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BC2000c.3 Egyptian Tomb Has Earliest Depiction of Catching (Fielding) a Ball?
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.
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.
-700c.1 First Known Written Depiction of Ball Play?
[A] "There is a famous scene in the Odyssey where a princess named Nausicaa goes down to the river bank with her attending maidens to wash come clothes. As their garments are drying in the sun, and while Ulysses is sleeping nearby in the bushes, the women engage in a game of ball. For eons, writers have cited this scene as the earliest literary reference to humans playing with a ball."
[B] ". . . Nausicaa/ With other virgins, did at stool-ball play;/ . . ./ The Queene now (for the upstroke) strooke the ball/Quite wide of the other maids; and made it fall/Amidst the whirlpooles. At which, out shriekt all;/And with the shrieke, did wise Ulysses wake."
[A] David Block, Pastime Lost (U Nebraska Press, 2019), pp 53-54. See also pp 55-56.
[B] George Chapman (translator), The Whole Works of Homer, (London, 1606), p. 89.
Note: For one recent review of knowledge of very early ball play by humans, see John Fox, The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game (Harper, 2012), pp. 30-47.
The date of the Odyssey, given here as circa 700 BCE, is not even generally agreed to by scholars. Don't take it literally; it is presented only because formatted chronology listings need to place an entry somewhere, or otherwise omit them entirely
See also chronology entry 1788.3 for a later translation that uses "baste ball" instead of stool-ball as the game played by the women.
Non-written depictions of ball play also exist in various ancient art forms.
Some writers see the Odyssey verse as describing a game resembling dodgeball.
790c.1 Princess Nausica and Maids Play Catch
From Pope's translation of Homer's Odyssey:
O'er the green mead the sporting virgins play, Their shining veils unbound, along the skies, Tost and retost, the ball incessant flies.
Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England: From the Earliest Period, Including the Rural and Domestic Recreations, May Games, Mummeries, Pageants, Processions and Pompous Spectacles (London: Methuen & Co., 1801), p. 91.
850c.1 Nausicaa & Maids Play Ball while Laundry Dries
|Nausicaa, going to a river near that place to wash the clothes of her father, mother, and brethren, while the clothes were drying played with her maids at ball; and Odysseus coming forth is fed and clothed, and led on his way to the house of her father, King Alcinous.|
The Odyssey, Homer, Book VI
Even Homer nods
1086.1 Form of Stool Ball Possibly Found in Domesday Book in Norman England?
Stool ball, a stick and ball game and a forerunner of rounders and cricket, is apparently mentioned in the Domesday Book as "bittle-battle."
Note: This source is Henderson, Robert W., Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origins of Ball Games [Rockport Press, 1947], p. 75.
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.
Henderson labels this claim "highly conjectural." [ba]
The Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect  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.
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.
I've not found bittle-battle in the Domesday book [ba]
1255.1 Spanish Drawing Seen as Early Depiction of Ballplaying
A thirteenth century Spanish drawing appears to depict a female figure swinging at a ball with a bat.
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.
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 Spain's 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. 2007 Annotation: can we specify the painting and its creator? Can we learn how baseball historians and others interpret this artwork?
From Pam Bakker, email of 1/4/2022:
"Cantigas de Santa Maria,"or "Canticles (songs) of Holy Mary" by Alfonso X of Castile El Sabio (1221-1284)
Ron Gabriel also has supplied a quality color photocopy of this plate, which was the subject of his presentation at the 1974 SABR convention
From Pam Bakker, email of 1/4/2022:
"Cantigas de Santa Maria" (written in Galician-Portuguese) or "Canticles (songs) of Holy Mary" by Alfonso X of Castile El Sabio (1221-1284) is a collection of 420 poems with musical notation in chant-style, used by troubadours. It has fanciful extra biblical stories of miracles performed by Mary and hymns of veneration. She is often presented doing ordinary things, intended to elevate her while showing her engaged in life. It was very popular in the early Christian world. The book has illustrations, one of which appears to portray a woman swinging at a ball with a bat."
Can we further specify the drawing and its creator?
Can we learn how baseball historians and others interpret this artwork?
Do we know why this drawing is dated to 1255?
1300s.3 Stoolball Said to Originate Among Sussex Milkmaids
"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.
1330.1 Vicar of Winkfield Advises Against Bat/Ball Games in Churchyards; First Stoolball Reference?
"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
1393.1 Disconfirmed Poetry Lines Said to Denote Stoolball in Sussex
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.
http://www.cnmag.ca, as accessed 9/6/2007.
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.
Is "stumpball" actually a known game? Have we done adequate searches for this name?
1440c.1 Fresco at Casa Borromeo shows Female Ball Players
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.
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
Note: This drawing is listed as "contemporary" on the premise that it was meant to depict ballplaying in the 1400s.
1586c.1 Sydney Cites Stoolball
Lady Mary Dudley, Sir Philip Sydney
"A time there is for all, my mother often sayes
When she with skirts tuckt very hie, with gyrles at stoolball playes"
Sir Philip Sydney, Arcadia: Sonnets , page 493. Note: citation needs confirmation.
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.
Further interpretations are welcome as to Sydney's meaning.
1612c.1 Play Attributed to Shakespeare Cites Stool-ball
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."
1613.1 His and Her Stool-ball Banter: Play, or Foreplay?
"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
1614.1 Poet Yearns to "Goe to Stoole-Ball-Play"
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.
1619.1 Bawdy Poem Has Wenches Playing "With Stoole and Ball"
"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.
1630c.3 At Oxford, Women's Shrovetide Customs Include Stooleball
"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.
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).
Can we find and inspect the 1935 Boas edition of the diary?
1634.1 That Archbishop Laud, He Certainly Doesn't Laud 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?
1677.1 Almanac's Easter Verse Mentions Stool-ball
"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.
1694.1 Musical Play Includes Baudy Account of 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.
1711.1 Betty Was "a Romp at Stool-Ball"
"James before he beheld Betty, was vain of his strength, a rough wrestler . . . ; Betty [was] a publick Dancer at May-poles, a Romp at Stool-Ball. He was always following idle Women, she playing among the Peasants; He a Country Bully, she a Country Coquet."
