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Subtopic Files: This page shows the full Protoball 1150-item working chronology.  There are selective chronologies available on African-American play [9 items], “Bat-Ball” and “Bat-and-Ball” References [New: 20 items],  Local Bans of ballplaying [52 items],  Central/Western New York State  Ballplaying [38 items], Ballplaying in California [New: 12 entries], Ballplaying in Canada [New: 22 items], Ballplaying on Campus [75 items], Cricket in North America [New: 126 entries], Famous People with Links to Ballplaying [69 items], Female play [31 items], The Hazard of Ballplaying [New: 9 entries], Holiday Ballplaying [33 items], Ballplaying in the U.S. Military [New: 25 items], Ballplaying as Reflected in Narrative Fiction [20 items], Ballplaying in the New England States [130 items], Ballplaying in New Jersey [New: 12 items], NYC Ballplaying Before the Knickerbockers [58 items], A Few Oddball Games [6 items], Ballplaying Outside English-Speaking Areas 17 items], Ballplaying in Philadelphia [New: 36 items], English Rounders [42 items], Ballplaying in the American South [New:14 items], Ballplaying in St. Louis and Southern Illinois [New: 21 items], Stoolball [58 items], Town Ball [46 items], the game of Wicket [57 items], and Ballplaying in Wisconsin [New: 6 items].


New Entries Only:  To browse the 190 newest [April 2010] entries, go here.


Re-ordered Version 10: For a version of the 2008 Chronology that lists entries in chronological order within the calendar years 1844-1861, go here.






Version 11, updated April 2010



The Protoball Working Chronology of Early Ball Play --

2500BC through 1862AD



Project History:  This chronology originated with an initial listing by John Thorn and Tom Heitz, one that included about 70 entries.  We took that popular set and had added another 200 entries by 2004, always adding formal citations where we could, so that investigators could recheck original data as needed.  About 50 ofthese items came from previously uncollected references in a prize-winning paper by

Tom Altherr.  In 2005, David Block’s landmark Baseball Before We Knew It was published, furnishing over 150 new entries for subsequent versions of the Protoball chronology.  Researchers, many of them subscribers to the SABR “19CBB” listserve, have since added hundreds more.  Version 11 adds about 190 new items, raising the total to about 1150 entries.  Over 50 of these new entries are taken from Bill Ryczek’s new book, Baseball’s First Inning.


Scope:  The Protoball list includes entries for what we here term “safe haven” ball games (i.e., ball games that use bases), including base ball, town ball, cricket, wicket, and the old-cat games, but exclusing the many other stick-and-ball games such as golf, the several racket sports, croquet, field hockey, and hurling.  The earliest entries range worldwide, the middle years focus mainly on games in the English-speaking nations, and the latter portion focuses mainly on games played in North America. The objective is to trace baseball’s early roots, as well as the roots of most the game’s essential rules.


It’s a Work in Progress:  This chronology is a work in progress. Your contributions are welcome in completing and emending it.  Our hope is to ultimately create a searchable file of useful primary information on the evolution of safe-haven ballgames.  For more information, to make suggestions, or to add to the chronology, contact Larry McCray at 


Key: Serial numbers for the entries comprise the year of the reported event [for example, “1820s” means “in the 1820’s,” and “1823c” means “circa 1823”] and an identifying numerical suffix.  The reader should note the unavoidable imprecision in assigning some dates; for example, if a memoirist who was born in 1813 reports that he played ball as a youth, the date is probably recorded as “1823c,” but could obviously be a few years off either way.  The reader should habitually take caution in the long-time memories of the dates, if not the facts, of reflective accounts; after all, neurologists now tell us that the human memory is not an indelible digital storage device. Entries for any one year are not listed in chronological sequence.


Please Contribute Comments, Data, and Corrections:  Reader comments are especially welcome to fill information needs for open queries that follow the term “Note:” within an entry.


Important Caveat on the Authenticity of Entries:  The Protoball Project includes published claims for historical events associated with the evolution of baseball.  Some of these claims have been questioned – and some ridiculed -- within today’s research community.  Instead of withholding such claims [which lay forever unchallenged in published sources] , we include most of them, noting any current doubts as to their reliability in “Caution” and “Caveat” notations.  The reader should not take the appearance of an item in the Chronology to imply our endorsement of the authenticity of that item.  We welcome communications from you about listed claims that you find questionable in light of historical evidence.


Access to Protoball File Information: If you are writing about early ballplaying, for publication or for a term paper, say, we will be pleased to supply facsimiles of material from our paper files on our entries.  For large requests, we ask that you cover our out-of-pocket expenses for photocopying and mailing.  Upon request, we are also pleased to consult the contents of the Buzz McCray Collection of books, which amount to about 15 shelf-feet of books and papers, all of which are listed on Protoball’s Buzz McCray Bibliography on Early Ballplaying.


How the Chronology Grew From 70 Entries to its Current Size






The Protoball Chronology – Version 11


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


Writing in 1891, Stewart Culin reported “the discovery by Mr. Flinders-Petrie of wooden ‘tip cats’ among the remains of 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.  Query:  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?   


BC2400C.1 – Egyptian Text Has “Strike the Ball” Reference


“The earliest known references to seker-hemat (translation: batting the ball) as a fertility rite and ritual of renewal are inscribed in pyramids dating to 2400 BC.”  An Egyptologist reads Pyramid Texts Spell 254 as commanding a pharaoh to cross the heavens and “strike the ball” in the meadow of the sacred Apis bull.


Piccione, Peter, “Pharaoh at the Bat,” College of Charlestown Magazine (Spring/Summer 2003), p.36.  From a clipping in the Giamatti Center’s Origins File  Note:  It would be good to confirm details in an academic source and to see whether Egyptologists have any other interpretations of this text.  Caution:  David Block [Baseball Before We Knew It, page 303 (note 1)] writes that Piccione’s comparison of seker-hemat to baseball is seen as “apparently speculative in nature.”


BC2000.1 -- 2000 BC to 0 BC – The Ball in Ancient Play


Ancient cultures—Lydians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians—play primitive stick and ball games for recreation, fertility rites and religious rituals.


Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], pp. 8-21


BC2000c.2 – 1913 Text:  Egypt May Be the Birthplace” of Ballplaying


“Recent excavations near Cairo, Egypt, have brought to light small balls of leather and others of wood obviously used in some outdoor sport, and probably dating back to at least 2000 years before Christ.  These may be the oldest balls in existence.  Hence Egypt maybe the birthplace of the original ball game whatever it was.  We know, however that the Greeks and Romans played ball at a remote period.  We do not know the exact nature of any of these ancient games, Egyptian, Greek, or Roman.”


William S. Walsh, A Handy Book of Curious Information, (J. B. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1913), page 83.  .  Available via Google Books search “to light small balls,”  1/27/2010.  Query:  Does recent scholarship agree that these were balls, were used in sport, and date to 2000BC?  Is there further evidence about their role in Egyptian life?


BC1500C.1 – 1500 to 700 BC -- Mexican Game Believed to Use Rubber Ball, Bat


According to SABR member César González, “There are remains of rubber balls found since the time of the Olmeca culture between 1500 and 700 BC.”  He reports that it is believed that one of the earliest Mesoamerican games was played with a stick.


Email from César González, 12/6/2008 Note: Can we add sources for these points?


BC1460.1 – Egyptian Tomb Inscriptions Show Bats, Balls


Wall inscriptions in Egyptian royal tombs depict games using bats and balls.


According to Egyptologist Peter Piccione, “A wall relief at the temple of Deir et-Bahari showing Thutmose III playing under the watchful eye of the goddess Hathor dates to 1460 BC.  Priests are depicted catching the balls . . .  this was really a game.”


Per Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 20.  Note: Henderson’s source may be his ref 127, Naville, E., “The Temple of Deir el Bahari (sic),” Egyptian Exploration Fund. Memoirs, Volume 19, part IV, plate C [London, 1901]. ]. Also, Batting the Ball, by Peter A. Piccione, “Pharaoh at the Bat,” College of Charlestown Magazine (Spring/Summer 2003), p.36.  See also, as accessed 12/17/08.


BC750.1 -- 750 BC to 150 AD -- Ballplay in Ancient Greece


The Greeks, famous for their athletics, played several ball games.  In fact the Greek gymnasium ["palaistra”] was often known to include a special room [“sphairiteria”] for ballplaying . . . a “sphaira” being a ball.  Pollux [ca 180 AD] lists a number of children’s ball games, including games that loosely resemble very physical forms of keepaway and rugby, and the playing of a complicated form of catch, one that involved feints to deceive other players.


The great physician Galen wrote [ca. 180 AD] especially fondly of ballplaying and its merits, and seems to have seen it as an adult activity.  He advised that “the most strenuous form of ball playing is in no way inferior to other exercises.”  Turning to milder forms of ball play, he said “I believe that in this form ball playing is also superior to all the other exercises.”  His partiality to ballplaying stemmed in part from its benefit for the whole body, not just the legs or arms, as was the case for running and wrestling.


As far as we are aware, Greek ball games did not include any that involved running among bases or safe havens, or any that involved hitting a ball with a club or stick (or hands).


Source:  Stephen G. Miller, Arete: Greek Sports from Ancient Sources, [University of California Press, 2004]: See especially Chapter 9, “Ball Playing.”  The Pollox quote is from pp 124-125, and the Galen quote is from pp. 121-124.  Special thanks to Dr. Miller for his assistance.


BC700C.1 – Pitching in the Bible?


”He will surely wind you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a large country.  There you will die . . . “   Isaiah 22:18.


The word “ball” appears only twice in the Bible, and the lesser one refers to the ball of the foot of a beast [Leviticus 11:27].  The Isaiah  usage was the inspiration for a January 1905 news article headed, “Played Baseball in Bible Times: The Prophet Isaiah Made the only reference to the Pastime to be Found in the Holy Writ.”  [The Hamilton [Ont] Spectator – from a clipping in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown.]  


Isaiah’s prophesies were written [in Hebrew] late in the eighth century BC.  A compilation of 15 English translations [accessed at on 12/29/10] shows that most of them summon the image of an angry God hurling the miscreant, like a ball, far far away.  [One exception, however, cites a wound turban, not a ball.]  A literal translation is unrevealing: “And thy coverer covering, wrapping round, Wrappeth thee round, O babbler, On a land broad of sides – there thou diest.”  Caveat: we have little assurance that Isaiah actually referred to a ball, or even to the act of throwing. Query:  could a Hebrew reader or a Bible scholar among you clarify this question?


BC 100.1 – Historian Dates Early Cricket to 100BC – Others Disagree


In his 1912 article “The History of Cricket” [in Pelham and Warner, Imperial Cricket (London, 1912), p. 54] Andrew Lang “argued that cricket was played as far back as 100 BC, basing this on evidence supposedly provided by the ancient Irish epics and romances.”  According to Lang, “cricket was played by the ancestors of Cuchulain, by the Dalraid Scots from northern Ireland who invaded and annexed Argyll in about 500 AD.”  Modern writers do not accept this view.


Bateman, Anthony,” ‘More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ; ‘Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), pp 27 - 44.  Note: It would be interesting to know what particular features of Irish lore gave Lang the feeling that cricket stemmed from ancient Irish sources.


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


In his Confessions, Augustine of Hippo – later St. Augustine – 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.


824.1 -- 15-Year-Old Chinese Emperor Criticized for Excessive Ball-playing


Ching Tsung, was the new Chinese emperor at the age of 15.  “As soon as he could escape from the morning levee, the young Emperor rushed off to play ball.  His habits were well known in the city, and in the summer of 824 someone suggested to a master-dyer named Chang Shao that, as a prank, he should slip into the Palace, lie on the Emperor’s couch and eat his dinner, ‘for nowadays he is always away, playing ball or hunting.’”  The prank was carried out, but those prankish dyers . . . well, they died as a result.


Waaey, Arthur, The Life and Times of Po Chu-I, 772-846 [Allen and Unwin, London, 1949], page 157.  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.


900.1 – Mayan Games Played at Chichen Itza, Mexico


Mayan Indians play stick and ball games in ceremonial courts in Chichen Itza, Mexico


Note: This source may be Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 201.  And Henderson’s source may be his ref 53, Effler, L. R., The Ruins of Chichen Itza [Toledo, Ohio], pp 19 – 21.  However, Henderson’s Effler ref. shows no publisher, and Henderson’s account of the game played at Chichen Itza is not dated to 900 AD, or connected with a stick, so another source may be preferable.


1000C.1 – “Batting” Games in Germany?


Is his 1941 paper “Battingball Games” [Reprinted as Appendix 6 in Block, Baseball Before We Knew it, pp. 261 ff], Per Maigaard wrote:

“The oldest complete account of a Battingball game is that of Gutsmuth in 1796.  From older times we only hear about Batting without further explanation, the oldest being from the 11th century in Germany.”  Baseball Before We Knew It, page 274.  Maigaard does not cite a source for this early reference.  Query: do we now know what it was?

The original source for Maigaard’s paper is given as Genus, volume 5 (December 1941), pages 57-72.  The paper traces the evolution and typology of batting/running games like rounders and longball, which Maigaard sees as having taken advanced form in Europe.

1086.1 – Form of Stool Ball Possibly Found in Domesday Book in Norman England

Stool ball, a stick and ball game and a forerunner of rounders and cricket, is apparently mentioned in the Domesday Book as “bittle-battle.”

Note: This source is Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 75.  However, Henderson doesn’t exactly endorse the idea that the cited game, “bittle-battle,” is a ball game, [or if it is, could it be a form of soule?]  He says that one [unnamed] author claims that bittle-battle is a form of stoolball.  I saw only two RH refs to stoolball, ref 72 [Grantham] and ref 149 [London Magazine].  One of them may be Henderson’s source for the 1086 stoolball claim.  I don’t see an RH ref to the Domesday text itself, but then, it probably isn’t found at local lending libraries.  The Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect [1875] reportedly gives “bittle-battle” as another name for stoolball.  It is believed that “bittle” meant a wooden milk bowl and some have speculated that a bowl may have been used as a paddle to deflect a thrown ball from the target stool, while others speculate that the bowl may have been the target itself.

Note:  We need to confirm whether the Domesday Book actually uses the term “bittle-battle,” “stool ball,” or what.  We also should try to ascertain views of professional scholars on the interpretations of the Book.  Martin Hoerchner advises that the British Public Records Office may, at some point, make parts of the Domesday Book available online.

1100s.1 – “Pagan” Ball Rites Observed in France in 1100s and 1200s


Henderson:  “The testimony of Beleth and Durandus, both eminently qualified witnesses, clearly indicates that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the ball had found a place for itself in the Easter celebrations of the Church.”  In fact, Beleth and Durandus had both opposed the practice, seeing it as the intrusion of pagan rites into church rites.  “There are some Churches in which it is customary for the Bishops and Archbishops to play in the monasteries with those under them, even to stoop to the game of ball” [Beleth, 1165].  “In certain places in our country, prelates play games with their own clerics on Easter in the cloisters, or in the Episcopal Palaces, even so far as to descend to the game of ball”  [Durandus, 1286].


Note: This source appears to be Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 37-38.  Page 37 refers to an 1165 prohibition and page 38 mentions 12th and 13th Century Easter rites.  Henderson identifies two sources for the page 38 statement:  Beleth, J., “Rationale Divinorum Officiorum,” in Migne, J. P., Patrologiae Curius Completus, Ser 2, Vol. 106, pp. 575-591 [Paris, 1855], and Durandus, G., “Rationale Divinorum Officiorum,” Book VI, Ch 86, Sect. 9 [Rome, 1473]...Henderson does not say that these rites involved the use of sticks.

1189.1 – “Unconfirmed” Report of a Stoolball Reference by Iscanus

There is “an unconfirmed report which was published in the beginning of the Century quoting one Joseph Iscanus, of Exeter, as having referred to stoolball in 1189, but no satisfactory evidence that this quotation was genuine.” 

National Stoolball Association, “A Brief History of Stoolball,” page 2.  This mimeo, available in NSA files, has no date or author, but has one internal reference to an 1989 source, so it must be fairly recent.  It contains no hint on the source of the 1189 claim or how it has been assessed. Note:  Is it now possible to further pursue this claim using online resources?  The 1189 claim appears nowhere else in available writings about stoolball.

However, some cite a Joseph Iscanus couplet: “The youth at cricks did play/Throughout the livelong day/” as an indicator of early cricket.  However, the online source of this rhyme does not give a source.  Very murky, no?  Query: what do leading cricket historians say of this alleged reference?

1200s.1 – Bat and Ball Game Illustration Appears in English Genealogical Roll


“The [1301 -- see below] illustration is a very early depiction of the game we know as baseball, but it’s probably not the first.  In 1964, a writer named Harry Simmons cited an English bat and ball picture from a genealogical roll of the Kings of England up to Henry III, who died in 1269.”


Baltimore Sun article on the Ghistelle Calendar [see entry for 1301] April 6, 1999, page 1E.


1205.1 -- “Ball” Rolls into the English Language


Scholars report that the Chronicle of Britain [1205] contained the words “Summe heo driuen balles wide . . .” which they see as “the first known use of the word ball in the sense of a globular body that is played with.”  The source? Old Norse, by way of Middle English.  [Old High German had used ballo and pallo, but the English didn’t use “ball” in those days.]  The source does not say whether people in England used some other term for their rolling playthings prior to 1205.


Source: Wikipedia entry on “ball,” accessed 5/31/2006.


1255.1 – Spanish Painting Seen as Earliest Depiction of Ballplaying


The book Spain: A History in Art [Date? Publisher?] includes a plate that appears to show “several representations of baseball figures and some narrative.”  The work is dated to 1255, the period of King Alfonso.


Email from Ron Gabriel, July 10, 2007.  Ron also has supplied a quality color photocopy of this plate, which was the subject of his presentation at the 1974 SABR convention.  Note: can we specify the painting and its creator?  Can we learn how baseball historians and others interpret this artwork?


1299.1 – Prince of Wales Plays “Creag,” Seen By Some as a Cricket Precursor


Cashman, Richard, “Cricket,” in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 87.


1300s.1 – Trapball Played in the British Isles


Trevithick, Alan, “Trapball,” in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 421.


1300s.2 – Edward III Prohibits Playing of Club-Ball.


“The recreations prohibited by proclamation in the reign of Edward III, exclusive of the games of chance, are thus specified; the throwing of stones, wood, or iron; playing at hand-ball, foot-ball, club-ball, and camucam, which I take to have been a species of goff . . . .” Edward III reigned from 1327 to 1377.  The actual term for “club-ball” in the proclamation was, evidently, “bacculoream.”


This appears to be one of only two direct references to “club-ball” in the literature.  See #1794.2, below.


Caveat:  David Block argues that, contrary to Strutt’s contention [see #1801.1, below], club ball may not be the common ancestor of cricket and other ballgames.  See David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 105-107 and 183-184.  Block says that “pilam bacculoream” translates as “ball play with a stick or staff.”  Note: We seem not to really know what “camucam” was.  Nor, of course, how club ball was played, since the term could have denoted a form of tennis or field hockey or and early form of stoolball or cricket.  It’s odd that no specific year is assigned to this proclamation, and that Strutt cites no reference for it.


1300s.3 -- Stoolball Said to Originate Among Sussex Milkmaids

“Stoolball is a ball game that dates back to the 14th century, originating in Sussex [in southern England]   It may be an ancestor of cricket (a game it resembles), baseball, and rounders. Traditionally it was played be milkmaids who used their milking stools as ‘wickets.’ . . . “Later forms of the game involved running between two wickets, but “[o]riginally the batsman simply had to defend his stool from each ball with his hand and would score a point for each delivery until the stool was hit.  The game later evolved to include runs and bats.”

Source: Wikipedia entry on “Stoolball,” accessed 1/25/2007.  Note: this source does not credit bittle-battle [see entry 1086.1] as an earlier form of stoolball.  It gives no citations for the evidence of the founding date. The Wikipedia entry is compatible with entry #1330.1, below, but evidently does not credit 1330 as the likely time of stoolball’s appearance.

1301.1 – Ghistelles Calendar Depicts Vigorous-Looking Bat/Ball Game


A manuscript obtained in 1999 by the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore appears to show a batted-ball game played by two young persons.  The manuscript, called the Calendar of the Ghistelles Hours, dates from 1301. It is a small monthly calendar of saints’ days from a monastery in the town of Ghistelles, in southwestern Flanders.  The illustration is for the month of September.


Schoettler, Carl, “The Old, Old, Old Ball Game,” Baltimore Sun, April 6 1999, page 1E.


1310.1 – Documents Said to Describe Baseball-like Romanian Game of Oina


According to an otherwise unidentified clip in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center, an AP article datelined Bucharest Romania [and which appeared in the Oneonta Times on March 29, 1990], the still popular Romanian game of oina can be traced back to a [unspecified] document dating to the year 1310.  The game itself “was invented by shepherds in the first century.”


The article is evidently based on an interview with Cristian Costescu, who sees baseball as “the American pastime derived from the ancient game of oina.”  Oina reportedly has eleven players per side, an all-out-side-out rule, tossed pitches, nine bases describing a total basepath of 120 yards, plugging of baserunners, the opportunity for the fielding side to score points, and a bat described as similar to a cricket bat.  Costescu is reported to have served as head of the Romanian Oina Federation in the years when baseball was banned in Romania as “a capitalist sport.”


The Oneonta Times headline is “Play Oina!  Romanians Say Their Game Inspired Creation of Baseball.”  Note:  Can we find additional documentation of oina’s rules and history?  Is the 1310 documentation available in English translation?  Have others followed the recent fate of oina and the work of Costescu?



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 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.


1330.1 – Vicar of Winkfield Advises Against Bat/Ball Games in Churchyards; First Stoolball Reference?


“Stoolball was played in England as early as 1330, when William Pagula, Vicar of Winkfield, near Windsor, wrote in Latin a poem of instructions to parish priests, advising them to forbid the playing of all games of ball in churchyards: “Bats and bares and suche play/Out of chyrche-yorde put away.”


Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 74.  Note: The Vicar’s caution was translated in 1450 by a Canon, John Myrc.  Henderson’s ref 120 is Mirk [sic], J., “Instructions to Parish Priests,” Early English Text Society, Old Series 31, p. 11 [London, 1868].  A contemporary of Myrc in 1450 evidently identified the Vicar’s targets as including stoolball.  Block [p. 165] identifies the original author as William de Pagula.  Writing in 1886, T. L. Kington Oliphant identifies “bares” as prisoner’s base:  “There is the term “bace pleye,” whence must come the “prisoner’s base;” this in Myrc had appeared as the game of “bares.”  Kington Oliphant does not elaborate on this claim, and does not comment on the accompanying term “bats” in the original.  The 1886 reference was provided by John Thorn, 2/24/2008


1344.1 -- Manuscript Shows a Club-and-Ball Game with Stool-like Object


“A manuscript of 1344 in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (No. 264) shows a game of club and ball.  One player throws that ball to another who holds a vicious-looking club.  He defends a round object which resembles a stool but with a base instead of legs. . . ”  “In the course of time a second stool was added, which obviously made a primitive form of cricket.  Now a stool was also called a “cricket” and it is possible that the name cricket came from the three-legged stool . . . “ “We may summarize: The game and name of cricket stem back to ancient games played with a curved stick and ball, starting with la soule, and evolving in England through stoolball . . .”


Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], pp. 130-131.  Henderson's ref 17 is Bodleian Library, Douce MSS 264, ff 22, 44, 63.  Cox’s 1903 edition of Strutt includes this drawing and its reference.  Note: do other observers agree with Henderson on whether and how stoolball evolved into cricket?


1363.1 -- Englishmen Forbidden to Play Ball; Archery Much Preferred


Edward III wrote to the Sheriff of Kent, and evidently sheriffs throughout England.  Noting a relative neglect of the useful art of archery, the King said he was thereby, on festival days, “forbidding, all and single, on our orders, to toy in any way with these games of throwing stones, wood, or iron, playing handball, football, “stickball,” or hockey, . . . which are worthless, under pain of imprisonment.”  The translator uses “stickball” as a translation of the Latin ”pila cacularis,” and asks it that might have been an early form of cricket.  We might also ask whether it was referring to early stoolball.


A. R. Myers, English Historical Documents (Routledge, 1996), page 1203.  [Viewed online 10/16/08].  Provided in email from John Thorn, 2/27/2008.  Myers’ citation is “Rymer, Foedera, III, ii, from Close Roll, 37 Edward III [Latin].”


Caveat:  The content of this entry resembles that of #1300s.2 above, and both refer to a restriction imposed by Edward III. However that entry, stemming from Strutt, refers to “club-ball” instead of “stick-ball,” and identifies the Latin as “pilam bacculoream,” not “pila cacularis.”  It is possible that both refer to the same source.  Also: the letter to Kent is elsewhere dated 1365, which could be consistent with Edward III’s 37th year under the crown, but Myers uses 1363.


Note: this entry replaces the former entry #1365.1: “In 1365 the sheriffs had to forbid able-bodied men playing ball games as, instead, they were to practice archery on Sundays and holidays.”  Source: Hassall, W. O., [compiler], “How They Lived: An Anthology of Original Accounts Written Before 1485” [Blackwell, Oxford University Press, 1962], page 285.  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.


1385.1 -- English Boys Play Ball “To the Grave Peril of Their Souls”


A letter written by Robert Braybroke laid out the palpable risks of ball-playing:  “Certain [boys], also, good for nothing in their insolence and idleness, instigated by evil minds and busying themselves rather in doing harm than good, throw and shoot stones, arrows, and different kinds of missiles at the rooks, pigeons, and other birds nesting in the walls and porches of the church and perching [there].  Also they play ball inside and outside the church and engage in other destructive games there, breaking and greatly damaging the glass windows and the stone images of the church . . . This they do not without great offense to God and our church and to the prejudice and  injury or us as well as to the grave peril of their souls.”  And the sanction for such play?  “We . . . proclaim solemnly that any malefactors whatever of this kind [including churchyard merchants as well as young ballplayers] whom it is possible to catch in the aforesaid actions after this our warning have been and are excommunicated . . . .”


Crow, Martin M., and Clair C. Olson, eds., “Chaucer’s World” [Columbia University Press, New York, 1948], pp 48-49.  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.


1393.1 – Disconfirmed Poetry Lines Said to Denote Stoolball in Sussex


According to a 2007 article in a Canadian magazine, there is poetry in which a milkmaid calls to another, “Oi, Rosie, coming out to Potter’s field for a whack at the old stool?”  The article continues:  “The year was 1393. The place was Sussex . . .  the game was called stoolball, which was probably a direct descendant of stump-ball”


The article, by  Ruth Tendulkar, is titled “The Great-Grandmother of Baseball and Cricket,” and appeared in the May/June 2007 issue of The Canadian Newcomers Magazine.  We have been unable to find addition source details from the author or the magazine. 


Source, as accessed 9/6/2007. 


Caution: The editor of The Canadian Newcomers Magazine informed us on 1/10/2088 that the Tendulkar piece “was strictly an entertainment piece rather than an academic piece.”  We take this to say that the verse is not authentic.  Email from Dale Sproule, Publisher/Editor.


1450.1 -- John Myrc Repeats Warning Against Ball Play in the Churchyard, Including “Stoil Ball”


David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It [page 165], cites the Myrc work, “early poetic instruction of priests,” as “How thow schalt thy paresche preche,” London. It warns “Bal and bares and suche play/ Out of chyrcheyorde put a-way.”  A note reportedly inserted by another author included among the banned games “tenessyng handball, fott ball stoil ball and all manner other games out churchyard.”  Note: can we determine when the “other author” wrote in “stoil ball?  This may count as the first time “stool ball” [virtually] appeared.


1450.2 – Stoolball Dated by NSA to 1450 in “Don Quixote”


“[Stoolball] is mentioned in the classic book Don Quixote.”


Source: NSA website, accessed April 2007.  Note: we need a fuller citation and the key text.  It is possible that this entry confuses D’Urfey’s 1694 play about Don Quixote [see Entry #1694.1, below] with the Cervantes masterpiece.


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 in this volume -- 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.”


1477.1 – List of Banned Games May Include Distant Ancestors of Cricket?


A Westminster statute, made to curb gambling by rowdy soldiers upon their return from battle, reportedly imposed sanctions for “playing at cloish, ragle, half-bowls, handyn and handoute, quekeborde, and if any person permits even others to play at such games in his house or yard, he is to be imprisoned for three years; as also he who plays at such game, to  forfeit ten pounds to the king, and be imprisoned for two years.”


Observations Upon the Statutes, Chiefly the More Ancient, from Magna Charta to the Twenty-first [Year] of James the First (London, 1766), page 335.  Query: is the author known?


The 1766 author adds: “This is, perhaps, the most severe law which has ever been made in any country against gaming, and some of the forbidden sports seem to have been manly exercises, particularly the handing and handoute, which I should suppose to be a kind of cricket, as the term hands is still retained in that game [for what would later be known as innings] 


An1864 writer expands further:  “Half-bowls was played with pins and one-half of a sphere of wood, upon the floor of a room.  It is said to be still played in Hertfordshire under the name of rolly-polly.  Hand-in and hand-out was a ring-game, played by boys and girls, like kissing-ring [footnote 31].” John Harland, A Volume of Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1864), page 34.  Accessed 1/27/10 via Google Books search (“court leet” half-bowls).  “Roly-poly” and hand-in/hand-out are sometimes later described as having running/plugging features preserved in cat games and early forms of base ball. Thus, these prohibitions may or may not include games resembling baseball.  Query:  Can residents of Britain help us understand this ancient text?


1478.1 – Du Cange Mentions “Criquet” Game in his Glossary


While others see cricket as taking its name from the term for a staff, or stick, “[T]he famous New English Dictionary favors a word used as a [game’s] target: criquet,  Du Cange quotes this word in a manuscript of 1478: ‘The suppliant came to a place where a game of ball (jeu de boule) was played, near to a stick (attaché) or criquet,’  and defines criquet as ‘a stick which serves as a target in a ball game.’”


Du Cange, Glossarium Mediae ET Infimae Latinatis [Paris, 1846], Vol. 4: Mellat, Vol. 5” Pelotas.  Per Henderson ref 48.


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.


1494c.1 -- Christopher Columbus and the Coefficient of Restitution


“When Christopher Columbus revisited Haiti on his second voyage, he observed some natives playing with a ball.  The men who came with Columbus to conquer the Indies had brought their Castilian windballs to play with in idle hours.  But at once they found that the balls of Haiti were incomparably superior; they bounced better.  These high-bouncing balls were made, they learned, from a milky fluid of the consistency of honey which the natives procured by tapping certain trees and then cured over the smoke of palm nuts. A discovery which improved the delights of ball games was noteworthy.”  350 years later, after Goodyear discovered vulcanization [1839], “India rubber” balls were to be identified with the New York game of baseball. 


Holland Thompson, “Charles Goodyear and the History of Rubber,” at http://inventors.about.come/cs/inventorsalphabet/a/rubber_2.htm, accessed 1/24/2007.  Note: We need better sources for the Columbus story.  And: what were “Castilian windballs?”



1500s.1 -- Ballplaying Permitted at College of Tours in France, if Done ‘Cum Silentio’


“Parisian legislators were more sympathetic with regard to games than their English contemporaries.  Even the Founder of the Cisterian College of St Bernard contemplated that permission might be obtained for games, though not before dinner or after the bell rang for vespers.  A sixteenth century code of statutes for the College of Tours, while recording the complaints of the neighbors about the noise made by the scholars playing ball (‘de insolentiis, exclamationibus et ludis palmariis dictorum scholarium, qui ludent . . . pilis durissimis’) permitted the game under less noisy conditions (‘pilis seu scopes mollibus et manu, ac cum silentio et absque clamoribus tumultuosis.’)


Rait, Robert S., Life in the Medieval University [Cambridge University Press, 1912], page 83.  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.


1500s.2 – Queen Elizabeth’s Dudley Plays Stoolball at Wotton Hill?


According to a manuscript written in the 1600s, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and his “Trayne”  “came to Wotton, and thence to Michaelwood Lodge . . . and thence went to Wotton Hill, where hee paid a match at stobball.”

Note:  Is it possible to determine the approximate date of this event?  Queen Elizabeth I named her close associate [once rumored to be her choice as husband] Dudley to became Earl of Leicester in the 1564, and he died in 1588. The Wotton account was written by John Smyth of Nibley somewhere in his Berkeley Manuscripts.  He have no citation for that work.  Smyth’s association with Berkeley Castle began n 1589, and the Manuscripts were written in about 1618, so it it not a first-hand report.   Caveat: “Stobbal” is usually used to denote a field game resembling field hockey or golf; thus, this account may not relate to stoolball per se.

1523.1 – Baron’s Trespass Records Mention Stoball

“Item, quod petrus frankeleyne vid posuit iiiixx ovesin le stoball field contra ordinacionem.”

Source: National Stoolball Association, “A Brief History of Stoolball,” [mimeo, author and date unspecified], page 2.  This wording is reportedly found in “an extract from the rolls of the Court Baron of the Royal Manor of Kirklington, belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster (16th Century), under the heading of trespass.”  Note: We need a citation here, and a reason for assigning the 1523 date.  The relation of stoball to stoolball remains under dispute, with many observers seeing stoball as an early golf-like game.  Can we obtain a good translation and interpretation of this quotation?

1533.1 – Skelton Poem Traces Cricket to Flemish Immigrants?


“O lodre of Ipocrites/ Nowe shut vpp your wickets,/ And clappe to your clickettes/ A! Farewell, kings for crekettes!”


“The Image of Ipocrisie” (1533) attributed to John Skelton.  This verse is interpreted as showing no sympathy to Flemish weavers who settled in southern and eastern England, bringing at least the rudiments of cricket with them. Heiner Gillmeister and John Campbell noted publicly in June 2009 that this is relevant evidence of cricket’s non-English origin.  Note: the first written reference to cricket was nearly 70 years in the future in 1533.  Contributed by Beth Hise, January 12, 2010. Query: are cricket historians accepting this poem as valid evidence of cricket's roots?


1538.1 -- Easter Ball Play at Churches Ends in France


“Certain types of ball games had a prominent place in heathen rituals and were believed to promote fertility.  Even after Christianity had gained the ascendancy over the older religion, ball continued to be played in the churchyard and even within the church at certain times.  In France, ball was played in churches at Easter, until the custom was abolished in 1538.  In England, the practice persisted up to a much later date.”


Brewster, Paul G., American Nonsinging Games [University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1953] pp. 79-89.  Submitted by John Thorn, 6/6/04.  Brewster gives no source for the French dictum, nor for the “later date” when Easter play ceased in England.


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



1550.1 – No English Reference Claimed for the Word ”Cricket” Found Before 1550


“The medieval origin of the national game of the English is beyond doubt, but not so its Island roots.  There would have been ample opportunity for it to figure on the lists of banned games set out by their kings, but there is no written mention of it before 1550.  It is, of course, not impossible that its forerunner was one of the many ball games played with unidentifiable rules, as for instance club ball.”


From an unidentified photocopy in the “Origins of Baseball” file at the Giamatti Center at Cooperstown.  Note: the inconsistencies among the preceding cricket entries [see #1478.1,] need to be resolved . . . . or at least addressed.



1550c.2 – Cricket Play Recalled at Southern England School


[Cf #1598.3 below.]  A 1598 trial in the Surrey town of Guildford includes a statement by John Derrick, then aged 59.  According to a 1950 history of Guildford’s Royal Grammar School, “[H]e stated that he had known the [disputed] ground for fifty years or more and that ‘when he was a scholar in the free school of Guildford, he and several of his fellows did run and play there at cricket and other plays.’  This is believed to be the first recorded mention of cricket.”


Brown, J. F., The Story of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, 1950, page 6.  Note: it would be interesting to see the original reference, and to know how 1550 was chosen as the reported year of play.


1555c.1 -- English Poet Condones Students’ Yens “To Tosse the Ball, To Rene Base, Like Men of War”


“To shote, to bowle, or caste the barre,

To play tenise, or tosse the ball,

Or to rene base, like men of war,

Shall hurt thy study naught at all.”


Crowley, Robert, “The Scholar’s Lesson,” circa 1555, in J. M. Cowper, The Select Works of Robert Crowley [N. Truber, London, 1872], page 73.  Submitted by John Bowman, 7/16/2004.  Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see pages 230 and 312.


1562.1 --  Cricket Forerunner an “Unlawful Game?”


The Malden Corporation Court Book of 1562 contains a charge against John Porter alias Brown, and a servant, for ‘playing an unlawful game called “clycett.”’”


Brookes, Christopher, English Cricket: the Game and its Players Through the Ages (Newton Abbot, 1978), page 16, as cited in Bateman, Anthony,“’More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;‘  Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 29.

1564.1 – Formal Complaint in Surrey: Stoolball is Played on Sunday

“1564 – complaints were made to the justices sitting at the midsummer session, at Malden, Surrey, that the constable (himself possibly an enthusiast with the stool and ball) suffered stoolball to be played on Sunday.”

M. S. Russell-Goggs, “Stoolball in Sussex,” The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318.  Surrey is the adjoining county to Sussex.  Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references. 

