Chronology: 1866 - 1871
1866 - 1871
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The chronology from 1866 to 1871 (44 entries)
1866c.1 Umps Finally Begin to Call Strikes and Balls
Association rules permitted umps to call strikes in 1858, and to call balls in 1864, and it's a little hard for us to imagine a game in which those features were missing. But when did they become common?
"The safe generalization is that balls and strikes were rarely called before 1866, gradually became more and more a routine part of the game, with the process reaching completion at some point in the professional era."
Having found and summarized over 25 newspaper articles from 1858 to 1872, Richard suggests three factors that delayed implementation of the key rules:
 Close calls were disputed, making umpiring uncongenial.
 Players didn't insist on called pitches, even though longer games resulted when umpires declined to make calls.
 Resistance to novelty, especially outside greater New York city.
Richard Hershberger, "When Did Umpires
Start Calling Balls and Strikes?," available on Protoball at <url>. Page 5 of 7.
1866.2 Early African American Club in Philly Plays Initial Game Agains Albany Visitors
"On October 3, 1866, at the Wharton Street grounds, the Pythians played and lost a match against the Bachelor Club of Albany, 70-15. This game is the only known regular match for he Pythian in their inaugural year."
"In spite of their enthusiasm for playing ball, the Pythian initially had trouble competing out of their neighborhood. Apparently, there was a turf boundary, and the Irish tried to keep the blacks of the inner-city wards from venturing south of Bainbridge Street . . . the 'dead line,' and any movement beyond 'meant contention.'"
For this game, however, a large crowd accompanied the club to the playing ground, and the game proceeded.
Jerrold Casway, "Philadelphia's Pythians: The "Colored" Team of 1866-1871," National Pastime (SABR, 1995), page 121. Jerry's source is the Sunday Dispatch, October 7, 1866.
1866.3 Five-Home Run game
Lipman Pike hit 5 home runs for the Athletic BBC of Philadelphia on July 16, 1866, a feat never equaled.
Jerrold Casway, "Lipman Pike's Home Run Record-- Athletic vs. Danville", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 49-50.
1866.4 Admission charged for Atlantic - Athletic championship matches
The Atlantic of Brooklyn and the Athletic of Philadelphia played two of three scheduled matches for the championship of 1866; admission was charged for both games.
Eric Miklich, "Money Ball-- Atlantics vs. Athletics", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 51-52.
1866.5 Modern Game Compared to Traditional Town Ball in IL
"Base Ball resembles our old-fashioned favorite game of Town Ball sufficiently to naturalize it very quickly. It is governed by somewhat elaborate rules, but the practice is quite simple. Nine persons on a side, including the Captains, play it. Four bases are placed ninety feet apart, in the figure of a diamond. The Batsman, Ball Pitcher, and one Catcher, take the same position as in Town Ball. Of the outside, besides the Pitcher and Catcher, one is posted at each base, one near the Pitcher, called the â€œShort Stop,â€â€”whose duty is the same as the others in the fieldâ€”to stop the ball. The Innings take the bat in rotation, as in Town Ball,â€”and are called by the Scorer. The ball is pitched, not thrown to themâ€”a distance of fifty feet. The Batsman is permitted to strike at three â€œfairâ€ balls, without danger of being put out by a catch, but hit or miss, must run at the third â€œfairâ€ ball. He may "tip" or hit a foul.
The full article, with commentary from finder Richard Hershberger, is found below in the Supplemental Text section.
Illinois State Journal, May 10, 1866.
() Any idea why this morsel hadn't turned up before 2014?
() By 1860, the modern game seems well-established in Chicago -- was it still unfamiliar elsewhere in IL as late as 1866?
() The writer seems unfamiliar with the modern force-out rule; wasn't that introduced prior in base ball prior to 1866?
() Is it possible that the absence of a comment about the modern no-plugging rule means that local town ball already used a no-plugging rule?
() Many throwback articles mention that the new ball is harder than traditional balls. Could local town ball have already employed hard balls?
