Predecessor Games

Baseball researchers continue to investigate how baseball may have evolved over time from games that had featured some similar playing rules. These rules and practices preceded the first extant set of baseball rules, those recorded by the Knickerbocker Club in 1845. That evolutionary path is still uncertain. However, well over a hundred earlier games have been identified at this point, a few with unknown rules, but most with at least some basic similarity to modern baseball.

Below is a working list of those games, and a brief indication of their baseball-like aspects. More information is likely to come to light about these and other predecessor games as searchable digitized records continue to accrue. If you can add to this list, or to the descriptions of the games already listed, please contact Official Baseball Historian John Thorn at

Game Family Location Region Era

A boys' game reportedly played in Hawaii before the game of base ball was introduced in the 1860s. As described, its rules were consistent with those of wicket, but no running or scoring is mentioned.

Monica Nucciarone, Alexander Cartwright (UNebraska Press, 2009), page 201.  The author cites the source as W. R. Castle, Reminiscences of William Richards Castle. (Advertiser Publishing, 1960), page 50.

Hat ball Hawaii Predecessor

In 1805 a game of "bace" was reportedly played among adult males in New York City. Its rules were not reported. The word "bace" is extremely rare in sport: it appeared in a 1377 English document, and, in a list of obsolete Cornish terms, for the game Prisoner's Base in Cornwall in 1882. Unlike the usual case for prisoner's base, however, a final score [41-35] was reported for this match.

"Bace" is also reported as an obolete term for a British game, the nature of which is not yet known.

See Protoball Chronology entries 1805.4 and 1805.5.  The game was reported in the New York Evening Post of April 13, 1805.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor

per Block. The 1836 book Perth Traditions described Ball-Paces, by then almost extinct, as a game that used a trap to put a ball into play, at which point in-team runners at each of four bases run to the next bases, stopping only when the ball was returned to the original batsman's station. There is no mention of plugging.

David Block, email of 5/17/2005.

Baseball Scotland 1800s,Predecessor

per Dick, 1864. A team game like rounders, but having large safety areas instead of posts or bases. A feeder makes a short gentle toss to a batter, who tries to hit it. The batter-runner then chooses whether to run for a distant goal-line or a nearer one, for which there is a smaller chance of being plugged. The nearer station can hold several runners at once. Three missed swings makes an out, as does a caught fly. Versions of Ball-Stock are found in British and American boys' books in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

Dick, ed., The American Boys Book of Sports and Games: A Practical Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Amusements (Dick and Fitzgerald [reprinted by Lyons Press, 2000], 1864)., pages 112-113.

Baseball Germany 1800s,Predecessor
Balle au Camp

Translated as "rounders" in an 1855 translation of a French poem. Maigaard identifies it as a longball-type game with four bases [set in a line] and in which the ball is thrown into the field by a member of the in team to initiate play.

W. Chapman, Every-Day French Talk (J. B. Bateman, London, 1855), page 20.

P. Maigaard, "Battingball Games," reprinted in Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, Appendix 6.  See page 263.

Kickball France Predecessor

A fungo-like game played in Elizabethan times in England. The ball was an inflated leather bag, and was knocked with the arm - sometimes aided by a wooden brace. Hitting for distance was evidently desired, but no running or fielding is described.

Paul G. Brewster, "Games and Sports in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century British Literature," Western Folklore 6, no. 2 (1947)., page 143.

Fungo Predecessor

Bandy was a game that reportedly resembled shinty or modern field hockey, in which players on two teams attempted to advance a ball with a club into the opposing team's goal.

Hook-em-snivy 1800s,Predecessor

According to Gomme [1894], Bandy-Wicket is Cricket played with a bandy (a curved club) instead of a cricket bat. This name was evidently once used in Norfolk and Suffolk.

"Bandy Wicket" was also used in the US.

Alice Bertha Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1, vol. I (London: David Nutt, 1894)., page 17.

Baseball England 1800s,Predecessor
Barn Ball (House Ball)

A two-player game set against a wall or barn. The pitch is made from about ten feet away against the wall, and the batter tries to hit it on the rebound. If successful, he runs to the wall and back. If he misses the ball, and the pitcher catches the rebounding pitch on the fly or on one bound, the batter is out. XX add cite XX. Beard (1896) calls a similar game House Ball. It specifies a brick house, perhaps for the peace of mind of occupants.

D. C. Beard, The American Boy's Book of Sport (Scribner's Sons, New York, 1896), pages 341-342.

Scrub Predecessor

Sometimes, a name for base ball. While some references to "base" most likely denote Prisoner's Base (a team form of tag similar in nature to modern Capture the Flag and today's Laser Tag), others denote a ball game. David Block reports that the earliest clear appearance of "base" as a ball game is from New England in 1831, and that the source groups base with cricket and cat as young men's ballgames.

19cBB posting, October 17, 2007.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor
Base Ball

The term "old fashioned base ball" appears to have been used in the decades after the 1850s to describe whatever game was played locally before the New York game arrived. The term was used extensively in upstate New York and New Jersey.  We are still uncertain as to whether OFBB had common rules.  In Western New York State, OFBB seems to align with the old form of the Massachusetts game, but prior to the codification of Mass Game rules in 1858.  It is possible that the term was used for diverse variations of local safe-haven games in other areas.

One might speculate that later still, such games would be thought of as "town ball."

One investigation of Old Fashioned Base Ball is at Astifan and McCray, "'Old-Fashioned Base Ball' in Western New York, 1825-1860," Base Ball, volume 2 number 2 (Fall 2008), pages 26-34.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor
Baste Ball

Apparently a variant spelling of base ball. The most famous usage is in a Princeton student's diary entry for 1786 (5 years before the first known use of "base ball" in the US), which reveals only that the game involves catching and hitting.

See Protoball Chronology entry 1786.1.  A second entry, 1848c.9, includes baste ball in a list of boyhood games played by future US President Benjamin Harrison.

Baseball 1700s,1800s,Predecessor

We have references to bat-bat from 1791 (when it was banned in both Pittsfield and Northampton MA) to 2003, but the basic rules of this game as first played are unclear. Writers have diversely compared it to bandy, to schlagball, and to punchball. It is clear that a club was not always required for hitting, as the ball could instead be slapped into play by the hand.

See Protoball Chronology entries for 1791.

D Wise and S. Forrest, Great Big Book of Children's Games (McGraw-Hill, 2003), pages 219-220.


Hook-em-snivy Predecessor

All we know about Batton is that in 1851 boys played a game in the village of Norfolk, MA - about 20 miles SW of Boston.

