherst: An Undergraduate's Diary, 1846-1848. [Columbia University Press, New York, 1946], page 26. Per John Thorn 7/04/2003. Note: is it conclusive from this excerpt's context that the MA students were playing wicket on October 16?
1846.8 Amherst Alum Recalls How Wicket Was Played
Dr. Edward Hitchcock gives this account of the game of wicket at is MA college:
"In my days baseball was neither a science nor an art, but we played 'wicket'. On smooth and level ground about 20 feet apart were placed two 'wickets,' pine sticks 1 inch square and 8 to 10 feet long, supported on a block at each end so as to be easily knocked off. The ball was made of yarn, covered with stout leather, about six inches in diameter and bowled with all the power of the wicket tender at each end. The aim was to roll it as swiftly as possible at the opposite wicket and knock it down if possible. This was defended by the man with a broad bat, 3 feet long, and the oval about 8 inches [across], who must defend his wicket. If the bowler could by [bowling] a fair ball, striking twice between the wickets, knock down the opposite wicket, the striker was out. But if the batter could by a direct or sideways hit send the ball sideways or overhead the outside men, they [ i.e. ., the batter and his teammate at the opposite end] could run till the ball was in the hands of the bowler. But the bowler to get the batter out must with the ball in his hand knock the wicket outwards before the batter could strike his bat outside a line three feet inside the wicket . . . . This game was played on the lowest part of the 'walk' under the trees which now extends from chapel to the church."
Hitchcock, Edward, "Recollections," in George F. Whicher, ed., Remembrance of Amherst: An Undergraduate's Diary, 1846-1848. [Columbia University Press, 1946], page 188. Per John Thorn 7/04/2003.
1846.9 Town Ball in Rockford IL
"I came West 59 years ago, in 1846, and found "Town Ball" a popular game at all Town meetings. I do not recall an instance of a money bet on the game; but, at Town meeting, the side losing had to buy the ginger bread and cider." [July letter]
"[Town Ball] was so named because it was mostly played at "Town Meetings." It had as many players on a side as chose to play; but the principal players were "Thrower" and "Catcher." There were three bases and a home plate. The players were put out by being touched with ball [sic] or hit with thrown ball, when off the base. You can readily see that the present game [1900's baseball] is an evolution from Town Ball." [April letter]
Letters from H. H. Waldo, Rockford IL, to the Mills Commission, April 8 and July 7, 1905.
1846.10 Cricket Ball Whacks School Prexy in the Head
"One summer day in 1846, Jones Wister, rummaging through the attic at "Belfield," found cricket balls, bats, and stumps left behind by a visiting English soldier. Jones and his brothers drove the stumps into the ground just about where La Salles's tennis courts now stand. One of the early cricket balls hit in the United States smashed through the window of William Wister's (now our president's) office and whacked Wister's head."
Note: we need to retrieve full ref from website
1846.11 Suspicious Rochester NY Idler Observed Playing Wicket
"You speak . . . of Harrington, the express robber as being in prison here. This is incorrect. He isn't, neither has he been in jail since his arrival here, unless you can call the Eagle Hotel a jail. . . . [W]hen the weather has been pleasant, he has occupied his time in playing wicket in the public square; or playing the fiddle in his room . . . to solace and relieve the tedium of his boredom."
Rochester Police Officer Jacob Wilkinson letter of April 7, 1946, as quoted in "The Express Robbery," The National Police Gazette, Volume 1, Number 32 [April 18, 1846], page 277. Submitted by John Thorn, 9/2/2006. Note: It is possible to construe wicket as a daily Rochester occurrence from this snippet.
1846.12 Brooklyn's Base Ballists and Cricketers Are Among the Thankful
Reporting on Thanksgiving traditions:
"The religiously inclined went to church; several companies went out of town upon target excursions; cricket and base ball clubs had public dinners; people ate the best they could get . . . and everybody, of course, was very thankful for everything, except the intense cold weather."
The Brooklyn [NY] Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 5, number 285 (Friday, November 27, 846), page 3, column 4. Citation and image provided by Craig Waff, 4/30/2007.
1846.13 Spring Sports at Harvard: "Bat & Ball" and Cricket
"In the spring there is no playing of football, but "bat-and-ball" & cricket."
From "Sibley's Private Journal," entry for August 31, 1846, as supplied to David Block by letter of 4/18/2005 from Prof. Harry R. Lewis at Harvard, Cambridge MA.
Lewis notes that the Journal is "a running account of Harvard daily life in the mid nineteenth century."
1846.14 English Crew Teaches Rounders to Baltic Islanders
"In 1846 a three-master . . . from London stranded on the island. . . . The captain spent the winter with the local minister, and the sailors with the peasants. According to information given by a man named Matts Bisa, the visitors taught the men of Runö a new batting game. As the cry "runders" shows, his game was the English rounders, a predecessor of baseball. It was made part of the old cult game."
This game was conserved on the island, at least until 1949.
Erwin Mehl, "A Batting Game on the Island of Runö," Western Folklore vol 8, number 3, (1949?), page 268.
Ruhnu Island (formerly cited as "Runo") is a small island off the northern coast of Estonia. Its current population about 100 souls. It was formerly occupied by Swedes.
1846.15 Umpires 1, Players 0
"The first recorded argument between a player and an umpire. The umpire wins."
http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/excerpts/rules_chronology.stm. The site gives no reference for this item. Query: So . . . what was the beef?
1846.16 Base Ball as Therapy in MA?
According to the State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, when "useful labor" wasn't possible for inmates, the remedies list: "chess, cards, backgammon, rolling balls, jumping the rope, etc., are in-door games; and base-ball, pitching quoits, walking and riding, are out-door amusements."
Annual Report of the Trustees of the State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester, December 1846. Posted to 19CBB on 11/1/2007 by Richard Hershberger.
Was "base-ball" a common term in MA then?
1846.17 Cricketers Form All England Eleven
[Sensing a large new audience, cricket entrepreneur William] "Clark therefore created the All England Eleven (AEE), a squad of professionals available to play matches wherever and whenever he could arrange fixtures. Exploiting the improved communications of the industrial age - turnpike roads and the ever-expanding railway network [not to mention a reliable and affordable postal service] - Clark set out to take cricket to all the corners of the kingdom, and from its first match in 1846, the AEE proved a resounding success." Simon Rae, It's Not Cricket: A History of Skullduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 70. Another facilitating factor that Rae might have mentioned was the rise of widely available and cheap newspapers.
Caveat: Clark did not invent the AEE idea. Beth Hise, email of January 12, 2010, advises: "The name All-England dates back at least 100 years (1740s) to refer to a side put together from disparate players and not representing any particular place." She also notes that until 1903, the AEEs were all privately funded, so they are not to be thought of as "national" sides.
1846.18 NYC: Inky Mob of Ballplayers 1, Policeman 0
The scene: in the park in front of NYC's City Hall.
"A simultaneous convocation of the emphatically "Young" Democracy occurred Friday about noon in the Park. Such an assemblage of juvenile dirt and raggedness has not, we warrant, been before seen even in New-York. The nucleus of this funny crowd was of course the news-boys and the inky imps from the printing-offices in this quarter. Around them were gathered all sorts of boys - big boys, baker-boys, apple-boys, rag-boys, and a sprinkling of "the boys" - were on hand, and constituted a formidable phalanx of fury. The occasion of this juvenile emeute was a Policeman who had disturbed an important game of ball which was going forward. He had several times remonstrated with the sportsmen and represented the panes and penalties likely to be broken and suffered by them, but without effect, and at length got possession of the Ball, which he "pocketed" with the certainty of an old billiard-player. Instantly he was surrounded by a mob of juvenility, hooting, jeering and laughing at him and which constantly increased its numbers. He stood it very well, however, until a great strapping urchin of fifteen, up to his elbows in printers' ink, came up and puffed a cloud of vile cigar-smoke in the poor fellow's face. This gained the day. The Ball was given up, the Policeman dove into the recesses of the City Hall and the game proceeded. New-York Daily Tribune, March 24, 1846, p. 1, col. 2., as posted to 19CBB by George Thompson, 2/24/2008.
George's comment: "This NY park has always been a triangle, with its base in front of City Hall, and tapering southward to a point. At present, a good part of the broadest part of the Park is taken up by parking, which wouldn't have been the case then. There is now a fountain in the middle of what's left of the park - there was a fountain then, too, though I don't know where exactly. I suppose that there were trees here and there, as there are now. So whatever form of ball these rascals were playing, it had to accommodate itself to an oddly shaped field, with obstacles. But this is just the usual challenge that boys have always faced."
1846.19 One-Horse Wagon's Driver 1, Wicket Players 0
A man drives his wagon along a road in Great Barrington MA, passing though was a dozen wicket players think of as their regular playing grounds. A throw hits the man in the pit of his stomach [now remember, wicket balls were darned heavy]. Naturally, he sues the players for trespass.
The defendants' case: "at the time of the accident, Fayar Hollenbeck, on of the defendants, whose part in the game was to catch the ball after it had been struck, and to throw it back to the person whose business it was to roll it, was stationed in a northeasterly direction from the latter, who was atone of the wickets. The plaintiff had passed the wicket a little, and was west of a direct line from Hollenbeck to the person at the wicket. At this moment, Hollenbeck threw the ball with an intention to throw it to the person at the wicket; but the ball being wet, it slipped in his hand, when he was in the act of throwing it, and was thus turned from the intended direction, and struck the plaintiff."
In the fall of 1848, the MA Supreme Court found for the traveler, saying, but much less succinctly, that the roads were built for travelers and that wicket was obviously too dangerous to play there.
Luther S. Cushing, Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Volume 1 (Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1865), pp. 453-457. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (cushing "vosburgh vs. john").
1846.20 Very Early Knicks Game Washed Out . . . in Brooklyn
"Brooklyn Star Cricket Club.The first meeting of this association for the
season came off yesterday, on their ground in the Myrtle avenue.The
weather was most unfavorable for the sport promised---a game of cricket
between the members of the club, a base ball game between the members of
the Knickerbocker Club . . . , Shortly after, a violent storm of wind, hail, and
rain came on, which made them desist from their endeavors for some time,
and the company which was somewhat numerous, left the
ground. Notwithstanding, like true cricketers, the majority of the club
kept the field, but not with much effect.The wind, hail, rain, and snow
prevailed to such extent that play was out of the question; but they did
the best they could, and in the first innings the seniors of the club
made some 48, while the juniors only scored some 17 or 18.The game was
not proceeded with further."
