Welcome to Protoball

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Supporting Researchers and Writers on Baseball’s Origins.

Reconsidering Protoball.org

(User Feedback Welcomed)

Protoball welcomes input from current and potential site users on initiatives that might make protoball.org more responsive to their research interests.

In the past decade or so, due to major data contributions from several origins researchers, the site has expanded to include sourced accounts of over 1750 chronology entries, many thousands of early games of modern base ball, about 6000 early clubs, a registry of nearly 300 different baserunning games, a few hundred key reference works on early ballplaying, etc. Dave Anderson, Protoball’s site wizard, has found innovative ways to search and display this somewhat unruly mound of basic data. (Try playing with favorite search terms at http://protoball.org/Special:EnhancedSearch.)

We’d appreciate your candid ideas about ways to make Protoball a better tool for baseball historian and writers. Please send your ideas and views of the site’s limitations to comments@protoball.org or to Lmccray<at>mit.edu.

  • Bruce Allardice
  • Ralph Carhart
  • Jan Finkel
  • Larry McCray
  • Bob Tholkes

Current Resources On Protoball.org

The Protoball Chronology covers memorable mileposts in the evolution of ballgames from Ancient Times to 1870, just before the first professional baseball league began.

Our PrePro Baseball is a working database of several thousand clubs and games, mostly in the Origins Era (before 1872). Its interactive maps may help you visualize the spread of baseball over time. It is designed so that individual club pages can link to a club's games, players, and field locations. For an example, see the Knickerbocker Club here.

The Games Tabulation (version 2.0) is a record of over 1300 ballgames in various parts of the US from 1845 to 1860. It was compiled by the late Craig Waff᾿s careful and path-breaking research. More recently, Bob Tholkes has tabulated key data from over 5000 early games, mostly from the 1860s.

Base Ball Players Pocket Companion.jpg 1859 Base Ball Players’ Pocket Companion

The Glossary of Games provides a short description of 307 baseball-like games. The Glossary includes baseball's likely predecessor games and later games that derive from baseball.

The Bibliography is a list of publications you can use to explore the origins of ball games and baseball in depth. Some of these publications are available online. For sources that are in Protoball's Buzz McCray Collection, we can, via email and phone, help you determine what their content is.

A listing of fellow origins enthusiasts and contributors can be found in our Diggers section. You can read news about them and their work in the now-discontinuedNext Destin'd Post. Several Diggers have contributed informal Essays relating to baseball's origins.

We offer an Enhanced Search for complex full-text searches on much of the information on the site. You can save your searches, pick out important articles, and share them with other researchers.

On a whim, we have collected information on as many baserunning games as we can find on our Glossary of Games. About half of them preceded the rise of the modern "New York" game ob bae ball in the 1850s.

Articles

Here are 3 of our latest articles:

  1. Interview With Author Tom Gilbert - by Larry McCray in September 2021
  2. Origins Newsletter -- September 2021 - by Bruce Allardice in September 2021
  3. "A Plague Is Upon Us" - by Steve Sisto in September 2021

Here are 3 randomly selected articles:

