Play Ball!: Henry Chadwick’s 1866 Base Ball Player’s Book of Reference

Cabinet card portrait of Henry Chadwick seated with a book in his hands. / G. Frank E. Pearsall, 289 Fulton St. [Brooklyn, N.Y.], [1874].
Cabinet card portrait of Henry Chadwick seated with a book in his hands. / G. Frank E. Pearsall, 289 Fulton St. [Brooklyn, N.Y.], [1874]. (BL-13-58a National Baseball Hall of Fame Library)
base ball title page
Title Page

To celebrate the beginning of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, Special Collections has digitized and made available The Base Ball Player’s Book of Reference, an exceedingly rare book of baseball rules and statistics written by Henry Chadwick. Only one other institution, the American Antiquarian Society, reports holding the 1866 edition of this work. The copy held by Lehigh is a unique presentation copy signed by the author, containing the note “Compliments of H Chadwick.”


An early spokesperson for the sport of baseball, Henry Chadwick gained renown as a pioneering sports journalist. Seeking to describe the events of games in greater detail and make it easier to follow by a wider fan base, Chadwick invented many basic terms and statistics, including:

  • The batting average (BA), used to analyze the skill of a batter
  • The earned run average (ERA), used to measure runs scored as a result of a pitcher
  • The letter K to denote a strike
  • The box-score, used to record the runs, hits, put-outs, assists and errors that occurred during a game
  • Numbering defensive positions and abbreviating plays to aid in score-keeping

Henry Chadwick Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque
Henry Chadwick Baseball Hall of Fame Plaque (

All of these innovations are still commonly used to describe and analyze the game of baseball. Since Chadwick’s initial use of statistics, a plethora of new and increasingly complex statistics have been created to better analyze players and their abilities, the practice now described as Sabermetrics. For his significant contributions to the national game of baseball, Chadwick was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1938, just the third year of its existence. Lehigh’s holding is not the first baseball rule book, written by Chadwick in 1858 as recognized by the Hall of Fame, but it still provides a fascinating glimpse into the early days of baseball.

While many of the rules in the book will be familiar to modern baseball fans, there are several differences. What we now refer to as balls, Chadwick describes as “Delivering Unfair Balls,” for which an umpire should warn the pitcher before keeping count of unfair balls and allowing the batter to take a base after three such calls, not the modern four. It is difficult to imagine baseball without the iconic home run, but according to Chadwick,

Home runs are not recognized by the rules. Custom considers a home run as being made, if the home base is reached before the ball passes the line of the home base from the outer field, provided the batsman has not been obliged to stop on any base for fear of being put out. A “ clean home run” — and none other should be counted in the score— is a run made from home to home, from a hit made to long field beyond the reach of the out-fielders.

Chadwick also allows for foul balls to be caught for outs after a single bounce, a rule that would later be eliminated. Before Chadwick’s rules, it was commonly accepted that fair one bounce balls could be caught by fielders for outs. However, Chadwick preferred fielders to get outs by catching balls directly hit from the bat, which is how the game is played today.

As the new baseball season begins, it is interesting to take a retrospective look at how America’s pastime has developed since its creation and popularization in the 19th century. Lehigh’s digitized copy of Chadwick’s 1866 The Base Ball Player’s Book of Reference can be read or downloaded in its entirety on the Internet Archive. For more information about this book, visit Lehigh’s library catalog. You can read more about Henry Chadwick on his Baseball Hall of Fame page.



Banned Books Week: Index Librorum Prohibitorum

While Banned Books Week now provides the opportunity to celebrate the reading and expression of unpopular or challenging ideas, the suppression and censoring of controversial ideas in printed books has a long and well documented history.

