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1775.1 Soldier in CT "Played Ball All Day"
"Wednesday the 6. We played ball all day"
Lyman, Simeon, "Journal of Simeon Lyman of Sharon August 10 to December 28, 1775," in "Orderly Book and Journals Kept by Connecticut Men While Taking Part in the American Revolution 1775 - 1778," Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, volume 7 (Connecticut Historical Society, 1899), p. 117. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 26. Lyman was near New London CT.
1778.1 American Surgeon Sees Ball-Playing in English Prison
Coan, Marion, ed., "A Revolutionary Prison Diary: The Journal of Dr. Jonathan Haskins," New England Quarterly, volume 17, number 2 [June 1944], p. 308. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 36.
1778.3 MA Sergeant Found Some Time and "Plaid Ball"
Symmes, Rebecca D., ed., A Citizen Soldier in the American Revolution: The Diary of Benjamin Gilbert of Massachusetts and New York [New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown, 1980], pp. 30 and 49; and "Benjamin Gilbert Diaries 1782 - 1786," G372, NYS Historical Association Library, Cooperstown. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 30.
1778.6 NH Loyalist Plays Ball in NY; Mentions "Wickett"
The journal of Enos Stevens, a NH man serving in British forces, mentions playing ball seven times from 1778 to 1781. Only one specifies the game played in terms we know: "in the after noon played Wickett" in March of 1781. C. K. Boulton, ed., "A Fragment of the Diary of Lieutenant Enos Stevens, Tory, 1777-1778," New England Quarterly v. 11, number 2 (June 1938), pages 384-385, per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, reference #33. Tom notes that the original journal is at the Vermont Historical Society in Montpelier VT.
1780c.4 "Round Ball" Believed to be Played in MA
"Mr. Stoddard believes that Round Ball was played by his father in 1820, and has the tradition from his father that two generations before, i.e., directly after the revolutionary war, it was played and was not then a novelty."
Letter from Henry Sargent, Grafton MA, to the Mills Commission, May 23, 1905. Stoddard was an elderly gentleman who had played round ball in his youth. Note: The Sargent letter also reports that Stoddard "believed that roundball was played as long ago as Upton became a little village." Upton MA was incorporated in 1735. Caveat: One might ask whether a man born around 1830 can be certain about ballplaying 50 years and 100 years before his birth.
1787.2 VT Man's Letter Says "Three Times is Out at Wicket"
Levi Allen to Ira Allen, July 7, 1787, in John J. Duffy, ed., Ethan Allen and His Kin, Correspondence, 1772 - 1819 [University Press of New England, Hanover NH, 1998], volume 1, p. 224. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 75.
1790s.7 In Boston, "Boys Played Ball in the Streets?"
Boston MA, with only 18,000 inhabitants, was sparsely populated. "Boys played ball in the streets without disturbance, or danger from the rush of traffic." Edmund Quincy, Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts (Fields, Osgood and Company, 1869), page 37. Writing 70 years later, the biographer here is painting a picture of the city when his father Josiah finished school and moved there at 18. He does not document this observation. One might speculate that Josiah had told Edmund about the ballplaying. Accessed on 11/16/2088 via Google Books search for "'life of josiah quincy.'"
1791.1 "Bafeball" Among Games Banned in Pittsfield MA - also Cricket, Wicket
New England, MA
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.
1791.3 Salem MA Diary Covers "Puerile Sports" Including Bat & Ball, and "Rickets"
"Puerile Sports usual in these parts of New England . . . . Afterwards the Bat & Ball and the Game at Rickets. The Ball is made of rags covered with leather in quarters & covered with double twine, sewed in Knots over the whole. The Bat is from 2 to 3 feet long, round on the back side but flattened considerable on the face, & round at the end, for a better stroke. The Ricket is played double, & is full of violent exercise of running."
The Diary of William Bentley, D.D., Volume I (Essex Institute, Salem MA, 1905), pp 253-254. Contributed by Brian Turner, March 6, 2009. Bentley later noted that Bat & Ball is played at the time of year when "the weather begins to cool." Bentley [1759-1819] was a prominent and prolific New England pastor who served in Salem MA. Query: Any idea what the game of rickets/ricket was?
1796.2 Williams College Student Notes Ballplaying in Winter Months
A Williams College student's diary begun in 1976 (when he was 19) and continued for several years, includes a half dozen references to playing ball, but they do not describe the nature of the game. His first such entry, from April 22, 1796, is "I exercise considerable, playing ball."
Tarbox, Increase N., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D. D. 1796 - 1854 [Beacon Press, Boston, 1886], volume 1, pp. 8, 29, 32, 106, and 128. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 54. The college is in Williamstown MA.
1796.4 Early Geographer Sees Variety of Types New England Ballplaying
"Q: What is the temper of the New-England people?
A: They are frank and open . . . .
Q: What are their diversions?
A: Dancing is a favorite of both sexes. Sleigh-riding in winter, and skating, playing ball (of which there are several different games), gunning and fishing . . . "
Nathaniel Dwight, A Short But Comprehensive System of Geography (Charles R. and George Webster, Albany NY) 1796), page 128. Provided by John Thorn, 2/17/2008 email.
1797.1 Daniel Webster Writes of "Playing Ball" While at Dartmouth
Daniel Webster, in private correspondence, writes of "playing ball," while a student at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH.
Webster, Daniel, Private Correspondence, Fletcher Webster, ed. [Little Brown, Boston 1857], volume 1, p. 66. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 45. Altherr [p. 27] puts this date "at the turn of the century." On 7/31/2005, George Thompson added that "Volume 17, page 66 of the National Edition of his Writings and Speeches is supposed to have a reference by one Hotchkiss to Webster playing ball at Dartmouth."
1800c.4 Four Old Cat and Three Old Cat Well Known in MA
"Four Old Cat and Three Old Cat were as well known to Massachusetts boys as round ball. I knew both games in 1862, and Mr. Stoddard tells me that his father knew them and played them between 1800 and 1820. They bore the same relation to Round Ball that "Scrub" does to Base Ball now. The boys got together when there was leisure for any game and if there were enough to make for a game even if they were 2 or 3 short of the regulation 14 on a side they played round ball. If there were not enough more than a dozen all told, they contented themselves with four old cat, or with three old cat if there were still less players. . . . The main thing to be remembered is that Four and Three Old Cat seem to be co-eval with Massachusetts Round Ball, and even considered a modification of Round Ball for a less number of players than the regular game required."
Letter from Henry Sargent, Grafton, MA, to the Mills Commission, May 31, 1905.
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.
1803.5 Vermont Paper Associates Adult Tradesmen with Ballplaying
A letter to the editor of the Green Mountain Patriot takes issue with another writer who evidently thinks that "the farmer, the mechanic, and the merchant" should do more dancing when they attend local balls. They attend for another reason - "the same reason, whether criminal or lawful, that they meet together to play a game of ball, of quoits, or ride out on horseback." For "pleasing amusement."
The Green Mountain Patriot (Peachum, VT), August 17, 1803.
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.
1805.8 Yale Grad Compares Certain English Ballgames to New England's
"July 9 [1805, we think] . . . . The mode of playing ball differs a little from that practiced in New-England. Instead of tossing up the ball out of one's own hand, and then striking it, as it descends, they lay is into the heel of a kind of wood shoe; and upon the instep a spring is fixed, which extends within the hollow to the hinder part of the shoe; the all is placed where the heel of the foot would commonly be, and a blow applied on the other end of the spring, raises the ball into the air, and, as it descends, it receives a blow from the bat.
"They were playing also at another game resembling our cricket, but differing from it in this particular, that he perpendicular pieces which support the horizontal one, are about eighteen inches high, and are three in number, whereas with us they are only two in number, and about three or four inches high."
The writer, Benjamin Silliman, thus implies that an American [or at least Connecticut] analog to trap ball was played, using fungo-style batting [trap ball was not usually a running game, so the American game may have been a simple form of fungo].
His second comparison is consistent with our understanding or how English cricket and American wicket were played in about 1800. However, it seems odd that he would refer to "our cricket" and not "our wicket: possibly a form of cricket - using, presumably, the smaller ball - was played in the US that retained the older long, low wickets known in 1700 English cricket.
Benjamin Silliman, Journal of Travels in England, Holland, and Scotland, Volume 1 (Boston, 1812 - 1st edition 1810), page 245. Accessed via Google Books, 2/12/2014 via search of <Silliman "journal of travels">.
From David Block, 2/12/2014:
"This reference raises some questions, which may not be answerable. Was he implying that striking a ball, fungo-style, was the general method of ball-play in New England, or was he only making a more narrow comparison to how a self-serve type of ball game was played at home. If the latter, might this have been 'bat-ball'?"
"It appears that the author was previously unaware of English cricket. What he refers to as "our cricket" is obviously wicket. This was an educated man, but it was also apparently his first trip overseas. My first reaction was to be very surprised at his apparent ignorance of English cricket, but it may well be that things that seem like obvious knowledge to us today may not have been so in the America of two hundred years ago."
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?
1816.2 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.
1816.5 In "The Year Without a Summer," CT Lads Play Ball on Christmas Day
"My father [Charles Mallory] arrived there [Mystic CT] on Christmas Day and found some of his acquaintances playing ball in what was called Randall's Orchard."
Baughman, James, The Mallorys of Mystic: Six Generations in American Maritime Enterprise [Wesleyan University Press, 1972], page 12. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/19/2004.
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.
1817.4 In Brunswick ME, Bowdoin College Sets 20-cent Fine for Ballplaying
"No student shall, in or near any College building, play at ball, or use any sport or diversion, by which such building may be exposed to injury, on penalty of being fined not exceeding twenty cents, or being suspended if the offence be often repeated."
Of Misdemeanors and Criminal Offences, in Laws of Bowdoin College (E. Goodale, Hallowell ME, 1817), page 12. Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 315. The college is about 25 miles NE of Portland, and near the Maine coast.
1818.1 Yale Student Reports Cricket on Campus
A student at Yale University reports that cricket and football are played on campus [need cite]. Lester, however, says that he doubts the student saw English cricket, and that, given that the site is CT, it was probably wicket. Lester notes that wicket involved sides of 30 to 35 players, and was played in an alley 75 feet long, and with oversized bats.
