Last Updated March 11, 2010

 

Back to the Protoball Home Page

 

Back to the Full Protoball Chronology

 

 

Rounders

 

A Working Chronology

 

[Note: This compilation is taken from version 11 [April 2010] Protoball Chronology.  Other rounders-related entries may have appeared later.  The search term was “rounders.”  Additional relevant entries may have been added to any later versions of the full Chronology; not all entries on this subchronology are necessarily identical to those on the most recently updated full Chronology.  Readers are encouraged to suggest or perform updates.  Please send notes about omissions, mistakes, typos, etc, to lmccray@mit.edu.

 

---

 

1600c.1 -- Austrian Physician Reports on Batting/Running Game in Prague; One of Two Accounts Cites Plugging, Bases

[A] Guarinoni, Hippolytis, Greuel der Verwustung der menschlichen Gesschlechts [The horrors of the devastation of the human race], [Ingolstadt, Austrian Empire], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 167.  Guarinoni describes a game he saw in Prague in 1600 involving a large field of play, the hitting of a small thrown ball [“the size of a quince”] with a four-foot tapered club, the changing of sides if a hit ball was caught, and, while not mentioning the presence of bases, advises that the game “is good for tender youth which never has enough of running back and forth.”

[B] “German Schlagball [“hit the ball”] is also similar to rounders.  The native claim that these games ‘have remained the games of the Germanic peoples, and have won no popularity beyond their countries’ quite obviously does not accord with facts.  It is enough to quote the conclusion of a description of “hit the ball” by H. Guarnoni, who had a medical practice in Innsbruck about 1600:  ‘We enjoyed this game in Prague very much and played it a lot.  The cleverest at it were the Poles and the Silesians, so the game obviously comes from there.’  Incidentally, he was one of the first who described the way in which the game was played.  It was played with a leather ball and a club four-foot long.  The ball was tossed by a bowler who threw it to the striker, who struck it with a club rounded at the end as far into the field as possible, and attempted to make a circuit of the bases without being hit by the ball.  If ‘one of the opposing players catches the ball in the air, a change of positions follows.’”

Source: from page 111 of an unidentified photocopy in the “Origins of Baseball” file at the Giamatti Center of the Base Hall of Fame.  The quoted material is found in a section termed “Rounders and Other Ball Games with Sticks and Bats,” pp. 110-111.  This section also reports:  “Gyula Hajdu sees the origin of round games as follows: ‘Round games conserve the memory of ancient castle warfare.  A member of the besieged garrison sets out for help, slipping through the camp of the enemy. . . . ‘”  “In Hungary several variants of rounders exist in the countryside.”

1600c.2 -- Shakespeare Mentions Rounders?  Pretty Doubtful

 

“Shakespeare mentions games of “base” and “rounders.  Lovett, Old Boston Boys, page 126.”

 

Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.  Caveat: We have not yet confirmed that Lovett or Shakespeare used the term “rounders.”  Gomme [page 80], among others, identifies the Bard’s use of “base” in Cymbeline as a reference to prisoner’s base, which is not a ball game.  John Bowman, email of 5/21/2008, reports that his concordance of all of Shakespeare’s words shows has no listing for “rounders” . . . nor for “stoolball,” for that matter [see #1612c.1, below], ‘tho that may because Shakespeare’s authorship of Two Noble Kinsmen is not universally accepted by scholars..

1744.2 – Newbery’s Little Pretty Pocket-Book Refers to “Base-Ball,” “Stooleball, “Trap-Ball,”

John Newbery’s A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, published in England, contains a wood-cut illustration showing boys playing “base-ball” and a rhymed description of the game:  “The ball once struck off,/Away flies the boy/To the next destined post/And then home with joy.” .  This is held to be the first appearance of the term “base-ball” in print.  Other pages are devoted to stool-ball, trap-ball, and tip-cat [per David Block, page 179].  Block finds that this book has the first use of the word “base-ball.”