N. Y. Herald April 14, 1846.
This item is extracted from a 19CBB interchange among Bob Tholkes, John Thorn, and Richard Hershberger, which touched on the somewhat rare later travels of the Knickerbockers and the nature and conditions of several playing fields from 185 to 1869. Text is included as Supplement Text below.
1846.21 A "Badly Defined" and Soggy April Game, In Brooklyn Alongside Star Cricket Club?
"Brooklyn Star Cricket Club.–The first meeting of this association for the season came off yesterday, on their grounds in the Myrtle avenue. The weather was most unfavorable for the sport promised–a game of cricket between the members of the club, a base ball game between the members of the Knickerbocker Club, and a pedestrian match for some $20 between two aspirants for pedestrian fame. It was past 12 o’clock ere the amusements of the day commenced. Shortly after, a violent storm of wind, hail, and rain came on, which made them desist from their endeavors for some time, and the company, which was somewhat numerous, left the ground. Notwithstanding, like true cricketers, the majority of the club kept the field, but not with much effect. The wind, hail, rain and, snow prevailed to such extent that play was out of the question; but they did the best they could, and in the first innings the seniors of the club made some 48, while the juniors only scored some 17 or 18. The game was not proceeded with further. In the interim, a game of base ball was proceeded with by some novices, in an adjoining field, which created a little amusement; but it was so badly defined, that we know not who were the conquerors; but we believe it was a drawn game. Then succeeded the pedestrian match of 100 yards..."
New York Herald, April 14, 1846.
From Richard Hershberger, email of 9/2/16: "I believe this is new. At least it is new to me, and not in the Protoball Chronology."
"The classic version of history of this period has the Knickerbockers springing up forth from the head of Zeus and playing in splendid isolation except for that one match game in 1846. This version hasn't been viable for some years now, though it is the nature of things that it will persist indefinitely. This Herald item shows the Knickerbockers as a part of a ball-playing community."
Richard points out that the "novices" who played base ball were unlikely to have been regular Knick players, whose skills would have been relatively advanced by 1846 (second email of 9/2/16).
Note: Jayesh Patel's Flannels on the Sward (Patel, 2013), page 112, mentions that the Star Club was founded in 1843. His source appears to be Tom Melville's Tented Field.
In 1846, Brooklyn showed a few signs of base ball enthusiasm: about two months later (see entry 1846.2) a Brooklyn Base Ball Club was reported, and in the same month Walt Whitman observed "several parties of youngsters" playing a ball game named "base" -- see 1846.6.
Do we know of other field days like this one in this early period? Can we guess who organized this one, and why? Do we know if the Knicks traveled to Brooklyn that day?
1846.22 Loss of "Fine Grassy Fields" for Base Ball and Quoits is Decried in Manhattan
"The heavy rain-storm has taken off every vestige of snow in the upper part of the city, and the ground is settling and verging into a tolerable walking condition. A casual glance at the region between 23d and 40th streets yesterday, convinced us that the usual spring business in the way of Sunday amusements is to open on the most extensive scale in the course of a few weeks. Play-grounds, however, are becoming scarce below 40th street, and "the boys" are consequently driven further out. The city authorities (Corporations have no souls) are tearing down, filling up, grading and extending streets each way from the Fifth Avenue, and have destroyed all the fine grassy fields where the rising generation once set their bounds for base-ball and quoit-pitching. Some were there, yesterday, in spite of soft turf and little of it, trying their favorite games."
New York True Sun March 15, 1846
From finder Richard Hershberger:
"This is consistent with Peverelly's account, which has the proto-Knickerbockers playing at 27th street 1842-43, moving to Murray Hill (which is what, around 34th Street?) in 1844, and throwing in the towel and going to New Jersey in 1845. My guess is that this provoked the formation of the club, since the Elysian Fields ground needed to be paid for, with the club the vehicle for doing this."
1847c.1 Henry Chadwick Plays a "Scrub" Game of Baseball?
"My first experience on the field in base ball on American soil was in 1847, when one summer afternoon a party of young fellows visited the Elysian Fields, and after watching some ball playing on the old Knickerbocker field we made up sides for a scrub game . . . ."
Per Frederick Ivor-Campbell, "Henry Chadwick," in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, et. al, eds., Baseball's First Stars [SABR, Cleveland, 1996], page 26. No reference given. Fred provided a fuller reference on 10/2/2006: the quote is from an unidentified newspaper column, copyright 1887 by O.P. Caylor, mounted in Henry Chadwick Scrapbooks, Volume 2. On 1/13/10, Gregory Christiano contributed a facsimile of the Caylor article, "Base Ball Reminiscences."
Fred adds: "I wouldn't trust the precision of the date 1847, though it was about that time." Fred sees no evidence that Chadwick played between this scrub game and 1856.
1847.2 Soldier Sees January Ball Games at Camp at Saltillo
Adolph Engelmann, an Illinois volunteer in the Mexican War, January 30, 1847: "During the past week we had much horse racing and the drill ground was fairly often in use for ball games."
"The Second Illinois in the Mexican War: Mexican War Letters of Adolph Engelmann, 1846-1846," Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Vol. 26, number 4 [January 1934], page 435. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. César González adds that Saltillo is in the northeastern part of Mexico, and that the soldier may have been preparing for the battle of Buena Vista that occurred a few weeks later; email of 12/6/2007.
1847.3 Tiny Book Has Odd Description of "Bat and Ball."
The Book of Sports [Philadelphia, E. W. Miller], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 209. The children's book measures two inches by three inches, and describes dozens of juvenile activities. One of these, called "bat and ball," is played "by two parties, one throwing the ball in the air, the opposite boy tries to strike it with his bat; if he fails it counts one against the party to which he belongs. . . " Note: No bases, no running? Do we recognize this game? It's a bit like stoolball without the stools.
1847.4 Book of Children's Tales Includes Recycled Illustrations of Ballplaying
Barbauld, Anna Leticia, Charles' Journey to France and Other Tales [Worcester MA, E. Livermore, 1847], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 209. This book of children's tales has a chapter called "The Ball Players, with "a strange poem celebrating generic ball play," - evidently meant to include the tennis-like game of fives- and Block adds that "[i]llustrating the poem are several woodcuts borrowed from earlier children's books."
1847.5 Halliwell's 960-Page Dictionary Cites Base-ball, Rounders, Tut-ball
Halliwell, James O., A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words [London, J. R. Smith, 1847], 2 volumes, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 209 - 210. The "base-ball" entry: "a country game mentioned in Moor's Suffolk Words, p. 238" (see item #1823.2 above). Rounders is just "a boy's game at balls." Tut-ball is "a sort of stobball." Other games are similarly covered, but Block does not quote them. It seems that Halliwell was not a fan of sport. Note: can a list of the other safe-haven games be made?
1847.6 "Grand Match of Cricket" Planned in NYC
"On Thursday next, 1st July, as we are informed, there will by a grand match of Cricket played on the St. George's Ground. We know that even eating and drinking are abused, and arguments should be founded on the use, not the abuse or any practice. The time and reflection will be quite as much, or more, upon the practices of ten pins, billiards, base ball, quoits, rackets, &c."
Anglo-American, A Journal of Literature, News, Politics, the Drama, Fine ArtsJanuary 26, 1847 [New York]. Submitted by David Ball 6/4/2006. Note: Why a July game noted in January? What is point of the reference to other games?
1847.7 Occupation Army Takes Ballgame to Natives In . . . Santa Barbara?
The New York Volunteer Regiment reached California in April 1847 after the end of the Mexican War, and helped to occupy the province. They laid out a diamond [where State and Cota Streets now meet], made a ball from gutta percha, and used a mesquite stick as a bat. Partly because batted balls found their way into the windowless nearby adobes, there were some problems. "Largely because of the baseball games, the Spanish-speaking people of Santa Barbara came to look upon the New Yorkers as loudmouthed, uncouth hoodlums. . . . the hostilities between Californians and Americanos continued to fester for generations."
Walter A. Tompkins, "Baseball Began Here in 1847," It Happened in Old Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara National Bank, undated), pages 77-78.
Caveat: Angus McFarland has not been able to verify this account as of November 2008.
Note -- Actually, an earlier account of California ballplaying was recorded a month before this, in San Diego. See 1847.15.
Is there any indication of what Tompkins' source might have been?
1847.8 Soldier Recalls Town-ball
"I often think of you and the many pleasant and happy hours I passed at the old Hoffman school house, pelting each other with snow-balls and playing town-ball. [but the balls a soldier plies] are dangerous, and when they strike they leave more painful marks than the ones you used to pitch or throw at me when running to base . . . "
Oswandel, J. Jacob, "Notes of the Mexican War, 1846-1847-1848," (Philadelphia, 1885), page unspecified. Provided by Richard Hershberger, emails of 2/5/2007 and 1/30/2008. Richard notes that Oswandel's home town was Lewistwon PA, and 60 miles northwest of Philly.
1847.9 Li'l Prince's Birthday Party Includes Cricket, Rounders.
Richard Hershberger relates: The Preston Guardian (Preston, England) of August 14, 1847 reported on the birthday celebration of Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria's fourth child, who was three years old. The activities included a long list of physical activities, including ' . . . Dancing, cricket, quoits, trap bat and ball, and rounders . . . . ' No mention of "base ball," but we wouldn't expect one if "base ball" and "rounders" were synonyms. Posted to 19CBB, 2/5/2008.
1847.10 Ice Bowl
"Cricket Match on the Ice. - A cricket match which afforded considerable amusement to a large field of spectators, has been played during the week, in Long Meadow, near Oxford, between two sides of eight each, selected by Messrs. W. and J. Bacon, most of them well known cricketers, as well as good skaters." Spirit of the Times, Saturday, February 6, 1847, page 596, column 2. J. Bacon's side won, 93-89. Provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
1847.11 Curling is "Bass Ball," or "Goal," or "Hook-em-Snivy," on the Ice?
In response to an article from the Alabama Reporter belittling the sport of curling, the Spirit of the Times writer attempts to describe curling to Southerners like this: "What is 'Curling,' eh? Why, did you ever play 'bass ball,' or 'goal,' or 'hook-em-snivy,' on the ice? Well, curling is not like either. In curling, sides are chosen; each player has a bat, one end of which is turned up, somewhat like a plough-handle, with which to knock a ball on ice without picking it up as in the game of foot-ball, which curling resembles." Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008. "
The <em>Alabama Reporter, a</em>s reprinted in <em>Spirit of the Times, </em> January 16, 1847, page 559.