1866.6 First Known Table-top Base Ball Game Appears
John Thorn writes:
"Who is the Father of Fantasy Baseball? Most today will answer Dan Okrent or Glen Waggoner, but let me propose Francis C. Sebring, the inventor of the table game of Parlor Base-Ball. In the mid-1860s Sebring was the pitcher (clubs only needed one back then) for the Empire Base Ball Club of New York (and bowler for the Manhattan Cricket Club). At some time around the conclusion of the Civil War, this enterprising resident of Hoboken was riding the ferry to visit an ailing teammate in New York. The idea of making an indoor toy version of baseball came to him during this trip, and over the next year he designed his mechanical table game; sporting papers of 1867 carried ads for his “Parlor Base-Ball” and the December 8, 1866, issue of Leslie’s Illustrated Weekly carried a woodcut of young and old alike playing the game. A few weeks earlier, on November 24, Wilkes' Spirit of the Times had carried the first notice. (In a previous 2011 post I discussed other fantasy-baseball forerunners, from Chief Zimmer's game to Ethan Allen's: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/10/17/fathers-of-fantasy-baseball/)
Our Game posting, June 2, 2014; see -- http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2014/06/02/first-baseball-table-game/. An illustrated advertisement for Parlor Base-Ball had appeared in Leslie's Illustrated Weekly, December 8, 1866.
The game had spring-loaded mechanisms for delivering a one-cent piece from a pitcher to a batter and by a batter into a field with cavities: "a pinball machine is not very different," John observes.
For a short history of table-top games, see
 are there other reliable published sources of the evolution of table-top games, besides John's 2011 blog?
 is anyone known to be attempting to reconstruct and play this game, or others?
 can we determine what game events are given in the field of this apparatus?
1866.8 Earned Runs Concept Advanced
"Taking a fair average of the Eureka pitching, by deducting the additional runs in the first inning from the four miscatches, and allowing the one run only which the Athletics first earned in that inning, we find a total of 17 runs in three innings charged to Ford’s pitching, to offset which there was but one miscatch, and but 16 runs charged to Faitoute in six innings, an average of over two to one in his favor. These figures tell the story. We refer to this matter in order to do justice to Faitoute; many laying the defeats sustained in the two matches mainly to his pitching, whereas the fault lay in the errors in the field and in the lack of skill displayed at the bat, the superior of play on the part of their adversaries of course having a great deal to do with the result."
New York Sunday Mercury, September 2, 1866, per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, Sep. 4, 2012
This is remarkably advanced analysis. It doesn't take the final step of calculating the earned run average per nine innings, but it is otherwise identical to the modern ERA stat. It then argues that the true abilities of the players are better shown through statistical analysis than by superficial judgments. Gentlemen, we have a sabermetrician here!
1866.11 California Clubs Hold Conventions, View Championship Games
"In 1866 . . . about a half dozen California baseball clubs sent representatives to first Pacific Base Ball Convention in san Francisco. This was primarily a San Francisco affair; only one team, the Live Oaks from Oakland, came from outside the city. This gathering of baseball tribes sought to standardize rules and organize a local championship."
A second SF convention was held the following year, and "twenty-five clubs from as far away as San Jose attended the meeting. One account claims that one hundred clubs" attended.
P. Zingg and M. Medeiros, Runs, Hits, and an Era: The Pacific Coast League, 1903-1958 (University of Illinois Press, Chicago, 1994), page 2. Cited in Kevin Nelson, The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball (California Historical Society Press, San Francisco, 2004), page 12.
Is there an indication of what standardization was needed, and whether rules were discussed or adopted that wee at variance with New York rules?
Can we determine what original sources Zingg and Medeiros used?
1866.15 Vassar has First female Base ball club?
The Vassar Encyclopedia (online) cites a letter from a Vassar student in 1866 saying she'd joined one of the base ball clubs on the college. The encyclopedia suggest the club might have been the Laurels or the Abenakis. Several sources claim this is the first verified proof of a female base ball club.
The Vassar Encyclopedia
1867.1 New York and Philly Colored Clubs Hold Championship -- Philly Win Is Disputed
From the New York Sunday Mercury, October 6, 1867:
THE COLORED CHAMPIONSHIP – The contest for the championship of the colored clubs played on October 3, on Satellite grounds, Brooklyn, attracted the largest crowd of spectators seen in the grounds this season, half of whom were white people. The Philadelphians brought on a pretty rough crowd, one of them being arrested for insulting the reporters. They also refused to have a Brooklyn umpire, and insisted upon an incompetent fellow’s acting whose decisions led to disputes in every inning. The Excelsiors took the lead from the start, and in the sixth inning led by a score of 37 to 24. But in the seventh inning the Brooklyn party pulled up and were rapidly gaining ground, when the Philadelphians refused to play further on account of the darkness. A row then prevailed.
