Early Baseball Milestones

What are your baseball origins? Where did you play your first game? Baseball traces its roots through the annals of history, well before the founding of Major League Baseball. This chronology, from Protoball (an extensive gathering of early materials documenting the origins of baseball), records the order of events related to the development of baseball starting in 2500 B.C. Enjoy, and share with us your own baseball milestones.

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  • 1621 - Some Pilgrims "Openly" Play "Stoole Ball" on Christmas Morning in Massachusetts, So Bradford Clamps Down


    Governor Bradford describes Christmas Day 1621 at Plymouth Plantation, MA, "most of this new-company excused them selves and said it wente against their consciences to work on ye day. So ye Govr tould them that if they made it mater of conscience, he would spare them till they were better informed. So he led away ye rest and left them; but when they came home at noone from their worke, he found them in ye street at play, openly; some at pitching ye barr, and some at stoole-ball and shuch like sport. . . . Since which time nothing hath been attempted that way, at least openly."

    Bradford, William, Of Plymouth Plantation, [Harvey Wish, ed., Capricorn Books, 1962], pp 82 - 83. Henderson cites Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1856. See his ref 23. Full text supplied by John Thorn, 6/25/2005. Bradford explained that the issue was not that ball-playing was sinful, but that playing openly while others worked was not good for morale.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1659 - Stuyvesant: No Tennis, Ball-Playing, Dice on Fast Day


    "We shall interdict and forbid, during divine service on the [fasting] day aforesaid, all exercise and games of tennis, ball-playing, hunting, plowing and sowing, and moreover all unlawful practice such as dice, drunkenness . . ." proclaimed Peter Stuyvesant. Stuyvesant was Director-General of New Netherlands.

    Manchester, Herbert, Four Centuries of Sport in America (Publisher?, 1931). Email from John Thorn, 1/24/097. Query: Can we determine what area was affected by this proclamation? How does this proclamation relate to #1656.1 above?

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1720 - Holiday in Kent: Cricket, Stool-Ball, Tippling, Kissing


    In 1907, a kindred spirit of ours reported [in a listserve-equivalent of the day] on his attempts to find early news coverage of cricket. He reports on a 1720 article he sees as "the first newspaper reference I have yet found to cricket as a popular game:"

    "The Holiday coming on, the Alewives of Islington, Kentish Town, and several adjacent villages . . . . The Fields will swarm with Butchers'; Wives and Oyster-Women . . . diverting themselves with their Offspring, whilst their Spouses and Sweethearts are sweating at Ninepins, some at Cricket, others at Stool-Ball, besides an amorous Couple in every Corner . . . Much Noise and Cutting in the Morning; Much Tippling all Day; and much Reeling and Kissing at Night."

    Alfred F. Robbins, "Replies: The Earliest Cricket Report," Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc, September 7, 1907, page 191. Provided by John Thorn, 2/8/2008, via email. He reports his source as Read's Weekly Journal, or British-Gazeteer, June 4, 1720, and advises that he has omitted phrases not "welcome to the modern taste. Accessed via Google Books 10/18/2008.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1771 - Province of New Hampshire Prohibits Christmas "Playing With Balls" in the Streets


    "[M]any disorders are occasioned within the town of Portsmouth . . . by boys and fellows playing with balls in the public street: . . . [when] there is danger of breaking the windows of any building, public or private, [they] may be ordered to remove to any place where there shall be no such danger."

    "An Act to prevent and punish Disorders usually committed on the twenty-fifth Day of December . . . ," 23 December 1771, New Hampshire (Colony) Temporary Laws, 1773 (Portsmouth, NH), page 53. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 25.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1796 - Williams College Student Notes Ballplaying in Winter Months


    Tarbox, Increase N., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D. D. 1796 - 1854 [Beacon Press, Boston, 1886], volume 1, pp. 8, 29, 32, 106, and 128. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "A Place Leavel Enough to Play Ball," reprinted in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, ref # 54. The college is in Williamstown MA.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1800 - MA Man Recalls Games of Ball in Streets, with Wickets


    "The sports and entertainments were very simple. Running about the village street, hither and thither, without much aim . . . . games of ball, not base-ball, as is now [c1857] the fashion, yet with wickets - this was about all, except that at the end there was always horse-racing [p.19]. ..But as to sports and entertainments in general, there were more of them in those days than now. We had more holidays, more games in the street, of ball-playing, of quoits, of running, leaping, and wrestling. [p.21]"

