Sunday, September 30, 2007
The article reported that the Reds planed to hold a meeting on November 8th at the Laclede Hotel in St. Louis, with the intention "to place a Centennial nine in the field, composed entirely of home talent..." The Globe was well aware of the machinations that were taking place leading to the end of the NA and the birth of the NL. They believed that, when reorganized, the Reds would be the class of "the second tier" of teams, those left out of the NL.
As to the season just past, the Globe stated that "the Red Stockings made a record of which they may well be proud. The nine, with the exception of Sweasy, the veteran who 'coached' them during the early part of the season, was made up of St. Louis players...had they been properly treated by the leading clubs, they would have stood better at the close of the season..." The Globe had complained all season about the way the Reds had been treated by the Eastern powers as well as by Chicago and the Brown Stockings.
Their main point of contention was that the powers would not schedule games with the Reds. They believed that the Reds should have gotten agreements about the schedule in the early part of the season and thought it a mistake to begin the season without scheduling commitments from Eastern teams. The Globe also had some unkind words about the Brown Stockings and their refusal to schedule more than two games with the Reds.
This is an interesting take on events being that most modern accounts of the 1875 season state that the Reds never had any intention of going on an Eastern road trip and they existed as a Western co-op team simply to give Eastern teams another opponent in the West. This contemporary account by the Globe contradicts that interpretation. The Globe states that the Reds would have gone East in 1875 if they could have scheduled the games. Essentially, the Globe's position was that the Eastern teams ignored the Reds and didn't want them in their parks.
The Globe also believed that it would have been better for all involved if the Reds had remained an amateur club. "Each amateur organization is allowed one professional for training purposes, and, had the boys not entered for the whip pennant, they would have been the champion amateur club of the country. St. Louis can, without a doubt, get together a finer team of non-professionals than any other city in the Union."
The Globe believed, given the competitive nature of the Reds' games against the "clubs of first class" and their winning record against the NA's second division, that if the Reds had consolidated the amateur talent in St. Louis for the purpose of competing for the amateur championship rather than the professional championship then the Reds would have been the best amateur team in the country. Regardless of whether this is true or not, I think this reflects the heavy bias in St. Louis in favour of amateur baseball.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
The interesting thing is that I probably have the right guy but I got the family wrong. Based on an e-mail conversation with Peter Morris and Jason Christopherson, it is almost certain that the Patrick Dillon in the 1880 census is Packy Dillon. However, it's just as certain that this Dillon is the son of John and Alicia Dillon, not James and Ellen Dillon.
In the 1860 census, there is an entry for a James Dillon, a 36 year old butcher who was born in Ireland and living in St. Louis. James was married to the 26 year old Alicia Dillon, who was also born in Ireland, and the two had six children: Stephen (already living on his own in 1860), Edward (age 17), James (12), John (10), Patrick H. (8), and Mary E. (2). I had seen this entry in the census and believed that this Patrick Dillon was the second best candidate after the 1880 census Dillon. It turns out that they're the same person. Patrick H. Dillon is the Patrick Dillon of the 1880 census. Patrick H. Dillon is almost certainly Packy Dillon of the Reds.
Patrick H. Dillon died in July of 1902 and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis. In the same cemetery lot is James Dillon, Edward Dillon, Mary Dillon Clark, and Alicia Mullen. This is the Dillon family from the 1860 census. Alicia Dillon remarried after the death of James and her second husband, Alexander Mullen, is buried in the lot. Also burried in the lot are two children who died in November of 1877 and are listed as "twins of Patrick Dillon".
Peter Morris found a death record for the twins in the Missouri Archives that list the twins as the children of Patrick and Martha Dillon. The twins prove that Patrick Dillon of the 1880 census is Patrick H. Dillon of the 1860 census. It also proves that Packy Dillon most likely died in St. Louis in 1902 and not in Guelph, Ontario in 1890. Jason's research leads one to conclude that the baseball playing Dillon who died in Guelph was Andrew Dillon not Packy Dillon. Both were catchers of an approximate age and their information was most likely confused when the Baseball Encyclopedia was put together.
One of the keys linking Patrick H. Dillon to Packy Dillon is Patrick H.'s wife Martha F. Dillon. In the 1880 census, Martha F. is listed as having been born in Ohio. It's known that Dillon was in the Cincinatti area in 1875, playing for the Covington Stars. In the death notice of one of her children, Martha's maiden name is listed as Baggot and in the 1860 census Martha Baggot, age 1, is living in Cincinnati with her family. On the Civil War pension card of Martha Baggot's father, Francis Baggot, a Martha F. Dillon is listed. So it seems that Patrick Dillon met Martha while playing with Covington, won her hand, and took her home to St. Louis.