Steele, Spectator number 71, May 22, 1711, page 2. Provided by John Thorn, emails of 6/11/2007 and 2/1/2008. The implication of the passage appears to be that women who played a game like stool-ball were unlikely to be chaste.
1715.1 Men Top Women in "Merry-Night" of Stoole Balle
"The Young Folks of this Town had a Merry-Night . . . . The Young Weomen treated the Men with a Tandsey as they lost to them at a Game at Stoole Balle."
T. Ellison Gibson, ed., Blundell's Diary, Comprising Selections from the Diary of Nicholas Blundell, Esq. (Gilbert G. Walmsley, 1895), diary entry for May 14, 1715, page 134. Note: "Tandsey" presumably refers to tansey-cakes, traditionally linked to springtime games.
1720.2 Holiday in Kent: Cricket, Stool-Ball, Tippling, Kissing
In 1907, a kindred spirit of ours reported [in a listserve-equivalent of the day] on his attempts to find early news coverage of cricket. He reports on a 1720 article he sees as "the first newspaper reference I have yet found to cricket as a popular game:"
"The Holiday coming on, the Alewives of Islington, Kentish Town, and several adjacent villages . . . . The Fields will swarm with Butchers'; Wives and Oyster-Women . . . diverting themselves with their Offspring, whilst their Spouses and Sweethearts are sweating at Ninepins, some at Cricket, others at Stool-Ball, besides an amorous Couple in every Corner . . . Much Noise and Cutting in the Morning; Much Tippling all Day; and much Reeling and Kissing at Night."
Alfred F. Robbins, "Replies: The Earliest Cricket Report," Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc, September 7, 1907, page 191. Provided by John Thorn, 2/8/2008, via email. He reports his source as Read's Weekly Journal, or British-Gazeteer, June 4, 1720, and advises that he has omitted phrases not "welcome to the modern taste. Accessed via Google Books 10/18/2008.
1733.1 Long Poem Describes Stool-Ball in Some Detail; First Evidence of Use of a Bat?
David Block calls this account "the most complete and detailed portrayal of the game to date." It provides the earliest reference to the use of a bat, describes a game that does not involve running after the young [female] players hit the ball, and includes a description of the field and the assembled audience.
See Supplemental Text for more.
The London Magazine, vol 2, December 1733 [London], page 637, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 177-8.
Note: A bat had been described in Willughby's c.1672 account of hornebillets. See 1672c.2.
Some actual text should be added here, if it can be captured.
1747.2 Well-Advertised Women's Cricket Match Held, with 6-Pence Admission
In July 1747 two ladies' sides from Sussex communities played cricket at London's Artillery-Grounds, and the announced admittance fee was sixpence. At a first match, according to a 7/15/1747 news account, play was interrupted when "the Company broke in so, that it was impossible for the [match] to be play'd; and some of them [the players? - LM] being very much frighted, and others hurt . . . ." That match was to be completed on a subsequent morning . . . . "And in the Afternoon they wil play a second Match at the same Place, several large Sums being depended between the Women of the Hills of Sussex, in Orange colour'd Ribbons, and the Dales in blue!"
This item was contributed by David Block on 2/27/2008. David notes that the source is a large scrapbook with thousands of clippings from 1660 to 1840 as collected by a Daniel Lysons: "Collectanea: or A collection of advertisements and paragraphs from the newspapers, relating to various subjects. Publick exhibitions and places of amusement," Vol IV, Pt 2, page 227, British Library shelfmark C.103.k.11. David adds, "Unfortunately, Lysons, or whoever assembled this particular volume, neglected to indicate which paper the clippings were cut from."
1748.1 Lady Hervey Reports Royals' "Base-ball" in a Letter
Lady Hervey (then Mary Leppel) describes in a letter the activities of the family of Frederick, Prince of Wales:
"[T]he Prince's family is an example of innocent and cheerful amusements All this last summer they played abroad; and now, in the winter, in a large room, they divert themselves at base-ball, a play all who are, or have been, schoolboys, are well acquainted with. The ladies, as well as gentlemen, join in this amusement . . . . This innocence and excellence must needs give great joy, and well as great hope, to all real lovers of their country and posterity."
[The last sentence may well be written in irony, as Lady Hervey was evidently known to be unimpressed with the Prince's conduct.]
Hervey, Lady (Mary Lepel), Letters (London, 1821), p.139 [Letter XLII, of November 14, 1748, from London]. Google Books now has uploaded the letters: search for "Lady Hervey." Letter 52 begins on page 137, and the baseball reference is on page 139. Accessed 12/29/2007. Note: David Block, page 189, spells the name "Lepel," citing documented family usage; the surname often appears as "Leppell." In a 19CBB posting of 2/15/2008, David writes that it is "George III, to whom we can rightly ascribe the honor of being the first known baseball player. The ten-year-old George, as [Prince] Frederick's eldest son, was surely among the prince's family members observed by Lady Hervey in 1748 to be 'divert[ing] themselves at base-ball.'"
1788.3 New Interpretation of Homer Translations Cites ‘Baste-Ball’.
From a new interpretation of Homer's Odyssey, describing Princess Nausicaa:
"[S]he is the very pattern of excellence,…she drives four in hand and manages her whip with utmost skill, …she sings most charmingly, and, in fine, is not above playing a game of baste-ball with her attendants."
"The Trifler," by Timothy Touchstone, Number XXIX, Dec. 13, 1788, p. 374
This passage is discussed in David Block, Pastime Lost (UNebraska Press, 2019), pp 53-55.
"Baste-ball" is one of several alternate spellings of baseball that are found in 18th and 19th century writings.
"The Trifler" was a weekly satirical literary journal that ran for less than one year. Its authors, writing under the nom de plume Timothy Touchstone, were reputed to be two Cambridge students and two Oxford students, all under the age of 20.
An earlier (1616) translator used the term "stool-ball," a game well known in England, for the ballplaying scene. Block explains: "Stool-ball by then [1780s] was fading in popularity. Instead, girls and young women of he towns and villages of southern England were embracing the game of baseball." (Pastime Lost, page 56.)
