Sunday, November 30, 2008

Charles A. Comiskey

Charles A. Comiskey is the youngest field captain probably of any professional team, and has no superior. He is a good coach and a favorite with his men. He is a native of Chicago, 24 years of age, and took his first lessons in ball-playing as a boy on the vacant lots around the city. His first professional engagement was with the Dubuque Club, where he played first base with Radbourn, the Gleason brothers, Carroll and other noted players. This club won the Northwestern League pennant in 1879, and in the same year beat every team that visited Dubuque. Comiskey remained with the club until 1882, when he came to St. Louis. As a first baseman he has few superiors, is a good, free, hard hitter, and an excellent base runner. Under his captaincy the discipline of the Browns has been excellent, and petty jealousies are unknown.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1885

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Wayman Crow McCreery

(Wayman Crow McCreery), son of Phocian R. McCreery and Mary Jane (Hynes) McCreery, was born in St. Louis in the year 1851. His father was born in Kentucky, but had settled in St. Louis eleven years previous to Wayman's birth, and had gone into the dry goods business in partnership with Mr. Wayman Crow, the firm being known as Crow, McCreery & Company. It did a very large amount of profitable business, and Mr. McCreery invested much of his share of the profits in real estate. His name is connected with some of the best buildings in the city, including the building at the corner of Broadway and Chestnut street, now known as Hurst's Hotel, which was erected in 1861, and which was, at that time, the finest building in the city. His enterprise proved a great stimulus to the erection of costly office and public buildings, and his example was very generally followed. His mother, Mary Jane McCreery, was a daughter of Colonel Andrew Hynes, of Nashville, Tennessee, who was a bosom friend of General Andrew Jackson.

Young Wayman received his educational training at the Washington University, where he remained until he was eighteen years of age. He was an apt and industrious pupil and made rapid progress in his studies. On leaving the Washington University he went to Racine, Wisconsin, where he received a thorough university education, graduating with high honors in the year 1871. Returning to the city of his birth and early days, he became connected with the dry goods firm of Crow & McCreery, remaining with it for three years. He then entered the real estate business in partnership with Mr. James Towers, the firm name being McCreery & Towers, with offices at 705 Pine street. The firm continued as thus constituted for a period of twelve years, when Mr. Towers withdrew from the partnership, and Mr. McCreery continued in business alone, at 715 Chestnut street. There is no real estate agent in the West more highly respected or looked up to than Mr. McCreery. He has been appointed sole agent for the magnificent Security Building on Fourth and Locust streets, in which his offices are now located. His principal work during recent years has been the management and control of large and valuable estates, and he has been uniquely successful in the plotting out and development of valuable tracts of land. He was in practical control of the Concordia tract containing fourteen acres, which he subdivided and sold at a very substantial profit for the owners. He also negotiated the ninety-nine years' lease of the corner of Tenth and Olive streets, now occupied by the Bell Telephone Company, and he is practically the pioneer of the long term system in this city.

Mr. McCreery is now consulted by large capitalists as to the best method of investing in St. Louis realty, and is known as one of the most impartial and conservative men in the city. His advice is invariably accepted, and his clients following it have almost invariably made exceedingly handsome profits. Mr. McCreery is now a very wealthy man, but he is kind and courteous to all, and may be regarded as a type of the business men who have forced St. Louis to the front and made it one of the most important cities in the world, commercially, socially and otherwise. He is a notary public, and, although not in practice as an attorney, is well read in real estate law.

Mr. McCreery is a member of the Legion of Honor, and a very active worker in its behalf. A great deal of his spare time is devoted to music. He is the composer of the opera "L'Afrique," which was produced at the Olympic in 1880 with great success. He was also at the head of the St. Louis Musical Union in connection with Mr. Waldauer, and for upwards of seventeen years he has been the musical director at Christ Church Cathedral, and he is also president of the St. Louis Glee Club. Mr. McCreery has always labored earnestly with a view of elevating the music of the city.

He married in the year 1875 Miss Mary Louisa Carr, daughter of Dabney Carr, and granddaughter of Judge Carr, so well known in East St. Louis. They have four children-Mary Louisa, Christine, Wayman and Andrew.
-From Old and new St. Louis

A first baseman for the Union Club, Wayman Crow McCreery is one of the more fascinating figures in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball. Besides his musical talents, which are mentioned in the biographical sketch from Old and new St. Louis, McCreery was also a national billiards champion. Augustus Thomas, in A Print of My Remembrance, wrote that McCreery was an outstanding athlete, stating that "(few) men are so physically and intellectually equipped as he was. There was nothing that an athlete could do with his body that in a notable degree Wayman McCreery could not do. He was a boxer, wrestler, fencer, runner, and swimmer, and all-round athlete. In addition to these he was a graceful dancer."

McCreery's background is fairly typical for a member of the Union Club. He was one of several members of the club to have attended Washington University, which was co-founded by his namesake, Wayman Crow. While it's been stated that the Union Club was organized by high school students, that appears to be rather anachronistic and many of the early members of the clubs were actually students at Washington University and St. Louis University.

McCreery, like many other club members, was also related to the prominent Laclede and Chouteau family of St. Louis. He was related to the family through his marriage to Mary Louise Carr. The Union Club had numerous members who where part of the Laclede/Chouteau family as well as the Lucas family. These two families were the largest landowners in St. Louis and were also the two wealthiest families. The fact that McCreery's daughter, Marie, was named the St. Louis Veiled Prophet Queen in 1896 speaks to his family's high social standing in the city.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Wallace Delafield

Wallace Delafield, a member of the antebellum Commercial Base Ball Club of St. Louis, was born in Cincinnati on May 1, 1840. At some point his family moved to St. Louis and the young Delafield was educated at Edward Wyman's school. In 1854, he went to work as a clerk for F. A. Hunt & Company and then for William N. Newell & Company. By 1857, Delafield was working as a clerk for Pomeroy & Benton, a wholesale dry goods store, and after the Civil War he returned to work for William Benton until 1869. That year he entered the general insurance business with Lewis Snow and the company they formed, Delafield & Snow, was still operating in St. Louis at the time of Delafield's death on August 8, 1915.

