Last Updated March 11, 2010
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
1600c.1 -- Austrian Physician Reports on Batting/Running
Guarinoni, Hippolytis, Greuel der Verwustung der menschlichen Gesschlechts
[The horrors of the devastation of the human race], [
“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
from page 111 of an unidentified photocopy in the “Origins of
Baseball” file at the
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.”
Pretty Pocket-Book, Intended for the Instruction and Amusement of Little Master
Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly
“Rounders not a serious game until 1889
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
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
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”
Johann C. F., Spiele zur Uebung und Erholung des Korpers und Geistes fur die
Jugend, ihre Erzieher und alle Freunde Unschuldiger Jugendfreuden [
an early German advocate of physical education, devotes a chapter to
“Ball mit Freystaten
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
“About 1820 a somewhat modified version
of the old English game of rounders
was played on the
Barbour, Ralph H., The Book of School and
College Sports [D. Appleton and Co.,
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 [
Boy’s Own Book is
W., Boy’s Own Book [
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 [
for “’Base’ or ‘Goal Ball’” are published
Robin, The Book of Sports [
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
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
W., The Youth’s Encyclopedia of Health: with Games and Play Ground
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.
The Saturday Magazine [
1840.19 -- Baseball Arrives in
story of baseball in
1841.1 -- New Compendium Describes Feeder, 5-Base Rounders, Feeder
J. L., The Every Boy’s Book, a Compendium of All the Sports and
Recreations of Youth [
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
1844.3 -- Clone of 1841 Book Covering Rounders and Feeder Appears
Williams, Samuel, Boy’s Treasury of
Sports, Pastimes, and Recreations [
1846.3 -- New Manual Includes Unique Slants on Rounders, Trap-ball
Every Boy’s Book of Games, Sports, and Diversions [
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
James O., A Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words [
1847.9 – Li’l Prince’s Birthday Party Includes Cricket, Rounders.
Richard Hershberger relates: The Preston
1848.5 -- New York Book of Games Covers Stool-ball, Rounders
Own Book of Sports, Birds, and Animals [
H. D., Holiday Sports and Pastimes for Boys [
“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.
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
“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
clubs may not have done so till '57.” Note: John invites further discussion on this point. The full
1852.6 -- Exciting [Adult] Rounders in the
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
“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.]
M. Fuess, An
1853.2 -- Dutch Handbook for Young Boys Covers “Engelsch Balspel,” Trap-ball, Tip-cat
Wat zal er gespeld worden?
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
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
1854.8 -- Cricket Historian Describes Facet of Current “School Boy’s Game of Rounders”
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
James Pycroft, The Cricket Field , 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
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.”
Damon M, Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii [Pacific Books,
further digging, John Thorn traces the migration of wicket to
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?
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
1858.11 -- British Sports Anthology Shows Evolved Rounders, Other Safe Haven Games
George, Games for All Seasons [
1858.23 -- “The Playground” Gives Insight into Rounders, Trap-ball, and Cricket Rules and Customs
Forrest, The Playground: or, The Boy’s Book of Games
1859.15 -- Games and Sports Covers Rounders, Feeder, Trap-ball, Northern Spell
and Sports for Young Boys [
1860.6 -- Chadwick’s Beadle’s Appears, and the Baseball Press is Launched
Henry, Beadle’s Dime Base-Ball Player: A Compendium of the Game,
Comprising Elementary Instructions of the American Game of Base Ball [
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