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BC2500C.1 – “Tip cats” Found in Egyptian Ruins


Writing in 1891, Stewart Culin reported “the discorvery by Mr. Flinders-Petrie of wooden ‘tip cats’ among the remainsof Rahun, in the Fayoom, Egypt (circa 2500 B.C).”  Culin infers that these short wooden objects, pointed on each end, were used in an ancient form of the game Cat.


Culin, Stewart, “Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.,” Journal of American Folklore, Volume 4, number 14 (July-September 1891), page 233, note 1.  Note:  Do contemporary archeologists agree that such items were evidence of play?  Have they since found older artifacts that may be associated with cat-like games?   


370C.1 – Saint Augustine Recalls Punishment for Youthful Games


In his Confessions, Augustine of Hippo – later St. Augustine – recalls recalls his youth in Northern Africa, where his father served as a Roman official.  “I was disobedient, not because I chose something better than [my parents and elders] chose for me, but simply from the love of games.  For I liked to score a fine win at sport or to have my ears tickled by the make-believe of the stage.” [Book One, chapter 10].  In Book One, chapter 9, Augustine had explained that “we enjoyed playing games and were punished for them by men who played games themselves.  However, grown up games are known as ‘business. . . .  Was the master who beat me himself very different from me?  If he were worsted by a colleague in some petty argument, he would be convulsed in anger and envy, much more so that I was when a playmate beat me at a game of ball.”


Saint Augustine’s Confessions, Book One, text supplied by Dick McBane, February 2008.  Note: Can historians identify the “game of ball” that Augustine might have played in the fourth Century?  Are the translations to “game of ball,” “games,” and “sport” still deemed accurate?        


640s.1 – Medieval Writer:  Saint Cuthbert [b. 634c] “Pleyde atte balle”


Mulling on whether the ball came to England in Anglo-Saxon days, Strutt reports “the author of a manuscript in Trinity College, Oxford, written in the fourteenth century and containing the life of Saint Cuthbert, says of him, that when young, ‘he pleyde atte balle with the children that his felawes [fellows] were.’  On what authority this information is established I cannot tell.”  Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, (Chatto and Windus, London, 1898 edition), page 158.


Note: The claim of this unidentified manuscript seems weak.  As Strutt notes, the venerable Bede wrote poetic and prose accounts of the life of Cuthbert around 715-720 A.D., and made no mention of ballplaying.  That a scholar would find evidence seven centuries later would be surprising. Warton later cites the poem as from Oxford MSS number Ivii, and he also places its unidentified author in the fourteenth century, but he doesn’t the veracity of the story line.  The poem describes an angel sent from heaven to dissuade Cuthbert from playing such an “ydell” [idle] pastime.  Warton, Thomas, The History of English Poetry from the Close of the Eleventh Century to the Commencement of the Eighteenth Century (Thomas Tegg, London, 1840, from the 1824 edition), volume 1, page 14.


1310c.2 – A Drawing of “A Game of Ball,” with a Player in a Batting Pose


A 1915 book on ancient British schools includes a drawing dated circa 1310.  It shows two players, one clad in a garment with broad horizontal stripes.  Both players hold clubs, and the player in stripes appears ready to swing at a melon-sized ball.  The other player appears to be preparing to fungo the ball . . . or, conceivably, toss it with his left hand, to the the striped player.  The illustration’s caption is “A Game of Ball, Stripes vs. Plain, c. 1310.”  The British Museum’s documentation: MS Royal 10 E. iv, f. 94 b. 


Posted by Mark Aubrey to the 19CBB listserve on 1/10/2008.  The 1915 source, available in full text on Google Books, is A. F. Leach, The Schools of Medieval England (Macmillan, New York, 1915), on the unnumbered page following p. 140.


1470c.1 –Editor Sees Stoolball in Verse on Bachelorhood


“In al this world nis a murier lyf/Thanne is a yong man wythouten a wyf,/For he may lyven wythouten strif/In every place wher-so he go.


“In every place he is loved over alle/Among maydens grete and smale-/In daunsyng, in pipyngs, and rennyng at the balle,/In every place wher-so he go.


“They leten lighte by housebonde-men/Whan they at the balle renne;/They casten ther love to yonge men/In every place wher-so they go.


“Then seyn maydens, "Farewel, Jakke,/Thy love is pressed al in thy pak;/Thou berest thy love bihynde thy back,/In every place wher-so thou go."


Robert Stevick, ed., One Hundred Middle English Lyrics (U of Illinois Press, 1994), page 141.    Posted to 19CBB on 11/14/2008 by Richard Hershberger.  Richard reports that Stevick dates this poem -- #81 of the 100 collected --to c. 1470. He interprets the lyric’s ‘running at the ball’ as ‘stool ball, probably,’ but stow ball [resembling field hockey] seems apter.  Richard also points out that “for the sake of precision, it should be noted that this volume is intended for student use and normalizes the spellings.”


1478.2 – Parliament Speaks:  Jail or Fine for Unlawful Gameplaying


An Act of Parliament forbade unlawful games as conducive to disorder and as discouraging the practice of archery.  The games that were forbidden, under penalty of two years’ imprisonment or a fine of ten pounds, were these: quoits, football, closh, kails, half-bowls, hand-in and hand-out, chequer-board.


This Act is cited as Rot. Parl. VI, 188.  Information provided by John Thorn, email of 2/27/2008.


Caveat: The list of proscribed games is similar to the Edward III’s prohibition [see #1363.1 above] adding “hand-in and hand-out” in place of agame translated as “club-ball” or “stick-ball.  We are uncertain as to whether hand-in and hand-out is the ancestor of a safe-haven game.


1540.1 – A Pitcher, a Catcher and a Batter in a Golf History Book?


Cary Smith [] has noted an alluring illustration in a 1540 publication, and we seek additional input on it.  In a posting to the 19CBB listserve in March 2008, Cary wrote:


“On the British Library web site in the turning pages section there is a book called the Golf Book, but it is labeled as ‘Flemish Masters in Miniature.’  On page seven of the book there is a small grisalle border at the bottom.  It looks like what today would be considered a pitcher, catcher, and batter.  The book is from 1540.  To access the web site you will need to have Flash running.  If on a Macintosh that is intel based you will need to click the Rosetta button in the info window of your web browser.”  Note: can you help us interpret this artwork?


The URL is


1656.3 – Cromwellians Needlessly Ban Cricket from Ireland


Simon Rae writes that the “killjoy mentality reached its zenith under the Puritans, during the Interregnum, achieving an absurd peak when cricket was banned in Ireland in 1656 even though the Irish didn’t play it.”  Evidently, hurling was mistaken for cricket.


Simon Rae, It’s Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 46.  Note: Rae does not document this event.


1660c.1 – Village Life: The Men to Foot-Ball, Maids and Kids to Stoolball


The biography of a 17th century lord includes “a nostalgic description of the little town of Kirtling” by the lord’s son Roger, born in 1651, as follows:


“The town was then my grandfather’s . . . it was always the custom for the youth of the town . . . to play [from noon when chores ended] to milking time and supper at night.  The men [went to play] football, and the maids, with whom we children were commonly mixed, being not proof for the turbulence of the other party, to stoolball and such running games as they knew.”  Dale B. J. Randall, Gentle Flame: The Life and Verse of Dudley, Lord North (1602 – 1677 (Duke Univ. Press, 1983), page 56.  The town of Kirtling is in Cambridgeshire, northeast of London.


1661.1 – Galileo Galilei Discovers . . . Backspin!


The great scientist wrote, in a treatise discussing how the ball behaves in different ball games, including tennis:  “Stool-ball, when they play in a stony way, . . . they do not trundle the ball upon the ground, but throw it, as if to pitch a quait. . . . .  To make the ball stay, they hold it artificially with their hand uppermost, and it undermost, which in its delivery hath a contrary twirl or rolling conferred upon it by the fingers, by means whereof in its coming to the ground neer the mark it stays there, or runs very little forwards.”  Galileo Galilei, Mathmatical Collections and Translations.  “Inglished from his original Italian copy by Thomas Salusbury” (London, 1661), page 142.


Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008.  David further asks: “could it be that this is the source of the term putting “English” on a ball?”


1683c.1 – Cricket’s First Wicket is Pitched


“We know that the first wicket, comprising two stumps with a bail across them, was pitched somewhere about 1683, as John Nyren recalled long afterward.”  Thomas Moult, “The Story of the Game,” in Thomas Moult, ed., Bat and Ball: A New Book of Cricket (The Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1960: reprint from 1935), page 31.


Note:  We should locate Nyren’s original claim.  Does this imply that cricket was played without wickets, or without bails, before 1683?


1700.1 – First Public Notice of a Cricket Match?


“Of course, there are many bare announcements of matches played before that time [the 1740’s].  In 1700 The Postboy advertised one to take place on Clapham Common.”


Thomas Moult, “The Story of the Game,” in  Moult, ed., Bat and Ball: A New Book of Cricket (The Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1960; reprinted from 1935), page 27.  Moult does not further identify this publication.


Note: A Wikipedia entry accessed on 10/17/08 states:A series of matches, to be held on Clapham Common [in South London -- LMc] , was pre-announced on 30 March by a periodical called The Post Boy. The first was to take place on Easter Monday and prizes of £10 and £20 were at stake. No match reports could be found so the results and scores remain unknown. Interestingly, the advert says the teams would consist of ten Gentlemen per side but the invitation to attend was to Gentlemen and others. This clearly implies that cricket had achieved both the patronage that underwrote it through the 18th century and the spectators who demonstrated its lasting popular appeal.”  Caveat: This entry is has incomplete citations and cannot be verified.


1700c.2 – Wicket on Boston Common . . . But Never on Sunday


“Close of the 17th century: . . . The Common was always a playground for boys – wicket and flinging of the bullit was much enjoyed . . . .  No games were allowed to be played on the Sabbath, and a fine of five shillings was imposed on the owner of any horse seen on the Commoin on that day.  People were not even to stroll on the Common, during the warm weather, on Sunday.”


Samuel Barber, Boston Common: A Diary of Notable Events, Incidents and Neighboring Occurrences (Christopher Publishing, Boston, 1916 – Second Edition), page 47.  Note: This book is in the form of a chronology.  Barber gives no source for the wicket report.



1720.2 -- Holiday in Kent:  Cricket, Stool-Ball, Tippling, Kissing


In 1907, a kindred sipirit of ours reported [in a listserve-equivalent of the day] on his attempts to find early news coverage of cricket.  He reports on a 1720 article he sees as “the first newspaper reference I have yet found to cricket as a popular game:”


“The Holiday coming on, the Alewives of Islington, Kentish Town, and several adjacent villages . . . .  The Fields will swarm with Butcherss; Wives and Oyster-Women . . . diverting themselves with their Offspring, whilst their Spouses and Sweethearts are sweating at Ninepins, some at Cricket, others at Stool-Ball, besides an amorous Couple in every Corner . . . Much Noise and Cutting in the Morning; Much Tippling all Day; and much Reeling and Kissing at Night.”


Alfred F. Robbins, “Replies: The Earliest Cricket Report,” Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc, September 7, 1907, page 191.  Provided by John Thorn, 2/8/2008, via email.  He reports his source as Read’s Weekly Journal, or British-Gazeteer, June 4, 1720, and advises that he has omitted phrases not “welcome to the modern taste.  Accessed via Google Books 10/18/2008.



1720.3 – Cricket in Kent; Londoners Beat Kent Eleven, But Two Are Konked Out


A month later [see #1720.2, above], Islington was in the news again.  The Postman reported on July 16, 1720 that:


“Last week a match was played in The White Conduit Fields, by Islington, between 11 Londoners on one side and elevent men of Kent on the other side, for 5s a head, at which time being in eager pursuit of the game, the Kentish men having the wickets, two Londoners striving [p.27/p.28] for expedition to gain the ball, met each other with such fierceness that, hitting their heads together, they both fell backwards without stirring hand or foot, and lay deprived of sense for a considerable time, and ‘tis not yet known whether they willl recover.  The Kentish men were beat.”  Thomas Moult, “The Story of the Game,” in Thomas Moult, ed., Bat and Ball: A New Book of Cricket (Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1960 – reprint from 1935), pp 27-28.


1725.2 – Duke of Richmond Issues Challenge to Play Single-Wicket Cricket


“In 1725, he [the Duke of Richmond] challenged Sir William Gage in a two-a-side single-wicket competition. . . .”


Simon Rae, It’s Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 57.  Note: is there a fuller account for tis match?  A primary source?


1731.1 – Thousands Watch First Known Draw in Cricket


“The Great Cricket Match, between the Duke of Richmond and Mr. Chambers, 11 men on each side, for 200 Guineas, was begun to be played on Monday at two in the Afternoon, on Richmond Green.  By agreement they were not to play after 7 o’clock. . . . when the Hour agreed being come, they were obliged to leave off, tho’ beside the Hands then playing, they [chambers’ side] had 4 or 5 more to have come in.  Thus it proved a drawn Battle.  There were many Thousand Spectators, of whom a great number were Persons of Distinction of both Sexes.” 


Source: The Daily Journal, August 25, 1731, as uncovered by Alfred Robbins in his 1907 digging.  Robbins finds the article of “historical interest, for it is the earliest I have yet traced of a drawn game.”  Alfred Robbins, “The Earliest Cricket Report,” Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc., September 7, 1907, page 192.  Note: does this match still stand as the first recorded drawn match?

The rules are listed briefly at [as assessed 1/31/07].  The rules were written by a Committee under the patronage of “the cricket-mad Prince of Wales,” Frederickm, son of George II.



1747.2 – Well-Advertised Women’s Cricket Match Held, with 6-Pence Admission


In July 1747 two ladies’ sides from Sussex communities played cricket at London’s Artillery-Grounds, and the announced admittance fee was sixpence.  At a first match, according to a 7/15/1747 news account, play was interrupted when “the Company broke in so, that it was impossible for the [match] to be play’d; and some of them [the players? – LM] being very much frighted, and others hurt . . . .”  That match was to be completed on a subsequent morning . . . . “And in the Afternoon they wil play a second Match at the same Place, several large Sums being depended between the Women of the Hills of Sussex, in Orange colour’d Ribbons, and the Dales in blue!”


This item was contributed by David Block on 2/27/2008.  David notes that the source is a large scrapbook with thousands of clippings from 1660 to 1840 as collected by a Daniel Lysons: “Collectanea: or A collection of advertisements and paragraphs from the newspapers, relating to various subjects.  Publick exhibitions and places of amusement,” Vol IV, Pt 2, page 227, British Library shelfmark C.103.k.11.  David adds, “Unfortunately, Lysons, or whoever assembled this particular volume, neglected to indicate which paper the clippings were cut from.”


1750s.2 – Town Ball and Cat Played in NC Lowlands?


One biographer has estimated:  “Of formalized games, choices for males [in NC] appear to have been ‘town-ball, bull-pen,’ ‘cat,’ and ‘prisoner’s base,’ whatever exhibitions of dexterity they may have involved” Chalmers G. Davidson, Piedmont Partisan: The Life and Times of Brigadier-General William Lee Davidson (Davidson College, Davidson NC, 1951), page 20.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 32. 


Caution: This is a very early claim for town ball, preceding even New England references to roundball or like games.  It would be useful to examine C. Davidson’s sources.  Note:  Can we determine what region of NC is under discussion?  Text of the biography is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.  Prisoner’s base is not a ball game, and bull-pen is not a safe-haven game.


1760.2 – Bat and Ball . . . in Paris?


A description of Parisian sights:  “The grand Walk forms a most beautiful Visto, which terminates in a Wood called Elysian Fields, or more commonly known by the name “La Cours de la Rein (Queen’s Course).  This is the usual place where the Citizens celebrate their Festivals with the Bat and Ball, a Diversion which is much used here.”  Prpvided by David Block, 2/27/2008.  Note: Is this the same location as what we now know as the Chams Elysee?   Can we learn what bat/ball games were so popular the the mid 1700s – Soule? Some form of street tennis? A form of field hockey?  Not croquet, presumably.


1775.2 – Soldier in MA Played Ball


Thomas Altherr writes in 2008:  “Ephriam [Ephraim? – TA] Tripp, a soldier at Dorchester in 1775, also left a record, albeit brief, of ball playing: ‘Camping and played bowl,’ he wrote on May 30.  ‘Bowl’ for Tripp meant ball, because elsewhere he referred to cannonballs as ‘cannon bowls.’  On June 24 he penned: ‘We went to git our meney that we shud yak when we past muster com home and played bawl.’”  Note:  Dorchester MA, presumably?  Is it clear whether Tripp was a British soldier?  May 1775 was some months before an American army formed.


E. Tripp, “His book of a journal of the times in the year 1775 from the 19th day,” Sterling Memorial Library Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University:  “Diaries (Miscellaneous) Collection, Group 18, Box 16, Folder 267.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 39



1776c.3 – Revolutionary War Officer Plays Cricket, Picks Blueberries


“The days would follow without incident, one day after another.  An officer with a company of Pennsylvania riflemen [in Washington’s army] wrote of nothing to do but pick blueberries and play cricket.”  David McCullough, 1776 (Simon and Schuster, 2005), page 40.  McCullough does not give a source for this item.  Provided by Priscilla Astifan, 19CBB posting of 8/5/2008 and email of 11/16/2008.  McCullough notes that the majority of the army comprised farmers and skilled artisan [ibid, page 34].


1779.6 – Dartmouth College Fine for Ballplay – Two Shillings


“If any student shall play ball or use any other deversion [sic] that exposes the College or hall windows within three rods of either he shall be fined two shillings . . . “  In 1782 the protected area was extended to six rods. John King Lord, A History of Dartmouth College 1815-1909 (Rumford Press, Concord NH, 1913), page 593.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 35.  See also #1771.1.


1780c.7 –The Young Josiah Quincy of MA:  “My Heart was in Ball”


Josiah Quincy was sent off to Phillips Academy in about 1778 at age six.  It was a tough place.  “The discipline of the Academy was severe, and to a child, as I was, disheartening. . . [p24/25]. I cannot imagine a more discouraging course of education that that to which I was subjected. The truth was, I was an incorrigible lover of sports of every kind.  My heart was in ball and marbles.”  Biographer Edmund Quincy sets this passage in direct quotes, but does not provide a source.


Edmund Quincy, Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts (Fields, Osgood and Company, Boston, 1869), pages 24-25.. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 36.  Accessed on 11/16/2088 via Google Books search for “’life of josiah quincy.’”


1781.3 – “Game at Ball” Variously Perceived at Harvard


-- And that no other person was present in said area, except a boy who, they say was playing with a Ball -- From the testimony some of the persons in the kitchen it appeared that the company there assembled were very noisy --That some game at Ball was played --That some of the company called on the Boy to keep tally; which Boy was seen by the same person, repeated by running after the Ball, with a penknife & stick in his hand, on which stick notches were cut --That a Person who tarried at home at Dr. Appleton's was alarmed by an unusual noise about three o'clock, & on looking out the window, saw in the opening between Hollis & Stoughton, four or five persons, two of whom were stripped of their coats, running about, sometimes stooping down & apparently throwing something . . .”  Posted to 19CBB by Kyle DeCicco-Carey [date?]  Source: Harvard College Faculty Records (Volume IV, 1775-1781), call number UAIII 5.5.2, page 220 (1781).


