bat and ball

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Fri Jul 20 21:06:15 UTC 2001

Joan Hall's inquiry about "pimple ball" reminded me of a term we used as
kids in Minnesota and relates to the discussion of baseball's origins in
the NYTimes.  A letter to the editor cited (from McCullough's bio of John
Adams) a statement by Adams that as a boy in the 1740s he played "bat and
ball," among other sports.  That's what we called it in our rural school; I
only learned the terms 'baseball' and 'softball' (which is what we played
in "country school") when I went to the big smartalecky "town school."  I'm
talking 200 years after Adams, in the 1940s.  Has anyone else heard of or
used this term?  Another letter writer, BTW, cited Austen's _Northanger
Abbey_ as using the word "baseball," as well as "cricket" (presumably
different), ca. 1797.

(Minnesota, of course, got the New England influence in dialect; my
father's prim but beloved Miss Fidditch insisted her charges say "Give it
me" in that same country school in the early 1900s.  How widespread is

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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