1793.5 Lady Cricketers Play Again in Sussex
The married women and maids of Bury, in Sussex, are to play their return match of cricket, before the commencement of the harvest; and we hear that considerable bets are depending on their show of Notches, which at the conclusion of their lasst game, the umpires declared to be much in favour of the sturdy matrons."
The Morning Post, Wednesday, July 17, 1793. Contributed by Gregory Christiano, December 2, 2009.
1797.4 "Grand Match" of Stoolball Pits Sussex and Kentish Ladies
"A grand Match of Stool-ball, between 11 Ladies of Sussex, in Pink, against 11 Ladies of Kent, in Blue Ribands."
Source: an undated reproduction, which notes "this is a reproduction of the original 1797 Diversions programme." The match was scheduled for 10am on Wednesday, August 16, 1797. Provided from the files of the National Stoolball Association, June 2007.
1811.6 Women Cricketers Play for Large Purse
Two noblemen arrange for eleven women of Surrey to play eleven women of Hampshire for a stake of 500 guineas a side.
Ford, John, Cricket: and Social History 1700-1835 [David and Charles, 1972], pp. 20-21. Ford does not give a reference for this event.
1816c.11 Jane Austen Writes of "Baseball" in Northanger Abbey.
Jane Austen mentions "baseball" in her novel Northanger Abbey, published in 1818, after her death.
"Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be; but her time was so much occupied in lying-in and teaching the little ones, that her elder daughters were inevitably left to shift for themselves; and it was not very wonderful that Catherine, who had nothing heroic about her, should prefer cricket, baseball, riding on horseback, and running about the country at the age of fourteen, to books . . . . But from fifteen to seventeen she was in training for a heroine; so read all such works as heroines must read. . . "
Austen, Jane, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, (London, 1818), John Murray, Vol. I, p. 7.
"Northanger Abbey was published posthumously in 1818, and while most scholars agree the first draft was written in the 1798-99 time period, there is no evidence that Austen's early draft included the baseball reference. It was submitted for publication in 1803 under the name “Susan,” but never went to press. The text was revised between 1816 and 1817, but did not get published until after Austen’s death that summer." (from David Block, 9/16/2020).
1816.12 Oxfordshire Churchman Urges Base-Ball Fields for Girls
Base-ball, as an outdoor means of recreation for girls, was praised by an English churchwarden in a manuscript history of the Oxfordshire village of Watlington. The writer, John Badcock, made his point despite having it almost swallowed within an unusually convoluted sentence: “It is contrary to reason and common sense to expect that the most sober-minded, if wholly restrained from a game of cricket, or some other amusement--& the other sex from base-ball, or some recreation peculiar to themselves, & exclusively their own, would fill up every leisure hour of a fine summer's evening better, or perhaps so well, in any other way.” Mr. Badcock went on to argue that the lord of the manor, or some other landowner, should take a section of otherwise unusable land and create appropriate playing fields for boys and girls."
An Historical & Descriptive Account of Watlington, Oxfordshire, by John Badcock (1816), handwritten manuscript in the collection of the Oxfordshire History Centre, PAR279/9/MS/1, (former reference: MSS.D.D.Par.Wat-lington c.11)
1819.1 British Science Text Uses "Base-ball" Heuristic Example
"Emily: In playing at base-ball, I am obliged to use al my strength to give a rapid motion to the ball; and when I have to catch it, I am sure I feel the resistance it makes to being stopped; but if I did not catch it, it would soon stop of itself.
"Mrs B.: Inert matter is as incapable of stopping itself as it is of putting itself in motion. When the ball ceases to more, therefore, it must be stopped by some other cause or power; but as it is one with which your are as yet unacquainted, we cannot at present investigate its powers."
Jane H. Marcet, Conversations on Natural Philosophy [Publisher?, 1819], page? Note: Mendelson, a retired professor at Marquette University, originally located this text, but attributed it to a different book by Mrs. Marcet. David Block found the actual 1819 location. He adds that while it does not precede the Jane Austen use of "base-ball" in Northanger Abbey, "I still consider the quote to be an important indicator that baseball was a popular pastime among English girls during the later 18th and early 19th centuries." David Block posting to 19CBB, 12/12/2006.
1820.29 Base ball Seen as "Old-fashioned" Activity For English Girls
"In 1820, another girl-oriented book, entitled Early Education, mentions 'base ball' among a footnoted list of appropriate 'old-fashioned' amusements that also includes 'hunt the slipper' and 'my lady's toilette."
E. Appleton, Early Education (2nd Edition, 1821), page 384, cited in David Block, John Newberry Publishes A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, and With it Our First Glimpse of the game of English Baseball,Base Ball, volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), page 34.
Does the context of this passage clearly imply that girls played base ball?
Is the author suggesting that base ball was considered an "old-fashioned" pastime in 1821?
Where was Early Education published?
1821.8 English Essayist Praises Youth Playing Bass-ball and Cricket
"There is nothing to me more delightful than to see the young working people amusing themselves after the labours of the day. A village green, with its girls and boys playing at bass-ball, and its grown-up lads at cricket, is one of those English sights which I hope no false refinement will ever banish from among us."
A Game at Skittles," (author identified as "Editor K."), published within a larger work entitled The Plain Englishman, Vol. II, London, 1821, Hatchard and Son, p. 267
Note: This entry was formerly listed for 1844 from prior sources.
The location of the village play in not given.
1824c.3 English Writing Cites Base-ball as Girls'; Pastime, Limns Cricket Match
[A] "Better than playing with her doll, better even than base-ball, or sliding or romping, does she like to creep of an evening to her father's knee."
[B]Bateman states that Our Village, a collection of short stories and vignettes, which was initially serialized in The Lady's Magazine in the late 1820's, contains the first comprehensive prose description of a cricket match."
[A] Mitford, Mary Russell, Our Village [London, R. Gilbert], per David Block, Baseball before We Knew It, page 191. Block notes that this was published in New York in 1828, and Tom Altherr [email of April 2, 2009] adds that Philadelphia editions appeared in 1835 and 1841.
[B] 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 34.
While this chron entry is dated circa 1824, the installation of sections of Our Village may have begun in 1826.
