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John Oliver Plays Base Ball in Baltimore

Salience Noteworthy
Location US South

"John W. Oliver recalls having baseball in Baltimore, Maryland. His family moved from England when he was three. "He remembers very distinctly having played the game of Base Ball when a boy. He states that his earliest recollection of the playing of the game was when he was about ten years of age, and at that time the game was played in this manner: The batter held the ball in one hand and a flat stick in the other, tossed the ball into the air and hit on the return, and then ran to either one, two, or three bases depending on the number of boys playing the game. If the ball was caught on the fly or the batter hit with the ball while running the bases, he was out. These bases, so called, at that time, were either stones or pieces of sod was removed [sic], or bare places where grass was scraped off. He remembers seeing the game played frequently while an apprentice boy, but always in this manner, never with a pitcher or a catcher, but sometimes with sides, which were chosen somewhat in the manner in which they are now chosen by boys; that is, by one catching a bat in his hand and another placing his hand on top, alternating in this manner until the last one had hold of the end of the bat, which he swung around his head. I never saw the game played with stakes or poles used for bases instead of stones or sods. Never heard of a game of Rounders. One Old Cat, Two Old Cat, Three Old Cat have seen played, but never have taken part in it myself."

Full text of Mills Commission summary of information from John W. Oliver, Editor, Yonkers Statesman, under date of September 26, 1905. From the Giamatti Center at Cooperstown. Note: we wish we could ascertain what were Oliver's own words, given the artlessness of this summary. Oliver was about 90 when debriefed in 1905.

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