Glossary of Games, Full List

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Glossary of Games
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Glossary of Games, Full List

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Baseball · Kickball · Scrub · Fungo · Hat ball · Hook-em-snivy

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A Baseball kind of game

21st Century Townball (California, Michigan, Oregon)

This game has evolved from the guidance of Daniel Jones in California.  It is a blend of baseball predecessor games (citing the Massachusetts Game -- "TMG" below) with aspects of early town ball and cricket.

(A background account is included in the Supplemental Text field, below.)  

The game's expansion as of 2022 is also included there.


From the developer of the game, Daniel Jones, in 2017:

"Some features of 21st Century Townball:

1. No foul balls (like TMG - the Massachusetts Game).

2. Stakes, but no base lines (like TMG).

3. Pegging the runners allowed (like TMG).

4. No set batting order (can change each round) (unique).

5. Stakes are 42, 68, 110, 110, 110 feet away, from first to fifth, respectively, in a (Fibonacci) spiral (Similar formation to TMG, but better geometry).

6. A “zone” behind the batter. If the pitch hits it, you are out (like cricket or stoolball).

7. If you hit the ball and don’t run, a strike is called against you (similar to cricket with limited overs).

8. A swing and a miss is only a strike if the catcher catches it (like TMG).

9. Three strikes and you are out. Third strike hit, batter obligated to run (unique, similar to TMG).

10. First team to eight runs, win by five, cap at thirteen, wins the game (similar to TMG).

11. 13 players per side (similar to TMG).


1860 baseball used (developed by Eric Miklich).

1930’s gloves only (or similar size)

bamboo bats recommended (because the ball is a little heavier)"




Email from Daniel Jones to Protoball, April 30, 2018.

The project website is at


A Hat ball kind of game

Aipuni (Hawaii)

[A] A boys’ game reportedly played in Hawaii before the game of base ball was introduced in the 1860s. As described, its rules were consistent with those of wicket, but no running or scoring is mentioned.

[B] See also item 1855c.10:

"In 1855 the new game of wicket was introduced at Punahou [School] and for a few years was the leading athletic game on the campus. . . . [The] fiercely contested games drew many spectators from among the young ladies and aroused no common interest among the friends of the school."

"One game they all enjoyed was wicket, often watched by small Mary Burbank. Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a large rounder end. It was a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to the ground."

[Through further digging, John Thorn suggests the migration of wicket to Hawaii through the Hawaii-born missionary Henry Obookiah. At age 17, Obookiah traveled to New Haven and was educated in the area. He may well have been exposed to wicket there.  He died in 1818, but not before helping organize a ministry [Episcopalian?] in Hawaii that began in 1820.

See also John Thorn's 2016 recap is the supplementary text to 1855c.10.



Monica Nucciarone, Alexander Cartwright (UNebraska Press, 2009), page 201.  The author cites the source as W. R. Castle, Reminiscences of William Richards Castle. (Advertiser Publishing, 1960), page 50.


See also Item 1855c.10"New Game" of Wicket Played in HI."

A Baseball kind of game

Aleut Baseball (Alaska)

Aleut Baseball, called a "Sugpiat novelty," has been played on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska.  The Sugpiat are a Native population.

Although called baseball, its rules resemble the Russian game lapta, and players point out that the game differs from modern baseball in having only two safe-haven bases, retiring runners by throwing at them, and lacking a strike-out rule.  The area was once a Russian colony, and hundreds of residents are reportedly of Russian descent.  An airplane landing strip was the site of a game observed in 2007 and described in 2010.  The game is associated locally with Easter Sunday, with some games played in the dawn light after Easter services.

Attributes of Aleut baseball include:

[] there are no umpires

[] two large safe zones for runners at the ends of the field 

[] two "home" areas for batting near the ends of the field

[] sides take turns batting

[] runners score one points when reaching an opposing base, and another for a safe return.

[] multiple baserunners after any  hit ball

[] caught flies put the side out.

[] soft tosses to batters

[] baserunners can pick up balls thrown at them and try to plug members of the fielding side

[] games can last several hours.  Some games end when one side passes an agreed number of points (runs).


 Note: Schoolchildren play a form of kickball resembling American baseball, using kicked rubber balls in place of batted tennis-style balls.




M. DeHass and A. Droulias, "Aleut Baseball:  Cultural Creation and Innovation Through a Sporting Event," Études/Inuit/Studies 342 (2010), pp. 21–37.

A Baseball kind of game

American Cricket

A hybrid cricket-baseball game reportedly introduced in Chicago in 1870. The game is described as generally  having cricket rules, except with no LBW rule, and with the addition of a third base, so that the bases form a triangle with sides of 28-yards. We have no other accounts of this game.

Full text:  


The Philadelphia Mercury contains the following: 'A new game of ball has recently been introduced in Chicago, under the name of American cricket.  The field is laid out like a cricket-field, and the striker wields the willow instead of the ash.  The bowler, who stands twenty-two yards from the striker, bowls as in cricket.  The striker, in making a tally, runs to first base and then to third (dispensing with the  second), these being in the form of a triangle and at a distance of twenty-eight yards apart.  There are no fouls to cause delays. There are none of the stupid and senseless six-ball 'overs.' 'Out leg before wicket' is dispensed with, a rule which, while in force, gives great annoyance to the umpire and general dissatisfaction to the batsman.  The prominent and attractive features of both the English game of  cricket and the American pastime of base-ball are taken and rolled into one, thereby making a magnificent game.'"




Reportedly in the Philadelphia Mercury.  An account of the article  appeared in the Penny Illustrated Paper (London), December 17, 1870 (page 370).  Contributed by Tom Shieber, email of 2/25/2009.

This game is cited -- ("this contrived game proved to be acceptable to no one and was quickly forgotten") in Tom Melville, The Tented Field: A History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State University Press, 1998), page 149.  Melville attributes the introduction of the game to game to J. Wood, secretary of the Chicago Cricket Club. 

Protoball does not have a Philadelphia Mercury source for this report. 


A Scrub kind of game

Anauligatuk (Canada)

"Anauligatuk or mukpaun is played on a court of two wooden bases, approximately ten feet in length, spaced from 70 to 100 feet apart.  A single batter stands at one of the bases and faces a pitcher and a group of fielders.  The ball is thrown, the batter hits the ball and tries t run to the opposite base and back before the ball can be fielded and returned.  If the ball is returned before the runner reaches 'home,' he is out and is replaced by the fielder who made the successful throw. The game is not limited to sex and age group and is played in some contexts such that one team is pitted against another"

The author here is describing Inuit games.



Kendall Blanchard, The Anthropology of Sport (Bergin and Garvey, 1995), page 150.

A Baseball kind of game

Aqejolyedi (New Mexico)

From the 1860s to the 1880s, Navahos in NM played a gmae that evolved from one (possibly the Massachusetts game?) taught to them on a NM reservation mannned by the US Cavalry.  This game is recalled as involving plugging, very feisty baserunning customs, no foul ground, four strikes, one-out-side-out innings, and multiple batters at the same time.


S. Culin, Games of the North American Indians, 1907.

A Baseball kind of game


the 1818 Dictionary of the Scottish Language defined the word ba'-baises as 'the name of a particular game at ball.' 


Cited in David Block, Pastime Lost (U Nebraska Press, 2019, page 186.

A Baseball kind of game


In 1805 a game of “bace” was reportedly played among adult males in New York City. Its rules were not reported. The word “bace” is extremely rare in sport: it appeared in a 1377 English document, and, in a list of obsolete Cornish terms, for the game Prisoner’s Base in Cornwall in 1882. Unlike the usual case for prisoner’s base, however, a final score [41-35] was reported for this match.

"Bace" is also reported as an obolete term for a British game, the nature of which is not yet known.  


See Protoball Chronology entries 1805.4 and 1805.5.  The game was reported in the New York Evening Post of April 13, 1805.

A Baseball kind of game

Backyard Cricket (Britain, India, Australia South Africa, New Zealand)

"Backyard Cricket, Bat Ball, street cricket, beach cricket, garden cricket, box Cricket (if the ground is short) referred to as Gully Cricket in the Indian subcontinent, is an informal ad hoc variant of the game of cricket, played by people of all genders and all ages in gardens, back yards, on the street, in parks, carparks, beaches and any area not specifically intended for the purpose.  Backyard cricket has connotations to the pastimes of Australian, South African, and New Zealander children who had large expansive backyards where they were able to play this informal game of sport often with friends, family and neighbors. In the South Asian region, gully cricket is very popular."

Though loosely based upon the game of cricket, many aspects are improvised: the playing ground, the rules, the teams, and the equipment. Quite often there are no teams at all; the players take turns at batting and there is often no emphasis on actually scoring runs"


Wikipedia, accessed 1/20/2023
A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Ball Stand

Elmore (1922) describes this as a game of attrition for ages 8-12 that involves throwing a ball against a wall. One player is named to catch it. If the player does, “stand” is shouted, and other players are to freeze in their places. If the player with the ball can plug someone, that player is out; if not, the thrower is out. This game has not batting or baserunning.


Emily W. Elmore, A Practical Handbook of Games, (Macmillan, NY, 1922), pages 16-17.

A Kickball kind of game

Ball and Bases

per Perrin (1902). A school-time running game of one-on-one contests between a pitcher and a batter, who propels the tossed ball with the hand and runs bases while the pitcher retrieves the ball. Caught flies and a failure to reach third base before the pitcher touches home with the ball in hand are outs. Batters receive one point for each base attained, and five for a home run. Three-out half innings are used.


E. Perrin, et. Al., One Hundred and Fifty Gymnastic Games (G. H. Ellis, Boston, 1902), pages 58-59.

A Baseball kind of game

Ball-Bias (England)

Ball-bias, a term as yet only found in seven scattered British sources from 1856 to 1898, was evidently the name of a batting-running game in the south-east of England.

David Block, who came across the game in 2013, tentatively concludes that, unlike early English base-ball, ball-bias probably used a bat.  The 1898 source's description: "ball-bias, a running game much like 'rounders,' played with a ball."

Most references to ball-bias appear from 1856 to 1880 in newspaper accounts of school picnics or church outings in the vicinity of the Sussex-Kent border south of London. 

The rules of the game are not well understood.  Block writes that "It appears that ball-bias was distinct from other baseball-related, locally-based games that I'd discovered in 19th century England.  These included Tut-Ball, played in the Sheffield area, and Pize Ball that was mostly found in the vicinity of Leeds.  These latter games were played without a bat, like English base-ball, whereas . . . ball-bias falls more in the bat-using category, alongside rounders."

 We have no present evidence that this game preceded English base-ball.



See David Block, "Base-Ball-Bias," December 2013 issue of the Next Destin'd Post (volume 2, number 7), page 1ff. 

The 1898 source cited above is the English Dialect Dictionary.

A Baseball kind of game

Ball-Paces (Scotland)

per Block. The 1836 book Perth Traditions described Ball-Paces, by then almost extinct, as a game that used a trap to put a ball into play, at which point in-team runners at each of four bases run to the next bases, stopping only when the ball was returned to the original batsman’s station. There is no mention of plugging.


David Block, email of 5/17/2005.

A Baseball kind of game

Ball-Stock (Germany)

per Dick, 1864. A team game like rounders, but having large safety areas instead of posts or bases. A feeder makes a short gentle toss to a batter, who tries to hit it. The batter-runner then chooses whether to run for a distant goal-line or a nearer one, for which there is a smaller chance of being plugged. The nearer station can hold several runners at once. Three missed swings makes an out, as does a caught fly. Versions of Ball-Stock are found in British and American boys’ books in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

From another source:

BALL-STOCK, or Ball-stick, is, as its name would indicate, a German game, but in some respects resembles our favorite English sport of "Rounders." The players are divided into two parties; six bases are then marked out, as in the accompanying Diagram; and for the first " innings" the players toss up.

         C _l_l_l_l_l_l_l_ D

                    E   (.)     F

         A _l_l_l_l_l_l_l_ B

                   l     l    l

                  c     b   a

The in-players occupy the "home" — A to B; the out-players station themselves as in Cricket, having one boy as feeder who stands at a, and another at c who acts as wicket-keeper, and tosses back the ball when tipped or missed. The striker stands at b. The ball having been thrown, and, we will suppose, well hit by the striker, he runs off to the base C — D, touching on his way at the resting base E — F; but if he has only tipped the ball, or struck it but a very short distance, or if it is stopped by one of the out-players, he should make off at once for the resting base E — F, and remain there until relieved by one of his fellow-players, whose fortunate hit may drive the ball so far out of range as to enable him to escape to C — D, or even run " home." If struck with the ball on his way from one base to another, he goes out. The other regulations are the same as in "Rounders."

From Elliott, The Playground and the Parlour (1868), p. 57


Dick, ed., The American Boys Book of Sports and Games: A Practical Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Amusements (Dick and Fitzgerald [reprinted by Lyons Press, 2000], 1864)., pages 112-113. Elliott, The Playground and the Parlour (1868), p. 57.

A Kickball kind of game

Balle au Camp (France)

Translated as “rounders” in an 1855 translation of a French poem. Maigaard identifies it as a longball-type game with four bases [set in a line] and in which the ball is thrown into the field by a member of the in team to initiate play.


W. Chapman, Every-Day French Talk (J. B. Bateman, London, 1855), page 20.

P. Maigaard, “Battingball Games,” reprinted in Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, Appendix 6.  See page 263.

A Fungo kind of game


A fungo-like game played in Elizabethan times in England. The ball was an inflated leather bag, and was knocked with the arm - sometimes aided by a wooden brace. Hitting for distance was evidently desired, but no running or fielding is described.

An illustration and description of "balloon ball" is in Hone, p. 96


Paul G. Brewster, "Games and Sports in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century British Literature," Western Folklore 6, no. 2 (1947)., page 143.

Hone, "The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England..." (1831) p. 96

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


As depicted in Protoball Chronology entry 1660c.3balslaen was prohibited on the Sabbeth in New Netherland (now New York City) in the 17th century.  The source is a 2009 book's translation from a Dutch ordinance of the 1600s.  The translator mentions that while "balslaen" has been [where?] translated as "cricket," it "simply means 'hitting the ball.'

With the generous help of Pamela Bakker, we find that "balslaen" can be taken as a description of games like hand-ball, or a team game like volleyball in which players propel a ball with their hands.  The game described in Item 1660c.3 appears to be the game of Kaatsen -- Pamela's summary:

"Kaatsen/Ketsen, Caetsen, Caatsen

"Kaatsen is a Dutch-Flemish form of handball which is largely played in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands, and in about 50 other countries. The game is mentioned in the 1600’s in records of New Netherlands (New York) with prohibitions against playing the game on the Sabbath. It is related to American handball and tennis with the first team to score 6 games winning the match. The game is played on a rectangular field which measures about 61 meters by 32 meters. Two teams of three players each operate on opposing sides. One side is the serving side (A) and one the receiving side (B).

"The center of the shorter field line, a 5 meter by 19 meter zone, is the receiving area which has two players positioned there to defend it with the third player in the field out front. The serving opponent (A) serves the hard leather ball with their bare hand from a serving box which is about 30 meters from the receiving zone. If it reaches the opponent’s receiving zone (B), they receive a point.
The receiving team (B) wears a single hard leather glove. They return the ball and if it reaches over a short line behind the serving box (called a boppe), they receive a point. The place where the ball lands is marked by a kaats, or woodblock. It is an undecided score. When two undecided points are reached or if one team is on game point, the teams change places.

"The team on the receiving position now tries to hit the ball past the first kaats which landed and if another rally takes place, they try to hit the ball past the second kaats and then add in the points if successful.
Belgium has a similar game called jeu de balle-pelote which uses five on a team. The field has a trapezoid shape. Balslaen, "hitting the ball," appears to be a general Dutch term for handball."




See 1660c.3.

A Kickball kind of game

Balyagu (South Korea)

Balagu ("foot-baseball") is identified as a form of kick-ball in Korea, a "staple in PE classes within elementary schools."


"Kickball" article in Wikipedia, accessed October 25, 2012.  No further source is given.

A Baseball kind of game

Banana Ball

In May 2022, Protoball first heard of Banana Ball from Brett Hammond, who advised us of the following 2022 article in the Los Angeles Times.  Additional input will be welcomed.  


"For a collegiate summer league team — playing a rung below the minors — the Savannah Bananas draw big crowds when they barnstorm through the South and Midwest during the offseason. Fans come to see “Banana Ball,” a quirky version of baseball with a whole different set of rules. “We looked at every boring play,” franchise owner Jesse Cole says, “and we got rid of it.”

It's time for Banana Ball -

Fans in the game: Any foul ball caught by a spectator counts as an out.

No time to waste: Neither managers nor catchers can visit the mound and if a batter steps out of the box between pitches, it’s a called strike.

Run don’t walk: The moment the umpire calls “ball four,” the batter takes off sprinting and the defense snaps into action. Runners can keep going until the ball is thrown to every fielder, including outfielders. A walk can turn into a home run.

More running: Batters can steal first on any passed ball or wild pitch, regardless of the count.

No bunting. Really: If a batter bunts, he is thrown out of the game.

Match play: “Banana Ball” is like match play in golf. The team that scores the most runs during an inning gets a point for that inning. The win goes to the team with the most points at game’s end.

Skeleton crew: During extra innings, the defense gets only a pitcher, catcher and one fielder. If the batter puts the ball in play, he must try to round the bases and score before the ball is chased down and thrown home for an out.

Early to bed: “Banana Ball” has a strict time limit, with no new inning started after 1 hour 50 minutes."


More stuff to ponder: 


Los Angeles Times, 5/16/2022, 4PM.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


Bandy was a game that reportedly resembled shinty or modern field hockey, in which players on two teams attempted to advance a ball with a club into the opposing team's goal.

The Richmond Whig, Aug. 21, 1866 speaks of southerners 20 years prior playing bandy and chermany. In 1850 Tarborough, NC banned the playing of bandy in the streets. In 1858 boys were arrested in DC for playing bandy on the streets (Washington Star, Nov. 27, 1858).

The New York Clipper, June 1, 1861 has a long article on Bandy, which it describes as a Welsh version of Hurling.


Altherr, "Southern Ball Games--Chermany, Round Cat, etc. " Base Ball (Spring 2011).

A Baseball kind of game

Bandy-Wicket (England)

According to Gomme [1894], Bandy-Wicket is Cricket played with a bandy (a curved club) instead of a cricket bat. This name was evidently once used in Norfolk and Suffolk.

"Bandy Wicket" was also used in the US.


Alice Bertha Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1 (London: David Nutt, 1894)., page 17.

A Scrub kind of game

Barn Ball (House Ball)

A two-player game set against a wall or barn. The pitch is made from about ten feet away against the wall, and the batter tries to hit it on the rebound. If successful, he runs to the wall and back. If he misses the ball, and the pitcher catches the rebounding pitch on the fly or on one bound, the batter is out. Beard (1896) calls a similar game House Ball. It specifies a brick house, perhaps for the peace of mind of occupants.


D. C. Beard, The American Boy’s Book of Sport (Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1896), pages 341-342.

See also Altherr, "Barn Ball," Base Ball (Spring 2011).

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Base (Prisoner's Base)

Sometimes seen as a name for base ball. While some references to “base” most likely denote Prisoner’s Base (a team form of tag similar in nature to modern Capture the Flag and, perhaps,  today’s Laser Tag), others denote a ball game. David Block reports that the earliest clear appearance of “base” as a ball game is from New England in 1831, and that his source groups base with cricket and cat as young men’s ballgames.


Thomas Altherr, "Base Is Not Always Baseball: Prisoner's Base From the 13th to the 20th Centuries." Base Ball, Volune 3, number 1 (Spring 2009), pp 67-79.

See also 19cBB posting, October 17, 2007; Our Game log, July 16, 2022

A Baseball kind of game

Base Ball

The term “old fashioned base ball” appears to have been used in the decades after the 1850s to describe whatever game was played locally before the New York game arrived. The term was used extensively in upstate New York and New Jersey.  We are still uncertain as to whether OFBB had common rules.  In Western New York State, OFBB seems to align with the old form of the Massachusetts game, but prior to the codification of Mass Game rules in 1858.  It is possible that the term was used for diverse variations of local safe-haven games in other areas.

One might speculate that later still, such games would be thought of as “town ball.”


One investigation of Old Fashioned Base Ball is at Astifan and McCray, "'Old-Fashioned Base Ball' in Western New York, 1825-1860," Base Ball, volume 2 number 2 (Fall 2008), pages 26-34.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Base Dodge Ball

Elmore (1922) describes this game as a form of Square Ball (Corner Ball) for 7th graders through high schoolers in which a player can prevent being called out by catching a ball thrown at him. An “indoor baseball” is used. The game involves no batting or baserunning.


Emily W. Elmore, A Practical Handbook of Games, (Macmillan, NY, 1922), pages 19-20.

A Baseball kind of game


America’s national pastime since about 1860. Writing about rounders in 1898, Gomme mused that “An elaborate form of this game has become the national game of the United States.”  The term “baseball” actually arose in England as early as 1748, referring to a simple game like rounders, but usage in England died out, and was soon forgotten in most parts of the country.  The term first appeared in the United States in 1791.


Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1.2, page 146.

A Baseball kind of game

Baseball on Ice

[A] The first known game of base ball played on ice skates occurred on in January 1861 near Rochester NY.  Skating was very popular, and the hybrid game was played into the late 1800s.

A few special rules are known, a key one being that runners were not at risk when they overskated a base.  Deliveries were pitches, not throws; a dead ball was used and the bound rule was in effect.  A ten-player team deployed a left shortstop and a right shortstop.


[B] Richard Hershberger posted the following on Facebook on 2/4/22 [See clip, below]:

 "150 years ago in baseball: baseball on ice. This was a thing. Look at the list of the "Capitoline Ten" and you will see some top ball players. This is not true of the Brooklyn Skating Club's players, raising the question, is baseball or skating skill more important here? Good question. I don't know. I also don't know if there is money involved here, or if everyone is doing this for fun.

Adapting sports for ice skates was a thing more broadly. In Britain they sometimes played cricket on ice, which takes real devotion. They also adapted the fine old summer game of hockey to play on ice. This will spread to Canada, where it will be discreetly forgotten that they hadn't come up with the idea themselves.

Baseball on ice required some rules adaptations. Ten players is the most obvious, the extra fielder playing at right short. Chadwick had been advocating this for the regular game for years. Spoiler alert: It won't happen. But it was standard for the ice version. Over-skating the bases also was standard, and this variant did influence regular baseball. The rule allowing the batter-runner to overrun first base was borrowed from the ice game. This was a safety measure, advocating by George Wright who had pulled a hammy. But while safety was the motivation, ice baseball provided the solution to the problem. There will be discussions for another twenty years about extending the right to overrun to the other bases, but nothing will come of it. New York Sunday Mercury February 4, 1872: 


[A] Priscilla Astifan, "Baseball in the Nineteenth Century," Rochester History LII (Summer 1990), page 9.

[B] Richard Hershberger, FB posting of 2/4/22 [clip below].

See also  Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2010 Single-volume edition), page 500.



A Baseball kind of game

Baseball5 (World)

"Baseball5 (B5) is an internationally played Safe Haven game with many of the same rules as baseball and softball, and is governed alongside those sports by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).


The game revolves around two teams of five players taking turns playing offense and defense, with each of the offensive team's players taking turns hitting a small rubber ball with their bare hands into the field of play (which is a 21 m (68.90 ft)-square), and then running counterclockwise around four bases (13 m (42.65 ft) apart) laid out in a square shape to score a run, while the defensive team tries to eliminate ("get out') offensive players before they complete their trip around the bases to prevent them from scoring. Outs occur either when a hit ball is caught before touching the ground, or (in specific situations) when a defender with the ball touches either a base or a runner. Offensive players can also get themselves out by illegally hitting the ball.

The teams switch roles after three outs are made, with an "inning" being completed when both teams have played offense once. The game is played to five innings, with any ties being broken by playing extra innings as necessary, and games generally lasting 15 to 20 minutes. Unlike baseball/softball, there is no pitcher, with the batter (offensive player who hits the ball) starting each play with the ball, which is the only equipment used in the game." (wikipedia)



A Baseball kind of game

Baste Ball

Baste, or baste ball, may simply be a variant spelling of base ball. The most famous US usage is in a Princeton student’s diary entry for 1786 (5 years before the first known use of "base ball" in the US), which reveals only that the game involves catching and hitting.  Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.

As of February 2017, Protoball knows of only three US uses of the term Baste: the Princeton diary, in an account of President Benjamin Harrison's teen years around 1850, and in Tennessee in 1874.  Further input is welcome.

In early 2017,David Block summarized his English research findings:  "Regarding 'baste,' I have seen at least two dozen examples of the term 'baste-ball' used in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. It's clear from context that this was an alternate spelling of base-ball, along with bass-ball. I don't doubt the same was true for the few instances of baste-ball's use in America." 

A superficial Google search for <baste pastime game> in February 2017 throws no further light on ballplaying forms of baste.  A somewhat primitive tagging game for children -- Baste the Bear -- in Europe and England is known, but does not appear to be consistent with US finds reported to Protoball.


See Protoball Chronology entry 1786.1.  A second entry, 1848c.9, includes baste ball in a list of boyhood games played by future US President Benjamin Harrison. A third entry, 1874.2, reports its use as a game played in Chattanooga TN.

Email to Protoball from David Block, 2/19/2017.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


We have references to bat-ball from 1791 (when it was banned in both Pittsfield and Northampton MA), but the basic rules of this game as first played are unclear. Writers have diversely compared it to bandy, to schlagball, and to punchball. It is clear that a club was not always required for hitting, as the ball could instead be slapped into play by the hand.


See Protoball Chronology entries for 1791.

D Wise and S. Forrest, Great Big Book of Children’s Games (McGraw-Hill, 2003), pages 219-220.


A Baseball kind of game


"Bat-and-Ball" is a term that can help you find very early references to predecessor games in the US.

Brian Turner finds that the term is likely to connote a distinct form of early ballplaying; in an April 2020 email to Protoball, he said "I can confirm that Newburyport and other coastal towns north of Boston -- Salem, for example -- were places where the term "bat and ball" was used to refer to an unambiguously distinct game." 

A May search of the Protoball Chronology for <bad and ball> yields 44 hits from circa 1745 to 1845.  A subset of them may be specifically denote a game locally known as Bat and Ball.

The earliest seems to be in US President John Adams, in a reflection on his ballplaying youth.




Brian Turner, "Bat and Ball: A Distinct Game or a Generic Term?", Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 37-40.

A Baseball kind of game

Battle Board




A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Batton (Norfolk, MA)

All we know about Batton is that in 1851 boys played a game in the village of Norfolk, MA - about 20 miles SW of Boston.


F. Dennis, The Norfolk Village Green (privately printed, 1917), page 72.

A Baseball kind of game

Beep Baseball

Baseball for blind players. The balls emit beeps, and a base buzzes once a ball is hit. Runners are out if the ball is fielded before they reach base. Sighted players serve as pitcher and catcher for the batting team, but cannot field. There is a national association for the game, and annual World Series have been held since 1976.


The National Beep Baseball Association: see, accessed 11/9/2009.

For a story about beep-ball at Harvard, see




A Kickball kind of game

Beezy (Dundee, Scotland)

per Fraser (1975) - A game played in Dundee, Scotland, in about 1900 and later understood as a “corruption of baseball.” Balls were hit with the hand instead of a bat, and the game evidently sometimes used plugging.


Amy Stewart Fraser, Dae Ye Min’ Langsyne? (Routledge, 1975), pages 59-60.

A Baseball kind of game

Bete-Ombro (Brazil)

Bete-Ombro "is a Brazilian form of street cricket." "A player from one team throws the ball from one wicket to another, while a player from the other team holding a bat stands at the other wicket.  The batter can hit the ball and then run between the wickets to score runs, while his partner does the same but crossing him.If the ball is thrown at a wicket before a player a player from the bating team gets to it, then the teams swap.



A Baseball kind of game

Billets (England)

[A] in the 1670s, Francis Willughby listed hornebillets on his compilation of games, or "plaies."  Of all his games, this game description closest to base ball and cricket -- resembling the o'cat games with two or four or six players -- but it employs a section of animal horn, or a sort stick, and not a ball. 

[B] "Thomas Wright's 1857 Dict. of Obsolete and Provincial English(v. 1 p. 210) lists as the third meaning for "billet" the game of Tip-Cat and connects it to Derbyshire."

[C] Responding to John Thorn's Our Game blog on 2/26/2013, Clive Williams wrote that trap ball "is  a very similar game to one my brother encountered near Halifax, Yorkshire about 50 years ago. In Yorkshire the game was called I think 'Billets' and he was never able to make it clear whether the piece to be struck was a round wooden ball or just a small chunk of hardwood of no particular shape. What you had to do, as is mentioned in the article is to make sure that nobody can catch the wooden article so getting the direction and the height right with a sort of weapon like a walking stick (cane) must have been tricky."




[A] David Cram, Jeffrey L. Forgeng, and Dorothy Johnston, Francis Willughby's Book of Games: A Seventeenth Century Treatise on Sports, Games, and Pastimes [Ashgate Publishing, 2003], p. 182; see item 1672c.2

[B] Email from Tom Altherr, 2/27/2013.

[C] Email from Clive Williams to John Thorn, 2/26/2013.


A Baseball kind of game

Bittle-Bat (Sussex, England)

Bittle-Bat appears to be another name for stoolball as played in the County of Sussex.  The as no evidence that this game is related to Bittle-Battle, also listed in this Glossary, which some see referred to in the hjistoric Domesday Book of 1086.

[A] In fact, Gomme [1894, ] describes Bittle-Battle as “the Sussex game of ‘Stoolball.,’ but does not link it to the Domesday Book.

[B] Similarly, Andrew Lusted reports that an 1875 source lists bittle-battle as "another word for stoolball," 

[C] Andrew Lusted also finds an 1864 newspaper account that makes a similar but weaker claim: "Among the many [Seaford] pastimes were bittle-battle, bell in the ring, . . . "

[D] W. W. Grantham, an energetic popularizer of Stoolball in the 20th Century, refers to a 1909 history of bittle-bat (later called stoolball).  That author wrote: "The game is an old one. It is mentioned in Domesday Book as Bittle Bat, and the present name of Stoolball is supposed to have originated from milkmaids playing it with their stools.”







[A.] Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1 (Dover Press,  New York, 1964 -- orig. 1898), page 34.

[B] Lusted, Andrew, Girls Just Wanted to Have Fun, 2013, page 3, citing Rev'd W. D. Parish, Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect, 1875.

[C] Lusted, op. cit., page 28.  The source is the Sussex Advertiser, June 21, 1864.

[D] W. W. Grantham, Stoolball Illustrated and How to Play It [[[add date]].  He draws on Mary G. Campion, "The Game of Stoolball," The Country Home, (January 1909), pp 153ff. 

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


A game called bittle battle is mentioned [[[as such?]]]  (but not described) in the famous 1086 Domesday Book in England. Some have claimed that this game resembled Stoolball:

[A] In fact, Gomme [1894, ] describes Bittle-Battle as “the Sussex game of ‘Stoolball.,’ but does not link it to the Domesday Book.

