Chronology: 1866 - 1871
|Misc BB Firsts|
|Add a Misc BB First|
|About the Chronology|
|Tom Altherr Dedication|
|Add a Chronology Entry|
The chronology from 1866 to 1871 (67 entries)
- 1 1866c.1 Umps Finally Begin to Call Strikes and Balls
- 2 1866.2 Early African American Club in Philly Plays Initial Game Agains Albany Visitors
- 3 1866.3 Five-Home Run game
- 4 1866.4 Admission charged for Atlantic - Athletic championship matches
- 5 1866.5 Modern Game Compared to Traditional Town Ball in IL
- 6 1866.6 First Known Table-top Base Ball Game Appears
- 7 1866.8 Earned Runs Concept Advanced
- 8 1866.11 California Clubs Hold Conventions, View Championship Games
- 9 1866.15 Vassar has First female Base ball club?
- 10 1866.17 Baseball Introduced to the Richmond Public as a Novelty From the North
- 11 1867.1 New York and Philly Colored Clubs Hold Championship -- Philly Win Is Disputed
- 12 1867.2 Colored Clubs Play in Philly: Frederick Douglass Attends a Game
- 13 1867.3 Upset Gives Western Clubs First win vs. the East
- 14 1867.4 Cummings' Curve Curtails Crimson's Clouting
- 15 1867.5 Morrisania Club Takes 1867 Championship, 14-13
- 16 1867.6 Batters' "Hits" First Appear in a Game Report
- 17 1867.7 Nationals Inaugurate Western Tours
- 18 1867.8 Signs Go Back To At Least 1867
- 19 1867.10 Mitts in Michigan
- 20 1867.12 Post-War Spread of Baseball Noted
- 21 1867.13 Moneyball 1867
- 22 1867.14 NABBP Draws Color Line
- 23 1867.15 First Uniform with Serif Letter on Shirt
- 24 1867.16 Baseball's Resemblance to English Rounders Discussed
- 25 1867c.17 Some First Female teams and games in US cities
- 26 1867.17 First Multi-Racial Baseball Team?
- 27 1867.18 First Inter-Racial Baseball Game?
- 28 1867.19 "Bat and Ball" featured in Chicago picnic
- 29 1867.21 Wisconsin's First State Base Ball Tourney Lists $1500 in Prizes
- 30 1868.2 "Hits Per Game" Added to Standard Batting Stats
- 31 1868c.5 The Manufactured "Figure 8" Base Ball Appears?
- 32 1868.6 "Ladies Base Ball and Croquet" club formed in Kalamazoo
- 33 1869.1 "The Best Played Game on Record"
- 34 1869.2 The Only Blemish
- 35 1869.3 Inter-Racial Game in Philadelphia
- 36 1869c.4 Diana Base Ball Club of Northwestern Female Seminary
- 37 1869.5 Hits Elevated to Prominent Status in Box Scores
- 38 1869.6 Slugging Stat Arrives in Early Form
- 39 1869.7 Cincinnati Club Forms as First All-Professional Nine
- 40 1869.11 First Club to Wear Checked/Plaid Stockings
- 41 1869.12 Pastimes Adopt First Striped Stockings for Uniforms
- 42 1869.13 George Wright Joins the All-Professional Cincinnati Club
- 43 1869.14 First Known Inter-racial Game of Base-Ball
- 44 1870.1 The Streak Ends -- Reds Fall to Atlantic, 8-7, in 11 Innings
- 45 1870.2 "Chicagoed"
- 46 1870.3 "Homer" Ump Robs Mutuals
- 47 1870.6 Dead Ball Adopted
- 48 1870c.7 First Catcher's Glove? About 1870, Perhaps
- 49 1870c.8 Base Ball Comes to Massachusetts Youth
- 50 1870.9 Lively Ball Suspected in Mutual-Olympic Game
- 51 1870.10 Philly Paper Lists Betting Odds for US Championship Match in Brooklyn
- 52 1870.11 Chicago Switches to the Dead Ball, Starts Winning Again
- 53 1870.12 Chadwick Ponders Red Stockings' Decline: Lack of Onfield Harmony?
- 54 1870.13 November News: Will the Atlantic Club Stay Strong?
- 55 1870.14 Boston, Other Towns Eye "First-Class Professional Nines" Like the Red Stockings
- 56 1870.15 Chadwick Explains Rule Shifts on Called Strikes, Deliberate Flubs Afield
- 57 1870.16 Red Stocking Leader Explains Background for Club Decision to Exit Pro Base Ball Scene
- 58 1871.2 Battery Sought for African American Club in St. Louis
- 59 1871.3 Coup d'grace for the Amateur Era
- 60 1871.4 National Association Urged to Adopt Modern Batting Average
- 61 1871.5 Base Ball Attendance Practices at the Dawn of the Pro Era
- 62 1871.6 Boston Club Puts City Name on Uniform
- 63 1871.7 Brimmed Uniform Caps Introduced
- 64 1871.8 First Co-Ed college baseball game?
- 65 1871.9 State-wide Base Ball Association for California?
- 66 1871.10 Player Salaries Bump Up: Well-funded Mutuals Deplete the Atlantics
- 67 1871.11 Pros' Leading Averages Reported In Buffalo Newspaper
1866c.1 Umps Finally Begin to Call Strikes and Balls
Association rules permitted umps to call strikes in 1858, and to call balls in 1864, and it's a little hard for us to imagine a game in which those features were missing. But when did they become common?
"The safe generalization is that balls and strikes were rarely called before 1866, gradually became more and more a routine part of the game, with the process reaching completion at some point in the professional era."
Having found and summarized over 25 newspaper articles from 1858 to 1872, Richard suggests three factors that delayed implementation of the key rules:
 Close calls were disputed, making umpiring uncongenial.
 Players didn't insist on called pitches, even though longer games resulted when umpires declined to make calls.
 Resistance to novelty, especially outside greater New York city.
Richard Hershberger, "When Did Umpires
Start Calling Balls and Strikes?," available on Protoball at <url>. Page 5 of 7.
1866.2 Early African American Club in Philly Plays Initial Game Agains Albany Visitors
"On October 3, 1866, at the Wharton Street grounds, the Pythians played and lost a match against the Bachelor Club of Albany, 70-15. This game is the only known regular match for he Pythian in their inaugural year."
"In spite of their enthusiasm for playing ball, the Pythian initially had trouble competing out of their neighborhood. Apparently, there was a turf boundary, and the Irish tried to keep the blacks of the inner-city wards from venturing south of Bainbridge Street . . . the 'dead line,' and any movement beyond 'meant contention.'"
For this game, however, a large crowd accompanied the club to the playing ground, and the game proceeded.
Jerrold Casway, "Philadelphia's Pythians: The "Colored" Team of 1866-1871," National Pastime (SABR, 1995), page 121. Jerry's source is the Sunday Dispatch, October 7, 1866.
1866.3 Five-Home Run game
Lipman Pike hit 5 home runs for the Athletic BBC of Philadelphia on July 16, 1866, a feat never equaled.
Jerrold Casway, "Lipman Pike's Home Run Record-- Athletic vs. Danville", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 49-50.
1866.4 Admission charged for Atlantic - Athletic championship matches
The Atlantic of Brooklyn and the Athletic of Philadelphia played two of three scheduled matches for the championship of 1866; admission was charged for both games.
Eric Miklich, "Money Ball-- Atlantics vs. Athletics", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 51-52.
1866.5 Modern Game Compared to Traditional Town Ball in IL
"Base Ball resembles our old-fashioned favorite game of Town Ball sufficiently to naturalize it very quickly. It is governed by somewhat elaborate rules, but the practice is quite simple. Nine persons on a side, including the Captains, play it. Four bases are placed ninety feet apart, in the figure of a diamond. The Batsman, Ball Pitcher, and one Catcher, take the same position as in Town Ball. Of the outside, besides the Pitcher and Catcher, one is posted at each base, one near the Pitcher, called the â€œShort Stop,â€â€”whose duty is the same as the others in the fieldâ€”to stop the ball. The Innings take the bat in rotation, as in Town Ball,â€”and are called by the Scorer. The ball is pitched, not thrown to themâ€”a distance of fifty feet. The Batsman is permitted to strike at three â€œfairâ€ balls, without danger of being put out by a catch, but hit or miss, must run at the third â€œfairâ€ ball. He may "tip" or hit a foul.
