The Union Vs. The Empire

Saturday, September 22, 2007

"In late May of 1861 Wilkes' Spirit of the Times reported that the pitcher of the Union club of St. Louis planned to resign from his team to accept a commission in the Second Missouri Artillery after leading his team to victory in a championship match against a city rival, the Empire nine. According to the writer, 'the boys console themselves with the hope that the balls he will pitch at the foes of his country's flag, may be as successful in putting down their insolent presumption, as were those pitched against his civil opponents yesterday, in humbling the more honest pride of the former Champions of Base Ball in St. Louis.'" from George B. Kirsch's Baseball in Blue & Gray

A couple of thoughts:

  • The writer for the Spirit of the Times has a comma fetish (while I don't think I'm in any position to criticize anyone else's writing, I'm just saying that's a lot of commas).
  • This account re-enforces the Merritt Griswold letter in which Griswold writes about his Cyclone club disbanding in 1861, with "the boys" going off to fight on one side or the other.
  • The Spirit of the Times piece refers to the Empire club as the "former Champions". I read that as meaning that the Empires were recognized as being champions of St. Louis in 1860. If we take Griswold at his word and the first match game under the New York rules was played in St. Louis in July of 1860 then I find it interesting that things got organized enough to declare a champion for the 1860 season. I'm not sure if I believe that this is any type of "official" championship but rather just a recognition of the Empires being the best team in the city.
  • This certainly establishes the Empires and Unions playing in 1861 and possibly as early as 1860.



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