Saturday, December 13, 2008

A List Of Minor St. Louis Clubs In 1875

In the August 30, 1875 edition of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, there's a list of eighty-four games that took place "in this city and vicinity" on Sunday, August 29th. The following clubs were listed:

Active
Advance
Aetna

Agreeable
Alert
Anchor
Arab
Arctic
Arctic
, Jr.
Athletic
Athletic No. 2
Atlantic
Aubert
Barlow
Benton

Biddle Market Bank
Blanke & Bro.
Blue Sox
Brooklyn

Brown Sox, Jr.
Bullwhacker
Centennial
Cigar-maker
Clinton

Comique
Commercial, Jr.
Comet
Conrades & L.
Daisy
Diamond
Diana
Dr. Mullen
Dolly Varden
Eclipse
Eagle
Eastern
Easton

Eckford
Elm
Emmet
Empire, Jr.
Erie

Excelsior
Finefielder
Friendship
Gas Works
Gas Works, Jr.
Girard
Golden Star
Green Sox
Grey Eagle
Hamilton
Hartford

Heller & H.
Hendecker
Hope
J.H. Crane
Laclede
Lacrosse
Leggett & Myer
Liberty

Lily
Loft Leaf
Loftus
Lone Star
Lumber, Jr.
Madison

Magnolia
Malloy
Miller Tobacco
Morgan
Mountaineer
Muffer, Jr.
Mutuals
Mystic
Natchez
Natchez
, Jr.
Newsboys
Niagara

Nonpareil
North St. Louis

Northwestern
Occidental
Olive
O’Neill
Oneida

Only Star
Orchard
Oriental
Oxford

Pacific
Pearl

Peckham Purple Sox
Pedro
Peerless
Pilot
Poake
Popular
Quickstep
Raker
Red Rose
Red Wing
R.E. Lee
Riverside
, Jr.
Rock Island
Rockford

Rowena, Jr.
Salvage Corps
Sherman

Sichting
Spread Eagle
Standard
Star
Starlight
St. Louis

Stonewall
Stump-picker
Tailor
Thornton

Tin Roofer
Twilight
Underwriter
Union

Venice
Grays
Vinegar
Vinegar Hill
Vornbock & F.
Walsh
Washington

Water-Tower
Western
Western Bluffs
White Sox
White Star
Willow

Wreck
Young Anchors
Young Girard

That's 138 clubs. There were also two picked nines and the second nines of several clubs playing that day. If you take out the twelve junior and "young" teams then there were at least 126 "minor" baseball clubs in St. Louis in 1875. This, of course doesn't include the professional Brown Stockings and Red Stockings or the "major" amateur clubs like the Empires or Grand Avenues. I'm not sure how this compares with other cities but the fact that there were somewhere around 150 baseball teams in St. Louis in 1875 certainly speaks to the popularity of the game in the city.

It should be noted, however, that many of these teams probably had an ephemeral existence and some may have only existed for the one game noted in the Globe. On the other hand, you have clubs with first, second and junior nines, implying some kind of solid club structure. This is the kind of mixed information that leads one to realize that a comprehensive list of 19th century St. Louis baseball clubs will most likely never be compiled. It's an impossible task.

For what it's worth, my favorite club name on this list is the Peckham Purple Sox. I also like the Finefielders, Pedros, Sichtings, and Water Towers.

6 comments:

Mike S said...

Now I am curious - in scanning the list of teams (i love team names from that era) there was one called "Erie" - as mentioned before the name of my home town? Do you have any idea of what the story was behind the name?

Jeffrey Kittel said...

The only thing I can tell you about the Erie club is that they played one game on a Sunday in August of 1875. I honestly had never heard of or read about most of these clubs before I stumbled upon the Globe piece. If I had to guess, I'd say that that the Erie club named themselves after a more famous club.

Richard Hershberger said...

On the topic of level of popularity of baseball, I once did a back-of-the-envelope calculation that in the summer of 1866 about two to three percent of the entire population of Frederick, Maryland was in a baseball club. If you limit the discussion to white adult males the percentage is much higher, of course.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

The population of StL in 1875 was somewhere between 310,000 and 350,000. Let's call it 330,000.

On August 29, 1875, there were (at least) 84 games played in StL. That's 168 teams with nine players per team giving us 1512 total players. So .46% of the total population was playing baseball that Sunday. Give or take.

If you add in some spectators (say about 50 per game) then you have almost 2% of the population either playing or attending a baseball game that day. I don't know if that's a high number or not but it seems pretty impressive.

Steve Pona said...

Hi Jeff and Readers - Having worked in pro sports for over a decade, I can tell you that 2% is an EXTREMELY impressive number. It's almost an insane number. Put it in perspective to today. St. Louis metro is roughly 2.5m. Cardinals pack in 45,000 on a weekend. Throw in 10,000 split between the Grizzlies and Rascals. Add in the hundred of youth, high school and legion teams + parents. Throw 60-70 adult teams in the mix and you're still barely touching 1%. St. Louis had a bad case of baseball fever.

Steve Pona said...

By the way, according to James Brunson's amazing piece Henry Bridgewater's Black Stockings of St. Louis (1881-1889), the Globe Democrat also listed over 200 nines in 1877. I haven't found the listing, yet, though. I'll post it if I run across.