Little Pretty Pocket-Book, Intended for the Instruction and Amusement of Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly [London, John Newbery, 1744].  Per RH ref 107, adding Newbery name as publisher from text at p. 132.  The earliest extant version of this book is from 1760 [per David Block], and Altherr [ref #24] gives a p.90 citation for “base-ball” from the 1767 version. Note: we may need reason to assume the “Base-ball” poem appeared in the 1744 version.  According to Altherr, pp. 20 – 21, the 1767 London version also has poems titled “Stoolball” [p. 88] and Trap-Ball.[p. 91].  According Zoernik in the Encyclopedia of World Sports [p.329], rounders is also referred to [we need to confirm this].  There was an American pirated edition in 1760, as per Henderson [ref #107]; David Block dates the American edition in 1762. He also notes that a 1767 revision features engravings for the three games.||10||

1784.2 – Seymour Adverts to Evidence that Town Ball Exported to England

Rounders not a serious game until 1889 in Britain.  But at least close resemblance.  Evidence Town Ball introduced by Amer. to Br. 1784 – between Rounders and Base Ball.”

Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.  Note: it would be good to find such evidence soon. And why the late date for rounders becoming a “serious” game?

1790s.3 -- Britannica Dates Stickball to Late 18th Century

“Stickball is a game played on a street or other restricted area, with a stick, such as a mop handle or broomstick, and a hard rubber ball. Stickball developed in the late 18th century from such English games as old cat, rounders, and town ball.  Stickball also relates to a game played in southern England and colonial Boston in North America called stoolball.  All of these games were played on a field with bases, a ball, and one or more sticks.  The modern game is played especially in New York City on the streets where such fixtures as a fire hydrant or an abandoned car serve as bases.”

Britannica Online search conducted 5/25/2005.  Note: No sources are provided for this unique report of early stickball.  It also seems unusual to define town ball as an English game.

1796.1 -- Gutsmuths describes [in German, yet] “Englishe Base-Ball”

Gutsmuths Johann C. F., Spiele zur Uebung und Erholung des Korpers und Geistes fur die Jugend, ihre Erzieher und alle Freunde Unschuldiger Jugendfreuden [Schnepfenthal, Germany] per David Block, page 181.. This roughly translates as: Games for the Exercise and Recreation of Body and Spirit for the Youth and His Educator and All Friends of Innocent Joys of Youth.

Gutsmuths, an early German advocate of physical education, devotes a chapter to “Ball mit Freystaten (oder das Englische Base-ball)” -- that is, Ball with free station, or English base-ball.  He describes the game in terms that seem similar to later accounts of rounders and base-ball in English texts.  The game is described as one-out, all-out, having a three-strike rule, and placing the pitcher a few steps from the batsman.

For Text: Block carries a four-page translation of this text in Appendix 7, pages 275-278, in Baseball Before We Knew It

Block advises [11/6/2005 communication] that Gutsmuths provides “the first hard, unambiguous evidence associating a bat with baseball . . . . We can only speculate as to when a bat was first employed in baseball, but my intuition is that it happened fairly early, probably by the mid-18th century.”

1820c.6 – Modified Version of Rounders Played in New England.

 

“About 1820 a somewhat modified version of the old English game of rounders was played on the New England commons, and twenty years later the game had spread and become “town ball.”  In 1833 the first regularly organized ball club was formed in Philadelphia with the sonorous title of “The Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia.”  About 1850 the game gained vogue in New York.”

 

Barbour, Ralph H., The Book of School and College Sports [D. Appleton and Co., New York, 1904] page 143.  Per Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.  Thanks to Mark Aubrey for locating a pdf of the baseball section of this text, June 2007.  Barbour does not provide sources for his text.