David Block explains, 2/27/2008: "Clearly, the writer had curling confused with ice hockey, which was itself an embryonic sport that the time." Or maybe he confused it with ice-hurling, which actually employs a ball.
From Richard Hershberger, 12/8/09: "What makes this so interesting is that the response speaks of "bass ball" played on ice. This is a decade before such games were commonly reported, suggesting that the [later] practice by organized clubs was borrowed from older, informal play on ice."
Could gentle readers please enlighten Protoball on the nature and fate of "hook-em-snivy," in AL or the South or elsewhere? I asked Mister Google about the word, and he rather less helpfully and rather more cryptically than usual, said this: "My Quaker grandmother, born in Maryland in 1823, used [the word] in my hearing when she was about seventy years old. She said that it was a barbarism in use among common people and that we must forget it.
1847.12 Mainers' "Bat and Ball" Event Leads to Delayed Catharsis
"A very pleasant incident occurred in one of our public schools a day or two since. It seems that the boys attending the school, of the average age of seven years, had in their play of bat and ball, broken one of the neighbors windows, but no clue of the offender could be obtained."
The neighbor came to the school to complain, and later a boy confessed, and then the rest of the players said they would chip in to pay for damages. "A thrill of pleasure seemed to run through the school at the display of correct feeling."
New-Hampshire Gazette, May 11, 1847; the story is there credited to the Bangor [ME] Whig. Accessed May 4, 2009 via subscription search.
1847.13 "Boy's Treasury" Describes Rounders, Feeder, Stoolball, Etc.
The Boy's Treasury, published in New York, contains descriptions of feeder [p. 25], Rounders [p. 26], Ball Stock [p. 27], Stool-Ball [p. 28], Northern Spell [p. 33] and Trap, Bat, and Ball [p 33]. The cat games and barn ball and town ball are not listed. In feeder, the ball is served from a distance of two yards, and the thrower is the only member of the "out" team. There is a three-strike rule and a dropped-third rule. The Rounders description says "a smooth round stick is preferred by many boys to a bat for striking the ball." Ball Stock is said to be "very similar to rounders." In stool ball, "the ball must be struck by the hand, and not with a bat."
The rules given for rounders are fairly detailed, and include the restriction that, in at least one circumstance, a fielder must stay "the length of a horse and cart" away from baserunners when trying to plug them out on the basepaths. For feeder and rounders, a batter is out if not able to hit the ball in three "offers."
Feeder appears to follow most rounders playing rules, but takes a scrub form (when any player is out he, he becomes the new feeder) and not a team form; perhaps feeder was played when too few players were available to form two teams.
The Boy's Treasury of Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations (Clark, Austin and Company, New York, 1850), fourth edition. The first edition appeared in 1847, and appears to have identical test for rounders and feeder.
Rounders and Feeder texts are cloned from 1841.1, as is 1843.3
It seems peculiar that rounders and ball stock are seen as similar; it is not clear that ball stock was a baserunning.
We have scant evidence that rouunders was played extensively in the US; could this book be derivative of an English pubication?
:Apparently so: the copy on Google Books says "Third American Edition," and the Preface is intensely redolent of English patriotism (" the noble and truly English game of CRICKET... ARCHERY once the pride of England") Whicklin (talk) 04:08, 11 March 2016 (UTC)
1847.14 Fast Day Rites Encroached by Round Ball, Long Ball, Old Cat
"FAST. This time-hallowed, if not time-honored occasion, was observed n the usual way. The ministers preached t pews exhibiting a beggarly emptiness . . . . The b-boys smoked cigars, kicked football, payed [sic] round ball, long ball, an [sic] old cat, and went generally into the outward observances peculiar to the occasion."
New Hampshire Statesman, and State Journal (Concord, New Hampshire), April 30, 1847, column B (originally from the Nashua Telegraph).
1847.15 Soldiers Play Ball During Western Trip
"Saturday March the 6th. We drilled as before and through the day we play ball and amuse ourselves the best way we can. It is very cool weather and clothing scarce."
Bill Swank adds: "Private Azariah Smith (age 18 years) was a member of the Mormon Battalion (United States Army) that marched almost 2,000 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa To San Diego, California during the Mexican War. Hostilities had ended shortly before their arrival in San Diego. On March 6, 1847, his Company B was in bivouac at Mission San Luis Rey (Oceanside, CA) when Smith made his journal entry.
"During the summer of 1847, Smith was mustered out of the army and traveled north to Coloma, CA. Remarkably, he was also present when gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill, as noted in his diary on January 24, 1848."
Smith, Azariah, The Gold Discovery Journal of Azariah Smith [Utah State University, Logan UT, 1996], page 78. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.
Email from Bill Swank, March 6, 2013
This game was presumably a pre-modern form of ballplaying.
1847.16 Cricket Match in Hawaii
The [Honolulu] Polynesian, July 3, 1847, reports on a "Match of Cricket" in that city between two clubs, the Modeste and the Honolulu, with the former winning. Another mention of a cricket game is in same, Aug. 28, 1847.
There was a large English community in Honolulu at this time. And Hawaii was an independent country.
The [Honolulu] Polynesian, July 3, 1847
1847.17 US Traveler Sees Baseball-Like Game in Northeastern France
A Boston newspaper published a letter from a Bostonian traveling in Rheims, France, about his visit to a boys' school there:
"They played all my old plays. There close to a triumphal arch under which Roman Emperors had passed; under the dark walls and gothic towers of a city older than Christianity itself . . . . these boys, as if to mock all antiquity and all venerable things, were playing all the very plays of my school-boy days, 'tag' and 'gould' and 'base ball' and 'fox and geese,' &c."
Rheims is about 90 miles NE of Paris
Boston Olive Branch, January 9, 1847, page 3, "European Correspondence."
Finder David Block's comment, 11/2015: "Hard to know what to make of this. Maybe he spied a game that resembled baseball (theque?). And what is gould? I've never heard of it before."
Comments, research tips, speculation welcomed.
And . . . what is the game called "gould?"
1848.1 Knickerbocker Rules and By-laws Are Printed; Original Phrase Deleted
The earliest known printing of the September 1845 rules. By-laws and Rules of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club [New York, W. H. B. Smith Book and Fancy Job Printer], Its rule 15 deletes the phrase "it being understood, however, that in no instance is a ball to be thrown at him [the baserunner]."
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223. David Block posting to 19CBB, 6/16/2005.
David also feels that a new rule appeared in the 1848 list that a runner cannot score a run on a force out for the third out. David Block posting to 19CBB, 1/5/2006.
1848.3 Teen Diarist in NY/NJ Records Ballplaying
The eighteen year old Edward Tailer "played ball" in New York on March 25, at Hoboken on April 15th, and at Hoboken on April 21st.
Edward Neuville Tailer, Diaries I - July 20, 1837 to July 1, 1848, and Diaries II - July 28, 1846 to April 12, 1848, At the New-York Historical Society. Submitted by George Thompson, 5/12/2005
1848.4 The Knicks' Defensive Deployment, Thanksgiving Day Game
In the Knickerbockers' Thanksgiving Day, 1848, intramural game, two squads of eight squared off. Each featured three (out) fielders, basemen at fist, second, and third, a pitch(er), and a behind. My notes further reflect the further use of "behind" in the 8/30/56 match between the Knicks and the Empires. The Empires elected to play without a shortstop while positioning two men 'behind'"
19CBB posting by John Thorn, 7/23/2005. The source is presumably the Knick game books, held in the Spalding Collection, New York Public Library
1848.5 New York Book of Games Covers Stool-ball, Rounders, Wicket
A large section of "The Boy's Book of Sports," attributed to "Uncle John," describes more than 200 games, including, rounders (pp. 20-21), stool-ball (pp. 18-19), and wicket (labeled as cricket: page 73).
Rounders (pp.20-21) employs a two-foot round bat, a hard "bench ball," and four or five stones used as bases and arranged in a circle. Play starts when a "feeder" delivers a ball to a striker who tries to hit it and run from base to base without getting hit. There is a one-strike rule. The feeder is allowed to feign a delivery and hit a runner who leaves a base. Struck balls that are caught retire the batting side. There is a Lazarus rule.
Stoolball (pp. 18-19) is described as a two-player game or a game with teams. A stool is defended by a player by his hand, not a bat. Base running rules appear to be the same as in rounders.
David Block notes that "The version of rounders the book presents is generally consistent with others from the period, with perhaps a little more detail than most. Given the choice of games included [and, perhaps, the exclusion of familiar American games], he believes the author is English, "[y]et I find no evidence of its publication in Great Britain prior to ." This 184-page section was apparently later published in London in 1850 and in Philadelphia in 1851.
The book includes an unusual treatment of wicket. The author states that "this is the simple Cricket of the country boys." In reporting on this book, Richard Hershberger advances he working hypothesis that wicket and cricket were used interchangeably in the US.
There is no reference to base ball, base, or goal ball in this book.
Boy's Own Book of Sports, Birds, and Animals (New York, Leavitt and Allen, 1848), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 209-210.
While the preface to this book stresses that it is designed to be limited to "sports which prevail in our country," it includes sections on stoolball and rounders, neither known to have been played widely here.
The author's assertion that wicket was commonly played by boys is unusual. The reported heaviness of wicket's ball, and its heavy bat, seem to mark the game for older players.
One wonders whether an earlier English edition of this book was published; it is not online as of February 2013.
1848.6 London Book Describes Two Rounders Variants
Richardson, H. D., Holiday Sports and Pastimes for Boys [London, Wm S. Orr], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 211-212. This book's section "Games with Toys" includes two variants of rounders. Block's summary:
"The first of these is of a somewhat cricket-like game. A wicket of two 'stumps,' or sticks, with no crosspiece [bail], was set up behind the batter, with three other stumps as corners of an equilateral triangle in front of the batter. A bowler served the ball, as in cricket, and, if the batter hit it, he attempted to touch each of the stumps in succession, as in baseball. The batter was out if he missed the ball, if the struck ball was caught on the fly, of if a fielder touches one the stumps with the ball before a base runner reached it. It is noteworthy that this cricket-baseball hybrid did not include the practice of 'soaking' or 'plugging' the runner with the thrown ball.
