[Note: Parts of this entry were previously at cat n 3c.]
cat-ball n [ cat n 3c + ball, presumably to distinguish this from similar games played with a wooden cat n 3a]
Any of various bat-and-ball games involving a variable number of bases according to the number of players available, the general type of which one old cat n 1, two old cat n 1, etc., represent varieties. Also called cat n 3c
1824 in 1954 DE Hist. 6.159, If I could only prevail upon the rest of your visitors to change their love of quoits, for . . . the vulgar sport of cat-ball, I rather think I should become famous in the sporting annals of the coming summer.1832 Norwich Courier (CT) 2 May /6, Be it ordained by the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of the city of Norwich . . , That if any person or persons shall play at ball, cat ball, or sky ball, or at ball generally, . . in any of the public streets of said city, the person or persons so offending shall forfeit and pay . . the sum of two dollars. 1859 Kanzas News (Emporia KS) 1 Jan /1, Many are the learned disquisitions we have listened to in regard to the merits and demerits of “base ball,” bull-pen, cat-ball, etc., with the proper mode of conducting the game. 1871 Monongahela Valley Republican (Monongahela City PA) 9 Nov /3, Oh Doctors! is there not some vaccine matter or purgative drug by which the violence of this epidemic [of baseball playing] may be reduced to a milder form? say to “Round-Town” or “Cat-Ball”[?] 1873 Carson Daily Appeal (Carson City NV) 23 Mar /1, Some “sports” were engaged in a game of what used to be called “cat ball” yesterday afternoon, on Capitol Square. 1882 Weekly KS Chief (Troy) 5 Jan /2, The game that Mr. Eggleston calls “two-hole cat,” “three-hole cat,” etc., was, in our day, simply called “cat ball.” It was “two-cornered cat,” or “three-cornered cat,” or “four-cornered cat.” . . On each corner stood a boy with a paddle, and behind him a “catcher.” In this game, the players were not divided into sides, but each one played for himself. The “catcher” at one corner pitched the ball to the striker on the next one, and so on around. Whenever the ball was hit, the boys with the paddles must change corners, each one running to the next corner to the right. 1916 Jackson Daily News (MS) 29 Aug 2/2, Let the boys come barefoot, and in their shirt sleeves, and let them bring their bats and balls, for we are going to play as well as work. At recess and noon, we will play cat ball, ‘bull pen’ and ‘hot pepper.’ 1928 Cincinnati Enquirer (OH) 19 Aug news sec 16/4, The child . . told Major Seebohn that her mother had left the house at 8 o’clock Friday and returned at 11 to beat her with a cat-ball paddle. 1931–33 LANE Worksheets seMA, Cat ball. . . An old game; the ancestor of baseball. 1954 Harder Coll. cwTN, Catball. . . A bat and ball game that requires a minimum of four players. Perhaps receding and even old-fashioned. c1960 Wilson Coll.csKY, Catball. . . A simple ball game, usually played with two batters and a certain number of strikes before the batters change places. 1965–70 DARE (Qu. EE11, Bat-and-ball games for just a few players) 14 Infs, chiefly Sth, S Midl, Cat ball; GA77, Cat ball—two or three players; NC60, Cat ball—[you] “play cat”; SC46, Cat ball—four could play; town ball—when you had a full team on both sides; (Qu. EE33, Other outdoor games) Infs AR18, 47, Cat ball. 1966–69 DARE Tape [NC22, [FW:] And how about these other games like cat ball you mentioned? How did you play that? [Inf:] Well we would choose sides. If we didn’t have but four people, there’d be two on either side: one would be out in the field and the batter would have to catch his own ball in the back, run after that. And we had bases, three bases, and when we would get those two out, why, then it would be the other side’s team [=turn]. Just kind of like baseball. We would make everybody be out, you see, before we would stop the inning;] NC60, Gittin’ out and playin’ cat, we’d call it cat ball. 1980 Foxfire 6 308 swNC, We called it catball. You get you a wad of paper and wad it up just as tight as you can about one third the size of the ball. Then you wrap it with yarn just as tight as you can. It made a good ball. I believe you could knock it better than the baseballs they play with now.