 

1825.13 – 1906 Baseball History Sees Rounders in US, 1825-1840

 

“’Rounders,’ from which modern baseball is generally believed to have derived its origin, was a very simple game – so simple, in fact, that girls could play it.  It was played with a ball and bats and was practiced in this country as early as 1825 [p. 437] . . . Rounders was popular between 1825 and 1840, but meantime there had been many other forms of ball playing. [.p 438]”

 

George V. Tuohey, “The Story of Baseball,” The Scrap Book (Munsey, New York, 1906), pp. 437ff.  Caution:  Tuohey gives no evidentiary support for this observation, and the Protoball sub-chronology [http://retrosheet.org/Protoball/Sub.Rounders.htm] for rounders shows no firm evidence that a game ten called rounders was popular in the US.

 

1828.1 – Boy’s Own Book [London] Describes “Rounders,” Stoolball, Feeder

The Boy’s Own Book is published in London and contains a set of rules for “stool-ball,” [p. 26], “trap, bat, and ball,” [p. 27], “northern-spell,” [p. 28], “rounders,” [p.28], and “feeder” [p. 29].   The rounders entry states: “this is a favorite game with bat and ball, especially in the west of England.”  The entry for feeder, in its entirety:  “This game is played with three bases only, and a player takes the place of feeder, who remains so until he puts one of the other players out, by catching his ball or striking him while running from base to base, as at Rounders; the one who is put out taking the place of feeder to the others, and thus the game goes on.  There are no sides at this game.”  The entry for northern spell describes a game without running or fielding, in which the object is to hit the ball farthest – “this pastime possesses but little variety, and is by no means so amusing to the bystanders as Trapball.”

Clarke, W., Boy’s Own Book [London, Vizetelly Branston], second edition.  This book is reportedly still available [Appleton Books, 1996], according to Tim Wiles at the Giamatti Research Library.  Note: Altherr uses a reference to an 1829 US version:  The Boy’s Own Book [Munroe and Francis, Boston, 1829], pp. 18-19, per Altherr ref # 65. ||33||  David Block, page 192-193, describes the wide popularity of this text in England and the US, running through many editions through the 1880s, and also identifies this book as Henderson’s key evidence in his refutation of the Doubleday theory of baseball’s origin 11 years later. [XXX Keyboard full text here.]

For Text: David Block carries more than a page of text, and the field diagram, in Appendix 7, pages 279-238, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

1834.1 – Carver’s The Book of Sports [Boston] describes “Base, or Goal Ball”

Rules for “’Base’ or ‘Goal Ball’” are published in Boston, in the The Book of Sports by Robin Carver.  Carver’s book copies the rules for rounders published in England’s “The Boy’s Own Book” (see #1828.1 entry, above).  A line drawing of boys “Playing Ball” on Boston Common is included.  David Block in Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196-197, reports that this is the “first time that the name “base ball” was associated with a diamond-shaped infield configuration.”  As for the name of the game, Carver explains:  “This game is known under a variety of names.  It is sometimes called ‘round ball.’  But I believe that ‘base’ or ‘goal ball’ are the names generally adopted in our country.”  According to Carver, runners ran clockwise around the bases. Note: Do we have other accounts of clockwise baserunning?

Carver, Robin, The Book of Sports [Boston, Lilly Wait Colman and Holden], pp 37-40.  Per Henderson ref  31.  Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 – 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], p.3ff

For Text: David Block carries a full page of text, and the accompanying field diagram, in Appendix 7, page 281, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

1835c.16 – Graduate Grimly Recalls Rounders at Greenwich School in England

 

The memories aren’t pleasant.  “We endured hunger, cold, and cruelty.”  Exercise was taken mainly in gymnastics: “As there was no cricket-field, our amusements were much curtailed, a poor game of rounders being the only source of amusement in that line.”

 

“Greenwich School Forty Years Ago,” Fraser’s Magazine Volume 10 (1874), page 246.  Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search (“poor game of rounders”).

 

1838.7 -- English Anthology of Games Puts “Squares” Among Safe-Haven Ballgames

Montague, W., The Youth’s Encyclopedia of Health: with Games and Play Ground Amusements [London, W. Emans], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 202-203.  This book covers trap-ball, listing the ways that a batter could be put out.  But then, there’s “squares.”

