Hise: American cricket in the 1860s

From Beth Hise at Our Game on September 4, 2012:

The article below, by Beth Hise, appeared in print in a special issue of the journal “Base Ball”. 


Cricket is essentially an English game; a game in such favour with the English cannot well have much attraction for the American, the disposition of both people being as different as base ball is from cricket.

So proclaimed the Brooklyn Eagle on April 25, 1862. And yet, this same article goes on to preview, in glowing terms, the coming cricket season in Brooklyn: “from the preparations that are being made, and the interest manifested by the members, we have every reason to expect a brilliant season and many interesting matches.” Further, the “cricket clubs have been strengthened by several acquisitions of base ball players, as the latter have by cricketers.” How to explain these contradictory statements? If, as the article asserts, cricket has little attraction for Americans, why go on to outline plans for an active season involving up to seven clubs in Brooklyn alone? And if cricket reflects an English disposition, how is it that this alien game attracted baseball players, and that cricketers took up the apparently completely different American game of baseball? The article simultaneously dooms the sport (the past season was “very dull” with few matches of “no great importance”) and promotes its future (“as the coming season advances, the more promising do matters appear”).

A few weeks earlier, cricket had brought out the same double-speak in the Eagle. Cricket “is not an American game” and will never be “in much vogue” . . . but all the same the season promises “very fair” and “we shall have more to say hereafter through the columns of the Eagle.”

Read the full article here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/09/04/american-cricket-in-the-1860s/

Originally published: September 4, 2012. Last Updated: September 4, 2012.