Wicked Game of Wicket
The following was posted
in the Hartford Courant on July 8th, 1858.
It is the soul of all sport that the utmost fairness,
gentlemanly courtesy, and thorough good temper should
prevail. The moment a particle of bad temper gets in
the fun is all gone. It is therefore disagreeable to
our feelings to publish the subjoined; but as it comes
to us vouched for by responsible names, and as it is
right that the public should act as censors in such
cases, we print it with the single remark, that it is
avowedly the Burlington account, and if Harwinton chooses
to furnish us, from some responsible man, their version
of the difficulty, we shall cheerfully print that, also.
Dear Editor of the Courant - Burlington, July 5th, 1858
A match game of wicket ball, between Burling and Harwinton
wicket players, came off in Burlington on Saturday,
June 26th. It being an interesting time to both towns
represented, we very naturally expected that some gentleman
from the former place would give you the result; but
searching diligently in your issue of last week, and
finding nothing in regard to the subject, we venture,
very reluctantly, to give you a report.
A challenge was sent by the Burlington Club for a game
to take place, June 19th, but Harwinton, not liking
the looks of the number (35 each side) declined. The
agreed however, to accept of 30.
Thirty was the number designated in the next challenge,
June 26th the day, 9 o’clock A.M. the hour and
Burlington the place. The side beaten to pay for supper.
June 26th came along about the time we expected it,
but brought a little more sun than we cared to see.
Both parties were at the ground at the hour appointed,
but were delayed till about 11 o’clock in agreeing
to rules etc. Harwinton reserving the privilege of changing
men when some of their “Bully Players” should
arrive. Burlington struck first, furnished the judges
with a list of names, struck in order, and tallied 145.
Harwinton then took her turn at striking. There was
no list furnished by this side, but they claimed the
privilege of sending along their men in such manner
as might seem to them most convenient. This side tallied
At this point the judges demanded a list of the names
of the players, and after the delay of more than an
hour, Harwinton gave birth to the desired document and
commenced her second strike, getting 99 tallies.
At the close of this (2nd game) a shower of some 19
minutes duration visited us, when Harwinton took to
their heels and sloped. Burlington, notwithstanding
the rain, manned the bats at the order of the judges,
and remained on the ground. After the shower, a deputation
was sent to inquire into the matter, and request that
Harwinton report herself at head-quarters immediately.
The committee discharged their duty, and received a
proposition from Mr. S ____ (the leading spirit on that
side) that each man pay for his own supper, and meet
again after haying was over and play another game. The
committee on the part of Burlington would agree to that
provided the side beaten would pay for two suppers.
Not agreed to, Burlington then demanded the privilege
of taking their 2nd in, but Harwinton would not tend
them out – having an excuse that the grass was
wet. Burlington then proposed to give Harwinton their
3rd and last strike, and take the benefit of the wet
grass themselves. Couldn’t hit them. Burlington
then proposed to go on the ground, and if they could
produce three men who could get tallies, added to what
was got on the first game, sufficient to balance to
what Harwinton got in two games, they were to own up
beat and pay for the supper. No go. Mr. S ____- then
declared that he would not go on the alley again that
Harwinton was then invited to go into the Hall and take
supper free of expense. Wouldn’t do that, but
would foot the whole bill, not admitting however, that
they were beaten. Supper was ordered immediately.
After the elapse of about 2.5 hours, supper nearly ready,
Harwinton “flunked”, declared they would
pay for no suppers unless beaten; went on the ground
and Slumped Burlington to play the remaining three games.
It was now past 6 o’clock. The proposition was
treated with the contempt it deserved. It is the current
opinion, however, that they would have “backed
down” again had their proposition been accepted.
We feel in duty bound to say, that there were several
gentlemen from Harwinton who did not countenance the
acts of the majority, among whom was Lewis Catlin, Esq,
At home abroad, wherever yon chance to meet him, a gentleman.
We believe that Mr. Catlin paid for supper for two,
and would not consent to sit at the table till he had
the privilege of so doing.
We would not by any means intimate that Harwinton did
not deal fairly, but feel confident that had Burlington
done the same, the worthy Pastors of both churches would
have been likely to have taken their texts on the following
day from some passage that would remind us of the importance
of decency. If they could not have found one conveniently
between the two lids of the Bible we think they would
have manufactured one for the occasion.
The game of wicket, a popular out-door sport in the
1800’s originated in Bristol Connecticut about
1830. Wicket resembled cricket n some respect, but it
lacked the characteristics which mark the latter as
a peculiarly scientific pastime. In wicket each full
team numbers 30 players instead of 11, as in the game
of cricket. The wickets of the Connecticut game were
also different, being about 5 feet wide and only 3 inches
above the ground, and having a bar of white wood resting
on two little blocks. The space between the wickets
measured 75 feet by 10 feet, and is termed “the
alley”. Runs are made and recorded as in cricket,
but no record kept of the fielding, nor are the achievements
of the bowlers credited to them on the score book. The
bat used is 38 inches long, and bears a strong resemblance
to a Fiji war-club, the material being well-seasoned
willow. The ball, although much larger then a cricket
ball, was just as light and not quite so hard. Bowling
was done from either end of the alley at the option
of the bowler. There was a central mark between the
wickets, something like that of the ace line in rackets,
If a delivered ball fails to hit the ground before it
passes this mark it is called a “no ball”
and no runs from it are counted.
Historical Hartford Courant
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