1565.1 -- Bruegel’s “Corn Harvest” Painting Shows Meadow Ballgame 


“We had paused right in front of [the Flemish artist] Bruegel the Elder’s “Corn Harvest” (1565), one of the world’s great paintings of everyday life . . .  .[M]y eye fell upon a tiny tableau at the left-center of the painting in which young men appeared to be playing a game of bat and ball in a meadow distant from the scything and stacking and dining and drinking that made up the foreground. . . . There appeared to be a man with a bat, a fielder at a base, a runner, and spectators as well as participants in waiting.  The strange device opposite the batsman’s position might have been a catapult.  As I was later to learn with hurried research, this detain is unnoted in the art-history studies.”


From John Thorn, "Play's the Thing," Woodstock Times, December 28, 2006.  See, accessed 1/30/07.


1567.1 -- English Translation of Horace Refers to “the Stoole Ball”


“The stoole ball, top, or camping ball/If suche one should assaye/As hath no mannour skill therein,/Amongste a mightye croude,/Theye all would screeke unto the frye/And laugh at hym aloude.”


Drant, Thomas, Horace His Arte of Poetrie, Pistles, and Satyrs Englished, and to the Earle of Ormounte, [London], per David Block, page 166.  There is no implication that Horace himself refers to a stool ball.


1570c.1 – Five Indicted for Stoolball Play on Sunday


“A few years later [than 1564], at the Easter Sessions in the same town [Malden, Surrey], one Edward Anderkyn and four others were indicted for playing stoolball on Sunday.”


M. S. Russell-Goggs, “Stoolball in Sussex,” The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318.  Surrey is the adjoining county to Sussex.  Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references. 

1575.1 -- Gascoigne’s Poem “The Fruits of War” Refers to Tut-ball


Gascoigne, George, The Posies of George Gascoigne Esquire, Corrected, perfected, and augmented by the Authour [London, Richard Smith], per Block, Baseball Before We Knew It,  page 166.  The key lines:  “Yet have I shot at master Bellums butte/And throwen his ball although I toucht no tutte.”


1583.1 -- Pre-teens Risk Dungeon Time For Selves, or Their Dads, by Playing Ball


“Whereas this a great abuse in a game or games used in the town called “Gede Gadye or the Cat’s Pallet, and Typing or hurling the Ball,” – that no mannor person shall play at the same games, being above the age of seven years, wither in the churchyard or in any of the streets of this town, upon pain of every person so playing being imprisoned in the Doungeon for the space of two hours; or else every person so offending to pay 6 [pence] for every time.  And if they have not [wherewithal] to pay, then the parents or masters of such persons so offending to pay the said 6 [pence] or to suffer the like imprisonment.”  [Similar language is found in 1579 entry [page 148], but it lacked the name “Typing” and did not mention a ball.]


John Harland, editor, Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1864), page 156.  Accessed 1/27/10 via Google Books search: “court leet” half-bowls.  Note:   The game gidigadie is not known to us, but the 1864 editor notes elsewhere [page 149, footnote 61] that was “not unlikely” to be tip-cat, and he interprets “typing” as tipping.  As later described [see “Tip-Cat” and “Pallet” at], tip-cat could be played with a cat or a ball, and could involve running among holes as bases.  Caveat: we do not yet know what the nature of the proscribed game was in Elizabethan times.



1585c.1 -- Stoole-ball, Nine Holes Included Among Country Sports


In a 1600 publication attributed to Samuel Rowlands [died 1588], the fourth of six “Satires,” presents a catalog of about 30 pastimes, including “play at stoole-ball,” and “play at nine-holes.”  Other diversions include pitching the barre, foote-ball, play at base, and leap-frog.


Rowlands, Samuel, The Letting of Humour’s blood in the head-vein (W. White, London, 1600), as discussed in Brydges, Samuel E., Censura Literaria (Longman, London, 1808), p.279.  Virtually the same long verse – but one that carelessly lists stoole-ball twice -- is attributed to “Randal Holme of Chester” in an 1817 book:  Drake, Nathan, Shakspeare and His Times (Cadell and Davies, London, 1817), pages 246-247.  Drake does not suggest a date for this verse.  Caveat: Our choice of 1585 as the year of Rowlands’ composition is merely speculative.  Note:  This entry needs to be reconciled with #1630c.1 below.


1586.1 – Sydney Cites Stoolball


“A time there is for all, my mother often sayes/

When she with skirts tuckt very hie, with gyrles at stoolball playes”


[Sir Philip?] Sydney, Arcadia: Sonnets [1622], page 493.  Note: citation needs confirmation.


1586.2 – Possible Early Rounders Reference?


In his entry for Rounders, W. C. Hazlitt speculates: “It is possible that this is the game which, under the name of rownes (rounds) is mentioned in The English Courtier and the Countrey Gentleman: A Pleasant and Learned Disputation, 1586 [printed by Richard Jones, London].  One source attributes this work of Nicholas Breton.  Protoball has not located this book.


Hazlitt, W. C., Faiths and Folklore: A Dictionary of National Beliefs, Superstitions, and Popular Customs (Reeves and Turner, London, 1905), vol. 2, page 527.  Note:  Can we find this early text and evaluate whether rounders is in fact its subject?  Caveat:  It would startle most of us to encounter any species of rounders this early; the earliest appearance of the term may be as late as 1828 – see #1828.1 below.


1591.1 -- Early Spanish-English Dictionary Mentions the “Trapsticke”


Pericule [Percival], Richard, Bibliotheca hispanica: containing a graamar, with a dictionarie in Spanish, English, and Latine, gathered out of diuers good authors: very profitable for the studious of the Spanish toong [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 166.  The dictionary’s entries include “paleta -- a trapsticke” and paletilla -- a little trapsticke.”

1592c.1 – Moralist Lists Things for Scholars to Avoid, Including Playing “Stoole Ball Among Wenches”

“Time of recreation is necessary, I graunt, and think as necessary for schollers . . . as it is for any.  Yet in my opinion it were not fit for them to play at Stoole-ball among wenches, nor at Mumchance or Maw with idle loose companions; not at trunks in Guile-halls, nor to dance about Maypoles, nor to rufle in alehouses, nor to carowse in tauernes, nor to steale deere, nor to rob orchards.  Though who can deny that they may doe these things, yea worse.”

Attributed to Dr. Rainoldes in J. P. Collier, ed., The Political Decameron, or Ten Conversations on English Poets and Poetry [Constable and Co., Edinburgh, 1820], page 257.  This passage is from the “ninth conversation” and covers low practices during the reigns of Elizabeth and of James I.  Note: we need to ascertain the source, date, and context of the original Rainoldes material.  It appears that Rainoldes’ cited “conversation” with Gager took place in 1592.

1592.2 -- Canterbury Stoolballer Bloodies Pious Critic

“We present one Bottolph Wappoll, a continual gamester and one of the very lewd behaviour, who being on Mayday last at stoolball in time of Divine service one of our sidesmen came and admonished him to leave off playing and go to church, for which he fell on him and beat him that the blood ran about his ears.”

Source:  National Stoolball Association, “A Brief History of Stoolball,” [author and date unspecified], page 2.  The original source is not supplied but is reported to have been a presentation from the parish of St Paul in Canterbury to the Archdeacon of Canterbury.  Note: can we find this source?

1598.1 – Youth Ball Games Widespread at London Schools.


“After dinner all the youthes go into the fields to play at the bal…. The schollers of euery schoole haue their ball, or baston, in their hands: the auncient and wealthy men of the Citie come foorth on horsebacke to see the sport of young men.”


Stow, John, Survey of London [first published in 1598].  David Block [page 166] gives the full title as A Survey of London: Contayning the Originall, Antiquity, Increase, Modern Estate, and Description of that Citie: written in the yeare 1598 [London].  Block adds that the term “baston” is described by the OED as a “cudgel, club, bat or truncheon.”


1598.2 -- Italian-English Dictionary Includes Cat, Trap


Florio, John, A world of wordes or Most copious, and exact dictionarie in Italian and English [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 167.  This dictionary defines lippa as “a cat or trap as children use to play with.”


1598.3-- First Known Appearance of the Term “Cricket”


[Cf #1550c.2 above.] A 1598 trial in the Surrey town of Guildford includes a statement by John Derrick, then aged 59.  According to a 1950 history of Guildford’s Royal Grammar School, “[H]e stated that he had known the [disputed] ground for fifty years or more and that ‘when he was a scholar in the free school of Guildford, he and several of his fellows did run and play there at cricket and other plays.’  This is believed to be the first recorded mention of cricket.”


Brown, J. F., The Story of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, 1950, page 6.  Note: it would be interesting to see the original reference, and to know how 1550 was chosen as the reported year of play.


1598.4 – Italian Dictionary’s “Cricket-a-wicket” doubted as reference to the Game of Cricket


“People have often regarded Florio’s expression in his Italian Dictionary (1598) cricket-a-wicket as the first mention [cf #158.2 and #1598.3, above] of the noble game.  It were strange indeed if this great word first dropped from the pen of an Italian!  I have no doubt myself that this is a mere coincidence of sound. . . .  [C]ricket-a-wicket must pair off with ‘helter-skelter,’ higgledy-piggledy, and Tarabara to which Florio gives gives cricket-a-wicket as an equivalent.”


A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 6.  Note: do later writers agree that this was mere coincidence?


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 Baseball 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.”  Note:  Can we verify the Gyula Hajdu source?  Is it Magyar Nepraiz V. Folklor


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..


1609.1 – Polish Origins of Baseball Perceived in Jamestown VA Settlement


“Soon after the new year [1609], [we] initiated a ball game played with a bat . . . . Most often we played this game on Sundays.  We rolled up rags to make balls . . . Our game attracted the savages who sat around the field, delighted with this Polish sport.” 


The source is Zbigniew Stefanski, Memorial Commercatoris [A Merchant’s Memoirs], (Amsterdam, 1625), as cited in Block’s Baseball Before We Knew It, page 101.   Stefanski was a skilled Polish workingman who wrote a memoir of his time in the Jamestown colony:  an entry for 1609 related the Polish game of pilka palantowa (bat ball).  Another account by a scholar reported adds that “the playfield consisted of eight bases not four, as in our present day game of baseball.”  If true, this would imply that the game involved running as well as batting.


“For your information and records, I am pleased to inform you that after much research I have discovered that baseball was introduced to America by the Poles who arrived in Jamestown in 1609. . . .  Records of the University of Krakow, the oldest school of higher learning in Poland show that baseball or batball was played by the students in the 14th century and was part of the official physical culture program.”


Letter from Matthew Baranski to the Baseball Hall of Fame, March 23, 1975.  [Found in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center.]  Matthew Baranski himself cites First Poles in America 1608-1958, published by the Polish Falcons of America, Pittsburgh and unavailable online as of 7/28/09.  We have not confirmed that sighting.  Note:  Per Maigaard’s 1941 survey of “battingball games” includes a Polish variant of long ball, but does not mention pilka palantowa.  Query: The next Protoball reader finding himself/herself in Krakow might drop by the University and find out more?  And could a Polish speaker try some online searches for pilka palantowa and its history?



1610.1 – Very Early Cricket Match


A match is thought to have been played between the men of North Downs and men of the Weald.


Contributed by Beth Hise January 12, 2010.  Beth is in pursuit of the original source of this claim.   North Downs is in Surrey, about 4 miles NE of Guildford, where early uses of both “cricket” and “base-ball” are found.  It is about 30 miles SW of London.  The Weald is apparently an old term for the county of Kent, which is SW of London.



1611.1 -- French-English Dictionary Cites “Cat and Trap” and Cricket


Dictionary-maker R. Cotgrave translates “crosse” as “the crooked staff wherewith boies play at cricket.”


Martinet” [a device for propelling large stones at castles] is defined as “the game called cat and trap.”


Cotgrave, Randle, A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues [London, 1611], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 168. 


Cricket historians Steel and Lyttelton:  “Thanks to Cotgrave, then, we know that in 1611 cricket was a boy’s game, played with a crooked bat.  The club, bat, or staff continued to be crooked or curved at the blade till the middle of the eighteenth century or later: and till nearly 1720 cricket was mainly a game for boys.”  A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 6. 



1612c.1 -- Play Attributed to Shakespeare Cites Stool-ball

A young maid asks her wooer to go with her.  “What shall we do there, wench?”  She replies, “Why, play at stool-ball; what else is there to do?” 

Fletcher and Shakespeare, The Two Noble Kinsmen [London], Act V, Scene 2, per W. W. Grantham, Stoolball Illustrated and How to Play It [W. Speaight, London, 1904], page 29.  David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 170, gives 1634 as the publication date of this play, which was reportedly performed in 1612, and mentions that doubts have been expressed as to authorship, so Shakespeare [1564-1616] may not have contributed.  Others surmise that The Bard wrote Acts One and Five, which would make him the author of the stoolball reference.  See also item #1600c.2 above.  Note: can we find further specifics?  Russell-Goggs, in “Stoolball in Sussex,” The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 320, notes that the speaker is the “daughter of the Jailer.”


1613.1 -- His and Her Stool-ball Banter: Play or Foreplay?


“Ward: Can you play at shuttlecock forsooth?

Isabella: Ay, and stool-ball too, sir; I have great luck at it.

Ward: Why, can you catch a ball well?

Isabella: I have catched two in my lap at one game

Ward:  What, have you, woman?  I must have you learn to play at trap too, then y’are full and whole.”


Dutton, Richard Thomas, Women Beware Women and Other Plays [Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999], page 135.  The play itself is generally dated 1613 or 1614.  Submitted by John Thorn, 7/9/2004


1614.1 -- Poet Yearns to “Goe to Stoole-Ball-Play”


Breton, Nicholas, I Would, and Would Not [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 168.  Stanza 79 reads “I would I were an honest Countrey Wench/ . . . / And for a Tanzey, goe to Stoole-Ball-Play.”  Tansy cakes were reportedly given as prizes for ball play.


1615.1 – Stoole Ball Goes North with Early Explorer


“And some dayes heare we stayed we shott at butts and bowe and arrows, at other tymes at stoole ball, and some tymes of foote ball


William Baffin, from “The Fourth Recorded Voyage of Baffin,” in C. M. Markham, ed., The Voyages of William Baffin, 1612-1622, [Hakluyt Society, 1881], page 122.  This voyage started in March 1615, and the entry is dated June?? 19th, 1615.  The voyage was taken in hope of finding a northwest passage to the East, but was thwarted by ice, and Baffin returned to England in the fall of 1615.  Note: Ascertain the month, which is obscured in the online copy.  Was location of play near what is now known as Baffin Island?



1616c.1 -- Translation of Homer Depicts Virgins Playing Stool-Ball, Disturbing Ulysses’ Snooze


Translator Chapman described a scene in which several virgins play stool-ball near a river while Ulysses sleeps nearby:  “The Queene now (for the upstroke) strooke the ball/Quite wide off th’ other maids; and made it fall/Amidst the whirlpools. 


Chapman, George, The whole works of Homer: prince of poets, in his Iliads, and Odysses [London, 1616], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 168.


Steel and Lyttelton indicate that Chapman’s translation may date “as early as 1614,” and say report that Chapman calls the fragment “a stoolball chance.” See A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 2.  Note:  The year of the translation needs to be confirmed;.  It would be interesting to see how other translators have treated this scene.


1617.1 -- King James’ Controversial “Book of Sports” Omits Mention of Ballplaying


Reacting to Puritans’ denunciations of Sabbath recreations, James I in 1617 listed a large number of permitted Sunday activities –including no ball games – and cited as unlawful only “beare and Bull beatinge enterludes & bowlinge. . . .”  Axon, Ernest, Notes of Proceedings. Volume 1 – 1616-1622-3 (Printed for the Record Society for the Publication of Original Documents, 1901), page xxvi.  There was adverse reaction to this proclamation, which is said to have surprised the King.


Another source lists the Sunday bans as “Bull-baiting, bear-baiting, interludes, and bowls:”  Keightley, Thomas, The History of England, volume II (Whittaker and Co., London, 1839), page 321.  One chruchman listed “bear-baiting, bull-baiting, common plays, and bowling:” Marsden, J. B., History of Christian Churches and Sects (Richard Bentley, London, 1856), page 269.  Thus, unless “enterludes” then connoted a range of games or “common plays” that included ballplay, contemporary ballgames like stoolball and cricket -- and cat games -- remained unconstrained.



1619.1 -- Bawdy Poem Has Wenches Playing “With Stoole and Ball”


“It was the day of all dayes in the yeare/That unto Bacchus hath its dedication,/ . . . / When country wenches play with stoole and ball,/And run at Barley-breake until they fall:/And country lads fall on them, in such sort/That after forty weekes the[sic] rew the sport.”


Anonymous, Pasquils Palinodia, and His Progress to the Taverne; Where, After the Survey of the Sellar, You Are Presented with a Pleasant Pynte of Poeticall Sherry [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 169, who credits Henderson, page 74.  Block notes that “Barley-Break” [not a ball game] was, like stoole ball, traditionally a spring courtship ritual in the English countryside.


1621.1 – Some Pilgrims “Openly” Play “Stoole Ball” on Christmas Morning in Massachusetts, So Bradford Clamps Down


Governor Bradford describes Christmas Day 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, MA, “most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on ye day.  So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed.  So he led away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye street at play, openly; some at pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball and shuch like sport. . . . Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly.”


Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation, [Harvey Wish, ed., Capricorn Books, 1962], pp 82 – 83.  Henderson cites Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856. See his ref 23.  Full text supplied by John Thorn, 6/25/2005.  Bradford explained that the issue was not that ball-playing was sinful, but that playing openly while others worked was not good for morale.


1622.1 – Bad, Bad Batts!


A Chichester churchwarden indicted a group of men for ballplaying, reasoning thus: “first, for it is contrarie to the 7th Article; second, for they are used to break the Church window with the balls; and thirdly, for that little children had like to have their braynes beaten out with the cricket batt.”


Brookes, Christopher, English Cricket: the game and its players through the ages (Newton Abbot, 1978), page 16, as cited in Bateman, Anthony,“’More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;‘  Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 29.


1629.1 -- Play Refers to Weakling Who Was “Beat . . . With a Trap Stick”


Shirley, James, The Wedding. As it was lately acted by her Mauesties seruants at the Phenix at Drury Lane [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 170.  A servant in the play describes his master as so mild in manner that “the last time he was in the field a boy of seven year old beat him with a trap-stick.”


1629.2 – Curate Can’t Beat the Rap as Cricketer


“In 1629, having been censured for playing ‘at Cricketts,’ the curate of Ruckinge in Kent unsuccessfully defended himself on the grounds that it was a game played by men of quality.”


Bateman, Anthony,“’More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;‘  Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 29.  Bateman does not provide his source for this anecdote.  Note:  Can we find and extend this story?


1630c.1 – “Ancient Cheshire Games” Include Stooleball, Nine Holes


“Any they dare challenge for to throw the sleudge,/To Jumpe or leape over dich or hedge,/ To wrastle, play at stooleball, or to Runne,/ To pitch the bar, or to shoote off a Gunne/ To play at Loggets, nine holes, or ten pins. . . .[list continues, mentioning stool ball once more at end.]”


This verse, titled “Ancient Cheshire Games: Auntient customes in games used by boys and girles merily sett out in verse,” is attributed to “Randle Holmes’s MSS Brit Mus.” Is in Medium of Inter-communications for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, Etc, July – December 1856, page 487.  Note:  Can we learn why is this account associated with 1630?  This entry needs to be reconciled with #1585.1 above.  Add online search detail?


1630c.2 – Stoolball Play Makes Maidstone a “Very Profane Town”


“About 1630 a Puritan records that ‘Maidstone was formerly a very profane town, where stoolball and other games were practiced on the Lord’s Day.”


M. S. Russell-Goggs, “Stoolball in Sussex,” The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318.  Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references.. We need to sort out how this claim relates to the very similar wording in the quote by Reverend Wilson in entry #1672.1 below.


1630c.3 – City Women’s Shrovetide Customs Include Stooleball


“In the early seventeenth century, an Oxford fellow, Thomas Crosfield, noted the customs of Shrovetide as ‘1. frittering.  2. throwing at cocks.  3. playing at stooleball in ye Citty by women & footeball by men.’”  Shrovetide was the Monday and Tuesday [That Tuesday being Mardi Gras in some quarter] preceding Ash Wednesday and the onset of Lent.


Griffin, Emma, “Popular Recreation and the Significance of Space,” (publication unknown), page 36.  The original source is shown as the Crosfield Diary for March 1, 1633, page 63.  Thanks to  John Thorn for supplementing a draft of this entry.  One citation for the diary is F. S. Boas, editor, The Diary of Thomas Crosfield (Oxford University Press, London, 1935).



1631.1 – Drama by Philip Massenger Refers to Cat-Stick


“Page: You, sirrah sheep’s-head/ With a face cut on a cat-stick, do you hear?/ You, yeoman fewterer, conduct me to/ the lady of the mansion, or my poniard/ Shall disembogue thy soul.”


“The Maid of Honour,” Scene 2, in The Plays of Philip Massinger, Volume 1 (John Murray, London, 1830), page 327. 


Notes written in 1830 by W. Gifford:  Cat-stick.  This, I believe, is what is now called a buck-stick, used by children in the game of tip-cat, or kit-cat.”   Query:  Is it clear why an abusive address like this would employ a phrase like “cut on a cat-stick?”  Does it imply, for instance a disfigured or pock-marked visage? 


1632.1 -- In Germany, Ballplaying Associated With Scabies, Other Diseases


“The [preceding] reference to Fuchsius should be to Institutiones 2.3.4: . . . ‘Whereby the habit of our German schoolboys is most worthy of reprehension, who never take exercise except immediately after food, either jumping or running or playing ball or quoits or taking part in other exercises of a like nature; so that it is no surprise, seeing they thus accumulate a great mass of crude humours, that they suffer from perpetual scabies, and other diseases caused by vicious humours’:p. 337)”


Burton, Robert E., The Anatomy of Melancholy, vol. 4 [Clarenden Press, Oxford, 1989], page 285.  [Note: We need to confirm date of the Fuschius quote; we’re not sure why it is assigned to 1632.].  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.


1633c.1 – Ambiguous Reference to Stoole Ball Appears in a Drama


“At stoole ball I have a North-west stripling shall deale with ever a boy in the Strand.”


Cited in W. C. Hazlitt, Faiths and Folklore: A Dictionary of National Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs [Reeves and Turner, London, 1905], page 569.  Hazlitt attributes this mysterious fragment to someone named Stickwell in Totenham Court, by T. Nabbes, appearing in 1638.  Note: Can we guess what Stickwell was trying to say, and why?  I find that Nabbes wrote this drama in 1633 or before, and surmise that “Stickwell” is the name of the fictional character who speaks the quoted line.  Can we straighten out, or interpret, the syntax of this line? [The Strand, presumably, refers to the London street of that name?]


1634.1 – That Archbishop Laud, He Certainly Doesn’t Laud Stoolball


“In his visitation and reference to churchyards, he [Archbishop Laud, in 1634] is troubled because ‘several spend their time in stoolball.’”


M. S. Russell-Goggs, “Stoolball in Sussex,” The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318.  Note1: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references.


Another source quotes Laud as saying “This whole churchyard is made a receptacle for all ydle persons to spend their time in stopball and such lyke recreacions.”  OED, Abp Laud’s Visit, in 4th Rep Hist. MSS Comm. App 144/1, provided by John Thorn, email of 6/11/2007.  Note2: is this from the same source?


1637.1 -- Conservative Protestants Decry Sunday Play, See Grave Danger in it


Burton, Henry, and William Prynne, A Divine Tragedie Lately Acted [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 171.  In a denunciation of King Charles’ approval of after-church play on Sundays, the authors cite as one of the “memorable examples of Gods judgements” a case in which youths “playing at Catt on the Lords day, two of them fell out, and the one hitting the other under the eare with his catt, he therwith fell downe for dead.”  Cited by David Block in Baseball Before We Knew It, page 171: Block notes that the weapon here was a cat-stick.


1637.2 -- Play Mentions Trap


Shirley, James, Hide Park: A Comedie [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 171.  A beautiful young woman, to a servant who is fishing for a compliment:  “Indeed, I have heard you are a precious gentleman/ And in your younger days could play at trap well.”


1638.1 -- Bishop Sees Churchyard as Consecrated Ground: No Stool Ball, Drinkings, Merriments


Bishop Mantague admonishes Norwich Churchmen to consider the churchyard as consecrated ground, “not to be profaned by feeding and dunging cattle . . . .  Much less is it to be unhallowed with dancings, morrises, meetings at Easter, drinkings, Whitson ales, midsummer merriments or the like, stool ball, football, wrestlings, wasters or boy’s sports.”


Barrett, Jay Botsford, English Society in the Eighteenth Century as Influence from Oversea [Macmillan, New York, 1924], page 221.  Barrett cites this passage as Articles of Enquiry and Direction for the Diocese of Norwich, sigs. A3-A3v.


1638.2 – Archdeacon: Churchyards Are Not For Stoole-ball or “Other Profane Uses”


“Have any playes, feasts, banquets, suppers, churchales, drinkings, temporal courts or leets, lay juries, musters, exercise of dauncing, stoole-ball, foot-ball, or the like, or any other profane usage been suffered to be kept in your church, chappell, or churchyard?


Attributed to Mr. Dr. Pearson, Archdeacon of Suffolke, in Heino Pfannenschmid, Das Weihwasser [Hahn’sche Hofbuchhandlung, Hannover, 1869], page 74n.


1640.1 – Stoolball Attracts Gentry, Rascals, Boys


“J. Smythe, in his Hundred of Berkeley (1640) gave the following admonition: ‘Doe witness the inbred delight, that both gentry, yeomanry, rascallity, boyes, and children, doe take in a game called stoball. . .  And not a sonne of mine, but at 7 was furnished with his double stoball staves, and a gamester thereafter.’”


M. S. Russell-Goggs, “Stoolball in Sussex,” The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 320.  John Smyth’s three-volume Berkeley Manuscripts were published in 1883 by J. Bellows; Volume Three is titled “A description of the hundred of Berkeley in the County of Gloucester . . .  .“  Citation supplied by John Thorn, email of 1/30/2008.



1648.1 -- Short Herrick Poem Proposes a Wager on Stool-ball Game


“At Stool-ball, Lucia, let us play,” offers the poet, then proposing that if he wins, he would “have for all a kisse.”


Herrick, Robert, Hesperdes: or, the Works Both Human and Divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. [London], page 280, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 171. 


1652.1 -- Traveler in Wales Reports “Laudable” Sunday Games of “Trap, Cat, Stool-ball, Racket &c”


Taylor, John, A Short Relation of a Long Journey Made Round or Ovall [London], book 4, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 172.  A versifier recounts his journey to Wales, where he notes a lack of religious fervor, “so that people do exercise and edify in the churchyard at the lawful and laudable games of trap, cat, stool-ball, racket, &c., on Sundays.”


1653.1 -- Play Refers to Trapsticks


A character is asked how he might raise some needed money:  “If my woodes being cut down cannot fill this pocket, cut ‘em into trapsticks.”


Middleton, Thomas, and William Rowley, The Spanish Gipsie [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 172.  Block observes that this snippet suggests that “trapstick” was by then commonly understood as a trap-ball bat.


1653.2 – Early Use of “Cricket” Seen in Rabelais Translation


“So far as is known, the first mention [of the word “cricket”] occurs in Sir Thomas Urquhart’s translation of the works of Rabelais, published in London in 1653, where it is found enumerated as one of the games of the Gargantua.”


Editorial, “The Pedigree of Cricket,” The Irish Times, 5/9/1931.  Reprinted in The Times, 5/9/2001.  From the MCC Library collection.


Caveat: We now have at least four pre-1653 claims to the use of “cricket” and similar terms: see #1598.3, #1598.4, #1611.1, #1622.1, and #1629.2 above.  Note: Rabelais’ “games of Gargantua” is a list of over 200 games supposedly played at one sitting by the fictional character Gargantua.  Urquhart’s translation includes several familiar pastimes, including cricket, nine-pins, billiards, “tip and hurl” [?], prison bars, barley-break, and the morris dance . . . along with many games that appear to be whimsy and word-play [“ramcod ball,” “nivinivinack,” and “the bush leap”].  Not included are: club ball, stick ball, stoolball, horne billets, nine holes, hat ball, rounders, feeder, or base ball.  Francis Rabelais – Completely Translated into English by Urquhard and Motteux (the Aldus Society, London, 1903), pp 68-71.  Text chased down by John Thorn, email of 1/30/2008.  


1656.1 – Dutch Prohibit “Playing Ball,” Cricket on Sundays in New Netherlands.


In October 1656 Director-General Peter Stuyvesant announced a stricter Sabbath Law in New Netherlands, including fine of a one pound Flemish for “playing ball,” cricket, tennis, ninepins, dancing, drinking, etc.  Source: 13: Doc Hist., Volume Iv, pp.13-15, and Father Jogues’ papers in NY Hist. Soc. Coll., 1857, pp. 161-229, as cited in Manual of the Reformed Church in America (Formerly Ref. Prot. Dutch Church), 1628-1902, E. T. Corwin, D.D.,  Fourth Edition (Reformed Church in America, New York, 1902.)  Provided by John Thorn, email of 2/1/2008.


Note: It would be useful to ascertain what Dutch phrase was translated as “playing ball,” and whether the phrase denotes a certain type of ballplay.  The population of Manhattan at this time was about 800 [were there enough resident Englishmen to sustain cricket?], and the area was largely a fur trading post. Is it possible that the burghers imported this text from the Dutch homeland?


1656.2 – Two English Counties Agree: Stoolball Gets “Too Much Attention.”


“The game [Stoolball] cropped up in 1656 in a pronouncement by the Counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland which said that “too much attention was being paid to ‘shooting, playing at football, stoolball, wrestling.’”


SRA website, accessed 4/11/07.  Note: we need a fuller citation and perhaps further text and motivation for these pronouncements.


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.



1658.1 -- English Parish Rewards Informant for Ratting on Sunday Trap-baller


Nichols, John, Illustrations of the Manners and Expences of Ancient Times in England [London, 1797], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 182.  Included is an account from the parish of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, from 1658: “Item to Richard May, 13 shillings for informing of one that played at trap-ball on the Lord’s day.”


1658.2 – Milton’s Nephew Eyes Cricket with Apprehension


“Cricket was . . . emerging in a written sense, not through the form of a celebratory discourse, but as the target of Puritan and sabbatarian ire.  Even in the first reliable literary reference to cricket – in The Mysteries of Love and Eloquence (1658) [a poem] by John Milton’s nephew, Edward Philips – the game is represented as synonymous with brutality: ‘Ay, but Richard, will you not think so hereafter?  Will you not when you have me throw a stool at my head, and cry, “Would my eyes had been beaten out with a cricket ball [“batt?” asks Bateman], the day before I saw thee”’.”


Bateman, Anthony,“More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;‘  Culture,, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 30.  Bateman does not give the original source for the Philips quotation.   Note:  Can we find the original Philips source?  A few citations give the year of publication as 1685.


1659.1 -- Stuyvesant: No Tennis, Ball-Playing, Dice on Fast Day


“We shall interdict and forbid, during divine service on the [fasting] day aforesaid, all exercise and games of tennis, ball-playing, hunting, plowing and sowing, and moreover all unlawful practice such as dice, drunkenness . . .”  proclaimed Peter Stuyvesant.  Stuyvesant was Director-General of New Netherlands.


Manchester, Herbert, Four Centuries of Sport in America (Publisher?, 1931).  Email from John Thorn, 1/24/097.  Query: Can we determine what area was affected by this proclamation?  How does this proclamation relate to #1656.1 above?


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.



1660c.2 -- Ben Franklin’s Uncle Recalls Ballplaying On an English Barn


“That is the street which I could ne’er abide,/And these the grounds I play’d side and hide;/ This the pond whereon I caught a fall,/ And that the barn whereon I play’d at ball.”


The uncle of U.S. patriot Benjamin Franklin, also named Benjamin Franklin, wrote these lines in a 1704 recollection of his native English town of Ecton.  The uncle lived from 1650/1 to 1727.  Ecton is a village in Northamptonshire.


Loring, J. S., The Franklin ManuscriptsThe Historical Magazine, and Notes and Queries Concerning the Antiquities, History, and Biography of America (1857-1875), Volume 3, issue 1, January 1859, 4 pages. Submitted by John Thorn, 4/24/06. 



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?”


1665.1 -- Poet Depicts Fleet-footed Mercury as Wielding a Kit-Cat Bat


This translation of a French parody of Virgil’s Aeneid includes these lines on the god Mercury:  “Then in his hand he take a thick Bat,/ With which he us’d to play at kit-cat;/ To beat mens Apples from their trees, . . . ”  Ouch.


Scarron, Paul, Scarronnides, or, Virgile travestie a mock poem [London], trans. Charles Cotton, Book Four, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 172. 


1666.1 -- John Bunyan is Very Seriously Interrupted at Tip-Cat, a “Chief Sin”


“I was in the midst of a game of cat, and having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was about to strike the second time a voice did suddenly dart from Heaven into my soul which said, ‘Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to Heaven or have thy sins and go to hell?’” 


Bunyan, John, Grace abounding to the chief of sinners [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 173.  Autobiographical account by Bunyan, the author of The Pilgrim’s Progress.  David notes on 5/29/2005 that this reference was originally reported by Harold Peterson, but that Peterson had attributed it to Pilgrim’s Progress itself.


Writing of Bunyan in 1885, Washington Gladden revealed that as a youth, “[t]he four chief sins of which he was guilty were dancing, ringing the bells of the parish church, playing at tip-cat, and reading the history of Sir Bevis of Southampton.”  Letter to the Editor, The Century Magazine, Volume 30 [May-October 1885), page 334.  Q


1669.1 – Shadwell Play Said to List Rural Games, including Stool-ball.


“The writer who took most interest in popular pastimes was Shadwell, whose rococo play The Royal Shepherdess was produced before the king in 1669.  It included country folk who danced and sand of a list of genuine English rural games, such as trap, keels, barley-break, golf [and] stool-ball . . . .”


Hutton, Ronald, The Rise and Fall of Merry England: the Ritual Year, 1400-1700 (Oxford U Press, Oxford, 1994), page 235.  Provided by John Thorn, email, 7/9/2004.  Note: can we retrieve the full original list?


1671.1 -- Lusty Little Song Mentions Trap as “Innocent” Prelude to Heavy Petting


“Thus all our life long we are frolick and gay,/And instead of Court revels, we merrily play/At Trap, at Rules, and at Barly-break run:/At Goff, and at Foot-ball, and when we have done/These innocent sports, we’l laugh and lie down,/And to each pretty Lass/We will give a green Gown.


Ebsworth, Joseph W., Westminster Drolleries, Both Parts, of 1671, 1672 [R. Roberts, Lincolnshire, 1875], page 28.  Note: Yes, the player’s method for turning the gown to green is what you suspect it is.  We’ll see this gown again at #1719.1, below.


1672.1 – Rev. Wilson Decries Sunday “Stool-Ball” and “Cricketts” Playing



In his memoirs, the Rev. Thomas Wilson, a Puritan divine of Maidstone, England, states: “Maidstone was formerly a very profane town, in as much as I have seen morrice-dancing, cudgel-playing, stool-ball, cricketts, and many other sports openly and publicly indulged in on the Lord’s Day.” 


Note:  Henderson covers Wilson, but doesn’t reference him.  In the text, he says that Wilson wrote a memoir in 1700, but doesn’t use a year for the events that were then recalled.  I assume that the 1672 date is taken from date clues in the whole text.  Henderson's source may be his ref #167: see Woodruff, C.H., “Origin of Cricket,” Baily’s Magazine [London, 1901], Vol. 6, p. 51. David Block [page 173ff] describes how “base ball” was substituted for “stool-ball” in later accounts of Wilson’ s biography, which he cites as Swinnick, George, The Life and Death of Mr. Tho. Wilson, Minister of Maidstone [London].


1672c.2 -- Francis Willughby’s “Book of Games” Surveys Folkways:  First Stoolball Rules Appear


Warwickshire scientist Francis Willughby [1635-1672] compiled, in manuscript form, descriptions of over 130 games, including, stoolball, hornebillets, kit-cat, stowball, and tutball [but not cricket, trapball or rounders].  He died at 36 and the incomplete manuscript, long held privately, became known to researchers in the 1990s and was published in 2003.


Willughby described stoolball as a game in which a team of players defended an overturned stool with their hands.  Hornebillets, unlike stoolball, involved batting and running [between holes placed 7 or 8 yards apart], but it used no ball – a cat was used as the batted object.  A runner [running was compulsory, even for short hits] had to place his staff in a hole before the other team could put the cat in that hole.  The number of holes depended on the number of players available.  Stowball appears as a golf-like game.  Kit Cat is described as a sort of fungo game in which the cats can be hit 60 yards or more.  He does not mention cricket, trap, or other games.


David Cram, Jeffrey L. Forgeng, and Dorothy Johnston, Francis Willughby’s Book of Games: A Seventeenth Century Treatise on Sports, Games, and Pastimes [Ashgate Publishing, 2003]. 