"The book's second version of rounders is a more traditional variety, with no wicket behind the batter. It featured a home base and three others marked with sticks as in the previous version. The author distinguishes this form of rounders the other in its use of a 'pecker or feeder' rather than a 'bowler.' He also points out that 'in this game it is sought to strike, not the wicket, but the player, and if struck with the ball when absent from one of the rounders, or posts, he is out.' (Of all the known published descriptions of the game in the nineteenth century, this is the only one to use the term 'rounders' to denote bases. [DB]) This second version of the game also featured 'taking of the rounders,' which elsewhere was generally known as 'hitting for the rounder.' This option was exercised when all members of a side were out, and the star player then had three pitches with which to attempt to hit a home run. If he was successful, his team retained its at-bat."
Note: Were none of the other traditional English safe-haven games - cricket, stool-ball, etc., included in this book?
1848.7 Brooklyn Youth "Mistook Another Youth for a Ball," Riot Ensues
"DIMINUTIVE RIOT. A lot of boys from the 8th ward were undergoing an examination at the police office this morning, on a charge of having engaged in some riotous and disorderly proceedings, with which they terminated at game of ball. . . . One of the young rioters mistook another youth, Robert Pontin, for a ball, struck him a terrible plow on the mouth with a large ball club, and injured him so much as to require the skill of a dentist. We hope our neighbors of the rural wards are not often disgraced with similar transactions."
"Diminutive Riot," Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Kings County Democrat, vol. 7, number 107 (May 5, 1848), page 2, column 4. Excerpt submitted by David Ball 6/4/2006. Full citation and image provided by Craig Waff, 4/30/2007.
1848.8 Cricket Flourishes at Haverford College PA
"The College was closed in 1845. When it reopened in 1848, cricket sprang up again under the leadership of an English tutor in Dr. Lyons' school nearby. Two cricket clubs, the Delian and the Lycaean, were formed, and then a third the Dorian."
John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 11. Lester does not provide a source.
1848c.9 Young Benjamin Harrison Plays Town Ball, Baste in OH
[As a teenage student at Farmer's College, near Cincinnati OH, Harrison] "[w]hile closely applying himself to study, always standing fair in his classes, respected by instructors and popular with his associates, prompt in recitation and obedient to rules, nevertheless he found time for amusement and sport, such as snow-balling, town-ball, bull-pen, shinny, and baste, all more familiar to lads in that day than this."
Life and Public Services of Hon. Benjamin Harrison [Sedgewood Publishing Company, 1892], page 53.
1848.10 Ballgame Marks Anniversary in MA
"In Barre, Massachusetts [about 20 miles northwest of Worcester], the anniversary of the organization of government was celebrated by a game of ball - round or base ball, we suppose - twelve on a side. It took four hours to play three heats, and the defeated party paid for a dinner at the Barre Hotel."
North American and United States Gazette, June 7, 1848.
Trenton State Gazette (NJ), pg. 1, June 8, 1848.
A team size of 12 and three-game match are consistent with some Mass game contests.
This seems to have been a Philadelphia paper; why would it carry - or reprint - this central-MA story?
1848.12 Wicket Reported as Fashionable in Western MA
"We are glad to see the games of foot-ball and wicket so fashionable this spring, . ."
"Athletic Sports," Westfield News Letter, April 5, 1848; cited by Genovese, Daniel L, The Old Ball Ground: The Chronological History of Westfield Baseball (2004), page 11; Genovese says that this article appears to be the News Letter's first reference to wicket.
1848.13 In Cincinnati OH, Game of "Batt and Ball" Played at Picnic
"One might guess that baseball would have made an early appearance in Cincinnati, the nation's largest inland city at mid-nineteenth century and the home of the professional game. There is mention of a game called bat(t) and ball in the Cincinnati Commercial of May 19, 1848 but the first club, the Live Oak was not formed until 1866 and the first match game played that year."
John R. Husman, "Ohio's First Baseball Game: Played by Confederates and Taught to Yankees," presented to the SABR convention in Cincinnati July 2004. The text"
"[At a Pic Nic party] the company formed themselves into two [five-player ]clubs, for the purpose of testing the new game of Batt and Ball." The score was 92 to 77. "N.B., The trial match will take place in the course of a few days . . . . Three more Gents wanted in each Club."
"Pic Nic," Cincinnati Commercial, May 19, 1848. Account and image provided by John Husman, 8/27/2007.
1848.14 Game of Baseball Attains Official Perch in Lexicon!
"BASE. A game of hand-ball." John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States (first edition; Bartlett and Welford, New York, 1848), page 24.) Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008. David indicates that this is "the earliest known listing of baseball in an American dictionary." Bartlett offers a more elaborate definition in 1859 - see below.
1848.15 English Novel Mentions, Thread-the-Needle, "Base-Ball:" "Such Games!
"he gave Bessy his arm, and they went over to Bushey Park, where most of the party from the van had collected. And they were having such games! Base-ball, and thread-the-needle, and kiss-in-the-ring, until their laughter might have been heard at Twickenham." Albert Smith, The Struggles and Adventures of Christopher Tadpole at Home and Abroad (Richard Bentley, London, 1848), page 121. Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008 email. Note: This all sounds a tad less than chaste to the 21st century mind, eh?
1848.16 Fast-Day Notice to NH Subscribers
"Next Thursday being "Fast Day," we shall issue our paper as usual on the following Tuesday, although our compositors will doubtless take a game with bat and ball."
New-Hampshire Gazette, April 11, 1848. Accessed May 4, 2009 via subscription search.
1848.17 Cricket Along the Erie Canal
On 12/11/09, Richard Hershberger posted a clip, datelined Utica NY, from the Oneida Morning Herald of December 5, 1848 that offered a $10 reward for recovery of a hand roller - presumably one used to smooth a playing area - by the Star of the West Cricket Club.
Richard added: "I found this while looking a cricket in the area, which was surprisingly vibrant. There was active inter-city play between the Erie Canal cities [such cities include Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo NY]. This item is a simply fantastic look at a practical side to the game. A $10 reward strikes me as downright extravagant. That must have been quite a piece of wood. Baseball clubs didn't need to fool with this sort of thing, which would make the game accessible to all classes."
1848.18 Litchfield CT Bests Wolcottville in Wicket
"THOSE GAMES OF WICKET --
which Wolcottville challenged Litchfield to play, came off on our green, last Saturday afternoon; 25 players on a side; . . .
[Scoring report shows Litchfield winning over three innings, 232 to 150.]
"This is the first effort to revive "BANTAM," since the Bat and Ball, were buried (literally buried,) 10 years ago, after two severe floggings, by this same Wolcottville."
Litchfield Republican, July 6, 1848, page 2.
Litchfield CT (1850 pop. about 3,950) is about 30 miles W of Hartford. Wolcottville is evidently the original name of Torrington CT, which reports a population of about 1900 in 1850. Torrington is about 5 miles NE of Litchfield.
1848.19 Organization Men at the KBBC in 1848
"Early references to the Knickerbockers' 1845 rules credit both William H. Tucker and William R. Wheaton, with (Hall of Famer Alexander) Cartwright seldom if ever getting a mention until (Duncan) Curry made an offhand remark to reporter Will Rankin during an 1877 stroll in the park (and even this remark was initially reported as a reference to "Wadsworth" as the diagram-giver; only in 1908 was Rankin's recall of Curry's attribution morphed into Cartwright).
Curry and Cartwright perhaps deserve more credit for the organization of the
club (i.e., its by-laws) than the rules. In the 1848 Club Constitution, p.
Committee to Revise Constitution and By-Laws:
D.L. Adams, Pres.
A.J. Cartwright, Jr., Vice Pres
Eugene Plunkett, Sec'y
Duncan F. Curry
19cbb post by John Thorn, June 9, 2003, referencing the 1848 revision of the Knick's constitution and bylaws (see 1848.1)
As of 2016, recent scholarship has shown little evidence that Alexander Cartwright played a central role in forging or adapting the Knickerbocker rules. See Richard Hershberger, The Creation of the Alexander Cartwright Myth (Baseball Research Journal, 2014), and John Thorn, "The Making of a New York Hero" dated November 2015, at http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/11/30/abner-cartwright/.
John's concluding paragraph is: "Recent scholarship has revealed the history of baseball's "creation" to be a lie agreed upon. Why, then, does the legend continue to outstrip the fact? "Creation myths, wrote Stephen Jay Gould, in explaining the appeal of Cooperstown, "identify heroes and sacred places, while evolutionary stories provide no palpable, particular thing as a symbol for reverence, worship, or patriotism."
1849.1 Knicks Sport First Uniform - White Shirt, Blue Pantaloons
"April 24, 1849: The first baseball uniform is adopted at a meeting of the New York Knickerbocker Club. It consists of blue woolen pantaloons, a white flannel shirt, and a straw hat."
accessed 6/20/2005. No source is given.
but see #1838c.8 above - LM
1849.3 NY Game Shown to "Show Me" State of MO
"Indigenous peoples west of the Mississippi may not have seen the game until 1849 when Alexander Cartwright, near Independence, Missouri, noted baseball play in his April 23rd diary entry: 'During the past week we have passed the time in fixing wagon covers . . . etc., varied by hunting and fishing and playing baseball [sic]. It is comical to see the mountain men and Indians playing the new game. I have a ball with me that we used back home.'"
Altherr, Thomas L., "North American Indigenous People and Baseball: 'The One Single Thing the White Man Has Done Right,'" in Altherr, ed., Above the Fruited Plain: Baseball in the Rocky Mountain West, SABR National Convention Publication, 2003, page 20.
Some scholars have expressed doubt about the authenticity of this diary entry, which differs from an earlier type-script version.
Is Tom saying that there were no prior safe-haven ball games [cricket, town ball, wicket] out west, or just that the NY game hadn't arrived until 1849?
1849c.4 A. G. Mills and Boyhood Friend Recall "Base Ball" at a Brooklyn School
A. G. Mills and schoolmate W. S. Cogswell exchanged letters, 55 years later, on the plugging game they called "base ball" as youths.
Mills to Cogswell 1/10/1905: "Among the vivid recollections of my early life at Union Hall Academy [of Jamaica, Long Island, NY] is a game of ball in which I played, where the boys of the side at bat were put out by being hit with the ball. My recollection is that we had first base near the batsman's position; the second base was a tree at some distance, and the third base was the home base, also near the batsman's position."
Cogswell to Mills 1/19/1905: "My recollection of the game of Base Ball, as we played it for years at Union Hall, say from 1849 to 1856, is quite clear. "
"You are quite right about the three bases, their location and the third base being home.
