March 1st, 2013
In Baseball in the Garden of Eden, one of my recurrent themes was the vital role that gambling played in making a boys’ game worthy of adult attention. That gambling turned out to be the snake in that garden was soon evident and the professional leagues struggled to restrain it (eradication was not possible). Here is the first record of filthy lucre intruding into the sylvan primordial field. The Delhi, New York Gazette of July 13, 1825 contains this challenge to play “bass-ball” –for money.
The undersigned, all residents of the new town of Hamden, with the exception of Asa C. Howland, who has recently removed into Delhi, challenge an equal number of persons in 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. If no town can be found that will produce the required number, they will have no objection to play against any selection that can be made from the several towns in the county.
ELI BAGLEY, EDWARD B. CHACE, HARRY P. CHACE, IRA PEAK, WALTER B. PEAK, H.B. GOODRICH, R.F. THURBER, ASA C. HOWLAND, M.L. BOSTWICK.
Hamden, July 12, 1825.