Friday, October 31, 2008

Dunlap Arrives In St. Louis

President Lucas, of the Unions, was all smiles yesterday, and the occasion of his happiness was the arrival of Fred Dunlap and George Shaffer, the great second baseman and right fielder. "They are here," said he, "just as I knew they would be when I signed them. I never had a doubt about them, notwithstanding all the reports that have been circulated by the enemies of our association. The very first dealings I had with them convinced me that they were honorable men, who would honor any contract they signed. Now that they are here I think I can safely boast that I have the best second baseman and the best right fielder in the country..."

Dunlap said he was somewhat tired after his long (train) ride, but was glad he was here. "Our accommodations here," said he, "are the best that any club in the country has, and then we have fine grounds, larger than three-fourths of the League grounds, and our grand stand is the finest I have seen anywhere. If the Cleveland Club had treated me rightly I wouldn't be here."

"What were the circumstances of your engagement?"

"All there was to it was I named my terms to Mr. Lucas and he accepted them. Then when he was East this last time he came to me and asked me how I felt about being blacklisted by the Cleveland Club. I told him that I expected they would do something with me, and because base ball was my business I would like to play as long as I could, and for that reason would like to make a two-years' engagement with him. He said 'All right, I'll do it,' and did so, and I am here to play. I would have been here anyway to keep my first contract."

"Did President Appleton, of the Metropolitans, offer you $5,000 to play in New York?"

"Yes, but I never agreed to go there, nor even encouraged the offer. He asked me if I would not play in New York if he could get my release. I answered, 'You can't get my release.' He sent Lew Simmons to Cleveland and Simmons found out just what I told Appleton, that they would not release me. Al Reach afterwards went to Cleveland without consulting me, and tried to get my release. I didn't know anything about it until Charley Mason told me of it a few days ago. Reach got the same answer Simmons did."

"Did you name terms to Cleveland?"

"Yes. I asked $2,800 and they offered me $2,100."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 1, 1884

"Base ball was my business." They should have put that on Dunlap's tombstone.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mr. Von Der Ahe Has Always Taken A Deep Interest In Base Ball

No base ball man in the country is better known than Chris Von der Ahe, the principal owner and manager of the St. Louis Club. Mr. Von der Ahe has always taken a deep interest in sports, and especially in base ball. He first went into the game in 1877, when, with the assistance of J.W. Beckington, he organized the St. Louis Sportsman's Association. He leased the grounds now known as Sportsman's Park in 1876, and spent some $6,500 to have the grand stand and other fixtures erected. Then he got together a club of young local amateurs and called it the Grand Avenue Base Ball Club. They played on the co-operative plan, and all the money taken in at the gate was divided among the players.
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1885

This bit, the third source I've found that notes Von der Ahe's involvement in baseball prior to 1881, comes from a fantastic article in the Globe about the champion Browns. It covers the reception that the team received when it returned to St. Louis, has a brief history of the club, as well as brief profiles of all the players. Good stuff. I'll definitely be posting more from this article.

The main point, however, is here is another source that has Von der Ahe involved with the Grand Avenue Club in the mid-1870's, several years before Ned Cuthbert walked into Von der Ahe's bar and had to explain to the thick German what the heck all the ruckus across the street was all about and why all his customers kept leaving the bar at a certain time of the day only to return a couple of hours later. We can now say, without a doubt, that the idea that Von der Ahe knew nothing about baseball prior to becoming involved with the Browns is nothing more than myth. The entire Cuthbert story is a myth with no basis in fact.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Henry Lucas' Obituary

Henry V. Lucas, son of James H. Lucas, who once owned the greater part of the business district of St. Louis and who left his son more than $1,000,000, died late last night as a $75 a month street department employee.

In four years he lost more than $250,000 in an effort to give St. Louis a winning ball team. In this he succeeded, but his expenditures financing an organization to fight the national league led him to disaster.

A spectacular aggregation was the union league, which Lucas go together in 1884, after his application for a national league franchise had been rejected and he had backed teams in New York, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Boston, Pittsburg, Washington and Kansas City.

The national league gave Lucas a franchise after his St. Louis team won the pennant. The next year the team finished last. The union park grandstand was burned and Lucas quit baseball. About the same time a fleet of river barges he owned was sunk and he could not replace them because of his baseball losses. From that time, he always said, everything went wrong.
-Boston Daily Globe, Nov 17, 1910

Henry V. Lucas, once a millionaire, who tried to fight the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs by organizing the Union Association in 1884, died in St. Louis this month. He was practically without money, being an employee of the street cleaning department in that city at a salary of $75 a month. Lucas went broke because of his baseball venture. His father bequeathed him more than $1,000,000 to him and all of it was dropped in promoting the national game.

When Lucas conceived the idea of forming the Union Association he received encouragement from many prominent players and proceeded to furnish backing for new clubs in Philadelphia, St. Louis, Boston, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Pittsburg, Washington, Kansas City and other cities. This was after his application for a National League franchise had been coldly turned down. His club in St. Louis, called the Maroons, had such players as Jack Glasscock, Fred Dunlap, Chrley Sweeney, Denny, Joe Quinn, Orator Schaefer, Dave Rowe and Milt Whitehead. It was a winner in point of playing skill, for the Union Association championship was easy, but as Lucas had to keep the other clubs above water as well as St. Louis he lost a pile of money. The Union Association blew up, therefore, after one season and Lucas' St. Louis club was admitted to the National League. It was a total failure and when the club's grounds and grand stand were burned in 1885 Lucas was forced to quit.