"The batsman in making a hit went to the first base, unless the ball was caught either on a fly or on first bound. In running the bases he was out by being touched or hit with the ball while further from any base than he could jump. The bases were not manned, the ball being thrown at a runner while trying for a base. The striker was not obliged to strike till he thought he had a good ball, but was out the first time he missed the ball when striking, and it was caught by the catcher either on the fly or on the first bound. There was no limit to the number of players and a side was not out till all the players had been disposed of. If the last player could make three home runs that put the side back in again. When there were but few players there was a rule against 'Screwing,' i.e., making strikes that would be called 'foul.' We used flat bats, and it was considered quite an art to be able to "screw" well, as that sent the ball away from the bases."
More details, from John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011; pp 27-28), are seen below in the supplemental text below.
A. G. Mills letter to Colonel Wm S. Cogswell, January 10, 1905, and Wm. S. Cogswell letter to A. G. Mills, January 19, 1905. From the Mills Collection, Giamatti Center, HOF. Thanks to Jeremy LeBlanc for information on Union Hall Academy (email, 9/23/2007).
Note: This exchange and its significance are treated in John Thorn's Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Shuster, 2011), page 27.
John Thorn notes that in 1905 Mills was beginning to gather evidence for use in his famous "Mills Commission" report on base ball's beginnings. (Email of 1/4/2016).
John suggests that the Union Hall game may be the game that William R. Wheaton, another Union Hall student, called "three cornered cat" in his 1887 recollections of base ball's origin (email, 1/4/2016). The game of Corner Ball is known from the 1830s to about 1860, but is usually seen as a form of dodge ball played mostly by youths, and lacking batting and baserunning. Is it possible that Corner Ball morphed, retaining its essential plugging but adding batting and base advancement, by the time it was played in the Brooklyn school? Was this a transitional form in base ball's lineage? See also http://protoball.org/Three-Cornered_Cat and http://protoball.org/Corner_Ball.
As of January 2016, no other usages of "three-cornered cat" are known.
1849c.5 New Chapbook Names Several Games Played with Balls
Juvenile Pastimes; or Girls' and Boys' Book of Sports [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 212. In this 16-page book's "Playing Ball" section is the observation that "[t]here are a great number of games played with balls, of which base-ball, trap ball, cricket, up-ball, catch-ball and drive ball are most common." Note: "Up-ball?" "Drive ball?" No town ball?
1849.6 Inmates Play Base Ball at Worcester MA "Lunatic Hospital"
"[O]utdoor amusements consist in the game of quoits, base ball, walking in parties . . . "
"State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester," The Christian Register, Volume 28, Issue 6 [February 10, 1849], page 6. Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006 and David Ball, 6/4/2006. Bill notes that the same article appears in Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture, Volume 8 Issue 20 [February 17, 1849], page 4. Cf. item #146.16 above.
1849.7 Ball Play and Word Play from Boston MA
"The Boston Post in speaking [of] family discipline, remarked the other day, that Mr. Peppercase['s] neighbor, in his treatment of his children, reminded him of the game of ball - he was eternally batting them and they were always bawling."
Brooklyn Eagle, June 16, 1849, page 2. Submitted by David Ball, 6/4/2006.
1849.8 NYC Firemen Find "A Little Excitement" in a Winter Game of Ball
"You may next find us on the common where the party generally were engaged at an enthusiastic game of ball which served for a little excitement, and, best of all, induced a smart appetite. But the dinner bell has rung, and we rush off to Rensen's."
Brooklyn Eagle, December 26, 1849, page 3. Submitted by David Ball 6/4/2006.
1849.9 Westfield Whips Granville in Wicket
"BALL PLAYING. A game of Wicket came off between the ball-players of Westfield and Granville MA on Thursday, at which the Westfield boys won the first three games by 10, 20, and 40 runs."
The Vermont Gazette, vol. 70, number 13 (July 19, 1849), page 1, column 2. Provided by Craig Waff, email, 8/14/2007.
Genovese, citing the Westfield News Letter of July 11, 1849, also writes of this contest. [Genovese, Daniel L, The Old Ball Ground: The Chronological History of Westfield Baseball (2004), pages 17-18. He reports that over 1000 persons attended the match, that it was a best-of-five contest, and that Westfield did in fact have an easy time with the "science players" from Granville, which had played Hartford CT and Blandford MA [about 20 miles west of Springfield].
1849.10 Ladies' Wicket in England?
"BAT AND BALL AMONG THE LADIES. Nine married ladies beat nine single ones at a game of wicket in England recently. The gamesters were all dressed in white - the married party with blue trimmings and the others in pink."
Milwaukee[WI] Sentinel and Gazette, vol. 5, number 116 (September 4, 1849), page 2, column 2. Provided by Craig Waff, email of 8/14/2007.
Beth Hise [email of 3/3/2008] reports that the wearing of colored ribbons was a much older tradition.
Note: One may ask if something got lost in the relay of this story to Wisconsin. We know of no wicket in England, and neither wicket or cricket used nine-player teams.
Was cricket, including single-wicket cricket, known in any part of England as "wicket?"
1849.11 Character in Fictional Autobiography Played Cricket, Base-Ball
"On fourths of July, training days and other occasions, young men from the country around, at a distance of fifteen or twenty miles, would come for the purpose of competing for the championship of these contests, in which, in which, as the leader of the school, I soon became conspicuous. Was there a game at cricket or base-ball to be played, my name headed the list of the athletae."
The following page has an isolated reference to the ball grounds at the school. Mayo was from upstate NY. The fifth edition  of Kaloolah is available via Google Books, and was accessed on 10/24/2008; the ballplaying references in this edition are on pages 20 and 21.
W.S. Mayo, Kaloolah, or Journeying to the Djebel Kumri. An Autobiography (George P. Putnam, New York, 1849), page 20.
Posting to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger, 1/24/2008. Richard considers this the first appearance of base-ball in American fiction, as the games in #1837.2 and #1838.4 above are not cited as base ball and could be another type of game.
1849.12 Ladies Cricket Match Reported in London
"Bat and Ball Among the Ladies. - A London paper has the following account of a cricket match between married and single ladies. The married, it seems, carry the day at hard knocks.: 'On Wednesday, nine married ladies beat nine single ladies at a match of cricket, at Picket Post, in the New Forest, by one run only, the married scoring fifty, the single forty-nine. The ladies were dressed in white - the former with blue trimmings, the latter with pink."
New London Democrat, September 8, 1849. Accessed May 4, 2009 via subscription search. New Forest appears to be near the Channel coast In Hampshire, near Southampton.
1849.13 Did Cartwright Play Ball on His Way to California?
"April 23, 1849 [evidently the day before Cartwright left Independence MO for California] During the past week we have passed the time in fixing the wagon covers, stowing away property etc., varied by hunting , fishing, swimming and playing base-ball. I have the ball and book of Rules with me that we used in forming the Knickerbocker Base-ball Club back home."
Cartwright family typed copy of lost handwritten diary by Alexander Cartwright, as cited in Monica Nucciarone, Alexander Cartwright: The Life Behind the Baseball Legend (UNebraska Press, 2009), page 31. Nucciarone adds that this version differs from the transcription in a Hawaii museum, in that the baseball references only appear in the family's version.
The legend is that Cartwright played his way west. Nucciarone, page 30: "[W]hile it's easy to imagine Cartwright playing baseball when he could and spreading the new game across the country as he went, it's much more difficult to prove he did this. The evidence is scant and inconsistent."
1849.15 Knickerbockers Lose Impromptu Match to Group of "Amateurs"
RURAL SPORTS.--We can testify to a most superb game of old
fashioned base-ball at the Champs d'Elysses, at Hoboken, on
Friday of last week, and bear it in mind the more strongly from
the remaining stiffness from three hours play. While on the
ground, a party of the Knickerbocker Club arrived, and selected
another portion of the field for themselves. When they had
finished, the amateurs with whom we had taken a hand, challenged
the regulars to a match, and both parties stripped and went at it
till night drew the curtains and shut off the sport. At the
closing of the game the amateurs stood eleven and the
Knickerbocker four. On the glory of this result, the amateurs
challenged the regulars to a meeting on the same day this week,
for the cost of a chowder to be served up, upon the green between
them. When it is known that the editors of the American
Statesman and National Police Gazette played among the amateurs,
and particularly that Dr. Walters, the Coroner of the city kept
the game, the result will probably not produce surprise.
National Police Gazette, June 9, 1849
Finder Richard Hershberger lists the following followup comments and questions (his full email is shown below):
"There is a lot to digest here. Just a couple of quick thoughts
The Knickerbockers couldn't catch a break! I'll have to look up
when they first managed to win a game.
I don't have ready access to the Knickerbocker score book. What
appears there for this day?
Is this the first appearance of George Wilkes in connection with
Sadly, the genealogy bank run of the Gazette is missing the June
16 issue. Is there another run out there?
You notice how early and how often baseball was characterized as
"old fashioned"? I would not take the use here as relating to
the rules used. There was a baseball fad in New York in the mid-1840s. It had
died out by 1849, with the Knickerbockers the only unambiguously
recorded organized survivor. Here we have an informal late
See above Comments.
1849.16 Two Eight-player Teams Play Bass Ball at Elysian Fields
"An exciting game of Bass Ball came off at the Elysian Fields on Thursday last. The club was organized at the “Pewter Mug” (kept by that patriotic and devoted friend of the “Sage of Lindenwald,” the Widow Lynch), and proceeded to the ground; where Doctor Ingraham, of the Statesman, and John Midmer, Esq., were selected as captains.
Ingraham, having the first choice, selected Messrs Malbrun, Bouts, McConnell, Watson, Wells, and our friend, Captain Joe Cornell, of the sheriff's office.
Midmer made up his side with Messrs. John M.. Rue (the best player of the party), Chase, Alderman Fream, John Robbins, Aaron Butterfield, Car, and Burrett.
Doctor Walters, the coroner, was appointed game-keeper and judge—twenty-one ins the game. All things being in readiness, the sport commenced, and the game was warmly contested for about three hours, with various prospects of success. Night coming on, and there being no liquor in the neighborhood, the judge decided that neither party could win. The decision was cheerfully submitted to by all; and it was agreed, unanimously, to meet at the same place next Friday, and finish the game. With this understanding, the party made the best of their way to York, where the individual performances were duly discussed, and the sportsmen themselves amply refreshed—of course. The issue of this great game is certainly “highly important,” and we hope to be able to announce it next Sunday."
