Henry David Thoreau Checks Out the Baseball Fields

On April 10, 1856, 38-year-old Henry David Thoreau checked out the fields in Concord, Mass. They were dry enough for baseball.

Henry David Thoreau in 1856

Henry David Thoreau in 1856

Thoreau had left his cabin in the woods nine years earlier; his book Walden had been published two years earlier and established his literary reputation. It was Fast Day, and it brought back memories.

Thoreau wrote in his diary

April 10. Thursday. Fast-Day. Some fields are dried sufficiently for the games of ball with which this season is commonly ushered in. I associated this day, when I can remember it, with games of baseball played over behind the hills in the russet fields toward Sleepy Hollow where the snow was just melted and dried up, and also the uncertainty I always experienced whether the shops would be shut, whether we should have an ordinary dinner, an extraordinary one, or none at all, and whether there would be more than one service at the meeting-house. This last uncertainty old folks share with me. This is a windy day, drying up the fields, the first we have had in a long time.

P.M.–I set out to sail, the wind northwest, but it is so strong, and I so feeble, that I gave it up. The waves dashed over into the boat and with their sprinkling wet me through in a few moments. Our meadow looks as angry now as it ever can.


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