1785.2 – Cricket, Long Transoceanic in Range, Now Gets Past Hadrian’s Wall


“It is difficult to believe that the English soldiers who flooded into Scotland in 1745/1746 did not bring cricket with them, but evidence has not yet emerges.  The well-known ‘first cricket match in Scotland’ took place at Earl Cathcart’s seat at Schow Park, Alloa, in September 1785, when Hon. Colonel Talbot’s XI played the Duke of Atholl’s XI. . . . Most of the players were English: no further matches in Scotland followed from it.  However, a Scot, the Duke of Hamilton, had already joined the MCC, and a traveler hoping to inspect Hamilton Place in 1785 found that ‘as the Duke plays cricket every afternoon, strangers don’t get admittance then.’”  John Burnett, Riot, Revelry and Rout: Sport in Lowland Scotland before 1860 (Tuckwell Press, 2000), page 252. Burnett footnotes this passage The Scottish Antiquary, 11 (1897), 82.  Note: we don’t yet know which of the events are documented there.  


Another source reports that the Talbot/Atholl match was played on September 8, 1785, for 1000 pounds per man. L. Stephen and S. Lee, eds., Dictionary of National Biography (Macmillan, New York, 1908), entry on Thomas Graham, Baron Lynedoch, page 359.


1786.2 -- Game Called Wicket Reported in England


“The late game of Wicket was decided by an extraordinary catch made by Mr. Lenox, to which he ran more than 40 yards, and received the ball between two fingers.”  Morning Post and Daily Advertiser (London), 6/27/1786.  Provided by Richard Hershberger, email of 2/3/2008.  Richard adds: “I know of only one other English citation of “wicket” as the name of a game.  I absolutely do not assume that it was the same as the game associated wth



1790s.6  – Cricket as Played in Hamburg Resembled the U.S. Game of Wicket? 


“[D]escriptions of the game [cricket] from Hamburg in the 1790s show significant variations often quite similar to outdated provisions of American “Wicket,” which may well not be due to error on the part of the author, but rather to acute observation.  For example, the ball was bowled alternatively from each end (i.e. not in ‘overs’).  Moreover, the ball has to be ‘rolled’ and not ‘thrown’ (i.e., bowled in the true sense, not the pitched ball).  And the striker is out if stops the ball from hitting the wicket with his foot or his body generally.  There is no more reason to believe that there was uniformity in the Laws coverning cricket in England, the British Isles, or in Europe than there was in weights and measures.”  Rowland Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Grown and Development Throughout the World (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1970), page 72.  Note:  Bowen does not give a source for this observation.


1790s.7 – In Boston, “Boys Played Ball in the Streets?”


Boston, with only 18,000 inhabitants, was sparsely populated.  “Boys played ball in the streets without disturbance, or danger from the rush of traffic.”  Edmund Quincy, Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts (Fields, Osgood and Company, 1869), page 37.  Writing 70 years later, the biographer here is painting a picture of the city when his father Josiah finished school and moved there at 18.  He does not document this observation.  One might speculate that Josiah had told Edmund about the ballplaying.  Accessed on 11/16/2088 via Google Books search for “’life of josiah quincy.’”


1793. 4 – Scorer Compiles “Complete List” of the Years Grand Cricket Matches


Samuel Britcher, Scorer, Complete List of All the Grand Matches of Cricket that Have Been Played in the Year of 1793, with a Correct State of Each Innings (London)26 pages.   Included are one-page scoresheets for 25 games from May 13 to September 9, 1793.  Provided by John Thorn, email of 1/17/2008.  Each includes the match’s stake:  12 are played for 1000 guineas,   11 are for 500 guineas, one is for 50 guineas, and one is for 25 guineas.  In four matches, a side of 22 men played a side of 11 men, in one match each side had three men, and one match was between Mr. Brudennall and Mr. Welch.  An All England club played in 5 matches, and the Mary-Le-Bone played in 9 matches.  Three matches took 4 days, 8 took 3 days, 13 took two days, and one took one day.  Now you know.


1794.2 -- Historian Cites “Club-ball”


David Block finds an earlier reference to “club-ball” than Strutt’s.  It is James Pettit Andrews, The History of Great Britain (Cadell, London, 1794.), page 438.  Email from David, 2/27/08.


David explains“ that in Baseball Before We Knew It, “I took the historian Joseph Strutt to task for making it seem as if a 14th century edict under the reign Edward III [see #1300s.2 above] offered proof that a game called “club-ball” existed. It now appears that I may have done Mr. Strutt a partial injustice. A history book published seven years before Strutt’s translates the Latin pilam bacculoreum the same way he did, as club-ball (which I believe leaves the impression that the game was a distinct one, and not a generic reference to ball games played with a stick or staff.) I still hold Strutt guilty for his baseless argument that this alleged 14th century game was the ancestor of cricket and other games played with bat and ball. Andrews, in his history of England, cites a source for his passage on ball games, but I can not make it out from the photocopy in my possession.”



1795.5 –Playing At Ball in the Untamed West


“Wrestling, jumping, running foot races, and playing at ball, are the common diversions.”  W. Winterbotham, An Historical Geographical, Commercial, and Philosophical View of the American United States, Volume 3 (London, 1795), page 235.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30-31.  Tom notes [ibid] that Winterbotham was writing about Federal territory south of the Ohio River.  Note:  Kentucky, maybe? Volume 3 of this work is not accessible via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.


1796.4 – Early Geographer Sees Variety of Types  New England Ballplaying


“Q:  What is the temper of the New-England people?

A: They are frank and open . . . .

Q: What are their diversions?

A: Dancing is a favorite of both sexes.  Sleigh-riding in winter, and skating, playing ball (of which there are several different games), gunning and fishing . . . “


Nathaniel Dwight, A Short But Comprehensive System of Geography  (Chaarles R. and George Webster, Albany NY) 1796), page 128.  Provided by John Thorn, 2/17/2008 email.


1797.5 –In NC, Negroes Face 15 Lashes for Ballplaying


A punishment of 15 lashes was specified for “negroes, that shall make a noise or assemble in a riotous manner in any of the streets [of Fayetteville NC] on the Sabbath day; or that may be seen playing ball on that day.”  North-Carolina Minerva (March 11, 1797), excerpted in G. Johnson, Ante-Bellum North Carolina: A Social History (Chapel Hill NC, 1937), page 551; as cited in Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 29



1800.10 -- Hudson NY Council Prohibits Boys’ Ballplaying, Preserves Turf. Etc.


“An ordinance to preserve the turf or soil on the parade, and to regulate the sale of lamb in the city, and also to prevent boys playing ball or hoop on Warren or Front streets, passed the 14th June, 1800.”


Hudson [NY] Bee, April 19, 1803.  Found by John Thorn, who lives 30 minutes south of the town: email of 2/17/2008.


1800c.11 – MA Man Recalls Games of Ball in Streets, with Wickets


“The sports and entertainments were very simple.  Running about the village street, hither and thither, without much aim . . . . games of ball, not base-ball, as is now [c1857] the fashion, yet with wickets – this was about all, except that at the end there was always horse-racing [p.19]. ..But as to sports and entertainments in general, there were more of them in those days than now.  We had more holidays, more games in the street, -- of ball-playing, of quoits, of running, leaping, and wrestling. [p.21]”


Mary E. Dewey, ed., Autobiography and Letters of Orville Dewey, D.D. (Roberts Brothers, Boston, 1883), pages 19 and 21.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38.  Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search for “’letters of orville.’”  Orville Dewey was born in Sheffield MA in 1794 and grew up there.  Sheffield is in the SW corner of MA, about 45 miles NE of Hartford Connecticut.  Note: [1] the “game of ball” may have been wicket.  [2] There were more holidays in 1800 than in 1857?


1803.4 –Middlebury College VT Bans Ballplaying


“To prevent, as far as possible, the damages before enumerated, viz. breaking of glass, &c. the students in College and members of the Academy shall not be permitted to play at ball or use any other sport or diversion in or near the College-building.”  A first offense brought a fine, a second offence brought suspension.


“Of the location of Students, Damages, and Glass,” in Laws of Middlebury-College in Midlebury [sic] in Vermont, Enacted by the President and Fellows, the 17th Day of August, 1803, page 14.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 35.



1805.6 –In SC, Some Slaves Use Sundays for Ballplaying


“The negroes when not hurried have this day [Sunday] for amusement & great numbers are seen about, some playing ball, some with things for sale & some dressed up going to meeting.”  Edward Hooker, Diaries, 1805-1830: MS 72876 and 72877, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford CT; per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 29-30.  Tom [ibid, page 29] describes Hooker as a recent Yale graduate who in 1805 was a newly-arrived tutor in Columbia, SC. Tom says “this may be the first recorded evidence of slaves [p29/30] playing ball.



1805c.7 – NH Poet Recalls Ballplaying at School


“Oh, then what fire in every vein, /What health the boons of life endear’d, /How oft the call, / To urge the ball / Across the rapid plain, / I heard.”


Jeremiah Fellowes, “Irregular Ode, Written Near _____ [sic] Academy,” Reminiscences, Moral Poems, and Translations (Exeter NH, 1824), pages 144-146.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 41.  The poetry, dedicated to the Principal of Phillips Exeter Academy, was accessed 11/17/2008 via Google Books search “fellowes moral.”  Fellowes, born I 1791, attended Exeter starting in 1803, and graduated from Bowdoin in 1810.  The verse is about the Academy, and thus the poet is recalling events from c1805.  See #1741c.1 for the first of several “urge the ball” usages.




1806.3 – Gentleman Beldham Loads One Up


“Ball tampering has been around since time immemorial.  The first recorded instance of a bowler deliberately changing the condition of a ball occurred in 1806, when Beldham, Robinson and Lambert played Bennett, Fennex, and Lord Frederisk Beauclerk in a single-wicket match at Lord’s.  It was a closely fought match, but Beauclerk’s last innings looked to be winning the game.  As Pycroft recalls in The Cricket Field:


‘”His lordship had then lately introduced sawdust when the ground was wet.  Beldham, unseen, took alump of wet dirt and sawdust, and stuck it on the ball, and took the wicket. This, I heard separately from Beldham, Bennett, and also Fennex, who used to mention it as among the wonders of his long life.’”


Simon Rae, It’s Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 199.  Pycroft’s account appears at John Pycroft, The Cricket Field: Or the History and Science of Cricket, American Edition (Mayhew and Baker, Boston, 1859), page 214 – as accessed via Google Books 10/20/2008.


1806.4 –Minister from New England Plays Ball in Western Reserve [OH]


Increase Tarbox, ed., The Diary of Thomas Robbins, D.D. 1796-1854, Volume 1 (Boston, 1886) pages 285 and 287.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 32.


April 8:  “Visited.  Played a little ball.”

May:  “Rainy.  Played ball some.”


Tom says:  “This may be the earliest recorded evidence of ball play in Ohio.”  Note:  Protoball knows of no earlier refernce.  It would be helpful to know where Robbins lived.  Robbins was 33 years old in 1806.   See #1796.2 regarding his earlier diarykeeping, and #1833.11 for later ones.  Volume 1 of this diary is not available via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.  To view Volume 2, which has later New England references, use a Google Books "’robbins d. d.’ diary” search.


1815c.5 – RI Boy Did A Little Ball-Playing


Adin Ballou grew up in a minister’s home, and his amusements were of the “homely and simple kinds, such as hunting, fishing, wrestling, wrestling, jumping, ball-playing , quoit-pitching . . .Card-playing was utterly disallowed.  “W. Heywood, ed., Autobiography of Adin Ballou, 1803-1890 (Vox Populi Press, Lowell MA, 1896), page 13.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30.  The autobiography was accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search for “adin ballou.”  The book has no references to wicket, cricket or roundball.



1815.6 – Group at Dartmouth Ponders Worth of Ballplaying, Nocturnal Cowhunting


Dartmouth College in Hanover NH had a religious society, the Religiosi.  “In April, 1815, at one of the meetings, a ‘conversation was held on the propriety, or rather the impropriety, of professed [Christians – bracketed in original] joining in the common amusement of ballplaying with the students for exercise.’”  Shortly thereafter “there were many spirited remarks on the subject of nocturnal cowhunting, and the society was unanimous in condemning it.”  John King Lord, A History of Dartmouth College 1815-1909 (Rumford Press, Concord NH, 1913), page 564.  Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search of “’history of Dartmouth.’”  Note: Did they condone diurnal cowhunting?


1818c.5 – English Immigrants from Surrey Take Cricket to IL


“There have been [p.295/p.296] several cricket-matches this summer [of 1819], both at Wanborough and Birk Prarie; the Americans seem much pleased at the sight of the game, as it is new to them.”  John Woods, Two Years Residence on th Settlement of the English Prarie, in the Illinois Country (Longman & Co., London, 1822), pp. 295-296.


On page 148 of the book:  “On the second of October, there was a game of cricket played at Wanborough by the young men of the settlement; this they called keeping Catherine Hill fair, many of the players being from the neighborhood of Godalming and Guildford.”  In 1818 [page 295]: “some of the young men were gone to a county court at Palmyra, [but] there was no cricket-match, as was intended, only a game of trap-ball.” 


1820s.14 – New England Lad Recalls Assorted Games, Fast Day Ballplaying


Alfred Holbrook was born in 1816.  His autobiography, Reminiscences of the Happy Life of a Teacher (Elm Street, Cincinnati, 1885), includes youthful memories that would have occurred in the 1820s.


“The [school-day] plays of those times, more than sixty years ago, were very similar to the plays of the present time. Some of these were “base-ball,” in which we chose sides, “one hole cat,” “two hole cat,” “knock up and catch,” Blackman,” “snap the whip,” skating, sliding down hill, rolling the hoop, marbles, “prisoner’s base,” “football,” mumble the peg,” etc.  Ibid. page 35.  Note: was “knock up and catch” a fungo game, possibly?


“Now, it was both unlawful and wicked to play ball on fast-day, and none of my associates in town were ever known to engage in such unholy enterprises and sinful amusements on fast-days; [p 52/53] but other wicked boys, with whom I had nothing to do, made it their special delight and boast to get together in some quiet, concealed place, and enjoy themselves, more especially because it was a violation of law.  Not infrequently, however, they found the constable after them. . . .” “Soon after, this blue law, perhaps the only one in the Connecticut Code, was repealed.  Then the boys thought no more of playing on fast-days than on any other.”  Ibid, pp 52-53.


1820c.15 – Ballplaying at Bowdoin College


Nehemiah Cleaveland and Alpheus Spring Packard, History of Bowdoin College with Biographical Sketches of the Graduates (Osgood and Company, Boston, 1882).  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 32.


“The student of earlier years had not the resources for healthful physical recreation of the present day [1880s]. We had football and baseball, though the latter was much less formal and formidable than the present game” [Page 96].  Note: the precise time referenced here is hard to specify; but the authors graduated in 1813 and 1816, and the context seems to suggest the 1810-1830 period.


Only one of the sketches of alumni, however, mentions ballplaying of any type.  The sketch for James Patten, Class of 1823, includes this: “He entered college at the mature age of twenty-four, was a respectable scholar, spoke with a decided brogue, and played ball admirably. . . . When last heard from he was an acting magistrate and a rich old bachelor.” [Page 276]  The sketch for Longfellow, who in 1824 wrote of constant campus ballplaying [see #1824.1], does not allude to sport.


1820.17 – “The Game of Ball” Banned in Area of Belfast ME


“Ballplaying seems to have been extensively practiced in 1820.  At he town meeting of that year, it was voted that ‘the game of ball, and the pitching of quioits, within the following limits {main Street to the beach, etc] be prohibited.’ High Street, at Hopkins Corner, was the favorite battle-ground for ball-playersk as early as 1805.”  Joseph Williamson, History of the City of Belfast in the State of Maine, From its First settlement in1770 to 1875 (Loring & Co., Portland, 1877), page 764.  Note: Williamson does not provide original sources for the 1820 ordinance or for the 1805 claim.


1820s.18 -- Alums Make Nostalgic Visit to Syracuse NY Ball Field


David Block reports:  “In the lengthy ‘Editor’s Table’ section of this [The Knickerbocker] classic monthly magazine, the editor described a nostalgic visit that he and two old school chums had taken to the academy that they had attended near Syracuse.  ‘We went out upon the once-familiar green, as if it were again ‘play time’, and called by name upon our old companions to come over once more and play ‘base-ball.’  But they answered not; they came not!  The old forms and faces were gone; the once familiar voices were silent.’” Source:  “Editor’s Table,” The Knickerbocker (S. Hueston, New York, 1850), page 298.  Contributed by David Block 2/27/2008.  The Editor, Lewis Gaylord Clark, was born in 1810, and attended the Onondaga Academy.  He was thus apparently recalling ball-playing from somnetime in the 1820s.  Caveat: We better data on Clark’s age while at the Academy.


1820s.19 – Ball-Playing in Ontario


"Contrary to the once commonly held belief that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in 1839, a form of the game existed in Oxford County [ON] during the early decades of the nineteenth century that used a square playing field with four bases and eleven players a side." Nancy B. Bouchier, For the Love of the Game: Amateur Sport in Small-Town Ontario, 1838-1895 (McGill-Queens University Press, 2003), page 100.  Note: Dating this item to the 1820’s is a best guess [we are asking the author for input], based on additional evidence from N. Bouchier and R. Barney, “A Critical Evaluation of a Source on Early Ontario Baseball: The Reminiscence of Adam E. Ford,” Journal of Sport History, Volume 15 number 1 (Spring 1988).  Players remembered as attending  the 1838 event included older “greyheaded” men who reflected back on earlier play -- one of whom was on the local assessment roll in 1812.



1820s.20 -- Horace Greeley Lacks the Knack, Fears Getting Whacked


“Ball was a common diversion in Vermont while I lived there; yet I never became proficient at it, probably for want of time and practice.  To catch a flying ball, propelled by a muscular arm straight at my nose, and coming so swiftly that I could scarcely see it, was a feat requiring a celerity of action, an electric sympathy of eye and brain and hand . . . .  Call it a knack, if you will; it was quite beyond my powers of acquisition.


Horace Greeley, Recollections of a Busy Life (J. B. Ford, New York, 1869), page 117.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30.  Tom places the time as the early 1820s.  Greeley, born in New Hampshire in 1811, was apprenticed a Poultney VT printer in about 1825.  His book was accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search “greeley recollections owen.”  Poultney VT is on the New York border, about 70 miles NNW of Albany NY.  Greeley does not mention the game of wicket or round ball.



1820s.21 – College Prez Was a Klutz at Ball and Cricket


“I could not jump the length of my leg nor run as fast as a kitten . . . . At ball and cricket I ‘followed in the chase not like a hound that hunts, but one that fills up the cry.’” 


Harriet Raymond Lloyd, ed., Life and Letters of John Howard Raymond, Late President of Vassar College (Ford, Howard and Hulbert, New York, 1881), page 38.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 34.  Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search for “’john howard raymond.’”  Raymond, born in New York in 1814, summered as a boy in Norwalk CT.