The full article, with commentary from finder Richard Hershberger, is found below in the Supplemental Text section.
Illinois State Journal, May 10, 1866.
() Any idea why this morsel hadn't turned up before 2014?
() By 1860, the modern game seems well-established in Chicago -- was it still unfamiliar elsewhere in IL as late as 1866?
() The writer seems unfamiliar with the modern force-out rule; wasn't that introduced prior in base ball prior to 1866?
() Is it possible that the absence of a comment about the modern no-plugging rule means that local town ball already used a no-plugging rule?
() Many throwback articles mention that the new ball is harder than traditional balls. Could local town ball have already employed hard balls?
1866.6 First Known Table-top Base Ball Game Appears
John Thorn writes:
"Who is the Father of Fantasy Baseball? Most today will answer Dan Okrent or Glen Waggoner, but let me propose Francis C. Sebring, the inventor of the table game of Parlor Base-Ball. In the mid-1860s Sebring was the pitcher (clubs only needed one back then) for the Empire Base Ball Club of New York (and bowler for the Manhattan Cricket Club). At some time around the conclusion of the Civil War, this enterprising resident of Hoboken was riding the ferry to visit an ailing teammate in New York. The idea of making an indoor toy version of baseball came to him during this trip, and over the next year he designed his mechanical table game; sporting papers of 1867 carried ads for his “Parlor Base-Ball” and the December 8, 1866, issue of Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly carried a woodcut of young and old alike playing the game. A few weeks earlier, on November 24, Wilkes' Spirit of the Times had carried the first notice. (In a previous 2011 post I discussed other fantasy-baseball forerunners, from Chief Zimmer's game to Ethan Allen's: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/10/17/fathers-of-fantasy-baseball/)
Our Game posting, June 2, 2014; see -- http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2014/06/02/first-baseball-table-game/. An illustrated advertisement for Parlor Base-Ball had appeared in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, December 8, 1866.
The game had spring-loaded mechanisms for delivering a one-cent piece from a pitcher to a batter and by a batter into a field with cavities: "a pinball machine is not very different," John observes.
For a short history of table-top games, see
 are there other reliable published sources of the evolution of table-top games, besides John's 2011 blog?
 is anyone known to be attempting to reconstruct and play this game, or others?
 can we determine what game events are given in the field of this apparatus?
1866.8 Earned Runs Concept Advanced
"Taking a fair average of the Eureka pitching, by deducting the additional runs in the first inning from the four miscatches, and allowing the one run only which the Athletics first earned in that inning, we find a total of 17 runs in three innings charged to Ford’s pitching, to offset which there was but one miscatch, and but 16 runs charged to Faitoute in six innings, an average of over two to one in his favor. These figures tell the story. We refer to this matter in order to do justice to Faitoute; many laying the defeats sustained in the two matches mainly to his pitching, whereas the fault lay in the errors in the field and in the lack of skill displayed at the bat, the superior of play on the part of their adversaries of course having a great deal to do with the result."
New York Sunday Mercury, September 2, 1866, per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, Sep. 4, 2012
This is remarkably advanced analysis. It doesn't take the final step of calculating the earned run average per nine innings, but it is otherwise identical to the modern ERA stat. It then argues that the true abilities of the players are better shown through statistical analysis than by superficial judgments. Gentlemen, we have a sabermetrician here!
1866.11 California Clubs Hold Conventions, View Championship Games
"In 1866 . . . about a half dozen California baseball clubs sent representatives to first Pacific Base Ball Convention in san Francisco. This was primarily a San Francisco affair; only one team, the Live Oaks from Oakland, came from outside the city. This gathering of baseball tribes sought to standardize rules and organize a local championship."
A second SF convention was held the following year, and "twenty-five clubs from as far away as San Jose attended the meeting. One account claims that one hundred clubs" attended.
P. Zingg and M. Medeiros, Runs, Hits, and an Era: The Pacific Coast League, 1903-1958 (University of Illinois Press, Chicago, 1994), page 2. Cited in Kevin Nelson, The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball (California Historical Society Press, San Francisco, 2004), page 12.
Is there an indication of what standardization was needed, and whether rules were discussed or adopted that wee at variance with New York rules?
Can we determine what original sources Zingg and Medeiros used?
1866.15 Vassar has First female Base ball club?
The Vassar Encyclopedia (online) cites a letter from a Vassar student in 1866 saying she'd joined one of the base ball clubs on the college. The encyclopedia suggest the club might have been the Laurels or the Abenakis. Several sources claim this is the first verified proof of a female base ball club.
The Vassar Encyclopedia
1866.17 Baseball Introduced to the Richmond Public as a Novelty From the North
BASE BALL--MORE MATCH GAMES--DESCRIPTION OF THE MODE OF PLAYING IT.
Two match games of base ball are to come off this afternoon. First. The second game between the Stonewall and the Richmond Junior Clubs, at the grounds of the former, on Church Hill, when both clubs will appear in full uniform, and undoubtedly attract a large attendance of spectators. The next game, the clubs being composed of adults will probably excel in interest, will be played between the Old Dominion and Richmond Clubs at the grounds of the Richmond Club, opposite Elba Park. This game will also attract many spectators, and it is quite probable that among them will be the elite and beauty of Shockoe Hill. We call especial attention to these games, from the fact that the exercise is healthy and inspiring; and we truly hope that our prediction of a large attendance on both grounds will not be thwarted by the result.
The game of base ball was imported here from the North since the close of the war, and though copied in the main from the English game of cricket, is undoubtedly of American origin. It is unquestionably one of the best means in vogue for cultivating the physical powers. And, moreover, it may be set down as a remedy for many of the evils resulting from the immoral associations which the boys and young men of our towns and cities are very apt to become connected with. These opinions have been endorsed by some of the most eminent clergymen in the country, who themselves have formed clubs for purposes of "moral and healthful recreation."
Having been requested to give a sketch of the manner in which base ball is played, we have procured from Messrs. Cole & Turner the rules of the game; and in giving it we comply more particularly from the fact that many of us, in our school-boy days, played a game called "cat," which some think superior to the game of "base." The game of base ball is played in the following manner:
[Here follow, slightly edited into prose form, the entirety of the contemporary NABBP rules essentially verbatim]
In concluding this somewhat elaborate article upon the subject of base ball, we may state that it is seriously in contemplation to form a club for the purpose of playing heavy base by the most weighty (avoirdupois) and influential men in Richmond. We have in our possession the names of the first nine, who have already agreed to become members, and we may at no distant day, or at least so soon as the organization is perfected, give a more particular description of the "Heavy Base Ball Club." Their first game will be looked forward to with much interest.
Richmond Daily Dispatch, 31 August 1866
"Baseball didn't take root in Richmond until 1866, and the pioneer appears to have been Alexander Babcock, a New Yorker who played for Atlantic of Brooklyn in the 1850s, but went south and fought for the Confederacy, settling in Richmond after the war. He founded the Richmond Club, probably the first there, and then the Pastimes, which was a sort of City All-Stars and touring team." -- Bill Hicklin, 10/5/2020
1867.1 New York and Philly Colored Clubs Hold Championship -- Philly Win Is Disputed
From the New York Sunday Mercury, October 6, 1867:
THE COLORED CHAMPIONSHIP – The contest for the championship of the colored clubs played on October 3, on Satellite grounds, Brooklyn, attracted the largest crowd of spectators seen in the grounds this season, half of whom were white people. The Philadelphians brought on a pretty rough crowd, one of them being arrested for insulting the reporters. They also refused to have a Brooklyn umpire, and insisted upon an incompetent fellow’s acting whose decisions led to disputes in every inning. The Excelsiors took the lead from the start, and in the sixth inning led by a score of 37 to 24. But in the seventh inning the Brooklyn party pulled up and were rapidly gaining ground, when the Philadelphians refused to play further on account of the darkness. A row then prevailed.
The following particulars, as far as the reporters could record the contest, the black members of the organization imitating their white brethren in betting and partisan rancor which resulted from it:
EXCELSIOR [Philadelphia]: Price, 3b; Scott, c; Francis, 2b; Clark, p; Glasgow, 1b; Irons, cf; Hutchinson, lf; Brister, rf; Bracy, ss.