    Mary E. Dewey, ed., Autobiography and Letters of Orville Dewey, D.D. (Roberts Brothers, Boston, 1883), pages 19 and 21. Per Thomas L. Altherr, "Chucking the Old Apple: Recent Discoveries of Pre-1840 North American Ball Games," Base Ball, Volume 2, number 1 (Spring 2008), page 38. Accessed 11/16/2008 via Google Books search for "'letters of orville.'" Orville Dewey was born in Sheffield MA in 1794 and grew up there. Sheffield is in the SW corner of MA, about 45 miles NE of Hartford Connecticut. Note: [1] the "game of ball" may have been wicket. [2] More holidays in 1800 than in 1857?

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1816 - In "The Year Without a Summer," CT Lads Play Ball on Christmas Day


    "My father [Charles Mallory] arrived there [Mystic CT] on Christmas Day and found some of his acquaintances playing ball in what was called Randall's Orchard."

    Baughman, James, The Mallorys of Mystic: Six Generations in American Maritime Enterprise [Wesleyan University Press, 1972], page 12. Submitted by John Thorn, 10/19/2004.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1819 - In Hartford CT: Legislative Session Associated with Ball-playing?


    In a report on the new session of the Connecticut legislature: "In Hartford and the region about the same, those who usually play ball during the day and dance at night on such occasions, did not at this time wholly abandon the ancient uses of Connecticut."

    Indiana Central, June 8, 1819, reprinting an article datelined New Haven CT from May 5. Accessed 4/9/09 via subscription search.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1820 - New England Lad Recalls Assorted Games, Illicit Fast Day Ballplaying


    Alfred Holbrook was born in 1816. His autobiography, Reminiscences of the Happy Life of a Teacher (Elm Street, Cincinnati, 1885), includes youthful memories that would have occurred in the 1820s.

    "The [school-day] plays of those times, more than sixty years ago, were very similar to the plays of the present time. Some of these were "base-ball," in which we chose sides, "one hole cat," "two hole cat," "knock up and catch," Blackman," "snap the whip," skating, sliding down hill, rolling the hoop, marbles, "prisoner's base," "football," mumble the peg," etc. Ibid. page 35. Note: was "knock up and catch" a fungo game, possibly?

    "Now, it was both unlawful and wicked to play ball on fast-day, and none of my associates in town were ever known to engage in such unholy enterprises and sinful amusements on fast-days; [p 52/53] but other wicked boys, with whom I had nothing to do, made it their special delight and boast to get together in some quiet, concealed place, and enjoy themselves, more especially because it was a violation of law. Not infrequently, however, they found the constable after them. . . ." "Soon after, this blue law, perhaps the only one in the Connecticut Code, was repealed. Then the boys thought no more of playing on fast-days than on any other." Ibid, pp 52-53.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1820 - In Western MA, Election Day Saw Town vs. Town Wicket Matches


    "'Election Day' was, however, the universal holiday, and the prevailed amongst the farmers that corn planting must be finished by that day for its enjoyment. It was a day of general hilarity, with no prescribed forms of observation, though ball playing was ordinarily included in the exercises, and frequently the inhabitants of adjacent towns were pitted against one another in the game of wicket. Wrestling, too, was a common amusement on that day, each town having its champions."

    Charles J. Taylor, History of Great Barrington (Bryan and Co., Great Barrington MA, 1882), page 375. Accessed 2/3/10 via Google Books search (taylor great barrington). Note: this passage is not clearly set in time; "1820s" is a guess, but 1810s or 1830s is also a possibility.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1830 - Thoreau Associates "Fast Day" with Base-Ball Played in Russet Fields


    "April 10 [1856]. Fast-Day. . . . . I associate this day, when I can remember it, with games of baseball played over beyond the hills in the russet fields toward Sleepy Hollow, where the snow was just melted and dried up.

    Submitted by David Nevard. On 8/2/2005, George Thompson submitted the following reference: Torrey, Bradford, Journal of Henry David Thoreau vol. 8, page 270. He notes that Princeton University Press is publishing a new edition, but isn't up to 1856 yet.