The Commercial Club, according to Tobias, "was composed of young businessmen" and was among "the very first of regularly formed clubs in St. Louis..." While the club disbanded at the outbreak of the Civil War, several members went on to join other clubs. Edward Simmons was a member of the Union Club and Tobias was a member of the Empire Club. Edwin Fowler, another club member, had also been a member of the Morning Star Club.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hugh Nicol

Hugh Nicol, the right fielder, is a native of Scotland, but came to the United States when 2 years old. He is now 27. When 17 he learned the trade of marble-cutting, and devoted leisure to the diamond field. In 1879 he joined the Rockford, Ill., Club, where he made such a good record that he was engaged by the Topeka Club the following year. In 1881 Chicago engaged him, and he played with the club for two years, when, not being able to agree with Spaulding as to salary, he came to St. Louis. He has a wonderful eye for the ball, and, being a magnificent runner, can cover the ground in grand style. During the six years he has been playing he has helped win four championship flags.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1885

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sam Barkley

Samuel Barkley, the second baseman, is 34 years old. He is a native of Wheeling, W. Va., and a cigarmaker by trade. The Wheeling Club, that brought out Glasscock and Mullen of the Louisvilles, brought him out in 1876, and after playing with them for four years he went to Detroit in 1880, then to Toledo, playing with that club until last fall, when it disbanded and he came to St. Louis. He is a good fielder and as a batter has led every club with which he has played. This year, however, Welch and O'Neill are ahead of him.

-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1885

The above photo of Sam Barkley, which by the way is very awesome, comes from an article entitled The Baseball Glove Comes to Baseball at Eyewitness To I won't speak to the accuracy of the article but the pic of Barkley is fantastic.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Henry Clay Sexton

(Henry Clay Sexton) was born March 29, 1828, in Wheeling, West Virginia, and died in St. Louis in St. Louis, December 31, 1893. His parents were John and Phoebe Sexton, and the family to which he belonged settled in Winchester, Frederick County, Virginia, his immigrant ancestor having been among the earliest colonists of that region. After graduating from the Wheeling High School, in 1844, Mr. Sexton followed his father's occupation, which was that of contractor and builder, until 1857, the family having in the meantime removed to St. Louis. In 1857 he was made chief of the old volunteer fire department of this city, and in that capacity became widely known throughout the country. He was distinguished for his courage and bravery, good judgment and his kindness at heart. The men who served under him in the fire department were devotedly attached to him, for, although he was a strict disciplinarian, he was always generous and forbearing. After the great Chicago fire of 1871 he was offered a salary of $15,000 a year to take charge of the fire department of that city, but declined the offer, preferring to remain in St. Louis. From 1862 to 1875, in company with his brother, John Sexton, he carried on a large contracting and building business in St. Louis, erecting many of the principal buildings of that era, among which were the Republican Building, the City Hospital, the House of Industry and others. He was collector of water rates in St. Louis during the administration of Mayor King. In 1862 General Schofield removed him from the position of chief of the fire department and confined him in the Gratiot Street Prison as a Southern sympathizer. He was reappointed chief in 1869, and held the office until 1885, when he resigned to become collector of internal revenue, which office he filled during President Cleveland's first administration. In his early life he was a Whig in politics, but later became a Democrat, and continued to affiliate with that party as long as he lived. A member of the Southern Methodist Church, he was a devout Christian, and for many years was superintendent of the Mound Sunday-school. He was a member of the Masonic order, of the Legion of Honor, of the order of Elks, and a Knight of St. Patrick. July 4, 1850, he married Miss Sara Lavania Lyon, at Davenport, Iowa. The surviving children born of this union are Mrs. Jennie McCaw, Mrs. Addue Maxwell, Mrs. Lavania Salter and Henry Clay Sexton.
-From Encyclopedia of the history of St. Louis : a compendium of history and biography for ready reference

Sexton was, for many years, the president of the Empire Club.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Doc Bushong

Alfred Bushong, the best catcher of to-day, is a native of Philadelphia, 30 years old. He was educated at Girard College, where he first learned to play ball. His first professional engagement was with the Janesville (Wis.) Club, in 1877 and 1878. From there he went to Worcester and joined the League, with which he remained until it disbanded in 1882. He then played with the Cleveland Club for two years, when it also disbanded. He joined the Browns last winter, and as a catcher, both as a back stop and thrower to bases, proved he has few equals. For half the season he caught every day and handled three pitchers. He has caught more games this year than any catcher in the country. It is to his catching St. Louis owes the pennant and as a coach for young pitchers he is without a rival.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1885