UNIQUE [Brooklyn]: Morse, cf; Fairman, p; H. Mobley, c; Peterson, 1b; Anderson, 2b; Bowman, 3b; D. Mobley, ss; Farmer, lf; Bunce, rf.
Excelsior – 42 Unique – 37 (7 innings)
Umpire: Mr. Patterson of the Bachelor Club of Albany
Scorers: Messrs. Jewell (Unique) and Auter (Ecelsiors)
In the same edition:
A GRAND DISPLAY BY THE COLORED CLUBS
The baseball organization among the colored population of Brooklyn, are in a fever of excitement over the advent of the celebrated champion Excelsior Club of Philadelphia, which colored nine will visit Brooklyn on October 3 to play two grand matches with the Eastern and Western Districts, the games being announced to come off on the Satellite Grounds on October 3rd and 4th. These organizations are composed of very respectable colored people well-to-do in this world, and the several nines of the three clubs include many first-class players. The visitors will receive due attention from their colored brethren of Brooklyn: and we trust, for the good name of the fraternity, that none of the “white trash” who disgrace white clubs, by following and bawling for them will be allowed to mar the pleasure of their social colored gathering.
Sunday Mercury, September 29, 1867:
CONTEST BETWEEN COLORED CLUBS
Arrangements have been made between the Excelsiors, of Philadelphia, and two Brooklyn clubs, all colored, to play two games for the colored championship of the United States at Satellite grounds, on the 3rd and 4th of October. We are informed that the contending clubs play a first-class game, and from the novelty of such an event colored clubs playing on an inclosed (sic) ground will excite considerable interest and draw a large crowd.
New York Clipper, October 19, 1867
EXCELSIOR VS. UNIQUE
The Excelsior Club of Philadelphia and the Unique Club of Brooklyn, composed of American citizens of African (de)scent, played a game at the Satellite Ground, Williamsburgh, on Thursday, October 3d. The affair was decidedly unique, and afforded considerable merriment to several hundred of the “white trash” of this city and Brooklyn. The game was a “Comedy of Errors” from beginning to end, and the decisions of the umpire – a gentlemanly looking light-colored party from the Batchelor Club of Albany – excelled anything ever witnessed on the ball field. Disputes between the players occurred every few minutes and the game finally ended in a row. At 5 ½ o’clock, while the Brooklyn club was at the bat, with every prospect of winning the game, the Excelsiors, profiting by the examples set them by their white brothers, declared that it was too “dark” to continue the game, and the umpire called it and awarded the ball to the Philadelphians. Confusion worse confounded reigned supreme for full an hour after this decision, and the prospect seemed pretty fair at one time for a riot, but the police, who were present in large force, kept matters pretty quiet, and the crowd finally dispersed…
New York Sunday Mercury, September 29, 1867 and October 6, 1867
New York Clipper, October 19, 1867
A shorter account appeared in New York Sunday Dispatch, October 6, 1867
See also Irv Goldberg, "Put on Your Coats, Put on Your Coats, Thas All!," in Inventing Baseball: the 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 38-59.
Was the October 4th game played between these African American clubs?
Is this game properly thought of as a national championship?
1867.2 Colored Clubs Play in Philly: Frederick Douglass Attends a Game
[A] "FRED. DOUGLAS [sic] SEES A COLORED GAME. – The announcement that the Pythian, of Philadelphia, would play the Alert, of Washington, D.C. (both colored organizations) on the 16th inst., attracted quite a concourse of spectators to the grounds of the Athletic, Seventeenth street and Columbus avenue, Philadelphia.
"The game progressed finely until the beginning of the fifth innings, when a heavy shower of rain set in, compelling the umpire, Mr. E. H. Hayhurst, of the Athletic, to call [the] game. The score stood at the end of the fourth innings: Alert 21; Pythian, 18. The batting and fielding of both clubs were very good. Mr. Frederick Douglas was present and viewed the game from the reporters’ stand. His son is a member of the Alert."
Note: From two weeks later:
[B] "COLORED BALL PLAYERS. At Philadelphia, on the 19th inst., the Pythians, of that city, played a match game with the Mutuals of Washington, with the following results: Pythians – 43; Mutuals – 44
Pythian: Cannon, p; Catto, 2b; Graham, lf; Hauley, c; Cavens, 1b; Burr, rf; Adkins, 3b; Morris, cf; Sparrow, ss.
Mutual: H. Smith, p; Brown, c; Harris, 1b; Parks, 2b; Crow, lf; Fisher, cf; Burley, 3b; A. Smith, rf; Whiggs, ss.
[A] New York Clipper, July 13, 1867.
[B] New York Clipper, July 27, 1867.
For more on one early African American club, the Pythian Club, see J. Casway, "Philadelphia's Pythians; The "Colored" Team of 1866-1871," National Pastime, (SABR, 1995), pp. 120-123.
1867.3 Upset Gives Western Clubs First win vs. the East
When the Forest City BBC of Rockford, IL, upset the touring National BBC of Washington, D.C., it marked the first win for a "western" club against a team from the east.
John Thorn, "The Most Important Game in Baseball History?-- Rockford vs. Washington", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 55-57
1867.4 Cummings' Curve Curtails Crimson's Clouting
Candy Cummings claimed that he first used his curve ball successfully (after numerous previous attempts) in a game against Harvard College on Oct. 7, 1867
Mark Pestana,"Candy Cummings Debuts the Curve-- Excelsiors vs. Harvard", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century SABR, (2013), pp. 60-61
Candy Cummings, "How I Pitched the First Curve", The Baseball Magazine, Aug. 1908. Cummings dated his first boyish attempts at a curve to the summer of 1863.
There are many issues with any individual claim to invention of the curve ball.
1867.5 Morrisania Club Takes 1867 Championship, 14-13
The Union Club of Morrisania won the 1867 Championship, winning its second game of the series, 14-13, over the Atlantic Club. Charlie Pabor is the winning pitcher. Akin at shortstop and Austin in center field make spectacular fielding plays.
Gregory Christiano, Baseball in the Bronx, Before the Yankees (PublishAmerica, 2013), page 75. Original sources to be supplied.
Can we add something about the first game, and the sites of each game? A bit more about interim game scoring?
1867.6 Batters' "Hits" First Appear in a Game Report
In the first issue of The Ball Players’ Chronicle, edited by Henry Chadwick, a game account of the “Championship of New England” between the Harvard College Club and the Lowell Club of Boston featured a box score that included a list of the number of “Bases Made on Hits” by each player. This was the first instance of player’s hit totals being tracked in a game.
The Ball Players' Chronicle (New York City, NY), 6 June 1867: p. 2.
Note: for a 1916 account of the history of the "hit," see the supplemental text below.
For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,” p 1 – 9:
Do we know if Hits were defined in about the way we would define them today?
1867.7 Nationals Inaugurate Western Tours
"...the Nationals (of Washington, DC)...were the first Eastern club to widely "tour." And so among their other accomplishments should be noted their popularizing of the "tour" which came to dominate the baseball seasons of 1868, 1869 and 1870, before the National Association began in 1871...these tours did much to help convince club owners and supporters that baseball could sustain a professional existence."
Greg Rhodes,19cbb post June 17, 2002
1867.8 Signs Go Back To At Least 1867
"Always have an understanding with your two sets of fielders in regard to private signals, so as to be able to call them in closer, or place them out further, or nearer the foul-ball lines, as occasion may require, without giving notice to your adversaries."
Haney's Book of Base Ball Reference, 1867
19cbb post by Peter Morris, Nov. 8, 2002
1867.10 Mitts in Michigan
"We have noticed in all the matches played thus far
that the use of gloves by the players was to some
degree a customary practice, which we think, cannot be
too highly condemned, and are of the opinion that the
Custers would have shown a better score if there had
been less buckskin on their hands."
Detroit Free Press, 8/4/1867, reference in 19cbb post #2124, Aug. 4, 2003
1867.12 Post-War Spread of Baseball Noted
"The Base Ball Mania
Since the cruel war was over, the patriotism of our nation's young
men has commenced to manifest itself in the shape of a general
mania--no, not mania, but passion--for the game of base ball, generally
denominated our "national game," with evident propriety, seeing that it
is much better and much more generally played in American than in other
countries. The popularity of base ball was greatly increased,
especially at the West, within the present season. In Wisconsin, where,
three years ago, there was scarcely a club playing anything like the
"regulation" game, there are now probably not less than a hundred
clubs, all in the "full tide of successful operation." Nearly every
country newspaper that we take up contains either an account of a match
between the club of Dodge's Corners and the invincible First Nine of
Smithville, or else a notice for the "Irrepressibles," the "Athletics,"
the "Badgers," or the "Gophers" to turn out for practice on Saturday
afternoon. An immense amount of proper healthy physical exercise if
thus afforded, and a fearful amount of muscle and dexterity developed.