Reports Block: “a short passage describ[es] a game called squares, which was nearly identical to early baseball and rounders.  The text depicts four bases laid out in a square, although it is ambiguous as to whether home plate was one of the four bases or a separate location.  The bases are described as being a ‘considerable distance’ apart, which suggests that the dimensions may have been larger than other versions of early baseball.  To the best of my knowledge, this is the only instance of the name ‘squares’ being used as a pseudonym for baseball or rounders.  The author was obviously not impressed with the pastime, concluding . . . : ‘There is nothing particular[ly] fascinating in this game.’”  Note: follow up to reflect games covered.

For Text:  David Block carries a paragraph of text in Appendix 7, page 284, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

1839.4 -- London Magazine Covers “Games with a Ball,” Including Stoolball, Tip-Cat, Rounders

 

The Saturday Magazine [London], number 430, March 16, 1839, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 203.  “Games with a Ball” treats stool-ball, trap-ball, tip-cat, among other games, and owes much to Strutt (see 1801 entry, above).  The writer advises, “[Stool-ball] differs but very little from the game of rounders which is much played at the present day at the west of England.”  Block observes: “It is curious that the author equates rounders and stool-ball, since the former utilized a bat while Strutt’s sketch of stool-ball stated that the ball was struck by the bare hand.”

1840.19 -- Baseball Arrives in Saint John, New Brunswick

“The story of baseball in Saint John has a Spalding-Chadwick twist to it.  As early as the year 1840, there have been mentions of the sport of baseball in the Port City.  As D. R. Jack noted in his Centennial Prize Essay (1783-1883):  ‘It was a common practice with many of the leading merchants of St. John to assemble each fine summer afternoon after the business day was over . . . where a fine playground has been prepared, and engage in a game of cricket or baseball.  This practice was continued until about 1840.’  Whether of not this was actually the game of “Rounders” or “Town Ball” is debatable.”

Brian Flood, Saint John: A Sporting Tradition 1785-1985 [Henry Flood, 1985], pages 18-19. 

1841.1 -- New Compendium Describes Feeder, 5-Base Rounders, Feeder

Williams, J. L., The Every Boy’s Book, a Compendium of All the Sports and Recreations of Youth [London, Dean and Munday], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 205.  This big book covered hundreds of children’s pastimes, including feeder, the German game “ball-stock” (ball-stick), and a version of rounders that, unlike the 1828 Boy’s Own Book (see #1828.1 above) is played with five bases laid out in a pentagon instead of four in a diamond, and counter-clockwise running.

For Text:  David Block carries two long paragraphs and a field diagram of feeder, and a two-paragraph description of rounders, in Appendix 7, pages 284-286, of Baseball Before We Knew It.

1842c.10 – Athletic Welsh Lad Plays Rounders

 

“I became fleet on my legs, and a good climber, I was an expert at ball catching in rounders (cricket being unknown in Wales at the time), and when I left school, my name was the only one inscribed or the loftiest trees.”

 

Josiah Hughes, Australia Revisited in 1890 (Nixon and Jarvis, Bangor, 1891), page 482.  Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search ("josiah hughes" revisited).  Hughes, born in 1829 in Wales, here recalls his time at a school in Holywell in the north of Wales.

1844.3 -- Clone of 1841 Book Covering Rounders and Feeder Appears

Williams, Samuel, Boy’s Treasury of Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations [London, D. Bogue], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 206 - 207.  The original book was The Every Boy’s Book (see #1841.1 entry).  Lea and Blanchard would publish the first US edition of Boy’s Treasury in 1847.

1846.3 -- New Manual Includes Unique Slants on Rounders, Trap-ball

The Every Boy’s Book of Games, Sports, and Diversions [London, Vickers], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 208 - 209.  Not to be mistaken for the 1841 Every Boy’s Book (see #1841.1, above), this book is called “original and unusual” by Block.  For one thing, it includes two forms of trap-ball, the second being the “Essex” version referred to in the 1801 Strutt opus.

