Hildegarde

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Game Hildegarde
Game Family Baseball Baseball
Location England
Regions Britain, US
Eras Derivative, 1800s
Invented Yes
Description

Hildegarde is described in an 1881 publication as a new English game that was "a combination of the noble old English one of Cricket with the popular American one of Base-ball. It is especially adapted in its arrangements and implements to fit it for the use of ladies." 

The game was played with 15-inch paddles and 2.5-inch rubber balls.  Three poles, several yards apart, are both the bases and targets that can put batters and runners out.  Teams of from two (maybe four?) to fifteen are accommodated, and a "scrub" (non-team) form is an option when very few players are available.  A pitcher throws pitches with one foot placed on a foot-base located amid the three bases and at a distance of ten feet. 

Some interesting variations from cricket and base ball:

[1] The batter ("striker") can adjust the height of the (roughly one-foot by two-feet) "strike zone" to her/his taste.  This recalls the early base ball practice of allowing the batter to request high or low pitches.

[2] Batters can employ bats in each hand if desired.

[3] The number of outs per inning depends on team size, with eleven-player side, for instance, six outs retires a side.

[4] After completing a single circuit of the bases, a batter completes the at-bat, unlike in cricket, so the entire batting order is continually active, unlike in cricket.

[5] We have the impression that running is compulsory when a ball is batted.

The pamphlet also describes a second game, Ladies' Cricket, that can be played with the same equipment, but employing 2 bases and using more cricket-like rules.

Explaining the niche for Hildegarde, the game instructions (page 4) explain that "The best possible game hitherto has been the old game of Ball, called in some places Tut-Ball; but in this there is no scope for the exhibition of an individual skill, and no object is to be gained worth the winning."

Describing the ball, the point is made (page 7) pilosophizes that "There is no good out-door game without a Ball in it . . . "

As of 2/4/2014, we know of only one report of actual play, a game in the Washington Heights section of New York reflected (as a football/cricket hybrid, a "big soft ball, being struck with a wide bat as well as kicked), which appeared in the Sunday Boston Herald on 9/23/1883.  No reports of play in Britain are yet known. 

Sources

Leonora "(pseud)", The New Out-door Games of Hildegarde and Ladies' Cricket (Macdougall and Son, Sheffield, 1881), 16 pp.  [Accessed 2/3/2014 via a Google Books search <"hildegarde and ladies">.]

A tip on Hildegarde was provided by John Thorn, email to Protoball, 2/3/2014.  John also located the 1883 Boston coverage.

 

Comment

Is there further evidence that this game was actually played, or was it publicized to sell equipment?  What features does Hildegard have that contemporary stoolball lacked?

Do we know what years and what locations saw this game?

 

 

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