Patrick and Martha Dillon were married in 1876 and had six children: the twins who died in 1877, Edward (born around 1880), Loyola (@ 1885), Marie (@1886), and Jerome (@1888). Patrick, along with his brothers, was working as a butcher until around 1879. After that he was a vegetable peddler at least through the late 1880. After that his occupation is unknown. Peter believes that Dillon gave up baseball after the birth of the twins in 1877.
Martha Dillon lived a long life, passing away sometime in 1931 or 1932. She and her children lived on a farm on Lemay Ferry Road in St. Louis. She's listed as a farmer as early as 1909 so it's possible that Patrick Dillon bought a farm sometime in the late 1880's or early 1890's.
After seeing the records from Calvary Cemetary, the census data on Martha Baggot Dillon, and the death record of the Dillon twins, I have no doubt that Patrick H. Dillon is Packy Dillon.
I'd like to thank both Peter Morris and Jason Christopherson for their time, effort, and help. They both unselfishly shared their research on Packy Dillon with me and I very much appreciate it.
Munson was born in Iowa in 1861 and entered Cornell University in 1876. According to the Cornell Alumni News, Munson took “an optional course and did not graduate.” Leaving the university in 1879, he moved to St. Louis and took a job as a sports writer with the St. Louis Republican where he worked with David Reid.
In 1885, Reid was working for the Post-Dispatch and had taken a job as secretary of the St. Louis Browns. In the late afternoon on May 1st, Reid became ill and went to the house of his friend Munson to lie down. He never recovered and died the next evening at the age of 37. Munson replaced his friend as secretary and manager of Chris Von der Ahe’s Browns.
Described by the Post-Dispatch as “the business head of the organization,” Munson would see the Browns to four consecutive championships from 1885 to 1888. He was involved in every facet of the team from player procurement to selling advertising space on the outfield wall.
In October of 1887, according to the New York Times, Munson was in New York to arrange games at Washington Park in Brooklyn and at the Polo Grounds between the Browns and their NL champion opponents, Detroit, as part of the “world’s championship” series. When asked how he felt about his team’s chances after they had dropped two of the first three games, Munson said, “Will our boys win? Well, to prove what I think about the matter I have a well filled wallet that I am willing to risk on the result.” Regardless of Munson’s confidence, the Browns lost the fifteen game series ten games to five.
Munson had a rather tumultuous relationship with Von der Ahe, which given the character of Der Boss President is not exactly surprising. The Post-Dispatch wrote that Munson and Von der Ahe “were estimated to have quarreled four times a day-that is, (Von der Ahe) did the quarrelling and…Munson did the work.” Von der Ahe certainly did admire and appreciate the work that Munson did for the Browns, at least after Munson had moved on. Der Boss never found another employee who could compare to Munson and referred to him, simply, as “the best”.
Munson was elected as the first president of the Base Ball Reporters Association of America. The group was formed in 1897, according to Harold Seymour in Baseball: The Early Years, “for the purpose of bringing about a standard method of scoring games and to advance the interests of baseball through the press.”
In 1890, Munson had had enough of Von der Ahe’s drama and left the Browns to work with the new Players League. The New York Times reported in January of 1890 that “George Munson, late Secretary of the Browns, is busy getting things in shape for a Brotherhood ball club in St. Louis. He said today that he had $50,000 subscribed. He is negotiating with the Players League, and seems confident that St. Louis will be admitted to the circuit.” When his plans for a St. Louis team in the Players League fell through, Munson went to Chicago and took a job as secretary for the PL’s Pirates, who were managed by his old friend Charles Comiskey and had several other former Browns on the roster. In May of 1890, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, he was involved in a failed attempt to transfer either the Pittsburgh or Cleveland NL team to St. Louis.
In 1891, Munson was the editor of Reach’s Official American Association Base Ball Guide and was involved in raising stock for an American Association team in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that year that Munson was working for the Cincinnati team as secretary and was a stockholder in the club. He also went back to work that year as a press agent and advisor for Von der Ahe, whom he would continue to work for until 1894.