J.B.C. Lucas

John B. C. Lucas, son of James H. Lucas, and grandson of Judge Jean B. C. Lucas, was born December 30, 1847. Mr. Lucas was born to the inheritance of a good name and an ample fortune, and his lines were cast in pleasant places from his youth up. He was educated at Washington University and at Eastern institutions of learning, and in his young manhood assumed, and has since worthily borne, all the responsibilities which rest upon those favored by fortune. Becoming the executor and principal manager of his father's vast estate, he has always been one of the largest representatives of real estate and other property interests in St. Louis. While the numerous and varied ramifications of his business have kept him in close touch with the industrial and commercial development of St. Louis in all of its phases, he was most prominently identified for some years with the banking interests of the city, and devoted a large share of his time to the affairs of the Citizens' Bank, of which he was president, prior to its consolidation with the Merchants'-Laclede National Bank, in 1897. As a banker he coupled judicious conservatism with that degree of public spirit and enterprise which makes a banking house a prime factor in promoting the growth and development of a city. His father and grandfather were conspicuous for their loyalty to the city and their devotion to its interests. They were pioneers in the establishment of public institutions, and the making of improvements calculated to accelerate the growth, to add to the attractiveness, and to increase the prestige and importance of St. Louis as a center of trade, commerce and manufactures. They were, from the start, leaders in the great work of building a metropolis, and broad development followed in the wake of their enterprises. The same spirit which actuated his sire and grandsire has governed J. B. C. Lucas in all the relations which he has sustained to St. Louis as a business man and citizen. His father, whose ideas were broadly liberal, and whose instincts were generous and philanthropic, planned for the future, and left much important work to be carried forward by the son for the public good. These trusts and obligations he has discharged in strict accordance with the spirit of their conception, and through him his illustrious ancestors still continue to be public benefactors. In tastes, manners and disposition Mr. Lucas is much of an old-school gentleman, easily approached, genial in his intercourse with friends and business associates, and always kindly and sympathetic in his dealings with those who enjoy few of fortune's favors. Fondness for outdoor sports is one of his distinguishing characteristics, hunting and fishing being his favorite recreations, and he indulges his tastes in this direction with a regulation governed by the seasons for such sportsmanlike pastimes. He married, in 1876, Miss Mary C. Morton, of Louisville, Kentucky, and after her death was wedded to her sister, Miss Isabel Lee Morton. His children are three daughters and two sons.
-From Encyclopedia of the history of St. Louis : a compendium of history and biography for ready reference

Lucas, the older brother of Maroons' owner Henry Lucas, was the president of the NA and NL Brown Stockings.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Young Shepard Barclay

The above photo comes from Encyclopedia of the history of St. Louis : a compendium of history and biography for ready reference. Barclay was, of course, a member of the Union Club.

Martin Collins

This prominent Mason and insurance expert is upwards of sixty years of age, having been born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in the year1826. He is, however, a man of excellent preservation, and is very frequently mistaken for a much younger man. His excellent physique and his genial manner make him conspicuous among his co-workers, and during his long connection with this city he has earned and maintained the respect of all with whom he has come in contact, and more especially of members of the Masonic fraternity.

His early education was received in his native country drug store, where he combined the offices of clerk, book-keeper and salesman, and generally superintended the business. All the work which devolved upon him was well carried out, but the utter absence of any prospect of advancement induced him to go west in search of a more promising field of labor, although his friends tried to dissuade him on account of the difficulties in the way.

Hence it was that just half a century ago he found himself in St. Louis, after a tedious journey from Philadelphia, which occupied nearly three weeks, during which time he had to ride on canal-boats and stages, and short sections of railroad. For nine years Mr. Collins worked in a fancy dry goods store in this city, and in 1852 he had saved enough money from his earnings to start in business for himself. Associating himself with a friend, the firm of Rosenheim & Collins was formed, and for six years it conducted a prosperous business. It was then dissolved, and Mr. Collins was appointed, by Mayor Daniel G. Taylor, register of water rates. He proved the right man in the right place, and was reappointed by two successive mayors, an honor to which few men have attained in municipal affairs.

About thirty years ago Mr. Collins turned his attention to fire insurance business, and was appointed agent for some of the largest companies on the continent. His business gradually increased, until he is now the head of the firm of Martin Collins, Son & Company, which ranks among the most important firms in the country.

He is a Mason of good standing, and has given to the affairs of the order his most careful and conspicuous attention, having held a large number of offices in it, and having earned the reputation of being exceptionally loyal, even among such a traditionally loyal class as the Masons.

He married, during the days of his comparative poverty, a daughter of Captain Crab, of the United States Marine Service.

Mr. and Mrs. Collins have had seven children, of whom three are now living and beyond the stage of childhood.
-From Old and new St. Louis

Martin Collins was a member of the Empire Club and Edmund Tobias mentions him playing in an 1876 "old-timer's" game with other veterans of the club.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Photo Of Jeremiah Fruin

The above photo of Jeremiah Fruin comes from James Cox's Old and new St. Louis.

Rockin' Out

It's been a long night. Many Car Bombs under the bridge. But I love my readers enough to give them some Little Walter.

Really, I either need to quit drinking or start a new blog devoted to good music. But what the heck, stick with TGOG and you get 19th century baseball and killer music. Where else you going to get that?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Photo Of John Griffith Prather

The above photo of Griff Prather, a member of the Cyclone Club, comes from James Cox's Old and new St. Louis.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More On Charles Scudder

(Charles Scudder), city treasurer of St. Louis, is one of the city's representative men, and through the changes of many years he has been identified with its growth and history in various ways. He is of that virile Kentucky stock which has played such a conspicuous part in the development of America, and is himself a native of that State, having been born at Mayslick, Mason county, November 1, 1833.

His father, Charles, was a native of New Jersey, while his mother, Mary (Hood), came from Virginia. His father was a physician, and when the subject of this sketch was two years old, he emigrated to Indiana, removing from that State to St. Louis in 1837. His three sons, John A., Charles and Wm. H., all became leading citizens and successful men of this city. Wm. H. is now dead. John A. is very wealthy, while Charles is rising toward the zenith of a most active and honorable career.

The latter was educated in the public schools of the city, which he attended until he was seventeen years old, being at one time a pupil of the late Colonel David H. Armstrong, who was, as we have already seen, a teacher in the first public school opened in St. Louis. When he left school he entered a retail dry goods store as clerk, but the work proving not to his taste, he secured a position as a clerk on a steamboat, and this was the beginning of a most eventful career on the river, whose trade was then at its greatest activity.

He next became the captain of a Keokuk boat, then became identified with the Lower Mississippi and the Missouri river trades. Throughout the war he had charge of a boat store at Cairo, and at the end of the contest returned to St. Louis and became indentified with Messrs. Griswold and Clement in the management of the Lindell Hotel. The arrangement continued for twelve years, or until 1888, when he was elected to the office of public administrator on the Republican ticket. The next public trust conferred on him was the one he now holds as city treasurer, to which he was elected in 1893.