With the advent of Gutenberg’s printing press in the 15th century came the ability to rapidly and widely disseminate information. This new method of printing made hand-written manuscripts largely obsolete, and in the process broke the Catholic Church’s near monopoly on the written word. In conjunction with the Christian Reformation, this literary revolution challenged the Roman Church’s moral and theological doctrines. In an attempt to combat this threat to Catholic dogma, Pope Paul IV published the 1559 Index Librorum Prohibitorum. This publication was an official list of “books which were not to be read or possessed by Roman Catholics without authorization, or which could be read only in approved or expurgated editions” (Glaister, p. 242). A more moderate, revised list was published in 1564 following the Council of Trent, which was later followed by another revision in 1897 by Pope Leo XIII. The final version of the list was published in 1948 and the Index was officially abolished by the Vatican in 1966.


Index Librorum Prohibitorum
Title page of the 1564 Index Librorum Prohibitorum. From the Internet Archive


The first librarian of Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, Thomas James, anticipated Banned Books Week by several centuries. In 1627, James published his Index Generalis, which was based on the Index Expurgatorius, a list of works in need of revision or alteration for Catholic approval. James‘ Index was used “as an invaluable reference work to be sued by the curators of the Bodleian Library when listing those works particularly worthy of collecting” (Encyclopedia of Censorship, p. 133). According to the Encyclopedia of Censorship, James’ preface to the Index Generalis “makes his contempt for the Papacy clear, both because it extended so pervasive a censorship system and, perhaps more so, because the system was so poorly, ignorantly and unprofessionally implemented” (p. 133). Like the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, James’ Index continued to be used into the 20th century.

Literary Policy

One of the most famous authors on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum was Galileo Galilei, who defended the Copernican model of a heliocentric solar system. Following his trial by the Roman Inquisition, Galileo’s Dialogo was added to the Index and he was officially prohibited from publishing any future works. This historic 1633 prohibition is noted in an 1830 publication titled Literary Policy of the Church of Rome, which was discovered in the circulating collection of Fairchild Martindale Library while researching this post and pictured above. This book was written by a British reverend and presents a historical analysis of the Catholic Church’s policy of censorship. Galileo did not abide by the Church’s ruling, publishing his seminal work Two New Sciences in 1638. Lehigh’s Special Collections holds several editions of Galileo’s Two New Sciences, including a copy of the first edition, which was the one millionth volume acquired by the Lehigh Libraries in 1992.


A 1564 version of an Index Librorum Prohibitorum is available online at The Internet Archive provided by the National Central Library of Rome.

A 1576 version of an Index Expurgatorius is available online at Hathitrust provided by Duke University.


Glaister, G. A. (1996). Encyclopedia of the book (2nd ed.). New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press.

Green, J. (1990). The encyclopedia of censorship. New York, N.Y.: Facts on File.

My “Special Collections” Education

by Devin Bostick, Class of 2014

Digitizing Lehigh-Lafayette 100th Game Booklet for a library patron

Since I started working in Special Collections in the fall of 2011, I have gained a great deal of experience related to research for digitization projects, camera imaging and editing in Photoshop, library collection and material organization using Omeka, and library exhibit display and presentation.  Through my experience in Special Collections, I have digitized hundreds of images ranging from book pages to maps and Lehigh alumni photograph albums.  I have had the privilege of seeing up close the progression of Lehigh’s history as related to its campus buildings, student organizations, sports teams, Lehigh/Lafayette games, and graduation and reunion ceremonies.  Towards the end of my Lehigh career and particularly my senior year, I frequently look back with nostalgia at my own experience at Lehigh, and my experiences in Special Collections have affirmed the fulfillment and satisfaction of so many other past Lehigh students shown in its records.   To name a few specifics, I have learned about the scientific and engineering laboratories of Lehigh, famous alumni and their many achievements, the passing of important faculty and the significance of their past work on Lehigh’s future, the work of talented and driven Lehigh doctoral students, Lehigh’s history as recorded through the eyes of the Brown and White, changes to the Epitome and Lehigh’s course catalog over time, and more humorously the extent to which older alumni at class reunions compete with each other for most ridiculous costume by dressing up like astronauts or clowns.  That last one will give me some ideas for Halloween in future years no doubt.

