Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I Need Professional Help

I was going through the 1886 issues of The Sporting News last night and caught the above add in the corner of my eye. The first thing I thought was "Cool. An ad for a game between the Prickly Ash and the Sultan Bitters." At first I was disappointed that that wasn't what was being advertised. And then I realized that I needed to get off the computer for a bit. Maybe take a walk. Get some air.

But I do have good news. I've been researching Joe Murphy, a pitcher who played in eleven games in 1886 and 1887. Hopefully next week, once I finish the VdA/PL epic, I'll share his story with you. It's absolutely fascinating. Joe Murphy is now my all time favorite 19th century baseball player.


Richard Hershberger said...

In the late 1870s, Asa Soule, manufacturer of Hop Bitters, bought the Rochester club and changed the name to the Hop Bitters. At least one New York paper was offended by this crass commercialism and refused to refer to the team that way, reverting instead to Rochester's traditional "Flour City" nickname. But other papers were not so sensitive, and there are box scores showing the "Hop Bitters".

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I had assumed that a Hop Bitters would be an ale-something like an Indian Pale Ale, hopped up to preserve the beer so it could be transported over long distances. But I googled Asa Soule and saw that his Hop Bitters was a curative elixir. It's a shame because a nice ale would probably been better for you than what Soule was selling.

David Ball said...

If Soule's stuff was like a lot of patent medicine of the era, alcohol may have been the primary ingredient, and as healthful as anything else it contained.

You really wouldn't think something called Prickly Ash Bitters would be "pleasant to the taste," would you?

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Soule's Hop Bitters was made up of "bitters, hops, and alcohol" and guaranteed to cure what ails you.

But I see the word "bitters" and think "ale." I wouldn't swear to it but I think the English call their ale, or at least one form of it, a bitter. And if I was at the store and show a beer called Prickly Ash Bitters, I would immediately buy it as long as it was a nicely hopped ale.