He has proved in every capacity that he is a citizen who can be trusted, and that his fellow citizens have not erred in conferring honors upon him. Mr. Scudder was married in 1860 to Miss Sarah V. Rogers, of Marion county, Missouri. Nine children have been born to them, eight of whom are still living.
-From Old and new St. Louis by James Cox

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TimeRime And Other Bloggy Type Nonsense

I get a lot of requests for links from various blogs and websites. It's a part of blogging that I don't really get into. If I link to your site, it's because I like it or find it useful. I don't trade links just to increase my ranking at Technorati. That stuff isn't important to me. And just because I get some official sounding email from your marketing department doesn't mean I'm going to plug your website.

However, I got an email today from a website called TimeRime. It's a website where you can go and create historical time lines as well as view those created by others. I thought it was rather cool and have already started fiddling around with a time line for 19th century St. Louis baseball. It's something I've been thinking about doing anyway and now I have an easy to use software application to create it. TimeRime certainly has gained the TGOG Seal of Approval.

If you like this blog than you're probably a history freak and it's a well known fact that history freaks love time lines. We just do. So TimeRime is something you might want to check out. I've already spent way too much time playing around on the site.

Also, while I'm thinking of it, Cardinal Diaspora, one of the best Cardinal blogs out there, has changed addresses. I've updated the link over there in the sidebar to reflect the fact that they allowed some Russia mobsters to steal their old domain name. "First they came for Hooks and I did nothing because I'm not a snarky jerkoff..." On the plus side, the new layout looks good. It's almost like they have professionals or adults running the site for them.

Dunlap On Original Hall Of Fame Ballot

Since I haven't beaten the dead horse in awhile:

So the original plan for the Baseball Hall of Fame was to select ten players from the 1900-1935 era and five players from the nineteenth century. A player had to get seventy-five percent of the vote from the BBWAA to be inducted and, as the story goes, no nineteenth century player met that threshold so they dropped that part of the plan. Both of the original ballots are rather interesting and worth taking a look at.

But, lo and behold, who was one of the second basemen named on the original nineteenth century ballot? None other than Fred Dunlap. Dunlap and Ross Barnes were the only two second basemen on the original nominating ballot. So whoever put the ballot together, whether it was Henry Edwards, the secretary of the American League's Service Bureau, or a committee, certainly considered Dunlap to be one of the two best second basemen of the nineteenth century.

It would be rather interesting to see how the vote on the nineteenth century players went and how much support Dunlap received.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Von Der Ahe Declares Bunkruptcy In 1908

A petition in voluntary bankruptcy was held today by Chris Von Der Ahe, for many years a principal figure in the baseball world and owner of the St. Louis American association team from its organization in 1876 until his retirement in 1898.

According to the petition he alleges he has but $200 assets to offset $27, 086.35 liabilities. Many of his largest debts are notes for money borrowed for the support of the team he owned. In his day he was one of the most prominently known baseball magnates in the country, and was reputed to have been worth a quarter of a million dollars.

His property is now reduced, according to the petition, to $50 worth of wearing apparel, a watch and chain worth $50, and a share of stock in an investment company valued at $100. It is stated he lost his wealth through amusement investments that did not prosper, loans, and the lavish habit of endorsing checks and signing bonds. He has just recovered from a serious attack of pneumonia.
-Chicago Daily Tribune, February 4, 1908

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Between Two Fires

A frightful runaway accident, with a startling domestic sensation as a sequel, occurred at the corner of Spring and St. Louis avenues at 9: 30 o'clock last Sunday evening. Chris Von der Ahe, the President of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, lives on St. Louis avenue, about midway between Grand and Spring avenues. At the hour mentioned Mrs. Von der Ahe was at home awaiting the return of her liege lord, who had gone out early in the evening. She was seated on the front steps of her residence enjoying the refreshing breeze that prevailed, when a horse hitched to a buggy, occupied by a man and woman and a little girl about 7 years old came south on Grand avenue at break-neck speed. The horse was frightened beyond control of the driver and the woman was screaming her terror. At St. Louis avenue the horse turned west, the buggy going around the corner on two wheels and very nearly capsizing on the curbstone. The light of the lamp at the corner shone full on the faces of the occupants of the buggy anas they dashed by the man and woman were recognized by several persons as Chris Von der Ae and Miss Kitty Dewey. At Spring avenue the horse made a very short turn north and the buggy tipped over, throwing out the woman and child. Von der Ahe was dragged quite a distance up Spring avenue before extricating himself from the wreck. A crowd was quickly on the spot. The woman was found to be unhurt, but the child had suffered an injury of its left arm. The latter was hurriedly taken to Layton's drug store, on the southwest corner of St. Louis and Grand avenues. An examination of the arm showed a painful cut just above the elbow and when the little girl saw it she shrieked as if fearing death. The woman was anzious to get away, and after the child's wound had been bandaged, she hurried out of the drug store. As she reached the sidewalk Mrs. Von der Ahe confronted her. She ran across the street in a vain effort to escape, but was overtaken on the opposite sidewalk by the injured wife. Mrs. Von der Ahe addressed Miss Kittie Dewey in vigorous language, and gave her a charming tongue lashing. Mrs. Von der Ahe also, it is said, threatened to kill Miss Kittie Dewey if she ever again even looked in any direction where Mr. Von der Ahe might be.

