From Protoball
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Glossary of Games
Glossary book.png

Chart: Predecessor and Derivative Games Pdf ico.gif
Predecessor Games
Derivative Games
Glossary of Games, Full List

Game Families

Baseball · Kickball · Scrub · Fungo · Hat ball · Hook-em-snivy

Untagged Games

Add a Game
Add a Family of Games
Game Hildegarde
Game Family Baseball Baseball
Location England and New York
Regions Britain, US
Eras 1800s, Derivative
Invented Yes

[A] 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 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. 

[B] "The new game of Hildegarde will encounter vigorous criticism . . . [It is} a combination of football and cricket . . .a big, soft ball being struck with a wide bat as well as kicked . . . "

[C] "Wingfield’s [1874] invention [of lawn tennis]included ‘five-ten’, a combination of tennis and fives, and ‘Hildegarde’, a hybrid of real tennis with rounders and cricket.

[D] "The new Game of Hildegarde, or Ladies' Cricket . . ."

[E] 1883 game account in New York City.




[A] 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">.]

[B] This wording is found in newspapers in and Indianapolis (Indianapolis Journal, 9/22/1883, in Detroit (Detroit Free Press, 9/28/1883), and in New Haven, (Morning Journal-Courier, 10/15/1883, per Protoball search of 10.13.2020.

[C] Jon Day, review of David Berry, A People’s History of Tennis (Pluto, 2020), at  https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v42/n19/jon-day/better-on-tv

[D] Illustrated Sports, 5/1/1884.

[E] Sunday Boston Herald, 9/23/1883.

Note: A tip on Hildegarde was provided by John Thorn, email to Protoball, 2/3/2014.  John also located the 1883 Boston coverage cited above. Additional details were provided on 10/13/2020 by Raphael G. Kasper.



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 keeps her/his position in the batting order,  unlike in cricket, so the entire batting order is continually active to the end of the inning.

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

[6] A sketch in the 1883 Illustrated Sports shows a batter using a racket to strike a pitch; this is the only connection to tennis, invented nine years earlier, that Protoball knows of.

A 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) advises that "There is no good out-door game without a Ball in it . . . "

As of 10/13/2020, 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, with 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 known. as of October 2020.

Edit with form to add a comment

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

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

Edit with form to add a query


<comments voting="Plus" />