"muffin" and other base ball terms, 1859

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Thu Mar 1 19:36:10 UTC 2007

        “A Muffin Player”  [signature to a letter regarding baseball]
        NY Herald, October 17, 1859, p. 2, col. 3
A "muffin" is an unskilled base ball player.  The OED (I.3b) has 1860.
This isn't much of an antedating, but one of the OED's citations
contains a phrase not given a separate entry, and which I can antedate:
"fly game".
        Mr. Davis also stated that the eleven desired the match to be a fly game.
        NY Herald, October 19, 1859, p. 7, col. 4
This means a game of base ball played by a rule whereby a batter is out
only if his batted ball is caught on the fly; New-York style baseball
then was played under a rule that the batter was out if his ball was
caught on the fly or on the first bounce.  There is also no entry in the
OED for "bound game".  A cricket "eleven" touring from England had been
challenged to play a game of base ball against a team of NYC all-stars.
OED: (under “muffin”) 1864 Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2 Sept. 3/5 Four clubs
all will vote for the fly game, for they all think the bound game only
suited for boys and muffins.


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

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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