[B] Similarly, Andrew Lusted reports that an 1875 source lists bittle battle as "another word for stoolball," 

[C] Andrew Lusted also finds an 1864 newspaper account that makes a similar but weaker claim: "Among the many [Seaford] pastimes were bittle-battle, bell in the ring, . . . "

[D] From David Block: "the source of the Domesday myth appears to be in an article entitled “The Game of Stoolball” by Mary G. Campion from the January 1909 issue of “The Country Home.” She wrote: The game is an old one. It is mentioned in Domesday Book as Bittle Bat, and the present name of Stoolball is supposed to have originated from milkmaids playing it with their stools.” As you can see, she didn’t write 'bittle-battle', she wrote “battle-bat.” Grantham cited her but changed the name to 'bittle-battle.' Here is a link to the publication; the Campion article starts on p. 153:"


On the Domesday Book s-See Protoball Chronology #1086.1

[A.] Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1 (Dover Press,  New York, 1964 -- orig. 1898), page 34.

[B] Lusted, Andrew, Girls Just Wanted to Have Fun, 2013, page 3, citing Rev'd W. D. Parish, Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect, 1875.

[C] Lusted, op. cit., page 28.  The source is the Sussex Advertiser, June 21, 1864.

[D] David Block, email of 12/6/2021.

A Baseball kind of game

Bo-Ball (Finland)

Maigaard (1941) notes they while most forms of rounders and longball are now lost, three - baseball, cricket, and bo-ball - remain vigorous. He places Bo-Ball in Finland. The only known source on this game, called Lahden Mailaveikot in Finnish, is a Finnish-language website, one that shows photographs of a vigorous game with aluminum bats, gloves, helmets, and much sliding and running but no solid hints for English-speakers about the nature of the game. Similarities to Pesapallo, including the gentle form of pitching, are apparent.


P. Maigaard, “Battingball Games,” reprinted in Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, Appendix 6.  See page 274.

A Kickball kind of game

Boston Ball

per Perrin (1902) – Apparently an indoor game derived from baseball. A member of the in-team throws the ball to an area guarded by the pitcher, and runs if and when the ball passes through. There is tagging but no plugging.


E. Perrin, et. Al., One Hundred and Fifty Gymnastic Games (G. H. Ellis, Boston, 1902), pages 59-63.

A Fungo kind of game

Bottle Caps

Bottle Caps is reportedly the name of a game similar to Corkball and Indian Ball in the St. Louis area.  This game, called a "minor variant," employs bottle caps in place of corks or balls.




Email from Jeff Kopp, 10/17/2013.

A Baseball kind of game

Bowlywicket (Fall River, MA)

The game of bowlywicket, played at least as late as 1980, resembled a poor man's cricket, and used a broomhandle, three empty soda cans piled one-on-two, and a common "pinky" drugstore ball.  Batters defend the teetering cans, and run to a second base to score runs.

It has been played in the city of Fall River MA, often by immigrants from France and Brazil, and may have evolved from a game played by workers from English cities in the late 1800s.



Alan Powers, "Bowlywicket: The Provenance of a New England Street Game," Folklore (UK), volume 93 (1982), page 164.

Supplied by John Thorn, email of 5/10/2011.

Queries: Is this game played today?  Can we learn more about detailed rules?


A Fungo kind of game

Box Baseball

[A] per Bronner [1997]. Using three sidewalk squares, a “pitcher” throws the ball into the box closest to his opponent, who tries to slap the ball into the box closest to the pitcher. If he missed the box or the pitcher catches ball on the fly, it is an out. There is no baserunning. Also called “Boxball.”

[B] New York City streets are composed on concrete squares approximately [X?] feet square.  Players would be separated by three squares.  They would alternate pitcher/catcher and hitter depending on who was up.  The pitcher had to have the ball bounce in the box closest to the batter.  The pitcher would place the ball and fluke it in order to make it difficult to hit after the bounce.  The batter was required to slap the ball so that it landed in the box closest tot he pitcher.  If the pitcher caught the ball on a fly, it was an out.   One bounce was a single, two a double, etc,  The batter would try to hit the ball low and fast in order to get it past the pitcher.




Simon J. Bronner, "Concrete Folklore: Sidewalk Box Games," Western Folklore 36, no. 2 (1977)., page 172.

[B] Communication from Neal Seldman and Mark Schoenberg.


A Baseball kind of game

Brannboll (Brennball) (Sweden)

A Swedish game, also played in Germany and Denmark. A batting and running game with four bases, this game involved fungo-style hitting to start a play. As in some forms of longball, a base can be occupied by more than one runner. A caught fly ball gives a point to the out team, but the runner is not thereby retired. Innings are timed. A home run is six points. A 90-degree fair territory is employed. This game may relate to Swedeball, a game reportedly played in the US upper midwest. It has been reported that that Brannboll is played in Minnesota, but no such references are known.

A Baseball kind of game

British Baseball (Welsh Baseball) (Wales and England)

This adult game, sometimes referred to as Welsh Baseball (in Wales) and English Baseball (ii Liverpool England), has been played since the early 1900s, reportedly reaching a high point in the late 1930s.  Something of a blend of modern baseball with some cricket features, it is known in Liverpool England and in Cardiff and Newport in Wales.

Owing to cricket, presumably, the game has no foul ground, comprises two (all-out-side-out) innings, teams of 11 players, and flat bats.  42-inch posts are used instead of bases.  Underarm pitching is required.  Runs are counted for each base attained by a batter (one run for a single, two for a double, etc.).  Batters are required to keep a foot in contact with a peg in the batting area.

An annual "international game" has been played between a Liverpool team and one from Wales. In the 1920s crowds of over 10,000 were reported to attend the international context. 

Martin Johnes writes that both the Liverpool game and the Welsh game likely evolved from rounders, with some local variation.  In 1927 they agreed to common rules for their international game; Liverpool had restricted the placement of batters' feet and used one-handed batting, while Wales saw two-handed batting and less restricted batter placement.  

Liverpool had been very active in rounders in the 19th century, they and the Welsh but switched to use the term "baseball" in 1892, possibly to distinguish the adult game from juvenile rounders play. A common set of rules was agreed to between the two governing groups in 1927.

Adult play in Liverpool is not thriving:  from the website of the English Baseball Association, accessed 4/1/2016:  "Sadly the game in Liverpool is in a very poor state and we have very few senior teams remaining.The junior game is where our game needs to grow and we still need to get a bit more interest as we try to generate interest with the youth in the Liverpool area. 

"Through the help of schools, youth clubs, junior football teams or any other individuals willing to play the game we hope the game can survive for another 100 years."








Andrew Weltch, "British Baseball: How a Curious Version of the Game Survives in Parts of England and Wales, The National Pastime, (SABR) volume 28 (2008), pages 34-38. 

Martin Johnes, "'Poor Man's Cricket': Baseball, Class and Community in South Wales, c.1880-1950, Internationial Journal of the History of Sport, volume 17, number 4 (December 2000), online at

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Buff-Ball (Maryland)

Tom Altherr has found a reference to buff-ball in Baltimore in 1773.

A visitor wrote in his journal for 10/28/1773: "In Baltimore for some Buff-Ball."  Tom notes that the nature of the game is not known, but that OED lists "to hit something" as one meaning of "buff."

Bruce Allardice has reviewed contemporary literature and found that the term "buff-ball" seems to refer not to a game, but rather to a cleaning brush or agent. Cf. The Middlebury (VT) Mercury, Sep. 13, 1809; Hartford Courant, Nov. 20, 1797. The Fithian Journal is big on recording his shopping trips.



Philip Vickers Fithian, Philip Vickers Fithian Journal and Letters 1767-1774, John Rogers Williams, ed. (Freeport NY, Books for Libraries Press, 1969 [1900]), page 49.  Reported in "Tom Altherr's Notebook," Originals volume 5, number 6 (June 2012), pages 1-2.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Bull Pen

per Brewster [1953]. “Basemen” stand at each corner of a bounded field of play, and try to plug other players inside the bounds. Each player has three “eyes” [lives]. A player loses an “eye” if plugged or if a target player catches a ball thrown at him. There is no batting or baserunning in this game.


Paul G. Brewster, American Nonsinging Games (U Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1953), page 82-83.

A Fungo kind of game


Bunt is downsized baseball. One reported Massachusetts version was a one-on-one game in which any hit ball that reached the not-distant field perimeter was an out. The batter ran out hit balls, and the pitcher fielded them, but thereafter base advancement was done by ghost [imaginary] runners. Terrie Dopp Aamodt reports playing a similar game as an adolescent girl.


C. Bevis, “A Game of Bunt,” in G. Land, Growing Up with Baseball (UNebraska, 2004), pages 128-130.

T. Aamodt, “The Impossible Dream,” in G. Land, Growing Up with Baseball (UNebraska, 2004), pages 61-62.

A Baseball kind of game


According to Gomme, a Lincolnshire glossary specifies that Bunting is a name for Tip-Cat.


Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1., page 53.

A Baseball kind of game

Burn Ball

per Appel [1999]. Appel reports that the young Mike Kelly, growing up on Washington DC in the late 1860’s, first played Burn Ball, a form of base ball that included "plugging" or "burning" of baserunners by thrown balls.


Marty Appel, Slide Kelly Slide (Scarecrow Press, 1999), page 9.

A Baseball kind of game

California Base Ball Variant (California, Cuba)


"The game in California has some curious features, it seems. A game played in Woodbridge, May 26, had ten men on a side, the extra played being a "2d c.," or sort of backstop put behind the regular to nip fouls and prevent passed balls. The game was ten innings, though there was no tie on the ninth, the score was 24 to 20, and the winners, the Eagles of San Francisco, won $50 and a silver cake-basket. The latter implement would seem to be rather useless to a ball club."

Richard Hershberger noted, October 2015: "This is immediately recognizable as Chadwick's beloved ten-men ten-inning rule, though Chadwick placed the tenth man at right short rather than second catcher.  We know that Cuban baseball adopted the rule, apparently taking at face value Chadwick's assurances that it was inevitable and not noticing for some time that it had not in fact been enacted.  Did this happen in California too?  Or is this an isolated instance?  I don't know much about California ball at this time, but the Eagles of San Francisco were a major club, weren't they?  Or is that no longer true by 1877?"


Chicago Tribune, June 17, 1877. Posted to the 19CBB list-serve by Richard Hershberger, 10/2/2015.

A Hat ball kind of game

Call Ball

A game in which a ball is tossed up among players and one player’s name is then called out. That player must obtain the ball and try to hit fleeing compatriots with it. Newell [1883] notes that this game was played in Austria.


William Wells Newell, Games and Songs of American Children (New York: Dover [1963 reprint], 1883)., page 181.

A Baseball kind of game

Canadian Game (Canada)

The New York Clipper reported two 1860 games in southernmost Ontario as "the Canadian game" between the Ingersoll and Woodstock clubs [add locations?].

The playing rules for this game are not given [is there anything beside the 11 player sides that signals that it's unusual?]. 

In May 2015, William Humber re-examined other accounts of Canadian ballplaying, and suggests/hypothesizes/concludes that seven playing conventions/rules/practices may have distinguished it from other North American predecessor games:

[1] Eleven players.

[2] All-out-side out innings.

[3] Two innings to be played.

(Note that these three rules are familiar cricket rules)

[4] Use of four bases, in addition to home base

[5] The plugging of baserunners when away from bases

[6] Throwing, not pitching to batsmen

[7] 40-foot bases [sic?], with first base [how?] close to home

In drawing up this list, Humber drew on the Clipper articles, recollections of Adam Ford that may have come from his own playing days from 1848 to 1855, and a Clipper account of a 1859 game played by [a London Ontario club? Woodstock itself?  other?].

By [date/year], it appears that all Ontario clubs had adopted the NY rules. 






William Humber, "Deconstructing Beachville," April 2015, [use PBall url?]; Ford site, three Clipper cites.

A Fungo kind of game


per Jamieson (1825). A game known in County Fife. Two teams, armed with clubs, try to drive a ball into a hole defended by their opponents. This game may have resembled field hockey more than a safe-haven game.


J. Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (Edinburgh, 1825), page 187.

A Fungo kind of game

Cat (Kat)

For a recent description of Cat/Old-Cat, see Supplemental Text below. 

Per Culin. A batting game played with a six-inch, pointed wooden “cat.” The cat is pitched to a batter standing near a four-foot circle. The batter is out if he hits a caught fly or if the ball falls, unhit, into the circle. If put out, the batter goes to the end of the sequence of fielders, and the pitcher becomes the new batter. A batter can accrue points based on the distance from the circle to the where the hit ball lands. A version described by Newell[39] allows the batter to elevate and hit any cat that is pitched outside the circle.

Note: A Dutch book printed in 1845 also describes "Kat:" See

"The Kat is a piece of wood about 6 inches long, 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide at the midpoint and comes to a point at both ends making the form of a double cone. The Kat is placed on the ground in the middle of a big circle and a player uses a "ball stick" to hit one end of it to launch it into the air. As it comes down he tries to hit it out of the circle. If he fails to hit it or doesn't hit it out of the circle he steps off and the next player takes his turn.  If he's successful he's assigned a certain number of points depending on how far he hit it." 




Stewart Culin, "Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.," Journal of American Folklore 4, no. 14 (1891). page 233.

A Kickball kind of game

Cat i’ The Hole (Scotland)

per Brand and Jamieson. All but one player stands by a hole, holding a stick [called a “cat.”] The last player, holding a ball, gives a signal, and the others run to place their stick in the next adjacent hole before a ball enters it, or he will become the thrower.

Gomme specifies that when before thrower tosses the ball, he gives a sign and all the (boy) players must scramble to a neighbor's hole to obstruct the ball from entering it. Her c. 1894 description:

"A game well known in Fife (a county northeast of Edinburgh on the Firth of Forth), and perhaps in other countries.  If seven boys are to play, six holes are made a certain distances.  Each of the six stands at a hole, with a short stick in his hand; the seventh stands at a certain distance holding a ball.  When he gives the word, or makes the sign agreed upon, all the six change holes, each running to his neighbour's hole, and putting his stick in the hole which he has newly seized.  In making this change, the boy who has the ball, tries to put in into an empty hole.  If he succeeds in this, the boy who had not his stick (for the cat is the Cat) in the hole to which he had run is put out, and must take the ball.  There is often a very keen contest whether one will get his stick, and the other the ball, or Cat, first put into the hole.  When the Cat is in the hole, it is against the laws of the game to put the ball into it -- Jamieson

Kelly, in his Scottish Proverbs p. 325, says" 'Tine cat, tine game:' an allusion to a play called 'Cat i' the Hole', and the English 'Kit-cat.' Spoken when man at law have lost their principal evidence."  [Originally published in 1721.]


Brand, Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain: The Origins of Our Vulgar and Provincial Customs, Ceremonies and Superstitions., page 408.

J. Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (Edinburgh, 1825), page 192. Jamiesson describes the game  as being played in County Fife and perhaps elsewhere.

Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, D. Nutt, 1894), pages 63-64.


A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Cat's Pallet (England)

Court records from 1583 [Elizabeth I was in her 25th year as queen] show a dim view of this game. “Whereas there is great abuse in a game or games used in the town called ‘Gidigadie or the Cat’s Pallet . . . ‘ no manner persion shall play at the same games, being above the age of seven years, either in the churchyard or in any streets of the this town, upon pain of . . . being imprisoned in the Doungeon for the space of two hours . . . . Thus, Gidigadie may be another name for Cat’s Pallet. The rules of this game are as yet unknown.


John Harland, ed., A Volume of Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1884), page 156.

A Baseball kind of game

Cat-and-Bat (Scotland)

per Burnett. Burnett identifies Cat-and-Bat as a form of cricket that was played in Scottish streets in about 1860.


John Burnett, Riot, Revelry and Rout: Sport in Lowland Scotland before 1860 (East Linton, Scotland: Tuckwell Press, 2000)., page 208.

A Baseball kind of game


A game for three players. Two defend foot-wide holes set about 26 feet apart with a club, or “dog.” A third player throws a four-inch cat toward the hole, and the defender hits it away. If the cat enters the hole, defender and thrower switch places. Gomme, who uses the name Cat and Dog Hole, describes a game using a ball in which a stone replaces the hole where the batter stands, and adds that if the third player catches a hit ball in the air, that player can try to hit the stone, which sends the batter out.

On US play, 1866: "Cat and Dog -- An interesting trial of skill at this old time game was played at Pittsburgh Pa., on the 5th inst., between the Athletics, of South Pittsburgh, and the Enterprise of Mt. Washington.  The game was witnessed by a large crowd of ladies and gentlemen.

[The printed box score shows three players on each side, a pitcher-catcher and two fielders.  The result was the Athletics, 180 "measures" and the Enterprise 120 measures.  There is no indication of the use of innings, a side-out rule, or fly rule]

[This spare account leaves the impression of a one-time throwback demonstration.]

For other references to cat-and-dog, see these Chronology items; [Scotland] [Cat-and-dog as the ancestor of cricket] [Scottish dictionary account] [Nyack, NY, 1856] [Pittsburgh PA throwback game]


John Brand, Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain: The Origins of Our Vulgar and Provincial Customs, Ceremonies and Superstitions (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900)., page 95.

[In their account, Steel and Lyttelton put the distance at 13 yards. Cricket (Longmans, Green, 1890), page 4.]

Alice. B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (David Nutt, 1898), page 410. 

US play: New York Clipper, September 15, 1866.


A Fungo kind of game

Catch a Fly (Manhattan, New York)

A fungo game played in Manhattan in the 1950s. A fungo hitter is replaced by a fielder who catches a ball (or sometimes three balls) on the fly. Played when fewer than six kids were at the ballyard and a team game wasn’t possible.


John Pastier, email of February 12, 2009.

A Hat ball kind of game


per “Boys’ Own Book” (1881). A game similar to Nineholes, but without the holes. A ball is thrown up, and a player named. If that player cannot catch it before it bounces twice, he must plug another player or lose a point.


Boys’ Own Book: A Complete Encyclopedia of Athletic, Scientific, Outdoor and Indoor Sports (James Miller, Pub’r, New York, 1881), page 14.

A Baseball kind of game

Cavalry Base Ball (Pennsylvania?)


The October number of one of the Comic Monthlies, contains an illustration of a Cavalry game of base ball, which it says is patented.  On a large field is placed a picked nine, 'operating' on horse-back; the left field, centre field, and right field occupy appropriate positions.  The pitcher has a cannon that looks like one of the Fort Pitt twenty-inch guns (this exceeds Pratt, the lightening pitcher), and is pitching a ball by means of it at one of the cavalrymen, whose bat  is raised to stop it; home-runs, short-stops, and the other points of the game are well illustrated.  The umpire occupies a block house, from which protrude two telescopes, and the picture generally has a military aspect.  One of the chief advantages of the horse-back game is to be found in the ease with which the home-runs ae accomplished." 



Pittsburgh Daily Commercial, September 5, 1867, page 4.

A Kickball kind of game

Cerkelspelen (Circle-Game?) (Flanders, Belgium)

According to Maigaard, Cerkelspelen was “rounders without batting” as played in Flanders. The game evidently had five bases, with fielders near each one, but the infield area was occupied only by the in-team.


P. Maigaard, “Battingball Games,” reprinted in Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, Appendix 6.  See page 263.

A Fungo kind of game

Changers (Canada)

An 1893 book published in Ottawa, Canada, "Changers Rules," lay out the rules and fields of a fungo-style game using bat and ball, advertised as a non-running game less fatiguing that baseball, cricket or rounders. It is to be played by no more than 4 players.

The batter initially tosses the ball up and hits it, but after the first hit a "feeder" (pitcher) lobs the ball (underhand) in to the batter, who hits the ball with the intent of either driving it through a ring, or having the ball lodge inside a marked out court (similar to a tennis court). 

The book author is said to live in Wales, so the game might be a British invention.


Martin Middleton Wilson, "Changers Rules" (1893).

A Baseball kind of game

Chapita (Venezuela)

An October 2017 article on the Dominican game of vitilla notes, "In other baseball-loving countries ,vitilla exists in other forms.  Chapita is a similar game from  Venezuela, and major league players from there said they grew up playing it."


James Wagner, "Dominican Players Sharpen Their Skills With a Broomstick and Bottle Cap," New York Times (Sports Sunday section), October 6, 2017.

Accessed 10/9/2017 via search for <nyt broomstick bottle cap>

May be at

A one-minute clip of a non-baserunning game in Venezuela with Jose Altuve is shown at

A Baseball kind of game


In an email of 12/10/2008, Tom Altherr tells of the game of chermany, defined in a 1985 dictionary as “a variety of baseball.” Early usage of the term dates to the 1840s-1860s. Two sources relate the game to baseball, and one, a 1912 book of Virginia folk language, defines it as “a boys’ game with a ball and bats.” We know of but eight references to chermany [churmany, chumny, chuminy] as of October 2009. Its rules of play are sketchy. A Confederate soldier described it as using five or six foot-high sticks as bases and using “crossing out” instead of tagging or plugging runners to retire them.


See also Frederic Gomes Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall, Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 604.  The dictionary notes usage as “esp. VA” and gives four attested citations from 1889 to 1911, one of them a recollection from 1840, and another a 1911 dictionary associating the game with “the Southern United States.”

The Richmond Whig, Aug. 21, 1866 speaks of southerners 20 years prior playing bandy and chermany. The Richmond Dispatch, July 20, 1890 says kids played chermany 40 years ago (i.e., 1850). See also Altherr, "Southern Ball Games--Chermany, Round Cat, Etc." Base Ball (Spring 2011).

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


per Strutt. Strutt speculates that Club-ball was the ancient ancestor of many ball games. Its rules of play are not known. Hone book has 2 illustrations.

Collins, "Popular Sports" (1935) says (without citing a source) that club ball was similar to Single wicket cricket.


Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England (1801), pages 104-105.

Hone, "The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England..." (1831) p. 105

A Baseball kind of game

Cluich an Tighe

According to Morrison (1908) this game is “practically identical with the game of “Rounders.” He goes on to describe a game with three bases set 50 yards apart, with plugging and crossing as ways to retire batters. Games are played to 50 or 100 counts. The game is depicted as “practically dead” in Uist (In the Outer Hebrides off Scotland) but formerly was very popular.


A. Morrison, “Uist Games,” The Celtic Review, Volume 4 (1907/1908), pages 361- 363.

A Baseball kind of game


A game among youngsters similar to “Cricket,” a short piece of wood being struck up by a long stick instead of a ball by a bat.

Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, D. Nutt, 1894), page unspecified. 

A Baseball kind of game

Coed Softball (US)

Coed softball is basically just softball using female as well as male players.

It is, however, evolving a bit independently.  Local coed leagues have formed for after-work play in US cities.  It seems to have become necessary to add some rules to ensure that women are not put at a disadvantage (and so continue to participate) among all those males with more ballplaying experience and more upper-body strength.

Examples include use of a smaller ball, requiring outfields to play deep enough to allow balls to drop in the outfield, requiring alternating genders in the batting order, etc. 



Heather Hopp-Bruce, "Easy Out: Coed Softball Rules Explained," Boston Sunday Globe, July 23, 2015, page K3. 

A Baseball kind of game

Continuous Cricket (Australia)

[The game we played] "had only one batsman at a time, running to a point about 10 yards off to the right and back again after each hit . . . we called it Continuous Cricket.  The blurring of the concepts of "bowled" and "run out" makes the game a bunch of fun to play."


David Dyte, posting to 19CBB list-serve, 9/16/2010.

A Kickball kind of game


This game, encountered in Upper Egypt in the 1850s, is briefly described: it is “played likewise with a ball; one tosses it, and another strikes it with his hand, and runs to certain limits, if he can, without being hit by a ‘fag’ who picks up the ball and throws in.”


G. T. Lowth, The Wanderer in Arabia; or, Western Footsteps in Eastern Tracks (Hurst and Blackett, London, 1855), page 109.

A Fungo kind of game

Corkball (St. Louis)

Evidently primarily a St. Louis pastime, Corkball is presumably derived from baseball, involving down-sized bats and balls. The ball is pitched overhand from a distance of 55 feet. There is no running, but imaginary runners advance on hits by succeeding batters. Hit balls are defined as singles, and sometimes as longer hits, depending on where they land. Caught flies are outs. The game is said to have originated over a century ago among brewery workers using broomsticks and the bungs [corks] used to seal beer barrels. Team sizes vary from two to five players.  Annual tournaments have been held at least through 2012.  Dedicated corkball fields are reportedly found in St. Louis.

When played with tennis balls, the game is sometimes called Fuzz-Ball.

Some additional 2013 data from Corkball fan Jeff Kopp in St. Louis:

[] The game was reportedly first played in about 1890.

[] There are four active clubs in St.L, and pickup games appear on many Sundays at the Don Young Corkball Fields at Jefferson Barracks Park.

[] Special balls and bats are supplied by the Markwort Sporting Goods Company.

[] Isolated reports of corkball play are found in other US locations.  Drummer Butch Trucks, a nephew of Tiger pitcher Virgil Trucks and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, reportedly played corkball in Jacksonville FL and taught his band-mates the game. Another account places the game in an area from St. Louis "only" north to Springfield IL.  A Chicago Corkball Club was reportedly active around 2010.

[] Another form of the game, played with bottle caps in place of balls/corks, is called Bottle Caps







Special thanks to Jeff Kittel, emails of 10/11/09 and 9/22/13, for material on this game.  A website on corkball is found at, as accessed 9/25/13. It includes a 2012 paper on the history and context of the game.    Its author, Jeff Kopp, sent us many further details (outlined above) in a 10/16/2013 email. 

See also http:/// Accessed 10/8/09.  This article includes a description of corkball rules and a corkball chronology that shows the addition of balls and strikes in 1941 and of extra-base hits in 1965.

A Hat ball kind of game

Corner Ball

A plugging game that is closer to dodge ball than to safe-haven games. Some players, standing at designated corners or the perimeter of the playing area, pass the ball teammate to teammate in order to make it easier for one of them to plug anyone among group of players swarming around inside the field. If plugged, a player is out of the game.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


A reference to “crekettes” in a 1533 poem has been construed as evidence that the game of cricket originated in a pastime brought to England by Flemish weavers , who arrived in the 14th Century. A German scholar thinks that this earlier game originated in the Franco-Flemish border area as early as 1150. We have no faint notion of how this earlier game might have been played.


See accessed 10/10/09.  Special thanks to Beth Hise, emails of September 2009, for leads on this game.

A Baseball kind of game


Cricket is not generally seen as a source of base ball.  However, it shares many of base ball's key characteristics: base-running, batting, pitching (bowling), innings, etc.  And the physical dimensions of the ball are close to that of base ball.

The game is (arguably) recorded in 1300 in England, and for sure in 1598. See Altham, "A History of Cricket" p. 18-19, and Green, "A History of Cricket" p. 12-13.

A game played in the United States, called wicket, bears some resemblance to cricket as it was played in the 1800s.  Wicket is reported in many U.S. states, led by Connecticut and Massachusetts.  It seems to have crested in the post Civil War era, and town vs. town matches, some using teams of as many as 30 players.  See wicket

The English exported cricket to many of its colonies.  To see how the game later evolved in a section of New Guinea, see the well-presented 53-minute clip at:


A Baseball kind of game

Cricket -- US (MA)

Cricket remained the game of choice for some Americans, particularly in the Philadelphia area.

In addition, we note that a County Cricket League was in operation in western MA in 1905:

[A] "At a joint meeting of the secretaries of the Cricket clubs of Berkshire county (sic) held yesterday in Adams [MA} the schedule for the league games was arranged. There will be teams representing Pittsfield, North Adams, Adams and Lenox.  Five games with each team will be played with the exception of Lenox."

The schedule extends from June 3 to September 9, with a championship game set for September 16, 1905.  

[B] "PENNANT ON EXHIBITION.  The pennant offered the winner in the Berkshire county cricket league and which went to the Pittsfield team is on exhibition at Enright's shoe store.  The pennant is made of blue silk, on which the names of the teams in the order they finished in the league are printed in gold leaf"



[A] North Adams Transcript, May 29,1905.  Submitted by Larry Moore, March 9, 2021.

[B]Berkshire Eagle, November 10, 1905, page 2. Submitted by Larry Moore, March 10, 2021

A Baseball kind of game


is defined in the OED as “a kind of rounders.” Gomme equates Cuck-Ball with Pize Ball and Tut-Ball.


Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1, page 83.

A Baseball kind of game


per Gomme. Two holes are made about ten feet apart. A player on the out-team pitches a cat toward a hole, and its defender tries to hit it with his stick. He and his in-team mate then run between the holes. When more than four boys play the extra out-team players field as in cricket.


Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1, pages 84-85.

A Fungo kind of game

Curb Ball (New York)


"Curb ball - no baserunning - played with 1 -3 players per team on a side street directly under my (Bronx) bedroom window [which allowed me to participate whenever i wished because i could always hear the game organizing] - a 1 1/2 lane street separated the hitting curb from a 3 1/2 foot chain link fence beyond which was a 2 lane street beyond which was a small grassy rise - spaldeen was thrown against the curb - balls that missed the point of the curb and bounced off the building wall [~10 feet away] were foul balls but if caught on the fly were outs - balls that were thrown below the curb point were in play [but usually weakly hit]; balls hitting the point often went very far[or fast]  - caught fly balls or caught grounders were outs, unfielded ground balls were singles - balls off the first fence were singles - balls over the first fence [where 2nd and 3rd players could be positioned] were doubles if not caught on the fly - balls on the rise were triples, balls over the walls were homers - major hazards were moving cars and mothers yelling out their windows for us to quiet down."

(Email from Raphael Kasper, February 3, 2020.)


Gregory Christiano describes curb ball as a game he played in the Bronx in the mid-1950s:

CURB BALL: Hit the 'spaldeen' against the sharp edge of the curb causing it to fly up as high as possible. The fielder must catch it on the fly to get an out...otherwise the number of bounces determines if it was a single, double, triple. Four bounces is a homer. There were no actual bases to run. The players would take turns when the inning was over. A regular nine-inning game was played.

A Fungo kind of game

Dab-an Thricker

Yet another name for norr-and-spell or trapball.


Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, D. Nutt, 1894), page unspecified. 

A Baseball kind of game

Danish Longball (Canada, Australia)

This game resembles other northern European safe-haven games like lapta.  Batters bat, then run to a single distant base, trying to return as later batters have their turns.

Some unique aspects of this game are that only one (good) pitch is allowed, and the batter runs whether the ball is hit or not; multiple runners can occupy the single base if they don't think they can reach home safely; once a runner leaves the runing base, he/she cannot return; fielders cannot run with the ball; a three-out-side-out rule obtains, except for the case of a caught fly, which immediately retires the in team; runners are out if tagged, or plugged below the knee.

This game is apparently played today in Canada and Australia.  The paper does not discuss the origins or history of the game.

For its origins, see David Block, Baseball Before we Knew It pp. 260-274.


Joy Butler, et. al., "Danish Longball: A Novel Game," Physical and Health Education (Autumn 2007), pages 29-33.  Submitted by Brian Sheehy, 12/19/12.