    Last Updated: March 18, 2012

  • 1833 - MA Clergyman Notes "Usual" Fast Day Defections For Ballplaying


    As one of his several diary references to ballplaying [see also #1796.2 and #1806.4] Thomas Robbins D.D. in 1833 wrote this diary entry about Fast Day in Mattapoisett MA: "Fast. Meetings well attended . . . . A part of the people were off playing ball, according to their usual practice . . . . Am very much fatigued. The afternoon exercise was very long. Read."

    On December 28, 1829 at Stratford CT, he wrote: "Last week the boys played ball." On May 28, 1839 [what was Abner Graves doing that day?] at Mattapoisett he wrote "Very pleasant. Thermometer rose to 70 [degrees]. Some playing ball."

    Increase N. Tarbox, ed., Diary of Thomas Robbins, D.D. 1796-1854, Volume 2 (Beacon Press, Boston, 1887), pages 163, 302, and 527. Accessed 11/15/2008 via a Google Books "'robbins d. d.' diary" search. Searches of the text for cricket, wicket, and round-ball are unfruitful.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1835 - Base Ball Recalled as Very Popular at Exeter


    "The games of bat-and-ball in former years were various, but most popular were "four old cat" and base ball. The latter alone survives to this day [1883], and in a very changed condition. . . . A very large proportion of the students participated in the sport; and the old residents will readily recall with what regularity. Fast day used to be devoted to the base ball of the period."

    Charles H. Bell, Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire: A Historical Sketch (News Letter Press, Exeter NH, 1883), page 83. Caveat: The section in which this excerpt resides evidently games played half a century earlier, but other interpretations are possible.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1840 - Ballplayer Recalls Boyhood Matches, Ballmaking, Adult Play


    On Fast Day [page 68]: "The town meeting was succeeded in April by Fast Day, appointed always for a Thursday. For some unknown reason Thursday in New England was an almost sacred day, a sort of secular Sabbath . . . . Boys were not generally compelled to attend the Fast Day religious service. It had ceased to be as strictly kept as before. In villages and towns there was customarily a match game of ball, very unlike the current [1910] base ball. Boys played [p68/69] with boys and men with men. The New England bootmakers, of whom there were some in most villages, were the leaders in these games."

    On ball-making, and on plugging [page 174] : "Our ingenuity was exercised in weaving watch chains in various patterns with silk twist; in making handsome bats for ball, and in making the balls themselves with the raveled yarn of old stockings, winding it over a bit of rubber, and sewing on a cover of fine thin calf skin. This ball did not kill as it struck one, and, instead of being thrown to the man on the bases was more usually at thee man running between them. He who could make a good shot of that kind was much applauded, and he who was hit was laughed at and felt very sheepish. That was true sport, plenty of fun and excitement, yet not too serious and severe. The issue of the game was talked over for a week. I did my daily stint of stitching with only one thing in mind, to [p174/175] play ball when through; for the boys played every afternoon. When there was to be a match game the men practiced after the day's work was done."

    On bootmakers [page 170]: "The smaller [bootmaking] shops were the centers for the gossip, rumors, and discussions which agitated the community. There men sharpened their wits upon each other, played practical jokes, sang, argued the questions of that [p170/171] day, especially slavery, and arranged every week from early spring to late autumn a match game of ball either among themselves or the bootmakers of neighboring towns for Saturday afternoon, which was their half holiday."

    John Albee, Confessions of Boyhood (R.G. Badger, Boston, 1910). Albee was born in 1833 and grew up in Bellingham MA, about 30 miles SW of Boston and in the heart of Round Ball [Mass game] territory, with neighboring towns of Holliston, Medway, Sharon, and Dedham. The book is found via a "confessions of boyhood" search via Google Books, as accessed 11/14/2008.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1840 - Lem: Juvenile Fiction's Boy Who Loved Round-ball


    Noah Brookes, Lem: A New England Village Boy: His Adventures and his Mishaps (Scribner's Sons, New York, 1901). Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search "Lem boy." Lem may be fiction's only round-ball hero.

    On pages 93-97, the novel lays out the game that was played by Lem [born 1830] and his playmates, which seems to follow the customs of the Massachusetts game, but without stakes as bases. The passage includes a field diagram, some terminology ["the bases . . . were four in number, and were called 'gools,' a word which probably came from 'goals.'"], and ballmaking technique. Lem is, alas, sidelined for the season when he is plugged "in the hollow of the leg" while gool-running [Page 97] Other references:

    On spring, pp 92-93: "Ball-playing began early in the spring; [p92/93] it was the first of the summer games to come out.

