1851 June

3rd  The Knickerbockers win their first match of the year 21–11 against the Washington Club. According to Cartwright’s rules, the first team to score 21 runs wins the game. The match is played at the Red House Grounds in Harlem, at what is now 106th Street and Second Avenue.

1851 July

17th The Knicks win another game from the Washington club, 22–20, at the Red House Grounds.

1853 July

5th The New York Clipper reports “the first friendly game of the season between the Gothams and the Knickerbocker Base Ball clubs. The Gothams win, 21–12, with 21 runs constituting a game. In a return match on October 18 at the Red House, the Knickerbockers will win, 21–14. The box scores list names and runs and outs only.

1854 April


1stAt the annual meeting of the Knickerbocker Baseball Club, the playing rules are amended to include: First base must be vacated by the runner if the batter hits a fair ball; players can be forced out in the same manner as when running to 1B.

1854 June

30th  The first extra-inning game is played with the Knicks losing to the Gothams 21–16 in 16 innings. Even though the 21-run rule is still in effect, this is the first match game ever to exceed 9 innings.

1854 October

24th The Gothams defeat the Eagle club, 21–14, at Hoboken. The first attempt at publishing a play-by-play scorecard will be presented in the Clipper and will show outs by inning and total runs scored by each player.

26th The first match that results in a tie takes place between the Knicks and Gothams. The game is called at 12–12.

1854 December

8th The Excelsior club of Brooklyn is organized at a meeting held at Florence’s, on the corner of Broadway and Walker in NYC. Baseball clubs presently operating are the Knickerbockers, the Gothams, organized in October, 1852, the Eagle Club, organized in April, 1852, and the Empire club, formed on October 12, 1854.

1855 June


1st The opening game of the season is played between the Knicks and the Gothams, the latter winning 21–12. The season usually ends on Thanksgiving.

1855 August


14th  The Atlantic Club of Brooklyn is organized. The Atlantics would be the preeminent club of the 1860s. Starting in 1859, they would win the whip-pennant, emblematic of the baseball championship, 8 of 11 years.

1856 September

15th  The first reported game of Canadian baseball is played in London, Ontario, with the London Club defeating the Delaware club 34–33.

18th Dickey Pearce plays his first game with the Brooklyn Atlantics. He plays in CF but will become famous as the premier shortstop of the 1860s and the inventor of both the bunt and the fair-foul hit.

1856 October

11th For a game between the Atlantics and Athletics in Brooklyn, scorecards are printed for the first time. The attendance was said to be 30,000.

1856 November

20th The end of the season finds the Enterprise club defeating the National club, 24–12. The record for 1856 lists 27 matches between the leading NY clubs.

1856 December

5th The New York Mercury refers to base ball as “The National Pastime”.

6th Porters Spirit of the Timesreports, “The Knickerbocker—of all the clubs in existence, this is the oldest. . . . The principal players in the club, and who have usually composed their ‘first nine’, we deem to be De Bost, who has never been surpassed as catcher, a powerful batter, though often put out from a tendency to raise the ball. Stevens, a pitcher, who sends the ball with exceeding velocity and he who strikes it fairly must be a fine batsman. It is questionable, however, whether his style of pitching is most successful, many believing a slow ball curving near the bat to be most effective.” This is one of the earliest notes about the curve ball (from a letter in The Sporting News, May 14, 1901, by a Mr. W. M. Rankin, who came across the reference while researching sporting data for a history of Princeton College.)

13th  The New York Clipper states that “the game of Base Ball is generally considered the National game amongst Americans.”

1857 January

22nd  The first baseball convention is held in New York’s Smith Hotel. It is called by the Knickerbockers and attended by 16 baseball clubs, all located on Manhattan and Long Island. One of the agreements reached is on the diameter the diameter of the baseball and it is to be between ten and ten and one-quarter inches in circumference and weigh between six and six and one-quarter ounces. In 1858, H.P. Harwood and Sons of Natick, MA becomes the first factory to produce baseballs. They also will be the first in the production of the two-piece figure-eight stitch cover baseball, the same in use today. The figure-eight stitching was devised by Col. William A Cutler.

1857 February

28th As noted by Joe Clark and reported in Bells Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle,the first ever game of American base ball is played in Australia. A match between the Richmond and Collingwood members of the Melbourne Base Ball Club takes place at Carleton Gardens. Pitching prowess seems not to have intruded as Collingwood wins by a score of 250 to 230. Collingwood could not repeat in the 2-inning nightcap, losing, 171-141.

