Saturday, January 31, 2009

Silver Flint and Covington

The Stars, of Covington, Ky., have got Joe Blong, John McSorley and Packey Dillon, of the St. Louis Reds, and Dennis McGee (Mack), of the St. Louis Empires, playing on their nine, and yet they are not satisfied, as a telegram was received from them yesterday for Flint, the excellent catcher of the St. Louis Reds. Flint, who, by the way, is as true as steel, is with his club at Louisville, and will not be apt to jump to the Stars as Blong and McSorley did. If the Stars keep on sending to St. Louis for talent, they will soon have a nine that will be able to play a decent game of base ball.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 5, 1875

If you look around, you'll find secondary sources that say that Flint played for the Stars in 1875 but I've never seen any evidence of that and, in fact, the contemporary sources make it pretty clear that he was with the Reds the entire season. This piece in the Globe, at the very least, shows that the Stars certainly had an interest in Flint.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Ellick Jumps Again

Joe Ellick has again jumped, having left the Reds in the lurch at Louisville and joined the Eagles. This makes the third time Ellick has played this trick; and all clubs should refuse to play any club with which he is engaged. At the beginning of the season, the Empire management paid his expenses to this city from New Orleans, and he left at Louisville, joining the Eagles. After playing their a while, he left that club unexpectedly, and engaged with the Reds, and now he has jumped them.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 5, 1875

Thursday, January 29, 2009

That's One Way To Get In The Park

Last Thursday, when the Browns and Athletics were playing, a boy, sitting on top of the seats on the Grand avenue side, yelled out to another boy in the street to keep an eye out for the ball, as Pike was at the bat. Pike generally sends a ball or two over the fence on the avenue, and the lad that gets it takes it in, thereby gaining free admission to the Park.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 17, 1875

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Only In St. Louis

I thought I'd pass this picture along just for fun (and with apologies to my Cubbie brothers and sisters). Off topic but funny and the picture is perfect as wallpaper for your desktop.

Update: Hat tip to Cardinal Diaspora for the photo. Forgot to mention that earlier. My bad.

The State Of The Field At The Grand Avenue Grounds In August 1875

It may not be out of place here to say a few words in relation to the magnificent condition of the Grand Avenue Park. Mr. Augustus Solari, the popular proprietor, is working hard to please the general public, and the Browns in particular. During their absence he, with a corps of assistants, worked assiduously improving the field in every way, and now the grass is shaved so close and turf is so level that a ball will have nothing to stop its course except a player. High grass will never be the cause for defeat. Mr. Solari has expended $600 already this season in keeping the grounds in order, and his efforts to please should be appreciated.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 14, 1875

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Formatting Problems

You may have noticed some formatting problems with the posts recently. I've been playing with a couple of new browsers and it seems that the problems only happen when I'm using Opera. What's odd is that I had the same problems when using IE but I've not experienced them since I started using Firefox as my main browser. I haven't tried posting while using Chrome yet but I've just started playing around with it. The obvious solution is to use Firefox as my main blogging platform and post only from it. Since I already use it as my main research platform, that should work out well.

But regardless of my battles in the browser wars, be patient as I work through the problems. I'm trying to fix them as soon as they come to my attention.

The First Perfect Game?

The game of the tournament began promptly at 3 o'clock, in the presence of 3,000 spectators, the contestants being the St. Louis Reds and Cass club, of Detroit. Not a member of the Michigan organization reached first base, and the Reds played without a single error. The Cass boys wanted to get one base hit to get even with the Mutuals in the morning, but failed. One base hit in two games was all that the Michiganders could get out of Morgan. The Reds secured thirteen safe hits, demoralizing their opponents and winning the game (by a score of 11-0)...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 18, 1876

I was trying to run down some information on George Bradley's 1875 no-hitter yesterday and, as I usually do with things like this, I checked Peter Morris' A Game of Inches. Morris, of course, had some interesting things to say about the no-hitter and on the next page I noticed a reference to a perfect game that Pud Galvin pitched for the Reds on August 17, 1886. I figured I might as well check that out and see if I could find the box score in the Globe.

