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Baste, or baste ball, may simply be a variant spelling of base ball. The most famous US usage is in a Princeton student’s diary entry for 1786 (5 years before the first known use of "base ball" in the US), which reveals only that the game involves catching and hitting. Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
As of February 2017, Protoball knows of only three US uses of the term Baste: the Princeton diary, in an account of President Benjamin Harrison's teen years around 1850, and in Tennessee in 1874. Further input is welcome.
In early 2017,David Block summarized his English research findings: "Regarding 'baste,' I have seen at least two dozen examples of the term 'baste-ball' used in England in the 18th and 19th centuries. It's clear from context that this was an alternate spelling of base-ball, along with bass-ball. I don't doubt the same was true for the few instances of baste-ball's use in America."
A superficial Google search for <baste pastime game> in February 2017 throws no further light on ballplaying forms of baste. A somewhat primitive tagging game for children -- Baste the Bear -- in Europe and England is known, but does not appear to be consistent with US finds reported to Protoball.
See Protoball Chronology entry 1786.1. A second entry, 1848c.9, includes baste ball in a list of boyhood games played by future US President Benjamin Harrison. A third entry, 1874.2, reports its use as a game played in Chattanooga TN.
Email to Protoball from David Block, 2/19/2017.
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