In the meantime Mr. Von der Ahe had reached the drug store with his under lip badly cut, and his white shirt front and white vest all covered with blood. He was a sorry spectacle. The proprietor, noting his wants, took him into a back room and got a basin of water and a sponge and was about to wash his chin when Mrs. Von der Ahe rushed in and proceeded to knock out Mr. Von der Ahe in two languages. She railed against him in German for about ten minutes, occasionally changing to English and expressed opinions of Mr. Von der Ahe and Miss Dewey in terms that were fully understood and appreciated by the crowd in the front of the drug store. She informed her husband that she had told Miss Dewey she would break her neck if she ever caught her around the neighborhood again, and she meant to keep her word. All that Mr. Von der Ahe said in meek reply was: "You go away;" "Now you go away." When the wound on Mr. Von der Ahe's chin was washed it was found so deep that sewing was a necessity and Dr. Carson was summoned by telephone. About 11 0'clock Mr. Von der Ahe's chin was sewed up and he was taken home. A few hours later Dr. Carson was called again. Mrs. Von der Ahe having been prostrated from the effects of the excitement she had experienced. Mr. Von der Ahe was all right yesterday, but Mrs. Von der Ahe was still under medical care.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 12, 1885

I've never claimed that all of the stories about Von der Ahe are false. One of the things, however, that is absolutely necessary is to separate the reality of Von der Ahe from the myth that has been built up over the course of more than a century. We need to see through the Ted Sullivan and Arlie Latham stories about VdA, get past the verbiage of his enemies, and throw out all the bad historical work so that we can find the truth of who VdA was and what it is he actually achieved.

I've also never claimed the man was a saint. We can't go so far in this reinterpretation of VdA that we ignore or gloss over the flaws that were at the root of many of the stories. Chris Von der Ahe was a womanizer and an adulterer. Those are facts. Just because I happen to like VdA and am found of the idea of reinterpreting his life, I'm not going to ignore those facts.

VdA was a flawed human being who brought a great deal of trouble on himself. He also happened to have been an outstanding businessman and baseball magnate who is probably the most significant figure in the history of 19th century baseball in St. Louis. Those facts can co-exist and when brought together actually offer a fuller and more realistic portrait of VdA than currently exists in general baseball histories.

This particular story, VdA being dragged by the carriage, is relatively familiar to anyone with a passing acquaintance of VdA's life. It's often used, like most of the VdA stories, to portray him as a buffoon. However, the reality of the story as reported in the Globe is significantly more interesting.

Harry Diddlebock's Obit

Harry H. Diddlebock, known in local sporting and newspaper circles, died to-day at his home in (Philadelphia). Mr. Diddlebock was forty-six years of age. His first venture in a baseball line was as manager of the famous old Athletics, and later he served through successive years as president, secretary, and treasurer of the Eastern Baseball League. As a sporting writer he occupied positions in nearly all of the local newspaper offices until 1896, when he removed to St. Louis and assumed the management of the St. Louis baseball team. He returned a year later, and up to his death was on the staff of the Inquirer.
-The Washington Post, February 6, 1900

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Union Club Is Broken Up

The White Stockings expected to play the Union Club, of (St. Louis), to-day but the Unions failed to come on time, even so much as to welcome their opponents. It is said they are broken up. The Atlantics then undertook to measure bat and ball with the visitors.
-Chicago Tribune, October 25, 1870

Charles Scudder

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Charles Scudder was a member of the Morning Star Club and played second base in their match against the Cyclone Club in July of 1860, the first documented match game in the history of St. Louis baseball. Born in Kentucky in 1834, Scudder was living in St. Louis by the 1850's and was one of the first graduates of Jones Commercial College. By 1860, he was a partner in Weirick, Scudder & Co., a wholesale grocery store in St. Louis, and was playing town ball with the Morning Star Club at Carr Square Park.

After the Civil War, Scudder was a partner in the Memphis Packing Company and was one of the owners of the Lindell Hotel. He also became involved in St. Louis city politics, serving on the school board and as city treasurer.

In August of 1880, Scudder was vacationing in Minnesota with some friends from St. Louis when, according to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, he played in a "very exciting and closely contested game of ball." Scudder's team, for whom he played the outfield, won the game 11 to 10. According to reports, the game was umpired by Gen. William T. Sherman.

The above portrait comes from James Cox's Notable St. Louisans in 1900.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Joe Schimper

Joe Schimper, a pitcher for the Empire Club in the 1870's who for reasons unknown was also known as Joe Chambers, was one of many Empire Club members who worked for the St. Louis Fire Department. While it's possible that the club used jobs with the StLFD as a means of compensating their players, many of the club members who worked for the StLFD went on to have long and honorable careers as firemen. Several sustained injuries while fighting fires and at least two lost their lives in the line of duty, including Joe Schimper.

Around eleven p.m. on February 9, 1887, a fire broke out at Jesse Arnot's livery stable in St. Louis and Schimper, on duty that day, was one of the fireman who responded to the alarm and worked to put out the blaze. About a half hour after the StLFD arrived on the scene, one of the walls of the stable collapsed. Several firemen, including Joe Schimper, were trapped under the wall.

After the fire was put out, a search for the trapped firemen began and Schimper was the last to be found. According to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, "(Schimper) was carried to the street limp and lifeless to all appearances. His friends thought they detected a faint sign of life, and carried him away as fast as possible to the Dispensary."

Schimper did not survive the night, dying from the injuries received "in the discharge of his duty..." He was one of three fireman to die in the Arnot fire.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Old Joe Blong

Old Joe Blong, at one time one of the best known pitchers in the profession, is now a store-keeper in the employ of the Government. He is stationed in St. Louis.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 18, 1886

The Globe also has references to Blong still playing baseball in St. Louis in 1883 with the St. Louis Amateur Club and the Grand Avenues.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


After having drunk several O'Fallon Brewery Smoked Porters, I wrote this whole multi-paragraph post about the greatness of Lucinda Williams and this live version of Joy (as well as an apology for once again going off-topic) but screw that. Just watch the video. You can thank me later.

This my be the greatest live performance of any song ever. Ever. I could easily write 5,000 words about how great this performance is but I've decided to spare you. Let's just say that if somebody ever asked me to explain what I liked about this world, I'd show them this video and simply say "This is what I like." This is the stuff that makes me happy to be alive.