It has often been said that St. Louis was thus placed under the spell of some hoodoo for it was not so many years afterward that Chris Von der Ahe, once owner of the champion Browns, was driven to the wall and forced to sell his great base ball team for almost nothing. The St. Louis Nationals the club was called at the time and when the Robisons got hold of it they experienced more trouble and hard luck which has not yet disappeared.

The ruin of Lucas was wholly due to lack of experience in knowing how to build up a league and to the warlike methods of the old National League magnates. He started his Union Association by promising all kind of money to the players before he had clubs established, after which he paid out all of his fortune rather than be ridiculed and regarded as a quitter in the eyes of the base ball public. If Lucas had been advised by such organizers as Ban Johnson and Charley Comiskey his scheme might have succeeded, but it was his misfortune to find practically no helpers who knew anything about the business management of the national game.
-Macon Weekly Telegraph, November 27, 1910

There are numerous errors here in the Lucas obituaries, most of which I've already addressed in other posts.

The idea that Lucas lost his fortune on baseball is simply wrong. He received at least two million dollars upon the death of his father and his baseball losses never approached anything close to that. The best source I've seen places his baseball losses at somewhere around $30,000.

As to the fire in 1885, I may be missing something but I don't have any information about that. I just did a quick search and found nothing about a ballpark fire between 1884 and 1886. The original writer of the obit may have been thinking about the fire at New Sportsman's Park fire in the late 1890's. But then again I just may be missing something. If anybody has any knowledge about a fire at the Union Park in 1885, please let me know.

The nature of the relationship between Lucas and the League magnates is also something that is being reinterpreted and not as cut and dried as the obits make it seem.

The reality of the situation is that there isn't much factual information in these obits. It is true, however, that Henry Lucas died in November of 1910. The exact date, according to his death certificate, was November 15th.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Disgrace At St. Louis

St. Louis to-night is in the seventh heaven of happiness. Her new base-ball club has played their first game with the rival White Stockings and come off victorious. Wendell Phillips may now abuse St. Louis to his heart's content; directory men may give her a set-back in population; her great bridge may be swept away-but still she will smile triumphantly and point to the discomfited Chicagos and say, "We have done it!" It was reserved for the Brown Legs not only to defeat the Chicagos, but to give them


since their organization, the score showing the remarkable figures of 10 to 0 in favor of St. Louis. The game excited a vast amount of interest here, and, for the past two or three days, has been a prominent topic of conversation in almost every circle. It was looked upon, in a measure, as the most notable event of the season, and the usual rivalry between Chicago and St. Louis in almost everything has added much to the local excitement, and lent a decided zest to the expectations indulged. But the sanguine St. Louisian never dreamed of such an overwhelming victory as his pet Brown Legs have achieved...
-The Chicago Tribune, May 7, 1875

I honestly never get tired of reading about this game. It's significance really can not be overstated. The Brown Stockings victory over Chicago on May 6, 1875 did several things that helped lay the foundation for St. Louis as a "baseball city."

Firstly, it united the city in a way that it had never have been united previously. Between the heavy influx of German and Irish immigrants, the political divisions brought about by the Civil War, and the natural conflict between the Creole founders of the city and the Americans who moved to the city after the Louisiana Purchase, St. Louis was a city divided along economic, political, and racial lines. The Brown Stockings' victory on May 6, however, was embraced by almost the entire populace of the city. No other event and certainly no other baseball club had ever seen the furvant outpouring of support that the Brown Stockings received in 1875. While it's now common to see the city united by its love for her baseball team, this was the first time it had happened.

Secondly, this game cemented the St. Louis/Chicago baseball rivalry and placed the two cities, baseball-wise, on an equal footing. One of the reasons for the joyous celebrations that erupted following the game was because of the overwhelming dominence of the Chicago professionals over the St. Louis amateurs in years leading up to 1875. This game proved that St. Louis would no longer be a push-over for its northern neighbors and chief economic rival.

Finally, the game marked the end of the pioneer, amateur era of baseball in St. Louis and it's successful debut in national, professional competition. No longer would clubs such as the Empires or the Union hold a place of prominence on the St. Louis baseball scene. The new focus would be on the professional clubs who would attempt to bring in the best players they could afford. There would certainly be struggles in the years ahead but after May 6, 1875 there was no turning back.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Report Of The Empire Club's 1865 Freeport Match

The forenoon (of July 4, 1865) was passed in frantic endeavors to keep cool-efforts were not crowned with success. At two o'clock, p.m., the St. Louis and Freeport Base Ball Clubs met on the common (in Freeport, Illinois) to ascertain, we suppose, what exercise would do toward keeping the blood cool. A large crowd of spectators from Stephenson and adjoining counties was present to watch the game. The members of both clubs were dressed in a very picturesque costume. The cap of white muslin with red trimmings was a union of beauty and utility. To your humble correspondent the game seems a boyish one, but "men are only boys grown tall." The Freeport boys were beaten, but they say it was not fairly done, and it is rumored that it is to be tried over again to-morrow. By the way the umpire was from Chicago, and there are complaints of partiality.
-The Chicago Tribune, July 7, 1865

This is the match that E.H. Tobias claims was the first fly match ever played in the West. The Empire Club won the game 27-20.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

John Clapp, Famous Baseball Expert

In this issue we publish the portrait of (John Clapp)...noted base ball expert, who is known to all lovers of field sports over the country. He was born at Ithaca, N.Y., July 15, 1851. He began his career on the diamond field in 1867, when he was a member of the Falls City club. In 1868 and 1869 he was a member of the Independent club of Mansfield, Ohio, and made for himself quite a name. During 1870 Clapp gained great fame playing with the famous Amateurs of Owego, N.Y., and in the following year he joined the Clippers of Ilion, N.Y. He was engaged by the Mansfield club of Middleton, Conn., in 1872 and made a capital record. In 1873 he joined the famous Athletic club of Philadelphia and filed the position of catcher during 1873, '74, and '75.