Lester, ed., A Century of Philadelphia Cricket [U Penn Press, Philadelphia, 1951], page 7.
1819.4 In Hartford CT: Legislative Session Associated with Ball-playing?
In a report on the new session of the Connecticut legislature: "In Hartford and the region about the same, those who usually play ball during the day and dance at night on such occasions, did not at this time wholly abandon the ancient uses of Connecticut."
Indiana Central, June 8, 1819, reprinting an article datelined New Haven CT from May 5. Accessed 4/9/09 via subscription search.
1820.2 Round Ball played in Upton, MA
Henderson, p. 137, attributes this to Holliman, but has no ref to Holliman or to George Stoddard, who reported the game to the Mills Commission. Also quoted at Henderson, p. 150.
1820c.6 Modified Version of Rounders Played in New England.
"About 1820 a somewhat modified version of the old English game of rounders was played on the New England commons, and twenty years later the game had spread and become "town ball." In 1833 the first regularly organized ball club was formed in Philadelphia with the sonorous title of "The Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia." About 1850 the game gained vogue in New York."
Barbour, Ralph H., The Book of School and College Sports [D. Appleton and Co., New York, 1904] page 143. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Thanks to Mark Aubrey for locating a pdf of the baseball section of this text, June 2007. Barbour does not provide sources for his text.
1820s.12 Boys Are Attracted to Sports of "Playing Ball or Goal" in Bangor ME
Paine, Albert Ware, "Auto-Biography," reprinted in Lydia Augusta Paine Carter, The Discovery of a Grandmother [Henry H. Carter, Newton MA, 1920], p. 240. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 77. Note: Dean Sullivan [7/29/2004] observes that Harold Seymour puts the year of play at Bangor at 1836, citing both pages 198 and 240 of The Discovery of a Grandmother. Payne was born in 1812, and was not a "boy" in 1836, so this event needs further examination. This item needs to be reconciled with #1823c.4 below.
1820c.13 A Wry View of Cricket Match on Yale Campus
"On the green and easy slope where those proud columns stand,
In Dorian mood, with academe and temple on each hand,
The foot-ball and the cricket-match upon my vision rise
With all the clouds of classic dust kicked in each other' eyes."
This verse is incorporated without attribution in Brooks Mather Kelley, Yale: a History (Yale University Press, New Haven CT, 1974), page 214. Kelley's commentary: "[Cricket] may have been a sport at Yale then [in the Colonial period]. The first clear reference to it, owever, is in one stanza of a poem about Yale life in 1818 to 1822." Ibid. Is Yale shielding us from some racy student rhymes? Oh, not to worry: From a rival Ivy League source we see that Lester identifies the poet as William Cromwell - John A. Lester, A Century of Philadelphia Cricket (U of Penn Press, Philadelphia PA, 1951), page7. Note: OK, so who was William Cromwell, and why did he endow so many chairs at Yale?
1820c.15 Ballplaying at Bowdoin College
Nehemiah Cleaveland and Alpheus Spring Packard, History of Bowdoin College with Biographical Sketches of the Graduates (Osgood and Company, Boston, 1882). 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 32.
"The student of earlier years had not the resources for healthful physical recreation of the present day [1880s]. We had football and baseball, though the latter was much less formal and formidable than the present game" [Page 96]. Note: the precise time referenced here is hard to specify; but the authors graduated in 1813 and 1816, and the context seems to suggest the 1810-1830 period.
Only one of the book's many sketches of alumni, however, mentions ballplaying of any type. The sketch for James Patten, Class of 1823, includes this: "He entered college at the mature age of twenty-four, was a respectable scholar, spoke with a decided brogue, and played ball admirably. . . . When last heard from he was an acting magistrate and a rich old bachelor." [Page 276] The sketch for Longfellow, who in 1824 wrote of constant campus ballplaying [see #1824.1], does not allude to sport.
1820c.24 Waterbury CT Jaws Drop as Baptist Deacon Takes the Field
"after the 'raising' of this building, at which, as was customary on such occasions, there was a large gathering of people who came to render voluntary assistance, the assembled company adjourned to the adjacent meadow (now owned by Charles Frost) for a game of baseball, and that certain excellent old ladies were much scandalized that prominent Baptists, among them Deacon Porter, should show on such an occasion so much levity as to take part in the game."
Joseph Anderson, ed., The Town and City of Waterbury, Connecticut, from the Aboriginal Perioed to the Year 1895, Volume III (Price and Lee, New Haven CT, 1896), page 673n. Accessed 2/3/10 via Google Books search (Waterbury aboriginal III).
1820s.25 In Western MA, Election Day Saw Town vs. Town Wicket Matches
"'Election Day' was, however, the universal holiday, and the prevailed amongst the farmers that corn planting must be finished by that day for its enjoyment. It was a day of general hilarity, with no prescribed forms of observation, though ball playing was ordinarily included in the exercises, and frequently the inhabitants of adjacent towns were pitted against one another in the game of wicket. Wrestling, too, was a common amusement on that day, each town having its champions."
Charles J. Taylor, History of Great Barrington (Bryan and Co., Great Barrington MA, 1882), page 375. Accessed 2/3/10 via Google Books search (taylor great barrington). Note: this passage is not clearly set in time; "1820s" is a guess, but 1810s or 1830s is also a possibility.
1820s.31 "Many Different Kinds of Ball" Remembered
In a charming 1867 volume, a father delivered an extended disquisition about ball games in his youth in New England. That was definitely before 1840 and more likely in the 1820s, or the 1830s at the latest. (The book had an 1860 copyright registration, so the author penned it in that year or in the 1850s). The detail of this recounting merits full excerpting:
“I think the boys used to play ball more when I was young than they do now. It was a great game at that time, not only among the boys, but with grown-up people. I know that playing ball is getting into fashion again, but I don’t think it is as common even yet as it used to be. We had, I remember, a good many different kinds of ball.There was “barn-ball,” when there were only two boys to play, one to throw the ball against the barn and make it bound back, and the other to strike at it with his club. Then there was “two-hold-cat,” when there were four boys, two to be in and knock, and two to throw. Then there was “base-ball,” when there were a good many to play. In base-ball we chose sides, and we might have as many as we pleased on each side -- five or fifty, or any other number.
“Then there was “wicket-ball,” as we called it in the part of the country where I lived. In this game, two sticks, some five or six feet long, were laid on some little blocks near the ground, and the ball, which was a large one, was rolled on the ground, andthe one that rolled it tried to knock off this stick, while the one that was in andhad the bat or club, was to strike the ball and not let it knock the stick off. If the stick was struck off, then the one knocker was “out.” Or if he hit the ball and raised it in the air, and any one on the other side caught it, he was “out.” I find that ball-playing changes some, and is different in different parts of the country, but it was a very wide-awake sport, and there was no game in which I took more delight. On ‘Lection-day, as it was called, of which I have spoken before, all the boys and young men, and even men who were older, thought they must play ball. On town-meeting days and training days, this game was almost always going on.”
Winnie and Walter’s Talks with Their Father about Old Times Boston: J.E. Tilton and Company, 1867), pp. 54-56.
Allowing for the somewhat “in-my-day” tone, there are a few interesting items in this passage. Note the unusual spelling of two old cat or two o’cat. Was there some action of holding the ball, holding the bat, holding the runner that inspired the use of the word “hold?” The initial claim that ball play was more popular in his youth is at first a head-scratcher given the surge of popularity of baseball in the1850s and 1860s.
But what if he reckoning was accurate, if only for his part of New England? That would be interesting evidence for baseball historians trying to measure the trajectory of the game’s development. Did what he called “base-ball” more resemble town-ball, or did the word “base-ball” have a wider currency that we have suspected? The description of wicket-ball seems slightly askew from other accounts--regional variation or memory lapse? Last, the civic holidays that ball play accompanied were not always in clement seasons. Training days tended to be during milder or hot weather, but town meeting and election days often occurred in March and November. The author’s points about the importance of ball play may be stronger than at first glance, if the players did not let the prospect of foul weather discourage their zeal.
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.
1822.1 Round Ball Played in Worcester
"Timothy Taft, who is living in Worcester, October 1897, played Round Ball in 1822. The game was no new thing then. I think Mr. Stoddard is right about the game being played directly after the close of the Revolutionary War [see entry #1780c.4]. At any rate, if members of your Commission question the antiquity of the game (Round Ball) we have Mr. Taft still living who played it 83 years ago, and we have corroborative testimony that it was played long before that time."
Letter from Henry Sargent, Worcester MA, to Mills Commission, June 10, 1905. Henderson, on page 149, quotes the Commission's press release as referring to a Timothy Tait, which seems likely a reference to Taft. In this letter Sargent also reports that in Stoddard's opinion, "the game of Round Ball or Base ball is one and the same thing, and that it dates back before 1845."
Note: do we have that Mills Commission release that Henderson cites?
1823c.4 Young Man Recalls "More Active Sports of 'Playing Ball' or 'Goal.'"
"Really time flies fast. Tis but a day it seems since we three were boys . . . . But a day seems to have elapsed since meeting with our neighboring boys, we . . . engaged ourselves in the more active sorts of "playing ball" or "goal."
Carter, L. A., The Discovery of a Grandmother [H. H. Carter, Newtonville MA, 1920], pp 239-240. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. From this note, the excerpts appear to be from a journal kept in 1835-1836 by Albert Ware Paine, born 1813. Note: This item needs t be reconciled with #1820S.12 above.
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.
1824.5 Ballplaying Now Condoned at Dartmouth College
During 1824 the village of Hanover NH authorized "the playing at ball or any game in which ball is used on the public common in front of Dartmouth College, set apart by the Trustees thereof among the purposes for a playground for their students." John K. Lord, A History of the Town of Hanover New Hampshire [Dartmouth Press, Hanover NH, 1928], page 23. Submitted by Scott Meacham 8/21/2006.
1825.9 Ballplaying Planned on Saturdays in Hartford CT
"BALL PLAYING: There will be Ball playing in Washington Street, a few rods South of the College, every Saturday afternoon, through the season, the weather permitting, Bats Balls and Refreshments provided by Emmons Rudge." American Mercury [Hartford CT] , April 12, 1825. Submitted by John Thorn, 9/29/2006.