1820s.22 –MA Boy Played One Old Cat, Base Ball in Early Childhood


“In my early boyhood I was permitted to run at large in the [Williamstown MA] street and over broad acres, playing ‘one old cat,’ and base ball (no scientific games or balls as hard as a white oak boulder in those days) excepted when pressed into service to ride the horse to plough out the corn and potatoes.” 


Keyes Danforth, Boyhood Reminiscences: Pictures of New England in the Olden Times in Williamstown (Gazlay Brothers, New York, 1895), page 12.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38.  The book was accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search “’pictures of new.’”  Danforth, born in 1822, became a judge.  Williamstown MA is in the NW corner of the commonwealth, and lies about 35 miles E of Albany NY.


1821.5 – NY Mansion Converted to Venue Suitable for Cricket, Base, Trap-Ball


In May and June 1821, an ad ran in some NY papers announding that the Mopunt Vernon mansion, was now open as Kensington House.  It could accommodate dinners and tea parties and clubs.  What’s more, later versions of the ad said: “The grounds of Kensington Hose are spacious and well adapated to the playing of the noble game of cricket, base, trap-ball, quoits and other amusements; and all the apparatus necessary for the above games wil be furnished to clubs and parties.”


Richard Hershberger posted to 19CBB on Kensington House on 10/7/2007, having seen the ad in the June 9, 1821 New York Gazette and General Advertiser.  Richard suggested that “in this context “base is almost certainly baseball, not prisoner’s base.”  John Thorn [email of 3/1/2008] later found a May 22, 1821 Kensington ad in the Evening Post that did not mention sports, and ads starting on June 2 that did.


1822.5 – Ball-playing Disallowed in Front of Hobart College Residence


“The rules for Geneva Hall in 1822 are still preserved.  The residents were not allowed to cut or saw firewood, or play ball or quoits, in front of the building.”


Warren Hunting Smith, Hobart and William Smith; the History of Two Colleges (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva NY, 1972.  Provided by Priscilla Astifan, email of 2/4/2008. 


1823c.9 –Kentucky Abolitionist Played Base-ball


“I had ever been devoted to athletic sports – riding on horseback . . . playing base-ball, bandy, foot-ball and all that – so I had confidence in my prowess.”  C. Clay, The Life of Cassius Marcellus Clay; Memoirs, Writings and Speeches, Volume 1 (Brennan and Co., Cincinnati, 1886), page 35.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 31.  Clay was 13 years old and at a KY College in 1823.  His book, which makes no other reference to ball-playing, was accessed 11/15/2008 via a Google Books search for “life of cassius.”


1824.6 – Great Jurist Recalls Schoolboy Baseball and Phillips Academy


“[At Phillips] Bodily exercise was not, however, entirely superseded by spiritual exercises, anda rudimentary form of base-ball and the heroic sport of foot-ball were followed with some spirit.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Cinders from the Ashes,” The Works of Oliver Wendel Holmes Volume 8 (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1892), page 251volume 8 Atlantic Monthly volume 23, January 1869, page 120.  He went on to recollect visiting the school in 1867, when he “sauntered until we came to a broken  field where there was quarrying and digging going on, --  our old base-ball ground.” Ibid, page 255. 


This essay originally appeared in The Atlantic Monthly volume 23, January 1869.  Note: see item #1829c.3 below for Holmes’ Harvard ballplaying.


1825.11 – Cricket Prohibited On or Near English Highways, We Mean It


Among many column-inches listing things that should never happen on a highway, we find:  “or fire or let off or throw any squib, rocket serpent, or other firework whatsoever, within eighty feet of the center of such road; or shall bait or run for the purpose of baiting any bull, or play [p. 167/168] at football, tennis [an indoor game then, as far as we know -- LMc] , fives, cricket, or any other game or games upon such road, or on the side or sides threof, or in any exposed situation near thereto, to the annoyance of  any passenger or passengers . . . “ Wm. Robinson, The Magistrate’s Pocket-Book; or, and Epitome of the Duties and Practice of a Justice of the Peace (London, 1825), section 87, pp 167-168. Provided by John Thorn, 2/8/2008.


1825c.12 – “How the Game of Ball Was Played”


Writing in 1866, a man (“W”) in Rochester NY described the game he had played “forty years since.”  That game featured balls made from raveled woolen stockings and covered by a shoemaker, a softer ball – “not as hard as a brick” -- than the NY ball, no fixed team size, soft tosses from the pitcher who took no run-up, “tick” hitting, the bound rule, plugging, a mix of flat and round bats.  He suggests organizing a throw-back game to show 1860’s youth “what grey heads can do.”


“W,” “The Game of Base Ball in the Olden Time,” Rochester Evening Express (July 10, 1866), page 3, column 4.  Provided by Priscilla Astifan, 2006.  To read the full text, go here. Note: the writer does not say where he played these games, mentioning that he moved to Rochester three years before.



1827.2 – Story Places Baseball in Rochester NY


Samuel Hopkins Adams, “Baseball in Mumford’s Pasture Lot,” Grandfather Stories (Random House, New York, 1947), pp. 143 – 156.  Full text is unavailable via Google Books as of 12/4/2008.


This story, evidently set in 1880 in Rochester, involves three boys who convince their grandfather to attend a Rochester-Buffalo game.  The grandfather contrasts the game to that which he had played in 1827.  He describes intramural play among the 50 members of a local club, with teams of 12 to 15 players per side, a three-out-side-out rule, plugging, a bound rule, and strict knuckles-below-knees pitching.  He also recalls attributes that we do not see elsewhere in descriptions of early ballplaying: a requirement that each baseman keep a foot on his base until the ball is hit, a seven-run homer when the ball went into a sumac thicket and the runners re-circled the bases, coin-flips to provide “arbitrament” for disputed plays, and the team with the fewest runs in an inning being replaced by a third team for the next inning [“three-old-cat gone crazy,” says one of the boys].  The grandfather’s reflection does not comment on the use of stakes instead of bases, the name used for the old game, the relative size or weight of the ball, or the lack of foul ground – in fact he says that out could be made on fouls.


Adams’ use of a frame-within-a-frame device is interesting to baseball history buffs, but the authenticity of the recollected game is hard to judge in a work of fiction.  Mumford’s lot was in fact an early Rochester ballplaying venue, and Thurlow Weed [#1825c.1] wrote of club play in that period.  Priscilla Astifan has been looking into Adams’ expertise on early Rochester baseball.  See #1828c.3 for another reference to Adams’ interest in baseball.  Caveat:  We welcome input on the essential nature of this story. Fiction? Fictionalized memoir?  Historical novel? 



1827.6 – For Good Health: Cricket for the Blokes, Bass-ball for the Lasses


“With the same intention [that is children’s health], the games of cricket, prison bars, foot ball, &c. will be useful, as children grow up, and are strong enough to endure such exercise.


“With regard tro girls, these amusements may be advantageously supplanated by bass-bal, battledore and shuttlecock, and similar and playful pursuits.”


William Newnham, The Principles of Physical, Intellectual, Moral, and Religious Education, Volume 1 (Londoin, 1827), page 123. Uncovered and provided by Mark Aubrey, email of 1/30/2008.



1827.7 – NY Boy Celebrates Releasement from School By Playing Ball


“In consequence of a dismission from school this afternoon, I play at ball . . . and perhaps you will say that I might have been better employed . . .  If so are your thoughts, I can tell you, that you are much mistaken.  If you have ever been confined to a study where every exertion of intellect was required, for any length of time, you must, upon releasement therefrom, have felt the pleasure of relaxation.” 


Nathaniel Moore, “Diaries 1827-1828,” Manuscript Division, New York Public Library, 106-L-1, May 26, 1827.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 26. Tom notes that Moore was a student at Clinton Academy in East Hampton, Long Island at the time.


1829.3 – Small Cambridge MA Schoolground Crimps Base and Cricket Play


14 year old Charles Henry Dana, later the author of Two Years Before the Mast and a leading abolitionist, found the playing grounds at his new Cambridge school too small.  “[N]one of the favorite games of foot-ball, hand-ball, base or cricket could be played in the grounds with any satisfaction, for the ball would be constantly flying over the fence, beyond which he boys could not go without asking special leave.  This was a damper on the more ranging & athletic exercises.”


Robert Metdorf, ed., An Autobiographical Sketch (1815-1842) (Shoe String Press, Hamden CT, 1953), pages 51-52. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38.  The text of the autobiography is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/16/2008.


1830s.5 -- Wicket Played in The Western Reserve [OH]


“How far the Connecticut game of wicket has travelled I cannot say, but it is certain that when the Western Reserve region of Ohio was settled from Connecticut, the game was taken along. Our member [of the Connecticut Society of Colonial War], Professor Thomas Day Seymour of Yale, tells me that  wicket was a favorite game of the students at Western Reserve College then located at Hudson Ohio . . . .  ‘Up to 1861,’ he says, ‘the standard games at our college were wicket and baseball, with wicket well in the lead.  This game was in no sense a revival.  A proof of this is the fact that young men coming to college [from?] all over the Reserve were accustomed to the game at home.’”  “The Game of Wicket and Some Old-Time Wicket Players,” in George Dudley Seymour, Papers and Addresses of the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut, Volume II of the Proceedings of the Society, (n. p., 1909.)  page 289.   Provided by John Thorn, email of 1/29/2008.


1830.18 –At PA Ballfield, Man Asks English Question, Receives American Answer


“I have spent an hour in a beautiful grove in this borough [West Chester PA] witnessing the sports of its denizens.  All attorneys, editors, physicians, were engaged in playing ball, while the Judge of the County was seated calmly by, preserving an account of the game!  I asked a very respectable gentleman to whom I had been introduced, who were the principal men in the town present; and he answered, that there were no principal men in the town --all were equalized, or attained no superiority save that of exertions fro the public weal . . .”Adams Sentinel (Gettysburg PA; August 10, 1830), page 7, as taken from the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Posted to 19CBB in October 2008 by John Thorn.


1830s.19 -- NH Lad Had Happy Games of Ball


“I had many happy hours with the village boys in games of ball and I spy.  ” A. Andrews, ed., Christopher C. Andrews: Recollections:  1829-1922 (Arthur H. Clark, Cleveland, 1928), page 25.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30.  Tom notes that Andrews lived in the Upper Village of Hillsboro NH.  Hillsboro NH is about 25 miles NW of Manchester NH.  The text of the Andrews book is not accessible via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.


1830s.20 –In GA, Men Played Fives, Schoolboys Played Base and Town Ball


“Men as well as boys played the competitive games of  ‘Long Bullets’ and ‘Fives,’ the latter played against a battery built by nailing planks to twenty-foot poles set to make the [p31/32] ‘battery’ at least fifty feet wide.  The school boys played ‘base,’ ‘bull-pen,’ ‘town ball’ and ‘shinny’ too.”  Jessie Pearl Rice, J. L. M. Curry:  Southerner, Statesman, and Educator (King’s Crown Press, New York, 1949), pages 6-7. 


Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 31-32.  The full text of the Rice biography is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/15/2008. Long-bullets involved distance throwing.  Fives is a team game resembling one-wall hand-ball.  Curry’s was in Lincoln County GA, about 30 miles NE of Augusta.


1830s.21-- Future OH Senator Has No Interest in Playing Ball


“Notwithstanding his studious habits as a boy [Clement Vallandigham] was fond of out-door sports, although never very fond of what the youngsters call playing. He much preferred going out gunning or fusing, to playing ball, or any of the other games so eagerly pursued as a general thing, by boys.”


James L. Vallandigham, A Life of Clement L. Vallandigham (Turnbell Brothers, Baltimore, 1872), page 10.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 32.  Clement Vallandigham was born in 1820 in Lisbon OH and grew up there.  The biography, barren for our purposes was accessed 11/15/2008 via a “life of clement” Google Books search.  Note:  is it helpful to list activities that biographers say did not happen?


1830s.22 – Ballplaying Recurs in Abolitionist’s Life


You may think of Thomas Wentworth Higginson [b. 1823] as a noted abolitionist, or as the mentor of Emily Dickenson, but he was also a ballplayer and sporting advocate [see also #1858.17].  Higginson’s autobiography includes several glimpses of MA ballplaying:


-- at ten he knew many Harvard students – “their nicknames, their games, their individual haunts, -- we watched them at football and cricket [page 40]”


-- at his Cambridge school “there was perpetual playing of ball and fascinating running games [page 20]”.


-- he and his friends “played baseball and football, and a modified cricket, and on Saturdays made our way to the tenpin alleys [page 36]”.


--once at Harvard College [Class of 1841] himself, he used “the heavy three-cornered bats and large balls of the game we called cricket [page 60].”  Note: sounds a bit like wicket?


-- in his early thirties he was president of a cricket club [and a skating club and a gymnastics club] in Worcester MA. [Pages 194-195


Source:  Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Cheerful Yesterdays (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1898).  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 33-34.  Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search for “’cheerful yesterdays.’”


1831.4 – As His Mom Sobs Fondly, NH Lad Rushes Out to Play Ball


In Hanover NH, Henry Smith [later Henry Durant – he thought there were already too many Smiths] was about ten when his mother mistily told him he now had a new cousin, Pauline. “A new cousin.  Huh!  Was that all?  And he hurtled out of the door to engage in a game of ball with [brother] William and the other boys”


Florence M. Kingsley, The Life of Henry Fowle Durant: Founder of Wellesley College (The Century Co., New York, 1924), page 28.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38.  Incomplete access to text of the biography via Google Books search for “’fowle durant.’”  Hanover NH is in the middle of nowhere.


1832.9  Norwich CT Sets $2 Fine for Playing Ball


“Be it ordained by the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of the city of Norwich . . . That if any person or persons should play at ball, cat ball, or sky ball, or at ball generally . . . in any of the public streets of said city, the person or persons so offending shall forfeit and pay . . . the sum of two dollars; and when any minor or apprentice shall be guilty of a violation of this by-law, the penalty may be recovered from the parent or guardian.”  The fine also applied to bowling, kite-flying, and hoops.  Norwich Courier, Volume 11, Issue 8 (May 16, 1832), page 1.  Provided by John Thorn, email of 1/14/2008.  Note:  “Sky ball?”


1833.10 – Letter Refers to “That Beautiful game – Base Ball”


“I suppose nowadays you play ball considerably.  If I can judge by our condition up here, it is the time of year [March] to play ball.  I think it was a great pity that we couldn’t teach these lazy rascals to play that beautiful game – Base Ball.”


Letter from Charles C. Cain to William Butler at Nathaniel Hall, Nathanial [sic] County PA, as reported in a syndicated column by Grantland Rice on July 7, 1949.  Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn on 11/5/2007.


1833.11 – MA Clergyman Notes “Usual” Fast Day Defections For Ballplaying


As one of his several diary references to ballplaying [see also #1796.2 and #1806.4] Thomas Robbins D.D. in 1833 wrote this diary entry about Fast Day in Mattapoisett MA:  “Fast.  Meetings well attended . . . . A part of the people were off playing ball, according to their usual practice . . . . Am very much fatigued.  The afternoon exercise was very long.  Read.”


On December 28, 1829 at Stratford CT, he wrote:  “Last week the boys played ball.”  On May 28, 1839 [what was Abner Graves doing that day?] at Mattapoisett he wrote “Very pleasant.  Thermometer rose to 70 [degrees].  Some playing ball.”


Increase N. Tarbox, ed., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D.D. 1796-1854, Volume 2 (Beacon Press, Boston, 1887), pages 163, 302, and 527.  Accessed 11/15/2008 via a Google Books "’robbins d. d.’ diary” search.  Searches of the text for cricket, wicket, and round-ball are unfruitful.


1835c.14 – Eagle Article Describes Early Ball-Making


“BASE BALLS.  Manner and Extent of the Manufacture in this Country – How they were Made Fifty Years Ago – Gradual Progress of the Business,” Brooklyn Eagle, February 3rd 1884.


“Half a century ago such base balls as are in use at the present time were entirely unknown.  The balls then used were made of rubber and were so lively that when dropped to the ground for a height of six or seven feet they would rebound ten or twelve inches. A blow with the bat would not drive them so far as one of the balls now in use can be driven with the same force, but when they struck the ground they were generally much more difficult to stop on account of their bounding propensities. . . .  


“Many balls then in use – in fact nearly all of them – were home made.  An old rubber overshoe would be cut into strips a half inch wide and the strips wound together in a ball shape.  Over this a covering of woolen yarn would be wound and a rude leather or cloth cover sewn over the yarn.  Sometimes the strips of leather were put in a vessel of hot water and boiled until they became gummy, when they would adhere together and form a solid mass of rubber.  This, after being would with yarn and covered with leather by the local shoemaker, was a fairly good ball and one that would stand considerable batting without bursting.


“In the lake regions and other sections of the country where sturgeon were plentiful, base balls were commonly made of the eyes of that fish.  The eye of a large sturgeon contains a ball nearly as large as a walnut. . . .  They made a lively ball, but were more like the dead ball of the present than any ball in use at that time.”


Reference and article provided by Rob Loeffler, 10/21/2008.  Note:  The balls of 1835 were reportedly smaller and lighter [and commonly perceived, at least, to be softer] than regulation balls of the 1850’s and later.  They would thus “carry” less, and like a tennis ball today, lose more velocity when hit or thrown than a heavier ball.   


1836.7 – Scots Still  Play “Ball Paces,”  a Type of Trap Ball with Running


’The Ball Paces’ was formerly much played, but is now almost extinct.  In this game a square was formed; and each angle was a station where one of the party having the innings was posted.  A hole was dug in the ground, sufficient to hold the ball, which was placed on a bit of wood, rising about six inches above the ball.  The person at the hole struck the point of this with his bat, when the ball rose; and in its descent [p116/p117] was struck with the bat to as great a distance as possible.  Before the ball was caught and thrown into the batman’s station, each man at the four angles ran from one point to another, and every point counted one in the game.”  George Penny, Traditions of Perth (Dewar & Co., Perth, 1836), pp 116/17...  Provided by David Block, email of 5/17/2005.


David’s accompanying comment:  “From the description it appears to be a remarkable hybrid of trap-ball and the multiple goal version of stool-ball described by Strutt. . . .  This is the first trap-ball type game I’ve ever come across that features baserunning.”    Penny also mentions cricket: “Cricket was never much practiced in Scotland, though much esteemed by the English.  It was lately introduced here; several cricket clubs established; and is now becoming popular.” Ibid, page 117.


1837.8 – Well, As Goes Canton, So Goes Indianapolis


Section 34 of an Indianapolis IN ordinance said:


“Any person who shall on the Sabbath day play at cricket, bandy, cat, town ball, corner ball, or any other game of ball within the limits of the corporation, or shall engage in pitching quoits or dollars in any public place therein, shall on conviction pay the sum of one dollar for each offense.”  Indiana Journal, May 13, 1837.  [See the very similar #1837.7, above.]  Provided by Richard Hershberger, email of 2/2/2008.  Richard points out that these very similar regulations give us the earliest citation for the term “town ball” he knows of.  Note:  A dollar fine for “pitching dollars?”


