Chronology up to 1700

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1Ancient - 1700

The main chronology from ancient times to 1700 (130 entries)

Contents

BC 3500000 c.1 The Thumb Comes into Play

Ever try to throw a ball, even a non-breaking pitch, without using your thumb?

"The carpometacarpal joint of Australopithecus afarensis would have allowed he range of thumb movement necessary for both key grips used in baseball."

This extinct hominid (think Lucy), thought to be as close to Homo sapiens as any species then alive, lived in eastern Africa.  Their hands weren't yet adapted to throwing, but their thumbs had evolved in that general direction.

 

Sources:

Richard W. Young, "Evolution of the human hand: the role of throwing and

clubbing,"Journal of Anatomy (2003), pp165–174. 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1571064

Comment:

Four of our metacarpal bones are aligned in the back of our hands. This fifth is between our wrist and or thumb knuckle. 

Circa
3500000 B.C.
Item
BC 3500000 c.1
Edit
Source Text

BC 2,000,000c.1 Overhand Throwing Evolves in Primates

Age of Players:

Adult

"A suite of physical changes -- such as the lowering and widening of the shoulders, and expansion of the waist, and a twisting of the humerus -- make humans especially good at throwing  . . . it wasn't until the appearance of Homo erectus, about 2 million years ago" that this combination of alterations came together.

Note: Chimpanzees can only throw like a dartboard-contestant or a straight-arm cricket bowler.

Stone-tipped spears only appeared about a half a million years ago.  "That means that for about 1.5 million years, when people hunted, they basically had nothing more lethal to throw than a pointed wooden stick . . . . If you want to kill something with that, you have to be able to throw that pretty hard, and you have to be accurate.  Imagine how important it must have been to our ancestors to throw hard and fast."

 

Sources:

Peter Reuell, "Right Down the Middle, Explained," Harvard Gazette, June 27, 2013.

See http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2013/06/right-down-the-middle-explained/ (includes video of human throwing motion).  It describes a paper by Neil T. Roach, et. a., "Elastic Energy Storage in the Shoulder,   Nature, volume 498 (June 27, 2013), pp. 483-487.

Comment:

The article asserts, without supporting detail, that straight-arm (cricket-style) throwing is less effective.

Query:

Do British researchers agree that cricket-style bowling would be less effective as a hunting technique?

Circa
2000000 B.C.
Item
BC 2,000,000c.1
Edit

BC3000c.1 A Baserunning Ballgame in the Stone Age?

Age of Players:

Adult

In 1937 the Italian demography researcher Corrado Gini undertook to study a group of blond-haired Berbers in North Africa, and discovered that they played a batting/baserunning game in the sowing season. 

They called the game Om El Mahag. It employed a "mother's base" and a "father's base, and baserunners were retired if their soft-toss pitch resulted in a caught fly or if they were plugged when running between bases.

[A] Contemporary experts were persuaded that the "blondness of the Berbers suggests that they brought the game with them from Europe" some fifty or more centuries earlier when cold northern climates drove civilization southward.  

[B] For later accounts of this research and its interpretation, see below.

Sources:

[A] Erwin Mehl, "Baseball in the Stone Age (English translation), Western Folklore, volume 7, number 2 (April 1948), page 159.

[B] For a succinct recent summary, see David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It (UNebraska Press, 2005), pages  95-100.  For a rollicking but undocumented take on possible very early safe haven games, including Om El Mahag, see Harold Peterson, The Man Who Invented Baseball (Scribner's, 1969), pages 42-46. 

 

Warning:

Today's reader will want to determine how modern demography sees the advent of blond-haired Berbers and the evidence on the preservation of games and cultural rituals over scores of human generations.  

Comment:

Peterson sees a striking resemblance of Om El Mahag to Guts Muths' "German game" as described in 1796.

Query:

Has this game been observed in other North African communities since 1937?  Are alternative explanations of Om El Mahag now offered, including a much more recent importation from cricket-playing and baseball-playing areas?   

Circa
3000 B.C.
Item
BC3000c.1
Edit

BC2500c.1 “Tip Cats" Found in Egyptian Ruins?

Age of Players:

Unknown

Writing in 1891, Stewart Culin reported “the discovery by Mr. Flinders-Petrie of wooden ‘tip cats’ among the remains of Rahun, in the Fayoom, Egypt (circa 2500 B.C).”  Culin infers that these short wooden objects, pointed on each end, were used in an ancient form of the game later know as Cat.

 

Sources:

Culin, Stewart, “Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.,” Journal of American Folklore, Volume 4, number 14 (July-September 1891), page 233, note 1.

Query:

Do contemporary archeologists and/or historians agree that such items were evidence of play? Have they since found older artifacts that may be associated with cat-like games, or ball games? Can they suggest any rules for such games... Batting? Running? Fielding? Team Play?

Circa
2500 B.C.
Item
BC2500c.1
Edit

BC2400c.1 Was Egypt the Well-Spring of Ballplaying? Text Has “Strike the Ball” Reference

[A]“The earliest known references to seker-hemat (translation: “batting the ball”) as a fertility rite and ritual of renewal are inscribed in pyramids dating to 2400 BC.”  Egyptologist Peter Piccione reads Pyramid Texts Spell 254 as commanding a pharaoh to cross the heavens and “strike the ball” in the meadow of the sacred Apis bull.

[B]Piccione’s reading seems consistent with Robert Henderson’s identification of ancient Egypt as the source of ballplaying: “It is the purpose of this book to show that all modern games played with bat and ball descend from one common source: an ancient fertility rite observed by Priest–Kings in the Egypt of the Pyramids.”

 

Sources:

[A] Piccione, Peter, “Pharaoh at the Bat,” College of Charlestown Magazine(Spring/Summer 2003), p.36.  From a clipping in the Giamatti Center’s “Origins” file in Cooperstown. 

[B]Henderson, Robert W.,Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], page 4.

Comment:

David Block [Baseball Before We Knew It, page 303 (note 1)] writes that Piccione’s identification of seker-hemat with baseball is “apparently speculative in nature.”

Query:

It would be good to confirm details in an academic source and to see whether Egyptologists have any other interpretations of this text – and how Egyptian rites employed the ball as a symbol of fertility. 

Circa
2400 B.C.
Item
BC2400c.1
Edit

BC2000 to 1000ADc.1 The Ball in Ancient Play

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Unknown

Ancient cultures—Lydians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians—play primitive ball games for recreation, as fertility rites and in religious rituals.

 

Sources:

Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], pp. 8-21.

Query:

Did any of these games feature base-running?  Batting?  Has the last 65 years of scholarship added detail to this sweeping claim?

Circa
2000 B.C.
Item
BC2000 to 1000ADc.1
Edit

BC2000c.1 "Egypt May Be the Birthplace" of Ballplaying

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Unknown

"Recent excavations near Cairo, Egypt, have brought to light small balls of leather and others of wood obviously used in some outdoor sport, and probably dating back to at least 2000 years before Christ. These may be the oldest balls in existence. Hence Egypt maybe the birthplace of the original ball game whatever it was. We know, however that the Greeks and Romans played ball at a remote period. We do not know the exact nature of any of these ancient games, Egyptian, Greek, or Roman."

 

Sources:

William S. Walsh, A Handy Book of Curious Information (J. B. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1913), page 83. Available via Google Books search "to light small balls," 1/27/2010.

Query:

Does recent scholarship agree that these were balls, were used in sport, and date to 2000 BC? Is there further evidence about their role in Egyptian life?

Circa
2000 B.C.
Item
BC2000c.1
Edit

BC2000c.3 Egyptian Tomb Has Earliest Depiction of Catching (Fielding) a Ball?

Tags:

Females

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Adult, Unknown

The main chamber of Tomb 15 at Beni Hasan has a depiction of catching a ball, as well as throwing.  Two women, each riding on the back of another woman, appear to be doing some form of ball-handling. The image of one woman pretty clearly depicts her in the act of catching ("fielding”) a ball, and the other is quite plausibly about to throw a ball toward her.

 

Sources:

Henderson, Robert W.,Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], page 19; the image itself is reproduced opposite page 28.

Circa
2000 B.C.
Item
BC2000c.3
Edit

BC1500c.1 Mexican Game Believed to Use Bat, Rubber Ball

According to SABR member César González, "There are remains of rubber balls found since the time of the Olmeca culture between 1500 and 700 BC." He reports that it is believed that one of the earliest Mesoamerican games was played with a stick. A dozen rubber balls dating to 1600 BCE or earlier have been found in El Manatí, an Olmec sacrificial bog 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) east of San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan.

Sources:

[Haslip-Viera, Gabriel: Bernard Ortiz de Montellano; Warren Barbour "Robbing Native American Cultures: Van Sertima's Afrocentricity and the Olmecs," Current Anthropology, Vol. 38, No. 3, (Jun., 1997), pp. 419-441]

Per email from César González, 12/6/2008.

Query:

Can we add specific sources for these points?

Circa
1500 B.C.
Item
BC1500c.1
Edit

BC1460.1 Egyptian Tomb Inscriptions Show Bats, Balls

Age of Players:

Adult

Wall inscriptions in Egyptian royal tombs depict games using bats and balls.

According to Egyptologist Peter Piccione, "A wall relief at the temple of Deir et-Bahari showing Thutmose III playing under the watchful eye of the goddess Hathor dates to 1460 BC. Priests are depicted catching the balls . . . this was really a game."

 

Sources:

Per Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 20.

Comment:

Henderson's source may be his ref #127-- Naville, E., "The Temple of Deir el Bahari (sic)," Egyptian Exploration Fund. Memoirs, Volume 19, part IV, plate C [London, 1901]. Also, Batting the Ball, by Peter A. Piccione, "Pharaoh at the Bat," College of Charlestown Magazine (Spring/Summer 2003), p.36. See

also http://www.cofc.edu/~piccione/sekerhemat.html, as accessed 12/17/08.

Year
1460 B.C.
Item
BC1460.1
Edit

BC750.1 Ballplay in Ancient Greece

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Unknown

Notables:

Galen

The Greeks, famous for their athletics, played several ball games. In fact the Greek gymnasium ["palaistra"] was often known to include a special room ["sphairiteria"] for ballplaying . . . a "sphaira" being a ball. Pollux [ca 180 AD] lists a number of children's ball games, including games that loosely resemble very physical forms of keepaway and rugby, and the playing of a complicated form of catch, one that involved feints to deceive other players.

The great physician Galen wrote [ca. 180 AD] especially fondly of ballplaying and its merits, and seems to have seen it as an adult activity. He advised that "the most strenuous form of ball playing is in no way inferior to other exercises." Turning to milder forms of ball play, he said "I believe that in this form ball playing is also superior to all the other exercises." His partiality to ballplaying stemmed in part from its benefit for the whole body, not just the legs or arms, as was the case for running and wrestling.

As far as we are aware, Greek ball games did not include any that involved running among bases or safe havens, or any that involved propelling a ball with a club or stick (or hands).

 

Sources:

Stephen G. Miller, Arete: Greek Sports from Ancient Sources [University of California Press, 2004]: See especially Chapter 9, "Ball Playing." The Pollox quote is from pp. 124-125, and the Galen quote is from pp. 121-124. Special thanks to Dr. Miller for his assistance.

Query:

Did any of the Greek games share attributes with modern baseball?

Year
750 B.C.
Item
BC750.1
Edit

BC700c.1 Ball-Pitching in the Bible?

"He will surely wind you around and around, and throw you like a ball into a large country. There you will die . . . " Isaiah 22:18.

The word "ball" appears only twice in the Bible, and the other one refers to the ball of the foot of a beast (Leviticus 11:27). The Isaiah usage was the inspiration for a January 1905 news article headed, "Isaiah's prophesies were written [in Hebrew] late in the eighth century BC.

Sources:

Isaiah 22:18.

"Played Baseball in Bible Times: The Prophet Isaiah Made the only reference to the Pastime to be Found in the Holy Writ." (The Hamilton [Ont] Spectator - from an unidentified clipping in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center in Cooperstown.)

A compilation of 15 English translations [accessed at http://bible.cc/isaiah/22-18.htm on 12/29/10] shows that most of them summon the image of an angry God hurling the miscreant, like a ball, far far away. (One exception, however, cites the winding of a turban, not a ball.) A literal translation is unrevealing: "And thy coverer covering, wrapping round, Wrappeth thee round, O babbler, On a land broad of sides—there thou diest."

 

Warning:

We have incomplete assurance that Isaiah actually referred to a ball, or even to the act of throwing.

A compilation of 15 English translations [accessed at http://bible.cc/isaiah/22-18.htm on 12/29/10] shows that most of them summon the image of an angry God hurling the miscreant, like a ball, far far away. (One exception, however, cites the winding of a turban, not a ball.) A literal translation is unrevealing: "And thy coverer covering, wrapping round, Wrappeth thee round, O babbler, On a land broad of sides—there thou diest."

Comment:

Protoball user Benjamin Roy has done some further digging in 2014 on the meaning of this text . . . see Supplemental Text, below.

Query:

Can other readers throw any more light on this ancient (and, to Protoball, handsomely obscure) text?

Circa
700 B.C.
Item
BC700c.1
Edit
Source Text

BC100.1 Historian Dates Early Cricket to 100 BC - Others Disagree

In his 1912 article "The History of Cricket" [in Pelham and Warner, Imperial Cricket (London, 1912), p. 54] Andrew Lang "argued that cricket was played as far back as 100 BC, basing this on evidence supposedly provided by the ancient Irish epics and romances." According to Lang, "cricket was played by the ancestors of Cuchulain, by the Dalraid Scots from northern Ireland who invaded and annexed Argyll in about 500 AD." Modern writers do not accept this view.