  1. Towards A Definition Of Baseball - by Bruce Allardice in September 2021
  2. Number of Known BB Clubs in 40 Largest US Cities, 1870 5.0 - by Bruce Allardice in July 2021
  3. Rounders: A Game That "Gets No Respect" - by David Block in May 2021
  4. When The Game Was Not The Thing - by Bob Tholkes in May 2021
  5. Old Team Nicknames - by Bruce Allardice in May 2021
  6. Playing "Ball" In Canada In 1803 - by William Humber in May 2021
  7. Origins Newsletter -- May 2021 - by Bruce Allardice in May 2021
  8. McKinstry vs. Brooklyn Daily Times - by Steve Sisto in March 2021
  9. The First Baseball Game In Mexico - by Bruce Allardice in February 2021
  10. Rounders: Baseball's True Origin? - by Bruce Allardice in February 2021
  11. Such Tumbles, Such Collisions - by Steve Sisto in February 2021
  12. Origins Newsletter -- February 2021 - by Bruce Allardice in February 2021
  13. Lost for 200 Years: John Thorn Detects Base Ball in New York in 1821 - by John Thorn in January 2021
  14. Number of Known BB Clubs in 40 Largest US Cities, 1870 3.0 - by Bruce Allardice in September 2020
  15. Ethnicity in 19C Base Ball -- A General Introduction - by Tom Gilbert in May 2020
  16. The Early Sporting Press in New England 1.0 - by Donna Halper in April 2020
  17. Base Ball on the Field, 1858-1865 - by Bruce Allardice in March 2020
  18. Old old games - by Larry McCray in December 2019
  19. Search Terms - by Larry McCray in December 2019
  20. NER Project Overview - by Larry McCray in December 2019
  21. The Massachusetts Game - by Larry McCray in December 2019
  22. Research Bibliography for Early Base Ball - by Bill Lyons in December 2019
  23. Wicket Ball - by Larry McCray in December 2019
  24. Emperics - by Larry McCray in December 2019
  25. Length of Games, 1860-1865 1.0 - by Bob Tholkes in October 2019
  26. Sons of Liberty - by Tom Gilbert in June 2019
  27. Ballplaying by Civil War Soldiers 1.0 - by Bruce Allardice in September 2018
  28. Very Early (pre-1857) Rules on Base Advancement After Caught Fly Balls - by Richard Hershberger in June 2018
  29. Baseball Making Notes - by Corky Gaskell in March 2018
  30. Ten-Position Base Ball - by Mark Brunke in February 2018
  31. Feeder and Rounders, 1841 - by Bill Hicklin in March 2016
  32. 1854 Unified Kinickerbocker-Eagle-Gotham Rules - by Bill Hicklin in March 2016
  33. La balle empoisonnée - by Bill Hicklin in March 2016
  34. The 20 Rules of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club - by Bill Hicklin in March 2016
  35. 1860 NABBP Rules - by Bill Hicklin in March 2016
  36. Rules of the Massachusetts Association of Base Ball Players - by Bill Hicklin in March 2016
  37. Englische Base-ball - by Bill Hicklin in March 2016
  38. Early Evidence on Base Stealing - by Richard Hershberger in February 2016
  39. The Play-Testing of Early Base Ball Rule Modifications, version 1.0 - by Richard Hershberger in January 2016
  40. Cricket and the Rise of Baseball - by Bruce Allardice in June 2015
  41. Beachville Deconstruction (The New York Game Comes to Canada) - by Bill Humber in May 2015
  42. Uniforms - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  43. Playing to Win - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  44. Base Ball Fever - by Jeffrey Kittel in September 2014
  45. Gambling's Role - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  46. Club Makeup - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  47. Patterns of Spread - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  48. The Big Tours - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  49. Predecessor Pastimes - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  50. The Beneficiaries - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  51. Accounts - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  52. Competing Pastimes - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  53. The Grounds - by Marty Payne in September 2014
  54. Media Effects - by Larry McCray in September 2014
  55. The Spread of Early Base Ball in Illinois to 1870 - by Bruce Allardice in August 2014
  56. The Backstop - by Richard Hershberger in July 2014
  57. Judgment! - by Richard Hershberger in July 2014
  58. Called Pitches - by Richard Hershberger in July 2014