1857 March

7th  The rules committee states that 9 innings shall constitute an official game rather than a team scoring 9 runs. For the first time, the rules specify 9 men to a side, even though the game has been played that way since 1845.

1857 May

13th  A convention is held in Dedham, MA, attended by representatives of 10 New England baseball clubs. Under the name of “Massachusetts Association of Base Ball Players,” playing rules are adopted to illustrate the differences between New England baseball and the “New York Game.” Rule four: 2 bases shall be wooden stakes, 4 feet high. Rule 14: If a player is hit with a thrown ball while rounding the bases, he shall be considered out. Other rules specify 100 runs will constitute a game and each side shall consist of 10 to 14 players. Thus is the New England game set down differently than the New York game. Earlier in the year, the New York Game rules were changed at a meeting of a group of clubs. The Knickerbocker Club recommended that a winner be declared after seven innings but nine innings were adopted instead upon the motion of Lewis F. Wadsworth. The base paths were fixed by D. L. Adams at 30 yards and the pitching distance at 15 yards. It was Adams who, in 1849, invented the position of SS by moving the 4th outfielder into the infield.

1857 June

16th The Tri-Mountain Baseball club is organized in Boston by Edward Saltzman. Saltzman moved to Boston from New York, where he played on the Gotham Baseball Club. Not finding any teams in Boston playing “The New York game” he taught some friends the rules and formed the club.

1857 July

10th At Elysian Fields, the Gothams defeat the Eagles, 43-20, before a large crowd. The New York Times reports that “There were thousands of ladies and gentlemen on the ground to witness this game.”

1857 September

9th The Tri-Mountain team of Boston plays host to a team from Portland, Maine “on the common” today, winning 47-42 in 9 innings playing under the New York rules. According to accounts quoted in the June 24, 1912 L.A. Times, this was the first game decided in 9 innings rather than which team reached 100 runs first. Also, it was reportedly the first match where the ball was pitched not tossed. The ball, which was 10 inches, according to the Times report, surfaced in Kansas City in 1912 and was inscribed with the results of the game.

1857 October

22nd  The Atlantic Club defeats the Eckford Club, both of Brooklyn, to take the best-of-3-games match and claim the championship for 1857. The baseball custom now is that the championship can only be won by a team beating the current title holder 2 out of 3 games.

1857 November

28th  The first game of indoor baseball is played in Chicago under rules formulated by George Hancock, “the father of indoor baseball.” The idea for the game occurred two days ago when members of the Farragut Club were throwing around a boxing glove in a gym at a Thanksgiving gathering. Indoor baseball will remain popular into the 20thcentury, and official rules will be published every year.

1858 January

30th At a meeting of the Knickerbocker Baseball Club a communication is received from the Empire Club requesting the Knicks call a convention of all regular organized baseball clubs.

1858 March

10th At Cooper Union in NYC, the formation of the National Association of Baseball Players takes place with the gathering of delegates representing 29 clubs. William H. Van Cott is elected president.

1858 June

10thAt the Excelsior Grounds at Carroll Park in South Brooklyn, the Putnams defeat the Excelsiors, 31 to 18. The Brooklyn DailyEagle writes that “There was a large gathering of some 1500 or 2,000 persons.” (as noted by historian Craig B. Waff).

12thThe Brooklyn DailyEaglereports today: “There was an error in our notice of the Base Ball matter yesterday which requires correction. It was stated that the defeat of the Excelsiors was owing to the bad feeling existing amongst them. It should have read that they were beaten in consequence of the bad fielding, which makes all the difference in the would (sic).” (as noted by JP Caillault).

1858 July

8thAt Carroll Park, the Excelsiors of Brooklyn have no problem with Knick’s pitcher Harry Wright pounding him, 31–13, before a crowd of “spectators estimated at 2,000” (Brooklyn Daily Eagle).

20th  The first game to attract wide attention in the New York area is an all-star game between players from New York and Brooklyn. The match is played at the Fashion Race Course on Long Island and is the first at which an admission fee (reportedly 10¢) is charged. The admission is to cover the cost of the grounds, with the surplus to be split between the Fire Department Funds of New York and Brooklyn. Nearly 10,000 fans show up and the receipts for the game are $508.84 and the expenses $437.75. John Henry Holder, a player with the Excelsiors, hits the first home run ever recorded in a box score, but New York wins the game 22—18. Brooklyn will take the rematch on August 19th, and on September 19th, New York wins the rubber game and the series. This series introduces Henry Chadwick to the newspaper-reading public, starting a baseball reporting career that will last 50 years.