 

Sources:

Bateman, Anthony," 'More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ; 'Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), pp. 27 - 44.

Query:

It would be interesting to know what particular features of Irish lore gave Lang the feeling that cricket stemmed from ancient Irish sources.

Year
100 B.C.
Item
BC100.1
Edit

370c.1 Saint Augustine Recalls Punishment for Youthful Ball Games

Tags:

Bans, Famous

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Youth

Notables:

Saint Augustine

In his Confessions, Augustine of Hippo - later St. Augustine - recalls his youth in Northern Africa, where his father served as a Roman official. "I was disobedient, not because I chose something better than [my parents and elders] chose for me, but simply from the love of games. For I liked to score a fine win at sport or to have my ears tickled by the make-believe of the stage." [Book One, chapter 10] In Book One, chapter 9, Augustine had explained that "we enjoyed playing games and were punished for them by men who played games themselves. However, grown up games are known as 'business. . . . Was the master who beat me himself very different from me? If he were worsted by a colleague in some petty argument, he would be convulsed in anger and envy, much more so than I was when a playmate beat me at a game of ball."

 

Sources:

Saint Augustine's Confessions, Book One, text supplied by Dick McBane, February 2008.

Query:

Can historians identify the "game of ball" that Augustine might have played in the fourth Century? Are the translations to "game of ball," "games," and "sport" still deemed accurate?

Circa
370
Item
370c.1
Edit

640s.1 Medieval Writer: Saint Cuthbert [born 634c] "Pleyde atte balle"

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Juvenile

Notables:

Saint Cuthbert

Mulling on whether the ball came to England in Anglo-Saxon days, Joseph Strutt reports "the author of a manuscript in Trinity College, Oxford, written in the fourteenth century and containing the life of Saint Cuthbert, says of him, that when young, 'he pleyde atte balle with the children that his felawes [fellows] were.' On what authority this information is established I cannot tell."

 

Sources:

Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England (Chatto and Windus, London, 1898 edition), p. 158.

Comment:

The claim of this unidentified manuscript seems weak. As Strutt notes, the venerable Bede wrote poetic and prose accounts of the life of Cuthbert around 715-720 A.D., and made no mention of ballplaying. That a scholar would find fresh evidence seven centuries later would be surprising. Warton later cites the poem as from Oxford MSS number Ivii, and he also places its unidentified author in the fourteenth century, but he doesn't support the veracity of the story line. The poem describes an angel sent from heaven to dissuade Cuthbert from playing such an "ydell" [idle] pastime. Warton, Thomas, The History of English Poetry from the Close of the Eleventh Century to the Commencement of the Eighteenth Century (Thomas Tegg, London, 1840, from the 1824 edition), volume 1, page 14.

Decade
640s
Item
640s.1
Edit

824.1 15-Year-Old Chinese Emperor Criticized for Excessive Ball-Playing

Age of Players:

Youth

Ching Tsung was the new Chinese emperor at the age of 15. "As soon as he could escape from the morning levee, the young Emperor rushed off to play ball. His habits were well known in the city, and in the summer of 824 someone suggested to a master-dyer named Chang Shao that, as a prank, he should slip into the Palace, lie on the Emperor's couch and eat his dinner, 'for nowadays he is always away, playing ball or hunting.'" The prank was carried out, but those prankish dyers . . . well, they died as a result.

 

Sources:

Waley, Arthur, The Life and Times of Po Chu-I, 772-846 [Allen and Unwin, London, 1949], p. 157. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.

Query:

Do we know what Chinese "ballplaying" was like in the ninth century?

Year
824
Item
824.1
Edit

900c.1 Mayan Games Played at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Mayan Indians play stick and ball games in ceremonial courts in Chichen Itza, Mexico

Note: This source may be Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 201. And Henderson's source may be his ref 53, Effler, L. R., The Ruins of Chichen Itza [Toledo, Ohio], pp 19 - 21. However, Henderson's account of the game played at Chichen Itza is not dated to 900 AD, or connected with a stick, so another source may be preferable.

Year
900
Item
900c.1
Edit

1086.1 Form of Stool Ball Possibly Found in Domesday Book in Norman England

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

Stool ball, a stick and ball game and a forerunner of rounders and cricket, is apparently mentioned in the Domesday Book as "bittle-battle."

 

Sources:

Note: This source is Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 75.

Comment:

Henderson doesn't exactly endorse the idea that the cited game, "bittle-battle," is a ball game [or if it is, could it be a form of soule?] He says that one [unnamed] author claims that bittle-battle is a form of stoolball. I saw only two Henderson refs to stoolball, ref 72 [Grantham] and ref 149 [London Magazine]. One of them may be Henderson's source for the 1086 stoolball claim. I don't see a Henderson ref to the Domesday text itself, but then, it probably isn't found at local lending libraries.

The Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect [1875] reportedly gives "bittle-battle" as another name for stoolball. It is believed that "bittle" meant a wooden milk bowl and some have speculated that a bowl may have been used as a paddle to deflect a thrown ball from the target stool, while others speculate that the bowl may have been the target itself.

Query:

 

Note: We need to confirm whether the Domesday Book actually uses the term "bittle-battle," "stool ball," or what. We also should try to ascertain views of professional scholars on the interpretations of the Book. Martin Hoerchner advises that the British Public Records Office may, at some point, make parts of the Domesday Book available online.

Year
1086
Item
1086.1
Edit

1100s.1 "Pagan" Ball Rites Observed in France in 1100s and 1200s

Tags:

Bans

Henderson: "The testimony of Beleth and Durandus, both eminently qualified witnesses, clearly indicates that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the ball had found a place for itself in the Easter celebrations of the Church." In fact, Beleth and Durandus had both opposed the practice, seeing it as the intrusion of pagan rites into church rites. "There are some Churches in which it is customary for the Bishops and Archbishops to play in the monasteries with those under them, even to stoop to the game of ball" [Beleth, 1165]. "In certain places in our country, prelates play games with their own clerics on Easter in the cloisters, or in the Episcopal Palaces, even so far as to descend to the game of ball" [Durandus, 1286].

Note: This source appears to be Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], pp. 37-38. Page 37 refers to an 1165 prohibition and page 38 mentions 12th and 13th Century Easter rites. Henderson identifies two sources for the page 38 statement: Beleth, J., "Rationale Divinorum Officiorum," in Migne, J. P., Patrologiae Curius Completus, Ser 2, Vol. 106, pp. 575-591 [Paris, 1855], and Durandus, G., "Rationale Divinorum Officiorum," Book VI, Ch 86, Sect. 9 [Rome, 1473]...Henderson does not say that these rites involved the use of sticks.

Decade
1100s
Item
1100s.1
Edit

1189.1 "Unconfirmed" Report of a Stoolball Reference by Iscanus

Game:

Stoolball

There is "an unconfirmed report which was published in the beginning of the Century quoting one Joseph Iscanus, of Exeter, as having referred to stoolball in 1189, but no satisfactory evidence that this quotation was genuine." National Stoolball Association, "A Brief History of Stoolball," page 2. This mimeo, available in NSA files, has no date or author, but has one internal reference to an 1989 source, so it must be fairly recent. It contains no hint on the source of the 1189 claim or how it has been assessed. Note: Is it now possible to further pursue this claim using online resources? The 1189 claim appears nowhere else in available writings about stoolball.

However, some cite a Joseph Iscanus couplet: "The youth at cricks did play/Throughout the livelong [or "merry"] day/" as an indicator of early cricket. However, the online source of this rhyme does not give a source. Very murky, no? [The rhyme is quoted as early as the 1860 edition of The Cricketer’s Manual, and ten years earlier in Bell’s Life in a letter from “Alexis” on the subject “When Was Cricket Invented?” ] Query: what do leading cricket historians say of this alleged reference?

Year
1189
Item
1189.1
Edit

1200s.1 Bat and Ball Game Illustration Appears in English Genealogical Roll

"The [1301 - see below] illustration is a very early depiction of the game we know as baseball, but it's probably not the first. In 1964, a writer named Harry Simmons cited an English bat and ball picture from a genealogical roll of the Kings of England up to Henry III, who died in 1269."

Baltimore Sun article on the Ghistelle Calendar [see entry for 1301], April 6, 1999, page 1E.

Decade
1200s
Item
1200s.1
Edit

1205.1 "Ball" Rolls into the English Language

Scholars report that the Chronicle of Britain [1205] contained the words "Summe heo driuen balles wide . . ." which they see as "the first known use of the word ball in the sense of a globular body that is played with." The source? Old Norse, by way of Middle English. [Old High German had used ballo and pallo, but the English didn't use "ball" in those days.] The source does not say whether people in England used some other term for their rolling playthings prior to 1205.

Source: Wikipedia entry on "ball," accessed 5/31/2006.

Year
1205
Item
1205.1
Edit

1255.1 Spanish Painting Seen as Earliest Depiction of Ballplaying

The book Spain: A History in Art by Bradley Smith (Doubleday, 1971) includes a plate that appears to show "several representations of baseball figures and some narrative." The work is dated to 1255, the period of King Alfonso.

Email from Ron Gabriel, July 10, 2007. Ron also has supplied a quality color photocopy of this plate, which was the subject of his presentation at the 1974 SABR convention. Note: can we specify the painting and its creator? Can we learn how baseball historians and others interpret this artwork?

Year
1255
Item
1255.1
Edit

1299.1 Prince of Wales Plays "Creag," Seen By Some as a Cricket Precursor

Tags:

Famous

Notables:

Prince of Wales

Cashman, Richard, "Cricket," in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 87.

Year
1299
Item
1299.1
Edit

1300s.1 Trapball Played in the British Isles

Trevithick, Alan, "Trapball," in David Levinson and Karen Christopher, Encyclopedia of World Sport: From Ancient Times to the Present [Oxford University Press, 1996], page 421.

Decade
1300s
Item
1300s.1
Edit

1300s.3 Stoolball Said to Originate Among Sussex Milkmaids

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

"Stoolball is a ball game that dates back to the 14th century, originating in Sussex [in southern England]. It may be an ancestor of cricket (a game it resembles), baseball, and rounders. Traditionally it was played be milkmaids who used their milking stools as 'wickets.' . . ." Later forms of the game involved running between two wickets, but "[o]riginally the batsman simply had to defend his stool from each ball with his hand and would score a point for each delivery until the stool was hit. The game later evolved to include runs and bats."

Source: Wikipedia entry on "Stoolball," accessed 1/25/2007. Note: this source does not credit bittle-battle [see entry 1086.1] as an earlier form of stoolball. It gives no citations for the evidence of the founding date. The Wikipedia entry is compatible with entry #1330.1, below, but evidently does not credit 1330 as the likely time of stoolball's appearance.

Decade
1300s
Item
1300s.3
Edit

1301.1 Ghistelles Calendar Depicts Vigorous-Looking Bat/Ball Game

A manuscript obtained in 1999 by the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore appears to show a batted-ball game played by two young persons. The manuscript, called the Calendar of the Ghistelles Hours, dates from 1301. It is a small monthly calendar of saints' days from a monastery in the town of Ghistelles, in southwestern Flanders. The illustration is for the month of September.

Schoettler, Carl, "The Old, Old, Old Ball Game," Baltimore Sun, April 6 1999, page 1E.

Year
1301
Item
1301.1
Edit

1310.1 Documents Said to Describe Baseball-like Romanian Game of Oina

Game:

Xenoball

According to an otherwise unidentified clip in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center, an AP article datelined Bucharest Romania [and which appeared in the Oneonta Times on March 29, 1990], the still popular Romanian game of oina can be traced back to a [unspecified] document dating to the year 1310. The game itself "was invented by shepherds in the first century."

The article is evidently based on an interview with Cristian Costescu, who sees baseball as "the American pastime derived from the ancient game of oina." Oina reportedly has eleven players per side, an all-out-side-out rule, tossed pitches, nine bases describing a total basepath of 120 yards, plugging of baserunners, the opportunity for the fielding side to score points, and a bat described as similar to a cricket bat. Costescu is reported to have served as head of the Romanian Oina Federation in the years when baseball was banned in Romania as "a capitalist sport."

The Oneonta Times headline is "Play Oina! Romanians Say Their Game Inspired Creation of Baseball." Note: Can we find additional documentation of oina's rules and history? Is the 1310 documentation available in English translation? Have others followed the recent fate of oina and the work of Costescu?

Year
1310
Item
1310.1
Edit

1310c.2 A Drawing of "A Game of Ball," with a Player in a Batting Pose

A 1915 book on ancient British schools includes a drawing dated circa 1310. It shows two players, one clad in a garment with broad horizontal stripes. Both players hold clubs, and the player in stripes appears ready to swing at a melon-sized ball. The other player appears to be preparing to fungo the ball . . . or, conceivably, toss it with his left hand, to the striped player. The illustration's caption is "A Game of Ball, Stripes vs. Plain, c. 1310." The British Museum's documentation: MS Royal 10 E. iv, f. 94 b.

Posted by Mark Aubrey to the 19CBB listserve on 1/10/2008. The 1915 source, available in full text on Google Books, is A. F. Leach, The Schools of Medieval England (Macmillan, New York, 1915), on the unnumbered page following p. 140.

Circa
1310
Item
1310c.2
Edit

1330.1 Vicar of Winkfield Advises Against Bat/Ball Games in Churchyards; First Stoolball Reference?

Tags:

Bans, Females

Game:

Stoolball

"Stoolball was played in England as early as 1330, when William Pagula, Vicar of Winkfield, near Windsor, wrote in Latin a poem of instructions to parish priests, advising them to forbid the playing of all games of ball in churchyards: "Bats and bares and suche play/Out of chyrche-yorde put away."

Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 74. Note: The Vicar's caution was translated in 1450 by a Canon, John Myrc. Henderson's ref 120 is Mirk [sic], J., "Instructions to Parish Priests," Early English Text Society, Old Series 31, p. 11 [London, 1868]. A contemporary of Myrc in 1450 evidently identified the Vicar's targets as including stoolball. Block [p. 165] identifies the original author as William de Pagula. Writing in 1886, T. L. Kington Oliphant identifies "bares" as prisoner's base: "There is the term "bace pleye," whence must come the "prisoner's base;" this in Myrc had appeared as the game of "bares." Kington Oliphant does not elaborate on this claim, and does not comment on the accompanying term "bats" in the original. The 1886 reference was provided by John Thorn, 2/24/2008

Year
1330
Item
1330.1
Edit

1344.1 Manuscript Shows a Club-and-Ball Game with Stool-like Object

Game:

Stoolball

"A manuscript of 1344 in the Bodleian Library at Oxford (No. 264) shows a game of club and ball. One player throws that ball to another who holds a vicious-looking club. He defends a round object which resembles a stool but with a base instead of legs. . . ". "In the course of time a second stool was added, which obviously made a primitive form of cricket. Now a stool was also called a "cricket" and it is possible that the name cricket came from the three-legged stool . . . " "We may summarize: The game and name of cricket stem back to ancient games played with a curved stick and ball, starting with la soule, and evolving in England through stoolball . . .".

Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], pp. 130-131. Henderson's ref 17 is Bodleian Library, Douce MSS 264, ff 22, 44, 63. Cox's 1903 edition of Strutt includes this drawing and its reference. Note: do other observers agree with Henderson on whether and how stoolball evolved into cricket?

Year
1344
Item
1344.1
Edit

1363.1 Englishmen Forbidden to Play Ball; Archery Much Preferred

Tags:

Bans

Edward III wrote to the Sheriff of Kent, and evidently sheriffs throughout England. Noting a relative neglect of the useful art of archery, the King said he was thereby, on festival days, "forbidding, all and single, on our orders, to toy in any way with these games of throwing stones, wood, or iron, playing handball, football, "stickball," or hockey, . . . which are worthless, under pain of imprisonment." The translator uses "stickball" as a translation of the Latin "pila cacularis," and suggests that it might have been an early form of cricket. We might also ask whether it was referring to early stoolball.

A. R. Myers, English Historical Documents (Routledge, 1996), page 1203. [Viewed online 10/16/08]. Provided in email from John Thorn, 2/27/2008. Myers' citation is "Rymer, Foedera, III, ii, from Close Roll, 37 Edward III [Latin]."

Caveat: The content of this entry resembles that of #1365.1 below, and both refer to a restriction imposed by Edward III. However that entry, stemming from Strutt, refers to "club-ball" instead of "stick-ball," and identifies the Latin as "pilam bacculoream," not "pila cacularis." It is possible that both refer to the same source. Strutt’s text reads: “The recreations prohibited by proclamation in the reign of Edward III., exclusive of the games of chance, are thus specified; throwing of stones, wood, or iron….” The accompanying footnote reads: “Pilam manualtm, ptdinam, el bacculoream, et ad cambucam, etc.” Also: the letter to Kent is elsewhere dated 1365, which could be consistent with Edward III's 37th year under the crown, but Myers uses 1363.

Note: this entry replaced the former entry #1365.1: "In 1365 the sheriffs had to forbid able-bodied men playing ball games as, instead, they were to practice archery on Sundays and holidays." Source: Hassall, W. O., [compiler], "How They Lived: An Anthology of Original Accounts Written Before 1485" [Blackwell, Oxford University Press, 1962], page 285. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.

Year
1363
Item
1363.1
Edit

1365.1 Edward III Prohibits Playing of Club-Ball.

Tags:

Bans, Famous

Notables:

Edward III

"The recreations prohibited by proclamation in the reign of Edward III, exclusive of the games of chance, are thus specified; the throwing of stones, wood, or iron; playing at hand-ball, foot-ball, club-ball, and camucam, which I take to have been a species of goff . . . ." Edward III reigned from 1327 to 1377. The actual term for "club-ball" in the proclamation was, evidently, "bacculoream."

This appears to be one of only two direct references to "club-ball" in the literature. See #1794.2, below.

Caveat: David Block argues that, contrary to Strutt's contention [see #1801.1, below], club ball may not be the common ancestor of cricket and other ballgames. See David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 105-107 and 183-184. Block says that "pilam bacculoream" translates as "ball play with a stick or staff." Note: We seem not to really know what "camucam" was. Nor, of course, how club ball was played, since the term could have denoted a form of tennis or field hockey or and early form of stoolball or cricket. Edward II had issued a ban of his own in 1314, regarding football.

Year
1365
Item
1365.1
Edit

1385.1 English Boys Play Ball "To the Grave Peril of Their Souls"

A letter written by Robert Braybroke laid out the palpable risks of ball-playing: "Certain [boys], also, good for nothing in their insolence and idleness, instigated by evil minds and busying themselves rather in doing harm than good, throw and shoot stones, arrows, and different kinds of missiles at the rooks, pigeons, and other birds nesting in the walls and porches of the church and perching [there]. Also they play ball inside and outside the church and engage in other destructive games there, breaking and greatly damaging the glass windows and the stone images of the church . . . .This they do not without great offense to God and our church and to the prejudice and injury of us as well as to the grave peril of their souls." And the sanction for such play? "We . . . proclaim solemnly that any malefactors whatever of this kind [including churchyard merchants as well as young ballplayers] whom it is possible to catch in the aforesaid actions after this our warning have been and are excommunicated . . . ."

Crow, Martin M., and Clair C. Olson, eds., "Chaucer's World" [Columbia University Press, New York, 1948], pp. 48-49. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.

Year
1385
Item
1385.1
Edit

1393.1 Disconfirmed Poetry Lines Said to Denote Stoolball in Sussex

Tags:

Females

According to a 2007 article in a Canadian magazine, there is poetry in which a milkmaid calls to another, "Oi, Rosie, coming out to Potter's field for a whack at the old stool?" The article continues: "The year was 1393. The place was Sussex . . . the game was called stoolball, which was probably a direct descendant of stump-ball".

The article, by Ruth Tendulkar, is titled "The Great-Grandmother of Baseball and Cricket," and appeared in the May/June 2007 issue of The Canadian Newcomers Magazine. As of 2007, we have been unable to find additional source details from the author or the magazine.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.cnmag.ca, as accessed 9/6/2007.

Warning:

Caution: The editor of The Canadian Newcomers Magazine informed us on 1/10/2008 that the Tendulkar piece "was strictly an entertainment piece rather than an academic piece." We take this to say that the verse is not authentic. Email from Dale Sproule, Publisher/Editor.

Query:

Is "stumpball" actually a known game?  Have we done adequate searches for this name?

Year
1393
Item
1393.1
Edit

1400c.1 Savior Son Wants "To Go Play at Ball"

Tags:

Famous

Age of Players:

Juvenile

 

A well-known and still-sung medieval English carol (in this case, not a Christmas carol), is The Bitter Withy (withy is the willow tree).  The carol is dated to around 1400.

 

As it fell out on a holy day.

 The drops of rain did fall, did fall,

Our Saviour asked leave of his mother Mary

  If he might go play at ball.

 

"To play at ball, my own dear son,

   It's time you was going or gone,

But be sure let me hear no complain of you

   At night when you do come home."

. . .

 

John Bowman reports that "The poem then tells how the boy Jesus tricks some boys into drowning and is spanked by his mother with a willow branch.  Although I do not know what scholars have to say about the ball game, it is clear that the upper-class boys regard it as lower-class!"

 

The full selection, and John's email, are shown below.

Sources:

Norton Anthology of Poetry (third edition, 1983) page 99. 

Query:

What, if anything, have scholars said about the nature of the game that Jesus played?  A baserunning and/or batting game?  More like soccer or field hockey?  Other?

Circa
1400
Item
1400c.1
Edit
Source Text

1440c.1 Fresco at Casa Borromeo shows Female Ball Players

Tags:

Females

Age of Players:

Adult

In a ground floor room at the Casa Borromeo in Milan, Italy is a room with wall murals depicting the amusements of Fifteenth Century nobility.  One of the images depicts five noble women playing some sort of bat and ball game.  One woman holds a bat and is preparing to hit a ball to a group of four women who prepare to catch the ball using the folds of their dresses.  This Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs published an article about the Casa Borromeo frescoes in 1918 and included a black and white photo of the female ball players.  A color version of the fresco is available online.

Sources:

Lionel Cust, "The Frescoes in the Casa Borromeo at Milan," The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs, Vol. 33, No. 184 (July 1918), 8.  Link to color image:  http://www.storiadimilano.it/Arte/giochiborromeo/giochiborromeo.htm

Comment:

Note: This drawing is listed as "contemporary" on the premise that it was meant to depict ballplaying in the 1400s.

Circa
1440
Item
1440c.1
Edit

1450.1 John Myrc Repeats Warning Against Ball Play in the Churchyard, Including "Stoil Ball"

Game:

Stoolball

David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It [page 165], cites the Myrc work, "early poetic instruction of priests," as "How thow schalt thy paresche preche," London. It warns "Bal and bares and suche play/ Out of chyrcheyorde put a-way." A note reportedly inserted by another author included among the banned games "tenessyng handball, fott ball stoil ball and all manner other games out churchyard." Note: can we determine when the "other author" wrote in "stoil ball? This may count as the first time "stool ball" [virtually] appeared.

Year
1450
Item
1450.1
Edit

1450.2 Stoolball Dated by NSA to 1450 in "Don Quixote"

Game:

Stoolball

"[Stoolball] is mentioned in the classic book Don Quixote."

 

Sources:

National Stoolball Association website, accessed April 2007.

Query:

Note: we need a fuller citation and the key text. Is it possible that this entry confuses D'Urfey's 1694 play about Don Quixote [see Entry #1694.1, below] with the Cervantes masterpiece?

Year
1450
Item
1450.2
Edit

1470c.1 Editor Sees Stoolball in Verse on Bachelorhood

Game:

Stoolball

"In al this world nis a murier lyf/Thanne is a yong man wythouten a wyf,/For he may lyven wythouten strif/In every place wher-so he go.

"In every place he is loved over alle/Among maydens grete and smale-/In daunsyng, in pipyngs, and rennyng at the balle,/In every place wher-so he go.

"They leten lighte by housebonde-men/Whan they at the balle renne;/They casten ther love to yonge men/In every place wher-so they go.

"Then seyn maydens, "Farewel, Jakke,/Thy love is pressed al in thy pak;/Thou berest thy love bihynde thy back,/In every place wher-so thou go."

Robert Stevick, ed., One Hundred Middle English Lyrics (U of Illinois Press, 1994), page 141. Posted to 19CBB on 11/14/2008 by Richard Hershberger. Richard reports that Stevick dates this poem—#81 of the 100 collected in this volume—to c. 1470. He interprets the lyric's 'running at the ball' as 'stool ball, probably,' but stow ball [resembling field hockey] seems apter. Richard also points out that "for the sake of precision, it should be noted that this volume is intended for student use and normalizes the spellings."

Circa
1470
Item
1470c.1
Edit

1477.1 List of Banned Games May Include Distant Ancestors of Cricket?

Tags:

Bans, Military

A Westminster statute, made to curb gambling by rowdy soldiers upon their return from battle, reportedly imposed sanctions for "playing at cloish, ragle, half-bowls, handyn and handoute, quekeborde, and if any person permits even others to play at such games in his house or yard, he is to be imprisoned for three years; as also he who plays at such game, to forfeit ten pounds to the king, and be imprisoned for two years."

Observations Upon the Statutes, Chiefly the More Ancient, from Magna Charta to the Twenty-first [Year] of James the First, etc. (Daines Barrington, London, 1766), page 335.

The author adds: "This is, perhaps, the most severe law which has ever been made in any country against gaming, and some of the forbidden sports seem to have been manly exercises, particularly the handing and handoute, which I should suppose to be a kind of cricket, as the term hands is still retained in that game [for what would later be known as innings].

An1864 writer expands further: "Half-bowls was played with pins and one-half of a sphere of wood, upon the floor of a room. It is said to be still played in Hertfordshire under the name of rolly-polly. Hand-in and hand-out was a ring-game, played by boys and girls, like kissing-ring [footnote 31]." John Harland, A Volume of Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1864), p 34. Accessed 1/27/10 via Google Books search ("court leet" half-bowls). "Roly-poly" and hand-in/hand-out are sometimes later described as having running/plugging features preserved in cat games and early forms of base ball. Thus, these prohibitions may or may not include games resembling baseball. Query: Can residents of Britain help us understand this ancient text?

Year
1477
Item
1477.1
Edit

1478.1 Du Cange Mentions "Criquet" Game in his Glossary

While others see cricket as taking its name from the term for a staff, or stick, "[T]he famous New English Dictionary favors a word used as a [game's] target: criquet. Du Cange quotes this word in a manuscript of 1478: 'The suppliant came to a place where a game of ball (jeu de boule) was played, near to a stick (attaché) or criquet,' and defines criquet as 'a stick which serves as a target in a ball game.'"

Du Cange, Glossarium Mediae ET Infimae Latinatis [Paris, 1846], Vol. 4: Mellat, Vol. 5 Pelotas. Per Henderson ref 48.

Year
1478
Item
1478.1
Edit

1478.2 Parliament Speaks: Jail or Fine for Unlawful Gameplaying

Tags:

Bans

An Act of Parliament forbade unlawful games as conducive to disorder and as discouraging the practice of archery. The games that were forbidden, under penalty of two years' imprisonment or a fine of ten pounds, were these: quoits, football, closh, kails, half-bowls, hand-in and hand-out, chequer-board.

