"True philosophy," according to an elegant writer, "consists in doing all the good we can, in learning all the good we can, in teaching to others all the good we can, in bearing, to the best of our abilities, the various ills of life, and in enjoying with gratitude every honest pleasure that comes in our way." But to decide what are honest pleasures sometimes "pussies the will," particularly when those which our young and innocent hearts once joyed in are deemed sinful by church bigots. As in the case of a sectarian paper way down in the State of Georgia, which publishes a long string of resolutions against "popular amusements," including social games...However, a little reflection will convince anyone that this is all right. Does not the skipping rope end in the hangman's? Will not children who engage in blind man's bluff inevitably grow up "bluffers"...? And will not those who, on winter evenings, "grind the bottle," have the bottle to grind them into the gutter some day? Say, do not they who play "thimble" become "thimble riggers?" Is not a certain game of ball "base?"
-Daily Missouri Republican, December 28, 1858
That was a long way to go to get to a scant baseball reference but I think this is the earliest reference we now have to the game in a St. Louis paper. The Alton references come about six or seven months earlier but that's the Alton papers. One implication of this reference is that, just as the game was called base ball in Alton, it was also commonly referred to by that name in St. Louis. While there is plenty of evidence showing that a variant of the game was being played in St. Louis under the town ball moniker, there is now equal evidence showing that either the game was also known as base ball or that there was a second variant being played under that name.
One interesting thing here is how the game is grouped with other children's game such as jump rope and blind man's bluff. One of my assumptions is that a sporting culture existed in St. Louis in the 1850's that paved the way for the acceptance of the New York game. Adults were playing cricket, town ball and football (come back tomorrow for that information) and forming social clubs around the playing of those games. However, this reference casts some doubt as to the general acceptance of adults playing baseball. I'm not necessarily rethinking my assumptions but I do think this should be noted.
Another interesting thought regarding town ball/base ball in St. Louis: the context of the 1860 St. Louis Daily Bulletin reference to base ball is that the author stated that he had played the game as a student. Is it possible that, in St. Louis, the baseball variant played by children was referred to as base ball while the variant played by adults was called town ball?