“A Game of Ball”
At Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 1853.
Recalled by Dr. William Augustus Mowry, as quoted in C. M. Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy Andover. Boston: Houghton Mifflin (1917).
Nine of us signed and posted on the bulletin board of the Academy a challenge to play a game of ball with any other nine in the school. This notice remained posted for two weeks, but nine persons could not be found who would accept the challenge. We therefore tore it down and rewrote it, challenging eleven men. The number nine had no especial significance, except that it was a convenient number to play the game. Eleven would give that side a very decided advantage.
The challenge was accepted, and a Saturday afternoon selected for the game. It was played on the open field in the rear of the Seminary buildings. The game was a long one. No account was in those days made of “innings”; the record was made merely of runs. When one had knocked the ball, had run the bases, and had reached the “home goal,” that counted one “tally.” The game was for fifty tallies. The custom then was to have no umpire, and the pitcher stood midway between the second and third bases, but nearer the center of the square. The batter stood midway between the first and fourth bases, and the catcher just behind the batter, as near or as far as he pleased.
Well, we beat the eleven, the tally standing on the side of the nine, 50, and on the side of the eleven, 37. Of course there had to be another game. It was played, and they beat us; so the score stood “one-and-one.” Several weeks passed before the “rubber” came off. Both parties waited until everything was “good and ready.” The field was lined with a large number of interested spectators. After a time the tally stood 37 to 37. Then we put out the other side and took our turn at bat. When I came up instead of striking the ball, I let it hit the bat and glance away over the wall behind the catchers. Then I ran around to the home base before the ball got back to the field. This would be a foul to-day, but it was allowable then. Our side now had 38, and we succeeded in keeping in until we secured the 50.