"Our Village" was published over time in four volumes beginning in 1824. The second volume, published in 1826, includes the short story “The Tenants of Beechgrove” which contains this baseball quote on page 28. A year later, 1827, the story appeared in the Ladies’ Pocket Magazine, Vol. I, page 157. -- David Block, 9/25/2020
1827.6 A Tip for Good Health: Cricket for the Blokes, Bass-ball for the Lasses
"With the same intention [that is children's health], the games of cricket, prison bars, foot ball, &c. will be useful, as children grow up, and are strong enough to endure such exercise.
"With regard to girls, these amusements may be advantageously supplanted by bass-ball, battledore and shuttlecock, and similar and playful pursuits."
William Newnham, The Principles of Physical, Intellectual, Moral, and Religious Education, Volume 1 (London, 1827), page 123. Uncovered and provided by Mark Aubrey, email of 1/30/2008.
1827.10 "Base-ball, a nonsuch for (Girls') eyes and arms"
From the London Literary Gazette of March 24, 1827, in a negative review of a book on calisthenic exercises for ladies by one Signor Voarino:
[noting that the author is a foreigner] "Perhaps he was not aware...that we had diversions like these just mentioned, and many others of the same kind--such, for example (for our critical knowledge is limited,) as hunt the slipper, which gives dexterity of hand and ham; leap frog, which strengthens the back (only occasionally indulged in, we believe, by merry girls;) romps, which quicken all the faculties; tig, a rare game for universal corporeal agility; base-ball, a nonsuch for eyes and arms; ladies' toilet, for vivacity and apprehension; spinning the plate, for neatness and rapidity; grass-hopping (alias shu-cock,) for improving the physical powers; puss in the corner, and snap-tongs, for muscularity and fearlessness;--all these, and hundreds more, not so well known nor so much practised in London, perhaps, as in the county, we have had for ages..."
London Literary Gazette, March 24, 1827, per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, Oct. 26, 2010
1825.16 Mitford Story Centers on Cricket, Touches on Juvenile Baseball
"Then comes a sun burnt gipsy of six . . . . her longing eyes fixed on a game of baseball at the corner of the green till she reaches the cottage door . . . . So the world wags until ten; then the little damsel gets admission to the charity school, her thoughts now fixed on button-holes and spelling-books those ensigns of promotion; despising dirt and baseball, and all their joys."
From "Jack Hatch," taken from the Village Sketches of Mary Russell Mitford, The Albion: A Journal of News, Politics, and Literature September 9 1828, volume 7, page 65.
This item was originally dated 1828, and adjusted to 1825 in 2020. For some details, see Supplemental Text below.
Submitted by Bill Wagner 6/4/2006 and by David Ball 6/4/2006. David explains further: "The title character is first introduced as a cricketer, 'Jack Hatch the best cricketer in the parish, in the county, in the country!' The narrator hears tell of this wonder, who turns out to be a paragon of all the skills but is never able to meet him in person, finally hearing that he has died. Mitford treats cricket (with tongue admittedly somewhat in cheek) as an epic contest in which the honor of two communities is at stake. In the opening, very loosely connected section, on the other hand, baseball is described as a child's game, to be put away early in life."
1828.13 In Christian Story, a Young Girl Chooses Batting Over Tatting
A very strict school mistress scolds the title character: "You can't say three times three without missing; you'd rather play at bass-ball, or hunt the hedges for wild flowers, than mend your stockings."
A.M.H. [only initials are given], "The Gipsey Girl," in The Amulet, Or Christian and Literary Remembrancer (W. Baynes and Son, London, 1828), pp 91-104. This short moral tale is set in England, and the girl is described as being eight or nine years old. Accessed 2/4/10 via Google Books search ("amulet or christian" 1828).
Reported by Tom Altherr, "Some Findings on Bass Ball," Originals, February 2010. This story was reprinted as "The Gipsy Girl," in The Cabinet Annual: A Christmas and New Year's Gift for 1855 (E. H. Butler, Philadelphia, 1855) page 93ff:
1828.16 Base-ball Cited as a Suitable "Nonsuch for Eyes and Arms" of Australian Ladies
Am Australian periodical saw limitations in a book on healthful activities for women and girls. The book is Calisthenic Exercises: Arranged for the Private Tuition of Ladies, is attributed to a Signor Voarino and was published in London in 1827.
"Signor Voarino, as a foreigner, perhaps was not aware that we had diversions like these just mentioned, and many others of the same kind — such, for example (for our crtical knowledge is limited) as hunt the slipper, which gives dexterity of hand and ham; leap frog, which strengthens the back (only occasionally indulged in, we believe, by merry girls;) romps, which quicken all the faculties; tig, a rare game for universal corporeal agility; base-ball, a nonsuch for eyes and arms ! [probably a typo for a semicolon--jt] ladies' toilet, for vivacity and apprehension; spinning the plate, for neatness and rapidity; grass-hopping (alias shu-cock) for improving in muscularity and fearlessness--all these, and hundreds more, we have had for ages; s[o] that it looks ridiculous to bring out as a grand philosophical discovery, the art of instructing women how to have canes or sticks laid on their backs."
The Australian (Sydney), May 14, 1828, page 4. This excerpt appears in a column called "British Sayings and Doings."
(In February 2017 David Block notes that he has seen a copy of the original issue of the "London Literary Gazette" in which the review of Signor Voarino's book first appeared.)
This book is also described in item 1827.10. Protoball is attempting to determine whether the Voarino book itself touches on other baserunning games in the 1820s.
1828.18 In Brighton England, 'Women of the Mill' Play Stool Ball Alongside Cricketers
"The paper-makers played a match of cricket on Saturday last, whilst the women of the mill were engaged at stool ball. The novelty of the scene attracted a considerable concourse of people."
Brighton Gazette, July 18, 1828
1830s.13 "Baseball" Found in Several Works by Mary Russell Mitford
Submitted by Hugh MacDougall, Cooperstown NY, 12/6/2006:
"Everyone knows of Jane Austen's use of the term baseball in her novel Northanger Abbey (see item #1798.1). I recently came across, online, an 1841 anthology of works by the English essayist Mary Russell Mitford (1787-1865). A search revealed five uses of the work "baseball." What is intriguing is that every reference seems to assume that "baseball" whatever it is is a familiar rough and tumble game played by girls (and apparently girls only) between the ages of 6 and 10 or so.."