The following particulars, as far as the reporters could record the contest, the black members of the organization imitating their white brethren in betting and partisan rancor which resulted from it:
EXCELSIOR [Philadelphia]: Price, 3b; Scott, c; Francis, 2b; Clark, p; Glasgow, 1b; Irons, cf; Hutchinson, lf; Brister, rf; Bracy, ss.
UNIQUE [Brooklyn]: Morse, cf; Fairman, p; H. Mobley, c; Peterson, 1b; Anderson, 2b; Bowman, 3b; D. Mobley, ss; Farmer, lf; Bunce, rf.
Excelsior – 42 Unique – 37 (7 innings)
Umpire: Mr. Patterson of the Bachelor Club of Albany
Scorers: Messrs. Jewell (Unique) and Auter (Ecelsiors)
In the same edition:
A GRAND DISPLAY BY THE COLORED CLUBS
The baseball organization among the colored population of Brooklyn, are in a fever of excitement over the advent of the celebrated champion Excelsior Club of Philadelphia, which colored nine will visit Brooklyn on October 3 to play two grand matches with the Eastern and Western Districts, the games being announced to come off on the Satellite Grounds on October 3rd and 4th. These organizations are composed of very respectable colored people well-to-do in this world, and the several nines of the three clubs include many first-class players. The visitors will receive due attention from their colored brethren of Brooklyn: and we trust, for the good name of the fraternity, that none of the “white trash” who disgrace white clubs, by following and bawling for them will be allowed to mar the pleasure of their social colored gathering.
Sunday Mercury, September 29, 1867:
CONTEST BETWEEN COLORED CLUBS
Arrangements have been made between the Excelsiors, of Philadelphia, and two Brooklyn clubs, all colored, to play two games for the colored championship of the United States at Satellite grounds, on the 3rd and 4th of October. We are informed that the contending clubs play a first-class game, and from the novelty of such an event colored clubs playing on an inclosed (sic) ground will excite considerable interest and draw a large crowd.
New York Clipper, October 19, 1867
EXCELSIOR VS. UNIQUE
The Excelsior Club of Philadelphia and the Unique Club of Brooklyn, composed of American citizens of African (de)scent, played a game at the Satellite Ground, Williamsburgh, on Thursday, October 3d. The affair was decidedly unique, and afforded considerable merriment to several hundred of the “white trash” of this city and Brooklyn. The game was a “Comedy of Errors” from beginning to end, and the decisions of the umpire – a gentlemanly looking light-colored party from the Batchelor Club of Albany – excelled anything ever witnessed on the ball field. Disputes between the players occurred every few minutes and the game finally ended in a row. At 5 ½ o’clock, while the Brooklyn club was at the bat, with every prospect of winning the game, the Excelsiors, profiting by the examples set them by their white brothers, declared that it was too “dark” to continue the game, and the umpire called it and awarded the ball to the Philadelphians. Confusion worse confounded reigned supreme for full an hour after this decision, and the prospect seemed pretty fair at one time for a riot, but the police, who were present in large force, kept matters pretty quiet, and the crowd finally dispersed…
<em>New York Sunday Mercury, </em>September 29, 1867 and October 6, 1867
New York Clipper, October 19, 1867
A shorter account appeared in New York Sunday Dispatch, October 6, 1867
See also Irv Goldberg, "Put on Your Coats, Put on Your Coats, Thas All!," in Inventing Baseball: the 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 38-59.
Was the October 4th game played between these African American clubs?
Is this game properly thought of as a national championship?
1867.2 Colored Clubs Play in Philly: Frederick Douglass Attends a Game
[A] "FRED. DOUGLAS [sic] SEES A COLORED GAME. – The announcement that the Pythian, of Philadelphia, would play the Alert, of Washington, D.C. (both colored organizations) on the 16th inst., attracted quite a concourse of spectators to the grounds of the Athletic, Seventeenth street and Columbus avenue, Philadelphia.
"The game progressed finely until the beginning of the fifth innings, when a heavy shower of rain set in, compelling the umpire, Mr. E. H. Hayhurst, of the Athletic, to call [the] game. The score stood at the end of the fourth innings: Alert 21; Pythian, 18. The batting and fielding of both clubs were very good. Mr. Frederick Douglas was present and viewed the game from the reporters’ stand. His son is a member of the Alert."
