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Supporting Researchers and Writers on Baseball’s Origins.

Protoball.org

(User Feedback Welcomed)

Protoball welcomes input from current and potential site users on initiatives that might make protoball.org more responsive to their research interests.

In the past decade or so, due to major data contributions from several origins researchers, the site has expanded to include sourced accounts of over 1750 chronology entries, many thousands of early games of modern base ball, over 11,000 early clubs, a registry of nearly 300 different baserunning games, a few hundred key reference works on early ballplaying, etc. Dave Anderson, Protoball’s site wizard, has found innovative ways to search and display this somewhat unruly mound of basic data. (Try playing with favorite search terms at http://protoball.org/Special:EnhancedSearch.)

We’d appreciate your candid ideas about ways to make Protoball a better tool for baseball historian and writers. Please send your ideas and views of the site’s limitations to comments@protoball.org or to Lmccray<at>mit.edu.

  • Bruce Allardice
  • Ralph Carhart
  • Jan Finkel
  • Larry McCray
  • Bob Tholkes

Current Resources On Protoball.org

The Protoball Chronology covers memorable mileposts in the evolution of ballgames from Ancient Times to 1870, just before the first professional baseball league began.

Our PrePro Baseball is a working database of over fourteen thousand clubs and games, mostly in the Origins Era (before 1871). Its interactive maps may help you visualize the spread of baseball over time. It is designed so that individual club pages can link to a club's games, players, and field locations. For an example, see the Knickerbocker Club here.

The Games Tabulation (version 2.0) is a record of over 1300 ballgames in various parts of the US from 1845 to 1860. It was compiled by the late Craig Waff᾿s careful and path-breaking research. More recently, Bob Tholkes has tabulated key data from over 5000 early games, mostly from the 1860s.

Base Ball Players Pocket Companion.jpg 1859 Base Ball Players’ Pocket Companion

The Glossary of Games provides a short description of 296 baseball-like games. The Glossary includes baseball's likely predecessor games and later games that derive from baseball.

The Bibliography is a list of publications you can use to explore the origins of ball games and baseball in depth. Some of these publications are available online. For sources that are in Protoball's Buzz McCray Collection, we can, via email and phone, help you determine what their content is.

A listing of fellow origins enthusiasts and contributors can be found in our Diggers section. You can read news about them and their work in the revived Origins Newsletter and the discontinued Next Destin'd Post. Several Diggers have contributed informal Essays relating to baseball's origins.

We offer an Enhanced Search for complex full-text searches on much of the information on the site. You can save your searches, pick out important articles, and share them with other researchers.

On a whim, we have collected information on as many baserunning games as we can find on our Glossary of Games. About half of them preceded the rise of the modern "New York" game of base ball in the 1850s.

Articles

Here are 3 of our latest articles:

  1. Number of Known BB Clubs in 40 Largest US Cities, 1870 3.0 - by Bruce Allardice in Error: Invalid time.
  2. The Early Sporting Press in New England 1.0 - by Donna Halper in Error: Invalid time.
  3. Base Ball on the Field, 1858-1865 - by Bruce Allardice in Error: Invalid time.

Here are 3 randomly selected articles:

