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Posted: 07 September 2017 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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There is one exchange in the movie Field of Dreams that I always recall and enjoy immensely

That was an enjoyable movie (though not nearly as good as Bull Durham or A League of Their Own, if you ask me), but I trust you realize it was only a movie.  The idea of ballplayers happy to “play for nothing” was a fantasy of team owners (and screenwriters), not an actual thing.

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Posted: 07 September 2017 07:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Wonderful posts, Richard!

They remind me of other moral panics, like the decline in the state of the language (Alfred the Great, anyone?) or how the latest thing is corrupting the minds of our youth (internet, video games, Dungeons and Dragons, television, rock and roll, comic books, jazz music, and even the novel if you go back to the eighteenth century). Hell, you can go back to Ovid’s Metamorphoses and his pining for the Golden Age. (And I’m pretty certain Ovid wasn’t saying anything new.)

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Posted: 07 September 2017 07:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Dave Wilton - 07 September 2017 07:32 AM

Wonderful posts, Richard!

They remind me of other moral panics, like the decline in the state of the language (Alfred the Great, anyone?) or how the latest thing is corrupting the minds of our youth (internet, video games, Dungeons and Dragons, television, rock and roll, comic books, jazz music, and even the novel if you go back to the eighteenth century). Hell, you can go back to Ovid’s Metamorphoses and his pining for the Golden Age. (And I’m pretty certain Ovid wasn’t saying anything new.)

No, it goes back to Hesiod.

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Posted: 07 September 2017 08:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I am in my mid-50s, and have two elementary school age daughters.  I work hard at avoiding cries of “O tempora o mores” over their recreational preferences.  I have succeeded at least with the older one of inculcating the idea of reading as a recreational activity, but I carefully avoid looking too closely at what what she reads other than making a point of having better material available to her.

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Posted: 07 September 2017 08:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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languagehat - 07 September 2017 05:09 AM

There is one exchange in the movie Field of Dreams that I always recall and enjoy immensely

That was an enjoyable movie (though not nearly as good as Bull Durham or A League of Their Own, if you ask me), but I trust you realize it was only a movie.  The idea of ballplayers happy to “play for nothing” was a fantasy of team owners (and screenwriters), not an actual thing.

Oh I do indeed. Still, one can hope.

I would love to see a version of baseball where the two teams meet and part of the game is the actual drafting of teams from the combined pool of players.  I’d pay to watch that.

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Posted: 07 September 2017 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Westim - 07 September 2017 08:36 AM

I would love to see a version of baseball where the two teams meet and part of the game is the actual drafting of teams from the combined pool of players.  I’d pay to watch that.

This is how they did it in the early baseball clubs.  The whole point of the club was to be a vehicle for young men in sedentary urban occupations to take their exercise together in a socially congenial setting.  The typical pattern was for the club to meet two afternoons a week during the season.  Two captains were appointed, who took turns selecting players from those who showed up.  Clubs could go for years, or even decades, this way.  The snake in the grass was that if there were two clubs in one city, guys being guys there inevitably would be a challenge for a match game:  you pick your best guys and we’ll pick ours, and go at it.  At first these were very social events, very hail-fellow-well-met with a big dinner afterwards with toasts and songs and mutual congratulations all around.  But this didn’t last long.  Guys being guys, competitiveness pretty quickly took hold, changing the nature of the individual clubs.  The take-our-exercise-together club model was only stable in isolation.  A few clubs tried self-imposed isolation, but this only worked for a few years at most.

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Posted: 07 September 2017 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Still, one can hope.

To each his own; me, I like watching teams of well-paid professionals who play the game at the highest level.

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Posted: 08 September 2017 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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The cartoon that says it all:

http://bokbluster.com/2017/09/07/apple-watchgate

Hope it remains the same and doesn’t disappear, but it probably will.

OK, it moved down one notch, but will remain on front page for a while.

[Edit: changed URL to the permanent link—dw]

[ Edited: 08 September 2017 02:18 PM by Dave Wilton ]
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Posted: 10 September 2017 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Thanks, Dave.

