Hershberger: A reconstruction of Philadelphia town ball

From SABR member Richard Hershberger at Our Game on May 29, 2013:

Modern baseball is descended from the game played in New York City at the middle of the 19th century. This version, however, was not the only one played in North America. The baseball family extended throughout English-speaking North America, in various versions and under different names, both as children’s games and in formal competitive communities of clubs of adults.

The best documented of these other forms is the game played in New England. There arose in the late 1850s extended communities of clubs in both New England and New York, holding conventions and publishing formal rules.

Smaller communities are known to have existed in various cities including Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Chicago, but none of these published its rules. There is a long tradition of assuming that the game played in these areas was substantially identical to the New England form, but there is little evidence to support this theory. The more conservative belief is that the rules are unrecoverable. A close examination of the evidence reveals, however, that the rules of the game as played in Philadelphia can be reconstructed.

Read the full article here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/05/29/a-reconstruction-of-philadelphia-town-ball/

Originally published: May 29, 2013. Last Updated: May 29, 2013.