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1729.1 At Harvard, Batt and Ball "Stirs Our Bloud Greatly"
From Harvard College,
In a letter written from Harvard College dated March 30, 1729 to Nicholas Gilman, John Seccomb wrote: “The Batchelors Play Batt & Ball mightily now adays which Stirs our bloud greatly”
Nicholas Gilman papers, Massachusetts Historical Society, as cited in Clifford K. Shipton, New England Life in the Eighteenth Century (Harvard University Press, 1995), p. 287.
Brian Turner notes that this find "predates by 33 years the 1762 ban on bat-and-ball (along with foot-ball, cricket, and throwing snow-balls and stones in the streets of Salem -- see entry 1762.2). It also predates by two decades a reference in a 1750s French & Indian war diary kept by Benjamin Glazier of Ipswich." (See entry 1758.1)
Gilman was from a leading family of New Hampshire, mainly centered in Exeter, a bit inland from Portsmouth, where Elwyn gave a description of 1810's "bat & ball," in which he certainly seems to name a specific game. (See entry 1810s.9). Seccomb, also spelled Seccombe, was born and lived in Medford, Mass., and later in life wound up in Nova Scotia -- not because he was a Loyalist, but for other reasons.
Brian notes that "By “Batchelors,” Gilman probably means students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, hence the categorization of this entry under "Youth." For over two centuries, 14 was the age at which boys entered Harvard." (Email of 9/1/2014.)
1758.1 Military Unit Plays "Bat and Ball" in Northern NYS
In 1758, Benjamin Glazier recorded in his diary that "Captain Garrish's company played 'bat and ball'" near Fort Ticonderoga.
Benjamin Glazier, French and Indian War Diary of Benjamin Glazier of Ipswich,1758-1760. Essex Institute Historical Collections, volume 86 (1950), page 65, page 68. The original diary is held at the Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem MA.
Note: Brian Turner notes, August 2014, that: "I've had to cobble together the above citation without seeing the actual publication or the original ms. The Hathi Trust allows me to search for page numbers of vol. 86, but not images of those pages, and when I put in "bat and ball" I get hits on p. 65 and p. 68. P. 65 also provides hits for "Ticonderoga" and "Gerrish's," so that would be the most likely place for all the elements to be cited. The original clue came from a website on the history of Fort Ticonderoga, but I can no longer find that website."
Fort Ticonderoga is about 100 miles N of Albany NY at the southern end of Lake Champlain. Ipswich MA is about 10 miles N of Salem MA.
Can the date of the diary entry be traced?
1762.2 Salem MA 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 this Town, under a Penalty of One Shilling and Six Pence."
By-Laws and Orders of the town of Salem MA, July 26, 1762.
December 13, 1768, The Essex Gazette (Salem, MA), Volume 1, Issue 20, p. 81.
(“Following is an Extract of the By-Laws and ORDERS of the Town of Salem, of the 26th of July, A.D. 1762, approved by His Majesty’s Court of General Sessions of the Peace holden at said SALEM in the same month, and now published by Order of the Select-Men, viz.)
(Detailed source received from Brian Turner, 8/31/2014.)
Brian Turner, 8/31/2014, notes that the wording of this order could be taken to mean that the game itself was seen as a form of cricket, and was not a distinct game.
1810s.9 19th Century Glossarist Describes "Bat and Ball" Rules
When Alfred Elwyn composed his 1859 glossary entry for “ball,” his example was “bat and ball” played in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he was born in 1804.
“The one we call ‘bat and ball’ may be an imperfect form of cricket, though we played this [cricket] in the same or nearly the same manner as in England, which would make it probable that the ‘bat and ball’ was a game of Yankee invention” (p.18).
“[S]ides were chosen, not limited to any particular number, though seldom more than six or eight. . . .The individual . . . first chosen, of the side that was in, took the bat position at a certain assigned spot. One of his adversaries stood at a given distance in front of him to throw the ball, and another behind him to throw back the ball if it were not struck, or to catch it. . . . After the ball was struck, the striker was to run; stones were placed some thirty or forty feet apart, in a circle, and he was to touch each one of them, till he got back to the front from which he started. If the ball was caught by any of the opposite party who were in the field, or if not caught, was thrown at and hit the boy who was trying to get back to his starting place, their party was in; and the boy who caught the ball, or hit his opponent, took the bat. A good deal of fun and excitement consisted in the ball not having been struck to a sufficient distance to admit of the striker running round before the ball was in the hands of his adversaries. If his successor struck it, he must run, and take his chance, evading the ball as well as he could by falling down or dodging it. While at the goals he could not be touched; only in the intervals between them.” (p.19)
Alfred L. Elwyn, Glossary of Supposed Americanisms (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1859), pp. 18-20.
Using stones for bases fits Carver’s 1834 description of “base or goal ball.” Elwyn also specifies that an inning was “one out, side out,” a feature of the Massachusetts game later codified in 1858. And, of course, that old New England favorite, “soaking.”
Do we have any way to tell the ages of the participants in the recalled game?
1846.13 Spring Sports at Harvard: "Bat & Ball" and Cricket
"In the spring there is no playing of football, but "bat-and-ball" & cricket."
From "Sibley's Private Journal," entry for August 31, 1846, as supplied to David Block by letter of 4/18/2005 from Prof. Harry R. Lewis at Harvard, Cambridge MA.
Lewis notes that the Journal is "a running account of Harvard daily life in the mid nineteenth century."
1864.49 "Base Ball" and "Bat and Ball" Seen as the Same Game
Base Ball, Bat-and-Ball
An 1864 schoolbook lesson presents “Base-ball” and “Bat-and-Ball” as two names for the same game.
After describing football, the authors describe “another game, which is called base ball, or bat and ball. [. . .] The ball used in this game is much smaller and is driven through the air with a round piece of wood called a bat, with which the boy strikes the ball” (pp. 72-73)
George S. Hilliard and Loomis Joseph Campbell, The Second Reader for Primary Schools, (Philadelphia: Eldredge and Brother, 1864), pp. 72-73.
Of special interest here is co-author George S. Hilliard, whose background may explain why he regarded base-ball and bat and ball as the same game. Hilliard (1808 – 1879) was born in Machias on the coast of Maine, where the term “the bat and ball” was used to describe a specific baseball-like game (see B. Turner, “The Bat and Ball,” Base Ball (Spring 2011). Starting in 1828, Hilliard was an instructor at the Round Hill School in Northampton, MA, where baseball-like games were part of the physical education curriculum (see, entry 1823.6; also see B. Turner, “Cogswell’s Bat,” Base Ball (Spring 2010)).