And at the same time the youths who thus disport themselves can have
the satisfaction of realizing that they are practicing at our great
nation's own patriotic game. "
Milwaukee Sentinel, July 25, 1867, per 19cbb post by Dennis Pajot, Jan. 28, 2010
1867.13 Moneyball 1867
"Many will be surprised to learn that the Atlantics have vacated the scene of their greatest triumphs, and have located themselves on the Eckford grounds, or rather the Union ball grounds, in Williamsburgh, entirely out of the way of the residence of the majority of their members, and in opposition to the wishes of many of the best men in their club. It would appear from all accounts that the present ruler of the club, failing to make any advantageous arrangement with Weed & Decker for a greater share of the proceeds in match days than the players received last year, and finding Cammeyer of the Union grounds ready to offer good terms to secure the club, they availed themselves of the latter offer of sixty per cent of the receipts and closed with him at once. But this being against the rules of the association, they made out a new form of agreement and hired the grounds after paying forty per cent of the receipts taken in lieu of rent. They change will not benefit the club, and it is the worst precedent Cammeyer could have adopted as all clubs can now fully claim a share of the sale money."
New York Daily News, April 21, 1867, per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, Sep. 30, 2013
1867 would be a watershed year for baseball finances. At the beginning of the season ten cents was still the standard admission. Midway through the season some clubs would experiment with twenty-five cent admissions. It turned out that the public was willing to pay this, and this changed everything. At ten cents the receipts paid for expenses, but only the top draws like the Atlantics and the Athletics could turn a significant profit. At twenty-five cents this opened up a revenue stream to many more clubs, and the fraternity found itself awash with cash (at least compared to previously). A similar thing would happen a century or so later with television money. The effect in the 1860s was to lock in professionalism. By 1868 there were openly professional picked nine games being played, and the following year they dropped the pretense entirely.
1867.14 NABBP Draws Color Line
"...the report of the Nominating Committee, through the acting chairman, Mr. James W. Davis, was presented, the feature of it being the recommendation to exclude colored clubs from representation in the Association, the object being to keep out of the Convention the discussion of any subject having a political bearing, as this undoubtedly had.
The Ball Players’ Chronicle December 19, 1867
1867.15 First Uniform with Serif Letter on Shirt
The Pastime Club of Baltimore was the first to display a serif letter on its shirts, in 1867.
For more uniform firsts, see http://www.threadsofourgame.com/uni-firsts/#
1867.16 Baseball's Resemblance to English Rounders Discussed
"I have mentioned base-ball as one of our principal out-door games. We play cricket, but base-ball is to our lads what cricket is to yours. It is the English ball game “rounders,” but developed into something much more interesting and important. It is preferred to cricket, because the play is more varied and less formal; but nevertheless it has become a very formidable and solemn game." Sydney Morning Herald, April 11, 1867, quoting the London Spectator
[from “Yankee Pastimes” by “A Yankee”], Sydney Morning Herald April 11, 1867, quoting the London Spectator.
Finder Richard Hershberger also notes, 6/3/2016:
The distinction between baseball as a developed version of rounders and baseball as a development from rounders is subtle, but I think it is important. In the first, baseball/rounders is perceived as a family of closely related games, some more and some less developed. In the second, baseball is a single game defined by an official set of rules, descended but distinct from rounders. The former emphasizes the similarities, the latter the differences. This is a necessary precursor to the later claim that baseball is completely unrelated to rounders.
This is a late example of the formula that baseball and rounders are the same game, albeit baseball a more developed form. You can find such statements in the 1850s, but by 1867 the more typical version was that baseball developed from rounders. Here is English commentary on the  American baseball tourists:
"Baseball is an American modification, and, of course, an improvement of the old English game of rounders..." New York Sunday Mercury, August 16, 1874, quoting the London Post of August 1, 1874
Is Protoball correct in thinking that the unnamed American's quote had appeared in an earlier "Yankee Pastimes" column in the London Spectator, and was then cited in the Sydney (Australia?) Morning Herald of April 11, 1867?
1867c.17 Some First Female teams and games in US cities
The games and clubs entries in the "Pre-Pro Baseball Database" contain the following entries (and years) for female/women/girl/ladies teams and clubs (as of 7-10-2018):
1868--Nashville, Peterboro NY
1870--Rockford, Cincinnati, Lancaster Ohio
1874--Prospect Hill School in Greenfield, MA (Indianapolis News, May 16, 1874)
1895--Fox Lake, IL
See Pre-Pro Baseball Database on this website
1867.17 First Multi-Racial Baseball Team?
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Aug. 31, 1867, ran a box score on what may be the first reported baseball match in Hawaii, between the Pacific and Pioneer Clubs.
The players for the Pacifics included three non-Anglo names: J. Nakookoo, 2b; J. Naone, ss; and G. Laanui, rf. The Pacifics won the game 11-9.
Now, baseball had been played at the famed Punahou School for years and that school included pupils from prominent Polynesian-Hawaiian and Anglo-Hawaiian families.
This might be the first club integrated with Asians. Florence, MA in 1865 had a black player on their club.
The same issue of the newspaper included a report on the formation of a "pure Hawaiian" (presumably Polynesian-Hawaiian) team:
A new base ball club will soon be organized, to be composed entirely of pure Hawaiians.... The Pioneers and Pacifics [the 2 existing clubs, which played in the game above] will have to look out for their laurels."
The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, Aug. 31, 1867
1867.18 First Inter-Racial Baseball Game?
Between a Haole (white) team and a "native" (Polynesian) team, won by the latter 11-9. See
http://protoball.org/Pacific_Club_of_Honolulu_v_Pioneer_Club_of_Honolulu_on_24_August_1867 and sources cited therein.
1867.19 "Bat and Ball" featured in Chicago picnic
The Chicago Tribune, July 18, 1867 has an ad for the 6th annual St. George's Day picnic. Among the "old English sports" to be played at the picnic are cricket and "trap, bat and ball."
The Chicago Tribune, July 18, 1867
1867.21 Wisconsin's First State Base Ball Tourney Lists $1500 in Prizes
"FIRST ANNUAL STATE BASE BALL TOURNAMENT OF WISCONSIN, $1500 IN PRIZES TO BE AWARDED. There will be a State Base Ball Tournament at Beloit, Wis. commencing Tuesday, 30 September, 1867. Under the auspices of the Wisconsin Association of Base Ball Players.
"The following are the prizes to be awarded. . . ."
"A New Baseball Discovery," John Thorn, June 17, 2013, posted at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/a-new-baseball-discovery-a1d8f579388.
(John found the 7-foot broadside for the tournament at the Beloit Historical Society, and posted it in a short article about the experience.)
Top first class prize -- $100 cash and $100 Gold Mounted Bat
Junior prizes (under age 18), "Pony Clubs" (under age 15)
Prizes for top out-of-state club, plus several "special" prizes: best pitcher, best catcher, most homers, best runner, best thrower.
From John Pregler: "The Beloit Free Press published the following complete list of the prizes awarded at the Beloit Base Ball Tournament:
Senior Clubs - First Class: 1st prize, Cream City of Milwaukee; 2nd prize: Whitewater of Whitewater; 3rd prize: Badgers of Beloit.
Second Class: 1st, Capital City Jr. of Madison; 2nd: Delavan of Delavan; 3rd, Eagle of Beloit.
Juniors: 1st, Badger Jr of Beloit; 2nd, Excelsior Jr of Janesville.
Pony: Rock River Jr of Beloit
Outside the State - Seniors: 1st, Phoenix of Belvidere, IL; 2nd, Mutual of Chicago" - Janesville Gazette, Sept. 19, 1867
[A] Is "Pony Club" a common term for teen clubs?
[B] Wasn't $1500 a tidy sum in 1867?
-- from John Thorn, 9/22/20: "$1500 was a hefty prize: $27,783.73 in 2019 dollars (via Consumer Price Index adjustment)."