F. Dennis, The Norfolk Village Green (privately printed, 1917), page 72.

Hook-em-snivy Norfolk, MA Predecessor

A game mentioned (but not described) in the 1086 Domesday Book in England. Some have claimed that this game resembled Stoolball. In fact, Gomme [1894]  defines Bittle-Battle as "the Sussex game of 'Stoolball.'"

See Protoball Chronology #1086.1

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1, page 34.

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor

Tom Altherr has found a reference to buff-ball in Baltimore in 1773.

A visitor wrote in his journal for 10/28/1773: "In Baltimore for some Buff-Ball."  Tom notes that the nature of the game is not known, but that OED lists "to hit something" as one meaning of "buff."


Philip Vickers Fithian, Philip Vickers Fithian Journal and Letters 1767-1774, John Rogers Williams, ed. (Freeport NY, Books for Libraries Press, 1969 [1900]), page 49.  Reported in "Tom Altherr's Notebook," Originals volume 5, number 6 (June 2012), pages 1-2.

Hook-em-snivy Maryland Predecessor
Bull Pen

per Brewster [1953]. "Basemen" stand at each corner of a bounded field of play, and try to plug other players inside the bounds. Each player has three "eyes" [lives]. A player loses an "eye" if plugged or if a target player catches a ball thrown at him. There is no batting or baserunning in this game.

Paul G. Brewster, American Nonsinging Games (U Oklahoma Press, Norman OK, 1953), page 82-83.

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor

According to Gomme, a Lincolnshire glossary specifies that Bunting is a name for Tip-Cat.

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1., page 53.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor

per Jamieson (1825). A game known in County Fife. Two teams, armed with clubs, try to drive a ball into a hole defended by their opponents. This game may have resembled field hockey more than a safe-haven game.

J. Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (Edinburgh, 1825), page 187.

Fungo Predecessor

per Culin. A batting game played with a six-inch, pointed wooden "cat." The cat is pitched to a batter standing near a four-foot circle. The batter is out if he hits a caught fly or if the ball falls, unhit, into the circle. If put out, the batter goes to the end of the sequence of fielders, and the pitcher becomes the new batter. A batter can accrue points based on the distance from the circle to the where the hit ball lands. A version described by Newell[39] allows the batter to elevate and hit any cat that is pitched outside the circle.

Stewart Culin, "Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.," Journal of American Folklore 4, no. 14 (1891). page 233.

Fungo Predecessor
Cat i' The Hole

per Brand and Jamieson. All but one player stands by a hole, holding a stick [called a "cat."] The last player, holding a ball, gives a signal, and the others run to place their stick in the next adjacent hole before a ball enters it, or he will become the thrower.

Brand, Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain: The Origins of Our Vulgar and Provincial Customs, Ceremonies and Superstitions., page 408.

J. Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (Edinburgh, 1825), page 192. Jamiesson describes the game  as being played in County Fife and perhaps elsewhere.

Kickball Scotland Predecessor
Cat's Pallet

Court records from 1583 [Elizabeth I was in her 25th year as queen] show a dim view of this game. "Whereas there is great abuse in a game or games used in the town called 'Gidigadie or the Cat's Pallet . . . ' no manner persion shall play at the same games, being above the age of seven years, either in the churchyard or in any streets of the this town, upon pain of . . . being imprisoned in the Doungeon for the space of two hours . . . . Thus, Gidigadie may be another name for Cat's Pallet. The rules of this game are as yet unknown.

John Harland, ed., A Volume of Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1884), page 156.

Hook-em-snivy England Pre-1700,Predecessor

per Burnett. Burnett identifies Cat-and-Bat as a form of cricket that was played in Scottish streets in about 1860.

John Burnett, Riot, Revelry and Rout: Sport in Lowland Scotland before 1860 (East Linton, Scotland: Tuckwell Press, 2000)., page 208.

Baseball Scotland 1800s,Predecessor
Cerkelspelen (Circle-Game?)

According to Maigaard, Cerkelspelen was "rounders without batting" as played in Flanders. The game evidently had five bases, with fielders near each one, but the infield area was occupied only by the in-team.

P. Maigaard, "Battingball Games," reprinted in Block, Baseball Before We Knew It, Appendix 6.  See page 263.

Kickball Flanders, Belgium Predecessor

In an email of 12/10/2008, Tom Altherr tells of the game of chermany, defined in a 1985 dictionary as "a variety of baseball." Early usage of the term dates to the 1840s-1860s. Two sources relate the game to baseball, and one, a 1912 book of Virginia folk language, defines it as "a boys' game with a ball and bats." We know of but eight references to chermany [churmany, chumny, chuminy] as of October 2009. Its rules of play are sketchy. A Confederate soldier described it as using five or six foot-high sticks as bases and using "crossing out" instead of tagging or plugging runners to retire them.

See also Frederic Gomes Cassidy and Joan Houston Hall, Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 604.  The dictionary notes usage as "esp. VA" and gives four attested citations from 1889 to 1911, one of them a recollection from 1840, and another a 1911 dictionary associating the game with "the Southern United States."

Baseball 1800s,Post-1900,Predecessor

per Strutt. Strutt speculates that Club-ball was the ancient ancestor of many ball games. Its rules of play are not known.

Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England (1801)., pages 104-105.

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor
Cluich an Tighe

According to Morrison (1908) this game is "practically identical with the game of "Rounders." He goes on to describe a game with three bases set 50 yards apart, with plugging and crossing as ways to retire batters. Games are played to 50 or 100 counts. The game is depicted as "practically dead" in Uist (In the Outer Hebrides off Scotland) but formerly was very popular.

A. Morrison, "Uist Games," The Celtic Review, Volume 4 (1907/1908), pages 361- 363.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor

This game, encountered in Upper Egypt in the 1850s, is briefly described: it is "played likewise with a ball; one tosses it, and another strikes it with his hand, and runs to certain limits, if he can, without being hit by a 'fag' who picks up the ball and throws in."

G. T. Lowth, The Wanderer in Arabia; or, Western Footsteps in Eastern Tracks (Hurst and Blackett, London, 1855), page 109.

Kickball Predecessor
Corner Ball
A plugging game that is closer to dodge ball than to safe-haven games. Some players, standing at designated corners or the perimeter of the playing area, pass the ball teammate to teammate in order to make it easier for one of them to plug anyone among group of players swarming around inside the field. If plugged, a player is out of the game.
Hook-em-snivy Predecessor

A reference to "crekettes" in a 1533 poem has been construed as evidence that the game of cricket originated in a pastime brought to England by Flemish weavers , who arrived in the 14th Century. A German scholar thinks that this earlier game originated in the Franco-Flemish border area as early as 1150. We have no faint notion of how this earlier game might have been played.

See accessed 10/10/09.  Special thanks to Beth Hise, emails of September 2009, for leads on this game.