Two More Black Clubs

Manager Kelly's benefit at Compton Avenue Park was a success. Three games were played. The Comptons defeated the St. Louis Reds 12 to 6 in the morning. At 3:30 p.m. the Eclipse Reserves and Athletics took to the diamond, the Athletics winning by a score of 13 to 4. At 4 p.m. the Eclipse and Compton Browns, colored nines, opposed each other, the result being a score of 17 to 12 in favor of the Eclipse team.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 1, 1884

Lots of information here. I had seen a reference before to the Athletics as a black club but wasn't sure that they were from St. Louis. Now I'm reasonably certain. The Compton Browns is a club that I've never heard of before. So we can add both of these to the list of 19th century black baseball clubs in St. Louis.

Again, we're seeing the black clubs playing at the Compton Avenue Grounds, with the possibility that one, the Compton Browns, had a more formal relationship with the park and/or Thomas McNeary. I think it's safe to say that the Compton Avenue Grounds were the center of black baseball in St. Louis during this era. While there are sources that have a few games being played at the Grand Avenue Grounds, the vast majority of games played by the black clubs of St. Louis, that I'm aware of, were played at the Compton Avenue Grounds.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ellick Goes Home Empty-Handed

Joe Ellick, the Kansas City manager, left for home last night without signing anyone. He came after McGinniss and Dolan, but both had signed before he reached here.

Joe Ellick is in St. Louis looking for players, but has come to a rather poor market, as the Western and Southern Leagues have taken the best of local players.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 10, 1887

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Little Excitement

As the crowd was leaving the grand stand yesterday, after the game at Sportsman's Park, one of the joist supporting the upper stand broke with a loud crash, and caused some little excitement for a few moments. Several ladies who were near the scene of the accident fainted, and the crowd made a rush for the exit. Order, however, was speedily restored and no damage was done. Investigation proved that the accident was caused by defective scantling, and the stand itself was not injured.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 10, 1887

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Eclipse Base Ball Club

The Black Sox and Eclipse nines, representing the two leading local colored base ball organizations, will play at Compton Avenue Park this afternoon, beginning at 4 o'clock.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 3, 1884

At this point, I've identified seven 19th century African-American baseball clubs in the St. Louis: the Blue Stockings, the Sunsets, the Black Stockings, the Belleville, Illinois club, the Lebanon, Illinois club, the Nine Stars, and the Eclipse.

The Nine Star Base Ball Club

The Nine Stars (colored) Base Ball Club organized Monday, April 6, with the following players: David Smyth, catcher; Charley Franklin, pitcher; Mosel Johnson, first base; Henry Alexandria, field captain and second base; Clayton Williams, third base; Edward Barber, short stop; Matt Long, right field; Wallace Long, left field; John Robinson, center field; Joseph John Johnson, Wm. Jones and John Davis, substitutes. James Williams and Fred Godare are the managers.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 12, 1885

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Black Clubs On The East Side

The colored base ball clubs of Belleville and Lebanon crossed bats Thursday afternoon, the game resulting 13 to 12 in favor of Belleville.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 1, 1884

This is the first source I've seen regarding black clubs on the Illinois side of the river.

Members of the 1883 Black Stocking Club

On April 24, 1883, there was a report in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat of a baseball game between the Black Stockings and a picked nine. Playing for the Black Stockings that day was Gordon, right field; Canter, shortstop; Rodgers, first base; Davis, pitcher; Sutton left field; Harris, catcher; Carter, third base; Braey, center field; and Smith, second base. Interestingly, it appears that the picked nine was made up of white players, including Charlie Houtz, Jack Brennan, and possibly Bob Caruthers. The game was umpired by John T. Magner.

The Black Stockings won the game 8 to 1.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Black Stockings Can Hold Their Own

The Black Stockings should be given a game at one of the city parks before departing on their Eastern tour, that patrons of the sport might see how skilled they are.

The semi-professional colored team that has been placed in the field by Henry Bridgewater is composed of strictly first-class players. The nine can hold its own against the strongest, and for that reason should be given an opportunity to appear before the St. Louis public.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 19, 1883

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Black Stockings' Tour

The Black Stockings, the local colored nine, leave to-day for Rockford, Ill., where they will play Monday and Tuesday. Thence they will go to Detroit to play the colored club of Cleveland for the colored championship. From Detroit they go into Canada, playing at Guelph on the 25th, with the Maple Leafs of Hamilton on the 27th, and at London on the 28th. They will then visit Dayton, O., and several other cities in which engagements are not yet definitely arranged. The trip will occupy about two weeks. Henry Bridgewater has the management of the nine.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 17, 1883

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Perry Werden's Obit

Perry Werden, who established an unofficial record of forty-five home runs in 1895 while playing with the Minneapolis club of the old Western League, died today (January 9, 1934) of heart disease. His age was 63.

Mr. Werden in 1890 and 1891 played with the old Baltimore Orioles when that team was composed of such stars as John McGraw, Hughey Jennings and Steve Brodie.

Three years later he performed with the Louisville club, then in the National League, numbering among his team-mates Hans Wagner. he played with the Minneapolis club of the Western League from 1895 to 1900. He was born in St. Louis, Mo.

Mr. Werden at times was associated as player, coach or manager with New Orleans and Memphis in the old Southern League; the St. Louis Browns, the Washington National League Club, the Indianapolis American Association club and the Vicksburg Cotton States League club.
-New York Times, January 10, 1934

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Special GOTV Post (With Free Coffee, Album Reviews, And Video!)

I don't care who you're voting for or what your politics are but get out and vote. And the word on the street is that Starbucks is giving away a free cup of coffee if you go in and tell them you voted. So I'm on my way to my polling place and then I'm getting my free coffee before heading to work. God bless America.

