Here is something of a cheat sheet to learning about baseball’s beginnings. The linked selections below are those of Larry McCray, a member of Major League Baseball’s Origins Committee and the founder of the invaluable Protoball project. Larry was also the editor of the special origins number of the journal Base Ball, source of most of the articles linked below.
1609.1 Polish Origins of Baseball Perceived in Jamestown VA Settlement
1621.1 Some Pilgrims “Openly” Play “Stoole Ball” on Christmas Morning: Governor Clamps Down
1672c.2 Francis Willughby’s “Book of Games” Surveys Folkways: First Stoolball Rules Appear
1725c.1 Wicket Played on Boston Common
1744.1 First Laws of Cricket Are Written in England
1744.2 Newbery’s Little Pretty Pocket-Book Refers to “Base-Ball,” “Stooleball, ” “Trap-Ball,” Cricket
1755.6 NYS Traveler Notes Dutch Boys Playing “Bat and Ball”
1781.2 “Antient” Harvard Custom: Freshmen Furnish the Bats, Balls
1791.1 “Bafeball” Among Games Banned in Pittsfield MA – also Cricket, Wicket
1796.1 Gutsmuths describes [in German, yet] “Englische Base-Ball”
1805.4 NY Gentlemen Play Game of “Bace:” Score Is Gymnastics 41, Sons of Diagoras 34.
1821.5 NY Mansion Converted to Venue Suitable for Base, Cricket, Trap-Ball
1823.1 National Advocate Reports “Base Ball” Game in NYC
1829.2 Round Ball Played in MA
1833c.12 America’s First Interclub Ballgame, in Philadelphia
1837.1 A Founder of the Gothams Remembers “First Ball Organization in the US”
1843.6 Magnolia Ball Club Summoned to Elysian Fields Game
1845.1 Knicks Adopt Playing Rules on September 23
1845.2 Knicks Play First Recorded [Intramural] Games by the New Rules
1845.5 Brooklyn and New York to Go Again in Hoboken
1845.16 Brooklyn 22, New York 1: The First-Ever “Modern” Interclub Match?
1853.5 Knicks, Gothams Play Season Opener on July 1 and July 5
1855.31 Competitive Base Ball Suddenly Fills NY Metropolitan Area
1856.4 Fifty-Three Games Played, All in New York City Area.
1857.1 Rules Modified to Specify Nine Innings, 90-Foot Base Paths, Nine-Player Teams
1857.5 The Tide Starts Turning in New England – Trimountain Club Adopts NY Game
1857.22 Atlantic Club Becomes Base Ball Champ?
1857.29 Six-Player Town-ball Teams Play for Gold in Philly
1857.31 Rounders “Now Almost Entirely Displaced by Cricket”: English Scholar
1858.2 New York All-Stars Beat Brooklyn All-Stars, 2 Games to 1; First Admission Fees Are Charged
1858.6 Clipper Calls for Truly National Base Ball Convention
1858.10 Four-day Attendance of 40,000 Souls Watch Famous Roundball Game in Worcester
1858.21 Times Editorial: “We Hail the New Fashion with Delight”
1858.40 Cricket Plays Catch-up; Plans a National Convention
1859.2 Elusive Intercollegiate Game [the First Played by NY Rules] Pits Xavier and Fordham
1859.6 The First Known African-American Game, Is Played July 4 and/or November 15; see also:
1859.14 New York Tribune Compares the NY “Baby” Game and NE Game
1859.22 Worcester High School in MA Has First Interscholastic Base Ball Club
1859.24 CT State Wicket Championship Attracts 4000
1859.32 Morning Express Opposes Bound Rule, Tag-up Rule: Wants More Runs!
1859.35 Base Ball Community Eyes Use of Central Park
1860.6 Chadwick’s Beadle’s Appears, and the Baseball Literature Is Launched
1860.7 Excelsiors Conduct Undefeated Western NY Road Trip. . .”First Tour Ever? First $500 Player Ever?
1860.46 First International Game Played by New York Rules
1860.60 Atlantics vs. Excelsiors: The Thorny Idea of Onfield Supremacy
1861.37 Modern Base Ball Played Widely at Outset of War
1862.2 The Death of Jim Creighton at 21
1862.3 US Cricket Enters Steeper Decline
1863.1 Ballplaying Peaks in the Civil War Camps