1837. 9 – Hoboken NJ -- Already a Mecca for Ballplayers


“Young men that go to Hoboken to play ball must not drink too much brandy punch.  It is apt to get into their heads.  Now it is a law in physics that brandy in a vacuum gets impudent and big.”  New York Herald (April 26, 1837), page?  Posted to 19CBBby John Thorn, 10/27/2008.


1840.27  -- Hartford CT Skunks Granville MA at Wicket


“Wicket Ball – The ball players of this city met those of Granville, Mass. In accordance with a challenge from the latter, at Salmon Brook, about 17 miles from here (half way between the two places) on Wednesday last, for the purpose of trying their skill at the game of “Wicket.”  The sides were made up of 25 men each, and the arrangement was to play nine games, but the Hartford players beating them five times in succession, the game was considered as fairly decided.”  Then the two sides shared dinner.  Pittsfield Sun, July 2, 1840, reprinted from the Hartford Times.  Provided by Richard Hershberger, email of 6/19/2007.


1840s.28 -- At Hobart College, “Wicket and Baseball Played in Summer”


At upstate NY’s Hobart College in Geneva, “Social events were among the few recreations available; there were no intercollegiate athletics, and no concerted sports at all. . . . wicket and baseball were played in summer, there was skating in winter, and that was about all.”  Warren Hunting Smith, Hobart and William Smith; the History of Two College (Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva NY, 1972), page 123.  Caveat: The author is imprecise about the date of this observation; this passage appears in the chapter “Student Life Before 1860,” and our impression is that he refers to the 1840s . . . but the 1830s or 1850s cannot be ruled out.  Provided by Priscilla Astifan, email of 2/4/2008.  Priscilla notes that this book also details a number of somewhat destructive student pranks and drinking. “When I read about all the pranks and dissipation, carousing, etc., I see why base ball and other sports were considered a welcome diversion when they became popular.”  [Email of 10/22/2008.] 


1840s.29  --  Rural Boys “Played Bass Ball” in Western Ohio


 “A little way from the school-house, and on the opposite side of the road, was a pleasant beech grove, where the boys played bass ball, and where the girls carried disused benches and see-sawed over fallen logs.” Alice Carey, Clovernook, or Recollections of Our Neighborhood in the West (Redfield,  Clinton Park, NY,, 1852), page  280.  Provided by David Block 2/27/2008. 


The book comprises memories of her OH life by Alice Carey [Cary), who was born in 1820 in a village founded three years earlier and lying 15 miles north of modern Cincinnati.  With minimal formal education, she nonetheless moved to New York City in 1850 to seek a writing career. Thus, her memoir portrays OH life in the 1830s and 1840s.  Caveat:  the term “bass ball,” however, may or may not be western Ohio usage, as Carrey may have learned the term in the East, or have employed the term in order to reach readers. Note:  This book is not available on-line as of October 2008.  It would be useful to learn if there is a specific time period connected to the narrative accompanying this “bass ball” reference.


1840s.30 – Ballplayer Recalls Boyhood Matches, Ballmaking, Adult Play



On Fast Day [page 68]:  “The town meeting was succeeded in April by Fast Day, appointed always for a Thursday.  For some unknown reason Thursday in New England was an almost sacred day, a sort of secular Sabbath . . . .  Boys were not generally compelled to attend the Fast Day religious service.  It had ceased to be as strictly kept as before.  In villages and towns there was customarily a match game of ball, very unlike the current [1910] base ball.  Boys played [p68/69] with boys and men with men.  The New England bootmakers, of whom there were some in most villages, were the leaders in these games.”


On ball-making, and on plugging [page 174] :  “Our ingenuity was exercised in weaving watch chains in various patterns with silk twist; in making handsome bats for ball, and in making the balls themselves with the raveled yarn of old stockings, winding it over a bit of rubber, and sewing on a cover of fine thin calf skin.  This ball did not kill as it struck one, and, instead of being thrown to the man on the bases was more usually at thee man running between them.  He who could make a good shot of that kind was much applauded, and he who was hit was laughed at and felt very sheepish.  That was true sport, plenty of fun and excitement, yet not too serious and severe.  The issue of the game was talked over for a week.  I did my daily stint of stitching with only one thing in mind, to [p174/175] play ball when through; for the boys played every afternoon.  When there was to be a match game the men practices after the day’s work was done.”


On bootmakers [page 170]:  “The smaller [bootmaking] shops were the centers for the gossip, rumors, and discussions which agitated the community.  There men sharpened their wits upon each other, played practical jokes, sang, argued the questions of that [p170/171] day, especially slavery, and arranged every week from early spring to late autumn a match game of ball either among themselves or the bootmakers of neighboring towns for Saturday afternoon, which was their half holiday.”


John Albee, Confessions of Boyhood (R.G. Badger, Boston, 1910).  Albee was born in 1833 and grew up in Bellingham MA, about 30 miles SW of Boston and in the heart of Round Ball [Mass game] territory, with neighboring towns of Holliston, Medway, Sharon, and Dedham.  The book is found via a “confessions of boyhood” search via Googlebooks, as accessed 11/14/2008.


1840s.31 –Lem:  Juvenile Fiction’s Boy Who Loved Round-ball


Noah Brookes, Lem: A New England Village Boy: His Adventures and his Mishaps (Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1901).  Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search “Lem boy.”  Lem may be fiction’s only round-ball hero.


On pages 93-97, the novel lays out the game that was played by Lem [born 1830] and his playmates, which seems to follow the customs of the Massachusetts game, but without stakes as bases. The passage includes a field diagram, some terminology [“the bases . . . were four in number, and were called ‘gools,’ a word which probably came from ‘goals.’”], and ballmaking technique.  Lem is, alas, sidelined for the season when he is plugged “in the hollow of the leg” while gool-running [Page 97]   Other references:


On spring, pp 92-93:  “Ball-playing began early in the spring; [p92/93] it was the first of the summer games to come out.


On Fast Day, p. 93:  “I am afraid that Lem’s only notion of Fast Day was that that was the long-expected day when, for the first time that year, a game of ball was played on the Common.”


On the pleasant effects of a change in the path of the Gulf Stream, pp. 228-229: “no slushy streets, and above all, no cold barns to go into to feed turnips to the cold cows!  A land where top-time, kite-[p228/229] time, and round-ball-time would always be in season.  Think of it!”


On making teams for simulating Revolutionary War tussles, p. 107: “We can’t all be Americas; and we have agreed to choose sides, as we do in round ball.”


Note: we welcome comment on the authenticity of Brooks’ depiction of ballplaying in the 1840s,


1840s.32 – Ballplaying by Slaves is Part of a Normal Plantation Sunday in GA


“The slaves had finished the tasks that had been assigned to them in the morning and were now enjoying holiday recreations.  Some were trundling the hoop, some were playing ball, some wer dancing at the sound of the fiddle . . . In this manner the Sabbath is usually spent on a Southern plantation.”  Emily Burke, Pleasure and Pain: Reminiscences of Georgia in the 1840s (Beehive Press, Savannah, GA, 1991), pages 40-41.  Originally published in Ohio in 1850.  Text unavailable 11/08 on Google Books.


Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 30.  Tom [ibid] describes Burke as a northern schoolteacher.


1840c.33 -- Future University Head Plays Two Types of Ball in NC


Kemp Battle, who moved to Raleigh NC at age 8, and who would stay to become President of the University of North Carolina, wrote later of two forms of local ballplaying.  The first involved high and low pitching to the batter’s taste, leading and stealing, plugging – the ball was loosely wrapped—the bound rule, a three-strike rule, and one-out-side-out innings.  [The absence of foul ground, team size, and nature/spacing of bases are not mentioned.]  The second form, “known as old hundred or town ball” used all-out-side-out innings, with the last batter able to revive vanquished team members with certain feats.


W. Battle, ed., Memories of an Old–Time Tar Heel (U of NC Press, Chapel Hill NC, 1945), pages 36 and 57.   Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 31.  The text of the Battle book is unavailable via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.


1840c.34 –Ball-Playing at Marshall College in PA


“The College did not supply the students [p167/168] of that day with a gymnasium as an incentive to physical exercise; but they themselves naturally found out the kind of recreations they needed . . . . [In addition to local excursions,] [s]ometimes ball-playing was the recreation, and sometimes it was leaping or jumping, that brought the largest crowd”


Theodore Appel, Recollections of College Life, at Marshall College, Mercersburg, Pa., from 1839 to 1845 (Daniel Miller, Reading PA, 1886), pp. 167-168.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 33.  Mercersburg is about 60 miles SW of Harrisburg and about 10 miles from the border with Maryland.  The text was accessed 11/16/2008 via a Google Books search “appel mercersburg.”


1840.35 – Carlisle PA Bans Playing Ball


“It shall not be lawful for any person or persons . . . to frequent and use the market-house as a place for playing ball or any other game.”  “An Ordinance Relating to Nuisances and Other Offences Passed the 30th November, 1840,” in Chatter and Ordinances of the Borough of Carlisle (Carlisle Herald Office, Carlisle, 1841), page 43.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 37.  The fine was up to $10.00.  Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search for “carlisle ordinances.”  Carlisle PA is about 20 miles WSW of Harrisburg in southern PA.


1841.14 – NY State Senator Tests the Sabbath Law


NY State Senator Minthorne Tompkins, whose property opens on a a lot “well calculated for a game of ball . . . has been much diverted of late with the sport of the boys, who have numbers some three hundred strong on [Sabbath Day]. . . . The Sunday officers believing it to be their duty to stop this open violation of the laws of the State, too

measures to effect it, but Senator T. believing the law wrong, too measures to sustain it,

and when the officers appeared on the ground Sunday fortnight, the Senator also appeared, and told the boys that he would protect them, if they would protect him.  Thus they entered into an alliance offensive and defensive, and the officers, after a little brush with the honorable ex-senator, he having given his name as responsible for their deeds, left the premises in charge of the victors, they conceiving that among three hundred opponents, discretion was the greater part of valor.  The ex-senator appeared at the upper police before Justice Palmer, and after a hearing, entered bail for an appearance at the Court of Sessions, to answer the offense of interfering with the duties of the officers, etc. He refused to pay the costs of suit . . . . Justice Palmer discovering that the ex-senator's lawyers, John A. Morrill and Thomas Tucker, Esqrs. were about obtaining a writ of habeas corpus, concluded to let him go without getting the costs, in order that the case might be tested before the Court of Sessions.  Thus the affair stands at present, and when it comes up before trial will present a curious aspect."  New York Herald, December 21,1841.  Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/2/2008.

Richard adds, “Alas, a search does not turn up the resolution to this case”.


1841.15 – Base and Wicket in New Orleans?


“Who has not played ‘barn ball’ in boyhood, ‘base’ in his youth and ‘wicket’ in his adulthood?”  New Orleans Picayune, 1841.  This cite is found in Tom Melville, The Tented Field: A History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State U Press, Bowling Green, 1998), page 6.  He attributes it, apparently, to Dale Somers, The Rise of Sports in New Orleans (LSU Press, Baton Rouge, 1972), page 48.  Note: Melville is willing to identify the sport as the one that was played mostly in the CT-central MA area . . . but it is conceivable that the writer intended to denote cricket instead?  Do we have other refernces to wicket in LA?


1841.16 —Fast Day Choice in ME: Hear a “Fact Sermon” or Play Ball?


“Thursday wind northeast cloudy & cool fast day the people assemble at Holts to play Ball & some quarreling I fear it would be better to go to meeting and hear a fact sermon as once was the fasion.”  “Journal of Jonathan Phillips of Turner, Maine (1841), entry for April 22.  Source:, accessed 11/14/2008.  Phillips was born in Sylvester [not Turner] ME in 1780.  Turner is now a town of about 5000 souls and is about 60 miles north of Portland and 30 miles west of Augusta.


1841.17 – Clevelanders Play Ball at Sunset on Water Street


A Cleveland OH newspaper writer was moved to respond to reader [Edith] who groused about “infantile sports:”


“Playing Ball is among the very first of the ’sports’ of our early years. Who has not teased his grandmother for a ball, until the ‘old stockings’ have been transformed into one that would bound well? Who has not played ‘barn ball’ in his boyhood, ‘base’ in his youth, and ‘wicket’ in his manhood? – There is fun, and sport, and healthy exercise, in a game of ‘ball.’ We like it; for with it is associated recollections of our earlier days. And we trust we shall never be too old to feel and to ‘take delight’ in the amusements which interested us in our boyhood.  If ‘Edith’ wishes to see ‘a great strike’ and ‘lots of fun,’ let her walk down Water Street some pleasant afternoon towards ‘set of sun’ and see the ‘Bachelors’ make the ball fly.


Cleveland Daily Herald (April 15, 1841).  Posted to 19CBB on August 21, 2008 by Kyle DeCicco-Carey.  Note:  Are they playing wicket?  Another game?  What types of Clevelanders would have congregated on Water Street?


1841.18 – LA Editor Endorses Forming New Clubs for Ballplaying


Playing off the Cleveland Daily Herald defense of ballplaying [#1841.17], a New Orleans editor challenged the people of Louisiana:  “[T]hose who desire now and then to spend a day in freedom and pleasure, adding powerfully both to physical and mental vigor, can never do better than to dash away into some of the commons in the vicinity of our own Crescent City and choose sides for an old fashioned game of ball.  We have ‘clubs’ and ‘societies’ for almost every other purpose ever thought of. Who will first move the formation of a club to indulge in the manly and refreshing sport of ball-playing?”


“Playing Ball,” The Daily Picayune [New Orleans] , Volume 5, number 101 (May 25, 1841), page 2.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), pages 40-41.


1844.10 – Fast Day Game in NH on the Common – Unless Arborism Goes Too Far


“In Keene, New Hampshire, residents used the town common for the Fast Day ball game in 1844.”  Harold Seymour, Baseball; the People’s Game (Oxford University Press, 1990), page 201.  The book does not provide a source for this report.


Seymour’s source may be David R. Proper, “A Narrative of Keene, New Hampshire, 1732-1967” in “Upper Ashuelot:” A History of Keene, New Hampshire (Keene History Committee, Keene NH, 1968), page 88. as accessed on 11/13/2008 at:  This account describes the arguments against planting 141 trees along Keene streets, one being that trees “would impair use of the Common as a parade ground for military and civic reviews, as a market place for farmers and their teams, as a field for village baseball games on Fast Day, as an open space for wood sleds in winter, and as a free area for all the activity of Court Week.” Note: Is it fair to infer that [a] Fast Day games were a well-established tradition by 1844, and that [b] ballplaying on the Common was much less often seen on other days of the year? What was Court Week?


1844.11 – Why Fast Day Comes Only Once a Year, Maybe


“Thursday April 4th.  A very warm day it is fast day* & I have played ball so much that I am to tired I can hardly set up I don’t think I shall want to have fast day come again for a year.”  Diary of Edward Jenner Carpenter of Greenfield MA, available online at: as accessed November 17th 2008.  Carpenter was an 18 year old apprentice to a Greenfield cabinet-maker.  Greenfield is in NW MA, about 15 miles from the VT border and about 40 miles north of Northampton.


1845.18 – On “Second Anniversary,” The NY Club Plays Intramural Game


NEW YORK BASE BALL CLUB:  The second Anniversary of the Club came off yesterday, on the ground in the Elysian fields.”  The game matched two nine-player squads, and ended with a 24-23 score.  “The Club were honored by the presence of representatives from the Union Star Cricket Club, the Knickerbocker Clubs, senior and junior, and other gentlemen of note.”  NY Club players on the box score included Case, Clair, Cone, Gilmore, Granger, Harold, Johnson, Lalor, Lyon, Murphy, Seaman, Sweet [on both sides’], Tucker, Venn, Wheaton, Wilson, and Winslow.  Posted to 19CBB by John Thorn, 3/31/2008.   Source: The New York Herald, November 11, 1845.


1845.19 – Painter Depicts Some Type of Old-Fashioned Ball?


A painting by Asher Durand [b. 1796] painting An Old Man’s Reminiscences may include a visual recollection of a game played long before.  Thomas Altherr describes the scene:  “a silver-haired man is seated in the left side of he painting and he watches a group of pupils at play in front of a school, just having been let out for the day or for recess.  Although this painting is massive, the details, without computer resolution, are a bit fuzzy.  But it appears that there is a ballgame of some sort occurring.  One lad seems to be hurling something and other boys are arranged around him in a pattern suspiciously like those of baseball-type games.”  Tom surmises that the old man is likely reflecting on his past.


Asher Durand, An Old Man’s Reminiscences (1845), Albany Institute of History and Art, Albany NY.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 40.  For a credit-card-sized image – even the schoolhouse is iffy -- go to, as accessed 11/17/2008

Note: Can we learn more about Durand’s – a member of the Hudson River School of landscape artists, hailing from New Jersey -- own background and youth?


1845.20 – Painting Shows Crossed Bats and Some Balls in School


The painting shows a five-year-old boy meeting his new schoolmaster, is by Francis William Edmonds, and Thomas Altherr describes it:  “A pair of crossed bats and at least four balls resting in a corner of the schoolroom foyer at the lower right.  The painting’s message is some what ambiguous: Is the boy surrendering his play time to the demands of studiousness, or are baseball and kite-flying the common recreations for the [school] master’s charges?”


Francis William Edmonds, The New Scholar (1845) Manoogian Collection, Natinal Gallery of Art, Washington DC.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games,” Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 40.  A small dark image appears on page 186 of Young America: Childhood in 19th-century Art and Culture, as accessed 11/17/2008 via Google Books search for “edmonds ‘new scholar.’”


1846.17 – English Cricketers Form First National Team


[Sensing a large new audience, cricket entrepreneur William] “Clark therefore created the All England Eleven (AEE), a squad of professionals available to play matches wherever and whenever he could arrange fixtures.  Exploiting the improved communications of the industrial age – turnpike roads and the ever-expanding railway network (not to mention a reliable and affordable postal service) – Clark set out to take cricket to all the corners of the kingdom, and from its first match in 1846, the AEE proved a resounding success.”  Simon Rae, It’s Not Cricket: A History of Skullduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 70.  Another facilitating factor that Rae might have mentioned was the rise of widely available and cheap newspapers.


1846.18 – NYC:  Inky Mob of Ballplayers 1, Policeman 0


The scene: in the park in front of NYC's City Hall.


“A simultaneous convocation of the emphatically "Young" Democracy occurred Friday about noon in the Park. Such an assemblage of juvenile dirt and raggedness has not, we warrant, been before seen even in New-York. The nucleus of this funny crowd was of course the news-boys and the inky imps from the printing-offices in this quarter. Around them were gathered all sorts of boys -- big boys, baker-boys, apple-boys, rag-boys, and a sprinkling of "the boys" -- were on hand, and constituted a formidable phalanx of fury. The occasion of this juvenile emeute was a Policeman who had disturbed an important game of ball which was going forward. He had several times remonstrated with the sportsmen and represented the panes and penalties likely to be broken and suffered by them, but without effect, and at length got possession of the Ball, which he "pocketed" with the certainty of an old billiard-player. Instantly he was surrounded by a mob of juvenilit y, hooting, jeering and laughing at him and which constantly increased its numbers. He stood it very well, however, until a great strapping urchin of fifteen, up to his elbows in printers' ink, came up and puffed a cloud of vile cigar-smoke in the poor fellow's face. This gained the day. The Ball was given up, the Policeman dove into the recesses of the City Hall and the game proceeded.  New-York Daily Tribune, March 24, 1846, p. 1, col. 2., as posted to 19CBB by George Thompson, 2/24/2008.