  1. Search Terms - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  2. NER Project Overview - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  3. The Massachusetts Game - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  4. Wicket Ball - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  5. Research Bibliography for Early Base Ball - by Bill Lyons in Error: Invalid time.
  6. Emperics - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  7. Length of Games, 1860-1865 1.0 - by Bob Tholkes in Error: Invalid time.
  8. Sons of Liberty - by Tom Gilbert in Error: Invalid time.
  9. Ballplaying by Civil War Soldiers 1.0 - by Bruce Allardice in Error: Invalid time.
  10. Very Early (pre-1857) Rules on Base Advancement After Caught Fly Balls - by Richard Hershberger in Error: Invalid time.
  11. Baseball Making Notes - by Corky Gaskell in Error: Invalid time.
  12. Ten-Position Base Ball - by Mark Brunke in Error: Invalid time.
  13. 1854 Unified Kinickerbocker-Eagle-Gotham Rules - by Bill Hicklin in Error: Invalid time.
  14. Feeder and Rounders, 1841 - by Bill Hicklin in Error: Invalid time.
  15. La balle empoisonnée - by Bill Hicklin in Error: Invalid time.
  16. Rules of the Massachusetts Association of Base Ball Players - by Bill Hicklin in Error: Invalid time.
  17. 1860 NABBP Rules - by Bill Hicklin in Error: Invalid time.
  18. The 20 Rules of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club - by Bill Hicklin in Error: Invalid time.
  19. Englische Base-ball - by Bill Hicklin in Error: Invalid time.
  20. Early Evidence on Base Stealing - by Richard Hershberger in Error: Invalid time.
  21. The Play-Testing of Early Base Ball Rule Modifications, version 1.0 - by Richard Hershberger in Error: Invalid time.
  22. Cricket and the Rise of Baseball - by Bruce Allardice in Error: Invalid time.
  23. Beachville Deconstruction (The New York Game Comes to Canada) - by Bill Humber in Error: Invalid time.
  24. Uniforms - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  25. The Grounds - by Marty Payne in Error: Invalid time.
  26. Club Makeup - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  27. Playing to Win - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  28. Competing Pastimes - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  29. The Beneficiaries - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  30. The Big Tours - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  31. Gambling's Role - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  32. Media Effects - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  33. Accounts - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  34. Predecessor Pastimes - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  35. Patterns of Spread - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  36. Base Ball Fever - by Jeffrey Kittel in Error: Invalid time.
  37. The Spread of Early Base Ball in Illinois to 1870 - by Bruce Allardice in Error: Invalid time.
  38. Pitchers Covering First - by Richard Hershberger in Error: Invalid time.
  39. Judgment! - by Richard Hershberger in Error: Invalid time.
  40. Called Pitches - by Richard Hershberger in Error: Invalid time.
  41. The Backstop - by Richard Hershberger in Error: Invalid time.
  42. Protoball Search Aid - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  43. Spirit Letters From X, 1857-8 - by Bob Tholkes in Error: Invalid time.
  44. Stoolball Today -- The Rejuvenation of an Ancient Pastime - by John and Kay Price in Error: Invalid time.
  45. 19CBB Highlights, August September 2013 - by Bob Tholkes in Error: Invalid time.
  46. For Fun and Health -- That's Why She Played - by Debbie Shattuck in Error: Invalid time.
  47. Bruce Allardice Find Stories, October 2013 - by Bruce Allardice in Error: Invalid time.
  48. Richard Hershberger Interview, October 2013 - by Protoball Functionary in Error: Invalid time.
  49. Internet Search Tips - by Bruce Allardice in Error: Invalid time.
  50. Sliding - by Richard Hershberger in Error: Invalid time.
  51. The Spread of Base Ball, 1859 - 1870 - by Bruce Allardice in Error: Invalid time.
  52. Interview with 2013 SABR-Origins Chair Bill Johnson - by Protoball Functionary in Error: Invalid time.
  53. Next Destin'd Post, August 2013 - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  54. 1857 Rules - by Jeffrey Kittel in Error: Invalid time.
  55. Don't Forget the Girls - by Debbie Shattuck in Error: Invalid time.
  56. Performing Logic Searches on Protoball - by Dave Anderson in Error: Invalid time.
  57. 19CBB Digest, April-May 2013 - by Bob Tholkes in Error: Invalid time.
  58. The Next Destin'd Post, June 2013 - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  59. Sam Marchiano and the 1755 Bray Diary Find - by Protoball Functionary in Error: Invalid time.
  60. Interview with Bill Ryczek - by Protoball Functionary in Error: Invalid time.
  61. 1845 Knickerbocker Rules - by Jeffrey Kittel in Error: Invalid time.
  62. Randall Brown's Find of the Wheaton Account -- Before the Knickerbockers - by Randall Brown in Error: Invalid time.
  63. Multi-word Searches on Protoball - by David Anderson in Error: Invalid time.
  64. 19CBB Digest, March 2013 - by Bob Tholkes in Error: Invalid time.
  65. New England Woman Observes Ball Play in Norfolk, Virginia in 1802 - by Tom Altherr in Error: Invalid time.
  66. Interview with Peter Morris - by Protoball Functionary in Error: Invalid time.
  67. Next Destin'd Post, April 2013 - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  68. Irish Rounders (Burman's Report) - by Howard Burman in Error: Invalid time.
  69. New Englander Confronts Impious Sunday Ball-playing in Virginia - by Tom Altherr in Error: Invalid time.
  70. Linking Clubs to Ballgames - by Dave Anderson in Error: Invalid time.
  71. Dave's Tip No. 1 -- Using "Site Search" and "Enhanced Search" - by Dave Anderson in Error: Invalid time.
  72. Postings to 19CBB, Jan. - Feb. 2013 - by Bob Tholkes in Error: Invalid time.
  73. Tom Altherr Contemplates His Favorite Finds - by Tom Altherr in Error: Invalid time.
  74. An Interview with David Block - by Protoball Functionary in Error: Invalid time.
  75. A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball - by Tom Altherr in Error: Invalid time.
  76. The Next Destin'd Post, January 2013 - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  77. The Story of George Thompson’s 1823 Find --- Base Ball in New York City - by George Thompson in Error: Invalid time.
  78. Bob Tholkes Condenses Key 19CBB Postings in December 2012 - by Bob Tholkes in Error: Invalid time.
  79. A New Find on Early Wicket and Old Fashioned Base Ball - by Tom Altherr in Error: Invalid time.
  80. The Story of George Thompson’s 1823 Find -- "Base Ball" in NYC! - by George Thompson in Error: Invalid time.
  81. "A Good Many Different Kinds of Ball" - by Tom Altherr in Error: Invalid time.
  82. The Spread of Base Ball in the Pacific Northwest - by Mark Brunke in Error: Invalid time.
  83. Interview with John Thorn, Official Historian of Major League Baseball - by Protoball Functionary in Error: Invalid time.
  84. What Was The Massachusetts Game, Anyway? - by Jeffrey Kittel in Error: Invalid time.
  85. What Was Rounders, Anyway? - by Larry McCray, Jeffrey Kittel in Error: Invalid time.
  86. Early Championships - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  87. What Was Town Ball, Anyway? - by Larry McCray, Jeffrey Kittel in Error: Invalid time.
  88. Ballplaying in Civil War Camps - by Larry McCray in Error: Invalid time.
  89. The Evolution of the Baseball Up To 1872 - by Rob Loeffler in Error: Invalid time.