However, once I found the report of the game in the Globe, I noticed a few discrepancies between Morris' account and the contemporary game account. According to the "Special Dispatch to the Globe-Democrat," the pitcher for the Reds in the game against the Cass Club, and therefore the pitcher who threw the perfect game, was Pidge Morgan and not Pud Galvin. I also found a reference to a game in June of 1876 between the Stocks and the Reds where Galvin was playing the outfield for the Stocks club (and it was implied that he was also one of the club's pitchers) so it's possible that Galvin wasn't even on the Reds in August.

Just as interesting, Morris mentions the first game of the Ionia tournament, played earlier on August 17th, between the Reds and the Mutuals of Jackson. Morris mentions that Galvin, before throwing the perfect game, pitched a no-hitter against the Mutuals. However, according to the game report, the Mutuals had one hit. Morris did mention that the Reds made three errors and the game report has them making two so Morris is correct that three men did reach base for the Mutuals in that game but the discrepancy is in how they reached base. But again, the Globe states that Morgan, rather than Galvin, was pitching.

The reason that this is significant is that Morris states that the August 17, 1876 perfect game against the Cass club was the "first perfect game known to have been pitched at any level" and credits Pud Galvin with throwing the first known perfect game in baseball history. His source appears to be an article in the Ionia Sentinel from August 25, 1876. However, according to the Globe, the pitcher in the game was Pidge Morgan rather than Pud Galvin and therefore, if the Globe's account is accurate, Morgan should be credited with throwing the first perfect game.

Update: In their August 22, 1876 issue, the Globe-Democrat corrects itself. The Globe states that "In the two games at Ionia, Mich., on the 17th, when the Mutual and Cass clubs were Chicagoed by the St. Louis Red Stockings, Galvin instead of Morgan did the pitching, as was stated, due to a telegraphic error."

Galvin was playing with the Stocks in 1876 but there were rumors floating around in March that he had signed with the Reds. On June 21, however, Galvin "signed articles of agreement" to play with the Reds for the remainder of the season. He was obviously on the team in August when the Reds played in the Michigan tournament and did indeed pitch a perfect game against the Cass club. Whether or not the game against the Mutuals was a no-hitter or not is still up in the air. In the end it all depends on which scorer's report you accept. Regardless, Galvin had one heck of a day in Ionia.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bradley's No-Hitter

The Globe-Democrat yesterday morning announced the fact that the St. Louis Base Ball club intended accomplishing the greatest feat in the annals of the game, if sharp play could bring about the result prayed for, which was nothing less than the whitewashing of the famous Hartford nine for the third consecutive time. They did it and thereby covered themselves with glory and sent their admirers into ecstacies. A large crowd was present to witness the discomfiture of the Dark Blues. In the matter of the toss, luck for the first time in a long while deserted McGeary, which was considered a favorable omen for Hartford, but, as the sequel showed, failed to prove such. St. Louis won the game in the first two innings by the fine batting of Clapp and Blong, and four unfortunate errors by their opponents. In the last seven innings Bond was so well supported that the Browns could not possibly increase their score. Bradley's pitching, and the magnificent backing given it by the fielders, won the day for St. Louis. For the first time in the annals of the League, nine innings were played without a single base hit being placed to the credit of one of the teams. The Hartford's utterly failed to do anything whatever with Bradley's twisters. Weak infield hits and easy flies were the order of the afternoon on their side, and a chance for an out was rarely missed. Bradley has good reason to be proud of his record. His associates, especially Clapp, whose beautiful batting was a marked feature of the game, did fairly off Bond's curves, and thereby won the game. Three such games as have been played during the past week by the St. Louis and Hartford Clubs have never been witnessed, the scores being 2 to 0, 3 to 0, and 2 to 0, all in favor of St. Louis. They will be placed on record as the most wonderful struggles in the history of the national pastime. When it is stated that until last Tuesday Hartford had not been whitewashed this season, and that for twenty-seven consecutive innings they were retired by the Browns without scoring, and almost in one-two-three order, some idea of the magnificent manner in which they must have fielded the stinging hist of such men as Burdock, Higham, Ferguson, and the other Blue Legs can be formed.

