Town ball, townball, or Philadelphia town ball, is a bat-and-ball, safe haven game played in North America in the 18th and 19th centuries, which was similar to rounders and was a precursor to modern baseball. In some areas—such as Philadelphia and along the Ohio River and Mississippi River—the local game was called Town Ball. In other regions the local game was named "base", "round ball", "base ball", or just "ball"; after the development of the "New York game" in the 1840s it was sometimes distinguished as the "New England game" or "Massachusetts baseball". The players might be schoolboys in a pasture with improvised balls and bats, or young men in organized clubs. As baseball became dominant, town ball became a casual term to describe old fashioned or rural games similar to baseball.
The rules of town ball varied, but distinguishing characteristics most often cited were:
Generally the infield was a square or rectangular shape, with four bases or pegs. Similarly to baseball, the fourth base was called home base, as it was the final goal of a runner. However, differently from baseball—and more like English rounders—the striker would stand between first and fourth base, at a kind of fifth base called the striker's stand. The thrower stood in the middle of the square and delivered the ball to be hit by the striker. If the struck ball were caught in mid-air or on the first bounce, the striker was called out. If no one caught it, the striker became a runner and advanced as many bases as possible, with the option to stop at any base as a safe haven.
In most varieties of the game, fielders could hit the runner with the ball and if he were not on a base he would be called out. But in some, the cross-out was used: the fielder threw the ball so as to cross the runner's path, between him and the next base. A runner who reached fourth base safely was said to have achieved a round or tally.
The concept of innings was used: the team with the bat was "in", until put "out" by the opposing side. If one-out, all-out was the rule, the defensive team only needed to retire one man to end the inning. However, the game might also be played as all-out, all-out, meaning that every player had to be retired (as in cricket) before sides were changed. Matches might be played for an agreed-upon number of innings, or until one side had achieved a requisite number of tallies.
Townball's role in the origins of baseball has been debated since the early 1900s, and the two sides of the debate stem from a friendly quarrel between an editor and his publisher. In the 1903 edition of Spalding's Official Base Ball Guide, editor Henry Chadwick, who was born in England, wrote "Just as the New York game was improved townball, so was townball an improved form of the two-centuries-old English game of rounders."
Albert Goodwill Spalding, star player, sports equipment entrepreneur, and publisher of the Spalding Guide, asserted that baseball's origins were American. Spalding wrote an article titled "The Origin and Early History of Baseball" for the January 15, 1905 Washington Post. He described the game of Four Old Cat, in which four throwers and four batsmen stand in four corners. "Some ingenious American lad" got the idea of placing one thrower in the center of the square, wrote Spalding. "This was for many years known as the old game of Town Ball, from which the present game of baseball no doubt had its origin, and not from the English children's picnic game of 'Rounders'."
Later, in 1905, Spalding organized a panel of experts known as the Mills Commission to investigate the issue. Abner Graves, whose testimony was the basis of the Mills Commission claim that Abner Doubleday invented baseball in 1839, named townball as the "old" game that the boys of Cooperstown, New York played before baseball. In the townball game that Graves described, the batsman struck the tossed ball with a flat bat, and ran toward a goal fifty feet away, and back again. Graves said there were generally twenty to fifty boys in the field, which generated many collisions among those trying to catch the ball.
Most accounts of a game called town ball were recorded many years later as reminiscences or memoirs. It is more difficult to find contemporary descriptions. One of the earliest was a New York Clipper article dated September 19, 1857, reporting a "Game of Town Ball" at Germantown (now a neighborhood of Philadelphia). Reporting another game, the Clipper for August 11, 1860, commented, "The Olympic Club dates its existence back to 1832, so that properly speaking it is the parent Town Ball organization in the city of Philadelphia."
Informal groups were playing town ball at Market Street in Philadelphia and across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey in 1831 and 1832. Irving Leitner quotes a 19th-century source: "All the players were over 25 years of age, and to see them playing a game like this caused much merriment among the friends of the players. It required 'sand' in those days to go out on the field and play, as the prejudice against the game was very great."
The two groups merged in 1833 to form the Olympic Ball Club. In the introduction to his book Baseball, John Montgomery Ward wrote of the Philadelphia game:
it is recorded that the first day for practice enough members were not present to make up town-ball, and so a game of "two-old-cat" was played. This town-ball was so nearly like rounders that one must have been the prototype of the other, but town-ball and base-ball were two very different games. When this same town-ball club decided in 1860 to adopt base-ball instead, many of its principal members resigned, so great was the enmity to the latter game.