The book’s description of rounders is unique in written accounts of the game.  Rounders, it says, has holes instead of bases, can have from four to eight of them, runners starting game at every base [all with bats, and all running on hit balls], and outs are recorded if the fielding team throws the ball anywhere between the bases that form a runner’s base path.  Concludes Block: “In its four-base form, this version of rounders is remarkably similar to the American game of four-old-cat.  Yes, the very game that Albert Spalding classified in 1905 as the immediate predecessor to town-ball, and which was part of his proof that baseball could not have descended from ‘the English picnic game of rounders,’ was, at least in this one instance, identified [sic?- LM] as none other than rounders.”  Note: Does the book identify rounders with old-cat games, or does Block so that?

1847.5 -- Halliwell’s 960-Page Dictionary Cites Base-ball, Rounders, Tut-ball

Halliwell, James O., A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words [London, J. R. Smith, 1847], 2 volumes, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 209 - 210.  The “base-ball” entry: “a country game mentioned in Moor’s Suffolk Words, p. 238” (see item #1823.2 above)Rounders is just “a boy’s game at balls.”  Tut-ball is “a sort of stobball.”  Other bat-and-ball games are similarly covered, but Block does not quote them.  It seems that Halliwell was not a fan of sport. Note: can a list of the book’s other safe-haven games be made?

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.

1848.5 -- New York Book of Games Covers Stool-ball, Rounders

Boy’s Own Book of Sports, Birds, and Animals [New York, Leavitt and Allen], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 209-210.  In this books large section, “The Boy’s Book of Sports and Games,” attributed to “Uncle John,” more than 200 games are described, including trap-ball, rounders, and stool-ball.  Block notes that “The version of rounders the book presents is generally consistent with others from the period, with perhaps a little more detail than most.  It specifies the number of bases as four or five and describes a bat of only two feet in length.”  Given the choice of games included [and, probably, the exclusion of familiar American games], he believes the author is English, “[y]et I find no evidence of its publication in Great Britain prior to [1848].”  This 184-page section was later published in London in 1850 and in Philadelphia in 1851.

1848.6 -- London Book Describes Two Rounders Variants

Richardson, H. D., Holiday Sports and Pastimes for Boys [London, Wm S. Orr], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 211-212.  This book’s section “Games with Toys” includes two variants of rounders.  Block’s summary:

“The first of these is of a somewhat cricket-like game. A wicket of two ‘stumps,’ or sticks, with no crosspiece [bail], was set up behind the batter, with three other stumps as corners of an equilateral triangle in front of the batter.  A bowler served the ball, as in cricket, and, if the batter hit it, he attempted to touch each of the stumps in succession, as in baseball.  The batter was out if he missed the ball, if the struck ball was caught on the fly, of if a fielder touches one the stumps with the ball before a base runner reached it.  It is noteworthy that this cricket-baseball hybrid did not include the practice of ‘soaking’ or ‘plugging’ the runner with the thrown ball.

“The book’s second version of rounders is a more traditional variety, with no wicket behind the batter.  It featured a home base and three others marked with sticks as in the previous version.  The author distinguishes this form of rounders the other in its use of a ‘pecker or feeder’ rather than a ‘bowler.’  He also points out that ‘in this game it is sought to strike, not the wicket, but the player, and if struck with the ball when absent from one of the rounders, or posts, he is out.’ (Of all the known published descriptions of the game in the nineteenth century, this is the only one to use the term ‘rounders’ to denote bases. [DB])  This second version of the game also featured ‘taking of the rounders,’ which elsewhere was generally known as ‘hitting for the rounder.’  This option was exercised when all members of a side were out, and the star player then had three pitches with which to attempt to hit a home run. If he was successful, his team retained its at-bat.”

Note: Were none of the other traditional English safe-haven games -- cricket, stool-ball, etc., included in this book?

1850.5 – “Boy’s Treasury” Describes Rounders, Feeder, Stoolball, Etc.