1827.1 Brown U Student Reports "Play at Ball"
Brown College (Providence, RI) student Williams Latham notes in his diary: "We had a great play at ball today noon [March 22]." On April 9: "We this morning . . . have been playing ball, But I have never received so much pleasure from it here as I have in Bridgewater. They do not have more than 6 or 7 on a side, so that a great deal of time is spent in running after the ball, neither do they throw so fair ball, They are afraid the fellow in the middle will hit it with his bat-stick."
Latham, Williams, The Diary of Williams Latham, 1823 - 1827, quoted in W. C. Bronson, The History of Brown University 1764 - 1914 [Providence, Brown University, 1914], p. 245. Per Henderson ref # 101.
"The fellow in the middle?"
1828.1 Boy's Own Book [London] Describes "Rounders," Stoolball, Feeder
The Boy's Own Book is published in London and contains a set of rules for "stool-ball," [p. 26], "trap, bat, and ball," [p. 27], "northern-spell," [p. 28], "rounders," [p.28], and "feeder" [p. 29]. The rounders entry states: "this is a favorite game with bat and ball, especially in the west of England." The entry for feeder, in its entirety: "This game is played with three bases only, and a player takes the place of feeder, who remains so until he puts one of the other players out, by catching his ball or striking him while running from base to base, as at Rounders; the one who is put out taking the place of feeder to the others, and thus the game goes on. There are no sides at this game." The entry for northern spell describes a game without running or fielding, in which the object is to hit the ball farthest - "this pastime possesses but little variety, and is by no means so amusing to the bystanders as Trapball."
Clarke, W., Boy's Own Book [London, Vizetelly Branston], second edition. This book is reportedly still available [Appleton Books, 1996], according to Tim Wiles at the Giamatti Research Library. Note: Altherr uses a reference to an 1829 US version: The Boy's Own Book [Munroe and Francis, Boston, 1829], pp. 18-19, per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 65. David Block, page 192-193, describes the wide popularity of this text in England and the US, running through many editions through the 1880s, and also identifies this book as Henderson's key evidence in his refutation of the Doubleday theory of baseball's origin 11 years later. [XXX Keyboard full text here.]
For Text:David Block carries more than a page of text, and the field diagram, in Appendix 7, pages 279-238, of Baseball Before We Knew It.
1828c.4 NH Man Recalls Boyhood Habit of Playing Ball
Cyrus Bradley, born in 1818 in rural NH, refers in 1835 to his boyhood habit of playing ball.
"Journal of Cyrus P. Bradley," Ohio Archeological and Historical Society, Volume XV , page 210. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
1828c.5 Vermont Schoolboy Recalls Playing Goal, With Elm Trees as Goals
"The big boys had great times playing goal, and other noisy and running games, and the elm trees by our yard were the goals . . . "
History of Samuel Paine, Jr., 1778-1861 and His Wife Pamela (Chase) Paine, 1780-1856, of Randolph VT and Their Ancestors and Descendants, compiled and edited by their grandson Albert Prescott Paine, 1923. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
1828.7 Ballplaying in Pawtucket RI
[Note: Need to recover lost attachment submitted by John Thorn, 7/23/2005 see 1828 folder.]
1829.2 Round Ball Played in MA
From a letter to the Mills Commission: "Mr. Lawrence considers Round Ball and Four Old Cat one and the same game; the Old Cat game merely being the they could do when there were not more than a dozen players, all told. . . . Mr. Lawrence says, as a boy, he played Round Ball in 1829.
"So far as Mr. Lawrence's argument goes for Round Ball being the father of Base Ball it is all well enough, but there are two things that cannot be accounted for; the conception of the foul ball, and the abolishment of the rules that a player could be put out by being hit by a thrown ball. No one remembers the case of a player being injured by being hit by a thrown ball, so that cannot be the reason for that change. The foul rule made the greatest skill of the Massachusetts game count for nothing - the batting skill - the back handed and slide batting. Mr. Stoddard told me that there were 9 of the 14 Upton batters who never batted ahead."
Henry Sargent Letter to the Mills Commission, June 25, 1905.
1830c.2 Thoreau Associates "Fast Day" with Base-Ball Played in Russet Fields
"April 10 . Fast-Day. . . . . I associate this day, when I can remember it, with games of baseball played over beyond the hills in the russet fields toward Sleepy Hollow, where the snow was just melted and dried up.
Submitted by David Nevard. On 8/2/2005, George Thompson submitted the following reference: Torrey, Bradford, Journal of Henry David Thoreau vol. 8, page 270. He notes that Princeton University Press is publishing a new edition, but isn't up to 1856 yet.
1830.4 School Boys Play Base Ball Regularly at Portsmouth NH Grammar School
Letter from J. A. Mendum to Albert Spalding, My 17, 1905.. From Henderson, pp. 149-150, no ref given. John Thorn on 3/4/2006 notes that the letter included a clip from the New Hampshire Gazette titled "Origin of Baseball. Mr. Mendum Played the Game in Portsmouth in 1830." XXX request scan from John Thorn
1830s.6 Players Drink Egg-Nog in Base Ball Intervals in Portsmouth NH
Brewster, Charles W., Rambles About Portsmouth, Second Series [Lewis Brewster, Portsmouth, 1869], p. 269. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 67.
1830c.7 Boston Gent Recalls Old Game of "Massachusetts Run-Around"
T. King wrote to the Mills Commission in 1905. "Just a word in regard to the old game of Massachusetts Run-around. We always pronounced the name as if it were run-round without the "a," but I presume, technically that should be incorporated.
"This was the old time game which I played between 44 and 50 years ago [1855-1861 - LM.], and which I heard my father speak of as playing 35 to 40 years before that, carrying it back to the vicinity of 1830." [Actually, the arithmetic implies the vicinity of 1820.]
T. King, Letter to the Mills Commission, November 24, 1905.
Notes: can we establish the age of King's father at King's birth?
Can we determine where the two Kings might have played?
1830c.26 Plymouth MA Boys Play Round Ball, Other Ballgames: Ballmaking Described
Writing about 70 years later, William Davis considers the range of pastimes in his boyhood: "After the hoop came, as now, the ball games, skip, one old cat, two old cat, hit or miss, and round ball. We made our own balls, winding yarn over a core of India rubber, until the right size was reached, and then working a loop stitch all around it with good, tightly spun twine. Attempts were occasionally made to play ball in the streets, but the by-laws of the town forbidding it were rigidly enforced."
William T. Davis, Plymouth Memories of an Octogenarian (Memorial Press, Plymouth MA, 1906), page 104. Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search (plymouth octogenarian). Plymouth MA is about 35 miles SE of Boston on Cape Cod Bay.
Query: do we know the nature of the ball games of "skip" and "hit or miss?"
1830c.27 Lenox Academy Students Play Wicket
Recalling a genial local sheriff, the author writes: "We well remember the urbanity of his manner as he passed the students of Lenox Academy, always bowing to them and greeting them with a pleasant salutation, which tended to increase their self-respect . . . .As he drove by us when we were playing 'wicket' - the game of ball them fashionable - he did not drive his stylish horse and gig over our wickets, as many took a malicious pleasure in doing, but turned aside, with a pleasant smile . . . ."
J. E. A. Smith, The History of Pittsfield From the Year 1800 to the Year 1876 (C. W. Bryan & Co., Springfield MA, 1876), pp 401-402. Accessed 2/5/10 via Google Books search (history pittsfield 1876). Lenox Academy was in Lenox MA, about 7 miles S of Pittsfield, and about 35 miles SE of Albany NY. Caveat: It is difficult to estimate a date for this anecdote. The gentleman, Major Brown, lived in Pittsfield from 1812 to 1838. As the event seems to be the author's personal recollection, verifying if and when he attended the Lenox Academy may narrow the range of possibilities.
1834.1 Carver's The Book of Sports [Boston] describes "Base, or Goal Ball"
Rules for "'Base' or 'Goal Ball'" are published in Boston, in The Book of Sports by Robin Carver. Carver's book copies the rules for rounders published in England's "The Boy's Own Book" (see #1828.1 entry, above). A line drawing of boys "Playing Ball" on Boston Common is included. David Block in Baseball Before We Knew It, page 196-197, reports that this is the "first time that the name "base ball" was associated with a diamond-shaped infield configuration." As for the name of the game, Carver explains: "This game is known under a variety of names. It is sometimes called 'round ball.' But I believe that 'base' or 'goal ball' are the names generally adopted in our country." The bases are "stones or stakes." According to Carver, runners ran clockwise around the bases. Note: Do we have other accounts of clockwise baserunning?
Carver's Chapter 3 is called "Games with Balls." In an introductory paragraph, he explains that "The games with the bat and ball are numerous, but somewhat similar. I will mention some of them, which I believe to be the most popular with boys." [Page 37.] Other games describes are Fives, Nine-Holes, or Hat-Ball [a game with running/plugging but no batting], Catch-Ball [also a running/plugging game], Rackets, and Cricket.
Carver, Robin, The Book of Sports [Boston, Lilly Wait Colman and Holden, 1834], pp 37-40. Per Henderson ref 31. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], p.3ff
For Text:David Block carries a full page of text, and the accompanying field diagram, in Appendix 7, page 281, of Baseball Before We Knew It.
1836.1 "Old-fashioned 'Ball'" Popular in Waterville ME
"Baseball and foot ball did not, in those days, ensnare the athletic sympathies and activities of [p36/p37] college boys, but old-fashioned 'ball' and quoits were popular."
Asahel C. Kendrick, Martin B. Anderson: A Biography (American Baptist Publications Society, Philadelphia, 1895), pp 36-37. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Seymour's note implies that the section heading in which this text appears is "(1836) "Ball" at Waterville [Later Colby College]." Sources found by John Thorn [email of 2/9/2008] and Mark Aubrey [email of 1/30/2008].
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.