A copy of the Olympic Ball Club's constitution exists, but it contains only rules for governing the club, and no rules for playing ball. Contemporary accounts describe Philadelphia town ball as played with eleven men on a side, with four bases and the batter standing between 4th and 1st bases. They played two innings of all-out, all-out or eleven innings of one-out, all-out. Typical games were high-scoring with the victorious side often topping 75 runs. The players are said to have made their own bats and balls. They were adept with two types of bats. For a two-handed swing, a flat cricket-type bat was used. For a one-handed swing, a smaller round model, called a delill, was chosen. There is evidence that over the course of three decades the Olympics played varieties of baseball, wicket, and old cat, as well as town ball.
Richard Hershberger's research indicates that Philadelphia Town Ball did not use "soaking" or "burning" to retire the base runner. In fact the bases—rather close together—were not safe havens, but merely marked the complete circuit the batter-runner must take. In this all out-all out game there were no men left on base.
In 1860 the Olympics converted to the modern "New York game", but the old style was still being played in rural areas. That year members of Athletic of Philadelphia — originally formed as a town ball club — traveled to Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania for two contests, one of New York-style baseball and the other of town ball. The Mauch Chunk team defeated the A's, 45–43, at town ball. But playing New York rules, the A's defeated the country players, 34–2. The Athletics were soon to be a national baseball powerhouse. The Olympic Club, after a bitterly publicized rivalry with the A's, dropped out of major match play in 1864, and many of the members went back to playing town ball.
Town-ball is one of the old games from which the scientific but not half so amusing "national game" of base-ball has since been evolved. In that day the national game was not thought of. Eastern boys played field-base, and Western boys town-ball in a free and happy way, with soft balls, primitive bats, and no nonsense. There were no scores, but a catch or a cross-out in town-ball put the whole side out, leaving others to take the bat or "paddle" as it was appropriately called.— Scribner's Monthly, March 1879
New Englanders usually called their game "base" or "round ball" (from running 'round the bases). The "Massachusetts game" or "New England game" was a formalized version with many clubs active in the Boston area. A set of rules was drawn up by the Massachusetts Association of Base Ball Players at Dedham, Massachusetts in 1858. This game was played by ten to fourteen players with four bases 60 feet apart and no foul territory. The ball was considerably smaller and lighter than a modern baseball, and runners were put out by "soaking"—hitting them with the thrown ball. Innings were one-out, all-out and the first club to reach 100 runs was the winner. Although it had its adherents until the 1860s, the Massachusetts game was superseded by the three-out, all-out "New York game" of baseball, with its Knickerbocker Rules which formed the basis of the modern game of baseball.
Another term applied retroactively to precursor baseball games was "old-fashioned base ball". This game was generally identified as a type of baseball with large numbers on each side, where the fielders threw the ball at the runner. The Knickerbocker Antiquarian Base Ball Club of Newark, New Jersey continued to play old-fashioned base ball at least until 1865. After the Civil War, old-timers still put on exhibitions of traditional baseball at picnics and charity events. For instance, in Mauston, Wisconsin in 1888, the festivities at The Old Settlers Jubilee included "an old-fashioned base ball game." Ironically, the only mention of baseball in The Chronicles of Cooperstown describes an old-fashioned game:
1877. A famous game of old-fashioned base ball was played here, in August—Judge Sturges heading the "Reds" and Judge Edick the "Blues"—16 on a side. The victory was with the "Blues." It called together a large concourse of people.
Many articles were written waxing nostalgically for the old game. This nostalgia was satirized by Robert J. Burdette in his story "Rollo Learning to Play":
And town ball," he said, "good old town ball! There was no limit to the number on a side. The ring was anywhere from three hundred feet to a mile in circumference, according to whether we played on a vacant Pingree lot or out on the open prairie. ... The bat was a board, about the general shape of a Roman galley oar and not quite so wide as a barn door. The ball was of solid India rubber; a little fellow could hit it a hundred yards, and a big boy, with a hickory club, could send it clear over the bluffs or across the lake. We broke all the windows in the school-house the first day, and finished up every pane of glass in the neighborhood before the season closed. The side that got its innings first kept them until school was out or the last boy died.— The Wit and Humor of America, Vol. 5 1907
Varieties of town ball remained a popular schoolyard activity, especially in rural areas, well into the 20th century. In recent times the Massachusetts Rules have occasionally been used by "vintage" baseball clubs, such as the Leatherstocking Base Ball Club of Cooperstown, New York.