-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 16, 1876

Peter Morris, in A Game of Inches, makes an interesting observation about the coverage of Bradley's no-hitter. After first noting Princeton pitcher Joseph McElroy Mann's no-hitter against Yale on May 29, 1875 and Joseph Borden's no-hitter against Chicago on July 28, 1875, which was the first no-hitter in major league history, Morris states that the two games received little attention and were reported simply as a matter of fact. "When George Bradley pitched the first National League no-hitter the following season, the event was heralded with more enthusiasm, but the accomplishment was portrayed as belonging as much to the fielders as to the pitcher ...The fact that the response to early no-hitters was so subdued is somewhat puzzling in light of the acclaim being accorded low-scoring games during this period. My conjecture is that, as implied by the account of Bradley's no-hitter, this was a reflection of the continued perception that baseball ought to be a battle between hitters and fielders and a resulting resentment of pitchers for having usurped too great a role. Low-scoring games could be viewed as the product of good defense, but the absence of any hits at all evoked suspicion that the pitcher had exerted too great an influence."

I would also add, speaking only of the Globe's coverage of the event, that Bradley's no-hitter got a bit lost in the acclaim given the three consecutive shutouts. Shutting out Harford for twenty seven consecutive innings seems to have been regarded as a greater accomplishment than Bradley's single game achievement. The no-hitter was therefore portrayed as only a part of the greater accomplishment.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

James Fitzgibbon

Fitzgibbon, Jas., was born in the little town of Middleton, near Cork, Ireland, on June 28, 1843. His father, Daniel Fitzgibbon, died when James was four years old. His mother's maiden name was Hannah Crowley, and one year after her husband's death she decided to come with her children to America, settling upon Springfield, Massachusetts, as their home. It was in that city that James was reared, and there he received the rudiments of his education. He afterward attended school for several years in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and also in this latter city he was apprenticed and learned the trade of a machinist.

When nineteen years of age he went to Hartford, Connecticut, and entered the Phoenix Iron Works as a machinist. From the Phoenix he went to the Hartford and New Haven sops, where he remained four and a half years working at his trade. He came to St. Louis in April, 1868, and was appointed foreman and superintendent by his uncle, Morris H. Fitzgibbon. He acted in this capacity until 1873, when he set up in business for himself.

Mr. Fitzgibbon does a building and general contracting business, and among the important buildings he has constructed are C.H. Turner's building, Third street; Hoyle building, Sixth and Locust; Patrick Burns' building, Christy between Sixth and Seventh; Bannerman building, Sixth and Christy; J.S. Sullivan building, Seventh and Christy; H. Liggett building, Twentieth and Chestnut; Central Distillers' buildings and warehouses; Columbia building, Eighth and Locust; Puritan building on Locust; Channing Flats; Paramore Flats; D.R. Garrison, row of houses; Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company, row of houses; Lackman School; Concordia Club Hall, and fine residences for the following named gentlemen: P.C. Murphy, Albert Mansur, Dr. Bronson, J.H. Tiernan and Marcus Bernheimer.

Mr. Fitzgibbon was married in April, 1874, to Miss Mary Jane Keating, daughter of Patrick Keating, at one time the first and most prominent real estate dealer of the city. He was a friend of many of the old real estate holders of the city, such as the Mullanphys, and as such had the management of their real estate. The couple have four children living: Francis Keating, Eugene, Edward and Louise.

Mr. Fitzgibbon's success in life is largely due to a sound business sense and the fact that he has never trusted important business to a subordinate, but has given all his work his personal supervision.
-Old and new St. Louis

James D. Fitzgibbon was a pitcher with the Empire Club and served as one of the club's field captains in 1870. According to Al Spink, he was playing with the club by 1868, shortly after arriving in St. Louis, and had previously been a member of the Charter Oak Club of Hartford, Connecticut.

