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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 than 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.
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?
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], pp. 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.
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
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 suggests that it 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 #1365.1 below, 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. Strutt’s text reads: “The recreations prohibited by proclamation in the reign of Edward III., exclusive of the games of chance, are thus specified; throwing of stones, wood, or iron….” The accompanying footnote reads: “Pilam manualtm, ptdinam, el bacculoream, et ad cambucam, etc.” 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 replaced 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.
1365.1 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. Edward II had issued a ban of his own in 1314, regarding football.
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, etc. (Daines Barrington, London, 1766), page 335.
The 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), p 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?
1478.2 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 a game 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.
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 http://retrosheet.org/Protoball/Glossary.htm], 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.
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?
1656.3 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.
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?
1700c.2 Wicket Seen on Boston Common . . . But Never on Sunday (No Strolling, Either)
"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.
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."
Eleazar Wheelock, A Continuation of the Narrative , 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.
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 Chron entry #1771.1.
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.
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. The Wallace book was accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Book search for "'princeton sketches.'" The college is in Princeton NJ.
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.
Note: Princeton was known as the College of New Jersey until 1896.
Can we determine why this "shiny" inference was made?
1791.1 "Bafeball" Among Games Banned in Pittsfield MA - also Cricket, Wicket
In Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in order 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 Pittsfield Mayor James Ruberto.
An account of this find (a re-find, technically) is at John Thorn, "1791 and All That: Baseball and the Berkshires," Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Volume 1, Number 1 (Spring 2007) pp. 119-126.
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.
While this apppears to be the first American use of the term "base ball," see item 1786.1 above, in which a Princeton student notes having played "baste ball" five years earlier. See item 1786.1.
The town of Northampton MA issued a similar order in 1791, but omitted base ball and wicket from the list of special games of ball. See item 1791.2. Northampton is about 40 miles SE of Pittsfield.
John Thorn's essay on the Pittsfield regulation is found at John Thorn, "The Pittsfield "Baseball" By-law: What it Means," Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, Number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 46-49.
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.
It is interesting that neither base-ball nor wicket is named in a town that is not so far from Pittsfield. See item 1791.1.
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.
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.
1797.5 In NC, Negroes Face 15 Lashes for Ballplaying
Bans, African Americans
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
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.
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.
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.
1805.9 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).
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.
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?
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.
1816.9 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.
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.
1820.17 "The Game of Ball" Banned in Area of Belfast ME
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.
1821.6 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.
1822.5 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.
1823.5 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.
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.
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.
1828.12 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.
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?"
1834.9 Town Ball, Other Games on Sabbath Subject to Dollar Fine in Springfield IL
"Any person who shall on the Sabbath day play bandy, cricket, cat, town ball, corner ball, over ball, fives, or any other game of ball, within the limits of the Corporation, or shall engage in pitching dollars, or quoits in any public place, shall on conviction thereof, be fined the sum of one dollar."
Illinois Weekly State Journal, June 14, 1834.
Richard Hershberger writes: "If I recall correctly, the earliest known cites for "town ball" are reportedly from 1837, from local ordinances in Canton, IL and Indianapolis, IN. This is a similar ordinance, from Springfield, IL, from 1834."
1834.10 Plattsburgh NY Sets Fifty Cent Fine for Ball Play
"It is ordained, by the Trustees of the Village of Plattsburgh, that no person shall, at any time after the 22d of April, 1834, play ball, either in Bridge-street or Margaret-street, in said Village, under a penalty of fifty cents for each offence, to be sued for and recovered with costs."
This ordinance was approved by the village board of trustees on 4/19/1834.
Plattsburgh Republican, April 19, 1834, page 3, column 5.
Plattsburgh NY (1840 population not ascertained) is about 70 miles S of Montreal Canada and on the western shore of Lake Champlain. It is about 25 miles S of the Canadian border.
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.
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].
http://www.illinoisancestors.org/fulton/1871_canton/pages95_126.html#firstincorporation, 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. It's fascinating that one of the first things they did, upon incorporation, was ban ball-playing on the Sabbath."
1837.8 Well, As Goes Canton, So Goes Indianapolis
Section 34 of an Indianapolis IN ordinance said:
"Any person who shall on the Sabbath day play at cricket, bandy, cat, town ball, corner ball, or any other game of ball within the limits of the corporation, or shall engage in pitching quoits or dollars in any public place therein, shall on conviction pay the sum of one dollar for each offense." [See the very similar #1837.7, above.]