Lidstrom and Bjarsholm, Batting, Running, and ‘Burning’ in Early Modern Europe: A Contribution to the Debate on the Roots of Baseball, International Journal of the History of Sport (2020),  at

A Baseball kind of game

De Kat (The Netherlands)

David Block describes the Dutch game of Da Kat as a form of [[tip-cat]].


Dongens! Wat zal er gespeld worden? (Boys! What Shall We Play?) [Leeuwarden, G. T. N. Suringar], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 215.  See also chronology entry 1853.2.

A Baseball kind of game

Diamond Ball

A game played from 1916 to 1926, when it transformed into Softball.  Diamond ball was also known as women's baseball.  Particularly popular in Sarasota FL, this game was played in the 1920s on sandy beaches (sometimes at night under lights) , and uses a 14-inch ball like used in indoor baseball.  Games were played in less than an hour, affording lunch-hour play. 


Paul Dickson, The Worth Book of Softball (Facts on File, 1994), pages 57 and 58. 

A Kickball kind of game

Diamond Discus (Nevada)

A base-running game without balls or bats, this game was evidently invented by Russ Lopez in Nevada as a blend of baseball and frisbee.  Two teams of six are suggested.  It is to be played on a field that resembles a baseball diamond.  A "flinger" tosses the disc into fair territory, and if uncaught by the fielding team, he/she advances base to base.

As of September 2013, this game had been invented, but not yet played.


See accessed 8/19/2015.

A Hat ball kind of game


Dodgeball is a basic youth game with no batting or safe-haven bases. Two teams form. A player can be put out by being hit with a throw rubber ball, unless he catches it, in which case the thrower is out.  The game ends when the last player on a team is put out.

A discussion of several dodgeball variants is found at  None mentions base-running or batting, but plugging is a central feature. 

Some trace the history of dodgeball to the ancient Egyptions, and the Romans played a version of the game. (citation?)

There is a National College Dodgeball Association at



A Baseball kind of game

Donkey Baseball

In its 1934 manifestation, donkey baseball let the donkeys run, and the players ride.  "[A]ll participants, excepting the catcher, pitcher and the batsman are astride donkeys.  After hitting the ball it is necessary for the hitter to get on the back of a donkey and make his way to first base before the fielders, also on donkeys, retrieve the ball."

The earliest version of donkey base ball was named for "donkey races," which Peter Morris sees as "a silly type of contest."  The team that scored the fewest runs was the winner.  Maybe you had to be there to agree with the Brooklyn Eagle that the game was "very amusing , and perhaps the most novel match ever played."


(Initial source material lost.)

For a lively account of 1950s 'Donkey Ball' as recalled in in 2015, see the account in the Long Beach Island, NJ News, June 3, 2015, Beach Haven's Throwback Softball Game Has 'Terrific Turnout,' by Kelley Anne Essinger.  See Supplemental Text, below.  Submitted by Heidi Cassells, 10/24/2020.

See also, accessed 10/25/2020.  See also Thorning cite below.



A Hat ball kind of game

Doutee Stool

According to an 1860 text, players sit on stools placed in a circle, and one player tosses or strikes a ball into the air. If he retrieves the ball and hits another player before that player reaches the next stool, the two players switch roles.


Ball Games,  (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1860)., page 41.

A Fungo kind of game

Drive Ball (New England)

[1] Drive ball:  An 1835 book published in New Haven describes drive ball.  David Block's summary:  "In this activity, two boys with bats face each other, taking turns fungoing the ball.  When one boy hits the ball, the other has to retrieve it as quickly as he can, then fungo it back from the spot he picked it up."

From the 1835 text: "'Drive Ball’ is a game for two players only, who are placed each with a bat, at some distance from, and facing each other. The ball is then knocked back and forth, from one to the other, each endeavoring to drive it as far as possible, where it must be picked up and knocked back to the other player, who is at liberty to advance as near as he pleases. If he advance too near, however, his opponent will be likely, with a vigorous stroke, to force him to retreat again. The space of ground passed over will readily show which is the victor."

A 1849 chapbook from Babcock also mentions drive ball as the last mentioned of six common games played with a ball, naming "base-ball, trap ball, cricket, up-ball, catch-ball and drive ball."


[2] Drive: A ball game, listed along with the Old Cat games and Baseball, is mentioned in the memoirs of a New Hampshire man born in 1831. The rules of this game are not given. It may not have been a baserunning game.

Drive Ball’ is a game for two players only, who are placed each with a bat, at some distance from, and facing each other. The ball is then knocked back and forth, from one to the other, each endeavoring to drive it as far as possible, where it must be picked up and knocked back to the other player, who is at liberty to advance as near as he pleases. If he advance too near, however, his opponent will be likely, with a vigorous stroke, to force him to retreat again. The space of ground passed over will readily show which is the victor.


[1] The Boy's Book of Sports; a Description of the Exercises and Pastimes of Youth (New Haven, S. Babcock, 1835), 24 pages. Summarized in David Block, Baseball before We Knew It (University of Nebraska Press, 2005), page 198.   See also Babcock's Juvenile Pastimes; or Girls' and Boys' Book of Sports (New Haven, S. Babcock), 16 pages, per David Block, page 212.

[2] F. B. Sanborn, New Hampshire Biography and Autobiography (Private Printing, Concord NH, 1905), page 13.

A Baseball kind of game

Dully (Scotland)

A Scottish name for rounders as played by “Edinburgh street boys” in about 1880 and by schoolgirls in about 1900.


Amy Stewart Fraser, Dae Ye Min’ Langsyne?: A Pot-pourri of Games, Rhymes, and Ploys of Scottish Childhood (Routledge, 1975),  page 59.

A Baseball kind of game

Dutch Long

This game, called “long out of date” in an 1867 newspaper article, seemed to resemble Long Ball but with three bases. A “tosser” lofted the ball and a nearby batter hit it, then ran to a base [a “bye”] a few feet away, then to a second base 25-30 feet distant, then home. Completing this circuit before the ball was returned by fielders to the tosser gave the striker another turn at bat. The account does not say whether this was a team game, whether it employed plugging, or whether runners could elect to stay on base.  It seems possible that the adjective "dutch" indicated that the game came from Holland or Germany.


Daily Cleveland Herald, April 24, 1867, as posted to the 19CBB listserve by Kyle DeCicco-Carey on 8/19/2008.

A Hat ball kind of game


A version of this game described in 1860 has players place their hats near a wall. One of them tosses a ball from 15 feet away, and if the ball lands in a player’s hat, he tries to quickly plug a fleeing compatriot or else he receives an “egg” [a small stone] in his hat. Three stones and you’re out of the game.


Daily Cleveland Herald, April 24, 1867, as posted to the 19CBB listserve by Kyle DeCicco-Carey on 8/19/2008. p. 42

A Baseball kind of game

Elle (Sri Lanka)

A lusty baserunning game, Elle, is played in Sri Lanka.

As of August 2020, Wikipedia has this general description of Elle:

"Elle is a very popular Sri Lankan bat-and-ball game, often played in rural villages and urban areas. It involves a hitter, a pitcher and fielders. The hitter is given three chances to hit the ball pitched at him or her. Once the hitter hits the ball with the bat – often a sturdy bamboo stick – the hitter has to complete a round or run which includes four possible "stoppings" spaced 55 metres [~180 ft] apart. A strikeout happens if the hitter's ball is caught by the fielding side or if the fielding side is able to hit the hitter with the ball while he or she is in the course of completing a run. The hitter can stop only at one of the three stoppings in the round thereby paving the way for another member of his team to come and become the hitter. The side that gets the highest number of (complete) runs wins the match."


The article cites a source with the claim that the game has a 2000-year history, but notes that this has not been documented, and suggests that it may date from the 1900s. It is reportedly played by males and females, and town vs town matches have been common.

12 to 16 players comprise a team. In today's game, tennis balls are commonly used.  The batsman strikes a ball tossed softly by a teammate.  

A 3-minute 2020 Youtube introduction to elle in English was reached on 12/8/2022 via a search of "elle sri lanka traditional sport". 

The essence of this boisterous game is perhaps conveyed in Youtube clips: in Summer 2020, a Youtube search for <elle match sri lanka> returned about 20 such displays.  One unique feature is that a batter does not run bases;instead, a (usually barefoot?) teammate with a head start sprints around a circular path when a ball is struck.  Caught flies are outs, and runners reportedly can be retired if hit between stopping points. 

Ceylon was a British colony, and it is tempting to suppose that elle evolved from a rounders-like game, but Protoball has not seem such speculation.

Further information is welcomed.  A large Facebook presence reflects the idea that elle should be embraced as Sri Lanka's national game.

A 3-minute 2020 Youtube introduction to Elle was reached on 12/8/2022 via a search of "elle sri lanka traditional sport".  We have seen other foreign-language elle videos on Youtube.


-- Can we locate a written list of playing rules for Elle?

-- Can we find a written history of elle?


Allardice Score: 8 or 9?

 From its Youtube videos, Elle may score the maximum score of 9: we cannot yet confirm that foul ground is used, that total runs scored determines the winner, or that written rules are found. 

In Elle, the pitcher acts as a server, and is on the batter's team. 


Introduction to the sport in English, cited above.

Wikipedia article [search for "elle (sport)"].

Numerous Youtube videos, none seen to provide English commentary.

A Baseball kind of game

English Base Ball (Great Britain)

Only in the 21st Century did we come to appreciate that a major predecessor of modern baseball was an English pastime known as <wait for it> “base ball”.


David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It.

David Block, Pastime Lost.


A Fungo kind of game

Evansville Townball

per Gilbert (1910). Remembered as Town Ball, this game was a simple fungo game played in the 1850s in which a fielder who caught a hit ball on the fly or on one bounce became the fungo batter.


F. M. Gilbert, History of the City of Evansville (Pioneer Publishing, 1910), page 106-108.

A Scrub kind of game


per “The Boy’s Own Book.” A non-team form of rounders using three bases in which a player who is put out then takes on the role of feeder [pitcher]. An 1859 handbook describes feeder as a game with four or five stones or marks for bases. Plugging is permitted.

As of 2023, the Protoball chronology has 10 items of the game of feeder.

One, found at 1841.1, refers to clockwise baserunning.  David Block's Baseball before We Knew It, cites the game at pages 24,138-9, 153, 205,, 207, 284-5.




The Boy's Own Book(London: D. Bogue, 1852), page 29. See also Elliott, The Playground and the Parlour (1868), p. 53.

A Fungo kind of game

Five Hundred

Fielders catch fungo hits, with a caught fly worth 100 points, a one-bouncer 75 points, etc. A player who accrues 500 points becomes the hitter. In some versions, muffed catches deduct points, and the Hit-the-Bat option for returned throws is employed. Land’s review of schoolyard games includes two references to 500. It is also evidently called Twenty-One in some localities.


G. Land, Growing Up with Baseball (UNebraska, 2004), pages 61 and 174.

A Fungo kind of game

Flip Up

Writing in volume 5, no. 4 (April 2012) of Originals, Tom Altherr notes that a 1900 source on schoolyard games noted "The game of Flip Up or Sky-Ball is still played by smaller children, and sometimes by large ones (especially girls).  It is often played by as many as a dozen players and is here as "Tip-Up," or "Tippy-Up." The 1900 source is D. C. Gibson, "Play Ball," Mind and Body: A Monthly Journal,Volume 7, no 73 (March 1900), page 7.  No rules for this game are given, but Sky-ball is elsewhere descrived as a fungo game.

A Fungo kind of game

Flys-Are-Up, Flies-Up

Gregory Christiano recalls this as a fungo game for times where there were too few players for stick-ball in The Bronx, New York in the mid-1950s. A fielder who caught the ball on the fly went “up” to bat.

Gary Land quotes New York City resident Michael Frank: “Hardball? Never. Other baseball-related games we played included Stickball in the street and “Flies-Up” in the playground. The latter game is not further described, but could be a species of Fungo.


See also G. Land, Growing Up with Baseball (UNebraska, 2004).

A Fungo kind of game

French Cricket (France, Australia)

"Plugging as in soaking the hitter - never read about that in Cricket except for 'French Cricket' (a picnic game played by kids in France & I played it too) where you stand with your feet together as if standing in attention, with the bat in front protecting it below the knees and surrounded by fielders/catchers surrounding you. The object is to hit the batter below the knee with the ball from any direction & the batter hits it away. If he looses his balance & one leg is lifted up or he gets hit on the leg, he is out. Fielders are about 10' away & the ball is thrown quickly at the legs."

Query: It would be interesting to know what the French name for this game is, and whether it relates to earlier folk games in France.


Email from Jay Patel, April 6, 2013.

A short description of the game is found at, and is evidently based in part on  Australian sources. An informal snapshot is included, showing a cricket-style bat.

A Fungo kind of game


Protoball's Glossary of Games includes many  nonrunning games in which the ball (or cat, or other object) is put in play by a batter who gently lofts a ball and bats, or "fungoes," it to other players.  Some better-known examples are Brannboll (Sweden),  Catch-a-Fly (Manhattan), Corkball (St. Louis), 500, Half-ball, Indian Ball (MO), Sky Ball (CT), and Tip-Cat.

Some early references:

Culin (1891): A batter fungoes balls to a set of fielders. A fielder who first catches a set number of balls on the fly becomes the batter.

Chadwick (1884) describes Fungo as requiring the hitter to deliver the ball on the fly to the fielders, or he loses his place. This practice probably has had numerous local variant names such as Knock Up and Catch and Knocking Flies.

It is common for those coaching baseball to give outfielders practice in judging and fielding fly balls by hitting balls toward them fungo-style.


Culin, S. (1891). "Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn." Journal of American Folklore, volume 4, page 232; Our Game log, July 16, 2022

Henry Chadwick, Sports and Pastimes for American Boys (Routledge, New York, 1884), page 18.

F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 245.

A Fungo kind of game


Fuzz-Ball evidently takes many local variant forms, but all employ a tennis ball (often with its surface fuzz burned off and a slim bat. The number of strikes per out and outs per inning, among other parameters, vary from place to place.  It is placed in the "fungo" category here, but in some areas real baserunning is seen, making it close to baseball.  Teams are often small.

In St. Louis, some players use the term Corkball for Fuzz-ball.





A nice introduction to local Fuzz-Ball variants is at 

A Baseball kind of game

Gate-ball (Thorball)

Bowen (1970) writes that “Gate-ball (‘Thorball’), as found in the early Dutch and Danish accounts is “obviously but wicket [cricket], again.”


R. Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development Throughout the World (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1970), page 36Bowen does not give dates or sources for the Dutch/Danish accounts.

A Baseball kind of game

German Ball Game

per Perrin (1902). This game involves pitching a ball to a batter who hits it into a field where an opposing team’s fielders are. He tries to reach a goal line at the end of the playing area [80 feet away] and to return to the batting zone without being plugged by the ball. There is no mention of the possibility of remaining safely at the goal area. Three outs constitute a half-inning, and a team that scores 25 “points” [runs] wins the contest.  The game resembles the family of "battingball" games reported by Maigaard.


E. Perrin, et al., One Hundred and Fifty Gymnastic Games (G. H. Ellis, Boston, 1902), pages 22-23.

A Baseball kind of game

German Baseball (Germany)

This game, described as an amalgam of Baseball and traditional German Schlagball, was introduced in 1986 by Roland Naul in the context of a revival of Turner games for German youth. In the mid-1990s, a one-handed wooden bat was developed especially for the game. As of October 2009, we are uncertain how the two sets of rules were blended to make this new game. The author mentions that the fielding team can score points as well as the batting team.

From 2012 searches, it is not clear that this game is still played.


Roland Naul, “Applied Sport History,” Proceedings of the Sixth Congress of the International Society for the History of Physical Education and Sport (Plantin-Print, Budapest, 2002), pages 432ff.

A Kickball kind of game

German Bat Ball

A 1921 handbook and a 1922 handbook depicts German Bat Ball as a team game that uses a ball like a volleyball and that has neither a bat nor pitching. A “batter” puts the ball in play by serving or “posting” it [as in schoolyard punchball] and then running around a post (Clark) or to a distant safe-haven area (Elmore/O’Shea). A run is scored if the runner can return to the batting base without being plugged. It is unclear whether the runner can opt to stay at the distant base to avoid being put out. A caught fly is an out, and a three-out-side-out rule applies.


Lydia ClarkPhysical Training for the Elementary Schools (B. H. Sanborn, Chicago, 1921), pages 240-243.

Emily Elmore and M. O’Shea, A Practical Handbook of Games (Macmillan, New York, 1922), pages 36-39.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Gi-Gi Ball

per Leavy. A biography of Sandy Koufax reports that he played “stickball, punchball, square ball, and Gi-Gi ball in his neighborhood. We don’t know what Gi-Gi Ball is.


Jane Leavy [Koufax bio, page ref needed].

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


Court records from 1583 [Elizabeth I was in her 25th year as queen] show a dim view of this game. “Whereas there is great abuse in a game or games used in the town called ‘Gidigadie or the Cat’s Pallet . . . ‘ no manner persion shall play at the same games, being above the age of seven years, either in the churchyard or in any streets of the this town, upon pain of . . . being imprisoned in the Doungeon for the space of two hours . . . . Thus, Gidigadie may be another name for Cat’s Pallet.


John Harland, ed., A Volume of Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1884), page 156.

A Baseball kind of game

Giftball (Germany)

In Baseball Before We Knew It, [page 207] David Block describes a game in a German manual that “is identical to the early French game of la balle empoisonee,” and that an illustration of two boys playing it “shows it to be a bat-and-ball game." Giftball in German translates literally as "poison ball."


Jugndspiele zur Ehhjolung und Erheiterung (W. Simmerfled, Tilsit Germany, 1845).  Also. email from Bill Hicklin, 1/24/2016. 

A Baseball kind of game

Goal Ball

Another name for early base ball, perhaps confined to certain areas.  Usage of the name is known in New England.  As of June 2012, the Protoball Chronology lists 10 references to the game of Goal Ball or Goal, or games in which bases are term "goals."  All refer to play in the six New England states, and all but two are found before 1850.  A new reference to the game "gould" in 2020 may denote the same game (see 1854.23).

On 11/3/2020 Brian Turner added the following clarification:  "As best I can tell based on examples I've put together for an article I'm doing for Base Ball, "gould" (AKA "gool") are regional pronunciations of "goal." The region in which those terms occur includes western Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, mostly in rural communities where (I surmise) old-time game names may have survived into the 19th century. Peter Morris has identified two instances associated with Norway, Maine, where "gool" is used as synonymous with "base" as late as the 1860s, but when one of those the incidents was recalled in the 1870s, it's clear that the use struck the lads of Bowdoin attending the game as risible. The use of "goal" for "base" is consistent with Robin Carver's 1834 inclusion of the term in The Book of Sports. One must be cautious about anointing every use of "goal" or "gool" or goold" as synonymous with base and therefore "base ball," since, like base by itself, goal can be used to describe other sorts of games. By itself, "base" can refer to Prisoner's Base, a running game that seems to resemble a team form of tag.  So too "goal" by itself."



The best known references to Goal Ball are Robin Carver, The Book of Sports (Boston, Lilly Wait Colman and Holden, 1834), pp 37-40, -- see Protoball entry 1834.1 --  and Boy’s and Girl’s Book of Sports (Providence, Cory and Daniels), pp 17-19 -- see Protoball Chronology entries 1835.6 and 1854.23.



A Fungo kind of game


per Wieand. This is a game with pitching and batting but no running. A caught fly ball results in an out, and the batter then goes to the outfield, or grutz, to begin his rotation back to the batting position. If a ball is not caught, the fielder tries to return it to home through an arch made by the batter.


Paul R. Wieand, Outdoor Games of the Pennsylvania Germans (Plymouth Meeting, PA: Mrs. C. N. Keyser, 1950)., page 9.

A Fungo kind of game


An apparent non-running relative of tip-cat. A batter hits a gulli (a six-inch cat) with a danda, and is out if a fielder catches it. If it falls to the ground, a fielder throws it back, trying to hit the danda, which is laid on the ground. It is not clear if this is a team game, or if the gulli is pitched on simply fungoed. There is no running. The geographical range of its play is unclear.

A Baseball kind of game

Gully Cricket (India)

Gully Cricket is a more forgiving form of cricket often associated with India and the Indian diaspora.

"10 Gully Cricket Rules That We All Played With!     

"From screaming “outzaatttt” every time someone catches the ball to breaking the window glass of the neighbour’s house, it’s safe to say that gully cricket is an integral part of all our well-cherished childhood, especially in India! And I’m sure, all you cricket fanatics can relate to the same. So what makes gully cricket so much more enjoyable than the regular cricket that there are now gully cricket leagues being held that everyone oh so enjoys? As a gully cricket enthusiast myself, it’s safe to say, that as a kid from India, it’s the freedom that comes with making up your own rules in this game that makes this game so enjoyable.

So here are 10 gully cricket rules that most of us played with during our childhood that will leave us feeling nostalgic.

1) Pitch-catch is considered out if you catch the ball in one hand.

When the fielding team member catches the ball after one bounce, but in one hand, the player who hit the ball is out!

2) First ball = Trial ball

The first ball that every batsman will attempt will always be a trial ball just so they can warm up their batting skills and get used to the bowling.

3) If the ball hits the neighbour’s house, window, wall or car, the batsman is out!

If the batsman hits the ball directly into the wall of the neighbour’s house, widow or the car, they will have to bear the expenses that follow and they are out!

4) The winning team will always get to bat first in the next match!

The team that wins this match will automatically bat for the next match, cause who doesn’t love to bat.

'5) 'The batsman should always leave some space for the wicket to be seen because there is no concept of LBW!

The batsman should not cover the whole wicket while batting cause there is no LBW rule. And if you don’t, the bowler will throw a fit.

'6) 'If the batsman thinks the ball is too fast, the bowler should re-bowl the ball!

If the batsman feels the ball was too fast, it is too fast. Oh and that ball will not be counted because clearly, it’s unfair.

7) If the ball goes far out of reach or is lost, the batsman is held responsible.

When the batsman hits the ball so far that it’s lost, he will have to replace the ball. Because well, he hit it!

8) The umpire is chosen from the batting team.

The umpire will be a player from the batting team because he’ll be sitting on the sidelines. When it’s his turn to bat, someone else will replace him!

9) The last batsman will play without a non-striker batsman.

The last man gets to bat without assistance from the other non-striker batsman. Because hey… we can make up their own rules.

10) The team with the extra player will have to lend him to play fielding for the other team!

The extra player in the team, usually the worst player will be asked to play for both teams. Obviously because then the powers of both the team will be equal."

A Fungo kind of game

Half-Rubber (US. South)

Thomason (1975) recalls Half-Rubber as a 1930s school recess game involving a sponge-rubber ball sliced cleanly in half and a sawed-off broomstick as a bat. Thrown side-arm, the ball had good movement, and was difficult to field. There was no running, but outs and innings were recorded and (virtual) base advancement depending on the lengths that the ball was batted.

(A 1997 newspaper article recalls a similar game recalled as Half-Ball being played in the Philadelphia area.)

This game emerged in about 1910 in the SC/GA area of the south, and retained strong popularity into the 1970s.


Hugh M. Thomason, “A Depression-Days Schoolyard Game,” Western Folklore, Vol. 34, Issue 1, January 1975, pages 58-59.

Philadelphia version: 

Brian Howard, “Wild in the Streets,” City Paper June 5, 1997,

A Baseball kind of game

Halfball (Cambridge MA)

Halfball was a game using half of a rubber ball and imaginary baserunning.  It seems likely to resemble Half-Rubber, which was reportedly played in the US. South and the Philadelphia area.

It is also described as a street game on Wikipedia.

Baby Boomer Jack Hammer (actual name!) describes Half Ball as a subspecies of a street game (known there as stickball) as played in Cambridge MA in the late 1950s.  The ball used in this game was a hollow pink spiky object known as a "pimple ball," which, when stressed by play, tended to split open along its seam.  The players separated the two halves, and the resulting game was called half ball.  A half ball had interesting aerodynamic behaviors.

The bat used in this game was a broom handle sawed off at about 30 inches.  Man-hole covers in the street could serve as bases for actual baserunning.  Jack adds: "Besides manhole covers, sometimes we marked outlines of bases with chalk (rarely available) or with pieces of slate roof tiles. Sometimes we used a board for home or second base. First base and third base could be a tree, a utility pole, or the tail light or head light of parked vehicles." (Email of 12/31/2019.) 

Another subspecies of game , called "Judge," employed imaginary runners.

For these games, oncoming traffic was marked by a common shriek -- "Carrr!!!" --  that cleared the motorway of lads.   


See also Half-Rubber and Accessed December 2019.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Hand-in-Hand-Out (England)

per McLean. McLean notes that hand-in and hand-out was among the games banned by King Edward IV in 1477. She identifies it as “probably a kind of trick catch.” The 1477 ban spelled the game name as “handyn and handout.”


Teresa McLean, The English at Play in the Middle Ages (Kensal Press, 1985), page 80.  In The Royal Dictionary by A. Boyer (London, 1764), Hand In Hand Out is defined as "the Name of an unlawful Game," and translated into French as "forte de jeu defendu."

A Hat ball kind of game

Hat Ball

A form of Roly Poly (or Roley Poley or Roll Ball) that substitutes hats for holes in the ground. Newell says this game was played among the Pennsylvania Dutch.Brewster says that Hat Ball variants are known in many countries, and include Petjeball [Dutch] and Kappenspiel [German].


Newell, Games and Songs of American Children. page 183.

Paul G. Brewster, American Nonsinging Games (University of Oklahoma Press, 1953), page 85.

A Baseball kind of game

Hildegarde (England and New York)

[A] Hildegarde is described in an 1881 publication as a new English game that was "a combination of the noble old English one of Cricket with the popular American one of Base-ball. It is especially adapted in its arrangements and implements to fit it for the use of ladies." 

The game was played with 15-inch paddles and 2.5-inch rubber balls.  Three poles, several yards apart, are both the bases and targets that can put batters and runners out.  Teams of from two to fifteen are accommodated, and a "scrub" (non-team) form is an option when very few players are available.  A pitcher throws pitches with one foot placed on a foot-base located amid the three bases and at a distance of ten feet. 

[B] "The new game of Hildegarde will encounter vigorous criticism . . . [It is} a combination of football and cricket . . .a big, soft ball being struck with a wide bat as well as kicked . . . "

[C] "Wingfield’s [1874] invention [of lawn tennis]included ‘five-ten’, a combination of tennis and fives, and ‘Hildegarde’, a hybrid of real tennis with rounders and cricket.

[D] "The new Game of Hildegarde, or Ladies' Cricket . . ."

[E] 1883 game account in New York City.




[A] Leonora "(pseud)", The New Out-door Games of Hildegarde and Ladies' Cricket (Macdougall and Son, Sheffield, 1881), 16 pp.  [Accessed 2/3/2014 via a Google Books search <"hildegarde and ladies">.]

[B] This wording is found in newspapers in and Indianapolis (Indianapolis Journal, 9/22/1883, in Detroit (Detroit Free Press, 9/28/1883), and in New Haven, (Morning Journal-Courier, 10/15/1883, per Protoball search of 10.13.2020.

[C] Jon Day, review of David Berry, A People’s History of Tennis (Pluto, 2020), at

[D] Illustrated Sports, 5/1/1884.

[E] Sunday Boston Herald, 9/23/1883.

Note: A tip on Hildegarde was provided by John Thorn, email to Protoball, 2/3/2014.  John also located the 1883 Boston coverage cited above. Additional details were provided on 10/13/2020 by Raphael G. Kasper.


A Fungo kind of game

Hit the Bat

A fungo game in which a ball is hit to a group of fielders. If one of them can roll the ball back and hit the bat so that the ball hits the ground before the batter can catch the ricochet, the two exchange places.

Baserunning and pitching are not part of this fungo game.

[As recalled in Central New York in the 1950s]

A Kickball kind of game

Hit the Stick (Brooklyn)

per Culin. A team game resembling Kick the Ball, but using a simple catapult to put into play a 3-inch stick instead of a ball. Fly outs retire the batsman. The bases are the four street-corners at an intersection.


Culin, "Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.", page 231.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Hittera Ball

"HITTERA BALL, a game played at Eyam, in Derbyshire.  The game resembles the game of 'knur and spell.' A hole is made in a stone fixed in the ground.  A spell with a cup at the end is placed in the hole, and the projecting end of the spell is struck by a stick."  

Another source, citing this source, calls the game "Hitter-a-bll?


Sidney Oldall Addy, A Glossary of Words Used in the Neighborhood of Sheffield, (English Dialect Society, 1888:  Supplement (1891), page 29.  (Submitted 12/11/2020 by Tom Altherr.)

A Fungo kind of game

Hoina (Romania)

A predecessor of Oina.

A Hat ball kind of game

Hole-Ball (Midwest US)

H. J Philpott used the names "hole-ball and "wibble-wobble" as games that seem consistent with hat-ball.  One player would place the ball in a hole or hat, and the other players would scatter before being hit with the ball by the player designated as "it."  This game thus shares evasive running and plugging with base ball.


Henry J. Philpott, "A Little Boys' Game with a Ball," Popular Science Monthly, volume 37 (May-October 1890), pages 651-652.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


Our single reference to this game comes from an 1847 Alabama newspaper in its attempt to describe curling to southern readers: “Did you ever play ‘bass ball,’ or ‘goal,’ or ‘hook-em-snivy,’ on the ice?” Its nature is unknown. “Hookum-snivy” is slang for adultery, not that it matters.


The Alabama Reporter, as reprinted in Spirit of the Times (January 16, 1847), page 559.  Provided by David Block, 2/28/2008.

A Baseball kind of game


Only known from Francis Willughby’s 17th century Book of Games, hornebillets is played with a cat (fashioned from animal horn), which is thrown toward holes defended by players with dog-sticks. When they hit the cat, batters run to the next hole, placing the stick in the hole before the cat can be retrieved and be put into the hole. The number of holes depends on the number of players on each team.


David Cram, et al., editors, Francis Willughby’s Book of Games (Ashgate, 2003), page 182.

A Fungo kind of game

Hornie-Holes (also Kittie-Cat)

per Jamieson (1825.) Two teams of two boys, defend their holes with a sticks, described as like a walking sticks, against a cat (“a piece of stick, and frequently a sheep’s horn”) thrown “at some distance” by their opposite numbers.


J. Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (Edinburgh, 1825), page 592-593.

A Kickball kind of game

House Ball

Scotland - per MacLagan. The Scots name for the ordinary English game of Rounders. Pitched balls are struck by hand.


 R. C. MacLagan, "Additions to 'the Games of Argyleshire'," Folklore 16, no. 1 (1905), page 83.  A similar description appears in Folk Lore; A Quarterly Review of Myth, Tradition, Institution, and Custom (David Nutt, London, 1905), page 83.

A Baseball kind of game

Howland Rounders (Ohio)

Confected in 2009 at an unidentified school in Howland, Ohio, this game (“usually played from May to September”) melds baseball and rounders. Teams of six players populate an area with an infield in the form of an isosceles triangle [two sides are 83 feet long, and the base is 62 feet long, with home set at the angle at the right side of the base, and foul lines extending from home through the two running posts]. The counterparts to balls and strikes are influenced by whether a pitch lands in a net to the rear of the home square. Apparently, a batter cannot stay at a base, but must try to complete a round before the fielders can return the ball to the net.  A local league is reported to play the game.

