Sunday, March 2, 2008

Life In The Empire Club In The 1860's

The club uniform consisted of blue cap and pants, white shirt and leather belt with spiked shoes. The monthly and special meetings were held in a hall on the West side of Third street nearly opposite the old City Hotel which stood where is now located the Murphy trunk manufactory. This hall was neatly furnished and adorned with flags and pictures as well as trophies won by the club or some of its players. The custom prevailed of presenting the winning club of a match with the ball used in the game which was afterwards gilded and the date and score of the game painted theron in black letters. The bat was usually given as an individual prize for catching, running of bases, long distance throwing and other meritorious feats.

It will be readily seen that in those days, membership in a club instead of being a source of income was one of no inconsiderable expense. Uniforms would wear out, monthly dues had to be paid the club treasurer, fines were imposed for non-attendance, rude or unbecoming conduct, use of profane or vulgar language on the field and disputing the umpire entailed personal disgrace if not financial bankruptcy. These rules and regulations being made by the votes of the members themselves were the more readily observed and consequently lightened the labors of Captain Fruin in whom they found a strict disciplinarian on the field and a jolly good fellow off it. So well trained did the players become that from this commanding position at second base Fruin would convey his orders by a motion or slap of the hands or by a single world and his admonitions and instructions given prior to the opening of a game were closely heeded.
-E. H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, November 2, 1895

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