Richard pointed out in 2008 that these very similar regulations give us the earliest citation for the term "town ball" he knows of, but in 2014 he found the very similar 1834 prohibition on Springfield IL at 1834.9.
Indiana Journal, May 13, 1837.
Note: A dollar fine for "pitching dollars?"
1839.2 NYC Ordinances Permit No Ballplaying, "Or Any Other Sport Whatsoever."
On May 8, the New York City By-laws and Ordinancesprohibit ball playing: "No person shall play at ball, quoits, or any other sport or play whatsoever, in any public place in the City of New York, nor throw stones nor run foot races in or over or upon the same, under the penalty of five dollars for each offence."
Source is By-Laws and Ordinances of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Commonality of the City of New York. Revised 1838-1839 [William B. Townsend, New York, 1839], page 215.
1840.35 Carlisle PA Bans Playing Ball
"It shall not be lawful for any person or persons . . . to frequent and use the market-house as a place for playing ball or any other game." "An Ordinance Relating to Nuisances and Other Offences Passed the 30th November, 1840," in Chatter and Ordinances of the Borough of Carlisle (Carlisle Herald Office, Carlisle, 1841), page 43. 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 37. The fine was up to $10.00. Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search for "carlisle ordinances." Carlisle PA is about 20 miles WSW of Harrisburg in southern PA.
1841.14 NY State Senator Tests the Sabbath Law
NY State Senator Minthorne Tompkins, whose property opens on a lot "well calculated for a game of ball . . . has been much diverted of late with the sport of the boys, who have numbers some three hundred strong on [Sabbath Day]. . . . The Sunday officers believing it to be their duty to stop this open violation of the laws of the State, took measures to effect it, but Senator T. believing the law wrong, too measures to sustain it, and when the officers appeared on the ground Sunday fortnight, the Senator also appeared, and told the boys that he would protect them, if they would protect him. Thus they entered into an alliance offensive and defensive, and the officers, after a little brush with the honorable ex-senator, he having given his name as responsible for their deeds, left the premises in charge of the victors, they conceiving that among three hundred opponents, discretion was the greater part of valor. The ex-senator appeared at the upper police before Justice Palmer, and after a hearing, entered bail for an appearance at the Court of Sessions, to answer the offense of interfering with the duties of the officers, etc. He refused to pay the costs of suit . . . . Justice Palmer discovering that the ex-senator's lawyers, John A. Morrill and Thomas Tucker, Esqrs. were about obtaining a writ of habeas corpus, concluded to let him go without getting the costs, in order that the case might be tested before the Court of Sessions. Thus the affair stands at present, and when it comes up before trial will present a curious aspect." New York Herald, December 21,1841. Posted to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger on 2/2/2008.
Richard adds, "Alas, a search does not turn up the resolution to this case".
1845.12 Cleveland OH Bans "Any Game of Ball"
"[I]t shall be unlawful for any person or persons to play at any game of Ball . . . whereby the grass or grounds of any Pubic place or square shall be defaced or injured." (Fine is $5 plus costs of prosecution.)
Cleveland City Council Archives, 1845. March 4, 1845 Link provided by John Thorn 11/6/2006. For an image of the ordinance, go to:
http://omp.ohiolink.edu/OMP/Printable?oid=1048668&scrapid=2742, accessed /2/2008. This site refers to an earlier ban: "Although as earlier city ordinance outlawed the playing of baseball in the Public Square in Cleveland, the public was not easily dissuaded from playing . . . ." Note: is the earlier Cleveland ban findable?
On 3/6/2008, Craig Waff posted a note to 19CBB that in 1857 it was reported that "this truly national game is daily played in the pubic square," but that a city official suggested that it violated a local ordinance (presumably that of 3/4/1845), and then reported that there in fact was no such law. "The crowd sent up a shout and renewed the game, which continued until dark." "Base Ball in Cleveland, Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 2, number 7 (April 18, 1857, page 109, column 1.P
1852.9 Five Fined in Brooklyn NY for Sunday Ballplaying Near a Church
"Yesterday, quite a number of boys were arrested by the police for ball playing and other similar practices in the public streets . . . . [Three were nabbed] for playing ball in front of the church, corner of Butler and Court streets, during divine service. They were fined $2.50 each this morning by Justice King." Two others were fined for the same offense.