Sources: Unique among sports organizations, perhaps the Board for this game features a chair and two CEOs.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Hunyou-Shinyou (Sheffield County, England)

"Hunyou-Shinyou [unyo-shinyo], a name given to the game of 'shinty' or 'shindy.'

During the game, the players shout 'Hunyou, shinyou.'"



Sidney Oldall Addy, A Glossary of Words Used in the the Neighborhood of Sheffield (English Dialect Society, London, 1888, page 31.

Submitted by Tom Altherr, December 11, 2020.

A Baseball kind of game

Ice Cream

Bruce Allardice on 2/26/2021, reported that

around the fall/winter of 1867, some Haverford College students, looking for exercise during periods of snow, invented a game they called "Ice Cream." It was a bat ball game, resembling wicket/cricket, and according to the book was unique to Haverford.

"Certain men of '69 and other classes, mostly from the tribe of Them-That-Dig, being convinced of the need for active exercise, but jealous of the time demanded by cricket, and mindful, too, of its long winter sleep, set about the invention of a game that could even bid defiance to a light snow. They procured a solid rubber ball; obtained from Boll a pine bat, in one piece, flattened slightly in the lower half, and looking like the missing link betwixt baseball and cricket; took solemn possession of the ground between the old carpenter shop and a board fence; placed against the board fence three sticks, in the manner of a wicket, and were ready, The bowler sent his ball as fast as he could (underhand) with intent of hitting the wicket. The batsman struck the ball, and ran to the carpenter shop, touching the closed shutters with his bat.  A third man in the field threw his ball at the said shutters; if he anticipated the batsman, and aimed well, the latter was out, and the bowler went in, batsman took the field, and the third man went to bowl."


Philip Garrett, A History of Haverford College for the First Sixty Years of its Existence, (Haverford College Alumni Assn) , p. 350-351


A Baseball kind of game

Imperial Ball (Austria)

The German game of schlagball was reportedly called Imperial Ball and Kaiserball as played in Austria.


See notes by Bill Hicklin at schlagball].

A Fungo kind of game

Indian Ball (Missouri)

Per Brewster, 1953: A down-sized, non-running baseball variant. Two teams of five players form. A regular softball is pitched underhand to the batter. Outs are recorded for caught fly balls and ground balls cleanly fielded inside the baselines. Unlimited swings are permitted. Three-out-side-out innings and five-inning games are prescribed.  The playing field is represented in a figure showing a fair ground of less than 45 degrees.

See also the text of "Teach Your Kids to Play Indian Ball!," below.  The variant of the non-running game Indian Ball described in this 2013 article entails pitching by a member of the batting team, strikes called on all balls that are not hit fair (including pitches not swung at), outs on short fair hits, home runs for suitably long fair hits, employment of a baseball or tennis ball, and ghost runners.  The author, at,  stresses that players can play this game without adult supervision.

An account of Indian Ball as played in St. Louis in 2008 is found at




Brewster, American Nonsinging Games (U of Oklahoma Press, 1953) page 80.

A Baseball kind of game

Indoor Baseball

Evolving from an 1887 innovation in Chicago involving a broomstick as a bat and a boxing glove as the ball, indoor baseball is described in a 1929 survey as particularly popular in gymnasiums in the US mid-west in the early 20th century. The game of softball traces back to indoor play.

Origins -- On Thanksgiving Day at te Farragut Club in Chicgo in 1887, a participant recalled, "[T]he fellows were throwing an ordinary boxing glove around the room, which was struck at by one of the boys with a broom.  George W. Hancock suddenly called out, 'Bpys, let's play baseball!'"  Hancock was later known as the Father of Indoor Baseball.




See Paul Dickson, The Worth Book of Softball (Facts on File, 1994), Chapter 3 (pages 46-59).  Also, John Allen Krout, Annals of American Sport(Yale University Press, 1929), page 219.

The above quotation is found in Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2010 single-bvolume edition, page 498. 

A Scrub kind of game

Ins and Withs (Philadelphia, PA)

A name for Scrub used in Philadelphia in the 1930s and possibly before/after that.


F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), pages 47-48.

A Baseball kind of game

Irish Rounders (Ireland)

A communication received from Peadar O Tuatain describes what is known of the ancient game of Irish Rounders. Details of the old game are apparently lost to history, but some rules encoded in 1932 were used for a revival in 1956, and the revival version, which resembles baseball much more than it does English rounders, is still being played. It employs a hurling ball and a game comprises five three-out innings. The game is played without gloves and, perhaps unique among safe-haven games, batted balls caught in the air are not outs.


“Irish Rounders,” email from Peadar O Tuatain to L. McCray, January 30 2002.

Also note Howard Burman's 2013 report at  

A Baseball kind of game

Jellal (Egypt)

Lowth (1855) describes Jellal, encountered among the people of Upper Eqypt, as resembling “in some of its parts our old game of Rounders” as he knew it in England. There was hitting and “getting home,” but a difference that he noted was that one boy hit the ball and another ran.


G. T. Lowth, The Wanderer in Arabia; or, Western Footsteps in Eastern Tracks (Hurst and Blackett, London, 1855), pages 108-110.

A Baseball kind of game

Kaiserball (Austria)

This is reported to be the local name for schlagball as played in Austria.  Another name was "Imperial ball."


See Bill Hicklin's note at schlagball.

A Hat ball kind of game

Kappenspiel (Germany)

According to Brewster, Kappenspiel is the German word for Hat Ball.


Brewster, American Nonsinging Games.

A Hat ball kind of game

Kekivar (Armenia)

per Brewster. A team form of Hat Ball. A player throws a ball to the other group, and runs toward it. If the receiving group can plug the thrower, he is captured, and the game continues until one side is depleted.


Brewster, American Nonsinging Games.

A Kickball kind of game

Kersa (Ethiopia)

An 1834 book on a tour to Abyssinia mentions this game, taken to be “the same game we call bat ball” in England.


Prospective Missions in Abyssinia (Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, Boston, 1834), page 74.

A Fungo kind of game

Kibel and Nerspel (Stixwould, England)

per Gomme. A game played at Sitxwold [huh?] resembling “Trap, Bat, and Ball.


Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1., page 298.

A Fungo kind of game

Kichke-Pale (Poland)

"As a rule, boys played rougher games. One of them was the competitiveKichke-pale or Chizshkes, as it was known in the Polesie region. Kichke-pale was an East European Jewish version of cricket or baseball, and was similar to the English game called Peggy. The kichke was a small peg pointed at both ends, while the pale was the longer stick. The kichke was placed on an elevated spot, near a hole in the ground. The player would hit the pointed end of the peg with the larger stick that would send the peg flying into the air. He would then run and again try to hit the peg while it was airborne, to send it farther away from the plate. The more times one hit the peg, the more skilled the player. The other player would run to get the peg and throw it to the plate. The peg was not to be struck on its return to the plate. But if it were not successfully returned, the first player would then strike the peg wherever it happened to fall. This would continue until the second player got the peg back to the plate, after which he became the striker and the other player, the catcher. The game would go on until the second player scored a given number of hits of the peg, usually twenty or thirty. The loser would then have to give the winner what was called a yarsh, which meant that the winner would have the right to strike the peg even when it was being returned to the plate. The yarsh would end when the peg fell on the plate."

Sources:  (Yivo Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe)

Submitted by John Thorn, email of 8/28/12.

A Kickball kind of game

Kick the Ball (Brooklyn)

per Culin (1891). A team game generally resembling Kickball, but using a small rubber ball. There is no plugging; runners are out if they are between bases when the fielding team returns the kicked ball to a teammate near home. No mention is made of fly outs. There is a three-out-side-out rule, and a game usually comprises four innings. Johnson (1910) lists Kick the Ball as a Baseball game.


Culin, "Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.", pages 230-231.

G. E. Johnson, What to Do at Recess (Ginn, Boston, 1910), page 32.

A Scrub kind of game

Kick the Can (Brooklyn)

per Culin. A game identical to Kick the Wicket [below] but using a can instead of a wicket.


G. E. Johnson, What to Do at Recess (Ginn, Boston, 1910), page 230.

A Scrub kind of game

Kick the Wicket (Brooklyn)

per Culin. The wicket is a piece of wood or a short section of a hose. Players kick the wicket, and then run among [usually four] bases. An “it” player tries to catch the ball, or to retrieve and reposition it while baserunners are between bases. The game is not described as a team game.


G. E. Johnson, What to Do at Recess (Ginn, Boston, 1910), page 230.

A Kickball kind of game


A traditional school recess game in the U.S., Kickball has lately grown in popularity as a co-ed adult game. Kickball strongly resembles Baseball, but the large rubber ball is put in play by bowled delivery and struck by a kicker-runner, who then runs from base to base. Plugging below the neck retires a runner who not at a base. The rules of the World Adult Kickball Association, with 25,000 registered members, specifies 11 players per team, 60-foot basepaths, and a strike zone about 30 inches wide and one foot high.


On kickball history: 

"Kickball, originally called "Kicking Baseball" was claimed to have been invented as early as 1910 by Dr. Emmett Dunn Angell in his noted book Play: Comprising Games for the Kindergarten, Playground, Schoolroom and College : How to Coach and Play Girls' Basket-ball, Etc (1910). His description and field illustration in this book is both the closest and earliest known precursor to the modern game of kickball. He also notes that "The game seems to afford equal enjoyment to the children and it gives a better understanding of the national game (Baseball), and at the same time affords them an exercise that is not too violent and is full of fun.".[1]

A later documented inventor claim, as early as 1917, was by Nicholas C Seuss, Supervisor of Cincinnati Park Playgrounds in CincinnatiOhio.[2] Seuss submitted his first documented overview of the game which included 12 rules and a field diagram in The Playground Book, published in 1917. Kickball is referred to as "Kick Base Ball" and "Kick Baseball" in this book."




According to another source, "The game [of matball] is a derivative of kickball and in most situations follows similar basics.  According to history (site not provided), kickball Also known as kick baseball was invested [sic] in 1917 by Nicholas C. Seuss." Seuss is described as working for Cincinnati Park Playgrounds.


Sources:, accessed 10/09/09.

A Hat ball kind of game

King’s Play (Cluich an Righ) (Scotland)

per MacLagan. A player stands at the center of 11 stations marked with a stone, and a player at each. At the central player’s signal, the other 11 must change positions, and he tries to strike one with the ball before they can complete their move. Each position can be occupied by but one player.


MacLagan, "Additions to 'the Games of Argyleshire'.", page 80.

A Baseball kind of game


Brand describes Kit-Cat as a game for two teams of three players each. Each player on the in-team stands near a hole with a two-foot stick. One is thrown a cat. If he hits it (and if it is not caught in the air for an out), the in-team runs from hole to hole, placing their sticks in each hole and counting the number passed. Outs can also be made by throwing a cat into an unoccupied hole, or by strikeout. The number of outs per half-inning, and the number of missed swings that constitute an out, are agreed in advance.


Brand, Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain: The Origins of Our Vulgar and Provincial Customs, Ceremonies and Superstitions (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900), pages 423-424.

A Baseball kind of game

Kitten Ball (Chicago, Minnesota)

An off-shoot of Indoor Baseball played early in the 20th Century.  In 1920, 64 men's teams and 25 women's teams played regularly in the Twin Cities.  Authorites changed the name of the game to diamond ball in 1922.  In the 1930s, the game merged with sofball.


See Paul Dickson, The Worth Book of Softball (Facts on File, 1994), page 52-53.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Knattleikar or Knattleikr (Iceland)

A ball game recorded in the “Younger Edda:” Its rules are not known.

In April 2022, Bruce Allardice added  this comment to chronology item 1000c.1:

"Vikings also played a ball game with stick and ball. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to get hurt or even killed, as Vikings played rough. Women did not participate in these games, but they would gather to watch the men . . . . 

The stick-ball game was Knattleikr (English: 'ball-game'), an ancient ball game similar to hurling played by Icelandic Vikings."



On 4/4/2022, this Youtube introduction to the game, described as an Icelandic game similar to lacrosse, was found at:

Historical sources for this interpretation are not supplied.  The game as illustrated does not appear to involve baserunning.

On 4/5/2022, Swedish scholar Isak Lidstrom added:

"That is a great game! Usually called knattleikr. The rules and practice of the game is unclear. In the early 20th century a theory was launched stating that lacrosse was developed out of knattleikr. A more plausible theory states that knattleikr is closely related to hurling or shinty. This article mentions everything worth knowikng about the game.







A Fungo kind of game


A fungo game in which a player who catches the ball on the fly qualifies to become the hitter. Regionally variant names include Knock-Up and Knock-Up and Catch.


F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 245.

A Baseball kind of game

Kopfspeel (Holland)

“Among the several types of Dutch kopfspeel there is one like rounders.” No other lead to kopfspeel is provided, and we don't know if the game is still alive.


Walter Endrei and Laszlo Zolnay, Fun and Games in Old Europe (Budapest: Corvina Klado, 1986).

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Kuningsapallo (Finland)

a traditional Finnish game, features of which were incorporated into Pasepallo.

A Baseball kind of game

Kwadrant (Poland)

Satisfactory evidence has yet to be collected, but it appears that a Polish game, quadrant, is a lively base-running game.

We have come across three YouTube videos on the game, none in English. The field resembles a three-base baseball diamond.  Batters are seem to put the ball into play with a one-handed club, usually with an uprightstroke resembling an overhand tennis serve.  The ball must, apparently, travel in the air past a line between first and third base.  Caught flies are outs.  The batter-runner advances as far as possible, but some rule limits that advance -- perhaps when the fielding team throws the fielded ball past a the batter's line.  Players depicted are children and school-age youths or both genders.  Plugging is not depicted.



A Baseball kind of game

La Batonet (France)

One 1895 source, identifies this game as Tip-cat. He writes that Tip-cat “is doubtless a very old diversion for children. It is illustrated as “La Batonet” in the charming series of children’s games designed by Stella and published in Paris, 1657, as “Les Jeux et Plaisiris [sic] de l’Enfance.”


Geo. Clulow, in Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc. (J. Francis, London, 1895), Volume 7 -- January - June, pages 375-376.

A Baseball kind of game

Lahden Mailaveikot (Finland)

Maigaard (1941) notes they while most forms of rounders and longball were now lost, three - baseball, cricket, and bo-ball - remain vigorous. Bo-Ball is played in Finland. The only known source on this game, called Lahden Mailaveikot in Finnish, is a Finnish-language website, on that shows photographs of a vigorous game with aluminum bats, gloves, helmets, and much sliding and running but no other helpful hints for English-speakers. Similarities to Pesapallo are apparent.

HELP?  Can you help us get a fix on the nature of contemporary Lahden Mailaveikot?


Per Maigaard, “Battingball Games,” Genus 5 (1941).  Reprinted in Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, Appendix 6.  See page 260ff in Block.

A Baseball kind of game

Lang Ball

Lang Ball appears to have been credited to Charles Gregory Lang, director of the YMCA gym at St. Joseph, MO, late in the 19th Century.

Base ball rules generally govern baserunning, but an 1894 describes a quite different way to put the (soccer) ball in play.  The ball "is batted will the soles of the feet, the batter at the time hanging from a bar . . . . When the ball is served by the pitcher, he [the kicker] shoots out his legs and kicks it with both feet."  Plugging runners, 'tho used in some forms of kickball, is not mentioned in this account.  According to an earlier 1892 description, games could be played by teams or the scrub version of rotation among fielding and striking roles.   

Lang Ball was last cited in a 1930 publication.  Some estimate that it led to the game of kickball


Chad Moody, Lang Ball; Forgotten Nineteenth-Century Baseball Derivative and Peculiar Kickball Ancestor, Baseball Research Journal, Fall 2021, pp. 105-110.

A Kickball kind of game

Langball (Brooklyn NY)



[A]  "Langball for the Girls.

            "After the handball contests the girls turned their attention to the unique game of langball.  There are two teams.  The team that are out are stationed around the floor where bases are located.  The batter hangs by the hands from flying rings. A football is pitched in at a distance of about five paces.  The batter kicks it and then starts to run around the bases.  The girls bunt with their feet very scientifically.  Not all of them can bunt, but none want the bunt abolished.  Recently the Academics won by 9 to 0.  Miss Brooks of the victorious team made a home run, and Miss Houghton stole second in great shape.  Miss Flagler, the agile and efficient assistant to Dr. Pettit, made a three-base hit, but was put out on the way home by being hit by the ball — the way a put-out is effected.— Brooklyn Standard Union." 

[B]  "What is langball (also known as 'Lang Ball' and Hang base ball)? Langball is a now-defunct game invented by C. G. Lang, a YMCA director in St. Louis, MO, sometime around 1892.  It's something like baseball or kickball, except that the batter in langball dangles from a horizontal bar or flying rings, striking the pitched ball with the bottom of their feet." [The article goes on to describe the game pretty as the article found by George Thompson.]  

 [C]  Langball was invented by someone named Lang, and "is just the game for women, for, although it includes all the health giving features of baseball it does away with the roughness and danger."

[A] Rockland County Times (Haverstraw, N. Y.), April 7, 1894, Found and posted on 19CBB by George Thompson 3/5/2021.  George adds: "This didn't catch on, somehow."

[B]  From "Putz Blog,", as posted to 19CBB by Stephen Katz 3/5/2021.

[C] Los Angeles Herald, August 19, 1896,(, which goes into greater detail. It says langball was invented by someone named Lang, and "is just the game for women, for, although it includes all the health giving features of baseball it does away with the roughness and danger."  

From "Putz Blog,", as posted to 19CBB by Stephen Katz 3/5/2021. 


A Baseball kind of game

Lapta (Russia)

Varying accounts of this game are found. It is claimed that evidence places a form of the game to the time of Peter the Great, and that bats and leather balls date back to the 1300s. One 1989 news article reports that it is now strictly a children’s game. Still, some Russians say that “baseball is the younger brother of baseball.” In contemporary play, the fielding team’s “server” stands next to a batter and gently tosses a ball up to be hit. After the hit, runners try to run to a distant line [one 1952 account calls this the “city”] and back without being plugged. Caught fly balls are worth a point, but a successful run is two points. A time clock governs a game’s length.

A 1952 article does not mention a pitcher or points awarded for catches (but not runs?), but notes use of a round stick to hit with and also confirms the use of plugging.  Neither account says that runners can stay safely at the "city" if they don't venture to run back home.

As of July 2020, we note four lapta finds on YouTube.  They show some variance in playing rules.  In some, batters strike the ball directly overhead, as seen in a tennis serve.  The bats sown are narrow flat paddles.  After each hit, multiple runners (other members of the batting side?) take diverse paths, evading plugging by fielders.  Tennis balls are commonly used.


New York Times, September 16, 1952, as cited in Paul Dickson, The Dickson Dictionary (Third Edition, Norton, 2009), page 485.

Bill Keller, "In Baseball, the Russians Steal All the Bases," New York Times, July 20 1987.

Ira Berkow, "Russian Eye on Baseball," New York Times, August 14 1989.

Carl Schreck, "No Wrong Way to Swing Bat," The St. Petersburg Times, October 31 2003.



A Baseball kind of game

Leik Mjul (Estonia)

Isak Lidström, a doctoral student at Malmö University, reports that in studying the isolated island of Runö in the Baltic Sea, he found a game called "leik mjul" ["play ball"] among the Swedes there prior to World War II.

One source suggests that the game came to the island in the 1840's when a ship from England was stranded, and that perhaps the game evolved from rounders.

Isak is preparing a paper on the find for publication, and Protoball plans to update this entry at a later time. His March 2018 summary:


"Leik mjul" is definitely related to Swedish brännboll, although the latter is a simplified game. “Leik mjul” is the same game as English rounders, as it was played in the 1840s. Swedish brännboll also derives from English rounders. It was introduced by physical educators in the late 19th century. It was first called “rundboll” (roundball) and included a pitching procedure and a base running around five bases. As it was played in the schools, more simplified rules were required. The pitching procedure is gone nowadays – instead the batsman throws up the ball himself. Even the pitch has changed. It is shaped like a rectangle, with four bases.

-- isak




Emails from Isak Lidström and David Block, 2016-18.

Isak's paper is found at  Once at this site, click on the "Ladda ned Arv 2017" link.  The article is written in English.  

A Fungo kind of game

Line Ball

Apparently a form of Stickball played in Chicago area streets as early as the 1940s that uses 16-inch circumference softballs (the standard softball is about 12 inches), a slow-pitch delivery, small teams, and an unspecified bat. The type of hit achieved depended on where the ball fell among lines marked on the street (implying that baserunning was not part of this game.


F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 365.

A Baseball kind of game

Lobber (Ireland)

There are three or more players on each side, two stones or holes as stations, and one Lobber.

The Lobber lobs either a stick about three

inches long or a ball—(the ball seems to be a new institution, as a

stick was always formerly used)—while the batsman defends the stone or

hole with either a short stick or his hand. Every time the stick or ball

is hit, the boys defending the stones or holes must change places. Each

one is out if the stick or ball lodges in the hole or hits the stone; or

if the ball or stone is caught; or if it can be put in the hole or hits

the stone while the boys are changing places. This game is also played

with two Lobbers, that lob alternately from each end. The game is won by

a certain number of runs.


Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, D. Nutt, 1894), page unspecified.  Gomme attributes this entry to "Folk-lore Journal, ii 264."

A Baseball kind of game

Long Ball (European baserunning game)

Maigaard sees Long Ball as the oldest ancestor of rounders, cricket and baseball, a game that was played in many countries. Long Ball is described as using teams of from 4 to 20 players. It involved a pitcher, batter, and an “out-goal” or base that the batter-runner tried to reach after hitting (or after missing a third swing) and without being plugged. Caught flies signaled an immediate switch between the in-team and the out-team. Many members of the in-team could share a base as runners. Runs were not counted, as the objective was to remain at bat for a long period. A 1914 US text describes Long Ball in generally similar terms, but one that uses a regular "indoor baseball." There is a single base to run to, scoring by runs, a three-out-side-out rule, and no foul ground. Plugging is allowed.

A weblog written in the Australian outback in 2007 described a version of contemporary Long Ball. Modern variants of Long Ball are still played on a club or school basis, including Danish Longball in Denmark and England, Schlagball in Germany and Silesia and Palant in Poland.


Per Maigaard, "Battingball Games," Genus 5 (1941).  Reprinted as Appendix 6 in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It (U. Nebraska, 2005), pages 260ff.

Henry S. Curtis, Play and Recreation for the Open Country (Ginn, 1914). pages 62-63.

A Fungo kind of game

Long Ball (US Batting Game)


"Long Ball"  is generally known as a baserunning bat-and-ball game in Europe.  However, Steven Katz (email of 2/5/2021) notes that, according to an article in the Connecticut Courant, April 23, 1853, was locally the name of something like a fungo game: 


"Reader, did you ever see a bevy of boys playing what they call long ball? One stands and knocks and the others try to catch the ball, and the fortunate one gets to take the place of the knocker."





Connecticut Courant, April 23, 1853.

A Baseball kind of game

Long Dutch

Only two sources mentions this game. Cassidy implies that there were only two bases, and that if a runner only got to the far base, that runner would need to return home as the pitcher and catcher played catch.  The era of play is uncertain.

A 2004 website for a teen camp program also soptslights its "long-dutch baseball" tradition for both boys and girls.  The camp is located at Onaway Island in Wisconsin.



F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 415.

The camp program is found at


A Baseball kind of game

Long Town

Curtis (1914) mentions Long Town as an alternative name for Long Ball. We have several references to Long Town Ball, most in the South and mid-West states, none north of a line between New York and Chicago. Most describe no rules of the game. One account in Lehigh County PA (about 50 miles NE of Philadelphia) recalls the game as played in the 1850s as having two bases about 25 paces apart, plugging, a fly rule, and as allowing multiple runners on the (non-batting) base.


F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 62.

Curtis, Henry S. Play and Recreation for the Open Country (Ginn, 1914).

A Baseball kind of game

Massachusetts Game (New England, WNY, Upper Midwest)

This is the game played according to rules that were codified in May 1858 in Dedham Massachusetts. It featured short basepaths, an absence of foul ground, plugging of runners, a smaller and softer and lighter ball, wooden stakes in place of sascks as bases,winners definied as the first team to reach 100 “tallies,” and a one-out-side-out rule. It remains unclear how close these rules -- written 13 years after the Knickerbocker rules were codified -- were to round ball, goal ball, and/or base games played in MA for the previous 50-75 years.

The Massachusetts Game declined fairly rapidly after 1860.


The Mass game rules appeared in Mayhew and Baker,  Base Ball. A
Manual of Cricket and Base Ball, With Rules and Regulations Illustrated
(Boston, Mayhew and Baker, 1858), pages20 - 24.

For a more modern treatment, see John Thorn's Our Game blog at

A Kickball kind of game

Matball (Big Base)

This invented game, an invented form of Kick Ball, is an indoor game reportedly played in many US schools. It uses large mats instead of bases, and multiple runners can safely occupy a base. The standard format uses an all-out-side-out rule to define a half-inning, can involve large teams, can have areas (e.g., a scoreboard or a basketball hoop) for designated home runs, a fly rule, tagging, and scoring only when a runner passes home and successfully returns to first base. Some schools use the infield format of Massachusetts base ball - the striker hits from between the first and fourth base. Foul territory varies, but forward hits are required.

Sources: Accessed 10/11/09.  Accessed 7/11/23.  (Lists 'Swedish Baseball' s another name for the game.)

A Baseball kind of game

Meta, or Longa Meta (Hungary)

Incompletely verified accounts suggest that Meta, sometimes called Longa Meta, is a traditional Hungarian folk game that involves base-running.

As of Fall 2015, we are actively seeking further information about this game and how it was played.

A few scattered accounts in English describe the game (see our reading notes in the Supplemental Text below). Hungarian sources are largely unexamined as yet.

Some impressions that emerge at this stage:

[] Generally, the game resembled English rounders, German schlagball, and early forms of base ball in the US: scoring was done by running to one or more distant bases and returning safely to the batting area; some form of bat was used to put the ball in play after it had been served to the batter, and then hit away; runners could be put out if they were caught off base;

[] The playing field was a rectangular area (defining fair ground for hits, apparently) whose dimensions could vary with the number of players;

[] The batting team and the fielding team exchanged sides after their side was put out, or at the end of an allotted time period.

[] The game is thought to have subsided in the 20th Century, but attempts to re-create it have been noted in the past few years.  There are undocumented assertions that the game dates back to the 1500s.

 "Longa Meta" is said to be a Latin phrase, not a Hungarian term.

History: Writing in 1988 about Budapest in 1900, John Lukacs wrote, "there was nothing in the way of organized athletics or sports in the schools.  An old Hungarian game of longa meta (the name came from Latin), a game similar to stickball or even baseball, was still played by children in empty lots of the city.  By 1900 it was replaced by soccer."




See Lidstrom and Bjarsholm, Batting, Running, and ‘Burning’ in Early Modern Europe: A Contribution to the Debate on the Roots of Baseball, International Journal of the History of Sport (2020),  at 

Our 6 most substantial leads are these:

[1] Gyula Hajdu, Magyar Nepi Jatekok Gyuj Temenye (Collection of Hungarian Folk Games), (Budapest, 1971), pages 149-152.  A compilation of baserunning games (and their names) in about 60 locations within current Hungarian borders, with brief notes on some variations see.  Untranslated by Protoball as of September 2015. (Supplied by Hannah Foster, Budapest, email of August 13, 2015.  She also reports on meta as described in Lajos Porsoit's writing.

[2] "A Guide to Tradicional Ball Games: A Guide to Ball Games in VG Countries", at  [A " guide to the games we learnt in Zakrzow. Every game was written in english, czech, polish."  The three games included are Hungarian "meto", Kwadrant in Poland, and End Ball in the Czech republic.  No author or date is given]  

[3] John Lukacs, Budapest 1900:  A Historical Portrait of the City and Its Culture (Grove Press, New York, 1988), page 83.

[4] Acta Ethnologica Danubiana 2008-2009, (website accessed August 2015), page 192 (in Hungarian or Czech -- untranslated by Protoball as of September 2015)

[5]  (German; machine-translated to English) 

[6] Lajos Porzsolt, A Magyar Labdajatekok Konyve (The Book of Hungarian Ballgames), Budapest, 1885.  See

Our reading notes on these sources are supplied as Supplemental text, below.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Mickey (New York City, NY)

Described in 1977 as a children’s game played at PS 172 in New York City, Mickey resembles traditional Barn Ball. A pitcher bounces a spaldeen ball off a wall and a batter tries to hit it on the rebound. Rules for baserunning and scoring are not given.


F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), pages 586-587.

A Hat ball kind of game

Monday, Tuesday

per Games and Sports. Each player is assigned the name of a day of the week. A player throws a ball against a wall, calling out a day. The player assigned that day must catch the ball, or if missing it must throw as one of his fleeing compatriots, losing a point if he misses.


Games and Sports for Young Boys,  (Routledge, Warne, and Routledge, London, 1859)., page 33.

Also described in Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (London, D. Nutt, 1894), page unspecified. 

A Scrub kind of game


per Brewster. Baseball for small groups. This game is very similar to Scrub, Work-up and Rounds, but sets the usual number of players at 12, and specifies a rotation of 1B-P-C-batter instead of 1B-C-P-batter. A variant name is Move-up Piggy.


Brewster, American Nonsinging Games.  Brewster cites Mason and Mitchell, Active Games [“Rotation”], page 327 and Boyd, [“Piggie Move Up”], page 65.

F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996).

A Scrub kind of game

Munshets (England)

per Gomme. A boy throws a small stick to another boy standing near a hole, who tries to hit it with a three-foot stick, and then to run to a prescribed mark and back without being touched by the smaller stick, and without that stick being thrown into or very near the hole. Any even number of boys can play this game.


Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1, pages 407-408.

A Hat ball kind of game

Nations (Czechoslovakia)

per Brewster. A Czech variant of Call Ball is called Nations. Each player is assigned a country name, a ball is placed in a hole, and a country name is called out. The player with that name retrieves the ball as all others start running away. The ball-holder can then call “stop,” and the others must freeze in position while he attempts to plug one of them.


Brewster, American Nonsinging Games.

A Baseball kind of game

New Marlboro Rules Baseball (Massachusetts, United States)

The New Marlboro Rules (from a club in New Marlborough, MA) date from 1863, and can be found in the "Rule Sets" portion of Protoball. They bear some similarities to the Massachusetts game, but with a few differences. "The New Marlboro rules are not the Massachusetts Game. They are not radically different from the Massachusetts Game, sharing regional characteristics such as overhand pitching, but they have clear differences, the most important being the unique playing field and all-out innings. The mere fact that the New Marlboro club was not playing the Massachusetts Game is perhaps the most significant finding." (Richard Hershberger)


Our Game blog, May 21, 2013, reprinting the Richard Hershberger article on the New Marlboro Rules in Base Ball, Spring 2010. See Rule Sets, Protoball.

A Hat ball kind of game

Nine Holes

Sometimes described as a board game or a form of quoits, Nine Holes is elsewhere (1853-1868) depicted as a running game -- in which players had to run among holes without being plugged by a ball -- that resembles Hat-ball and Egg-Hat.


