Monday, March 27, 2006

Leave Your Balls At Home

Two documents important to the history of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, turned up in 2004—only one of which will cause descendants of Abner Doubleday to choke on their Cracker Jack.

One was a muster roll of 18 men who marched on the Lexington alarm of April 19, 1775, now on display at the Berkshire Historical Society. It's the sort of thing that would only interest those creeps you see lurking around the genealogy stacks at the library.

The other was a town bylaw from 1791 containing the earliest known reference to "baseball" in North America:

For the Preservation of the Windows in the New Meeting House . . . no Person or Inhabitant of said town, shall be permitted to play at any game called Wicket, Cricket, Baseball, Football, Cat, Fives, or any other game or games with balls, within the Distance of Eighty Yards from said Meeting House. [Link]
As eighty yards wouldn't even reach to the warning track in Fenway Park, this bylaw must have been passed during the dead-ball era. Speaking of which, visit The Dead Ball Era for info on ballplayers tagged out for the last time.

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