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor

is defined in the OED as "a kind of rounders." Gomme equates Cuck-Ball with Pize Ball and Tut-Ball.

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1, page 83.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor

per Gomme. Two holes are made about ten feet apart. A player on the out-team pitches a cat toward a hole, and its defender tries to hit it with his stick. He and his in-team mate then run between the holes. When more than four boys play the extra out-team players field as in cricket.

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1, pages 84-85.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor

Dodgeball is a basic youth game with no batting or safe-haven bases. Two teams form. A player can be put out by being hit with a throw rubber ball, unless he catches it, in which case the thrower is out.  The game ends when the last player on a team is put out.

Some trace the history of dodgeball to the ancient Egyptions, and the Romans played a version of the game.

There is a National College Dodgeball Association at



Hat ball Contemporary,Pre-1700,Predecessor
Doutee Stool

According to an 1860 text, players sit on stools placed in a circle, and one player tosses or strikes a ball into the air. If he retrieves the ball and hits another player before that player reaches the next stool, the two players switch roles.

Ball Games,  (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1860)., page 41.

Hat ball Predecessor

A ball game, listed along with the Old Cat games and Baseball, mentioned in the memoirs of a New Hampshire man born in 1831. The rules of this game are unknown. It may not have been a safe-haven game.

F. B. Sanborn, New Hampshire Biography and Autobiography (Private Printing, Concord NH, 1905), page 13.

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor
Dutch Long

This game, called "long out of date" in an 1867 newspaper article, seemed to resemble Long Ball but with three bases. A "tosser" lofted the ball and a nearby batter hit it, then ran to a base [a "bye"] a few feet away, then to a second base 25-30 feet distant, then home. Completing this circuit before the ball was returned by fielders to the tosser gave the striker another turn at bat. The account does not say whether this was a team game, whether it employed plugging, or whether runners could elect to stay on base.  It seems possible that the adjective "dutch" indicated that the game came from Holland or Germany.

Daily Cleveland Herald, April 24, 1867, as posted to the 19CBB listserve by Kyle DeCicco-Carey on 8/19/2008.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor

A version of this game described in 1860 has players place their hats near a wall. One of them tosses a ball from 15 feet away, and if the ball lands in a player's hat, he tries to quickly plug a fleeing compatriot or else he receives an "egg" [a small stone] in his hat. Three stones and you're out of the game.

Daily Cleveland Herald, April 24, 1867, as posted to the 19CBB listserve by Kyle DeCicco-Carey on 8/19/2008. p. 42

Hat ball Predecessor
Evansville Townball

per Gilbert (1910). Remembered as Town Ball, this game was a simple fungo game played in the 1850s in which a fielder who caught a hit ball on the fly or on one bounce became the fungo batter.

F. M. Gilbert, History of the City of Evansville (Pioneer Publishing, 1910), page 107.

Fungo Predecessor

per "The Boy's Own Book." A non-team form of rounders using three bases in which a player who is put out then takes on the role of feeder [pitcher]. An 1859 handbook describes feeder as a game with four or five stones or marks for bases. Plugging is permitted.

The Boy's Own Book, (London: D. Bogue, 1852), page 29.

Scrub Predecessor
Gate-ball (Thorball)

Bowen (1970) writes that "Gate-ball ('Thorball'), as found in the early Dutch and Danish accounts is "obviously but wicket [cricket], again."

R. Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development Throughout the World (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1970), page 36.  Bowen does not give dates or sources for the Dutch/Danish accounts.

Baseball Predecessor

Court records from 1583 [Elizabeth I was in her 25th year as queen] show a dim view of this game. "Whereas there is great abuse in a game or games used in the town called 'Gidigadie or the Cat's Pallet . . . ' no manner persion shall play at the same games, being above the age of seven years, either in the churchyard or in any streets of the this town, upon pain of . . . being imprisoned in the Doungeon for the space of two hours . . . . Thus, Gidigadie may be another name for Cat's Pallet.

John Harland, ed., A Volume of Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1884), page 156.

Hook-em-snivy Pre-1700,Predecessor

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.

Jugndspiele zur Ehhjolung und Erheiterung (W. Simmerfled, Tilsit Germany, 1845).

Baseball Germany 1800s,Predecessor
Goal Ball

Another name for early base ball, perhaps confined to certain areas.  Usage of the name is known in New England.  As of June 2012, the Protoball Chronology lists 10 references to the game of Goal Ball or Goal, or games in which bases are term "goals."  All refer to play in the six New England states, and all but two are found before 1850.

The best known references to Goal Ball are Robin Carver,The Book of Sports (Boston, Lilly Wait Colman and Holden, 1834), pp 37-40, -- see Protoball entry 1834.1 --  and Boy's and Girl's Book of Sports (Providence, Cory and Daniels), pp 17-19 -- see Protoball Chronology entry 1835.6.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor

An apparent non-running relative of tip-cat. A batter hits a gulli (a six-inch cat) with a danda, and is out if a fielder catches it. If it falls to the ground, a fielder throws it back, trying to hit the danda, which is laid on the ground. It is not clear if this is a team game, or if the gulli is pitched on simply fungoed. There is no running. The geographical range of its play is unclear.

Fungo Predecessor

per McLean. McLean notes that hand-in and hand-out was among the games banned by King Edward IV in 1477. She identifies it as "probably a kind of trick catch." The 1477 ban spelled the game name as "handyn and handout."

Teresa McLean, The English at Play in the Middle Ages (Kensal Press, 1985), page 80.  In The Royal Dictionary by A. Boyer (London, 1764), Hand In Hand Out is defined as "the Name of an unlawful Game," and translated into French as "forte de jeu defendu."

Hook-em-snivy England Predecessor
Hat Ball

A form of Roly Poly (or Roley Poley or Roll Ball) that substitutes hats for holes in the ground. Newell says this game was played among the Pennsylvania Dutch.Brewster says that Hat Ball variants are known in many countries, and include Petjeball [Dutch] and Kappenspiel [German].

Newell, Games and Songs of American Children. page 183.

Paul G. Brewster, American Nonsinging Games (University of Oklahoma Press, 1953), page 85.

Hat ball Predecessor
A predecessor of Oina.
Fungo Romania Predecessor

Our single reference to this game comes from an 1847 Alabama newspaper in its attempt to describe curling to southern readers: "Did you ever play 'bass ball,' or 'goal,' or 'hook-em-snivy,' on the ice?" Its nature is unknown. "Hookum-snivy" is slang for adultery, not that it matters.

The Alabama Reporter, as reprinted in Spirit of the Times (January 16, 1847), page 559.  Provided by David Block, 2/28/2008.