The Boy's Own Book, pages 29-30.  Ball Games (Routledge, 1860), page 54.  The Boy's Handy Book  (Ward and Lock, London, 1863), pages 18-19. Alfred Elliott, The Playground and the Parlour (Nelson and Sons, London, 1868) page 56.

A Fungo kind of game

Norr and Spell

A game described as the same as Trap Ball. Also names as Nor and Spel, Knur and Spell, and Nur and Spel. Gomme notes that a wooden ball was sometimes used. The objective was mainly to hit the ball for distance.


Ball Games., page 56.

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1., pages 421-423.

A Fungo kind of game

Northern Spell

A game described as the same as Trap Ball.


Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Norwegian Ball

This game is mentioned, along with Swede Ball in a 1908 book on North Dakota folkways. Said to be taught to local children by Swedish newcomers and a Swedish teacher, the game is only depicted as being “played somewhat like ‘one old cat.’” It seems conceivable that this game is Brannboll. Maigaard (1941) notes a Norwegian form of Long Ball, noted as “probably recent,” that uniquely uses a field that resembles baseball’s use of a 90-degree fair territory delimitation.


Collections of the State Historical Society, Volume 2 (State Printers and  Binders, Bismark ND, 1908), pages 213-214.

Per Maigaard, "Battingball Games," Genus 5 (1941); see Block, Appendix 6, page 263.

A Baseball kind of game

Novaball (Northern Virginia)

Novaball was played as All-Star competition by the Arlington softball program in 2001 and 2002.  Each inning, one team selected a special rule for that inning; examples are clockwise baserunning, the use of 6 bases in place of 4, force outs implemented by throwing the ball into a 5-gallon paint bucket, etc.

A Fungo kind of game

Off The Point (New York City)

Off the point

A variety of games could be played by throwing a ball against a pointed surface such as a curb or step. A ball that missed the point would become a ground ball. A ball that hit the point could be a pop-up, line drive, etc. Some type of infield boundary was established. A ball that bounced inside the boundary is out, one that cleared the boundary and bounced is a hit, and each bounce added another base. Four bounces was a home run. If the ball was caught before it bounces, it was an out.

Curb ball is the most difficult variation because the curb is low and there is no backstop. Also, there is no obvious infield boundary.

An easier alternative is stoop ball because the step is slightly higher, there is usually some type of backstop, and the edge of the sidewalk is a convenient infield boundary.

Many New York apartment buildings incorporate a wonderful architectural detail: a concrete molding that trims the building at the base and is typically about 18 inches high. This provides a perfect point and backstop. The rules are the same as for stoop ball.

I was raised in off-the-point heaven, a building that was clearly designed with the game in mind because in addition to the molding, it had chamfered corners. Instead of coming to a point, each corner had a two-foot flat surface, which made it easy to create a diamond. Even better, there were fences across the street facing the corner. This made it possible to hit home runs over the fence. This configuration also made it possible to have a wider field that could handle more than one fielder and even to create bases so that we could play with runners rather than counting bounces.

The corner configuration also made it possible to hit straight away or to pull the ball by hitting the point at an angle. Hitting to the opposite field was tougher because it could result in hitting yourself with the ball. (You have to picture what this would entail.) The trick was to essentially run across the flat corner and throw the ball back across your body toward the point so that it took off behind you. When properly executed, it was a moment of rare grace and beauty—but usually it was an exercise in humiliation.

We were so serious about this game that we created permanent scoreboards. The asphalt softened enough on sunny days that we were able to carve a scoreboard into the street. We’d record the score in the boxes with chalk and wash it away after the game.
We also kept track of home runs. One year I was contending for the lead at the end of the school term with 25 or so dingers. But my parents had rented a summer place, and I couldn’t play for two months. While I was away, those who stayed behind were free to play all day. When I returned, my main competitor was approaching 300.
The people who lived in the building, especially in the ground floor apartments, did not appreciate our games. They convinced the building superintendent to spread rough concrete over our beautiful, sharp-edged point, but the tactic did not succeed. The rough and uneven surface only made the game more challenging and interesting because now we could create surprising angles by aiming for particular spots.

See also: stick ball, punch ball, box ball, slap ball.


Submission by Kevin Finneran, April 10 2017.

A Hat ball kind of game

Off The Wall (Brooklyn, The Bronx)

Brooklyn, 1950s:  

The game was often played at a handball court or wall in a schoolyard.

The team that is up throws the ball off the wall.  If it is caught it is an out.  If it lands in foul territory it is an out. (Foul territory is determined by player consensus at the start of the game.)

For each bounce the ball takes it is a base gained.  Four bounces is a home run. Invisible (imaginary) runners.

As a backyard game, the ball can bounce off the garage door, gutter, or slanted roof behind the fielder.  If it hits the gutter and bounces it is an automatic triple. If it bounces of the roof and hits the ground it is an automatic home run.

If you throw the ball high off the first wall you can have the ball hit the roof and bounce all the way back off the first wall, making for a difficult catch.

The "lightening" option -- When the fielder catches the third out, he/she can throw the ball off the wall immediately, catching the new fielder out of fielding position.  An easy way to get a home run.  Lightening has to be called in the beginning of the game.  You can also play that the thrower has to call lightening out loud before the throw.

As a game played in an alley (10 to 12 feet between houses):  The player "at bat" throws the ball against one wall, to a minimum height of 10-15 feet, depending on how tall the players are.  Skills:  [a] throwing the ball off one wall so that it hits the other wall just above the fielder, making for a hard catch, [b] throw the ball so it hits the fielder and rolls away for a home run.

The Bronx, mid-1950s (also called White Wall):

"The west end of 184th street ended at Park Avenue because of the sunken railroad track. There was a fifteen-feet long four-foot high white concrete median erected there to guide cars away from the tracks. This barrier was used for a game called Off-The-Wall. Each corner at the end of 184th street had an open sewer, which we used for bases. There were three bases ... first, third and home only. A square box was painted in the middle of the wall. A 'batter' faced the wall ready to start play. He would slam the ball against the box and run toward the first sewer. The fielder would throw to the first baseman for the out...and the game was under way. That section of Park Avenue, which paralleled the tracks, was still cobblestone surface, so when the ball bounce on the ground it took all sorts of crazy hops and spins. It made for a real interesting game. Kids from other neighborhoods came there to use that wall.

One note to make is that passing traffic constantly interrupted street games. The children were forever alert and ready for the next truck, car or wagon coming up the street."




Brooklyn: Communication from Neil Seldman and Mark Schoenberg.

The Bronx: Gregory Christiano, at


A Hat ball kind of game

Off the Stoop (Brooklyn)

This game is the same as Off The Wall, except ball is thrown off the front steps of the house.  If the ball goes over the head of the fielder and over the car parked on he near side of the street it is an out.  If the ball its the car, behind the fielder and stays on the same side of the street it is in play.

Skill points:  [a] throw the ball of the point of the stoop to get a hard line drive at the feet of the fielder.  [b] throw ball across your body to obstruct the view of the ball coming at the fielder.


Communications from Neil Seldman and Mark Schoenberg

A Kickball kind of game


A game played at the intersection of West 184th Street and Park Avenue in New York City, as recalled by Gregory Christiano. A player would slam the ball into a painted square on a concrete median barrier, and it would rebound onto Park Avenue, then still paved with cobblestones. The player would then try to reach the first base (an open sewer) before a fielder could field it and throw to the baseman there. There were two sewer-bases and home in this game.

A Baseball kind of game

Oina (Romania)

A game played in Romania, reportedly traced back to a shepherd’s game,  played in southern Romania from the year 1310. The game is described as involving two 11-player teams that alternate batting as in a one-innings game of cricket. The pitch is a soft toss from a teammate.

One 1990 report says that there are nine (fielder's?)  bases set out over 120 yards, that the defensive team can score on tagging and plugging putouts, and that there were over 1500 teams throughout Romania, mostly in rural areas. That account describes a ball the size of a baseball and a bat resembling a cricket bat. A second report from 1973 describes the ball as small, and the bat only a little thicker than a billiard cue, and that if a runner deflects a thrown ball with the palms, he is not put out. Note: Protoball’s initial evidence on oina came from the two western news accounts provided in the Hall of Fame’s “Origins of Baseball” file (cited below).

2017 Input:  In early 2017 we viewed a handful of Youtube videos (only one of which was in English), and we office the following rough impressions of the game. Most were discovered by John Thorn, and they depict mature players. 

The most interesting feature, to a baseball fan, is that oina has found a way to preserve plugging (you may know it as burning, soaking, etc.) as a way to retire runners.  This appears to be handled by requiring fielders to throw at runners from a few specific spots, so that runners at risk can remain at some distance.  They resemble dodgeball players in their attempted evasions, but if they deflect a ball with the palms of their hands, they remain immune.

The detailed rules for scoring remain non-obvious.

In the available clips, we did not see outs made when fly balls were caught. There are foul lines for hit balls.

Baserunners appear to be restricted to the far end-line when a new batter bats. Two or more baserunners may occupy that station, according to rules that are hard to fathom at this point.

Pitches are very soft short lobs, none appearing to soar much above the batter's head. Servers must smartly step away to avoid the lustily swung bat.

Very long hits appear to be treated as (trotless) home runs. 



“Play Oina!: Romanians Say Their Game Inspired Creation of Baseball,” Oneonta Times, March 29, 1990.

“Oina – Perhaps it was Baseball’s Grandfather,” World Leisure and Recreations Association Bulletin, September-October 1973.

[This source states that oina became the national sport officially in 2014, but is endangered today and is "almost forgotten," with only 25 village clubs active.   It also claims that the sport has been documented in the 1300s. The sport was declared compulsory in Romanian schools in 1897.]

Several Youtube videos describe Oina (if you find others, let us know). Most of the following were scouted out by John Thorn, and submitted in an email to Protoball on 1/19/2017:

[English, <3 mins.  An oina preservation campaign is sustained by two photographers who have produced a photobook for sale.]

[Non-English, >6 mins.  An inspired schematic representation that manages to convey many of the rules of play.]

[Not narrated, < 1 minute.  A few dozen photos from a recent book on oina.]

[Non-English narration, > 5 mins.]  Varieties of mostly bucolic play.


You'll find more with a YouTube search for "oina."





A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Old Grope (Boston)

A writer's recollection of past Boston sports, including  base ball,  includes the unexplained game of "Old Grope."


Letter to the Editor, Boston Evening Transcript, December 21, 1859.

Contributed by Joanne Hulbert, 9/17/12.

A Baseball kind of game

Old Hundred (NC)

A game described in 1845 as another name for town ball, and played in North Carolina with an all-out-side-out rule. 

There is not conclusive evidence that Old Hundred is or was a safe-haven ballgame.  However, one North Carolina writer saw it as a "variety of baseball" as played in the 1840s: see chronology entry 1840c.33


W. BattleMemories of an Old-Time Tar Heel(UNC Press, Chapel Hill, 1945), page 57.

A Baseball kind of game

Old-fashion (Canada)

The game was played as late as the 1940 by the Mi-kmaq tribe in eastern Canada. "Old-fashion preserved an intriguing number of remnantsof ball-games of the pre-Knickerbocker era,including no foul ground, one out per inning, soaking (plugging), and soft, hnome-made balls."  The rules were reported to be flexible. 


Colin Howell, Northern Sandlots (U of Toronto Press, 1995), pages 186-189, per Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2010 sisngle-volume edition, page 504.

A Baseball kind of game

Om El Mahag (Libya)

In a 1939 account, Om El Mahag is described as elementary baseball, and said to be analogous to rounders and old-cat. It was reported that Om El Mahag was only played by the Berber tribes.

Descriptions of the game are not detailed enough at this point to determine how it related, or relates, to base ball, long ball, or other early safe-haven games.


Ado Gini, "Rural Ritual Games in Libya," Rural Sociology 4, no. 1 (1939).

Lidstrom and Bjarsholm, Batting, Running, and ‘Burning’ in Early Modern Europe: A Contribution to the Debate on the Roots of Baseball, International Journal of the History of Sport (2020),  at

A Scrub kind of game

One O’ Cat (Brooklyn)

per Culin. A non-team variety of base ball entailing fly outs and four bases and a three-strike rule, but no plugging. Players rotate through a series of fielding positions with each out, until they become one of two batters. “An ordinary base-ball bat is used.”


Culin, "Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.." pages 231-232.

A Scrub kind of game

One, Two, Three (Brooklyn)

per Culin. Identical to Culin’s One O’Cat, differing only in the way that players call out their initial positions.


F. G. CassidyDictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 232.

A Baseball kind of game

One-Three-One-One (Massachusetts)

A 1934 reference from Massachusetts: “One-three-one-one” was the old game the boys used to play when I went to school. Regular baseball - very similar to Stub One.”

Query: This is our only reference to one-three-one-one or Stub One.  Can we find others?  Is it reasonable to surmise that "1 3 1 1" reflected the number and deployment of fielders?


F. G. CassidyDictionary of American Regional English  (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 882.

A Baseball kind of game

Onondaga Longball (Upstate New York)


Longball is played as a summer game in Onondaga Nation, near Syracuse NY.

The game, described as "ancient," features foul lines, pitchers who can make outs by catching hit balls after a first bounce, a leather ball about the size of a baseball, games played to 21 runs, and "stinging,"  (plugging runners to put them out).


A Baseball kind of game


This game[141] is described as a reduced form of softball with no running (ghost runners determine when runs score) and soft tossing by a team-mate as pitching. Fair ground is defines by an acute angle much smaller than 90 degrees, and a line is drawn about 20 yards from home. Three or four players make up a team. Balls hit past the line and not caught on the fly are counted as singles, unless they pass the deepest fielder. A bobbled grounder is counted as Reached on Error. The game is played as a beach game in the San Diego area[142].  Pitches are gentle lobs. Peter Morris writes that this game is an offshoot of softball.


Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2010 single-volume edition), page 499.

A Baseball kind of game

Palant (Poland)

A Polish game. Chetwynd (2008) notes that Palant, similar to baseball, had a long history. “Poland had played its own traditional bat-and-ball game - particularly in the areas of Upper Silesia and the Opole District - dating back centuries and, by the 1920s, the game of Palant had a popular following.”

A Polish website describes Palant as using a rectangular field of about 25 yards by 50 yards, being governed by a clock, and having a provision by which, if a runner is hit, his teammates can enter play and retain their ups by plugging a member of the fielding team. David Block identifies Palant [Pilka Palantowa] as the Silesian game played in Jamestown VA in 1609 by a small group of Polish craftsmen.

Polish play is now reportedly resticted to rural areas.



Josh Chetwynd, Baseball in Europe: A Country by Country History (McFarland, 2008). page 219.

D. Block, Base Ball Before We Knew It (UNebraska Press, 2005), page 101.  Protoball entry 1609.1 summarizes the Jamestown account.

A Kickball kind of game

Palm Ball (Slap Ball)

A form of baseball in which the ball is slapped by the slapper-runner, rather than being batted with a club. (Needs verification.)

A Baseball kind of game

Patch Baseball (New York)

Patch Baseball is evidently  name for a form of baseball that allows the plugging of runners. We find the term used in upstate New York in about 1850.  "Patching" is another word for "plugging" or "burning" baserunners.


See Protoball Chronology item 1850c.17.  Thanks to Skip McAfee for explaining the term.

A Fungo kind of game

Peanut Baseball

Described as akin to Pepper, this bat-control game involved hitting lobbed pitches toward a fence featuring extra-base zones. Cleanly-fielded balls, wide hits, and hits over the fence were outs. Baserunning is not part of this game.


W. Runquist, “The Hill,” in G. Land, Growing Up with Baseball (UNebraska, 2004), page 98.

A Fungo kind of game

PeeGee Ball (Schenectady NY)

This game, similar to the game known in other locations at strike-out, involved the use of plastic  golf-ball-sized balls and regular baseball bats. 

A batter stands before a wall marked with a strike zone and attempts to hit pitched PeeGee balls.  Balls hit to particular zones are counted as singles, doubles, etc., and imaginary runners advance to score runs.  There is no live baserunning or fielding in this pastime.


A Baseball kind of game

Pellet (Scotland (Orkney))

(Cat’s Pellet, Cat’s Pallet, Gidigadie) - per MacLagan (1905). This game is played like Tip-Cat, but with a ball and a one-handed bat, and with plugging instead of crossing to put runners out. An Orkney game. Elsewhere MacLagan described the game as using four small holes in a twelve-foot square. An 1882 source finds a usage of “cat’s pellet” in 1648, and defines it as “a game, perhaps the same as tip-cat.” Court records from 1583 seem to indication that the game “Cat’s Pallet” was also called Gidigadie, at least in the Manchester area.


MacLagan, R. C. "Additions to 'the Games of Argyleshire'." Folklore, volume 16, no. 1 (1905), page 87.

R. C. MacLagan, The Perth Incident of 1396 from a Folk-lore Point of View (Blackwood and Son, 1905), page 54.

The Encyclopedic Dictionary (Cassel, Peter and Galpin, 1882), page 625.

J. Harland, A Volume of Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1864), page 156.

A Baseball kind of game


Pentoss was reportedly a form of ladies' cricket.

A picture in the W. W. Grantham collection at Lewes, England, shows a game seeming to resemble stoolball, but with wickets that look like round targets, held up by a post on either side of the 'target.'  The bats are like smaller stoolball bats.

A photographic image of a game in progress can be found with Google search of <"joshua biltcliffe" "ladies cricket">.  

There is no firm indication, at this point, of the time period of the geographic area of play.  The photograph was taken in Penistone, in southern Yorkshire.  Penistone is about 80 miles north of Birmingham.






Email from Anita Broad, of Stoolball England, 4/13/2013.

A Fungo kind of game


A drill to sharpen the batting eye and fielding reflexes in baseball. A few players stand side by side in a line and toss the ball to a batter who hits short grounders to them in turn. Forms of the game involve penalizing players for fielding errors and mis-hits.  There is no running and no team play in this exercise.

A lifelong baseball man Reflected on the game of pepper.  "Another problem [with today's practices] is the absence of pepper games.  I had a discussion once with Ted Williams, ans we both agreed that playing pepper was important in the conditioning of every player.  Every movement that you make in a pepper game, whether you're swinging a bat or fielding the ball or throwing the ball or whatever, you would use in a professional baseball game. . . . But pepper games are gone. . . . It would still be worth putting every player through a pepper session every day."


Charlie Metro (with Tom Altherr), Safe By A Mile (U Nebraska Press,2002), page 426.



A Baseball kind of game

Pesapallo (Finland)

Pesapallo is “Finnish Baseball.” This invented game is based on American baseball, and on the traditional Finnish games kuningaspallo, pitkapallo, and poltopallo, and was introduced in 1922. Some call it Finland’s national game.

Pesapallo  involves two 9-player teams, pitching via vertical toss from close to the batter, a zigzag basepath of progressive length [about 65 feet from home to first, about 150 feet from third to home], optional running with fewer than two strikes, a three-out-side-out rule, runners being either  “put out” or “wounded” (thus not counted as an out, and allowed to bat again), no ground-rule home runs, and four-inning games.

Nations with sizable Finnish emigrants (Sweden, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) compete in the annual world cup of Pesapallo.


A Hat ball kind of game


According to Brewster, Petjeball was the early Dutch term for Hat Ball.


Brewster, American Nonsinging Games.

A Baseball kind of game

Philadelphia Bat Ball

Called an “advanced form” of German Bat Ball, this game involves three bases for runners instead of one, and runners can remain at a base if they believe they cannot safely advance further. Runners can tag up after caught flies. Otherwise, the rules of German Bat Ball apply.


Emily Elmore and M. O’Shea, A Practical Handbook of Games (Macmillan, New York, 1922), pages 93-95.

A Baseball kind of game

Philadelphia Town Ball (Philadelphia)

The game that arose in Philadelphia in the 1830’s. The rules of this game have recently been induced from game accounts by Richard Hershberger. The game is distinct from the Massachusetts Game. It’s signature features were 11-player teams, an absence of set defensive positions, stakes [as bases] set in a circle 30-foot diameter, non-aggressive pitching, a lighter, softer ball, an all-out-side-out rule, and a bound rule.

This game was evidently the game of choice in the Philadelphia area until about 1860, when the New York game came to dominate Philly play.



Richard Hershberger, “A Reconstruction of Philadelphia Town Ball,” Base Ball, Volume 1, number 2 (Fall 2007), pages 28-43.

A Kickball kind of game


Heslop (1893) defines this word: “a game resembling the game of Rounders, however, the ball is always struck with the hand.”


O. Heslop, Northumberland Words (Oxford U Press, London, 1893), page 535.

A Fungo kind of game


A game - evidently evolved uniquely by Bob Boynton -- with two players, a field marked with zones for singles, doubles, etc., and employing a ping-pong ball thrown from 33 feet to a batter standing at a home plate of 12 inches square. Bats were the size of broomsticks with toweling for padding. There was some fielding but all “baserunning” used only imaginary runners.


B. Boynton, “Diceball and Pingball,” in G. Land, Growing Up with Baseball (UNebraska, 2004) pages 156 - 159.

A Fungo kind of game


Gregory Christiano recalls this urban game as being a derivative of Stickball for two or more players. A square painted on a building was the strike zone. A batter used a broomstick to hit a pitched spaldeen ball across the street, where the height at which the ball hit a wall across the street determined the bases advanced orand  runs scored. This game could be played with only two players.  He played he game in The Bronx in the mid-1950s.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Pitkapallo (Finland)

a traditional Finnish game, features of which were incorporated into Pesapallo.

A Kickball kind of game

Pize Ball

a game defined in the OED as “a game similar to Rounders in which a ball is hit with the flat of the hand.” The game is mainly associated with the English North Country, and is said to feature three or four ‘tuts,’ or stopping-places. The first cited use appeared in 1796. Gomme (page 45) adds that if the batter-runner is hit before reaching on of the “tuts” he is “said to be burnt, or out.


Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 2 (New York: Dover [reprint -- original publication 1898], 1964), page 45.

A Baseball kind of game

Plaquita (Dominican Republic)

"La Plaquita or La Placa isa form of street cricket played in the Dominican Republic.  It involves two teams of two players, and two wickets (which can be license plates, known as 'placas' in Spanish.  Players from one team bun between the wickets to score runs. but can't score anymore if the wicket is hit with the ball when that team's players are too far away from the wicket."

Wikipedia, accessed January 2023.
A Baseball kind of game

Playground Ball

Johnson (1910) lists Playground Ball among seven “Baseball" games.  The rules of this game are not explained.


G. E. Johnson, What to Do at Recess (Ginn, Boston, 1910), page 32.

A Baseball kind of game


This game is modification of cricket evidently designed to expedite play, and is played at several English schools. Batters must run when they make contact with a bowled ball. Bowled balls can not hit the ground in front of the wicket, and a baseball bat is used instead of a flat cricket bat.

A Baseball kind of game

Poisoned Ball (France)

According to an undated early 19th-Century text, “La Ball Empoisonée” was a game for two teams of eight to ten boys involving repelling the ball (presumably by hitting it by the palm of the hand) and running to bases trying to avoid being plugged.

"THE IMPOISONED BALL. Eight should play at this game; and the method is as follows:

"Make a hole, and mark it so as to know it again; then draw, to see who is to throw the ball; that done, he must endeavor to put it into one of the holes, and the person's hole it enters must take the ball and throw at a player, who will endeavor to catch it; the person touched must throw it at another, and he who fails in either of these attempts, or he who is touched, is obliged to put into the hole which belongs to him, a little stone, or a piece of money, or a nut, or any thing to know the hole by. This is called a counter. He who first happens to have the number of counters fixed upon, is to stand with his hand extended, and every player is to endeavor to strike the hand with the ball."



Les Jeux Des Jeunes Garcons,  (Paris, Chez Nepveu, 4th edition, 1818), page 37.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Poltopallo (Finland)

a traditional Finnish game, features of which were incorporated into Pesapallo.

A Fungo kind of game

Porschek (Slavic Areas)

Porschek resembles trapball, but uses a four-inch wooden cat in place of a ball. A batter lofts the stick, and then hits it into the field of play. The fielding side can attain the batting side by catching the hit projectile or by picking up an uncaught ball and throwing it to hit the bat, which is dropped by the batter.

Batters are not described as runners.  We are unsure when this game was played, and if it persists today.


Franz Magnus Bohme, Deutches Kinderlied und Kinderspiel (Leipzig, 1897), page 612, as cited by Erwin Mehl, Baseball in the Stone Age, Western Folklore, volume7, number 2, April 1948 page 147.

A Baseball kind of game

Prelleries (Switzerland)

Maigaard (1941) lists this game as the Swiss variation of Long Ball.


Per Maigaard, "Battingball Games," Genus 5 (1941); reprinted in Block, Baseball Before We Knew It (U. Nebraska, 2005), Appendix 6, page 263.

A Baseball kind of game

Puddox, or Puddock

"Puddox is a game that was introduced to Boston Grammar School by Robin Gracey in 1990/91. It is a combination of rounders and cricket. Two teams participate, made up of form members from each class and the teams are drawn randomly from a hat. Often first year teams (now year 7) would meet 15 year old lads but size meant little in Puddox, as Mr Gracey would attest, being quite short himself.

John Huggins recalls playing Puddox at Boston Grammar School in 1962. He believes it had migrated there from the Stamford School where it was popular.

The batting team sends out two players to stand at either end of the 'pitch' which is (as far as I remember) about the length of a cricket pitch. The bowler only bowls from one end, and a small baseball-style ball is used. Bowling uses the under-arm style. The batting team uses a small one-handed bat. Runs are made by running to the end of the pitch, just like cricket. I seem to remember a rule that you can only run if you'd made contact with the ball.

There is a time limit for each team (I think these games were played during lunch hours but that may be wrong!) and at the end of the game, scores are collated and the winning team is put through to the next round."

Aka Puddock, and arguably played from the 1920s on.


Youtube commentary from 1999-2022:


The annual summer inter-form tournament of this rather quaint and (allegedly) unique cricket/rounders hybrid. Only at BGS...
Hello Tim, For 111 (one hundred and eleven) years there has been an annual camp held for youngsters of 11-16 years of age... this has happened, with exception of the first 5 years(1908-1913), at Hermanus, about 130 km East of Cape Town, on the coast in South Africa.  Having watched your posted video of Puddox played at Boston Grammar School, it struck me that many hundreds of youngsters and ex campers would be interested to find out more of the origins of Puddox. Now named the "Annual Hermanus Camp", after many years having been called the Kenilworth Scout Camp, the camp is usually held for about 10-12 days, commencing on 27th or so of December, our height of summer. If you are interested to find the odd photos they'd probably be findable on the web page of the Annual Hermanus Camp. Puddox , I believe, is only played in this camp in SA!There seem to be one or two minor differences in the rules of play for the Puddox at the AHC camp. Do make contact through the AHC facebook, or the web page, if you are interested. Best, Mark.

Show less

Blimey, I miss playing this game. I remember the tournaments very fondly."
Entered by Bruce Allardice, 6/6/2022. Supplemented by L McCray, 6/10/2022.




For the YouTube clip:   See also attached Youtube commentary, 1999-2021-- 

For the history and rules of Puddox/Puddock:

This Boston appears to be in Lincolnshire, England.


A Kickball kind of game


[A] This is a variation of baseball in which a rubber ball is punched, and not hit with a bat, to start a play. One set of modern rules is at Johnson (1910) lists Punch Ball under “Baseball games.”

[B] A big-city form of this game is recalled by Gregory Christiano as being played in The Bronx in the 1950s:  

"Played with a 'spaldeen' and a fist in the middle of the street. Similar to a stickball game except that there was no pitching-in or use of a stick. The "batter" would throw the ball in the air and punch it toward the fielders, and running the bases (which were usually car door handles on parked cars), tires or sewers. It was scored like a regular baseball game."

[C] Brooklyn.  "Regular baseball rules.  Batter uses fist to hit. One swing.  Miss ball and you are out.  No bunting, no stealing. Sometimes when there were not enough players for full teams you had to shorten the field by bringing in the foul lines so that you virtually played on a square, with the foul lines each 90 degrees from first and third bases.  You had to do this because with a fist a good player could place a line drive anywhere on the field.  So there were 9 or 10 players on the field.  No pitcher because the batter held the ball and there was no bunting. Catcher is the most important position as this is a hitter's game.  Scores are 20-30 runs a team.  Many plays at the plate.  Most outs are made on the bases.   Very action-packed game.  (Communication from Neil Selden and Mark Schoenberg on Brooklyn games.)

[D] Bronx.  "Punch ball in another section of the p.s. 81 schoolyard, located between 2 fences - baserunning involved - played with from 3 to infinity players per team - scraggly schoolyard trees formed first and third bases, a sand pit [located on the schoolyard for no good reason and never used for any purpose other than as second base] was second base, home plate was marked on the concrete - batter bounced spaldeen, hit it with a closed fist, and then ran the bases - most regular baseball rules applied. (E-Mail from Raphael Kasper, 2/3/2020.)

[E] A brief 4/30/1989 letter to the New York Times argued that stickball was a "sissyfied" sport in comparison to punchball. "We played with six or seven players, nickel a player. We had one-sewer homers and two-sewer homers. The game was so popular in Brooklyn that a daily newspaper, The Graphic, sponsored a punchball tournament, pitting one street against another." The players used a spaldeen, and chalked in foul lines and first and third bases."



G. E. Johnson, What to Do at Recess (Ginn, Boston, 1910), page 32.



A Hat ball kind of game

Retenido (Spain)

per Brewster. When a player throws a ball high in the air, the others run away. When he catches it, he yells “caught,” the others freeze in position, and he tries to plug them.


Brewster, American Nonsinging Games.

A Baseball kind of game

Reversible Baseball (California)

"Reversible Baseball" debuted in 1928 when a U. of California baseball team coached by Carl Zamloch tried out a new variant of baseball.

The game was "a field trial of Coach Carl Zamloch’s proposed revision to the rule books, what he called “reversible” baseball.

What exactly was reversible (also sometimes referred to as “left-handed” or “ambidextrous”) baseball? Simply put, batters were given the option of running to either first or third base after putting the ball in play. Fielders were forced to take note of where the batter was going, and to adjust accordingly. If a batter chose to run to third base and reached safely, all offense in that half inning was reversed: other hitters in that frame would have to follow their teammate’s lead. For example, if the leadoff hitter singled and ran to third instead of first, the subsequent batter would need to run to third base on a single to left, and the runner might attempt to go from third to first on the play."

According to the article, the innovation caused much comment, but attracted little interest.


Schoenholz, "Third Things First: Carl Zamloch and a Brief History of Reversible Baseball," SABR Research Journal, Spring 2021. See

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Rickets (Boston)

A writer's recollection of past Boston sports, including  base ball,  includes the unexplained game of "Rickets."


Letter to the Editor, Boston Evening Transcript, December 21, 1859. 

Contributed by Joanne Hulbert, 9/17/12.

A Baseball kind of game

Rigoball (Dominion Republic)

Rigoball has developed in the Dominican Republic.  It appears to be played in an enlarged baseball field, but omits batted balls; instead, a ball appears to be put in play from the home plate area when thrown into fair ground by a new baserunner.  Twelve-player teams may include men and women.