    On Fast Day, p. 93: "I am afraid that Lem's only notion of Fast Day was that that was the long-expected day when, for the first time that year, a game of ball was played on the Common."

    On the pleasant effects of a change in the path of the Gulf Stream, pp. 228-229: "no slushy streets, and above all, no cold barns to go into to feed turnips to the cold cows! A land where top-time, kite-[p228/229] time, and round-ball-time would always be in season. Think of it!"

    On making teams for simulating Revolutionary War tussles, p. 107: "We can't all be Americans; and we have agreed to choose sides, as we do in round ball."

    Note: we welcome comment on the authenticity of Brooks' depiction of ballplaying in the 1840s, and whether how the game depicted compares to the MA game.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1841 - Fast Day Choice in ME: Hear a "Fact Sermon" or Play Ball?


    "Thursday wind northeast cloudy & cool fast day the people assemble at Holts to play Ball & some quarreling I fear it would be better to go to meeting and hear a fact sermon as once was the fasion." "Journal of Jonathan Phillips of Turner, Maine (1841), entry for April 22. Source:

    http://files.usgwarchives.org/me/androscoggin/turner/diary/phillips.txt, accessed 11/14/2008. Phillips was born in Sylvester [not Turner] ME in 1780. Turner is now a town of about 5000 souls and is about 60 miles north of Portland and 30 miles west of Augusta. Note: Is the "fact sermon" simply a typo for "fast sermon?"

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1844 - Fast Day Game in NH on the Common - Unless Arborism Goes Too Far


    "In Keene, New Hampshire, residents used the town common for the Fast Day ball game in 1844." Harold Seymour, Baseball; the People's Game (Oxford University Press, 1990), page 201. The book does not provide a source for this report.

    Seymour's source may be David R. Proper, "A Narrative of Keene, New Hampshire, 1732-1967" in "Upper Ashuelot:" A History of Keene, New Hampshire (Keene History Committee, Keene NH, 1968), page 88. as accessed on 11/13/2008 at:

    http://www.ci.keene.nh.us/library/upperashuelot/part8.pdf. This account describes the arguments against planting 141 trees along Keene streets, one being that trees "would impair use of the Common as a parade ground for military and civic reviews, as a market place for farmers and their teams, as a field for village baseball games on Fast Day, as an open space for wood sleds in winter, and as a free area for all the activity of Court Week." Note: Is it fair to infer that [a] Fast Day games were a well-established tradition by 1844, and that [b] ballplaying on the Common was much less often seen on other days of the year? What was Court Week?

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1844 - Why Fast Day Comes Only Once a Year?


    "Thursday April 4th. A very warm day it is fast day* & I have played ball so much that I am to tired I can hardly set up I don't think I shall want to have fast day come again for a year." Diary of Edward Jenner Carpenter of Greenfield MA, available online at:

    http://www.osv.org/explore_learn/document_viewer.php?DocID=126 as accessed November 17th 2008. Carpenter was an 18 year old apprentice to a Greenfield cabinet-maker. Greenfield is in NW MA, about 15 miles from the VT border and about 40 miles north of Northampton.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1845 - Barre MA Skips the "Old Annual Game of Ball" on Election Day


    "'Old Election' passed over the town on Wednesday, with as little notice as any crusty curmudgeon might wish. A few people were abroad with 'clean fixens' on and there was an imposing parade of 'boy's training.' Even the old annual game of ball was forgotten, and the holiday was guiltless of any other display of unusual mirth."

    "Old Election," Barre Gazette, May 30, 1845. Accessed via subscription search, 2/14/2009. Barre is in central MA, about 25 miles NW of Worcester. Great Barrington MA also associated Election Day with ballplaying - a game of wicket. See item #1820s.25. Query: How common a custom was it to celebrate Election Day with a ballgame? When did the custom start, and when did it die out? Can we start it up again?