1868.2 "Hits Per Game" Added to Standard Batting Stats
A seasonal analysis of the “Club Averages” for the Cincinnati Club in the 1868 season was included in the December 5, 1868 issue of the New York Clipper. “Average to game of bases on hits” is included for the first time for each player, in addition to “Average runs to game,” “Average outs to game,” and “Average runs to outs.” Each of these averages was represented in decimal form for the first time in the Clipper.
New York Clipper (New York City, NY), 5 December 1868: p. 275.
1868c.5 The Manufactured "Figure 8" Base Ball Appears?
"I inclose a clipping relating to base ball. I am the inventor of the base ball cover referred to. Fifty-five years ago, when a boy of ten years, my mother gave me yarn enough, of her own spinning, for a ball. Next thing was leather for a cover. I was a poor boy and couldn't buy. An old shoemaker gave me two small pieces, and said perhaps I could piece them up. My efforts resulted in the exact shape now in universal use. About twenty years ago I showed to a nephew of mine the cover of my boyhood. He was working for Harwood, the great ball maker, of Natick, Mass. Harwood adopted this cover at once, as it takes much leather and has but one seams [seam?], instead of five or six. Well, I didn't reap the fortunate [fortune?], as I didn't get it patented, but no matter, I've “got there all the same.” (The Sporting Life November 14, 1888)
Letter to The Sporting Life from C.H. Jackson, West Brookfield, MA, November 4, 1888 -- printed November 14, 1888.
Richard Hershberger notes, 9/12/2017:
"My opinion has been that this is unsubstantiated, but plausible. I want to focus here on the bit about the writer's nephew working for Harwood. I just made the connection with this description of baseball manufacture, from four years earlier:
'On the upper floor of the establishment sat several men with baskets of dampened chamois and buckskin clippings at their sides. Before each workman stood a stout piece of joist, in the end of which was inserted a mold, hemispherical in shape, in which the balls are formed. Taking a handful of cuttings from the basket, the workman pressed them together in his hands and then worked about the mass a few yards of strong woollen yarn. Placing the embryo ball in the mold, he pounded it into shape with a heavy flat mallet, and then wound on more yarn and gave the ball another pounding. After testing its weight on a pair of scales and its diameter with a tape measure he threw the ball into a basket and began another. When the newly-made balls are thoroughly dried they are carried to the sewing-room on the floor below, where they are to receive their covers. Forty young women sat at tables sewing on the covers of horse-hide. Grasping a ball firmly in her left hand, with her right hand one of the young women thrust a three-cornered needle through the thick pieces of the cover and drew them firmly together. A smart girl can cover two or three dozen of the best and eight dozen of the cheaper grades of balls in a day. The wages earned weekly range from $7 to $9. The balls are afterward taken to the packing-room, where the seams are smoothed down and the proper stamps are put on. The best balls are made entirely of yarn and India-rubber. “My brother was one of the pioneers in this business,” said the manufacturer. “He was the inventor of the two-piece cover now in general use throughout the country. If my brother had only patented his invention the members of our family would not be wearing diamonds instead of bits of white glass in our shirt fronts. Ball-covers are made, almost without exception, of horse-hide, which costs $3 a side. We used to obtain our supply from John Cart, a leather dealer in the Swamp for nearly thirty-five years. We are obliged to go to Philadelphia now, there being no merchant here who keeps horse-hide leather. The capacity of our factory when we get our new molding machines in working order will be about 15,000 daily, each machine being expected to turn out 1,200 balls daily.' (St. Louis Post-Dispatch June 14, 1884, quoting the New York Tribune)
"It is the second paragraph that jumped out at me. Was C. H. Jackson's nephew working for Harwood because that was his father's business? It seems plausible. The Post-Dispatch piece doesn't identify the manufacturer, or even the city. I have been unable to find the Tribune original. If anyone else can, this might shed some light on the question. Or confuse it further."
1868.6 "Ladies Base Ball and Croquet" club formed in Kalamazoo
The Kalamazoo Telegraph, May 29, 1868 reports that local ladies have formed a "base ball and croquet club," have already practiced base ball, and hope to play the men at some future date.
The Kalamazoo Telegraph, May 29, 1868
1869.1 "The Best Played Game on Record"
Due to the fine standard of play and the unusually low score (4-2), the Cincinnati Red Stockings' win over the Mutual in Brooklyn on June 15, 1869 in Brooklyn was hailed as the best game ever played.
Greg Rhodes, "A Cunning Play Saves the Streak-- Cincinnati Red Stockings at Mutuals", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 63-64.
1869.2 The Only Blemish
On Aug. 26, 1869, the "Haymakers", the Union BBC of Lansingburgh, NY, held the undefeated Cincinnati Red Stockings to what was officially declared a tie by refusing to continue the match after a decision by the umpire went against them.
Greg Rhodes, "Unbeaten but Tied-- Cincinnati vs. Unions", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 65-67
1869.3 Inter-Racial Game in Philadelphia
The game between the Olympic and Pythian Clubs of Philadelphia on Sep. 3, 1869, has been cited in 2013 is the first known inter-racial game.
Jerrold Casway, "Inter-racial Baseball-- the Pythians vs. the Olympics", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 68-70.
In March 2019 we learned of an earlier inter-racial game game in Ohio: see 1869.14.
These may be the first inter-racial games involving African-Americans. But there was an inter-racial game involving a Polynesian team in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1867. See 1867.17, see Honolulu in Pre-pro baseball, and see the Our Game blog article.
1869c.4 Diana Base Ball Club of Northwestern Female Seminary
In the fall of 1869, a number of newspapers reported on the existence of the Diana Female Base Ball Club at the "Northwestern Seminary" at Evanston. There has been some confusion in secondary sources about this team, with some scholars linking it to Northwestern University. This is incorrect. The Northwestern Female College (as it was known) was a separate institution from the University. The latter did not admit its first female student until Fall semester 1869. One female student could not have organized a baseball club. Further evidence that the Diana Base Ball Club was composed of younger girls, not college women, is the fact that a junior "pony club" of boys challenged them to a match game. (There is no evidence this game was ever played.) By way of further clarification, the Northwest Female College operated until 1871 when its trustees handed over responsibility for educating young women to the trustees of the newly-chartered Evanston College for Ladies. The original intent of the founders was to operate as the Women's Department of Northwestern University. This did not happen until 1874 when it became the Women's College of Northwestern University. Frances Willard, who would later gain international fame as head of the Women's Christian Temperance Union was a graduate of the Northwestern Female College and first president of the Evanston College for Ladies.
Chicago Times (22 Oct 1869), p. 6. Quoted in: Robert Pruter, "Youth Baseball in Chicago, 1868-1890: Not Always Sandlot Ball," Journal of Sport History, 26.1 (Spring 1999): 1-28. Also, The National Chronicle (Boston) (30 Oct 1869), p. 259, “All Shapes and Sizes,” Bangor Daily Whig & Courier (8 Nov 1869), n.p., “The Playground: Our National Game,” Oliver Optic's Magazine: Our Boys and Girls (20 Nov. 1869): 639.
1869.5 Hits Elevated to Prominent Status in Box Scores
In the September 19, 1867 issue of The Ball Players’ Chronicle, hits are placed side-by-side with runs and outs for the first time in a series of box scores throughout the periodical. They are abbreviated with the letter “B” for the number of at-bats in a game for which “bases are made on hits."
The Ball Players' Chronicle (New York City, NY), 19 September 1867.
1869.6 Slugging Stat Arrives in Early Form
“Average total bases on hits to a game” first appears in the New York Clipper on December 4, 1869. It would continue to be used in 1870 and 1871 before falling out of favor. Slugging average—total bases on hits per at-bat—would be adopted by the National League in 1923 as one of two averages, along with batting average, tracked by the official statistician.
New York Clipper (New York City, NY), 4 December 1869: p. 277.
1869.7 Cincinnati Club Forms as First All-Professional Nine
George Wright, Harry Wright
"In the fall of 1868, a group of Cincinnati businessmen and lawyers, serving as directors of the Cincinnati Base Ball Club, agreed to a concept so commonplace today that it is difficult to imagine how risky it seemed at the time. The club would recruit the best players it could find, from around the country (and), pay all the players a salary..."