The game features no pitcher or catcher.  All fouls are outs.  Bases are set 120 feet apart. There are 5 outs in an inning and 7 innings in an official game.  Adult play appears to include distant outfield fences (455' to center, 355' in the corners).

The game appears to have been devised and promoted by a Dr. Rigoberto Diaz as a pastime that is safer than baseball.  It seems likely that the game's name honors him.









A Hat ball kind of game

Roley Poley (Brooklyn)

per Culin. (Elsewhere Roly Poly, Roll Ball, Roley Holey.) Each player defends a hole (or hat). If another player rolls a “medium-sized” rubber ball into the hole, he tries to hit another player with it to prevent having a count made against him.


Culin, "Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.." page 234.

A Scrub kind of game


McCurdy (1911) lists this game, along with Old Cat and Fungo, as minor forms of bat-and-ball. One might speculate that it is a non-team game like Scrub and Move-Up, in which players rotate among positions on the field as outs are made.


J. H. McCurdy, “Classification of Playground Activities,” American Physical Education Review Volume 16 (1911), page 49.

A Baseball kind of game

Round Ball (Massachusetts)

This appears to be the name given to the game played in Massachusetts . . . and possibly beyond that . . . in the years before the Dedham rules of 1858 created the Massachusetts Game.

We have about a dozen references to round ball from about 1780 to 1856 -- all in the state of Massachusetts.  New England also has references to goal, or goal ball, base, or base ball, and bat-and-ball for this period.  There is no indication if or how these games differed, or whether they are direct antecedents of the Mass Game rules of 1858.

Morris, p. 23 has a description of the game, from an early Detroit baseball player reminiscing in 1884: ""Previous to the time [1857] we had played the old-fashioned game of round ball. There were no 'balls' or 'strikes' to that. The batter waited till a ball came along that suited him, banged it and ran. If it was a fly and somebody caught it, he was out and couldn't play any more in the game. If the ball was not caught on the fly the only way to put a batter out was to hit him with the ball as he ran. There were no basemen then; everybody stood around to catch flies and throw the ball at base runners."


Henderson, Bat, Ball and Bishop p. 137. Morris, Baseball Fever p. 23

A Baseball kind of game

Round Cat (US South)

Round Cat is a game noted by Tom Altherr in September 2009. We find several brief mentions of this game being played from Washington DC southward, but no explanation of how it was played. One account identifies it as similar to Scrub as played in New England.


Dialect Notes (American Dialect Society, Norwood MA, 1896), page 214.

Altherr, "Southern Ball Games--Chermany, Round Cat, Etc." Base Ball (Spring 2011).

A Baseball kind of game

Round Town (Round Town Ball) (PA, VA)

Round Town (also found as 'round-town,' or 'Round Town Ball') has been found in a handful of sources listed below.  It appears to have been played at times from the 1850s-1890s in locations outside the northeast US:



[A] "In rural Virginia the ball game of choice was known as round-town, a sport that was "well understood and much enjoyed by every country boy, though only a few of their city cousins know the first rudiments of it." 


[B] As played in Eastern PA in the 1850s, Round Town is recalled as having four or five bases or “safety spots,” tagging instead of plugging, the fly rule, the sharing of bases by multiple runners, and a bat made of a rail or clap-board. A game “similar to baseball” recalled as being played by school boys in 1891 in a grove of trees in Beech Grove, Kentucky.


[C] Another game called Round Town is described as follows:

An Old Virginia Ball Game

Mount Crawford, a town in Rockingham County, Va., was the scene of a novel ball game on, January 13 last, the occasion being a contest at the old Virginia game of ball known as "Round Town, " the weather being unusually mild for winter.

This game is well understood and is much enjoyed by every country boy, though only a very few of their city cousins know the first rudiments of it. 

Forty-four men and boys were engaged in the game mentioned above, and they were the best throwers, surest catchers, and hardest strikers of the two neighborhoods. A large sized crowd watched with unabating interest the movements of the game.

The game of round-town is played in this manner: Two sides are formed, the number of players of the division being equal. Four bases are used and are placed in the same manner as if they were being fixed for a game of baseball, although men are only placed in the positions of the pitcher, catcher, and first baseman, the rest of the players being scattered in the field where they think the ball is most apt to be knocked. The first batsman on the opposing side takes his place at the plate, and he has in his hand a paddle an inch or two thick, and in which only one hand is used ins striking. The pitcher delivers a solid gum ball with all the swiftness attainable, the use of the curve never being thought of, and it is therefore very seldom that a "strike out" occurs. The batter hits the ball at the first opportunity and endeavors to drive it over the heads of the opponents, for if it is caught on the fly or the first bound the runner is called out, and also if it is begotten to the first baseman before the runner arrives at the base. Should the runner reach first base safely he can continue to run to the other bases if he wishes, but his opponents have the privilege of hitting him with the ball, and as it is very painful to be struck with a gum ball, the runner is very cautious, and if he is struck he is counted out of the game, although should he reach any of the other bases he is safe. 

Another batsman appears and if he makes a safe hit with the ball the runners can continue to move until stopped from fear of being hit with the ball. In case a man is on second base and a ball is knocked and caught on the fly or first bound, the runner must stay at the base until the ball is returned to the pitcher. Each side has only one inning and that continues until every man has made out: therefore if a man makes an out at the first time at the bat he is disqualified to play until all on his side have done likewise, then they take the field. If a player makes the circuit safely it is called a run.

The result of the contest was the success of the Mt. Crawford twenty-two by a score of 104 runs to 90, the contest occupying the whole afternoon.


[D]  In February 2016, Bill Hicklin added:

I found two references to Virginia "round-town," both from Dickinson County, Virginia (in the Appalachian coal country).  They come from School and Community History of Dickenson County, Virginia (ed. Dennis Reedy), a compilation of articles published over many years in the local paper, which were themselves based on a series of oral-history interviews conducted at the behest of the school superintendant with senior and retired Dickenson teachers.

 [1] William Ayers Dyer: "I was born May 10, 1880 at Stratton, Dickenson County, Virginia and started to school to Johnson Skeen at the Buffalo School in 1885 when I was 5 years old... The games we played at the Buffalo were straight town, round town, base, bull pen and antnee over." (Bull pen was dodgeball, but played with a baseball. Ouch!)

 [2]Hampton Osborne (b. 1894): "'Round-town' and 'straight-town' were popular games. Round-town had four bases in a circle, as baseball does today. If the batter was caught or crossed-off both ways, he was out. Straight-town had four bases in a row and you used the same rules as round-town.


[E]  Bruce Allardice contributed:

"There are several newspaper mentions in the late 1800s of "round town" by people who claimed to have played it as a boy:

Easley (SC) Messenger, May 2, 1884. W. P. Price (1846-1940) claimed to have played "round Town" and "cat" as a boy at Holly Springs Academy

Piqua (OH) Daily Call, Aug. 22, 1891: J. P. Smith of Urbana, OH says he played "round town" and "bull pen" as a boy.

Edina (MO) Sentinel, Aug. 5, 1886: writer played "round town" as a boy.

Greenleaf Sentinel, Nov. 11, 1887. when writer was a boy we used to play "round town," "three cornered cat" and "bull pen." Similar, Smithfield (NC) Herald Aug. 17, 1917.

Scranton Tribune, May 8, 1899. Writer talks of boys playing "Round Town Ball and Two Holy Cat."

Philadelphia Times, Aug. 3, 1890 has a long article with a complete description of Round Town Ball, as it was played in Perry County.

Old-time "round, or town ball" played. Warren (PA) Democrat, July 9, 1895.

Asheville Gazette-News, Aug. 9, 1913: "afore the war" the "darkies" played "round town ball from which the [game of] baseball originated."

New Philadelphia Times, June 13, 1910 claims Cy Young played "round town" ball and three cornered cat as a youth.

Bucyrus (OH) Evening Telegraph. Aug. 18, 1915 says there will be a game of round town ball at a picnic. Ditto Jackson (OH) Center News, Oct. 15, 1920; Dresden (TN) Enterprise, Dec. 4, 1914; Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Sept. 5, 1908; Harrisonburg (VA) Evening News, Dec. 5, 1899, March 15, 1909.

Doney, "Cheerful Yesterdays" p. 67 says he learned to play RTB and others c. 1877.

Prokopowicz, "All for the Regiment" p. 85 quotes a Feb. 7, 1862 diary entry from a soldier in Co. C, 17th Ohio saying the soldiers play RTB in their spare time.

Pleasant's "History of Crawford County, Indiana" (1926) says that c. 1840, the boys played three cornered cat, round town ball, long town ball, bat ball and baseball.

"Punxsatawney Centennial, 1849-1949" p. 22 says c. 1870 the boys played RTB and long town ball."

-- Bruce Allardice


 What Protoball Knows, May 2023

Note that our sources now extend to MD, NC, OH, PA, SC, and VA,  as of May 2023. 

Known reports of Round Town appear to run to the end of the 19th Century.









[A] Peter Morris, But Didn't We Have Fun: An Informal History of Baseball's Pioneer Era, 1843-1870 (Ivan Dee, Chicago, 2008), pp.16-18.  For data on 12 names of predecessor games, see the book's index entry for 'Rival Bat-and-Ball', page 282. 

[B] J. Lambert and H. Reinhard, A History of Catasaqua in Lehigh County (Searle and Dressler, Allentown, 1914), page 364.:  William F. Mason, The Journal of William Franklin Mason, completed in 1954; from mason29.txt, accessed 2/24/2008.

[C] New York Clipper January 1866. 19CBB post 2/2/2002 by John Freyer

[D]  Email from Bill Hicklin, February 6, 2016, citing D. Reedy, ed., School and Community History jof Dickenson County, Virginia [1994]

[E] Bruce Allardice, contributions to Protoball, (date lost).

A Baseball kind of game

Rounders - Britain

Rounders was first described in the late 1820s.  Current researchers believe that the game was similar to English base ball, which had been described almost 80 years earlier, but it is clearer that rounders employed a bat than that English ball did.

Rounders in the 19th Century generally resembled the game that Mass game; it used overhand throwing, plugging, etc. 

In describing rounders in 1898, Gomme notes a one-out-side-out rule applied for caught (fly?) balls.  Batters who missed three pitches were compelled to run on the third swing as if they had struck the ball.

Rounders is now played in British schools, often by young women.

Rounders Rules

(from  accessed 6/1/2023)

Rounders Rules

Rounders is an ancient field game for two teams that is popular in schools and is the ancestor of more modern sports like Baseball and Softball.

See also: Rounders Equipment.

Rounders Equipment & Preparation

The equipment needed for rounders consists of a truncheon shaped rounders bat, a rounders ball and 4 posts set out in a diamond shape. A traditional ball is hard and covered in leather although safer, softer balls for schools are also available.

The pitch features a bowler's square (2.5m) which is 7.5m from the batter's square (2m). 1 metre behind the batter's square the Backstop line should be marked. The four posts are positioned around the bowler's square as shown in the diagram (black lines show lines that should be marked; green lines are for measuring only).

<img src="" alt="" />

Of course, if you are just playing in the park or your garden, exact dimensions don't matter and shrubberies and flower beds may come into play...

For a decent game, each team should have at least 6 people, so that when fielding, a person can stand next to each post in addition to the bowler and the backstop.

Rounders Basics

Each team has two innings with all people in the team having a go at batting. The innings is over when all the batting players are either out or at a base so that there is no-one left to face the next ball.

One, by one, the batters line up to take their turn in the batting square. The bowler throws the ball towards the batter.

Bowling and No-Balls

The bowler must bowl a ball towards the batter so that: 

  • it is thrown with a smooth underarm action
  • the ball arrives without bouncing and within the batters square
  • the ball is above the batter's knee, below the batter's head, and not at the batter's body
  • the bowler's feet are inside the bowler's square when the ball is bowled

otherwise a 'no-ball' is called.

A batter can attempt to hit a no-ball and can run on a no-ball, if desired whether the ball is hit or not, but cannot return once first post is reached. If two consecutive no-balls are bowled to the same batter, the batter scores a half-rounder.


  • The batter gets one chance to hit the ball (ignoring no-balls) and must run even if the ball is not struck.
  • If the ball is hit behind the batting square or not hit at all, the batter may can only run to first base.
  • Otherwise, the batter runs around as many of the bases as possible and stops at a post only when the batter thinks there is a danger of the next post being 'stumped'.

The batter is out if:

  • the batter hits the ball and it is caught without first hitting the ground
  • the post being run to is 'stumped' - a fielder touches it with the ball
  • the batter runs inside a post
  • the batter loses contact with a post when the bowler has the ball inside the bowler's square
  • the batter overtakes a fellow batter when running around the posts.
  • while not running between posts, the batter obstructs a fielder
  • the batter's foot is outside the batter's square when the ball is bowled

Scoring Rounders

A score is immediately posted in the following situations:

 If the batter hits the ball or is bowled a no ball and then reaches the fourth post, a rounder is scored.

  • If the batter fails to hit the ball and reaches the fourth post, a half-rounder is scored.
  • If the batter hits the ball and reaches the second post, a half-rounder is scored.
  • A fielder obstructs a batter running to a post, a half-rounder is scored.
  • If the batter hits the ball and reaches the first, second or third post without being out, the batter stays at that post (and must keep in contact with it) until the next ball is bowled. As soon as the ball leaves the bowler's hand, such a batter can run to the next post, if they wish, even if a no-ball is called.

If the batter does not keep contact with the post, the fielding side can stump the next post to get the player out. 2 batters cannot be at the same post so a batter must run on to the next post if the next batter catches up with them.

  • A batter who continues in this way and reaches the fourth post scores a half-rounder.

Once the fourth post is reached, the person goes to the back of the batter's line and awaits their next turn to bat.


After both sides have played both innings, the side with the most rounders wins.

Other Rounders Rules

The above rules are consistent with the National Rounders Associations laws. However, those wishing to play more strictly, may also wish to incorporate the following NRA rules which aren't really necessary for a friendly game. 

  • A team consisting of a maximum of 15 players and a minimum of 6 of whom no more than 9 may be on the field at one time. An innings is over when the 9th batter is out.
  • If the ball goes behind, the batter may only run to first post but may continue to run once the ball has returned in front of the batter's square again. In this way, it is possible to reach 4th post and score a rounder, even if the ball is hit behind (although this would only happen in practice due to a fielding error).
  • A batter can run to a post even if it has been previously stumped but there is no score if this is done on 4th Post
  • Batsmen must carry their bat when running
  • When the bowler has the ball in his square, you cannot move on, but if you are between Posts, you can carry on to the next.
  • You must touch 4th Post on getting home.

The earliest reference to English rounders is in Clarke, W., Boy’s Own Book (London, Vizetelly Branston, 1828, second edition.

Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (New York; Dover, 1964 – reprinted from two volumes printed in 1894 and 1898), pages 145-146.  Gomme (1898) notes that "An elaborate form of this game has become the national game of the United States." 

David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, has dozens of dozens of indexed references to rounders.

See the article on Rounders in the Origins Committee Newsletter, February, May, 2021.

See also Feeder_and_Rounders,_1841, contributed by Bill Hicklin.


A Baseball kind of game

Rounders -- Hungary (Hungary)

This game resembles contemporary British rounders. The bases form a regular pentagon, a pitcher stands at its center, fly balls are outs, and there is plugging. A baserunner, however, could make plays on subsequent batter-runners as a member of the fielding team.


Gyula Hajdu, "Collection of Hungarian Folk Games" (as Translated from Hungarian Magyar Nepi Jatekok Gyujtemenye) (Budapest: 1971), page 173.

A Scrub kind of game

Rounds (Iowa)

per Brewster. Baseball modified for small groups. Players count off, the first two or three becoming batters, the next the pitcher, the next the catcher, the next first base, etc. For most outs, the retired player goes to the last fielding position, and others move up one position, the pitcher becoming a batter. For fly outs, the batter and the successful fielder exchange places. The game is not notably different from Scrub and Workup.


Brewster, American Nonsinging Games.

A Baseball kind of game


Gene Carney describes this game as a one-out-all-out team game, but notes that “a fielder catching a ball on the fly joined the offense immediately.”


G. Carney, “The Tennis Court,” in G. Land, Growing Up with Baseball (UNebraska, 2004), page 110.

A Baseball kind of game


A memoir in Eastern Massachusetts, written about local play in about 1870, describes a game called "roundstakes" or "rounders."

"The game that bore the closest resemblance to our modern baseball was "roundstakes" or "rounders."  In some communities it was know (sic) as "townball."  This game of roundstakes was often played on village commons, or muster fields, on holidays or other public occasions.  Among the larger boys it was the popular game at school.

"It was this game that was so modified as to become later the baseball of today.  It was originally an old English game much played in the colonies.  A  soft ball was always used.  It was made of yarns or other soft materials and covered with leather or a network  to prevent unwinding.  Instead of throwing this ball to a baseman it was thrown at the baserunner himself.  If a hit was made by a thrower, the runner was out.  The bases were usually posts or stakes, but sometimes stones.  These had to be circled or touched by the runner.  There were no fair or foul balls.  The batter ran on any hit, however light, or on his third strike.  There were no called balls or called strikes.  The batter could strike out, fly out or be hit be a thrown ball when between bases.  The game was played between teams or sides of equal numbers, usually from seven to ten. The play was generally without an umpire."


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).

A Baseball kind of game


In his definition of Rounders, Hazlitt suggests that “it is possible that this is the game which, under the name of rownes (rounds) is mentioned in the ‘English Courtier and the Country Gentleman,’ in 1586.”


W. Carew Hazlitt, Faiths and Folklore: A Dictionary of National Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs (London: Reeves and Turner, 1905)., page 527.

A Baseball kind of game

Run-Around (Massachusetts)

A name given in some localities, evidently, to the game played in the Boston area in the early 19th century; it is possibly another name for what is elsewhere in New England recalled as Round Ball. Our single reference to this game comes from a letter written in 1905 by a Boston man, T. King.

"This [Massachusetts Run-Around] was ever a popular game with us young men, and especially on Town Meeting days when there were great contests held between different districts, or between the married and unmarried men, and was sometimes called Town Ball because of its association with Town Meeting day."

"It was an extremely convenient game because it required as a minimum only four on a side to play it, and yet you could play it equally as well with seven or eight. . . . There were no men on the bases; the batter having to make his bases the best he could, and with perfect freedom to run when and as he chose to, subject all the time to being plugged by the ball from the hand of anyone. It was lively jumping squatting and ducking in all shapes with the runner who was trying to escape being plugged. When he got around without having been hit by the ball, it counted a run. The delivery of the ball was distinctly a throw, not an under-hand delivery as was later the case for Base Ball. The batter was allowed three strikes at the ball. In my younger days it was extremely popular, and indulged in by everyone, young and old."


See Protoball Chronology item #1855c.1.  The letter was written to the Mills Commission, which was examining the origins of American baseball.

A Baseball kind of game

Rundbold (Denmark)

Rundbold is given as the Danish name for the Swedish game brannboll.

YouTube clips can be found for several depictions of the game.  A (non-Danish-speaking Protoball rep observes the folowing:  The clips  show batters propelling a ball into the field with a (two-handed) fungo style, a one-handed style (think of a sidearmed tennis serve), and  with a second player soft tossing a serve from a few feet away.

Backward hitting is not  observed.  Fly  outs appear to end a batter's time at bat. sometimes with a change of sides.  After hitting the ball,  runners try to complete a circuit of four bases (pegs, cones, etc) before the ball is returned to a defender stationed near the hitting area.

In some cases, a hit is followed by several runners setting off from the hitting zone at the same time. If the ball is grounded by the defender before a runner reaches the next base, that runner must return to the previous base.

Scoring rules are not evident.  Players shown are often children, but young adults are also shown, sometimes with beer  bottles in hand. 





A Hat ball kind of game

Running Base (Brooklyn)

"In Brooklyn in the early 1960s, we played a game called "Running Bases".  It was played similar to Peter [Mancuso]'s [account of] Base, except a rubber ball (Spaulding or Pennsy Pinky) was thrown between a person on each side who had to tag you with the ball.  Rundowns, as in baseball, were the norm.  No score was kept to my recollection."


Email to Protoball from Brad Shaw, 3/15/2017.

A Hat ball kind of game

Rushing Bases

"RUSHING BASES. Draw two bases, with a wide space between them.  All the players then station themselves in one base, except one boy, to be ' and King Caesar,' by choice or otherwise, and he places himself midway between the bases.  The men then attempt to run from one base to the other, and the King strives the catch them; and whenever he takes one, he claps him on the head and cries thrice, 'Crown thee, King Caesar!' and he must thenceforth assist his Majesty in catching the rest of the men, each of whom must, as he is taken, join the royal party; the last man captured  being King for the next game. The crowning must be distinctly pronounced thrice, else the captive can be demanded buy his party."


"Uncle John," The Boy's Book of Sports and Games (Geo. Appleton, Philadelphia), 1851.

A Baseball kind of game

Russian Baseball

On March 15,  2021, SABR member Rich Moser of (Town?, CA) recalled a game organized by his junior high teacher in California in 1973.  He remembers that it had these rules:

"1. only two (running) bases instead of three

2. no tagging a base to get a runner out, meaning the fielders had to tag the runners

3. no baseline rules, so a runner could run anywhere he wanted to avoid being tagged—except he had to stay on campus. He could elect to hide in the distant outfield or the shrubbery to distract the defense, so they might forget about other runners and let them score

4. multiple runners could occupy the same base at a time

5. there was no foul territory, so batters could elect to turn and hit the ball backwards or to wherever there weren’t any fielders."

Plugging runners was not allowed.  Players used gloves and played with a soft ball.



Rich Moser, posting to SABR discussion group, 3/15/2021, and email to Protoball on 3/28/2021. 

A Baseball kind of game

Schlagball (Germany)

A longball variant still played in Germany. “German Schlagball (‘hit the ball’) is similar to rounders.” No other clues to schlagball are provided.

Other unverified sources state that schlagball evolve as early as the 1500s.

The game certainly features pitching and hitting.  An early form was described by Gutsmuths as the German Ballgame (Deutsche Ballspiel). Rules can be found here.  One write-up compares schlagball to lapta stating that while the running base in lapta is a line, in schlagball runners proceed along a series of discrete bases; this is a misapprehension. In modern Schlagball the goal line is replaced with two side-by-side "touch posts," either one of which may serve as the running base.


Endrei, W., and Laszlo Zolnay, Fun and Games in Old Europe. Budapest, (Corvina Klado, 1986).

A Scrub kind of game


Scrub appears to usually denote non-team games, as seen with the games of  Work-up and Move-Up: A handy way to get a game going when two full teams cannot be mustered, the available players are fed initially divided between several defensive positions and a smaller number of batters. If a batter is put out, he/she becomes the fielder who is last in line [in right field, perhaps] to return to the batting position, and must work the way back, advancing position by position. A fielder who catches a fly ball exchanges places immediately with the batter. Because the small number of player precludes team play, “ghost (imaginary) runners” and special ground rules are sometimes required. Plugging is allowed, at least when the ball is soft enough to permit that. Once called Ins and Withs in the Philadelphia area (Source?).

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


It appears that shinty was a bat-and-ball game known in Britain and Ireland and America before 1800 (Strutt, 1903 reprinting, page 92.).  Not usually reported as a base-running game, it may have resembled what we now call field hockey.  As of 2022, has not collected much information on the history this game.  It appears to be similar or identical with the game known as hurling . Other names we know of are listed at bandy, [[hunyou-hinyou]], and Iceland's [[knattleikar]].

Today's digital searches sometimes reveal shinty being played in the United States long ago.

In August 2022, Protoball's legendary Bruce Allardice reports: 

"I found a reference to games of shinty (sort of a field hockey-type game) played at the Elysian Fields in 1839 (NY Herald, Sept. 10, 1839) as part of the Highland games" (Email of 8/12/2022).
A Baseball kind of game

Single-Wicket Cricket

Single-wicket cricket uses teams smaller than the usual 11-player teams. All bowling is to a single wicket.

There is, in effect, a foul ground behind the wicket, so unlike full-team cricket, only balls hit forward are deemed to  be in play.

As late at 1969 there were annual single-wicket championships at Lord’s in London.  In the very early years, most cricket is believed to use a single wicket, and each references to cricket in the US usually reported very small numbers of players.  Early cricket rules called for single-wicket play when team sizes were five or fewer.

This game was nearly as popular as cricket in England through the 1840s, when it lost favor (see Steel). Frederick Duke of York (1763-1827; son of George III) played SWC with his brothers when he was young.

The Sunbury Gazette, Sept. 3, 1859 reprints an essay on cricket from the North American, and labels single-wicket a predecessor game to cricket.

H. Rowell, "The Laws of Cricket for Single and Double Wicket" (Toronto, 1857) p. 17 says single wicket is for teams of 5 or less, and specifies "bounds" placed 22 yards apart in a line from the off and leg stump (which appears to give a 180 degree fair territory). The ball had to be tossed, not thrown, underhand. 

Revised by the Marylebone Club in the Year 1823
Printed by Carpenter and Son, Engravers and Printers, 16 Aldgate High=Street.
Broadsheet in Sloane=Stanley Collection.
Copy by RS Rait Kerr held at the MCC Library at Lord’s


When there shall be less than five players on a Side, Bounds shall be placed twenty-two yards each in a Line from the Off, and Leg Stump.

The Ball must be hit before the Bounds to entitle the Striker to a Run; which Run cannot be obtained unless he touch the Bowling Stump (or Crease in a line with it) with his Bat, or some Part of his Person; or go beyond them; returning to the Popping Crease as at double wicket according to the 22nd Law.

When the Striker shall hit the Ball, one of his Feet must be on the Ground, and behind the Popping Crease; otherwise the Umpire shall call “No Hit”.

When there shall be less than five Players on a Side neither Byes, nor Overthrows shall be allowed; nor shall the Striker be caught out behind the Wicket, nor stumped out.

The Field’s Man must return to Ball so that it shall cross the Play between the Wicket and the Bowling Stump, or between the Bowling Stump, and the Bounds; the Striker may run till the Ball shall be so returned.

After the Striker shall have made one Run, if he start again he must touch the Bowling Stump, and turn before the Ball shall cross the Play to entitle him to another.

The Striker shall be entitled to three Runs for lost Ball, and the same number for Ball stopped with Hat; with Reference to the 29th, and 34th Law at double wicket.

When there shall be more than four Players on a side there shall be no Bounds. All Hits, Byes, and Overthrows shall then be allowed.

The Bowler is subject to the same Laws as at double Wicket.

Not more than one Minute shall be allowed between each Ball."


Thorne, Baseball in the Garden of Eden, p. 79. Rowell, p. 17; wikipedia;  New York Clipper, May 24, 1856: 

Origins Committee Newsletter, October, 2022.

A Baseball kind of game

Six Man Baseball

Along those same lines comes a version of baseball that I've never seen before. It was featured in the December 1939 issue of Popular Mechanics

 and was invented by Stephen Epler to allow smaller groups of players to play games quicker. Epler had, five years previously, invented a game called "six-man football" so, naturally, he also came up with "six-man baseball". From the magazine:

Each team is composed of six players – two infielders, two outfielders, a pitcher and a catcher. Instead of four bases, the "diamond" is composed of three, including home plate. Bases are equal distances apart – ninety feet when a hard ball is used – and they are located at the corners of an equilateral triangle. A full game is six innings, and two strikes, instead of three, retire the batter. Foul balls are counted as half-strikes, and the hitter is called out on four fouls. Three balls, instead of four, give a base on balls.

The picture above is an artist's rendition of the sport, and, I have to admit, it looks intriguing. It got me wondering just how the game would play if baseball were really played this way.

A Baseball kind of game

Sixteen-Inch Softball (No-Glove Softball) (Chicago area)

A 2009 article reports on a game played mostly in Chicago involving a ball of 16” circumference and using no gloves. No other variations are covered. The article is not clear on the local name for the game, but another account calls the large ball a “clincher,” and notes that games were sometimes played in the street. (Note: Line Ball, another Chicago game, also used a large ball.)  It appears that the game generally follows the rules of softball.

Query: Can you supply further details about this game?


M. Davey, “Gloveless Players Hold on to Softball Dream,” New York Times, 9/18/09.

E. Hageman, “The Clincher,” In Gary Land, ed., Growing Up with Baseball (UNebraska, 2004), pages 131-132.

A Baseball kind of game

Skirt Ball (New Jersey)

"Women played only in unofficial mixed-gender 'ladies' games at the big hotels. In these games, men had to wear skirts as a handicap. As the skirts on bathing suits became shorter, women started to wear shorter skirts with stockings or leggings in sports, and 'ladies' baseball in Beach Haven ended by World War I."



A Fungo kind of game

Sky-Ball (CT)

A game banned, along with cat-ball, in Norwich CT in 1832. A 1890 source describes Sky-Ball as a fungo game in which a player who can catch the hit ball qualifies to hit the next fungo.


Norwich Courier, Volume 11, issue 8 (May 16, 1832), page 1.

H. Philpott, “A Little Boys’ Game with a Ball,” The Popular Science Monthly, Volume 37, Number 5 (September 1890) page 654.

Writing in volume 5, no. 4 (April 2012) of Originals, Tom Altherr notes that a 1900 source on schoolyard games noted "The game of Flip Up or Sky-Ball is still played by smaller children, and sometimes by large ones (especially girls). It is often played by as many as a dozen players and is here known as "Tip-Up," or "Tippy-Up." The 1900 source is D. C. Gibson, "Play Ball," Mind and Body: A Monthly Journal,Volume 7, no 73 (March 1900), page 7. No rules for this game is given.

A Baseball kind of game

Slaball (Norway)

Slaball is given as the Norwegian name for Brannboll, for which Sweden is a popular baserunning game.  "Slaball" is translated as "hit-ball" in this account.

A Baseball kind of game

Slap Ball -- Brooklyn (Brooklyn)

Slap Ball.  This game taught the esoteric rules of of the game.  It was strickt baseball.


Pitcher pitched on a bounce with flukes.  Ump called balls and strikes -- the ball had to cross the plate in the strike zone.  Bunting and stealing ans pickoffs were permitted.  Hitter could hit the ball with an open hand only.

Note:  You could not steal bases if you did not know how to slide.  Sliding on concrete can be painful.  But if you went to Coney Island and practiced for a good while on the sand , you could learn to slide well enough not to get hurt sliding on concrete.  However, no pair of pants could last more than a game: serious punishment for ruining dungarees.


Communication from Neil Seldman and Mark Schoenberg

A Scrub kind of game


"Slapball. The game is similar to Stickball but there are fewer players, no teams, pitchers, or strike zones, and the ball is slapped  instead of hit by a stick or bat.  It is usually played when there are not enough players aaround fjor a game of Stickball.

Players: Three to five.

Supplies: Pinky Ball, four bases or chalk.

Object: To slap the ball hard and far enough to run around all the bases without being tagged or forces out at a base.

To play: All the players except the hitter are out in the field or covering the bases.  The hitter throws the ball up, fungo-style, slaps the ball in mid-air with the palm of her hand, and runs around the bases."