In 1867 while Mr. Fitzgibbon was a member of the Charter Oaks he went with his team to the Capitoline grounds in Brooklyn to meet the Excelsiors of that city. The Charter Oaks in that game faced the pitching of...Arthur Cummings, the first man in America to use the curve ball and the real inventor of that sort of thing...

Mr. Fitzgibbon is now an old man but wonderfully alive and active. Two years ago he visited Hartford and while there asked about the Bunce brothers, Henry and Fred, who had played on the Charter Oaks with him. He found they had become bank presidents. Calling on one of the brothers, the president of the Phoenix Bank at Hartford, Mr. Fitzgibbons was recognized instantly, called by name and given a hearty reception by a fellow player who had seen him but twice in forty years.
-The National Game

I have information that was passed along to me that Fitzgibbon died in January of 1930 but I haven't been able to verify the date of death.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

An 1875 Season Preview: The Red Stockings of St. Louis

The Red Sox, as they are familiarly called, have not yet filled their nine.  They are the pick of last year's Empires and Red Stockings, and are "natives" with the exception of Charley Sweazy, the veteran second baseman of the Cincinnati Red Stockings and other clubs.

Sweazy arrived in (St. Louis) on Tuesday last and, I expect, will at once proceed to place the players in position and training, he having been engaged to Captain and steady them.  They have two pitchers-Morgan, medium paced, with legitimate delivery, and plenty of endurance and pluck, while J. Blong is change and centre fielder.  He is a good player in almost any position, and throws a very swift underhand ball.  Hously, from the Empire, will play first base, and in him they have an excellent player.  He is of the steady, sure, and quiet order.  Sweazy will of course play second, and if he only approaches to his old-time play will do better than many that other clubs boast of.  McSorley, a brilliant player at times, and Tommy Oran, also a fitful fielder, will fill the short-field and third-base positions. 

In the outfield, Joe Blong, Redmond, and Croft will look after the high flies, the former being also the change pitcher, while Redmond is change catcher, and Croft is an excellent first baseman and one of the most promising players in their corps.  Packey Dillon is the regular catcher, and there are very few better as long as he keeps his temper: the want of control in this respect is the only fault Pack's best friends find with him...

The Red Sox will have a neat gray cap, shirts, and pants, red hose, and name in letters of same color on the breast.
-Chicago Tribune, April 18, 1875 

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Map Of Camp Jackson

Above is a map of Camp Jackson after its capture by Union troops in 1861.  The map comes from collection of the St. Louis Mercantile Library and appeared in a brochure entitled Special Collections for Researching Civil War History.


What I like about the map is that it gives a sense of the open space that was available around Compton Avenue during the era.  This open space was being used as a baseball grounds in 1866 by the Veto Base Ball Club.  The Veto Grounds, as it was known, was also the home grounds of the Empire Club that season.  In the 1870's, Thomas McNeary built the Compton Avenue Grounds on the site.


I've talked several times about the amount of land around St. Louis that was available for use as a playing space for baseball and the effect that this had on the growth of the game in the city.  I think this map does a good job of presenting that idea in a visual manner.  

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Brief Mention Of The Active Club Of Alton

The Active Base Ball Club was organized in the latter part of July of the current year (1866).  Wm. D. Perrin, President, and E.B. Parke, Secretary.
-Gazetteer of Madison County

James T. Hair's history of Madison County was published in 1866 and, while I haven't sat down and read the entire thing, I'm really looking forward to going through it.  I'm pretty sure that I've found the only mention of baseball in its three hundred pages but I was actually pleasantly surprised to find what I did.

Reading the introduction, I did find this quote: "The Mississippi Valley is the garden of the world and (Madison County) is its center."  I don't know about Madison County being the center of the Mississippi River valley but I love that description of the valley.  A bit off topic, I know, but I've never found a more beautiful place on earth than the valley that's formed by the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.    