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor

Only known from Francis Willughby's 17th century Book of Games, hornebillets is played with a cat (fashioned from animal horn), which is thrown toward holes defended by players with dog-sticks. When they hit the cat, batters run to the next hole, placing the stick in the hole before the cat can be retrieved and be put into the hole. The number of holes depends on the number of players on each team.

David Cram, et al., editors, Francis Willughby's Book of Games (Ashgate, 2003), page 182.

Baseball Pre-1700,Predecessor
Hornie-Holes (also Kittie-Cat)

per Jamieson (1825.) Two teams of two boys, defend their holes with a sticks, described as like a walking sticks, against a cat ("a piece of stick, and frequently a sheep's horn") thrown "at some distance" by their opposite numbers.

J. Jamieson, Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language (Edinburgh, 1825), page 592-593.

Fungo Predecessor

Lowth (1855) describes Jellal, encountered among the people of Upper Eqypt, as resembling "in some of its parts our old game of Rounders" as he knew it in England. There was hitting and "getting home," but a difference that he noted was that one boy hit the ball and another ran.

G. T. Lowth, The Wanderer in Arabia; or, Western Footsteps in Eastern Tracks (Hurst and Blackett, London, 1855), pages 108-110.

Baseball Egypt 1800s,Predecessor

According to Brewster, Kappenspiel is the German word for Hat Ball.

Brewster, American Nonsinging Games.

Hat ball Germany Predecessor

An 1834 book on a tour to Abyssinia mentions this game, taken to be "the same game we call bat ball" in England.

Prospective Missions in Abyssinia (Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, Boston, 1834), page 74.

Kickball Ethiopia Predecessor
Kibel and Nerspel

per Gomme. A game played at Sitxwold [huh?] resembling "Trap, Bat, and Ball.

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1., page 298.

Fungo Stixwould, England Predecessor

Brand describes Kit-Cat as a game for two teams of three players each. Each player on the in-team stands near a hole with a two-foot stick. One is thrown a cat. If he hits it (and if it is not caught in the air for an out), the in-team runs from hole to hole, placing their sticks in each hole and counting the number passed. Outs can also be made by throwing a cat into an unoccupied hole, or by strikeout. The number of outs per half-inning, and the number of missed swings that constitute an out, are agreed in advance.

Brand, Observations on the Popular Antiquities of Great Britain: The Origins of Our Vulgar and Provincial Customs, Ceremonies and Superstitions (London: George Bell and Sons, 1900), pages 423-424.

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor
A ball game recorded in the "Younger Edda:" Its rules are not known.
Hook-em-snivy Iceland Predecessor
La Batonet

One 1895 source, identifies this game as Tip-cat. He writes that Tip-cat "is doubtless a very old diversion for children. It is illustrated as "La Batonet" in the charming series of children's games designed by Stella and published in Paris, 1657, as "Les Jeux et Plaisiris [sic] de l'Enfance."

Geo. Clulow, in Notes and Queries: A Medium of Intercommunication for Literary Men, General Readers, Etc. (J. Francis, London, 1895), Volume 7 -- January - June, pages 375-376.

Baseball France 1800s,Pre-1700,Predecessor

Varying accounts of this game are found. It is claimed that evidence places a form of the game to the time of Peter the Great, and that bats and leather balls date back to the 1300s. One 1989 news article reports that it is now strictly a children's game. Still, some Russians say that "baseball is the younger brother of baseball." In contemporary play, the fielding team's "server" stands next to a batter and gently tosses a ball up to be hit. After the hit, runners try to run to a distant line [one 1952 account calls this the "city"] and back without being plugged. Caught fly balls are worth a point, but a successful run is two points. A time clock governs a game's length.

A 1952 article does not mention a pitcher or points awarded for catches (but not runs?), but notes use of a round stick to hit with and also confirms sthe use of plugging.  Neither account says that runners can stay safely at the "city" if they don't venture to run back home.

New York Times, September 16, 1952, as cited in Paul Dickson, The Dickson Dictionary (Third Edition, Norton, 2009), page 485.

Bill Keller, "In Baseball, the Russians Steal All the Bases," New York Times, July 20 1987.

Ira Berkow, "Russian Eye on Baseball," New York Times, August 14 1989.

Carl Schreck, "No Wrong Way to Swing Bat," The St. Petersburg Times, October 31 2003.

Baseball Russia Predecessor,Pre-1700,Contemporary
Long Ball

Maigaard sees Long Ball as the oldest ancestor of rounders, cricket and baseball, a game that was played in many countries. Long Ball is described as using teams of from 4 to 20 players. It involved a pitcher, batter, and an "out-goal" or base that the batter-runner tried to reach after hitting (or after missing a third swing) and without being plugged. Caught flies signaled an immediate switch between the in-team and the out-team. Many members of the in-team could share a base as runners. Runs were not counted, as the objective was to remain at bat for a long period. A 1914 US text describes Long Ball in generally similar terms, but one that uses a regular "indoor baseball." There is a single base to run to, scoring by runs, a three-out-side-out rule, and no foul ground. Plugging is allowed.

A weblog written in the Australian outback in 2007 described a version of contemporary Long Ball.

Per Maigaard, "Battingball Games," Genus 5 (1941).  Reprinted as Appendix 6 in David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It (U. Nebraska, 2005), pages 260ff.

Henry S. Curtis, Play and Recreation for the Open Country (Ginn, 1914). pages 62-63.

Baseball 1800s,Post-1900,Predecessor
Long Town

Curtis (1914) mentions Long Town as an alternative name for Long Ball. We have several references to Long Town Ball, most in the South and mid-West states, none north of a line between New York and Chicago. Most describe no rules of the game. One account in Lehigh County PA (about 50 miles NE of Philadelphia) recalls the game as played in the 1850s as having two bases about 25 paces apart, plugging, a fly rule, and as allowing multiple runners on the (non-batting) base.

F. G. Cassidy et al., Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 62.

Curtis, Henry S. Play and Recreation for the Open Country (Ginn, 1914).

Baseball 1800s,Post-1900,Predecessor
Massachusetts Game

This is the game played according to rules that were codified in May 1858 in Dedham Massachusetts. It featured short basepaths, an absence of foul ground, plugging of runners, a smaller and softer and lighter ball, wooden stakes in place of sascks as bases,winners definied as the first team to reach 100 "tallies," and a one-out-side-out rule. It remains unclear how close these rules -- written 13 years after the Knickerbocker rules were codified -- were to round ball, goal ball, and/or base games played in MA for the previous 50-75 years.

The Massachusetts Game declined fairly rapidly after 1860.

The Mass game rules appeared in Mayhew and Baker,  Base Ball. A
Manual of Cricket and Base Ball, With Rules and Regulations Illustrated
(Boston, Mayhew and Baker, 1858), pages20 - 24.