George’s comment:  “This NY park has always been a triangle, with its base in front of City Hall, and tapering southward to a point. At present, a good part of the broadest part of the Park is taken up by parking, which wouldn't have been the case then. There is now a fountain in the middle of what's left of the park -- there was a fountain then, too, though I don't know where exactly. I suppose that there were trees here and there, as there are now. So whatever form of ball these rascals were playing, it had to accommodate itself to an oddly shaped field, with obstacles. But this is just the usual challenge that boys have always faced.”


1847.9 – Li’l Prince’s Birthday Party Includes Cricket, Rounders.


Richard Hershberger relates: The Preston Guardian (Preston, England) of August 14, 1847 reported on the birthday celebration of Prince Alfred, Queen Victoria’s fourth child, who was three years old.  The activities included a long list of physical activities, including ‘ . . . Dancing, cricket, quoits, trap bat and ball, and rounders . . . . ‘  No mention of “base ball,” but we wouldn’t expect one if “base ball” and “rounders” were synonyms.  Posted to 19CBB, 2/5/2008.


1847.10 – Ice Bowl


Cricket Match on the Ice. – A cricket match which afforded considerable amusement to a large field of spectators, has been played during the week, in Long Meadow, near Oxford, between two sides of eight each, selected by Messrs. W. and J. Bacon, most of them well known cricketers, as well as good skaters.”  Spirit of the Times, Saturday, February 6, 1847, page 596, column 2.  J. Bacon’s side won, 93-89.  Provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  


1847.11 – Alabaman Mentions “Bass Ball,” Goal


In an article from the Alabama Reporter, an unidentified writer attempts to describe curling to Southerners like this:  “What is ‘Curling,’ eh? Why, did you ever play ‘bass ball,’ or ‘goal,’ or ‘hook-em-snivy,’ on the ice?  Well, curling is not like either.  In curling, sides are chosen; each player has a bat, one end of which is turned up, somewhat like a plough-handle, with which to knock a ball on ice without picking it up as in the game of foot-ball, which curling resembles.” Reprinted in The Spirit of the Times, January 16, 1847, page 559.  Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008.  David explains, “Clearly, the Alabama writer had curling confused with ice hockey, which was itself an embryonic sport that the time.”  Or maybe he confused it with ice-hurling, which actually employs a ball.  Note: Could gentle readers from AL please enlighten Protoball on the nature and fate of “hook-em-snivy?”  I asked Mister Google about the word, and he rather less helpfully and rather more cryptically usual, said this:  “My Quaker grandmother, born in Maryland in 1823, used [the word] in my hearing when she was about seventy years old.  She said that it was a barbarism in use among common people and that we must forget it.”


1848.14 – Game of Baseball Attains Dictionary Perch


“BASE.  A game of hand-ball.”  John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States (first edition; Bartlett and Welford, New York, 1848), page 24.)  Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008.  David indicates that this is “the earliest known listing of baseball in an American dictionary.”  Bartlett offers a more elaborate definition in 1859 – see below.


1848.15  English Novel Mentions, Thread-the-Needle, “Base-Ball:”  “Such Games!


“he gave Bessy his arm, and they went over to Bushey Park, where most of the party from the van had collected.  And they were having such games!  Base-ball, and thread-the-needle, and kiss-in-the-ring, until their laughter might have been heard at Twickenham.”  Albert Smith, The Struggles and Adventures of Christopher Tadpole at Home and Abroad (Richard Bentley, London, 1848), page 121.  Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008 email.  Note:  This all sounds a tad less than chaste to the 21st century mind, eh?


1849.11 – Character in New Fictional Autobiography Played Cricket, Base-Ball


“On fourths of July, training days and other occasions, young men from the country around, at a distance of fifteen or twenty miles, would come for the purpose of competing for the championship of these contests, in which, in which, as the leader of the school, I soon became conspicuous.  Was there a game at cricket or base-ball to be played, my name headed the list of the athletae.”  W.S. Mayo, Kaloolah, or Journeying to the Djebel Kumri.  An Autobiography (George P. Putnam, New York, 1849), page 20.  The following page has an isolated reference to the ball grounds at the school.  Mayo was from upstate NY.  Posting to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger, 1/24/2008. Richard considers this the first appearance of base-ball in American fiction, as the games in #1837.2 and #1838.4 above are not cited as base ball and could be another type of game. The fifth edition [1850] of Kaloolah is available via Google Books, and was accessed on 10/24/2008; the ballplaying references in this edition are on pages 20 and 21. 


1850s.20 –  Town-ball As Played in Ohio


“Town-ball was base-ball in the rough. I recall some distinctive features: If a batter missed a ball and the catcher behind took it, he was ‘caught out.’  Three ‘nips’ also put him out. He might be caught out on ‘first bounce.’ If the ball were thrown across his path while running base, he was out. One peculiar feature was that the last batter on a side might bring his whole side in by successfully running to first base and back six times in succession, touching first base with his bat after batting. This was not often, but sometimes done; and we were apt to hold back our best batter to the last, which we called ‘saving up for six-maker.’ This phrase became a general proverb for some large undertaking; and to say of one ‘he's a six-maker,’

meant that he was a tip-top fellow in whatever he undertook, and no higher compliment could be passed."


Source:  Henry C. McCook, The Senator: A Threnody (George W. Jacobs, Philadelphia, 1905), page 208.  This passage is excerpted from the annotations to a long poem written in honor the memory of Senator Marcus Hanna of OH.  The verse itself:  “Shinny and marbles, flying kite and ball, / Hat-ball and hand-ball and, best loved of all!--/ Town-ball, that fine field sport, that soon/ By natural growth and skilful change, became/ Baseball, by use and popular acclaim/ Our nation’s favorite game” [Ibid. page 54].  Provided via Email from Richard Hershberger, August 2007.  McCook’s note describes hat-ball as a plugging game, and hand-ball as a game for one sides of one, two, or three boys that was played “against a windowless brick gable wall.”  Note: were “nips” foul tips?   


1850s.21 -- “Shoddy” Lord’s Opts for Mechanical Grass-Cutter


The art of preparing a pitch came surprisingly late in cricket’s evolution. . . .  [The grounds were] shoddily cared for . . . .  Attitudes were such that in the 1850s, when an agricultural grass-cutter was purchased, one of the more reactionary members of the MCC committee conscripted a group of navies [unskilled workers] to destroy it. This instinctive Luddism suffered a reverse with the death of George Summer in 1870 and that year a heavy roller was at last employed on the notorious Lord’s square.”  Simon Rae, It’s Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 215.


1850.22 -- British Trade Unionists Play Base Ball


Richard Hershberger found an account of blue collar base ball in England.  A union journal described a May 21 march in which “hundreds of good and true Democrats” participated.  Boating down the Thames from London, the group got to Gravesend [Kent] and later reached “the spacious grounds of the Bat and Ball Tavern,” where they took up various activities, including “exhilarating” games of “cricket, base ball, and other recreations.”  Source: “Grand Whitsuntide Chartist Holiday,” Northern Star and National Trades’ Journal, Volume 13, Number 657 (May 25, 1850), page 1.  Posted to 19CBB on 2/5/2008.   


1850.23 -- English Novel Briefly Mentions Base-Ball


“Emma, drawing little Charles toward her, began a confidential conversation with him on the subject of his garden and companions at school, and the comparative merits of cricket and base-ball.” Catherine Anne Hubback, The Younger Sister, Volume I (London, Thomas Newby 1850), page 166.  Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008.  Mrs. Hubback was the niece of Jane Austen.  Note:  The next line in the novel starts “Tom was repulsed.” I don’t know what Mrs. Hubback was conveying with that twist.


1850s.24 – In NYC – Did “Plugging” Actually Persist to the mid-1850s?


John Thorn feels that “while the Knick rules of September 23, 1845 (and, by William R. Wheaton's report in 1887, the Gothams practice in the 1830s and 1840s) outlawed plugging/soaking a runner in order to retire him, other area clubs were slow to pick up the point.”

“Henry Chadwick wrote to the editor of the New York Sun, May 14, 1905: ‘It happens that the only attractive feature of the rounders game is this very point of ‘shying’ the ball at the runners., which so tickled Dick Pearce [in the early 1850s, when he was asked to go out to Bedford to see a ball club at play]. In fact, it was not until the '50s that the rounders point of play in question was eliminated from the rules of the game, as played at Hoboken from 1845 to1857.’”

“The Gotham and the Eagle adopted the Knick rules by 1854 . . . but other
clubs may not have done so till '57.” Note:  John invites further discussion on this point. The Wheaton letter is linked to entry #1837.1 above.


1850s.25 – If It’s May Day, Boston Needs Sam Malone!


“On the first of May each year, large crowds filled the [Boston] Commons to picnic, play ball or other games, and take in entertainment.”  John Corrigan, “The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century,” in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 44.  Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search “business of the heart”


1850c.26 -- Needed: More Festival Days – Like Fast Day? -- for Playing


“[T]hey committed a radical error in abolishing all the Papal holidays, or in not substituting something therefore.  We have Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, and Fast-Day when the young men play ball.  We need three times as many festivals.”  Arethusa Hall, compiler, Life and Character of the Reverend Sylvester Judd (Crosby, Nichols and Co., Boston, 1854), page 330.  The book compiles ideas and views from Judd’s writings.  Judd was born in 1813 and died at 40 in 1853.  John Corrigan [see #1850s.25] quotes a James Blake as capturing popular attitudes about Fast Day.  Writing of Fast Day 1851, Blake said “Fast & pray says the Governor, Feast & play says the people.”  John Corrigan, “The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century,” in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 45.  Note: Corrigan’s citation #4 for this quote is unavailable online.


1851.5 – Robert E. Lee Promotes Cricket at West Point?


A twenty-one year old cricket enthusiast visited West Point from England, and remarked on “the beautiful green sward they had and just the place to play cricket. . . . The cadets played no games at all. . . . It was the first time that I had a glimpse of Colonel Robert E. Lee [who was to become Superintendent of West Point].  He was a splendid fellow, most gentlemanly and a soldier every inch. . . .


“Colonel Lee said he would be greatly obliged to me if I would teach the officers how to play cricket, so we went to the library. . .  .Lieutenant Alexander asked for the cricket things.  He said, ‘Can you tell me, Sir, where the instruments and apparatus are for playing cricket?’ The librarian know nothing about them and so our project came to an end.” “The Boyhood of Rev. Samuel Robert Calthrop.”  Compiled by His Daughter, Edith Calthrop Bump.  No date given. Accessed 10/31/2008 at  Note: Lee is reported to have become Superintendent of West Point in September 1852; and had been in Baltimore until then; can Calthrop’s date be rationalized?


1852.10 – Fictional “Up-Country” Location Has Bass-Ball and Wicket


 “Both houses were close by the road, and the road was narrow; but on either side was a strip of grass, and in process of time, I appeared and began ball-playing upon the green strip, on the west side of the road. At these times, on summer mornings, when we were getting well warm at bass-ball or wicket, my grandfather would be seen coming out of his little swing-gate, with a big hat aforesaid, and a cane. He enjoyed the game as much as the youngest of us, but came mainly to see fair play, and decide mooted points.”


L.W. Mansfield, writing under the pseudonym “Z. P.,“ or Zachary Pundison, Up-country Letters (D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1852), page 277. Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008.  David notes: “This is a published collection of letters that includes one dated March 1851, entitled ‘Mr. Pundison’s Grandfather.’ In it the author is reminiscing about events of 20 years earlier.”  Note:  It might be informative to learn whether this novel has a particular setting [wicket is only known in selected areas) and where Mansfield lived.  There is a second incidental reference to wicket: “this is why it is pleasant to ride, walk, play at wicket, or mingle in city crowds” . . . [i.e., to escape endless introspection]. Ibid, page 90.


1853.7 – Didactic Novel Pairs “Bass-Ball” and Rounders at Youths’ Outing


“The rest of the party strolled about the field, or joined merrily in a game of bass-ball or rounders, or sat in the bower, listening to the song of birds.”  A Year of Country Life: or, the Chronicle of the Young Naturalists (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1853), page 115.  Provided by Richard Hershberger, 1/30/2008.


As a way of teaching nature [each chapter introduces several birds, insects, and “wild plants”] this book follows a group of boys and girls of unspecified age [seriously pre-pubescent, we think] through a calendar year.  The bass-ball/rounders reference above is one of the few times we run across both terms in a contemporary writing.  So, now: are there two distinct games or just two distinct names for the same game?  Well, Murphy’s Law, meet origins research: the syntax here leaves that muddy, as it could be the former answer if the children played bass-ball and rounders separately that [June] day.


Richard’s take:  “It is possible that there were two games the party played . . . but the likelier interpretation is that this was one game, with both names given to ensure clarity.”  David Block [email of 2/27/2008] agrees with Richard.  Richard also says “It is possible that as the English dialect moved from “base ball” to “rounders,” English society concurrently moved from the game being played primarily played by boys and only sometimes being played by girls. I am not qualified to say. [Note: Protoball will review its evidence on that in version 11 of the Chronology.]


Trap-ball receives one uninformative mention in the book [Ibid, page 211], and, perhaps being seen as a more central tenet of Christian knowledge, cricket receives three references [Ibid, pages 75, 110, and 211].  The first of these, unlike the bass-ball account, separates English boys from English girls after a May tea party:  ”Some of the gentlemen offered prizes of bats and balls, and skipping-ropes, for feats of activity or skill in running, leaping, playing cricket, &c. with the boys; and skipping, and battledore and shuttlecock with the girls.” [Note:  If you insist on using the number of references as a yardstick of approved knowledge, you will want to know that “tea” receives 12 mentions.]


1853.8 – Were Bats and Balls Coinage, They Were Millionaires


Several boys are having trouble raising money needed to finance a project.  “If base-balls and trap-bats would have passed current, we could have gone forth as millionaires; but as it was, the total amount of floating capital [we had] was the sum of seven dollars and thirty-seven and a half cents.”  “School-House Sketches, in The United States Review, (Lloyd and Campbell, New York, July 1853), page 35.  Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008.  Note: Would it be helpful to learn what time period the author chose for the setting for this piece?


1853.9 – Strolling Past a Ballgame in Elysian Fields


George Thompson has uncovered a long account of a leisurely visit to Elysian Fields, one that encounters a ball game in progress.  Posting to 19CBB, March 13. 2008.  Source:  George G. Foster, Fifteen Minutes Around New York (1854).  The piece was written in 1853.


A few excerpts -- “We have passed so quickly from the city and its hubbub, that the charm of this delicious contrast is absolutely magical. [para]  What a motley crowd!  Old and young, men women and children . . .  .  Well-dressed and badly dressed, and scarcely dressed at all – Germans, French, Italians, Americans, with here and there a mincing Londoner, his cockney gait and trim whiskers.  This walk in Hoboken is one of the most absolutely democratic places in the world. . . . . Now we are on the smoothly graveled walk. .  . . Now let us go round this sharp curve . . . then along the widened terrace path, until it loses itself in a green and spacious lawn . . . [t]his is the entrance to the far-famed Elysian Fields.


“The centre of the lawn has been marked out into a magnificent ball ground, and two parties of rollicking, joyous young men are engaged in that excellent and health-imparting sport, base ball.  They are without hats, coats or waistcoats, and their well-knit forms, and elastic movements, as that bound after bounding ball, furnish gratifying evidence that there are still classes of young men among us as calculated to preserve the race from degenerating.”


1853.10 – First Base Ball Reporters – Cauldwell, Bray, Chadwick, Kelly


Henry Chadwick may be the Father of Baseball and a HOF member, but it is William Cauldwell in 1853 who is usually credited as the first baseball scribe.  [See Turkin and Thompson, The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball (Doubleday, 1979), page 585. Note: is there a source for this claim?]


John Thorn sees the primacy claims this way:  As for Chadwick, “He was not baseball’s first reporter — that distinction goes to the little known William H. Bray, like Chadwick an Englishman who covered baseball and cricket for the Clipper from early 1854 to May 1858 (Chadwick succeeded him on both beats and never threw him a nod afterward). Isolated game accounts had been penned in 1853 by William Cauldwell of the Mercury and Frank Queen of the Clipper, who with William Trotter Porter of Spirit of the Times may be said to have been baseball’s pioneer promoter. Credit for the shorthand scoring system belongs not to Chadwick but to Michael J. Kelly of the Herald. The box score — beyond the recording of outs and runs—may be Kelly's invention as well, but cricket had supplied the model.”  John Thorn, “Pots and Pans and Bats and Balls,” posted January 23, 2008 at:


1854.10 -- Ball Played at Hobart College, Geneva NY


“Baseball in Geneva began, at least on an organized basis, in 1860.  Informal games had taken place at Hobart College as early as 1854, and at the nearby Walnut Hill School . . . the boys were organized into teams in 1856 or 1857.”


Minor Myers, Jr., and Dorothy Ebersole, Baseball in Geneva: Notes to Accompany an Exhibition at the Prout Chew Museum, May 20 to September 17, 1988 [Geneva Historical Society, Geneva, 1988], page 1. Note: This brochure implies that it describes the New York game, but does not say so.


1854.13 – English Visitor Sees Wicket at Harvard

“It was in the spring of 1854 . . .  that I stepped into the Harvard College yard close to the park. There I saw several stalwart looking fellows playing with a ball about the size of a small bowling ball, which they aimed at a couple of low sticks surmounted by a long stick. They called it wicket. It was the ancient game of cricket and they were playing it as it was played in the reign of Charles the First [1625-1649 -- LMc]. The bat was a heavy oak thing and they trundled the ball along the ground, the ball being so large it could not get under the sticks.

“They politely invited me to take the bat. Any cricketer could have stayed there all day and not been bowled out. After I had played awhile I said, “You must play the modern game cricket.” I had a ball and they made six stumps. Then we went to Delta, the field where the Harvard Memorial Hall now stands. We played and they took to cricket like a duck to water. . . .I think that was the first game of cricket at Harvard.”  “The Boyhood of Rev. Samuel Robert Calthrop.”  Compiled by His Daughter, Edith Calthrop Bump.  No date given. Accessed 10/31/2008 at  Actually, Mr. Calthrop may have come along about 95 years too late for that claim:  see #1760s.1 above.

1855c.14 -- Base Ball Comes to Rochester NY


According to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (August 6, 1869), the town’s first team, the Live Oak Club, had formed in 1855.


“The first baseball club in Rochester was organized about 1855. . . . The first club was the Olympics.”  “Baseball Half a Century Ago,” Rochester Union and Advertiser, March 21, 1903.  Other base ball pioneers have cited 1857 and 1858 for Rochester’s first games.  Information supplied by Priscilla Astifan, 2006-2007.



