Ice Baseball Began in Brooklyn

An Ice Ball Game in Brooklyn Circa 1861

An Ice Ball Game in Brooklyn
Circa 1861

By the time the Civil War started in 1861, the people of Brooklyn, New York were busy coming up with a way to combine two of their favorite athletic crazes: ice skating and base ball. By making use of the same frozen fields and city lots in the middle of Brooklyn’s hard winters, a few daring sport innovators decided to put the two sports together. And so, if ever so briefly, the sport of “Ice Baseball” was born.

The linked article here does a nice job of briefly describing how the sport came to be, how it evolved, or devolved, if you prefer – and how the slippery nature of the sport resulted in one base ball rule that some might have preferred to keep for use in the regular game of base ball. Ice Ball Rule Adaptation on the safe/out phase of base skaters in situations of attempted steals and force plays:  heading for 2nd and 3rd bases, skaters were granted the same grace that runners to 1st base enjoyed in regular base ball. They were permitted to skate past the base and return safely without being tagged out.

Ice Ball seems to have suffered a short life due to (1) its novelty wearing off; (2) the risk of injury; (3) the limitations it placed upon the normal joys of free ice skating; (4) the negative criticism of base ball purists who saw Ice Ball as a mockery; and (5) the simple fact that it could not compare with the full joy of the game that base ball was becoming on the unfrozen grounds of spring and summer.

Like ice cream and hot dogs, ice skating and baseball are both enjoyed more when served separately under optimal conditions which differ for each – but never better on the same plate, mixed together.

Here’s the short-read history look, which also includes other visuals besides the one we borrowed for banner on this column:

Have a great weekend, everybody! – As much as we are trying to scale back at home on all things that make Christmas more work than it ever should be, nobody’s perfect. And getting out on the road is crazy. Just getting out to run some errands today was liking embarking upon a canoe trip down the river of no return. Fortunately for me, that idea turned into another of my frequent journeys into hyperbole. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here tonight to record these thoughts.


 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle



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