Baseball New England, WNY, Upper Midwest 1800s,Predecessor
Monday, Tuesday

per Games and Sports. Each player is assigned the name of a day of the week. A player throws a ball against a wall, calling out a day. The player assigned that day must catch the ball, or if missing it must throw as one of his fleeing compatriots, losing a point if he misses.

Games and Sports for Young Boys,  (Routledge, Warne, and Routledge, London, 1859)., page 33.

Hat ball Predecessor

per Gomme. A boy throws a small stick to another boy standing near a hole, who tries to hit it with a three-foot stick, and then to run to a prescribed mark and back without being touched by the smaller stick, and without that stick being thrown into or very near the hole. Any even number of boys can play this game.

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1, pages 407-408.

Scrub England Predecessor
Nine Holes

Sometimes described as a board game or a form of quoits, Nine Holes is elsewhere (1853-1868) depicted as a running game -- in which players had to run among holes without being plugged by a ball -- that resembles Hat-ball and Egg-Hat.

The Boy's Own Book, pages 29-30.  Ball Games (Routledge, 1860), page 54.  The Boy's Handy Book  (Ward and Lock, London, 1863), pages 18-19. Alfred Elliott, The Playground and the Parlour (Nelson and Sons, London, 1868) page 56.

Hat ball Predecessor
Norr and Spell

A game described as the same as Trap Ball. Also names as Nor and Spel, Knur and Spell, and Nur and Spel. Gomme notes that a wooden ball was sometimes used. The objective was mainly to hit the ball for distance.

Ball Games., page 56.

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1., pages 421-423.

Fungo Predecessor
Northern Spell

A game described as the same as Trap Ball.

Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England.

Fungo Predecessor

A game played in Romania, reportedly traced back to a shepherd's game, Hoina, played in southern Romania from the year 1310. The game is described as involving two 11-player teams that alternate batting as in a one-innings game of cricket. The pitch is a soft toss. One 1990 report says that there are nine bases set out over 120 yards, that the defensive team can score on tagging and plugging putouts, and that there were over 1500 teams throughout Romania, mostly in rural areas. That account describes a ball the size of a baseball and a bat resembling a cricket bat. A second report from 1973 describes the ball as small, and the bat only a little thicker than a billiard cue, and that if a runner deflects a thrown ball with the palms, he is not put out. Note: Protoball's only evidence on oina comes from the two western news accounts provided in the Hall of Fame's "Origins of Baseball" file.

"Play Oina!: Romanians Say Their Game Inspired Creation of Baseball," Oneonta Times, March 29, 1990.

"Oina – Perhaps it was Baseball's Grandfather," World Leisure and Recreations Association Bulletin, September-October 1973.

Baseball Romania Pre-1700,Predecessor
Old Grope

A writer's recollection of past Boston sports, including  base ball,  includes the unexplained game of "Old Grope."

Letter to the Editor, Boston Evening Transcript, December 21, 1859.

Contributed by Joanne Hulbert, 9/17/12.

Hook-em-snivy Boston Predecessor
One O' Cat

per Culin. A non-team variety of base ball entailing fly outs and four bases and a three-strike rule, but no plugging. Players rotate through a series of fielding positions with each out, until they become one of two batters. "An ordinary base-ball bat is used."

Culin, "Street Games of Boys in Brooklyn, N.Y.." pages 231-232.

Scrub Brooklyn Predecessor
One, Two, Three

per Culin. Identical to Culin's One O'Cat, differing only in the way that players call out their initial positions.

F. G. Cassidy, Dictionary of American Regional English (Harvard University Press, 1996), page 232.

Scrub Brooklyn Predecessor

A Polish game. Chetwynd (2008) notes that Palant, similar to baseball, had a long history. "Poland had played its own traditional bat-and-ball game - particularly in the areas of Upper Silesia and the Opole District - dating back centuries and, by the 1920s, the game of Palant had a popular following."

A Polish website describes Palant as using a rectangular field of about 25 yards by 50 yards, being governed by a clock, and having a provision by which, if a runner is hit, his teammates can enter play and retain their ups by plugging a member of the fielding team. David Block identifies Palant [Pilka Palantowa] as the Silesian game played in Jamestown VA in 1609 by a small group of Polish craftsmen.

Polish play is now reportedly resticted to rural areas.


Josh Chetwynd, Baseball in Europe: A Country by Country History (McFarland, 2008). page 219.

D. Block, Base Ball Before We Knew It (UNebraska Press, 2005), page 101.  Protoball entry 1609.1 summarizes the Jamestown account.

Baseball Poland 1800s,Pre-1700,Post-1900,Predecessor
Palm Ball (Slap Ball)

A form of baseball in which the ball is slapped by the slapper-runner, rather than being batted with a club. (Needs verification.)

Kickball Predecessor
Patch Baseball

Patch Baseball is evidently  name for a form of baseball that allows the plugging of runners. We find the term used in upstate New York in about 1850.  "Patching" is another word for "plugging" or "burning" baserunners.

See Protoball Chronology item 1850c.17.  Thanks to Skip McAfee for explaining the term.

Baseball New York 1800s,Predecessor

(Cat's Pellet, Cat's Pallet, Gidigadie) - per MacLagan (1905). This game is played like Tip-Cat, but with a ball and a one-handed bat, and with plugging instead of crossing to put runners out. An Orkney game. Elsewhere MacLagan described the game as using four small holes in a twelve-foot square. An 1882 source finds a usage of "cat's pellet" in 1648, and defines it as "a game, perhaps the same as tip-cat." Court records from 1583 seem to indication that the game "Cat's Pallet" was also called Gidigadie, at least in the Manchester area.

MacLagan, R. C. "Additions to 'the Games of Argyleshire'." Folklore, volume 16, no. 1 (1905), page 87.

R. C. MacLagan, The Perth Incident of 1396 from a Folk-lore Point of View (Blackwood and Son, 1905), page 54.

The Encyclopedic Dictionary (Cassel, Peter and Galpin, 1882), page 625.

J. Harland, A Volume of Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the Sixteenth Century (Chetham Society, 1864), page 156.

Baseball Scotland (Orkney) 1800s,Pre-1700,Predecessor

According to Brewster, Petjeball was the early Dutch term for Hat Ball.

Brewster, American Nonsinging Games.

Hat ball Predecessor
Philadelphia Town Ball

The game that arose in Philadelphia in the 1830's. The rules of this game have recently been induced from game accounts by Richard Hershberger. The game is distinct from the Massachusetts Game. It's signature features were 11-player teams, an absence of set defensive positions, stakes [as bases] set in a circle 30-foot diameter, non-aggressive pitching, a lighter, softer ball, an all-out-side-out rule, and a bound rule.

