Gentlemen at the Bat

A Fictional Oral History of the New York Knickerbockers and the Early Days of Base Ball

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About the Book

Beginning in 1845, the New York Knickerbockers were the first fully organized base ball club to play the game with written rules similar to those used today. While they did not invent the game, they had an unparalleled role in stabilizing the playing rules and maintaining standards of conduct in a way that fostered an astonishing proliferation of players and clubs. Based on years of research and told in the style of oral history, this fictional work features all the principal figures from the Knickerbocker club, including Doc Adams, James Whyte Davis, Alexander Cartwright, William Wheaton, and Duncan Curry.

About the Author(s)

Former professor Howard Burman has taught literature overseas and served as an artistic producing director of several professional theatres. He is a full-time writer dividing his time between California and Ireland.

Bibliographic Details

Howard Burman

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 364
Bibliographic Info:
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4720-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5654-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

A Note from the Author      xi
Prologue: A Real Letter from Jim Davis to Edward Talcott      1

PART ONE: THE EARLY DAYS
1. On Beginnings      3
2. Meeting Doc and Poor Old Davis      4
3. And a Few Other Early Players      10
4. Gentlemen Playing All Manner of Games      14
5. A Connection Is Made Between Volunteer Fire Companies and Base Ball      19
6. Playing at Madison Park      24
7. Moving to Sunfish Pond      26
8. On the Move Again      29
9. Alick Makes a Suggestion      41
10. The Idea of Clubs      46

PART TWO: ORGANIZING THE CLUB 1845
11. Recruiting Members      51
12. Writing Rules      52
13. Gentlemen Inventing a Club      53
14. A Trip Across the River      66
15. Playing the First Games as the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club      69
16. Other Clubs, Other Games      72
17. Can They Carry On?      76

PART THREE: FIRST FULL SEASON 1846
18. An Important Decision      79
19. The First Match Game      81
20. Returning to Club Games      87

PART FOUR: STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL 1847–1849
21. The Winters Between      91
22. Struggles for Survival      95
23. On Operating a Gentlemen’s Club      96
24. Games Amongst Members      98
25. Doc Invents a New Position      100
26. Sporting New Uniforms      102
27. On Crowds and Riots      103
28. Of Bats and Balls      104
29. Printing the Rules      106
30. Going for the Gold      108

PART FIVE: THE NATIONAL GAME 1850–1854
31. Members Old and New      113
32. Base Ball, Base Ball, Base Ball      115
33. Return to Playing Other Clubs      119
34. On Matters Political      122
35. Dinners and Diversions      123
36. The National Game      124
37. Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds      127
38. Good Players      131
39. Spectators      133
40. The Umpire Issue      135

PART SIX: BASE BALL FEVER 1855–1857
41. The Fever Spreads      139
42. Club Squabbles      141
43. Time to Organize      144
44. To Plan a Convention      145
45. The First Meeting      146
46. The Rules Committee      148
47. Recommendations      152
48. Playing the Fly Rule      153
49. On Maintaining Standards      154
50. First Nine Matches      155
51. Challenges      158
52. Women at the Games      159
53. Papers Taking Note      160
54. The Changing Game      162
55. New Equipment      165
56. The Pennant      166
57. An Impediment?      168

PART SEVEN: THE GREAT BASE BALL MATCH 1858
58. The Second Convention      171
59. The National Association      173
60. Another Rules Committee      175
61. A Symbol      178
62. Laying Plans      179
63. To Play or Not      183
64. The Day Approaches      184
65. The First Fashion Course Game      186
66. Aftermath of the Game      189
67. Getting Even      191
68. Rubber Match      192
69. Praise and Complaints      196
70. Season’s Play      197

PART EIGHT: AN ILL WIND 1859–1860
71. Beginning of the End      203
72. Going National      206
73. Sunday Play      209
74. Chadwick’s Guides      211
75. Out-of-Control Cranks      212
76. The Spectre of Professionalism      214
77. To Be Competitive      216
78. On Running a Club      218
79. Other Clubs to the Forefront      223
80. Of Bounders and Flys      224
81. Banning Entertainments      228
82. A New Park      229
83. Rule Changes      231

PART NINE: PLAYING THROUGH THE WAR 1861–1865
84. Things Unravel      235
85. Membership Matters      240
86. Maintaining Control      242
87. Creeping Commercialism      244
88. How They Played      249
89. Other Clubs’ Matches      252
90. Down to a Few      254

PART TEN: COMMERCIALISM 1866–1870
91. Base Ball Mania      259
92. Paid to Play      260
93. To Distinguish Between Amateur and Professional      262
94. All-Professional Clubs      264
95. A Question of Race      269
96. Leaving the Association      271
97. On Their Own      273
98. Dirty Dealings      276
99. Gate Money Principles      278
100. Difficult Times for Davis      281
101. Collapse of the Association      282

PART ELEVEN: AMATEURS AND PROFESSIONALS 1871–1875
102. Red Stockings Reversal      285
103. All-Amateur Association      286
104. Blurring the Lines      295
105. The Professionals Regroup      299
106. Club Doings      304
107. Chicanery on the Field      313
108. Tinkering with the Rules      314
109. Availability of Goods      317
110. On Curvers and Long Throws      319
111. Celebrating Davis      321

PART TWELVE: NATIONAL LEAGUE 1876–1879
112. A New Approach      329
113. Suspicions      331
114. Changes      333
115. Old-Timers      334
116. New Amateurs      337
117. And Then There Was One      338

PART THIRTEEN: THE END 1880–1882
118. Final Days      341
119. A Quiet End      346

Epilogue      349