Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kelsoe And The Old Capitals Visit St. Louis

In A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture of the City, W.A. Kelsoe has a nice piece on the great Boston Red Stockings' visit to St. Louis in 1875. One of the baseball writers covering the trip was Phil McDonald, who was working for the New York Clipper. McDonald was "a tall, rather slender young man who had seen much active ball playing in St. Louis late in the sixties, when he was manager of the Imperials, an amateur club whose players (with one or two exceptions) lived on or near Easton avenue between Twenty-fourth street and Grand avenue." Kelsoe, in a fascinating digression, tells about his days playing baseball for the Old Capitals of Vandalia and a trip they made to St. Louis to play the Imperials and the Empires.

Kelsoe writes that "(the) Imperials played in the first ballgame I ever attended (either as spectator or player) in St. Louis. The match, as such games were then called, took place August 18, 1869, at the Grand avenue park (now the home of the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals), their opponents being the "Old Capitals," of Vandalia, Ill., the capital of that state back in the twenties and thirties. (A few years later the Old Capitals won the baseball championship of Southern Illinois.) McDonald's club had played a short time before in Vandalia (my home town then) and Greenville (my home town earlier in my life) and this was one of the return games. The Old Capitals were the victors here, as at home, but the next day we were soundly trounced by the Empires, the champions of Missouri, on the same grounds...Not long ago (December 16, 1921) I received a visit from (a former Old Capital teammate) and during the conversation the two St. Louis games here mentioned were recalled and our defeat the second day attributed to our poor playing condition after a night of conviviality in a big city, particularly the illness of our man on second base (my regular position later, but in the St. Louis games I covered third)."

During his friend's visit in 1921, Kelsoe "made a search for a little memorandum book in which, on the day of the game in Vandalia, July 20, 1869, I had written the names and addresses of the visiting Imperials, but...I failed to find it. Later the little book turned up and knowing my liability to mislay things, I have copied off the list (including the names of the substitutes and manager) for (this book): 'Phil. McDonald, corner of Twenty-sixth and Mills streets; Ben. Bonner, 2618 Franklin avenue; Joe. Dubuque, Sixth street and Franklin avenue; --Granger ,Grand and Easton avenues; --Kenefick, Mills and Twenty-sixth streets; Fred. Skeele, Twenty-fourth and Morgan streets; -- Easton, Alby and Easton avenues; --Eaton, Bell street and Grand avenue; Jake Corbett, 2822 Easton avenue; --Mathews, Cass and Grand avenues; -- Gannett (or Garnett), East St. Louis; --Fitzgibbon, 2822 Easton avenue.'"

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