This Act is cited as Rot. Parl. VI, 188. Information provided by John Thorn, email of 2/27/2008.

Caveat: The list of proscribed games is similar to the Edward III's prohibition [see #1363.1 above] adding "hand-in and hand-out" in place of a game translated as "club-ball" or "stick-ball." We are uncertain as to whether hand-in and hand-out is the ancestor of a safe-haven game.

Year
1478
Item
1478.2
Edit

1494c.1 Christopher Columbus and the Coefficient of Restitution

Tags:

Famous

Notables:

Christopher Columbus

"When Christopher Columbus revisited Haiti on his second voyage, he observed some natives playing with a ball. The men who came with Columbus to conquer the Indies had brought their Castilian wind-balls [wound from yarn] to play with in idle hours. But at once they found that the balls of Haiti were incomparably superior; they bounced better. These high-bouncing balls were made, they learned, from a milky fluid of the consistency of honey which the natives procured by tapping certain trees and then cured over the smoke of palm nuts. A discovery which improved the delights of ball games was noteworthy." 350 years later, after Goodyear discovered vulcanization [1839], "India rubber" balls were to be identified with the New York game of baseball.

Holland Thompson, "Charles Goodyear and the History of Rubber," at http://inventors.about.come/cs/inventorsalphabet/a/rubber_2.htm, accessed 1/24/2007.

Comment:

Note: We need better sources for the Columbus story.

Circa
1494
Item
1494c.1
Edit

1500s.1 Ballplaying Permitted at College of Tours in France, If Done 'Cum Silentio'

Tags:

College

"Parisian legislators were more sympathetic with regard to games than their English contemporaries. Even the Founder of the Cisterian College of St Bernard contemplated that permission might be obtained for games, though not before dinner or after the bell rang for vespers. A sixteenth century code of statutes for the College of Tours, while recording the complaints of the neighbors about the noise made by the scholars playing ball ('de insolentiis, exclamationibus et ludis palmariis dictorum scholarium, qui ludent . . . pilis durissimis') permitted the game under less noisy conditions ('pilis seu scopes mollibus et manu, ac cum silentio et absque clamoribus tumultuosis.')

Rait, Robert S., Life in the Medieval University [Cambridge University Press, 1912], p. 83. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.

Decade
1500s
Item
1500s.1
Edit

1500s.2 Queen Elizabeth's Dudley Plays Stoolball at Wotton Hill?

Tags:

Famous

Location:

England

Game:

Stoolball

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Lord Robert Dudley; Queen Elizabeth I

According to a manuscript written in the 1600s, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester and his "Trayne" "came to Wotton, and thence to Michaelwood Lodge . . . and thence went to Wotton Hill, where hee paid a match at stobball."

Internal evidence places ths event in the fifteenth year of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, which would be 1547-48. Elizabeth I named her close associate [once rumored to be her choice as husband] Dudley to became Earl of Leicester in the 1564, and he died in 1588.

Warning:

Caveat: "Stobbal" is usually used to denote a field game resembling field hockey or golf; thus, this account may not relate to stoolball per se.

Comment:

The Wotton account was written by John Smyth of Nibley (1567-1640) in his Berkeley Manuscripts [Sir John McLean, ed., Gloucester, Printed by John Bellows, 1883]. Smyth's association with Berkeley Castle began in 1589, and the Manuscripts were written in about 1618, so it is not a first-hand report.

Query:

Note: Is it possible to determine the approximate date of this event?

Decade
1500s
Item
1500s.2
Edit

1523.1 Baron's Trespass Records Mention Stoball

Game:

Stoolball

"Item, quod petrus frankeleyne vid posuit iiiixx ovesin le stoball field contra ordinacionem."

Source: National Stoolball Association, "A Brief History of Stoolball," [mimeo, author and date unspecified], page 2. This wording is reportedly found in "an extract from the rolls of the Court Baron of the Royal Manor of Kirklington, belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster (16th Century), under the heading of trespass." Note: We need a citation here, and a reason for assigning the 1523 date. The relation of stoball to stoolball remains under dispute, with many observers seeing stoball as an early golf-like game. Can we obtain a good translation and interpretation of this quotation?

Year
1523
Item
1523.1
Edit

1533.1 Skelton Poem Traces Cricket to Flemish Immigrants?

"O lodre of Ipocrites/ Nowe shut vpp your wickets,/ And clappe to your clickettes/ A! Farewell, kings for crekettes!"

"The Image of Ipocrisie" (1533) attributed to John Skelton. This verse is interpreted as showing no sympathy to Flemish weavers who settled in southern and eastern England, bringing at least the rudiments of cricket with them. Heiner Gillmeister and John Campbell noted publicly in June 2009 that this is relevant evidence of cricket's non-English origin. Note: the first written reference to cricket was nearly 70 years in the future in 1533. Contributed by Beth Hise, January 12, 2010. Query: are cricket historians accepting this poem as valid evidence of cricket's roots?

Year
1533
Item
1533.1
Edit

1538.1 Easter Ball Play at Churches Ends in France

"Certain types of ball games had a prominent place in heathen rituals and were believed to promote fertility. Even after Christianity had gained the ascendancy over the older religion, ball continued to be played in the churchyard and even within the church at certain times. In France, ball was played in churches at Easter, until the custom was abolished in 1538. In England, the practice persisted up to a much later date."

Brewster, Paul G., American Nonsinging Games [University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1953] pp. 79-89. Submitted by John Thorn, 6/6/04. Brewster gives no source for the French dictum, nor for the "later date" when Easter play ceased in England.

Year
1538
Item
1538.1
Edit

1540.1 A Pitcher, a Catcher and a Batter in a Golf History Book?

Cary Smith [ZinnBeck@aol.com] has noted an alluring illustration in a 1540 publication, and we seek additional input on it. In a posting to the 19CBB listserve in March 2008, Cary wrote:

"On the British Library web site in the turning pages section there is a book called the Golf Book, but it is labeled as 'Flemish Masters in Miniature.' On page seven of the book there is a small grisalle border at the bottom. It looks like what today would be considered a pitcher, catcher, and batter. The book is from 1540. To access the web site you will need to have Flash running. If on a Macintosh that is intel based you will need to click the Rosetta button in the info window of your web browser." Note: can you help us interpret this artwork?

The URL is http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/ttp/ttpbooks.html.

Year
1540
Item
1540.1
Edit

1540c.2 Nobleman Recalls "Palm Play" in Royal Court

Game:

Palm Play

Age of Players:

Youth

 

So cruel prison how could betide,alas,

As proud Windsor [Castle]? Where I in lust [pleasure] and joy

With a king's son my childish years did pass

. . .

Where each of us did plead the other's right;

The palm play [handball?], where despoiled [disrobed] for the  game,

With dazed eyes oft we by gleams of love

Have missed the ball and got sight of our dame,  

 

[The full selection, and email notes by John Bowman, are shown below.]  

Sources:

Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey), So Cruel a Prison, Norton Anthology of Poetry, 3rd edition, 1983:  from Songes and sonettes, written by the right honourable Lorde Henry Howard, late Earle of Surrey (London, A. R. Tottel, 1557).

Comment:

We are not certain that "palm play" could have been a baserunning game.  It may be an Anglicized form of jeu de paume, a likely French antecedent to tennis.

The reference to "large grene courtes" in the full ball-play stanza suggests a tennis or handball-type pastime.

 

Query:

Have scholars indicated the likely nature of "palm play?"  Could it have involved the batting of a ball with the palm?

Circa
1540
Item
1540c.2
Edit
Source Text

1550.1 No English Reference Claimed for the Word "Cricket" Found Before 1550

"The medieval origin of the national game of the English is beyond doubt, but not so its Island roots. There would have been ample opportunity for it to figure on the lists of banned games set out by their kings, but there is no written mention of it before 1550. It is, of course, not impossible that its forerunner was one of the many ball games played with unidentifiable rules, as for instance club ball."

From an unidentified photocopy in the "Origins of Baseball" file at the Giamatti Center at Cooperstown. Note: the inconsistencies among the preceding cricket entries [see #1478.1,] need to be resolved . . . . or at least addressed.

Year
1550
Item
1550.1
Edit

1550c.2 Cricket Play Recalled at Southern England School

[Cf #1598.3 below.] A 1598 trial in the Surrey town of Guildford includes a statement by John Derrick, then aged 59. According to a 1950 history of Guildford's Royal Grammar School, "[H]e stated that he had known the [disputed] ground for fifty years or more and that 'when he was a scholar in the free school of Guildford, he and several of his fellows did run and play there at cricket and other plays.' This is believed to be the first recorded mention of cricket."

Brown, J. F., The Story of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, 1950, page 6. Note: it would be interesting to see the original reference, and to know how 1550 was chosen as the reported year of play.

Circa
1550
Item
1550c.2
Edit

1555c.1 English Poet Condones Students' Yens "To Tosse the Ball, To Rene Base, Like Men of War"

"To shote, to bowle, or caste the barre,

To play tenise, or tosse the ball,

Or to rene base, like men of war,

Shall hurt thy study naught at all."

Crowley, Robert, "The Scholar's Lesson," circa 1555, in J. M. Cowper, The Select Works of Robert Crowley [N. Truber, London, 1872], page 73. Submitted by John Bowman, 7/16/2004. Citation from Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, see pages 230 and 312.

Circa
1555
Item
1555c.1
Edit

1562.1 Cricket Forerunner an "Unlawful Game?"

"The Malden Corporation Court Book of 1562 contains a charge against John Porter alias Brown, and a servant, for 'playing an unlawful game called "clycett."'"

Brookes, Christopher, English Cricket: the Game and its Players Through the Ages (Newton Abbot, 1978), page 16, as cited in Bateman, Anthony,"'More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;' Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 29.

Year
1562
Item
1562.1
Edit

1564.1 Formal Complaint in Surrey: Stoolball is Played on Sunday

Game:

Stoolball

"1564 - complaints were made to the justices sitting at the midsummer session, at Malden, Surrey, that the constable (himself possibly an enthusiast with the stool and ball) suffered stoolball to be played on Sunday."

M. S. Russell-Goggs, "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318. Surrey is the adjoining county to Sussex. Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references.

Year
1564
Item
1564.1
Edit

1565.1 Bruegel's "Corn Harvest" Painting Shows Meadow Ballgame

Tags:

Famous

Location:

Europe

Game:

Unknown

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Bruegel the Elder

"We had paused right in front of [the Flemish artist] Bruegel the Elder's "Corn Harvest" (1565), one of the world's great paintings of everyday life . . . .[M]y eye fell upon a tiny tableau at the left-center of the painting in which young men appeared to be playing a game of bat and ball in a meadow distant from the scything and stacking and dining and drinking that made up the foreground. . . . There appeared to be a man with a bat, a fielder at a base, a runner, and spectators as well as participants in waiting. The strange device opposite the batsman's position might have been a catapult. As I was later to learn with hurried research, this detain is unnoted in the art-history studies."

From John Thorn, "Play's the Thing," Woodstock Times, December 28, 2006. See thornpricks.blogspot.com/2006/12/bruegel-and-me_27.html, accessed 1/30/07.

Year
1565
Item
1565.1
Edit

1567.1 English Translation of Horace Refers to "the Stoole Ball"

Game:

Stoolball

"The stoole ball, top, or camping ball/If suche one should assaye/As hath no mannour skill therein,/Amongste a mightye croude,/Theye all would screeke unto the frye/And laugh at hym aloude."

Drant, Thomas, Horace His Arte of Poetrie, Pistles, and Satyrs Englished, and to the Earle of Ormounte, [London], per David Block, page 166. There is no implication that Horace himself refers to a stool ball.

Year
1567
Item
1567.1
Edit

1570c.1 Five Indicted for Stoolball Play on Sunday

"A few years later [than 1564], at the Easter Sessions in the same town [Malden, Surrey], one Edward Anderkyn and four others were indicted for playing stoolball on Sunday."

M. S. Russell-Goggs, "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318. Surrey is the adjoining county to Sussex. Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references.

Circa
1570
Item
1570c.1
Edit

1575.1 Gascoigne's Poem "The Fruits of War" Refers to Tut-ball

Gascoigne, George, The Posies of George Gascoigne Esquire, Corrected, perfected, and augmented by the Authour [London, Richard Smith], per Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 166. The key lines: "Yet have I shot at master Bellums butte/And throwen his ball although I toucht no tutte."

Year
1575
Item
1575.1
Edit

1583.1 Pre-teens Risk Dungeon Time For Selves, or Their Dads, by Playing Ball

Tags:

Bans

"Whereas this a great abuse in a game or games used in the town called "Gede Gadye or the Cat's Pallet, and Typing or hurling the Ball," - that no mannor person shall play at the same games, being above the age of seven years, wither in the churchyard or in any of the streets of this town, upon pain of every person so playing being imprisoned in the Doungeon for the space of two hours; or else every person so offending to pay 6 [pence] for every time. And if they have not [wherewithal] to pay, then the parents or masters of such persons so offending to pay the said 6 [pence] or to suffer the like imprisonment." (Similar language is found in 1579 entry [page 148], but it lacked the name "Typing" and did not mention a ball.)

John Harland, editor, Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1864), page 156. Accessed 1/27/10 via Google Books search: "court leet" half-bowls. Note: The game gidigadie is not known to us, but the 1864 editor notes elsewhere (page 149, footnote 61) that was "not unlikely" to be tip-cat, and he interprets "typing" as tipping. As later described [see "Tip-Cat" and "Pallet" at http://retrosheet.org/Protoball/Glossary.htm], tip-cat could be played with a cat or a ball, and could involve running among holes as bases. Caveat: we do not yet know what the nature of the proscribed game was in Elizabethan times.