1676.1 -- The “Citty of New Yorke” Sets a Fine for Sunday “Gameing or Playing: Ten Guilders


The Mayor and Aldermen of New York that none should “att any Time hereafter willfully or obstinately prophane the Sabbath daye by .  . . Playinge att Cards Dice Tables or any other Vnlawful Games whatsoeuer,” banning “alsoe the disorderly Assemblyes of Children In ye Streets and other Places To the disturbance of Others with Noyse.”  Consequences?  “Ye Person or Persons soe found drinkinge Gameing or Playing Either in Priuate or Publicke Shall forfeict Tenn Guildrs for Euery such offence.”  Note that ballplaying was not specifically prohibited.  Dated November 13, 1676.  Laws of the City of New York [Publication data?], page 27.  Submitted by John Thorn 9/29/06.



1676.2 – Early Limeys Take “Krickett” to Far Mediterranean Coast


The chaplain assigned to three British ships at Aleppo [now in northern Syria] wrote this in his diary for May 6, 1676:


As was the custom all summer long, this day [in May 1676] “at least 40 of the English, with his worship the Consull, rod [sic] out of the citty about 4 miles to the Greene Platt, a fine vally by a river side, to recreate them selves.  Where a princely tent was pitched; and wee had severall pastimes and sports, as duck-hunting, fishing, shooting, handball, krickett, scrofilo . . . .  and at 6 wee returne all home in good order, but soundly tyred and weary.”


A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 8.  The passage is at Teonge, Henry, The Diary of Henry Teonge (Charles Knight, London, 1825), page 159.  Accessed on Google Books, 12/28/2007.



1677.1 -- Almanac’s Easter Verse Mentions Stool-ball


“Young men and maids,/ Now very brisk,/ At barley-break and/ Stool-ball frisk.”


W. Winstanley, Poor Robin 1677.  An almanack after a new fashion, by Poor Robin [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 174.


1680.1 -- Political Tract Uses Trap-stick Metaphor


Anon., Honest Hodge and Ralph Holding a Sober Discourse in Answer to a late Scandalous and Pernicious Pamphlet, by “a person of quality” [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 174.  The anonymous author of this tract sees the pamphlet as a tool used to trigger civil unrest in England, calling it “a mere trap-stick to bang the Phanaticks about.”


1680s.2 -- Cricket Pitch Thought to be Established at 22 Yards


While the length of the cricket pitch [distance between wickets] was formally set at 22 yards in the 1744 rules, that distance is already “thought to have been 22 yards in the 1680’s.”  [John Thorn points out that 22 yards is one-tenth of a furlong (and is also one-eightieth of a mile), and that a 22-yard chain was commonly used as a standard starting in the 1600’s; in fact, the “chain” became itself a word for this distance in 1661; email of 2/1/2008.]


Scholefield, Peter, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishing, Kent Town Australia, 1990], page 16. Note: Scholefield does not provide a citation for this claim; keep an eye out!


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?


1685.1 -- Juicy Early Description of Stool-ball is Written, Then Unread for 162 Years


Aubrey, John, Natural History of Wiltshire [London, Nichols and Son, 1847], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 210.  Folklorist Alice Gomme [see below] called this the earliest description of stool-ball.  Aubrey says “it is peculiar to North Wilts, North Gloucestershire, and a little part of Somerset near Bath.  They smite a ball, stuffed very hard with quills and covered with soale leather, with a staffe, commonly made of withy, about three feet and a half long.  Colerne down is the place so famous and so frequented for stobbal playing.  The turfe is very fine and the rock (freestone) is within an inch and a halfe of the surface which gives the ball so quick a rebound.  A stobball ball is of about four inches diameter and as hard as stone.  I do not heare that this game is used anywhere in England but in this part of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire adjoining.”  From A. B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1964 reprint of 1898 text [New York, Dover], page 217.


1688.1 – New Royals Reportedly Watch Stoolball


“It is reported that William III watched the game soon after he landed at Torbay, and that subsequently Queen Anne was an interested spectator.”


M. S. Russell-Goggs, page 320.  Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references; short of this, we need to confirm the date of the Torbay landing.  A cursory Google search does not reveal confirming evidence of this anecdote.


1690.1 -- Literary Simile: “Catch it Like a Stool-Ball”


Anon., The Pagan Prince: or a Comical History of the Heroik Atchievements of the Palatine of Eboracum [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 175.  In this comical prose work, protection in battle was said to be provided by four Arch Angels -- who, “when they see a Cannon Ball coming toward ye from any corner of the Wind, will catch it like a stool-ball and throw it to the Devil.”


1694.1 --Musical Play Includes Baudy Account of Stoolball


D’Urfey, Thomas, The comical history of Don Quixote [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 175.  Block sees a “long, silly, bawdy rap song” in this play.  It starts “Come all, great, small, short tall, away to Stoolball,” and depicts young men and women becoming pretty familiar. It ends “Then went the Glasses round, then went the lasses down, each Lad did his Sweet-heart own, and on the Grass did fling her.  Come all, great small, short tall, a-way to Stool Ball.”  Sounds like fun.


1694.2 – Thaw Arrives; Cricket Added to Old List of “Evening” English Pastimes


“With a relaxation of attitudes towards sports at the Restoration cricket began to emerge from its position of relative obscurity with the printed word beginning to define it, along with other folk games, as an element of the national culture.  Edward Chamberlyne’s Anglia Notitia, a handbook on the social and political conditions of England, lists cricket for the first time in the eighteenth edition of 1694.  ‘The natives will endure long and hard labour; insomuch, that after 12 hours of hard work, they will go in the evening to foot-ball, stool-ball, cricket, prison-base, wrestling, cudgel-playing, and some such vehement exercise, for their recreation.’”


Source: Bateman, Anthony, “More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;‘  Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 30. 


Upon further examination, Protoball notes that Anglia Notitia actually has two ongoing areas of special interest.  The first is the text above in part 1, chapter V, which had evolved through earlier editions – the 1676 edition – if not earlier ones -- had already mentioned stow-ball [changed to “stoolball” as of 1694 or earlier], according to Hazlitt’s Faith and Folklore.  Cricket historian Diana Rait Kerr agrees that cricket was first added in the 18th edition of 1694.


Another section of Anglia Notitia catalogued English recreations.  Text for this section – part 3, chapter VII -- is accessible online for the 1702, 1704, 1707, and later editions. These recreations were listed in three parts: for royalty, for nobles and gentry, and for “Citizens and Peasants.”  Royal sports included tennis, pell mell and billiards. The gentry’s sports included tennis, bowling, and billiards.  And then: “The Citizens and Peafants have Hand-ball, Stow-ball, Nine-Pins, Shovel-board [and] Goffe,” said the 20th edition [1702].  In the 22nd edition [1707], cricket had been inserted as something that commoners also played. We find no reference to club ball, stick ball, trap ball, or other games suggested as precursors of baseball. The full title of Chamberlayne is Anglia Notitia, or the Present State of England: With Divers Remarks on the Ancient State Thereof.  Chamberlayne’s first edition apparently appeared in 1669; the 37th was issued in 1748. Another Chamberlayne excerpt is found at entry #1704.2 below.


John Thorn supplied crucial input for this entry.  Note:  It would be interesting to see whether earlier and later editions of Chamberlayne cite other games of interest.


1697.1 – “A Great Match at Cricket” for a Tidy Purse


The Foreign Post, July 7, 1697 reports that in Sussex, two sides of eleven each, eyeing a prize of 50 guineas, played “a great match at cricket.”


Contributed by Beth Hise, January 12, 2010.


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 Seen 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 Common 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.


1704.1 – Traveler Observes Ball-Playing in CT


Madame Knight, “in her inimitable journal of her ride from Boston to New York in 1704, speaks of ball-playing in Connecticut.”


“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 284.  Submitted by John Thorn, 7/11/04.  John notes 9/3/2005 that Seymour observes that Madame Knight does not specifically name the sport as wicket, but he excludes cricket as a possibility because cricket was not then known to have been played in America before 1725; however, John adds, we now have a cricket reference in Virginia from 1709.  [See #1709.1, below.]


1704.2 -- While the Rurals Had Stool-ball and Cricket, the Londoner Had “Blood-Stirring Excitement”


“[T]he growth of a commercial London failed to raise the tone of sporting tastes.  While the countryman exercised vehemently at football, stool-ball, cricket, pins-on-base, wrestling, or cudgel-playing, there was fiercer and more blood-stirring excitement for the Londoner.  Particularly at Hockley-in-the-Hole, one could find bear-baiting, bull-baiting and cock-fighting to his heart’s content.”


Chamberlayne, Edward, Anglia Notitia: The  Present State of England [London, 1704 and 1748], page 51.  Submitted by John Thorn, 7/9/04.


1704.4 -- Earliest Published Rules of Cricket [?]


“[The following] text is, as far as we know, the earliest published rules of cricket that have come down to us.  They are more than eighty years older than the first official Laws of Cricket, published in 1789.”  The ensuing text calls for the 4-ball over, unregulated runner and fielder interference, and has no rule to keep a batsman from deflecting bowled balls with his body., accessed 10/2/02.  The site offers no source.  Most sources date the easiest rules to 1744; could this date stem from a typo?  No source is given for the rules themselves. Beth Hise, on January 12, 2010, expressed renewed skepticism about the 1704 date.  Caution: we have requested confirmation and sources from this website, and have not had a reply as of Feb. 2010.


1705.1 – Early Cricket Match “To Be Plaid . . . for 11 Guineas a Man”


An account in the July 24 issue of The Postman reads, “This is to give notice that a match of cricket is to be plaid between 11 gentlemen of the west part of Kent, against as many of Chatham, for 11 guineas a man at Maulden in Kent on August 7th next.”  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 of 1935), page 27. 


1706.1 -- Poem Suggests Cricket is Becoming “Respectable”


Goldwin, William, In Certamen Pilae.  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 15.  Ford does not provide a full citation for this source.  He reports the poem, written Latin, as “describing the early game and suggesting, perhaps, that it is becoming ‘respectable.’  He adds that “there was academic controversy over its translation in 1923.”  John Thorn offers that the poem was published in Goldwin’s Musae Juveniles in 1706, and was translated by Harold Perry as “The Cricket Match” in 1922 [email of 2/1/2008].  John also sent Protoball the original text, for you Latin speakers out there.



1706.2 -- Book About a Scotsman Mentions “Cat and Doug” and Other Diversions


[Author?] The Scotch rogue; or, The life and actions of Donald MacDonald, a Highland Scot [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 176.  The [apparently fictional] hero recalls; “I was but a sorry proficient in learning: being readier at cat and doug, cappy-hole, riding the burley hacket, playing at kyles and dams, spangboder, wrestling, and foot-ball (and such other sports as we use in our country) than at my book.”  Block identifies “cat and doug,” or cat and dog, as a Scots two-base version of the game of cat, “and the likely forbear of the American game of two-old-cat.”


1709.1 – A Form of [Two-man and Four-man] Cricket Played in Virginia


In an April 25, 1709 diary entry, William Byrd, owner of the Virginia plantation Westover, wrote:  “I rose at 6 o’clock and said my prayers shortly.  Mr. W-l-s and I fenced and I beat him.  Then we played at cricket, Mr. W-l-s and John Custis against me and Mr. {Hawkins], but we were beaten.  I ate nothing but milk for breakfast . . .”


On May 6 of the same year he noted: “I rose about 6 o'clock and Colonel Ludwell, Nat Harrison, Mr. Edwards and myself played at cricket, and I won a bit [presumably an eighth of a Spanish dollar].  Then we played at whist and I won.  About 10 o'clock we went to breakfast and I ate some boiled rice.”  Another undated entry showed that cricket was not just an early-morning pastime:  “About 10 o'clock Dr. Blair, and Major and Captain Harrison came to see us. After I had given them a glass of sack we played cricket. I ate boiled beef for my dinner. Then we played at shooting with arrows...and went to cricket again till dark."


Wright, Louis B., and Marion Tinling, eds., The Secret Diary of William Byrd of Westover 1709-1712 [Dietz Press, Richmond, 1941], pages 25-26 and 31.  We have no page reference for the third mention of cricket, which appears in a short article on, as accessed 1/20/2007.  Thanks to John Thorn for reference data [email of 2/1/2008].


1709.2 -- Kent vs. Surrey -- Cricket’s First County Match?


From, accessed 10/17/08:

“The earliest known match involving county teams or at any rate teams bearing the names of counties. The match was advertised in the Post Man dated Saturday June 25, 1709. The stake was £50.

“Some authors have suggested the teams in reality were "Dartford and a Surrey village", but this contradicts evidence of patronage and high stakes. It is likely that Dartford, as the foremost Kent club in this period, provided not only the venue but also the nucleus of the team, but there is no reason at all to doubt that the team included good players from elsewhere in the county. The Surrey team will equally have been drawn from a number of Surrey parishes and subscribed by their patron.”

The Wikipedia entry credits the website “From Lads to Lords: The History of Cricket 1300-1787”, at


1709.3 -- Cat and Trap-ball Seen as Boys’ Games [The Men Play Foot-ball]


W. Winstanley and Successors, Poor Robin 1709. An almanack after a new fashion [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 176.  A selection begins, “Thus harmless country lads and lasses/ In mirth the time away so passes:/ Here men at foot-ball they do  fall;/ There boys at cat and trap-ball.”


1711.1 – Betty Was “a Romp at Stool-Ball”


“James before he beheld Betty, was vain of his strength, a rough wrestler . . . ; Betty [was] a publick Dancer at May-poles, a Romp at Stool-Ball.  He was always following idle Women, she playing among the Peasants; He a Country Bully, she a Country Coquet.”


Steele, Spectator number 71, May 22, 1711, page 2.   Provided by John Thorn, emails of 6/11/2007 and 2/1/2008.  The implication of the passage appears to be that women who played a game like stool-ball were unlikely  to be chaste. 


1712.1 -- Two Noblemen Blasted for Sunday Cricket Play, and for Betting Too


The Duke of Marlborough and Viscount Townsend are publicly criticized for currying favor with electors by playing cricket with children “on a Sabbath day,” and for wagering 20 guineas on the outcome.  Bateman cites and quotes from a broadsheet report on this match at The Devil and the Peers, or a Princely Way of Sabbath Breaking [source not otherwise identified] at Bateman, Anthony,“’More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;‘  Culture,, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 30.  John Thorn identifies the broadsheet as having been published by J. Parker [email of 2/1/2008].


1713.1 – Boston Magistrate Finds Trap Ball Clogging a Gutter


“I went on the Roof, and found the Spout next Slater’s  stopped . . . . Boston went up . . . came down a Spit, and clear’d the Leaden-throat, by thrusting out a Trap-Ball that stuck there.”


Thomas, M. H., ed., The Diary of Samuel Sewell 1674 – 1729, Volume II, 1710 – 1729 [Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1973], p. 718.  Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 18.  Sewall is known as the “Salem Witch Judge.”


1715.1 – Men Top Over Women in “Merry-Night” of Stoole Balle


“The Young Folks of this Town had a Merry-Night . . . .  The Young Weomen treated the Men with a Tandsey as they lost to them at a Game at Stoole Balle.”


T. Ellison Gibson, ed., Blundell’s Diary, Comprising Selections from the Diary of Nicholas Blundell, Esq. (Gilbert G. Walmsley, 1895), diary entry for May 14, 1715, page 134.  Note:  “Tandsey” presumably refers to tansey-cakes, traditionally linked to springtime games. 



1719.1 -- Trap and Stool-ball Help Set the Mood . . . Again


“Thus all our lives we’re Frolick and gay,/And instead of Court Revels we merrily Play/ At Trap and Kettles and Barley-break run,/ At Goff, and at Stool-ball, and when we have done/ These innocent Sports, we Laugh and lie down,/ And to each pretty Lass we give a green Gown.”


D’Urfey, Thomas, Wit and Mirth: or Pills to Purge Melancholy [London], Vol. 3, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 177.  Note: This closely mimics the verse found above at #1671.1. 


1720.1 – Puritans Thwarted Fun, “Even at Stool-ball”


In a strong anti-Presbyterian tract, Thomas Lewis noted that among Puritans “all Games where there is any hazard of loss are strictly forbidden; as Tennis, Bowles and Billiards;  not so much as a Game at stool-ball for a Tansy, . . . upon Pain of Damnation.”


Thomas. Lewis, English Presbyterian Eloquence: Or, Dissenters Sayings Ancient and Modern (T. Bickerton, London, 1720), page 17.  Citation provided by John Thorn, email of 2/1/2008.


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


In 1907, a kindred spirit 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 Butchers’; 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.


1722.1 – Scotch “Rogue” Prefers Cat/Dog Games to His Books


“In the Life of the Scotch Rogue, 1722, p.7, the following sports occur:  ‘I was but a sorry proficient in learning: being readier at Cat and Doug, cappy-hole, riding the hurley hacket, playing at kyles and dams, spang-bogle, wrestling, and foot-ball (and such other sports as we use in out country), than at my book.’”


Brand, John, Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain (George Bell and Sons, London, 1900), page 407.  The original source is presumably The Scotch Rogue; or, the Life and Actions of Donald Macdonald, a Highland Scot (Robert Gifford, London, 1706 and 1722). Note:   Confirm in original?  Can we confirm that this was in the 1706 printing, not only the 1722 printing?  Identify “cappy-hole?”  Citation provided by John Thorn, email of 2/1/2008.


1725c.1 – Wicket Played on Boston Common


“March, 15. Sam. Hirst [Sewall’s grandson, reportedly, and a Harvard ’23 man] LMc] got up betime in the morning, and took Ben Swett with him and went into the (Boston MA) Common to play at Wicket. Went before any body was up, left the door open; Sam came not to prayer; at which I was most displeased.


”March 17th.  Did the like again, but took not Ben with him.  I told him he could not lodge here practicing thus.  So he lodg‘d elsewhere.  He grievously offended me in persuading his Sister Hannam not to have Mr. Turall, without enquiring of me about it.  And play’d fast and loose in a vexing matter about himself in a matter relating to himself, procuring me great Vexation.”


Diary of Samuel Sewall, in Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society (Published by the Society, Boston, 1882) Volume VII – Fifth Series, page 372.


Note: Further comment on this entry is welcome, especially from wicket devotees; after all, this may be the initial wicket citation in existence (assuming that $1700c.2 is cannot be documented and that #1704.1 above is not ever confirmed as wicket).


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?




1726.1 -- Cricket Crowd is Eyed Nervously as Possibly Seditious


An Essex official worries that a local game of cricket was simply a way of collecting a crowd of disaffected people in order to foment rebellion.  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 16.  Ford does not provide a citation for this account.


1727.1 -- First Documented Cricket Playing Rules Agreed to, for One-time Use


Two sides forged “Articles of Agreement” that specify 12 players to a side, a 23-yard pitch, two umpires to be named by each side, and “mentions catches but not other forms of dismissal.”  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 16.  Note: Ford does not provide a citation for this account.


1727.2 -- How To Score at Cricket, Olde Style


In order to score a run, a batsman/runner had to touch a staff held by an umpire with his bat.  The modern rule appeared in the 1744 rules.


Scholefield, Peter, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishing, Kent Town Australia, 1990], page 22.


1728.1 – Delaware Resident Writes of Playing Trap Ball, with Cider as Reward


“James Gordon & I Plaid Trabbel against John Horon and Th Horon for an anker of Syder We woun.  We drunk our Syder.”


Hancock, H. B., ed., “’Fare Weather and Good Helth:’ the Journal of Caesar Rodeney, 1727 – 1729,” Delaware History, volume 10, number 1 [April 1962], p. 64. Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It,  ref # 19.


1730c.1 – Low Wicket and Circular Hole Said Still Found in Cricket


“In the infancy of the game [cricket] the batsman stood before a circular hole in the turf, and was put out, as in ‘rounders,’ by being caught, or by the ball being put in this hole.  A century and a half ago this hole was still in use, though it had on each side a stump only one foot high, with a long cross-bar of two feet in length laid on top of them.”


Robert MacGregor, Pastimes and Players (Chatto and Windus, London, 1881), page 4, accessed 1/30/10 via Google Books search (“pastimes and players”).  MacGregor gives no source for this claim.  Note that MacGregor does not say that such practice was uniformly used in this period.  Query: have later writers specified in more detail when the hole and the low long wicket disappeared from cricket?



1730c.2 – Cricket Play at Eton Seen as Common


“I can’t say I am sorry I was never quite a school-boy: an expedition against bargemen or a match at cricket may be very pretty things to recollect; but thank my stars, I can remember things very near as pretty.”


Letter from Horace Walpole to George Montagu, May 6, 1736.  One interpretation of this letter:  “Horace Walpole was sent to Eton in 1726.  Playing cricket, as well as bashing bargemen, was common at that time:” Pycroft, John, The Cricket Field; or, The History and the Science of the Game of Cricket, second edition (Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, London, 1854), page 43.



1731.1 – Patient Thousands Watch First Known Drawn Match 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?


1733.1 -- Long Poem Describes Stool-Ball in Some Detail; First Evidence of Use of a Bat


The London Magazine, vol 2, December 1733 [London], page 637, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 177.  Block calls this account “the most complete and detailed portrayal of the game to date.”  It provides the earliest reference to the use of a bat, describes a game that does not involve running after the young [female] players hit the ball, and includes a description of the field and the assembled audience.  Note: A bat had been described in Willughby’s c.1672 account of hornebillets.  Some actual text should be added here, if it can be captured.



1737.1 -- Surreymen Play Londoners in Cricket for 500 Pounds a Side



“On Wednesday next a great Match at Cricket is to be play’d at Moulsey-Hurst in Surrey, between eleven Men of the said County, chose by his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and the same Number chose out of the London Club by his Grace the Duke of Marlborough, for 500 [pounds] a Side.”  Country Journal of The Craftsman (London), July 16, 1737.  Excavated by John Thorn, 2/1/2008.  Note:  So who won?  And was the bet really paid off? 



1737.2 – Doctor Writes of North Carolina Game Resembling Ireland’s Trap Ball


Brickell, an Irishman, writes of NC Indians: “They have [a] game which is managed with a Battoon, and very much resembles our Trap-ball.”


Brickell, John., The Natural History of North Carolina [James Carson, Dublin, 1737], p. 336.  Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 20. 


1737.3 – Cricket Played Georgia Town Square


Georgia planter William Stephens: “Many of our Townsmen, Freeholders, Inmates, and Servants were assembled in the principal Square, at Cricket and divers other athletick Sports.”


A Journal of the Proceedings in Georgia, II, page 217, as cited in  Lester, ed., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [U Penn, 1951], page 4. Lester cites this account as the first mention of American cricket.


1739.1 -- First Known Picture of Cricket Appears



“The earliest known cricket picture was first displayed in 1739.  It is an engraving call “The Game of Cricket”, by Hubert-Francois Gravelot (1699-1773) and shows two groups of cherubic lads gathered around a batsman and a bowler.  The wicket shown is the “low stool” shape, probably 2 feet wide and 1 foot tall, with two stumps and a single bail.”  Received in an email from John Thorn, 2/1/2008.  Source: 


Another fan’s notes:  “Art is immortal, and the M.C.C. has acquired a new work of Art in connection with cricket.  This is a drawing in pencil on grey paper, representing a country game in the [eighteenth] century. . . .  The two notched stumps with one bail are only about six inches high, and the bowler appears to be “knuckling” the ball like a marble.  I have very little doubt that the artist was Gravelot.”  Andrew Lang, “At the Sign of the Ship,” Longmans’ Magazine (London) Number LXIX, July 1888, page 332.


On 2/24/10, an image was available via a Google Web search (christies "gravelot (1699-1773)" cricket).



1740s.1 – Intervillage Cricket Played by Women in Surrey and Sussex


Cashman, Richard, “Cricket,” in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 88.


1740.2 -- Almanack Sees Time Wasted at Stool-ball


“Much time is wasted now away/ At pigeon-holes and nine-pin play/. . . ./ At stool-ball and at barley-break,/Wherewith they at harmless pastime make.”


W. Winstanley and Successors, Poor Robin 1740. An almanack after a new fashion [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 178. 


1740.3 – Lord Chesterfield Nods Approvingly at Cricket – and Trap Ball!


“Dear Boy: . . . Therefor remember to give yourself up entirely to the thing you are doing, be it what it will, whether your book or play: for if you have a right ambition, you will desire to excell all boys of your age at cricket, or trap ball, as well as in learning.”  P.D.S. Chesterfield, Lord Chesterfield’s Letters of His Son (M. W. Dunne, 1901), Volume II, Letter LXXI, to his son.  Citation provided by John Thorn, email of 2/1/2008.


Cited by Steel and Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890), pp 8 - 9.. Steel and Lyttelton introduce this quotation as follows:  “When once the eighteenth century is reached cricket begins to find mention in literature.  Clearly the game was rising in the world and was being taken up, like the poets of the period, by patrons.” 



1741c.1 – Does Alexander Pope “Sneer” at Cricket in Epic Poem?


“The judge to dance his brother serjeant call,

The senator at cricket urge the ball”


Pope, “The Dunciad,” per Steel and Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 9.  Steel and Lyttelton date the writing to 1726-1735.  Their remark:  “Mr. Alexander Pope had sneered at cricket.  At what did Mr. Pope not sneer?”


Alexander Pope, The Dunciad, Complete in Four Books, According to Mr. Pope’s Last Improvements (Warburton, London, 1749), Book IV, line 592, page 70.  Note; This fragment does not seem severely disparaging.  Is it clear from context what offense he gives to cricketers?  It is true that this passage demeans assorted everyday practices, particularly as pursued by those of high standing.  Book IV, the last, is now believed to have been written in 1741.  Other entries that employ the “urge the ball” phrasing are #1747.1, #1805c.7, #1807.3, and #1824.4.



1743.1 – Editorial:  Cricket is OK, But Only for Rural Holiday Play


“Cricket is certainly a very innocent and wholesome, yet it may be abused if either great or little people make it their business.  It is grossly abused when it is made the subject of publick advertisements to draw together great crowds of people who ought all of them to be somewhere else.


“The diversion of cricket may be proper in holiday time, and in the country, but upon days when men ought to be busy, and in the neighbourhood of a great city, it is not only improper, but mischievous, to a high degree.  It draws number of people from their employments to the ruins of their families . . . it gives the most open encouragement to gaming.”


British Champion, September 8, 1743.  Provided by Gregory Christiano, 12/2/09, as reprinted in The Gentlemans Magazine, 1743.  The piece appears, perhaps in its entirety, in W. W. Read, Annals of Cricket (St. Dunston’s Press, 1896), page 27ff [accessed 1/30/10 via Google Books search (“very innocent” “annals of cricket”)].



1743.2 – Three-on-Three Cricket Match, A Close One, Draws Reported 10,000 Fans


“July 11.  In the Artillery Ground.  Three of Kent – Hodswell, J. Cutbush, V. Romney vs. Three of England – R. Newland, Sawyer, John Bryan.  Kent won by 2 runs.”


Cited in Thomas Moult, “The Story of the Game,” Thomas Moult, ed., Bat and Ball: A New Book of Cricket (Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1960 – reprinted from 1935), page 29.  Moult’s commentary:  “Several features of this match are to be emphasized [besides the fact that the score was reported, not simply the name of the winning side -- LM].  The convention of eleven a side was not yet established . . . .  Also the match was played before 10,000 spectators.”  Note: Moult does not cite the original source.



1743.3 – When Cricket Still Had Foul Ground?


“We may see how the game was played about this time from the picture, of date 1743, in the possession of the Surrey County Club.  The wicket was a ‘skeleton hurdle,’ one foot high and two feet wide, consisting of two stumps only, with a third laid across.  The bat was curved at the end, and made for free hitting rather than defence.  The bowling was all along the ground, and the great art was to bowl under the bat.  All play was forward of the wicket, as it is now in single wicket games of less that five players a side.  With these exceptions, the game was very much the same as it is today [1881].” 


Robert MacGregor, Pastimes and Players (Chatto and Windus, London, 1881), page 16.  Note that the circular hole, described in #1730.1, is not seen.  Caveat: It is not clear from this account whether forward hitting was common in the 1740s or whether MacGregor is simply drawing inferences about this single painting.


1744.1 – First Laws of Cricket are Written


Includes the 4-ball over, later changed to 6 balls.  [And to 8 balls in Philadelphia in 1790].  Cashman, Richard, “Cricket,” in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 87.  The 22 yard pitch is one-tenth of the length of a furlong, which is an eighth of a mile.


Ford’s crisp summary of the rules:  “Toss for pitching wickets and choice of innings; pitch 22 yards; single bail; wickets 22 inches high; 4-ball overs; ball between 5 and 6 ounces; ‘no ball’ defined; modes of dismissal -- bowled, caught, stumped, run out, obstructing the field.”  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 17.


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.



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]. Note: we may need reason to assume the “Base-ball” poem appeared in the 1744 version.  According to Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, the 1767 London edition 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.



1744.3 -- Earliest Full Cricket Scorecard for the “Greatest Match Ever Known”


The match it describes: All England vs. Kent, played at the Artillery Ground.  The same year, admission at the Ground increased from tuppence to sixpence. Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 17. 


John Thorn [email of 2/1/2008] located an account of the match:  “Yesterday was play’d in the Artillery-Ground the greatest Cricket-Match even known, the County of Kent again all England, which was won by the former [the score was  97-96 – LM] . . . . There were present the their Royal Highnesses the Princeof Wales and Duke of Cumberland, the Duke of Richmond, Admiral Vernon, and many other Persons of Distinction.”  The London Evening-Post Number 2592, June 16-19, 1744, page 1 column 3, above the fold.  Note:  Is the scorecard available somewhere?



1744.4 – Poet:  “Hail Cricket!  Glorious Manly, British Game!


Writing as James Love, the poet and actor James Dance [1722-1774] penned a 316-line verse that extols cricket.  The poem, it may surprise you to learn, turns on the muffed catch by an All England player [shades of Casey!] that, I take it, allows Kent County to win a close  match.  Protoball’s virtual interview with Mr. Dance:


Protoball:  Are you a serious cricket fan?


Dance:" Hail, cricket! Glorious manly, British Game! / First of all Sports! be first alike in Fame!” [lines 13-14]


PBall: Isn’t billiards a good game too?


Dance: “puny Billiards, where, with sluggish Pace / The dull Ball trails before the feeble Mace” [lines 40-41]


PBall: But you do appreciate tennis, right?”


Dance:  “Not Tennis [it]self, [cricket’s] sister sport can charm, /Or with [cricket’s] fierce Delights our Bosoms warm".[lines 55-56] . . . to small Space confined, ev’n [tennis] must yield / To nobler CRICKET, the disputed field.”  [lines 60-61]


PBall: But doesn’t every country have a fine national pastime?


Dance: “Leave the dissolving Song, the baby Dance, / To Sooth[e] the Slaves of Italy and France: / While the firm Limb, and strong brac’d Nerve are thine [cricket’s] / Scorn Eunuch Sports; to manlier Games [we] incline” [lines 68-71]


PBall: Manlier?  You see the average cricketer as especially manly?


Dance:  “He weighs the well-turn’d Bat’s experienced Force, / And guides the rapid Ball’s impetuous course, / His supple Limbs with Nimble Labour plies, / Nor bends the grass beneath him as he flies.”  [lines 29 – 32]


James Love, Cricket: an Heroic Poem. illustrated with the Critical Observations of Scriblerus Maximus(W. Bickerton, London, undated)  The poet writes of a famous 1744 match between All England and Kent [#1744.3, above.]  Thanks to Beth Hise for a lead to this poem, email, 12/21/2007.   John Thorm, per email of 2/1/2008, located and pointed to online copy.  Note:  Are we sure the versified game account is from the 1744 Kent/England match -- not 1746, for example? 


1745c.1 -- John Adams Recalls Youthful Bat and Ball Play


Saying that his first fifteen years “went off like a fairy tale,” John Adams [1735-1826] wrote fondly “of making and sailing boats  . . swimming, skating, flying kites and shooting marbles, bat and ball, football, . . . wrestling and sometimes boxing.”


David McCullough, John Adams [Touchstone Books, 2001], page 31.  Submitted by Priscilla Astifan, 11/17/06.


1747.1 – Poet Thomas Gray:  “Urge the Flying Ball.”


“What idle progeny succeed

To chase the rolling circle's speed,

Or urge the flying ball?”


Thomas Gray, "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,” lines 28-30.  Accessed 12/29/2007 at  “Rolling circle” had been drafted as “hoop,” and thus does not connote ballplay.  Cricket writers have seen “flying ball” as a cricket reference, but a Gray scholar cites “Bentley’s Print” as a basis for concluding that Gray was referring to trap ball in this line.  Steel and Lyttelton note that this poem was first published in 1747.  Note: is it fair to assume that Gray is evoking student play at Eton in this ode?  Do modern scholars agree with the 1747 publication date?


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.”



1748.1 – Lady Hervey Reports Royals’ “Base-ball” in a Letter


Lady Hervey (then Mary Leppel) describes in a letter the activities of the family of Frederick, Prince of Wales: 


“[T]he Prince’s family is an example of innocent and cheerful amusements  All this last summer they played abroad; and now, in the winter, in a large room, they divert themselves at base-ball, a play all who are, or have been, schoolboys, are well acquainted with.  The ladies, as well as gentlemen, join in this amusement . . . .  This innocence and excellence must needs give great joy, and well as great hope, to all real lovers of their country and posterity.”


[The last sentence may well be written in irony, as Lady Hervey was evidently known to be unimpressed with the Prince’s conduct.]


Hervey, Lady (Mary Lepel), Letters (London, 1821), p.139 [Letter XLII, of November 14, 1748, from London]. Google Books now has uploaded the letters:  search for “Lady Hervey.”  Letter 52 begins on page 137, and the baseball reference is on page 139.  Accessed 12/29/2007.  Note: David Block, page 189, spells the name “Lepel,” citing documented family usage; the surname often appears as “Leppell.”  In a 19CBB posting of 2/15/2008, David writes that it is “George III, to whom we can rightly ascribe the honor of being the first known baseball player.  The ten-year-old George, as [Prince] Frederick’s eldest son, was surely among the prince’s family members observed by Lady Hervey in 1748 to be ‘divert[ing] themselves at base-ball.’”


1749.1 -- Early Cricket: Addington Club Takes On  All-England, Five on Five


“A newspaper advertisement announced a match on the [London Artillery] ground on July 24th, 1749, between five of the Addington Club and an All England five.  The advertisement gave the names of the players, and thus concluded: NB -- The last match, which was played on Monday the 10th instant, was won by All England, notwithstanding it was eight to one on Addington in the playing.’”


Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England [Methuen, London, 1903], page 102.  This edition of Strutt [originally published in 1801] was “much enlarged and corrected by L. Charles Cox;” the cited text was inserted by Cox.


1750c.1 -- Cricket No Longer Played Only With Rolled Deliveries to Batsmen


“Originally bowling literally meant ‘to bowl the ball along the ground’ as in the style of lawn bowls.  By 1750, however, a mixture of grubbers and fully pitched balls were seen.”


Peter Scholefield, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishing, Kent Town Australia], page 34.


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.



1750s.3 – 1857 Writer Reportedly Dates New England Game of “Base” to 1750s


“an interesting report from a “Base Ball Correspondent” which discusses the early New England game of “Base” and mentions in part that ‘Base ball has, no doubt, been played in this country for at least one century. . . .  Details about the “National Base Ball Club” of Brooklyn.”  “Out-Door Sports: Base Ball: Base Ball Correspondence,” Porter’s Spirit of the Times Volume 3, number 8 (October 24, 1857), page 117, column 2.  Citation provided by Craig Waff, 10/28/2008.  The text of the October 20 letter from “X” is on the VBBA website at:


The game described by “X” resembles the MA game as it was to be codified a year later except: [a] “a good catcher would frequently take the ball before the bat cold strike it,” [b] the runner “was allowed either a pace or jump to the base which he was striving t reach,” [c] the bound rule was in effect, [d] all-out-side-out innings, [e] the ball was “softer and more spongy” than 1850’s ball, [f] the bats were square, flat, or round,” and [g] there was a layout variation, with three bases, one two yards to the batters right, the next “about fifty [yards] down the field,” and the third was “about five.”  This field variation reminds one of cricket, wicket, and “long town [or “long-town-ball].”



1751.1 – First Recorded US Cricket Match Played, “For a Considerable Wager,” in NYC


“Last Monday afternoon, a match at cricket was play’d on our Common for a considerable Wager, by eleven Londoners, against eleven New Yorkers:  The game was play’d according to the London Method; and those who got most notches in two Hands, to be the Winners: The New Yorkers went in first, and got 81; Then the Londoners went in, and got but 43; Then the New Yorkers went in again, and got 86; and the Londoners finished the Game with getting only 37 more.”  New York Gazette Revived, May 6, 1751, page 2, column 2.  Submitted 7/25/2005 by George Thompson.


This was the first recorded cricket match played in New York City, and took place on grounds where Fulton Fish Market now stands, “by a Company of Londoners – the London XI -- against a Company of New Yorkers.” (The New Yorkers won, 167-80.)