This game was evidently the game of choice in the Philadelphia area until about 1860, when the New York game came to dominate Philly play.


Richard Hershberger, "A Reconstruction of Philadelphia Town Ball," Base Ball, Volume 1, number 2 (Fall 2007), pages 28-43.

Baseball Philadelphia 1800s,Predecessor
Pize Ball

a game defined in the OED as "a game similar to Rounders in which a ball is hit with the flat of the hand." The game is mainly associated with the English North Country, and is said to feature three or four 'hobs,' or stopping-places. The first cited use appeared in 1796. Gomme adds that if the batter-runner is hit before reaching on of the "tuts" he is "said to be burnt, or out.

Alice Bertha Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 2 (New York: Dover [reprint -- original publication 1898], 1964), page 45.

Kickball Predecessor
Poisoned Ball

According to an 1810 text, "La Ball Empoisonée" was a game for two teams of eight to ten boys involving repelling the ball (presumably by hitting it by the palm of the hand) and running to bases trying to avoid being plugged.

Les Jeux Des Jeunes Garcons,  (1810)., pages 104-105.

Kickball France Predecessor

a traditional Finnish game, features of which were incorporated into Pesapallo.

Hook-em-snivy Finland Predecessor

A writer's recollection of past Boston sports, including  base ball,  includes the unexplained game of "Rickets."

Letter to the Editor, Boston Evening Transcript, December 21, 1859. 

Contributed by Joanne Hulbert, 9/17/12.

Hook-em-snivy Boston Post-1900,Predecessor
Round Ball

This appears to be the name given to the game played in Massachusetts . . . and possibly beyond that . . . in the years before the Dedham rules of 1858 created the Massachusetts Game.

We have about a dozen references to round ball from about 1780 to 1856 -- all in the state of Massachusetts.  New England also has references to goal, or goal ball, base, or base ball, and bat-and-ball forf this period.  There is no indication if or how these games differed, or whether they are direct antecedents of the Mass Game rules of 1858.

Baseball Massachusetts 1700s,1800s,Predecessor
Round Town (Round Town Ball)

As played in Eastern PA in the 1850s this game is recalled as having four or five bases or "safety spots," tagging instead of plugging, the fly rule, the sharing of bases by multiple runners, and a bat made of a rail or clap-board. A game "similar to baseball" recalled as being played by school boys in 1891 in a grove of trees in Beech Grove, Kentucky.

J. Lambert and H. Reinhard, A History of Catasaqua in Lehigh County (Searle and Dressler, Allentown, 1914), page 364.

William F. Mason, The Journal of William Franklin Mason, completed in 1954; from, accessed 2/24/2008.

Baseball PA 1800s,Predecessor
Rounders - Britain

Rounders was first described in the late 1820s.  Current researchers believe that the game was similar to English base ball, which had been described almost 80 years earlier, but it is clearer that rounders employed a bat than that English ball did.

Rounders in the 19th Century generally resembled the game that Mass game; overhand throwing, plugging, etc. 

Rounders is now played in British schools, often by young women.

The earliest reference to English rounders is in Clarke, W., Boy's Own Book (London, Vizetelly Branston, 1828, second edition.

Baseball 1800s,Contemporary,Post-1900,Predecessor
Rounders -- Hungary

This game resembles contemporary British rounders. The bases form a regular pentagon, a pitcher stands at its center, fly balls are outs, and there is plugging. A baserunner, however, could make plays on subsequent batter-runners as a member of the fielding team.

Gyula Hajdu, "Collection of Hungarian Folk Games" (as Translated from Hungarian Magyar Nepi Jatekok Gyujtemenye) (Budapest: 1971), page 173.

Baseball Hungary 1800s,Predecessor

In his definition of Rounders, Hazlitt suggests that "it is possible that this is the game which, under the name of rownes (rounds) is mentioned in the 'English Courtier and the Country Gentleman,' in 1586."

W. Carew Hazlitt, Faiths and Folklore: A Dictionary of National Beliefs, Superstitions and Popular Customs (London: Reeves and Turner, 1905)., page 527.

Baseball Pre-1700,Predecessor

A name given in some localities, evidently, to the game played in the Boston area in the early 19th century; it is possibly another name for what is elsewhere in New England recalled as Round Ball. Our single reference to this game comes from a letter written in 1905 by a Boston man.

See Protoball Chronology item #1855c.1.  The letter was written to the Mills Commission, which was examining the origins of American baseball.

Baseball Massachusetts 1800s,Predecessor

"German Schlagball ('hit the ball') is similar to rounders." No other clues to schlagball are provided.

Other unverified sources state that schlagball evolve as early as the 1500s.

The game certainly features pitching and hitting.  Rules for running and scoring, and the presence of bases, are to be learned.  One write-up compares schlagball to lapta stating that while the running base in lapta is a line, in schlagball runners proceed along a series of discrete bases.

Query: Can you advise Protoball about how schlagball is like baseball, and how it differs?


Endrei, W., and Laszlo Zolnay, Fun and Games in Old Europe. Budapest, (Corvina Klado, 1986).

Baseball Germany 1700s,1800s,Pre-1700,Post-1900,Predecessor
Single-Wicket Cricket

Single-wicket cricket uses teams smaller than the usual 11-player teams. All bowling is to a single wicket.

There is, in effect, a foul ground behind the wicket, so unlike full-team cricket, only balls hit forward are deemed to  be in play.

As late at 1969 there were annual single-wicket championships at Lord's in London.  In the very early years, most cricket is believed to use a single wicket, and each references to cricket in the US usually reported very small numbers of players.  Early cricket rules called for single-wicket play when team sizes were five or fewer.

Baseball 1700s,1800s,Post-1900,Predecessor

A game banned, along with cat-ball, in Norwich CT in 1832. A 1890 source describes Sky-Ball as a fungo game in which a player who can catch the hit ball qualifies to hit the next fungo.

Norwich Courier, Volume 11, issue 8 (May 16, 1832), page 1.

H. Philpott, "A Little Boys' Game with a Ball," The Popular Science Monthly, Volume 37, Number 5 (September 1890) page 654.

Writing in volume 5, no. 4 (April 2012) of ''Originals,'' Tom Altherr notes that a 1900 source on schoolyard games noted "The game of Flip Up or Sky-Ball is still played by smaller children, and sometimes by large ones (especially girls). It is often played by as many as a dozen players and is here known as "Tip-Up," or "Tippy-Up." The 1900 source is D. C. Gibson, "Play Ball," ''Mind and Body: A Monthly Journal'',Volume 7, no 73 (March 1900), page 7. No rules for this game is given.