It was in his capacity as advisor to Von der Ahe that Munson was involved in one of the more bizarre incidents in baseball history. According to the New York Times, in March of 1891, Munson, Von der Ahe, Von der Ahe’s attorney Walter McEntire, and Al Spink “called upon Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Estep to swear out a warrant, charging conspiracy” against Mark Baldwin. Baldwin, a big league pitcher with the Pittsburgh NL club, had been hired by the League to get AA players to jump their contracts and sign with NL clubs. Baldwin had targeted Browns ace Silver King and Columbus player Jack O’Connor, both of whom were living in St. Louis. While Estep saw “no ground for a criminal warrant”, Baldwin was eventually arrested and jailed on bribery charges. In The Beer & Whiskey League, David Nemec writes that “Von der Ahe then pulled strings to have the case delayed so that Baldwin would be detained indefinitely in St. Louis and would be unable to continue his poaching for the League.” “Baldwin,” according to Seymour, “did not like being thrown into a jail infested with cockroaches and bedbugs, and retaliated against Von der Ahe’s harassment with a suit for $20,000, charging false arrest and malicious prosecution. Four years later a jury awarded him $5,000.” The only good thing to come of this mess was that Pittsburgh, Baldwin’s employer, gained a permanent nickname. Because of their poaching of AA players, the Pittsburg National League Baseball Club would forever be known as the Pirates.
In the mid 1890’s, Munson was involved in attempts to sell the Browns. As Von der Ahe’s financial and personal life deteriorated into tragedy, Munson was unable to broker a deal that would save Der Boss’s empire. By 1894, the two parted ways for the final time.
After his time with the Browns, Munson was involved in numerous entrepreneurial ventures. The Post-Dispatch wrote that “…Munson dabbled in skating rinks, racetracks, theaters, newspapers, theater programs, dog shows, horse shows, and nearly every other variety of enterprise calculated to attract public attention. Most of his adventures were successful.”
Munson died of pneumonia on March 8, 1908, leaving behind a wife, Lizzie, and two children, Porter and Daisy. His obituary in the Post-Dispatch was rather glowing. “He knew more people than any other one man in St. Louis ,” it said, “and was known by more…When the question of how a broken-down baseball player or any other member of the fraternity was to be taken care of in life or in death came up, George Munson was the man relied on to get the necessary contributions. In every public charity he was always a busy figure.”
Thursday, September 27, 2007
I found this video over at American Memory, a Library of Congress website that "provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. " It's a 30 second film called "The Ball Game" that was produced by Thomas Edison in 1898. According to the American Memory website, "The Ball Game" was "(photographed) from one camera position behind home plate...(and) shows a baseball game in progress." Baseball Almanac states that the game was between two amateur teams from Newark, New Jersey.
You can download a better version of the film here.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
According to David Ball, "(the) young Baldwin began to play baseball after his family moved to St. Louis, where he attracted attention catching for a crack local club called the Stars. St. Louis journalist Al Spink would later remember picking up Baldwin, "a spare built lad of sixteen"...on a North St. Louis lot one Sunday to fill in when a visiting team of semiprofessionals called the Eckfords came in from Chicago without a battery."
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Within the first 35 pages, I found a few things that got me excited. First, was a reference to the Browns opening day game in 1882. According to Nemac, the umpire for that game was Charlie Hautz, former first baseman for the 1875 St. Louis Red Stockings. On page 27 of the book was a great team picture of the 1882 Pittsburgh Alleghenys and in the back row of the picture was Joe Battin, the former Brown Stocking who had been blacklisted in 1877. Best of all, on page 34, was a team picture of the 1879 Indianapolis Hoosiers that included Silver Flint, Trick McSorley, and Charlie Hautz. I have pictures of Flint and McSorley but I've never see one of Hautz.
For me, pictures are important. I have a tough time relating to these ballplayers based on nothing other than names, numbers, and words in a book but if I can put a face to the name then that person becomes real to me. I have an affinity for Trick McSorley simply based on his picture-he looks like somebody that I'd like (plus he's got the cool nickname).
Before last night, I could never get a handle on Charlie Hautz and when I'd talk about the players on the 1875 Reds, I'd always forget him. Now, because of the picture in Nemac's book, Hautz is a real person to me, I can visualize what he looks like, and that makes it easier for me to write about him.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Sunday, September 23, 2007
In November of 1876, the Blues formed a joint stock company and were in the process of obtaining operating funds for the centennial season. They had already raised $1000 and signed 11 players for 1876.
The players under contract for 1876 were Doug Grant (P), Phil Smith (C), Peter Hays (1B), George Taxlar (2B), Jim Bailey (3B), Henry Day (SS), Wm. Pitts (LF), George Jones (RF), Wm. Collins (CF), Wm. Richardson (Sub), and R. Sharp (Sub).