In addition to increasing my appreciation for Lehigh and all it has provided me in terms of education and personal growth, my work at Special Collections has allowed me to learn so much about the effective operation of a high-tech camera and about digital image editing, which can serve me well in the future. I enjoyed learning how to troubleshoot the camera and became an expert on how to operate it when problems occurred. I have also learned how to manage and standardize digitization projects encompassing the collaborative work of several others, create and organize hierarchies and logical progressions for items displayed in Special Collections online exhibits, create folders and holding devices for damaged rare materials, and develop descriptions for the Special Collections physical exhibits and display cases in Linderman Library.

Digitization is finished and the file delivered. Another patron is happy.

Special Collections contains a fascinating plethora of rare and old books, maps, journals, and manuscripts showcasing Lehigh’s history.  It allows students to study original materials first-hand and identify intriguing pieces of history only found through diligent and perceptive research.  I will miss many of the life lessons and experiences I have gained from working in Special collections, and I hope the department can continue on an upward path of growth and expansion for the educational and cultural enrichment of Lehigh University and the broader community.

Medieval Manuscripts, Monty Python, & Harry Potter at Linderman

People often wonder what relevance Medieval Studies has in today’s world- or at least they ask me what I plan on doing with a degree in Medieval Architectural History.  I think for many the Middle Ages seems like a faraway place that has little influence on their everyday reality.  And yet, if you look for it, it’s there in some appropriated and reinterpreted fashion.

Why do Vikings make an appearance in my home through Capital One commercials? And why choose Vikings to sell credit cards anyway?  Why do several of Lehigh’s academic buildings recall the Ye Olde- what is the legacy of the style?  When one thinks of dark deeds, do they usually occur on a dark and stormy night, set against the backdrop of a castle or ruined cathedral?  Why is the imagery so evocative?  And of course, there is the noble King Arthur & the dream of Camelot or the outlaw hero Robin Hood, whose story was lately retold in the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe action flick.  There are the tales from our childhood: fairy tales, folk tales, Harry Potter, and Disney princesses- the role of Snow White will be reprised by K.Stew in 2012.   How many of us geek out to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy (books, movies, action figures, or Elvish), or most recently HBO’s adaption of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones?

Linderman Library’s 2011 winter exhibit is entitled Being Medieval. The purpose of the exhibit is to question what informs our understanding of the Middle Ages and the idea of Medieval through a juxtaposition of Lehigh University’s medieval and renaissance manuscript collection with later artistic and literary interpretations from the last three hundred years. The manuscripts were last displayed in 1970 by John C. Hirsch, currently at Georgetown University.  Professor Hirsch researched and wrote an exhibit catalogue  entitled Western Manuscripts of the Twelfth through the Sixteenth Centuries in Lehigh University Libraries: A Guide to the Exhibition.  His catalogue remains the authority on Lehigh University Library’s manuscripts and will be included in the online exhibit.

The ground floor exhibit was inspired by Marcus Bull’s work, Thinking Medieval: An Introduction to the Study of the Middle Ages (New York, NY: Plagrave Macmillian, 2005) and a class I took as an undergrad many moons ago at the University of Missouri.  According to Professor Bull, “To ‘think medieval’, in other words, is to ponder what the words ‘Middle Ages’ and ‘medieval’ have come to mean beyond the academic context.  What associations do these terms trigger, and why?” (Bull, Thinking Medieval, 1). He begins his treatise with a discussion of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994). He wonders why Tarantino chose to use the phrase, I’m gonna git medieval on your ass!, to describe the violent torture about to be undertaken in the film (Bull, Thinking Medieval, 10-12).  The other source of inspiration was an interdisciplinary course shared between English and Art History that examined the changing artistic illustrations of Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and Dante’s Inferno.  At the time of the course, I was not yet a medievalist; however, the class has always stuck with me and was one of the best classes I took as an undergrad.  We examined these images from the Early Modern Period through the Late 2oth century not simply as a reflection of the texts themselves but also situated in the artistic and cultural periods of the artists.  I’ve assembled a few of them for you in the cases outside Lucy’s cafe.