1837.10 In Recession, Doughty Ex-Workers Play Ball, Leave Town for Home
"One of the most interesting places in New England for the beauty of its scenery the extent of its manufactories, and the industry of its inhabitants, is the town of Haverhill Mass. At Haverhill more shoes are made, Lynn excepted, than at any place in this country. Nine-tenths of the mechanics, not long since, in consequence of the hard times, were thrown out of employ. The assembled together, laughed at their misfortunes, marched through the streets, played ball for a day and as soon as possible exchanged the shoe-shop for the farm house."
"New England Girls and Young Men," Jamestown [NY] Journal, July 19, 1837. This story is evidently based on a report in the Haverhill Gazette. Accessed via subscription search May 20, 2009. Haverhill MA is about 30 miles north of Boston and near the NH border. A serious recession gripped the US economy in 1837.
1840s.4 Preppies Brought Base Ball to College Campuses?
"Apart from rowing and track, baseball was the only other intercollegiate sport to generate much interest prior to 1869. Boys from the eastern academies introduced a version of baseball to college campuses in the 1840s and 1850s."
Benjamin Rader, American Sports (Prentice-Hall, 1983), page 74: no citation given. Caveat: Recent research calls this assertion into some question, as we now have many prior references to college ballplaying, including cricket and wicket. See http://retrosheet.org/Protoball/Sub.College.htm.
1840c.27 New Hampshire Farm Boy Plays Baseball, Two Old Cat, Drive
The [farm] work did not press, usually, and there was plenty of time to learn shooting . . . and for playing the simple games that country boys then understood. Baseball, for instance, - not the angry and gambling game it has since become, - and the easier games of 'one old cat,' 'two old cat,' and 'drive,' played with balls . . . . In such games girls did not join; and the game of cricket, which has long prevailed in England, and in which girls in school now  take part, never was domesticated in New England."
F. B. Sanborn, New Hampshire Biography and Autobiography (private printing, 1905), page 13. Accessed 2/9/10 via Google Books search (sanborn "hampshire biography"). Sanborn was born in 1831 and spent his boyhood in Hampton Falls, NH, which is near the Atlantic coast and about 10 miles south of Portsmouth NH.
1840s.30 Ballplayer Recalls Boyhood Matches, Ballmaking, Adult Play
On Fast Day [page 68]: "The town meeting was succeeded in April by Fast Day, appointed always for a Thursday. For some unknown reason Thursday in New England was an almost sacred day, a sort of secular Sabbath . . . . Boys were not generally compelled to attend the Fast Day religious service. It had ceased to be as strictly kept as before. In villages and towns there was customarily a match game of ball, very unlike the current  base ball. Boys played [p68/69] with boys and men with men. The New England bootmakers, of whom there were some in most villages, were the leaders in these games."
On ball-making, and on plugging [page 174] : "Our ingenuity was exercised in weaving watch chains in various patterns with silk twist; in making handsome bats for ball, and in making the balls themselves with the raveled yarn of old stockings, winding it over a bit of rubber, and sewing on a cover of fine thin calf skin. This ball did not kill as it struck one, and, instead of being thrown to the man on the bases was more usually at thee man running between them. He who could make a good shot of that kind was much applauded, and he who was hit was laughed at and felt very sheepish. That was true sport, plenty of fun and excitement, yet not too serious and severe. The issue of the game was talked over for a week. I did my daily stint of stitching with only one thing in mind, to [p174/175] play ball when through; for the boys played every afternoon. When there was to be a match game the men practiced after the day's work was done."
On bootmakers [page 170]: "The smaller [bootmaking] shops were the centers for the gossip, rumors, and discussions which agitated the community. There men sharpened their wits upon each other, played practical jokes, sang, argued the questions of that [p170/171] day, especially slavery, and arranged every week from early spring to late autumn a match game of ball either among themselves or the bootmakers of neighboring towns for Saturday afternoon, which was their half holiday."
John Albee, Confessions of Boyhood (R.G. Badger, Boston, 1910). Albee was born in 1833 and grew up in Bellingham MA, about 30 miles SW of Boston and in the heart of Round Ball [Mass game] territory, with neighboring towns of Holliston, Medway, Sharon, and Dedham. The book is found via a "confessions of boyhood" search via Google Books, as accessed 11/14/2008.
1840s.31 Lem: Juvenile Fiction's Boy Who Loved Round-ball
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.
1841.2 Boston Common Ballplaying Scene Appears on Writing Tablet
Specimens of Penmanship [Bridgeport, CT, J. B. Sanford], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 206. The image first appeared in Carver's Book of Sports (see 1834 entry).
1841.13 At Yale, Wicket Now Seen as "Ungenteel"
Commenting on the lack of exercise at Yale, a student wrote:
"The is one great point in which the English have the advantage over us: they understand how to take care of their health . . . every Cantab [student at Cambridge U] takes his two hours' exercise per diem, by walking, riding, rowing, fencing, gymnastics, &c. How many Yalensians take one hour's regular exercise? . . . The gymnasium has vanished, wicket has been voted ungenteel, scarce even a freshman dares to put on a pair of skates, . . .
Yale Literary Magazine, vol. 7 (November 1841), pages 36-37. as cited in Betts, John R., "Mind and Body in Early American Thought," The Journal of American History, vol. 54, number 4 (March 1968), page 803. Provided by John Thorn, email, 7/10/2007. Note the absence of cricket as a university activity at both schools.
1843.4 On Yale's Green, Many a "Brisk Game of Wicket"
"Were it spring or autumn you should see a brave set-to at football on the green, or a brisk game of wicket." Ezekiel P. Belden, Sketches of Yale College (Saxton and Miles, New York, 1843), page 153.
1845.22 Barre MA Skips the "Old Annual Game of Ball" on Election Day
"'Old Election' passed over the town on Wednesday, with as little notice as any crusty curmudgeon might wish. A few people were abroad with 'clean fixens' on and there was an imposing parade of 'boy's training.' Even the old annual game of ball was forgotten, and the holiday was guiltless of any other display of unusual mirth."
"Old Election," Barre Gazette, May 30, 1845. Accessed via subscription search, 2/14/2009. Barre is in central MA, about 25 miles NW of Worcester. Great Barrington MA also associated Election Day with ballplaying - a game of wicket. See item #1820s.25. Query: How common a custom was it to celebrate Election Day with a ballgame? When did the custom start, and when did it die out? Can we start it up again?
1846.7 Amherst Juniors Drop Wicket Game, 77 to 53: says Young Billjamesian
"Friday, October 16. At prayers as usual. Studied Demosthenes till breakfast time. After breakfast came off the great match between our class and the juniors. We beat them 77 to 53. They had on the ground nineteen men out of twenty-nine, and we thirty out of thirty-five. Had the remainder of both classes been there, at the same rate we should have beaten them 90 to 81. As a class they were completely used up. Their players, however, averaged about 0.23 each more than ours. The whole was played out in about an hour. The victory was completely ours, a result different from what I expected. Got a lesson in Demosthenes and went to recitation." On October 3, the MA diarist had written: "played a game of wicket, with a party of fellows . . . . Had a fine game, though I, knowing little of the rules, was soon bowled out. Then came home and wrote journal till 5PM. Then to prayers and afterward to supper."
Hammond, William G., Remembrance of Amherst: An Undergraduate's Diary, 1846-1848. [Columbia University Press, New York, 1946], page 26. Per John Thorn 7/04/2003. Note: is it conclusive from this excerpt's context that the MA students were playing wicket on October 16?
1846.8 Amherst Alum Recalls How Wicket Was Played
Dr. Edward Hitchcock gives this account of the game of wicket at is MA college:
"In my days baseball was neither a science nor an art, but we played 'wicket'. On smooth and level ground about 20 feet apart were placed two 'wickets,' pine sticks 1 inch square and 8 to 10 feet long, supported on a block at each end so as to be easily knocked off. The ball was made of yarn, covered with stout leather, about six inches in diameter and bowled with all the power of the wicket tender at each end. The aim was to roll it as swiftly as possible at the opposite wicket and knock it down if possible. This was defended by the man with a broad bat, 3 feet long, and the oval about 8 inches [across], who must defend his wicket. If the bowler could by [bowling] a fair ball, striking twice between the wickets, knock down the opposite wicket, the striker was out. But if the batter could by a direct or sideways hit send the ball sideways or overhead the outside men, they [ i.e. ., the batter and his teammate at the opposite end] could run till the ball was in the hands of the bowler. But the bowler to get the batter out must with the ball in his hand knock the wicket outwards before the batter could strike his bat outside a line three feet inside the wicket . . . . This game was played on the lowest part of the 'walk' under the trees which now extends from chapel to the church."
Hitchcock, Edward, "Recollections," in George F. Whicher, ed., Remembrance of Amherst: An Undergraduate's Diary, 1846-1848. [Columbia University Press, 1946], page 188. Per John Thorn 7/04/2003.
1846.19 One-Horse Wagon's Driver 1, Wicket Players 0
A man drives his wagon along a road in Great Barrington MA, passing though was a dozen wicket players think of as their regular playing grounds. A throw hits the man in the pit of his stomach [now remember, wicket balls were darned heavy]. Naturally, he sues the players for trespass.
The defendants' case: "at the time of the accident, Fayar Hollenbeck, on of the defendants, whose part in the game was to catch the ball after it had been struck, and to throw it back to the person whose business it was to roll it, was stationed in a northeasterly direction from the latter, who was atone of the wickets. The plaintiff had passed the wicket a little, and was west of a direct line from Hollenbeck to the person at the wicket. At this moment, Hollenbeck threw the ball with an intention to throw it to the person at the wicket; but the ball being wet, it slipped in his hand, when he was in the act of throwing it, and was thus turned from the intended direction, and struck the plaintiff."
In the fall of 1848, the MA Supreme Court found for the traveler, saying, but much less succinctly, that the roads were built for travelers and that wicket was obviously too dangerous to play there.
Luther S. Cushing, Cases Argued and Determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Volume 1 (Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 1865), pp. 453-457. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (cushing "vosburgh vs. john").
1847.12 Mainers' "Bat and Ball" Event Leads to Delayed Catharsis
"A very pleasant incident occurred in one of our public schools a day or two since. It seems that the boys attending the school, of the average age of seven years, had in their play of bat and ball, broken one of the neighbors windows, but no clue of the offender could be obtained."