Year
1583
Item
1583.1
Edit

1585c.1 Stoole-ball, Nine Holes Included Among Country Sports

Game:

Stoolball

In a 1600 publication attributed to Samuel Rowlands [died 1588], the fourth of six "Satires," presents a catalog of about 30 pastimes, including "play at stoole-ball," and "play at nine-holes." Other diversions include pitching the barre, foote-ball, play at base, and leap-frog.

Rowlands, Samuel, The Letting of Humour's blood in the head-vein (W. White, London, 1600), as discussed in Brydges, Samuel E., Censura Literaria (Longman, London, 1808), p.279. Virtually the same long verse - but one that carelessly lists stoole-ball twice - is attributed to "Randal Holme of Chester" in an 1817 book: Drake, Nathan, Shakspeare and His Times (Cadell and Davies, London, 1817), pages 246-247. Drake does not suggest a date for this verse. Caveat: Our choice of 1585 as the year of Rowlands' composition is merely speculative. Note: This entry needs to be reconciled with #1630c.1 below.

Circa
1585
Item
1585c.1
Edit

1586c.1 Sydney Cites Stoolball

Location:

England

Game:

Stoolball

Age of Players:

Youth, Adult

Notables:

Sir Philip Sydney, Lady Mary Dudley

"A time there is for all, my mother often sayes

When she with skirts tuckt very hie, with gyrles at stoolball playes"

 

Sources:

Sir Philip Sydney, Arcadia: Sonnets [1622], page 493. Note: citation needs confirmation.

Comment:

Sir Philip Sydney (1554-1586) died at age 31 in 1586.

As of October 2012, this early stoolball ref. is the only one I see that can be interpreted as describing baserunning in stoolball - but it still may merely describe running by a fielder, not a batter. (LMc, Oct/2012)

Sydney's mother was the sister of Robert Dudley, noted in item #1500s.2 above as a possible stoolball player in the time of Eliizabeth I.

Query:

Further interpretations are welcome as to Sydney's meaning.

Circa
1586
Item
1586c.1
Edit

1586.2 Possible Early Rounders Reference?

In his entry for Rounders, W. C. Hazlitt speculates: "It is possible that this is the game which, under the name of rownes (rounds) is mentioned in The English Courtier and the Countrey Gentleman: A Pleasant and Learned Disputation, 1586 [printed by Richard Jones, London]. One source attributes this work of Nicholas Breton. Protoball has not located this book.

Hazlitt, W. C., Faiths and Folklore: A Dictionary of National Beliefs, Superstitions, and Popular Customs (Reeves and Turner, London, 1905), vol. 2, page 527. Note: Can we find this early text and evaluate whether rounders is in fact its subject? Caveat: It would startle most of us to encounter any species of rounders this early; the earliest appearance of the term may be as late as 1828 - see #1828.1 below.

Year
1586
Item
1586.2
Edit

1591.1 Early Spanish-English Dictionary Mentions the "Trapsticke"

Pericule [Percival], Richard, Bibliotheca hispanica: containing a graamar, with a dictionarie in Spanish, English, and Latine, gathered out of diuers good authors: very profitable for the studious of the Spanish toong [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 166. The dictionary's entries include "paleta - a trapsticke" and paletilla - a little trapsticke."

Year
1591
Item
1591.1
Edit

1592c.1 Moralist Lists Things for Scholars to Avoid, Including Playing "Stoole Ball Among Wenches"

Game:

Stoolball

"Time of recreation is necessary, I graunt, and think as necessary for schollers . . . as it is for any. Yet in my opinion it were not fit for them to play at Stoole-ball among wenches, nor at Mumchance or Maw with idle loose companions; not at trunks in Guile-halls, nor to dance about Maypoles, nor to rufle in alehouses, nor to carowse in tauernes, nor to steale deere, nor to rob orchards. Though who can deny that they may doe these things, yea worse."

Attributed to Dr. Rainoldes in J. P. Collier, ed., The Political Decameron, or Ten Conversations on English Poets and Poetry [Constable and Co., Edinburgh, 1820], page 257. This passage is from the "ninth conversation" and covers low practices during the reigns of Elizabeth and of James I. Note: we need to ascertain the source, date, and context of the original Rainoldes material. It appears that Rainoldes' cited "conversation" with Gager took place in 1592.

Circa
1592
Item
1592c.1
Edit

1592.2 Canterbury Stoolballer Bloodies Pious Critic

Tags:

Hazard

Game:

Stoolball

"We present one Bottolph Wappoll, a continual gamester and one of the very lewd behaviour, who being on Mayday last at stoolball in time of Divine service one of our sidesmen came and admonished him to leave off playing and go to church, for which he fell on him and beat him that the blood ran about his ears."

Source: National Stoolball Association, "A Brief History of Stoolball," [author and date unspecified], page 2. The original source is not supplied but is reported to have been a presentation from the parish of St Paul in Canterbury to the Archdeacon of Canterbury. Note: can we find this source?

Year
1592
Item
1592.2
Edit

1598.1 Youth Ball Games Widespread at London Schools.

"After dinner all the youthes go into the fields to play at the bal…. The schollers of euery schoole haue their ball, or baston, in their hands: the auncient and wealthy men of the Citie come foorth on horsebacke to see the sport of young men."

Stow, John, Survey of London [first published in 1598]. David Block [page 166] gives the full title as A Survey of London: Contayning the Originall, Antiquity, Increase, Modern Estate, and Description of that Citie: written in the yeare 1598 [London]. Block adds that the term "baston" is described by the OED as a "cudgel, club, bat or truncheon."

Year
1598
Item
1598.1
Edit

1598.2 Italian-English Dictionary Includes Cat, Trap

Florio, John, A world of wordes or Most copious, and exact dictionarie in Italian and English [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 167. This dictionary defines lippa as "a cat or trap as children use to play with."

1598.3 - First Known Appearance of the Term "Cricket"

[Cf #1550c.2 above.] A 1598 trial in the Surrey town of Guildford includes a statement by John Derrick, then aged 59. According to a 1950 history of Guildford's Royal Grammar School, "[H]e stated that he had known the [disputed] ground for fifty years or more and that 'when he was a scholar in the free school of Guildford, he and several of his fellows did run and play there at cricket and other plays.' This is believed to be the first recorded mention of cricket."

Brown, J. F., The Story of the Royal Grammar School, Guildford, 1950, page 6. Note: it would be interesting to see the original reference, and to know how 1550 was chosen as the reported year of play.

Year
1598
Item
1598.2
Edit

1598.4 Italian Dictionary's "Cricket-a-wicket" doubted as reference to the Game of Cricket

"People have often regarded Florio's expression in his Italian Dictionary (1598) cricket-a-wicket as the first mention (cf #1598.2 and #1598.3, above) of the noble game. It were strange indeed if this great word first dropped from the pen of an Italian! I have no doubt myself that this is a mere coincidence of sound. . . . [C]ricket-a-wicket must pair off with 'helter-skelter,' higgledy-piggledy, and Tarabara to which Florio gives gives cricket-a-wicket as an equivalent."

 

Sources:

A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 6.

Query:

Note: do later writers agree that this was mere coincidence?

Year
1598
Item
1598.4
Edit

1600c.1 Austrian Physician Reports on Batting/Fielding Game in Prague; One of Two Accounts Cites Plugging, Bases

Age of Players:

Unknown

[A]  H. Guarinoni describes a game he saw in Prague in 1600 involving a large field of play, the hitting of a small thrown ball ["the size of a quince"] with a four-foot tapered club, the changing of sides if a hit ball was caught.   While not mentioning the presence of bases or of base-running, he advises that the game "is good for tender youth which never has enough of running back and forth."

[B] "German Schlagball ["hit the ball"] is also similar to rounders. The native claim that these games 'have remained the games of the Germanic peoples, and have won no popularity beyond their countries' quite obviously does not accord with facts. It is enough to quote the conclusion of a description of "hit the ball" by H. Guarnoni, who had a medical practice in Innsbruck about 1600: 'We enjoyed this game in Prague very much and played it a lot. The cleverest at it were the Poles and the Silesians, so the game obviously comes from there.' Incidentally, he was one of the first who described the way in which the game was played. It was played with a leather ball and a club four-foot long. The ball was tossed by a bowler who threw it to the striker, who struck it with a club rounded at the end as far into the field as possible, and attempted to make a circuit of the bases without being hit by the ball. If 'one of the opposing players catches the ball in the air, a change of positions follows.'"

 

Sources:

[A] Guarinoni, Hippolytis, Greuel der Verwustung der menschlichen Gesschlechts [The horrors of the devastation of the human race], [Ingolstadt, Austrian Empire, 1610], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, pages 167-168.  See also pp. 100-102 for Block's summary of, and a translation of the Guarinoni material.

[B] Source: from page 111 of an unidentified photocopy in the "Origins of Baseball" file at the Giamatti Center of the Baseball Hall of Fame, accessed in 2008. The quoted material is found in a section titled "Rounders and Other Ball Games with Sticks and Bats," pp. 110-111. This section also reports: "Gyula Hajdu sees the origin of round games as follows: 'Round games conserve the memory of ancient castle warfare. A member of the besieged garrison sets out for help, slipping through the camp of the enemy. . . . '" "In Hungary several variants of rounders exist in the countryside."

This unidentified source may be W. Andrei and L. Zolnay, Fun and Games in Old Europe [English translation from Hungarian] (Budapest, 1986), pp. 110-111, as cited in Block, fn 16, page 304. 

Query:

What is the basis of the Andrei/Zolnay report of a circuit of bases in the Czech game?

Does Mehl's discussion of the Czech game add anything?

Can we verify the Gyula Hajdu source? Is it Magyar Nepraiz V. Folklor?  Does Hungarian rounders Belong in this entry?  If not, how do we date it?

Circa
1600
Item
1600c.1
Edit

1600c.2 Shakespeare Mentions Rounders? Pretty Doubtful

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Rounders

"Shakespeare mentions games of "base" and "rounders. Lovett, Old Boston Boys, page 126."

Seymour, Harold - Notes in the Seymour Collection at Cornell University, Kroch Library Department of Rare and Manuscript Collections, collection 4809. Caveat: We have not yet confirmed that Lovett or Shakespeare used the term "rounders." Gomme [page 80], among others, identifies the Bard's use of "base" in Cymbeline as a reference to prisoner's base, which is not a ball game. John Bowman, email of 5/21/2008, reports that his concordance of all of Shakespeare's words shows has no listing for "rounders" . . . nor for "stoolball," for that matter [see #1612c.1, below], 'tho that may because Shakespeare's authorship of Two Noble Kinsmen is not universally accepted by scholars..

Circa
1600
Item
1600c.2
Edit

1609.1 Polish Origins of Baseball Perceived in Jamestown VA Settlement

Location:

US South, VA

Game:

Xenoball

Age of Players:

Adult

"Soon after the new year [1609], [we] initiated a ball game played with a bat . . . . Most often we played this game on Sundays. We rolled up rags to make balls . . . Our game attracted the savages who sat around the field, delighted with this Polish sport."

A 1975 letter from Matthew Baranski letter to the HOF said:

"For your information and records, I am pleased to inform you that after much research I have discovered that baseball was introduced to America by the Poles who arrived in Jamestown in 1609. . . . Records of the University of Krakow, the oldest school of higher learning in Poland show that baseball or batball was played by the students in the 14th century and was part of the official physical culture program."

 

Sources:

The 1609 source is Zbigniew Stefanski, Memorial Commercatoris [A Merchant's Memoirs], (Amsterdam, 1625), as cited in David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It, page 101. Stefanski was a skilled Polish workingman who wrote a memoir of his time in the Jamestown colony: an entry for 1609 related the Polish game of pilka palantowa(bat ball). Another account by a scholar reported adds that "the playfield consisted of eight bases not four, as in our present day game of baseball." If true, this would imply that the game involved running as well as batting.

1975 Letter:  from Matthew Baranski to the Baseball Hall ofFame, March 23, 1975.  [Found in the Origins file at the Giamatti Center.]  Matthew  Baranski himself cites First Poles in America1608-1958, published by the Polish Falcons of America, Pittsburgh, but  unavailable online as of 7/28/09.  We have not confirmed that sighting. 

See also David Block, "Polish Workers Play Ball at Jamestown Virginia: An Early Hint of Continental Europe's Influence on Baseball," Base Ball (Origins Issue), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pp.5-9.

 

Comment:

Per Maigaard's 1941 survey of "battingball games" includes a Polish variant of long ball, but does not mention pilka palantowa by name. However, pilka palantowa may merely be a longer/older term for palant, the Polish form of long ball still played today.

The likelihood that pilka palantowa left any legacy in America is fairly low, since the Polish glassblowers returned home after a year and there is no subsequent mention of any similar game in colonial Virginia

Year
1609
Item
1609.1
Edit

1610.1 Very Early Cricket Match

A match is thought to have been played between the men of North Downs and men of the Weald.

Contributed by Beth Hise January 12, 2010. Beth is in pursuit of the original source of this claim. North Downs is in Surrey, about 4 miles NE of Guildford, where early uses of both "cricket" and "base-ball" are found. It is about 30 miles SW of London. The Weald is apparently an old term for the county of Kent, which is SW of London.

Year
1610
Item
1610.1
Edit

1611.1 French-English Dictionary Cites "Cat and Trap" and Cricket

Dictionary-maker R. Cotgrave translates "crosse" as "the crooked staff wherewith boies play at cricket."

"Martinet" [a device for propelling large stones at castles] is defined as "the game called cat and trap."