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1846 - Town Ball in Rockford IL


    "I came West 59 years ago, in 1846, and found "Town Ball" a popular game at all Town meetings. I do not recall an instance of a money bet on the game; but, at Town meeting, the side losing had to buy the ginger bread and cider." [July letter]

    "[Town Ball] was so named because it was mostly played at "Town Meetings." It had as many players on a side as chose to play; but the principal players were "Thrower" and "Catcher." There were three bases and a home plate. The players were put out by being touched with ball [sic] or hit with thrown ball, when off the base. You can readily see that the present game [1900's baseball] is an evolution from Town Ball." [April letter]

    Letters from H. H. Waldo, Rockford IL, to the Mills Commission, April 8 and July 7, 1905.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1848 - Fast-Day Notice to NH Subscribers


    "Next Thursday being "Fast Day," we shall issue our paper as usual on the following Tuesday, although our compositors will doubtless take a game with bat and ball."

    New-Hampshire Gazette, April 11, 1848. Accessed May 4, 2009 via subscription search.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1848 - The Knicks' Defensive Deployment, Thanksgiving Day Game


    In the Knickerbockers' Thanksgiving Day, 1848, intramural game, two squads of eight squared off. Each featured three (out) fielders, basemen at fist, second, and third, a pitch(er), and a behind. My notes further reflect the further use of "behind" in the 8/30/56 match between the Knicks and the Empires. The Empires elected to play without a shortstop while positioning two men 'behind'"

    19CBB posting by John Thorn, 7/23/2005. The source is presumably the Knick scorebooks.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1849 - Character in Fictional Autobiography Played Cricket, Base-Ball


    "On fourths of July, training days and other occasions, young men from the country around, at a distance of fifteen or twenty miles, would come for the purpose of competing for the championship of these contests, in which, in which, as the leader of the school, I soon became conspicuous. Was there a game at cricket or base-ball to be played, my name headed the list of the athletae." W.S. Mayo, Kaloolah, or Journeying to the Djebel Kumri. An Autobiography (George P. Putnam, New York, 1849), page 20. The following page has an isolated reference to the ball grounds at the school. Mayo was from upstate NY. Posting to 19CBB by Richard Hershberger, 1/24/2008. Richard considers this the first appearance of base-ball in American fiction, as the games in #1837.2 and #1838.4 above are not cited as base ball and could be another type of game. The fifth edition [1850] of Kaloolah is available via Google Books, and was accessed on 10/24/2008; the ballplaying references in this edition are on pages 20 and 21.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1850 - NH Ballplaying Washed Out on Fast Day


    "Fast Day. Disappointment fastened upon a thousand boys and girls, who calculated on a first rate, tall time on Fast Day. It seemed as if al the water valves in the clouds were opened, and we dare assert that rain never fell faster. The sun didn't shine, the birds didn't sing, the boys didn't play ball . . . "

    "Fast Day," New-Hampshire Gazette, April 9, 1850. Accessed via 4/9/09 subscription search.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1850 - Needed: More Festival Days - Like Fast Day? For Ballplaying


    "[T]hey committed a radical error in abolishing all the Papal holidays, or in not substituting something therefore. We have Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, and Fast-Day when the young men play ball. We need three times as many festivals." Arethusa Hall, compiler, Life and Character of the Reverend Sylvester Judd (Crosby, Nichols and Co., Boston, 1854), page 330. The book compiles ideas and views from Judd's writings. Judd was born in 1813 and died at 40 in 1853. John Corrigan [see #1850s.25] quotes a James Blake as capturing popular attitudes about Fast Day. Writing of Fast Day 1851, Blake said "Fast & pray says the Governor, Feast & play says the people." John Corrigan, "The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century," in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 45. Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is James Barnard Blake, "Diary, April 10, 1851, American Antiquarian Society.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1850 - If It's May Day, Boston Needs All its Sam Malones at the Commons!


    "On the first of May each year, large crowds filled the [Boston] Commons to picnic, play ball or other games, and take in entertainment." John Corrigan, "The Anxiety of Boston at Mid-Century," in Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (University of California Press, 2002), page 44. Accessed 11/15/2008 via Google Books search ("business of the heart"). Corrigan's source, supplied 10/31/09 by Joshua Fleer, is William Gray Brooks, "Diary, May 1, 1858."

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1851 - Christmas Bash Includes "Good Old Fashioned Game of Baseball"


    "On Christmas day, the drivers, agents, and other employees of the various Express Companies in the City, had a turnout entirely in character. . . . There were between seventy-five and eighty men in the company . . . . They then went to the residence of A. M. C. Smith, in Franklin st., and thence to the Red House in Harlem, where the whole party has a good old fashioned game of base ball, and then a capital dinner at which A. M. C. Smith presided."

