Slight Antedating of Modern Sense of "Baseball"

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 17 02:46:49 UTC 2014

On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 9:30 PM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> baseball (OED, 1.b., 1845 [23 Oct.])
> 1845 _Brooklyn Daily Eagle_ 21 Oct. 2/3 (  A GREAT MATCH AT
> BASE BALL. -- This afternoon, at 2 o'clock, the New York Bass Ball Club play
> a match at ball with the Brooklyn Club at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken.  The
> interest attached to this match will attract large numbers from this and the
> neighboring city.

Those without a subscription can see the item here:

There was an item the same day in the New York Herald:

1845 _N.Y. Herald_ 21 Oct. 2/4 The New York Base Ball Club will play a
match of base ball against the Brooklyn Club, to-morrow afternoon, at
2 o'clock, at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken.
visible here:

The date there is confusing, suggesting there was a game on 10/22. But
there were only games on 10/21 and 10/24, according to this:

On Fri, May 16, 2014 at 9:52 PM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at> wrote:
> This citation may not strictly be an antedating of OED sense 1.b., since this citation
> may refer to a game between teams of eight players each, and the OED's definition
> of 1.b. stipulates nine players on each side.  But I suspect that nine players is not
> the right place to draw the line between senses 1.a. and 1.b.

Well, since the current first cite for 1b is about the 10/21/1845
game, the editors are already minimizing the 8-player vs. 9-player


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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