Cotgrave, Randle, A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues [London, 1611], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 168. "

Cricket historians Steel and Lyttelton: "Thanks to Cotgrave, then, we know that in 1611 cricket was a boy's game, played with a crooked bat. The club, bat, or staff continued to be crooked or curved at the blade till the middle of the eighteenth century or later: and till nearly 1720 cricket was mainly a game for boys." A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 6.

Year
1611
Item
1611.1
Edit

1612c.1 Play Attributed to Shakespeare Cites Stool-ball

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Rounders

A young maid asks her wooer to go with her. "What shall we do there, wench?" She replies, "Why, play at stool-ball; what else is there to do?"

Fletcher and Shakespeare, The Two Noble Kinsmen [London], Act V, Scene 2, per W. W. Grantham, Stoolball Illustrated and How to Play It [W. Speaight, London, 1904], page 29. David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 170, gives 1634 as the publication date of this play, which was reportedly performed in 1612, and mentions that doubts have been expressed as to authorship, so Shakespeare [1564-1616] may not have contributed. Others surmise that The Bard wrote Acts One and Five, which would make him the author of the stoolball reference. See also item #1600c.2 above. Note: can we find further specifics? Russell-Goggs, in "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 320, notes that the speaker is the "daughter of the Jailer."

Circa
1612
Item
1612c.1
Edit

1613.1 His and Her Stool-ball Banter: Play or Foreplay?

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

"Ward: Can you play at shuttlecock forsooth?

Isabella: Ay, and stool-ball too, sir; I have great luck at it.

Ward: Why, can you catch a ball well?

Isabella: I have catched two in my lap at one game

Ward: What, have you, woman? I must have you learn to play at trap too, then y'are full and whole."

Dutton, Richard Thomas, Women Beware Women and Other Plays [Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1999], page 135. The play itself is generally dated 1613 or 1614. Submitted by John Thorn, 7/9/2004

Year
1613
Item
1613.1
Edit

1614.1 Poet Yearns to "Goe to Stoole-Ball-Play"

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

Breton, Nicholas, I Would, and Would Not [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 168. Stanza 79 reads "I would I were an honest Countrey Wench/ . . . / And for a Tanzey, goe to Stoole-Ball-Play." Tansy cakes were reportedly given as prizes for ball play.

Year
1614
Item
1614.1
Edit

1615.1 Stoole Ball Goes North with Early Explorer

Game:

Stoolball

"And some dayes heare we stayed we shott at butts and bowe and arrows, at other tymes at stoole ball, and some tymes of foote ball

William Baffin, from "The Fourth Recorded Voyage of Baffin," in C. M. Markham, ed., The Voyages of William Baffin, 1612-1622, [Hakluyt Society, 1881], page 122. This voyage started in March 1615, and the entry is dated June?? 19th, 1615. The voyage was taken in hope of finding a northwest passage to the East, but was thwarted by ice, and Baffin returned to England in the fall of 1615. Note: Ascertain the month, which is obscured in the online copy. Was location of play near what is now known as Baffin Island?

Year
1615
Item
1615.1
Edit

1616c.1 Translation of Homer Depicts Virgins Playing Stool-Ball, Disturbing Ulysses' Snooze

Game:

Stoolball

Translator Chapman described a scene in which several virgins play stool-ball near a river while Ulysses sleeps nearby: "The Queene now (for the upstroke) strooke the ball/Quite wide off th' other maids; and made it fall/Amidst the whirlpools.

Chapman, George, The whole works of Homer: prince of poets, in his Iliads, and Odysses [London, 1616], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 168.

Steel and Lyttelton indicate that Chapman's translation may date "as early as 1614," and say report that Chapman calls the fragment "a stoolball chance." See A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 2. Note: The year of the translation needs to be confirmed;. It would be interesting to see how other translators have treated this scene.

Circa
1616
Item
1616c.1
Edit

1617.1 King James' Controversial "Book of Sports" Omits Mention of Ballplaying

Reacting to Puritans' denunciations of Sabbath recreations, James I in 1617 listed a large number of permitted Sunday activities -including no ball games - and cited as unlawful only "beare and Bull beatinge enterludes & bowlinge. . . ." Axon, Ernest, Notes of Proceedings. Volume 1 - 1616-1622-3 (Printed for the Record Society for the Publication of Original Documents, 1901), page xxvi. There was adverse reaction to this proclamation, which is said to have surprised the King.

Another source lists the Sunday bans as "Bull-baiting, bear-baiting, interludes, and bowls:" Keightley, Thomas, The History of England, volume II (Whittaker and Co., London, 1839), page 321. One chruchman listed "bear-baiting, bull-baiting, common plays, and bowling:" Marsden, J. B., History of Christian Churches and Sects (Richard Bentley, London, 1856), page 269. Thus, unless "enterludes" then connoted a range of games or "common plays" that included ballplay, contemporary ballgames like stoolball and cricket - and cat games - remained unconstrained.

Year
1617
Item
1617.1
Edit

1619.1 Bawdy Poem Has Wenches Playing "With Stoole and Ball"

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

"It was the day of all dayes in the yeare/That unto Bacchus hath its dedication,/ . . . / When country wenches play with stoole and ball,/And run at Barley-breake until they fall:/And country lads fall on them, in such sort/That after forty weekes the[sic] rew the sport."

Anonymous, Pasquils Palinodia, and His Progress to the Taverne; Where, After the Survey of the Sellar, You Are Presented with a Pleasant Pynte of Poeticall Sherry [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 169, who credits Henderson, page 74. Block notes that "Barley-Break" [not a ball game] was, like stoole ball, traditionally a spring courtship ritual in the English countryside.

Year
1619
Item
1619.1
Edit

1621.1 Some Pilgrims "Openly" Play "Stoole Ball" on Christmas Morning: Governor Clamps Down

Location:

MA

Game:

Stoolball

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Governor Willliam Bradford

Governor Bradford describes Christmas Day 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, MA; "most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on ye day. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye street at play, openly; some at pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball and shuch like sport. . . . Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly."

Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation, [Harvey Wish, ed., Capricorn Books, 1962], pp 82 - 83. Henderson cites Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856. See his ref 23. Full text supplied by John Thorn, 6/25/2005. Bradford explained that the issue was not that ball-playing was sinful, but that playing openly while others worked was not good for morale.

Year
1621
Item
1621.1
Edit

1622.1 Bad, Bad Batts!

A Chichester churchwarden indicted a group of men for ballplaying, reasoning thus: "first, for it is contrarie to the 7th Article; second, for they are used to break the Church window with the balls; and thirdly, for that little children had like to have their braynes beaten out with the cricket batt."

Brookes, Christopher, English Cricket: the game and its players through the ages (Newton Abbot, 1978), page 16, as cited in Bateman, Anthony,"'More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;' Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 29.

Year
1622
Item
1622.1
Edit

1629.1 Play Refers to Weakling Who Was "Beat . . . With a Trap Stick"

Shirley, James, The Wedding. As it was lately acted by her Mauesties seruants at the Phenix at Drury Lane [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 170. A servant in the play describes his master as so mild in manner that "the last time he was in the field a boy of seven year old beat him with a trap-stick."

Year
1629
Item
1629.1
Edit

1629.2 Curate Can't Beat the Rap as Cricketer

"In 1629, having been censured for playing 'at Cricketts,' the curate of Ruckinge in Kent unsuccessfully defended himself on the grounds that it was a game played by men of quality."

Bateman, Anthony,"'More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;' Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 29. Bateman does not provide his source for this anecdote. Note: Can we find and extend this story?

Year
1629
Item
1629.2
Edit

1630c.1 "Ancient Cheshire Games" Include Stooleball, Nine Holes

Game:

Stoolball

"Any they dare challenge for to throw the sleudge,/To Jumpe or leape over dich or hedge,/ To wrastle, play at stooleball, or to Runne,/ To pitch the bar, or to shoote off a Gunne/ To play at Loggets, nine holes, or ten pins. . . .[list continues, mentioning stool ball once more at end.]"

This verse, titled "Ancient Cheshire Games: Auntient customes in games used by boys and girles merily sett out in verse," is attributed to "Randle Holmes's MSS Brit Mus." Is in Medium of Inter-communications for Literary Men, Artists, Antiquaries, Genealogists, Etc, July - December 1856, page 487. Note: Can we learn why is this account associated with 1630? This entry needs to be reconciled with #1585.1 above. Add online search detail?

Circa
1630
Item
1630c.1
Edit

1630c.2 Stoolball Play Makes Maidstone a "Very Profane Town"

Game:

Stoolball

"About 1630 a Puritan records that 'Maidstone was formerly a very profane town, where stoolball and other games were practiced on the Lord's Day."

M. S. Russell-Goggs, "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318. Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references.. We need to sort out how this claim relates to the very similar wording in the quote by Reverend Wilson in entry #1672.1 below.

Circa
1630
Item
1630c.2
Edit

1630c.3 At Oxford, Women's Shrovetide Customs Include Stooleball

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

Age of Players:

Adult

"In the early seventeenth century, an Oxford fellow, Thomas Crosfield, noted the customs of Shrovetide as '1. frittering. 2. throwing at cocks. 3. playing at stooleball in ye Citty by women & footeball by men.'" Shrovetide was the Monday and Tuesday [that Tuesday being Mardi Gras in some quarter] preceding Ash Wednesday and the onset of Lent.

 

Sources:

Griffin, Emma, "Popular Recreation and the Significance of Space," (publication unknown), page 36.

The original source is shown as the Crosfield Diary entry for March 1, 1633, page 63. Thanks to John Thorn for supplementing a draft of this entry. One citation for the diary is F. S. Boas, editor, The Diary of Thomas Crosfield (Oxford University Press, London, 1935).

Query:

Can we find and inspect the 1935 Boas edition of the diary?

Circa
1630
Item
1630c.3
Edit

1631.1 Drama by Philip Massenger Refers to Cat-Stick

"Page: You, sirrah sheep's-head/ With a face cut on a cat-stick, do you hear?/ You, yeoman fewterer, conduct me to/ the lady of the mansion, or my poniard/ Shall disembogue thy soul."

"The Maid of Honour," Scene 2, in The Plays of Philip Massinger, Volume 1 (John Murray, London, 1830), page 327.

Notes written in 1830 by W. Gifford: "Cat-stick. This, I believe, is what is now called a buck-stick, used by children in the game of tip-cat, or kit-cat." Query: Is it clear why an abusive address like this would employ a phrase like "cut on a cat-stick?" Does it imply, for instance a disfigured or pock-marked visage?

Year
1631
Item
1631.1
Edit

1632.1 In Germany, Ballplaying Associated With Scabies, Other Diseases

Game:

Xenoball

"The [preceding] reference to Fuchsius should be to Institutiones 2.3.4: . . . 'Whereby the habit of our German schoolboys is most worthy of reprehension, who never take exercise except immediately after food, either jumping or running or playing ball or quoits or taking part in other exercises of a like nature; so that it is no surprise, seeing they thus accumulate a great mass of crude humours, that they suffer from perpetual scabies, and other diseases caused by vicious humours':p. 337)"

Burton, Robert E., The Anatomy of Melancholy, vol. 4 [Clarenden Press, Oxford, 1989], page 285. [Note: We need to confirm date of the Fuschius quote; we're not sure why it is assigned to 1632.]. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/12/2004.

Year
1632
Item
1632.1
Edit

1633c.1 Ambiguous Reference to Stoole Ball Appears in a Drama

Game:

Stoolball

"At stoole ball I have a North-west stripling shall deale with ever a boy in the Strand."

Cited in W. C. Hazlitt, Faiths and Folklore: A Dictionary of National Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs [Reeves and Turner, London, 1905], page 569. Hazlitt attributes this mysterious fragment to someone named Stickwell in Totenham Court, by T. Nabbes, appearing in 1638. Note: Can we guess what Stickwell was trying to say, and why? I find that Nabbes wrote this drama in 1633 or before, and surmise that "Stickwell" is the name of the fictional character who speaks the quoted line. Can we straighten out, or interpret, the syntax of this line? [The Strand, presumably, refers to the London street of that name?]

Circa
1633
Item
1633c.1
Edit

1634.1 That Archbishop Laud, He Certainly Doesn't Laud Stoolball

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

"In his visitation and reference to churchyards, he [Archbishop Laud, in 1634] is troubled because 'several spend their time in stoolball.'"

M. S. Russell-Goggs, "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 318. Note1: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references.

Another source quotes Laud as saying "This whole churchyard is made a receptacle for all ydle persons to spend their time in stopball and such lyke recreacions." OED, Abp Laud's Visit, in 4th Rep Hist. MSS Comm. App 144/1, provided by John Thorn, email of 6/11/2007. Note2: is this from the same source?

Year
1634
Item
1634.1
Edit

1637.1 Conservative Protestants Decry Sunday Play, See Grave Danger in it

Burton, Henry, and William Prynne, A Divine Tragedie Lately Acted [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 171. In a denunciation of King Charles' approval of after-church play on Sundays, the authors cite as one of the "memorable examples of Gods judgements" a case in which youths "playing at Catt on the Lords day, two of them fell out, and the one hitting the other under the eare with his catt, he therwith fell downe for dead." Cited by David Block in Baseball Before We Knew It, page 171: Block notes that the weapon here was a cat-stick.

Year
1637
Item
1637.1
Edit

1637.2 Play Mentions Trap

Shirley, James, Hide Park: A Comedie [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 171. A beautiful young woman, to a servant who is fishing for a compliment: "Indeed, I have heard you are a precious gentleman/ And in your younger days could play at trap well."