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Old And Popular Pastime Of Base Ball

The Ball Club

The young men of our city, on Monday evening last, perfected the organization of a "Ball Club," for the purpose of indulging in the old and popular pastime of "Base Ball." A Constitution, By-Laws, and set of Rules for the Government of the club were adopted, and the following officers were elected:

J.H. Hibbard, President; John Beilar, Vice President; J.M. Stanton, Secretary; and Thos. Dimmock, Treasurer.

The first game, under the organization, will be played this afternoon, at two o'clock, on what is known as "State House Square," in Middle Alton.

We make this announcement with unqualified pleasure, and hope that the Club will long flourish in active harmony. We understand that some sixty members have already enrolled their names, and it will probably increase to one hundred. The initiation fee is only twenty-five cents. the regular games will be played every Friday afternoon, at the hour named above. Young men whose business is of an in-door sedentary character should enter heartily into the games of this Club; they will derive much benefit therefrom.
-Alton Weekly Courier, June 3, 1858, page 1

What was it I was saying the other day about pushing back the darkness of our knowledge?

This is great stuff. We have names of members/officers, the number of members, the cost for joining the club, the location of playing grounds, stuff about the organization of the club, and when their first game was played. I really couldn't ask for more from a source.

But, topping all of this, is a fantastic reference to "the old and popular pastime of 'Base Ball.'" This seems to me to confirm Tobias' assertion that what he called "town ball" was indeed popular in the St. Louis area before the arrival of the New York game. It also suggests that the game, or a form of it, had been played in the area for some time. What "old" means specifically is impossible to know but the city of Alton was only forty years old when this account was written. And in a quick (but interesting) aside, the city was founded in 1818 by Rufus Easton of St. Louis and named after his son Alton Easton , the father of future Union Club member Archibald Easton. St. Louis itself was founded in 1763 and Europeans first settled in the area in 1699 at Cahokia.

So is it conceivable that they were playing some form of a safe haven, bat and ball game called base ball in Alton for forty years? It's certainly within the realm of possibility. If the game was "old" to the writer of the Courier piece and that writer was a twenty-odd year old young man then we can say the game had been played in Alton since at least the 1830's. And what of St. Louis proper? Was the city of St. Louis influencing the game played in Alton or was the reverse true? Or was it a mutual relationship? If this form of ball play in Alton dated back forty years, to 1818 or the early 1820's then one would have to believe that game play in St. Louis was influencing game play in Alton. What kind of influence did Illinois towns like Cahokia, Kaskaskia, and Vandalia have on game play in Alton and St. Louis, if any?

Doing a quick search, I found this interesting tidbit from a A History of Alton: "After the end of the Indian troubles in 1832, Alton grew rapidly in business and population. Many people came into the city, mainly from the Eastern States." If a reasonably conservative estimate of when this form of base ball first started to be played in Alton is sometime in the 1830's than what role did a heavy influx of Easterners have on the development of the game? Was it a form of the game introduced from the East or was it a hybrid of an Eastern game and an indigenous form?

Lots of questions and few answers (for the moment).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Caught On The Fly, 1871 Style

Local Base Ball Notes

Last Saturday the Chargoggaggoggmanchoggogogg club, of this town, played the first of a series of three games with the Eureka club of Brighton, on the grounds of the latter club. The Edwardsvillians lost the game by 7 points. The next game will be played at Alton some time during the present month, and a third on the fair grounds at this place during the annual fair of the agricultural society.

On Monday evening last, those interested met at the court-house and formed a club, to be known as the Red Caps. The old Magnolias and the Chargog (&c., &c.,) are merged in the new club.

At the fair grounds, during the progress of the German Catholic picnic on the 4th, a game of base ball was attempted; but the excessive heat, etc., caused some of the players to wilt, and the game was abandoned.

There will be a practice game this afternoon on the grounds occupied by the Magnolias last season.
-Edwardsville Intelligencer, July 6, 1871

A couple of notes: The full name of the Chargog Club is not a typo. That's exactly as it appears in the Intelligencer. Also, for those who don't know, Brighton, Illinois is the home town of former Cardinal Jason Isringhausen.