The neighbor came to the school to complain, and later a boy confessed, and then the rest of the players said they would chip in to pay for damages. "A thrill of pleasure seemed to run through the school at the display of correct feeling."
New-Hampshire Gazette, May 11, 1847; the story is there credited to the Bangor [ME] Whig. Accessed May 4, 2009 via subscription search.
1848.16 Fast-Day Notice to NH Subscribers
"Next Thursday being "Fast Day," we shall issue our paper as usual on the following Tuesday, although our compositors will doubtless take a game with bat and ball."
New-Hampshire Gazette, April 11, 1848. Accessed May 4, 2009 via subscription search.
1849.6 Inmates Play Base Ball at Worcester MA "Lunatic Hospital"
"[O]utdoor amusements consist in the game of quoits, base ball, walking in parties . . . "
"State Lunatic Hospital at Worcester," The Christian Register, Volume 28, Issue 6 [February 10, 1849], page 6. Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006 and David Ball, 6/4/2006. Bill notes that the same article appears in Massachusetts Ploughman and New England Journal of Agriculture, Volume 8 Issue 20 [February 17, 1849], page 4. Cf. item #146.16 above.
1850.32 NH Ballplaying Washed Out on Fast Day
"Fast Day. Disappointment fastened upon a thousand boys and girls, who calculated on a first rate, tall time on Fast Day. It seemed as if al the water valves in the clouds were opened, and we dare assert that rain never fell faster. The sun didn't shine, the birds didn't sing, the boys didn't play ball . . . "
"Fast Day," New-Hampshire Gazette, April 9, 1850. Accessed via 4/9/09 subscription search.
1850s.33 Round Ball, Old Cat Played in Northwest MA Town
"There was, of course, coasting, skating, swimming, gool, fox and hounds . . . round ball; two and four old cat, with soft yarn balls thrown at the runner."
G. Stanley Hall, "Boy Life in a Massachusetts Town Forty Years Ago," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society Volume 7 (1892), page 113. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search ("g.stanley hall" "boy life"). Hall grew up on a large farm in Ashfield MA, which is in the NW corner of the commonwealth, and about 55 miles east of Albany NY.
It is interesting that the game of wicket is not mentioned, given Ashland's location in western MA.
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".] This is the only entry that uses "gool" as the actual name of the game.
1850c.36 Wicket Ball in Amherst MA
"For exercise the students played wicket ball and shinny."
The author here appears to be referring to the latter years of service of Edward Hitchcock, President of Amherst College from 1844 to 1854.
Alice M. Walker, Historic Homes of Amherst (Amherst Historical Society, Amherst MA, 1905), page 99. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (walker "historic homes"). Amherst MA is about 25 miles north of Springfield MA.
1852.5 Religious Chapbook Shows Action in Ball Play at Recess
This Sunday school reader has a detailed illustration of a game in progress.
Fernald, Benjamin C., My Little Guide to Goodness and Truth [Portland ME, Sanborn and Carter], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 214.
1853.11 Catcher Felled in ME
"Melancholy Accident. - In Pownal, on the 5th inst Oren Cutter, 16 years of age, son of Reuben Cutter, Postmaster of Yarmouth, while 'catching behind' at a game of ball, was struck on the back of his head by a bat. Though suffering much pain, the lad was able to walk home, and after some external application, retired for the night, his friends not thinking or anything serious. In a short time, however, a noise was heard from the room, and on going to him he was found to be dying. The blow was received about sunset, and he died about 10."
PortlandJournal of Literature and Politics, May 21, 1853. Attributed to the Portland Mirror. Accessed 2/17/09 via subscription search.
Pownal ME is about 20 miles north of Portland.
1854.2 First New England Team, the Olympics, Forms to Play Round Ball
"The first regularly organized team in New England was the Boston Olympics of 1854. The Elm Trees followed in 1855 and the Green Mountains two years later."
Seymour, Harold, Baseball: the Early Years [Oxford University Press, 1989], p. 27. [No ref given.]
It seems plausible, given similarity of phrasing, that this finding comes from George Wright's November 1904 review of baseball history. See#1854.3 below.
There is also similar treatment in Lovett, Old Boston Boys, (Riverside Press, 1907), page 129.
Is there any detailed indication, or educated guess, as to what rules the Olympics uses in 1854?
1854.3 Organized Round Ball in New England Morphs Toward the "MA 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.
1855.26 Tolland CT 265, Otis-Sandisfield MA 189 In Wicket Match
[A] "The ball players of Sandisfield and Otis, thinking themselves equal for almost all things, send a challenge to the Tolland players for a match game in the former town, on Friday the 14th. Tolland accepted, and with twenty-five players on each side the game commenced, resulting in the complete triumph of he challenged or Tolland party, whose tally footed up 265 crosses, to 189 for the other side."
[B] In August, Barre MA arranged a game with players from Petersham MA and Hardwick MA. Barre MA is about 40 miles NE of Springfield, and the two other towns are about 7 miles from Barre.
[A] The [Lowell MA?] Sun, September 27, 1855, attributed to the Springfield Republican.
[B] Barre Patriot, August 17, 1855.
Accessed May 5, 2009 via subscription search.
Tolland CT is about 20 miles NE of Hartford CT and 20 miles SE of Springfield MA. The two MA villages are about 30 miles W of Springfield.
1855.37 Barre Club Challenge to Six Nearby MA Towns -- $100 Grand Prize Planned
"August 11, 1855 -- Barre. The Gazette says the Barre boys will challenge their neighbors in he towns surrounding, to play a [at?] round ball.
"The Barre boys either have or are about to extend a challenge to one of the other of the adjoining towns for a grand game of round, of [or?] base ball, the victors to throw the glove to one of the other towns, and so on, till it is settled, which one of the seven shall be victor over the other six. A grand prize of one hundred dollars, more or less, to be raised, by general contributions and awarded to the party which shall be finally successful. The six surrounding and adjoining towns are Hardwick, Dana, Petersham, Hubbardstown, Oakham, and New Braintree. The seventh is Barre, which is in the centre, and equidistant from them all."
Barre MA (1855 pop. about 3000) is about 60 miles W of Boston. Hardwick, Hubbardstown, Oakham, New Braintree and Petersham are 8-10 miles from Barre. Poor Dana MA was disincorporated in 1938.
Do we know if this plan was carried out? How was the victor decided among participating towns?
1856.9 Working Men Play at Dawn on Boston Common
A team of truckmen played on Boston Common, often at 5AM so as not to interfere with their work.
New York Clipper, July 19, 1856 [page?] Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
1856.17 The Mass Game Explained
"I have thought, perhaps, a statement of my experience as to the Yankee method of playing 'Base,' or 'Round' ball, as we used to call it, may not prove uninteresting.
"The ball we used was, I should think, of the size and weight described by the Putnam rules, made of yarn, tightly wound round a lump of cork or India rubber, and covered with smooth calf-skin in quarters (as we quarter an orange), the seams closed snugly, and not raised, lest they should blister the hands of the thrower and catcher: the bat round, varying from 3 to 3.5 feet in length; a portion of a stout rake or pitchfork handle was much in demand, and wielded generally in one hand by the muscular young players at the country schools, who rivaled each other in the hearty cracks they gave the ball.
"There were six to eight players upon each side, the latter number being the full complement. The two best layers upon each side first and second mates, as they were called by common consent were catcher and thrower. These retained their positions in the game, unless they chose to call some other player, upon their own side, to change places with them." Dated Boston, December 20, 1856. A field diagram followed. It shows either 6 or 10 defensive positions, depending on whether each base was itself a defensive station.
"Base Ball; How They Play the Game in New England, by An Old Correspondent" Porter's Spirit of the Times, Dec. 27, 1856
The Dedham rules of 1858 specified at least ten players on a team. The writer does not call the game the MA game, and does not mention plugging, the use of stakes as bases, or the one-out-all-out rule; is this conceivably because he thinks the NY game shares those attributes?
1856.20 Exciting Round Ball Game Played on Boston Common, End With 100-to-98 Tally
[A] "EXCITING GAME OF BASE BALL. - The second trial game of Base Ball took place on the Boston Common, Wednesday morning, May 14th, between the Olympics and the Green Mountain Boys. The game was one hundred ins, and after three hours of exciting and hard playing, it was won by the Olympics, merely by two, the Green Mountain Boys counting 98 tallies. . . . The above match was witnessed by a very large assemblage, who seemed to take a great interest in it."
The article also prints a letter protesting the rules for a prior game between the same teams. The Olympics explained that were compelled to play a game in which their thrower stood 40 feet from the "knocker" while their opponent's thrower stood at 20 feet. In addition, the Green Mountain catcher [sic] moved around laterally, and a special six-strike rule was imposed that confounded the Olympics. It appears that this game followed an all-out-side-out rule. The reporter said the Olympics found these conditions "unfair, and not according to the proper rules of playing Round or Base Ball."
[B] the Daily Atlas briefly mentioned the game, noting "There was a large crowd of spectators, although the flowers and birds of springs, and a wheelbarrow race at the same time . . . tended to draw off attention." A week later, the Boston Post reported that the Green Mountain Boys took a later contest, "the Olympics making 84 rounds to the G.M. Boys 119."
[A] Albert S. Flye, "Exciting Game of Base Ball," New York Clipper Volume 4, number 5 (May 25, 1856), page 35. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
[B] The Boston Daily Atlas, May 15, 1856.
Note: does this article imply that previously, base ball on the Common was relatively rare?
1856.25 Boston Paper Reports 192-187 Squeaker in Western MA
"A great game of ball, says the Berkshire Courier, cam off in that village on Friday last. The parties numbers 17 on a side, composed of lawyers, justices, merchants mechanics, and in fact a fair proportion of the village populations were engages wither as participants or spectators . . . . The excitement was intense . . . best of all the game was a close one, the aggregate count in [illeg: 8?] innings being 192 and 187."
BostonEvening Transcript, April 18, 1856. Accessed bia subscription search 2/17/2009.
Berkshire MA is about 5 miles NE of Pittsfield and about 10 miles E of New York state border.
This may have been a wicket match. One wonders why a Friday match would have been held.
