We’re taking a holiday sidetrack through 1857 today — from baseball to one of the most ubiquitous Christmas Carols.
On Christmas Day when I was a kid, my dad would take all the wrapped gifts marked for him and line them up in front of his chair. He would then randomly pick one and declare that it was the best of all. And, that was the gift he would open last. And, by last, I mean later in the day. Much later. Sometimes he would save that last gift until well into the evening when mom was already thinking about taking down the tree. (Mom usually had the Christmas tree stripped and down by lunchtime on the 26th.)
Throughout Christmas Day, my dad would ask if I had any more packages to open, and when I would sadly answer “no,” he would pick up his gift and say, “I still have one to open and it’s the best.”
The Baseball Bloggess grabbing for just one more gift.
So, stick with me because the best story I will tell you today will be the one I tell last.
If you want to snoop through all the stories of baseball – or “base ball” or “base-ball” – in newspapers in 1857, it won’t take long. A couple dozen mentions are all you will find.
When this peculiar, relatively new game appears in Bloomington, Indiana in June 1857, the local paper reports:
“It is a lively and exciting game, with lots of exercise and fun in it. We hope it will speedily become popular here.”
It was, they said, a game for young men. And, with life expectancy hovering around 38 back then, pretty much everything was for young men. (Sorry, ladies, no baseball for you.) Continue reading