Note: From two weeks later:
[B] "COLORED BALL PLAYERS. At Philadelphia, on the 19th inst., the Pythians, of that city, played a match game with the Mutuals of Washington, with the following results: Pythians – 43; Mutuals – 44
Pythian: Cannon, p; Catto, 2b; Graham, lf; Hauley, c; Cavens, 1b; Burr, rf; Adkins, 3b; Morris, cf; Sparrow, ss.
Mutual: H. Smith, p; Brown, c; Harris, 1b; Parks, 2b; Crow, lf; Fisher, cf; Burley, 3b; A. Smith, rf; Whiggs, ss.
[A] New York Clipper, July 13, 1867.
[B] New York Clipper, July 27, 1867.
For more on one early African American club, the Pythian Club, see J. Casway, "Philadelphia's Pythians; The "Colored" Team of 1866-1871," National Pastime, (SABR, 1995), pp. 120-123.
1867.3 Upset Gives Western Clubs First win vs. the East
When the Forest City BBC of Rockford, IL, upset the touring National BBC of Washington, D.C., it marked the first win for a "western" club against a team from the east.
John Thorn, "The Most Important Game in Baseball History?-- Rockford vs. Washington", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 55-57
1867.4 Cummings' Curve Curtails Crimson's Clouting
Candy Cummings claimed that he first used his curve ball successfully (after numerous previous attempts) in a game against Harvard College on Oct. 7, 1867
Mark Pestana,"Candy Cummings Debuts the Curve-- Excelsiors vs. Harvard", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century SABR, (2013), pp. 60-61
Candy Cummings, "How I Pitched the First Curve", The Baseball Magazine, Aug. 1908. Cummings dated his first boyish attempts at a curve to the summer of 1863.
There are many issues with any individual claim to invention of the curve ball.
1867.5 Morrisania Club Takes 1867 Championship, 14-13
The Union Club of Morrisania won the 1867 Championship, winning its second game of the series, 14-13, over the Atlantic Club. Charlie Pabor is the winning pitcher. Akin at shortstop and Austin in center field make spectacular fielding plays.
Gregory Christiano, Baseball in the Bronx, Before the Yankees (PublishAmerica, 2013), page 75. Original sources to be supplied.
Can we add something about the first game, and the sites of each game? A bit more about interim game scoring?
1867.6 Batters' "Hits" First Appear in a Game Report
In the first issue of The Ball Players’ Chronicle, edited by Henry Chadwick, a game account of the “Championship of New England” between the Harvard College Club and the Lowell Club of Boston featured a box score that included a list of the number of “Bases Made on Hits” by each player. This was the first instance of player’s hit totals being tracked in a game.
The Ball Players' Chronicle (New York City, NY), 6 June 1867: p. 2.
Note: for a 1916 account of the history of the "hit," see the supplemental text below.
For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,” p 1 – 9:
Do we know if Hits were defined in about the way we would define them today?
1867.7 Nationals Inaugurate Western Tours
"...the Nationals (of Washington, DC)...were the first Eastern club to widely "tour." And so among their other accomplishments should be noted their popularizing of the "tour" which came to dominate the baseball seasons of 1868, 1869 and 1870, before the National Association began in 1871...these tours did much to help convince club owners and supporters that baseball could sustain a professional existence."
Greg Rhodes,19cbb post June 17, 2002
1867.8 Signs Go Back To At Least 1867
"Always have an understanding with your two sets of fielders in regard to private signals, so as to be able to call them in closer, or place them out further, or nearer the foul-ball lines, as occasion may require, without giving notice to your adversaries."
Haney's Book of Base Ball Reference, 1867
19cbb post by Peter Morris, Nov. 8, 2002
1867.10 Mitts in Michigan
"We have noticed in all the matches played thus far
that the use of gloves by the players was to some
degree a customary practice, which we think, cannot be
too highly condemned, and are of the opinion that the
Custers would have shown a better score if there had
been less buckskin on their hands."