"Breaking the Sabbath," The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, vol. 11 number 99 (April 26, 1852), page 3, column 1.
1852.12 Ball-playing Prohibited Near UNC Buildings
"There shall be no ball playing in or among the College buildings or against the walls. All athletic exercises must be kept at a distance, so as to prevent damage to the buildings and interruption to study."
Acts of the General Assembly and Ordinances of the Trustees for the Organization and Government of he University of North Carolina (Raleigh, NC; North Carolina Institution for the Dumb and the Blind, 1852), page 21. Per Originals, volume 5, number 5 (May 2012), page 2b
Tom Altherr suggests that "The ordinance certainly prohibited handball games, such as fives, but it could have as easily targeted base ball-type games."
1855.29 Even the Australians Are Bothered by Sunday Baseball
Ball in the Culture, Bans
"Sabbath Desecration. - A correspondent requests us to call attention to the practice of a number of boys and young men, who congregate in Mr. Wilkinson's paddock, near Patrick and Murray Streets, on Sunday afternoons, for playing at cricket, base-ball, &c., making a great noise, and offending the eyes and ears of persons of moral and religious feeling."
Colonial Times[Hobart], Saturday, September 22, 1855, page 3.
Subsequent comments on 19CBB from Bob Tholkes and Richard Hershberger [11/23/09] led to conjecture that this form of "base-ball" arrived Down Under directly from its English roots, for in 1855 American presence was largely restricted to the gold fields. Note: Hobart is on the northern coast of the island that has been known as Tasmania since 1856.
1857.7 Daily Base Ball Games Found in Public Square in Cleveland
"Base Ball at Cleveland This truly national game is daily played in the public square, and one of the city authorities decided that there was law against it. When appealed to, he quietly informed the players that there was no law against ball-playing there . . . The crowd sent up a shout and renewed the game, which continued until dark."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, April 18, 1857. Facsimile contributed by Gregory Christiano, December 2, 2009.
No details on the rules used in these games is provided. Others have dated the arrival of the Association game in Ohio to 1864.
1858.16 Four Jailed for "Criminal" Sunday Play in NJ
"Report of the City Marshal - City Marshal Ellis reports that for the month ending yesterday, 124 persons were committed to the City Prison, charged with the following criminal offences: Drunkenness, 79; assault, 6; picking pockets, 1; vagrancy, 9; playing ball on Sunday, 4, felonious assault, 1 . . . . Nativity - Ireland, 84; England, 12; Scotland, 4; Germany, 7; United States, 16; colored, 1. Total, 124." Others were jailed for selling diseased meat, perjury, stealing, robbery, and embezzlement.
Jersey City Items," New York Times, June 1, 1858, page 8.
1862.11 Banned in Boston's Public Garden: "Games of Ball, Foot-ball"
"Sect. 10. No person or persons shall, without the consent of the mayor or board of aldermen, engage in games of ball, foot-ball, or other athletic sports, upon the public garden."
Ordinance and Rules and Order of the City of Boston (Mudge and Son, Boston, 1869), page 132. Accessed 2/18/10 via Google Book search ("ball, foot-ball" ordinances 1869).
A note identifies this section as having been written in 1862, along with one that prohibits shaking carpets on public lands, including streets, lanes, alleys, etc.
1865.25 Three Mutuals Banned for "Heaving" Game to Eckfords for $100
Bans, Business of Baseball
"On September 27, 1865, gambler Kane McLoughlin paid $100 collectively to three [Mutual] players to heave, in the favored term of the period, a game the following day to the Eckfords. . . . in the fifth inning the Mutuals amazingly allowed eleven runs to score through [what the NYTimes described as] 'over-pitched balls, wild throws, passed balls, and failures to stop them in the field.' "
The Mutuals obtained confessions and banned catcher Bill Wamsley and two others. John Thorn cites this as base ball's first game-fixing incident.
John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), page 127. The book includes [pp. 128-129] the written confession of the youngest plotter, Tom Devyr, whom the Mutuals reinstated the following year.
See also Philip Dixon, "The First Fixed Game-- Eckfords vs. Mutuals", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp.46-48.