The "baseball" usages:
 "The Tenants of Beechgrove:" "But better than playing with her doll, better even than baseball, or sliding and romping, does she like to creep of an evening to her father's knee:
 "Jack Hatch" see item #1828.9 above for two references.
 "Our Village [introduction]": " . . . Master Andrew's four fair-haired girls who are scrambling and squabbling at baseball on the other." (See item #1824.3 above.)
 Belford Regis: "What can be prettier than this, unless it be the fellow-group of girls . . . who are laughing and screaming round the great oak; then darting to and fro, in a game compounded of hide-and-seek and baseball. Now tossing the ball high, high amidst the branches; now flinging it low along the common, bowling as it were, almost within reach of the cricketers; now pursuing, now retreating, jumping shouting, bawling almost shrieking with ecstasy; whilst one sunburnt black-eyed gipsy throws forth her laughing face from behind the trunk of an old oak, and then flings a newer and gayer ball fortunate purchase of some hoarded sixpence among her happy playmates.
David Block's forthcoming 2019 book may address the rules of English Base-Ball in this period.
MacDougall asks: "Mary Mitford seems to have a pretty good idea of what the girls are playing, when they play at 'baseball' but it seems to have little or nothing to do with the sport we now call by that name. Does anyone know what it was?"
1830c.28 Fictional Mom Recalls Liking to Bat Ball as a Girl
Tom Altherr located a fictional story in The Child's Friend (January 1848) in which a mother recounts to her son, George, how she 'liked boys' playthings best' when she was a little girl and could 'drive hoop, spin top, bat ball, jump, and climb' as well as her brothers could."
The Child's Friend, January 1848. Full citation needed. Submitted by Deb Shattuck, May 2013.
It is, of course, difficult to specify a reasonable date for a fictional account like this one.
1832.10 Doc Adams' Sister Writes of Bat and Ball Play
In a June 1832 letter to her 17-year-old brother at Amherst, the 10-year-old Nancy Ann Adams wrote, "I felt very lonesome after you and the rest were gone. I have not played with your bat and ball as you bid me."
Her brother is Daniel Lucius "Doc" Adams, who was to become a key member of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club about eight years later.
Letter, Nancy A. Adams to D. L. Adams, 7/15/1832, from Mount Vernon NH.
John Thorn notes: "The game that the future Doc Adams played with these objects is not known."
"A game called "bat and ball" is known to have been played in NH, and her wording echoes that name.
"Even a hint that a girl would be tempted to take up a bat and ball is notable in US ballplaying history."
1832.11 Brighton Women Play Stool Ball Despite Weather, Forego Merry Dance
"On Friday the return game of Cricket was played between the workmen of Mr Hodd and Mr Paine in a meadow at the back of the former gentleman's house, and although the weather was very unfavourable, the game was played out. Mr Hodd's men were the victors. The same spirit of liberality was displayed on this as on the former occasion: the women also had recourse to their favourite game of stool ball, and the only drawback in the general amusement was the absence of the musician which obliged them to forego the merry dance."
Brighton Guardian, October 10, 1832
See 1831.7 for an earlier assembly involving the same two hosts.
1837.2 Ball Game Described in Fictional Account of Western Indians
For Text: David Block carries three paragraphs of text from this story in Appendix 7, page 283, of Baseball Before We Knew It.
Captured by Native Americans, a youth sees them playing a game of ball. The "ball" was part of a sturgeon's head covered with deerskin strips, the club was of hickory, some number of safe-haven bases were formed by small piles of stones, and there was plugging.
"Their principal object seemed to be to send the ball as far as possible, in order for the striker of it, to run around the great space of ground, which was comprised within the area formed by the piles of stones."
There is no mention of a pitcher, and if a batter-runner was put out, he would replace the fielder who made the putout. Some games would last for days.
Female Robinson Crusoe, A Tale of the American Wilderness [J. W. Bell, New York, 1837], pp 176-178. Per RH ref 58.
Reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825 - 1908, University of Nebraska Press, 1995, pp. 4-5.
1837.4 Trap-ball Found in Book of "Many Exercises and Exercises for Ladies"
Walker, Donald, Games and Sports; Being an Appendix to Manly Exercises and Exercises for Ladies [London], per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 201. Most of this text covers gymnastic routines, but trap-ball is also included. Note: Is this an early use of the term "manly" in sports?
1840.9 Englishman Sees Base-ball as Commonly Played by Adult Men and Women
Blaine, Delabare P., An Encyclopedia of Rural Sports [London, Longman, Orme, Brown, and Longmans], page 131, per David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, page 204. The book's slight treatment of ball games states: "There are few of us of either sex but have engaged in base-ball since our majority."
1840.38 Boston-Style "Bat and Ball" Seen in Honolulu HI
"Sports in Honolulu. One evidence of the increasing civilization in this place, and not the least gratifying, is to see the ardor with which the native youth of both sexes engage in the same old games which used to warm our blood not long since. There's good old bat and ball, just the same as when was ran from the school house to the 'Common' to exercise our skill that way; and then there is something which looks much like 'quorum,' and 'tag' too . . . ."
Polynesian, December 26, 1840. Posted to the 19CBB listserve by George Thompson January 3, 2010. Accessed via subscription search May 4, 2009. George sees the column as likely written by the newspaper's editor, James Jarves, who was born in Boston in 1818.
1844.18 Springtime Ballplaying on the Common -- by Girls
"Girls of fourteen -- daughters of plebeians -- play round ball on the Common. It is a free exercise."
Boston Post, April 24, 1844, page 2, column 2.
By "plebeian," the writer presumably meant "not upper-class."
Did "It is a free exercise" mean roughly what it means today?
1849.10 Ladies' Wicket in England?
"BAT AND BALL AMONG THE LADIES. Nine married ladies beat nine single ones at a game of wicket in England recently. The gamesters were all dressed in white - the married party with blue trimmings and the others in pink."
Milwaukee[WI] Sentinel and Gazette, vol. 5, number 116 (September 4, 1849), page 2, column 2. Provided by Craig Waff, email of 8/14/2007.