Monday, January 19, 2009

An 1870 East Side Match

The Magnolia base ball club of Edwardsville visited Alton on Thursday last to play a match game of base ball with the Wide Awake club of that city. The day was very hot and the game lasted between four and five hours, and resulted in the defeat of the Wide Awakes. The score stood Magnolia, 50; Wide Awakes, 34. At the conclusion of the game the latter felt so mortified at being beaten that with but one exception they could not treat their opponents with common politeness.
-Edwardsville Intelligencer, June 9, 1870

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Active Base Ball Club Of Alton

At the match game of Base Ball played at Litchfield, August 30, 1866, between the "Prairie" of Litchfield and the "Active" of Alton, the following was the score...(Prairie 64, Active 36)...

The "Prairie" Club victorious by 28 runs. Time of game three hours and forty-five minutes. Umpire, E.L. Metcalf. Scorer E.T. Atwood.

Baldwin field captain of "Active" club, Forrester field captain "Prairie" club.
-Alton Telegraph, September 7, 1866

Playing for the Prairie Club was Forrester, p; Finch, 3b; McWilliams, c; Tuttle, lf; McAllister, rf; Zink, cf; Ayers, 2b; White, ss; Hood, 1b. Playing for the Active Club was Baldwin, c; Perrin, 1b; Sioman, cf; Morrison, 2b; Kellenberger, 3b; Dobelbower, rf; Clement, p; Smith, ss; Schweppe, lf.

Without checking my notes I'd say that this is the earliest reference to a baseball club on the Illinois side of the river that I've seen. It's certainly the earliest contemporary source that I've seen mentioning an East side club.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

An 1858 Match Game In Alton

A Match Game

Some time since we noticed the organisation, in our city, of a Base Ball Club. Since then, the Club has played from one to three games every week, the regular games being played on Friday afternoons, and the members have become very expert. Last week they accepted a challenge to play a match game with the Upper Alton Club. The game was played on Saturday afternoon, by twelve picked men from each Club, upon the Alton Club ground, in Middle Alton, the latter winning in five innings, by one hundred and thirty-four rounds. The game stood at the close: Alton Club, 224 rounds; Upper Alton Club, 90 rounds. We are told, however, that the Upper Alton boys played at a disadvantage, being on strange ground, and three of their best players being sick. It is admitted by some of the members of the winning Club, that had the advantages been equal, the contest would have been a close one, and the result perhaps entirely different. We presume it will be tried again.
-Alton Weekly Courier, June 24, 1858

This reference to a baseball match in Alton in 1858 is similar to the Porter's Spirit of the Times July 17, 1858 reference that's used in the Protoball Chronology. Interestingly, the Spirit of the Times article is written in the first person while this one is not which rules out the Courier piece being the direct source for the Spirit of the Times reference although it's possible that they share a common author.

Update: After writing this I noticed one discrepancy between the two sources. The Spirit of the Times source mentions thirteen players per side and the Courier source mentions twelve.

The significance of this article, as I wrote before, is that it is the earliest reference to a safe haven game in the St. Louis area of which we're aware. Actually, what I wrote was that it was the earliest reference to a non-cricket safe haven game that I know of but checking my notes I noticed that the earliest reference to a cricket game I have is from November of 1858 and the earliest reference to a cricket club is from September of 1858 so this Courier piece predates both of those by several months. As of right now, this is the line between the light and the darkness. We have direct contemporary evidence of a safe haven game being played in the St. Louis area in June of 1858 with club formation in May of 1858. While I have no doubt that safe haven games were being played in the St. Louis area earlier then this, that's speculative with nothing to back it up other than Tobias' vague reference to the popularity of town ball and cricket in the area prior to the arrival of the New York game.

Of course, this Courier article is not a reference to the New York game. The earliest reference to the New York game in the St. Louis area continues to be the notice for the Cyclone/Morning Star match that ran in the Missouri Democrat in July of 1860. The Courier piece does nothing to change the time line regarding the advent of the New York game in St. Louis. What it does is give us more information about the nature of St. Louis bat and ball games and clubs prior to the formation of the Cyclone Club in the summer of 1859.

