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1840s.31 Lem: Juvenile Fiction's Boy Who Loved Round-ball
Round Ball, Massachusetts Game
Lem may be fiction's only round-ball hero.
On pages 93-97, the novel lays out the game that was played by Lem [born 1830] and his playmates, which seems to follow the customs of the Massachusetts game, but without stakes as bases. The passage includes a field diagram, some terminology ["the bases . . . were four in number, and were called 'gools,' a word which probably came from 'goals.'"], and ballmaking technique. Lem is, alas, sidelined for the season when he is plugged "in the hollow of the leg" while gool-running [Page 97] Other references:
On spring, pp 92-93: "Ball-playing began early in the spring; [p92/93] it was the first of the summer games to come out.
On Fast Day, p. 93: "I am afraid that Lem's only notion of Fast Day was that that was the long-expected day when, for the first time that year, a game of ball was played on the Common."
On the pleasant effects of a change in the path of the Gulf Stream, pp. 228-229: "no slushy streets, and above all, no cold barns to go into to feed turnips to the cold cows! A land where top-time, kite-[p228/229] time, and round-ball-time would always be in season. Think of it!"
On making teams for simulating Revolutionary War tussles, p. 107: "We can't all be Americans; and we have agreed to choose sides, as we do in round ball."
Noah Brookes, Lem: A New England Village Boy: His Adventures and his Mishaps (Scribner's Sons, New York, 1901). Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search "Lem boy."
As of Jan 2013, this is one of three uses of "gool" instead of "goal" in ballplaying entries, all in the 1850s and found in western MA and ME. [To confirm/update, do an enhanced search for "gool".] One of these 1850s.33 uses "gool" as the name of the game.
We welcome comment on the authenticity of Brooks' depiction of ballplaying in the 1840s, and whether how the game depicted compares to the MA game.
1853c.1 "Rounders" Said to be Played at Phillips Andover School
[A] "The game of "rounders," as it was played in the days before the Civil War, had only a faint resemblance to our modern baseball. For a description of a typical contest, which took place in 1853, we are indebted to Dr. William A. Mowry:"
[Nine students had posted a challenge to play "a game of ball," and that challenge was accepted by eleven other students.] "The game was a long one. No account was made of 'innings;' the record was 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 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 base, and the catcher just behind the batter, as near or as far as he pleased.
'Well, we beat the eleven [50-37].' [Mowry then tells of his success in letting the ball hit the bat and glance away over the wall "behind the catchers," which allowed him to put his side ahead in a later rubber game after the two sides had each won a game.]
[B] "We had baseball and football on Andover Hill forty years ago, but not after the present style. Baseball was called round ball, and the batter that was most adept at fouls, made the most tallies. The Theologues were not too dignified in those days to play matches with the academy. There was some sport in those match games."
[A] Claude M. Fuess, An Old New England School: A History of Phillips Academy, Andover [Houghton Mifflin, 1917], pp. 449-450.
Researched by George Thompson, based on partial information from reading notes by Harold Seymour. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("history of phillips").
A note-card in the Harold Seymour archive at Cornell describes the Mowry recollection.
[B] William Hardy, Class of 1853, as cited in Fred H. Harrison, Chapter 2, The Hard-Ball Game, Athletics for All: Physical Education and Athletics at Phillips Academy, Andover, 1778-1978 (Phillips Academy, 1983), accessed 2/21/2013 at http://www.pa59ers.com/library/Harrison/Athletics02.html. Publication information for the Hardy quote is not seen on this source.
It appears that Fuess, the 1917 author, viewed this game as rounders, but neither the Mowry description nor the Hardy reference uses that name. It is possible that Fuess was an after-the-fact devotee of he rounders theory of base ball. The game as described is indistinguishable from round ball as played in New England, and lacks features [small bat, configuration of bases] used in English rounders during this period. The placement of the batter, the use of "tallies" for runs, and the 50-inning game length suggests that the game played may have been a version of what was to be encoded as the Massachusetts Game in 1858.
Wikipedia has an entry for prolific historian William A Mowry (1829-1917). A Rhode Islander, his schooling is not specified, but he entered Brown University in 1854, and thus may have been a Phillips Andover senior in 1853.
