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Tom Altherr has found a reference to buff-ball in Baltimore in 1773.
A visitor wrote in his journal for 10/28/1773: "In Baltimore for some Buff-Ball." Tom notes that the nature of the game is not known, but that OED lists "to hit something" as one meaning of "buff."
Philip Vickers Fithian, Philip Vickers Fithian Journal and Letters 1767-1774, John Rogers Williams, ed. (Freeport NY, Books for Libraries Press, 1969 ), page 49. Reported in "Tom Altherr's Notebook," Originals volume 5, number 6 (June 2012), pages 1-2.
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