John Zinn

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First Name John
Last Name Zinn
Regional Focus New Jersey
Special Interest Spread of New York Game, Town Ball
Active Yes

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Submitted Entries: 871

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John Zinn Digs into Early New Jersey Ballplaying

John Zinn’s objective is to understand how the New York game came to New Jersey and then developed and expanded throughout the entire state. He has been examining close to 50 contemporary newspapers that survive as well as national publications. In the pre-war period (1855-1860) there were organized base ball clubs in only about a third of New Jersey’s 21 counties. He plans to look at other information such as the reach of the railroad to try to understand why the game did and didn’t reach the different parts of the state. He is now shifting to the 1861-1870 period.

John wrote the New Jersey section Baseball Founders. He is on the planning committee for the November 2014 SABR symposium on 19th century base ball in the greater New York area, including New Jersey.

John Zinn has discovered an 1855 New Jersey game played among African American clubs, which is four years earlier than we had previously known for African American play of modern base ball.  We are in contact with SABR’s Negro Leagues Committee to see if John’s find now stands as the first ever.  Its PBall entry is at

John Zinn is working on a manuscript telling the early history of base ball in New Jersey. He has examined 47 newspapers’ coverage of base ball club activities from 1855 to 1860, a period when only five NJ cities had daily papers.  John has made major contributions to the SABR “Spread of Base Ball” project and to MLB’s Thorn Committee on Origins, which has stimulated new digging on the early spread of the game.

John reports that both Newark and Jersey City grew clubs that were mentioned at least once during this six-year span.   The most active base ball counties in the state were Hudson County (which includes both Jersey City and Hoboken) and Essex County, the two counties closest to Hoboken's famous Elysian Fields.

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