Detroit Free Press, 8/4/1867, reference in 19cbb post #2124, Aug. 4, 2003
1867.12 Post-War Spread of Baseball Noted
"The Base Ball Mania
Since the cruel war was over, the patriotism of our nation's young
men has commenced to manifest itself in the shape of a general
mania--no, not mania, but passion--for the game of base ball, generally
denominated our "national game," with evident propriety, seeing that it
is much better and much more generally played in American than in other
countries. The popularity of base ball was greatly increased,
especially at the West, within the present season. In Wisconsin, where,
three years ago, there was scarcely a club playing anything like the
"regulation" game, there are now probably not less than a hundred
clubs, all in the "full tide of successful operation." Nearly every
country newspaper that we take up contains either an account of a match
between the club of Dodge's Corners and the invincible First Nine of
Smithville, or else a notice for the "Irrepressibles," the "Athletics,"
the "Badgers," or the "Gophers" to turn out for practice on Saturday
afternoon. An immense amount of proper healthy physical exercise if
thus afforded, and a fearful amount of muscle and dexterity developed.
And at the same time the youths who thus disport themselves can have
the satisfaction of realizing that they are practicing at our great
nation's own patriotic game. "
Milwaukee Sentinel, July 25, 1867, per 19cbb post by Dennis Pajot, Jan. 28, 2010
1867.13 Moneyball 1867
"Many will be surprised to learn that the Atlantics have vacated the scene of their greatest triumphs, and have located themselves on the Eckford grounds, or rather the Union ball grounds, in Williamsburgh, entirely out of the way of the residence of the majority of their members, and in opposition to the wishes of many of the best men in their club. It would appear from all accounts that the present ruler of the club, failing to make any advantageous arrangement with Weed & Decker for a greater share of the proceeds in match days than the players received last year, and finding Cammeyer of the Union grounds ready to offer good terms to secure the club, they availed themselves of the latter offer of sixty per cent of the receipts and closed with him at once. But this being against the rules of the association, they made out a new form of agreement and hired the grounds after paying forty per cent of the receipts taken in lieu of rent. They change will not benefit the club, and it is the worst precedent Cammeyer could have adopted as all clubs can now fully claim a share of the sale money."
New York Daily News, April 21, 1867, per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, Sep. 30, 2013
1867 would be a watershed year for baseball finances. At the beginning of the season ten cents was still the standard admission. Midway through the season some clubs would experiment with twenty-five cent admissions. It turned out that the public was willing to pay this, and this changed everything. At ten cents the receipts paid for expenses, but only the top draws like the Atlantics and the Athletics could turn a significant profit. At twenty-five cents this opened up a revenue stream to many more clubs, and the fraternity found itself awash with cash (at least compared to previously). A similar thing would happen a century or so later with television money. The effect in the 1860s was to lock in professionalism. By 1868 there were openly professional picked nine games being played, and the following year they dropped the pretense entirely.
1867.14 NABBP Draws Color Line
"...the report of the Nominating Committee, through the acting chairman, Mr. James W. Davis, was presented, the feature of it being the recommendation to exclude colored clubs from representation in the Association, the object being to keep out of the Convention the discussion of any subject having a political bearing, as this undoubtedly had.
The Ball Players’ Chronicle December 19, 1867
1867.15 First Uniform with Serif Letter on Shirt
The Pastime Club of Baltimore was the first to display a serif letter on its shirts, in 1867.
For more uniform firsts, see http://www.threadsofourgame.com/uni-firsts/#
1867.16 Baseball's Resemblance to English Rounders Discussed
"I have mentioned base-ball as one of our principal out-door games. We play cricket, but base-ball is to our lads what cricket is to yours. It is the English ball game “rounders,” but developed into something much more interesting and important. It is preferred to cricket, because the play is more varied and less formal; but nevertheless it has become a very formidable and solemn game." Sydney Morning Herald, April 11, 1867, quoting the London Spectator
[from “Yankee Pastimes” by “A Yankee”], Sydney Morning Herald April 11, 1867, quoting the London Spectator.
Finder Richard Hershberger also notes, 6/3/2016:
The distinction between baseball as a developed version of rounders and baseball as a development from rounders is subtle, but I think it is important. In the first, baseball/rounders is perceived as a family of closely related games, some more and some less developed. In the second, baseball is a single game defined by an official set of rules, descended but distinct from rounders. The former emphasizes the similarities, the latter the differences. This is a necessary precursor to the later claim that baseball is completely unrelated to rounders.