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Joseph Myles Blong, the son of Irish immigrants, was born in St. Louis on September 17, 1853. He and his brother Andrew attended the University of Notre Dame in the late 1860’s, where they were members of the baseball team. When Blong made his major league debut in 1875, he, along with Cap Anson, became the first Notre Dame alum to play in the big leagues. Blong was married to a woman named Mary in 1880 with whom he had four children (Joseph, Mae, John, and James). In the 1880 census, Blong listed his occupation as painter. He died in 1892 and is buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.
While details about his personal life are rare, much more is known about Blong’s baseball career. After his playing days at Notre Dame were over, Blong returned to St. Louis where he played on amateur teams with his brothers Andy and Tom. When the St. Louis Red Stockings entered the NA in 1875, Blong was added to a club that already included his two brothers as members. In the spring of 1875, as the Reds got ready for the season by playing various amateur teams and picked nines, Blong played first base, second base, the outfield, and pitched for the team. By the time the NA season began in May, Blong was selected as the Reds main pitcher.
The 1875 season was an eventful one for Blong. He certainly had a disappointing record on the mound, officially going 3-12 for the Reds with a 3.35 ERA and an ERA+ of 72. While his performance was certainly not what the Reds had been hoping for, Blong did throw a few gems that showed the potential he had as a pitcher. On May 11th, he held the Chicago White Stockings to six hits and one run in a 1-0 Reds loss. That game, according to Baseball Library.com, was the lowest scoring game in baseball history at the time. Also, on May 23rd, Blong threw a two hitter against the Keokuk Westerns. The Reds won 7-1 although the game, because it was played on a Sunday, did not count in the official standings.
On June 29, 1875, just five days before the Reds played their last NA game, Blong signed a contract with the Stars of Covington, Kentucky. The circumstances under which Blong left the Reds and joined the Stars are not exactly clear. While it’s possible that he simply left the team for greener pastures, most sources state that he was quietly expelled from the Reds on suspicion of crooked play. The St. Louis Globe Democrat, in an article on October 31, 1875, stated that Blong was kicked off the team for “hippodroming”.
However it happened, the Reds had lost their main pitcher to the Stars and ended their pursuit for the whip pennant. And while Blong was the first to leave the team, he was certainly not the last. Captain Charlie Sweasy soon left the sinking ship for Cincinnati. Blong was joined on the Covington club by Silver Flint, Packy Dillon, and Trick McSorley. It’s not known how these players all ended up in Covington. There is enough evidence to believe that McSorley had also been expelled from the team for crooked play and may have had no other options. It’s possible that a Covington official may have raided the Reds for players. Blong may have sowed dissension in the clubhouse and enticed several of his teammates to follow him to the Stars. It’s likely that all of these things played a role in splitting up the 1875 St. Louis Red Stockings.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Blong’s departure from the Reds is the role that his brother Andrew may have played. Andrew Blong was born in St. Louis in 1850 and had a long, successful political career in the city before his death in 1909. He served as a police commissioner, a member of the police board, and as chairman of the St. Louis Democratic Party Central Committee. An upstanding member of the community, Andy Blong was also a member of the Red Stockings Base Ball Club. He had played for the team in the past and, in 1875, represented the team at the 5th annual convention of the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players in Philadelphia. While Mr. McNeary (possibly Tom McNeary), as club secretary, ran the day to day business of the club, Andy Blong was certainly involved in the management of the Reds. There are several sources that list him as Club President and another as Business Manager. Whatever his role, it’s likely that Andy Blong was involved in whatever decision the Reds made regarding the status of his brother.
While the rump Red Stockings soldiered on in St. Louis, Blong was in Kentucky with his new team and some of his old teammates. But the honeymoon in Covington didn’t last very long. In late September, Blong jumped from the Stars to W.B. Pettit’s Indianapolis club. Again the circumstances are less than clear. One source claims that Blong was expelled from the Stars on September 23rd for throwing a game against a Cincinnati team.
Was Blong expelled from both the Reds and the Stars in 1875 for throwing games? Blong certainly took a beating in the press in the off-season. An unnamed Reds official stated in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle that Blong would “not be eligible to play (with) any reputable club in the future” although he did play on a picked nine team against the Reds in November of 1875. That month, the Eagle chastised the St. Louis Brown Stockings for signing Blong for the centennial season and named Blong to their “all-rogue” team. The St. Louis Globe Democrat also chastised the Browns for signing Blong. While it’s possible that this sense of outrage was simply a result of Blong’s disregard for a contract, the Globe Democrat’s article from October 31st, that stated that Blong was expelled from both the Reds and the Stars for “hippodroming, must be taken seriously. The contemporary sources paint Blong as a scoundrel at best and, at worst, as a man lacking honesty and character. The red flags were certainly up.