And to celebrate Election Day (and I'll use any excuse to get off topic), here's a fantastic version of Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Earl Scruggs and friends (hat tip to dkpresents):

And as a bonus, because I'm in a generous mood today, here's the Watson Twins doing a live version of Bar Woman Blues (it's a bit rough but I love this song; best song on their new cd, Fire Songs, which you should really check out):

And you think I'm kidding about Fire Songs? Heres the New York Times review:

“Fire Songs”

Love is elusive in the songs of Chandra and Leigh Watson, the Watson Twins. On their debut album, “Fire Songs,” love comes and goes, fades mysteriously yet lingers where it shouldn’t, providing ample opportunity for the comforts of the sisters’ close harmony.

The Watson Twins, who are from Louisville, Ky., arrived nationally when they collaborated with Rilo Kiley’s lead singer, Jenny Lewis, to make the album “Rabbit Fur Coat” (Team Love) in 2006. But where Ms. Lewis grows contentious when love goes bad, the Watson Twins turn melancholy instead. Their songs are full of yearning and forgiveness, not revenge. “You say that I’m wrong and I need to move on/But it just ain’t that easy,” they sing in Leigh Watson’s “Bar Woman Blues.”

Like Rilo Kiley, the Watson Twins are steeped in 1960’s and 1970’s folk-rock and folk-pop; musically they are closer to Canada and California (they now live in Los Angeles) than to their own Kentucky. “Fire Songs” sometimes echoes the Byrds and Neil Young, while the sisters’ alto voices also hint at the Celtic inflections of Natalie Merchant and Beth Orton. Their preferred tempos are unhurried, even languid, with their voices moving in close tandem while guitars ripple and peal around them. The songs hold sorrow and longing, keeping self-pity in check with serene grace.

The Great Caruthers

At the present observation the bright particular star in the base-ball firmament is "Bobby" Caruthers, the Chicago boy, who for three years has been one of the foremost players in the American Association. As an all-round player he ranks second to on one in the profession, and there are many competent judges who consider him the most valuable of all. combining the qualities of a great pitcher, a first-class batsman, a splendid fielder, and a fleet base-runner, it is not to be wondered at that he rivals Kelly as a $10,000 beauty and that the Brooklyn and Cincinnati clubs have each offered that amount for his release, and are besides willing to pay him a salary of $5,000 a year.

Robert Lee Caruthers was born in Memphis, Tenn., Jan 5, 1865. His father, James P. Caruthers, was a distinguished member of the Tennessee bar. After serving as State's Attorney he was elected to the bench of the Chancery Court of Memphis, where he presided for eight years. The mother of the subject of this sketch was before marriage Miss McNeil of Kentucky. Her grandfather, while continuing to reside in Kentucky, invested liberally in Chicago real estate, and she is now one of the McNeil heirs who have inherited valuable property in this city. Judge Caruthers was a Confederate sympathizer during the war but was not in the service of the "Lost Cause." During the greater part of the war he and his family were refugees. In 1876 he moved to this city, and remained here until his death, which occurred Sept. 8, 1880. While Mrs. Caruthers was opposed to Robert's playing ball the Judge favored it. The boy was slender and delicate in appearance and his father believed the exercise incident to the game would benefit him. As a result the boy indulged his love for the National game and soon was conspicuous as a good ball player among his schoolmates. The first club he belonged to was the North End Club, with which he played in 1882, he being then 17 years old. The following spring he joined the Lake Views of the local amateur league, his position being that of catcher. He played behind the bat during April and May of 1883. About the middle of May he began to practice pitching, and between that time and the first week in June he pitched four games for the team. On the strength of those four performances in the box he became a professional pitcher being signed June 6, 1883 to pitch for the Grand Rapids club of the Northwestern League of that year. His salary that season was $75 a month. He did so well for Grand Rapids that the following spring he signed with the Minneapolis club, his contract calling for $175 a month. He remained with the Minneapolis team until it disbanded, Sept. 2, 1884. Preferring to play ball in this city he endeavored to get an engagement with the Chicago club to play on the "reserve team," which it was running that year, but a difference of $50 lost him to Chicago. He asked $200 a month for the rest of the season and Spalding would not give more than $175. While Spalding was awaiting an acceptance of his terms Von der Ahe captured the prize at $250 a month and "Bobby" joined the St. Louis Browns Sept 6, 1884. The season of 1885 made him famous. He led the pitchers of the American Association and stood fourth in its batting record. In February, 1886, he named $3,000 for the season as is terms to Von der Ahe, but the latter would not listen to the demand. Then "Bobby" sailed for Europe, with the intention of making a tour of the world. He got as far as Rome, where he received a cablegram from Von der Ahe to come back and sign a contract on his own terms. This brought him back, and he reached St. Louis April 1. At the close of the season of 1886 he stood fourth among the pitchers and second in the list of batsmen in the association. This year his salary was $3,250. His record was fourth among the pitchers, third in batting (average .401), and fourth as a right-fielder. He bats either left-handed or right-handed, so that "south-paw" or "north-paw" twirlers are all alike to him, and while not having played games enough to get a record as a fielder in any position except right field, he demonstrated that he can play every position in a nine and play it well. Nothing can induce him to go behind the bat again. He stands five feet ten and one-half inches high in his shoes and weighs 152 pounds. Some of his friends affect a belief that he is troubled with heart disease, while others believe his lungs are weak; nevertheless he manages to play through each season with a loss of very little time, and the managers are all willing to take big chances on his health. He personally offered Von der Ahe $8,500 for his release, but failed to secure it.
-Chicago Daily, December 4, 1887

Monday, November 3, 2008

An 1887 Reference To The Morning Star Club

Several of the boys on the floor have laughed at me because I played ball with the flour men's nine, but I want it understood that there is no older ball player in the city than I, and there are very few who have played the game as long as I have. About two years before the war there was a town-ball club that played every morning on the Carr square. I could not call the names of any of the others except Joe Franklin, but he and I were both members of the club. It was called the Morning Star, and we played from 5:30 o'clock until 7 o'clock every morning. Nearly all of us moved to the neighborhood of Twenty-second and the Pacific Railroad, and we continued our game there. Then base-ball was started in the East, and our secretary wrote on for the rules of the game. We received a little book that told how it was played, and we changed our name to the Morning Star Base-Ball Club, and that was the first club organized, and we played the first game of base-ball west of the Mississippi River.
-Richard Perry, quoted in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 24, 1887

Perry, according to Tobias, played shortstop for the Morning Star Club in the match against the Cyclone Club in July of 1860. Born in 1838 in England, in 1860 he was working as a "reporter" for the Merchant's Exchange in St. Louis. Later in life he achieved some success as a flour importer.

