Fwd: Base-Ball in 1793

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Wed Apr 30 02:15:33 UTC 2003

Below my signoff is a message  sent by baseball researcher John Thorn
to the 19th Century Baseball discussion group.

Gerald Cohen

>At 3:15 PM -0400 4/29/03, John Thorn wrote:
>To: "19cBB" <19cBB at yahoogroups.com>
>From: "John Thorn" <john at toy-department.com>
>Subject: [19cBB] Base-Ball in 1793
>Last November, Skip McAfee inquired of the group: "Has anyone found an
>earlier citation [than 1857] in the United States to the term "base-ball"
>(spelled with a hyphen), in referring to the game as we know it?" Skip knew,
>from George Thompson's great find, that the spelling "base ball" had made it
>into print in 1823.
>David Nevard contributed a journal entry by Thoreau from 1856. David Block
>replied with some American citations from 1855 (Whitman), 1852, and 1849; of
>course he had also located the spelling of "base-ball" in a Guts Muths
>volume of 1796 ("Ball mit Freyst├Ąten (oder das englische Base-ball"),
>described in his excellent essay at
>I would like to throw another ball into the bag with this Town of Pittsfield
>(Masachusetts) ordinance of 1793, banning "any game of wicket, cricket,
>base-ball, bat-ball, foot-ball, cats, fives, or any other game played with
>ball." The context for this find:
>             " . the new town-house was completed and occupied by the March
>meeting of 1793.
>             "The safety of the interior of the meeting house being secured
>by the exclusion of the town meetings, the exterior was protected by a
>by-law forbidding 'any game of wicket, cricket, base-ball, bat-ball,
>foot-ball, cats, fives, or any other game played with ball,' within eighty
>yards of the precious structure. As a matter of fact, however, the lovers of
>muscular sport were not absolutely excluded from the tempting lawn of
>'Meeting-House Common,' as the letter of the law would have excluded them.
>             "It was, indeed, their favorite resort; but Chandler Williams
>was ever at hand, with his voice of courteous warning, to ward off the
>threatened bombardment, when the danger to the meeting-house windows became
>SOURCE: The History of Pittsfield, (Berkshire County,) Massachusetts, From
>the Year 1734 to the Year 1800. Compiled and Written, Under the General
>Direction of a Committee, by J. E. A. Smith. By Authority of the Town.
>Boston: Published by Lea and Shepard. 149 Washington Street. 1869. (Spelling
>and punctuation as per the oroginal; text quotation is from pp. 446-447)
>The precise year of the by-law--perhaps it didn't enter into the books until
>1794--could be found in the original town minutes, presumably extant in
john thorn

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