Hardy's 1853 reference to the "Theologues" is, seemingly, a local theological seminary -- presumably the nearby Andover Theological Seminary -- whose teams played many times from the 1850s to the 1870s against Phillips Andover. Hardy's note may thus mark the first known interscholastic match of a safe haven ballgame in the United States.
A prestigious preparatory school, Phillips Academy is in Andover MA and about 20 miles N of Boston.
Can we identify the seminary with the rival club, and determine whether it has any record of early ballplaying?
1853.19 Boston Clubs Play for Ten Boxes of Cigars
"The Aurora Ball Club and Olympic Ball Club will play best 3 in 5 games at Base ball on Tremont street mall on Friday next at half past 5 o'clock for 10 boxes of Havana Cigars. The public are invited to be present. A sufficient force will be in attendance to prevent confusion." [Full Item]
Boston Herald, September 7, 1853.
The rules for this match are not known.
Four years later, the Olympic Club's written rules show similarity to the Dedham rules for the Massachusetts Game that appeared in 1858.
Best-of-three and best-of-five formats are later seen in matches in MA and upstate NY; the "best-of" format may have been common in the game or games that evolved into the Mass Game.
Was a form of unpleasant "confusion" anticipated? Like what?
Do we know any more about the Aurora Club?
1854.3 Organized Round Ball in New England Morphs Toward the "MA Game"
Round Ball, Massachusetts Game
"'Base Ball in New England.' The game of ball for years a favorite sport with the youth of the country, and long before the present style of playing was in vogue, round ball was indulged in to a great extent all over the land. The first regularly organized Ball Club in this section was doubtless the Olympic Club, of Boston, which was formed in 1854, and for a year or more this club had the field entirely to themselves.
"In 1855 the Elm Trees organized, existing but a short time, however. In 1856 a new club arose, the 'Green Mountains,' and some exciting games were played between this Club and the Olympics. Up to this point the game as played by these clubs was known as the Massachusetts game; but it was governed by no regular code or rules and regulations . . . ."
Wright, George, Account of November 15, 1904, for the Mills Commission: catalogued by the Mills Commission as Exhibit 36-19; accessed at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown.
Note: We have other no evidence that the term "Massachusetts Game" was actually in use as early as 1854. The earliest it is found is 1858.
There is a newspaper account of the Olympic Club from 1853, when it played the "Aurora Ball Club." See item 1853.17 As of 10/2014, this is the only known reference to the Aurora Club.
1855.43 In Boston, Olympic Beats Elm Tree, 75-46
Massachusetts Game, Bat and Ball
"BAT AND BALL -- The Olympic was challenged by the Elm Tree Club, at a game of ball to be played on the Common, which was accepted and played this morning, on the grounds of the Elm Tree Club. The game was fixed at 75, and was promptly won by the Olympics, the opposite side getting only 46 tallies. Each club had 25 rounds."
Boston Traveler, May 31, 1855.
The item title of "Bat and Ball" is interesting. This term is believed to be the name of a distinct baserunning game in the area in earlier times. Note also the use of "rounds" instead of "innings."
As of 10/21/2014, this is the only known contemporary ref to the Elm Tree club of Boston.
1857.45 Sharon MA Victory in Boston Seen As State Championship
"A much more pleasing picture is the recreation enjoyed by the boys of the 33rd [MA] Regiment. There were thirteen Sharon boys in the regiment and most of them had been members of the Sharon Massapoags, the state baseball champions of 1857. They were very fond of telling their [Civil War] soldier friends of this exciting occasion in which they defeated their rivals, the Olympics, in three straight games. They had borrowed red flannel shirts from the Stoughton Fire Department and contended for the championship on Boston Common. The last train for Sharon left around four o'clock. By special arrangement with the Providence R. R. they had been allowed to ride home in an empty freight attached to a regular train."
Amy Morgan Rafter Pratt, The History of Sharon, Massachusetts to 1865 (Boston U master's thesis, 1935, page74. Search string: <morgan rafter pratt>.