Rhodes, Greg & Erardi, John, The First Boys of Summer. Road West Publishing Co., 1994, p.4
1869.11 First Club to Wear Checked/Plaid Stockings
The National Club of Washington DC was the first to use checked or plaid stockings on their uniforms.
For more uniform firsts, see http://www.threadsofourgame.com/uni-firsts/#
1869.12 Pastimes Adopt First Striped Stockings for Uniforms
The Pastime Club of Baltimore was, in 1869, the first to wear striped stockings on their uniforms.
For more uniform firsts see http://www.threadsofourgame.com/uni-firsts/
1869.13 George Wright Joins the All-Professional Cincinnati Club
In late February 1869, the Sunday Mercury reported that prominent player George Wright had joined the Cincinnati base ball club as its highest-paid player.
The 22-year-old, already counted among the most proficient players in the game; playing for New York's Union club in 1868, he had averaged four runs (and over seven hits) per game, and Henry Chadwick cited him as the best "general player" in base ball.
George Wright was only 22 years old in 1869, but had already had a variety of base ball experiences. Born into a prominent family of athletes (his father was a NYC club pro, and his older brother Harry played cricket and base ball, and was the player-manager of the famous Cincinnati championship club).
Wright's business was base ball. "Arranged employment and waived club dues had been considered acceptable evasions of the NABBP rule forbidding compensation since its adoption in 1859," and at age 19 he played on his brother Harry's Gotham Club in 1863 and 1864. His subsequent migrations:
Age 16-17 (1863-4) -- He played in the outfield of the Gotham Club in New York in 1863 and was the club's catcher for most of 1864.
Age 18 (1865) -- He caught for the Olympic Club of Philadelphia, and also subbed for that city's Keystone Club on its NYC visit. Chadwick would later name him the best catcher in the game.
Age 19 (1866) -- He started the year with the Gotham Club, and then decided to move to the first-tier Union Club of Morrisania, which compiled a better record than the year's unofficial champions, the Atlantic Club, and he became its shortstop.
Age 20 (1867) He moved to Washington and the National Base Ball Club, nominally serving with seven teammates as clerks in the Treasury Department. The National Club won 25 of its first 30 games, and undertook a tour to the West, including two games against his brother Harry's Cincinnati club.
Age 21 (1868) He played for the Union Club in NYC. The club won 39 of its 45 games, and undertook a 20-game tour of the west, including Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati club folded after its 1870 season, and George Wright joined his brother's Boston Red Stockings outfit in the new National Association for 1871 through 1875, where it won four of five league championships. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1937.
Robert Tholkes, "The Young and the Restless: George Wright 1865-1868." Baseball Research Journal, Fall 2016, pp. 95-101.
Bob Tholkes' thorough 2016 paper [cited above] throws welcome light on the nature of elite base ball in period immediately following the Civil War, a period also associated with the rise of "Base Ball Fever" during which local clubs, representing individual companies, affinity groups, etc., formed clubs, some of which playing at sunrise [as early as five o'clock AM], prior to the work day.
1869.14 First Known Inter-racial Game of Base-Ball
"A very interesting game of base-ball was played on the Newtown Grounds on Saturday afternoon, August 7, between the Black Hawks (colored), of Africa, and the Alerts (white) of Plainville. . . . "
The account included a box score showing the Black Hawks as winners, 47-43.
Cincinnati Enquirer, August 11, 1869.
Newtown OH (1880 pop. about 400) is about 10 miles east of Cincinnati, and is across the Little Miami River from Plainville OH.
Previously the September 3, 1869 Pythians-Olympic match in Philadelphia was seen as the first game between a white and non-white club. See 1869.3
1870.1 The Streak Ends -- Reds Fall to Atlantic, 8-7, in 11 Innings
On June 14, 1870, The Atlantic of Brooklyn broke the Cincinnati Red Stockings' 81-game winning streak, beating them 8-7 in 11 innings.
Greg Rhodes, "The Atlantic Storm-- Cincinnati Red Stockings vs. Atlantics", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 71-73.
See also George Bulkley. "The Day the Reds Lost," at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/the-day-the-reds-lost-eb6bd8dd54a9, reproduced from SABR's National Pastime, 1983.
The Bulkley article reports that the Atlantics had lost three times in 1870, and local oddmakers gave 5-1 pregame odds for the Reds . . . lengthened to 10-1 after the Reds forged a 3-0 lead after three innings.
The Atlantic club tied the game in the eighth, and threatened in the ninth, until shortstop George Wright pulled the still-legal trap play that he turned into a double play. There ensued a dispute over whether the Atlantic could claim a tie by vacating the premises, one that was decided by Henry Chadwick in favor of the Reds playing their first-ever tenth inning.
In the 11th, Atlantic catcher Bob Ferguson decided to bat left-handed to avoid hitting to SS Wright, and got on base, scoring the winning run on a throwing error by Cincinnati 1B Charley Gould.
The 19th-century baseball slang for being held scoreless originated when the Mutuals BBC traveled to Chicago and humiliated the White Stockings, 9-0, on July 23, 1870.
Richard Bogovich and Mark Pestana, "The First 'Chicago' Game-- New York vs. Chicago", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 74-76
1870.3 "Homer" Ump Robs Mutuals
The Mutuals, named champions for 1870 in the East, were denied enthronement as national champions when, with the Mutuals leading in the ninth inning of the decisive game in Chicago on Nov. 1, 1870, a local umpire refused to call strikes on White Stocking batters.
Bob Tiemann, "The Birth of the NA-- Mutuals vs. Chicago" in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 77-78
Tiemann suggests that the incident was an incentive for the formation over the winter of 1870-71 of the National Association, with the first championship based on total wins over the course of the season.
1870.6 Dead Ball Adopted
On November 30, 1870, the National Association of Base Ball Players reduced the amount of rubber permitted in base balls to one ounce, effectively inaugurating a "dead" ball. Balls had previously contained as much as 2 1/2 ounces.
Peter Morris, A Game of Inches, 2005, p.37
Critics of the game had long insisted that low-scoring games were indicated play of higher quality.
1870c.7 First Catcher's Glove? About 1870, Perhaps
"Re: a claimed antedating of catcher's gloves
"Another early primary source glove reference is to Cincinnati Red Stocking catcher Doug Allison wearing gloves in 1870: 'Allison caught today in a pair of buckskin mittens to protect his hands.' Cincinnati Commercial June 29, 1870
"For several yearly editions starting in 1872, the DeWitt Guide had the following advice: "The catcher will find it advantageous when facing swift pitching to wear tough leather gloves with the fingers cut off near the joint and they will prevent him having his hands split and puffed up."
"The earliest advertisement I’ve found for “catchers’ gloves” being sold commercially is 1875.
"There are many secondary source references to gloves being used in the early 1870s by Allison, White, Nat Hicks, Fergy Malone, and others. I agree that gloves were somewhat common and not considered shameful in the early 1870s. The shaming started in the late 1880s and 1890s when the infielders and outfielders starting using very large gloves (originally meant for catchers) which were often derided as “oven mitts” or “boxing gloves.”
Cincinnati Commercial, June 29, 1870.
In the 1880s we find a claim that catchers' gloves had been known in the 1860s:
"An exchange says that 'Jim White, the third baseman of the Detroit club, was the first man who ever used gloves while catching behind the bat.' This is a mistake. Delavarge, the catcher of the old Knickerbockers, an amateur club of Albany, used gloves when playing behind the bat in the sixties." The Sporting News July 5, 1885.
But in a 9/21/16 19CBB posting, Bob Tholkes wrote:
"I've read several Knick of Albany game accounts in which Delavarge played without running into any mention of gloves. If he wore them, it would have been to protect an injured hand (he was a blacksmith, if memory serves), and not routinely."
And then David Arcidiacono offered the 1870 Allison item listed above.
1870c.8 Base Ball Comes to Massachusetts Youth
"I well remember when baseball made its first appearance in our quiet little community."
 Charles Sinnott writes that in early childhood "the little boys' ball game was either "Three-old-cats" or "Four-Old Cats," and describes both variations.
 He recalls that "The game that bore the closest resemblance to our modern baseball was "roundstakes" or "rounders." In some communities it was know (sic) as "townball." He recalls this game as marked by the plugging of runners, use a soft ball, featuring stakes or stones as bases, compulsory running -- including for missed third strikes, an absence of foul territory, an absence of called strikes or balls, and teams of seven to ten players on a team. "It was originally an old English game much played in the colonies."