Project Protoball lists Abraham Lincoln as a player in the 1840s. According to biographer Albert Beveridge, "He joined with gusto in outdoor sports—foot-races, jumping and hopping contests, town ball, wrestling."
In another Protoball reference, Henry C. Whitney, in Lincoln the Citizen writes of the future President in 1860: "During the settling on the convention Lincoln had been trying, in one way and another, to keep down the excitement ... playing billiards a little, town ball a little, and story-telling a little."
Irving Leitner quotes a story by Frank Blair, grandson of Francis P. Blair, one of Lincoln's political confidants:
There were eight or ten of us, our ages ranging from eight to twelve years. Although I was but seven or eight years of age, Mr. Lincoln's visits were of such importance to us boys as to leave a clear impression on my memory. He drove out to the place quite frequently. We boys, for hours at a time played 'town ball' on the vast lawn, and Mr. Lincoln would join ardently in the sport. I remember vividly how he ran with the children; how long were his strides, and how far his coat-tails stuck out behind, and how we tried to hit him with the ball, as he ran the bases. He entered into the spirit of the play as completely as any of us, and we invariably hailed his coming with delight.
In his book My Life in Baseball, Ty Cobb wrote about ballplaying in Georgia around 1898: "At eleven and twelve, I liked to play cow-pasture baseball—what we called town ball." He wrote of whacking a string ball and "then chasing madly about the bases while an opponent tried to retrieve said pill and sock you with it." In this version of town ball, a home run entitled the hitter to another turn at bat.
In the upper Midwest (Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc.) "townball" is a regional colloquialism for the dozens of rural amateur baseball leagues spanning the states. Typically, a town will field one or perhaps two teams made up of college students and working men from the area. These "town teams" play "townball" during the summer in leagues of similar teams from neighboring towns and small cities. There is also a yearly town ball game held in Hamilton NY on the 4th of July, managed by Dr. Nathan Keever.
1833 in sports describes the year's events in world sport.All-American Girls Professional Baseball League
The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) was a professional women's baseball league founded by Philip K. Wrigley which existed from 1943 to 1954. The AAGPBL is the forerunner of women's professional league sports in the United States. Over 600 women played in the league, which consisted of eventually 10 teams located in the American Midwest. In 1948, league attendance peaked at over 900,000 spectators. The most successful team, the Rockford Peaches, won a league-best four championships. The 1992 motion picture A League of Their Own is a mostly fictionalized account of the early days of the league and its stars.Baseball in Greece
Baseball in Greece is regulated by the Hellenic Amateur Baseball Federation (HABF), which was founded in 1997. HABF overseas is represented by one league known as the Greek Baseball league. Greece is represented in international play by the Greek National Baseball Team. 56-game regular season.Baseball in South Korea
Baseball is believed to have been introduced to Korea in 1905 by American missionaries during the Korean Empire, after which it gradually attained prominence. It is one of the most popular sports in the country. There are 10 pro teams in the Korea Baseball Organization. Baseball season runs from March to October.Bat-and-ball games
Bat-ballgames (or safe haven games to avoid being confused with club games such as golf and hockey) are field games played by two opposing teams. The teams alternate between "batting" (offensive) roles, sometimes called "in at bat", and "out in the field" (defensive), or simply in and out. Only the batting team may score, but teams have equal opportunities in both roles. The game is counted rather than timed.
A player on the fielding (defensive) team puts the ball in play with a delivery whose restriction depends on the game. A player on the batting team attempts to strike the delivered ball, commonly with a "bat", which is a club governed by the rules of the game. After striking the ball, the batter may become a runner trying to reach a safe haven or "base". While in contact with a base, the runner is safe from the fielding team and in a position to score runs. Leaving a safe haven places the runner in danger of being put out. The teams switch roles when the fielding team puts the batting team out, which varies by game.