The Boy’s Treasury, published in New York, contains descriptions of feeder [p. 25], Rounders [p. 26], Ball Stock [p. 27], Stool-Ball [p. 28], Northern Spell [p. 33] and Trap, Bat, and Ball [p 33].  The cat games and barn ball and town ball are not listed.  In feeder, the ball is pitched from a distance of two yards, and he is the only member of the “out” team.  There is a three-strike rule and a dropped-third rule.  The Rounders description says “a smooth round stick is preferred by many boys to a bat for striking the ball.”  Ball Stock is said to be “very similar to rounders.”  In stool ball, “the ball must be struck by the hand, and not with a bat.”

1850.7 -- Englishman’s Book of Games Refers to Rounders, Feeder

Mallary, Chas D., The Little Boy’s Own Book; Consisting of Games and Pastimes . . . [Henry Allman, London1850], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 213-214.  Block only mentions one passage of interest -- a section on “rounders, or feeder,” a shortened version of what had appeared in 1828 in The Boy’s Own Book [see item #1828.1].

1850s.24 – Did “Plugging” Actually Persist in NYC 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 full Wheaton letter is linked to entry #1837.1 in the main Protoball Chronology.

1852.6 -- Exciting [Adult] Rounders in the Arctic

Osborn, Lt Sherard, Stray Leaves from an Arctic journal; or, Eighteen Months in the Polar Regions [London, Longman + Co], page 77, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 214.  “Shouts of laughter!  Roars of ‘Not fair, not fair! Run again!’ ‘Well done, well done!’ from individuals leaping and clapping their hands with excitement, arose from many a ring, in which ‘rounders’ with a cruelly hard ball, was being played.”

1853c.1 – “Rounders” Reportedly Played at Phillips Exeter

“The game of “rounders,” as it was played in the days before the Civil War, had only a faint resemblance to our modern baseball.  For a description of a typical contest, which took place in 1853, we are indebted to Dr. William A. Mowry:”

[Several students had posted a challenge to play “a game of ball,” and that challenge was accepted.] ‘The game was a long one.  No account was made of ‘innings;’ the record was merely of runs.  When one had knocked the ball, had run the bases, and had reached the ‘home goal,’ that counted one ‘tally.’  The game was for fifty tallies. . . .  [T]he pitcher stood midway between the second and third bases, but nearer the center of the square . . . Well, we beat the eleven [50-37].’  [Mowry then tells of his success in letting the ball hit the ball and glance away over the wall “behind the catchers,” which allowed him to put his side ahead.]

Claude M. Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover [Houghton Mifflin, 1917], pp. 449-450.  Researched by George Thompson, based on partial information from reading notes by Harold Seymour.  Note:  It appears that Fuess saw this game as rounders, but Mowry did not use that name.  The game as described is indistinguishable from the MA game.

1853.2 -- Dutch Handbook for Young Boys Covers “Engelsch Balspel,” Trap-ball, Tip-cat

Dongens! Wat zal er gespeld worden? (Boys! What Shall We Play?) [Leeuwarden, G. T. N. Suringar], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 215.  A 163-page book of games and exercises for young boys, which Block finds is “loaded with hand-colored engravings.”  The book’s section on ball games includes a translation of the 1828 rounders rules from The Boy’s Own Book (see 1828 entry, above), under the heading Engelsch balspel (English ball).  A second game is De wip (the whip), a kind of trap ball.  Also De kat, which Block identifies as English tip-cat.

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.]

 

1853.12 – English Cleric Promotes Co-ed Rounders, With Slim Results

 

“In the playground they [boys and girls] have full permission to play together, if they like . . . but they very seldom do play together, because boys’ amusements and girls’ amusements are of a different character, and if, as happens at rare intervals, I do see a dozen boys and girls going down a slide together in the winter, or engaged in a game of rounders in the summer, I believe both parties are improved by their temporary coalition.”

 

Rev. Henry Newland, Confirmation and First Communion (Joseph Masters, London, 1853), page 240.  Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("henry newland" mdcccliii).  Newland was Vicar of Westbourne, near Bournemouth and about 100 miles SW of London.

