Glossary of Games
|Chart: Predecessor and Derivative Games|
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A compilation of 290 games with a resemblance to baseball, often in base-running and run-scoring
Those attempting to learn about the origins of baseball confront a large zoo of different games that are candidates as modern baseball's predecessors. Even more complicated is the array of names for those games as they evolved over the years; some games appear to have sported different names, depending on the region and the era of play; and some names – including “baseball” -- have been used for rather different games over the years.
Then, as a whim, we decided to extend the collection to embrace games that seem to have been spawned by baseball itself -- derivative games.
This glossary is intended to provide a focus for our learning, as a group of researchers, about the full range of “safe-haven” games and their names. We hope that users will add other games, and tell us of mistakes in the current version. We chose to call this set of games “safe haven” or "baserunning" games because what they seem to have in common: a set of bases where players gain immunity from being put out, and for which a round trip normally results in a run. (Some writers have called these games the “stick and ball” games, which would, if taken literally, embrace croquet, golf and tennis, etc., and would exclude kick-ball and punch-ball and all games played with "cats" -- that is, with short rods, or sticks -- instead of balls.)
On this site, we have put (experimentally) the games in our registry into 6 "families" (we just made them up) based on their main attributes, with  the "baseball family" -- originally about 120 games --reserved for those that seem closest to baseball as we now know it, and  the mysterious "hook 'em snivy" grouping -- about 35 games -- is used for still-mysterious games whose rules we don't know yet.  The "Kickball" group -- about 20 games -- involve baserunning but not a bat,  The "Scrub" family -- about 15 games -- are not team games,  "Fungo" games -- about 50 of them -- do not use running, and  "Hatball" games -- about 20 pastimes -- involve risky running but no striking of the ball to initiate running, but often do use plugging of players to put them out. These are plainly arbitrary classes, but we figure we have to start somewhere.
Predecessor and Derivative Games
Thus, taking the now-familiar features of 1857-rules base ball as a pretty good approximation of "modern" baseball, we are assembling a Protoball registry of both [a] earlier baserunning games and [b] games that seem to have derived from modern baseball.