In modern baseball the fielders put three players out; in cricket they retire all players but one. Some games permit multiple runners and some have multiple bases to run in sequence. Batting may occur, and running begin, at one of the bases. The movement between those "safe havens" is governed by the rules of the particular sport.Doubleday myth
The Doubleday myth refers to the belief that the sport of baseball was invented in 1839 by future American Civil War general Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown, New York. Abner Graves presented a claim that Doubleday invented baseball to the Mills Commission, a group formed in 1905 that sought to prove whether the sport originated in the United States or was a variation of rounders. Graves' evidence was accepted by the Commission, and in 1908 it named Doubleday as the creator of baseball. The claim eventually received criticism, and most modern baseball historians consider it to be false. The myth nevertheless led to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's being located in Cooperstown.Knickerbocker Rules
The Knickerbocker Rules are a set of baseball rules formalized by William R. Wheaton and William H. Tucker of the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club in 1845. They have previously been considered to be the basis for the rules of the modern game, although this is disputed. The rules are informally known as the "New York style" of baseball, as opposed to other variants such as the "Massachusetts Game" and "Philadelphia town ball".Kī-o-rahi
Kī-o-rahi is a ball sport played in New Zealand with a small round ball called a 'kī'. It is a fast-paced game incorporating skills similar to rugby union, netball and touch. Two teams of seven players play on a circular field divided into zones, and score points by touching the 'pou' (boundary markers) and hitting a central 'tupu' or target. The game is played with varying rules (e.g. number of people, size of field, tag ripping rules etc.) depending on the geographic area it is played in. A process called Tatu, before the game, determines which rules the two teams will use.
In 2005 kī-o-rahi was chosen to represent New Zealand by global fast-food chain McDonald's as part of its 'Passport to Play' programme to teach physical play activities in 31,000 American schools.
The programme will give instruction in 15 ethnic games to seven million primary school children.The New Zealand kī-o-rahi representative organisation, Kī-o-Rahi Akotanga Iho, formed with men's and women's national teams, completed a 14 match tour of Europe in September and October 2010. The men's team included 22-test All Black veteran Wayne Shelford who led the team to a 57–10 test win against Kī-o-Rahi Dieppe Organisation, the French Kī-o-Rahi federation.
Shelford's kī-o-rahi test jersey made him the first kī-o-rahi/rugby double international for NZ. The women's team coached by Andrea Cameron (Head of PE at Tikipunga High School) also won by 33–0. These were the first historic test matches between NZ and France.List of sports
The following is a list of sports/games, divided by category.
According to the World Sports Encyclopedia (2003), there are 8,000 indigenous sports and sporting games.National Association of Base Ball Players
The National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) was the first organization governing American baseball. The first convention of sixteen New York City area clubs in 1857 practically terminated the Knickerbocker era, when that club privately deliberated on the rules of the game. The last convention, with hundreds of members represented only via state associations, provoked the establishment of separate professional and amateur associations in 1871. The succeeding National Association of Professional Base Ball Players is considered the first professional sports league; through 1875 it governed professional baseball and practically set playing rules for all. Because the amateur successor never attracted many members and it convened only a few times, the NABBP is sometimes called "the amateur Association" in contrast to its professional successor.
Beside the playing rules and its own organization, the Association governed official scoring (reporting), "match" play, a championship, amateurism, and hippodroming or the integrity of the contest. It permitted professionalism only for the 1869 and 1870 seasons. In its December 1867 meeting, its rules committee voted unanimously to bar any club "composed of one or more colored persons", effecting the first known color line in baseball.National Association of Professional Base Ball Players
The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP), or known simply as the National Association (NA), was founded in 1871 and continued through the 1875 season. It succeeded and incorporated several professional clubs from the previous National Association of Base Ball Players (NABBP) of 1857-1870, sometimes called "the amateur association"; in turn several of its clubs created the succeeding National League of Professional Baseball Clubs. Later shortened simply to be called the National League, it was founded 1876, the earliest one half of modern Major League Baseball (MLB) in America, with the later competing American League of Professional Base Ball Clubs in 1901, known too as the American League.New York Knickerbockers
The New York Knickerbockers were one of the first organized baseball teams which played under a set of rules similar to the game today. In 1845, the team was founded by Alexander Cartwright, considered one of the original developers of modern baseball. In 1851, the New York Knickerbockers wore the first ever recorded baseball uniforms.Old Depot Museum
The Old Depot Museum is a history museum located in Ottawa, Kansas. The focus of the museum is primarily on the regional history of Franklin County, and the importance of trains to the development of small towns. It features history of local Native Americans, local industries, and has accurate recreations of historical rooms. The Old Depot Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places.Old cat
Old cat (also known as ol' cat or cat-ball) games were bat-and-ball, safe haven games played in North America. The games were numbered according to the number of bases. The number of bases varied according to the number of players. Only one old cat continues to be commonly played in the 21st century.