1854.8 -- Cricket Historian Describes Facet of Current “School Boy’s Game of Rounders

“between the two-feet-asunder stumps there was cut a hole big enough to contain a ball, and (as now with the school boy’s game of rounders) the [cricket] hitter was made out in running a notch by the ball being popped into [a] hole (whence ‘popping crease’) before the point of the bat could reach it.”

James Pycroft, The Cricket Field [1854], page 68.  Submitted by John Thorn, 1/13/2007.   Note: Pycroft was first published in 1851 [see item #1851.1].  Was this material in the first edition?

1855c.8 -- New British Manual of Sports Describes Rounders

Walsh, J. H. (“Stonehenge”), Manual of British Rural Sports [London, G. Routlege], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 216.  This book includes a description and diagram of rounders that Block characterizes as “generally consistent with other accounts of rounders and pre-1845 baseball.”  This version of the game used a pentagon-shaped infield and counterclockwise base running.

1855c.10 – Wicket Played in HI

“One game they all enjoyed was wicket, often watched by small Mary Burbank.  Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a large rounder end.  It was a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to the ground.”

Ethel, Damon M, Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii [Pacific Books, Palo Alto, 1957], page 41, from John Thorn.

Through further digging, John Thorn traces the migration of wicket to Hawaii through the Hawaii-born missionary Henry Obookiah.  At age 17, Obookiah traveled to New Haven and was educated in the area.  He died there in 1818, but not before helping organize a ministry [Episcopalian?] to Hawaii that began in 1820. John’s source is the pamphlet “Hawaiian Oddities,” by Mike Jay (R. D. Seal, Seattle, ca 1960)  [Personal communication, 7/26/04.]

1856.7 – First Official Use of the Term “Rounders” Appears? 

Zoernik, Dean A., “Rounders,” in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 329. Note: Whaaaat?

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.  

 

1857.31 – 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.

1858.11 -- British Sports Anthology Shows Evolved Rounders, Other Safe Haven Games

Pardon, George, Games for All Seasons [London, Blackwood], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 218.  Block notes that this “comprehensive and detailed anthology of sports and games includes the full [but unnamed -- LM] spectrum of baseball’s English relatives.”  The description of rounders features 5 bases, plus a home base.  Block considers the changes described for rounders since the first (1828) account, and descries “the steady divergence of rounders and baseball during those decades to the point of becoming two distinct sports.” 

1858.23 -- “The Playground” Gives Insight into Rounders, Trap-ball, and Cricket Rules and Customs

George Forrest, The Playground: or, The Boy’s Book of Games (G. Rutledge, London, 1858).

1859.15 -- Games and Sports Covers Rounders, Feeder, Trap-ball, Northern Spell

Games and Sports for Young Boys [London, Warne and Routledge] per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 221.  This book’s descriptions of rounders, feeder, trap-ball, and northern spell were cloned from the 1841 publication The Every Boy’s Book, but many new woodcuts seem to have been inserted.

1860.6 -- Chadwick’s Beadle’s Appears, and the Baseball Press is Launched

Chadwick, Henry, Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player: A Compendium of the Game, Comprising Elementary Instructions of the American Game of Base Ball [New York, Irwin P. Beadle] per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 221.  The first annual baseball guide, emblematic, perhaps, of the transformation of base ball into a spectator sport.  The 40-page guide includes rules for Knickerbocker ball, the new NABBP rules, rules for the Massachusetts game, and for rounders.  Chadwick includes a brief history of base ball, saying it is of “English origin” and “derived from rounders.”  Block observes: “For twenty-five years his pronouncements remained the accepted definition of the game’s origins.  Then the controversy erupted.  First John Montgomery Ward and then Albert Spalding attacked Chadwick’s theory.  Ultimately, their jingoistic efforts saddled the nation with the Doubleday Myth.”

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?

 

 

 

Back to the Protoball Home Page

 

Back to the Full Protoball Chronology