1858.3 At Dedham MA, Team Representatives Formulate Mass Game Rules
Base Ball, Massachusetts Game
The representatives of ten clubs meet at Dedham, Massachusetts, to form the Massachusetts Association Base Ball Players and to adopt twenty-one rules for their version of base ball. The Massachusetts Game reaffirms many of the older rule practices such as plugging the runner (throwing the ball at the runner to make a put-out). The Massachusetts Game rivals the New York Game for a time but eventually loses support as the popularity of the New York Game expands during the Civil War.
The 36-page Mayhew/Baker manual covers the rules and field layouts for both games. It gamely explains that both game require "equal skill and activity," but leans toward the Mass game, which "deservedly holds the first place in the estimation of all ball players and the public." Still, it admits, the New York game "is fast becoming in this country what cricket is to England, a national game."
The May 15 1858 Boston Traveller reported briefly on the new compact, adding "We congratulate the lovers of this noble and manly pastime." On June 1, the Boston Herald reported on the first game played (before a crowd of 2000-3000 at the Parade Grounds) under the new rules, won in 33 innings by the Winthrops over the Olympics 100-27, and carried a box score.
The Base Ball Player's Pocket Companion [Mayhew and Blake, Boston, 1859], pp. 20-22. Per Sullivan, p. 22. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 26-27. See also David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 219.
Contemporary reports on the convention can be found in the Boston Herald, May 24, 1858; the Spirit of the Times, May 22, 1858; and Porter's Spirit of the Times, May 29, 1858.
For the rules themselves, see below.
1859.14 New York Tribune Compares the NY "Baby" Game and NE Game
Base Ball, Massachusetts Game
[A] "That [NY Tribune] article was a discussion, I believe, of the two games, the New York game and the Massachusetts round ball game, with a view to decide which was the standard game. So far as we know, this newspaper indicates that [text obscured] became a sport of national interest. The fact that the club of a little country town up in Massachusetts should be weighed in the balance against a New York club, in the columns of the first paper of the country marks a beginning of national attention to the game."
George Thompson located this article and posted it to 19CBB on 3/1/2007. The editorial says, in part:
"The so-called 'Base Ball' played by the New York clubs - what is falsely called the 'National' game - is no more like the genuine game of base ball than single wicket is like a full field of cricket. The Clubs who have formed what they choose to call the 'National Association,' play a bastard game, worthy only of boys ten years of age. The only genuine game is known as the 'Massachusetts Game . . . .' If they [the visiting cricketers] want to find foes worthy of their steel, let them challenge the 'Excelsior' Club of Upton, Massachusetts, now the Champion club of New England, and which club could probably beat, with the greatest ease, the best New-York nine, and give them three to one. The Englishmen may be assured that to whip any nine playing the New-York baby game will never be recognized as a national triumph."
[B] This suggestion was met with derision by a writer for the New York Atlas on October 30: that northern game is known for it "ball stuffed with mush; bat in the shape of a paddle twelve inches wide; bases about ten feet apart; run on all kinds of balls, fair or foul, and throw the ball at the player running the bases." [Facsimile contributed by Bill Ryczek 12/29/2009.]
[C] A gentleman from Albany NY wrote to the Excelsiors, saying he was "desirous of organizing a genuine base ball club in our city."
[A] New York Tribune, October 18, 1859, as described in Henry Sargent letter to the Mills Commission, [date obscured; a response went to Sargent on July 21, 1905, suggesting that the Tribune article had arrived "after we had gone to press with the other matter and consequently it did not get in.]. The correspondence is in the Mills Commission files, item 65-29.
[B] New York Atlas on October 30, 1859.
[C] Letter from F. W. Holbrook to George H. Stoddard, October 22, 1859; listed as document 67-30 in the Spalding Collection, accessed at the Giamatti Center of the HOF.
1859.50 Rain, Peevishness Disrupt 100-Tally Mass Game at Barre
"For the Barre Gazette. Hardwick, Sept. 26, 1859.
