Base-ball Quote

Tue Apr 16 03:11:52 UTC 2002

        I came across an early base-ball quote in the Making of America database.  From "Mournful Musings On an Old School-Stile," Southern Literary Messenger, vol. XVIII, no. 2, p. 96 (Feb. 1852):

How they poured the soul of gay and joyous boyhood
Into roaring games of marbles, bat and base-ball!
Thinking that the world was only made to play in,--
Made for jolly boys, tossing, throwing balls!

        While this is considerably later than George Thompson's quote from 1823, it tends to reinforce his point that the game achieved early popularity:  The poem is a reminiscence of school days, described as "that old dead past," and the author's schoolmates have become doctors, merchants, lawyers, divines, or seamen.  If the poem is indeed drawn from life, then it presumably is describing events perhaps 20 or 30 years earlier.  Note also that the unsigned poem was published in Richmond, suggesting that baseball must already have been fairly widespread.  Of course, we don't know how similar this baseball was to the modern game, except that it was played by schoolboys with bats, balls, and presumably bases.

John Baker

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