 In describing the new game of base ball, he recalls adjustment to the harder ball ("it seemed to us like playing with a croquet ball"), gloves only worn by the catchers, an umpire who was hit in the eye by a foul tip, fingers "knocked out of joint" by the hard ball, a bloody nose from a missed fly ball, and "that we unanimously pronounced [base ball] superior to our fine old game of roundstakes."
SEE FULL CHAPTER TEXT AT "SUPPLEMENTAL TEXT," BELOW --
Chapter 13, "The Coming of Baseball," in When Grandpa Was a Boy: Stories of My Boyhood As Told to My Children and Grandchildren, by Charles Peter Sinnott (four types pages; presumed unpublished; from the Maxwell Library Archives, Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater MA).
Protoball does not know of other use of "roundstakes" as a predecessor game in the US.
Duxbury MA (1870 population about 2300) is about 35 miles south of Boston.
Sinnott died in 1943. On the date of his hundredth birthday, in August 1959, his family distributed 100 copies of his boyhood memoirs.
 Is the date "1870c" reasonable for the item? Sinnott was born in 1859, and writes that he was in his teens when he first saw base ball. His old-cat games would have come in the mid-1860s.
 It is presumed that Sinnott stayed in or near his birthplace, Duxbury MA, for the events he writes of. Is that reasonable?
1870.9 Lively Ball Suspected in Mutual-Olympic Game
"It was supposed that a lively ball was played with, on account of the heavy batting [Mutual had 31 hits and 29 runs]. Both the Olympic games of yesterday and Monday were played with a ball that contained but half an ounce of rubber; the yarn and covering bringing it up to regulation weight."
New York Tribune, September 14, 1870.
For a concise account of rules on baseballs, see Chapter 17 ("The Ball and Bat"), in Richard Hershberger, Strike Four: The Evolution of Baseball, (Rowan and Littlefield, 2019, pp 121-126.
Richard Hershberger annotation, 9/14/2020: "Missing from [the formal rule on ball makeup] is any discussion of relative proportions of rubber and yarn. In other words, how much rubber? Rubber is denser than yarn, so the size and weight requirements imply a range of legal proportions between the two. Some clubs were rumored to get around this, having illegal balls made with extra rubber, balanced by cork. . . . There were learned discussions of the merits of lively and dead balls, and arguments before the game started over what ball to use. Also, the occasional surreptitious switch mid-game."
Ball Four points out [pp 124-125) that a limit of one ounce of rubber was defined for a regulation ball in 1871. In 1876, the new National League addressed the issue by requiring clubs to use a standard Spalding ball in its games, thus lessening suspicion the club that provides a game ball thereby gains competitive advantage.
Were the weights and/or circumferences of balls subject to impartial tests at or before games?
1870.10 Philly Paper Lists Betting Odds for US Championship Match in Brooklyn
"The Athletic Base Ball Club [of Philadelphia]has again been defeated, making the sixth thrashing [of 11-10] which they have received during the present season. This afternoon [September 15] they played on the Union Grounds, in Brooklyn, the deciding game for the championship of the United States, with the Mutual Club . . . . Bets were freely offered prior to the game of a hundred to fifty . . . but even at these heavy odds there were few takers." The crowd was reported as about three thousand persons.
"Another Defeat," Philadelphia Inquirer, September 16, 1870. As reproduced on Richard Hershberger's Facebook posting, September 15, 2020
"Note also how the betting line is featured prominently in the account. The baseball press routinely decried the influence of gambling on baseball, while carefully reporting the odds. Consistency was not a priority here.
"The crowd of three thousand seems a bit low. It is respectable for this era, but a really big game would draw a lot more. The Philadelphians claimed that that the A's held the championship, with this loss passing it to the Mutuals. No one outside Philadelphia really believed the A's held the championship, or more would have turned out today."
-- Richard Hershberger, 9/15/2020
1870.11 Chicago Switches to the Dead Ball, Starts Winning Again
"Circumstances prevented any improvement in the organization of the [White Sox] nine until some weeks after their return from their disastrous [New York] tour; finally, however, the nine was re-organized . . . the muffin players' rubber ball was re-placed by a dead ball, and from the[n] . . .the Chicago club has been marked by a series of uninterupted victories, the crowning triumph being the defeat of the strongest nine in the United States in two successive contests."
New York Clipper October 29, 1870
1870.12 Chadwick Ponders Red Stockings' Decline: Lack of Onfield Harmony?
"THE REDSTOCKINGS AND THEIR RECENT DEFEATS -- Everybody in this vicinity is making the inquiry, 'What is the matter with the Reds?' Their recent defeats at Chicago and Rockford have surprised their friends here. . . [B]oth at Chicago and Rockford last week they were badly whipped. Something must be wrong. It is not the lack of skill or generalship that is the cause. We rather suspect that there is that same lack of harmony and acting in concert . . . which marked the play of the first Chicago nine. . . . In the game at Rockford on October 15, the Red Stockings received the worst defeat they have sustained since they first donned the red hose."
New York Sunday Mercury, October 23, 1870.
1870.13 November News: Will the Atlantic Club Stay Strong?
"The Atlantics will be divided up among the leading professional nines for 1871. Ferguson and Start are to go to Chicago, Chapman and Hall southwest, and others will help with the Mutuals and Haymakers. The Atlantics, it is said, will then return to an amateur footing for 1871."
New York Sunday Mercury November 13, 1870.
http://www.brooklynatlantics.org/history.php, (accessed 11/13/2020).
"Is the Atlantic Club about to be gutted? Spoiler: Yes. With no reserve system or multi-year contracts, every offseason was a potential cage match. The Atlantics historically have been successful at doing unto others, but this year they will be done unto. Indeed, it will be so thorough that they will sit 1871 out, as a professional club. They will return to the professional ranks in 1872, but will never really recover. The predicted destinations aren't quite right. Ferguson and Start will go to the Mutuals. The vague bit about Hall going "southwest" is right.
"The Olympics of Washington will make a run for it. Mostly this will involve the old Red Stocking players Harry Wright doesn't take with him to Boston. Taking George Hall from the Atlantics will be part of this. It won't work. The Olympics will go 15-15: the very definition of mediocre. Chapman will stick with the Atlantics initially, them jump to the Eckfords. So it goes."
from Richard Hershberger, 150 Years Ago Today, 11/13/2020 Facebook Posting.
In June 1870, the Atlantics had broken the famous winning streak of the visiting Cincinnati Red Stockings, 8-7. In 1872 the club was to become professional again, and join the National Association. The Atlantic website cited above shows a later Atlantic lineage to the Brooklyn Dodgers, formed in 1911.
"Strictly speaking the social club spun off from the baseball club December 16, 1865, the two operating in tandem until the baseball side disbanded. The Hall of Fame library has the program from the club's centennial celebration in 1965. The club later was a bit confused about the connection with the baseball side. It knew it had one, but it always dated itself from 1865." -- Richard Hershberger, email of 11/13/2020.
1870.14 Boston, Other Towns Eye "First-Class Professional Nines" Like the Red Stockings
[Beyond the Cincinnati-Chicago base ball rivalry] "The pecuniary success attendant upon of the Red Stocking Club -- the best managed club in the country -- has tempted other cities to try the professional nine experiment. The Boston Journal says that for some time past, gentlemen interested in the game of base ball have been considering the subject of securing for Boston a professional base ball nine who should do honor to the city. It seems to be one of the few notions in which Boston is lacking. The success of the Union Grounds as a pecuniary investment has shown that the thing is perfectly safe and feasible. . . . It is proposed to petition the next Legislature for a special charter as a base-ball club, with a capital stock of not less than $10,000, in shares of $100 each."
"Indianapolis is raising a first-class professional nine under competent management. Cleveland will again have a professional nine;: Troy, ditto, and an opposition tot he Athletics is organizing in Philadelphia. St. Louis, too is in the market, and also New Orleans.
Brooklyn Eagle, November 17, 1870.