New York Post-Boy, 4/29/51.  Per John Thorn, 6/15/04:  Source is multiple: clip from Chadwick Scrapbooks; see also, “the first recorded American cricket match per se was in New York in 1751 on the site of what is today the Fulton Fish Market in Manhattan.  A team called New York played another described as the London XI ‘according to the London method’ - probably a reference to the 1744 Code which was more strict that the rules governing the contemporary game in England.   Also, and dispositively, from Phelps-Stokes, Vol. VI, Index—ref. against Chronology and Chronology Addenda (Vol. 4A or 6A); [CRICKET] Match on Commons April 29, 1751; and finally, V. 4, p. 628, 4/29/1751: “…this day, a great Cricket match is to be played on our commons, by a Company of Londoners against a Company of New-Yorkers. New-York Post-Boy, 4/29/51.” The New Yorkers won by a total score of 167 to 80. New York Post-Boy, 5/6/51.  This game is also treated by cricket historians Wisden [1866] and Lester [1951].


1751.2 -- Cricket Lore:  Ball Kills the Prince of Wales?


RIP, sweet Prince.  [The prince was the father of King George III.]


Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 17: “Death of Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales, as a result of a blow on the head from a cricket ball.”  Ford does not give a citation.


Others attribute the Prince’s death to a tennis incident; neither theory seems fully credible, as death was not immediate, and “an abscess” of the lung was believed to be the proximal cause of death.



1753.1 – NYS Traveler Notes Dutch boys “Playing Bat and Ball”


Gideon Hawley (1727-1807), traveling through the area where Binghamton now is, wrote: “even at the celebration of the Lord’s supper [the Dutch boys] have been playing bat and ball the whole term around the house of God.”


Hawley, Gideon, Rev. Gideon Hawley’s Journal [Broome County, NY 1753], page 1041. Collection of Tom Heitz. Per Patricia Millen, From Pastime to Passion [2001], page 2. 


1754.1 -- Marylanders Play “Great Cricket Match for a Good Sum”


“We hear that there is to be a great cricket match for a good sum played on Saturday next, near Mr. Aaron Rawling’s Spring, between eleven young men of this city [Annapolis] and the same number from Prince George’s County [now a Washington suburban community]”


Bradford’s Journal, August 1, 1754, as cited in Lester’s A Century of Philadelphia Cricket UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 5.


1754.2 – Ben Franklin Brings Copy of Cricket Rules Back to U.S.

Several sources, including the Smithsonian, magazine, report that “The rules of the game on this side of the Atlantic were formalized in 1754, when Benjamin Franklin brought back from England a copy of the [ten year old – LMc] 1744 Laws, cricket’s official rule book.”  Simon Worrall, “Cricket, Anyone?” Smithsonian Magazine, October 2006.  The excerpt can be found in the seventh paragraph of the article [as accessed 10/19/2008] at:                                    

Lester adds this:  “Benjamin Franklin was sufficiently interested in the game [cricket] to bring back with him from England a copy of the laws of cricket, for it was this very copy which was presented to the Young America Club . . .on June 4, 1867.”  Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket (U Penn, 1951), page 5. Caveat: we have not located a contemporary account of the Franklin story.


1755.1 -- Johnson Dictionary Defines Stoolball and Trap


Stoolball is simply defined as “A play where balls are driven from stool to stool,” and trap is defined as “A play at which a ball is driven with a stick.”


Johnson, Samuel, A dictionary of the English language [London, 1755], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 179. 


1755.2 -- Laws of Cricket are Revised


“1755: Minor revision of the Laws of Cricket.” John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 18.  Ford does not give a source.


1755.3 – Young Man Goes to “Play at Base Ball” in Surrey


On the day after Easter in 1755, 18-year-old William Bray recorded the following entry in his diary:


“After Dinner Went to Miss Seale’s to play at Base Ball, with her, the 3 Miss Whiteheads, Miss Billinghurst, Miss Molly Flutter, Mr. Chandler, Mr. Ford, H. Parsons & Jolly.  Drank tea and stayed till 8.”


The story of this 2007 find is told in Block, David, “The Story of William Bray’s Diary,” Base Ball, volume , no. 2 (Fall 2007), pp. 5-11.


Block points out that this diary entry, is among the first four appearances of the term “base ball,” [see #1744.2 and #1748.1 above, and #1755.4 below] shows adult and mixed-gender play, and that “at this time, baseball was more of a social phenomenon than a sporting one. . . . played for social entertainment rather than serious entertainment.”  [Ibid, page 9.]


1755.4 – Satirist Cites Base-Ball as “An Infant Game”


“. . . the younger Part of the Family, perceiving Papa not inclined to enlarge upon the Matter, retired to an interrupted Party at Base-Ball, (an infant Game, which as it advances in its Teens, improves to Fives [handball], and in its State of Manhood, is called Tennis).


Kidgell, John, The Card (John Newbery, London, 1755), page 9.  This citation was uncovered in 2007 by David Block.  He tells the story of the find in Block, David, “The Story of William Bray’s Diary,” Base Ball, volume , no. 2 (Fall 2007), pp. 9-11.


1755.5 – Authoritative Rules of Cricket Published Nationally in England


The publication is The Game at Cricket; as Settled by the Several Cricket-Clubs, Particularly that of the Star and Garter in Pall Mall (London, 1755). 


Contributed by Beth Hise, January 12, 2010.  Beth adds: “This is the first discrete publication of the laws of cricket, a version of which was printed in the New Universal Magazine, and as such enabled the laws to be widely distributed.  This is the version generally regarded as containing the original laws of cricket.”


1756.1 -- First Recorded Game by Hambledon Cricket Club


“1756: The Hambledon Club plays its first recorded game.”  John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 18.  Ford does not give a source.


1760s.1 – Harvard Man Recalls Cricket, “Various Games of Bat and Ball” on Campus


Writing of the Buttery on the Harvard campus in Cambridge MA, Sidney Willard later recalled that “[b]esides eatable, everything necessary for a student was there sold, and articles used in the play-grounds, as bats, balls, &c. . . . [w]e wrestled and ran, played at quoits, at cricket, and various games of bat and ball, whose names perhaps are obsolete.” 


Sidney Willard, Memories of Youth and Manhood [John Bartlett, Cambridge, 1855], volume 1, pp 31 and 316.  Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 44.



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.”  Provided by David Block, 2/27/2008.  Note: Is this the same location as what we now know as the Champs Elysee?   Can we learn what bat/ball games were so popular the mid 1700s – Soule? Some form of street tennis? A form of field hockey?  Not croquet, presumably.



1761.1 – Princeton Faculty [NJ] Disparages “Playing at Ball”


“A minute of the Princeton faculty of May, 1761, frowns upon students “playing at ball.”


Bentley, et. al., American College Athletics [Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, New York, 1929], pages 14-15.  Submitted by John Thorn, 6/6/04.


1761.2 -- School Rule in PA; No Ballplaying in the College Yard, Especially in Front of Trustees and Profs


“None shall climb over the Fences of the College Yard, or come in or out thro the Windows, or play Ball or use any Kind of Diversion within the Walls of the Building; nor shall they in the Presence of the Trustees, Professors or Tutors, play Ball, Wrestle, make any indecent Noise, or behave in any way rudely in the College Yard or Streets adjacent.”


Sack, Saul, History of Higher Education in Pennsylvania, vol. 2 [Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, 1963], page 632.  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.  Note: do we know the college?  UPa?


1762.1 – Pirated Version of Little Pretty Book Uses Term “Base-ball.”


Note:  This version, published in 1762 by Hugh Gaine, was advertised in The New York Mercury on August 30, 1762, but no copy has been found.   Per RH, p. 135.  Henderson says that this is the first use of “base-ball” in an American source.  In his note #107, RH gives 1760 as the year of publication.


1762.2 – Salem Ordinance Outlaws Bat-and-Ball, Cricket


“. . . no Person shall use the Exercise of playing or kicking of Foot-ball, or the Exercise of Bat-and-Ball, or Cricket, within the Body of the Town, under a Penalty of One Shilling and Six Pence.”


By-Laws and Orders of the town of Salem, July 26, 1762, as printed in the Essex Gazette, December 6 to 13, 1768, page 81: posted to 19CBB on July 30, 2007 by Richard Hershberger.  The town is Salem MA.


1766.1 – Cricket Balls Advertised in US by James Rivington


In 1766 “James Rivington imported battledores and shuttlecocks, cricket-balls, pillets, best racquets for tennis and fives, backgammon tables with men, boxes, and dice.”


Singleton, Esther, Social New York Under the Georges [New York, 1902], page 265.  [Cited by Dulles, 1940.]  Caveat:  Singleton does not provide a source at this location; however, from context [see pp. 91-92] her direct quotation seems likely to be taken from a contemporary Rivington advertisement.  Caution: John Thorn is unable to find online evidence of cricket ball imports before 1772, per email of 2/2/2008.


1766.2 -- Cricket [or Wicket?] Challenge in CT


“A Challenge is hereby given by the Subscribers, to Ashbel Steel, and John Barnard, with 18 young Gentlemen . . . to play a Game of BOWL for a Dinner and Trimmings . . . on Friday next.”  Connecticut Courant , May 5, 1766, as cited in John A. Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 6.  Note:  is “game of bowl” a common term for cricket?  Could this not have been a wicket challenge, given the size of the teams?


1767.1 –  [Item #1767.1 has been moved to become 1754.1 above.]


1767.2 -- North-South Game of Cricket in Hartford CT


“Whereas a Challenge was given by Fifteen Men South of the Great Bridge in Hartford . . . the Public are hereby inform’d that that Challenged beat the Challengers by a great majority.  And said North side hereby acquaint the South Side, that they are not afraid to meet them with any Number they shall chuse . . . .”  Source: “Hartford and Her Sons and Daughters of the Year The Courant was Founded,” Hartford Daily Courant, 10/25/1914.  The original Courant notice was dated June 1, 1767.  Sleuthwork provided by John Thorn, email of 2/2/2008.


1768.1 -- “Old Boys of Westminster” Play Harrow in Cricket


“William Hickey plays in a match at Moulsey Hurst for the old boys of Westminster School against eleven old boys of Harrow.”  John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 18.  Ford does not give a source.



1770s.1 – British Soldiers Seek Amusements, Rebels Yawn


“the presence of large numbers of British troops quartered in the larger towns of the [eastern] seaboard brought the populace into contact with a new attitude toward play.  Officers and men, when off duty, like soldiers in all ages, were inveterate seekers of amusement.  The dances and balls, masques and pageants, ending in Howe’s great extravaganza in Philadelphia, were but one expression of this spirit.  Officers set up cricket grounds and were glad of outside competition. . [text refers to cock-fighting in Philadelphia, horseracing and fox hunts on Long Island, bear-baiting in Brooklyn].


“There is little indication, however, that the British occupation either broke down American prejudices against wasting time in frivolous amusements or promoted American participation and interest in games and sports.”


Krout, John A., The Pageant of America: Annals of American Sport (Oxford U Press, 1929), page 26.



1770.2 – Three-on-Three Cricket Match Played on 100-Guinea Bet


“On Friday last a cricket match was played on Barnet Common between Mess. Cock, and Draper and Athey, against Mess Grey, Langley, and Tapiter, for 100 guineas, which was won with great difficulty by the latter; they went against 44 notches, and beat by only one notch.”


Bingley’s Weekly Journal, Saturday, September 15, 1770.  Contributed by Gregory Christiano, 12/2/09.  Barnet is a borough of London located to the northwest of the city.


1770c.3 – Future Professor Sneaks a Smoke When He Can’t Play Bat and Ball


“When Saturday afternoon chanced to be rainy, and no prospect of bat and ball on the common, some half a dozen of us used now and then, to meet in an old wood-shed, that we shall never forget, and fume it away to our own wonderful aggrandizement.”


“Use of Tobacco from Dr. Waterhouse’s Lecture before Harvard University,” American Repertory, September 3, 1829 (“from the Columbian Centinel.”)  Accessed via subscription search, May 5, 2009.  From internal references, this appears to be an account the well-known public anti-smoking lecture by Professor Benjamin Waterhouse in November 1804. Caution: dating this reference requires some assumptions.  Waterhouse was born in 1754, and thus, if this recollection is authentic, he speaks of a penchant for ballplaying [and smoking] he held in his teens.  He was born at Newport, RI and remained there until 1780.


1771.1 -- Dartmouth President Finds Gardening “More Useful” Than Ballplaying


Dartmouth College’s founding president Eleazar Wheelock thought his students should “turn the course of their diversions and exercises for their health, to the practice of some manual arts, or cultivation of gardens and other lands at the proper hours of leisure.”  That would be “more useful” than the tendency of some non-Dartmouth students to engage in “that which is puerile, such as playing with balls, bowls and other ways of diversion.”  Dartmouth is in Hanover NH.


Eleazar Wheelock, A Continuation of the Narrative [1771], as quoted in W. D. Quint, The Story of Dartmouth College (Little, Brown, Boston, 1914) , page 246.  Submitted by Scott Meacham, 8/21/06.  Dartmouth is in Hanover NH.


1771.2 – Province of New Hampshire Prohibits Christmas “Playing With Balls” in the Streets


“[M]any disorders are occasioned within the town of Portsmouth . . . by boys and fellows playing with balls in the public street: . . . [when] there is danger of breaking the windows of any building, public or private, [they] may be ordered to remove to any place where there shall be no such danger.”


“An Act to prevent and punish Disorders usually committed on the twenty-fifth Day of December . . . ,“ 23 December 1771, New Hampshire (Colony) Temporary Laws, 1773 (Portsmouth, NH), page 53.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 25.


1771.3 – A Wider Bat? Even in Cricket, There’s Always a Joker


“There was no size limit [on a cricket bat] until 1771, when a Ryegate batsman came to the pitch with a bat wider than the wicket itself!  A maximum measurement was then drawn up, and this has remained the same since.” The Hambledon Committee new resolution, appearing two days later, specified that the bat much be no wider than 4.25 inches. The rule stuck.


Peter Scholefield, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishing, Kent Town Australia, 1990], page 15.



1771.4 – Newspaper Quotes Odds for 2-Day London Cricket Match


“On Wednesday and Thursday Last a grand match at cricket was played in the Artillery ground, between the Duke of Dorset and  ___ Mann, Esq; which, being a strong contest, was won by his Grace, notwithstanding the odds on the second day were 12 to one in favor of Mr. Mann.


Bingley’s Weekly Journal, Saturday, September 14, 1771.  Contributed by Gregory Christiano, 12/2/09. 


1773.1 -- Surrey/Kent Cricket Match Draws 12,000, Spawns Poetic Duel


Surrey beat Kent at Bourne Paddock, July 19-21, 1773.  The Rev J. Duncombe described the match in a poem entitled “Surrey Triumphant; or, the Kentish-Men’s Defeat.  A New Ballad, Being a Parody on ‘Chevy Chase’,” which [cheeeeeky indeed] appeared in the Kentish Gazette of July 24.  Then “a Gentleman” penned a reply, “Kentish Cricketers.” This exchange is amply told in H. T. Waghorn, compiler, Cricket Scores, Notes, Etc. from 1730-1773 (Blackwood, London, 1899)pp 116 – 126.  Accessed via Google Books 10/19/2008.



1773.2 -- “Best” Cricket Bats Sold for Four Shillings Sixpence


Pett’s of Sevenoaks was selling “best bats” for 4s 6d.  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 18.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


1773.3 – Ball-playing By Slaves is Eyed in SC


“We present as a growing Evil, the frequent assembling of Negroes in the Town [Beaufort, SC] on Sundays, and playing games of Trap-ball and Fives, which is not taken proper notice of by Magistrates, Constables, and other Parish Officers.”


Tom Altheer, Originals, Volume 2, Number 11 (November 2009), page 1.  Tom sees this reference as “possibly the earliest which refers to African Americans, slaves or also possibly a few free blacks, playing a baseball-type game [although it is not clear if it involved any running], and playing frequently.  Beaufort SC is about 40 miles NE of Savannah GA, near the coastline.


1774.1 -- Cricket Rules Adjusted -- Visitors Bat First, LBW Added


A “Committee of Noblemen and Gentlemen of Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex, and London” agree on rule changes.  Ford’s summary:  “Particular reference is made to the requirements of gambling.  Ball between 5.5 and 5.75 ounces.  LBW [leg-before-wicket, a form of batman interference -- LM] for the first time; short runs; visiting side gets the choice of pitch and first innings.  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 18.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


Writing in 1890, Steel and Lyttelton say that “[t]he earliest laws of the game, or at least the earliest which have reached us, are of the year 1774:”  See A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 12. 



1774.2 – Ah, The Good Ol’ Days: Cricket Now No Longer “Innocent Pastime”


“The game at cricket, which requires that utmost exertion of strength and agility, was followed, until of late years, for manly exercise, animated by a noble spirit of emulation. This sport has too long been perverted from diversion and innocent pastime to excessive gaming and public dissipation.”  Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (London) August 23, 1774, Column 1, seventh paragraph.


1775.1 – Soldier in CT “Played Ball All Day”


“Wednesday the 6.  We played ball all day”


[Lyman, Simeon], “Journal of Simeon Lyman of Sharon August 10 to December 28, 1775,” in “Orderly Book  and Journals Kept by Connecticut Men While Taking Part in the American Revolution 1775 – 1778,” Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, volume 7 [Connecticut Historical Society, 1899, p. 117.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 26.  Lyman was near New London CT.


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.



1776.1 -- Book on Juvenile Pastimes Comments on Trap Ball


Michel Angelo, Juvenile Sports and Pastimes [London], 2nd edition. per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 179.  The text decries the use of a broad flat bat instead of a thin round one, which had evidently been used formerly.


1776.2 – NJ Officer Plays Ball Throughout His Military Service


Elmer, Ebenezer, “Journal of Lieutenant Ebenezer Elmer, of the Third Regiment of New Jersey Troops in the Continental Service,” Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society [1848], volume 1, number 1, pp. 26, 27, 30, and 31, and volume 3, number 2, pp.98. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 29.


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].


1777.1 – Revolutionary War Prisoner Watches Ball-Playing in NYC Area


Sabine, William H. W., ed., The New York Diary of Lieutenant Jabez Finch of the 17th (Connecticut) Regiment from August 22, 1776 to December 15, 1777 [private printing, 1954], pp. 126, 127, and 162.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 34.


1777.2 – Mass. Sailor Plays Ball in English Prison


Held as a POW in Plymouth, England, Newburyport sailor Charles Herbert wrote on April 2, 1777: “Warm, and something pleasant, and the yard begins to dry again, so that we can return to our former sports; these are ball and quoits . . . ”


[Herbert, Charles], A Relic of the Revolution, Containing a Full and Particular Account of the Sufferings and Privations of All the American Prisoners Captured on the High Seas, and Carried to Plymouth, England, During the Revolution of 1776 [Charles S. Pierce, Boston, 1847], p. 109.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It [ref # 35].


1777.3 -- Cricket Gets Improved Wicket – A Third Stump Added


Says Ford: “Third (middle) stump introduced.”  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 18.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


1778.1 – American Surgeon Sees Ball-Playing in English Prison


Coan, Marion, ed., “A Revolutionary Prison Diary: The Journal of Dr. Jonathan Haskins,” New England Quarterly, volume 17, number 2 [June 1944], p. 308.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 36.


1778.2 – Teamster Sees Soldiers Play Ball.


[Joslin, Joseph], “Journal of Joseph Joslin Jr of South Killingly A Teamster in the Continental Service March 1777 – August 1778, in “Orderly Book [sic?] and Journals Kept by Connecticut Men While Taking Part in the American Revolution 1775 – 1778,” Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, volume 7 [Connecticut Historical Society, 1899, pp. 353 - 354.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 27.


1778.3 – MA Sergeant Found Some Time and “Plaid Ball”


Symmes, Rebecca D., ed., A Citizen Soldier in the American Revolution: The Diary of Benjamin Gilbert of Massachusetts and New York [New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown, 1980], pp. 30 and 49; and “Benjamin Gilbert Diaries 1782 – 1786,” G372, NYS Historical Association Library, Cooperstown.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 30.


1778.4 – Ewing Reports Playing “At Base” and Wicket at Valley Forge – with the Fataher of his Country


George Ewing, a Revolutionary War soldier, tells of playing a game of “Base” at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: “Exercisd in the afternoon in the intervals playd at base.  Caveat: It is unknown whether this was a ball game, rather than prisoner’s base, a form of tag.


Ewing also wrote: "[May 2d] in the afternoon playd a game at Wicket with a number of Gent of the Arty . . . .“  And “This day [May 4, 1778] His Excellency dined with G Nox and after dinner did us the honor to play at Wicket with us."


Ewing, G., The Military Journal of George Ewing (1754-1824), A Soldier of Valley Forge [Private Printing, Yonkers, 1928], pp 35 [“base”] and 47 [wicket].  Also found at John C. Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. Volume: 11. [U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1931]. page 348.  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.  The text of Ewing’s diary is unavailable at Google Books as of 11/17/2008.


Also note:

“Q.  What did soldiers do for recreation?

“A:  During the winter months the soldiers were mostly concerned with their survival, so recreation was probably not on their minds.  As spring came, activities other than drills and marches took place.  “Games” would have included a game of bowls played with cannon balls and called “Long Bullets.”  “Base” was also a game – the ancestor of baseball, so you can imagine how it might be played; and cricket/wicket.  George Washington himself was said to have took up the bat in a game of wicket in early May after a dinner with General Knox! . . . Other games included cards and dice . . . gambling in general, although that was frowned upon.”


From the website of Historic Valley Forge; see --, accessed 10/25/02. Note: it is possible that the source of this material is the Ewing entry above, but we’re hoping for more details from the Rangers at Valley Forge.  In 2010, we’re still hoping.


1778.5 -- Cricket Game Played at Cannon’s Tavern, New York City


“The game of Cricket, to be played on Monday next, the 14th inst., at Cannon’s Tavern, at Corlear’s Hook. Those Gentlemen that choose to become Members of the Club, are desired to attend. The wickets to be pitched at two o’Clock


Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: from Phelps-Stokes, Vol. VI, Index—ref. against Chronology and Chronology Addenda (Vol. 4aA or 6A); also, Vol. V, p.1068 (6/13/1778): Royal Gazette, 6/13/1778. Later, the cricket grounds were “where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground ” Royal Gazette, 6/17/1780.


1778.6 -- NH Loyalist Plays Ball in NY; Mentions “Wickett”


The journal of Enos Stevens, a NH man serving in British forces, mentions playing ball seven times from 1778 to 1781.  Only one specifies the game played in terms we know: “in the after noon played Wickett” in March of 1781.  C. K. Boulton, ed., “A Fragment of the Diary of Lieutenant Enos Stevens, Tory, 1777-1778,” New England Quarterly v. 11, number 2 (June 1938), pages 384-385, per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, reference #33.  Tom notes that the original journal is at the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier VT.


1779.1 – Cricket Played On Grounds near NY’s Brooklyn Ferry.


August 9, 1779, match between Brooklyn and Greenwich Clubs. “A Set of Gentlemen” propose playing a cricket match this day, and every Monday during the summer season, “on the Cricket Ground near Brooklyn Ferry.” The company “of any Gentleman to join the set in the exercise” is invited. A large Booth is erected for the accommodation of spectators:” New York Mercury, 8/9/1779


Per John Thorn, 6/15/04:  from Phelps-Stokes, Vol. VI, Index—ref. against Chronology and Chronology Addenda (Vol. 4aA or 6A); Vol. V, p. 1092.


1779.2 – Lieutenant Reports Playing Ball, and Playing Bandy Wicket


“Samuel Shute, a New Jersey Lieutenant, jotted down his reference to playing ball in central Pennsylvania sometime between July 9 and July 22, 1779; ‘until the 22nd, the time was spent playing shinny and ball’ Incidentally, Shute distinguished among various sports, referring elsewhere in his journal to ‘Bandy Wicket.’ He did not confuse baseball with types of field hockey [bandy] and cricket [wicket] that the soldiers also played.”  -- Thomas Altherr.  Note: Gomme says that “bandy wicket” was a name for cricket in England. [XXX add cite here]


[Shute, Samuel], “Journal of Lt. Samuel Shute,” in Frederick Cook, ed., Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 [Books for Libraries Press, Freeport NY, reprint of the 1885 edition], p. 268. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 28.


1779.3 – Revolutionary War Soldier H. Dearborn Reports Playing Ball in PA


Brown, Lloyd, and H. Peckham, eds., Revolutionary War Journals of Henry Dearborn 1775 – 1783  [Books for Libraries Press, Freeport NY, 1969 [original edition 1939]], pp 149 – 150.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 1.


1779.4 – French Official Sees George Washington Playing Catch “For Hours”


Chase, E. P., ed., Our Revolutionary Forefathers: The Letters of Francois Marquis de Barbe-Marbois during his Residence in the United States as Secretary of the French Legation 1779 – 1785 [Duffield and Company, NY, 1929], p. 114.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 32.


1779.5 -- Army Lieutenant Cashiered for “Playing Ball with Serjeants”


Lieutenant Michael Dougherty, 6th Maryland Regiment, was cashiered at a General Court Martial at Elizabeth Town on April 10, 1779, in part for a breach of the 21st article, 14th section of the rules and articles of war -- “unofficer and ungentlemanlike conduct in associating and playing ball with Serjeants on the 6th instant.”


Fitzpatrick, John C., ed., The Writings of George Washington from the Original Sources, 1745-1799, vol. 14 [USGPO, Washington, 1931], page 378.  Submitted 10/12/2004 by John Thorn.


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.


1780.1 -- NYC Press Cites Cricket Matches to be Played in Summer


A cricket match is advertised to be played on this day, and continued every Monday throughout the summer, “on the Ground where the late Reviews were, near the Jews Burying Ground.”


Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: from Phelps-Stokes, Vol. VI, Index—ref. against Chronology and Chronology Addenda (Vol. 4aA or 6A); June 19, 1780. Vol. V, p. 1111, 6/19/1780: New York Mercury, June 19, 1780


1780.2 -- Challenges for Cricket Matches between Englishmen and Americans


On August 19, 11 New Yorkers issued this challenge: “we, in this public manner challenge the best eleven Englishmen in the City of New York to play the game of Cricket . . . for any sum they think proper to stake.”  On August 26, the Englishmen accepted, suggesting a stake of 100 guineas.  On September 6, the news was that the match was on: “at the Jew’s Burying-ground, WILL be played on Monday next . . . the Wickets to be pitched at Two O’Clock.”  We seem to lack a report of the outcome of this match.


Royal Gazette, August 19, 1780, page 3 column 4; August 26, 1780, page 2 column 2; and September 6, 1780, page 3 column 4.  Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.



1780.3 – [this entry was expanded and appears as #1779.6]


1780c.4 – “Round Ball” Believed to be Played in MA


“Mr. Stoddard believes that Round Ball was played by his father in 1820, and has the tradition from his father that two generations before, i.e., directly after the revolutionary war, it was played and was not then a novelty.”


Letter from Henry Sargent, Grafton MA, to the Mills Commission, May 23, 1905.  Stoddard was an elderly gentleman who had played round ball in his youth.  Note:  The Sargent letter also reports that Stoddard “believed that roundball was played as long ago as Upton became a little village.”  Upton MA was incorporated in 1735.  Caveat: One might ask whether a man born around 1830 can be certain about ballplaying 50 years and 100 years before his birth.


1780s.5 -- Diminished in its Range, Stoolball Still Played at Brighton


“The apparent former wide diffusion of stoolball was reduced in the 18th century to a few geographical survivals.  It was played in Brighton to celebrate a royal birthday in the 1780s and by the early 19th century appeared to be limited to a few Kent and Sussex Wealden settlements.”


John Lowerson, “Conflicting Values in the Revivals of a ‘Traditional Sussex Game,’ Sussex Achaeological Collections 133 [1995], page 265.  Lowerson’s source for the 1780s report seems to be F. Gale, Modern English Sports [London, 1885], pages 8 and/or 11.


1780s.6 – Newell Sees Baseball’s Roots in MA


Writing on early baseball in the year 1883, W. W. Newell says:


“The present scientific game . . . was known in Massachusetts, twenty years ago, as the ‘New York game.’  A ruder form of Base-ball has been played in some Massachusetts towns for a century; while in other parts of New England no game with the ball was formerly known except “Hockey.”  There was great local variety in these sports.”


Newell, William W., Games and Songs of American Children (Dover, New York, 1963 – originally published 1883) page 184.  Note:  The omission of wicket – and arguably cricket – from Newell’s account is interesting here.  The claim that hockey was seen as a ball game is also interesting.


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.’”


1781.1 – Teen Makes White Leather Balls for Officers’ Ball-Playing


Hanna, John S., ed., A History of the Life and Services of Captain Samuel Dewees, A Native of Pennsylvania, and Soldier of the Revolutionary and Last Wars [Robert Neilson, Baltimore, 1844], p. 265- 266.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref #37.


1781.2 – “Antient” Harvard Custom:  Freshmen Furnish the Bats, Balls


“The Freshmen shall furnish Batts, Balls, and Foot-balls, for the use of the students, to be kept at the Buttery.”


Rule 16, “President, Professors, and Tutor’s Book,” volume IV.  The list of rules is headed “The antient Customs of Harvard College, established by the Government of it.”


Conveyed to David Block, April 18, 2005, by Professor Harry R. Lewis, Harvard University, Cambridge MA.  Dr. Lewis adds,  “The buttery was a sort of supply room, not just for butter.  Who is to say what the “Batts” and “Balls” were to be used for, but it is interesting that any bat and ball game could already have been regarded as ancient at Harvard in 1781.”


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).  Harvard is in Cambridge MA.


1782.1—Cricket Match Scheduled for the Green, Near Shipyards,


Cricket is to be played on July 15th “on the green, near the Ship-Yards.” Royal Gazette, 7/13/1782, page 1 column 2.  Submitted by John Thorn 6/15/04 and extended by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.


1782.2 – Ball Played at Albany During War


Spear, John A., ed., “Joel Shepard Goes to War,” New England Quarterly, volume 1, number 3 [July 1928], p. 344.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 38.


1782.3 – NH Diarist Notes that Local Youths “Play Ball Before My Barn”


Stabler, Lois K., ed., Very Poor and of a Lo Make: The Journal of Abner Sanger [Peter E. Randall, Portsmouth NH, 1896], p. 416.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 74.


1784.1 – UPenn Bans Ball Playing Near Open University Windows


RULES for the Good Government and Discipline of the SCHOOL in the UNIVERSITY of PENNSYLVANIA [Francis Bailey, Philadelphia PA, 1784]. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 41.


1784.2 – Seymour Notation Adverts to Evidence that Town Ball Was 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.


1785.1 – Thomas Jefferson: Hunting is More Character-building Than Ballplaying


Jefferson:  “Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind.”


Thomas Jefferson [VA] letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785, in Julian P. Boyd, ed., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson [Princeton University Press, 1953], volume 8, p. 407.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 55.



1785.2 – Cricket, Long After Reaching Tazmania, 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.



1786.1 – “Baste Ball” Played at Princeton


“Baste Ball” is played by students on the campus of Princeton University in NJ.  From a student’s diary:

 “A fine day, play baste ball in the campus but am beaten for I miss both catching and striking the ball.”


Smith, John Rhea, March 22 1786, in “Journal at Nassau Hall,” Princeton Library MSS, AM 12800.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 44.  Also found in Gerald S. Couzens, A Baseball Album [Lippincott and Crowell, NY, 1980], page 15.  Per Guschov, page 153. 


An article has appeared about Smith’s journal.  See Woodward, Ruth, “Journal at Nassau Hall,” PULC 46 (1985), pp. 269-291, and PULC 47 (1986), pp 48-70.  Note:  Does this article materially supplement our appreciation of Smith’s brief comment?



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 with Connecticut.”


1787.1 – Ballplaying Prohibited at Princeton – Shinny or Early Base Ball?


“It appearing that a play at present much practiced by the smaller boys . . . with balls and sticks,” the faculty of Princeton University prohibits such play on account of its being dangerous as well as “low and unbecoming gentlemen students.”


Quoted without apparent reference in Henderson, pp. 136-7.  Sullivan, on 7/29/2005, cited Warnum L. Collins, “Princeton,” page 208, per Harold Seymour’s dissertation.  Wallace quotes the faculty minute [November 26, 1787] in George R. Wallace, Princeton Sketches: The Story of Nassau Hall (Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1894), page 77, but he does not cite Collins.  Caveat: Collins – and Wallace -- believed that the proscribed game was shinny, and Altherr makes the same judgment – see 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 35-36.  Can we determine why this inference was made?  The Wallace book was accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Book search for “’princeton sketches.’”  The college is in Princeton NJ.



1787.2 – VT Man’s Letter Says “Three Times is Out at Wicket”


Levi Allen to Ira Allen, July 7, 1787, in John J. Duffy, ed., Ethan Allen and His Kin, Correspondence, 1772 – 1819 [University Press of New England, Hanover NH, 1998], volume 1, p. 224. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 75.


1787.3 – Marylebone Cricket Club, Later Official Custodian of the Game, is Founded


Interview with Stephen Green at Lords.  Note: needs verification.  Also Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


1787.4 -- US Publisher Offers Books “More Pleasurable Than Bat and Ball”


Thomas, Isaiah, publisher, The Royal Primer: or, An Easy and Pleasant Guide to the Art of Reading [Worcester], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 179.  The last page of this reader encourages the reader to come to Thomas’ book store, where “they may be suited with Something ore valuable than Cakes, prettier than Tops, handsomer than Kites, more pleasurable that Bat and Ball, more entertaining than either Scating or Sliding, and durable as marbles.”


1787.5 – NY Newspaper Prints “Laws of the Noble Game of Cricket”


“At the request of several of our Correspondents, we insert the following Laws of the noble Game of Cricket, which govern all the celebrated Players in Europe.”


Independent Journal [New York], May 19, 1787.  Accessed via subscription search, 4/9/09.   Note: the rules do not use the term “innings,” and instead employ “hands.”


1788.1 -- Cricketer Experiments with Round-Arm Bowling


Says John Ford:  “Tom Walker is said to have experimented with round-arm bowling.”  John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.  Caveat: The Encyclopedia Brittanica on Nyren’s estimate of about 1790 for Walker’s innovation; A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information, Eleventh Edition,  (Encyclopeida Brittanica Company, New York, 1910) Volume VII, page 439, accessed 10/19/2008, as advised by John Thorn, email of 2/2/2008..


1788.2 – Noah Webster, CT Ballplayer?


Connecticut lexicographer and writer Noah Webster may have been referring to a baseball- type game when he wrote his journal entry for March 24-25, 1788: ‘Take a long walk.  Play at Nines at Mr Brandons.  Very much indisposed.’”


Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It; see page 241.  Altherr cites the diary as Webster, Noah, “Diary,” reprinted in Notes on the Life of Noah Webster, E. E. F Ford, ed., (privately printed, New York, 1912), page 227 of volume 1.  Note: “Nines seems an unusual name for a ball game; do we find it elsewhere?  Could he have been denoting nine-pins or nine-holes?  John Thorn, in 2/3/2008, says he inclines to nine-pins as the game alluded to.


1789.1 -- A Tale of Two Cricket Traditions?


Ford reports that “A cricket tour to France arranged, but cancelled at the last minute because of the French Revolution.  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


1789.2 – New York Children’s Pastimes Recalled:  Old Cat, Rounders Cited


“ . . . outside school hours, the boys and girls of 1789 probably had as good a time as childhood ever enjoyed.  Swimming and fishing were close to every doorstep  The streets, vacant lots, and nearby fields resounded with the immemorial games of old cat, rounders, hopscotch, I spy, chuck farthing and prisoner’s base . . . .  The Dutch influence made especially popular tick-tack, coasting, and outdoor bowling.”


Monaghan, Frank, and Marvin Lowenthal, This Was New York:  The Nation’s Capital in 1789 (Books for Libraries Press, 1970 – originally published 1943 , Chapter 8, “The Woman’s World,” pages 100-101.  Portions of this book are revealed on Google Books, as accessed 12/29/2007.  According to the book’s index, “games” were also covered on pages 80, 81, 115, 177, and 205, all of which were masked.  The volume includes “hundreds of footnotes in the original draft,” according to accompanying information.  Caveat:  We find no reference to the term “rounders” until 1828.  See #1828.1 below.


1789.3 – Stoolball Played at Brighthelmstone in Sussex


“From the ‘Jernal’ of John Burgess of Ditchling (Sussex) he wrote on Augest 17th 1789 that he went to Brighthelmstone ‘to see many divertions which included Stoolball’.”


The XVth (1938) Annual Report of the Stoolball Association for Great Britain [unpublished].  Provided by Kay and John Price, Fall 2009.


A web search doesn’t lead to this journal entry, but does locate a similar one:


“[August 19, 1788] Went to Brighthelmstone to see many Divertions on account of the Rial Family that is the Duke of Yorks Berth day Cricketing Stool Ball Foot Ball Dancing &c. fire works &c.”  A side note was that some estimated that 20,000 persons attended.