    New YorkDaily Tribune, December 29, 1851. Posted to 19CBB on 11/11/2008 by Richard Hershberger. Richard added: "Finally this is a very rare contemporary cite of baseball for this period. Between the baseball fad of the mid-1840s and its revival in the mid-1850s, baseball is virtually seen outside the pages of the Knickerbocker club books." John Thorn contributed a facsimile of the Tribune article. Query: Can we surmise that by using the term "old fashioned game," the newspaper is distinguishing it from the Knickerbocker game?

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1855 - Thanksgiving is for Football? Not in Gotham, Not Yet


    "[Thanksgiving] day was unpleasantly raw and cold; but various out of door amusements were greatly in vogue. Target companies looking blue and miserable were every where. Every vacant field in the out skirts was filled with Base Ball Clubs; a wonderfully popular institution the past season, but vastly inferior to the noble game of Cricket in all respects."

    "Viola," "Men and Things in Gotham," Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, December 10, 1855, page 2. Contributed August 29, 2009 by Dennis Pajot. This traveler's report preceding the advent of Association base ball in Milwaukee by years.

    Responding to Dennis' find, Craig Waff, posting to the 19CBB listserve, cited two accounts that confirm the holiday hubbub. The Clipper wrote, "There seemed to be a general turn-out of the Base Ball Clubs in this city and vicinity, on Thursday, 29th Nov. Among those playing were the Continental, Columbia, Putnam, Empire, Eagle, Knickerbocker, Gotham, Baltic, Pioneer, and Excelsior Clubs." [source: undated clip in the Mears Collection]. The Spirit of the Times (December 8, 1855, page 511) caught the same, er, spirit, noting that the Continentals played from 9am to 5pm, and that the Putnams "commenced at 9 o'clock with the intention of playing 63 aces, but found it impossible to get through; they played twelve innings, and made 31 and 36 . . . ."

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1855 - "Massachusetts Run-Around" Recalled


    "This [Massachusetts Run-Around] was ever a popular game with us young men, and especially on Town Meeting days when there were great contests held between different districts, or between the married and unmarried men, and was sometimes called Town Ball because of its association with Town Meeting day."

    "It was an extremely convenient game because it required as a minimum only four on a side to play it, and yet you could play it equally as well with seven or eight. . . . There were no men on the bases; the batter having to make his bases the best he could, and with perfect freedom to run when and as he chose to, subject all the time to being plugged by the ball from the hand of anyone. It was lively jumping squatting and ducking in all shapes with the runner who was trying to escape being plugged. When he got around without having been hit by the ball, it counted a run. The delivery of the ball was distinctly a throw, not an under-hand delivery as was later the case for Base Ball. The batter was allowed three strikes at the ball. In my younger days it was extremely popular, and indulged in by everyone, young and old."

    T. King, letter to the Mills Commission, November 24, 1905; accessed at the Giamatti Center, HOF. Note: why 1855C? Did King grow up in MA?

    Last Updated: March 18, 2012

  • 1858 - 1000 Watch November Base Ball in New Bedford MA. Brr.


    The New Bedford Evening Standard (November 26, 1858) reported on the Thanksgiving Day ball game: "At the conclusion of the game, Mr. Cook, in a few appropriate remarks in behalf of the Bristol County Club, presented the Union Club with a splendid ball. Cheers were then given by the respective Clubs and they separated to enjoy their Thanksgiving dinners. About 1000 spectators were present.

    "In the afternoon there were several 'scrub' games, that is games which the various Clubs unite and play together. The regular Ball season is considered to close with Thanksgiving, though many games will doubtless be played through the winter when the weather will permit." Text provided by Kyle DeCicco-Carey, email of 1/14/2008.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1861 - The Clipper Looks Back on the 1861 Season


    The Clipper (date omitted in scrapbook clipping) printed a long review of the 1861 season. It includes 39 synopses of previously-covered games between May 9 and September 14 . . . and it is likely that the clipping is incomplete. Facsimile from the Mears Collections clippings, provided by Craig Waff, September 2008. Some general points:

    The War: "[D]espite the interruptions and drawbacks occasioned by the great rebellion [it] has been really a very interesting year in the annals of the game, far more than was expected . . . ; but the game has too strong a foothold in popularity to be frowned out of favor by lowering brows of 'grim-faced war,' and if any proof was needed that our national game is a fixed institution of the country, it would be found in the fact that it has flourished through such a year of adverse circumstances as those that have marked the season of 1861."