This is a late example of the formula that baseball and rounders are the same game, albeit baseball a more developed form. You can find such statements in the 1850s, but by 1867 the more typical version was that baseball developed from rounders. Here is English commentary on the  American baseball tourists:
"Baseball is an American modification, and, of course, an improvement of the old English game of rounders..." New York Sunday Mercury, August 16, 1874, quoting the London Post of August 1, 1874
Is Protoball correct in thinking that the unnamed American's quote had appeared in an earlier "Yankee Pastimes" column in the London Spectator, and was then cited in the Sydney (Australia?) Morning Herald of April 11, 1867?
1868.2 "Hits Per Game" Added to Standard Batting Stats
A seasonal analysis of the “Club Averages” for the Cincinnati Club in the 1868 season was included in the December 5, 1868 issue of the New York Clipper. “Average to game of bases on hits” is included for the first time for each player, in addition to “Average runs to game,” “Average outs to game,” and “Average runs to outs.” Each of these averages was represented in decimal form for the first time in the Clipper.
New York Clipper (New York City, NY), 5 December 1868: p. 275.
1869.1 "The Best Played Game on Record"
Due to the fine standard of play and the unusually low score (4-2), the Cincinnati Red Stockings' win over the Mutual in Brooklyn on June 15, 1869 in Brooklyn was hailed as the best game ever played.
Greg Rhodes, "A Cunning Play Saves the Streak-- Cincinnati Red Stockings at Mutuals", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 63-64.
1869.2 The Only Blemish
On Aug. 26, 1869, the "Haymakers", the Union BBC of Lansingburgh, NY, held the undefeated Cincinnati Red Stockings to what was officially declared a tie by refusing to continue the match after a decision by the umpire went against them.
Greg Rhodes, "Unbeaten but Tied-- Cincinnati vs. Unions", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 65-67
1869.3 First Inter-Racial Game
The game between the Olympic and Pythian Clubs of Philadelphia on Sep. 3, 1869, is the first known interracial game.
Jerrold Casway, "Inter-racial Baseball-- the Pythians vs. the Olympics", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 68-70
1869c.4 Diana Base Ball Club of Northwestern Female Seminary
In the fall of 1869, a number of newspapers reported on the existence of the Diana Female Base Ball Club at the "Northwestern Seminary" at Evanston. There has been some confusion in secondary sources about this team, with some scholars linking it to Northwestern University. This is incorrect. The Northwestern Female College (as it was known) was a separate institution from the University. The latter did not admit its first female student until Fall semester 1869. One female student could not have organized a baseball club. Further evidence that the Diana Base Ball Club was composed of younger girls, not college women, is the fact that a junior "pony club" of boys challenged them to a match game. (There is no evidence this game was ever played.) By way of further clarification, the Northwest Female College operated until 1871 when its trustees handed over responsibility for educating young women to the trustees of the newly-chartered Evanston College for Ladies. The original intent of the founders was to operate as the Women's Department of Northwestern University. This did not happen until 1874 when it became the Women's College of Northwestern University. Frances Willard, who would later gain international fame as head of the Women's Christian Temperance Union was a graduate of the Northwestern Female College and first president of the Evanston College for Ladies.
Chicago Times (22 Oct 1869), p. 6. Quoted in: Robert Pruter, "Youth Baseball in Chicago, 1868-1890: Not Always Sandlot Ball," Journal of Sport History, 26.1 (Spring 1999): 1-28. Also, The National Chronicle (Boston) (30 Oct 1869), p. 259, “All Shapes and Sizes,” Bangor Daily Whig & Courier (8 Nov 1869), n.p., “The Playground: Our National Game,” Oliver Optic's Magazine: Our Boys and Girls (20 Nov. 1869): 639.
1869.5 Hits Elevated to Prominent Status in Box Scores
In the September 19, 1867 issue of The Ball Players’ Chronicle, hits are placed side-by-side with runs and outs for the first time in a series of box scores throughout the periodical. They are abbreviated with the letter “B” for the number of at-bats in a game for which “bases are made on hits."
The Ball Players' Chronicle (New York City, NY), 19 September 1867.
1869.6 Slugging Stat Arrives in Early Form
“Average total bases on hits to a game” first appears in the New York Clipper on December 4, 1869. It would continue to be used in 1870 and 1871 before falling out of favor. Slugging average—total bases on hits per at-bat—would be adopted by the National League in 1923 as one of two averages, along with batting average, tracked by the official statistician.