  59. Pitchers Covering First - by Richard Hershberger in July 2014
  60. Protoball Search Aid - by Larry McCray in March 2014
  61. Spirit Letters From X, 1857-8 - by Bob Tholkes in February 2014
  62. Stoolball Today -- The Rejuvenation of an Ancient Pastime - by John and Kay Price in November 2013
  63. For Fun and Health -- That's Why She Played - by Debbie Shattuck in October 2013
  64. 19CBB Highlights, August September 2013 - by Bob Tholkes in October 2013
  65. Internet Search Tips - by Bruce Allardice in October 2013
  66. Richard Hershberger Interview, October 2013 - by Protoball Functionary in October 2013
  67. Bruce Allardice Find Stories, October 2013 - by Bruce Allardice in October 2013
  68. Sliding - by Richard Hershberger in October 2013
  69. The Spread of Base Ball, 1859 - 1870 - by Bruce Allardice in September 2013
  70. Next Destin'd Post, August 2013 - by Larry McCray in August 2013
  71. Interview with 2013 SABR-Origins Chair Bill Johnson - by Protoball Functionary in August 2013
  72. 1857 Rules - by Jeffrey Kittel in July 2013
  73. Interview with Bill Ryczek - by Protoball Functionary in June 2013
  74. The Next Destin'd Post, June 2013 - by Larry McCray in June 2013
  75. Sam Marchiano and the 1755 Bray Diary Find - by Protoball Functionary in June 2013
  76. Don't Forget the Girls - by Debbie Shattuck in June 2013
  77. Performing Logic Searches on Protoball - by Dave Anderson in June 2013
  78. 19CBB Digest, April-May 2013 - by Bob Tholkes in June 2013
  79. 1845 Knickerbocker Rules - by Jeffrey Kittel in April 2013
  80. 19CBB Digest, March 2013 - by Bob Tholkes in April 2013
  81. Multi-word Searches on Protoball - by David Anderson in April 2013
  82. Randall Brown's Find of the Wheaton Account -- Before the Knickerbockers - by Randall Brown in April 2013
  83. Interview with Peter Morris - by Protoball Functionary in April 2013
  84. New England Woman Observes Ball Play in Norfolk, Virginia in 1802 - by Tom Altherr in April 2013
  85. Next Destin'd Post, April 2013 - by Larry McCray in April 2013
  86. Irish Rounders (Burman's Report) - by Howard Burman in March 2013
  87. New Englander Confronts Impious Sunday Ball-playing in Virginia - by Tom Altherr in March 2013
  88. Linking Clubs to Ballgames - by Dave Anderson in February 2013
  89. Postings to 19CBB, Jan. - Feb. 2013 - by Bob Tholkes in February 2013
  90. Dave's Tip No. 1 -- Using "Site Search" and "Enhanced Search" - by Dave Anderson in February 2013
  91. An Interview with David Block - by Protoball Functionary in February 2013
  92. Tom Altherr Contemplates His Favorite Finds - by Tom Altherr in February 2013
  93. A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball - by Tom Altherr in February 2013
  94. The Next Destin'd Post, January 2013 - by Larry McCray in January 2013
  95. The Story of George Thompson’s 1823 Find --- Base Ball in New York City - by George Thompson in January 2013
  96. A New Find on Early Wicket and Old Fashioned Base Ball - by Tom Altherr in January 2013
  97. Bob Tholkes Condenses Key 19CBB Postings in December 2012 - by Bob Tholkes in January 2013
  98. The Story of George Thompson’s 1823 Find -- "Base Ball" in NYC! - by George Thompson in January 2013
  99. The Spread of Base Ball in the Pacific Northwest - by Mark Brunke in January 2013
  100. Interview with John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball - by Protoball Functionary in January 2013

Conditions of Use

Users are encouraged to freely use information on this web site. When that information is found to be useful in drafting published work, we ask that they acknowledge the Protoball Project in their writing, and supply the site's URL -- http://protoball.org -- when possible, in their citations.

Further Information

For more information about the evolution of Protoball Project, its policies, and resources, see our About page.

Contact Larry McCray of the Protoball Project at with any questions or contributions.

Features in Development

Please tell us if you see that new features could make the site more useful to you. Would a User Forum for site-user commentary make sense? Should we highlight "Most Wanted" data?

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1867 Star Club tobacco card