New York Atlas, April 29, 1849 and May 6, 1849.
Note: Richard's full May 2019 19CBB posting appears in the Supplemental Text, below.
We assume that the phrase"21 ins the game" means that the first side to score 21 runs was the game's winner.
Richard asks: "I don't recognize the individuals. These clearly are men of substance, so I expect they can be tracked down. The mention of "the club" is intriguing. Is this an actual organized club, with or without baseball as its primary purpose? Or is that an informal usage?"
1850s.1 Accounts of Ballplaying by Slaves
Wiggins, Kenneth, "Sport and Popular Pastimes in the Plantation Community: The Slave Experience," Thesis, University of Maryland, 1979. Per Millen, notes #26-29.
Note: the dates and circumstances and locations of these cases are unclear in Millen. One refers to plugging.
Can we find out details on the content of the Wiggins monograph>?
1850s.3 Cricket Club in Philadelphia, "Young America CC," Started for US-Born Only
John Lester, ed., A Century of Cricket in Philadelphia [University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia 1951], page 23.
Can we determine the year the club formed? Was it a junior clcub?
1850s.4 New Orleans LA: Clubs Formed by German and Irish immigrants to play Base Ball
"Beginning in the 1850's, the Germans and the Irish took up the sport [baseball] with alacrity. In New Orleans, for example, the Germans founded the Schneiders, Laners, and Landwehrs, and the Irish formed the Fenian Baseball Club. . . . Baseball invariably accompanied the ethnic picnics of the Germans, Irish, French, and, later, Italians."
Per Benjamin G. Rader, American Sports: From the Age of Folk Games to the Age of Spectators [Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 1983], page 93. No source provided.
I've checked New Orleans newspapers 1855-1860 and found no mention of these asserted clubs, let alone that they played baseball.
Can we now determine when the these clubs formed, and details on their play and durability? Do we see ethnic clubs in other cities in the 1850s?
1850.6 Article in The Knickerbocker Mentions "Bass-ball," Old Cat, Barn-ball
A piece on gambling in post-1849 San Francisco has, in its introductory section, "As we don't know one card from another, and never indulged in a game of chance of any sort in the world, save the "bass-ball," "one" and "two-hole cat," and "barn-ball" of our boyhood . . . "
Block observes: "While this is a rather late appearance for the colloquial spelling "bass-ball," it is one of the earliest references to the old-cat games."
The Knickerbocker, volume 35, January 1850 [New York, Peabody], page 84, as cited by David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 213.
Note: Is the author hinting that boys commonly bet on their ball-games? Isn't this a rare mention of barn-ball?
1850.7 Englishman's Book of Games Refers to Rounders, Feeder
David Block only mentions one passage of interest - a section on "rounders, or feeder," a shortened version of what had appeared in 1828 in The Boy's Own Book (see item #1828.1).
Mallary, Chas D., The Little Boy's Own Book; Consisting of Games and Pastimes . . . . (Henry Allman, London, 1850), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 213-214.
1850c.8 Poisoned-Ball Text Recycled in France
The material on "la balle empoisonee" (poisoned ball) is repeated from Les jeux des jeunes garcons. See item #1810s.1 above.
Jeux et exercises des Jeunes garcons (Games and Exercises of Young Boys) (Paris, A. Courcier, c. 1850), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 213.
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?
1850c.9 Juvenile Story Book has Two Woodcuts with Ballplaying
One illustration in this chapbook shows boys playing ball; a second shows [icon! icon!] a house with a window broken by a ball.
Frank's Adventures at Home and Abroad (Troy NY, Merriam and Moore), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 213.
1850c.10 B is for Bat, B is for Ball
A chapbook has eight pages of simple verses and some basic illustrations. Highlight: "The letter B you plainly see,/ Begins both Bat and Ball;/ And next you'll find the letter C,/ Commences Cat and Call."
Grandpapa Pease's Pretty Poetical Spelling Book [Albany, H. Pease], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 213.
1850c.11 Short Moral Tale Centers on Boy's Bat and Ball
This eight-page moral tale turns on the theft of the bat and ball, not, alas on their use.
The Broken Bat; or, Harry's Lesson of Forgiveness (Philadelphia, Am. Baptist Pub'n Society) per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 212.
1850c.12 Chapbook Reprises Illustration from Contemporary Book.
Louis Bond, the Merchant's Son (Troy NY, Merriam and Moore, c. 1850), per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 214.
Block notes that the graphic is lifted by the same publisher's 1850 book, Frank and the Cottage).
1850s.13 Trap Ball, Stool Ball, Well Established in Louisville KY
"Other forms of bat and ball games, like trap-ball and stool-ball, became well established in Louisville in the decade preceding the Civil War."
Bob Bailey, "Chapter 1 - Beginnings: From Amateur Teams to Disgrace in the National League (mimeo, 1990)', page 1. Bob (email, 1/27/2013) notes that his source for this observation is The Boy's Own Book: A Complete Encyclopedia of all the Diversions, Athletic, and Recreative, of Boyhood and Youth (Louisville, Morton and Griswold, 1854), page 67.
Can we obtain original sources?
1850s.14 With Rise of Overarm Bowling, Padding Becomes Regular Part of Cricket
"The early 19th century saw the introduction of pads for batsmen. The earliest were merely wooden boards tied to the batsman's legs. By the 1850s, as overarm bowling and speed became the fashion, pads were regularly used. Older players scorned their introduction, but by this time they were deemed essential."
Peter Scholefield, compiler, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishing, Kent Town Australia, 1990], page 10.
It would be interesting to know how much velocity of deliveries increased with the change to overhand throwing.
1850s.15 Gunnery School in CT Imports Base Ball from NY
"The Gunnery [School] in Washington CT imported baseball from NY when Judge William Van Cott's sons came to the school in the late 1850s (we don't have exact dates). They had been playing different versions of the game with neighboring town teams and pick up teams for quite some time. The Litchfield Enquirer carried the box scores. The teams were not exclusively students, some adults played."
Paula Krimsky, 19CBB posting, 10/26/2006.
Mark Rhodes, Metropolitan Baseball n a Small Town Setting (Gunn Scholar Series, volume II (2004). Available via archives of the Gunnery School. Box scores from the Litchfield Enquirer are available on microfiche from the Litchfield Historical Society.
We have not inspected the data on play at the Gunnery School to determine if New York rules were used.
Washington, Connecticut (2000 census about 3,600) is about 40 miles W of Hartford, and about 15 miles NW of Waterbury.
1850s.16 Wicket Play in Rochester NY
"The immediate predecessor of baseball was wickets. This was a modification of cricket and the boys who excelled at that became crack players of the latter sport of baseball. In wickets there had to be at least eight men, stationed as follows: Two bowlers, two stump keepers or catchers, two outfielders and two infielders or shortstops. . . .
"The wickets were placed sixty feet apart, and consisted of two 'stumps' about six inches in height above the ground and ten feet apart. . . . The ball was as large as a man's head, and of peculiar manufacture. Its center was a cube of lead weighing about a pound and a half. About this were tightly wound rubber bands . . . and the whole sewed in a thick leather covering. This ball was delivered with a stiff straight-arm underhand cast . . . . Three out was side out, and the ball could be caught on the first bound or on the fly. . . . if the ball could be fielded so as to throw the wicket over before [the batter] could touch the stumps, he was out."
The stumps are recalled as being ten feet long, so "the batsman standing in the middle had to keep a lively lookout."
Baseball Half a Century Ago, Rochester Union and Advertiser, March 21, 1903.
1850c.17 Patch Baseball Played in Upstate New York
The autobiography of a Yale dropout ["because of ill health"] attributes his later recovery to "playing the old fashioned game of patch baseball." Skip McAfee [email, 8/16/2007] points out that "patch baseball" is an early variation of baseball that uses plugging runners to put them out.
Platt, Thomas C., The Autobiography of Thomas Collier Platt (B. W. Dodge, New York, 1910), page 3. Platt's home was Owego NY, about 70 miles south of Syracuse and near the Pennsylvania border. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("patch baseball" platt).
1850s.18 Baseball's Beginnings at U Penn?
"Baseball was first played by Penn students before the Civil War when the University was still located at its Ninth Street campus. The game was probably played casually by students in the 1850s."
http://www.archives.upenn.edu/histy/features/sports/baseball/1800s/hist1.html, as accessed 1/3/2008. No reference is supplied.
Is there some way to discover the documentary basis for this report?
1850s.19 Occupational, Company Teams Appear
"Starting in the 1850s and increasing slowly through the 1880s, sporting papers carried stories and scores of teams composed of men from the same occupation or men who worked in the same firm. Beginning with the Albany State House clerks playing the City Bank clerks in 1857, the Clipper listed dozens of similar teams over the next twenty-five years."
Gelber, Steven M., "'Their Hands Are All Out Playing:' Business and Amateur Baseball, 1845-1917," Journal of Sport History, Vol. 11, number 1 (Spring 1984), page 22. Gelber cites The Clipper, June 6, 1857, page 54, presumably for the Albany story.
On page 14 Gelber notes the rise of blue collar teams, the most famous being the Eckfords in Brooklyn, which comprised shipwrights and mechanics.
1850s.20 Town-ball Played in Ohio with "Lazarus" Rule
Mark Hanna, Repubican Senator from Ohio, 1897-1904
"Town-ball was base-ball in the rough. I recall some distinctive features: If a batter missed a ball and the catcher behind took it, he was 'caught out.' Three 'nips' also put him out. He might be caught out on 'first bounce.' If the ball were thrown across his path while running base, he was out. One peculiar feature was that the last batter on a side might bring his whole side in by successfully running to first base and back six times in succession, touching first base with his bat after batting. This was not often, but sometimes done; and we were apt to hold back our best batter to the last, which we called 'saving up for six-maker.' This phrase became a general proverb for some large undertaking; and to say of one 'he's a six-maker,' meant that he was a tip-top fellow in whatever he undertook, and no higher compliment could be passed. I have no definite recollection of he Senator's special success at ball, his favorite game; in the broad fields of subsequent life he certainly became a 'six maker.'"