Year
1637
Item
1637.2
Edit

1638.1 Bishop Sees Churchyard as Consecrated Ground: No Stool Ball, Drinkings, Merriments

Game:

Stoolball

Bishop Mantague admonishes Norwich Churchmen to consider the churchyard as consecrated ground, "not to be profaned by feeding and dunging cattle . . . . Much less is it to be unhallowed with dancings, morrises, meetings at Easter, drinkings, Whitson ales, midsummer merriments or the like, stool ball, football, wrestlings, wasters or boy's sports."

Barrett, Jay Botsford, English Society in the Eighteenth Century as Influence from Oversea [Macmillan, New York, 1924], page 221. Barrett cites this passage as Articles of Enquiry and Direction for the Diocese of Norwich, sigs. A3-A3v.

1638.2 - Archdeacon: Churchyards Are Not For Stoole-ball or "Other Profane Uses"

"Have any playes, feasts, banquets, suppers, churchales, drinkings, temporal courts or leets, lay juries, musters, exercise of dauncing, stoole-ball, foot-ball, or the like, or any other profane usage been suffered to be kept in your church, chappell, or churchyard?

Attributed to Mr. Dr. Pearson, Archdeacon of Suffolke, in Heino Pfannenschmid, Das Weihwasser [Hahn'sche Hofbuchhandlung, Hannover, 1869], page 74n.

Year
1638
Item
1638.1
Edit

1640.1 Stoolball Attracts Gentry, Rascals, Boys

Game:

Stoolball

"J. Smythe, in his Hundred of Berkeley (1640) gave the following admonition: 'Doe witness the inbred delight, that both gentry, yeomanry, rascallity, boyes, and children, doe take in a game called stoball. . . And not a sonne of mine, but at 7 was furnished with his double stoball staves, and a gamester thereafter.'"

M. S. Russell-Goggs, "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 320. John Smyth's three-volume Berkeley Manuscripts were published in 1883 by J. Bellows; Volume Three is titled "A description of the hundred of Berkeley in the County of Gloucester . . . ." Citation supplied by John Thorn, email of 1/30/2008.

Year
1640
Item
1640.1
Edit

1648.1 Short Herrick Poem Proposes a Wager on Stool-ball Game

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Stoolball

"At Stool-ball, Lucia, let us play," offers the poet, then proposing that if he wins, he would "have for all a kisse."

Herrick, Robert, Hesperdes: or, the Works Both Human and Divine of Robert Herrick, Esq. [London], page 280, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 171.

Year
1648
Item
1648.1
Edit

1652.1 Traveler in Wales Reports "Laudable" Sunday Games of "Trap, Cat, Stool-ball, Racket &c"

Game:

Stoolball

Taylor, John, A Short Relation of a Long Journey Made Round or Ovall [London], book 4, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 172. A versifier recounts his journey to Wales, where he notes a lack of religious fervor, "so that people do exercise and edify in the churchyard at the lawful and laudable games of trap, cat, stool-ball, racket, &c., on Sundays."

Year
1652
Item
1652.1
Edit

1653.1 Play Refers to Trapsticks

A character is asked how he might raise some needed money: "If my woodes being cut down cannot fill this pocket, cut 'em into trapsticks."

Middleton, Thomas, and William Rowley, The Spanish Gipsie [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 172. Block observes that this snippet suggests that "trapstick" was by then commonly understood as a trap-ball bat.

Year
1653
Item
1653.1
Edit

1653.2 Early Use of "Cricket" Seen in Rabelais Translation

"So far as is known, the first mention [of the word "cricket"] occurs in Sir Thomas Urquhart's translation of the works of Rabelais, published in London in 1653, where it is found enumerated as one of the games of the Gargantua."

Editorial, "The Pedigree of Cricket," The Irish Times, 5/9/1931. Reprinted in The Times, 5/9/2001. From the MCC Library collection.

Caveat: We now have at least four pre-1653 claims to the use of "cricket" and similar terms: see #1598.3, #1598.4, #1611.1, #1622.1, and #1629.2 above. Note: Rabelais' "games of Gargantua" is a list of over 200 games supposedly played at one sitting by the fictional character Gargantua. Urquhart's translation includes several familiar pastimes, including cricket, nine-pins, billiards, "tip and hurl" [?], prison bars, barley-break, and the morris dance . . . along with many games that appear to be whimsy and word-play ["ramcod ball," "nivinivinack," and "the bush leap"]. Not included are: club ball, stick ball, stoolball, horne billets, nine holes, hat ball, rounders, feeder, or base ball. Francis Rabelais - Completely Translated into English by Urquhard and Motteux (the Aldus Society, London, 1903), pp 68-71. Text chased down by John Thorn, email of 1/30/2008.

Year
1653
Item
1653.2
Edit

1656.1 Dutch Prohibit "Playing Ball," Cricket on Sundays in New Netherlands.

Game:

Cricket

In October 1656 Director-General Peter Stuyvesant announced a stricter Sabbath Law in New Netherlands, including fine of a one pound Flemish for "playing ball," cricket, tennis, ninepins, dancing, drinking, etc.

 

Sources:

Source: 13: Doc Hist., Volume Iv, pp.13-15, and Father Jogues' papers in NY Hist. Soc. Coll., 1857, pp. 161-229, as cited in Manual of the Reformed Church in America (Formerly Ref. Prot. Dutch Church), 1628-1902, E. T. Corwin, D.D., Fourth Edition (Reformed Church in America, New York, 1902.) Provided by John Thorn, email of 2/1/2008.

Query:

Note: It would be useful to ascertain what Dutch phrase was translated as "playing ball," and whether the phrase denotes a certain type of ballplay. The population of Manhattan at this time was about 800 [were there enough resident Englishmen to sustain cricket?], and the area was largely a fur trading post. Is it possible that the burghers imported this text from the Dutch homeland?

Year
1656
Item
1656.1
Edit

1656.2 Two English Counties Agree: Stoolball Gets "Too Much Attention."

Game:

Stoolball

"The game [Stoolball] cropped up in 1656 in a pronouncement by the Counties of Cumberland and Westmoreland which said that "too much attention was being paid to 'shooting, playing at football, stoolball, wrestling.'"

SRA website, accessed 4/11/07. Note: we need a fuller citation and perhaps further text and motivation for these pronouncements.

Year
1656
Item
1656.2
Edit

1656.3 Cromwellians Needlessly Ban Cricket from Ireland

Tags:

Bans

Simon Rae writes that the "killjoy mentality reached its zenith under the Puritans, during the Interregnum, achieving an absurd peak when cricket was banned in Ireland in 1656 even though the Irish didn't play it." Evidently, hurling was mistaken for cricket.

Simon Rae, It's Not Cricket: A History of Skulduggery, Sharp Practice and Downright Cheating in the Noble Game (Faber and Faber, 2001), page 46. Note: Rae does not document this event.

Year
1656
Item
1656.3
Edit

1658.1 English Parish Rewards Informant for Ratting on Sunday Trap-baller

Nichols, John, Illustrations of the Manners and Expences of Ancient Times in England [London, 1797], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 182. Included is an account from the parish of St. Margaret's, Westminster, from 1658: "Item to Richard May, 13 shillings for informing of one that played at trap-ball on the Lord's day."

Year
1658
Item
1658.1
Edit

1658.2 Milton's Nephew Eyes Cricket with Apprehension

"Cricket was . . . emerging in a written sense, not through the form of a celebratory discourse, but as the target of Puritan and sabbatarian ire. Even in the first reliable literary reference to cricket - in The Mysteries of Love and Eloquence (1658) [a poem] by John Milton's nephew, Edward Philips - the game is represented as synonymous with brutality: 'Ay, but Richard, will you not think so hereafter? Will you not when you have me throw a stool at my head, and cry, "Would my eyes had been beaten out with a cricket ball ["batt?" asks Bateman], the day before I saw thee"'."

Bateman, Anthony,"More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;' Culture,, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 30. Bateman does not give the original source for the Philips quotation. Note: Can we find the original Philips source? A few citations give the year of publication as 1685.

Year
1658
Item
1658.2
Edit

1659.1 Stuyvesant: No Tennis, Ball-Playing, Dice on Fast Day

"We shall interdict and forbid, during divine service on the [fasting] day aforesaid, all exercise and games of tennis, ball-playing, hunting, plowing and sowing, and moreover all unlawful practice such as dice, drunkenness . . ." proclaimed Peter Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant was Director-General of New Netherlands.

Manchester, Herbert, Four Centuries of Sport in America (Publisher?, 1931). Email from John Thorn, 1/24/097. Query: Can we determine what area was affected by this proclamation? How does this proclamation relate to #1656.1 above?

Year
1659
Item
1659.1
Edit

1660c.1 Village Life: The Men to Foot-Ball, Maids and Kids to Stoolball

Game:

Stoolball

The biography of a 17th century lord includes "a nostalgic description of the little town of Kirtling" by the lord's son Roger, born in 1651, as follows:

"The town was then my grandfather's . . . it was always the custom for the youth of the town . . . to play [from noon when chores ended] to milking time and supper at night. The men [went to play] football, and the maids, with whom we children were commonly mixed, being not proof for the turbulence of the other party, to stoolball and such running games as they knew." Dale B. J. Randall, Gentle Flame: The Life and Verse of Dudley, Lord North (1602 - 1677 (Duke Univ. Press, 1983), page 56. The town of Kirtling is in Cambridgeshire, northeast of London.

Circa
1660
Item
1660c.1
Edit

1660c.2 Ben Franklin's Uncle Recalls Ballplaying On an English Barn

Tags:

Famous

"That is the street which I could ne'er abide,/And these the grounds I play'd side and hide;/ This the pond whereon I caught a fall,/ And that the barn whereon I play'd at ball."

The uncle of U.S. patriot Benjamin Franklin, also named Benjamin Franklin, wrote these lines in a 1704 recollection of his native English town of Ecton. The uncle lived from 1650/1 to 1727. Ecton is a village in Northamptonshire.

Loring, J. S., The Franklin Manuscripts. The Historical Magazine, and Notes and Queries Concerning the Antiquities, History, and Biography of America (1857-1875), Volume 3, issue 1, January 1859, 4 pages. Submitted by John Thorn, 4/24/06.

Circa
1660
Item
1660c.2
Edit

1661.1 Galileo Galilei Discovers . . . Backspin!

Tags:

Famous

Age of Players:

Adult

Notables:

Galileo

The great scientist wrote, in a treatise discussing how the ball behaves in different ball games, including tennis: "Stool-ball, when they play in a stony way, . . . they do not trundle the ball upon the ground, but throw it, as if to pitch a quait. . . . . To make the ball stay, they hold it artificially with their hand uppermost, and it undermost, which in its delivery hath a contrary twirl or rolling conferred upon it by the fingers, by means whereof in its coming to the ground neer the mark it stays there, or runs very little forwards."

(see Supplemental Text, below, for a longer excerpt, which also includes the effect of  "cutting" balls in tennis as a helpful tactic.) 

 

 

Sources:

Galileo Galilei, Mathematical Collections and Translations. "Inglished from his original Italian copy by Thomas Salusbury" (London, 1661), page 142.

Provided by David Block, emails of 2/27/2008 and 9/13/2015.

Comment:

David further asks: "could it be that this is the source of the term putting "English" on a ball?"

Query:

Can we really assume that Galileo was familiar with 1600s stoolball and tennis?  Is it possible that this excerpt reflects commentary by Salusbury, rather that strict translation from the Italian source?

Year
1661
Item
1661.1
Edit
Source Text

1665.1 Poet Depicts Fleet-footed Mercury as Wielding a Kit-Cat Bat

This translation of a French parody of Virgil's Aeneid includes these lines on the god Mercury: "Then in his hand he take a thick Bat,/ With which he us'd to play at kit-cat;/ To beat mens Apples from their trees, . . . " Ouch.

Scarron, Paul, Scarronnides, or, Virgile travestie a mock poem [London], trans. Charles Cotton, Book Four, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 172.

Year
1665
Item
1665.1
Edit

1666.1 John Bunyan is Very Seriously Interrupted at Tip-Cat, a "Chief Sin"

Tags:

Famous

"I was in the midst of a game of cat, and having struck it one blow from the hole, just as I was about to strike the second time a voice did suddenly dart from Heaven into my soul which said, 'Wilt thou leave thy sins and go to Heaven or have thy sins and go to hell?'"

Bunyan, John, Grace abounding to the chief of sinners [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 173. Autobiographical account by Bunyan, the author of The Pilgrim's Progress. David notes on 5/29/2005 that this reference was originally reported by Harold Peterson, but that Peterson had attributed it to Pilgrim's Progress itself.

Writing of Bunyan in 1885, Washington Gladden revealed that as a youth, "[t]he four chief sins of which he was guilty were dancing, ringing the bells of the parish church, playing at tip-cat, and reading the history of Sir Bevis of Southampton." Letter to the Editor, The Century Magazine, Volume 30 (May-October 1885), page 334. Q

Year
1666
Item
1666.1
Edit

1669.1 Shadwell Play Said to List Rural Games, including Stool-ball.

Game:

Stoolball

"The writer who took most interest in popular pastimes was Shadwell, whose rococo play The Royal Shepherdess was produced before the king in 1669. It included country folk who danced and sand of a list of genuine English rural games, such as trap, keels, barley-break, golf [and] stool-ball . . . ."

Hutton, Ronald, The Rise and Fall of Merry England: the Ritual Year, 1400-1700 (Oxford U Press, Oxford, 1994), page 235. Provided by John Thorn, email, 7/9/2004. Note: can we retrieve the full original list?

Year
1669
Item
1669.1
Edit

1671.1 Lusty Little Song Mentions Trap as "Innocent" Prelude to Heavy Petting

Game:

Stoolball

"Thus all our life long we are frolick and gay,/And instead of Court revels, we merrily play/At Trap, at Rules, and at Barly-break run:/At Goff, and at Foot-ball, and when we have done/These innocent sports, we'l laugh and lie down,/And to each pretty Lass/We will give a green Gown.