1857.5 The Tide Starts Turning in New England - Trimountain Club Adopts NY Game
"BASE BALL IN BOSTON. - Another club has recently organized in Boston, under the title of the Mountain [Tri-Mountain, actually - Boston had three prominent city hills then - LMc] Base Ball Club. They have decided upon playing the game the same as played in New York, viz.: to pitch instead of throwing the ball, also to place the men on the bases, and not throw the ball at a man while running, but to touch him with it when he arrives at the base. If a ball is struck [next word, perhaps "beyond," is blacked out: "outside" is written in margin] the first and third base, it is to be considered foul, and the batsman is to strike again. This mode of playing, it is considered, will become more popular than the one now in vogue, in a short time. Mr. F. Guild, the treasurer of the above named club, is now in New York, and has put himself under the instructions of the gentlemen of the Knickerbocker. . . . "
A letter from "G.", of Boston, corrected this note in the following issue, on June 20: Edward Saltzman, an Empire Club member who had moved to that city, had founded the club and provided instruction.
The New York Clipper, June 13, 1857 (per handwritten notation in clipping book; Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008) and June 20, 1857
The Tri-Mountain Club's 1857 by-laws simply reprint the original 13 rules of the Knickerbocker Club: facsimile from "Origins of Baseball" file at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown.
Note: does "place the men on bases" refer to the fielders? Presumably in the MA game such positioning wasn't needed because there was plugging, and there were no force plays at the bases?
1857.11 New Primer, Different Illustration**
Town, Salem, and Nelson M. Holbrook, The Progressive Pictorial Primer [Boston], Continuing the authors' series (see 1856 entry), this book uses a different illustration of boys playing ball than in the earlier book.
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 218.
1857.25 Season Opens in Boston with May Olympics Victory, Best-of-Three Format
"OPENING OF THE SEASON IN BOSTON. Our young friends in Boston have stolen a march upon New York, in the matter of Base Ball, having taken the lead in initiating the sport for 1857, by playing an exciting game on Boston Common on the 14th inst. The following report of the match we copy from the Boston Daily Chronicle."
The Daily Chronicle report described a best of three games, games decided at 25 tallies, twelve-man, one-out-side-out match between the Olympics and Bay State. The Olympics won, 25-12 and 25-13, the second game taking 14 innings. The "giver" and catcher for each club were named. In otherwise identical coverage, the New York Clipper [hand-noted as "May" in the Mears clipping book] added that the Bay State club had afterward challenged the Olympics to re-match involving eight-player teams. A later Clipper item [date unspecified in clipping book] reported that on May 28, 1857, the Olympics won the follow-up match, 16-25, 25-21, and 25-8
1857.30 Olympic Club's Version of MA Game Rules Published
The Olympic Ball Club's rules, adopted in 1857, appear in Porter's Spirit of the
Times, June 27, 1857 [page?]. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
The rules show variation from the 1858 rules [see #1858.3 below] that are sometimes seen as uniform practice for the Massachusetts game in earlier years. Examples: games are decided at "say 25" tallies, not at 100; minimum distance from 1B to 2B and 3B to 4B is 50 feet, and from 4B to 1B and 2B to 3B is 40 feet, not 60 feet in a square; pitching distance is 30 feet, not 35 feel; in playing a form of the game cited as "each one for himself" entails a two-strike at-bat and a game is set at a fixed number of innings, not the number of tallies; the bound rule is in effect, not the fly rule. The Olympic rules do not mention the size of the team, the size of the ball, whether the thrower or specify the use of stakes as bases.
Porter's Spirit of the Times, June 27, 1857 [page?].
Cannot confirm this source. The rules described appeared in the New York Clipper, October 10, 1857.
1858.10 Four-day Attendance of 40,000 Souls Watch Famous Roundball Game in Worcester
"One of the most celebrated games of roundball was played on the Agricultural Grounds in Worcester, Mass., in 1858. It was between the Medways of Medway and the Union Excelsiors. It was for $1000 a side. It took four days to play the game. The attendance was more than 10,000 at each day a play [sic]. In the neighboring towns the factories gave their employees holidays to see the game."
"H. S.," [Henry Sargent?] of Grafton, MA, "Roundball," New York Sun, May 8, 1905, p.6. From an unidentified clipping found in the Giamatti Center. The clipping is noted as "60-27" and it may be from the Spalding Collection.
David Nevard raises vital questions about this account: "I have my doubts about this item - it just doesn't seem to fit. 1) The club names don't sound right. The famous club from Medway was the Unions, not the Medways, and I haven't seen any other mention of Union Excelsiors. 2) Lowry's evolution of the longest Mass Game does not mention this one. He shows the progression (in 1859) as 57 inns, 61 inns, 211 inns. It seems like a 4 day game in 1858 would have lasted longer than 57 innings. 3) It's a recollection 50 years after the fact. $1000, 10,000 people." [Email to Protoball, 2/27/07.]
The source also contains a lengthy description of "Massachusetts roundball", reprinted in Exposition in Class-Room Practice by Theodore C. Mitchell and George R. Carpenter, 1906, p. 239
Can we either verify or disprove the accuracy of this recollection?
1858.14 Adult Play [Finally!] Signaled in New Manual for Cricket and Base Ball
Manual of Cricket and Base Ball [Boston, Mayhew and Baker],. Only four of this manual's 24 pages are given over to base ball, the newly composed rules for the MA game. Block: "Its historical significance lies in the fact that this was the first treatment of baseball as a pastime for adults in a book made available to the general public."
David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 218-219
The need for a manual may have been first expressed in the 14 "X" letters, an anonymous series of correspondence from "X" to Porter's Spirit of the Times. The writer mentioned that the purpose of the letters, which examined prominent teams and players and gave instructions for playing and for operating a team, was to spur the publication of a manual. The first letter appeared on October 24, 1857.
1858.17 Atlantic Monthly Piece by Higginson Lauds Base-ball
"The Pastor of the Worcester Free Church, the Rev. Thomas Wentworth Higginson, wrote an influential argument for sports and exercise which appeared in the March 1858 issue of a new magazine called The Atlantic Monthly.
Thomas Wentworth Higginson, "Saints, and Their Bodies," The Atlantic Monthly Volume 1, number 5 (March 1858), pp. 582-595. It is online at http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/sgml/moa-idx?notisid=ABK2934-0001-122.
See also item#1830s.22.
Some commentary: His [Higginson's] comments on our national game are of great interest, for he welcomed the growth of 'our indigenous American game of base-ball,' and followed [author James Fenimore] Cooper's lead by connecting the game with our national character." A. Fletcher and J. Shimer, Worcester: A City on the Rise (Worcester Publishing, Worcester, 2005), page 11.
what did Cooper say about the link between base ball and national character?
1858.24 Editorial Rips Base Ball "Mania" as a "Public Nuisance"
"Ball Clubs," The Happy Home and Parlor Magazine, Volume 8, December 1, 1858 [Boston MA], page 405.
The author thinks base ball "has become a sort of mania, and on this account we speak of it. In itself a game at ball is an innocent and excellent recreation but when the sport is carried so far as it is at the present time, it becomes a pubic nuisance." His case:  gambling imbues it,  the crowd is unruly and intemperate,  profanity abounds,  its players waste a lot of time,  it leads to injury, and it distracts people from their work. "For these reasons we class ball-clubs, as now existing, with circus exhibitions, military musters, pugilistic feats, cock-fighting &c; all of which are nuisances in no small degree."
Posted to 19CBB August 14, 2005 by Richard Hershberger.
1858.28 The MA Ball: Smaller, Lighter, "Double 8" Cover Design
Dedham Rules of the Massachusetts Game specifies that "The ball must weigh not less than two, nor more than two and three-quarter ounces, avoirdupois. It must measure not less than six and a half, nor more than eight and a half inches in circumference, and must be covered with leather."
William Cutler of Natick, MA reportedly designs the Figure 8 cover. The design was sold to Harrison Harwood. Harwood develops the first baseball factory (H. Harwood and Sons) in Natick, Massachusetts. Baseballs that are manufactured at this facility include the Figure 8 design as well as the lemon peel design.
"The Evolution of the Baseball Up to 1872," March 2007, at http://protoball.org/The_Evolution_of_the_Baseball_Up_To_1872.
1858.29 First Recorded College Game at Williams College
"On Saturday last [May 29] a Game of Ball was played between the Sophomore and Freshmen Classes of Williams College. The conditions were three rounds of 35 tallies - best two in three winning. The Sophs won the first, and the Freshmen the two last. It was considered one of the best contested Games ever played by the students."
"Williamstown [MA]," The Pittsfield Sun, vol. 58, number 3011 (June 3, 1858, page 2, column 5. Posted to 19CBB on 8/14/2007 by Craig Waff. The best-of-three format is familiar in the Massachusetts game.
Does the final sentence imply that earlier games of ball had recently been played?
1858.30 Playing Rules Given for New Britain CT Wicket Ball Match
"The great game of Wicket Ball between a party of the married and unmarried men of New Britain, came off on Saturday. There were 25 each on a side, and both sides were composed of the 'crack' players of the town." A large number of out-of-town attendees was noted. A box score was included.
Among the stated rules noted as differing from Hartford rules: wickets set 75 feet apart, "flying balls only out," no leading, "last ball to count 4; but the strikers must make four crosses,' a nine-inch ball, and a three-game format in which the total runs "crossings" determined the victor.
"Ball-Playing at New Britain," Hartford Daily Courant, June 21, 1858, page 2.
1858.31 Bristol CT Bests Waterbury in Wicket
Bristol beat Waterbury by 110 runs in a wicket game on Bristol's Federal Hill Green on September 9, 1858. No game details appeared. "The game not only attracted attention in this section of the State, but it assumed such proportions that New Yorkers became interested and it was reported in much detail in the NY Sunday Mercury a few days later. The newspaper remarked at the time that Bristol had a wicket team to be proud of.
The New York newspapers had a chance to tell the same story twenty-two years later when the Bristols went to Brooklyn and defeated the club of that city"
Norton, Frederick C., "That Strange Yankee Game, Wicket," Bristol Connecticut (City Printing Co., Hartford, 1907); available on Google Books.
