Hook-em-snivy (Family of Games)
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Games for which the rules of play are not known and, and some that are commonly encountered by researchers but that are not safe-haven games (including shinty, bandy, and stow-ball).
Games belonging to the Hook-em-snivy Family (35)
Elmore (1922) describes this as a game of attrition for ages 8-12 that involves throwing a ball against a wall. One player is named to catch it. If the player does, “stand” is shouted, and other players are to freeze in their places. If the player with the ball can plug someone, that player is out; if not, the thrower is out. This game has not batting or baserunning.
As depicted in Protoball Chronology entry 1660c.3, balslaen was prohibited on the Sabbeth in New Netherland (now New York City) in the 17th century. The source is a 2009 book's translation from a Dutch ordinance of the 1600s. The translator mentions that while "balslaen" has been [where?] translated as "cricket," it "simply means 'hitting the ball.'
With the generous help of Pamela Bakker, we find that "balslaen" can be taken as a description of games like hand-ball, or a team game like volleyball in which players propel a ball with their hands. The game described in Item 1660c.3 appears to be the game of Kaatsen -- Pamela's summary:
"Kaatsen/Ketsen, Caetsen, Caatsen
"Kaatsen is a Dutch-Flemish form of handball which is largely played in the province of Friesland, the Netherlands, and in about 50 other countries. The game is mentioned in the 1600’s in records of New Netherlands (New York) with prohibitions against playing the game on the Sabbath. It is related to American handball and tennis with the first team to score 6 games winning the match. The game is played on a rectangular field which measures about 61 meters by 32 meters. Two teams of three players each operate on opposing sides. One side is the serving side (A) and one the receiving side (B).
"The center of the shorter field line, a 5 meter by 19 meter zone, is the receiving area which has two players positioned there to defend it with the third player in the field out front. The serving opponent (A) serves the hard leather ball with their bare hand from a serving box which is about 30 meters from the receiving zone. If it reaches the opponent’s receiving zone (B), they receive a point.
"The team on the receiving position now tries to hit the ball past the first kaats which landed and if another rally takes place, they try to hit the ball past the second kaats and then add in the points if successful.
Bandy was a game that reportedly resembled shinty or modern field hockey, in which players on two teams attempted to advance a ball with a club into the opposing team's goal.
|Base (Prisoner's Base)||1700s|
Sometimes seen as a name for base ball. While some references to “base” most likely denote Prisoner’s Base (a team form of tag similar in nature to modern Capture the Flag and, perhaps, today’s Laser Tag), others denote a ball game. David Block reports that the earliest clear appearance of “base” as a ball game is from New England in 1831, and that his source groups base with cricket and cat as young men’s ballgames.
|Base Dodge Ball|
Elmore (1922) describes this game as a form of Square Ball (Corner Ball) for 7th graders through high schoolers in which a player can prevent being called out by catching a ball thrown at him. An “indoor baseball” is used. The game involves no batting or baserunning.
We have references to bat-ball from 1791 (when it was banned in both Pittsfield and Northampton MA), but the basic rules of this game as first played are unclear. Writers have diversely compared it to bandy, to schlagball, and to punchball. It is clear that a club was not always required for hitting, as the ball could instead be slapped into play by the hand.
All we know about Batton is that in 1851 boys played a game in the village of Norfolk, MA - about 20 miles SW of Boston.
A game called bittle battle is mentioned [[[as such?]]] (but not described) in the famous 1086 Domesday Book in England. Some have claimed that this game resembled Stoolball:
[A] In fact, Gomme [1894, ] describes Bittle-Battle as “the Sussex game of ‘Stoolball.,’ but does not link it to the Domesday Book.
[B] Similarly, Andrew Lusted reports that an 1875 source lists bittle battle as "another word for stoolball,"
[C] Andrew Lusted also finds an 1864 newspaper account that makes a similar but weaker claim: "Among the many [Seaford] pastimes were bittle-battle, bell in the ring, . . . "
[D] From David Block: "the source of the Domesday myth appears to be in an article entitled “The Game of Stoolball” by Mary G. Campion from the January 1909 issue of “The Country Home.” She wrote: The game is an old one. It is mentioned in Domesday Book as Bittle Bat, and the present name of Stoolball is supposed to have originated from milkmaids playing it with their stools.” As you can see, she didn’t write 'bittle-battle', she wrote “battle-bat.” Grantham cited her but changed the name to 'bittle-battle.' Here is a link to the publication; the Campion article starts on p. 153: https://www.stoolball.org.uk/media/4h2brgma/stoolball-illustrated-and-how-to-play-it.pdf."
