Postings to 19CBB, Jan. - Feb. 2013

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by Bob Tholkes, February 2013

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[] 1867 Washington Nationals and Civil War era baseball in DC. Frank Ceresi posted a request for photos/engravings and any other info readers have about Washington D.C. base ball in the late 1860s; he is writing a “book or a very long article". Richard Hershberger referred him to the Ball Player's Chronicle and the New York Sunday Mercury, noting that Henry Chadwick wrote for both at the time. John Thorn had leads for material on the black clubs in D.C. at the time.

[] Proto sports bar. Bob Tholkes posted an ad in the September 7, 1859 New York Herald for Richardson & McLeod's restaurant noting its collection of "cricket and base ball books and bulletins." John Thorn, John Zinn, Peter Mancuso, and Donald Jensen contributed further info on sports-restaurant hookups at the time; John T. broadly suggested someone write a book about the general topic of NYC sport culture in the 1800s. Donald agreed immediately.

[] An 1867 proposal for a European tour. Richard Hershberger posted a note that an international tour was proposed at the NABBP meeting of December, 1867.

[] The New England Baseballist and the National Chronicle (1868-70). Frank Ceresi inquired about a source for this short-lived base ball publication. Joanne Hulbert responded that she had photocopied a lot of material from it. Tom Shieber noted that it is available on microfilm at the Hall of Fame Library.

[] Chalk Lines for Basepaths. John Thorn posted a vintage (1960) note by Lee Allen that the groundskeeper for the 1869 Red Stockings had originated the marking of basepaths with chalk. Bob Tholkes, Richard Hershberger, and Tom Shieber all filed protests, more recent research having thoroughly debunked such a claim. John's standing in our group being what it is, he was also accused of mischievously posting a red herring. John expressed nostalgia for the days when a fact could be "too good to check."

[] Old Fashioned Base Ball. John Thorn posted references to base ball in Buffalo and Peterboro, NY from 1858-59 sent to him by Randall Brown, including reference to playing base ball in Peterboro as early as 1810. Richard Hershberger sent his thoughts on the possible rules used for the Buffalo games.

[] Mass Game Oddities. Bob Tholkes posted two unusual occurrences in Massachusetts Game matches: a game ending in a 99-99 tie, and an indoor game.

[] Why batting average rather than slugging percentage? Richard Hershberger posted Henry Chadwick's reasons for adopting batting average rather than slugging average in the 1860s, and his own reactions.

[] The Business of Base Ball. Bob Tholkes posted an inquiry about the effort to incorporate clubs in New York City in 1859. Richard Hershberger, Peter Mancuso, and John Thorn provided answers. The string of posts morphed into material on the infamous Black Joke Club, one of the clubs that applied for incorporation.

[] Am I the Last to Know? John Thorn posted the news of the digitalization of the Mears Scrapbooks, and provided the link to the Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery site. Peter Mancuso, Ed Achorn, and Richard Hershberger assured John that the answer to his question was, No.

[] Playing Ball, Petersham, MA 1834. John Thorn posted the link to a painting of base ball being played tentatively dated to 1842-1848.

[] An Unremarked Chadwick Rules Experiment. John Thorn posted an 1857 suggestion that, to encourage fly catching, caught fly balls should be worth more toward putting a side out, by varying the number of outs per inning. Richard Hershberger, Bob Tholkes, and John discussed the actual source of the suggestion, which it was finally agreed was not Chadwick.

[] Yet another origins theory. Bob Tholkes posted an 1856 suggestion in Porter's Spirit that wicket's origin hearkens back to the Druids. Priscilla Astifan and John Thorn commented on wicket's place among bat and ball games.

[] Overlooked 19th Century Baseball Legend Election. Posts on 19th Century Committee Overlooked Legends Collection morphed into John Zinn's request for Richard Hershberger's list of New Jersey Clubs of the 1850s, and Richard's write-ins for the election.

[] An extended exegesis of balls and strikes, 1864. Richard Hershberger reviewed the beginning of one of the most important change processes in the game after 1860: calling ball and strikes. Richard also commented on the makeup of the NABBP Rules Committee. Bob Tholkes compared the membership of the 1864 committee that drafted the first rules dealing with called balls, and the original committee of 1858. Richard noted that the inconsistency with which umpires called balls and strikes indicates a disconnect between the rule makers and the players.

[] Knicks or Gothams First? John Thorn posted an 1862 New York Express item sent him by Randall Brown about whether the Gotham or the Knickerbocker were the first base ball club, prefacing it with by mentioning that evidence points to the Gotham as preceding the Knicks. Further postings by Richard Hershberger, Bob Tholkes, and Peter Mancuso discussed the question, and touched on the soon-to-be-published second volume of Baseball Pioneers, which will contain further evidence.

[] Now this would hurt! Richard Hershberger posted an 1868 note in the New York Sunday Mercury: a player was injured by a splinter embedded in the ball.