M975.62.613 | Montreal - Base Ball on St. Helen's Island

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Montreal - Base Ball on St. Helen's Island
Anonyme - Anonymous
1874, 19th century
Ink on paper - Photolithography
21 x 28 cm
Gift of Mr. Charles deVolpi
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Genre (188) , Print (10661)
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Keys to History

Baseball is an American invention adapted from earlier games that use a bat and ball. In many Canadian cities it came to replace more elitist sports like cricket and lacrosse. At first, the rules of the game varied greatly, depending whether it was played in the Maritimes -- influenced by the New England version -- or in Ontario. But in the late 1860s, uniform rules were adopted. Printers, shoemakers and tradesmen of all sorts embraced this sport, which fostered worker solidarity. Baseball was equally popular with French Canadian workers, in large part because, contrary to other pastimes, it was not part of the British tradition.

Colin D. Howell, Blood, Sweat, and Cheers: Sport and the Making of Modern Canada (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001), p. 41.

  • What

    This baseball game appears to be something of a free-for-all. Although some sports had official rules, people did not always play by them.

  • Where

    Baseball was initially played on large fields with no fixed shape or size.

  • When

    Originally very different from one region to another, the rules of baseball were standardized in the late 1860s.

  • Who

    Baseball was primarily a working-class sport, but it took hold in the upper class as well.