Playing mostly in the outfield, Blong had an uneventful 1876 season for the Brown Stockings while enjoying his best year statistically. In 1877, he was named team captain. Captain Blong was not having a good year at the plate that year when the Brown Stockings went to Chicago in late August to take on the White Stockings. On August 24, 1877, Chicago beat St. Louis 4-3 in just another game in the dog days of the season. However, later that month, Blong and teammate Joe Battin were named by a group of Chicago and St. Louis gamblers as “willing partners” in the fix of the August 24th game. “Crooked play has been discovered in the St. Louis nine,” said an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “and a dispatch from St. Louis says that (Davey) Force, Battin, and Blong have been expelled with forfeited pay.” The scandal would lead to the blacklisting of Blong, Battin, Force, and teammate Mike McGeary in November of 1877.
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.
Friday, September 21, 2007
- John B. McSorley is Trick McSorley and played for the 1875 Reds.
- Oliver W. Tebeau is Patsey Tebeau and the brother of George Tebeau. His full name was Oliver Wendall Tebeau.
- Patrick H. Flaherty's full name was Patrick Henry Flaherty.
- Harry Steinfeldt is the answer to my favorite baseball trivia question. "Q: In 1910, Franklin Pierce Adams wrote a poem called Baseball's Sad Lexicon in which he praised the double play combination of Tinker to Evers to Chance. Joe Tinker played short, Johnny Evers played second, and Frank Chance played first. Who played third base? A: Harry Steinfeldt." And just in case you're wondering, the catcher was Johnny Kling. Here's an interesting question: If Steinfeldt had been mentioned in the poem, would he have been elected to the Hall of Fame?
- Leonidas P. Lee's full name was Leonidas Pyrrhus Lee. Good Lord. Do you think his parents liked Greek history much? I've never seen a ballplayer more in need of a nickname. Did they call him Leo Lee or Lee Lee?
- Packard Andrew Dillon is, of course, our boy Packy.
- Thomas J. Sullivan's full name was Thomas Jefferson Sullivan.
- James F. Galvin is the great Pud Galvin.
- Charles F. King is Silver King and was born Charles F. Koenig.
- Is there any doubt that Stephen Ladew's last name was actually spelled Ladue? If you're from St. Louis, you know what I mean.
- George W. McGinnis is Jumbo McGinnis and his full name was George Washington McGinnis.
- John Ward is not John Montgomery Ward.
- Henry C. Peitz and Joseph Peitz were brothers and were born one year and 20 days apart. Henry Peitz was also known as Heinie Peitz. Feel free to make up your own Heinie Peitz joke.
- Joseph G. Otten is not on the list and was not born in St. Louis. He gets an honorable mention because he was born in Murphysboro, Illinois (where I lived for a few years) and played for the 1895 St. Louis Browns. Baseball Reference lists him as John Otten and his place of birth as the Netherlands but I don't care. Big shout out to Murphysboro-birthplace of John A. Logan and home of the Apple Festival .
James J. Adams (East St. Louis, IL)
William C. Alvord
George F. Baker
Joseph M. Blong
Theodore P. Breitenstein
James A. Brennan
James T. Burke
William B. Casey
William H. Colgan
Daniel T. Collins
August L. Creely (Florissant, MO)
Packard A. Dillon
Henry E. Dooms
Henry P. Dowling
Michael F. Drissel
Henry H. East
Frank Y. Figgemeier
Patrick H. Flaherty
James F. Galvin
C. Frank Genins
John D. Gleason
William B. Goodenough
John F. Gorman
James C. Gill
William G. Gleason
William L. Hassamaer
Charles A. Hautz
William H. Hemp
Edward J. Herr
Ernest P. Hickman
Robert E. Hogan
James W. Holliday
Frank E. Huelsman
William M. Joyce
Charles F. King
John F. Kirby
Charles L. Krehmeyer
Leonidas P. Lee
Charles H. Levis
Harry A. Little
Thomas J. Loftus
John T. Magner
George R. Mappes
Harry C. McCaffrey
Michael J. McDermott
Alexander S. McFarlen
George W. McGinnis (Alton, IL)
Edward J. McKenna
John B. McSorley
Paul A. McSweeney
Frank J. Meek
Frank E. Millard (East St. Louis, IL)
Joseph A. Murphey
John J. O’Conner
Henry A. Oberbeck
Edward D. A. Pabst
Henry C. Peitz
John J. Ryan
George E. Seward
Harry A. Stanton
John W. Sudhoff
Florence P. Sullivan (East St. Louis, IL)
Thomas J. Sullivan
George E. Tebeau
Oliver W. Tebeau
Frederick T. Underwood
George Van Haltren
James T. Welch
Percival W. Werden
Lewis W. Whistler
William H. Whitaker
James T. Williams
Thursday, September 20, 2007
In the last few days, I've learned a bit more about Dillon from others who are working the same angle. Peter Morris is convinced that Dillon died in 1902 in St. Louis although most contemporary references state that he died in Guelph, Ontario on January 8, 1890. That Patrick Dillon was buried at Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis on July 29, 1902. I believe that the guy Morris is looking at is Patrick H. Dillon, who in my opinion is the second best candidate for being "our Packy". Patrick H. was born in Missouri in 1852 to John and Alicia Dillon. He was living in St. Louis in 1860 and had an older brother named John. So Patrick H. fits to a certain extent. He's about the right age, lived in St. Louis, and has the brother. But, if we're assuming that Packy died in Ontario, then Patrick H. doesn't fit the bill.
