BL: Baseball (update)
Posted: 07 March 2017 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  6242
Joined  2007-01-03

As promised back in the GOAT thread.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2017 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Moderator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  339
Joined  2007-02-13

Danke schoen.  It is much better.

I will now commence to quibble, but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.  I believe that the Lady Hervey letter is not preserved, and that we know it from a 19th century.  You correctly point out that the 1744 Newbery citation is presumptive, as we don’t have that edition of the book.  While I have no reason to question the transcription of Lady Hervey’s letter, this too is a flawed citation.

Fortunately, David Block dredged a real daisy of a citation after he wrote the book:  The Whitehall Evening Post reported in its September 19, 1749 on Frederick, Prince of Wales playing “bass-ball.” See http://protoball.org/1749.2.

The Lady Hervey quote, by the way, is describing activities at the same Prince of Wales’s mansion, Leicester House.  He was quite the sportsman.  He was raised in Hanover but worked to be more English than the English.  He reputedly died due to a cricket injury.  I do not attest to the truth value of that claim.  In any case, this is why only those deeply into the Hanoverian period of British history even know that he existed.  His father was George II and his son became George III.

Lady Hervey was quite the interesting character as well:  well worth looking up.  Her entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13118 only hints at some of the racier roomers, and the rather matronly picture of her in her 60s obscures that she was quite the looker, in that 18th century courtier sort of way:  https://www.artuk.org/discover/artworks/mary-molly-lepel-17001768-lady-hervey-171866

But back to baseball:  there is no “presumably” about the number of players varying from game to game in the early days.  The Knickerbockers score book survives in the New York Public Library.  The number of players on a side varied wildly, typically running from six to twelve or more.  It all depended on who showed up that day.  The important point that tends to get lost was that the Knickerbockers didn’t exist to play games against other clubs.  It was a vehicle for its members to take their exercise together.  They met two afternoons a week during the season.  Two sides were picked from whoever showed up, just like we used to on playgrounds with two captains taking turns choosing players.  It was only important to have a specific number of players when playing a “match game” against another club.  That was the 1846 game that (incorrectly) gets designated the first game.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 March 2017 08:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2977
Joined  2007-01-30

Poor Frederick, born to be a king and ended up not being much of anything. As the contemporary satiric epitaph had it:

Here lies poor Fred who was alive and is dead,
Had it been his father I had much rather,
Had it been his sister nobody would have missed her,
Had it been his brother, still better than another,
Had it been the whole generation, so much better for the nation,
But since it is Fred who was alive and is dead,
There is no more to be said!

BTW I remember a pithier version consisting of solely the first and last lines but I think that’s because many books print those lines with an ellipsis between them which I fancy I misinterpreted years ago as signifying a pause for emphasis rather than an omission.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 March 2017 06:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4435
Joined  2007-01-29

The earliest known American reference to the game is from 5 September 1791, when the town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts passed an ordinance to protect the newly installed windows of the town meeting house

When I was living in Pittsfield I visited the excellent local-history room of the town library and read that ordinance in its original context—a peak baseball-history-fan experience!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 March 2017 06:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Moderator
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  339
Joined  2007-02-13

The House of Hanover:  the Rodney Dangerfields of royal dynasties.

But seriously, in my youth I was fairly obsessed with British history.  It gradually dawned on me that English constitutional history was a really important and interesting part of this, and furthermore that constitutional development ran inversely with effective monarch.  Those kings we love to read about, gloriously kicking some French ass?  Yeah, those are fun reads.  But the sniveling weaklings are where the real action lies, with Parliament moving into the power vacuum.  In this light, the Hanovers were very very good for Britain.  Though I understand the Scots’ point about Frederick’s younger brother.

I also have a soft spot for George II’s queen, Caroline of Ansbach.  For reasons I have never figured out, his father let him choose his wife rather than playing the matrimonial leverage game.  So young George set out on the 18th century version of internet dating, traveling incognito (which I don’t take to mean everyone didn’t know who he was, but merely that they eschewed the ceremonial niceties.  In Caroline he found a keeper.  Education of upper class women was a bit spotty in that era.  They were expected to be literate, but beyond it depended on the girl.  Caroline was one of those kids who you let loose in a library and she is off to the races.  She also was physically attractive and had the courtly graces.  In other words, a nerd girl who was also a hottie and had social skills:  I’m in! 

George and Caroline had a love match, which was rare among royalty.  He was so devoted to her that on her deathbed he swore that he would never remarry, contenting himself instead with mere mistresses.  Even more heart-warming, he had a special coffin made for her, with one side panel removable.  He had a matching coffin made for himself, so that after he died their remains would intermingle.  OK, that might be more creepy than heart-warming.  But the mistress thing was sweet.

Here is Caroline, looking quite fetching:  A039732.jpg

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ Woke and Womanity      Accidental neologisms ››