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."
Bruce Allardice has reviewed contemporary literature and found that the term "buff-ball" seems to refer not to a game, but rather to a cleaning brush or agent. Cf. The Middlebury (VT) Mercury, Sep. 13, 1809; Hartford Courant, Nov. 20, 1797. The Fithian Journal is big on recording his shopping trips.
per Brewster . “Basemen” stand at each corner of a bounded field of play, and try to plug other players inside the bounds. Each player has three “eyes” [lives]. A player loses an “eye” if plugged or if a target player catches a ball thrown at him. There is no batting or baserunning in this game.
Court records from 1583 [Elizabeth I was in her 25th year as queen] show a dim view of this game. “Whereas there is great abuse in a game or games used in the town called ‘Gidigadie or the Cat’s Pallet . . . ‘ no manner persion shall play at the same games, being above the age of seven years, either in the churchyard or in any streets of the this town, upon pain of . . . being imprisoned in the Doungeon for the space of two hours . . . . Thus, Gidigadie may be another name for Cat’s Pallet. The rules of this game are as yet unknown.
per Strutt. Strutt speculates that Club-ball was the ancient ancestor of many ball games. Its rules of play are not known.
Collins, "Popular Sports" (1935) says (without citing a source) that club ball was similar to Single wicket cricket.
A reference to “crekettes” in a 1533 poem has been construed as evidence that the game of cricket originated in a pastime brought to England by Flemish weavers , who arrived in the 14th Century. A German scholar thinks that this earlier game originated in the Franco-Flemish border area as early as 1150. We have no faint notion of how this earlier game might have been played.
per Leavy. A biography of Sandy Koufax reports that he played “stickball, punchball, square ball, and Gi-Gi ball in his neighborhood. We don’t know what Gi-Gi Ball is.
Court records from 1583 [Elizabeth I was in her 25th year as queen] show a dim view of this game. “Whereas there is great abuse in a game or games used in the town called ‘Gidigadie or the Cat’s Pallet . . . ‘ no manner persion shall play at the same games, being above the age of seven years, either in the churchyard or in any streets of the this town, upon pain of . . . being imprisoned in the Doungeon for the space of two hours . . . . Thus, Gidigadie may be another name for Cat’s Pallet.
per McLean. McLean notes that hand-in and hand-out was among the games banned by King Edward IV in 1477. She identifies it as “probably a kind of trick catch.” The 1477 ban spelled the game name as “handyn and handout.”
Our single reference to this game comes from an 1847 Alabama newspaper in its attempt to describe curling to southern readers: “Did you ever play ‘bass ball,’ or ‘goal,’ or ‘hook-em-snivy,’ on the ice?” Its nature is unknown. “Hookum-snivy” is slang for adultery, not that it matters.
|Knattleikar or Knattleikr||Iceland|
A ball game recorded in the “Younger Edda:” Its rules are not known.
In April 2022, Bruce Allardice added this comment to chronology item 1000c.1:
"Vikings also played a ball game with stick and ball. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to get hurt or even killed, as Vikings played rough. Women did not participate in these games, but they would gather to watch the men . . . .
The stick-ball game was Knattleikr (English: 'ball-game'), an ancient ball game similar to hurling played by Icelandic Vikings."
On 4/4/2022, this Youtube introduction to the game, described as an Icelandic game similar to lacrosse, was found at:
Historical sources for this interpretation are not supplied. The game as illustrated does not appear to involve baserunning.
On 4/5/2022, Swedish scholar Isak Lidstrom added:
"That is a great game! Usually called knattleikr. The rules and practice of the game is unclear. In the early 20th century a theory was launched stating that lacrosse was developed out of knattleikr. A more plausible theory states that knattleikr is closely related to hurling or shinty. This article mentions everything worth knowikng about the game. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24862870?seq=1
|Kuningsapallo||Finland||a traditional Finnish game, features of which were incorporated into Pasepallo.|
|Mickey||New York City, NY|
Described in 1977 as a children’s game played at PS 172 in New York City, Mickey resembles traditional Barn Ball. A pitcher bounces a spaldeen ball off a wall and a batter tries to hit it on the rebound. Rules for baserunning and scoring are not given.
This game is mentioned, along with Swede Ball in a 1908 book on North Dakota folkways. Said to be taught to local children by Swedish newcomers and a Swedish teacher, the game is only depicted as being “played somewhat like ‘one old cat.’” It seems conceivable that this game is Brannboll. Maigaard (1941) notes a Norwegian form of Long Ball, noted as “probably recent,” that uniquely uses a field that resembles baseball’s use of a 90-degree fair territory delimitation.
