From SABR members Craig Waff and Larry McCray at Our Game on November 8, 2011:
In the summer of 1856 … there were fifty-three games in New York and the metropolitan area.
One senses that Harold Seymour, in the above remark, was moved to highlight the number of games played in 1856 because it showed that, more than a decade after the Knickerbocker Club had codified rules for baseball, the game was actually taking root. Merely two years earlier, the entire known playing season had involved only three Manhattan-based clubs (Knickerbocker, Gotham, and Eagle) and they played a modest sum of seven interclub games at two locations—the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey, and grounds near the Red House in Harlem. In comparison, the 53 games then known for 1856 show impressive growth.
The Game on the Field
A recently launched online data compilation, the Protoball Games Tabulation compiled by Craig B. Waff, allows us to profile the facts of the 1856 season and the nature of the mid–1850s style of play. The tabulation reflects all of the published accounts of games that had come to light by 2008, when the Protoball Project uploaded version 1.0 of the tables. They profile over 1,500 games reported from 1845 to the Civil War.
For the 1856 season 70 games are listed (including several played by junior clubs and second nines). About half were played at either the Elysian Fields or the Red House sites, but the city of Brooklyn had now already bypassed both of their totals, hosting 21 games, with seven other games reported at sites in New Jersey towns and in what is now the Bronx. No game was reported for any Manhattan location south of Harlem. For the season, games involving 26 distinct clubs are displayed, including eleven from Brooklyn and eight from Manhattan. Another five active clubs had formed in New Jersey localities, and two more to the north of Manhattan Island.
Read the full article here: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/11/08/the-new-york-game-in-1856/
Originally published: November 8, 2011. Last Updated: November 8, 2011.