At the time the Athletics made the trip to Europe with the Boston club Clapp accompanied them and surprised the admirers of the game by his wonderful catching ability during the tour through England. The St. Louis club, knowing Clapp's forte, engaged him as catcher during the Centennial year and paid him...the highest salary ever paid a catcher in this country. In 1877 Clapp's great ability made the St. Louis club re-engage him. In 1878 at a large salary he accepted the management of the Indianapolis base ball club of Indianapolis, Indiana, and ably managed the nine for that season. He was selected to manage the Buffalo club in 1879 and also filled the position of catcher. After the season closed he went to San Francisco, Cal., with the Cincinnati club and gave such great satisfaction that he was re-engaged by the Cincinnatis during 1880.

In 1881 we find the famous base ball expert captain of the nine of the Cleveland club of Ohio, in which club he also filled the position of catcher. In 1882 he joined the Metropolitan base ball club of New York, whose wonderful record has raised base ball in the metropolis from the Slough of Despond where it sank years ago. Clapp is without doubt the best catcher in the base ball profession and he is a great favorite both with his associates players and the public. He always has his wits about him and displays great judgment behind the bat...
-The National Police Gazette, October 14, 1882

The Fall Of A Millionaire

Henry V. Lucas was freed of $40,000 indebtedness by the United States District Court yesterday, and was discharged from bankruptcy. The petitioner's schedule, which contained no assets, showed that in 1882 he inherited $2,000,000 from his father, Judge Lucas, of St. Louis, who left $9,000,000 altogether. When Mr. Lucas' petition was filed he was working as a Pullman palace car conductor.

Much of the large property bequeathed by Judge Lucas was in real estate producing no income. Most of his heirs contented themselves with mere possession of potential assets, and have been rewarded by enormous financial benefits. The son, Henry Lucas, wanted to embark upon an immediate career of activity, however, and mortgaged his holdings heavily for the purpose of raising money. His first venture was a barge line between St. Louis and New Orleans. In this he prospered for three years. Then Jay Gould is said to have entered into competition with the barge line causing Lucas to lose $300,000.
-Charlotte Observer, April 4, 1902

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Thorough Southern Gentleman

Mr. Asa W. Smith, brother of Mr. Mark Smith, the actor, and an old and most highly esteemed member of the Union Base Ball Club of St. Louis, was drowned in the surf, while bathing off Biddeford Poole, Maine, on the 31st ult. He was a thorough Southern gentleman, and tried his best to keep up the high status of base ball as a gentleman's game.
-Forest and Stream, August 27, 1874

Some Foundation In Fact

A pretty story about Henry V. Lucas comes from St. Paul and has some foundation in fact. After the young Napoleon of base-ball finished sowing his wild oats and attempted to establish a league club in St. Louis he had about $50,000 left out of a fortune of $500,000. This was tangled up in a number of ways, but he braced up and straightened it out all right, and then put the money in his wife's name. He remained in St. Louis no longer than was necessary to arrange his business affairs, then he disappeared. He had a friend holding a responsible position in one of the great railroads that terminate in St. Paul, and one morning shortly after his disappearance from St. Louis he bobbed up serenely in te office of his friend and said he was there looking for a job. "You don't mean it," said his friend. "Yes, I do," replied Lucas; "I want to learn this business and to begin at the bottom." He was put to work, not exactly at the bottom, but at a salary about one third the dimensions of the one he paid Dunlap for playing second base two years ago.
-Aberdeen Daily News, November 11, 1887

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ellick Writes About His Playing Days

In 1872 the R.E. Lee Club of New Orleans, of which I was a member, took a trip to St. Louis, Kansas City, and Chicago. In the former city we met the Empires, a local team, composted mainly of boys connected with the St. Louis Fire Department. Ex-Chief Sexton was their president. A year or so afterwards, I received a letter from the Empires, asking me to join them. I did so, and met with considerable success. In 1875 I was a member of the Louisville Eagles, being the first professional player Louisville ever had; and from that time until 1884 (with the exception of two years which I spent in a local freight office in Kansas City) I was connected with a number of prominent clubs, both West and East. My last position of short-stop on the Chicago Unions, a team which I became manager towards the close of the season of 1884. In 1885 I resumed my position in the railroad office, but left it to go into business.
-Joe Ellick, writing in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, October 1886

Ellick's piece in Lippincott's, in which he chronicles his travails as an umpire, is highly entertaining and well worth the read.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sweeney Pardoned

Charley Sweeney, the former twirler of the Providence team, of the major League, back in eighties, has been pardoned by the Governor of California after serving a five-year sentence. Sweeney "killed his man" in a saloon brawl in San Francisco. When the Union Association was organized in 1884, he jumped his contract with Providence and signed with Henry Lucas' St. Louis Maroons...After the Lucas Maroons were transferred to Indianapolis, Sweeney drifted to California, and married a sister of Jim McDonald, who was on the major League staff of umpires last season.
-The Washington Post, March 13, 1898