"Mr. Editor: On Sept. 14th, the Hardwick base Ball club, received a challenge from the Naquag club of Barre, to meet them on their ground, to play a match game of ball, on Wednesday, Sept. 21st, at 9 o’clock A.M., for a purse of fifty dollars. In accordance with the challenge, the Hardwick boys were on the ground at the appointed time, but the Judges appointed to decide in the game, on account of the unfavorable state of the weather, were not present, so that both Clubs were obliged to appoint a new set of Judges, which necessarily delayed the time to nearly 11 o’clock, before the game commenced, which was then continued harmoniously up to the time agreed upon to dine at 1 o’clock P.M.
"Hardwick scored in the mean time, 26 tallies to Barre 10. Immediately after dinner, both clubs were promptly upon the ground again, but in consequence of a severe rain, they adjourned to the sitting room at the Massasoit House, as the Hardwick Club expected, to fix upon some future day to finish the game which had been commenced. Judge then of our surprise, when there, for the first time, the President of the Naquag Club informed us that the prize could not be awarded to the victors unless the game was played out on that day. He assigned as a reason, that those who subscribed to raise the sum, stipulated expressly that the game should be played on that day, and consequently the prize was forfeited. Now Mr. Editor, in all candor, we would ask you, and your reading community, if it is possible to conceive or to imagine a poorer subterfuge to back out of the game, than that which was adopted by them, when it is well known that there is not more than one chance in three, to play a game of one hundred tallies, on the day that it is commenced. Again, we would ask what difference would it make with those who subscribed, whether we played the game all on the day assigned, or a part on some future day. This is a question, which can be solved but in one way, and that is this, judging by the manner in which they proceeded, it would admit of one answer, namely, they virtually acknowledged their inability to contest the game farther with any hope of success to win the purse. Further comment is unnecessary – Let the Public judge."
-- ONE OF THE CLUB
Barre [MA] Gazette, pg. 2, September 30, 1859.
Barre MA (1860 pop. about 3000) is about 60 miles W of Boston and about 8 miles NE of Hardwick MA.
1860.6 Chadwick's Beadle's Appears, and the Baseball Literature is Launched
The first annual baseball guide appears. It is emblematic, perhaps, of the transformation of base ball into a spectator sport. The 40-page guide includes rules for Knickerbocker ball, the new NABBP ("Association") rules, rules for the Massachusetts game, and for rounders. Chadwick includes a brief history of base ball, saying it is of "English origin" and "derived from rounders."
Block observes: "For twenty-five years his pronouncements remained the accepted definition of the game's origins. Then the controversy erupted. First John Montgomery Ward and then Albert Spalding attacked Chadwick's theory. Ultimately, their jingoistic efforts saddled the nation with the Doubleday Myth."
Chadwick, Henry, Beadle's Dime Base-Ball Player: A Compendium of the Game, Comprising Elementary Instructions of the American Game of Base Ball [New York, Irwin P. Beadle].
Per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, (2005), page 221.
1860s.86 Ballplaying Remembered in Dedham Massachusetts
"Sixty-five years ago the boys had a ball club which was known as the "Winthrops" who played on a pasture lot beyond Mr. White's house on east Street. Ball playing was frequently enjoyed upon the fields of owners who were willing to allow public use to be made of such land. A record is here given of a game that took place at a time when the ball was thrown at the runner between bases to put him out. The score is here appended -- that the present [1930's] generation may know what a real ball game was like in the early days of the game [partial box score listed]. Masks were not invented then, so a cap pulled well down over the eyes have to do duty for a mask."
Frank Smith, A History of Dedham Massachusetts (Transcript Press, 1936), page 358.
Does Smith reveal his source for the pre-1970 box score?
1860.87 Catcher Felled by Bat-Stick
[A] "SAD DEATH RESULTING FROM BASE-BALL PLAYING
"While the New Braintree Base-Ball Club was playing a game on the afternoon of the ninth inst., [June 1860], one of the players when about to bat the ball, threw the bat-stick back so far that he hit the catcher, Mr. John Carney, Jr., a very severe blow to the forehead. He was immediately carried home, and received every attention -- but after a week of severe suffering, he died on Friday night, leaving an especial request that his death and the cause of it might be inserted in the papers, as a caution to other papers."