Richard Hershberger, "150 years ago in baseball" [FB posting, 11/17/2020:
"Rumors about new professional clubs for next season. Here we see an intermediate stage, combining the assumption that the Cincinnati Club will keep on doing what it does, along with early rumors of a new club on Boston. The Union Grounds mentioned here is not the one in Cincinnati or the one in Brooklyn, but the one in Boston, so named because it originated as a joint project of several local clubs. Its pecuniary success is in part due to the visits of the Cincinnati Club. The Boston baseball establishment has been paying attention. More developments will soon arise.
"As for the other predictions, they are a mixed bag. Cleveland and Troy will indeed have professional clubs next season, but the other proposals won't pan out, or at least not right away."
Do we know more about the fate of the Union Grounds and Boston sports?
1870.15 Chadwick Explains Rule Shifts on Called Strikes, Deliberate Flubs Afield
[Two of nine newly proposed rules after the 1870 season:]
"Sec. 4. The striker shall be privileged to call for either a 'high' or 'low' ball. . . . The ball shall be considered a high ball if pitched between the height of waist and the shoulder of the striker; and it shall be considered a low ball if pitched between the knee and he waist. . . ."
"Sec 9. The the bal be even momentarily held by a player while in the act of catching it, and he wilfully [sic] drops it in order to make a double play, if should be regarded as a fair catch."
New York Clipper, November 26, 1870 (attributed to Henry Chadwick.)
1870.16 Red Stocking Leader Explains Background for Club Decision to Exit Pro Base Ball Scene
Aaron Champion, past club President, in a December 1870 speech touching on the costs of excellence after the club decided not to support a pro club after 1870:
" . . . we have tried it [to fund a nine via outside subscription], and have failed most beautifully. The season 1868 we had a professional nine, and succeeded in getting in debt with it. The season of 1869 we engaged a professional nine. . . . [in November 1868] we found that the Cincinnati Club was $17,000 in debt. . . . 1869 went by. We had the best nine in the country -- the leading club. They had played fifty-seven games, and did not lose a single game. We were out of money, and were still in debt."
"How Cincinnati Supports Base Ball," Cincinnati Gazette, December 8, 1870. From Richard Hershberger, "150 Years ago in Base Ball, FB posting, 12/7/2020.
1871.2 Battery Sought for African American Club in St. Louis
"To Colored Professionals -- A good catcher and good left hand pitcher are wanted for the Brown Stockings, of St. Louis. A good salary will be given for the season. Address Douglass (sic) Smith, 109 North Street, St. Louis."
New York Clipper, April 8, 1871.
1871.3 Coup d'grace for the Amateur Era
"In March 1871, ten members of the National Association met in New York for the purpose of forming a new group...This act essentially killed the National Association."
Marshall Wright, The National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870, p.328
1871.4 National Association Urged to Adopt Modern Batting Average
In a letter published in the New York Clipper on March 11, 1871, H. A. Dobson, a correspondent for the periodical, wrote to Nick E. Young, the Secretary of the Olympic Club in Washington D.C., and future president of the National League. Young would be attending the Secretaries’ Meeting of the newly formed National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, and Dobson urged him to consider a “new and accurate method of making out batting averages.”
“According to a man’s chances, so should his record be. Every time he goes to the bat he either has an out, a run, or is left on his base. If he does not go out he makes his base, either by his own merit or by an error of some fielder. Now his merit column is found in ‘times first base on clean hits,’ and his average is found by dividing his total ‘times first base on clean hits’ by his total number of times he went to the bat. Then what is true of one player is true of all…In this way, and in no other, can the average of players be compared.”
Dobson included a calculation, for theoretical players, of hits per at-bat at the end of the letter; the first published calculation of the modern form of batting average.
Dobson, H.A. “The Professional Club Secretaries’ Meeting.” New York Clipper (New York City, NY), 11 March 1871: p. 888.
While "hits per at-bat" has become the modern form of batting average, and was the only average calculated by the official statistician beginning in the inaugural season of the National League in 1876, the definition of a "time at bat" has varied over time. To Dobson, a time at bat included any time a batter made an "out, a run, or is left on his base." However, walks were excluded from the calculation of at-bats beginning in 1877, with a temporary reappearance in 1887 when they were counted the same as hits. Times hit by the pitcher were excluded beginning in 1887, sacrifice bunts in 1894, times reached on catcher's interference in 1907, and sacrifice flies in 1908 (though, they went in and out of the rules multiple times over the next few decades and weren't firmly excluded until 1954).
Consequently, based on Dobson's calculation, walks would have counted as an at-bat but not as a hit, so a negative result for the batter. This was the case in the first year of the National League as well, but was "fixed" by the second year. A fielder's choice would have been recorded as an at-bat and not a hit under Dobson's system, as it is today.
For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,” p 1 – 9:
1871.5 Base Ball Attendance Practices at the Dawn of the Pro Era
As the Professional Era took shape, 50-cent admission fees were common, if not standard, in the new league.
(Add data on typical crowd sizes?) (On typical bathroom facilities?) (On available food and drink availability and prices?) (On other now-forgotten practices?)
Debate on admission fees persisted for the AA and the NL was to persist into the 1880s.
Admission gave attendees access to standing room. A seat in the grandstand was (always? sometimes?) extra, and within 2 or three years grandstand seats were being sold for one dollar.
1871.6 Boston Club Puts City Name on Uniform
In 1871 the Boston club put the word "Boston" on the team shirt, the first club to do so.
1871.8 First Co-Ed college baseball game?
Sheppard (ed.),"History of Northwestern University and Evanston" p 154 cites the college paper as reporting that on July 4, 1871: "Baseball Match Between Ladies' College nine and Northwestern University: prize a silver ball: score 57 to 4 in favor of Northwestern."
The "Evanston College for Ladies" was at the time separate from the main college.
Sheppard (ed.),"History of Northwestern University and Evanston" p 154. Seymour, "The People's Game" also references this event.
1871.9 State-wide Base Ball Association for California?
"The Pacific Base-Ball Convention held an adjourned meeting last night . . . on Merchant street, Col. Harry Linden presided. . . .
"Messrs Gorman, Cashman, Linden were appointed a Committee to procure an elegant champion bat, regardless of cost, for future contests among Base-Ball Companies."
"It being suggested that the Constitution and By-laws needed revision, Messrs Hooks, Glascock and Calvert were appointed a Committee for that Purpose. . . .
Standing Committees for Judiciary, Credentials, Finance, Rules and Regulations, and Printing were named.
San Francisco Examiner, February 4, 1871
Richard Hershberger, 2/4/2021:
150 years ago in baseball: the Pacific baseball convention. This is much like the state conventions we see at this time, but more of an independent affair. California was still, even with the trans-continental railroad, the far end of beyond, so the baseball institutions tended to develop in parallel with but independent of those to the east. The Pacific convention was more of a free-standing affair than the state associations in the east, which mostly existed to appoint delegates to the national convention. It also seems comfortable with the idea of a formal championship, though I question empowering a committee to purchase the trophy bat "regardless of cost."
Was the is first ever meeting of this group?
Did it intend to represent base ball throughout California?
Had other states established state-wide base ball associations by 1871?
1871.10 Player Salaries Bump Up: Well-funded Mutuals Deplete the Atlantics
"The Mutuals will now have a nine in field of old Atlantic players, with but one exception."
"(The Mutuals) engaged Dick Pearse, who signed papers on the 3rd . . . at $2000, we believe. . . . Now all (of the Atlantic's fate) is left in the hands of the only veteran of the nine, viz: John Chapman."
Brooklyn Eagle, February 6, 1871.
Richard Hershberger, 2/6/2021"
1871.11 Pros' Leading Averages Reported In Buffalo Newspaper
" BASE BALL. The Best Averages -- Names of Leading Players -- "
"All the leading professional clubs of the country have published their averages, and below we give the names of the players who occupy first, second, and third positions in the averages of first-base hits . . . ."
[For the Atlantic (Brooklyn), the Athletic (Philadelphia), Chicago, Cincinnati, Haymakers (Troy), Forest City (Cleveland) and other clubs, leading hitters' batting success per game was reflected in this format:]
George Wright 4.27
Buffalo Commercial, February 6, 1871.
Richard Hershberger, 2/8/2021 (FB posting):
"150 years ago in baseball: batting averages. The idea of batting averages was borrowed from cricket, and at this point is not at all new to baseball. The details, however, have not yet taken their modern form.
Have charts like this appeared before? Have writers been referring to such averages in plumbing the relative merits of batsmen?
Did each club send its data to interested news outlets?