Perry's account of how the Morning Stars came to play baseball is at odds with Merritt Griswold's, who claimed that he found the club playing town ball one day and taught them the Regulation Game, and his recollections regarding the origins of the game in St. Louis certainly muddies the waters up a bit. However, it came eight years before Tobias wrote his history of St. Louis baseball for The Sporting News, almost twenty-five years before Griswold wrote his letter to Al Spink, and is the oldest source I've come across containing a first-hand account of baseball during the antebellum period. It's not a contemporary account but, for now, it's the best we have.

There are several things in Perry's account which are confirmed by Tobias and/or Griswold. Tobias mentions Joe Franklin as a member of the Morning Stars. Griswold mentions that the club played at Carr Park in the early mornings. Both state that the club was active prior to the Civil War. In many ways, Perry's account fits with the other sources we have regarding baseball in antebellum St. Louis.

How seriously do I take Perry's claim that the Morning Stars were the first baseball club in St. Louis? The claim certainly can't be dismissed out of hand but, at this point, the best available evidence still suggests that the Cyclone Club, organized in the summer of 1859, was the first baseball club in St. Louis. However, I have nothing personally invested in that claim and I'm more than willing to go where the evidence takes me. And in the end the important thing is not whether the Cyclones or the Morning Stars or the Unions were the first club-all of these clubs were significant in their own right and it's almost irrelevant if they were the first club or the third club. What's important is getting to the truth of the matter. Perry's account is significant because it adds to our knowledge and gets us that much closer to an understanding of the truth.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Formation Of The Sportsman's Park And Club Association

Mr. Christ. Von der Ahe's plan for a joint stock company, to be known as the St. Louis Sportsman's Association, has found such favor with the fraternity as to assure its being carried out. Articles of incorporation will be applied for on Monday or Tuesday, and the work of improving the club grounds on Grand avenue will be proceeded with at once. Mr. Von der Ahe has secured a lease of the Grand Avenue Base Ball Park, as it was in the professional days, the strip that was cut off about three years ago having been again added thereto. The park will, therefore, be the most commodious in the country and will be admirably adapted to athletic sports of every description. A cricket field, kept in order throughout the season, a base ball diamond, cinder paths for "sprinters," a hand ball court, bowling alleys and everything of that sort will be laid out and constructed, comfortable accommodations for spectators will be erected, and nothing will be left undone to make the institution a model of its kind. $2,500 will probably be spent in the work of improvement.
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 20, 1881

This obviously ties in with today's earlier post (I'm sneaky good like that).

The thing that strikes me about all of this is the list of things that Von der Ahe wanted to add on to the ballpark. The cricket field, running track, bowling alley, and all that sounds rather like what Von der Ahe did when he built New Sportsman's Park a decade later. The man was obviously thinking as early as 1881 of creating a multi-use sports complex.

And it's amazing that Von der Ahe's vision is still mocked. Chris Von der Ha Ha Ha-the idiot who built a chute-the-chute ride on his ballpark. Is it even necessary to say that in a day and age when some ballparks come equipped with hot tub seating for the fans that Von der Ahe was a man ahead of his time?

Von Der Ahe And Cricket

A meeting of the Victoria Cricket and Athletic Club was held at Capt. Treloar's rooms, 206 N. Seventh street, last night, twenty-seven members being present. Mr. Fred Julian presided. The following officers were then elected for the ensuing year: President, F. Julian; Vice-President, Christ Von der Ahe; Club Captain and Manager, A.S. Treloar; Secretary, M.J. Allen; Treasurer, Dave Thomas...At the next meeting to be held at the same place the annual games of the organization will be arranged, and the programme is certain to prove an attractive one. The Grand Avenue Base Ball Park has been secured for the club, and a lively campaign is promised.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 18, 1881

I think this shows Von der Ahe's interest in getting crowds to the ballpark when the Brown Stockings weren't playing rather than a general interest in cricket. But you never know.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

This Is Kind Of Interesting

At 4 o'clock this afternoon the St. Louis Browns and the S.C. Davis team will cross bats at the Grand Avenue Park. Having defeated the Lone Stars, of New Orleans, the amateurs think they have a fighting show to win.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 17, 1880

Does this really say that the Sam'l C. Davis Club beat the Lone Stars? I guess anything is possible-the glorious uncertainty of baseball and all that.

The Reds Play In Edwardsville

The Red Stockings of St. Louis played the Madisons of (Edwardsville, Illinois) on the grounds of the latter here to-day. Almost all interest was knocked out of the game in the first inning by the Reds allowing the Madisons to score seven runs, only two of which were earned. From this time on both clubs played well, and the Reds at times batted hard, but were unable to reduce the lead acquired by their opponents.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 21, 1885

I thought that this game, which the Reds lost 16-10, was probably as close to my house as the Reds ever got. However, according to Google Maps, it's eleven miles from my house to Edwardsville and it's eleven miles from my house to where the Compton Avenue Grounds were located. Fascinating, isn't it? For what it's worth, it's only ten miles from my house to the former location of the Grand Avenue Grounds.

And with that information, you can now triangulate the location of my house.