Sussex Archaeological Society, Archaeololgical Collections, Volume XL. (1896), “Some Extracts from the Journal and Correspondence of Mr. John Burgess, of Ditchling, Sussex, 1785-1815,” page 156.  Accessed 1/31/10 via Google Books search (“john burgess” ditchling).


1790s.1 – Doctor in DE Recalls His “Youthfull Folley”: Included Ball-playing


Hancock, Harold B., ed., “William Morgan’s Autobiography and Diary: Life in Sussex County, 1780 – 1857,” Delaware History, volume 19, number 1 [Spring/Summer 1980], pp. 43 - 44.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 80.


1790s.2 – Boston Merchant Recalls “Playing Ball on the Common Before Breakfast”


Mason, Jonathan, “Recollections of a Septuagenarian,” Downs Special Collection, Winterthur Library [Winterthur, Delaware], Document 30, volume 1, pp. 20 – 21.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 81.


1790s.3 – Britannica: Stickball Dates 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. Caveat:  We find no reference to the term “rounders” until 1828.  See #1828.1 below.


1790s.4 – Southern Pols Calhoun and Crawford:  Ballplaying Schoolmates?


“These two illustrious statesmen [southern leaders John C. Calhoun and William H. Crawford], who had played town ball and marbles and gathered nuts together . . . were never again to view each other except in bonds of bitterness.”


J. E. D. Shipp, Giant Days: or the Life and Times of William H. Crawford [Southern Printers, 1909], page 167.  Caveat: Crawford was ten years older than Calhoun, so it seems unlikely that they were close in school. Both leaders had attended Waddell’s school [in GA]  but that school opened in 1804 [see #1804.1] when Crawford was 32 years old, so their common school must have preceded their time at Waddell’s.


1790.5 John Adams Refers to Cricket in Argument about Washington’s New Title


“Cricket was certainly known in Boston as early as 1790, for John Adams, then Vice-President of the United States, speaking in the debate about the choice of an appropriate name for the chief officer of the United States, declared that ‘there were presidents of fire companies and of a cricket club.’” John Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 5.



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 covering 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 MA, 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.’”


1790.8 – British Paper Snitches on Ringer Playing on a County Cricket Club


“The Grand Match between the Noblemen of Mary-le Bonne Club, and the County of Middlesex, is put off, owing to the gentlemen going out of town.”


Their best batter, C. Foxton, does not live in Middlesex, but in Surrey, which is unknown to the Noblemen.”


“Cricket,” Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, Monday June 21, 1790.  Contributed by Gregory Christiano, 12/2/09.


1790.9– Careful Scorer Starts “Complete Lists” of the Yearly Grand Cricket Matches


Example: 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 scoresheet 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 just 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.


Beth Hise adds, January 12, 2010:  “Britcher appears to have been the first official MCC scorer.  He published small books annually between 1790 and 1803, with an additional volume covering 1804/5.  He recorded matches that he attended, shedding considerable light onto the early days of cricket.  Those matches ranged widely, from those between the Kennington and Middlesex Clubs, to one between the One Arm and One Leg sides (won by the One Legs by 103 runs).



1791.1 – “Bafeball” Among Games Banned in Pittsfield MA – also Cricket, Wicket


In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to promote the safety of the exterior of the newly built meeting house, particularly the windows, a by-law is enacted to bar “any game of wicket, cricket, baseball, batball, football, cats, fives, or any other game played with ball,” within eighty yards of the structure. However, the letter of the law did not exclude the city’s lovers of muscular sport from the tempting lawn of “Meeting-House Common.” This is the first indigenous instance of the game of baseball being referred to by that name on the North American continent. It is spelled herein as bafeball.  “Pittsfield is baseball’s Garden of Eden,” said Mayor James Ruberto.


Per John Thorn:  The History of Pittsfield (Berkshire County),Massachusetts, From the Year 1734 to the Year 1800. Compiled and Written, Under the General Direction of a Committee, by J. E. A. Smith. By Authority of the Town. [Lea and Shepard, 149 Washington Street, Boston, 1869], 446-447.  The actual documents themselves repose in the Berkshire Athenaeum.




1791.2 – Northampton MA Prohibits Downtown Ballplaying (and Stone-Throwing)


“Both the meeting-house and the Court House suffered considerable damage, especially to their windows by ball playing in the streets, consequently in 1791, a by-law was enacted by which ‘foot ball, hand ball, bat ball and or any other game of ball was prohibited within ten rods of the Court House easterly or twenty rods of the Meeting House southwesterly, neither shall they throw any stones at or over the said Meeting House on a penalty of 5s, one half to go to the complainant and the rest to the town.’”


J. R. Trumbull, History of Northampton, Volume II (Northampton, 1902), page 529.  Contributed by John Bowman, May 9, 2009.  Note:   It is interesting that neither base-ball nor wicket is named in a town that is not so far from Pittsfield [see 1791.1].  Query:  do we have any notion what “bat ball” was?


1791.3 – Salem MA Diary Covers “Puerile Sports” Including Bat & Ball, and “Rickets”


“Puerile Sports usual in these parts of New England . . . .  Afterwards the Bat & Ball and the Game at Rickets.  The Ball is made of rags covered with leather in quarters & covered with double twine, sewed in Knots over the whole.  The Bat is from 2 to 3 feet long, round on the back side but flattened considerable on the face, & round at the end, for a better stroke.  The Ricket is played double, & is full of violent exercise of running.”


The Diary of William Bentley, D.D., Volume I (Essex Institute, Salem MA, 1905), pp 253-254.  Contributed by Brian Turner, March 6, 2009.  Bentley later noted that Bat & Ball is played at the time of year when “the weather begins to cool.”   Bentley [1759-1819] was a prominent and prolific New England pastor who served in Salem MA.  Query:  Any idea what the game of rickets/ricket was?


1792.1 -- Sporting Magazine Begins Its Cricket Reports in England


Ford reports that this 1792 saw “First publication of the Sporting Magazine which featured cricket scores and reports. . . .  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19.  Ford does not give a citation for this account, but John Thorn [email, 2/2/2008] found an ad announcing the new magazine: “Sporting Magazine,” The General Evening Post (London), Tuesday Octobver 23, 1792, bottom of column four.  21 topics are listed as the scope of the new publication, starting with racing, hunting, and coursing: cricket is the only field sport listed.


1793.1 -- Engraving Shows Game with Wickets at Dartmouth College


A copper engraving showing Dartmouth College appeared in Massachusetts Magazine in February 1793.  It is the earliest known drawing of the College, and shows a wicket-oriented game being played in the yard separating college buildings. The game appears to be wicket, but College personnel ask whether it is not an early form of cricket. See


Submitted by Scott Meacham 8/17/06.  Dartmouth is in Hanover NH.


1793.2 – Big Stakes for Cricket, Indeed


“A game of cricket for 1000 guineas a side between sides raised by the Earl of Winchilsea and Lord Darnley.”  John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1770-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 19.  Ford does not give a source for this event.


1793.3 – “Curious Cricket Match” Planned in England Among Tripeds


“CURIOUS CRICKET MATCH.  A young nobleman, of great notoriety in the [illegible: baut-ton? A corrupton of beau ton?], had made a match of a singular nature, with one of the would-be members of the jockey club, for a considerable sum of money, to be played by Greenwich pensioners, on Blackheath, sometime in the present month.  The 11 on one side are to have only one arm each; and the other, to have both their arms and only one leg each.  The nobleman has not at present made his election, whether he intends to back the legs or the wings – but the odds are considerably in favour of the latter.”


Independent Chronicle and Universal Advertiser, August 29, 1793, as taken from an unknown London newspaper.  Posted to 19CBB 7/30/2007 by Richard Hershberger.  John Thorn, email of 2/2/2008, found an identical account:  “Curious Cricket Match,” World, Monday, May 13, 1793, column two, at the fold.  Perhaps the Independent found August to be a slow news month?


1793.4 – [moved to 1790.9 in version 11]


1793.5 – Lady Cricketers Play Again in Sussex


The married women and maids of Bury, in Sussex, are to play their return match of cricket, before the commencement of the harvest; and we hear that considerable bets are depending on their show of Notches, which at the conclusion of their lasst game, the umpires declared to be much in favour of the sturdy matrons.”


The Morning Post, Wednesday, July 17, 1793.  Contributed by Gregory Christiano, December 2, 2009.


1794.1 -- New York Cricket Club Meets “Regularly”


“By 1794 the New York Cricket Club was meeting regularly, usually at Battins Tavern at six o’clock in the evenings.  Match games were played between different members of the club, wickets being pitched exactly at two o’clock.”  Holliman, Jennie, American Sports (1785-1835) [Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1975], page 67.


Holliman cites Wister, W. R., Some Reminiscences of Cricket in Philadelphia Before 1861, page 5, for the NYCC data. 


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.”



1795.1 – Portsmouth NH Bans Cricket and Other Ball Games


By-Laws of the Town of Portsmouth, Passed at their Annual Meeting Held March 25, 1795 [John Melcher, Portsmouth], pp. 5 – 6.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 66.


1795.2 -- Survey Reports Cricket in New England, Playing at Ball in TN


Winterbotham, William, An Historical, Geographical, Commercial and Philosophical View of the American United States [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 180. Coverage of New England [volume 2, page 17] reports that “The healthy and athletic diversions of cricket, foot ball, quoits, wrestling, jumping, hopping, foot races, and prison bars, are universally practiced in the country, and some of them in the most populous places, and by people of almost all ranks.”  The Tennessee section [volume 3, page 235] mentions the region’s fondness for sports, including “playing at ball.”  Block notes that Winterbotham is sometimes credited with saying that bat and ball was popular in America before the Revolutionary War, and that adults played it, but reports that scholars, himself included, have not yet confirmed such wording at this point.


1795.3 -- Playing Ball Cited as Major New England Diversion


What are the diversions of the New England people?  “Dancing is a favorite one of both sexes.  Sleighing in winter, and skating, playing ball, gunning, and fishing are the principal.”


Johnson, Clifton, and Carl Withers, Old Time Schools and School-Books [Dover, New York, 1963], page 41.  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.


1795.4 - Deerfield’s Fine for Playing Ball:  Six Cents


A long list of punishable offenses at Deerfield included six cents for “playing ball near school.”  This was a minor fine, the same sanction as getting a drop of tallow on a book, tearing a page of a book, or leaving one’s room during study.  In contrast, a one dollar assessment was made for playing cards, backgammon, or checkers, or walking or visiting on Saturday night or Sunday.


Marr, Harriet Webster, The Old New England Academies Founded Before 1826 [Comet Press, New York, 1959], page 142.  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.


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:  KY, maybe? Volume 3 of this work is not accessible via Google Books as of 11/15/2008.


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.”


1796.2 – Williams College Student Notes Ballplaying in Winter Months


Tarbox, Increase N., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D. D. 1796 – 1854 [Beacon Press, Boston, 1886], volume 1, pp. 8, 29, 32, 106, and 128.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 54.  The college is in Williamstown MA.



1796.3 -- Eton Cricketers Flogged at School for Playing Match.  Ouch.


Ford summarizes a bad day for Etonians:  “Eton were beaten by Westminster School on Hounslow Heath and on return to college were flogged by the headmaster; it would seem that this was for playing rather than for losing.”  See John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 20.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


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  (Charles R. and George Webster, Albany NY) 1796), page 128.  Provided by John Thorn, 2/17/2008 email.


1797.1 – Daniel Webster Writes of “Playing Ball” While at Dartmouth


Daniel Webster, in private correspondence, writes of “playing ball,” while a student at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.


Webster, Daniel, Private Correspondence, Fletcher Webster, ed. [Little Brown, Boston 1857], volume 1, p. 66.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 45.  Altherr [p. 27] puts this date “at the turn of the century.”  On 7/31/2005, George Thompson added that “Volume 17, page 66 of the National Edition of his Writings and Speeches is supposed to have a reference by one Hotchkiss to Webster playing ball at Dartmouth.”



1797.2 – Newburyport MA Bans Cricket and Other Ball Games


Bye-Laws of Newburyport: Passed by the Town at Regular Meetings, and Approved by the Court of General Justice of the Peace for the County of Essex, Agreeably to a Law of this Commonwealth [Newburyport, 1797], p. 1.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 68. 


1797.3 – Fayetteville NC Bans Sunday Ballplaying by African-Americans


Gilbert, Tom, Baseball and the Color Line, [Franklin Watts, NY, 1995], p.38.  Per Millen, note # 15.


1797.4 – “Grand Match” of Stoolball Pits Sussex and Kentish Ladies


“A grand Match of Stool-ball, between 11 Ladies of Sussex, in Pink, against 11 Ladies of Kent, in Blue Ribands.”


Source: an undated reproduction, which notes “this is a reproduction of the original 1797 Diversions programme.”  The match was scheduled for 10am on Wednesday, August 16, 1797.  Provided from the files of the National Stoolball Association, June 2007.



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


1798.1 – Jane Austen Writes of “Baseball” in Northanger Abbey.


Jane Austen mentions “baseball” in her novel Northanger Abbey, written in about 1798 but published in 1818, after her death.  “Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books . . . . But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine; so read all such works as heroines must read. . . “


Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey (London, 1851), page.3.  Note: The 2008 “Masterpiece” TV version of this novel included a brief scene in which Catherine, at the age of about 17, plays a baseball-like game [rounders-based, arguably] involving posts with flags as bases.  It would be interesting to know how the screenwriter arrived at this depiction.


1798.2 -- Cricket Rules Revised a Little


Rule changes:  [A] Instead of requiring a single ball to be used throughout a match, a new rule specified a new ball for each innings.  [B] Fielders can be substituted for, but the replacement players cannot bat.  


Peter Scholefield, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishers, Kent Town Australia, 1990], pages 14 and 9, respectively.


In addition, Ford reports that “the size of the wicket was increased to 24 inches high by 7 inches wide with two bails.”  John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 20.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


1799.1 – English Novel Refers to Cricket, Base-ball


Cooke, Cassandra, Battleridge” an Historical tale, Founded on facts.  In Two Volumes.  By a Lady of Quality (G. Cawthorn, London, 1799). 


A character recalls how, when his clerkship to a lawyer ended, a former playmate took his leave by saying:


“Ah! no more cricket, no more base-ball, they are sending me to Geneva.” 


David Block [page 183) notes that Cooke was in correspondence with Jane Austen in 1798, when both were evidently writing novels containing references to base-ball.  Also submitted 8/19/06 by Ian Maun.


1799.2 -- NY Cricket Club Schedules Match Among Members


“A number of members of the Cricket Club having met on the old ground on Saturday last, by appointment it was unanimously agreed to meet on Thursday next, at the same place, at half past 2 o’clock.  Wickets will be pitched at 3 o’clock exactly.”


Commercial Advertiser, June 18, 1799, page 3 column 1.  Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.


1800C.1 – Sports at Exeter Academy include “Old-Fashioned ‘Bat and Ball’ . . . and Football”


Cunningham, Frank H., Familiar Sketches of the Phillips Exeter Academy and Surroundings [James R. Osgood and Company, Boston, 1883], p. 281. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 76.


1800.2 – John Knox Owns a “Ball Alley” and Racquets Court in NYC, 1800-1803.


Item from John Thorn, 6/25/04.  Note: It seems possible that a “ball alley” is for bowling, but wicket was also played on what was termed an alley.


1800c.3 – Col. Jas. Lee Recalls Playing Baseball as a Youth.


Lee was made an honorary member of the Knickerbocker Club in 1846, when he made this observation.


Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 150.    No ref given.  Also referenced in Peterson, p. 68, but again without a citation


1800c.4 – Four Old Cat and Three Old Cat Well Known in MA


“Four Old Cat and Three Old Cat were as well known to Massachusetts boys as round ball.  I knew both games in 1862, and Mr. Stoddard tells me that his father knew them and played them between 1800 and 1820.  They bore the same relation to Round Ball that “Scrub” does to Base Ball now.  The boys got together when there was leisure for any game and if there were enough to make for a game even if they were 2 or 3 short of the regulation 14 on a side they played round ball.  If there were not enough more than a dozen all told, they contented themselves with four old cat, or with three old cat if there were still less players. . . . The main thing to be remembered is that Four and Three Old Cat seem to be co-eval with Massachusetts Round Ball, and even considered a modification of Round Ball for a less number of players than the regular game required.”


Letter from Henry Sargent, Grafton, MA, to the Mills Commission, May 31, 1905.


1800.5 – History of North America: Cricket and Football are “Universally Practiced.”


“The athletic and healthy diversion of cricket, football, etc. . . are universally practiced in this country.”  Edward Oliphant, History of North America  (Edinburgh, 1800), page?  Cited in Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [U Penn, 1951], page 7. 


1800.6 -- Children’s Story Includes Promise to Provide Bats and Balls


A story in this popular children’s book includes a character who, pleased with the deportment of some youths during a visit, says, “If you do me the honour of another visit, I shall endeavor to provide bats, balls, &c.”


The Prize for Youthful Obedience [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 183.  Note: Block notes that American editions of this book appeared in 1803 and thereafter: see #1807.1 below, for example.


1800c.7 -- William Cullen Bryant Remembers Base-Ball


“I have not mentioned other sports and games of the boys of that day -- which is to say, of seventy or eighty years since - such as wrestling, running, leaping, base-ball, and the like, for in thee there was nothing to distinguish them from the same pastimes at the present day.”


William Cullen Bryant, “The Boys of my Boyhood,” St. Nicholas: An Illustrated Magazine for Young Folks, December 1876, page 102.  Submitted by David Ball 6/4/06


1800.8 -- Will Satan Snag the Sunday Player?


“Take care that here on Sunday/None of you play at ball,/For fear that on the Monday/The Devil take you all.”  -- Inscription oh the Church Wall of a small village in Wales.


Weekly Museum, April 19, 1800, Vol. 12, No. 27. page 2.  Submitted by John Thorn 4/24/06.  Note: we have no indication as to when the inscription was carved.


1800c.9 -- Most English Counties Play Cricket


“Village cricket spread widely and by the end of the century cricket had been recorded in most counties in England.”  John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 20.



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.1 – 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] More holidays in 1800 than in 1857?


1801.1 – Joseph Strutt Says Stoolball Still Played in North of England; But He Slights Cricket


Strutt, Joseph., The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England [London, 1801]. Need page reference [is on page 102 of 1903 edition].  Strutt’s account does not portray stoolball as a running game, or one that uses a bat.  Strutt also treats cricket [but only cursorily], trap-ball, and tip-cat . . . but not rounders or base-ball.  David Block [page 183] points out that Strutt views a game he calls “club ball” as the precursor to this set of games, but notes that modern scholars are skeptical about this proposition.



1801.2 -- Chapbook Includes Engraving Depicting Trap-Ball


Youthful Recreations [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 184.  Versions of this short book were published in Philadelphia in 1802 and 1810.


1801.3 – Book Portrays “Bat and Ball” as Inferior to Cricket


“CRICKET.  This play requires more strength than some boys possess, to manage the ball in a proper manner; it must therefore be left to the more robust lads, who are fitter for such athletic exercises.  Bat and ball is an inferior kind of cricket, and more suitable for little children, who may safely play at it, if they will be careful not to break windows.”


Youthful Sports [London], pp 47-48., per David Block, page 184.  An 1802 version of this book, published in Baltimore, is similar to the chapbook at #1801.2, but does not include trap-ball.


1801.4 -- Cricket Challenge in GA


A New York paper copies a cricket challenge from a Savannah paper that notes “no legs before wickets.”


New York Gazette and General Advertiser, March 18, 1801, page 3.  Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.


1801.5 -- Sunday Ballplaying Eyed Everywhere:  “Is This a Christian Country?”


“A few weeks ago I saw on a Sunday afternoon, one party of boys playing at ball in Broad-street; another at the upper end of Pearl-street; and a third in the Park.  Is this a Christian country?  Are there no laws, human or divine, to enforce the religious observance of the Sabbath? . . . . Are our Magistrates asleep, or are they afraid of losing their popularity, if they should carry the laws into execution?”


New York Evening Post, December 23, 1801, submitted 10/12/2004 by John Thorn.  On 8/2/2005, George Thompson spotted a similar or repeat of this piece in the Evening Post, December 31, 1801, page 3 column 2.


1802c.1 – South Carolina Man Lists Ball-Playing Among Local Amusements


Drayton, John, A View of South-Carolina, As Respects Her Natural and Civil Concerns [W. P. Young, Charleston SC, 1854], p. 88. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 83.


1802.2 – Wordsworth Seems to Laud “Englishness” of Cricket


“Here, on our native soil, we breathe once more./The cock that crows, the smoke that curls, that sound/Of bells; those boys that in yonder meadow-ground/In white-sleev’d shirts are playing; and the roar/Of the waves breaking on the chalky shore/ -- All, all are English . . .”


From Wordsworth’s sonnet “Composed in the valley near Dover on the day of Landing,” [1802 and 1807] The Complete Poetical Works of Wiliam Wordsworth, Volume IV (Houghton and Mifflin, Boston, 1919), page 98  Accessed via Google Books on 10/20/2008..   


According to Bateman, this reference is shown to be cricket because Wordsworth’s sister’s diary later contains a reference to white-shirted players at a cricket match near Dover.  See Anthony Bateman,“’More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;‘  Culture,, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 33, note 20: Bateman cites the diary entry as The Journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, vol. 2, E. de Selincourt, ed., (London, 1941), page 8.  John Thorn [email of 2/3/2008] discovers that Dorothy Wordsworth’s diary entry for July 10, 1820 observes: “When within a mile of Dover, saw crowds of people at a cricket-match, the numerous cambatants dressed in ‘whitesleeved shirts,’ and it was on the very same field where, when we ‘trod the grass of England’ once again, twenty years ago we has seen an Assemblage of Youths engaged in the same sport,so very like the present that all might have been the same! [footnote2:See my brother’s Sonnet ‘Here, on our native soil’ etc.]” 


1803.1 – Ontario Diarist Reports Joining Men “Jumping and Playing Ball”


[Playter, Ely], “Extracts from Ely Playter’s Diary,” April 13, 1803, reprinted in Edith G. Firth, ed., The Town of York 1793 – 1815: A Collection of Documents of Early Toronto [The Champlain Society, Toronto, 1962], p. 248. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 85.


1803.2 – Cricket Club Forms, Lasts a Year in NYC


An informal group called the “New York Cricket Club” is headquartered in New York City at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, No. 11 Nassau Street. The club flourishes for a year and then dies.


Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: The source is a Chadwick Scrapbook clip. “St. George was preceded in NYC by a club whose headquarters were at the Old Shakespeare in Nassau St.- This group was called the New York Club- it flourished for a year or so, then died.”  George Thompson has located an announcement of a club meeting in the Daily Advertiser, March 23, 1803, page 3 column 3, and another that appeared in the Commercial Advertiser on July 2 [page 3, column 2], July 7 [page 3, column 3], and July 8 [page 3, column 3.  In early 1804, the Evening Post, February 10, [page 34 column 3] called another meeting at the same Nassau Street address.  Submitted to Protoball 8/2/2005.


1803.3 – Cricket Reaches Australia


“The first mention of cricket in Australia is in the Sydney Gazette of 8 January 1804.  ‘The late intense weather has been very favourable to the amateurs of cricket who have scarce lost a day for the last month.’”


Egan, Jack, The Story of Cricket in Australia (ABC Books, 1987), page 6.  It is believed that the players included officers and/or men from the Calcutta, which arrived in Sydney in December 1803.  (Ibid., page 10.)


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 offense 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.



1803.5 – Vermont Paper Associates Adult Tradesmen with Ballplaying


A letter to the editor of the Green Mountain Patriot takes issue with another writer who evidently thinks that “the farmer, the mechanic, and the merchant” should do more dancing when they attend local balls.  They attend for another reason – “the same reason, whether criminal or lawful, that they meet together to play a game of ball, of quoits, or ride out on horseback.”  For “pleasing amusement.”


The Green Mountain Patriot (Peachum, VT), August 17, 1803.



1804.1 – SC School Opens, Students Play Town Ball and Bull Pen


At Moses Waddell’s “famous academy” established in Wilkington in 1804, “instead of playing baseball or football, boys took their recreation in running jumping, wrestling, playing town ball and bull pen.”


Meriwether, Colyer, History of Higher Education in South Carolina [Washington GPO, 1889], chapter II, page 39.  Per Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.  Note:  The terminology in this source appears more current than 1804, and it would be wise to consider whether it accurately depicts 1804 events. In addition, Seymour’s note does not make clear whether the play described occurred at the time of the establishment of the academy, or later in its history.


1804.2 -- Another Chapbook, Another Trap-ball Engraving


Youthful Sports [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 185.  Block reports that this book is quite different from the 1801 book by the same title.


1804.3 – A “Match at Ball” in Northwest Louisiana?


In a listing of articles in North Louisiana History, we spy this citation:  Morgan Peoples, “Caddoes Host ‘Match at Ball,” Volume 11, Number 3 (Summer 1980), pp. 353-36.  Query:  Can we retrieve the actual article and discover the particulars?  Caddo Parish is just northwest of Shreveport LA.  It appears that Caddo tribe was in this area, and we might speculate that the hosted games were Indian ballgames.


1804.5 – US Newspaper Prints “The Laws of Cricket”


A subscription search yields a 20 column-inch printing of cricket rules on May 8, 1804.  The paper is identified as The Bee, but no location is provided.  New London CT had a paper named The Bee at this time, but other towns may have, too.  Query: Where was The Bee printed?


1805.1 – Williams College Bans Dangerous Ball-playing


The Laws of Williams College [H. Willard, Stockbridge, 1805], p. 40.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 42.


1805.2 – Portland ME Bans “Playing at Bat and Ball in the Streets”


The By Laws of the Town of Portland, in the County of Cumberland, 2nd Edition [John McKown, Portland, 1805], p. 15. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, note #69.


1805.3 -- Book of Games Covers Cricket, Trap-Ball


Among the games described in this book are cricket and trap-ball, which has this concise account, in the form of a dialog: “you know, of course, that when I hit the trigger, the ball flies up, and that I must give it a good stroke with the bat.  If I strike at the ball and miss my aim, or if, when I have struck it, either you or Price catch it before it has touched the ground, or if I have hit the trigger more than twice, without striking the ball, I am out and one of you take the bat, and come in, as it is called.”


The Book of Games, or, a History of Juvenile Sports: Practiced at the Kingston Academy [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 185. 


1805.4 -- NY Gentlemen Play Game of “Bace:” Score is Gymnastics 41, Sons of Diagoras 34.


“Yesterday afternoon a contest at the game of Bace took place on “the Gymnasium,” near Tylers’ between the gentlemen of two different clubs for a supper and trimmings . . . .  Great skill and activity it is said was displayed on both sides, but after a severe and well maintained contest, Victory, which had at times fluttered a little form one to the other, settled down on the heads of the Gymnastics, who beat the Sons of Diagoras 41 to 34.”


New York Evening Post, April 13, 1805, page 3 column 1.  Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.  Note: So, folks . . . was this a ball game, some version of prisoner’s base with  scoring, or what?  John Thorn [email of 2/27/2008] has supplied a facsimile of the Post report, and also found meeting announcements for the Diagoras in the Daily Advertiser for 4/11 and 4/12/1805.


1805.5 – The Term “Bace” Not Related to Ballplaying, in Cornwall


“BACE.  Prisoner’s bace (or base).  A game so called.  It is an ancient pastime mentioned in the records of Edward 3d (1327 to 1377.)


Jago, Fred W. P. The Ancient Language and the Dialect of Cornwall (Netherton and Worth, Truro, 1882), page 101.  Note: cf #1805.4, above.  Can we find other reference books on usages in Surrey, Sussex, London, etc.?


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 Versfier Recalls Ballplaying at Exeter


“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.


1805.8 – Yale Grad Compares England’s Ballgames with New England’s


“July 9 [1805, we think] . . . . The mode of playing ball differs a little from that practiced in New-England.  Instead of tossing up the ball out of one’s own hand, and then striking it, as it descends, they lay is into the heel of a kind of wood shoe; and upon the instep a spring is fixed, which extends within the hollow to the hinder part of the shoe; the all is placed where the heel of the foot would commonly be, and a blow applied on the other end of the spring, raises the ball into the air, and, as it descends, it receives a blow from the bat.


“They were playing also at another game resembling our cricket, but differing from it in this particular, that he perpendicular pieces which support the horizontal one, are about eighteen inches high, and are three in number, whereas with us they are only two in number, and about three or four inches high.”


Benjamin Silliman, Journal of Travels in England, Holland, and Scotland, Volume 1 (Boston, 1812  - 1st edition 1810), page 245.


Silliman thus implies that an American [or at least Connecticut] analog to trap ball was played, using fungo-style batting [trap ball was not usually a running game, so the American game may have been a simple form of fungo].  His second comparison is consistent with our understanding or how English cricket and American wicket were played in about 1800.  However, it seems odd that he would refer to “our cricket” and not “our wicket: possibly a form of cricket – using, presumably, the smaller ball – was played in the US that retained the older long, low wickets known in 1700 English cricket.


1805.9 – Belfast ME Had Ballplaying as Early as 1805


“High Street, at Hopkins’s Corner, was the favorite battle-ground for ball-players, as early as 1805.”


Ball-playing seems to have been extensively practiced in 1820. At the town meeting that year, it was voted ‘that the game of ball, and the pitching of quoits within [a specified area] be prohibited.”


Joseph Williamson, History of the City of Belfast (Loring Short and Harmon, Portland, 1877), page 764.  Accessed 2/2/10 via Google Books search ("hopkins's corner" ball).



1806.1 – British Children’s Book Includes Scene of “Trap and Ball”


English, Clara, The Children in the Wood, an Instructive Tale [Warner and Hanna, Baltimore, 1806], p. 29.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 56.


1806.2 – Children’s Poem Traces Bouncing Ball


“THE VILLAGE GREEN.  “On the cheerful village green,/ Skirted round with houses small,/ All the boys and girls are seen,/Playing there with hoop and ball/ . . . ./Then ascends the worsted ball;/ High it rises in the air;/Or against the cottage wall,/Up and down it bounces there.”


Gilbert, Ann,  Original Poems, for Infant Minds, 2 volumes (Kimber, Conrad, Philadelphia, 1806), vol. 2, page 120;  Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see pages 241 and 242.  Altherr reports that “Gilbert described some sort of ball play as common on the village commons.”  (Ibid., page 241).  Note:  Can we determine Gilbert’s wording in calling such play common?  Does the clue that the ball was “worsted” (woolen, or made of wool cloth?) add a helpful clue as to the nature of the game played?


1806.3 – Mister Beldham Really Loads One Up on Cricket Pitch


“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 a lump 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 reference.  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.



1807.1 – Book Includes Promise to Bring Children “Bats, Balls &C”


The Prize for Youthful Obedience [Jacob Johnson, Philadelphia, 1807], part II, page 16.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 59. Note: This book is an American edition book earlier published in London -- see #1800.6 above.


1807.2 – Games Recalled at Phillips Exeter Academy


In about 1889, Col. George Kent wrote this verse in response to an inquiry about student games from 1807 at Exeter:


“But pastimes and games of a much better sort,

Lent aid to our outdoor and innocent sport,

Such as marbles and foot ball, cat, cricket and base,

With occasional variance by a foot race.”


Bell, Charles H., Phillips Exeter Academy [1883?], p. 102.  Per Seymour, Harold – Notes.  the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.


1807.3 – Lost Poet Remembers College Ballplay, Maybe in Baltimore


Garrett Barry wrote in his sentimental verse “On Leaving College:”


“I’ll fondly tract, with fancy’s aid,/The spot where all our sports were made./ . . .

The little train forever gay,/With joy obey’d the pleasing call,/And nimbly urged the flying ball.”


Barry, Garrett, “On Leaving College,” in Poems, on Several Occasions (Cole and Co., Baltimore, 1807), no page given:  Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see pages 240.  Note:  Can we determine from biographical information where and when Barry attended college?  Is it significant that Barry reprises the phrase “urge the flying ball,” seen as a cricket phrase in Pope [see #1730.1] and Gray [#1747.1]?  Did Barry live/play in MD?  2008 update: John Thorn [email of 2/3/2008] discovers that others have been unable to determine exactly who the poet was, as there were three people with the name Garrett Barry in that area at that time. One of the three, who died at thirty in 1810, attended St. Mary’s College in Baltimore. 


1808.1 -- Wall Streeters Are Bearish on Ballplaying “and Other Annoyances”



The minutes of the NYC Common Council record a “Petition of sundry inhabitants in Wall Street complaining against the practice of boys playing ball before the Fire Engine House adjoining the City Hall, and other annoyances . . . “ 


Minutes of the Common Council of  the city of New York, 1784-1831, April 18, 1808, page 95 [Volume V.]  Volume eighteen of manuscript minutes (continued) February 15, 1808 to June 27, 1808.


1808.2 – First Cricket Club in Boston is Established, The Fades


The first formally organized cricket club is established in Boston, Massachusetts.


Per John Thorn, 6/15/04:  The source is Chadwick Scrapbook, Volume 20. John has found a meeting announcement for the club in the Boston (MA) Gazette for November 17, 1808.  Note: Ryczek dates this event as 1809 in Baseball’s First Inning (2009), page 101.


Richard Hershberger [email of 2/4/10] reports that the last mention of the Club he has found is an 1809 notice that the club’s annual dinner will take place the following day.  Source: New England Palladium, October 24, 1809.



1810c.1 – “Poisoned Ball” Appears in French Book of Games


The rules for “Poisoned Ball” are described in a French book of boy’s games: “In a court, or in a large square space, four points are marked: one for the home base, the others for bases which must be touched by the runners in succession, etc.”


Les Jeux des Jeunes Garcons [Paris, c.1810].  Per Henderson, note XXXXX  Note: David Block, at page 186-187, dates this book at 1815 -- some of the doubt perhaps arising from the fact that the earliest [undated?] extant copy is a fourth edition.  He notes that the French text does not say directly that a bat is used in this game; the palm may have been used to “repel” the ball.


To See the Text:  David Block carries a three-paragraph translation of text in Appendix 7, page 279, of Baseball Before We Knew It.


1810.2 – Children’s Book Describes Trap Ball and its Benefits


Youthful Amusements [Johnson and Warner, Philadelphia, 1810], pp. 37 and 40.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 61.  The same text later appeared in Remarks on Children’s Play [Samuel Wood and Sons, New York, 1819], p. 32.  Per Altherr ref # 64.  This book describes thirty games and includes an engraving of trap-ball.


1810.3 – Children’s Book Recommends Regular Play with “Trap, Bat, Ball,” etc.


Youthful Recreations [Jacob Johnson, Philadelphia, 1810], no pagination. Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 62.


1810.4 – Union College [Upstate NY] Students Play Baseball-Like Game


“Union Students were playing a baseball-like game with a stick and ball of yarn in the old West College playground in 1810.”


Somers, Wayne, Encyclopedia of Union College History [Union College Press, Schenectady NY, 2003], page 89.  Note: Somers reports in May 2005 that he is unable to find his original source for this account.


1810s.5 – Harvard Library Worker Recalls Bi-racial Ball Play in Harvard Yard


“During my employment at Cambridge [MA] the College yard continued without gates.  The Stage passed through it; and though I was very attentive to the hour, I could not always avoid injury from the Stage horn.  Blacks and Whites occasionally played together at ball in the College yard.”


William Croswell, letter drafted to the Harvard Corporation, December 1827.  Papers of William Croswell, Call number HUG 1306.5, Harvard University Archives.  Supplied by Kyle DeCicco-Carey, 8/8/2007.  Kyle notes that Croswell was an 1780 Harvard graduate who worked in the college library 1812-1821.



1810.6 – Cricket a “Popular Recreation” in Sydney


“Cricket had become a more popular recreation by 1810. . . .  [The 1810 proclamation naming Sydney’s Hyde Park noted that the area had been previously known as “’the Racecourse,’ ‘The Exercising Ground,’ and ‘The Cricket Ground,’”


Egan, Jack, The Story of Cricket in Australia (ABC Books, 1987), page 10.  Egan does not give a reference for the proclamation itself. 



1810c.7 – Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison Plays Ball as Barefoot Youth


“[T]he lovely old town of Newburyport, Massachusetts, in which he spent the fist twenty-five years of his life, was ever dear to him.  As a boy, barefoot he rolled the hoop through the streets, played a marbles and at bat and ball, swam in the Merrimack . . .”


Wendell Phillips Garrison, “William Lloyd Garrison’s Origin and Early Life, The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine Volume 30 (1885), page 592.  Accessed via Google Books search 2/2/10 ("garrison's origin").  Newburyport MA is about 35 miles north of Boston and near the New Hampshire border.



1810c.8 – Future Lord Prefers Studies to Rounders, Cricket


Young Thomas Babbington Macaulay “did not take kindly, his co-temporaries tell us, to foot-ball, cricket, or a game of rounders, -- preferred history to hockey, and poetry to prisoner’s base.”


H. G. J. Clements, Lord Macaulay, His Life and Writings (Whittaker and Co., London, 1860), page 16.  Accessed 2/2/10 via Google Books search (macaulay "2 lectures").