If the contemporary reference material states that Packy died in Guelph in 1890 and there's no evidence to contradict this, then we should accept it and work from that assumption. The problem is that there is no evidence that I know of that proves that Packy died in Ontario. One of the few facts we know about Packy's life outside of baseball may not be true and we're just searching dead ends. Morris, in fact, may be on the right track in throwing out the assumption of Dillon's date and place of death and working the angle from a fresh perspective.
It's not as if the reference material has never been wrong or contradicted itself. In Dillon's case, his first name has been listed as both Patrick and Packard Andrew. Also, there's no evidence that John Dillon is actually Packy's brother. I don't think that anyone, myself included, can state that they have any real personal details about Packy Dillon. Do I really know his first name? His date and place of birth? His date and place of death? Family details? Anything? The reality is that anything that I state about Dillon's life outside of baseball is nothing more than an educated guess.
Another person dealing with this problem is Jason Christopherson. While researching another book on baseball in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Jason came across a catcher playing for the 1887 Eau Claire team who he believes is Packy Dillon. If Eau Claire's Dillon is "our Packy" then this is fairly significant for a few reasons. First, I've found no references to Dillon playing baseball after 1886 and this would add a little more to our knowledge of Packy's playing career. Second, Jason has a reference to Dillon either playing in or living in Guelph, Ontario. This is the first source I've ever seen that could tie Dillon to Guelph.
The Eau Claire Dillon actually creates more problems then he solves. He's listed early in the season as "A. Dillon". Jason believes that this may be evidence of the Eau Claire Dillon being Packard Andrew Dillon (the assumption being that if your first name was Packard, you'd probably go by your middle name). This, like Morris' assertions, goes against the assumptions that I have regarding Dillon. I believe that his first name was Patrick and the whole "Packard" thing was the mistake of 19th century sportswriter. There's about a billion Irish-Americans named Patrick and I don't know any named Packard. But I can't prove his first name was Patrick. It could have been Packard. It could have been Patrick Andrew. I just don't know.
But this is were it really gets crazy. Maybe there were two guys. Both baseball players in the 19th century and both named Dillon. One played for the Reds in 1875, was from St. Louis, and was named Patrick. The other one was named Packard, played in Eau Claire and other northern Midwestern cities, and lived and died in Guelph, Ontario. Their names, personal information, and playing records got meshed in the Baseball Encyclopedia, leaving us to sort out the mess. Anything's possible.
Right now, I have more questions than answers.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
He served as a Captain with the 3rd regiment of the United States Reserve Corp during the Civil War. Interestingly, military records show him mustering in on May 8, 1861 in St. Louis and then mustering out on August 17, 1861. So it looks like Griswold, who would have been in his mid 20's when the war started, was not a member of the active military during the war. I guess his unit never got called up.
It appears that Griswold was a mechanical engineer by trade. After the war, he was working for the Knox Railway Clamp Company and, in the 1880 census, he listed his occupation as "pump maker". Griswold also holds two patents. One is for a "ventilating apparatus", which from what I can understand is some kind of flue, and another for a type of window glass.
Griswold lived most of his adult life in Englewood, New Jersey. He was married to a woman named Emma and had three daughters (Grace, Edith, and Carolyn). He died on march 24, 1915 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.
I can't find any connection between Griswold and baseball after he left 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.