If the batter completes the circuit, she is given a run and bats again.  If put out, she takes the last field position and rotates until having another batting turn.

"Variation: Punchball. In this game, the hitter throws the ball fungo style and punches it instead of slapping it with her hand."



Dina Anastasio, The Pinky Ball Book, (Workman Publishing, 2000), pp 155-157.

A Baseball kind of game

Slavonic Long Ball (Poland)

Maigaard (1941) lists this game. It varies from other regional variations in placing the batting area mid-way between the home area and the first of two "resting areas" for runners. It is possible that this represents a form of Palant.

Query:  can we determine the local name for this game?


Per Maigaard, "Battingball Games," Genus 5 (1941); reprinted in  Block Baseball Before We Knew It, Appendix 6, page 263.

A Baseball kind of game

Soak Ball (IA)

Hall-of-Famer Cap Anson recalls that "'soak ball' was at this time [as an Iowa schoolboy in the early 1860's] my favorite sport. It was a game in which the batter was put out by running the bases by being hit with the ball," which was "comparatively soft."  Patch baseball was, arguably, another name for this game.



Adrian C. Anson, A Ball Player's Career (Era Publishing, 1900) pp. 13-14.

A Hat ball kind of game


"There were no bats, no nything except a lot of boys, as a ball with which they were trying to hit one another.  But if one threw and missed, or his ball was caught, he was out.  When all but one, or an agreed number, were out, the game was ended." 

Thus, "sockball" seems to have been a game we might now call dodgeball.


Henry J. Philpott, "A Little Boys' Game with a Ball," Popular Science Monthly, volume 37 (May to October 1890), page 651.

A Baseball kind of game


An 1887 source reporting that Rounders was still being played in some Southern and Western states, also noted that the game was called Sockey in some states. Our only reference to Sockey is in an 1888 recollection of ballplaying at a PA school, and notes that this game was played against the wall of a stable.


Hall, The Tribune Book of Open-Air Sports (1887), cited in K. Grover, Hard at Play: Leisure in America, 1840-1940 (UMass Press, 1992), page 244.

F. C. Tatum, Old West Town Ferris Brothers, Philadelphia, 1888), page 8.

A Baseball kind of game


As described in Bealle, Softball evolved from Indoor Baseball, which was first played in 1887. Softball rules are close to Baseball rules, but the infield dimensions were set to be smaller and the ball is pitched with an underhand motion. A full team has ten players. Many forms are played, depending on the age and agility of the players. The term Softball debuted in 1926.


Paul Dickson, The Worth Book of Softball (Facts on File, 1994).

Morris A Bealle, The Softball Story (Washington: Columbian Publishing Group, 1956).

A Baseball kind of game

Softball Cricket (England)

There are two teams of six to eight people. Everyone gets the chance to bat, bowl, and field.

Each game takes no more than an hour, and the team with the highest score wins; unless the scores are tied in which case it’s a draw.

== Batting ==

*Each team bats once. *Batters from the same team bat in pairs, one at each end of the wicket (the three stumps). *Each pair faces two or three overs (an over is six, bowled balls).

Here’s how you can be got out as a batter (dismissed):

  • Bowled (the ball hits the stumps) *Caught (a fielder catches the ball in the air off your bat) *Run out (a fielder hit the stumps before the running batters can reach them) *Stumped (the wicketkeeper hits the stumps with the ball when you’re not behind your line) *Hit wicket (you hit the stumps with your bat or body) *Leg before wicket (you deliberately block the ball with a leg or foot) * == Scoring ==
**Each batting team starts with a score of 200 runs **You score runs by running between the wickets (stumps) or by hitting the ball to the boundary. **You score four if the ball hits the ground before crossing the boundary; six if the ball’s hit over the boundary without touching the ground **Even if you miss the ball, or it hits your body, you can still run and score **If you’re out, five runs are taken from the total score and your batting partner faces the next ball. **Two runs are given to the batting team for each wide (a ball bowled wide of the wicket that’s impossible to reach). **The batting team also gets two runs for a no-ball: when the ball bounces more than twice before reaching the batter, or arrives at shoulder height or above, without bouncing.
A Baseball kind of game

Speilinn (Scotland)

per MacLagan. The Uist form of Pellet. A horse-hair ball is put in play with a trap, and the batter attempt to hit it with a bat. Outs are attained by caught fly balls, three missed swings, throwing the ball into the hole at home, and plugging runners between two calaichean (harbors). Points are scored by measuring the lengths of hits in bat-lengths.

Query: can we determine when this game was played?


MacLagan, R. C. "Additions to 'the Games of Argyleshire'." Folklore 16, no. 1 (1905), pages 87-88.

A Baseball kind of game

Spoonie Hoosie (Scotland)

The name for rounders in Crathie in Scotland around 1900, according to a 1975 source.


Amy Stewart Fraser, Dae Ye Min’ Langsyne? (Routledge, 1975), page 59.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Square Ball (Brooklyn)

per Leavy. A biography of Sandy Koufax reports that he played “stickball, punchball, square ball, and Gi-Gi ball in his neighborhood. In one 1922 handbook, Square Ball appears to be a variant of Corner Ball in which the peripheral plugging team and the central target team are equal in number, and is which the ball, after hitting a player on the target team, can be retrieved, “Halt!” called, and the ball thrown at “frozen” members of the peripheral team.


 Jane Leavy [Koufax bio, page needed].

Emily W. Elmore, A Practical Handbook of Games, (Macmillan, NY, 1922), pages 17-18.

A Baseball kind of game


According to Block, an 1838 encyclopedia describes the game of Squares as “roughly identical” to contemporary Rounders and Baseball.


David Block, Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2005), page 138.

The original source is Montague, The Youth's Encyclopedia of Health (1838).

A Baseball kind of game

Stickball (Urban Areas)

A game usually played in urban streets. The ball is rubber -- a “spaldeen,” now virtually the same that used in racketball, and bats vary but include broom handles. Allowances are made for traffic of various sorts, and the bases are specified at the start of play. (Verification sought.)

[A]  Some Bronx Variants:


(1)  A report from Kevin Finneran, 1/19/2023:

"You will be happy to learn that stickball is still played in the South Bronx on a street that has been named Stickball Boulevard. But it's not real stickball because it's played by adults and is organized into formal teams with standings and team shirts. You can learn all about it here:  That is where you will learn that stickball was included in the 2001 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 

One key characteristic of stickball: it was illegal. The cops in my neighborhood liked to break the bats in front of us. To focus on the many varieties of stickball: In my neighborhood alone there were at least half a dozen popular stickball venues, and the rules were different at each place and for the two or three varieties of the game played at each place. At the great anarchic heart of stickball is the fact that there was nothing standard, not even the Spalding spaldeen, which was the most common ball. There was also a more expensive and somewhat bouncier ball we called a Pinky, a name sometimes applied incorrectly to spaldeens. We seldom used it because it gave the hitter too much advantage, and we couldn't afford it. In addition, the length and thickness of the bat, the distance between manhole covers, the width of the street, the placement of impediments, the slope of the street, and anything else you can imagine also varied. All of these will be documented in my four-volume dissertation, a work that will be matched in significance only by the Reverend Causabon's "A Key to All Mythologies" from Middlemarch. I've started talking to a friendly editor at Simon & Schuster about the size of my advance. The only problem is that there are thousands of kids who grew up playing stickball, and each of them has his own compendium of games. I need to get there first.
A sidebar on the hazards of pinkness, which were not just political:  I've already told you about the toxic sewer ball, but what I feared even more was the egg ball. A spaldeen hit with a lot of spin would deform into an egg shape in the air, which meant as a fielder you would be trying to catch in your tiny 8-year-old bare hands a dauntingly spinning pink egg. It's a recurring nightmare that probably also afflicted Joe McCarthy.
(2) A report from Norm Metzger, 1/19/2023:
Stickball was a game for poor boys in a poor neighborhood, a game created out of materially little and shared imagination.
Stickball in my part of the Bronx (i.e. poor part) had several features worth noting, and maybe best forgotten.   There was of course the game itself plus the ancillaries including confiscations of our hard to acquire sticks, the economics of maintaining a supply of Spaldeens, various encounters with neighbors not least NYPD District 46, and certainly including local candyman Leo.

The game is a simple one.  No running the bases since there were none, certainly no umpires, but there were rules:

If the ball hit a car and bounced back into the field of play aka the street it was playable; else out.  If hit beyond two sewers that was a homerun.  However, rules were flexible.  For example, if too few showed up to play meaning no  "outfielders",  the game became one-sewer stickball.   

There were risks, meaning the appearance of a NYPD District 46 squad car.  The "handover" was ritualized. The car slowed down, the cop stuck out his hand, stick surrendered, and a search launched for another one; there was no "bat rack".

The loss  of the ball was another matter.  Most often, a ball was "lost" when the batter fouled it over the roof of the back of the  one-story Safeway.  Then, finances become operative, and whoever "lost" the ball was obliged to get another Spaldeen, an "obligation" frequently violated.  Acquiring a new Spaldeen  meant a trip to the end of our block, our "playing field", and a visit to the corner candy store and a chat with the proprietor, Leo, who had several distinctions including his generally good disposition and a tattoo of blue numbers on his right forearm.  Leo also made very good egg creams, which, following the classical recipe, contained neither egg or cream.  Go figure. 

(3)  A report from Raph Kasper, 2/4/2020:               

Stickball as played in the Public School 81 schoolyard [Bronx] -- no live baserunning - played with 1 or 2 players per team - pitcher threw a Spaldeen or tennis ball from a line ~65-70 feet from the school wall on which was marked a chalk rectangle running from knee - shoulder kid height and about 2x as wide as a baseball home plate [hence considerably larger than a normal strike zone] - batter stood in front of wall - balls that were not hit were called balls or strikes depending on whether they struck the wall within or outside the rectangle - arguments occasionally occurred, usually when the pitcher had  particularly good curve ball - batted balls were scored as outs if they were grounders or were caught on a fly - balls that hit a very high chain link fence ~125 feet away from the school wall on one bounce were singles, on the fly were doubles, over the fence but short of another fence a further ~100 feet away were triples, balls that hit the second fence on a fly or cleared it were home runs

(4) From Gregory Christiano, who played in the 1950s:

Stickball wasTHE quintessential game played on most city streets. Everyone played stickball. The equipment: A broomstick and the Spalding High-Bounce Pink Ball (the Spaldeen), three manholes and a lot of kids. [You have to consider – this light rubber bouncing ball made playing a ball game in the street safe. Apart from a hardball or softball, the Spaldeen bounced harmlessly off parked cars, never broke a window, and never knocked anyone out cold]. Bases were car door handles, car tires, manhole covers, and Johnny pumps, anything that served as a practical base. The walls of the apartment buildings were the foul lines. If the ball hit them it was foul. Parked cars were ignored except if they were used for bases. (full text at Supplemental Text,  below).


[B] Brooklyn variants:  From Neal Seldman and Mark Schoenberg

1- With (invisible, or "ghost" base runners).  Pitching and balls and strikes.  Strikes determined by a chalk drawn box on wall behind batter. Box is filled in with chalk so that all strikes make a mark on the ball.  Ball has to be wiped off after strike.

A ball hit past the pitcher on a fly is a single, a hit midway to the outfield fence is a double, hitting the fence and bouncing is a triple, and over the fence is a home run.  A ground ball that gets past the fielders and hits the fence is a single. If the grounder is caught cleanly it is an out.  If missed it is and error and hitter is on first.  

2 - With live baserunning. Same rules, runners run out the hits.  If there is a catcher, there is stealing.  Sometimes this game is played with the pitch coming on a bounce

When no facility was nearby, this game was often played on the street using sewer covers and cars as bases and landmarks for the number of bases awarded.

Traditional pitching and catching.  Umpires call balls and strikes from behind the pitcher.  There is stealing.

At Inlet Grounds, PS 206, East 23rd Street and Gravesend Neck Road.

The inlet is about 120 feet wide and five stories high.  Two high walls with windows (with metal bars to prevent breaking windows: a well hit Spaldeen easily breaks a window.)  Best played with three people on a team.  Pitcher, catcher, and fielder.  But there are 4-person games *(2 fielders) and one-on-one games.  The fielders stand somewhere near the batter in order to catch the ball off the wall behind the pitcher. Caught off the wall, is out.  A hit off the wall up to the second floor is a single.  Higher up the wall, a double, then a triple. On the roof is a homer.  BUT most of the balls hit on the roof come back.  That is, the spin of the hitting a ball that soars within 120 feet  has a backspin.  If the ball is caught off the roof it is an out.  This is a very dramatic play as it takes a few seconds for the ball to get on the roof, a few more seconds to the ball to roll back, then a few more seconds to see if the fielder will be able to make the play on a ball falling five stories and within a few inches of the wall, with backspin.

Usually pink Spaldeens were used.  But tennis balls allowed the pitcher much more variation and sharper curves and screwballs -- more surface.

(Communication from Neal Seldman and Mark Schoenberg)

 Stickball was played all over Brooklyn when I grew up. The game and its rules were infinite depending location and availability of "cawts". The "coop" in the school yard could be one on one or 2 on two.

One swing and if not in play was an out. Anything caught on a fly off the wall behind pitcher was an out. Pitcher catching hit on bounce was a single. Designated spots, higher and higher on building wall were double, triple, or HR.
Also played with balls and strikes if there was an available wall to chalk on strike zone.
Played in the street, with narrow foul lines. Could be running bases or not.  All kinds of ground rules. Cars shallower than first "sewer" (manhole cover could be out or foul, Off cars behind first sewer was fair ball. (Please mister, could you pawk foider up da street, yaw parkin' on da cawt.)
Always used broomstick bat and pink Spaldeen ball
[C] NYC  
(From a 2022 FaceBook ) "Your rules are more complicated than the ones we used on Long Island."
Roth:  Rules were not complicated as much as rules had to accommodate where you played and how many people were available. Each location had its "ground rules."
-- Joshua Roth, 3/18/2022 FB posting.


A Baseball kind of game

Stones (Ireland)

According to Gomme (1898), stones was a game played in Ireland in about 1850, using either a ball or a lob-stick. A circle of about a half-dozen stones is arranged, one for each player on the in team. A member of the out team throws the ball/stick at the stones in succession. If the defending player hits it away, all members of the out team must move to another stone. The in and out teams exchange places if a stone is hit by the thrower, the ball/stick is caught, or a player is hit while running between stones.


The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 2 (New York: Dover [reprint -- original publication 1898], 1964), pages 216-217.

A Baseball kind of game

Stonyhurst Cricket (Lancashire, England)

There was a distinct form of cricket at the Roman Catholic College of Stonyhurst.  The game played there used a single-wicket, which took the shape of a 17-inch milestone, used a misshapen  hand-crafted ball with an exaggerated seams, encouraged bowling with two or more bounces before reaching the batsman,  used"baselines" set at 30 yards instead if 22-yards, and 3 to 5 players per side.  There was an out-of-bounds line.

The college was located outside England from about 1600 to 1794, and tre conjecture is that this game evolved separately from the dominant 11-man game during that period.


Rev. John Gerard, Stonyhurst College (Belfast, Marcus Ward and Co., 1894), pages 179-182.

A Baseball kind of game

Stoolball (England (in the past century, predominantly in Sussex and other south east counties))

Stoolball’s first appearance was in the 1600’s; there are many more references to stoolball than to cricket in these early years.  For Protoball's listing of over 60 specific (but mostly fragmentary) sources on early stoolball -- 45 of them preceding the year 1700 -- see Chronology:Stoolball.

Believed to have originated as a game played by English milkmaids using a milking stool set on its side as a pitching target, stoolball evolved to include the use of bats instead of bare hands, and running among goals or bases.

The modern form of the is actively played in counties in the south east of England, and uses an opposing pair of square targets set well off the ground as goals, and heavy paddles as bats.  Since 2010, the game has experienced a renaissance, and now has active youth programs, a season-ending All-England match of prominent players, and the expansion of mixed-gender play. (The ancient game was played by women and men, but in recent years most players and have been women.)  The game is reportedly played in other countries as well.

For more information on Stoolball England and the current status of the game, see  Also see an account of today's stoolball at

Note: McCray suggests that before 1800, there is limited convincing evidence that stoolball involved baserunning.


For more information on Stoolball England and the current status of the game, see  

For a 2013 review of the recent upwelling of interest in stoolball, see Stoolball Today -- The Rejuvenation of an Ancient Pastime

Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (New York; Dover, 1964 – reprinted from two volumes printed in 1894 and 1898), pp 219-220

A. Lusted, Girls Just Wanted to Have Fun: Stoolball Reports in Local Newspapers, 1747 to 1866, (44 pages) 2013. 

A. Lusted, The Glynde Butterflies Stoolball Team 1866-1887 (96 pages), 2011.

L. McCray, "The Amazing Francis Willughby, and the Role of Stoolball in the Evolution of Baseball and Cricket," Base Ball, volume 5, number 1,. pages 17 to 20.

See the article on Stoolball in the Origins Committee Newsletter, December, 2021. And

A Fungo kind of game


"Stoopball originated in dense urban areas like New York, where children
often lacked the space to play baseball. Rules varied based on the
neighborhood, block, or building, but the idea was always the same: A
“batter” would fire a ball (in New York, the kids used pink balls they
called “Spaldeens”) against the steps of an apartment building, with the
number of bases contingent on distance the ricochet traveled."

The game is called "largely extinct" since World War II.

But Louie Lazar continues to say that there is a stoopball league in Wisconsin nowadays. 

 Gregory Christiano recalls playing Stoopball in The Bronx in the 1950s:

'Played against the steps on a stoop. The sidewalk and street is the field. Providing there was no parked car obstructing play, the game could be played. Throw the ball (spaldeen) against the steps. Agree on amount of points. If the ball bounces back the player catches it on the fly, it's worth a certain amount of points. There is a chalk line the player cannot cross. it is called the "short line." If the ball bounces more than once, you're out. All players get to finish a turn. The term "last licks", comes into play here a lot ... it is the final attempt to get a better score

There were only a couple of exposed stoops on our block, so this game of stoopball wasn't played that often.'




Louie Lazar, "If You Build A Stoop, They will Come: Wisconsin's Stoopball League of America," at, accessed July 23, 2013.  Try a search fo <Wisconsin's stoopball league>.

This article features an account of a league operating in 2013, and the 29th World Championship played on a dedicated field and drawing hundred to be part of the festivities.

The league's webpage is

Gregory Christiano's account is at



A Baseball kind of game

Straight Town

As of mid-2023, we have only two (late 1800s] mentions of Straight Town.  It is described as a variant of Round Town, for which the four bases are lain out in a straight line, rather than as a circuit.  Left unsettled is the matter whether advancing to the outmost base results in the scoring of a run. 


Email from Bill Hicklin, February 2016:

". . . Bill Hicklin adds:

I found two references to Virginia 'round-town', both from Dickinson County, Virginia (in the Appalachian coal country).  They come from School and Community History of Dickenson County, Virginia (ed. Dennis Reedy), a compilation of articles published over many years in the local paper, which were themselves based on a series of oral-history interviews conducted at the behest of the school superintendent with senior and retired Dickenson teachers.

 [1] William Ayers Dyer: "I was born May 10, 1880 at Stratton, Dickenson County, Virginia and started to school to Johnson Skeen at the Buffalo School in 1885 when I was 5 years old... The games we played at the Buffalo were straight town, round town, base, bull pen and antnee over." (Bull pen was dodgeball, but played with a baseball. Ouch!)

 [2]Hampton Osborne (b. 1894):'Round-town' and 'straight-town' were popular games. Round-town had four bases in a circle, as baseball does today. If the batter was caught or crossed-off both ways, he was out. Straight-town had four bases in a row and you used the same rules as round-town."

A Fungo kind of game

Strike Up and Lay Down

A fungo-style game for two teams as shown in an 1863 handbook. A feeder throws the ball to a batter, who hits it as far as possible. A member of the out-team picks up that ball and bowls it toward the bat, which lies on the ground. If the ball hits or hops over the bat, the batsman is out. The batsman is also out with three missed swings.


The Boy's Handy Book., pages 18-19.

A Fungo kind of game


This game is most often seen as a schoolyard game with from two to five players. A strike zone is drawn on a suitable wall, and a batter stands before it, attempting to hit a tennis ball, a rubber ball or another type of projectile. Baserunning is not usual. All other rules - for base advancement by imaginary runners, changing of batters, etc., seem flexible to circumstance. (Verification needed.)

As of Fall 2013, it is our preliminary impression that there are several local variants of strike-out, the name used in Central New York, and we group them together here under that name; they include PeeGee ball and Indian Ball.




A Baseball kind of game

Stub One (Massachusettes)

Apparently a baseball-like game, perhaps played in Massachusetts in the early 20th Century. We have but one obscure reference to this game, in Cassidy.


F. G. Cassidy, Dictionary of American Regional English  (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 882.

A Baseball kind of game

Sun and Planet

In describing an indoor form of Stool Ball played in case of wet weather, an 1891 source adds:  "It is sometimes called Sun and Planet." 

The game is was often played with no fielders: "Sometimes there are scouts, but as a rule, the players all take stools [arranged in a circle] except the bowler, who is allowed to bowl out, catch out, and throw out just as at cricket."   

The article continues, "In the south of England Stool Ball is an outdoor game.  It is played in Sussex with a bat like a wooden battledore, and a wicket like a small notice board, the wicket being about six inches square, and the stick on which it is attached is about a foot from the ground.  The wicket is still called the stool so as to show its origin.  The same game is played indoors, when the wicket is merely a copy-book cover, a sheet of paper fixed to the wall in target fashion."  


J. G. Wood, The Boy's Modern Playmate: A Book of Sports, Games. and Pastimes (Frederick Warne and Co, London and New York, 1891), page 159.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Swede Ball

This game is mentioned, along with Norwegian Ball in a 1908 book on North Dakota folkways. Said to be taught to local children by Swedish newcomers and a Swedish teacher, the game is only depicted as being “played somewhat like ‘one old cat.’” It seems conceivable that this game is related to Brannboll. Maigaard (1941) lists two Swedish variants for Long Ball.


Collections of the State Historical Society, Volume 2 (State Printers and  Binders, Bismark ND, 1908), pages 213-214.

Maigaard, "Battingball Games." Genus 5 (1941).  (Reprinted as Appendix 6 of Block, Baseball Before We Knew It.)  See page 263.

A Fungo kind of game

T-Ball For One Boy (and one other 'player')

This game features batting, running, and sliding . . . and "fielding."


Go to

And enjoy.

Submitted by Tom Hitchcock, July 11, 2017.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


Arabian -- In an 1873 book on Arab children’s games Tabeh is described as “base ball and drop ball.” That’s all we know right now.


Henry H. Jessup, The Women of the Arabs, with a Chapter for Children (Dodd Mead, 1873), page 90.

A Baseball kind of game

Target Ball

Target Ball appears to have strongly resembled stoolball, and thus cricket.  An illustration in its rulebook shows a paddle-shaped bat, a round "target" not much larger than the bat, and a ball marked like a tennis ball or double-eight-sewed stoolball.

"Target Ball supplies the need so much felt in girls' schools of a summer game which will take the place that cricket does in boys' schools."

The targets are placed 15 yards apart.  Baserunning is mandatory for hit balls.  "Bowlers" deliver balls underhand.  Deliveries that bounce are declared "no balls."  Balls are described as soft lawn-tennis balls.

Modern stoolball uses rectangular wicket separated by 16 yards, but no other differences from target ball are yet known.




M. Alexander Hughes, The Rules of Target Ball (F. H. Ayres Ltd., undated).  A palm-sized 7-page booklet, held in the W. W. Grantham Collection, Lewes, England.  From its location in the Collection, Target Ball may have been played in the late 19th, and in the first half of the 20th centuries.

A Baseball kind of game


Matthew McDowell at the University of Edinburgh reports finding evidence of targette being play in the 1890s on the Scottish island of Bute.

The rules of this game, popular among girls at Rothesay Academy there, are not yet known, but from coverage in the school magazine, it bore a resemblance to cricket: "there are first and second innings, the game is scored in runs, the bowlers attempt to claim wickets off of the batters." The magazine further boasted, "The Targette Club is a leviathan among clubs.  Did you ever hear of a school football club with 80 members in it?" McDowell finds indication that former students and members of the community also participated.

Rothesay is about 30 miles west of Glasgow and just off the mainland of Scotland.  Its current population is about 6,500.

A description of Spier's School in North Ayrshire, Scotland mentions, cryptically, that "a quaint game called targette was played in the early days."   Accessed 2/7/2014.The school is also on the Firth of Clyde in westernmost Scotland. 



Matthew L. McDowell, Sport, Recreation, and Education in Bute, Arran, and Cumbrae, 1850-1900, 2011, pages 10-11.

A Baseball kind of game


A "Backyard Tennisball League" is found on Youtube as of September 2018.

This league of teenagers plays a 14-game season with playoffs.  Teams are up to 5 players, and the scoreboard reflects 4-inning games. The league is described as originated in 2011.

A list of 27 rules floats down the screen.  It includes a "peg rule", which may or may not imply plugging runners to make outs.  Stealing of 2B and 3B is allowed.  Knees-to chin strike zone (no umpire depicted).   Ground rules for "left field trees" and right field tree."  Apparent limits on pitch speed.  Grassy field.  No mention of use of imaginary runners.

Clips suggest wide borrowing from baseball - 4 bases, a skin pitching area, ordinary bats (wooden only), ordinary tennis balls, an outfield fence, throws to first by fielders to retire batters.  We see the hidden-ball trick and a runner-fielder collision at home plate.

The location of this league is not indicated.


Or try search of <tennisball league youtube>  [it works 9/10/2018]


A Baseball kind of game

The Union Hall Game of Ball (NY)

A game they evidently knew as "base ball" was played by the students of the Union Hall Academy in Jamaica (Queens County, NY) well before the New York game began its spread in the mid 1850s.

Two students (Mills and Cogswell) who played the game in the early 1850s exchanged letters about it in 1905, both of them early members of the Knickerbocker Club.  (Excerpts are provided by John Thorn below.) The letters reveal these remembered features:

[] Plugging runners to put them out

[] Three bases, the first and third near that batter's station.

[] Use of foul territory -- its details not supplied

[] Flat bats

[] Flies caught on one bounce counted as outs

[] An all-out-side-out rule for ending an inning

[] An end-of-inning Lazarus Rule (three consecutive homers) for staying on offense

A third Union Hall student was William Wheaton (born 1814), who would have been at the school several years before Mills and Cogswell.  Wheaton recalled that in 1837, as a member of the Gotham Club at age 22 or 23, the Gotham "decided to remodel three-cornered cat and make a new game," and started by eliminating plugging. 

Thus, it seems plausible that the game played at Union Hall may have been a form of three-old-cat, perhaps evolving over time.  By 1850, of course, the Knickerbockers were playing intramural games elsewhere in New York.

It also seems possible that foul ground was a Union Hall innovation prior to the formation of the Gotham Club in 1837.













On Mills and Cogswell letters: John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pages 27 and 28.

On the 1887 Wheaton article in the San Francisco Examiner: Randall Brown, How Baseball Began, National Pastime, number 24 (2004), pages 52-54.

A Fungo kind of game

Thin Mugoali (Maldives)

"Another ancient game is thin mugoali, which has been played in the atolls for more than four hundred years. The game is very similar to baseball. The objective is to make as many home runs as possible. The base consists of circles made by rotating on one foot in the sand. The sun-hardened lower part of a cocoanut leaf stem serves as the bat, and the squarish ball is made of cocoanut fronds." Sometimes referred to as Maldives cricket. There are youtube videos of it being played.


"Maldives" by Ngcheong-Lum and Nevins, p. 110

A Baseball kind of game

Thor-ball (Denmark, Holland)

Bowen (1970) writes that “Gate-ball (‘Thorball’), as found in the early Dutch and Danish accounts is “obviously but wicket [cricket], again.”


R. Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development Throughout the World (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1970), page 36Bowen does not give dates or sources for the Dutch/Danish accounts.

A Fungo kind of game

Three Man Ball -- Hit It Out

A "National 3 Man Ball League and Baseball Tournament" was announced in March 2013, to take place n Miami in April 2013.

In this game, hitters swing at underhand deliveries (from a teammate) and try to hit the (undefined) ball into a fairly narrow pizza-slice-shaped fair territory such that it is not caught by the three fielders playing defense for the opposing club.  Shorter "hits" are counted as singles, longer ones doubles and triples, and hits passing the 360-foot outer boundary are home runs.

The game uses imaginary base-runners who normally advance only one base at a time.  An unusual feature of this game is that after three home runs are achieved, additional hits beyond the end-line are registered as outs.  Games take 45 minutes, or an unclear number of innings.

This game bears a resemblance to other non-running fungo-type games listed on this website, including Indian Ball (Missouri), Line Ball (Chicago), Wiffleball, Pingball, Evansville Townball, and  Grutz.







A little more information resides at a website, still under construction in March 2013, at

A Baseball kind of game

Three Out All Out (New York City)

"Cauldwell recalled playing baseball in New York City when he was 'knee high to a mosquito" . . . .  The game he remembered was called simply 'three out all out.'"

Cauldwell was born in 1824.  Depending on the size of mosquitos then, the game he recalls was played in c1835.  One speculates that the game was a variant of a folk game preceding modern base ball.



David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It (2005), page 90.  Block cites William Cauldwell letter to William Rankin, February 11, 1905.  John Doyle Papers.

A Baseball kind of game

Three-Base Ball

Craig Waff came across an 1894 reference to Three-Base Ball as having been played at Erasmus Hall, a school in Brooklyn. The game, reported as being playing circa 1840, involved vigorous plugging and while its rules are not further described, its playing positions suggest base ball. Two Old Cat is described separately in the 1894 article.


Posted to the 19CBB listserve on May 13, 2007 by Craig B. Waff.  Craig cites the source as “Sports in Old Brooklyn: Colonel John Oakley Tells of the Games of His Boyhood: How Some Well-Known Men Amused Themselves in Bygone Days – Duck-on-the-Rock, Three Base Ball and Two Old Cat Good Enough for Them,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Volume 54, number 292 (Sunday, October 21, 1894), page 21, columns 4-5.

A Baseball kind of game

Three-Cornered Cat

"Three-Corner Cat" is the name of a game recalled decades later by base ball founder William R. Wheaton, as having been played at a Brooklyn school in his youth.  See for a chronology entry on this game. 

"Three-cornered cat was a boys' game, and did well enough for slight youngsters, but it was a dangerous game for powerful men, because the ball was thrown to put out a man between bases, and it had to hit the runner to put him out."

As is indicated in the 1849c.4 entry, the rules of this game, as recalled in 1905, were something of a hybrid between three old cat and modern baseball.  Wheaton, who later had the job of writing new rules for the Gotham club, which were apparently a primary basis for the famous Knickerbocker rules of 1845. 

The Examiner article states: "Baseball to-day is not by any means the game from which it sprang. Old men can recollect the time when the only characteristic American ball sport was three-cornered cat, played with a yarn ball and flat paddles."



"How Baseball Began: A Member of the Gotham Club of Fifty Years Ago Tells About It," San Francisco Examiner, Nov. 27, 1887.  Wheaton's role in early base ball is related in John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pp. 36-42.  See also Randall Brown, "How Baseball Began," National Pastime, volume 24 (2004), pages 51-54. 