Source: Henry C. McCook, The Senator: A Threnody (George W. Jacobs, Philadelphia, 1905), page 208. This passage is excerpted from the annotations to a long poem written in honor the memory of Senator Marcus Hanna of OH. The likely location of the games was in Lisbon, in easternmost OH - about 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh PA.. The verse itself: "Shinny and marbles, flying kite and ball, / Hat-ball and hand-ball and, best loved of all!-/ Town-ball, that fine field sport, that soon/ By natural growth and skilful change, became/ Baseball, by use and popular acclaim/ Our nation's favorite game" [Ibid. page 54]. McCook's note describes hat-ball as a plugging game, and hand-ball as a game for one sides of one, two, or three boys that was played "against a windowless brick gable wall."
Posted to 19CBB on 8/13/2007, by Richard Hershberger, supplemented by 8/14/2007 and 12/19/2008 emails.
Note: were "nips" foul tips?
1850s.21 "Shoddy" Lords Opts for Mechanical Grass-Cutter
"The art of preparing a pitch came surprisingly late in cricket's evolution. . . . [The grounds were] shoddily cared for . . . . Attitudes were such that in the 1850s, when an agricultural grass-cutter was purchased, one of the more reactionary members of the MCC committee conscripted a group of navvies [unskilled workers] to destroy it. This instinctive Luddism suffered a reverse with the death of George Summer in 1870 and that year a heavy roller was at last employed on the notorious Lord's square."
Simon Rae, It's Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 215.
1850.22 British Trade Unionists Play Base Ball
Richard Hershberger found an account of blue collar base ball in England. A union journal described a May 21 march in which "hundreds of good and true Democrats" participated. Boating down the Thames from London, the group got to Gravesend [Kent] and later reached "the spacious grounds of the Bat and Ball Tavern," where they took up various activities, including "exhilarating" games of "cricket, base ball, and other recreations."
"Grand Whitsuntide Chartist Holiday," Northern Star and National Trades' Journal, Volume 13, Number 657 (May 25, 1850), page 1. Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/5/2008.
This is mentioned in a newspaper article on a Chartist excursion to Gravesend, in the Leeds "Star of Freedom," May 25, 1850. The Bat and Ball Tavern still stands in Gravesend, and the "spacious grounds" refers to a cricket field adjacent to the tavern, which also exists today. Another article on this excursion, in "Reynolds' Newspaper," May 26, 1850, merely mentions cricket playing. [ba]
1850.23 English Novel Briefly Mentions Base-Ball
"Emma, drawing little Charles toward her, began a confidential conversation with him on the subject of his garden and companions at school, and the comparative merits of cricket and base-ball."
Catherine Anne Hubback, The Younger Sister, Volume I (London, Thomas Newby 1850), page 166. Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008. Mrs. Hubback was the niece of Jane Austen.
1850s.24 In NYC - Did "Plugging" Actually Persist to the mid-1850s?
John Thorn feels that "while the Knick rules of September 23, 1845 (and, by William R. Wheaton's report in 1887, the Gothams practice in the 1830s and 1840s) outlawed plugging/soaking a runner in order to retire him, other area clubs were slow to pick up the point."
"Henry Chadwick wrote to the editor of the New York Sun, May 14, 1905: 'It happens that the only attractive feature of the rounders game is this very point of 'shying' the ball at the runners, which so tickled Dick Pearce [in the early 1850s, when he was asked to go out to Bedford to see a ball club at play]. In fact, it was not until the '50s that the rounders point of play in question was eliminated from the rules of the game, as played at Hoboken from 1845 to1857.'"
"The Gotham and the Eagle adopted the Knick rules by 1854 . . . but other
clubs may not have done so till '57."
Henry Chadwick, letter to the editor, New York Sun, May 14, 1905. See also John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), page 112.
We invite further discussion on this point. The text of the Wheaton letter is found at entry #1837.1 above.
1850s.25 If It's May Day, Boston Needs All its Sam Malones at the Commons!
"On the first of May each year, large crowds filled the [Boston] Commons to picnic, play ball or other games, and take in entertainment."
John Corrigan, "The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century," in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 44. Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search ("business of the heart"). Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is William Gray Brooks, "Diary, May 1, 1858."
1850s.27 Cricket Outshines Base Ball in Press Coverage
"During the 1850s and early 1860s, coverage of cricket in the sporting press generally exceeded that of baseball."
Writing more specifically about the Spirit of the Times, Bill Ryczek says: "There was little baseball reported in The Spirit until 1855, and what did appear was limited to terse accounts of games (with box scores) submitted by members of the competing clubs. The primary emphasis was on four-legged sport and cricket, which often received multiple columns of coverage . . . . As interest in baseball grew, The Spirit's coverage of the sport expanded. On May 12, 1855, the journal printed the rules of baseball for the first time and soon began to report more frequently on games that took place in New York and its vicinity (Baseball's First Inning, page 163)."
William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 108, page 163.
The number of base ball games known in the new York area doubled in 1855, in 1856, in 1857, and in 1859. It is surprising to see an argument that cricket coverage still led as late as the early 1860's
1850.29 US Has Twenty Cricket Clubs
"Despite its shortcomings, cricket enjoyed significant popularity in the United States. By 1850, there were a half dozen clubs in New York and about twenty around the United States."
William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 105. He cites George Kirsch, "American Cricket: Players and Clubs Before the Civil War," Journal of Sport History, Volume 11 (Spring 1984).
1850s.30 Town Ball Well Known in Illinois
"Football and baseball, as played today [in 1918], were unknown games. What was known as townball, however, was a popular sport. This was played with a yarn ball covered with leather, or a hollow, inflated rubber ball, both of which were soft and yielding and not likely to inflict injury as is so common today in baseball. Townball was much played in the schoolhouse yard during recess and at the noon hour."
Charles B. Johnson, Illinois in the Fifties (Flanigan-Pearson Co., Champaign IL, 1918), page 79. Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search <"illinois in the fifties">. Jeff notes that, while describing Illinois pastimes generally, the author was from Pocahontas, IL, in southeast IL, about 50 miles east of St. Louis.
1850s.31 Town Ball Played in Southeast MO
"The men found amusement . . . in such humble sports as marbles and pitching horseshoes. There were also certain athletic contests, and it was no uncommon thing for the men of the neighborhood to engage in wrestling and in the jumping match. This was before the day of baseball, but the men had a game, out of which baseball probably developed, which was called 'town ball.'"
Robert S. Douglass, History of Southeast Missouri (Lewis Publishing, 1912), page 441. Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (douglass southeast).
Douglass is not explicit about the period referenced here, but that it is before the Civil War.
Jeff notes that the author is covering small towns in Southeast MO located away from the Mississippi River and isolated from one another.
1850.32 NH Ballplaying Washed Out on Fast Day
"Fast Day. Disappointment fastened upon a thousand boys and girls, who calculated on a first rate, tall time on Fast Day. It seemed as if al the water valves in the clouds were opened, and we dare assert that rain never fell faster. The sun didn't shine, the birds didn't sing, the boys didn't play ball . . . "
"Fast Day," New-Hampshire Gazette, April 9, 1850. Accessed via 4/9/09 subscription search.
1850s.33 Round Ball, Old Cat Played in Northwest MA Town
"There was, of course, coasting, skating, swimming, gool, fox and hounds . . . round ball; two and four old cat, with soft yarn balls thrown at the runner."
G. Stanley Hall, "Boy Life in a Massachusetts Town Forty Years Ago," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society Volume 7 (1892), page 113. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("g.stanley hall" "boy life"). Hall grew up on a large farm in Ashfield MA, which is in the NW corner of the commonwealth, and about 55 miles east of Albany NY.
It is interesting that the game of wicket is not mentioned, given Ashland's location in western MA.
As of Jan 2013, this is one of three uses of "gool" instead of "goal" in ballplaying entries, all in the 1850s and found in western MA and ME. [To confirm/update, do an enhanced search for "gool".] This is the only entry that uses "gool" as the actual name of the game.
1850c.34 Tut-ball Played at Young Ladies School in England
"'Tut-ball,' as played at a young ladies' school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. The players stood together in their 'den,' behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out' and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of the three brickbats, called 'tuts,' which were set up at equal distances on the ground, in such positions that a player running past them all would describe a complete circle by the time she returned to the den. The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball, and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so, she took her place in the den, and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical to 'rounders.'"
Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (David Nutt, London, 1898), page 314. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (gomme tutt-ball 1898). Gomme adds that "pize-ball" is a similar game, and that in the past Tut-ball was played on Ash Wednesday in the belief that it would ward off sickness at harvest time. Shifnal, Shropshire, is in the west of England, about 25 miles northwest of Birmingham.
1850c.35 U. of Michigan Alum Recalls Baseball, Wicket, Old-Cat Games
A member of the class of 1849 recalls college life: "Athletics were not regularly organized, nor had we any gymnasium. We played base-ball, wicket ball, two-old-cat, etc., but there was not foot-ball."
"Cricket was undoubtedly the first sport to be organized in the University, as the Palladium for 1860-61 gives the names of eight officers and twenty-five members of the "Pioneer Cricket Club," while the Regents' Report for June, 1865, shows an appropriation of $50 for a cricket ground on the campus."
The college history later explains: "The game of wicket, which was a modification of cricket, was played with a soft ball five to seven inches in diameter, and with two wickets (mere laths or light boards) laid upon posts about four inches high and some forty feet apart. The 'outs' tried to bowl them down, and the 'ins' to defend them with curved broad-ended bats. It was necessary to run between the wickets at each strike."
Wilfred Shaw, The University of Michigan (Harcourt Brace, New York, 1920), pp 234-235. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("wilfred shaw" michigan).
The dates of wicket play are not given.
1850c.36 Wicket Ball in Amherst MA
"For exercise the students played wicket ball and shinny."
The author here appears to be referring to the latter years of service of Edward Hitchcock, President of Amherst College from 1844 to 1854.
Alice M. Walker, Historic Homes of Amherst (Amherst Historical Society, Amherst MA, 1905), page 99. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (walker "historic homes"). Amherst MA is about 25 miles north of Springfield MA.
1850s.37 Near Richmond VA, Games of Round Cat and Chermany
"There was a big field near his old home where he and the other boys, black and white, had played "round cat" and "chermany" in the summers before the war and had set their rabbit-traps in seasons of frost and snow."
Armistead C. Gordon, "His Father's Flag," Scribner's Magazine Volume 62 (1917), page 443. This fictional story of the son of a Confederate soldier killed during the Civil War is set near Dragon Swamp. (There are two VA places called Dismal Swamp; one is about 85 miles SE of Richmond. The other is about 50 miles E of Richmond.)
