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The lure of base ball

It is said that Alfred Doubleday of Cooperstown, NY invented the game of base ball in 1839, but the game was played on the dusty fields and quiet streets of Brookyn in the first decades of the 19th century. Baseball's popularity spread rapidly during the Civil War era. Union soldiers, needing a form of camaraderie and relaxation after battle, enthusiastically played the game as they made their way to the South. When taken prisoner, they would often engage their captors in a game or two. In this letter signed by Phebe, the writer is pleased that the soldier and his mates played a "match of base ball," understanding that the soldiers needed respite from the war. Phebe goes on to say that she doesn't believe the soldier's match could beat the one played between Willet and Phebe.

For more on "Base Ball," see Documents 53 and 86.


Citation - Document 25
July 11, 1861
Courtesy of Tom and Angela Sarro

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