Before Baseball There Was Trap Ball
J. Johnson of Philadelphia published a small chapbook in 1810 showing a woodcut of "trap ball," a children's bat-and-ball game similar to the English game of "old cat." Both of these games were early variants of baseball. "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" the book cautioned. Trap ball, popular with youngsters in early nineteenth century New England, featured a device connected to a spring (the trap) that when touched sent the ball flying into the air, and the batter then swung at the ball.