1811.1 – Book Printed in Philadelphia Gives Details of Trap Ball in England


The Book of Games; Or, a History of the Juvenile Sports Practiced at Kingston Academy [Johnson and Warner, Philadelphia, 1811], pp. 15 – 20.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 63.  This book appears to be a reprint of the 1805 London publication above.


1811.2 -- NYCC Calls Meeting -- First Cricket Meeting Since 1804?


The notice was signed by G. M’Enery, Secretary.


New York Evening Post, September 3, 1811, page 3 column 4.  Submitted by George Thompson 8/2/2005..


1811.3 – NY Paper Carries Notice for “English Trap Ball” at a Military Ground


“At Dyde’s Military Grounds.  Up the Broadway, to-morrow afternoon, September 14, the game of English Trap Ball will be played, full as amusing as Crickets and the exercise not so violent:”


New York Evening Post, September 13, 1811, page 3 column 3.  Submitted by George Thompson 8/2/2005.


Three days later:  “The amusements at Dyde’s to-morrow, Tuesday the 17th September, will be Rifle Shooting for he prize, and English Trap Ball.  The gentlemen who have promised to attend to form a club to play at Trap Ball are respectfully requested to attend.”


New York Evening Post, September 16, 1811, page 3 column 3. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.


And four days later, notice was made that “Trap Ball, Quoits, Cricket, &c.” would be played at the ground.  However, more space is now given to rifle and pistol shooting contests.


New York Evening Post, September 20, 1811, page 3 column 3. Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.


1811.4 -- Chapbook Shows Baseball-like Game Under “Trap-ball” Heading


Remarks on Children’s Play [New York], per David Block, page 185-186.  Block reports that the trap-ball page included the usual rules for trap-ball, but that the accompanying woodcut depicts a game in which a batter receives a pitched ball, with no trap in sight.


1811.5 -- Bat-ball Recalled at Exeter


“Next to football, baseball has always been the most popular sport at Exeter.  Alpheus S. Packard, who entered in 1811, mentions “bat-ball” as played in his day.”


Crosbie, Laurence M., The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History [1923], page 233.  Submitted by George Thompson, 8/2/2005.  Crosbie does not, evidently, give a citation for Packard.


1811.6 -- Women Cricketers Play for Large Purse


Two noblemen arrange for eleven women of Surrey to play eleven women of Hampshire for a stake of 500 guineas a side.


Ford, John, Cricket: and Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], pp. 20-21.  Ford does not give a reference for this event.


1812c.1 – Young Andrew Johnson Plays Cat and Bass Ball and Bandy in Raleigh NC


[At age four] “he spent many hours at games with boys of the neighborhood, his favorite being ‘Cat and Bass Ball and Bandy,’ the last the ‘choyst’ game of all.”  Letter from Neal Brown, July 15, 1867, in Johnson Mss., Vol. 116, No. 16,106. [Publisher?] Submitted by John Thorn, 6/6/04


1812.2 – Soldier Van Smoot’s Diary Notes Playing Catch at New Orleans LA


Peter Van Smoot, an Army private present at the Battle of New Orleans, writes in his diary:  “I found a soft ball in my knapsack, that I forgot I had put there and started playing catch with it.”


Note: Citation needed.   John Thorn, 6/15/04: “I don’t recognize this one”


1812.3 -- NYC Council Finds Ball Playing Among “Abounding Immoralities”


“Your Committee will not pretend to bring before the Board the long and offending catalogue of abounding immoralities . . . but point out some . .  . .  Among the most prevalent on the Lords Day called Sunday, are . . .  Horse Riding for pleasure . . . Skating [‘] Ball playing, and other Plays by Boys and Men, and even Horse-racing.”  Minutes of the Common Council of the city of New York, 1784-1831, March 18, 1812, page 72 [Volume VII.]  Submitted by John Thorn 1/24/07


1813.1 -- Newburyport MA Reminder -- “Playing Ball in the Streets” is Unlawful


“Parents and Guardians are also requested to forbid, those under their care, playing Ball in the streets of the town; as by this unlawful practice much inconvenience and injury is sustained.”  Newburyport [MA] Herald, May 4, 1813, Volume 17, Issue 10, page 1 [classified advertisement]. Submitted by John Thorn 1/24/07.  Newburyport MA is about 35 miles north of Boston and near the New Hampshire border.



1813.2 – War of 1812 General in OH Said to Play Ball with “Lowest” Soldiers


General Robert Crooks was in Ohio during the War of 1812 to deal with Indian uprisings.  One published letter-writer was not impressed: “These troops despise every species of military discipline and all the maxims of propriety and common sense . . . .  Gen. Crooks would frequently play ball and wrestle with the lowest description of common soldiers, his troops were never seen on parade . . . “


“Extract of a Letter dated Marietta, Feb. 3, 1813,” Washingtonian, May 5, 1813.  Accessed via subscription search, 4/9/2009.



1815c.1 – US Prisoners in Ontario at End of War of 1812 Play Ball


Fairchild, G. M., ed., Journal of an American at Fort Malden and Quebec in the War of 1812 [private printing, Quebec, 1090 [sic; 1900?], no pagination.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 87.]


1815c.2 – US Prisoners in England Play Ball – at Some Peril, It Turned Out


[1] [Waterhouse, Benjamin], A Journal of a Young Man of Massachusetts, Late a Surgeon on Board an American Privateer, Who Was Captured at Sea by the British in May, Eighteen Hundred and Thirteen, and Was Confined First, at Melville Island, Halifax, then at Chatham, on England, and Last, at Dartmoor Prison [Rowe and Hooper, Boston, 1816], p. 186.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 88.  [2] “Journal of Nathaniel Pierce of Newburyport [MA], Kept at Dartmoor Prison, 1814 – 1815,” Historical Collections of Essex Institute, volume 73, number 1 [January 1937], p. 40.  Per Altherr ref # 89.  [3] [Andrews, Charles] The Prisoner’s Memoirs, or Dartmoor Prison [private printing, NYC, 1852], p.110. Per Altherr ref # 90.  [4] Valpey, Joseph], Journal of Joseph Valpey, Jr. of Salem, November 1813- April 1815 [Michigan Society of Colonial Wars, Detroit, 1922], p. 60.


A ball game reportedly led to the killing of nine US prisoners in April 1815: “On the 6th of April, 1815, as a small party were amusing themselves at a game of ball, some one of the number striking it with too much violence, it flew over the wall fronting the prison and the sentinels on the other side of the same were requested to heave the ball back, but refused; on which the party threatened to break through to regain their ball, and immediately put their threats into execution; a hole was made in the wall sufficiently large for a man to pass thro’ – but no one attempted it.”  500 British soldiers appeared, and the prisoners were fired upon en masse.


“Massacre of the 6th of April,” American Watchman, June 24, 1815.  Accessed via subscription search 2/14/2009.



1815.3 -- German Book Apparently Shows a Batting Game


Taschenbuch fur das Jahr 1815 der Liebe und Freundschaft [Frankfurt am Main] per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 186.  Block reports that the April section of this yearly book has an engraving of children playing a bat-and-ball game.  Note: Does the game appear to use bases?


1815.4 – Six-Hour “Wicket” Match Played in Canada


“On the 29th May, a grant [sic] Match of Wicket was played at Chippawa, Upper Canada, by 22 English ship wrights, for a stake of 150 dollars.  The parties were distinguished by the Pueetergushene and the Chippawa party.  The game was won in 56 runs by the former.  It continued 6 hours.


“The winners challenge any eleven gentlemen in the state of New York, for any sum they may wish to play for.  The game was succeeded by a supper in honor of King Charles, and the evening in spent [sic] with great hilarity.”


Mechanics’ Gazette and Merchants’ Daily Advertiser, June 9,1815, reprinting from the Buffalo Gazette.  Provided by Richard Hershberger, 7/30/2007.  Note:  It seems unusual for Englishmen to be playing wicket, and for wicket to field 11-man teams.  Could this be a cricket match reported as wicket?  Is it clear why a Buffalo NY newspaper would report on a match in “Upper Canada,” or whereever Chippawa is?  Do we know what a “grant match” is?  A typo for “grand match,” probably?


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?


1815c.7 – New Englander Writes of Ballyards in Virginia


“I saw a young man betted upon, for five hundred dollars, at a foot race.  Indeed every thing is decided by a wager . . . .  What would a northern man think, to see a father, and a sensible and respected one, too, go out with a company, and play marbles?  At some cross-roads, or smooth shaven greens, you may a wooden wall, high and broad as the side of a church, erected for men to play ball against.”


“Arthur Singleton” (Henry Cogswell Knight), “Letters from the South and West,” Salem [MA] Gazette, July 30, 1824.  This paper extracted portions of a new book, which had been written between 1814 and 1819, by Knight, who was reared in Massachusetts and graduated from Brown in 1812.  Online text unavailable 2/3/10.  Query: The ballplaying facility as described seems uncongenial for cricket or a baserunning game, unless it was a form of barn-ball.  Isn’t a form of hand-ball a more likely possibility? Was handball, or fives, common in VA at this stage?


1816.1 – Cooperstown NY Bans Downtown Ballplaying Near Future Site of HOF


On June 6, 1816, trustees of the Village of Cooperstown, New York enact an ordinance: “That no person shall play at Ball in Second or West Street (now Pioneer and Main Streets), in this village, under a penalty of one dollar, for each and every offence.”


Otsego Herald, number 1107, June 6, 1816, p. 3.  The Herald carried the same notice on June 13, page 3.  Note:  those streets intersect is a half block from the Hall of Fame, right?


1816.2 – Worcester MA Ordinance Bans “Frequent and Dangerous” Ball Playing and Hoops”


“Ball-playing” in the streets of Worcester, Massachusetts is forbidden by ordinance.


Worcester, MA Town Records, May 6, 1816; reprinted in Franklin P. Rice, ed., Worcester Town Records, 1801 – 1816, volume X [Worcester Society of Antiquity, 1891], p. 337. Also appears in Henderson, p. 150 [No ref given], and Holliman, per Guschov.


1816.4 -- “German ballgame” described in Berlin book


Flittner, Christian G., Talisman des Gluckes oder der Selbstlehrer fur alle Karten, Schach, Billard,Ball und Kegel Spiele [Berlin], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 187.  This book’s small section on ball games carries the Gutsmuths account of das Deutsche Ballspiel -- the German ballgame.  Query: Does the game appear to uses bases?


1816.5 -- In “The Year Without a Summer,” CT Lads Play Ball on Christmas Day


“My father [Charles Mallory] arrived there [Mystic CT] on Christmas Day and found some of his acquaintances playing ball in what was called Randall’s Orchard.”


Baughman, James, The Mallorys of Mystic: Six Generations in American Maritime Enterprise [Wesleyan University Press, 1972], page 12.  Submitted by John Thorn, 10/19/2004.


1816.6 –  [Moved to 1820c.27 in version 11]


1816.7 – Lambert’s Cricket Rules Published


Lambert, William, Instructions and Rules For Playing the Noble Game of Cricket (1816).


Bateman notes that 300,000 copies of this book were sold by 1865.  Bateman, Anthony,“’More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;‘  Culture,, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 36.


1816.8 -- Troy NY Bans Ballplaying


“[N]o person or persons shall play ball, beat knock or drive any ball or hoop, in, through, or along any street or alley in the first, second, third, or fourth wards of said city; and every person who shall violate either of the prohibitions . . . shall, for each and every such offense, forfeit and pay the penalty of ten dollars.”


Laws and Ordinances of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonality, of the City of Troy.  Passed the Ninth Day of December, 1816 (Parker and Bliss, Troy, 1816), page 42.  Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 320.


1816.9 – Maine Town Outlaws Ball, Quoits, Sledding


“[A]ny person who shall be convicted of sliding down any hill on sleighs, sleds, or boards . . . between Thomas Hinkley’s dwelling house & Mr. Vaugh’s mill . . . or any who shall play at ball or quoits in any of the streets . . . shall, on conviction, pay a fine of fifty cents for each offence . . . .”


Hallowell [ME] Gazette, December 25, 1816.  Hallowell is about 2 miles south of Augusta and 50 miles NE of Portland.



1816.10 – Norfolk VA Cricket Club Reported


Richard Hershberger [emails of 1/28/09 and 2/4/10] reports seeing advertisements in the American Beacon for a Norfolk Cricket Club from 1816 to 1820:


“CRICKET CLUB.  A meeting of the Subscribers to this Club, will be held at the Exchange Coffee House, this evening at 6 o’clock, for the purpose of draughting Rules and Regluations for the government.”


American Beacon (Norfolk VA), October 25, 1816.  Subsequent notices were for playing times.


Note:  In The Tented Field, Tom Melville writes that a 1989 book has the Norfolk Club being founded in 1803 in imitation of English customs (page 164, note 10).  Patricia Click, in Spirit of the Times (UVa Press, 1989), page 119, cites the October 1, 1803 issue of the “Norfolk and Portsmouth Herald” [likely then the “Norfolk Herald”] in reference to an observation  [page 73] about the social makeup of cricket clubs.  Query: can we find out what the 1803 paper actually says about cricket, if anything?


1817.1 – Visitor to Philly Tells of Cricket Play There


“Being a commercial people, they have but few amusements: their summer pastimes are . . . fishing, batching, cricket, quoits, &c; . . . .”


John Palmer, Journal of Travels in the United States of America and in Lower Canada, Etc [London, 1818], page 283. Per Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.


1817.2 -- Riddle Game Cites “Fourteen Boys at Bat and Ball”


The Gaping, Wide-mouthed, Waddling Frog [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 187-188.  This chapbook comprises a rhyme resembling the song “the Twelve Days of Christmas, and one verse includes “Fourteen Boys at Bat-and-Ball, Some Short and Some Tall.”  Block also reports that it contains an illustration of several boys playing trap-ball.


1817.3 – Ball Play Banned in New York NY


New York City outlawed ball play in the Park, Battery, and Bowling-Green in 1817.”


Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 245.  Altherr’s citation [page 320]:  “A law relative to the Park, Batery, and Bowling-Green,” in Laws and Ordinances Ordained and Established by the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonality of the City of New York (T. and J. Swords, New York, 1817), page 118.


1817.4 – In Brunswick ME, Bowdoin College Sets 20-cent Fine for Ballplaying


“No student shall, in or near any College building, play at ball, or use any sport or diversion, by which such building may be exposed to injury, on penalty of being fined not exceeding twenty cents, or being suspended if the offence be often repeated.”


Of Misdemeanors and Criminal Offences, in Laws of Bowdoin College (E. Goodale, Hallowell ME, 1817), page 12.  Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 315.  The college is about 25 miles NE of Portland, and near the Maine coast.


1818.1 – Yale Student Reports Cricket on Campus


A student at Yale University reports that cricket and football are played on campus [need cite].  Lester, however, says that he doubts the student saw English cricket, and that, given that the site is CT, it was probably wicket.  Lester notes that wicket involved sides of 30 to 35 players, and was played in an alley 75 feet long, and with oversized bats.


Lester, ed., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [U Penn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 7.


1818.2 -- In Cricket, Well, It’s . . .”One Man Out”


Ford notes that “[William] Lambert, the leading professional of the time, banned from playing at Lord’s for accepting bribes.”  Per John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 21.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


1818.3 -- “Baseball” at West Point NY?


“Although playing ball games near the barracks was prohibited, cadets could play ‘at football’ near Fort Clinton or north of the large boulder neat the site of the present Library.  [Benjamin] Latrobe makes curious mention of a game call ‘baseball’ played in this area.  Unfortunately, he did not describe the game.  Could it be that cadets in the 1818-1822 period played the game that Abner Doubleday may have modified later to become the present sport?”


Pappas, George S., To The Point: The United States Military Academy 1802 - 1902 [Praeger, Westport Connecticut, 1993], page 145.  Note: Pappas evidently does not give a source for the Latrobe statement.  I assume that the 1818-1822 dates correspond to Latrobe’s time at West Point.


1818.4 -- Cricket Reported in Louisville KY


“It is not unreasonable to speculate that as the immigrants came down the Ohio River . . . they brought with them the leisure activities hat had already developed in the cities along the Atlantic coast. There are reports of a form of cricket being played in the city as early at 1818.”


Bailey, Bob, “Beginnings; From Amateur Teams to Disgrace in the National League,” [1999], page 1.  Note: The original source of the 1818 reference may have been lost.  Bob reports that he got the item from Dean Sullivan’s master’s thesis on baseball in Louisville, and that Dean cited Harold Peterson’s The Man Who Invented Baseball, page 24.  However, Peterson gives no source. Dead end?


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.” 



1819.1 – British Science Text Uses “Base-ball” Heuristic Example


“Emily: In playing at base-ball, I am obliged to use al my strength to give a rapid motion to the ball; and when I have to catch it, I am sure I feel the resistance it makes to being stopped; but if I did not catch it, it would soon stop of itself.


“Mrs B.: Inert matter is as incapable of stopping itself as it is of putting itself in motion.  When the ball ceases to more, therefore, it must be stopped by some other cause or power; but as it is one with which your are as yet unacquainted, we cannot at present investigate its powers.”


Jane H. Marcet, Conversations on Natural Philosophy [Publisher?, 1819], page?  Note: Mendelson,  a retired professor at Marquette University, originally located this text, but attributed it to a different book by Mrs. Marcet.  David Block found the actual 1819 location.  He adds that while it does not precede the Jane Austen use of “base-ball” in Northanger Abbey, “I still consider the quote to be an important indicator that baseball was a popular pastime among English girls during the later 18th and early 19th centuries.”  David Block posting to 19CBB, 12/12/2006.


1819.2 – Scott’s Ivanhoe Mentions Stool-ball


[The Jester speaks]  “I came to save my master, and if he will not consent, basta!  I can but go away home again.  Kind service can not be checked from hand to hand like a shuttle-cock or stool-ball.  I’ll hang for no man  . . . .”


Scott, Walter, Ivanhoe; A Romance (D. Appleton and Co., New York, 1904), page 257.  Reference provided by John Thorn 6/11/2007.


1819.3 – Herefordshire:  “Large Parties” Play Wicket (“Old-Fashioned Cricket”)


[Writing of the yeoman of the county:]  “notwithstanding their inclination to religion, they meet in large parties upon Sunday afternoons to play foot-ball, wicket (an old-fashioned cricket), or other gymnastics.”


Source: “Manners and Customs of Herefordshire,” The Gentleman’s Magazine, February 1819.  Submitted by Richard Hershberger 8/6/2007.


1819.4 – In Hartford CT: Legislative Session Associated with Ball-playing?


In a report on the new session of the Connecticut legislature: “In Hartford and the region about the same, those who usually play ball during the day and dance at night on such occasions, did not at this time wholly abandon the ancient uses of Connecticut.”


Indiana Central, June 8, 1819, reprinting an article datelined New Haven CT from May 5.  Accessed 4/9/09 via subscription search.


1819.5 – Irving Surveys Pastimes at Fictional British School; Includes Tip-cat


“As to sports and pastimes, the boys are faithfully exercised in all that are on record: quoits, races, prison-bars, tip-cat, trap-ball, bandy-ball, wrestling, leaping, and what-not.”


Washington Irving [writing as Geoffrey Crayon], Bracebridge Hall: Or, The Humourists (Putnam’s, New York, 1888: written in 1819), page 332.  Contributed by Bill Wagner, email of March 25, 2009.  Accessed via 2/3/10 Google Books search (bracebridge tip-cat). The setting is Yorkshire. Note: if cricket, base-ball, rounders, or stoolball were played at the fictional school, it was relegated to “what-not” status.


1819.6 – Ball Games Recalled in Southwestern WI


At the close of the Civil War, a dispute on the actual age Joseph Crele, who claimed to be 139 years old, reached Milwaukee newprint:  “Beouchard . . . says he has known Crele for 40 years.  In 1819, at Prarie du Chien, Crele was one of the most active participants in the games of base ball, town ball foot races, horse races, &c, and yet at that time, by the claim made for him, he must have been 93 years old.”


Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, April 4, 1865.  As posted to the 19CBB listserve by Dennis Pajot, December 11, 2009.  Prarie du Chien is about 90 miles west of Madison WI, on the Mississippi River.  Note: it is interesting that Beouchard recalls two distinct games [and/or two distinct names of games] being played.


1820.1 – Bat/Ball Game Depicted in Children’s Amusements


A woodcut illustration of boys playing with a bat and ball appears in a book entitled Children’s Amusements [New York and Baltimore].  David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 188, adds that it is unusual among chapbooks as “more space and detail are devoted to “playing ball” than to cricket, which at the time was a more established game.”  See also #1830.1.



1820.2 – Round Ball played in Upton, MA


Henderson, p. 137, attributes this to Holliman, but has no ref to Holliman or to George Stoddard, who reported the game to the Mills Commission. Also quoted at Henderson, p. 150.


1820.3 – English Cricketers Play Two-Day Match Again New Yorkers


“The most outstanding cricket matches of the period were those in New York.  In fact, the matches of note were played in that city.  These contests took place between members of different clubs, and often the sport lasted for two days.  Great was the interest if any English player happened to be present to participate in the sport.  On June 16, 1820, eleven expert English players matched eleven New Yorkers at Brooklyn, the contest lasting two days.”  Holliman, Jennie, American Sports (1785 - 1835) [Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1975], page 68.


Holliman cites the New York Evening Post June 16, 1820.  See also Lester, ed., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [U Penn, 1951], page 5.  Tom Melville, The Tented Field (Bowling Green U, Bowling Green, 1998), page 7, adverts to a similar Englishmen/Americans match, giving it a date of June 1, 1820.  He seems to cite The New York Evening Post of June 19, 1820, page 2 for this match, and so June 16 seems like a likelier date.]



1820.4 -- Another English Chapbook Cites Trap-ball


School-boys’ Diversions: Describing Many New and Popular Sports [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 189.  The woodcut shows a trap and bat in the foreground.


1820s.5 – Town Ball Recalled in Eastern IL


“In the early times, fifty or sixty years ago, when the modern games of croquet and base-ball were unknown, the people used to amuse themselves with marbles, “town-ball” – which was base-ball in a rude state – and other simple pastimes of a like character.  Col. Mayo says, the first amusement he remembers in the county was a game of town-ball, on the day of the public sale of lots in Paris, in which many of the “young men of the period engaged.”


The History of Edgar County, Illinois (Wm. LeBaron, Chicago, 1879), page 273.  Contributed January 31, 2010, by Jeff Kittel.  Paris IL is near the Indiana border, and about 80 miles west of Indianapolis.



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.


1820c.7 -- Another English Chapbook, Another Engraving of Trap-ball


Juvenile Recreations [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 189.  Accompanying the Trapball engraving: “Then Master Batt he did decide,/That they might one and all,/Since Rosebud fields were very wide,/Just play Trap bat and ball,/Agreed said all with instant shout,/Then beat the little ball about.”


1820c.8 -- Another Chapbook -- This One Celebrates the Fielder


Juvenile Sports or Youth’s Pastimes [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 189. The accompanying text: “With bat and trap, the Youth’s agre’d/To send the ball abroad with speed,/While eager with his open hands,/To catch him out his playmate stands.”


1820s.9 – In Middletown CT, “Wicket” Recalled, but Not Base Ball.


Delaney, ed., Life in the Connecticut River Valley 1800 – 1840 from the Recollections of John Howard Redfield [Connecticut River Museum, Essex CT, 1988], p. 35.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 82.


1820s.10 – Philadelphians Play Ball, But Only Over in Camden NJ


A group of Philadelphians who will eventually organize as the Olympic Ball Club begin playing town ball in Philadelphia, PA, but are prohibited from doing so within the city limits by ordinances dating to Colonial times. A site in Camden, New Jersey is used to avoid breaking the laws in Philadelphia.  Caution: this unsourced item, retained from the original chronology of 70 items, has been seriously questioned by a researcher familiar with Philadelphia ballplaying.  Are we sure that this group played, and later formed part of the Olympic club?


1820s.11 -- Cricket is Gradually “Cleaned Up;” Club Play Strengthens


Writing of this period, Ford summarizes:  “Much single-wicket cricket was played, and wager matches continued, but from the mid 1820s both these features gradually disappeared from the scene as cricket was ‘cleaned up.’  Of equal importance the game at club level spread and grew strong.”  John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 22.  Ford does not give citations for this account.


1820s.12 – Boys Are Attracted to Sports of “Playing Ball or Goal” in Bangor ME


Paine, Albert Ware, “Auto-Biography,” reprinted in Lydia Augusta Paine Carter, The Discovery of a Grandmother [Henry H. Carter, Newton MA, 1920], p. 240.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 77.  Note:  Dean Sullivan [7/29/2004] observes that Harold Seymour puts the year of play at Bangor at 1836, citing both pages 198 and 240 of The Discovery of a Grandmother.  Payne was born in 1812, and was not a “boy” in 1836, so this event needs further examination.  This item needs to be reconciled with #1823c.4 below.


1820c.13 – A Wry View of Cricket Match on Yale Campus


“On the green and easy slope where those proud columns stand,

In Dorian mood, with academe and temple on each hand,

The foot-ball and the cricket-match upon my vision rise

With all the clouds of classic dust kicked in each other’ eyes.”


This verse is incorporated without attribution in Brooks Mather Kelley, Yale: a History (Yale University Press, New Haven CT, 1974), page 214.  Kelley’s commentary:  “[Cricket] may have been a sport at Yale then [in the Colonial period].  The first clear reference to it, owever, is in one stanza of a poem about Yale life in 1818 to 1822.”  Ibid.  Is Yale shielding us from some racy student rhymes? Oh, not to worry: From a rival Ivy League source we see that Lester identifies the poet as William Cromwell – John A. Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket (U of Penn Press, Philadelphia PA, 1951), page7.  Note: OK, so who was William Cromwell, and why did he endow so many chairs at Yale?



1820s.14 – New England Lad Recalls Assorted Games, Illicit 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 book’s many 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.


1820.16 – Union vs. Mechanics -- First Mention of Club Cricket?


On June 19, 1820, the Union and Mechanic Cricket Clubs played two matches in Brooklyn.  According to an account [a box score was also provided] in the New York Daily Advertiser of June 21, “this manly exercise . . . excited astonishment in the spectators by their great dexterity . . . . A great number of persons viewed the sport.”


Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger, 7/31/2007.  Richard noted: “this is the earliest example I know of named cricket clubs, and is not mentioned in Tom Melville’s history [The Tented Field.]  In am 1/30/2008 email, Richard added that this game was also reported in the New York Columbia of June 19, 1820 as having “all Europeans” on both sides.  Note: does the David Sentence book cover this game?  Do we know of any earlier club play; for instance, did the Boston Cricket Club [see #1808.2 above] ever take the field in 1808?


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


“Ballplaying seems to have been extensively practiced in 1820.  At the town meeting of that year, it was voted that ‘the game of ball, and the pitching of quoits, within the following limits {main Street to the beach, etc] be prohibited.’ High Street, at Hopkins Corner, was the favorite battle-ground for ball-players 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 -- Syracuse NY Ball Field Remembered as Base Ball Site


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 sometime in the 1820s.  Query: Can we get 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.


1820s.23 – Town Ball Came to Central IL in the 1820s.


“This game [bullpen, the local favorite] was, in time, abandoned for a game called “town ball;” the present base ball being town ball reduced to a science.”


The History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois (Baskin and Company, Chicago, 1879), page 252.  Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010.  Jeff notes that the author was in this passage describing educational conditions in the early 1820s.  The two counties are just north of Springfield IL.


1820c.24 – Waterbury CT Jaws Drop as Baptist Deacon Takes the Field


“after the ‘raising’ of this building, at which, as was customary on such occasions, there was a large gathering of people who came to render voluntary assistance, the assembled company adjourned to the adjacent meadow (now owned by Charles Frost) for a game of baseball, and that certain excellent old ladies were much scandalized that prominent Baptists, among them Deacon Porter, should show on such an occasion so much levity as to take part in the game.”


Joseph Anderson, ed., The Town and City of Waterbury, Connecticut, from the Aboriginal Perioed to the Year 1895, Volume III (Price and Lee, New Haven CT, 1896), page 673n.   Accessed 2/3/10 via Google Books search (Waterbury aboriginal III).


1820s.25 – In Western MA, Election Day Saw Town vs. Town Wicket Matches


“’Election Day’ was, however, the universal holiday, and the prevailed amongst the farmers that corn planting must be finished by that day for its enjoyment. It was a day of general hilarity, with no prescribed forms of observation, though ball playing was ordinarily included in the exercises, and frequently the inhabitants of adjacent towns were pitted against one another in the game of wicket.  Wrestling, too, was a common amusement on that day, each town having its champions.”


Charles J. Taylor, History of Great Barrington (Bryan and Co., Great Barrington MA, 1882), page 375. Accessed 2/3/10 via Google Books search (taylor great barrington).  Note: this passage is not clearly set in time; “1820s” is a guess, but 1810s or 1830s is also a possibility.


1820c.26 – Octogenarian Recalls Frequency of Play, How Balls Were Made in NY


“If a base-ball were required, the boy of 1816 founded it with a bit of cork, or, if he were singularly fortunate, with some shreds of india-rubber; then it was wound with yarn frm a ravelled stocking, and some feminine member of his family covered it with patches of a soiled glove.”


Charles H. Haswell, Reminiscences of An Octogenarian of the City of New York (1816 to 1860) (Harper & Brothers, New York, 1897), page 77. Accessed 2/2/10 via Google Books search (haswell octogenarian).


Haswell also reflected on Easter observances of the era.  They were subdued, save for the coloring of eggs by some schoolboys.  “For a few weeks during the periods of Easter and Paas, the cracking of eggs by boys supplanted marbles, kite-flying, and base-ball.”


1820c.27 -- Columbia College (NY) Students, Locals, Play at Battery Grounds


“Of those [students] of Columbia, I write advisedly – they were not members of a boat club, base-ball, or foot-ball team.  On Saturday afternoons, in the fall of the year, a few students would meet in the ‘hollow’ on the Battery, and play an irregular game of football . . .  As this ‘hollow’ was the locale of base-ball, “marbles,” etc., and as it has long since been obliterated, and in its existence was the favorite resort of schoolboys and all others living in the lower part of the city, it is worthy of record”


Haswell recalls the Battery grounds as “very nearly the entire area bounded by Whitehall and State Streets, the sea wall line, and a line about two hundred feet to the west; it was of an uniform grade, fully five feet below that of the street, it was nearly uniform in depth, and as regular in its boundary as a dish.”


Charles Haswell, Reminiscences of an Octogenarian of the City of New York (1816 to 1860) (Harper and Brothers, New York, 1896), pages 81-82.  Citation supplied by John Thorn, email of 2/3/2008.  Accessed 2/4/10 via Google Books search (octogenarian 1816).


1820c.28 – English Village Green Had Cricket, Bass-Ball


A “rambling” railway passenger reflects as he passes through the English countryside:  “The rambler sees a pretty white spire peeping out of the woodland before him . . . .  The road leads to Stoke Green.  Alas! We may lament for what is no more, and the name is a mockery.  There was a village green some twenty years ago . . . .  and the cheerful spot where the noise of cricket and bass-ball once gladdened the ear on a summer eve is now silent.”


Ah, the good old days.  “Railway Rambles,” Penny Magazine, Oct 23, 1841, page 412. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("railway rambles" penny 1841). The location is evidently about 20 mi W of London. Source: Tom Altherr, “Some Findings on Bass Ball,” Originals, February 2010, page 2.



1821.1 -- New York Book Has Bat and Ball Poem


Little Ditties for Little Children [New York, Samuel Wood and Sons], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 190.  “Come on little Charley, come with me and play/And yonder is Billy, I’ll give him a call,/ Do you take the bat, and I’ll carry the ball . . . “


1821.2 -- Cricket Not New in SC


“The members of the old cricket club are requested to attend a meeting of [sic?] the Carolina Coffee House tomorrow evening.”


Charleston Southern Patriot, January 23, 1821, per Holliman, American Sport 1785 - 1835, page 68.


1821.3 -- Schenectady NY Bans “Playing of Ball Against the Building”


The Schenectady City Council banned “playing of Ball against the Building or in the area fronting the Building called City Hall and belonging to this corporation . . . under penalty of Fifty cents for each and every offence . .  . .” Note: citation needed.  Submitted by David Pietrusza via John Thorn, 3/6/2005.


1821.4 – A Three-Times-and-Out Rule in ME Cricket?


“’Three times and out’ is a maxim of juvenile players at cricket.”


Maine Gazette, November 20, 1821; submitted by Lee Thomas Oxford, 9/2/2007.  Note: What can this reported rule possibly mean?  Were beginning cricketers given three chances to hit the bowled ball in ME?  John Thorn, email of 2/3/2008, points out that three swings was sometimes an out in wicket, and that the Gazette may have erred.


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 announcing that the Mount 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 adapted 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 will 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.


1821.6 – Fifty-cent Fine in New Bedford for Those Who Play at Ball


“Any person, who shall, after the first day of July next, play at ball, or fly a kite, or run down a hill upon a sled, or play any other sport which may incommode peacable citizens and passengers in any [illegible: street?] of that part of town commonly called the Village of Bedford” faces a fifty-cent penalty.


“By-Laws for the Town of New-Bedford,” New Bedford [MA] Mercury, August 13, 1821.  Accessed by subscription search May 5, 2009.


1822.1 – Round Ball Played in Worcester


“Timothy Taft, who is living in Worcester, October 1897, played Round Ball in 1822.  The game was no new thing then.  I think Mr. Stoddard is right about the game being played directly after the close of the Revolutionary War [see entry #1780c.4].  At any rate, if members of your Commission question the antiquity of the game (Round Ball) we have Mr. Taft still living who played it 83 years ago, and we have corroborative testimony that it was played long before that time.” 


Letter from Henry Sargent, Worcester MA, to Mills Commission, June 10, 1905Henderson, on page 149, quotes the Commission’s press release as referring to a Timothy Tait, which seems likely a reference to Taft.  In this letter Sargent also reports that in Stoddard’s opinion, “the game of Round Ball or Base ball is one and the same thing, and that it dates back before 1845.” 


Note: do we have that Mills Commission release that Henderson cites?


1822.2 -- Round-Arm Bowling Disallowed at Lord’s Cricket Ground


Ford reports that “John Willes of Kent is “no-balled” for “throwing” at Lord’s for round-arm bowling.  Nevertheless William Lillywhite James Broadbridge and others continue this practice.  John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 21.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


1822.3 -- Cricket Clubs, “Other Ball Clubs” Welcomed at Philadelphia PA Facility


In an advertisement about an outdoor recreation establishment run by John Carter Jr. on the western bank of the Schuylkill River near Philadelphia PA is included the sentence “Gentlemen are informed that the grounds are so disposed as to afford sufficient room and accommodation for quoit and cricket and other ball clubs.”  It doesn’t say what these “other ball clubs” are playing.  Saturday Evening Post, June 22, 1822, Vol. 1, Issue 47, page 003.  Submitted by Bill Wagner 1/24/2007.


1822.4 – Trap Ball Advertised at Inn


“TRAP BALL.  This entertaining game and pleasing exercise may be enjoyed every Monday afternoon, at the Traveller’s Rest, in Broad Street, between Chestnut and Walnut.  Traps, Bats, and Balls may be had for select parties or promiscuous companies at any time.  Refreshments of the first quality at the Bar.”


Saturday Evening Post [running ad,  summer 1822].  Provided by Richard Hershberger, email of June 26, 2007. The location is Philadelphia PA.


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. 



1823.1 – National Advocate Reports “Base Ball” Game in NYC


The National Advocate of April 25, 1823, page 2, column 4, states: “I was last Saturday much pleased in witnessing a company of active young men playing the manly and athletic game of ‘base ball’ at the Retreat in Broadway (Jones’) [on the west side of Broadway between what nowadays is Washington Place and Eighth Street]. I am informed they are an organized association, and that a very interesting game will be played on Saturday next at the above place, to commence at half past 3 o'clock, P.M. Any person fond of witnessing this game may avail himself of seeing it played with consummate skill and wonderful dexterity.... It is surprising, and to be regretted that the young men of our city do not engage more in this manual sport; it is innocent amusement, and healthy exercise, attended with but little expense, and has no demoralizing tendency.”


National Advocate, April 25, 1823, page 2, column 4.  As discussed by its modern discoverer George Thompson, in George A. Thompson, Jr., “New York Baseball, 1823,” The National Pastime 2001], pp 6 – 8.


1823.2 – Base-ball Listed Among Games Played in Suffolk


Moor, E., Suffolk Words and Phrases [Woodbridge, England], p. 238.  Per RH ref 123 and Chadwick 1867.  The listed games played in Suffolk include cricket, base-ball, kit-cat, Bandy-wicket, and nine holes. Note:: But not trap-ball?  Moor muses:  “It is not unpleasing thus to see at a glance such a variety of recreations tending to excite innocent gaiety among our young people.  He is no friend to his fellow creatures who desire to curtail them; on the contrary I hold him a benefactor to his county who introduce a new sport among us.”


1823.3 -- Don’t Play Ball Inside the House!


Good Examples for Boys [New York, Mahlon Day], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 190.  A boy breaks a hand mirror with indoor ball play. With illustration.


1823c.4 – Young Man Recalls “More Active Sports of ‘Playing Ball’ or ‘Goal.’”