Can we find the Mercury story and/or coverage in Bristol and Waterbury papers? Add page reference.
1858.32 Ballplaying Interest Hits New Bedford MA
"Yet Another: A number of seamen, now in port, have formed a Club entitled the 'Sons of the Ocean Base Ball Club.' They play on the City commons, on Thursdays, and we are requested to state that the members challenge any of the other clubs in the city to a trial either of New York or Massachusetts game."
New Bedford Evening Standard, September 13, 1858, as referenced at "Early days of Baseball in New Bedford, ca. 1858. http://scvbb.wordpress.com/2007/09/17/early-days-of-baseball-in-new-bedford-ca-1858/, [or google "'south coast vintage' 1858"], as accessed on 1/4/2008. This was evidently the first recorded mention of the NY game in the area. The website relates how the several New Bedford clubs debated which regional game to play in 1858, with the MA game prevailing at that point.
1858.35 New York Game Seen in Boston: Portland [ME] 47, Tri-Mountains 42.
Here is how the new game was explained to Bostonians: "The bases are placed at the angles of a rhombus instead of a square, the home base being the position of the striker; provision is made for "foul hits," and the ball is caught on the 'bound' as well as on the 'fly.' The game consists of nine innings instead of one hundred tallies, and the ball is pitched, not thrown." The absence of stakes and plugging is not mentioned. Nor is the larger, heavier ball.
The New York Clipper (date and page omitted from Mears Collection) reprinted a Boston news account that remarked: "Unusual interest attached to the game among lovers of field sports, from the fact that it was announced to be played according to the rules of the New York clubs which differ essentially from the rules of the game as played here., and also from the fact that one of the parties to the match came from a neighboring city." Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
Mainers see the game thus: "It took awhile but this modern game - and its popularity - moved steadily north. By 1858 we know it had arrived in Maine . . . because an article in the September 11th issue of the Portland Daily Advertiser heralded the fact that the Portland Base Ball Club had ventured to Boston to play the Tri-Mountain Base Ball Club of that city. The game was played September 9th on the Boston Common." Portland won, 47- 42.
The Boston Herald article on this game is reprinted in Soos, Troy, Before the Curse: The Glory Days of New England Baseball 1858-1918 (Parnassus, Hyannis MA, 1997), page 5. Soos reports that this is the first time that the Tri-Mountains had found a rival willing to play the New York game [Ibid.].
"Anderson, Will, Was Baseball Really Invented in Maine? (Will Anderson, publisher, Portland, 1992), page 1.
A game account and box score appears in the New York Sunday Mercury, September 26, 1858.
This watershed game was also noted in Wright, George, "Base Ball in New England," November 15, 1904, retained as Exhibit 36-19 in the Mills Commission files.
Casey Tibbits, "The New York Rules in New England-- Portland Eons vs. Tri-Mountains", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 13-15
Review of the New York Clipper did not find the reported game account.
The item in the Portland Advertiser of September 14, 1858, read, "PORTLAND BASE BALL CLUB.-- The Tri-Mountain B.B.C. of Boston, gave an invitation to our club to try a match with them. The trial came off yesterday on Boston Common, nine to a side. The Tri-Mountain Club has been in existence about two years, ours about two months. The result of the match was our boys got 47 runs, the Tri-Mountains 42, making the former the winners by 5 runs. We understand our club has or will give an invitation to the Boston boys to meet them in our city for a match game."
1858.43 CT Man Reports 13-on-8 games, Asks for Some Rules
"Dear Spirit: The base-ball mania has attacked a select few in New Haven . . . the (self-assumed) best eight challenged the mediocre and miserable thirteen, who constitute the rest of this [unnamed] club. Best two in three, no grumbling, were the conditions . . . [The Worsts won, 48-40, 35-17, 33-27; sounds like a fixed-innings match.]. But what I meant to write you about, was to ask where we can obtain a full statement and explanation of the rules and principles of base-ball."
"BASE-BALL IN NEW HAVEN," Porter's Spirit of the Times, July 17, 1858.
1858.45 1000 Watch November Base Ball in New Bedford MA. Brr.
"At the conclusion of the game (played on Thanksgiving Day), Mr. Cook, in a few appropriate remarks in behalf of the Bristol County Club, presented the Union Club with a splendid ball. Cheers were then given by the respective Clubs and they separated to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners. About 1000 spectators were present.
"In the afternoon there were several 'scrub' games, that is games which the various Clubs unite and play together. The regular Ball season is considered to close with Thanksgiving, though many games will doubtless be played through the winter when the weather will permit."
The New Bedford Evening Standard (November 26, 1858)
1858.52 Grand Wicket Match in Waterbury CT
Local interest in wicket is seen has having crested in 1858 in western Connecticut. "Games were played annually with clubs from other towns in the state, and the day on which these meetings took place was frequently made a general holiday."
J. Anderson, ed., The Town and City of Waterbury, Volume 3 (Price and Lee, New Haven, 1896), pp. 1102-1103. Accessed 2/16/10 via Google Books search ("mattatuck ball club").
In August 1858, the local Mattatuck club hosted "the great contest" between New Britain and Winsted. The mills were shut down and brass bands escorted the clubs from the railway station to the playing field. New Britain won, and 150 were seated at a celebratory dinner. Local wicket was to die out by about 1860. The Waterbury Base Ball Club began in 1864. Waterbury is about 30 miles SW of Hartford CT. Winsted is about 30 miles north of Waterbury, and New Britain is about 20 miles to the east.
1858c.57 Modern Base Ball Gets to Exeter Prep [from Doubleday's Home Town!]
"The present game [of baseball] was introduced by George A. Flagg, '62 [and three others and] Frank Wright, '62. Most enthusiastic of these early players was Mr. Flagg, who abandoned the Massachusetts style of baseball for the New York style. The ball then used was a small bag of shot wound with yarn, and could be batted much further than the present baseball. The men just named played among themselves and with town teams. Mr. Wright, of Auburn, New York, was perhaps more responsible than anyone else for bringing the game to New England."
Laurence M. Crosbie, The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History (1923), page 233. Posted to the 19CBB listserve on [date?] by George Thompson. Accessible in snippet view 2/19/2010 via Google Books search (crosbie exeter flagg).
Is c1858 a creditable guess as to when lads in the class of '62 might have begun playing at Exeter? Is a full view available online? Phillips Exeter is in Exeter NH, about 50 miles N of Boston and about 12 miles SW of Portsmouth.
1858.60 Natick MA Company Introduces the "Figure 8" Base Ball Stitching
"In 1858, H.P. Harwood and Sons of Natick, MA (c/o North Avenue and Main Street) became the first factory to produce baseballs. They also were the first in the production of the two-piece figure-eight stitch cover baseball, the same that is used today. The figure-eight stitching was devised by Col. William A Cutler and a new wound core was developed by John W. Walcott, horsehide and then cowhide were used for the cover."
From Eric Miklich, “Evolution of Baseball Equipment (Continued)”
By Eric Miklich at http://www.19cbaseball.com/equipment-3.html,
Peter Morris' A Game of Inches finds other claims to the invention of the current figure 8 stitching pattern. See section 9.1.4 at page 275 of the single-volume, indexed edition of 2010.
1859.1 First Intercollegiate Ballgame: Amherst 73, Williams 32
In the first intercollegiate baseball game ever played, Amherst defeats Williams 73-32 in 26 innings, played under the Massachusetts Game rules. The contest is staged in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, a neutral site, at the invitation of the Pittsfield Base Ball Club.
The two schools also competed at chess that weekend. A two-page broadsheet tells of Amherst taking on Williams in both base ball and chess. Headline: "Muscle and mind!"
The New York Clipper thought that the game's wimpy ball lessened the fun: "The ball used by Amherst was small, soft, and with so little elasticity that a hard throw upon the floor would cause of rebound of scarcely a foot." Ryczek goes on to say that the ball, while more suitable for plugging than the Association ball, detracted from the excitement of the game because it was not or could not be hit or thrown far.
Pittsfield Sun, July 7, 1859. Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908 [University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 32-34. Also, Durant, John, The Story of Baseball in Words and Pictures [Hastings House, NY, 1947], p .10. Per Millen, note # 35.
AmherstExpress, Extra, July 1 - 2, 1859 [Amherst, MA], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 219.
New York Clipper, cited in William Ryczek, Ballball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 127 and attributed to the July 16 issue.
Jim Overmyer, "Baseball Goes to College-- Amherst vs. Williams", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 19-20.
1859.8 Sixty Play for Their Suppers
"On Saturday last New Marlborough and Tolland played a game of ball for a supper - Tolland beat. There were 30 players on a side."
Tolland CT is about 20 miles NE of Hartford, and New Marlborough MA is in the SW corner of MA, about 25 miles S of Pittsfield. Looks like this was a game of wicket.
Pittsfield Sun, June 23, 1859. Accessed via subscription search February 17, 2009.
1859.9 Excelsiors and Union Club play for $500 and MA Championship
The two clubs were the Excelsior Club of Upton MA and the Union Club of Medway MA. The Excelsiors won, 100-56, and received $500 in gold. "The game, in which 80 innings were played, occupied nearly 11 hours, and proved quite a treat to those who witnessed it. In 1860 the two clubs would meet for a $1000 purse.
5000 spectators attended the match, including "delegations from many of the clubs throughout the state." Posted to 19CBB on 3/1/2007 by George Thompson.
Writing of this match nearly fifty years later, "H.S" [Presumably Henry Sargent] said it was his recollection that "The attendance was more than 10,000 at each day's play. In the neighboring towns the factories gave their employees holidays to see the game." "H. S.," "Roundball: Baseball's Predecessor and a Famous Massachusetts Game," The New York Sun (Monday, May 8, 1905) page not known. The article features many other aspects of roundball.
The New-York Tribune (October 12, 1859), page 5 column 2
New York Clipper, October 22, 1859.
Joanne Hulbert, "The Massachusetts Champions-- Excelsiors of Upton vs. Unions of Medway", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 22-23
Joanne Hulbert, David Nevard, John Thorn, and Craig Waff helped untangle previous versions of this material [H. S. had recalled the big game as taking place in 1858]. Gregory Christiano contributed a facsimile of the Clipper article in 2009.