[B] NEW BRAINTREE – On Saturday, June 9th, a boy named John Carney, Jr., aged about nineteen years, was accidentally injured by being stuck in the forehead with a bat in the hands of another boy, while playing ball. It seems that Carney, being too intent on catching the ball, got within swing of the bat, which the other boy used in a back-handed way to strike the ball. Young Carney was carried home immediately, and all proper care taken, but after several days’ severe suffering, he died last Friday night. He had many friends and was a favorite with the lads of the village.
[A] Dedham Gazette, June 23, 1860, page 2.
[B] Barre MA Gazette, June 22, 1860, page 2.
New Braintree MA (2000 pop. about 900) is about 60 miles W of Boston and about 20 miles W of Worcester.
In the previous year, there was reportedly dispute about the positioning of the catcher under Mass Game rules.
Paul Johnson reports that the victim was 18 years old, and that the official death record lists the cause of death as "accidental blow from a baseball club."
Should we assume that the club still played the Massachusetts Game?
Is it significant that the batter is said to "throw" the bat, not that he lost his grip on it?
1862.58 2nd Mass Troops Beat Wisconsin Regiment, 75 to 7
The men of the Wisconsin 3d challenged our men to a game of base ball & this afternoon it was played & at the end the tally stood 75 for our side & 7 for theirs so I hardly think they will care to play a return match; we have some of the best players of quite a celebrated ball club from Medway & some of the play was admirable.
Letter from Captain Richard Cary, 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, May 3, 1862. Reported in The Beehive, the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society, April 5, 2012.
Protoball wonders if the Mass Game was in fact unfamiliar in WI.
Medway was a leading MA-rules club before the War.
Do we know the location of these Regiments in May 1862? Who was Captain Cary writing to?
1863.1 Ballplaying Peaks in the Civil War Camps
[A] "[In April 1863] the Third Corps and the Sixth Corps baseball teams met near White Oak Church, Virginia, to play for the championship of the Army of the Potomac."
[B] "Ballplaying in the Civil War Camps increased rapidly during the War, reaching a peak of 82 known games in April 1863 -- while the troops still remained in their winter camps. Base ball was by a large margin the game of choice among soldiers, but wicket, cricket, and the Massachusetts game were occasionally played. Play was much more common in the winter camps than near the battle fronts."
[C] Note: In August 2013 Civil War scholar Bruce Allardice added this context to the recollected Army-wide "championship game":
"The pitcher for the winning team was Lt. James Alexander Linen (1840-1918) of the 26th NJ, formerly of the Newark Eureka BBC. Linen later headed the bank, hence the mention in the book. In 1865 Linen organized the Wyoming BBC of Scranton, which changed its name to the Scranton BBC the next year. The 26th NJ was a Newark outfit, and a contemporary Newark newspaper says that many members of the prewar Eurekas and Adriatics of that town had joined the 26th. The 26th was in the Sixth Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, stationed at/near White Oak Church near Fredericksburg, VA. April 1863, the army was in camp. The book says Linen played against Charlie Walker a former catcher of the Newark Adriatics who was now catcher for the "Third Corps" club.
"With all that being said, in my opinion the clubs that played this game weren't 'corps' clubs, but rather regimental and/or brigade clubs that by their play against other regiments/brigades claimed the Third and Sixth Corps championships.
"Steinke's "Scranton", page 44, has a line drawing and long article on Linen which mentions this game. See also the "New York Clipper" website, which has a photo of Linen."
[A] History. The First National Bank of Scranton, PA (Scranton, 1906), page 37. This is, at this time (2011), the only known reference to championship games in the warring armies.
As described in Patricia Millen, On the Battlefield, the New York Game Takes Hold, 1861-1865, Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 149-152.
[B] Larry McCray, Ballplaying in Civil War Camps.
[C] Bruce Allardice, email to Protoball of August, 2013.
[D] (((add Steinke ref and Clipper url here?)))
Note Civil War historian Bruce Allardice's caveat, above: "In my opinion the clubs that played weren't 'corps' clubs, but rather regimental or brigade clubs that by their play other regiments/brigades claimed the Third and Sixth Corps championships."