A writer's recollection of past Boston sports, including base ball, includes the unexplained game of "Old Grope."
a traditional Finnish game, features of which were incorporated into Pesapallo.
a traditional Finnish game, features of which were incorporated into Pesapallo.
|Prisoner's Base -- see 'Base'|
See Glossary Entry on Base.
A writer's recollection of past Boston sports, including base ball, includes the unexplained game of "Rickets."
per Leavy. A biography of Sandy Koufax reports that he played “stickball, punchball, square ball, and Gi-Gi ball in his neighborhood. In one 1922 handbook, Square Ball appears to be a variant of Corner Ball in which the peripheral plugging team and the central target team are equal in number, and is which the ball, after hitting a player on the target team, can be retrieved, “Halt!” called, and the ball thrown at “frozen” members of the peripheral team.
This game is mentioned, along with Norwegian Ball in a 1908 book on North Dakota folkways. Said to be taught to local children by Swedish newcomers and a Swedish teacher, the game is only depicted as being “played somewhat like ‘one old cat.’” It seems conceivable that this game is related to Brannboll. Maigaard (1941) lists two Swedish variants for Long Ball.
Arabian -- In an 1873 book on Arab children’s games Tabeh is described as “base ball and drop ball.” That’s all we know right now.
There appear to be two distinct games that have been labeled Touch-Ball. One was as a local synonym for Rounders, as recalled in an 1874 Guardian article written on the occasion of the 1874 base ball tour in England. That game was recalled as having no bats, so the ball was propelled by the players’ hands; the “touch” was the base. Writing in 1922, Sihler that in Fort Wayne IN from 1862 to 1866 (when base ball arrived) “the favorite game was ‘touch-ball,’ where “touch” referred to the plugging or tagging of runners.
Writing of the Ohio youth of a Civil War general in about 1840, Whitelaw Reid (1868) reported that “Touch-the-Base” was the favorite game, and of all who engaged in the romp, none were more eager or happy than ‘Jimmy” (the late Major-General James McPherson). We cannot be sure that this was a ball game.
An old Dutch game. Chetwynd reports that a proponent of the importation of baseball to the Netherlands in the 1910s “pitched it as an ideal summer activity. It probably helped that Grasé pointed out that baseball bore a resemblance to an ancient Dutch game, called “Tripbal,” which had been played by American colonists.” We have no other reference to this game in the US, and no indication of how it was played.
The nature of this game is unknown. It is found an 1849 chapbook printed in Connecticut: “there are a great number of games played with balls, of which base-ball, trap ball, cricket, up-ball, catch-ball and drive-ball are the most common.”
Lieutenant Ebenezer Elmer of the 3rd New Jersey Regiment referred five times to playing whirl between September 16, 1776, and 1777. The nature of play is not described, but one note may be taken to mean it was a ball game.
"Vol III of the Proceedings of the New Jersey Historical Society (1848-1849) includes the Journal of Lieutenant Ebenezer Elmer of the 3rd NJ Regiment, in which he makes mention of a game called Whirl played while on garrison duty in September, 1776.
[September 16th, 1776] "...we had a long play at whirl with the Colonel and Mr. Kirtland, (who exercises among us with the greatest familiarity), some of the Indians, and such of the officers as saw fit: continued at it for a very considerable period of time. After which I went with some others and took a drink of grog..."
Lt. Elmer makes mention of playing ball in October of that year, and again in 1777 in New Jersey when the Regiment had returned from the New York Frontier.
Some researchers into the origins of baseball have inferred from the two entries on September 20th that "Played ball again" is in reference to the previous game of Whirl, although no one knows anything more about the game, its origins, or how it was played.
An article by Bonnie S. Ledbetter entitled "Sports and Games of the American Revolution", published in the Journal of Sports History, Vol. 6 No. 3 (Winter 1979), proposes that Whirl may have been a game of Elmer and his associates own invention to while away their unaccustomed leisure time at Fort Schuyler, as his is the only known reference to a game by that name. If so, it may not have been very complicated to learn, as Mr. Kirtland the parson had only recently joined the regiment to replace Reverend Caldwell, yet seems to have joined in with great gusto. I tend to think that whatever game it was would have been very similar to other games more familiar to participants, especially if they were able to field a team that included their native american allies."
Numerous web searches have failed to turn up other clues about this game.
A writer's recollection of past Boston sports, including base ball, includes the unexplained game of "Whoop."
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