New York Clipper (New York City, NY), 4 December 1869: p. 277.
1869.7 Cincinnati Club Forms as First All-Professional Nine
Harry Wright, George Wright
"In the fall of 1868, a group of Cincinnati businessmen and lawyers, serving as directors of the Cincinnati Base Ball Club, agreed to a concept so commonplace today that it is difficult to imagine how risky it seemed at the time. The club would recruit the best players it could find, from around the country (and), pay all the players a salary..."
Rhodes, Greg & Erardi, John, The First Boys of Summer. Road West Publishing Co., 1994, p.4
1869.11 First Club to Wear Checked/Plaid Stockings
The National Club of Washington DC was the first to use checked or plaid stockings on their uniforms.
For more uniform firsts, see http://www.threadsofourgame.com/uni-firsts/#
1869.12 Pastimes Adopt First Striped Stockings for Uniforms
The Pastime Club of Baltimore was, in 1869, the first to wear striped stockings on their uniforms.
For more uniform firsts see http://www.threadsofourgame.com/uni-firsts/
1869.13 George Wright Joins the All-Professional Cincinnati Club
In late February 1869, the Sunday Mercury reported that prominent player George Wright had joined the Cincinnati base ball club as its highest-paid player.
The 22-year-old, already counted among the most proficient players in the game; playing for New York's Union club in 1868, he had averaged four runs (and over seven hits) per game, and Henry Chadwick cited him as the best "general player" in base ball.
George Wright was only 22 years old in 1869, but had already had a variety of base ball experiences. Born into a prominent family of athletes (his father was a NYC club pro, and his older brother Harry played cricket and base ball, and was the player-manager of the famous Cincinnati championship club).
Wright's business was base ball. "Arranged employment and waived club dues had been considered acceptable evasions of the NABBP rule forbidding compensation since its adoption in 1859," and at age 19 he played on his brother Harry's Gotham Club in 1863 and 1864. His subsequent migrations:
Age 16-17 (1863-4) -- He played in the outfield of the Gotham Club in New York in 1863 and was the club's catcher for most of 1864.
Age 18 (1865) -- He caught for the Olympic Club of Philadelphia, and also subbed for that city's Keystone Club on its NYC visit. Chadwick would later name him the best catcher in the game.
Age 19 (1866) -- He started the year with the Gotham Club, and then decided to move to the first-tier Union Club of Morrisania, which compiled a better record than the year's unofficial champions, the Atlantic Club, and he became its shortstop.
Age 20 (1867) He moved to Washington and the National Base Ball Club, nominally serving with seven teammates as clerks in the Treasury Department. The National Club won 25 of its first 30 games, and undertook a tour to the West, including two games against his brother Harry's Cincinnati club.
Age 21 (1868) He played for the Union Club in NYC. The club won 39 of its 45 games, and undertook a 20-game tour of the west, including Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati club folded after its 1870 season, and George Wright joined his brother's Boston Red Stockings outfit in the new National Association for 1871 through 1875, where it won four of five league championships. He was named to the Hall of Fame in 1937.
Robert Tholkes, "The Young and the Restless: George Wright 1865-1868." Baseball Research Journal, Fall 2016, pp. 95-101.
Bob Tholkes' thorough 2016 paper [cited above] throws welcome light on the nature of elite base ball in period immediately following the Civil War, a period also associated with the rise of "Base Ball Fever" during which local clubs, representing individual companies, affinity groups, etc., formed clubs, some of which playing at sunrise [as early as five o'clock AM], prior to the work day.
1870.1 The Streak Ends
The Atlantic of Brooklyn broke the Cincinnati Red Stockings' 81-game winning streak, beating them 8-7 in 11 innings.
Greg Rhodes, "The Atlantic Storm-- Cincinnati Red Stockings vs. Atlantics", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 71-73
The 19th-century baseball slang for being held scoreless originated when the Mutuals BBC traveled to Chicago and humiliated the White Stockings, 9-0, on July 23, 1870.
Richard Bogovich and Mark Pestana, "The First 'Chicago' Game-- New York vs. Chicago", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 74-76
1870.3 "Homer" Ump Robs Mutuals
The Mutuals, named champions for 1870 in the East, were denied enthronement as national champions when, with the Mutuals leading in the ninth inning of the decisive game in Chicago on Nov. 1, 1870, a local umpire refused to call strikes on White Stocking batters.