Jeremiah Fruin is a fairly interesting guy. He was born on July 6, 1831 in Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperay, Ireland. His family immigrated to the states in 1833 and settled in Brooklyn. Fruin’s father was a contracter and owned his own construction company, so it seems that the family was reasonably successful. Fruin served with the 72nd regiment, N.Y.S.M (“the National Rifles”) as an officer prior to the Civil War (and prior to the regiment being taken over by German immigrants). During the war, he served with the union’s Quartermaster Corp and was stationed in St. Louis in 1861.
After the war, ruin remained in St. Louis working in street and sewer construction (and playing baseball with the Empires) before starting his own company, Fruin & company general contractors, in 1872. Fruin’s company (which changed its name to the Fruin-Colnon co. in 1908 when Fruin added his son-in-law to the business) was rather successful and did a great deal of streetcar and railroad work for the city. He became something of a big shot in the city, serving as police commissioner, and counting among his friends numerous St. Louis politicians, judges, and businessmen. In the 1880 census, three servants are listed as members of his household which speaks to Fruin’s success and status.
Fruin died on March 10, 1912 of arteriosclerosis. He left behind a wife, Catherine, and two children, Catherine and John.
Note: A lot of this research opened up for me when it became obvious that "Jere Frain" was Jeremiah Fruin. I have to thank Richard Hershberger for pointing me in the right direction on that one. Peter Golenbock mentioned that "Frain" had played for the Charter Oaks and the Empires and Richard pointed out that there was a "Fruin" playing for the Charter Oaks in 1859. Further research discovered that Jeremiah Fruin played for both the Charter Oak Club of Brooklyn and the Empire Club of St. Louis. I believe that the misunderstand with regards to Frain/Fruin was due to a letter Shepard Barklay wrote, discribing his ballplaying days, in which he mentioned "Mr. Frain".
The first is from A History of Missouri, Vol III 1860-1875 which states that "(the) first known game in (Missouri) occurred at the St. Louis Fairgrounds between the Cyclones and the Morning Stars on July 8, 1860." The other source is a notice for that game in the St. Louis Democrat. The notice, which Griswold claims to have placed in the paper, is headlined "The First Base Ball Match In St. Louis" and states "(the) first regular game of base ball played in our city will come off between members of the 'Cyclone' and 'Morning Star' Base Ball Clubs on Monday, the 9th, at 4 o'clock, P.M., in the field immediately west of the Fair Grounds. The game...is to be played according to the rules of the National Convention of Ball Players...We rejoice to see the national game coming into such high favor with our young men."
However, I found a letter from a man named Merritt W. Griswold, reprinted in Richard Peterson's St. Louis Baseball Reader, in which Griswold claims to have brought the game to St. Louis in 1859. In this letter, Griswold tells how he first published the rules of the game, along with a diagram of the playing field and the positions of the players, in the Missouri Democrat newspaper in the winter of 1859/60. He claims that at the same time he was organizing a baseball club called the Cyclones. Their first match game, he wrote, was played against a club called the Morning stars in 1860. Interestingly, he stated that the Morning Star Club played town ball and he convinced them to play by the "national" rules. The Morning Stars defeated the Cyclones at the old Fairgrounds in north St. Louis and the game ball was gilded, engraved with the score of the game, and used as a trophy ball "for years" in St. Louis. Griswold wrote that the last he heard of the ball it was in the possession of the Empire Club. The Cyclones, he said, disbanded when the civil war broke out and the players went off to fight "on one side or the other".
While I've never been able to confirm anything about the Frain story, i was immediately able to find some evidence supporting some of Griswold's claims. He stated in the letter that he had played for the Putnam Club of Brooklyn in 1857 and then for the Hiawathas of Brooklyn in 1858 and 1859 (before moving to St. Louis). Checking the teams and rosters of the NABBP from 1857-1859, I found a Griswold playing for the Putnams in 1857. The Hiawathas were not members of the NABBP during the time frame and so I couldn't find their roster but there is a record of them playing a game against the Osceola club of Brooklyn on July 31, 1858. The Hiawathas are also mentioned as being in existence in 1859, although no games are mentioned. While this is hardly proof positive that Griswold is telling the truth and that he, rather than Frain, is the “father” of baseball in St. Louis, it does put his story on some factual ground.
If Griswold's account is truthful then we have a primary source that places the beginning of baseball in St. Louis (as played by the "national" rules) in 1860 (or possibly as early as 1859). While this conflicts with the Frain account, I'm much more comfortable with Griswold's letter than I am with the Frain mythology. On its face, while the two stories are similar, the Frain account just sounds like something somebody made up in 1864, telling stories in the bar after a game. It sounds like legend to me. The Griswold account has a more truthful ring to it.