1855.16 – Scholar Deems 1855 the End of the Cricket Era in America

“Cricket was America’s most popular ball game from 1840 to 1855 when it was replaced by baseball.”  Jack W. Berryman, “A New Look at the Rise of American Sport,” American Quarterly, Volume 38, number 5 (Winter 1886), page 882.  Berry reviews Melvin Adelman’s A Sporting Time.  Adelman ascribes the decline of cricket not to its Englishness but to the fact that “it was too advanced and institutionalized for a society that lacked amanly ball-playing tradition.”


1855.17 – In Novel, a Girl is Chided for Preferring Playing Bass-Ball To Chores


A very strict school mistress scolds the title character:  “You can’t say three times three without missing; you’d rather play at bass-ball, or hunt the hedges for wild flowers, than mend your stockings.”  A.M.H. [only initials are given], “The Gipsy Girl,” in The Cabinet Annual: A Christmas and New Year’s Gift for 1855 (E. H. Butler, Philadelphia, 1855) page 93.  Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008.  This 13-page tale is set in England, and the girl is described as being eight or nine years old.  


1855.18 – Stodgy Novel Makes Brief Mention of Bygone Ballplaying.


“The academy, the village church, and the parsonage are on this cross-street.  The voice of memory asks, where are those whose busy feet have trodden the green sward?  Where are those whose voices have echoed in the boisterous mirth or base-ball and shinny?”  S. H. M. (only initials are given), Miranda Elliot: or, The Voice of the Spirit (Lippincott, Grambo & Co., Philadelphia, 1855), page 229.  This passage involves a small party’s slow country walk, one that is incessantly interrupted by a sermonizing narrator.  There is no indication of who played ball, or how long ago they played.  The setting seems to be the U.S; some place where orange trees grow.


1855.19 – Clipper Editor:  NYC Now Has Five Clubs “in Good Condition”


In March 1855, the editor of the Clipper listed five teams that were "in good condition" and the locations of their twice-a-week practices – Gothams at Red House, Harlem; Knickerbockers, Eagle, and Empire at Elysian Fields at Hoboken , and the Excelsiors in Brooklyn.  New York Clipper, March 3, 1855; provided September 2008 from the Mears Collection by Craig Waff. 


Articles published later in the New York Clipper, the Spirit of the Times, the New-York Daily Times, and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle announced the first appearance in print of the following 18 new clubs in the Greater NYC region in 1855: 


June - Jersey City (Jersey City NJ)  ||  July - Putnam (East Brooklyn), Astoria (Astoria), Newark (Newark NJ) Olympic (Newark NJ), Union (Morrisania), Excelsior (Jersey City NJ), Columbia (Brooklyn, Eastern District)  ||  August - Washington (Brooklyn, Eastern District), Eckford (New York, but practicing in Brooklyn, Eastern District), Pioneer (Jersey City NJ), Atlantic (Bedford)  || September - Pavonia (Jersey City NJ), Harmony (East Brooklyn)  ||  October - Young America (Morrisania), Empire (Newark NJ), Newark Jr. (Newark)  ||  November - Continental (East Brooklyn), Baltic (New York).  List supplied by Craig Waff, 10/30/2008.


1855.20 – Base Ball Game Reaches Really Modern Duration; Score is 52 to 38


Having more energy than what it takes to score 21 runs, the [NJ] Pioneer Club’s intramural game in September 1855 took 3 and a quarter hours, and eight innings.  Final score:  single men, 52, marrieds 38.  Note: this seems like an early exception to the 21-run rule; are there earlier ones?  Spirit of the Times, Volume 25, number 31 (Saturday, September 15, 1855), page 367, column 3.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


In December, the Putnams undertook to play a game to 62 runs, and started at 9AM to give themselves ample time.  But “they found it impossible to get through; they played twelve innings and made 31 and 36.”  Spirit of the Times, (Saturday, December 8, 1855), page 511, column 3.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1855.21 – Spirit Eyes Three-Year Knicks-Gothams Rivalry


The Spirit of the Times gave more than perfunctory coverage to the September match-up between the Knickerbockers and Gothams at Elysian Fields on Thursday, September 13.  The box score remains rudimentary [only runs scores are listed for the two lineups], but the reports notes that there were “about 1000 spectators, including many ladies, who manifested the utmost excitement, but kept admirable order [gee, thanks, ladies – LMc].”  It must have felt a little like a World Series game: “The Knickerbockers [who lost to the Gothams in June] came upon the ground with a determination to maintain the first rank among the Ball Clubs.”

Craig Waff suspects that this is the first time a base ball attendance figure appears in a game report [email of 10/27/2008].


The Knicks won, 21-7, in only five innings.  The Spirit tabulated the rivals’ history of all seven games played since July 1853.  The Knicks won 4, lost 2, and tied one [12-12 in 12 innings; Peverelly, pages 16 and 21, says that darkness interceded].  The longest contest went 16 innings [a Gothams home victory on 6/30/1854], and the shortest was the current one.  Spirit of the Times, Volume 25, number 32 (Saturday, September 22, 1855), page 373 [first page of 9/22 issue], column 3.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1855.22 – Search for Base Ball Supremacy Begins? It’s the Knicks, For Now


“These two Clubs [Knickerbocker and Gotham] who rank foremost in the beautiful and healthy game of Base Ball, met on Thursday . . . . The Knickerbockers came upon the ground with a determination to maintain the first rank among the Ball Clubs, and they won the match handsomely [score: 22-7].”  “Base Ball: Knickerbockers vs. Gotham Club,” Spirit of the Times Volume 25, number 32 (September 22, 1855), page 373, column 3.  From an email by Craig Waff, 11/4/2008.  Craig thinks this may be one of the first attempts to tap a club as the best in the game; thus the long road to naming baseball’s “champion” begins.  The game had been played at Elysian Fields on September 13.


1855.23 – Association Rules Appear in Syracuse Newspaper


Without accompanying comment, 17 rules for playing the New York style of base ball appear in the Syracuse Standard (May 16, 1855).  The rules include the original 13 playing rules in the Knickerbocker game plus four rules added in in New York in 1854.  Porter’s Spirit of the Times would carry the New York rules in December of 1856 [Peter Morris, A Game of Inches (Ivan Dee, 2006), page 22.]


1856.19 – Five-Player Base Ball Reported in NY, WI


We’ve noticed two games of five-on-five baseball in the Spirit, starting in 1856.  The ‘56 game matched the East Brooklyn junior teams for the Nationals and the Continentals.  The Nationals won 37-10.  Spirit of the Times, Volume 26, number 39 (Saturday, November 8, 1856), page 463, column 3.  In 1857, an item taken from the Waukesha (WI) Republican of June 6, pitted Carroll College freshmen and “an equal number of residents of this village.  They played two games to eleven tallies, and one to 21 tallies.  The collegians won all three games.   Spirit of the Times Volume 27, number 20 (June 27, 1857), page 234, column 2.  Neither account remarks on the team sizes.  Other five-on-five matches appeared I 1858. Facsimiles provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Note:  Was 5-player base ball common then?  Did it follow special rules?  How do 4 fielders cover the whole field?


1856.20 -- 100 to 98 Round Ball Game Played, After Sticky Rule Negotiations


“EXCITING GAME OF BASE BALL. – The second trial game of Base Ball took place on the Boston Common, Wednesday morning, May 14th, between the Olympics and the Green Mountain Boys.  The game was one hundred ins, and after three hours of exciting and hard playing, it was won by the Olympics, merely by two, the Green Mountain Boys counting 98 tallies. . . . The above match was witnessed by a very large assemblage, who seemed to take a great interest in it.”  Albert S. Flye, “Exciting Game of Base Ball,” New York Clipper Volume 4, number 5 (May 25, 1856), page 35.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


The article also prints a letter protesting the rules for a prior game between the same teams.  The Olympics explained that were compelled to play a game in which their thrower stood 40 feet from the “knocker” while their opponent’s thrower stood at 20 feet.  In addition, the Green Mountain catcher [sic] moved around laterally, and a special six-strike rule was imposed that confounded the Olympics.  It appears that this game followed an all-out-side-out rule. The reporter said the Olympics found these conditions “unfair, and not according to the proper rules of playing Round or Base Ball.”  Note:  does this article imply that previously, base ball on the Common was relatively rare?


1856.21 – Trenton Club Forms for “Invigorating Amusement”


“BASE BALL CLUB. – A number of gentlemen of this city have formed themselves into a club for the practice of the invigorating amusement of Base Ball. Their practicing ground is on the common east of the canal.  We hope that this will be succeeded by a Cricket Club” “Base Ball Club,” Trenton (NJ) State Gazette (May 26, 1856) no page provided.  Contributed by John Maurath, Missouri Civil War Museum at Historic Jefferson Barracks, 1/18/2008.  Note: Is this the first known NJ club well outside the NY metropolitan area?


1857.24 – London Rounders Players Arrested


A group of “youths and lads” were arrested by a park constable for “playing at a game called rounders.”  The Morning Chronicle, March 17, 1857, page?  Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/5/2008.  


1857.25 – Season Opens in Boston with Olympics Victory


“OPENING OF THE SEASON IN BOSTON.  Our young friends in Boston have stolen a march upon New York, in the matter of Base Ball, having taken the lead in initiating the sport for 1857, by playing an exciting game on Boston Common on the 14th inst.  The following report of the match we copy from the Boston Daily Chronicle.”  The Spirit of the Times, Volume 27, number 16 (Saturday, May 30, 1857), page 182, column 1].  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


The Daily Chronicle  report described a best of three games, games decided at 25 tallies, twelve-man, one-out-side-out match between the Olympics and Bay State.  The Olympics won, 25-12 and 25-13, the second game taking 14 innings.  The “giver” and catcher for each club were named.   In otherwise identical coverage, the New York Clipper [hand-noted as “May” in the Mears clipping book] added that the Bay State club had afterward challenged the Olympics to re-match involving eight-player teams.   A later Clipper item [date unspecified in clipping book] reported that on May 28, 1857, the Olympics won the follow-up match, 16-25, 25-21, and 25-8


1857.26 – The Tide Starts Turning in New England – Trimountains Adopt NY Game


“BASE BALL IN BOSTON. – Another club has recently organized in Boston, under the title of the Mountain [Tri-Mountain, actually – Boston had three prominent city hills then] Base Ball Club.  They have decided upon playing the game the same as played in New York, viz.: to pitch instead of throwing the ball, also to place the men on the bases, and not throw the ball at a man while running, but to touch him with it when he arrives at the base.  If a ball is struck [next word, perhaps “beyond,” is blacked out: “outside” is written in margin] the first and third base, it is to be considered foul, and the batsman is to strike again.  This mode of playing, it is considered, will become more popular than the one now in vogue, in a short time.  Mr. F. Guild, the treasurer of the above named club, is now in New York, and has put himself under the instructions of the gentlemen of the Knickerbocker. . . . “The New York Clipper (June 13, 1857 [per handwritten notation in clipping book]).  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Note: does “place the men on bases” refer to the fielders?  Presumably in the MA game such positioning wasn’t needed because there was plugging, and there were no force plays at the bases?


1857.27 – Game of Wicket Reaches IA


“BALL GAMES IN THE WEST. – It is with pleasure that we observe the gradual progression of these healthy and athletic games westward.  A Wicket Club has recently been organized in Clinton City, Iowa, which is looked on with much favor by the young men of that locality.”  The Clipper [date omitted from clipping book; sequencing suggests June of 1857].  Facsimile provide by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1857.28  -- Boston Sees Eight Hour Match of the Massachusetts Game


“’BASE BALL’ – MASSAPOAGS OF SHARON VS, UNION CLUB OF MEDWAY.  . . . The game commenced at 1 o’clock, and was to be the best 3 in 5 games, of 25 tallies each.  A large crowd collected to witness the game, among whom were several of the Olympics.” But after one game it rained, and play resumed Monday morning.  “after playing 8 hours the Union Club retired with the laurels of victory.”  They won, 25-20, 8-25, 11-25, 25-24, 25-16.] Spirit of the Times, Volume 27, number 35 (Saturday, October 10, 1857), page 416, column 1.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1857.29 – Six-Player Town-ball Teams Play for Gold Ring in Philly


“TOWN BALL. – The young men of Philadelphia are determined to keep the ball rolling . . . On Friday, 20th ult. [10/20/1857 we think] the United Stats Club met on their grounds, corner of 61st and Hazel streets . . . each individual did his utmost to gain the prize, at handsome gold ring, which was eventually awarded to Mr. T. W. Taylor, his score of 26 being the highest.”  Each team had six players, and the team Taylor played on won, 117 to 82.  New York Clipper (November [as handwritten in clipping collection; no date is given] 1857).  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1857.30 – Olympic Club’s Version of MA Game Rules Published


The Olympic Ball Club’s rules, adopted in 1857, appear in Porter’s Spirit of the

Times, June 27, 1857 [page?].  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


The rules show variation from the 1858 rules [see #1858.3 below] that are sometimes seen as uniform practice for the Massachusetts game in earlier years.  Examples: games are decided at “say 25” tallies, not at 100;  minimum distance from 1B to 2B and 3B to 4B is 50 feet, and from 4B to 1B and 2B to 3B is 40 feet, not 60 feet in a square; pitching distance is 30 feet, not 35 feel; in playing a form of the game cited as “each one for himself” entails a trwo-strike at-bat and  a game is set at a fixed number of innings, not the number of tallies; the bound rule is in effect, not th fly rule.  The Olympic rules do not mention the size of the team, the size of the ball, whether the thrower or specify the use of stakes as bases.


1857.31 – Rounders “Now Almost Entirely Displaced by Cricket:”  English Scholar


“Writing in 1857, ‘Stonehenge’ noted that ‘it [rounders] was [p. 232/233] formerly a very favourite game in some of our English counties, but is now almost entirely displaced by cricket.’ . . . documentary evidence of it is hard to find before the chapter in William Clarke’s Boys’ Own Book of 1828.”  Tony Collins, et al., Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports (Routledge, 2005), pages 232-232.


1858.22 Rochester NY Editor: Base Ball to Curb Tobacco, Swearing, (if not Spitting)


“We hail then with pleasure, the introduction in our city of the game of base ball and the formation of the many clubs to enjoy this healthful activity.  It will impart vigor, health and good feeling.  It is a manly sport . . . [and] will contribute as much to good morals as it does to pleasure. . . . The stimulus of outdoor exercises will supplant the morbid and pernicious craving for tobacco. . . . It is a luxury to see our young men together, in the innocent enjoyment of a healthful sport.  Let a father who was once a ball player too . . . have the privilege of looking on without the pain of hearing a profane word . . .   Signed, X.“  “Field Sports,” Rochester Democrat and American (August 12, 1858), page 3, column 2.  Provided by Priscilla Astifan, email of 1/14/2008.


1858.37 – In English Novel, Base-Ball Doesn’t Occupy Boys Very Long


The boys were still restless – “. . . they were rather at a loss for a game.  They had played at base-ball and leap-frog; and rival coaches, with six horses at full speed, have been driven several times around the garden, to the imminent risk of box-edgings, and the corner of flower beds: what were they to do?”  Anon., “Robert Wilmot,” in The Parents’ Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction (Smith, Elder and Co., London, 1858), page 59. Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008.  The boys appear to be roughly 8 to 10 years old.


1858.38 – Brooklyn Base Ball Admirer Sizes up the 1858 Season


“. . . we think it would be an addition to every school, that would lead to great advantages to mental and bodily health, if each had a cricket or ball club attached to it. There are between 30 and 40 Base Ball Clubs and six Cricket Clubs on Long Island [Brooklyn counted as Long Island then] . . . . Base ball if the favorite game, as it is more simple in its rules, and a knowledge of it is more easily acquired.  Cricket is the most scientific of the two and requires more skill and judgement in the use of the bat, especially, than base.  “The Ball Season of 1858,” Brooklyn Eagle, March 22, 1858; reprinted in Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 7 (Saturday, March 27, 1858), page 78, column 2.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1858.39 – San Francisco Organizes for Base Ball . . . Again


“BASE BALL CLUB: “a Club entitled the San Francisco Base Ball Club has been formed in San Francisco, California. . . .  They meet every other Tuesday at the Club House, Dan’s saloon.”  Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 7 (Saturday, March 27, 1858), page 78, column 2.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Note:  Is this the first club established in CA since 1851?  [Cf #1851.2, #1852.7, #1859.5]


1858.40 – Cricket Plays Catch-up; Plans a National Convention


“CRICKET CONVENTION FOR 1858. – A Convention of delegates from the various Cricket Clubs of the United States will take place, pursuant to adjournment from last year, at the Astor House [on May 3].  Important business will be transacted.”  “Cricket and Base Ball,” Spirit of the Times (Volume 28, number 4 (Saturday, April 10, 1858), page 102, column 3.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Note: Do we know the outcome?  Was cricket attempting to counteract baseball’s surge?  How?  Why didn’t it work?


1858.41 – Buffalo NY Feels Spring Fever, Expects Many New BB Clubs


“The Niagara Club, of Buffalo, also played oin Saturday, on the vacant lot on Main Street, above the Medical College.  We learn that several other clubs will soon organize, so that some rare sortmay be anticipated the coming season.  The Cricket Club will soon be out in full force . . . .  We are pleased to notice this disposition to indulge in manly sprrts.  “Cricket and Base Ball,” Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 7 (Saturday, March 27, 1858), page 78, column 2.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008. 


1858.42 – In Downstate Illinois, New Club Wins by 134 Rounds


“BASEBALL IN ILLINOIS. – The Alton [IL] Base-Ball Club . . . a meeting was held on the evening of May 18, to organize a club . . . . The Upper Alton Base Ball Club . . . sent us a challenge, to play a match game, on Saturday, the 19th of June, which was accepted by our club; each side had five innings, and thirteen players each, with the following result:  The Alton Base-Ball Club made 224 rounds.   The Upper Alton Base-Ball Club made 90 rounds.”  “Base-Ball”, Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 4, number 20 (July 17, 1858), p. 309, columns. 2-3   Alton IL is a Mississippi River town 5 miles north of St. Louis. Missouri.


1858.43 – CT Man Reports 13-on-8 games, Asks for Some Rules


“Dear Spirit: The base-ball mania has attacked a select few in New Haven . . .  the (self-assumed) best eight challenged the mediocre and miserable thirteen, who constitute the rest of this [unnamed] club.  Best two in three, no grumbling, were the conditions . . . [The Worsts won, 48-40, 35-17, 33-27; sounds like a fixed-innings match.].  But what I meant to write you about, was to ask where we can obtain a full statement and explanation of the rules and principles of base-ball.”  “BASE-BALL IN NEW HAVEN,” Spirit of the Times [date shorn from Mears Clippings Collections; inferred to be July 1858].  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1858.45 – 1000 Watch November Base Ball in New Bedford MA.  Brr.


The New Bedford Evening Standard (November 26, 1858) reported on the Thanksgiving Day ball game:  “At the conclusion of the game, Mr. Cook, in a few appropriate remarks in behalf of the Bristol County Club, presented the Union Club with a splendid ball.  Cheers were then given by the respective Clubs and they separated to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners.  About 1000 spectators were present.


