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School Reader has Description of Bat and Ball

Salience Noteworthy
Game Bat and Ball, Fungo
Immediacy of Report Contemporary
Age of Players Juvenile

Sanders, Charles W., The School Reader; First Book (Newburgh, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, assorted publishers). This is another Sanders reader (see entries above for 1840, 1841, 1846), this one with an illustration of four boys playing a ball game at recess.  A drawing is titled "Boys Playing at Bat and Ball."

Oddly enough, two of the four boys seem to be carrying bats.  One appears to have hit the ball toward a boy in the foreground, and a second boy stands near to him, with a bat in hand, watching him prepare to catch the ball.  "[H]e will catch the ball when it comes down.  Then it will be his turn to take the bat and knock the ball." 

No bases or wickets are apparent in the drawing.  No pitching or baserunning is mentioned.



 per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 215.


In 2013, David Block notes that the 1858 edition of this book includes a different image, where a fifth player appears, and three of them hold bats: see below: "In the newer [1858] edition, all five of the boys are standing around a tree . . . .  The bats, especially in the 1858 illustration, appear to be flat-faced, though not as broad as a cricket bat.  There are no visible wickets or bases . . .  It is impossible to know what sort of game(s) the artists were trying to represent, although my impression is of some sort of fungo game, with one player hitting the ball in the air and the others trying to catch or retrieve.  The one who succeeds gets to bat next.  Just a guess.  

(Email from David Block, 2/7/2013.)

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Is it possible that this is a fungo-style game?  Is it possible that may other "plaing ball" references denote fungo games? 

Do we know of any other fungo games in which more than a single bat is used?

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Submitted by David Block, 2/7/2013


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