“Really time flies fast.  Tis but a day it seems since we three were boys . . . . But a day seems to have elapsed since meeting with our neighboring boys, we . . . engaged ourselves in the more active sorts of “playing ball” or “goal.”


Carter, L. A., The Discovery of a Grandmother [H. H. Carter, Newtonville MA, 1920], pp 239-240.  Per Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.  From this note, the excerpts appear to be from a journal kept in 1835-1836 by Albert Ware Paine, born 1813. Note: This item needs t be reconciled with #1820S.12 above.


1823.5 -- Providence RI Bans “Playing Ball” in the Streets


“The Town of Providence have passed a law against playing ball in any of their public streets; the fine is $2.  Why is not the law enforced in this Town?  Newport Mercury, April 26, 1823, Vol. 62, Issue 3185, page 2.  Submitted by John Thorn 1/24/2007.


In August 2007, Craig Waff [email of 8/17/2007] located the actual ordinance:


“Whereas, from the practice of playing ball in the streets of the town, great inconvenience is suffered by the inhabitants and others: . . . no person shall be permitted to play at any game of ball in any of the publick streets or highways within the limits of this town.”


Rhode-Island American and General Advertiser Volume 15, Number 60 (April 25, 1823), page 4, and Number 62 (May 2, 1823), page 4.



1823.6 -- Students Play Baseball at Progressive School in Northampton MA


In their recollections during the 1880s, John Murray Forbes and George Sheyne Shattuck describe playing baseball during the years 1823 to 1828 at the Round Hill School in Northampton MA.  This progressive school for young boys reflected the goals of its co-founders, Joseph Green Cogswell and George Bancroft; in addition to building a gymnasium, the first US school to do so, Round Hill was one of the very first schools to incorporate physical education into its formal curriculum.


Forbes was writing his recollections in 1884, as reported in Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Sara Forbes Hughes, editor [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1899], vol. 1, page 43. Shattuck is quoted in Edward M. Hartwell, Physical Training in American Colleges and Universities [GPO, 1886], page 22. Discovered by Brian Turner and submitted 7/16/2004.


1823.7 – Ditty:  “You Take the Bat, and I’ll carry the Ball”


“Now bright is the morning, how fair is the day,/Come on little Charlie, come with me and play/And yonder is Billy, I’ll give him a call,/Do you take the bat, and I’ll carry the ball./But we’ll make it a rule to be friendly and clever/Even if we are beat, we’ll be pleasant as ever,/’Tis foolish and wicked to quarrel in play,/So if any  one’s angry, we’ll send him away.”


Little Ditties for Little Children (Samuel Wood and Sons, New York, 1823), page 9. An illustration shows two players and one watcher.  One player is using a spoon-shaped bat.  No ball or trap is visible.  From the Origins file at the Giamatti Center at the HOF.



1823.8 – “Impoisoned Ball” Described in London Book


“THE IMPOISONED BALL.  Eight should play at this game; and the method is as follows: --


“Make a hole, and mark it so as to know it again; then draw, to see who is to throw the ball; that done, he must endeavor to put it into one of the holes, and the person’s hole it enters must take the ball and throw at a player, who will endeavor to catch it; the person touched must throw it at another, and he who fails in either of these attempts, or he who is touched, is obliged to put into the hole which belongs to him, a little stone, or a piece of money, or a nut, or any thing to know the hole by.  This is called a counter.  He who first happens to have the number of counters fixed upon, is to stand with his hand extended, and every player is to endeavor to strike the hand with the ball.”


School-boys’ Diversions:  Describing the Many New and Popular Sports (Dean and Munday, London, 1823), pp 20-21.  The MCC has annotated its copy “1820?”  Pub date e-sleuthed by John Thorn, email of 2/3/2008.


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.”


1824.1 – Longfellow on Life at Bowdoin College:  “Ball, Ball, Ball”


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, then a student at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, writes: “This has been a very sickly term in college. However, within the last week, the government seeing that something must be done to induce the students to exercise, recommended a game of ball now and then; which communicated such an impulse to our limbs and joints, that there is nothing now heard of, in our leisure hours, but ball, ball, ball.”


Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, letter to his father Stephen Longfellow, April 11, 1824, in Samuel Longfellow, ed., Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow with Extracts from His Journals and Correspondence [Ticknor and Company, Boston 1886],volume 1, p. 51.  Per Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.


Reprinted in Andrew Hilen, ed., Henry Wadsworth Longefellow, the Letters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, vol. 1 1814 - 1836 [Harvard University Press, 1966], page 87.  Submitted by George Thompson, 7/31/2005.



1824.2 -- Children’s Book Calls Cricket “Noblest Game of All,” and Trap-ball is Pleasing Too


Juvenile Pastimes or Sports for the Four Seasons [London, Dean and Munday], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 191.  For cricket:  “Cricket’s the noblest game of all,/ That can be play’d with bat and ball.”  For trap-ball: “This is a pleasing, healthy sport,/ To which most boys with glee resort.”



1824.3 -- English Novel Cites Base-ball as Girls’ Pastime, Limns Cricket Match


Mitford, Mary Russell, Our Village [London, R. Gilbert], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 191.  “Better than playing with her doll, better even than base-ball, or sliding or romping, does she like to creep of an evening to her father’s knee.”  Block notes that this novel was published in New York in 1828, and Tom Altherr [email of April 2, 2009] adds that there were Philadelphia editions in 1835 and 1841.


Bateman also states that Our Village, which was initially serialised in The Lady’s Magazine between 1824 and 1832, contains the first comprehensive prose description of a cricket match.”  See Bateman, Anthony,“’More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;‘  Culture,, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket,”  Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 34.  Note:  It would be good to confirm when the baseball and cricket references were first published, given the conflicting data on serialization and book publication.


1824.4 – Fondly Remembering the First Ballplaying Richie Allen


Stanzas to the Memory of Richard Allen; The Atheneum; or, Spirit of the English Magazines (1817-1833), Boston, August 16, 1824, vol. 1, Issue 10, page 379. 


“What!  School-fellow, art gone? . . .

Thou wert the blithest lad, that ever/ Haunted a wood or fish’d a river,/ Or from the neighbour’s wall/ Filch’d the gold apricot, to eat/ In darkness, as a pillow treat, -- / Or ‘urged the flying ball!’”/ Supreme at taw! At prisoner’s base/ The gallant greyhound of the chase!/ Matchless at hoop! -- and quick,/ Quick as a squirrel at a tree . . .


1824.5 -- Ballplaying Now Condoned at Dartmouth College


During 1824 the village of Hanover NH authorized “the playing at ball or any game in which ball is used on the public common in front of Dartmouth College, set apart by the Trustees thereof among the purposes for a playground for their students.”  John K. Lord, A History of the Town of Hanover New Hampshire [Dartmouth Press, Hanover NH, 1928], page 23. Submitted by Scott Meacham 8/21/2006.


1824.6 – Great Jurist Recalls Schoolboy Baseball and Phillips Academy in MA


“[At Phillips] Bodily exercise was not, however, entirely superseded by spiritual exercises, and a rudimentary form of base-ball and the heroic sport of foot-ball were followed with some spirit.”  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., “Cinders from the Ashes,” The Works of Oliver Wendel Holmes Volume 8 (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1892), page 251.  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). page 120.  Note: see item #1829c.3 below for Holmes’ Harvard ballplaying.


1825c.1 – Thurlow Weed Plays Base-Ball in Rochester NY


“A baseball club, numbering nearly fifty members, met every afternoon during the ball playing season.  Though the members of the club embraced persons between eighteen and forty, it attracted the young and old.  The ball ground, containing some eight or ten acres, known as Mumford’s meadow . . . .“  Weed goes on to list prominent local professional people, including doctors and lawyers, among the players.


Weed, Thurlow, Life of Thurlow Weed [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1883], volume 1, p. 203.  Per RH ref # 159.


1825.2 – Bass-Ball Challenge Issued in Delhi [NY] Gazette


The following notice appears in the July 13, 1825 edition of the Delhi Gazette:  “The undersigned, all residents of the new town of Hamden, with the exception of Asa Howland, who has recently removed into Delhi, challenge an equal number of persons of any town in the County of Delaware, to meet them at any time at the house of Edward B. Chace, in said town, to play the game of Bass-Ball, for the sum of one dollar each per game . . . .”


Delhi NY Gazette, July 12, 1825, reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 – 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 1 – 2.  Note:  George Thompson has conducted research on the backgrounds of the listed players: personal communications, 11/3/2003.  He found a range of players’ ages from 19 to the mid-30’s.  It is held in PBall file #1825.2.


1825.3 -- Writer Follows Strutt’s Theory That Club-ball Was the Source Game


Aspin, J., Picture of the Manners, Customs, Sports and Pastimes of the Inhabitants of England [London, J. Harris] per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 191.  Aspin’s book reappeared in 1835 as Ancient Customs, Sports, Pastimes of the English, with the same material on ball play.  Note: Are later games mentioned or listed by Aspin?


1825c.4 – John Oliver Plays Base Ball in Baltimore


“John W. Oliver recalls having baseball in Baltimore, Maryland.  His family moved from England when he was three. “He remembers very distinctly having played the game of Base Ball when a boy. He states that his earliest recollection of the playing of the game was when he was about ten years of age, and at that time the game was played in this manner:  The batter held the ball in one hand and a flat stick in the other, tossed the ball into the air and hit on the return, and then ran to either one, two, or three bases depending on the number of boys playing the game.  If the ball was caught on the fly or the batter hit with the ball while running the bases, he was out.  These bases, so called, at that time, were either stones or pieces of sod was removed [sic], or bare places where grass was scraped off.  He remembers seeing the game played frequently while an apprentice boy, but always in this manner, never with a pitcher or a catcher, but sometimes with sides, which were chosen somewhat in the manner in which they are now chosen by boys; that is, by one catching a bat in his hand and another placing his hand on top, alternating in this manner until the last one had hold of the end of the bat, which he swung around his head.  I never saw the game played with stakes or poles used for bases instead of stones or sods. Never heard of a game of Rounders.  One Old Cat, Two Old Cat, Three Old Cat have seen played, but never have taken part in it myself.”


Full text of Mills Commission summary of information from John W. Oliver, Editor, Yonkers Statesman, under date of September 26, 1905.  From the Giamatti Center at Cooperstown.   Note: we wish we could ascertain what were Oliver’s own words, given the artlessness of this summary. Oliver was about 90 when debriefed in 1905.



1825.5 – Base Ball Called One of the College Sports as Early as 1825.


“What we know as Base Ball was played in its primitive form as far back as the beginning of the last [19th] century, and many of the oldest inhabitants remember seeing it played.  It was one of the college sports as early as 1825.”


Francis C. Richter, Richter’s History and Records of Base Ball; The American Nation’s Chief Sport [McFarland, 2005], page 4.  Originally published in 1914.  Cited as Richter, History and Records , page 12, by Harold Seymour – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.  Seymour notes that Richter was editor of Sporting Life in 1906.


1825c.6 -- Cricket Played at Southern Outings


In the South, “cricket was played even at the end of house raisings and trainings.  The game was played along with quoits and other games of skill and strength.  Parties were formed to go on fishing trips and picnics, and during the outing, cricket was one of the games played.”  -- Jennie Holliman, American Sports 1785 - 1835 (Porcupine Press, Philadelphia, 1975), page 68.


Holliman here cites The American Farmer, vol. 8, no 143 (1825), which John Thorn found online [email of 2/9/2008], and which does not make a strong case for cricket’s ubiquity.  This piece suggests that an ideal way to spend a Saturday near Baltimore is to have a fishing contest until dinnertime, and “after dinner pitch quoits, or play at cricket, or bowl at nine-pins.”  “Sporting Olio,”  American Farmer, Containing Original Essays and Selections on Rural Economics, July 22, 1825, page 143.   



1825c.7 -- American Chapbook Reprises Couplets on Cricket, Trap-ball


Sports and Pastimes for Children [Baltimore, F. Lucas, Jr.], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 191.  The verse for cricket and trap-ball is taken from the English Juvenile Pastimes [1824, above].


1825.8 -- Wicket Bat Reportedly Long [and  Still?] Held in Deerfield MA Collection


The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association reported that, as of 1908, it retained a wicket bat dating from 1825-30.  Submitted by John Thorn, 1/13/2007.  Note: John is trying to ascertain whether the bat remains in the collection.


1825.9 -- Ballplaying Planned on Saturdays in Hartford CT


“BALL PLAYING: There will be Ball playing in Washington Street, a few rods South of the College, every Saturday afternoon, through the season, the weather permitting, Bats Balls and Refreshments provided by Emmons Rudge.”  American Mercury [Hartford CT] , April 12, 1825.  Submitted by John Thorn, 9/29/2006.


1825.10 – Cricket Reaches Tasmania


References to Tasmanian cricket date back to 1825, the year the colony gained its independence from New South Wales, but there is no detailed mention of matches before 1832.”


Egan, Jack, The Story of Cricket in Australia (ABC Books, 1987), page 16


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


Among many column-inches listing things that should never happen on or near 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 thereof, 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 –Rochester Senior: “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.


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 [] for rounders shows no firm evidence that a game then called rounders was popular in the US.


1825c.14 – Future Ohio Governor is “Best Ball Player at the College”


John Brough was the Governor of Ohio from 1864 to 1865.  At the age of 11 his father died and he took on work as a type-setter.  In 1825 he “entered the Ohio University, at Athens, where he pursued a scientific course, with the addition of Latin . . . . He was fleet of foot and the best ball player at college.”


Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War: Her Statesmen, Generals and Soldiers Volume 1 (Moore Wilstach and Baldwin, Cincinnati, 1868), page 1022.  Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search (“ohio in the war”).  Athens OH is in Eastern Ohio near the WV border, and about 70 miles SE of Columbus.


1826.1 – Christian Visitor to Indiana Commune Unimpressed with Sunday Ballplaying There


“Monday [June] 26th.  I breakfasted at this place.  In Harmony there are about 900 souls. They make no pretensions to religion . . . . I shall only add, that Sunday is a holiday, they have two public balls a week, one every Tuesday and every Saturday night, that the men played ball all yesterday afternoon, that their cornfields and vineyards are overrun with weeds, their school children are half of the time out of school.”


“Extract from the Correspondence of a Young Gentleman Traveling in he Western States,” American Advocate, September 9, 1826.  The location was New Harmony IN, a settlement organized by the utopian thinker Robert Owen in 1824.  New Harmony is near the southern tip of IN, and is on the Wabash River, about 130 miles east of St. Louis and about 120 miles east of Louisville KY.  Accessed by subscription search May 20, 2009.


1826.2 – Ballplaying Said Documented in Troy Michigan on Nation’s 50th


Troy, a small hamlet in Southwestern Michigan, has documentary proof that a game was played there thirteen years before 1839 . . . . [T]he lineups of the two teams contesting in the game at Troy in 1826 are contained n a history of Oakland County.”


The Sporting News, November 14, 1940.  Posted by Tim Wiles on the 19CBB listserve on November 18, 2009.  Tim enlisted Peter Morris in an effort to find confirmatory details.  The result:


Under the heading “A fourth of July in 1826 [the Nation’s 50th birthday, and the day that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died] is an account of the festivities, including a fusillade, patriotic readings, a dinner of pork and beans and bread and pumpkin pies, and “[f]ollowing this was the burning of more powder [cannon volleys?], and a game of base-ball, in which [19 names listed] and other participated.”  Peter determined that two of the players had sons who played for the Franklin Club in later years.


1827.1 – Brown U Student Reports “Play at Ball”


Brown College (Providence, RI) student Williams Latham notes in his diary:  “We had a great play at ball today noon [March 22].”  On April 9: “We this morning . . . have been playing ball, But I have never received so much pleasure from it here as I have in Bridgewater They do not have more than 6 or 7 on a side, so that a great deal of time is spent in running after the ball, neither do they throw so fair ball, They are afraid the fellow in the middle will hit it with his bat-stick.”


Latham, Williams, The Diary of Williams Latham, 1823 – 1827, quoted in W. C. Bronson, The History of Brown University 1764 – 1914 [Providence, Brown University, 1914], p. 245.  Per Henderson ref # 101.  Query; “The fellow in the middle?” 


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? 


1827.3 – First Oxford-Cambridge Cricket Match Held


Per Stephen Green, interview at Lords.  Also noted in John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 21.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


1827.4 -- Poisoned Ball Listed in French Manual of Games


Celnart, Elizabeth, Manuel complet des jeux de societe (Complete manual of social games) [Paris, Roret], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 192.  The material on “la balle empoisonee” is reported as “virtually identical” to that of the 1810 Les Jeux des juenes garcons, above at 1810. Note: Are any other safe-haven games listed?  Other batting games?


1827.5 -- Science of Trap Construction Revealed


Paris, J. A., Philosophy in Sport Made Science in Earnest, Being an Attempt to Illustrate the First Principles of Natural Philosophy by the Aid of the Popular Toys and Sports of Youth [London, Longman], 3 volumes, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 192.  Block notes that detailed illustrations of the trap are included, but mentions no other games.


1827.6 – A Tip 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 to girls, these amusements may be advantageously supplanted by bass-bal, battledore and shuttlecock, and similar and playful pursuits.”


William Newnham, The Principles of Physical, Intellectual, Moral, and Religious Education, Volume 1 (London, 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.


1827.8 – Lithograph Shows Ballplaying in City Hall Park, NY


John Thorn [emails of 9/1/2009] has unearthed an engraving of City Hall Park that depicts a ball game in progress in the distance.  My squint shows me pitcher, batsman, a close-in catcher, two distant fielders and three spectators (two seated).  Old cat?  Single wicket cricket? Scrub base ball?


The lithograph, titled “The Park, 1827,” is published as the frontispiece Valentine’s Manual for the Corporation of the City of New York (1855).  For a wee image, try a Google Web search ("the park, 1827/McSpedon").


1827.9 – Baltimore MD Bans Ballplaying on Sundays and within City Limits


“CITY OF BALTIMORE.  36. AN ORDINANCE to restrain evil practices therein mentioned. . . .[Sec. 3] it shall not be lawful for any person to play at bandy or ball, to fly a kite or throw a stone or any other missile in . . . any street, lane, or alley opened for public use within the limits of the city.”  Section 7 covers Sabbath play, again including ball, and adding “pitching quoits or money.  The penalty was $1.00.  The ordinance is dated March 2, 1827.


Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser, March 13, 1827, page 3.  Posted to the 19CBB listserve November 2009 by George Thompson.  Note: One type of ballplaying that was banned was that described by young John Oliver at entry #1825c.4, above.



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 Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 65.   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.


1828.2 – Portland Newspaper Reports Boys Playing at “Bat-and-Ball.”


Anderson, Will, Was Baseball Really Invented in Maine? [private printing, Portland, 1992], p. 1.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 70.  Note: can we obtain the text?


1828c.3 –Author Carried Now-Lost 1828 Clipping of Ball Game in Rochester


“Your article on baseball’s origins reminded me of an evening spent in Cooperstown with the author Samuel Hopkins Adams more than 30 years ago.  Over a drink we discussed briefly the folk tale about the “invention” of baseball in this village in 1839.


“Even then we knew that the attribution to Abner Doubleday was a myth.  Sam Adams capped the discussion by pulling from his wallet a clipping culled from a Rochester newspaper dated 1828 that described in some detail the baseball game that had been played that week in Rochester.”  Note: Priscilla Astifan has looked hard for such an article, and it resists finding.


Letter from Frederick L. Rath, Jr, to the Editor of the New York Times, October 5, 1990Note: other accounts use different dates for this story.


Adams’ biography also notes the author’s doubts about the Doubleday theory: asked in 1955 about his novel Grandfather Stories, which places baseball in Rochester in 1827 [sic], he retorted ”’I am perfectly willing to concede that Cooperstown is the home of the ice cream soda, the movies and the atom bomb, and that General Doubleday wrote Shakespeare.  But,” and he read a newspaper account of the [1828?] Rochester game.”  Samuel V. Kennedy, Samuel Hopkins Adams and the Business of Writing (Syracuse University Press, 1999), page 284.  Submitted by Priscilla Astifan, 1/14/2008 email.


1828c.4 – NH Man Recalls Boyhood Habit of Playing Ball


Cyrus Bradley, born in 1818 in rural NH, refers in 1835 to his boyhood habit of playing ball.


“Journal of Cyrus P. Bradley,” Ohio Archeological and Historical Society, Volume XV [1906], page 210.  Per Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.


1828c.5 – Vermont Schoolboy Recalls Playing Goal, With Elm Trees as Goals


“The big boys had great times playing goal, and other noisy and running games, and the elm trees by our yard were the goals . . . “


History of Samuel Paine, Jr., 1778-1861 and His Wife Pamela (Chase) Paine, 1780-1856, of Randolph VT and Their Ancestors and Descendants, compiled and edited by their grandson Albert Prescott Paine, 1923. Per Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.


1828.6 -- Cricket Allows Species of Round-Arm Bowling


Says Ford:  “Compromise reached permitting round-arm bowling to the level of the elbow.”  John Ford, Cricket: A Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], page 21.  Ford does not give a citation for this account.


1828.7 -- Ballplaying in Pawtucket RI


[Note: Need to recover lost attachment submitted by John Thorn, 7/23/2005 -- see 1828 folder.]


1828.8 – View of NYC Ballplayers “A Worse Menace Than Traffic”


“Let anyone visit Washington Parade, and he will find large groups of men and boys playing ball and filling the air with shouts and yells.”


Evening Post editorial -- no date given.  This quote comes from Berger, Meyer, “In the Ball Park Every Man’s a King,” New York Times, April 14, 1935.  Submitted by John Thorn, fall 2005.


1828.9 -- Mitford Story Centers on Cricket, Touches on Juvenile Baseball


“Then comes a sun burnt gipsy of six . . . . her longing eyes fixed on a game of baseball at the corner of the green till she reaches the cottage door . . . . So the world wags until ten; then the little damsel gets admission to the charity school, her thoughts now fixed on button-holes and spelling-books -- those ensigns of promotion; despising dirt and baseball, and all their joys.”


From “Jack Hatch,” taken from the Village Sketches of Mary Russell Mitford, The Albion: A Journal of News, Politics, and Literature September 9 1828, volume 7, page 65.


Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006 and by David Ball 6/4/2006.  David explains further: “The title character is first introduced as a cricketer, ‘Jack Hatch -- the best cricketer in the parish, in the county, in the country!’ The narrator hears tell of this wonder, who turns out to be a paragon of all the skills but is never able to meet him in person, finally hearing that he has died.  Mitford treats cricket (with tongue admittedly somewhat in cheek) as an epic contest in which the honor of two communities is at stake.  In the opening, very loosely connected section, on the other hand, baseball is described as a child’s game, to be put away early in life.”


1828.10 – Trap Ball Scam Reported!


“Two young lads were taken before the police of Glasgow about the 1st of May, for breaking a pane in a shop keeper’s window in playing trap ball.  Upon being questioned, they stated that they were employed by a glazier to break glass for him at the rate of a penny a pane, and that several other boys were in the same business.  The glazier was of course taken into custody.”


Rochester Daily Advertiser, June 24, 1828.  Submitted by Priscilla Astifan.  Note:  Should we assume that the event happened in Glasgow Scotland and that the account was taken from a newspaper there? 


1828.11 -- Ballplaying Boys in NYC Perturb the Congregations in Church


A “mob of boys, constantly engaged in playing ball [so that] . . . on the Sabbath, while Congregations are in Church, there is more noise and clamour in the vicinity than on any other day [from this] squad of loungers, commencing their daily potations and smoking.”


Commercial Advertiser (NY), January 28, 1828, page 2, column 4.  Contributed by George Thompson, email of January 9, 2009.


1828.12 – Police Nine 1, Men and Boy Sabbath-Breakers 0


It is reported that Alderman Peters of NY’s Ninth Ward, “together with High Constable Hays, at the head of eight or ten of the peace Officers . . . arrest a number of men and boys for breaking the Sabbath by playing ball in a vacant lot.:


New York Evening Post, December 22, 1828, page 2, column 2: and Commercial Advertiser, December 23, 1828, page 2, columns 2-3.  Contributed by George Thompson, email of January 9, 2009.


1828.13 – In Christian Story, a Young Girl Chooses Batting Over Tatting


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 Gipsey Girl,” in The Amulet, Or Christian and Literary Remembrancer (W. Baynes and Son, London, 1828), pp 91-104.  This short moral tale is set in England, and the girl is described as being eight or nine years old.  Accessed 2/4/10 via Google Books search ("amulet or christian" 1828).


Reported by Tom Altherr, “Some Findings on Bass Ball,” Originals, February 2010. This story was reprinted as “The Gipsy Girl,” in The Cabinet Annual: A Christmas and New Year’s Gift for 1855 (E. H. Butler, Philadelphia, 1855) page 93ff: Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008. 


1828.14 – Portsmouth NH Reminder: No Ballplaying, Betting in Public Places


A newspaper article reminded all not to “in any street, lane, alley, or other public place [within a mile of the court house] throw any stones, bricks, snow-balls or dirt, or play at ball or any other game in which ball is used; or play at game whatsoever for money; or smoke any pipe, or cigar.”


“Notice,” New-Hampshire Gazette, July 14, 1828.  Accessed via subscription search May 5, 2009.  Query: this is not a new ordinance; can we find the original date for this language, in Section 4 of the police by-laws?  How does it relate to the Portsmouth ban on cricket in entry #1795.1 above?


1829c.1 – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. Plays Ball as a Harvard student.


Krout, John A, Annals of American Sport [Yale University Press, New Haven, 1929], p. 115.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 49.  Richard Hershberger, posting to 19CBB on 10/8/2007, found an earlier source – Caylor, O. P., “Early Baseball Days,” Washington Post, April 11, 1896.  John Thorn reports [email of 2/15/2008] that Holmes biographies do not mention his sporting interests.  Note: We still need the original source for the famous Harvard story.  Holmes graduated in 1829; the date of play is unconfirmed.  See entry #1824.6 above on Holmes’ reference to prep school baseball at Phillips Academy.  Small Puzzle:  Harvard’s 19th Century playing field was “Holmes Field;” was it named for this Holmes?  Harvard is in Cambridge MA.


1829.2 – Round Ball Played in MA


From a letter to the Mills Commission:  “Mr. Lawrence considers Round Ball and Four Old Cat one and the same game; the Old Cat game merely being the they could do when there were not more than a dozen players, all told. . . . Mr. Lawrence says, as a boy, he played Round Ball in 1829.  So far as Mr. Lawrence’s argument goes for Round Ball being the father of Base Ball it is all well enough, but there are two things that cannot be accounted for; the conception of the foul ball, and the abolishment of the rules that a player could be put out by being hit by a thrown ball.  No one remembers the case of a player being injured by being hit by a thrown ball, so that cannot be the reason for that change.  The foul rule made the greatest skill of the Massachusetts game count for nothing – the batting skill – the back handed and slide batting.  Mr. Stoddard told me that there were 9 of the 14 Upton batters who never batted ahead.”


Henry Sargent Letter to the Mills Commission, June 25, 1905.


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.


1829.4 – In Upstate NY, A Teen’s Death on the Ballfield


“As a number of the students at Fairfield academy were amusing themselves with a game of ball, on the 19th inst., a young man by the name of Philo Petrie, . . . of the town of Little Falls, was hit on the side of his head be a ball club and died almost instantly.  He was about 17 years old.”


New-York Spectator, October 30, 1829, page 2, column 5; taken from the Herkimer Herald.  Posted by George Thompson to the 19CBB listserve on January 3, 2010.   The Jamestown [NY] Journal reran the piece on November 4, 1829: accessed via subscription search on 2/17/2009.  Fairfield NY is about 15 miles east of Utica in Central New York, and about 10 miles north of Herkimer and Little Falls.


1829.5 – Town Ball Takes Off in Philadelphia



“Town ball was pioneered in Philadelphia in the late 1820s by a group of young rope makers who were first heard from in 1829, while playing at 18th and Race Streets.”

William Ryczek, Baseball’s First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 114.  Ryczek cites a 2006 email from Richard Hershberger as the source of the location of the game.  In 1831 two organized groups, which later merged, played town ball: for a succinct history of the origins of Philadelphia town ball, see Richard Hershberger, “A Reconstruction of Philadelphia Town Ball,” Base Ball, volume 1 number 2 (Fall 2007), pp 28-29.



1829.6 – Bat and Ball Can‘t Compete with Organ-Grinding


Rhapsodizing about old organ-ground music, a father writes: “Oh! It makes me feel young again to hear it – for I cannot forget how I used to throw down my books and slate – yes, my very bat and ball, and scamper off to hear it.”


“The Grinding Organ,” in Ladies Magazine (Putnam and Hunt, Boston, 1829), page 379.  Posted to the 19CBB listserve February 17, 2010, by Hugh MacDougall.  Accessed 2/18/2010 via Google Books search ("swiss or savoyard" "bonny doon").  Query: It would be useful to know when and where the author’s youth was spent; Hugh points out that the reference to “muster day” implies that writer is likely depicting New England practices.  If the “father” was in his thirties [pure conjecture] he is here reflecting on bat and ball play from the 1800-1810 period.


1829.7 – While Playing Peacefully, “Wisdom Stole His Bat and Ball”


The poem “Childhood and His Visitors,” evidently first printed [anonymously] in 1829 and appearing in many other places in the ensuing decades, turns on the line “Then Wisdom stole his bat and ball” which signifies the moment when childhood ends and manhood begins.  Wisdom then, the verse continues, “taught him . . . why no toy may last forever.”  One interpretation may be that Childhood was using his bat and ball while “hard at play/Upon a bank of blushing flowers:/ Happy – he knew not whence or why” when Wisdom finally paid her visit.  Thus, an image of bat and ball symbolizes immaturity.


The poem was referenced by Hugh MacDougall in a positing to the 19CBB listserve on 2/17/2010.


A possible initial source is The Casket, a Miscellany, Consisting of Unpublished Poems (John Murray, London, 1829), pages 21-23.  Accessed 2/19/2010 via Google Books search ("the casket a miscellany").  In 1865 the piece, dated 1829, appears in The Poems of Winthrop Mackworth Praed, Volume I (Widdleton, New York, 1865), pages 370-372. Accessed 2/19/2010 via Google Books search ("bat and ball" 1865 widdleton).  Assuming that Praed was the actual author, as his wife thought, the poem had appeared during the year when, at age 27, the young Romantic turned away from thoughts of blushing flowers and toward a career as a British lawyer and Tory politician.


1830.1 – Children’s Amusements Describes Bat/Ball Play for Brits and Yanks


The book Children’s Amusements, published in Oxford (England) and New York, contains an illustration of ball playing (page 9) and this text (page 10): “Playing ball is much practised by school boys and is an excellent exercise to unbend the mind, and restore to the body that elasticity and spring which the close application to sedentary employment in their studies within doors, has a tendency to clog, dull or blunt. But, when practised as is the common method, with a club or bat great care is necessary, as sometimes sad accidents have happened, by its slipping from the hand, or hitting some of their fellows. We would therefore, recommend Fives as a safer play in which the club is not used and which is equally good for exercise. The writer of this, beside other sad hurts which he has been witness of in the use of clubs, knew a youth who had his skull broke badly with one, and it nearly cost him his life.”


Children’s Amusements, [New York, Samuel Wood, 1820], p. 9. Note: we need to sort out the #1820.1 and #1830.1 entries for this title.


1830c.2 – Thoreau Associates “Fast Day” with Base-Ball Played in Russet Fields


“April 10 [1856]. Fast-Day.  . . . . I associate this day, when I can remember it, with games of baseball played over beyond the hills in the russet fields toward Sleepy Hollow, where the snow was just melted and dried up.


Submitted by David Nevard.  On 8/2/2005, George Thompson submitted the following reference: Torrey, Bradford, Journal of Henry David Thoreau vol. 8, page 270.  He notes that Princeton University Press is publishing a new edition, but isn’t up to 1856 yet.


1830.3 – Union General Joseph Hooker Plays Baseball as a Boy


Hooker is recalled as having been enthusiastic about baseball in about 1830. [Note: Hooker was about 16 then.]  “[H]e enjoyed and was active in all boyish sorts.  At baseball, then a very different game from now [1895], he was very expert; catching was his forte.  He would take a ball from almost in front of the bat, so eager, active, and dexterous were his movements.”


Franklin Bonney, “Memoir of Joseph Hooker,” Springfield Republican, May 8 1895.  From Henderson text at pp. 147-148.


1830.4 – School Boys Play Base Ball Regularly at Portsmouth NH Grammar School


Letter from J. A. Mendum to Albert Spalding, My 17, 1905..  From Henderson, pp. 149-150, no ref given. John Thorn on 3/4/2006 notes that the letter included a clip from the New Hampshire Gazette titled “Origin of Baseball. Mr. Mendum Played the Game in Portsmouth in 1830.”   XXX request scan from John Thorn


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], Profesor 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.


1830s.6 – Players Drink Egg-Nog in Base Ball Intervals in Portsmouth NH


Brewster, Charles W., Rambles About Portsmouth, Second Series [Lewis Brewster, Portsmouth, 1869], p. 269.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 67.


1830c.7 – Boston MA Gent  Recalls Old Game of “Massachusetts Run-Around”


T. King wrote to the Mills Commission in 1905.  “Just a word in regard to the old game of Massachusetts Run-around. We always pronounced the name as if it were run-round without the “a,” but I presume, technically that should be incorporated.


“This was the old time game which I played between 44 and 50 years ago [1855-1861 – LM.], and which I heard my father speak of as playing 35 to 40 years before that, carrying it back to the vicinity of 1830.”  [Actually, the arithmetic implies the vicinity of 1820.] Note: can we establish the age of King’s father at King’s birth?


T. King, Letter to the Mills Commission, November 24, 1905.


1830c.8 -- Chapbook Illustrates Trap-ball


Juvenile Pastimes in Verse [New York, Mahlon Day], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 193.  The book describes “several popular games,” including trap-ball, with poetry and woodcuts.


1830c.9 -- Indoor Batsman Reappears in Publication


My Father [New York, Mahlon Day], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 193.  The picture from Good Examples (#1823.3, above) is included without accompanying test.


1830c.10 -- Baseball-like Scene Reappears in Children’s Book


Sports of Childhood [Northampton MA, E. Turner], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 193.  Coverage of trap-ball is accompanied by the same base-ball like scene found earlier in Remarks on Children’s Play (#1811.4, above).


1830s.11 -- In MO, the Slowly Migrating Mormons Play Ball


“Ball was a favorite sport with the men, and the Prophet frequently took a hand in the sport.”


John Doyle Lee, Confessions of John D. Lee: Mormonism Unveiled [1877], Chapter 8.


Submitted by John Thorn, 8/17/2004 supplemented 2/22/2006Note: Are we sure that “1830s” is the right date here?  The text may imply a later date.


1830s.12 -- Wicket Ball in Buffalo NY


“[The Indians] would lounge on the steps of the ‘Old First Church,’ where they could look at our young men playing wicket ball in from of the church: (no fences there then), and this was a favorite ball ground.”


Samuel M. Welch, Home History: Recollections of Buffalo During the Decade from 1830 to 1840, or Fifty Years Since [P. Paul and bro., Buffalo, 1890], page 112.  Submitted by John Thorn 9/13/2006.


1830s.13 -- “Baseball” Found in Several Works by Mary Russell Mitford


Submitted by Hugh MacDougall, Cooperstown12/6/2006:


“Everyone knows of Jane Austen’s use of the term baseball in her novel Northanger Abbey [see item #1798.1].  I recently came across, online, an 1841 anthology of works by the English essayist Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1865).  A search revealed five uses of the work “baseball.”  What is intriguing is that every reference seems to assume that “baseball” -- whatever it is -- is a familiar rough and tumble game played by girls (and apparently girls only) between the ages of 6 and 10 or so..


“Mary Mitford seems to have a pretty good idea of what the girls are playing, when they play at “baseball” -- but it seems to have little or nothing to do with the sport we now call by that name.  Does anyone know what it was?


The “baseball” usages:


[] “The Tenants of Beechgrove:” --  “But better than playing with her doll, better even than baseball, or sliding and romping, does she like to creep of an evening to her father’s knee:


[] “Jack Hatch” -- see item #1828.9 above for two references.


[] “Our Village [introduction]”: “ . . . Master Andrew’s four fair-haired girls who are scrambling and squabbling at baseball on the other.”  (See item #1824.3 above.)


[] Belford Regis:  “What can be prettier than this, unless it be the fellow-group of girls . . . who are laughing and screaming round the great oak; then darting to and fro, in a game compounded of hide-and-seek and baseball.  Now tossing the ball high, high amidst the branches; now flinging it low along the common, bowling as it were, almost within reach of the cricketers; now pursuing, now retreating, jumping shouting, bawling -- almost shrieking with ecstasy; whilst one sunburnt black-eyed gipsy throws forth her laughing face from behind the trunk of an old oak, and then flings a newer and gayer ball -- fortunate purchase of some hoarded sixpence -- among her happy playmates.