29thAt Elysian Fields, the Eagles drop the Knickerbocker club, 45 to 18. The New York Times reports that “there were more than 3,000 spectators” (as noted by historian Craig B. Waff).

1858 August

19th In the 2nd game of the Fashion Course series, Brooklyn beats a team of New York all stars, 29–8.

20th In one of the finest games to date, the Excelsiors defeat the Knickerbockers, 15–14. After the game, the 2 clubs celebrate at the Odd Fellow’s Hall in Hoboken. Dodsworth’s band is on hand to entertain the 200 gentlemen assembled.

1858 September

8th The first game under the “New York rules” is played in New England, on the Boston Common. The Tri-Mountain Club of Boston loses to the visiting Portland, Maine club, 47–42.

10th The Fashion Course Series comes to an end before several thousand spectators, the largest crowd to witness a game so far. The New York all stars beat Brooklyn, 29–18, with Gelston and Pinckney homering for the winners. This series will catapult baseball in the public eyes.

1858 October

18th At the Atlantic grounds at Bedford, the Atlantics down Putnam, 18-7 in front of a crowd estimated at 3,000.

1858 November

16th The Atlantics of Brooklyn finish their season by beating the Excelsiors, 27–6, for their 7th win of the year against one loss. Having been the 1857 champs and not having lost a “home and home” series in 1858, they are considered the 1858 champs. The title is unofficial since no champion is recognized.

1859 March

14th  The Nassau Base Ball Club is organized on the Princeton campus by members of the class of 1862.

15th  At the annual meeting of the National Association of Base Ball Players, rule 36 is amended to read: “No party shall be competent to play in a match who receives compensation for his services.” This rule will not be enforced although the first instance of a player moving to accept a professional ball playing position, Al Reach, will not take place until 1864.

1959 May

26th At Bedford, Neosho (New Utrecht) edges Pastime, 26-22. The New York Times reports, “Nearly five thousand people witnessed the game” (as noted by historian Craig B. Waff).

30th At Star grounds at the foot of Court Street in Manhattan, the team of Star Jr. defeats Charter Oak, 26 to 22, before a crowd of 2,000.

1959 June

30th The Knickerbockers play a test match with the Excelsior Club to determine the merits of the “fly game.” The Knicks have been trying for 2 years to have the rule changed that now reads a batter can be put out when the fielder catches his fair ball on the first bounce. The Knicks lose the test match, 28–22, “in presence of nearly three thousand spectators” (NY Times)

1859 July

1st  The first intercollegiate baseball match is played between Amherst and Williams colleges at Pittsfield, MA. After taking a early lead, the Amherst squad wins the 4-hour, 26-round game by a score of 66–32 (several sources have different scores for Amherst). The game is played under the rules of the “Massachusetts Game.”

8th The Atlantics defeat the Eckfords in Greenpoint, 25–15. The match draws the largest crowd since the Fashion Series last year, estimate at over 4,000 by the New York Times.

1859 August

2nd In South Brooklyn, the Knicks demonstrate the “fly game” rule, losing to the Excelsiors, 20–5.

15th In the championship of Chicago between 2 local teams, the Atlantic Club beats the Excelsiors, 18–16 with 2 runs in the 9th. They win the best of three games with 2 straight wins.

1859 September

8th Before the largest crowd of the year, “in the presence of some six thousand spectators” (NY Times) the host Atlantics lose to the Eckford club, 22–16. Eckford breaks a tie with 6 runs in the 8th. The teams are tied at one apiece in their 3-game series.

1859 October

12th The visiting Atlantics whip the Eckford Club, 22–12 to win the championship of 1859. The Atlantics score 7 in the first inning and lead 16–4 at the end of 3. They finish the year at 11–1.

1859 November

28th  The first baseball club on the West Coast is formed, the Eagle Club of San Francisco. The idea for the club belongs to Martin Cosgriff, a former member of the Tri-Mountain club, who moved to California in 1858.

29th The Nationals, the first club in Washington, D.C., is organized.

1859 December

10th The New York Anglo Americanreports on a game between two African-American teams played on November 15, 1859. The Unknown Club of Weeksville, New York lost to the Henson Base Ball Club of Jamaica, NY by a score of 54-43 (as noted in Dean Sullivan’s Early Innings). This is the earliest report of a game involving African-Americans.