1859.12 MA Championship: Unions 100, Winthrop 71, in 101 Innings
"The most interesting and exciting game of base ball ever played in Massachusetts. took place at the Agricultural Fair grounds, in boston, on Monday and Tuesday, 26th and 27th September, between the union Club of Medway, and the Winthrop club of Holliston. The match was for the championship of the State..."
Wilkes Spirit of the Times, October 15, 1859. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
Also covered in the New York Clipper, Oct. 15, 1859.
1859.19 Phillips Exeter Academy Used Plugging in "Base-ball?"
"Baseball was played at Exeter in a desultory fashion for a good many years before it was finally organized into the modern game. On October 19, 1859, Professor Cilley wrote in his diary: 'Match game of Base-Ball between the Phillips club and 17 chosen from the school at large commenced P.M. I was Referee. Two players were disabled and the game adjourned.' Putting a man out by striking him with the ball when he was running bases often led to injury."
Crosbie, Laurence M., The Phillips Exeter Academy: A History, 1923, page 233. Submitted by George Thompson, 2005.
Cilley himself does not attribute the 1859 injuries to plugging.
1859.23 Base Ball Would be Welcome in Lowell MA, Town of Factories
"BASE BALL CLUB. We are glad to chronicle the formation of any club whose object is rational out-door amusement and exercise. In a place like Lowell, where a large portion of the working male population is confined eleven hours a day in close rooms, such exercise is especially needed . . . . [Company teams are encouraged.]
Lowell [MA] Daily Journal and Courier, August 1, 1859.
1859.33 Prolix Lecturer Explains What Base Ball and Cricket Mean
"This, then, is what cricket and boating, battledore and archery, shinney and skating, fishing, hunting, shooting, and baseball mean, namely that there is a joyous spontaneity in human beings; and thus Nature, by means of the sporting world, by means of a great number of very imperfect, undignified, and sometimes quite disreputable mouthpieces, is perpetually striving to say something deserving of far nobler and clearer utterance; something which statesmen, lawgivers, preachers, and educators would do well to lay to heart."
S. R. Calthrop, A Lecture on Physical Development, and Its Relations to Mental and Spiritual Development (Ticknor and Fields, Boston, 1859), page 23.
Maybe Calthrop means "have fun, don't talk so much?" Calthrop was to become a Unitarian minister. He avidly played and taught cricket in England as a young man. [For his other sports connections, see #1851.5 and #1854.13 above.]
1859.34 Lexicographer: "Base Ball" is English!
"BASE. A game of ball much played in America, so called from the three bases or stations used in it. That the game and its name are both English is evident from . . . Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words: 'Base-ball. A country game mentioned in Moor's Suffolk Words, p. 238'." [See #1823.2 - Moor - and #1847.6 - Halliwell above.]
From John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms: A Glossary of Words and Phrases Usually Regarded as Peculiar to the United States, (second edition; Little, Brown and Company; Boston, 1859), page 24.
This attestation of baseball's English roots predates by one year Chadwick's assertion of same, and carries the added significance of coming from a distinguished American lexicographer.
1859.40 Devotion to MA Game Erodes Significantly
"BASE BALL. - Massachusetts has 37 clubs which play what is known as the Massachusetts game; and 13 which play the New York game."
New York Clipper, July 17, 1859
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.
1860.1 75 Clubs Playing Massachusetts Game in MA
Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, March 24, 1860. Per Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809.
According to the Boston Herald (April 9, 1860), the MABBP convention drew only 33 delegates from 12 clubs.
The claim of 75 clubs appears in the MABBP's convention announcement.
Can this estimate be reconciled with #1859.40 above? The number of clubs doubled in one year?
1860.23 NY Game Gets to ME
"The first documented game of baseball to actually be played in Maine took place on October 10, 1860. . . . that October saw the Sunrise Club of Brunswick host the senior class team of Bowdoin [College] at the Topsham Fair Grounds."
Anderson, Will, Was Baseball Really Invented in Maine? (Will Anderson, Publisher, Portland, 1992), page 1. Anderson appears to rely on The Brunswick Telegraph, October 12, 1860.
Topsham Fair Grounds are 1 1/2 miles from Brunswick, across the Androscoggin River
1860.24 Mighty Nat at the Bat: A Morality Story
"[T]here was to be a special game of ball on Saturday afternoon. Ball-playing was one of the favorite games with the boys. . . . [Nat comes to bat.] 'I should like to see a ball go by him without getting a rap,' answered Frank, who was now the catcher. 'The ball always seems to think it is no use to try to pass him.'
"' There, take that,' said Nat, as he sent the all, at his first bat, over the hands of all, so far that he had time to run round the whole circle of goals, turning a somersault as he came in."
Thayer, William M., The Bobbin Boy; Or, How Nat Got His Learning. An Example for Youth (J. E. Tilton, Boston, 1860), pages 50-55.
The boys' game is not further described. See also #1860.15
1860c.27 Playing of Hole-less Two-Old-Cat in Providence RI
"Baseball, as now [in 1915] so popularly played by the many strong local, national and international "nines," was quite unheard of in my boyhood. To us . . . the playing of "two old cat" was as vital, interesting and captivating as the present so-well-called National Game. . . . Four boys made the complement for that game. Having drawn on the ground two large circles, distant about ten or twelve feet from each other in a straight line, a boy with a bat-or 'cat-stick,' as it was called - in hand stood within each of those circles; back of each of those boys was another boy, who alternately was a pitcher and catcher, depending upon which bat the ball was pitched to or batted from. If a ball was struck and driven for more or less distance, then the game was for the boys in the circles to run from one to the other a given number of times, unless the boy who was facing the batter should catch the ball, or running after it, should secure it, and, returning, place it within one of those circles before the prescribed number of times for running from one to the other had been accomplished; or, if a ball when struck was caught on the fly at close range, then that would put a side out. The boys, as I have placed them in twos at that old ball game, were called a side, and when a side at the bat was displaced, as I have explained, then the other two boys took their positions within the circles. It was a popular game with us, and we enjoyed it with all the gusto and purpose as does the professional ball player of these later days."
Farnham, Joseph E. C., Brief Historical Data and Memories of My Boyhood Days in Nantucket Providence, R.I. (Snow & Farnham, 1915) pages 90-91.
Farnham was born in 1849. This account seems to imply that some minimum number of crossings from base to base was required to avoid an out.
1860.28 New England Publication Admits New Dominance of NY Game
"BASE BALL. The game of Base Ball is fast becoming in this country what Cricket is in England, - a national game. It has a great advantage over the Gymnasium and other exercise, because it combines simplicity with a healthful exercise at a very trifling expense; bandit is universally acknowledged as a very exciting and also interesting sport. The so called "New York Game," established by the National Association of Base Ball Players, which meets annually at New York, is fast becoming popular in New England, and in fact over the whole country, not only as giving a more equal share in the game but also requiring a greater attention, courage, and activity than in the old game, sometimes called the Massachusetts Game. The first club established in New England to play this new game was organized under the name of "Tri-Mountain Base Ball Club of Boston," and for a long while they were the only club in this section of the country. It seemed hard to give up the old game, but the motto of the Tri-Mountain was "Success," and from time to time during the past two years, there have been similar clubs organized, until at the present time the number is quite flourishing; and the New York Game bids fair to supplant all others.
Farmers Cabinet Volume 58, number 42 (May 16, 1860), page 2.
1860.34 Disparate Ball Games Seen in New Hampshire
Both NH game accounts are in The New York Clipper. May 19, 1860, p.37
Intramural games are described for two clubs. In one, appearing on May 19, "the stars of the East" of Manchester played an in-house 28-23 game under National Association Rules - nine players, nine innings, the usual fielding positions neatly assigned. The other was a two-inning contest with twelve-player sides and a score of 70 to 63. This latter game does not resemble contours on the Massachusetts game - it's hard to construe it having a one-out-side-out rule -, but it's not wicket, for the club is named the "Granite Base Ball Club", also of Manchester. The run distribution in the box score is consistent with the use of all-out-side-out innings.
What were these fellows playing?
1860.43 Three Ball Clubs Form in VT Village
"As if to anticipate and prepare for the dread exigencies of war, then impending, by a simultaneous impulse, all over the country, base ball clubs were organized during the year or two preceding 1861. Perhaps no game or exercise, outside military drill, was ever practiced, so well calculated as this to harden the muscles and invigorate the physical functions. . . .
"Three base ball clubs were formed in this town, in 1860 and 1861. . . . They were sustained with increasing interest until 1862, when a large portion of each club was summoned to war."
Hiel Hollister, Pawlet [VT] for One Hundred Years (J. Munsell, Albany, 1867), pages 121-122. Available via Google books: search "base ball""pawlet".
Pawlet VT [current pop. c1400] is on the New York border, and is about 15 miles east of Glens Falls NY. Chester VT's 3044 souls today live about 30 miles north of Brattleboro and 35 miles east of the New York border.
This is the first VT item on base ball in the Protoball files, as of November 2008; can that be so? Earlier items above [#178.6, #1787.2, #1828c.5, and #1849.9] all cite wicket or goal.
1860.50 A Truly "Grand" Game of Massachusetts Base Ball
The Excelsior Club of Upton MA and the Union Club of Medway agreed to meet for a purse of $1000 in September at the Agricultural Fair Grounds in Worcester.
"Worcester County Intelligence," Barre Gazette, September 14, 1860. Accessed via subscription search, February 17, 2009.
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.
1862.14 22nd MA beats 13th NY in the Massachusetts Game
"Fast Day (at home) April 3, there was no drill, and twelve of our enlisted men challenged an equal number from the Thirteenth New York, to a game of base-ball, Massachusetts game. We beat the New-Yorkers, 34 to 10."
J. L. Parker and R. G. Carter, History of the Twenty-Second Massachusetts Infantry (The Regimental Association, Boston, 1887), pages 79-80.
Fast Day in MA was traditionally associated with ballplaying. The 22nd MA, organized in Lynnfield MA (about 15 miles N of Boston), was camped at Falmouth VA in April, as was the 13th NY. The 13th was from Rochester and would likely have known the old-fashioned game. PBall file: CW-126.