1830.14 – Australia’s First Recorded Cricket Match Played


The Sydney Gazette [date not supplied] reported on a match between a military club and the Australia Cricket Club, comprising native-born members.  They played at “the Racecourse” at Sydney’s Hyde Park, attracted as many as 200 spectators, and set stakes of  £20 per side.


Egan, Jack, The Story of Cricket in Australia (ABC Books, 1987), page 12.


1830s.15 – In Buffalo NY, Balls Formed from Fish Noses


Writing over 50 years later, Samuel Welch recalled”


“the fish I bought as a small boy at that time [1830-1840], at one cent per pound, mainly to get its noses for cores for our balls, to make them bound, to play the present National Game.”


Welch also recalls the local enthusiasm for ballplaying: “the boys, who must have their fun, did not always ‘Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy,’ but world make a holiday of it by a vigorous game of ball, in some secluded spot in the suburbs of the town.”


Welch, Samuel L., Home History.  Recollections of Buffalo during the Decade from 1830 to 1840, or Fifty Years Since (Peter Paul and Brother, Buffalo, 1891), page 353 and page 220, respectively..  Text unavailable via Google Books as of 11/16/2008.


1830s.16 – Future President Plays Town Ball, Joins Hopping Contests


James Gurley knew Abraham Lincoln from 1834, when Lincoln was 25.  In 1866 he gave an informal interview to William Herndon, the late President’s biographer and former law partner in Springfield IL.  His 1866 recollection:


“We played the old-fashioned game of town ball – jumped – ran – fought and danced.  Lincoln played town ball – he hopped well – in 3 hops he would go 40.2 [feet?] on a dead level. . . . He was a good player – could catch a ball.”  Source – a limited online version of the 1997 book edited by Douglas L Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, Herndon’s Informants (U of Illinois Press, 1997 or 1998). Posted to 19CBB on 12/11/2007 by Richard Hershberger.  Richard notes that the index to the book promises several other references to Lincoln’s ballplaying but [Jan. 2008] reports that the ones he has found are unspecific..  Note:   can we chase this book down and collect those references? 


The previous Protoball entry listed as #1840s.16:  "He [Abraham Lincoln in the 1840s] joined with gusto in outdoor sports -- foot-races, jumping and hopping contests, town ball, wrestling”


Beveridge, Albert J., Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858. [Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1928]. Volume I, page 298. .The author provides source for this info as: “James Gourley's” statement, later established as 1866. Weik MSS.  Per John Thorn, 7/9/04.


1830.17 – NYS Squirrel Hunters Stop for Ballplaying



From an account that appeared 53 later, involving a 25-year-old who lived about 20 miles south of Buffalo NY:


“Mr. Wickham had a great taste for hunting, and he relates the incidents of a squirrel hunt that took place in Collins in 1830. Two sides were chosen, consisting of eight hunters on a side, and the party that scored the most points by producing the tails of the game secured, were declared the victors. . . . About 4 o’clock P.M. the hunters came in and the scores counted up and it was found that Timothy Clark’s side were victorious by over one hundred counts and the day’s sport wound up by an old fashioned game of .base ball, in which Timothy Clark’s men again came off victorious.”


Erasmus Briggs, History of the Original Town of Concord, Being the Present Towns of Concord, Collins, N. Collins, and Sardinia -- Erie County New York (Rochester, Union and Advertiser Company's Print, 1883), page 526.  Submitted by David Nevard, 2/22/07.


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 school 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 enrolled 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.’”


1830s.23 – In South-Central Illinois, Teachers Joined in On Town Ball


“The bull pen, town ball, and drop the handkerchief were among the sports indulged in on the school grounds, and the teacher usually joined in with the sports.”


A. T. Strange, ed., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, Volume 2 (Munsell, Chicago, 1918), page 792.  Contributed by Jeff Kittel, January 31, 2010.  Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search (“town ball and drop).  Jeff’s comments:  “The author is talking about the history of education in Montgomery County, IL, which is located south of Springfield and NE of St. Louis.  It’s tough to date this.  He speaks of ‘75 or 80 years ago,’ so it’s probably the 1830s and 1840s.”


1830s.24 – Union Cricket Club Gains Strength in Philadelphia PA


“No city took to the sport [cricket] with more avidity than Philadelphia where the game had been played since the 1830s by the Union Club”


William Ryczek, Baseball’s First Inning, McFarland, 2009), page 105.  No source is cited.  Ryczek goes on to say that Englishmen who moved to work in the city’s wool industry was one root cause of cricket’s success there.


1830.25 – Proud Father Lauds Son’s Ballplaying Prowess


“My son Roger is a rare lad . . . He can run like a deer, jump like a catamount, wrastle like a bear . . .  . He can pitch quates like all creations, he can play ball like a cat o’ nine tails, and throw a stone where you could never see it again.”


“Parental Partiality.  My Son Roger,” Salem [MA] Gazette, May 7, 1830.  Taken from the New York Constitution.  Accessed via subscription search, April 9, 2009. Roger is described as 19 years old.  Query:  Any chance of discovering the name and residence of the author?


1830c.26 – Plymouth MA Boys Play Round Ball, Other Ballgames


Writing about 70 years later, William Davis considers the range of pastimes in his boyhood:  “After the hoop came, as now, the ball games, skip, one old cat, two old cat, hit or miss, and round ball.  We made our own balls, winding yarn over a core of India rubber, until the right size was reached, and then working a loop stitch all around it with good, tightly spun twine.  Attempts were occasionally made to lay ball in the streets, but the by-laws of the town forbidding it were rigidly enforced.”


William T. Davis, Plymouth Memories of an Octogenarian (Memorial Press, Plymouth MA, 1906), page 104.  Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search (plymouth octogenarian).  Plymouth MA is about 35 miles SE of Boston on Cape Cod Bay.  Query: do we know the nature of the ball games of “skip” and “hit or miss?”


1830c.27 – Lenox Academy Students Play Wicket


Recalling a genial local sheriff, the author writes: “We well remember the urbanity of his manner as he passed the students of Lenox Academy, always bowing to them and greeting them with a pleasant salutation, which tended to increase their self-respect . . . .As he drove by us when we were playing ‘wicket’ – the game of ball them fashionable – he did not drive his stylish horse and gig over our wickets, as many took a malicious pleasure in doing, but turned aside, with a pleasant smile . . . .”


J. E. A. Smith, The History of Pittsfield From the Year 1800 to the Year 1876 (C. W. Bryan & Co., Springfield MA, 1876), pp 401-402.  Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search (history pittsfield 1876).  Lenox Academy was in Lenox MA, about 7 miles S of Pittsfield, and about 35 miles SE of Albany NY.  Caveat: It is difficult to estimate a date for this anecdote.  The gentleman, Major Brown, lived in Pittsfield from 1812 to 1838.  As the event seems to be the author’s personal recollection, verifying if and when he attended the Lenox Academy may narrow the range of possibilities. 


1831.1 – Ball Club Forms in Philadelphia


The Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia unites with a group of ball players based in Camden, NJ


Orem says, without citing a source, that “On the first day but four players appeared, so the game was “Cat Ball,” called in some parts of New England at the time “Two Old Cat.”  [Orem, Preston D., Baseball (1845-1881)From the Newspaper Accounts (self-published, Altadena CA, 1961), page 4.]


Constitution of the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia [private printing, 1838].  Parts reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 5-8. Note: Is it accurate to call this a “town ball” club?  Sullivan dates it to 1837, while J. M. Ward [Ward’s Base Ball Book, page 18] sets 1831 as the date of formation. The constitution was revised in 1837, but the Olympic Club merged with the Camden Town ball Club in 1833, and that event is regarded as the formation date of the Olympics. The story of the Olympics is covered in “Sporting Gossip,” by “the Critic” in an unidentified photocopy found at the Giamatti Research Center at the HOF.  What appears to be a continuation of this article is also at the HOF. It is “Evolution of Baseball from 1833 Up to the Present Time,” by Horace S. Fogel, and appeared in The Philadelphia Daily Evening Telegraph, March 22-23, 1908.



1831.2 -- “Base” and Cricket Listed in Book of US Pastimes


Horatio Smith, Festivals, Games and Amusements, Ancient and Modern [New York, Harper], p 330.  Per Henderson ref 146.  David Block notes that its comment, “The games and amusements of New England are similar to other sections of the United States.  The young men are expert in a variety of games at ball -- such as cricket, base, cat, football, trap ball . . . ,“ is the first known book reference to the play of “base” ball in the US.  [David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 193-194.]


1831.3 -- Should Boys Prefer Bats over Books?


“Is it wonderful that the school-boy should so often prefer his ball-club to his book, and the rod of correction to his task.”


The Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge, Volume 2, Issue 1 [January 1831], page 31.  Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006.


1831.4 – As His Mom Sobs Tenderly, 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.



1832.1 – Union Cricket Club of Philadelphia Forms


Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: Source is Chadwick Scrapbooks, Volume 20.  Note: According to a Harold Seymour note, J. M. Ward’s Baseball [p. 18] sets a date of 1831 for the beginning of regular club play in Philadelphia.]


1832.2 – Two NYC Clubs Play Base Ball


"The history of the present style of playing Base Ball (which of late years has been much improved) was commenced by the Knickerbocker Club in 1845. There were two other clubs in the city that had an organization that date back as far as 1832, the members of one of which mostly resided in the first ward, the lower part of the city, the other in the upper part of the city (9th and 15th wards). Both of these clubs played in the old-fashioned way of throwing the ball and striking the runner, in order to put him out. To the Knickerbocker Club we are indebted for the present improved style of playing the game, and since their organization they have ever been foremost in altering or modifying the rules when in their judgment it would tend to make the game more scientific."


John Thorn added:  The club from lower Manhattan evolves into the New York Club (see entry #1843.1) and later splits into the Knickerbockers and Gothams. The club from upper Manhattan evolves into the Washington Club (see entry #1843.2) which in turn gives way to the Gothams.


William Wood, Manual of Physical Exercises. (Harper Bros., 1867), pp. 189-90.  Per John Thorn, 6/15/04.  Note: Wood provides no source.  He was only about 13 years old in 1832, according to Fred E. Leonard, Pioneers of Modern Physical Training (Association Pres, New York, 1915), page 121.  Text provided by John Thorn, 6/12/2007.



1832.3 – Mary’s Book of Sports [New Haven CT] Has Drawing of “Playing at Ball”


A miniature 8-page book shows four boys playing at ball.  “What more boys at play!  I should not think you could see at play.  Oh, it is too late to play at ball, my lads.  The sun has set.  The birds have gone to roost.  It is time for you to seek your homes.”


Mary’s Book of Sports. With Beautiful Pictures [S. Babcock, New Haven CT, 1832].


1832.4 -- American Chapbook Reuses “Playing at Ball” Woodcut


William Johnson; or, The Village Boy [New Haven, S. Babcock] per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 195.  That woodcut, recycled from Mary’s Book of Sports (1832, above) does not relate to the book’s story


1832.5 -- Boston Spelling/Reading Book Describes Cricket and “Playing at Ball”


The Child’s Own Book [Boston, Munroe and Francis], four parts, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 194.  In part four, cricket play is treated in some detail, and a small woodcut of ball play has the caption, “This picture is intended to represent the Franklin school house in Boston.  It is now recess time, and some lads are playing at ball on the green lawn before the portico of the brick building.”


1832.6 -- Reading Book Contains a Story, “Playing at Trap Ball”


Trimmer, Sarah, Easy Lessons; or Leading Strings to Knowledge [Boston, Munroe and Francis], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 194


1832.7 - Playing Ball on the Prairie


“It was quite amusing to witness the pastimes of the soldiers, when off from duty -- one group was playing ball -- another base, and a third playing cards . . . “


Ellsworth, Henry Leavitt, Washington Irving on the Prairie: or, a Narrative of a Tour of the Southwest in the Year 1832 [American Book Company, 1937].  Note: the nature of the tour, and the location of the cited play would be handsome additions to this reference.


1832.8 – Buffalo NY Council and “Playing at Ball”


Nobody knows when baseball was first played in Buffalo.  There is evidence to show it was played in some form at least as far back as 1832, the year the city was incorporated.  Ordinance #19 of the first city charter reads as follows:  ‘The City Council shall have the authority to make laws regulating the rolling of hoops, flying of kites, playing at ball, or any other amusement having a tendency to annoy persons passing in the streets and sidewalks of the city, or to frighten teams of horses.”


Overfield, Joseph, 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball (Partner’s Press, Kenmore NY, 1985), page 17.


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?”


1833.1 -- Book on Flowers [Yes, Flowers] Shows Overhand Pitch


Breck, Joseph, The Young Florist: or, Conversations on the Culture of Flowers and on Natural History [Boston, Russell and Odiorne], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196.  Inexplicably, notes Block, this book “contains a lovely engraving of boys playing baseball.  The image depicts a pitcher throwing overhand to a batter, who holds a slightly crooked bat, with a catcher standing behind.”


1833.2 -- New Haven Book Portrays Ball Game with Curved Bat


Olney, J., The Easy Reader; or Introduction to the National Preceptor [New Haven, Durrie and Peck], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 195.  Block on this reader’s woodcut: “Three of the players in the image are shown attempting to catch a fly ball, while a fourth holds a strange curved bat.”


1833.3 -- Creation Wars Begin!  English Author Takes on Strutt Theories on the Origins of Cricket and “Bat-and-Ball”


Maxwell, William, The Field Book: or, Sports and Pastimes of the British Islands [London, Effingham Wilson], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 195.  In this book’s short passage on cricket, Block reports, “the author issues a criticism of theories raised by the historian [was he really one? -- LM] Joseph Strutt in Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, published in 1801 [see above -- LM].  Maxwell scoffs at Strutt’s comments that cricket originated from the ancient game of “club ball,” and that the game of trap-ball predated both of these.  Maxwell states that cricket is far older than Strutt acknowledged, and adds: ‘The game of club-ball appears to be none other than the present, well-known bat-and-ball, which . . . was doubtless anterior to trap-ball.  The trap, indeed, carries with it an air of refinement in the ‘march of mechanism.’  ‘ Maxwell suggests that a primitive rural game similar to tip-cat was actually the ancestor of cricket, a game that used a single stick for a wicket, another stick for a bat and a short three-inch stick for the ball.  He is probably alluding the game of cat and dog, which other historians have credited as one of cricket’s progenitors.”  Note: Does Maxwell adduce evidence, or merely assert his views?


1833.4 -- Another CT Chapbook, Another Recycled Woodcut


The Picture Exhibition [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 195.  The reused woodcut is from Mary’s Book of Sports see #1832.3 entry, above).  Block does not mention any text relating to ball play.



1833.5 -- Yes, Another Chapbook from Mister Babcock, with That Same Old Woodcut


The Picture Reader; Designed as a First Reading Book, for Young Masters and Misses [New Haven, S, Babcock] per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 195.  Again, the woodcut by Anderson from Mary’s Book of Sports, [item #1832.3 above] and again, no indication of any text on ball play.


1833.6 -- NY Chapbook:  Jack Hall Will Play at Ball


“Who’ll play at Ball/ I, says Jack Hall,/ I am nimble and tall,/ I’ll play at Ball./ Here is Jack Hall, With his Bat and Ball.”


A Pleasing Toy for Girl or Boy [New York, Mahlon Day], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196.  This eight-page book of children’s pastimes includes an illustration of trap-ball.


1833.7 -- New Haven Chapbook Sports “Tiny” Woodcut on Ball Play


Stories for Emma; or, Scripture Sketches [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196.  Block: “A chapbook that displays a tiny baseball woodcut on its front wrap.”


1833.8 – Untitled Drawing of Ball Game [Wicket?] Appears in US Songbook


Watts’ Divine and Moral Songs – For the Use of Children [New York, Mahlon Day, 374 Pearl Street, 1836], page 15.  Obtained from the “Origins of Baseball” file at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown.  David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196, has found an 1833 edition.


A drawing shows five children – a tosser, batter, two fielders, and boy waiting to bat.  The bats are spoon-shaped. The wicket looks more like a cricket wicket than the long low bar in wicket.  Is it wicket?  Base-ball?  Here’s Block’s commentary.  “ . .  .an interesting woodcut portraying boys playing a slightly ambiguous bat-and-ball game that is possibly baseball . . . .  A goal in the ground near the batter might be a wicket, but it more closely resembles an early baseball goal such as the one pictured in A Little Pretty Pocket-Book(see #1744.2, above).


1833.9 – A Morale Tale: “Lazy Lawrence” Won’t Play Ball


A children’s reader includes a short cautionary story about an indolent lad who just sucked his thumb while “the rest were playing ball.”  An illustration shows several lads appearing to reach for a fly ball, while another holds a crooked bat, having perhaps hit the fly.


Olney, J., The Easy Reader (Durrie and Peck, New Haven, 1833 – as noted in hand), pp. 59-60.  From the Origins file at the Giamatti Center at the HOF.  Note: our copy lacks page 60, onto which the story is continued.


1833.10 – Letter to Student 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.


1833c.12 – America’s First Interclub Ballgame, in Philadelphia


In Philadelphia PA, the Olympic Club and an unnamed club merged in 1833, but only after they had, apparently, played some games against one another.  “Since . . . there weren’t any other ball clubs, either formal or informal, anywhere else until at least 1842, this anonymous context would have to stand as the first ball game between two separate, organized club teams anywhere in the United States.”


John Shiffert, Base Ball in Philadelphia (McFarland, 2006), page 17.  The game was a form of town ball.


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 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.”  The bases are “stones or stakes.”  According to Carver, runners ran clockwise around the bases.  Note: Do we have other accounts of clockwise baserunning?


Carver’s Chapter 3 is called “Games with Balls.”  In an introductory paragraph, he explains that “The games with the bat and ball are numerous, but somewhat similar.  I will mention some of them, which I believe to be the most popular with boys.”  [Page 37.]  Other games describes are Fives, Nine-Holes, or Hat-Ball [a game with running/plugging but no batting], Catch-Ball [also a running/plugging game], Rackets, and Cricket.


Carver, Robin, The Book of Sports [Boston, Lilly Wait Colman and Holden, 1834], 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.


1834.2 -- Book on Farming Contains Ad for Carver Book


Fessenden, Thomas G., The Complete Farmer and Rural Economist [Boston, Lilly Wait and Co.], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 197.  The only ball playing in this book is an ad for Carver’s The Book of Sports (#1834.1 entry, above), and includes the Boston Common woodcut.


1834.3 -- US Chapbook in German Reprises 1832 Woodcut


Deutsches A B C -- und Bilder Buch fur Kinder (German ABC and picture book for children) [Cincinnati, Truman and Smith], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 197.  The woodcut is lifted from Mary’s Book of Sports (see #1832.3 entry above).


1834.5 -- Cricket Play Begins at Haverford College


“The first cricket club of entirely native-born American youth was founded at Haverford College in PA.  In a manuscript diary kept by an unknown student during the first two years of the existence of the college, under the date of 1834, occurs this entry: ‘About this time a new game was introduced among the students called Cricket. The school was divided into several clubs or associations, each of which was provided with the necessary instruments for playing the game.’”


 John A. Lester, ed., , A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [UPenn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 11.  Lester does not provide a source.


1834.6 -- In Wicket, It’s Hartford CT 146, Litchfield CT 126


The contest took three “ins.”  “Thus, it appears that the ‘Bantam Players’ ‘barked up the wrong tree.’  The utmost harmony existed, and every one appeared to enjoy the sport.”


Connecticut Courant, volume 70, Issue 3618, page 3 [probably reprinted from the Hartford Times.  Submitted by John Thorn 9/29/2006.


1834.7 -- Magazine Cites “Principle Sports of the Day,” One With “Rattllng” Ball-Clubs


An article on what appear to be Scottish games refers to the “report of the guns or the rattle of the ball-clubs,” and concludes that shooting guns and some form a game with a ball-club are “both the principle sports of the day.”


North American Magazine Volume 3, Issue 15, page 198.  Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006. Note:  It would be good to know more about this event.  I think that the Caledonian games became popular in the US later in the century, and I don’t recall that they typically include a batting game.


1834.8 – The First Baseball Fatality?


“A young man named Geo. Goble, residing near Wilkes-barre PA, while playing ball, a few days since, accidentally received a blow from a ball club, from the effects of which he died in twenty four hours after.”


Rhode Island Republican, vol. 25, number 3 (March 26, 1834), page 3, column 2.  Provided by Craig Waff, 8/29/2007 email.  The identical story appeared in the New York Sun, March 19, 1834, page 3 -- per EBay sale accessed 6/12/2007.


1835.1 – Boy’s Book of Sports Describes “Base Ball” [Town Ball?].


Boy’s Book of Sports: A Description of The Exercises and Pastimes of Youth [New Haven, S. Babcock, 1839], pp. 11-12, per Henderson, ref 21.  David Block, in Baseball Before We Knew It, page 197-198, points out that the first edition appeared 4 years before the edition that Henderson cited.


In its section on “base ball,” this book depicts bases in the form of a diamond, with a three-strike rule, plugging, and teams that take the field only after all its players are put out.  The terms “innings” and “diamond” appear [Block thinks for the first time] and base running is switched to counter-clockwise.


For Text:  David Block carries a page of text, and the field diagram, in Appendix 7, pages 282-283, of Baseball Before We Knew It.



1835.2 – Round-arm Bowling Officially Permitted in Cricket


Cashman, Richard, “Cricket,” in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 87.  Per John Thorn, 6/15/04: ORIGIN OF ROUND ARM BOWLING- Letter to editor of Forest and Stream by William Filmer: credited to John Wills of Kent, ca.1820; he attempted to use new style vs. Marylebone in 1822- rejected. Source: Chadwick Scrapbooks, Vol. 20.


1835.3 – Van Cott Source Recalls Diamond-Shaped Field in 1835


W. H. Van Cott was one of the organizers of the Gothams in 1852 and was later President of the NABBP.  He reported on a conversation with a somewhat forgetful senior citizen in 1905. 


“I and II. He played the first game of Ball when he was 14 years old, 70 years ago.  Called Base Ball because of running from base to base, and the field was in the shape of a diamond; 4 bases in all, counting the place of starting as the last one.  He believes that the name originated with the game.  III. He played Two Old Cat game, but no other . . . .  IV and V. He does not remember ever to have played Rounders, but VI. He has an indistinct recollection of the game. VII. He cannot remember any rules.”


W. H. Van Cott, Mount Vernon NY, Communication to the Mills Commission, September 22, 1905. Facsimile obtained from the Giamatti Research Center at the Hall of Fame, June 2009.


1835.4 – A Ballplayer’s Progress: “Bound and Catch,” “Barn Ball,” “Town Ball”


H. H. Waldo told the Mills Commission: “I commenced playing ball seventy years ago (1835). I was the only one in the game and it was called “Toss up and Catch,” or “Bound and Catch.”  A few years later I played “Barn Ball.”  Two were in this game, one a thrower against the barn, and catcher on its rebound, unless the batter hit it with a club; if so, and he could run and touch the barn with his bat, and return to the home plate before the ball reached there, he was not out – otherwise he was.


“A few years later the school boys played what was called “Town Ball.”  That consisted of a catcher, thrower, 1st goal, 2nd goal and home goal.  The inner field was diamond shape: the outer field was occupied by the balance of the players, number not limited.  The outs were as follows: Three strikes,” “Tick and catch,” ball caught on the fly, and base runner hit or touched with the ball off from the base.  That was sometimes modified by “Over the fence and out.” [Note: this places Town Ball at about 1840 or so.]


Letter from H. H. Waldo, Rockford IL, to the Mills Commission, July 7, 1905.


1835c.5 – Base Ball Recalled as Very Popular at Exeter


“The games of bat-and-ball in former years were various, but most popular were “four old cat” and base ball. The latter alone survives to this day [1883], and in a very changed condition. . . .  A very large proportion of the students participated in the sport; and the old residents will readily recall with what regularity.  Fast day used to be devoted to the base ball of the period.”


Charles H. Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire: A Historical Sketch (News Letter Press, Exeter NH, 1883), page 83.  Caveat:  The section in which this excerpt resides evidently games played half a century earlier, but other interpretations are possible.


1835.6 – US Book Describes “Barn Ball,” “Base, or Goal Ball.”


Boy’s and Girl’s Book of Sports [Providence, Cory and Daniels], pp 17-19, per Harold Seymour – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.  The base ball material is taken from Carver (1835 entry, above).  Also cited by David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199.


1835.7 -- Boston Common Ballplaying Picture Migrates to Religious Chapbook


The First Lie, or Falsehood Its Own Punishment [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199.  The illustration from Carver’s The Book of Sports (see 1835 entry, above) reappears here, this time with the caption “the play ground of Mr. Watt’s school.”


1835.8 --Old Woodcut, New Caption Uses the Term “Knock”


Sports of Youth; a Book of Plays [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 200.  It’s that woodcut from the 1832 Mary’s Book of Sports, explained as follows:  “One of them stands ready to toss the ball -- one to knock it, and two to run after it, if they fail to catch it.”  This game simply adds batting to the game called “Catch-Ball” in Carver [#1834.1 above].


1835.9 -- Woodcut from Mary’s is Inked Up Again


Two Short Stories, for Little Girls and Boys [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 200.  Hey, photography had only been invented five years earlier, so it was still the Age of Woodcuts, and Mary’s Book of Sports (#1832.3 above) was the source again.


1835c.10 -- Ubiquitous Woodcut Pops Up in Cincinnati


The Child’s Song Book [Cincinnati, Truman and Smith], David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199.  Remember that woodcut so favored by S. Babcock in New Haven?  The Cincinnatians got it next.  Its debut had been in 1832, in Mary’s Book of Sports. [See #1832.2 above]


1835c.11 -- New Northeastern Chapbook Shows Cricket, Bat-and-Ball


Happy Home [New York and Philadelphia, Turner and Fisher], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199.  It’s only eight pages in length, but this book shows cricket and “bat and ball” being played in the backgrounds of pastoral views.


1835c.12 -- Oops, He Missed It; Will He Be Called “Old Butter Fingers?”


Rose of Affection [New York and Philadelphia, Turner and Fisher], David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 199-200.  This short chapbook shows a field with a one-handed bat, a trap, but also a pitched ball.  “With a bound, see the ball go,/Now high in the air as hit it just so,/No catch is Jo.; oh, how he lingers,/He’ll soon have the name of old butter fingers.”

Block notes that the term was used for clumsy persons as far back as 1615.


1835c.13 – MA Gents Recall Boyhood Games in 1830s:  Cat, Wicket, OFBB


As reported in 1886, a reunion of men who played together in East Granville MA held a reunion and reflected on their youthful play.  The account, which first appeared in a CT paper, The Winsted Herald, noted:


“These old fellows were born before the era of the national game opened.  They doubtless knew how to play one, two, and three old cat, and wicket, and the old fashioned kind of base ball when a foul was known as a tick; when a ball, which was not an instrument of torture as now, was thrown at a runner instead of to the baseman . . . “


The story is told in Genovese, Daniel L, The Old Ball Ground: The Chronological History of Westfield Baseball (2004), page 12.  Genovese cites the Times and News Letter [City?], July 21, 1886, which had reprinted the Winsted Herald piece. Note:  Can we obtain the original article?  It seems difficult to distinguish the men’s reflections from the notions of the 1886 reporter.


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.   


1835c.15 – Grown Man Mourns as Trenton’s Playing Fields Vanish


A Trenton NJ commentator pauses to rue the destruction of a favorite old tavern, adding that in the last twenty years “[w]e have seen whole streets spring up as if by magic, The fields where we played ball are now filled with machinery.”


“Local Items,” Trenton State Gazette, August 16, 1853.  Accessed via subscription search May 20, 2009.


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”).


1836.1 – “Old-fashioned ‘Ball’” Popular in Waterville ME


“Baseball and foot ball did not, in those days, ensnare the athletic sympathies and activities of [p36/p37] college boys, but old-fashioned ‘ball’ and quoits were popular.”


Asahel C. Kendrick, Martin B. Anderson: A Biography (American Baptist Publications Society, Philadelphia, 1895), pp 36-37.  Per Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.  Seymour’s note implies that the section heading in which this text appears is “(1836) “Ball” at Waterville [Later Colby College].” Sources found by John Thorn [email of 2/9/2008] and Mark Aubrey [email of 1/30/2008].


1836.2 -- German Book of Games Copies Gutsmuths’ Base-ball Piece


Werner, Johann A. L., Die reinst Quelle jugendlicher Freuden (The Purest Source of Joy for Youngsters) [Dresden and Leipzig, Arnoldi], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 200.  This survey of 300 games, called “notably unoriginal” by Block, repeats Gutsmuths’ (see entry #1796.1, above) material on base-ball, explaining “This game originates by way of England, where it bears the name base-ball, and it played there very frequently.” Note: Is this last comment also derivative of the Gutsmuths text, or does it confirm “base-ball” play in England in the 1820s and 1830s?


1836.3 -- Little Learners Chapbook Shows Trap-ball


Little Lessons for Little Learners [New Haven, S. Babcock], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 201.  The trap hadn’t disappeared from CT yet.


1836c.4 – The Ballgames “Old Cat” and “Base” Played in Concord MA


[Continuing a list of games that boys played:] “ . . . various games of ball.  These games of ball were much less scientific and difficult than the modern games.  Chief were four old-cat, three old-cat, two old-cat, and base.”


Hoar, George F., Autobiography of Seventy Years Volume 1 (Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1905), page 52.  Hoar was ten years old in 1836.  Per Seymour, Harold – Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.


1836.5 -- Yanks Burn British Runners . . . in Canton, China


“Sometimes we raced our boats [against the English] to the baseball grounds . . . .  In out-of-doors sorts the Englishman has perforce to drop his insular dignity and become democratic, and he never does it by halves.  [A runner could be]] pelted by the hard ball as he tried to run in, for it was then the fashion to throw at the runner, and if hit he was out for the inning.


Sara Forbes Hughes, ed., Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1899] volume 1, page 86.  Submitted by John Bowman, 7/16/2004.  John adds: Forbes was a Massachusetts man, and one supposes that when he played baseball at the Round Hill school in Northampton [see item #1823.6 above] , “soaking” was then a routine aspect of the game.”


1836.6 – Georgetown U Students “play Ball”


In a letter to a friend in 1836, a Georgetown Student wrote, “the Catholics think it no harm to play Ball, Draughts, or play the Fiddle and dance of a Sunday . . . “


Cited in Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 316, as follows: Georgetown Student Letter, August 27, 1836, quoted in Betty Spears and Richard Swanson, History of Sport and Physical Activity in the United States, Second Edition (William C. Brown, Dubuque, 1983), page 85.


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.


1836.8 – New Bedford MA:  “No Person Shall Play at Ball”


In June the town wrote new by-laws:


“Section Eighth: No person shall play at ball, fly a kite, or slide down hill upon a sled, or play at other game so as to incommodate peaceable citizens or passengers, in any street, lane, or public place in this town, under a penalty not exceeding one dollar for each offence.”


“By-Laws of the Town of New Bedford,” New Bedford [MA] Mercury, September 30, 1836.  Accessed via subscription search May 5, 2009.  Note: See #1821.6 above: this by-law simply adds “public places,” and doubles the penalty, for the rule made 15 years earlier.


1836.9 -- Milwaukee Ballplaying Recalled, and the Ball Long Preserved


“In April 1892 the Milwaukee [WI] Old Settler’s Club received a ball from a Mr. E. W. Edgerton which the young men used to play ball in 1836.  The ball was made of yarn wound on a rubber center.  The cover was cut in quarters.  Mr. Edgerton stated he made the ball himself, and the cover was sewed on by Mrs. Edward Wiesner, wife of the first shoemaker in Milwaukee. Edgerton gave the names of some of his fellow 1836 players, some familiar in Milwaukee’s early history.”


Posting to the 19CBB listserve by Dennis Pajot, January 3, 2010.  In 1946 a journalist speculated that the N-old-cat games were what was likely played in 1836   Dennis cites the April 19, 1892 issues of the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel.



1837.1 – A Founder of the Gothams Remembers “First Ball Organization in the US


William R. Wheaton, who would several years later help found the Knickerbockers, described how the Gothams were formed and the changes they introduced.  “We had to have a good outdoor game, and as the games then in vogue didn’t suit us we decided to remodel three-cornered cat and make a new game.  We first organized what we called the Gotham Baseball Club.  This was the first ball organization in the United States, and it was completed in 1837. 


“The first step we took in making baseball was to abolish the rule of throwing the ball at the runner and ordered instead that it should be thrown to the baseman instead, who had to touch the runner before he reached the base.  During the [earlier] regime of three-cornered cat there were no regular bases, but only such permanent objects as a bedded boulder or and old stump, and often the diamond looked strangely like an irregular polygon.  We laid out the ground at Madison Square in the form of an accurate diamond, with home-plate and sand bags for bases.”


“ . . . it was found necessary to reduce the new rules to writing.  This work fell to my hands, and the code I them formulated is substantially that in use today.  We abandoned the old rule of putting out on the first bound and confined it to fly catching.”


“The new game quickly became very popular with New Yorkers, and the numbers of clubs soon swelled beyond the fastidious notions of some of us, and we decided to withdraw and found a new organization, which we called the  Knickerbocker.“


Brown, Randall, “How Baseball Began, National Pastime, 24 [2004], pp 51-54.  Brown’s article is based on the newly-discovered “How Baseball Began – A Member of the Gotham Club of Fifty Years Ago Tells About It, San Francisco Daily Examiner, November 27, 1887, page 14.  The full text of this article is here.  Note: How does Brown know that the unsigned article was written by Wheaton?


1837.2 – Ball Game Described in Fictional Account of Western Indians


Captured by Native Americans, a youth see them playing a game of ball.  The “ball” was part of a sturgeon’s head covered with deerskin strips, the club was of hickory, some number of safe-haven bases were formed by small piles of stones, and there was plugging.  “Their principal object seemed to be, to send the ball as far as possible, in order for the striker of it, to run around the great space of ground, which was comprised within the area formed by the piles of stones.”  There is no mention of a pitcher, and if a batter-runner was put out, he would replace the fielder who made the putout.  Some games would last for days.


Female Robinson Crusoe, A Tale of the American Wilderness [J. W. Bell, New York, 1837], pp 176-178.  Per RH ref 58.  Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 – 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 4-5.


For Text:  David Block carries three paragraphs of text from this story in Appendix 7, page 283, of Baseball Before We Knew It.


1837.3 – Yale Student Sees College Green Covered With Ballplaying


“[March 1837, New Haven CT]  It is about time now for playing ball, and the whole green is covered with students engaged in that fine game: for my part, I could never made a ball player.  I can’t see where the ball is coming soon enough to put the ball-club in its way.”


Whitney, Josiah D., letter to his sister, March 1837, reprinted in E. T. Brewster, Life and Letters of Josiah Dwight Whitney [Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1909.  Per Thomas L. Altherr, “A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball,” reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 50.


1837.4 -- Trap-ball Found in Book of “Many Exercises and Exercises for Ladies”


Walker, Donald, Games and Sports; Being an Appendix to Manly Exercises and Exercises for Ladies [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 201.  Most of this text covers gymnastic routines, but trap-ball is also included.  Note: Is this an early use of the term “manly” in sports?


1837.5 -- “One-Old-Cat” Appears in Children’s Story


Gallaudet, Edward, The Jewel, or, Token of Friendship [New York, Bancroft and Holley], page 90, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 201.  One sentence appears in a story called The Barlow Knife: “Just then, two of his playmates coming along with a ball, Dick put his knife in his pocket, and went to join them in a game of ‘one-old-cat.’  Block’s comment is that “[t]he brief mention in this story is noteworthy because, despite the game’s reputed popularity during the first decades of the nineteenth century, no other reference to the name can be found before 1850.  One-old-cat was a form of scrub baseball that required as few as three players and may have been played in America as early as the colonial era.”


1837.6 -- Constitution Written for Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia PA


This constitution is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 – 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 5-8.  The rules do not shed light on the nature of the game played.  Membership was restricted to those above the age of twenty-one.  One day per month was set for practice [“Club” day”. Note: Sullivan dates the constitution at 1837, but notes that it was printed in 1838. See Constitution of the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia [Philadelphia, John Clark], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 223.


1837.7 – Canton Illinois Bans Sunday Cricket, Cat, Town-Ball, Etc.


Section 36 of the Canton IL ordinance passed on 3/27/1837 said:


“any person who shall on the Sabbath day play at bandy, cricket, cat, town-ball, corner-ball, over-ball, fives, or any other  game of ball, in any public place, shall . . . “ [be fined one dollar]., as accessed 1/1/2008.  Information provided by David Nevard 6/11/2007.  See also #1837.8, below.  Canton IL is about 25 miles SW of Peoria.


On January 31, 2010, Jeff Kittel indicated that he has found the text in another source: History of Fulton County, Illinois (Chapman & Co., Peoria, 1879), pp 527-528.  Accessed 2/6/10 via Google Books search ("history of fulton" 1879).  Jeff, noting that the ban appeared just 37 days after Canton was incorporated, adds:


It seems that they had a lively community of ballplayers in Fulton County.  Obviously, if they’re passing laws against the playing of ball, ball-playing is so widely prevalent, and there is such a variety of ball games being played, then pre-modern baseball had been played in the community for some time.