The Fly Game
In the May 29, 1859 issue of The Sunday Mercury, a weekly New York newspaper that extensively covered the expanding world of base ball playing, an untitled paragraph announced the possibility of a forthcoming game that would be strikingly different from all others played during the past few years: “We have heard it rumored — we do not know with what truth — that the Knickerbocker Club, of this city, will shortly play a match with the Excelsior Club, of Brooklyn, in which they will repudiate catching the ball upon the bound.” William Cauldwell, the editor of the newspaper, predicted that it would be “an interesting match, but no doubt somewhat tedious.”1 Nevertheless, on June 30, nearly 3,000 spectators gathered at the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, N.J., to watch what a New-York Times reporter characterized as an “experimental” game “to determine the relative merits of putting out men when fair struck balls were caught on the fly: as contrasted with the rule adopted by the Base Ball Convention, of allowing men to be put out when fair struck balls were caught either on the bound or fly.
[June 30, 1859: Caught on the fly: Knickerbockers vs. Excelsiors, SABR, Craig B. Waff]
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