It begs the question why are certain stories told again and again- why do they continue to resonate with us? The exhibit does not attempt to answer these questions; however, the artifacts assembled allow you to ponder both the questions raised and your own construction of the Middle Ages.  The exhibit will run between November 15, 2011 and February 24, 2012 and will give our community the chance to compare the authentic Ye Olde with later interpretations and inspirations of the Medieval.  Information about tours will be forthcoming.

Poor as in Standard & Poor’s

When Standard & Poor’s downgraded the United States government’s credit rating to AA from AAA, the world economical markets reacted accordingly as expected: they took a nose dive to dropping to an alarming stage. While the economists and political scientists focused on what the effects were, I wanted to know more about the S&P and its rating system. Believe it or not, there was once a real man named Henry Varnum Poor who travelled in the United States by train through the newly constructed railroads and took obsessive notes about how they operated, their service. He then added some statistical data on his notes, and voila: the era of “rating” started with no returning back! The competition between the railroad companies was a cut-throat fight, and it was just the right time and right place to be for Mr. Poor who understood the power of his work and decided establish his company.

Here is a piece from Wikipedia on the history of Standard & Poor’s: “The company traces its history back to 1860, with the publication by Henry Varnum Poor of “History of Railroads and Canals in the United States.” This book was an attempt to compile comprehensive information about the financial and operational state of U.S. railroad companies. Henry Varnum went on to establish H.V. and H.W. Poor Co. with his son, Henry William, and published annually updated versions of this book.
In 1906, Luther Lee Blake founded the Standard Statistics Bureau, with the view to providing financial information on non-railroad companies. Instead of an annually published book, Standard Statistics would use 5″ x 7″ cards, allowing for more frequent updates.
In 1941, Poor and Standard Statistics merged to become Standard & Poor’s Corp. In 1966, the company was acquired by The McGraw-Hill Companies, and now encompasses the Financial Services division.” (Yes, the same McGraw-Hill, publisher of the most of your textbooks!)

The first edition of Henry V. Poor’s “History of Railroads and Canals in the United States” can be found in the Lehigh’s Special Collections, the very book that set the standard for the “rating system”. The book contains detailed data about the local railroad companies, such as Asa Packer’s Lehigh Valley Rail Road Company, and also a rich advertisement section with handsome illustrations of railroad tools, equipment, and engine parts. It seems that Lehigh’s copy has been circulated frequently, especially in the 1960s and 1970s and was loaned to other institutions through Inter Library Loan.

Lehigh’s copy of Poor’s book’s bookplate and title page are another enigma: The bookplate indicates that this particular book was donated to Lehigh by Albert Brodhead, Class of 1888, who, in his will, also donated more than 50 real estate properties to Lehigh University in North and South Bethlehem, such as the block where the Tally-Ho Tavern is and where most of the offices along the West side of the Brodhead Avenue are — Lehigh still owns and maintains many of them. The library staff who accessioned the book on December 8, 1941, rubber stamped the book with a library accession stamp, but on a later date, strangely, probably a library user, dropped a note next to this date with a ballpoint pen: “A day that will live in infamy” –probably referring to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous line, “A date which live in infamy” from his “War speech” of December 8, 1941.

Can a book from 1860 still be relevant and, more importantly, how many stories can a book tell us? Inquiring minds can fetch countless stories from a simple book that is on the shelves of your library.

The “Industrial Age” has passed and the magnitude of the U.S. railroad system has diminished to a vanishing degree, but Mr. Poor’s rating system is still a solid “gold standard” in the economical markets that, ironically, the fate of our daily lives and our standard of living are determined by his clever invention. Books, on the other hand, are timeless and they are immune to predictions, while they contain every known prophecy.

Ilhan Citak

*If you’d like to take a look at Lehigh’s copy of Henry Varnum Poor’s “History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States of America” please send an email to Special Collections at to make an appointment.