See also Kuykendall reminiscences of Umpqua Academy, c. 1857, in Pre-pro. William Dean Howells, "A Boys Town" (1890) p. 83; Popular Science Monthly v. 37 (1890) p. 652-555; New Orleans Times-Democrat, Oct. 23, 1900; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 10, 1907 (Rems of Elbert Hubbard, of Hudson, IL in 1867); John M. Ward in Boston Globe, Sept. 30, 1888.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game

Throw Ball


Origins researcher Tom Altherr reports in September 2022 that in a 1935 book, Every Day Life in the Massachusetts  Bay Colony, author George Francis Dow, observed that Puritan strictures discouraged the joys of "throw ball, football . . . .  Tom explains that "The way Dow just dropped it casually in the sentence made me take notice.  Did Dow assume there was a game called throw ball that was still so familiar to 1935 readers that he didn't have to gloss it?"

As of 2022, Protoball has no evidence of Throw Ball as an early pastime.  Tom's subsequent research turned up game called Throw Ball as a game said to have started in the 1940s and played by women in Asia. A game called Throw Ball also appears online at https://www.rulesof, which gives rules for a lively game closely resembling volleyball, but where players catch-and-throw the ball over the net, rather than volleying it. 

We cannot say this game is a baserunning game, but further searches may turn up more on it as a potential predecessor to base ball   





Every Day Life in the Massachusetts  Bay Colony, by George Francis Dow, 1935.

Reported to Protoball in a letter of September 1 2022 from Thomas Altherr. 

A Baseball kind of game

Thèque (France)

Block discusses whether Thèque belongs on the list of baseball’s predecessors. Thèque is an old Norman game, but there are evidently few descriptions of the game before baseball and rounders appeared. He cites an 1899 depiction of the game that shows five bases, plugging, and the pitcher belonging to the in-team, but otherwise resembles baseball and rounders. Block concludes that there is insufficient evidence to say whether Thèque came before or after the English counterpart game.


Block, David, Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2005)., pages 147-148.

A Baseball kind of game


Strutt (1801) says there were various versions of Tip-Cat, and describes two of them. The first is basically a fungo game: a batter stands at the center of a circle and hits the cat a prescribed distance. Failing that, another player replaces him. (A similar version appears in The Boy’s Handy Book, but adds the feature that the fielding player tries to return the cat to the hitter’s circle such that the hitter does not hit it away again.)

In a second version, holes are made in a regular circle, and each is defended by an in-team player. The players advance after the cat is hit away by one of them, but they can be put out if a cat crosses them - that is, it passes between them and the next hole. Gomme (1898) notes that in some places runners are put out be being hit with the cat, and three misses makes an out. She adds that Tip-Cat was “once commonly played in London streets, now forbidden.” Writing in 1864, Dick noted that Tip-Cat was only rarely being played in the U.S. In 1896, however, Beard advises that it was experiencing a revival in the US, Germany, Italy, “and even in Hindostand,” whereas in about 1850 it had been confined to “rustics on England.” Richardson (1848) notes Tip-Cat’s resemblance to Single-Wicket Cricket. “Twenty-one [runs] is usually a game,” he adds. The earliest reference to a cat-stick we have is the 1775 report that a witness to the Boston Massacre carried a cat-stick with him.


Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England—a New Edition, Much Enlarged and Corrected by J. Charles Fox (????? (Reissued by Singing Tree Press, Detroit, 1968), 1903)., pages 109-110

The Boy's Handy Book., page 14.

Aspin, "Ancient Customs, Sports, and Pastimes of the English" (1832) p. 225

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1. pages 294-295.

Dick, ed., Dick and Fitzgerald, the American Boys Book of Sports and Games: A Practical Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Amusements (Lyons Press Reprint, 2000).  Originally Published in 1864., pages 117-118.

D. C. Beard, The American Boy’s Book of Sport (Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1896), page 332.

H. D. Richardson, Holiday Sports and Pastimes for Boys, (Wm S. Orr, London, 1848), pages 63-64.

A Fungo kind of game


In Tip-e-Up, boy A would loft a short soft toss to a batter B, who wouold hit the ball upward.  If A could catch the fungoed ball on the fly, he took possession of the bat.


Henry J. Philpott, "A Little Boys' Game With a Ball," Popular Science Monthly, volume 37 (May to October 1890), page 654.

A Fungo kind of game

Tire-Ball (Philadelphia)

Only framentary information is as yet known about Tire-Ball.  The game takes its name from the length of bicycle tube that served as the game's ball (later, a short section of garden hose filled that need more often.  Other rules are unclear to us at this point.


See also the 4th paragraph at

A Baseball kind of game

Top Degenegi (Syria)

The English version of a (Syrian?) website includes the following text under the heading "Top Degenegi:"  

"Top Degenegi was similar to the American game of baseball.  To play, one needed a thick bat and a ball, which was usually made using bits of rag tied together with colorful string.  Two teams are formed, and they stand at a distance from one another.  Like in baseball, one team pitches and the other bats.  The batter has to hit the ball back in the direction of the pitching team, whose members must then try to catch the ball before it hits the ground."


This text is found on the website as of 6/6/2017. A search for <top degenegi ourfa> returns the site.

This source was reported by Bruce Allardice, email of 6/6/2017.


A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


There appear to be two distinct games that have been labeled Touch-Ball. One was as a local synonym for Rounders, as recalled in an 1874 Guardian article written on the occasion of the 1874 base ball tour in England. That game was recalled as having no bats, so the ball was propelled by the players’ hands; the “touch” was the base. Writing in 1922, Sihler that in Fort Wayne IN from 1862 to 1866 (when base ball arrived) “the favorite game was ‘touch-ball,’ where “touch” referred to the plugging or tagging of runners.


“The American Base Ball Players,” Guardian, July 31, 1874, page 5.

E. G. Sihler, “College and Seminary Life in the Olden Days,” in W. Dau., ed., Ebenezer: Reviews of the Work of the Missouri Synod During Three Quarters of a Century (Concordia Publishing, St. Louis, 1922), page 253.

A Baseball kind of game


Baseball is an American modification, and, of course, an improvement of the old English game of rounders; or, as it is called in West Riding, touch-ball. The children in these districts play it without a bat or club; they strike the ball with the open hand, and have posts or stones at the corners of the playground, which correspond to the ‘bases’ of the American game. If the ball was caught before it reached the ground, or the fielder could hit the striker with it before he reached the ‘touch,’ he was out., quoting the London Post 8/1/1874

New York Sunday Mercury

1874-08-16 00:00:00


New York Sunday Mercury, August 16, 1874, citing the London Post, August 1, 1874.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


Writing of the Ohio youth of a Civil War general in about 1840, Whitelaw Reid (1868) reported that “Touch-the-Base” was the favorite game, and of all who engaged in the romp, none were more eager or happy than ‘Jimmy” (the late Major-General James McPherson). We cannot be sure that this was a ball game.


Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War (Moore, Wilstach and Baldwin, Cincinnati, 1868), page 562.

See also PBall Chronology entry #1840c.37

A Baseball kind of game


Writing of the late 1860’s boyhood of a World War I General, Johnston (1919) writes that “the French boys were accustomed to play a game called tournoi, or tournament, which was something similar to the game of Rounders.” That’s all we seem to know about Tournoi.


Charles Johnston, Famous Generals of the Great War (Page Company, Boston, 1919), page 253.

A Baseball kind of game

Town Ball

Ideas of how to understand the term “Town Ball” are still evolving. In most common usage, the term seems to have been used generically to denote, in substantially later years, any of a variety of games that preceded the New York game in a particular area. Philadelphia Town Ball, however, used the term to denote a current game before the New York game emerged, and had generally standard rules (see “Philadelphia Town Ball,” entry, above). In Cincinnati another form evolved, and there are many recollections of town ball from the South and mid-West. Town ball is not infrequently confused with the Massachusetts Game, but the term is in fact very rarely found in MA sources in the 19th century.

For more information on Town Ball, see Chronology entry 1831.1 and Philadelphia Town Ball in the Protoball Glossary of Games.


A Baseball kind of game


Heslop (1893) defines this word as “a boys’ game of ball, otherwise known as Rounders, and formerly called Pie-Ball locally.


O. Heslop, Northumberland Words (Oxford U Press, London, 1893), page 741.

A Fungo kind of game

Trap Ball

Trap ball is one of the earliest known ball games. Its distinguishing characteristic is the use of a “trap,” a mechanical device that, when triggered by a batter, lofts the ball to a height at which it may be struck. Most forms of trap ball do not involve running or bases; to the modern eye, it is a fungo-type game. Trap ball commonly used foul territory to define balls that were in play, where the “play” involved the catching and tossing back of the ball toward the batter. Trap ball persists today in Kent, England, as a tavern game.

Per wikipedia article on "knurr and spell": "Knurr and spell (also called northern spell, nipsy or trap ball) is an old English game, once popular as a pub gameThe game originated in the moors of Yorkshire, in England, but then spread throughout the north of England. It can be traced back to the beginning of the 14th century. It was especially popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, but was virtually unknown by the 21st century, though there was a local revival in the 1970s. As late as the 1930s exhibition games of knur and spell by veterans drew large crowds to the Rusland Valley in North Lancashire, according to the chronicles of the North-West Evening Mail, but even then it was regarded as an archaic game....

In Yorkshire it is played with a levered wooden trap known as a spell, by means of which the knurr, about the size of a walnut, is thrown into the air. In Lancashire the knurr is suspended stationary from string. The knurr is struck by the player with the stick. The object of the game is to hit the knurr the greatest possible distance, either in one or several hits. Each player competes as an individual, without interference, and any number can enter a competition.

The stick is a bat consisting of two parts: a 4 feet (1.2 m) long stick made of ash or lancewood; and a pommel, a piece of very hard wood about 6 inches (150 mm) long, 4 inches (100 mm) wide and 1 inch (25 mm) thick. This was swung in both hands, although shorter bats for one hand were sometimes used. A successful hit drives the ball about 200 yards (180 m). The stroke is made by a full swing round the head, not unlike a drive in golf.

Originally the ball was thrown into the air by striking a lever upon which it rested in the spell or trap, but in the later development of the game a spell or trap furnished with a spring was introduced, thus ensuring regularity in the height to which the knurr is tossed, somewhat after the manner of the shooter's clay pigeon. By means of a thumb screw, the player can adjust the spring of the spell or trap according to the velocity of release desired for the ball.

On a large moor, and where the game is general, the ground is marked out with wooden pins driven in every 20 yards (18 m). In matches each player supplies their own knurrs and spells and has five rises of the ball to a game."

In the US, in 1821 the Kensington House, a popular resort near NYC, advertised that its grounds  were "well adapted to the playing of the noble game of cricket, base, trap-ball, quoits, and other amusements..."

Illustration in Hone.



New York Evening Post, June 8, 1821

Aspin, "Ancient Customs, Sports, and Pastimes of the English" (1832) p. 223.

Walker, "Games and Sports" (1837) p. 237. Hone, "The Spots and Pastimes of the People of England..." pp. 107-109

A Fungo kind of game

Tribet (Lancashire, England)

Gomme (1898) identifies this game as the Lancashire version of Trap Ball. A game named Trypet is listed in a English-Latin dictionary from the 1300s.


Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Davit Nutt, London, 1898), page 307.

Promptorium Parvulorum (Society of Camden, reprinted 1865), page 503.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


An old Dutch game. Chetwynd reports that a proponent of the importation of baseball to the Netherlands in the 1910s “pitched it as an ideal summer activity. It probably helped that Grasé pointed out that baseball bore a resemblance to an ancient Dutch game, called “Tripbal,” which had been played by American colonists.” We have no other reference to this game in the US, and no indication of how it was played.


Josh Chetwynd, Baseball in Europe: A Country by Country History (McFarland, 2008). page 14.

A Fungo kind of game

Trippit and Coit (Trippets, Trip-Cat) (Newcastle, England)

Gomme (1898) identifies this game as the Newcastle version of Trap Ball.


Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Davit Nutt, London, 1898), page 308.

A Fungo kind of game


Gomme (1898) identifies this game as a Norfolk version of Trap Ball, but with a hole for the trap and a cudgel for a bat.


Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Davit Nutt, London, 1898), page 309.

A Baseball kind of game


Gomme's compilation (1898) includes the game of Trunket, played with short sticks, and using a hole instead of wickets.  

"The ball being 'cop'd', instead of bowled or trickled on the ground, it is played in he same way [as cricket]; the person striking the ball must be caught out, or the ball must be deposited in the hole before the stick or cudgel  can be placed there."

This implies to Protoball that the batter runs bases after hitting the ball.  


Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (New York; Dover, 1964 – reprinted from two volumes printed in 1894 and 1898), page 310.

A Kickball kind of game


Also called Tut, this game was in 1777 called “a sort of stool ball much practiced about the Easter holidays,” according to the OED. OED identifies Tut-Ball with Stoolball and Rounders.

[A] Gomme also cites a view that “This game is very nearly identical with ‘rounders.’” Another writer is known to say that Tut-Ball is the same as Pize-Ball. 

Gomme, however reports that balls were hit back with the palm of the hand, not a bat, at least in its earlier form.

[B] Writing in 1905, Joseph Wright said:  

"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." 


[A] Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Davit Nutt, London, 1898), page 314.

[B] 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.

A Fungo kind of game


This game is a fungo game that enhances fielding skill. A batter hits a ball, fungo style, to a number of fielders. A fielder receives 7 points for a caught fly, 5 points for a ball caught on one bounce, 3 points for catching a bouncing ball, and 1 point for retrieving a ball at rest. Points are similarly lost for muffed balls. Fielders who amass 21 points become the batter. Another form of this game is [[Five Hundred]], which proceeds similarly.

A Scrub kind of game

Two Old Cat (United States)

From glossary of games supplemental entry on "Cat"

Old cat (also known as ol' cat or cat-ball) games were bat-and-ball, safe haven games played in North America. The games were numbered according to the number of bases. The number of bases varied according to the number of players. Only one old cat continues to be commonly played in the 21st century.

One old cat, one eyed cat, or the contracted one-o'-cat was the basic version of the game, with a pitcher or giver; a batter or striker; a catcher, and sometimes another fielder or two. The striker, upon hitting the ball thrown by the giver, attempted to run to a single base (often the giver's position) and back again. The fielders tried to sting the striker-runner with a thrown ball while he or she was not touching the base. The striker would also be put out if the struck ball were caught in the air, or if they swung three times at the giver's deliveries and missed. One old cat, like scrub baseball, was a game of individuals—one against all—and not a team sport. Each base touched before 'out' (or just home) would score a point, although score was often not kept.

In his book Base-BallJohn Montgomery Ward wrote that to initiate a game of one old cat, players called out a number to claim a position: one, two, etc.—one being the striker, two being the pitcher, and three the catcher. When an out was made the striker moved to the last position (e.g. five), five became four, four moved to three, three moved to two, and two took a turn as striker—the coveted position. Ward said that if more players were available for the game, there would be two batters opposite each other (as in cricket), and they ran to the opposite base when the ball was hit. This was two old cat. [1]

Three old cat had a triangular base layout and three strikers, while four old cat had four strikers and four bases in a square pattern. The Mills Commission, formed in 1905 to ascertain the origins of baseball, recorded many reminiscences of people playing three and four old cat in their youth. Baseball historian Harold Seymour reported that old cat games were still being played on the streets and vacant lots of Brooklyn in the 1920s.

Albert Spalding suggested that four old cat was the immediate ancestor of town ball, from which baseball evolved. David Block's recent research indicates that old cat games evolved alongside baseball, as informal or practice versions when there were not enough players for a full game. The Detroit Tigers used old cat as a training exercise at least as late as their 1928 spring training trip to San Antonio, Texas, under manager George Moriarity.[1]

One old cat is seeing a resurgence as a batting and fielding training game for younger little league and girl softball teams. Two games are played simultaneously on one diamond, one on the home third line and the other on the first-second line. Because the game is faster-paced than baseball and includes position rotation as a normal element, the chief objection young people voice about baseball, idle time in the field or waiting to bat, is directly addressed. The usual version is one-against-all and otherwise similar to that described above except, for safety, no stinging. The game is also well played with light plastic substitute balls where space is restricted.

 -- Wikipedia entry as of 2/2/2021.


Variants include "old Cat," "One Old Cat," "Three Old Cat," "Four Old Cat" etc.



Block, "Baseball Before We Knew It" p. 127-133

Origins Committee Newsletter, June 2022.

A Baseball kind of game

Two-Base Town Ball

Describing ballplaying in the Confederate regiments during the Civil War, Wiley suggests that “the exercise might be of the modern version, with players running four bases, or it might be two-base town ball.” It is not clear whether he means “two-base town ball” as a formal name, or simply as a way to distinguish prior folk game(s) in the South. Long Ball and Long Town used two bases.


Bell Irvin Wiley, The Common Soldier in the Civil War (Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 1952), Book Two, “The Life of Johnny Reb,” page 159.

A Baseball kind of game

Unnamed Games - Balkans (Balkans)

per Endrei and Zolnay. “We may be of the opinion that these ‘hitting’ games, which were universal in the Middle Ages, have disappeared entirely. This is far from true: in the Balkans they are still played by children . . . .” No other lead to the Balkan games is provided.


Endrei, Fun and Games in Old Europe.

A Baseball kind of game

Unnamed Games - Czech (Czechoslovakia)

per Guarinoni. This game, reportedly played in Prague circa 1600, involved two teams, pitching, and a small leather ball “the size of a quince.” The bat was tapered and four feet long. Caught balls caused the teams to change positions. Baserunning is not mentioned, according to David Block, but is at least inferred by Endrei and Zolnay: who say that the batter “attempted to make a circuit of the bases without being hit by the ball.” Guarinoni mentions that the Poles and the Silesians were the best players.


-Hippolytus Guarinoni*, The Horrors of the Devastation of the Human Race (Orig: Greuel Der Verwustung Des Menschlichen Geschlechts (Ingolstadt, Austria 1610).

Block, David, Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2005).

Endrei, Fun and Games in Old Europe.

A Baseball kind of game

Unnamed Games - Hungarian (Hungary)

per Endrei and Zolnay. “In Hungary several variants of rounders exist in the countryside.” No other lead to these variants is provided.


Endrei, Fun and Games in Old Europe.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


The nature of this game is unknown. It is found an 1849 chapbook printed in Connecticut: “there are a great number of games played with balls, of which base-ball, trap ball, cricket, up-ball, catch-ball and drive-ball are the most common.”


Juvenile Pastimes: Or, Girls’ and Boys’ Book of Sports (S. Babcock, New Haven, 1849.)

A Baseball kind of game

Vigoro (Queensland, Australia)

A sport that claims 1500 players among the women of Queensland, Australia, Vigoro is a souped-up version of (slightly down-sized) cricket. A key point is that if a ball Is hit forward of the crease, running is compulsory.

A Baseball kind of game

Vitilla (Dominican Republic)

The game of vitilla ("vee-TEE-ya') is reportedly played widely in the Dominican Republic.  "What Dominican doesn't play vitilla?," asked Yankee catcher Gary Sanchez.  Several other Major Leagues attribute some of their skills to the game.

". . . the concept is the same [as baseball] -- to hit a moving object with a stick.  But because the vitilla is smaller than a baseball and moves unpredictable when thrown, and because the bat is thinner, some . . . believe playing it so regularly helped their hand-eye coordination."

Times article does not detail the game's rules, and it is not yet clear to Protoball whether batters actually run bases.  A photograph suggests that balls and strikes are determined by whether a pitched cap hits a small (12 inch?) target set up behind the batter. 

The article refers to a similar game, called chapita, played in Venezuela.




James Wagner, "Dominican Players Sharpen Their Skills With a Broomstick and Bottle Cap," New York Times (Sports Sunday section), October 6, 2017.

Accessed 10/9/2017 via search for <nyt broomstick bottle cap>

May be at

A  version with baserunning is shown at  This clip evidently shows New York area play.

A six-minute intro to the game on MLB Tonight with Pedro Martinez and others is at 

A Baseball kind of game


"A game of tip-cat.  Four boys stand the corners of a large paving-stone; two have sticks, the other two are feeders, and throw the piece of wood called a 'cat.'  The batters act much in he same way as in cricket, except that the cat must be hit whilst in the air.  The batter hits it as far away as possible, and whilst the feeder is fetching it, gets, if possible, a run, which counts to his side.  If either of the cats fall to the ground [being missed by the batter?] both batters go out, and the feeders take their place."


Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (New York; Dover, 1964 – reprinted from two volumes printed in 1894 and 1898), page 329.

A Baseball kind of game

Waggles (Whacks)

Gomme (1898) compares Waggles to a game of four-player Cricket using cats instead of balls.


Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Davit Nutt, London, 1898), page 329.

A Fungo kind of game

Wall Ball

Wall Ball (our term -- the original Dutch source sites "Den bal tegen den muur werpen") is described in an 1845 Dutch guide to games.

A Dutch speaker's note on the game:  "Wall Ball:  A line is drawn on a wall about three feet high and another on the ground about six feet in front of the wall. The first player throws the ball against the ground and it has to hit the wall above the line and bounce back and hit the ground in front of the line on the ground. The second player catches it and then does the same. When a player fails to either hit the wall above the line or the ground in front of the line or the ball hits the ground a second time before he catches it, the other scores a point. The first to 15 points wins." 


The book is: Jongens! Wat zal er gespeeld worden?: handboekje voor knapen bij hunne, (Leeuwarden, G.T.E. Suringar, 1845).  The author is not specified.

In 2016 John Thorn found the full text at:!+Wat+zal+er+gespeeld+worden?&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjW1NKtqtDPAhVGPT4KHVrJBf8Q6AEIHzAA#v=onepage&q&f=false


A Baseball kind of game

Washington Game (Washington DC)


See; the source is the National Museum on African American History.

Caption: "Throughout the late 19th century, baseball teams—both black and white—played on the Ellipse, just north of the Museum, and on the grounds of the Washington Monument. The abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass was an honorary member of the Mutual Base Ball Club, which was owned by his son Charles A. Douglass, who also played for the team. Because there were no fences, batters who hit long distances could run around the bases and score as many times as possible before the fielders could return the ball to home plate, according to the generous rules of the so-called 'Washington game.' Scores could top the 100 mark before the rules were changed."

<The attendant photograph showed a game in the Washington Ellipse in 1942>


Submitted 3/24/2022 by Gene Draschner.

A Baseball kind of game

Water Baseball

The earliest known game of water baseball was played in 1879 on the [Hudson?] River.  Pitcher, catcher, and btter stood in waist-deep water and other players in deeper water. 

A variety devised in the 1930s involved teams of six, baselines of 45 yards, balls put in play by throws from a diving board, and runner-swimmers vulnerable to being put out by plugging with the [rubber] ball.


Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2010 sisngle-volume edition), page 502.

A Baseball kind of game

Welsh Baseball (Wales, UK)


Author Martin Johns describes Welsh baseball as having evolved from rounders, and having been re-named baseball in 1892. It has been largely confined to Cardiff and Newport, and further to the working-class sections of those towns. Sixty neighborhood clubs were playing in 1921, and five Cardiff schools formed a baseball league in 1922.

In 2015, the Welsh Baseball website at lists eight clubs in a Premier League, several of them evidently providing summer sport for local soccer clubs. 

This game uses a smaller ball than is found in US baseball, and features a flattened bat, underhand pitching, eleven-player teams, no foul ground, an all-out-side-out rule, and two-inning games.

Note: in 1927, the rules for Welch baseball and Liverpool baseball were evidently combined.  See "British Baseball" at and at


For a history of Welsh baseball, see Included is Martin Johnes, "'Poor man's Cricket': Baseball, Class and Community in South Wales, c.1880 - 1950." International Journal of the History of Sport' volume 17, number 4 (December 2000). 

George Vecsey, "Playing Baseball in Wales," New York Times, August 11 1986.

Kevin O'Brien -

A Baseball kind of game

Whacks (London, England)

In Gomme's 1898 survey, she includes the following sentence in an account of the game of waggles:

"A game called 'Whacks' is played in a similar way [to that of Waggles, a form of tip-cat] -- London streets."



Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (New York; Dover, 1964 – reprinted from two volumes printed in 1894 and 1898), page 329.  

Gomme cites her source as F. H. Low, Strand Magazine, November 1891.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


Lieutenant Ebenezer Elmer of the 3rd New Jersey Regiment referred five times to playing whirl between September 16, 1776, and 1777.  The nature of play is not described, but one note may be taken to mean it was a ball game.

"Vol III of the Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society (1848-1849) includes the Journal of Lieutenant Ebenezer Elmer of the 3rd NJ Regiment, in which he makes mention of a game called Whirl played while on garrison duty in September, 1776. 

[September 16th, 1776] "...we had a long play at whirl with the Colonel and Mr. Kirtland, (who exercises among us with the greatest familiarity), some of the Indians, and such of the officers as saw fit: continued at it for a very considerable period of time. After which I went with some others and took a drink of grog..."

[September 18th, 1776] " the afternoon the Colonel, Parsons, and a number of us played whirl."

[September 20th, 1776 a.m.] "...we had a game or two more at whirl; at which Dr. Dunham gave me a severe blow on my mouth which cut my lip, and came near dislocating my under jaw..."

[September 20th, 1776 p.m.] "Played ball again."

Lt. Elmer makes mention of playing ball in October of that year, and again in 1777 in New Jersey when the Regiment had returned from the New York Frontier. 

Some researchers into the origins of baseball have inferred from the two entries on September 20th that "Played ball again" is in reference to the previous game of Whirl, although no one knows anything more about the game, its origins, or how it was played.

An article by Bonnie S. Ledbetter entitled "Sports and Games of the American Revolution", published in the Journal of Sports History, Vol. 6 No. 3 (Winter 1979), proposes that Whirl may have been a game of Elmer and his associates own invention to while away their unaccustomed leisure time at Fort Schuyler, as his is the only known reference to a game by that name.  If so, it may not have been very complicated to learn, as Mr. Kirtland the parson had only recently joined the regiment to replace Reverend Caldwell, yet seems to have joined in with great gusto.  I tend to think that whatever game it was would have been very similar to other games more familiar to participants, especially if they were able to field a team that included their native american allies."

Numerous web searches have failed to turn up other clues about this game.

A Hook-em-snivy kind of game


A writer's recollection of past Boston sports, including  base ball,  includes the unexplained game of "Whoop."


Letter to the editor, Boston Eveing Transcript, December 21, 1859. Contributed by Joanne Hulbert.

A Hat ball kind of game

Wibble-Wobble (Midwest US)

H. J Philpott used the names "hole-ball and "wibble-wobble" as games that seem consistent with hat-ball.  One player would place the ball in a hole or hat, and the other players would scatter before being hit with the ball by the player designated as "it."  This game thus shares evasive running and plugging with base ball.



Henry J. Philpott, "A Little Boys' Game with a Ball," Popular Science Monthly, volume 37 (May-October 1890), pages 651-652.

A Baseball kind of game


The game of wicket was evidently the dominant game played in parts of Connecticut, western MA, and perhaps areas of Western New York State, prior to the spread of the New York game in the 1850’s and 1860’s. Wicket resembles cricket more than baseball. The “pitcher” bowls a large, heavy ball toward a long, low wicket, and a batter with a heavy curved club defends the wicket. Some students of cricket note that it resembles cricket before it evolved to its modern form, with its higher narrower wicket.

A 1834 book published in Boston (See Robin Carver, below) includes, as a final word on cricket, an account of a simpler form of cricket, this view:

"This is, I believe, the old and original way of playing cricket.  It is also played in a simpler way. Two wickets are placed at some distance from each other. The  consist each of two short stakes fixed in the ground, and a cross stick places in notches, in the stakes about the height of the ball from the ground.  Two bowlers stand at each wicket and roll the ball along the ground with the view of knocking off the cross stick.  The striker strives to prevent this by hitting the ball  with his bat: but if he strike it so that it is caught by any of the other players, he is out."

This very low wicket certainly resembles the target in the game called wicket in the Nineteenth Century.




Short descriptions of the game are found in Protoball Chronology items #1846.8, #1850s.16, and #1855c.3.  There is also a Protoball Subchronology  at  As of 2022, Protoball lists over 50 milestones for to wicket.

Robin Carver, The Book of Sports (Boston, 1834).  See chapter III, "Games with a Ball.  The simpler game appears on pages 48-49."  Carver does not name the simpler game as  wicket.

An excellent article on wicket in CT, by Alex Dubois, appeared in the March 2022 Origins/Protoball Committee Newsletter.

A Fungo kind of game

Wiffle ball

A Wiffle Ball is a hollow plastic ball with holes strategically placed in order to exaggerate sideways force, and thus enabling pitchers to produce severe curves and drops (and rises?). Competitive games of Wiffleball are known, some exhibiting team play. Few, we believe (as of September 2018), appear to involve active  baserunning, and the Wiffle Ball company site's "suggested rules say that live running "has been eliminated."

Note:  Wiffle Ball, Inc., which holds and protects key trade marks, has set out a set of rules at  However, many leagues, and tournaments, treasure their innovative rule options, including the doctoring of balls to make them curve more dramatically, and of bats that are dissimilar to those familiar thin yellow plastic cudgels you may think of.  Multiple leagues and tournaments seem to claim that their championships produce the true national crown for wiffle ball.   

The poem, Wiffle Ball, appears in he Supplemental Text below.  It was furnished to Protoball by its author, Glenn Stout, on 8/17/2018. 

A fine recollection of wiffle ball games is found in Glenn's "Wiffle Rules", at

A September 2019 Boston Globe article by Billy Baker (cited below), features an account of the National Golden Stick Wiffle Ball championships (motto: "A backyard game taken way too far.")



For a longish New Yorker article on an advanced form of wiffle ball, see  (Submitted 9/3/2018 by Glenn Stout; pitches have been measured at over 90 mph.)

A web search for <ben mcgrath wiffle ball> may help you locate the New Yorker piece.  It is dated August 31, 2018.

For a lighthearted You Tube exposition of the fourth-best team in the the National Wiffleball Championship Tournament (what year? where played?), see

The Wiffle Ball Company's somewhat spartan site is at

Also, see Billy Baker, "Takes a Swing at Wiffle Ball Legacy," Boston Globe, September 9, 2019, pp 1 and A7.  


A Fungo kind of game


In this game opponents position themselves on the opposite sides of as wire strung over the street. Singles, doubles, etc., are determined by whether the ball hits the wire and whether it is caught by the out team as it descends. There is no running or batting in this urban game.

A Scrub kind of game


Another label for the game Scrub/Move-Up: The available number of players is initially divided between several defensive positions and a smaller number of batters. A batter who is put out, becomes the fielder who is last in line to return to batting [right field, when there are enough fielders], and must work the way back position by position. A fielder to catches a fly ball exchanges places immediately with the batter. Because the small number of player precludes team play, “ghost runners” and special ground rules are sometimes required. Plugging is allowed when the ball is soft enough to permit that.


Two examples of Work-Up are depicted in G. Land, Growing Up with Baseball (UNebraska, 2004), pages 83 and 175.