Bob Tiemann, "The Birth of the NA-- Mutuals vs. Chicago" in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 77-78
Tiemann suggests that the incident was an incentive for the formation over the winter of 1870-71 of the National Association, with the first championship based on total wins over the course of the season.
1870.6 Dead Ball Adopted
On November 30, 1870, the National Association of Base Ball Players reduced the amount of rubber permitted in base balls to one ounce, effectively inaugurating a "dead" ball. Balls had previously contained as much as 2 1/2 ounces.
Peter Morris, A Game of Inches, 2005, p.37
Critics of the game had long insisted that low-scoring games were indicated play of higher quality.
1871.2 Battery Sought for African American Club in St. Louis
"To Colored Professionals -- A good catcher and good left hand pitcher are wanted for the Brown Stockings, of St. Louis. A good salary will be given for the season. Address Douglass (sic) Smith, 109 North Street, St. Louis."
New York Clipper, April 8, 1871.
1871.3 Coup d'grace for the Amateur Era
"In March 1871, ten members of the National Association met in New York for the purpose of forming a new group...This act essentially killed the National Association."
Marshall Wright, The National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870, p.328
1871.4 National Association Urged to Adopt Modern Batting Average
In a letter published in the New York Clipper on March 11, 1871, H. A. Dobson, a correspondent for the periodical, wrote to Nick E. Young, the Secretary of the Olympic Club in Washington D.C., and future president of the National League. Young would be attending the Secretaries’ Meeting of the newly formed National Association of Professional Base Ball Players, and Dobson urged him to consider a “new and accurate method of making out batting averages.”
“According to a man’s chances, so should his record be. Every time he goes to the bat he either has an out, a run, or is left on his base. If he does not go out he makes his base, either by his own merit or by an error of some fielder. Now his merit column is found in ‘times first base on clean hits,’ and his average is found by dividing his total ‘times first base on clean hits’ by his total number of times he went to the bat. Then what is true of one player is true of all…In this way, and in no other, can the average of players be compared.”
Dobson included a calculation, for theoretical players, of hits per at-bat at the end of the letter; the first published calculation of the modern form of batting average.
Dobson, H.A. “The Professional Club Secretaries’ Meeting.” New York Clipper (New York City, NY), 11 March 1871: p. 888.
While "hits per at-bat" has become the modern form of batting average, and was the only average calculated by the official statistician beginning in the inaugural season of the National League in 1876, the definition of a "time at bat" has varied over time. To Dobson, a time at bat included any time a batter made an "out, a run, or is left on his base." However, walks were excluded from the calculation of at-bats beginning in 1877, with a temporary reappearance in 1887 when they were counted the same as hits. Times hit by the pitcher were excluded beginning in 1887, sacrifice bunts in 1894, times reached on catcher's interference in 1907, and sacrifice flies in 1908 (though, they went in and out of the rules multiple times over the next few decades and weren't firmly excluded until 1954).
Consequently, based on Dobson's calculation, walks would have counted as an at-bat but not as a hit, so a negative result for the batter. This was the case in the first year of the National League as well, but was "fixed" by the second year. A fielder's choice would have been recorded as an at-bat and not a hit under Dobson's system, as it is today.
For a short history of batting measures, see Colin Dew-Becker, “Foundations of Batting Analysis,” p 1 – 9:
1871.5 Base Ball Attendance Practices at the Dawn of the Pro Era
As the Professional Era took shape, 50-cent admission fees were common, if not standard, in the new league.
(Add data on typical crowd sizes?) (On typical bathroom facilities?) (On available food and drink availability and prices?) (On other now-forgotten practices?)
Debate on admission fees persisted for the AA and the NL was to persist into the 1880s.
Admission gave attendees access to standing room. A seat in the grandstand was (always? sometimes?) extra, and within 2 or three years grandstand seats were being sold for one dollar.
1871.6 Boston Club Puts City Name on Uniform
In 1871 the Boston club put the word "Boston" on the team shirt, the first club to do so.
1871.7 Brimmed Uniform Caps Introduced
Several clubs began wearing hats with brims in 1871. 15 examples are shown in the source link below.