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Detail from Home Baseball Game

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The Home Baseball Game

May 5, 2020

The Booth Family Center for Special Collections owns a board game called the “Home Baseball Game,” made by McLoughlin Brothers in 1900.  It is somewhat unusual for an archival repository to own a board game. Nonetheless, this artifact reflects the fact that American children and adults have customarily enjoyed playing board games, including those involving baseball, the national pastime.

Detail from Home Baseball GameThe board game kit includes several components. The cover of the game has a color image of a batter and a catcher. Wearing a matching striped shirt and hat, the batter is right-handed. His pants are cropped just below his knees. The catcher wears a facemask and chest protector. This particular cover of the game is a bit dirty.

The main wooden board displays bases along a diamond and space for the outfield. The positions of the nine defenders are listed on the board. Wooden pieces are used as the players on both sides. It is interesting that the second baseman’s position is directly on second base, not in between first and second bases. Such an alignment would work well as a shift against a modern-day, right-handed pull hitter. The final part to the game is the spin wheel, which players spin to determine the outcome of each at-bat.

McLoughlin Brothers, a long-standing company based in New York City, produced children’s books and board games.  At the turn of the 20th century, Americans played and watched baseball avidly across the nation. Amateurs and professionals alike played the game with passion.  Baseball organizers created the American League in 1901. The American League champion Boston Americans defeated the National League champion Pittsburgh Pirates in the first World Series in 1903.  The National League had originated as the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs in 1876.

In the age of baseball video games, this board game may seem old-fashioned. However, children across the country enjoyed using their imaginations to simulate baseball games by using this game.

Home Baseball Game gameboard

Home Baseball Game gameboard

Home Baseball Game gameboard

Another set of the 1900 Home Baseball Game exists at the New-York Historical Society. It is not known how the Booth Family Center acquired its set.

This blog post was intended to celebrate the opening games of the 2020 Major League Baseball season, now postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

--Scott S. Taylor, Manuscripts Archivist