“In the afternoon there were several ‘scrub’ games, that is games which the various Clubs unite and play together.  The regular Ball season is considered to close with Thanksgiving, though many games will doubtless be played through the winter when the weather will permit.”  Text provided by Kyle DeCicco-Carey, email of 1/14/2008.


1858.46 – New York Game Arrives in Baltimore MD


“Mr. George Beam, of Orendorf, Beam and Co., Wholesale Grocers . . . visiting New York City in 1858, was invited by Mr. Joseph Leggett [a NYC grocer] to witness one of the games of the Old Excelsior Base Ball Club, of New York City.  Mr. Beam became so much enthused, that on his return to Baltimore City . . . it resulted in the organization of the Excelsior B.B. Club. The first meeting was held in 1858. . . . The almost entire membership of the club was composed of business men. . . . [p 203/204] The score book of the club having been lost, and the old members having no recollection of any games played in 1859, except with the Potomac Club of Washington D.C., it is quite probable that the time was devoted to practice.”  In 1860 they played the NY Excelsiors along Madison Avenue in NY. 


Griffith also notes that “[T]he ball used in the early sixties was about one-third larger, and one-third heavier, than the present one, than the present [1900] one, and besides was what is known as a ‘lively ball,’ and for those reasons harder to hold.”  Ibid, page 202.


William Ridgely Griffith, “The Early History of Amateur Base Ball in the State of Maryland,” Maryland Historical Magazine, Volume 87, number 2, Summer 1992), pages 201-208.  Provided summer 2008 by Marty Payne.  Griffith imples, but does not state, that this was the first Baltimore club to play by NY rules.  This journal article appears to be an extract of pages 1-11 of Griffith’s The Early History of Amateur Baseball in the State of Maryland 1858-1871 (John Cox’s Sons, Baltimore, 1897).


1858.47 – Brooklynite Takes A Census – There Are 59 Junior Clubs in Brooklyn


“Dear Spirit:-- . . . I have busied myself for a week or two past in finding out the names of the different junior clubs, which, if you will be kind enough to publish, will probably give information to some.  The following are the names, without reference to their standing: Enterprise, Star, Resolute, Ashland, Union, National, Ringgold, Oakland, Clinton, Pacific, Active, Oneida, Fawn, Island, Contest, Metropolitan, Warren, Pastime Jrs., Excelsior Jrs., Atlantic Jrs., Powhattan, Niagara, Sylvan, Independence, Mohawk, Montauk, Favorita, Red Jacket, American Eagle, E Pluribus Unum, Franklin, Washington, Jackson, Jefferson, Arctic, Fulton, Endeavor, Pocahontas, Crystal, Independent, Liberty, Brooklyn Star, Lone Star, Eagle Jrs., Putnam Jrs., Contest, “Never Say Die,” Burning Star, Hudson, Carlton, Rough and Ready, Relief, Morning Star, City, Young America, America, Columbus, Americus, Columbia, Willoughby.  The above are the names as I have collected them from reliable persons . . . The above list consists of only the junior clubs of Brooklyn. Yours, A Friend of the Juniors.”


“Junior Base-Ball Clubs,” Porter’s Spirit of the Times, Volume 5, number 7 (October 18, 1858), page 100, column 2.  Provided in email of 11/16/2008 by Craig Waff, who noticed [did you?] that the Contest squad appears twice on the list.


1858.48 – Three Youth Clubs in Rochester NY Disdain the NY Game


In Rochester, the West End Base Ball Club, the Washington club, and the Union club showed no love for the NYC rules.  The West End Club, for example, declared that it would have “nothing to do with the new fangled tossing, but throw the ball with a wholesome movement, in the regular old-fashioned base ball style.  It is not clear that the clubs persisted in their preference, or whether their rules were a hybrid of old and new ways.  The clubs’ announcements appeared and in the Rochester Democrat and Advertiser for July 21, 1858.  Provided by Priscilla Astifan.


1859.32 – Morning Express Supports Fly Rule, Opposes Tag-up Rule: More Runs!


Reporting on the imminent Knicks-Excelsiors game:  “We believe that the rule, witch is allowed by the Convention, of putting a man out, if the ball is caught on the first bound, is to be laid aside in this match.  The more manly game of taking the ball on the fly, is alone to be retained. . . .. We do not know whether the men are to return to their bases in the event of a ball being caught on the fly; but it appears to us, that it would be as fair to one team as the other if the bases could be retained, if made before the ball had got to there, [and] it would cause more runs to be made, and a much more lively and satisfactory game.”  New York Morning Express (June 30, 1859), page 3, column 6.  Posted to 19CBB by George Thompson, 3/18/2007.  A fortnight later, a return match “in the test game of catching the ball on the fly” was scheduled for  August 2, 1859: “Knickerbocker vs. Excelsior,” New York Morning Post (July 13, 1859), page 3, column 7.  A long inning-by-inning game account appears at New York Morning Express (August 3, 1859), page 3, column 7. Note:  Are facsimiles of these items accessible?


1859.33 – Prolix Lecturer Explains What Base Ball and Cricket Mean


“This, then, is what cricket and boating, battledore and archery, shinney and skating, fishing, hunting, shooting, and baseball mean, namely that there is a joyous spontaneity in human beings; and thus Nature, by means of the sporting world, by means of a great number of very imperfect, undignified, and sometimes quite disreputable mouthpieces, is perpetually striving to say something deserving of far nobler and clearer utterance; something which statesmen, lawgivers, preachers, and educators would do well to lay to heart.”  S. R. Calthrop, A Lecture on Physical Development, and Its Relations to Mental and Spiritual Development (Ticknor and Fields, Boston, 1859), page 23.  Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008.  Note:  Maybe Calthrop means “have fun, don’t talk so much?”  Calthrop was to become a Unitarian minister.  He avidly played and taught cricket in England as a young man.  [For his other sports connections, see #1851.5 and #1854.13 above.]


1859.34 – Lexicographer:  “Base Ball” is English!


“BASE. A game of ball much played in America, so called from the three bases or stations used in it. That the game and its name are both English is evident from . . . Halliwell’s Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words: ‘Base-ball. A country game mentioned in Moor’s Suffolk Words, p. 238’.” [See #1823.2 – Moor – and #1847.6 – Halliwell above.]


From John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States, (second edition; Little, Brown and Company; Boston, 1859), page 24. Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008.  David adds: “This attestation of baseball’s English roots predates by one year Chadwick’s assertion of same, and carries the added significance of coming from a distinguished American lexicographer.”


1859. 35 – Base Ball Community Eyes Use of Central Park


A “committee on behalf of the Base Ball clubs” recently conferred with NY’s Central Park Commissioners about opening Park space for baseball.  Under discussion is a proviso that “no club shall be permitted to use the grounds unless two-thirds of the members be residents of this city.”  “BASE BALL IN THE CENTRAL PARK,” The New York Clipper (January 22 -- or June 22 -- 1859), page number omitted from scrapbook clipping.  This issue has been on the minds of baseball at least since the first Convention.  The sentiment is that other sports have access that baseball does not.  See #1857.2 above.  Note: Is there a good account of this negotiation and its outcome in the literature?


1859.36 – Annual Meeting of NABBP Decides: Bound Rule, No Pros


“Base Ball,” The New York Clipper (March 26, 1859).  The fly rule lost by a 32-30 vote, and the paper worried that easy fielding would “reduce the ‘batting’ part of the game to a nonentity.  Compensation for playing any game was outlawed.  The official ball shrunk slightly in weight and size.  Matches would be decided by single games.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008. 


1859.37 – In Wisconsin, Bachelors Win 100-68


“FOX LAKE CLUB. – The Married and Unmarried members of the Wisconsin Club measured their respective strength in a bout at base ball on the 15th inst.  The former scored 68 and the latter 100.” New York Clipper (date omitted in scrapbook; context suggests April or May 1859.)  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Note: Where’s Fox Lake WI?  Sounds like they played the MA game, no?


1859.38 – Base Ball Noted from Philadelphia PA


Not everyone in Philly played town ball.  “PENN TIGERS BASE BALL CLUB. – The Two Nines of this club played their first match on Monday, 13th inst, at Philadelphia, Boyce’s party beating Broadhead’s by only one run, the totals being 24 and 23.”  Unidentified clipping in the Mears collection; by context it may have appeared in late spring of 1859.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1859.39 – Club Organized in St. Louis MO


“CLUB ORGANIZED, -- A base ball club was organized in St. Louis, Mo, on the 1st inst.  It boasts of being the first organization of the kind in that city, but will not, surely, long stand alone.  It numbers already 18 members, officers as follows:  President, C. D. Paul; Vice do, J. T. Haggerty; Secretary, C. Thurber; Treasurer, E. R. Paul.  They announce their determination to be ready to lay matches in about a month.  Source:  Underidentified clipping in the Mears collection – The Clipper or the Spirit of the Times – annotated “Sept 1859” in hand.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1859.40 – Devotion to MA Game Erodes Significantly


“BASE BALL. – Massachusetts has 37 clubs which play what is known as the Massachusetts game; and 13 which play the New York game.”  Source:  a NY paper, either The Clipper or the Spirit of the Times; from a clipping in the Mears Collection scrapbooks annotated “October” and hand and placed among the 1859 clippings.  Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1859.41 – First Game in Canada Played by New York Rules?


“YOUNG CANADA vs. YOUNG AMERICA. – These two base ball clubs of Canada (the former of Toronto, the latter of Hamilton) played the first game of base ballthat has ever taken place there, we believe, under the rules of the N. Y. Base Ball Association, on Tuesday, 24th ult., at Hamilton.”  The New York Clipper (printed date omitted; “May 1859” entered in hand, page omitted.)  Facsimile from the Mears Collection provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Young Canada prevailed, 68-41.  ?Note: Are there earlier claims for the first Knicks-style game in Canada?  Item #1856.18 above was likely a predecessor game, right?


1859.42 – In Chicago IL, Months-old Atlantic Club Claims Championship


Atlantic 18, Excelsior 16.  This “well-played match between the first nines of the Atlantic and Excelsior took place on the 15th ult., for the championship. . . .  The victorious club only started this spring . . . . They have now beaten the Excelsiors two out of three games played, which entitles them to the championship.”  “Base Ball at Chicago,” New York Clipper (date omitted; year inferred from scrapbook placement).  Facsimile from the Mears Collection provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Note:  So . . . was this construed as the 1859 city crown, just a dyadic rivalry crown, an “until-we-lose-it crown, or what?


1859.43 – And It’s Pittsburgh We Call the Pirates?


In a game account from August 1859, the writer observes, “with a spicing of New York first rate players, Chicago may expect to stand in the front rank of Base Ball cities.”  “Atlantic Club vs. Excelsior Club – Progress of Base Ball in the Great West.,” New York Morning Express (August 20, 1859), page 4, column 1.  Posted to 19CBB 3/16/2007 by George Thompson.


1859.44 – English Social Event Includes Base Ball as Well as Cricket


The activities at an August 1859 event of the Windsor and Eton Literary, Scientific and Mechanics Institute included a one-innings cricket match.  In addition, “[a]rchery, trap and base ball, were included in the diversions on the firm-set land, as well as boat-racing open the pellucid flood.”  G. W. J. Gyll, The History of the Parish of Wraysbury, Ankerwycke Priory, and Magna Charta Island (H. G. Bohn, London, 1862), page 55...  Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger, 3/18/2008.  Richard suggests that this is the last known published reference to home-grown “base ball” play in Britain.  This area is about 20 miles west of London.  The full list of diversions gives no indication that it was children who were to be diverted at this event, so adult play seems possible.  Note:  Would it be helpful to understand what the membership and purposes of the Institute were?  Is “trap” to be constued as trap ball, in this part of Victorian England?


1859.45 – In Milwaukee, Base Ball is [Cold-] Brewing


“Base Ball – This game, now so popular in the East, is about to be introduced in our own city.  A very spirited impromptu match was played on the Fair Ground, Spring Street Avenue, yesterday [on a late fall] afternoon six on a side.”  Milwaukee Sentinel Volume 16, number 271 (December 1, 1859), page 1, column 3.  Facsimile provided by Dennis Pajot, 6/23/2008; Dennis adds that this is the first mention of a game he can find.  The box score reflects a seven-on-seven game lasting three innings with a score of 25-21 after two and a final tally of 40-35.  The record of runs scored per inning hints that they may have played by an all-out-side-out rule.


As part of a 12/3/2007 VB posting about a December 2007 vintage game celebrating the 148th anniversary of Milwaukee baseball, “Handlebar” Hetzel provided this language: “In 1859, Rufus King, the editor at the Milwaukee Sentinel, gathered up 13 of his friends, with bats and balls sent to him from a colleague in New York, to play this new game on December 1st.  The game was played at what is now the Marquette campus, [and] lasted 3 innings, with a final score of 45-30.”  Note: Both accounts likely cover the same game, no?


In April 1860, the Sentinel reported another “lively” game, and added, “The game is now fairly inaugurated in Milwaukee, and the first Base Ball Club in our City was organized last evening.  “Base Ball,” Milwaukee Sentinel (April 3, 1860).


1859.46 -- English Cricketers View the Bound Rule as “Childish”


On October 22, 1859, the touring English cricketers played base ball at a base ball field, which is “about two miles from the town, and had been enclosed at great expense. The base-ball game is somewhat similar to the English game of “rounders,” as played by school-boys. . . .Caffyn played exceedingly well, but the English thought catching the ball on the first bound a very childish game.”  Fred Lillywhite, The English Cricketers’ Trip to Canada and the United States (Lillywhite, London, 1860), page 50.  Provided by John Thorn, email of 2/9/2008.  The game was played in Rochester NY.  The book [as accessed 11/1/2008] can be viewed on Google books; try a search of “lillywhite canada.”


1859.47 – Outmanned Buffalo Club Survives “Old-Fashioned” Game, 46-38


“The matched game of Base Ball between the Buffalo and Alden clubs was played yesterday afternoon on the Niagara’s grounds on Main st.  The match was a closely contested one, and resulted in favor of the Buffalo Club, who scored forty-six to thirty runs made by the Alden Club in the twelve innings.  The Alden Club have played several matches and have never been beaten before.  The game was the old-fashioned one, which calls for more muscle than the New England game.”


“The Ball Match Yesterday,” Buffalo Daily Courier (August 13, 1859), page 3, column 2.


The Alden club fielded 15 players to the confront the Niagaras’ 12; they included two “behinds” as well as a catcher, two left fielders, two right fielders, a fourth baseman, and one more team member listed simply as “fielder.”  Both teams’ pitchers were termed “throwers.”  The game was evidently limited to 12 innings instead of to a set total of tallies, as was found in other upstate “old-fashioned base ball” games of this period.  Taken at face value, this account implies that three games were played in the region at the time – the New York game, the New England game, and this game.  Alden NY is 20 miles due east of downtown Buffalo.  Posted to 19CBB in May 2008 by Priscilla Astifan.


A return match was hosted by the Alden club on September 3rd, with the Buffalo New York and Erie railroad offering half-price fares to fans.  Alden won, “by 96 to 22 tallies.”  Sources: Buffalo Daily Courier, September 2 and Septemeber 5, 1859, reported by email by Priscilla Astifan on 12/7/2008.



1859.48 – Wicket Club and Base Ball Club Play Demo Matches For Novelty’s Sake


“Novel Ball Match – The Buffalo Dock Wicket Club have invited [the Buffalo Niagaras] to play a game of wicket, and a return gameof base ball.  It is intended, not as a trial of skill, (for neither club knows anything of the other’s game, and it was expressly stipulated that neither should practice the other’s) but merely for he novety and sport of the thing; each club expecting to appear supremely ridiculous at the other’s game.”  Buffalo Daily Courier, September 10, 1859.  The Buffalo Morning Express later reported that the Niagaras lost the wicket game, and that attendance was good; the result of the base ball game is not now known.  Provided by Priscilla Astifan, email of 12/7/2008.


1860.28 – New England Publication Admits New Dominance of NY Game


“BASE BALL. The game of Base Ball is fast becoming in this country what Cricket is in England, - a national game. It has a great advantage over the Gymnasium and other exercise, because it combines simplicity with a healthful exercise at a very trifling expense; bandit is universally acknowledged as a very exciting and also interesting sport. The so called "New York Game," established by the National Association of Base Ball Players, which meets annually at New York, is fast becoming popular in New England, and in fact over the whole country, not only as giving a more equal share in the game but also requiring a greater attention, courage, and activity than in the old game, sometimes called the Massachusetts Game. The first club established in New England to play this new game was organized under the name of "Tri-Mountain Base Ball Club of Boston," and for a long while they were the only club in this section of the country. It seemed hard to give up the old game, but the motto of the Tri-Mountain was "Success," and from time to time during the past two years, there have been similar clubs organized, until at the present time the number is quite flourishing; and the New York Game bids fair to supplant all others - Farmers Cabinet Volume 58, number 42 (May 16, 1860), page 2.  Provided by Joanne Hulbert, email of 2/18/2008.


1860.29 – “Canadian Game” Espied in Ontario


“Despite early experimentation with Cartwright’s game, Oxford County [ON] inhabitants persisted with their regional variation of baseball for over a decade. . . . In 1860 matches between Beachville’s sister communities Ingersoll and Woodstock involved eleven, rather than nine, players, and used four, rather than three bases.  This prompted the New York Clipper [of August 18, 1860] to refer to the type of baseball played in the region as being the “Canadian Game.”  N. B. Bouchier and R. K. Barney, “A Critical Examination of a Source on Early Ontario Baseball,” Journal of Sport History Volume 15, number 1 (Spring 1988), page 85.  The authors say that the extra positions were “4th base” and “backstop.”  They suggest that the game was still closer to the Massachusetts game than the NY game.  Oxford County’s ballplaying towns are roughly at the midpoint between Buffalo NY and Detroit, and roughly 50 miles from each.  Note:  Can we find that Clipper report?  Does the use of two backstops imply the continued application of tick-and-catch rules?


1860.30 – CT Wicketers Trounce CT Cricketers --at Wicket


Was wicket an inferior game?  “the game [of wicket] certainly reached a level of technical sophistication equal to these two sports [base ball and cricket].  This was clearly demonstrated during a wicket match at Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1860 when a team of local wicket players easily defeated a team of experience local cricket players.” Tom Melville, The Tented Field: the History of Cricket in America (Bowling Green State U Popular Press, Bowling Green OK, 1998), page 10.  Melville cites the source of the match as the Waterbury American (August 31, 1860), page 21.  Note:  Can we locate and examine this 1860 article?


1860.31 – Base Ball Crosses State of Missouri


"BASE BALL IN MISSOURI: St. Joseph, Mo, April 7, 1860.  Friend Clipper: On Saturday last, a” jovial party" met on the ground near the cemetery, to engage in he healthful and vigorous game of ball; parties were paired off, and the game was one of lively interest to all.  After the game was closed, it was decided to form a "Ball Club”. . .  .  On motion of Jos. Tracy, the name of the Club was fixed as the "Franklin Base Ball Club."   New York Clipper (date omittedfrom scrapbook).  Facsimile from the Mears Collection scrapbooks provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  St. Joseph is about 30 miles north of Kansas City MO.  There is no clue here as to whether this team was to follow rules for the New York game.


