Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Rivalry Between The Empires And The Unions

The Empire membership was largely composed of men who had been connected with the old volunteer fire department and it out-numbered most all the other clubs put together. Some of its players were in the employ of the paid fire department and about all of its members were men employed in mechanical and other manual labor pursuits. They were tough, hardy men and had but little time in which to practice, while the Unions, being mostly of wealthy families, had plenty of time and facilities to practice every day if they so desired. A very jealous feeling existed for several seasons between these clubs and the announcement of a series of games was certain to create wide and intense interest, which was always kept red hot by the fact that the score was invariably close, both in the runs scored and the number of games each club won. It was upon this ground that a game was played by these clubs that created a great laugh against the Union boys. On this day the final game of a series was to be played; the score of games was a tie but the Unions had been doing a great amount of practice and were chock full of confidence, in fact they ad so much that they imparted a large quantity of it to their lady admirers who came upon the grounds armed and equipped with large floral gifts with which to crown the sure-to-be winners. The uncertainty of base ball was not so thoroughly understood that day as latter on. The Empires won the game and the series and the Union ladies kept the flowers to themselves and the Empire boys were surprised by a shower of bouquets that very mysteriously and suddenly put in an appearance.
-E. H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, October 26, 1895

Now of course, Tobias, as an Empire man, finds this amusing. I doubt that the Union boys found it too funny that their lady friends were showering the Empire Club with bouquets.

It's interesting to note that Tobias confirms a few things that I've talked about in the past, specifically the link between the Empire Club and the St. Louis Fire Department and the economic status of the members of the Union Club.

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