Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Morning Star Club

One of the earliest match games played was between the Cyclone and Morning Star Clubs on grounds just back of where now stands the amphiteatre in the Fair Grounds and resulted in the Morning Stars winning the game, by a score of 36-21. The players on the Morning Star nine were: Wm. Henry, 1b; Robt. Henry, c. and captain; Jno. Henry, lf; David Naylor, rf; Dolf, 3b; Chas. Scudder, 2b; Richard Perry, ss; Martin Burke, p; H. H. Franklin, cf...Capt. Martin Burke, pitcher of the Morning Star Club, went into the war of the Rebellion on the Confederate side and in a short time was brought home severely wounded. He did not long survive and was buried here. The ball won by the Stars on this occasion was sent East to be gilded and inscribed and on its return the defeated gave a supper to the victors at the Planter's House. A legend is extant that a few years after Jerry Fruin borrowed the ball and forgot to return it. Both (the Morning Star and Cyclone Clubs) were disorganized by the war, most of the Stars going into the Union Army under Maj. Zagonyi, in command of Gen. Fremont's Body Guard...
-E. H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, November 2, 1895

Tobias' account of what happened to the trophy ball from the first match game played in St. Louis appears to be supported by Merritt Griswold. In his letter to Al Spink, Griswold wrote that "the ball used in that first match game was for years used as the championship trophy, it going from one club to the other, and the last the writer ever heard of it, it was in the possession of the Empire Club." Fruin, of course, was a long-time member and captain of the Empire Club. Griswold also wrote that he was the person who sent the ball East to be gilded and engraved.

The Morning Star Club was a town ball team that played at Carr's Park and were convinced by Griswold to try baseball. After a bit of coaching, the Morning Star Club "never played town ball" again.

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