Is it possible that a collection of trophy balls, at the Hall of Fame or elsewhere, would provide more evidence of the prevalence of base ball in the Civil War?
1864.53 General Hooker's Players "Pretty Badly Beat", 70-11
Massachusetts Game, Presumably
A: The match game of base ball between the staff, and orderlies of Gen. Hooker, and thirteen players from our regiment came off this forenoon, the result was in favor of our regiment, the innings stood seventy to eleven, pretty badly beat wasn't they. They will play another game this afternoon. Gen. Hooker ordered Col. Wood to postpone brigade drill, that they might play.
B:Nothing has been stirring for the last week except for ball playing and one brigade drill. We play ball about all the time now. We, or some of the officers, have received a challenge from Gen'l Hooker's staff and escort to play a match. Fourteen players have been selected to play against them, amongst whom is ELE< the letter writer>. Four of them are commissioned officers, the rest enlisted men. We have also had a challenge from the one hundred and thirty.sixth New York, bit I don't know if it will be played or not.
C: Major Lawrence with a skillful nine selected from Hooker's body guard, challenged the [33rd MA] regiment to match them in a manly game of base ball, and his nine got worsted. The New York regiment threw down the glove with a like result. The champion Sharon [MA] boys knew a thing or two about base ball, which they had learned in contests with the laurelled Massapoags at home.
A: Letter of April 13, 1864 by Lt. Thomas Howland. Obtained via Massachusetts Historical Society, August 2015.
B: Letter home by E. L. Edes, April 1864. For full letter, see Supplemental Text, below.
C: A. B. Underwood, Thirty-Third Mass. Infantry Regiment, 1862 - 1865 (A. Williams and Co., Boston, 1881, page 199. Search string: <kershaw had a smart>.
It seems likely that these games were played under Mass game rules.
General Sherman's winter camp was outside Chattanooga, and his march into GA started in the beginning of May 1864.
The Massapoag Club of Sharon MA fielded 10-14 players for its pre-war games, which were subject to Massachusetts rules. Why would the regimental history, 17 years later, refer to "nines"?
1865.17 Mass Game Survived the Civil War
"BASE BALL. A very interesting game (Massachusetts) was played on the 17th, between the Warren Club of Roxbury and the Lightfoot Clup of Neponset, on the grounds of the latter."
Boston Herald, June 21, 1865
1866.9 New England Association Forms , Intends to "Ignore the New York Game"
"Convention of Base Ball Players --
"A convention of delegates from clubs that play the New England game, was held at the Parker House this morning, to organize a 'New England Association,' which shall ignore the New York game. Twenty gentlemen were present, and were presided over by Mr. Richard Parks of Stoneham, with Mr. C. A. Brown as Secretary. The clubs represented were:
"Excelsior of Upton, Wyoma of Lynn, Liberty of Danvers, Alpha of Ashland, Active of Salem, Wenuchess of Lynn, Union of Danvers, Warren of South Danvers, Warren of Randolph, Peabody of Danvers, and Kearsarge of Stoneham.
"The association was duly formed, and the following officers were chosen to serve till next April:
"Daniel A.Caskin, of Danvers, President; J. Albert Parker, of Ashland, and William Kinsley, of Randolph, Vice Presidents; Richard Park [sic], of Stoneham, Secretary; Moses Kimball, of Danvers, Treasurer.
"The constitution of the Massachusetts Club [sic] was taken as a basis, and all desirable alterations made in it, after which the meeting adjourned till next April."
Boston Traveler, September 15, 1866. Note: In his article on the Kearsarge Club in Base Ball Founders (McFarland, 2013 -- pages 304-307), Peter Morris cites two other sources of this event: Boston Daily Advertiser, September 17, 1866, and Springfield Republican, September 18,1866, page 4.
 Was there actually a single "Massachusetts Club" constitution in 1866 to draw from? Did it have the same playing rules as the New England rules adopted in 1858?
 Richard "Parks" or Richard "Park"?
 Do we have records of these 11 clubs playing in 1866, or earlier?
 "Wenuchess" Club? Peter Morris' guess is "Wencehuse"