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Unpleasant Situation

Eighteen young women, members of the Female Base Ball Club, of Philadelphia, were forced to apply to the mayor of St. Louis for transportation to New York. Their trunks are held for railroad fares, and they owe $100 at the hotel in St. Louis. The mayor informed them that he could not assist them. Probably the best thing they can do will be to go to work at some legitimate business till they can take themselves home.
-Michigan Farmer, Dec 4, 1883

Paragraphs in our daily papers state that the "Female Base Ball Club" of Philadelphia, lately came to grief at St. Louis, and being without money, requested the assistance of the mayor of the city to enable them to return to their homes in the City of Brotherly Love. He declined to assist them, but in some way they raised funds to take them to Chicago, where they "played a game," hoping to get farther eastward with the proceeds. In Chicago they paraded the streets in a band wagon, accompanied by the inspiring music of the fife and drum, and were well stared at by the hoodlums of that none too pious burg. The Chicago journals say that about three hundred men and boys "about town" attended the "match" in the evening, and do not speak with any particular respect of either audience or players.

There young girls, the oldest of whom is seventeen, the youngest thirteen, are reported to belong to respectable families of the Quaker City, to be intelligant, good-looking, and fairly educated. No one has added the adjective refined, presumably because the idea of refinement does not attach itself to girls who travel through the country as "first base" and "short stop" of a ball club. It is said there was very much opposition on the part of the families of these young women to this very "new departure," and that tears were shed on both sides. It is to be regretted that parental commands did not take the place of entreaties, or that a few days of discipline on bread-and-water, after the ancient fashion of subduing refractory damsels, were not brought to bear on youthful obstinacy and hot-headedness. The outcome, precisely what might have been expected, is hardly pleasant to hose concerned. To have one's baggage attached for a board bill, to be compelled to remain at a hotel, increasing a debt one has no means to pay from sheer inability to pay and get away; to be penniless in a strange town and obliged to appeal to its authorities for charity, must be somewhat humiliating....
-Michigan Farmer, December 25, 1883

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So Called Amateurs

In the May 7, 1874 issue of Forest and Stream, there is a nice article about the trip the White Stockings made to St. Louis and the difficulties they had with the Empires and Reds. The article goes on to state:

If the amateur, so called, nines (of St. Louis) can give the "Whites" such a close push, what will the eastern professionals do when they meet them this month...By the rules of the...Amateur Association, (the St. Louis) clubs are allowed to share in gate money receipts. Wherein they differ from the professional players we are at a loss to conceive. The only legitimate status of an amateur club is that which prohibits all participation in gate money proceeds. And no player can be considered an amateur who is compensated for his field services by "money, place, or emolument"...We can readily admit that a club can play on a ground where admission is charged, and yet be an amateur club, but it is only under circumstances where the club or the players do not share in the proceeds.

The Union Club began charging admission to their games in 1867 and other St. Louis clubs quickly followed suit so the idea that amateur clubs were charging admission is not exactly news. However, I think the insinuation here is that the players were also taking some of the gate money and this would be the first source I've seen that even mentions the possibility that the amateur clubs of St. Louis were compensating their players. One assumes that once the clubs were charging admission the compensation of players quickly followed but there is nothing in the source material to support this. My believe that the St. Louis players were being compensated in the late 1860's is based on nothing more than logical reasoning. This piece tends to support that argument.

If I'm reading the article correctly then I think this is fairly significant. However, I did edit the article rather heavily. It actually says "Before they left St. Louis the Whites got off some games with a lively ball, and of course won by large scores. By the rules of the Massachusetts Amateur Association, their clubs are allowed to share in gate money receipts."

My thinking here is that "Massachusetts" was an error and the writer actually meant "Missouri" and "their clubs" refers to St. Louis clubs. That's a bit of a leap to make but I think it's reasonable. The entire piece is about the White Stockings trip to St. Louis and their games with the clubs of that city. This whole line of thought began with a reference to "the amateur, so called, nines" of St. Louis. The writer is casting doubt on the amateur status of the St. Louis clubs and players. At no other point in the article does the writer mention Massachusetts or any other clubs other than the Whites and the St. Louis clubs.

My reading of this is that the antecedent to the pronoun "their" is the "St. Louis" in the previous sentence.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Pretty, Pretty Uniforms

The uniform of the St. Louis (Brown Stocking) nine consists of brown stockings, white flannel breeches, white knit tight-fitting shirts with short sleeves and a monogram St. L., in brown, on the bosom, white box-shape flannel cap, and white belt with Grecian stripes of brown in it. The uniform is very neat, and looks real pretty.
-Chicago Tribune, March 7, 1875

The St. Louis Reds will wear red stockings, gray pants, shirts and pants trimmed with red, a small "red stocking" and the words "St. Louis" will be worked on the shirts.
-Chicago Tribune, April 4, 1875

Seriously, did the writer for the Trib just call the Brown Stockings' uniforms "pretty"?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Some Timely Humor

Our besetting sin of candor compels us to admit the superiority of St. Louis institutions in some respects. Fewer runs have been made on their base-ball club than on ours this season. The same relative condition of things exists with regard to the banks of the two cities.
-Cincinnati Enquirer (quoted in the August 1, 1877 issue of Puck)

A Nice Way To Spend Thanksgiving

A grand foot ball and base ball exhibition will be given at Sportsman's Park, St. Louis on Thanksgiving day.
-Colman's Rural World, November 24, 1881

Come to think of it, isn't this kind of how we spend our Thanksgiving?