Beth Hise [email of 3/3/2008] reports that the wearing of colored ribbons was a much older tradition.
Note: One may ask if something got lost in the relay of this story to Wisconsin. We know of no wicket in England, and neither wicket or cricket used nine-player teams.
Was cricket, including single-wicket cricket, known in any part of England as "wicket?"
1849.12 Ladies Cricket Match Reported in London
"Bat and Ball Among the Ladies. - A London paper has the following account of a cricket match between married and single ladies. The married, it seems, carry the day at hard knocks.: 'On Wednesday, nine married ladies beat nine single ladies at a match of cricket, at Picket Post, in the New Forest, by one run only, the married scoring fifty, the single forty-nine. The ladies were dressed in white - the former with blue trimmings, the latter with pink."
New London Democrat, September 8, 1849. Accessed May 4, 2009 via subscription search. New Forest appears to be near the Channel coast In Hampshire, near Southampton.
1850c.34 Tut-ball Played at Young Ladies School in England
"'Tut-ball,' as played at a young ladies' school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. The players stood together in their 'den,' behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out' and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of the three brickbats, called 'tuts,' which were set up at equal distances on the ground, in such positions that a player running past them all would describe a complete circle by the time she returned to the den. The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball, and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so, she took her place in the den, and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical to 'rounders.'"
Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (David Nutt, London, 1898), page 314. Accessed 2/10/10 via Google Books search (gomme tutt-ball 1898). Gomme adds that "pize-ball" is a similar game, and that in the past Tut-ball was played on Ash Wednesday in the belief that it would ward off sickness at harvest time. Shifnal, Shropshire, is in the west of England, about 25 miles northwest of Birmingham.
1850s.47 Boys and Girls Play Old Cat at Recess in Wisconsin
"elias molee, in his completely lower-case autobiography, recounted mixed-gender cat games at his southern Wisconsin school in the 1850s: 'a little before 10:30 o'clock she [the teacher] called out "20 minutes recess." [the] boys played catching each other, or played ball which we called "1 old cat" when 3 were playing, boys or girls made no difference to us, when 4 played we called it "2 old cat"'"
Elias Molee, Molee's Wanderings, An Autobiography (private printing, 1919) page 34. As cited by Tom Altherr, Coed Cat Games in Wisconsin in the Early 1850s, Originals, volume 4, number 1 (January 2011), page 2.
1850s.50 Benefits for Adults Seen in Ballplaying in English Shire: Tutball Rules Described
"Yorkshire: Now only played by boys, but half a century ago [1850's] by Adults on Ash Wednesday, believing that unless they did so they would fall sick in harvest time. This is a very ancient game, and was elsewhere called stool-ball. [West Yorkshire]. Shropshire: Tut-ball; as played at a young ladies school at Shiffnal fifty years ago. (See also 1850c.34). The players stood together in their 'den,'behind a line marked on the ground, all except one, who was 'out', and who stood at a distance and threw the ball to them. One of the players in the den then hit back the ball with the palm of the hand, and immediately ran to one of three brick-bats, called 'tuts' . . . . The player who was 'out' tried to catch the ball and to hit the runner with it while passing from one 'tut' to another. If she succeeded in doing so she took her place in the den and the other went 'out' in her stead. This game is nearly identical with rounders."
Joseph Wright, The English Dialect Dictionary (Henry Frowd, London, 1905), page 277. Part or all of this entry appears to credit Burne's Folklore (1883) as its source.
Note: This describes a scrub form of tutball/rounders. It suggests that all hitting was forward, thus in effect using a foul line, as would make sense with a single fielder.
The claim that tutball and stoolball used the same rules is surprising; stoolball is fairly uniformly described as having but two bases or stools, and using a bat.
1853.7 Didactic Novel Pairs "Bass-Ball" and Rounders at Youths' Outing
"The rest of the party strolled about the field, or joined merrily in a game of bass-ball or rounders, or sat in the bower, listening to the song of birds." .
Cricket receives three references (pages 75, 110, and 211)in this book. The first of these, unlike the bass-ball/rounders account, separates English boys from English girls after a May tea party: "Some of the gentlemen offered prizes of bats and balls, and skipping-ropes, for feats of activity or skill in running, leaping, playing cricket, &c. with the boys; and skipping, and battledore and shuttlecock with the girls."
Trap-ball receives one uninformative mention in the book (page 211).
A Year of Country Life: or, the Chronicle of the Young Naturalists (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London, 1853), page 115.
As a way of teaching nature [each chapter introduces several birds, insects, and "wild plants"] this book follows a group of boys and girls of unspecified age [post-pubescent, we guess] through a calendar year. The bass-ball/rounders reference above is one of the few times we run across both terms in a contemporary writing. So, now: Is the author denoting are there two distinct games with different rules, or just two distinct names for the same game? The syntax here leaves that distinction muddy, as it could be the former answer if the children played bass-ball and rounders separately that [June] day.
Richard's take on the bass-ball/rounders ambiguity: "It is possible that there were two games the party played . . . but the likelier interpretation is that this was one game, with both names given to ensure clarity." David Block [email of 2/27/2008] agrees with Richard. Richard also says "It is possible that as the English dialect moved from "base ball" to "rounders," English society concurrently moved from the game being played primarily played by boys and only sometimes being played by girls. I am not qualified to say."
1853.12 English Cleric Promotes Co-ed Rounders
"In school at Westbourne I generally examine boys and girls together, and I find this always produces a greater degree of attention and emulation, each being ashamed to lose credit in the eyes of he other.
"In the playground they [boys and girls] have full permission to play together, if they like . . . but they very seldom do play together, because boys' amusements and girls' amusements are of a different character, and if, as happens at rare intervals, I do see a dozen boys and girls going down a slide together in the winter, or engaged in a game of rounders in the summer, I believe both parties are improved by their temporary coalition."
Rev. Henry Newland, Confirmation and First Communion (Joseph Masters, London, 1853), page 240. Accessed 2/11/10 via Google Books search ("henry newland" mdcccliii).
Newland was Vicar of Westbourne, near Bournemouth and about 100 miles SW of London.