    HolidayPlay: "On the 4th of July, all the club grounds were fully occupied, that day, like Thanksgiving, being a ball playing day."

    Juiced Ball? On July 23, it was Eagles 32, Eckfords 23, marking the Eckfords' first loss since 1858. "The feature of the contest was the unusual number of home runs that were made on both sides, the Eckfords scoring no less than 11, of which Josh Snyder alone made four, and the Eagles getting five." 3000 to 4000 fans watched this early slugfest.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1862 - Brooklyn Games Organized as Benefits for Sick and Wounded Soldiers


    Three games were announced in June 1862 for which net proceeds would be used for sick and wounded Union soldiers. The Eckfords and the Atlantics would play for a silver ball donated by the Continental Club. William Cammeyer provided the enclosed Union grounds without charge. Admission fees of 10 cents were projected to raise $6000 for soldiers' relief.

    "Reliif for the Sick and Wounded," Brooklyn Eagle, June 21, 1862, page 2. Contributed by Gregory Christiano, December 8, 2009. Note: is there a good poc hoc account of this project?

    Last Updated: March 18, 2012

  • 1862 - 22nd MA beats 13th NY in the Massachusetts Game


    "Fast Day (at home) April 3, there was no drill, and twelve of our enlisted men challenged an equal number from the Thirteenth New York, to a game of base-ball, Massachusetts game. We beat the New-Yorkers, 34 to 10."

    J. L. Parker and R. G. Carter, History of the Twenty-Second Massachusetts Infantry (The Regimental Association, Boston, 1887), pages 79-80. Fast Day in MA was traditionally associated with ballplaying. The 22nd MA, organized in Lynnfield MA (about 15 miles N of Boston), was camped at Falmouth VA in April, as was the 13th NY. The 13th was from Rochester and would likely have known the old-fashioned game. PBall file: CW-126.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1862 - The 39th Massachusetts Plays Ball


    The regimental history of the 39th MA has two passing references to ballplaying. On Thanksgiving Day of 1862, "There was a release from the greater part of camp duties and the time thus secured was devoted to baseball, football and other diversions so easily devised by the American youth" [p. 50]. The regimental camp was in southern MD, within 15 miles of Washington. April 2, 1863 "was the regular New England Fast Day, and a holiday was proclaimed by the Colonel . . . . [T]here was no failure in taking part in the races, sparring-matches, and various games, of at least witnessing them. The baseball game was between the men of Sleeper's Battery and those selected from the 39th with the honors remaining with the Infantry, though the cannoneers were supposed to be particularly skillful in the throwing of balls." [page 64]. The regiment was now in Poolesville MD, about 30 miles NW of Washington.

    Alfred S. Roe, The Thirty-Ninth Regiment. Massachusetts Volunteers 1862-1865 (Regimental Veteran Association, Worcester, 1914). Accessed 6/3/09 on Google Books via "'thirty-ninth' roe" search. The regiment was drawn from the general Boston area. PBall file: CW-26.

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012

  • 1862 - Crowd of 40,000 Said to Watch Christmas Day Game on SC Coast


    "In Hilton Head, South Carolina, on Christmas Day in 1862, recalled Colonel A. G. Mills in 1923, his regiment, the 165th New York Infantry, Second Duryea's Zouaves, [engaged a?] ''picked nine from the other New York regiments in that vicinity.' Supposedly, the game was cheered on by a congregation of 40,000!" Mills eventually served as President of the National League and chair of the Mills Commission on the origins of baseball.

    Patricia Millen, From Pastime to Passion: Baseball and the Civil War (Heritage Books, 2001), pp 21-22. Millen cites A. G. Mills, "The Evening World's Baseball Panorama." Mills Papers, Giamatti Center, Baseball HOF. The account also appears in A. Spalding, Americas' National Game (American Sports Publishing, 1911), pp 95.96. Note: Is this crowd estimate reasonable? Are other contemporary or reflective accounts available? PBall file -- CW-30

    Last Updated: March 12, 2012


Note: ID numbers for milestone entries include the (often approximated) year of the observation, followed by serial number reflecting the order it was added. A date is approximated when an ID is denoted with a "C".