And by "foot ball," of course they mean soccer.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Lone Star Base Ball Club of New Orleans Honor A Fallen Fireman

I've been spending some time trying to run down the links between the Empire Club and the St. Louis Fire Department, correlating my list of known Empire Club members with lists of 19th century St. Louis firemen. One of lists that I'm using is Scott Williams' list of St. Louis firemen who fell in the line of duty. His site also includes a nice piece on Phelim O'Toole, a fireman who was killed on July 6, 1880.

Serendipitiously, I was looking for information about John Barrett, one of the field captains of the Empires in 1863 and a member of the St. Louis Fire Department, when I found the St. Louis Globe-Democrat's July 8, 1880 account of Phelim O'Toole's funeral. In the article was an interesting baseball reference:

The Lone Star Base Ball Club, of New Orleans, at present in the city, will attend the funeral in a body.

It was also noted that the Lone Star Club would march in the funeral procession.

While this really doesn't have anything to do with anything, I think it was a nice gesture by the Lone Stars to honor O'Toole, who was a remarkable person and a true hero. It seems that the Lone Star Base Ball Club was made up of honorable men.

Arthur Pue Gorman Has Invaded My Subconscious

Seriously, I'm a dork.

I woke up yesterday with the name Arthur Pue Gorman stuck in my head. I don't know if I was dreaming or in that half sleep/half awake state when the name popped into my mind. And the thing is I didn't really know who the heck Gorman was. The name was familiar and I was thinking maybe he was a member of the Empire or Union Club. But I knew the name was related to 19th century baseball.

So after a cup of coffee and a cigarette (the breakfast of champions), I googled "Arthur Pue Gorman" and come to find out he was Stephen Douglas' private secretary, a baseball player, an officer with the Nationals of Washington, and, later, a member of the Mills Commission. His was a rather fascinating life and Brian McKenna has written a very nice piece on him for SABR's BioProject.

Why Arthur Pue Gorman was kicking around my subconscious mind is beyond me. The mind is a strange thing.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Friend In Need

J.B. Woestman, Councilman from the Eleventh Ward, is also accused of bribery. He gave bond for $2,000, with Chris. Vonder Ahe as security.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 1, 1876

Woestman, besides being a crooked politician, was also the president of the Grand Avenue Base Ball Club. Von der Ahe, of course, served on the board of directors of the club.

Woestman was one of several St. Louis alderman to be caught up in a bribery scheme in 1876.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


The quarrel between the St. Louis Brown Stocking and the St. Louis Sportsmen's Park and Club Association is at present monopolizing the attention of the fraternity. For this reason the past week was an unusually exiting and eventful one. When the trouble commenced each and every member of the Brown Stocking team pledged himself to be governed by the action of the club's officers. During the week, however, influences were brought to bear that led to the secession of a minority of the players, and the result has been the formation of two clubs, both of which will play this afternoon. The "reorganized" Browns will meet the Buckeyes of Cincinnati, at the Grand Avenue Park, while the original Browns will entertain the Atlantics of Brooklyn, at their grounds on Compton avenue. Mr. McHenry has placed his spacious park in superb condition, and the Browns have been practicing industriously all week, so that they may show the public that they are prepared to play as brilliantly as of old. They propose to retain the patronage of the public by doing even better work than that which earned such unprecedented attendance in the past. On Saturday and Sunday next the famous Eclipse Club, of Louisville, will visit the Browns, and that team will be followed by other professional organizations. In the interim those interesting tilts between the Browns and Reds that are pleasantly remembered by all who witnessed them will be resumed.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 9, 1881

My initial reaction to this article is to view the whole thing as a schism between the Spink brothers and the St. Louis Baseball Association on one side and Chris Von der Ahe and the Sportsmen's Park and Club Association on the other-the old Brown Stockings versus the new Brown Stockings-that resulted in Von der Ahe buying out the St. Louis Baseball Association at the end of the season. But certainly a little more information would be helpful.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Solari Versus Von Der Ahe

Up to about a year ago August Solari was the proprietor of the Grand Avenue Park which, under his management, was not an overpowering success, and an association was formed last spring known as the St. Louis Sportsmen's Park and Club Association, with Chris Von der Ahe as President. Under the new auspices the plae beame popular and successful, which fact it appears did not please Mr. Solari, who threw impediments into the way of the club, and resorted to some means of ruffling the feathers of the club at large and Von der Ahe in particular. He caused them trouble about their liquor license and about their shooting privileges, but was usually checkmated. As a final piece of spitework, the clubmen say, he erected a high fence on the grounds in front of Von der Ahe's house, to shut out the view of the park to that gentleman's family, and caused the arrest of Von der Ahe on a charge of making false affidavits on a question of resident tenants in the vicinity of the park. Yesterday the case came up in the Court of Criminal Correction. On motion to quash, the motion was sustained and charge dismissed, Solari thus scoring another defeat.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 31, 1881

My favorite thing about this article is the way in which it portrays Von der Ahe, who is referred to as a gentleman. In about ten years, the St. Louis press was going to change its tune.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Organization of the Grand Avenue Club

A large number of gentlemen living on Grand avenue and vicinity, and interested in the National game, assembled at Mr. Solari's residence on Grand avenue, last evening, for the purpose of organizing an amateur club. The meeting was called to order by Mr. W.S. Parr. J.B. Woestman was elected Chairman and F.W. Brockmann Secretary.

On motion of some one present, it was resolved that the club should be known as the Grand Avenue Base Ball Club. On motion, the election of officers was entered into, and resulted as follows: President, J.B. Woestman; Vice-President, John Dunn; Secretary, F.W. Brockmann; Corresponding Secretary, L.C. Waite; Treasurer, August Solari. It was resolved that the officers above named be ordered to act as directors, with two others, which, after a ballot was taken, resulted in favor of W.S. Parr and C. Vonder Ahe.