1855c.10 "New Game" of Wicket Played in HI
[A] "In 1855 the new game of wicket was introduced at Punahou [School] and for a few years was the leading athletic game on the campus. . . . [The] fiercely contested games drew many spectators from among the young ladies and aroused no common interest among the friends of the school."
[B] "One game they all enjoyed was wicket, often watched by small Mary Burbank. Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a large rounder end. It was a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to the ground."
 Through further digging, John Thorn suggests the migration of wicket to Hawaii through the Hawaii-born missionary Henry Obookiah. At age 17, Obookiah traveled to New Haven and was educated in the area. He may well have been exposed to wicket there. He died in 1818, but not before helping organize a ministry [Episcopalian?] in Hawaii that began in 1820.
See also John Thorn's 2016 recap in the supplementary text, below.
[A] J. S. Emerson, "Personal Reminiscences of S. C. Armstrong," The Southern Workman Volume 36, number 6 (June 1907), pages 337-338. Accessed 2/12/10 via Google Books search ("punahou school" workman 1907). Punahou School, formerly Oahu College, is in Honolulu.
[B] Ethel M.Damon M. , Sanford Ballard Dole and His Hawaii [Pacific Books, Palo Alto, 1957], page 41.
[C] John's source is the pamphlet Hawaiian Oddities, by Mike Jay [R. D. Seal, Seattle, ca 1960]. [Personal communication, 7/26/04.]
Damon added: "Aipuni, the Hawaiians called it, or rounders, perhaps because the bat had a larger rounder end.t was a a forerunner of baseball, but the broad, heavy bat was held close to thee ground."
1858.59 Ladies and Gentlemen of Dansville NY Play Ball in Afternoons
[A] (p. 51). A letter the Rev. Abram Pryor [?], Editor, Central Reformer, McGrawville, NY wrote to his readers on May 8th from Glen Haven: "The patients instead of being querulous and hypochondriacal, are as cheerful and good natured a company of men and women as one often meets. You can exercise your taste in physical amusements. They range from jumping the rope or a dance, to rowing a boat or walking five miles before breakfast. If you do not like to play ball, you can pitch quoits or hunt partridges . . . or fish for salmon trout."
[B] The entry for Wednesday, March 30, 1859 says: "Our ladies and gentlemen amuse themselves much by ball playing afternoons, and by playing, talking and singing, evenings."
[A] The Letter Box, Vol. 1, No. 6 (15 July 1858). in: Austin, Harriet, N., Dr. and Jackson, James. C., Dr., eds., The Letter-Box. Vols 1 and 2, 1858-9, (Dansville, NY: M. W. Simmons, 1859), 51.
[B] "Doings Current," The Letter Box, Vol. 2, No. 5 (May 1859). in: Austin, Harriet, N., Dr. and Jackson, James. C., Dr., eds., The Letter-Box. Vols 1 and 2, 1858-9, (Dansville, NY: M. W. Simmons, 1859), 37.
Dansville NY (2010 population about 4700) is about 40 miles S of Rochester in western NY. Per the Dansville Historical Society, the facility in question was a water cure (hydropathy) center called Our Home on the Hillside.
1859.51 Girls Play Base Ball at Eagleswood School
Francis Dana Gage
In 1859, the women's rights advocate and abolitionist Frances Dana Barker Gage wrote a letter from St. Louis to physician friends at the Glen Haven Water Cure in New York. She informed them of positive advancements in physical fitness for students at the Eagleswood School in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Among the games both male and female students were playing was base ball.
Gage concluded that she was planning to ask the principal at Dansville Seminary (in St. Louis?) to add baseball to its program for girls too.
"Muscle Looking Up," Austin, Harriet, N., Dr. and Jackson, James. C., Dr., eds., The Letter-Box, Vols 1 and 2, 1858-9, (Dansville, NY: M. W. Simmons, 1859), 99.
Is this the first time, as far as we know, that females played base ball by modern rules?
1861.2 Stoolball Played, in Co-ed Form
"Stoolball was played at Chailey [Sussex] in 1861. Major Lionel King . . . first saw stoolball in the early 'sixties, while still a very small boy. He watched a game in a field belonging to Eastfield Lodge, Hassocks [Sussex], and both men and maidens were playing"
Russell-Goggs, in "Stoolball in Sussex," The Sussex County Magazine, volume 2, no. 7 (July 1928), page 322. Note: Russell-Goggs does not give a source for this report.
1863.114 Southern Girls Play Town Ball and Cat in Clarksville
Nannie E. Haskins diary, Feb. 25, 1863
Saturday morning opened with heavy clouds to obscure the Sun; after breakfasted, we all went out and had a game of hot ball – town ball and cat. They were all new to me, that is I never played them before. I have seen my brothers and other boys play them. We came to town about ten o’clock, by dinner time it was raining.
1866.15 Vassar has First female Base ball club?
The Vassar Encyclopedia (online) cites a letter from a Vassar student in 1866 saying she'd joined one of the base ball clubs on the college. The encyclopedia suggest the club might have been the Laurels or the Abenakis. Several sources claim this is the first verified proof of a female base ball club.
The Vassar Encyclopedia
1867c.17 Some First Female teams and games in US cities
The games and clubs entries in the "Pre-Pro Baseball Database" contain the following entries (and years) for female/women/girl/ladies teams and clubs (as of 7-10-2018):
1868--Nashville, Peterboro NY
1870--Rockford, Cincinnati, Lancaster Ohio
1874--Prospect Hill School in Greenfield, MA (Indianapolis News, May 16, 1874)
1895--Fox Lake, IL
See Pre-Pro Baseball Database on this website
1868.1 Elizabeth Cady Stanton describes Female Baseball Game in Peterboro, NY
THE LAST SPORTING SENSATION
A FEMALE BASE BALL CLUB AT PETERBORO’ (sic, w/ apostrophe)
At Peterboro’, (sic, apostrophe) N. Y. the young ladies, jealous of the healthy sports enjoyed by the more muscular portion of mankind, have organized a base ball club, and have already arrived at a creditable degree of proficiency in play. There are about fifty members belonging to it, from which a playing nine has been chosen headed by Miss Nannie Miller, as captain. This nine have played several games outside the town and away from the gaze of the curious who would naturally crowd around such a beautiful display. Having thus perfected themselves, this nine lately played a public game in the town of Peterboro’ (sic, apostrophe), as may well be supposed, before a large and anxious multitude of spectators. The natures of the female playing nine are as follows, - Nannie Miller, catcher; Clara Mills, pitcher; Mary Manning, first base; Frank (sic) Richardson, second base; Bertha Powell, third base; Jennie Hand, short stop; Hattie Ferris, left field; Maggie Marshall, right field; Mary Frothingham, centre field.