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Posted: 17 September 2017 04:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Westim - 07 September 2017 08:36 AM


I would love to see a version of baseball where the two teams meet and part of the game is the actual drafting of teams from the combined pool of players.  I’d pay to watch that.

There was a version of that at the Farmers’ Musuem in Cooperstown.  A group of people played an early version of the game, called town ball. There were four teams that had different uniforms but the players were randomly divided between the two teams that were to play on a particular day.

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Posted: 17 September 2017 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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That sort of game is far more enjoyable for players than for spectators (those who are not related to players, anyway), just like amateur music.

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Posted: 18 September 2017 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Faldage - 17 September 2017 04:45 AM

There was a version of that at the Farmers’ Musuem in Cooperstown.  A group of people played an early version of the game, called town ball.

Under other circumstances, I would suspect you of trolling me :) If just one of my findings in early baseball history sticks, and makes it into the general understanding, I want it to be the understanding of the term “town ball.” It is routinely used to refer to some vaguely defined ancestor of baseball.  This usage arose in the 1880s, decades after any ancestor to baseball was current.

The proper understanding of the vocabulary when it was current usage is that pre-modern baseball was a family of closely related games.  The rules varied, but there was an identifiable underlying structure to all versions:  a playing field with bases arranged in a polygon (not necessarily regular); two sides of equal number; game play divided into innings, with one side the “ins” and the other the “outs.” The outs were distributed around the field.  The ins sent a batter to the field, with the goal of batting the ball and making a circuit of the bases.  The outs had the goal of either catching the batted ball to put the batter out or to put a runner out between the bases, usually by throwing the ball at him (i.e. the good old days).  Once some number (typically either one or all) of the ins were put out, the two sides switched sides.

The baseball family can be identified by this underlying structure.  This is fortunate, as it cannot be reliably identified by the names given it.  Rather, there were regional dialectal terms.  The oldest of these terms was “base ball.” This arose in 18th century England (hence Jane Austen’s heroine Catherine Morland, who enjoyed it) but the term was gradually replaced over the 19th century in Britain by the new term “rounders.” In America, “base ball” remained the normal name for the game in New York state and the Great Lakes region.  It was also used in New England, but alongside a newer term, “round ball.” “Town ball” was the normal term in Pennsylvania, the Ohio River Valley, and the South, and used alongside “base ball” in the upper Mississippi.

So any talk of playing “town ball” in Cooperstown, New York, much less New England, is nonsense.  The term was never current there.  What happened in the 1880s was an old-timer in, say, Cincinnati would observe that in his youth he played “town ball” where now the kids played “base ball.” This correct and commonplace observation was merrily misinterpreted as town ball being ancestral to base ball.  The so-called “Massachusetts game,” a form of baseball played in eastern New England in the late 1850s, was also misinterpreted as being an ancestral form, and therefore was misidentified as “town ball.”

I have been pounding this drum in early baseball circles for about ten years.  It is surprisingly difficult to convey the concept, even to intelligent people interested in the subject.  I think much of this is getting them to think in linguistic terms of regional dialects.  Presumably this is not a problem here.

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Posted: 19 September 2017 02:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I merely describe what happened in my lifetime.  The game they called town ball was played on a square diamond with the batter standing halfway between home an first.  If one on the ‘ins’ was called out, either through a batted ball being caught on the fly with the fielder standing with both feet on the ground or through the base runner having been ‘soaked’, i.e., hit with the ball while not touching a peg that marked the location of one of the bases the side was out.  They played by the rules that were printed in what purported to be a document from the early nineteenth century describing what was called, IIRC, ‘The Massachusetts Game.

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Posted: 19 September 2017 05:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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@ Faldage:  Oh, I’m not blaming you.  I have seen that document, or one like it.  It is a travesty.  It is a modified version of the Massachusetts game, which in turn was a form of baseball codified at a convention in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1858.  But why is it calling the game “town ball” when the convention is explicitly of the “Massachusetts Association of Base Ball Players?” And why are they playing this version in Cooperstown instead of the version codified the previous year at the convention in the geographically closer New York City?  There is a rather large package contained here of misinformation and bad assumptions, merrily presented by persons and organizations pleased to imagine they are presenting history.  feh.

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