Chronology:New York State
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1755.6 NYS Traveler Notes Dutch Boys Playing "Bat and Ball"
Gideon Hawley (1727-1807), traveling through the area where Binghamton now is, wrote: "even at the celebration of the Lord's supper [the Dutch boys] have been playing bat and ball the whole term around the house of God."
Hawley, Gideon, Rev. Gideon Hawley's Journal [Broome County, NY 1753], page 1041. Collection of Tom Heitz. Per Patricia Millen, From Pastime to Passion , page 2.
Writing in 2011, Brian Turner discerns that "bat and ball" maybe the name of a defined game, and not just a generic term. See Brian Turner, "Bat and Ball: A Distinct Game or a Generic Term?", Base Ball Journal (Special Issue on Origins), Volume 5, number 1 (Spring 2011), pages 37-40. He finds several uses of the phrase in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, most of them north and east of Boston.
1850s.16 Wicket Play in Rochester NY
"The immediate predecessor of baseball was wickets. This was a modification of cricket and the boys who excelled at that became crack players of the latter sport of baseball. In wickets there had to be at least eight men, stationed as follows: Two bowlers, two stump keepers or catchers, two outfielders and two infielders or shortstops. . . .
"The wickets were placed sixty feet apart, and consisted of two 'stumps' about six inches in height above the ground and ten feet apart. . . . The ball was as large as a man's head, and of peculiar manufacture. Its center was a cube of lead weighing about a pound and a half. About this were tightly wound rubber bands . . . and the whole sewed in a thick leather covering. This ball was delivered with a stiff straight-arm underhand cast . . . . Three out was side out, and the ball could be caught on the first bound or on the fly. . . . if the ball could be fielded so as to throw the wicket over before [the batter] could touch the stumps, he was out."
The stumps are recalled as being ten feet long, so "the batsman standing in the middle had to keep a lively lookout."
Baseball Half a Century Ago, Rochester Union and Advertiser, March 21, 1903.
1850s.41 "The Popular Game" For Boys in NY State: Old Cat
"The popular game among the boys previously."
M. F. Roberts, A Narrative History of Remsen, New York (private printing, 1914)., page 220. Described in Originals, volume 4, number 10 (October, 2011), page 2.
Reportedly the author writes of Remsen ballplaying before the Civil War. Remsen, a town in Central New York, is about 20 miles N of Utica NY and about 60 miles E of Syracuse and, if you must know, about 60 miles NW of Cooperstown. Its current population is about 1,900.
1850s.45 Future NL President Plays ball in Mohawk Valley of New York
Nicholas Young, National League President, 1885-1902
"I was born [in 1840] in Amsterdam in the beautiful Mohawk Valley, and while I played barn ball, one old cat, and two old cat in my early boyhood days, cricket was my favorite game, and until I enlisted in the army I never played a regular game of base ball, or the New York game as it was then called."
Letter, Nicholas Young to A. G. Mills, December 2, 1902, in the Mills Commission file at the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was resonding to the Mills Commission's call for knowledge on the origins of base ball.
Young first played base ball in 1863 his cricket friends in the Army could not find opponents to play the game. See entry 1863.19.
1854.10 Ball Played at Hobart College, Geneva NY
"Baseball in Geneva began, at least on an organized basis, in 1860. Informal games had taken place at Hobart College as early as 1854, and at the nearby Walnut Hill School . . . . The boys were organized into teams in 1856 or 1857."
Minor Myers, Jr., and Dorothy Ebersole, Baseball in Geneva: Notes to Accompany An Exhibition at the Prout Chew Museum, May 20 to September 17, 1988 [Geneva Historical Society, Geneva, 1988], page 1.
Note: This brochure seems to imply that New York rules governed this game, but does not say so.
Geneva NY is about 45 miles east of Rochester NY and about 55 miles west of Syracuse, at the northern end of Seneca Lake. "The Public Schools of Geneva, NY before 1839", an article in History of Ontario County, New York (G. Conover, ed.), 1893, describes Walnut Hill School as follows:
"The Walnut Hill School, an institution designed for the especial work of educating boys, was established in 1852 and was located at the south end of Main street, on the site now in part occupied by the residence of Wm. J. King. Of the history of this once popular school, but little reliable data is obtainable, though it is known that the course pf study was thorough and the discipline excellent. During most of its career its principal was Rev. Dr. T. C. Reed, who was assisted by three competent teachers. The school was discontinued in 1875."