One old cat, one eyed cat, or the contracted one-o'-cat was the basic version of the game, with a pitcher or giver; a batter or striker; a catcher, and sometimes another fielder or two. The striker, upon hitting the ball thrown by the giver, attempted to run to a single base (often the giver's position) and back again. The fielders tried to sting the striker-runner with a thrown ball while he or she was not touching the base. The striker would also be put out if the struck ball were caught in the air, or if they swung three times at the giver's deliveries and missed. One old cat, like scrub baseball, was a game of individuals—one against all—and not a team sport. Each base touched before 'out' (or just home) would score a point, although score was often not kept.
In his book Base-Ball, John Montgomery Ward wrote that to initiate a game of one old cat, players called out a number to claim a position: one, two, etc.—one being the striker, two being the pitcher, and three the catcher. When an out was made the striker moved to the last position (e.g. five), five became four, four moved to three, three moved to two, and two took a turn as striker—the coveted position. Ward said that if more players were available for the game, there would be two batters opposite each other (as in cricket), and they ran to the opposite base when the ball was hit. This was two old cat. 
Three old cat had a triangular base layout and three strikers, while four old cat had four strikers and four bases in a square pattern. The Mills Commission, formed in 1905 to ascertain the origins of baseball, recorded many reminiscences of people playing three and four old cat in their youth. Baseball historian Harold Seymour reported that old cat games were still being played on the streets and vacant lots of Brooklyn in the 1920s.
Albert Spalding suggested that four old cat was the immediate ancestor of town ball, from which baseball evolved. David Block's recent research indicates that old cat games evolved alongside baseball, as informal or practice versions when there were not enough players for a full game. The Detroit Tigers used old cat as a training exercise at least as late as their 1928 spring training trip to San Antonio, Texas, under manager George Moriarity.One old cat is seeing a resurgence as a batting and fielding training game for younger little league and girl softball teams. Two games are played simultaneously on one diamond, one on the home third line and the other on the first-second line. Because the game is faster-paced than baseball and includes position rotation as a normal element, the chief objection young people voice about baseball, idle time in the field or waiting to bat, is directly addressed. The usual version is one-against-all and otherwise similar to that described above except, for safety, no stinging. The game is also well played with light plastic substitute balls where space is restricted.Origins of baseball
The question of the origins of baseball has been the subject of debate and controversy for more than a century. Baseball and the other modern bat, ball, and running games, cricket and rounders, were developed from folk games in early Britain and Continental Europe (such as France and Germany). Early forms of baseball had a number of names, including "base ball", "goal ball", "round ball", "fetch-catch", "stool ball", and, simply, "base". In at least one version of the game, teams pitched to themselves, runners went around the bases in the opposite direction of today's game, and players could be put out by being hit with the ball. Just as now, in some versions a batter was called out after three strikes.Reuben sandwich
The Reuben sandwich is an American grilled sandwich composed of corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, grilled between slices of rye bread.Riverview League
The Riverview League is a Class A Men's amateur "Town Ball" baseball league in the Southwest Minnesota Twin Cities metro area. The Riverview League is an example of Town Team Baseball that remains popular in Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The Riverview League was established in 1987. As of Spring 2016, the teams in the Riverview League are:
General Sports ESOX
New Hope Athletics
St. Louis ParkThe Riverview League has won 8 of the previous 10 Minnesota Class "A" State Tournaments (all being won by either Minnetonka or St. Louis Park).Tharwa Primary School
Tharwa Primary School was a primary school in the small village of Tharwa, Australian Capital Territory, Australia. It was built in 1898 and opened in 1899. The school had two classrooms for the primary school, plus a preschool room. While the current school dates from 1912, the site of the school made it the oldest operating school in Canberra until its closure in 2006. The first Parents and Citizens committee was established in 1931.The first pupil enrolled on 9 August 1899 and the centenary of this event was celebrated by a town ball and the launching a book A Century of Learning: Tharwa Primary School by historian Matthew Higgins. At that time the school only operated on a part-time basis.In 2006 the government announced it would close Tharwa Primary School by the end of December 2006. An attempt was made to open a private school on the site, but the proposal was thwarted by new restrictions on private schools, enacted by the Legislative Assembly in December 2006. Community attempts to save or reopen the school continue.The Tharwa Preschool is still operating. The school and the surrounding community traditionally host an annual Tharwa Bush Fair.The Massachusetts Game
The Massachusetts Game was a type of amateur club baseball popular in 19th century New England. It was an organized and codified version of local games called "base" or "round ball", and related to Philadelphia town ball and rounders. The Massachusetts Game is remembered as a rival of the New York Game of baseball, which was based on Knickerbocker Rules. In the end, however, it was the New York style of play which was adopted as the "National Game" and was the fore-runner of modern baseball.
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