The two games named are known as ballgames played in the south. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (scribners "volume lxii").
1850s.39 African-American Girl Sees Base Ball at Elysian Fields
"Along with chores and family time at home, there were excursions farther afield. Maritcha [Lyons] recalled day trips across the Hudson to the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, where people took in baseball games, had picnics, and revelled in other fresh-air activities."
Tonya Bolden, Maritcha: A Nineteenth Century American Girl (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2005), page 12.
Maritcha Lyons was born in New York City in 1848.
1850s.40 Future Historian Plays Ball in NYC Streets
"During the winter my time was spent at school and at such sports as city boys could have. Our playground was the street and a vacant lot on the corner of Fourteenth Street and Second Avenue. Behind its high fence plastered with advertisements, we played baseball with the soft ball of that day."
The author, John Bach McMaster (b. 1852), later wrote The History of the People of the United States, published in 1883.
John Back McMaster, quoted in "Young John Bach McMaster: A Boyhood in New York City," New York History, volume 20, number 3, (July 1939), pp. 320-321. Noted in Originals. v.4, n.11 (November 2011), page 2.
1850s.41 "The Popular Game" For Boys in NY State: Old Cat
"The popular game among the boys previously."
M. F. Roberts, A Narrative History of Remsen, New York (private printing, 1914)., page 220. Described in Originals, volume 4, number 10 (October, 2011), page 2.
Reportedly the author writes of Remsen ballplaying before the Civil War. Remsen, a town in Central New York, is about 20 miles N of Utica NY and about 60 miles E of Syracuse and, if you must know, about 60 miles NW of Cooperstown. Its current population is about 1,900.
1850s.42 Indianans Play Town Ball, Two Old Cat
"There were several games of ball played when the weather would permit. The first was town ball and was played somewhat after the style of baseball, but without outfielders. The bases were much nearer together than in baseball. There is no question that baseball is an outgrowth of the old town ball.
"Another ball game was called 'Two Old Cat,' in which there was a batter at each end, and when one of them hit they exchanged places, and either could be put out before he reached the other plate. As I remember only four could play at once."
Judge Ivory George Kimball, Recollections from a Busy Life 1843 to 1911 (The Carnahan Press, 1912), page 31. Reported in Originals, volume 4, number 11 (November 2011), page 3.
Finder Tom Altherr asks whether there are other known examples of town ball lacking outfielders. One possibility is that the use of a soft ball and young batsmen combined to make long hits so rare as not needing an outfield.
1850s.43 South Carolina College Students Make Do with Town Ball, "Cat"
"Much of the trouble of the (U. of S. Carolina) professors have have no doubt been obviated if there had been outdoor sports or athletics to relieve pent up animal spirits. A game of ball, perhaps, 'town ball,' or 'cat', was played."
Edwin L. Green, A History of the University of South Carolina (The State Company, 1916), page 242.
The text does not state the exact period that is described in this account.
1850c.44 Twenty or So Cricket Clubs Dot the US
"During the late 1840s there was an increase in the number of cricket clubs in New York and nationally. At least six clubs were formed in the metropolitgan area, [but most] survived for only a few years. . . . George Kirsch maintains that by 1850 at least twenty cricket clubs, enrolling perhaps 500 active payers, existed in more than a dozen American communities."
Melvin Adelson, A Sporting Time (U. of Illinois Press, 1886), page 104. Adelson cites Kirsch, "American Cricket," in Journal of Sport Hstory, volume 11 (Spring 1984), page 28.
Do these estimates jibe with current assessments?
1850s.45 Future NL President Plays ball in Mohawk Valley of New York
Nicholas Young, National League President, 1885-1902
"I was born [in 1840] in Amsterdam in the beautiful Mohawk Valley, and while I played barn ball, one old cat, and two old cat in my early boyhood days, cricket was my favorite game, and until I enlisted in the army I never played a regular game of base ball, or the New York game as it was then called."
Letter, Nicholas Young to A. G. Mills, December 2, 1902, in the Mills Commission file at the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was resonding to the Mills Commission's call for knowledge on the origins of base ball.
Young first played base ball in 1863 his cricket friends in the Army could not find opponents to play the game. See entry 1863.19.
1850c.46 Worcester Man Recalls Round Ball in the 1850s
"I will now call your attention to some of the games and amusements indulged in by Worcester boys of fifty or sixty years ago . . . .
"There were various games of ball played in my day. I remember barn-ball, two and three old cat, and round ball. This last was very much like baseball of to-day . . . .
"There were bases of goals, and instead of catching out, the ball was thrown at the player when running bases and if hit he knew it at once and was out. The balls were hard and thrown with force and intent to hit the runner, but an artful dodger could generally avoid being hit.
"On Fast Day there was always a game of ball on he north side of the Common, played by men and older boys, and this attracted large crowd of interested lookers on."
Nathaniel Paine, School Day Reminiscences, Proceedings of the Worcester Society of Antiquity, Volume XIX (1903), pages 46 and 49.
1850s.47 Boys and Girls Play Old Cat at Recess in Wisconsin
"elias molee, in his completely lower-case autobiography, recounted mixed-gender cat games at his southern Wisconsin school in the 1850s: 'a little before 10:30 o'clock she [the teacher] called out "20 minutes recess." [the] boys played catching each other, or played ball which we called "1 old cat" when 3 were playing, boys or girls made no difference to us, when 4 played we called it "2 old cat"'"
Elias Molee, Molee's Wanderings, An Autobiography (private printing, 1919) page 34. As cited by Tom Altherr, Coed Cat Games in Wisconsin in the Early 1850s, Originals, volume 4, number 1 (January 2011, page 2.
1850s.48 'Bama Boys Play Town Ball on Campus
"Remembering his days as a student at the University of Alabama in the 1850s, George Little wrote of the penchant for playing town ball: 'Our favorite outdoor game was town ball. This game was played very much like the modern game of baseball but was played with a soft rubber ball. The ball was thrown at the runner and if he was hit between bases he was out.'"
George Little, Memoirs of George Little (Weatherford Printing Company, Tuscaloosa, 1924), age 14. As reported by Tom Altherr, Town Ball at the University of Alabama in the 1850s, Originals, volume 3, number 10 (October 2010), page 2.
1850s.49 Round Ball Played North of Portland, Maine with "Cat Stick" and "Gools"
"Fast Day was a holiday. Usually that day Loring Hill had become bare of snow and, if so, here was a game of round ball on it.
"The Village Square, where now stands the round iron water tank was often a lively scene. Baseball and "Nines" did not then exist. But round ball was played, sides being chosen by two players putting alternate hands on the bat (or as we called it the cat stick), the one first reaching the top having the first choice. The ball was not hard but soft and a player was put out either by being caught out as now, or by being struck by the ball thrown at him when running for a base, or as we said then a gool, meaning goal. It was a soft ball, compared with now, but it sometimes stung pretty smartly.
Alfred Cole and Charles F. Whitman, Buckfield, Oxford County, Maine (Journal Printshop, Lewiston, 1915)., page 894.
Buckland is about 45 miles north of Portland.
The ages of players is not clear.
As of Jan 2013, this is one of three uses of "gool" instead of "goal" in ballplaying entries, all in the 1850s and found in western MA and ME. [To confirm/update, do an enhanced search for "gool".] One of these 1850s.33 uses "gool" as the name of the game.
1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
"Yorkshire: Now only played by boys, but half a century ago [1850's] by Adults on Ash Wednesday, believing that unless they did so they would fall sick in harvest time. This is a very ancient game, and was elsewhere called stool-ball. [West Yorkshire]. Shropshire: Tut-ball; as played at a young ladies school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. (See also 1850c.34). The players stood together in their 'den,'behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out', and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of three brick-bats, called 'tuts' . . . . The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so she took her place in the den and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical with rounders."
Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (Henry Frowd, London, 1905), page 277. Part or all of this entry appears to credit Burne's Folklore (1883) as its source.
Note: This describes a scrub form of tutball/rounders. It suggests that all hitting was forward, thus in effect using a foul line, as would make sense with a single fielder.
The claim that tutball and stoolball used the same rules is surprising; stoolball is fairly uniformly described as having but two bases or stools, and using a bat.
1850.52 Game of Wicket Near Springfield Goes Bad
GAME OF WICKET BALL --
"The Granville ball players challenged the Westfield players, recently, to a game of ball. The challenge was accepted, and the game came off, on Saturday last, about one mile this side of East Granville. They were to have thirty men on a side, the best in five to be declared victorious, and the defeated party to pay the suppers for all. The following is the tally:
[Each club won two games, and the fifth game was listed as Westfield 112, Granville 25 . . . with only ten Granville players evidently on the field....]
"On the fourth [fifth?] game, the Granville players made but a few rounds, and becoming disheartened, declined to finish the game, and refused, also, to pay for the suppers. Great excitement ensured, and we are sorry to learn that some personal collision was he consequence. Several blows were exchanged. There was great excitement during the day, there being from 600 to 800 people upon he ground. The Westfield players, not to lose their supper, paid for it themselves, and went home."
Springfield Republican, July 23, 1850
In the game account, runs are termed "crosses." In the text they are called "rounds."
Granville is about 15 miles SW of Springfield, and Westfield is about 10 miles E of Springfield.
1850c.54 Doc Adams Creates Modern Shortstop Position
"I used to play shortstop, and I believe I was the first to occupy that place, as it had formerly been left uncovered."
"Doc Adams Remembers", The Sporting News, Feb. 29, 1896.
Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, Game Books 1845-1868, from the Albert G. Spalding Collection of Knickerbocker Base Ball Club's Club Books, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
Also described in John Thorn, "Daniel Lucas Adams (Doc)," in Frederick Ivor-Campbell, et. al, eds., Baseball's First Stars [SABR, Cleveland, 1996], page 1, and in Baseball in the Garden of Eden (2011), page 33.
The limited availability of positions played in early game reports and summaries makes the establishment of Adams's claim to have been the first to play the shortstop position tenuous. A page in the Knick's Game Books from July 1850 show that in one practice game he played "F" for "Field" instead of his usual position of "behind" (catcher), and so may be when he first took the position. Otherwise, there is no inidication in a primary source that he played the position until 1855.
Daniel.Lucius (Doc) Adams (see entry for 1840), was a member and officer of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York and the National Association of Base Ball Players from 1845- 1862. Under his chairmanship, the NABBP Rules Committee standardized the now-familiar 90-foot basepaths and 9-inning games.