Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The St. Louis Baseball League

The St. Louis Baseball League was founded in 1889, lasted only one season, and was composed of five local St. Louis teams. The Reds, the Sultan Bitters, the Jolly Nine, the Home Comforts, and the Dimmicks were local St. Louis semi-pro teams who competed over a 22 game schedule in a league that marked the passing of an era.

The teams would play two league games a week, one at Kensington Park, at Union and Page Ave., and the other at Amateur Park, at Missouri and Russell. Admission was only fifteen cents and, according to league president Joe Flood, the teams drew well, with at least one game drawing 20,000 spectators.

According to Al Spinks, "The Home Comforts and the Sultan Bitters closed the...schedule with an equal number of victories. Unlike the present day magnates, who would have arranged a series of games to determine supremacy, the Sultans and Comforts agreed to hang the championship on one game."

"Theodore Breitenstein, as pitcher, and Frank Meek as his battery mate, were the hope of the Home Comforts. The Sultans rested their chances with Pitcher "Curley" Maloney and Catcher Schultz."

"The game was played on the Kensington Garden grounds and the Comforts were the winners by a score of 3 to 2. That game marked the passing of semi-professional leagues in St. Louis, and it was not until (1902) that another league was formed to take its place."

Spink also notes, in passing, the demise of the Reds who, after a long and distinguished history, ceased operations in July of that year.


Richard Hershberger said...

Is there any indication why they didn't do it again the next year? It sounds like it was a success. I wonder if there wasn't something else going on.

As for the Reds, I am impressed and surprised that they lasted that long. Is it established that that was the same club as played in 1875 in the NA?

Jeff Kittel said...

I don't have much more information on the St. Louis Baseball League other than what Al Spink wrote in The National Game. I had never heard of it before and am going to have to do more research on it.

As far as the Reds go, they had a continued existence, under Thomas McNeary and, after his passing, his brothers, from at least the late 1860's (and possibly the early 1860's) until they played the club disbanded in July of 1889.

Richard Hershberger said...

I would expect for that period that the League would have gotten local newspaper coverage, or even the Sporting News.

That is a remarkable run the Reds had. The eastern clubs had nearly complete turnover in the 1870s. Just a handful of clubs from the '60s made it to the '80s. I don't know if this pattern holds in the west.