This constitutes the Senior Nine, and on the occasion of their first exhibition they played the Junior Nine of the same club. Their dress consists of short blue and white tunics, reaching to the knees, straw caps, jauntily trimmed, white stockings and stout gaiter shoes, the whole forming a combination that is at once most easy and exceedingly beautiful. As the two nines came upon the ground it would be hard to tell which one of them had the greatest number of friends present, for loud and continuous cheers and clapping pf hands marked the entrance of either one.
Without loss of time Mrs. J. S. Smith was chosen umpire, and Miss Martin and Mrs. Benning as scorers. The penny was flipped to see who should first go to bat, and the Juniors won it. Hattie Harding took up the bat and the remainder of the nine stood ready to follow suit. But alas! Hattie was caught out on a fly, and before her friends had time to make a single score they were sent to the field. From the moment the Seniors went to bat they had things their own way. Notwithstanding the best efforts of the Juniors they would either foul out or knock the ball high, and innings after innings were given up without a run to mark their stay at bat.
Bertha Powell gave six runs by outrageous muffs in the third and fourth innings. With this exception, however, the Senior nine acquitted themselves well, and nearly every member showed some particular points of fine play. But the Juniors were sadly beaten and have much to learn yet, especially in the choice of balls to strike at. Mary Sterns played at second base very well, and we shall not be surprised to see her one of the Senior playing nine next year.
At the conclusion of the game a number of gentlemen invited both nine to sit down to a fine repast, after discussing which they enjoyed some good singing and participated in a little speech-making, wherein the beautiful sporting belles were complimented and extolled.
The score below tells the story of the game, - [box score]
Seniors: Miller, c; Mills p, Manning, 1b; Richardson 2b; Powell, 3b; Hand, ss; Ferris lf; Marshall, rf; Frothingham, cf. Total runs – 27
Juniors: Clark, c; Hare, p; Colwell (?), 1b; Sterns, 2b; Dyer, 3b; Lains (?), ss; Pratt, lf; Galluria, rf; Frothingham, cf. Total runs – 5
[no other information, article ends here]
New York Clipper, August 29, 1868
NOTE: DEB SHATTUCK HAS SUPPLEMENTAL DATA ON THIS EVENT AND WILL BE AMENDING THIS ENTRY ACCORDINGLY IN DECEMBER 2013.
Peterboro, NY - if that was the site of the game, is about 25 miles E of Syracuse, and, not that you asked, about 50 miles NW of Cooperstown.
Did this club form at a ladies' school, a secondary school, a finishing school? What was the age of the players?
1868.6 "Ladies Base Ball and Croquet" club formed in Kalamazoo
The Kalamazoo Telegraph, May 29, 1868 reports that local ladies have formed a "base ball and croquet club," have already practiced base ball, and hope to play the men at some future date.
The Kalamazoo Telegraph, May 29, 1868
1869c.4 Diana Base Ball Club of Northwestern Female Seminary
In the fall of 1869, a number of newspapers reported on the existence of the Diana Female Base Ball Club at the "Northwestern Seminary" at Evanston. There has been some confusion in secondary sources about this team, with some scholars linking it to Northwestern University. This is incorrect. The Northwestern Female College (as it was known) was a separate institution from the University. The latter did not admit its first female student until Fall semester 1869. One female student could not have organized a baseball club. Further evidence that the Diana Base Ball Club was composed of younger girls, not college women, is the fact that a junior "pony club" of boys challenged them to a match game. (There is no evidence this game was ever played.) By way of further clarification, the Northwest Female College operated until 1871 when its trustees handed over responsibility for educating young women to the trustees of the newly-chartered Evanston College for Ladies. The original intent of the founders was to operate as the Women's Department of Northwestern University. This did not happen until 1874 when it became the Women's College of Northwestern University. Frances Willard, who would later gain international fame as head of the Women's Christian Temperance Union was a graduate of the Northwestern Female College and first president of the Evanston College for Ladies.
Chicago Times (22 Oct 1869), p. 6. Quoted in: Robert Pruter, "Youth Baseball in Chicago, 1868-1890: Not Always Sandlot Ball," Journal of Sport History, 26.1 (Spring 1999): 1-28. Also, The National Chronicle (Boston) (30 Oct 1869), p. 259, “All Shapes and Sizes,” Bangor Daily Whig & Courier (8 Nov 1869), n.p., “The Playground: Our National Game,” Oliver Optic's Magazine: Our Boys and Girls (20 Nov. 1869): 639.
1871.8 First Co-Ed college baseball game?
Sheppard (ed.),"History of Northwestern University and Evanston" p 154 cites the college paper as reporting that on July 4, 1871: "Baseball Match Between Ladies' College nine and Northwestern University: prize a silver ball: score 57 to 4 in favor of Northwestern."
The "Evanston College for Ladies" was at the time separate from the main college.
Sheppard (ed.),"History of Northwestern University and Evanston" p 154. Seymour, "The People's Game" also references this event.
1875.2 First female baseball team outside the US?
The website of the famous Punahou school in Honolulu says that starting in 1872, "girls" athletics were popular. In 1875, two girls teams played each other.
"Punahou Nines beat Royal School Nines, two teams of female baseball players"
Is this the first all-female baseball game outside the U.S.? [Hawaii was an independent nation at this time]
Punahou school website.
1870s.2 Debra Shattuck lists early female base ball
The Appendix to Debra Shattuck's "Bloomer Girls. Women Baseball Pioneers" lists first mentions of women's baseball in various towns and cities. For major cities:
1876--Philadelphia, St.Louis, Providence, Erie
1879--New York City, New Orleans
Debra Shattuck's "Bloomer Girls. Women Baseball Pioneers"