The election of field captain and the adoption of by-laws and constitution was postponed until next Wednesday evening. The officers state that none but the best amateur players would be engaged, and that honesty would outweigh skill. among the players likely to be secured the following good ones have agreed to play: Harry Little, Bob Walsh, Bowles, McDonald, Whalen, Sullivan, Joe Solari, Parr, Welch and Dunn, with such big guns as Bradley, Miller, Pearce and Cuthbert as substitutes.

The Empires, Stocks, Atlantics and other St. Louis amateur clubs had better be up and doing, as the Grands mean business.

The club will be supported by voluntary contributions and gate receipts. The Grand Avenue Park will be secured for match games and practice. It is the intention of the officers to select their team at once and put them to work, in order to be in good playing trim as soon as possible. From the strong backing and the efficiency of the officers elected, the club ought to make a good record during this coming season. Over twenty-five gentlemen joined the club last evening, and it is expected that the number will be increased to over a hundred within a week.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 2, 1876

This is a second source confirming Chris Von der Ahe's involvement in baseball prior to 1881. While E.H. Tobias puts the organization of the Grand Avenue Club in 1875, he names the same officers, board of directors, and players.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Notice Of H.G.D. Barklage's Death

Herman G.D. Barklage, who had been the Treasurer of the old Empire Club for the past fourteen years, and who in years gone by guarded first base for that organization, died yesterday of consumption. His death has caused sincere grief among the fraternity. All members of the Empre Club are requested to attend a special meeting to be held this evening at Squire Walton's office, 407 Morgan street, at 7:30, to take suitable action in regard to the sad occurrence. The meeting is called by Clay Sexton.

-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 3, 1878

Barklage was one of the original members of the Empire Club and, as stated in the article, a long-time officer of the club. While it's obvious, based on this information, that the club was still in existence, there is nothing here that proves the club fielded a nine in 1878.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Help Wanted Ad

The above ad ran in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat on July 24, 1881.

Steadily And Well Employed

It is said that Manager Cuthbert, of the Grand Avenue Park, intends organizing a team and visiting New Orleans this winter. The clubs of the Crescent City are willing to guarantee a team from this locality its expenses with the privilege of 60 per cent of the gross gate receipts. It would be a good thing for Neddy if he could get the full Brown Stocking team together, although it is doubtful whether or not the players of that team could spare the time to go. More than half the team are steadily and well employed. McCaffery and Oberbeck hold positions in the Post Office. Seward is with the Laclede Gas Company. The Gleasons are on the Fire Department, but it would be an easy matter for them to get off, for on other occasions Chief Sexton has let firemen go to New Orleans with ball clubs and stay there for weeks. He did this when the old Empire Club was in existence, and did it season after season. Of the team who are footloose may be mentioned Baker, McGinnis, Peters and Levis, who just now devote all their time to ball-playing.

-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 18, 1881

This is a great article loaded with information. First, we pretty much get a list of the roster of the 1881 Brown Stockings. Second, we have the reference to "when the old Empire Club was in existence" with the insinuation that they were no longer in existence. On top of that, you have one heck of an offer from the New Orleans club. Sixty percent of the gate and expenses paid-that's tough to pass up.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Death of Joe Solari

This morning at 9 the funeral of Joseph George Solari, son of Augustus Solari, late proprietor of the Grand Avenue Park, will take place from his father's residence, No. 2919 North Grand avenue, to St. Theresa's Church, and thence to Calvary Cemetery. The deceased was 22 years of age, and until a few weeks before his death held an honorable position in the office of Commissioner Flad. He died of consumption, which followed a severe attack of pneumonia. "Joe" Solari was a young man of promise, and during his father's proprietorship of the ball park he became a deserved favorite, being courteous and kind to all. In Commissioner Flad's office he was also a great favorite.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 14, 1882

Joe Solari, besides being the son of August Solari, was a catcher with the Grand Avenue Base Ball Club and was a member of the Empire Club.

The Empire Club Soldiers On

An Amateur Base Ball Association, local to St. Louis, was perfected last evening, by a meeting of representatives from eight well-known amateur clubs. The Association, which is intended to succeed the old State organization, is founded upon principles almost similar to the professional League, and shuts out all the amateur clubs of this city excepting the eight whose representatives met last evening.

The meeting was held at Smith's Hall...and was called to order by Mr Frank Julian, of the Haymakers, who acted as Temporary Chairman, Mr. E.H. Greves performing the duties of Secretary.

A previous meeting had been held, and the plan of the organization made out and decided upon last Wednesday. Only eight clubs were to be admitted to membership, and the Atlantics, Athletics, Willows, Grand Avenues, Flyaways, Alerts, Empires and Haymakers were the ones selected...

Each club shall play with every other club a series of three games during the season, which commences about the 1st of April, and closes the 1st of November, and a record of all games shall be kept by the Secretary of the Association...The club winning the largest number of games shall be declared the champion, and awarded the pennant. A suitable emblem of some kind, signifying the fact, will also be given the champions. All games shall be arranged by the Judiciary Committee, and any club failing to play when required to do so shall forfeit the game to the other club by a score of 9 to 0.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 18, 1877

This is significant because it shows the Empire Club, which was still active in 1876, planning on fielding a nine for the 1877 season. In the Tobias letters covering the 1875 season, the insinuation is that the Empires didn't survive much past the 1875 season. By 1881, the club is being referred to in the Globe in the past tense. Therefore, based on this information, we can date the Empire Club's final season as having taken place between 1877 and 1880.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Shepard Barclay's Obituary

Judge Shepard Barclay died on November 17, 1925, at the age of 78.