Fungo CT 1800s,Post-1900,Predecessor
Soak Ball

"Soak Ball"was apparently a name for an early game marked by the "soaking" (plugging) of baserunners to put them out, similar to the case for patch baseball..

If this was a distinct game with its own rules, we have not yet uncovered evidence of it.

Baseball Predecessor

per MacLagan. The Uist form of Pellet. A horse-hair ball is put in play with a trap, and the batter attempt to hit it with a bat. Outs are attained by caught fly balls, three missed swings, throwing the ball into the hole at home, and plugging runners between two calaichean (harbors). Points are scored by measuring the lengths of hits in bat-lengths.

Query: can we determine when this game was played?

MacLagan, R. C. "Additions to 'the Games of Argyleshire'." Folklore 16, no. 1 (1905), pages 87-88.

Baseball Scotland Predecessor

According to Block, an 1838 encyclopedia describes the game of Squares as "roughly identical" to contemporary Rounders and Baseball.

David Block, Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2005), page 138.

The original source is Montague, The Youth's Encyclopedia of Health (1838).

Baseball 1800s,Predecessor

According to Gomme (1898), stones was a game played in Ireland in about 1850, using either a ball or a lob-stick. A circle of about a half-dozen stones is arranged, one for each player in the in team. A member of the out team throws the ball/stick is thrown at one of the stones. If the defending player hits it, all members of the out team must move to another stone. The in and out teams exchange places if a stone is hit, the ball/stick is caught, or a player is hit while running between stones.

A. B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (David Nutt, London, 1898), pages 216-217.

Baseball Ireland 1800s,Predecessor
Stonyhurst Cricket

There was a distinct form of cricket at the Roman Catholic College of Stonyhurst.  The game played there used a single-wicket, which took the shape of a 17-inch milestone, used a misshapen  hand-crafted ball with an exaggerated seams, encouraged bowling with two or more bounces before reaching the batsman,  used"baselines" set at 30 yards instead if 22-yards, and 3 to 5 players per side.  There was an out-of-bounds line.

The college was located outside England from about 1600 to 1794, and tre conjecture is that this game evolved separately from the dominant 11-man game during that period.

Rev. John Gerard, Stonyhurst College (Belfast, Marcus Ward and Co., 1894), pages 179-182.

Baseball Lancashire, England 1700s,1800s,Post-1900,Predecessor

Stoolball's first appearance was in the 1600's; there are many more references to stoolball than to cricket in the early years.

Believed to originate as a game played by English milkmaids setting a milking stool on its side as a pitching target, stoolball evolved to include the use of bats instead of bare hands and running among goals.

The modern form of the is actively played in parts of Southern England, and uses an opposing pair of square targets set well off the ground as goals, and heavy paddles as bats.

McCray finds that before 1800, there is no clear evidence that stoolball involved baserunning.


L. McCray, "The Amazing Francis Willughby, and the Role of Stoolball in the Evolution of Baseball and Cricket," Base Ball, volume 5, number 1,. pages 17 to 20.

Baseball England 1700s,1800s,Contemporary,Pre-1700,Post-1900,Predecessor

Bowen (1970) writes that "Gate-ball ('Thorball'), as found in the early Dutch and Danish accounts is "obviously but wicket [cricket], again."

R. Bowen, Cricket: A History of its Growth and Development Throughout the World (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1970), page 36.  Bowen does not give dates or sources for the Dutch/Danish accounts.

Baseball Denmark, Holland Predecessor
Three-Base Ball

Craig Waff came across an 1894 reference to Three-Base Ball as having been played at Erasmus Hall, a school in Brooklyn. The game, reported as being playing circa 1840, involved vigorous plugging and while its rules are not further described, its playing positions suggest base ball. Two-Old-Cat is described separately in the 1894 article.

Posted to the 19CBB listserve on May 13, 2007 by Craig B. Waff.  Craig cites the source as "Sports in Old Brooklyn: Colonel John Oakley Tells of the Games of His Boyhood: How Some Well-Known Men Amused Themselves in Bygone Days – Duck-on-the-Rock, Three Base Ball and Two Old Cat Good Enough for Them," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Volume 54, number 292 (Sunday, October 21, 1894), page 21, columns 4-5.

Baseball Predecessor

Block discusses whether Theque belongs on the list of baseball's predecessors. Theque is an old Norman game, but there are evidently few descriptions of the game before baseball and rounders appeared. He cites an 1899 depiction of the game that shows five bases, plugging, and the pitcher belonging to the in-team, but otherwise resembles baseball and rounders. Block concludes that there is insufficient evidence to say whether Theque came before or after the English counterpart game.

Block, David, Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2005)., pages 147-148.

Baseball France Predecessor

Strutt (1801) says there were various versions of Tip-Cat, and describes two of them. The first is basically a fungo game: a batter stands at the center of a circle and hits the cat a prescribed distance. Failing that, another player replaces him. (A similar version appears in The Boy's Handy Book, but adds the feature that the fielding player tries to return the cat to the hitter's circle such that the hitter does not hit it away again.) In a second version, holes are made in a regular circle, and each is defended by an in-team player. The players advance after the cat is hit away by one of them, but they can be put out if a cat crosses them - that is, it passes between them and the next hole. Gomme (1898) notes that in some places runners are put out be being hit with the cat, and three misses makes an out. She adds that Tip-Cat was "once commonly played in London streets, now forbidden." Writing in 1864, Dick noted that Tip-Cat was only rarely being played in the U.S. In 1896, however, Beard was experiencing a revival in the US, Germany, Italy, "and even in Hindostand," whereas in about 1850 it had been confined to "rustics on England." Richardson (1848) notes Tip-Cat's resemblance to Single-Wicket Cricket. "Twenty-one [runs] is usually a game," he adds. The earliest reference to a cat-stick we have is the 1775 report that a witness to the Boston Massacre carried a cat-stick with him.

Joseph Strutt, The Sports and Pastimes of the People of England—a New Edition, Much Enlarged and Corrected by J. Charles Fox (????? (Reissued by Singing Tree Press, Detroit, 1968), 1903)., pages 109-110

The Boy's Handy Book., page 14.

Gomme, Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Volume 1. pages 294-295.

Dick, ed., Dick and Fitzgerald, the American Boys Book of Sports and Games: A Practical Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Amusements (Lyons Press Reprint, 2000).  Originally Published in 1864., pages 117-118.

D. C. Beard, The American Boy's Book of Sport (Scribner's Sons, New York, 1896), page 332.

H. D. Richardson, Holiday Sports and Pastimes for Boys, (Wm S. Orr, London, 1848), pages 63-64.

Baseball Predecessor

In Tip-e-Up, boy A would loft a short soft toss to a batter B, who wouold hit the ball upward.  If A could catch the fungoed ball on the fly, he took possession of the bat.

