Antedating of "Curve" and "Curve Ball"

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sat Sep 7 16:59:13 UTC 2013

Dickson has 1856 for the verb being used in the context of a baseball pitch:

"Many [believe] a slow ball curving near the bat, to be the most effective."
Porter's Spirit of the Times, 6 Dec 1856

Dickson notes, "the curveball became widespread during the years 1872-1875."

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Shapiro, Fred
Sent: Saturday, September 07, 2013 12:11 PM
Subject: Antedating of "Curve" and "Curve Ball"

The OED's first use of the baseball sense of "curve" is dated 1879, with the
attributive "curve ball" having only a 1970 citation.  The Nichols and
Dickson baseball dictionaries cite the New York Herald, July 7, 1874, for
"curve ball" (this should also count as an antedating of "curve").  That is
nontrivially earlier than anything I retrieve for "curve ball" in ProQuest,
America's Historical Newspapers, Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers,
Newspaperarchive, Chronicling America, or GenealogyBank, but I assume
Nichols was accurate.

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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