Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Empire Club's Anniversary Game of 1876

To-day is the sixteenth anniversary of the Empire Base Ball Club, and, should the weather be fine, the event will be celebrated by playing a match game, this afternoon, at their park, on Grand Avenue. Nine married men will play the same number of single men, and both sides will do their best to win.

-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 16, 1876

The Empire's anniversary game, which was normally a match between the married and unmarried members, was an annual event for the club and dated back to 1861. This was an important event on the club's calender and E.H. Tobias, a club member, mentions just about every one of the anniversary games between 1861 and 1875, providing box scores as well, in his series of letters to The Sporting News detailing the early history of the game in St. Louis.

While I have no evidence to support this, I believe that this is one of the last anniversary games the Empire played. The 1875 and 1876 seasons were difficult ones for the club and the advent and growth of professional baseball in the city had a negative effect on the club's baseball fortunes. I think it's very likely that the club quit playing baseball in 1877 or 1878.

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