Judge Barclay was born in St. Louis, Missouri, November 3, 1847. He was descended from a family of pioneer American settlers. Following a preparatory education in St. Louis schools, he obtained his A.B. degree at St. Louis University in 1867. He attended the University of Virginia, where he obtained a degree in 1869 and from 1870 to 1872 studied at the University of Berlin and in Paris. Later he returned to St. Louis University, where he attained the LL.D. degree.

On June 11, 1873, he was married to Miss Katie Anderson here. After practicing law from 1872 to 1882, he was elected Circuit Judge in 1882. In 1888 he was elected Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri. He owned the distinction of being the youngest man ever elected to the Supreme Court. In 1897 he was chosen Chief Justice. After serving for a year, he resigned from the Supreme bench to resume his practice.

At the time he was elected to the circuit bench here he was also the youngest judge ever chosen for that position at that time.

In 1901 Judge Barclay was appointed Judge of the St. Louis Court of Appeals, but resigned that post in 1903 to return again to his practice.

Before his death, Judge Barclay was one of seven present subscribers of the Central Law Journal who had been subscribers since the Journal's initial publication.

The loss of a leader in the community and of a lawyer with the highest ideals will be keenly felt. It is a compensating thing, however, that his activities will be an inspiration to others to carry on in his footsteps.
-The Central Law Journal, December 5, 1925

Nothing really new here but a nice summation of Barclay's public life. Barclay was, of course, a member of the Union Base Ball Club and Al Spink's source for the Fruin myth.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Splendid Entertainment At The Ballpark

Above is a copy of an ad that ran in the St. Louis Republic on July 19, 1893 (as always, click on the picture for a better view). Thanks to John Maurath at the Missouri Civil War Museum who was kind enough to send it to me.

According to the ad, for your fifty cents you got a grand concert by the renowned Arsenal Band (who John tells me was the famous military band from Jefferson Barracks), a game between the Elks and Owls, and then a dress drill and parade of the Branch Guards. You can't beat that kind of entertainment with a stick.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Gamble Lawn Grounds And Cricket

The members of the Mound City Cricket Club are requested to meet on Friday the 10th instant, at their regular playing ground on Gamble's addition and Twenty-second street, to play the first annual match of the season. The members are particularly requested to meet at ten o'clock A.M. which will be pitched at eleven o'clock precisely. By order: J. Mitchell, Secretary.
-Daily Missouri Republican, September 10, 1858

In his October 26, 1895 letter to The Sporting News, E.H. Tobias writes that the "first base ball grounds of any permanency was known as Gamble Lawn and was situated just south of Gamble avenue and West Twentieth street. It was a large vacant piece of property admirably suited for the purpose, the north side alone being in proximity to any buildings whatever, and the eastern end was blessed with a spring of clear cold water. It had long been used as a cricket ground and upon it the Empire Club laid the first claims, being shortly followed by several others."

This piece from the Republican verifies Tobias' assertion that the Gamble Lawn grounds had been previously used by the cricket clubs of St. Louis and is more evidence of how baseball in the city was built upon the infrastructure of cricket and town ball clubs.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Reds Try To Arrange A Game With Boston In August 1875

Manager McNeary, yesterday, endeavored to arrange a game for to-day between the Boston and St. Louis Reds, but Manager Wright declined playing the pony team unless a $200 guarantee were given him. This Mr. McNeary declined doing, and it is not probable that these clubs will come together.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 20, 1875

Very interesting. If this game had come off, would it have counted in the NA standings? Doesn't this strengthen the argument that the Reds inability to schedule championship games rather than financial distress was the reason for their dropping out of the NA?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sweasy Released At His Own Request

Charles J. Sweasy, the veteran second baseman, has severed his connection with the St. Louis Red Stockings, having been released at his own request. Charlie has done a great deal for the Reds and under his Captaincy they have gone through the most successful season since their organization. He has made many friends during his stay in St. Louis and will always be warmly welcomed on the ball field in this city. He will probably be snapped up by some first class club to guard second next season. Ellick will play Sweasey's position for the Reds in future.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 22, 1875

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Success Was His Ruin

Mr. Joseph Blong, the Red Stocking pitcher, left for Cincinnati on Monday night (June 28, 1875), where he intends playing the remainder of the season with the Stars, of Covington, a club which the Reds lately defeated by a score of seventeen to nothing. Blong has treated the Red Stocking management very badly. He was retained at the close of last season for the reason that it was the desire to keep as many of the original Reds together as possible. This season he made somewhat of a reputation as a pitcher, and, as often occurs, success was his ruin. He could not stand praise, and thought that the Reds could not get along without him. But in this he erred. Aside from the dishonorable manner in which Blong seceded, he was legally bound to play with the Red Stockings throughout the season, having signed a contract to that effect in the presence of witnesses...

Manager McNeary will use his utmost endeavor to have Blong expelled from the professional association, in which case his occupation will be gone. This is the first case of revolvency that has occurred in St. Louis, and the player should be punished, in order to prevent a repetition of the jumping process in future.