A 2022 Update on Protoball's Holdings

1. The Protoball Chronology: Over 1900 entries, about one-half before 1845 and one-half from 1846-1871.This collection gathered data from the Origins Cttee's early "Spread of Base Ball" project, which SABR HQ putinto a website, one that was hosted by Project Retrosheet later on. This collection was seeded by an origins timeline compiled by John Thorn and Tom Heitz.

2. The PrePro data base of early clubs and early base ball games:

About 11,000 clubs and about 3800 games. Separately, we post about 5100 early games in Bob Tholkes' "RIM" collection of interclub games, about 5% of which precede 1857 and 95% were played 1858- 1865. Richard Hershberger provided his collection of hundreds of early clubs to this data base.

3. 19C Clippings: over 9000 news clippings collected by Richard Hershberger, 1700 of them from before 1870. Now open to new additions.

4.Block's research on English ballplaying.

Over 500 finds turned up in research on David's two fine books on early English play.

5. ProtoPix: [In Process] John Thorn has offered his collection of thousands of images of early base ball.

We will likely need volunteers to help curate this collection.

6. ProtoStats:

Seven studies that rest heavily on Protoball data. Bruce Allardice is, in effect, driving this new feature.

7. Original Analytics: about 35 papers by Protoball participants.

8. The Glossary of Games:

Accounts of over 150 games (mostly baserunning ballgames) reported before base ball was codified in NewYork and Brooklyn. The file includes another 150 "daughter" games that evolved from baseball. It needs a lot of work still.

9. Rule Sets: Over 40 sets of rules, including 12 NABBP updates,

Conditions of Use

Users are encouraged to freely use information on this web site. When that information is found to be useful in drafting published work, we ask that they acknowledge the Protoball Project in their writing, and supply the site's URL -- http://protoball.org -- when possible, in their citations.

Further Information

For more information about the evolution of Protoball Project, its policies, and resources, see our About page.

Contact Larry McCray of the Protoball Project at with any questions or contributions.

Features in Development

Please tell us if you see that new features could make the site more useful to you. Would a User Forum for site-user commentary make sense? Should we highlight "Most Wanted" data?

Star club.png
1867 Star Club tobacco card