1860.32 –Milwaukee Area Not Unanimous About the “Miserable” New York Rules


The Janesville WI ball club wasn’t so sure about this new Eastern game, and apparently continued to play by the old rules.  They weren’t alone.  The Daily Milwaukee News of May 17, 1860 offered this:  “Waiting for a ball to bound, instead of catching it on the fly . . . and various other methods of play adopted by this new-fangled game, looks to us altogether too great a display of laziness and inactivity to suit our notions of a genuine, well and skillfully conducted game of Base Ball. . . .  We shall soon expect to hear that the game of Base Ball is played with the participants lying at full length upon the grass.”  Give us the ‘old fashioned game’ or none at all.” 


The previous day, the Milwaukee Sentinel had responded to a News piece calling the new rules “miserable” by writing that “We don’t think much of the judgment of the News.  The game of Base Ball, as now played by all the clubs in the Eastern States, is altogether ahead of ‘the old fashioned game,’ both in point of skill and interest.”  Facsimiles provided by Dennis Pajot, 6/23/2008.  Janesville WI is about 60 miles SW of Milwaukee.


1860.34 – Disparate Ball Games Seen in New Hampshire

In adjacent brief clippings in the Mears Collection (dated “May 1860” by hand), disparate intramural games are described for two clubs.  In one, “the stars of the East” played an in-house 28-23 game under National Association Rules -- nine players, nine innings, the usual fielding positions neatly assigned.  The other was a two-inning contest with twelve-player sides and a [smudge-obscured] score of about 70 to 70.  This latter game does not resemble contours on the Massachusetts game – it’s hard to construe it having a one-out-side-out rule --, but it’s not wicket, for the club is named the “Granite Base Ball Club.”  The run distribution in the box score is consistent with the use of all-out-side-out innings.  Note: What were these fellows playing?  Both NH game accounts were in The New York Clipper.  Facsimiles from the Mears Collection provided by Craig Waff, September2008.


1860.35 –All-Out-Side-Out Town Ball Played in Indiana


“Town Ball at Evansville, Ind. – A match of Town Ball was contested between the married and single members of the Evansville [IN] Town Ball Club, on the 26th ult. [5-inning box score is presented.]  The correspondent to whom we are indebted for the above report, says that the rules and regulations of the game of town ball, vary a great deal.  There, an innings is not concluded until all are out . . . The club, it is thought, will adopt base ball rules, such as are played in the East.”  New York Clipper (date omitted from scrapbook source; a rough date of May 1860 is inferred from placement of item in scrapbook [page 27]).  Facsimile from the Mears Collection provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Evansville is in southernmost IN, near the Kentucky border.


1860.36 – In Detroit MI:  Ball Club 56, Cricket Club 24.


“Cricket vs. Base Ball:  A match game was played on the 21st inst., between the first nine of the Detroit Base Ball Club and nine of the first eleven of the Detroit Cricket Club. . . . No return game will be played, as the cricketers find base ball too much like hard work.”  New York Clipper (“June 1860” noted in hand on the clipping).  Provided from the Mears Collection clippings by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1860.37 –Late Surge Lifts Douglas’ over Abe Lincoln’s Side in Chicago IL


“Base Ball and Politics. – We do not approve of their thus being brought into contact, but as a match took place at Chicago on the 24th ult., between nine [Stephen] Douglas me and nine [Abe] Lincoln men of the Excelsior Club, we feel in duty bound to report it.”  Tied after eight innings, the outcome was not prophetic for the ensuing election:  Douglas 16, Lincoln 14.  The Clipper (“July 1860” noted in hand on clipping).  Facsimile provided from the Mears Collection scrapbooks by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1860.38 – Base Ball in Pittsburgh PA


“Base Ball in Alleghany. – A match game of base ball was played between the Fort Pitt and Keystone Clubs on the West Common, Alleghany, Pa., on the 26th inst.”  [Box score provided; it is consistent with the National Association rules.]  New York Clipper (“July 1860 noted in hand on the clipping).  Facsimile provided from the Mears Collection scrapbooks by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Note” Assuming that “Alleghany” is an alternative spelling for “Allegheny,” this game occurred in a town absorbed into Pittsburgh PA in 1907.


1860.39 – In Oberlin OH, It’s Railroad Club 49, Uptown Club 44.


“Base Ball at Oberlin O. – A match game between the Railroad and Uptown Clubs, took place at Oberlin” . . . .  New York Clipper (“July 1860” noted in hand on the clipping). Facsimile from the Mears Collection scrapbooks provided by Craig Waff, September 2008. The box score shows two eight-player teams.  Oberlin OH is 35 miles southwest of Cleveland.


1860.40 – “Championship” Game:  Atlantic 20, Eckford 11


“Great Match for the Championship.  Atlantic vs. Eckford. The Atlantics Victorious” New York Clipper Volume 8, number 30 (November 10, 1860), page 237, column 1.  The article includes a play-by-account of the game, and unusually detailed box scores,  including fielding plays and a five-column “how put out” table.  Also included were counts for “passed balls on which bases were run” [4], “struck out” [1], “catches missed on the fly” [9, by six named players], “catches missed on the bound” [2], and “times left on base” [9]  The article notes:  “the results of the games this season between the Atlantics and the Excelsiors led them [sic] latter to withdraw entirely from the battle for the championship, which next season will lay between the Eckfords and Atlantics.”  Note: So – is this game commonly taken as the New York area championship tilt?  Facsimile from the Mears Collection scrapbooks provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1860.41 – Two Base Ball Tourneys in California


In September and October 1860, two tournaments occurred in CA.  The first saw SF’s Eagle Club beat Sacramento twice, 36-32 and 31-17  It was noted that  SF’s Gelston, a leadoff batter and catcher, was from the Eagle Club in New York, and “the Sacs” pitcher and leadoff batter Robinson was from Brooklyn’s Putnams.  In addition to a $100 prize for the winning team, the best player at each position received a special medal.  The games took place in Sacramento.


In October, three teams – Sacramento, Stockton, and the Live Oak – played games in Stockton, with Sacramento winning the $50 prize ball, beating Stockton 48-11 and then pasting Live Oak 78-7.  New York Clipper (dates omitted in scrapbook clips; the second is annotated “Oct” in hand).  Provided from the Mears Collection scrapbooks by Craig Waff, September 2008.


1860.42 – Shut Out Reported as the First Ever;  Excelsiors 25, St. George Nine Zip


This game, played on the St. George grounds at Hoboken, evidently occurred on November 5 1860,  “the score of the Excelsiors being 25 to nothing for their antagonists!  This is the first match on record that has resulted in nine innings being played without each party making runs.”  It was the last game of the season for the Excelsiors, who played two “muffin” players and let St. George borrow a catcher [Harry Wright] from the Knicks and a pitcher from the Putnams.  “Excelsiors vs., St. George,” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Volume 19, number 269 (Saturday, November 10, 1860), page 2, column 5.  Posting to 19CBB by Craig Waff, 1/14/2008. 


1860.43 –Three Ball Clubs Form in VT Village


“As if to anticipate and prepare for the dread exigencies of war, then impending, by a simultaneous impulse, all over the country, base ball clubs were organized during the year or two preceding 1861.  Perhaps no game or exercise, outside military drill, was ever practiced, so well calculated as this to harden the muscles and invigorate the physical functions. . . . 


“Three base ball clubs were formed in this town, in 1860 and 1861. . . . They were sustained with increasing interest until 1862, when a large portion of each club was summoned to war.”


Hiel Hollister, Pawlet [VT] for One Hundred Years (J. Munsell, Albany, 1867), pages 121-122.  Available via Google books: search “base ball””pawlet”.  Accessed 11/14/2008.  Pawlet VT [current pop. c1400] is on the New York border, and is about 15 miles east of Glens Falls NY.


1860.44 – Score it 7-5-4:  “Three Hands Out in a Jiffy”


We now know that it wasn’t the first triple play ever [see #1859.30 above], but it was a snazzy play.  “By one of the handsomest backward single-handed catches ever made by [the gloveless LF] Creighton, he took the ball on the fly, and instantly, by a true and rapid throw, passed the ball to [3B] Whiting, who caught it, and threw quickly to Brainerd, on the second base, before either Sears or Patchen had time to return to their bases.”  The trick “elicited a spontaneous mark of approbation and applause from the vast assemblage [the crowd roared].”  “Out-Door Sports: Base Ball: The Southern Trip of the Excelsior Club,” Sunday Mercury, Volume 22, number 40 (September 30, 1860), page 5, columns 2 and 3.  Posted to 19CBB by Craig Waff 9/23/2008.  The game, in Baltimore, pitted Creighton’s Brooklyn Excelsiors against a Baltimore club that had formed in their image [see #1858.46].


1860.45 – Competitive “Old-Fashioned” Game is Still Alive in Syracuse NY


About 20% of the games covered in available 1860 newspaper accounts of base ball in Syracuse depict “old-fashioned base ball” as played by a set of five area clubs.  The common format for these games was a best-two-of-three match of games played to 25 “tallies” [not runs].  A purse of $25 was not uncommon.  Teams exceeded nine players.  However, no account laid out the details of the playing rules, or how they differed from those of the National Association.  An 1859 article suggested that the game was the same as “Massachusetts “Base Ball,” giving the only firm clue as to its rules.  Sources:  Syracuse Journal, June 14, June 21, and July 11, 1860; and Syracuse Standard, August 5, 1859.


860.46 – First International Game Played by New York Rules


Joseph Overfield notes that the Buffalo NY team called the Queen Cities played a team from Hamilton, Ontario in August 1860, and says that it was the first international contest played by the National Association rules.  Joseph Overfield, The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball (Partner’s Press, 1985), page 17.  Overfield does not cite a primary source for this event.


1860.47 – Old-Fashioned Base Ball in Buffalo NY


On July 4, 1860, a Buffalo newspaper reported “a very exciting and interesting game of old fashioned Base Ball” that had been played in Akron NY – about 20 miles east of Buffalo.  This game featured 15 players on each side and a 3-out-side-out rule.  Source: Buffalo Morning Express (July 10, 1860), page 3.  Provided by Priscilla Astifan.



1860.48 – “Veterans of 1812” Play OFBB . . . Annually?


One of the earliest instances of an apparent “throwback” game occurred in August 1860, when a newspaper reported that the “Veterans of 1812” held their “annual Ball play” in the village of Seneca Falls NY, east of Geneva and southeast of Rochester.  The “old warriors,” after a morning of parading through local streets, marched to a field where “the byes were quickly staked out,” sides were chosen, and the local vets “were the winners of the game by two tallies.”  Seneca Falls Reveille (August 18, 1860).


1860.49 – Troy NY Writer: “Every Newspaper” Covers Base Ball Games, Some Showing Regrettable “Petty Meanness”


"Local Matters: Base Ball," The Troy Daily Whig, Volume 26, number. 8009 (28 June 1860), page 3, column 4:


"The present season bids fair to out-rival all previous ones in respect to ball-playing--every newspaper which we take up is sure to contain the particulars related to matches played or about to be played.  We are glad to see that our young men, particularly those engaged in sedentary persuits [sic], are taking a lively interest in this noble game.  In our opinion, nothing can serve better to invigorate both mind and body, than out door exercise.  In ball-playing, every muscle is brought into play, and the intellectual capacities, very often are taxed to the utmost.  But, in order that the parties may partake of the game with a lively zest, it is necessary that every branch of the game should be played in a friendly spirit.  Many are the games which have been played, the beauty of which have been spoiled by the spirit of petty meanness and jealously [sic] creeping into the heart of the players.  We were much pained and mortified upon a recent occasion, to see an incident of the kind alluded to, and we are confident that we speak the sentiments of many others, when we declare, that it destroyed what interest we had in the match.  But this evil is not alone confined to this vicinity.  It is noticeable in New York, Brooklyn, Rochester and other places--and if the remonstrances of the press can have any influence towards checking the evil, we promise to perform our part in the good work."  Submitted by Craig Waff, email of 12/7/2008.


1861.1 -- Chadwick Tries to Start Richmond Team, but the Civil War Intervenes


Ward, Geoffrey C., and Ken Burns, Baseball: An Illustrated History [Knopf, 1994], p.12, no ref given.  Note:  John Thorn, email of 2/10/2008, suggests that Beadle may have more detail.  Schiff, Millen, and Kirsch also cite Chadwick’s attempt, but do not give a clear date, or a source.


1861.2 –Stoolball Played, in Co-ed Form


“Stoolball was played at Chailey [Sussex] in 1861.  Major Lionel King . . . first saw stoolball in the hearly ‘sixties, while still a very small boy.  He watched a game in a field belonging to Eastfield Lodge, Hassocks [Sussex], and both men and maidens were playing”  Russell-Goggs, in “Stoolball in Sussex,” The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 322.  Note:  Russel-Goggs does not give a source for this report.


1861c.3 – Town Ball in Maryland: Mr. Lincoln Faces Friendly Fire


“We boys, for hours at a time, played “town ball” [at my grandfather’s estate] on the vast lawn, and Mr. [Abe] Lincoln would join ardently in the sport.  I remember vividly how he ran with the children; how long were his strides, and how far his coat-tails stuck out behind, and how we tried to hit him with the ball, as he ran the bases.”  Recollection [c.1890?] of Frank P. Blair III, as carried in Ida M. Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 (Lincoln Memorial Association, New York, 1900), page 88.


Blair, whose grandfather was Lincoln’s Postmaster General, lived in MD just outside Washington.  Note:  We need to establish a date for this reported event.  Blair [ibid.] says Lincoln’s visits happened “during the war,” occurred “frequently,” and took place when he was seven or eight years old.  We know his older brother James was born in 1854, but not when he showed up on earth. 


1861.4 – Alex Chadwick Links Base Ball to Rounders -- But It’s A Lot More Scientific


“The game of base ball is, as our readers are for the most part aware, an American game exclusively, as now played, although a game somewhat similar has been played in England for many years, called ‘rounders,’ but which is played more after the style of the Massachusetts game.  New York, however, justly lays claim to being the originators of what is termed the American Game, which has been so improved in all its essential points by them, and it scientific points so added to, that it does not stand second to either [rounders or the Mass game?] in its innate excellencies, or interesting phrases, to any national game in any country in the world, and is every way adapted to the tastes of all who love athletic exercises in the country.”  Chadwick article in The New York Clipper (October 26, 1861).  Email from John Thorn, 7/7/2004.  This is an excerpt from a Hoboken game account.  Note: “interesting phrases?


1861.5 – 15,000 Watch Ice Base Ball in Bkn:   Atlantic 37, Charter Oak 26.


“[A] novel game of base ball was played on the skating-pond in the Eighth Ward, between the Atlantic and Charter Oak Base Ball Clubs.  Ten members of each Club were selected for the match, and the game was played on skates, the prize being a silver ball.  The Atlantic ten won the ball, making 37 runs to 27 by their opponents.  Some 15,000 people witnessed the game.”  “Base Ball on Skates,” Philadelphia Inquirer (February 6, 1861).  Provided by John Maurath of the Missouri Civil War Museum at Historic Jefferson Barracks, 1/18/2008.  This bit was also reprinted in the pro-Confederacy Columbus OH paper The Crisis (February 14, 1861), and doubtless in many other places.


1861.6 – The Clipper Looks Back at the 1861 (Wartime) Season


The Clipper (date omitted in scrapbook clipping) printed a long review of the 1861 season.  It includes 39 synopses of previously-covered games between May 9 and September 14 . . . and it is likely that the clipping is incomplete.  Facsimile from the Mears Collections clippings, provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Some general points:


The War:  “[D]espite the interruptions and drawbacks occasioned by the great rebellion [it] has been really a very interesting year in the annals of the game, far more than was expected . . . ; but the game has too strong a foothold in popularity to be frowned out of favor by lowering brows of ‘grim-faced war,’ and if any proof was needed that our national game is a fixed institution of the country, it would be found in the fact that it has flourished through such a year of adverse circumstances as those that have marked the season of 1861.”


Holiday Play:  “On the 4th of July, all the club grounds were fully occupied, that day, like Thanksgiving, being a ball playing day.”


Juiced Ball?  On July 23, it was Eagles 32, Eckfords 23, marking the Eckfords’ first loss since 1858.  “The feature of the contest was the unusual number of home runs that were made on both sides, the Eckfords scoring no less than 11, of which Josh Snyder alone made four, and the Eagles getting five.”  3000 to 4000 fans watched this early slugfest.


1861.7 – Ontario Lads to Try the New York Game, May Forego “Canadian Game”


The year-old Young Canadian Base Ball Club [Woodstock, ON] met in Spring 1861, elected officers, reported themselves “flourishing” with forty members, and basked in the memory of a 6-0 1860 season.  “At the last meeting of the club it was resolved that they should practice the New York game for one month, and if at the end of that time they liked it better than the Canadian game, they would adopt it altogether.  The New York Clipper (date omitted in scrapbook clipping; from context it was about May 1861).  Facsimile from the Mears Collection scrapbooks provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  See also #1820s.19, #1838.4, #1856.18, and #1860.29 above.


1861.8 – Vermont Club Forms


A club formed in Chester, VT.  The New York Clipper (date omitted from scrapbook clipping; “April 20, 1861” appears on adjacent item, perhaps from the same issue).  Facsimile from the Mears Collection clippings provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Note:  This is the first VT item on base ball in the Protoball files, as of November 2008; can that be so?  Earlier items above [#178.6, #1787.2, #1828c.5, and #1849.9] all cite wicket or goal.  Chester VT’s 3044 souls today live about 30 miles north of Brattleboro and 35 miles east of the New York border. 


1861.9 – Buckeye BBC Forms in Cincinnati OH


“The Buckeye Base Ball Club is the first institution of the kind organized in Cincinnati.”  The New York Clipper (date omitted from scrapbook clipping; “April 20, 1861” written in hand).  Facsimile from the Mears Collection clippings provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.  Note: does this imply that this club was the first in town to play the New York game?


1861.10 – Atlantic 52, Mutual 27, 6 Innings: Chadwick is Wowed by 26-Run 3rd


Going into the 3rd inning, the Brooklyn club trailed 8-7.  Three outs later, the Atlantic led 33-8.  Ball game!  Chadwick put it this way:  “The Atlantics have always had a reputation for superior batting; but never have they before displayed, nor, in fact, had there ever been witnessed on any field, in all our base ball experience – which covers a period of ten years – such a grand exhibition of splendid batting. . . .  Altogether, the game exhibited the tallest batting, and more of it, than has ever before been witnessed.” He goes on to chronicle every at-bat of the Atlantic’s thumping third.  As for the crowd:  “The best of order was preserved on the ground by an extensive police force, and everything passed off well.”


Henry Chadwick, “A Grand Exhibition,” Sunday Mercury (October 20, 1861).  The full article and box score of the 10/26/1861 game is found (per Craig Waff, email of 11/14/2008) at; 






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