Blong was the only inharmonious element in the club, and his withdrawal will strengthen it, as Dan Morgan, the original Red Stocking pitcher, will occupy that position in future, Ellick taking his place at center field.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 30, 1875

Prominent Amateur Clubs Of 1884

A meeting of the Board of Directors of Sportsman's Park was held at the grounds last evening, there being present Messrs. Von der Ahe, O'Neill, Nolker and Reid. In answer to the call for the local amateur clubs desiring to compete for the handsome ebony bat and silver ball offered by the Directors, the following clubs were represented: Pinafore, by H.C. Hoener; Lyons, P.B. Golman; Comptons, N. Corbey; Wedge House, H. Sexton; Paragons, A. McHose; Westerns, Geo. Flood; St. Louis Grays, L.C. Waitt; Carr Place, A.W. Sumner; Enterprise, Wm. Cahill; Prickly Ash, H.E. Hobbs; Griesidicks, Geo. W. Alexander. These clubs all expressed a desire to enter the competition, and the Directors will decide upon those to be admitted very shortly and a schedule will be duly prepared. No admission will be charged to the games and an effort will be made to develop the amateur talent of the city, Mr. Von der Ahe stating the willingness of the Sportsman's Park directory to stand all expense of advertising and ground appointments.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 29, 1884

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mischievous Falsifiers

Some mischievous falsifiers take an interest in spreading the rumors that the Red Stockings will disband before the close of the season, and this question is asked their manager by almost every professional club that visits St. Louis. Mr. McNeary states that instead of this being the case the Reds will play all their games this year, and next year will enter the arena with the strongest team that money can purchase.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 23, 1875

And about ten days later the Reds would play their final NA game.

Plow Boys Vs. Anchors

A very interesting game was played September 19, on the Eldridge Farm, Jersey county, Ill., between the Eldridge Plow Boys and the Anchors, of Brighton, Ill., which resulted in the defeat of the latter...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 23, 1875

This game is probably of little interest to anyone other than me and my family.

Jersey County is just north of Alton, Illinois and technically is not part of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. However, my aunt and uncle have lived in Jersey County for about thirty years now and I couldn't tell you how many times I've been up that way. I don't know anything about the Eldridge Farm but I do know where Brighton is. All serious Cardinal fans will have heard of Brighton because it's the hometown of one Jason Isringhausen. Izzy is married to a girl from Jerseyville, where my aunt and uncle live. It's a small world.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Base Ballers At Bonnet's

Last evening an elegant...little affair came off at Bonnet's private supper-rooms on Fourth street, at which about twenty-five well-known young gentlemen of this city were present. The banquet, as it might with propriety be termed, was given to Mr. Charles A. Fowle, Secretary of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, by his friends appreciative of the enterprise and efficiency exhibited by him in his efforts to organize the Professional Base Ball League. among those present were William Steigers, E.B. Johnson,...Joseph P. Carr, C. Chase, Charles A. Bragg, Frank A. George, J.B.C. Lucas, James Fowle, Wm. Medart, Louis M. Walton, F.C. Swift, C.O. Bishop, and others. Among the ball-tossers present were John E. Clapp, who arrived at the Southern yesterday morning, Miller, Pike, Bradley, and McGeary.

The bill of fare was an elaborate one, and was inscribed to "our guest, Charles A. Fowle, St. Louis, February 24, 1876." The menu embraced delicacies of every description, and choice and rare viands, which were washed down with wines of rare vintage. After the splendid collation had been partaken of, jest and song were indulged in until a late hour.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 25, 1876

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Samuel C. Davis Club.

A game of base ball was played yesterday between the Sam'l C. Davis Base Ball Club and a picked nine from Main and Second streets, called the Richardson Base Ball Club. Both clubs played a good game, resulting in a victory for the latter, with a score of 9 to 4.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 20, 1875

The Sam'l C. Davis Club was organized in 1872 and was still playing in the Business League in 1886. One would assume that the club was made up of employees of Samuel C. Davis & Company, one of several wholesale dry-goods stores in St. Louis. There were numerous teams like this in St. Louis at the time and it makes putting together a comprehensive list of 19th century St. Louis clubs an impossible task. The Davis Club just happens to have been one of the more prominent of these minor clubs and therefore we know a bit more about them than we do the others.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Reds Were Lucky And The Eagles Were Unfortunate

Those who attended the match game yesterday afternoon (July 8, 1875) at Eagle Park (in Louisville, Kentucky), between the Eagles and the Red Stockings, of St. Louis, witnessed the prettiest contest of the season. There was brilliant playing on both sides, and as will be perceived from the summary, but few errors. There was no wild throwing, with one or two exceptions, and the errors consisted mostly in fumbling and misjudging balls. The batting was very good on both sides. The fine fielding of the visitors prevented the Eagles from scoring a run off their seven base hits, while the Reds were lucky in making four base hits in one inning, and earning three scores therefrom. The Eagles were unfortunate in losing the toss, and were the first to go to bat.

The visitors outfielded and ran bases better than the Eagles, although the latter played as good a fielding game as in the game with the Westerns. Muir played in his old style, doing the best batting of the nine, and playing without an error at first. In the ninth inning he made a beautiful foul fly catch back of first base, and then ran back in time to put a man out at first who had been trying to steal second, making a double play. The fielding of Morris at third was another feature of the game. His throwing to first was the finest seen on the grounds this season. Metcalfe played short in splendid style, while Roche played without a passed ball, and Truman and K. McDonald filled their positions well. All of the Red Stocking nine fielded well, Redmon, McSorley and Sweasy each doing work especially creditable.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 10, 1875 ("clipped from the Courier-Journal")

The Globe also mentions a game played by the Reds in Frankfort, Kentucky on July 9. In that game they defeated the Olympics 16-0.