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In Baseball Before We Knew It, [page 207] David Block describes a game in a German manual that “is identical to the early French game of la balle empoisonee,” and that an illustration of two boys playing it “shows it to be a bat-and-ball game." Giftball in German translates literally as "poison ball."
Jugndspiele zur Ehhjolung und Erheiterung (W. Simmerfled, Tilsit Germany, 1845). Also. email from Bill Hicklin, 1/24/2016.
"Gift is a German word for "poison." Thus it is conceivable that the German game derived from the French game of Balle Empoisonee. One can speculate that players were put out when a ball touched them.
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