Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jeremiah Fruin And Shepard Barklay

The source for Golenbock’s claim that Fruin was the first to introduce the game to St. Louis was Shepard Barklay. Barklay stated that “(it) was in the early (1850’s) that Mr. Frain brought the game to St. Louis..."

Barklay was a member of a prominent 19th century St. Louis family and a bigwig in his own right. Born in 1847, Barklay went to St. Louis University, got his law degree from the University of Virgina, and studied civil law for two years at the University of Berlin. He was admitted to the Missouri bar in 1872, was a candidate for mayor in St. Louis, and was elected to the circuit court of St. Louis in 1882 (by a huge majority). Barklay was elected to the Missouri Supreme Court in November of 1888 and served for ten years. He also served for a time as the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court. Barklay passed away on November 17, 1921.

Barklay’s grandfather was Elihu Shepard, one of the most influential St. Louisians of the 19th century. Shepard was a captain in the Mexican war, the founder of the Missouri Historical Society (god bless him), and one of the original promoters of the city’s public school system. The Shepard School in St. Louis is named after him.

I can understand how Golenbock placed such weight on Barklay’s claim regarding Fruin and early baseball in St. Louis. The guy was a bigwig, a former Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court, and knew Fruin personally (having played baseball with him in the the 1860’s). But his statement about Fruin bringing the game to St. Louis in the early 1850’s is not accurate. Based on Fruin’s statement alone, Barklay’s account is provably wrong.

It looks like Barklay is the Abner Graves of St. Louis baseball.

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