1791 -1849

  • 1791

SEPTEMBER

5th At a town meeting in Pittsfield, MA, a bylaw is passed making it illegal to play baseball and other sports within eighty yards of the town hall to prevent the breaking of windows. The bylaws were discovered in 2004 by baseball historian John Thorn and it is the first mention of “baseball” in the U.S. The Byelaw (sic) reads as follows: Be it ordained by the said Inhabitants that no person or Inhabitant of said Town, shall be permitted to play at any game called Wicket, Cricket, Baseball, Batball, Football, Cats, Fives or any other games played with Ball, within the Distance of eighty yards from said Meeting House – And every such Person who shall play at any of the said games or other games with Ball within the distance aforesaid, shall for every Instance thereof, forfeit the Sum of five shillings to be recovered by Action of Debt brought before any Justice of the Peace to the Person who shall and prosecute therefore And be it further ordained that in every Instance where any Minor shall be guilty of a Breach of this Law, his Parent, Master, Mistress or guardian shall forfeit the like Sum to be recovered in manner, and to the use aforesaid.

  • 1806

“Conversations on Chymistry, in which the elements of that science are familiarly explained and illustrated by experiments and plates,” by Jane Haldiman Marcet, is published anonymously in London. The first American edition is published in New Haven in 1809 with different additions. An 1836 American edition, edited by Rev. J.L. Blake, who said he did not change the book, relates on pp. 15-16, chap. 1 “On General Properties of Bodies,” a conversation between Emily and Mrs. B., on the subject of inertia:

Emily: In playing base-ball I am obliged to use all my strengths to give a rapid motion to the ball; and when I have to catch it, I am sure I feel the resistance it makes to being stopped. But if I do not catch it, it would soon fall to the ground and stop itself.

Mrs B: Inert matter is as incapable of stopping of itself, as it is of putting itself in motion: when the ball cease to move, therefore, it must be stopped by some other cause or power; but as it is one with which you are yet unacquainted, we cannot at present investigate its effects.

(This discovery was made by Ken Mendelson, a retired physics professor at Marquette University.)

The earliest reference to baseball in the OED is Jane Austin’s “Northanger Abbey,” 1815.

  • 1816

JUNE

6th  Trustees of the Village of Cooperstown, NY enact an ordinance: “That no person shall play at Ball in Second or West Street (now Pioneer and Main Streets), under a penalty of one dollar, for each and every offense.” (as noted by historians Tom Heitz and John Thorn).

  • 1823

APRIL

5th As noted by historian George Thompson, a mention of the word “base ball” appears in the National Advocate relating a game played today. “I was much pleased in witnessing a company of active young men playing the manly and athletic game of ‘base ball’ at the Retreat in Broadway (Jones). I am informed they are an organized association, and that a very interesting game will be played on Saturday next at the above place.”

  • 1825

JULY

13th  The following notice appears in the July 13, 1825 Hamden, NY edition of the Delhi Gazette: “The undersigned, all residents of the new town of Hamden, with the exception of Asa Howland, who has recently removed to Delhi, challenge an equal number of persons of any town in the County of Delaware, to meet them at any time at the house of Edward B. Chace, in said town, to play the game of Bass-Ball, for the sum of one dollar each per game.” (as noted by Tom Heitz and John Thorn).

  • 1838

JUNE

4th Near Beachville, Ontario, residents watch the first recorded game of baseball in Canada (as noted by John Thorn and Tom Heitz). The Canadian version uses five bases, three strikes and three outs to a side. An oblique, irregular foul line delineates buildings at the playing site creating an out-of-bounds area.

  • 1839

MAY

8th The New York City By-laws and Ordinances prohibit New York, NY ball playing.

  • 1845

SEPTEMBER

23rd  The Knickerbocker baseball club of New York is organized at the suggestion of Alexander J. Cartwright, who formulates rules to distinguish his brand of baseball from other forms played throughout the country.

OCTOBER

6th  The first recorded baseball game using Cartwright’s rules is played between members of the Knickerbocker Club. Only 14 players participate as Duncan Curry’s team defeats Alex Cartwright’s team 11–8 in a shortened game of only 3 innings. The Knickerbocker Club will play at least 14 recorded games during the fall of 1845.

21st  The New York Herald has an announcement of an upcoming baseball match this afternoon between the New York Club and the Brooklyn Club at the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, NJ. This game is played under different rules than Cartwright’s.

22nd  The New York Morning News reports that in yesterday’s “friendly match of the time honored game of Baseball” the New York Club beat Brooklyn 24–4. A box score of the game is included in the account.

23rd  In a rematch at Elysian Fields, the New York club again beats Brooklyn, this time 39–17. The New York Herald publishes a box score of the game showing 12 outs for each side during the game, 8 players on each, and 3 umpires. Neither of these clubs leave any records behind but it is likely that this game is not considered a “New York game.”

  • 1846

JUNE

19th  The first officially recorded baseball match, played under Cartwright’s rules, takes place on the Elysian Fields with the New York Club defeating the Knickerbockers 23–1. Alex Cartwright serves as ump and hands out a fine of six cents to Wall Street broker James Whyte Davis for swearing after a disputed call. Knick player Birney makes the lone run. Four of the NY club players played in last year’s October series: Davis, Winslow, Murphy, and Case. Duncan Curry describes the action. “An awful beating, you say, at our own game, but, you see the majority of the New York Club’s players were cricketeers, and clever ones at that game, and their batting was the feature of their work.” He went on, “The pitcher of the New York nine was a cricket bowler of some note, and while one could use only a straight arm delivery he could pitch an awfully speedy ball. The game was in a crude state. No balls were called on the pitcher, which was a great advantage to him, and when he did get them over the plate they came in so fast our batsmen could not see them.”

  • 1849

APRIL

24th  The first baseball uniform is adopted at a meeting of the New York Knickerbocker Club. It consists of blue woolen pantaloons, a white flannel shirt, and a straw hat.

AUGUST

10th Cartwright arrives in San Francisco after traveling across the continent, stopping along the way to teach the game of baseball.

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