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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.
“The American Base Ball Players,” Guardian, July 31, 1874, page 5.
E. G. Sihler, “College and Seminary Life in the Olden Days,” in W. Dau., ed., Ebenezer: Reviews of the Work of the Missouri Synod During Three Quarters of a Century (Concordia Publishing, St. Louis, 1922), page 253.
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