"At last I must acknowledge and record it-St. Louis is tired of Base Ball."
Okay. And here we are one hundred thirty odd years later...
This little nugget of wisdom was based on the fact that a game between the Browns and the Philadelphia Quakers "did not gather altogether as large a crowd as a month ago." What's amazing really is that the analytical powers of the press hasn't seemed to have improved over time.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Condensed Rules of Base Ball
Adapted from Beadle's Dime Base-Ball Player (1860)
The bases must be four in number, placed thirty yards from each other, and must each cover one square foot of surface. The first, second, and third bases shall be canvas bags, painted white, and filled with sand or sawdust; the home base and pitcher's point to be each marked by a flat circular iron plate, painted or enameled white.
The pitcher's position shall be designated by a line four yards in length, drawn at right angles to a line from home to the second base, having its center upon that line, at a fixed iron plate, placed at a point fifteen yards distant from home base. A fair pitch is deliverer as near as possible over the center of the home base and for the striker.
If an adversary stops a ball with his hat or cap, or takes it from the hands of a party not engaged in the game, no player can be put out unless the ball shall first have settled in the hands of the pitcher.
If two hands are already out, no player running home when a ball is struck, can make an ace if the striker is put out.
Clubs may adopt such rules respecting balls knocked beyond or outside of bounds of the field, as the circumstances of the ground may demand; and these rules shall govern all matches played upon the ground, provided that they are distinctly made known to every player and umpire, previous to the commencement of the game.
The umpire shall ensure that all regulations respecting balls, bats, bases, and player’s positions, are strictly observed. He shall keep record of the game and shall be the judge of fair and unfair play, and shall determine all disputes and differences which may occur during the game; he shall take especial care to declare all foul balls and baulks, immediately upon their occurrence, unasked, and in a distinct and audible manner.
Hurling and Striking:
The ball must be pitched, not jerked or thrown to the bat. Whenever the pitcher draws back his hand, or moves with the apparent purpose or pretension to deliver the ball, he shall so deliver it, and he must have neither foot in advance of the line when delivering the ball. If he fails to do so, the pitch is declared a baulk.
If three balls are struck at, and missed, and the last one is not caught, either flying or upon the first bound, it shall be considered fair, and the striker must attempt to make his run.
A Batsman is out:
If a foul ball is caught, either before touching the ground, or upon the first bound.
If three balls are struck at and missed, and the last is caught, either before touching the ground or upon the first bound.
If a fair ball is struck, and the ball is caught either without having touched the ground, or upon the first bound.
If a fair ball is struck, and the ball held by an adversary on the first base, before the striker touches that base.
If a ball, from the stroke of a bat, is held without having touched the ground more than once.
If at any time a baserunner is touched by the ball held by an adversary, without being on a base.
Any player, who shall intentionally prevent an adversary from catching or fielding the ball, shall be declared out.
No ace nor base can be made upon a foul ball, nor when a fair ball has been caught without having touched the ground, and the ball shall, in the former instance, be considered dead, and not in play until it shall first have been settled in the hands of the pitcher; in either case the players running the bases shall return to them, and may be put out in so returning in the same manner as the striker when running to the first base.
General Conduct of Players and Spectators:
No person engaged in a match, either as umpire, scorer, or player, shall be, either directly or indirectly, interested in any bet upon the game. Neither umpire, scorer, nor player shall be changed during a match, unless with the consent of both parties.
St. Louis Red Stockings History & Encyclopedia
Statistics and Roster
Schedule, Box Scores, and Splits
The Packy Dillon Angle
More On Packy Dillon
Silver Flint Part 2
Sunday, September 16, 2007
It's an old problem.
This was certainly not the first game of ball ever played in St. Louis but rather the first match game played under the New York rules. I plan on posting a lot more on the origins of the game in St. Louis and the men who claim to be the "fathers" of baseball in St. Louis. But this post is nothing more than an excuse to post another picture from Pictorial St. Louis.
The above picture shows the St. Louis Fairgrounds as they looked in 1875. I'm simply awed by Camille Dye's craftsmanship and attention to detail. Pictorial St. Louis is an amazing achievement.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
The pictures shown above are taken from Pictorial St. Louis and show the exquisite detail that Camille Dye put into the work. The first picture is plate number 69 and the seceding pictures zoom in closer and closer on the Compton Ave. Base Ball Park. In the last picture, you not only get a good look at the infield and grandstands but you can even see little guys out on the field.