Ebsworth, Joseph W., Westminster Drolleries, Both Parts, of 1671, 1672 [R. Roberts, Lincolnshire, 1875], page 28. Note: Yes, the player's method for turning the gown to green is what you suspect it is. We'll see this gown again at #1719.1, below.

Year
1671
Item
1671.1
Edit

1672.1 Rev. Wilson Decries Sunday "Stool-Ball" and "Cricketts" Playing

Game:

Stoolball

In his memoirs, the Rev. Thomas Wilson, a Puritan divine of Maidstone, England, states: "Maidstone was formerly a very profane town, in as much as I have seen morrice-dancing, cudgel-playing, stool-ball, cricketts, and many other sports openly and publicly indulged in on the Lord's Day."

Note: Henderson covers Wilson, but doesn't reference him. In the text, he says that Wilson wrote a memoir in 1700, but doesn't use a year for the events that were then recalled. I assume that the 1672 date is taken from date clues in the whole text. Henderson's source may be his ref #167: see Woodruff, C.H., "Origin of Cricket," Baily's Magazine [London, 1901], Vol. 6, p. 51. David Block [page 173ff] describes how "base ball" was substituted for "stool-ball" in later accounts of Wilson' s biography, which he cites as Swinnick, George, The Life and Death of Mr. Tho. Wilson, Minister of Maidstone [London].

Year
1672
Item
1672.1
Edit

1672c.2 Francis Willughby's "Book of Games" Surveys Folkways: First Stoolball Rules Appear

Age of Players:

Unknown

Warwickshire scientist Francis Willughby (1635-1672) compiled, in manuscript form, descriptions of over 130 games, including, stoolball, hornebillets, kit-cat, stowball, and tutball [but not cricket, trapball or rounders]. He died at 36 and the incomplete manuscript, long held privately, became known to researchers in the 1990s and was published in 2003.

Willughby described stoolball as a game in which a team of players defended an overturned stool with their hands. Hornebillets, unlike stoolball and early cat games, involved using a bat, and also base-running [between holes placed 7 or 8 yards apart], but it used no ball - a cat was used as the batted object. A runner [running was compulsory, even for short hits] had to place his staff in a hole before the other team could put the cat in that hole. The number of holes depended on the number of players available. Stowball appears as a golf-like game. Kit Cat is described as a sort of fungo game in which the cats can be propelled 60 yards or more.

 

Sources:

David Cram, Jeffrey L. Forgeng, and Dorothy Johnston, Francis Willughby's Book of Games: A Seventeenth Century Treatise on Sports, Games, and Pastimes [Ashgate Publishing, 2003].

See also L. McCray, "The Amazing Francis Willughby, and the Role of Stoolball in the Evolution of Baseball and Cricket," in Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 17-20.

Circa
1672
Item
1672c.2
Edit

1676.1 The "Citty of New Yorke" Sets a Fine for Sunday "Gameing or Playing: Ten Guilders

The Mayor and Aldermen of New York that none should "att any Time hereafter willfully or obstinately prophane the Sabbath daye by . . . Playinge att Cards Dice Tables or any other Vnlawful Games whatsoeuer," banning "alsoe the disorderly Assemblyes of Children In ye Streets and other Places To the disturbance of Others with Noyse." Consequences? "Ye Person or Persons soe found drinkinge Gameing or Playing Either in Priuate or Publicke Shall forfeict Tenn Guildrs for Euery such offence." Note that ballplaying was not specifically prohibited. Dated November 13, 1676. Laws of the City of New York [Publication data?], page 27. Submitted by John Thorn 9/29/06.

Year
1676
Item
1676.1
Edit

1676.2 Early Limeys Take "Krickett" to Far Mediterranean Coast

The chaplain assigned to three British ships at Aleppo [now in northern Syria] wrote this in his diary for May 6, 1676:

As was the custom all summer long, this day [in May 1676] "at least 40 of the English, with his worship the Consull, rod [sic] out of the citty about 4 miles to the Greene Platt, a fine vally by a river side, to recreate them selves. Where a princely tent was pitched; and wee had severall pastimes and sports, as duck-hunting, fishing, shooting, handball, krickett, scrofilo . . . . and at 6 wee returne all home in good order, but soundly tyred and weary."

A.G. Steel and R. H. Lyttelton, Cricket, (Longmans Green, London, 1890) 4th edition, page 8. The passage is at Teonge, Henry, The Diary of Henry Teonge (Charles Knight, London, 1825), page 159. Accessed on Google Books, 12/28/2007.

Year
1676
Item
1676.2
Edit

1677.1 Almanac's Easter Verse Mentions Stool-ball

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

"Young men and maids,/ Now very brisk,/ At barley-break and/ Stool-ball frisk."

W. Winstanley, Poor Robin 1677. An almanack after a new fashion, by Poor Robin [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 174.

Year
1677
Item
1677.1
Edit

1680.1 Political Tract Uses Trap-stick Metaphor

Anon., Honest Hodge and Ralph Holding a Sober Discourse in Answer to a late Scandalous and Pernicious Pamphlet, by "a person of quality" [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 174. The anonymous author of this tract sees the pamphlet as a tool used to trigger civil unrest in England, calling it "a mere trap-stick to bang the Phanaticks about."

Year
1680
Item
1680.1
Edit

1680s.2 Cricket Pitch Thought to be Established at 22 Yards

While the length of the cricket pitch [distance between wickets] was formally set at 22 yards in the 1744 rules, that distance is already "thought to have been 22 yards in the 1680's." [John Thorn points out that 22 yards is one-tenth of a furlong (and is also one-eightieth of a mile), and that a 22-yard chain was commonly used as a standard starting in the 1600's; in fact, the "chain" became itself a word for this distance in 1661; email of 2/1/2008.]

Scholefield, Peter, Cricket Laws and Terms [Axiom Publishing, Kent Town Australia, 1990], page 16. Note: Scholefield does not provide a citation for this claim; keep an eye out!

Decade
1680s
Item
1680s.2
Edit

1683c.1 Cricket's First Wicket is Pitched

"We know that the first wicket, comprising two stumps with a bail across them, was pitched somewhere about 1683, as John Nyren recalled long afterward." Thomas Moult, "The Story of the Game," in Thomas Moult, ed., Bat and Ball: A New Book of Cricket (The Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1960: reprint from 1935), page 31.

Note: We should locate Nyren's original claim. Does this imply that cricket was played without wickets, or without bails, before 1683?

Circa
1683
Item
1683c.1
Edit

1685.1 Juicy Early Description of Stool-ball is Written, Then Unread for 162 Years

Game:

Stoolball

Aubrey, John, Natural History of Wiltshire [London, Nichols and Son, 1847], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 210. Folklorist Alice Gomme [see below] called this the earliest description of stool-ball. Aubrey says "it is peculiar to North Wilts, North Gloucestershire, and a little part of Somerset near Bath. They smite a ball, stuffed very hard with quills and covered with soale leather, with a staffe, commonly made of withy, about three feet and a half long. Colerne down is the place so famous and so frequented for stobbal playing. The turfe is very fine and the rock (freestone) is within an inch and a halfe of the surface which gives the ball so quick a rebound. A stobball ball is of about four inches diameter and as hard as stone. I do not heare that this game is used anywhere in England but in this part of Wiltshire and Gloucestershire adjoining." From A. B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1964 reprint of 1898 text [New York, Dover], page 217.

Year
1685
Item
1685.1
Edit

1688.1 New Royals Reportedly Watch Stoolball

Tags:

Famous

Game:

Stoolball

"It is reported that William III watched the game soon after he landed at Torbay, and that subsequently Queen Anne was an interested spectator."

M. S. Russell-Goggs, page 320. Note: we need to locate the full citations for this and all other Russell-Goggs references; short of this, we need to confirm the date of the Torbay landing. A cursory Google search does not reveal confirming evidence of this anecdote.

Year
1688
Item
1688.1
Edit

1690.1 Literary Simile: "Catch it Like a Stool-Ball"

Tags:

Fiction

Game:

Stoolball

Anon., The Pagan Prince: or a Comical History of the Heroik Atchievements of the Palatine of Eboracum [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 175. In this comical prose work, protection in battle was said to be provided by four Arch Angels - who, "when they see a Cannon Ball coming toward ye from any corner of the Wind, will catch it like a stool-ball and throw it to the Devil."

Year
1690
Item
1690.1
Edit

1694.1 Musical Play Includes Baudy Account of Stoolball

Tags:

Females

Game:

Stoolball

D'Urfey, Thomas, The comical history of Don Quixote [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 175. Block sees a "long, silly, bawdy rap song" in this play. It starts "Come all, great, small, short tall, away to Stoolball," and depicts young men and women becoming pretty familiar. It ends "Then went the Glasses round, then went the lasses down, each Lad did his Sweet-heart own, and on the Grass did fling her. Come all, great small, short tall, a-way to Stool Ball." Sounds like fun.

Year
1694
Item
1694.1
Edit

1694.2 Thaw Arrives; Cricket Added to Old List of "Evening" English Pastimes

Game:

Stoolball

"With a relaxation of attitudes towards sports at the Restoration cricket began to emerge from its position of relative obscurity with the printed word beginning to define it, along with other folk games, as an element of the national culture. Edward Chamberlyne's Anglia Notitia, a handbook on the social and political conditions of England, lists cricket for the first time in the eighteenth edition of 1694. 'The natives will endure long and hard labour; insomuch, that after 12 hours of hard work, they will go in the evening to foot-ball, stool-ball, cricket, prison-base, wrestling, cudgel-playing, and some such vehement exercise, for their recreation.'"

Source: Bateman, Anthony, "More Mighty than the Bat, the Pen . . . ;' Culture, Hegemony, and the Literaturisaton of Cricket," Sport in History, v. 23, 1 (Summer 2003), page 30.

Upon further examination, Protoball notes that Anglia Notitia actually has two ongoing areas of special interest. The first is the text above in part 1, chapter V, which had evolved through earlier editions - the 1676 edition - if not earlier ones - had already mentioned stow-ball [changed to "stoolball" as of 1694 or earlier], according to Hazlitt's Faith and Folklore. Cricket historian Diana Rait Kerr agrees that cricket was first added in the 18th edition of 1694.

Another section of Anglia Notitia catalogued English recreations. Text for this section - part 3, chapter VII - is accessible online for the 1702, 1704, 1707, and later editions. These recreations were listed in three parts: for royalty, for nobles and gentry, and for "Citizens and Peasants." Royal sports included tennis, pell mell and billiards. The gentry's sports included tennis, bowling, and billiards. And then: "The Citizens and Peafants have Hand-ball, Stow-ball, Nine-Pins, Shovel-board [and] Goffe," said the 20th edition [1702]. In the 22nd edition [1707], cricket had been inserted as something that commoners also played. We find no reference to club ball, stick ball, trap ball, or other games suggested as precursors of baseball. The full title of Chamberlayne is Anglia Notitia, or the Present State of England: With Divers Remarks on the Ancient State Thereof. Chamberlayne's first edition apparently appeared in 1669; the 37th was issued in 1748. Another Chamberlayne excerpt is found at entry #1704.2 below.

John Thorn supplied crucial input for this entry. Note: It would be interesting to see whether earlier and later editions of Chamberlayne cite other games of interest.

Year
1694
Item
1694.2
Edit

1697.1 “A Great Match at Cricket" for a Tidy Purse

The Foreign Post, July 7, 1697 reports that in Sussex, two sides of eleven each, eyeing a prize of 50 guineas, played "a great match at cricket."

Contributed by Beth Hise, January 12, 2010.

Year
1697
Item
1697.1
Edit

1700.1 One of the Earliest Public Notices of a Cricket Match?

Tags:

Holidays

Game:

Cricket

Age of Players:

Adult

"Of course, there are many bare announcements of matches played before that time [the 1740's]. In 1700 The Postboy advertised one to take place on Clapham Common."

 

Note: An excerpt from a Wikipedia entry accessed on 10/17/08 states: "A series of matches, to be held on Clapham Common [in South London - LMc] , was pre-announced on 30 March by a periodical called The Post Boy. The first was to take place on Easter Monday and prizes of £10 and £20 were at stake. No match reports could be found so the results and scores remain unknown. Interestingly, the advert says the teams would consist of ten Gentlemen per side but the invitation to attend was to Gentlemen and others. This clearly implies that cricket had achieved both the patronage that underwrote it through the 18th century and the spectators who demonstrated its lasting popular appeal."

Sources:

Thomas Moult, "The Story of the Game," in Moult, ed., Bat and Ball: A New Book of Cricket (The Sportsmans Book Club, London, 1960; reprinted from 1935), page 27. Moult does not further identify this publication.

Warning:

Caveat: The Wikipedia entry is has incomplete citations and could not be verified.

Query:

Can we confirm this citation, and that it refers to cricket? Do we know of any earlier public announcements of safe-haven games?

Year
1700
Item
1700.1
Edit

1700c.2 Wicket Seen on Boston Common . . . But Never on Sunday

Tags:

Bans

"Close of the 17th century: . . . The Common was always a playground for boys - wicket and flinging of the bullit was much enjoyed . . . . No games were allowed to be played on the Sabbath, and a fine of five shillings was imposed on the owner of any horse seen on the Common on that day. People were not even to stroll on the Common, during the warm weather, on Sunday."

Samuel Barber, Boston Common: A Diary of Notable Events, Incidents and Neighboring Occurrences (Christopher Publishing, Boston, 1916 - Second Edition), page 47. Note: This book is in the form of a chronology. Barber gives no source for the wicket report.

Circa
1700
Item
1700c.2
Edit
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