baseball cursing, 1898

Wed Dec 5 00:53:20 UTC 2007

        Of course, a joke or hoax from the period is just as useful, for
present purposes, as an authentic document.  How certain is the dating?
The document itself does not seem to include a date, though it refers to
a November 1897 meeting.  It's easy to imagine, for example, that it
could have been produced in 1927, with "See how bad things were 30 years
ago?" being part of the joke.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
Of Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Tuesday, December 04, 2007 7:43 PM
Subject: Re: baseball cursing, 1898

The language is almost certainly authentic for the period, but I
strongly suspect that the document itself was intended as a joke (rather
than a "hoax"). No names of "committee members" are given and the
document may well be a sub rosa publication.

  The unexpected (and for most people unprecedented) appearance of such
lurid insults in cold print would, I feel sure, have been regarded as
uproariously funny by many young men of the era - ballplayers included.


  George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: George Thompson
Subject: Re: baseball cursing, 1898

This document has been posted to the 19th Century Baseball listserv, run
by SABR (Society for American Baseball Research). The debate is on-going
as to whether it is an authentic production of the men who ran Organized
Baseball then, or a hoax. In general, there seems to be agreement that
baseball of that era was unusually violent and rowdy, and it is not
unlikely that such language would be used on the field.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.

The American Dialect Society -

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