Henry J. Philpott, "A Little Boys' Game With a Ball," Popular Science Monthly, volume 37 (May to October 1890), page 654.

Fungo 1800s,Predecessor

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.

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor

Writing of the Ohio youth of a Civil War general in about 1840, Whitelaw Reid (1868) reported that "Touch-the-Base" was the favorite game, and of all who engaged in the romp, none were more eager or happy than 'Jimmy" (the late Major-General James McPherson). We cannot be sure that this was a ball game.

Whitelaw Reid, Ohio in the War (Moore, Wilstach and Baldwin, Cincinnati, 1868), page 562.

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor
Town Ball

Ideas of how to understand the term "Town Ball" are still evolving. In most common usage, the term seems to have been used generically to denote, in much later years, any of a variety of games that preceded the New York game in a particular area. Philadelphia Town Ball, however, used the term to denote a current game before the New York game emerged, and had generally standard rules (see "Philadelphia Town Ball," entry, above). In Cincinnati another form evolved, and there are many recollections of town ball from the South and mid-West. Town ball is not infrequently confused with the Massachusetts Game, but the term is in fact very rarely found in MA usage in the 19th century.

Baseball Predecessor
Trap Ball
Trap ball is one of the earliest known ball games. Its distinguishing characteristic is the use of a "trap," a mechanical device that, when triggered by a batter, lofts the ball to a height at which it may be struck. Most forms of trap ball do not involve running or bases; to the modern eye, it is a fungo-type game. Trap ball commonly used foul territory to define balls that were in play, where the "play" involved the catching and tossing back of the ball toward the batter. Trap ball persists today in Kent, England, as a tavern game.
Fungo Predecessor

Gomme (1898) identifies this game as the Lancashire version of Trap Ball. A game named Trypet is listed in a English-Latin dictionary from the 1300s.

Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Davit Nutt, London, 1898), page 307.

Promptorium Parvulorum (Society of Camden, reprinted 1865), page 503.

Fungo Lancashire, England Predecessor

An old Dutch game. Chetwynd reports that a proponent of the importation of baseball to the Netherlands in the 1910s "pitched it as an ideal summer activity. It probably helped that Grasé pointed out that baseball bore a resemblance to an ancient Dutch game, called "Tripbal," which had been played by American colonists." We have no other reference to this game in the US, and no indication of how it was played.

Josh Chetwynd, Baseball in Europe: A Country by Country History (McFarland, 2008). page 14.

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor
Trippit and Coit (Trippets, Trip-Cat)

Gomme (1898) identifies this game as the Newcastle version of Trap Ball.

Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Davit Nutt, London, 1898), page 308.

Fungo Newcastle, England Predecessor

Gomme (1898) identifies this game as a Norfolk version of Trap Ball, but with a hole for the trap and a cudgel for a bat.

Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Davit Nutt, London, 1898), page 309.

Fungo Predecessor

Also called Tut, this game was in 1777 called "a sort of stool ball much practiced about the Easter holidays," according to the OED. OED identifies Tut-Ball with Stoolball and Rounders. Gomme also cites a view that "This game is very nearly identical with 'rounders.'" Another writer is known to say that Tut-Ball is the same as Pize-Ball. One wonders whether some observers used "Tut-Ball" generically, to signify any game with "tuts," or bases.

Alice B. Gomme, The Traditional Games of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Davit Nutt, London, 1898), page 314.

Kickball Predecessor
Two-Base Town Ball

Describing ballplaying in the Confederate regiments during the Civil War, Wiley suggests that "the exercise might be of the modern version, with players running four bases, or it might be two-base town ball." It is not clear whether he means "two-base town ball" as a formal name, or simply as a way to distinguish prior folk game(s) in the South. Long Ball and Long Town used two bases.

Bell Irvin Wiley, The Common Soldier in the Civil War (Grosset and Dunlap, New York, 1952), Book Two, "The Life of Johnny Reb," page 159.

Baseball Predecessor
Unnamed Games - Balkans

per Endrei and Zolnay. "We may be of the opinion that these 'hitting' games, which were universal in the Middle Ages, have disappeared entirely. This is far from true: in the Balkans they are still played by children . . . ." No other lead to the Balkan games is provided.

Endrei, Fun and Games in Old Europe.

Baseball Balkans Predecessor
Unnamed Games - Czech

per Guarinoni. This game, reportedly played in Prague circa 1600, involved two teams, pitching, and a small leather ball "the size of a quince." The bat was tapered and four feet long. Caught balls caused the teams to change positions. Baserunning is not mentioned, according to David Block, but is at least inferred by Endrei and Zolnay: who say that the batter "attempted to make a circuit of the bases without being hit by the ball." Guarinoni mentions that the Poles and the Silesians were the best players.

-Hippolytus Guarinoni*, The Horrors of the Devastation of the Human Race (Orig: Greuel Der Verwustung Des Menschlichen Geschlechts (Ingolstadt, Austria 1610).

Block, David, Baseball before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (University of Nebraska Press, 2005).

Endrei, Fun and Games in Old Europe.

Baseball Czechoslovakia Predecessor
Unnamed Games - Hungarian

per Endrei and Zolnay. "In Hungary several variants of rounders exist in the countryside." No other lead to these variants is provided.

Endrei, Fun and Games in Old Europe.

Baseball Hungary Predecessor

The nature of this game is unknown. It is found an 1849 chapbook printed in Connecticut: "there are a great number of games played with balls, of which base-ball, trap ball, cricket, up-ball, catch-ball and drive-ball are the most common."

Juvenile Pastimes: Or, Girls' and Boys' Book of Sports (S. Babcock, New Haven, 1849.)

Hook-em-snivy Predecessor

Lieutenant Ebenezer Elmer of the 3rd New Jersey Regiment referred five times to playing whirl between September 16, 1776, and 1777.  The nature of play is not described, but one note may be taken to mean it was a ball game.

Numerous web searches have failed to turn up other clues about this game.

For details, see

Hook-em-snivy 1700s,Predecessor

The game of wicket was evidently the dominant game played in parts of Connecticut, western MA, and perhaps areas of Western New York State, prior to the spread of the New York game in the 1850's and 1860's. Wicket resembles cricket more than baseball. The "pitcher" bowls a large, heavy ball toward a long, low wicket, and a batter with a heavy curved club defends the wicket. Some students of cricket speculate that it resembles cricket before it evolved to its modern form.

Short descriptions of the game are found in Protoball Chronology items #1846.8, #1850.16, and #1855c.3.  There is also a Protoball Subchronology devoted to wicket, with over 40 entries.

Baseball Predecessor