This, of course, raises significant questions. What kind of game exactly was the Alton Base Ball Club and the Upper Alton Base Ball Club playing if it wasn't "baseball?" If it isn't the New York game (and based on the fact that they were using twelve men per side and playing only five innings, it's easy to say that it wasn't) than what is it? Well, the simplest answer, as it's been pointed out to me, is that they were playing a bat and ball game that was known, in Alton, as "base ball." It was simply a local variation of a safe haven game that they happened to call base ball and, based on Tobias' recollections, was likely similar to what was more commonly called town ball. How was the game played? I don't know. How was the field laid out? Don't know. What kind of rules were used? Don't know. Was this game specific to Alton or was it played throughout the St. Louis area? Don't know.

Certainly, the lack of answers to these specific questions seems frustrating but it really isn't. We now have numerous sources showing that safe haven games were being played in the St. Louis area in 1858 and that has a significant impact on our understanding of the origins and development of baseball in St. Louis. And over time we're going to find more references, more sources, more information and we're going to continue to push back the darkness on our knowledge. This is a good thing.

Note: If you ever look at the tags that I add to each post or use the list of tags in the sidebar, you may have noticed that I misspelled "origins." Yeah...I'm embarrassed. And I'm really not sure if I can fix it without changing the tag on each individual post. I'll have to look into it. Of course, I'm sure that my poor spelling (and grammar) is not a shock to any regular readers of this blog.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baseball At Shurtleff College

Shurtleff College was planted by New England Baptists, and consecrated with prayer to the education of a Baptist ministry, and for over thirty-five years it has been true to its mission. The churches of the Mississippi Valley have looked to it for their chief supply of educated ministers. Nearly an hundred preachers went forth from it before the theological department was opened...With earnest piety Shurtleff has united elevated patriotism. Though on the borders of rebellion, she has sent more men into the army than any other college in the West. In the dark days of the republic her whole body of students enlisted as three month men, and the Trustees gave up their Commencement to enable them to serve their country...

The Theological School has now been five years in operation, and has graduated three classes. About thirty students are now pursuing study in the regular course, and there are about fifty students for the ministry in the collegiate course. Both the School and the College have doubled their numbers during the last four years, and have quite overgrown their present accommodations.
-Alton Daily Telegraph (quoting the Watchman and Reflector), December 7, 1868

In 1827, Reverend John Mason Peck established a theological school near Belleville, Illinois and in 1832 he moved the school to Alton, naming it the Alton Seminary. In 1835, Dr. Benjamin Shurtleff donated ten thousand dollars to the Seminary, which was used for the construction of new buildings and the establishment of a professorship of oratory, and the name of the school was changed in 1836 in honor of its benefactor. In 1957, Shurtleff College, the oldest Baptist college west of the Appalachians, was absorbed by the Southern Illinois University system and is currently used as the campus for the university's dental school.

And it just so happens that in 1867 Shurtleff College had a baseball club.

Below we append the score of the match game of base ball between the "Shurtleff" Base Ball Club, of Upper Alton, and the "Athletic" Base Ball Club, of Carlinville (Illinois) played Saturday, October 26th, on the grounds of the "Athletic," in Carlinville..."
-Alton Telegraph, November 1, 1867

The Shurtleff College club defeated the Athletics of Carlinville by a score of 38-30. In their summary of the game, the Telegraph made note of the number of "fly-catches" made by each club (thirteen apiece) and the number missed (two each). The umpire of the game was Mr. L. Dubois of the Athletic Base Ball Club of Springfield, Illinois.


"When Greek meets Greek then comes the tug of war.

When Shurtleff meets Shurtleff the contest thickens, the encounter hands in the balance, and the result becomes doubtful. Frequently have we seen the array of brain and mental vigor against the brain and mental vigor-declaimer against declaimer, debater against debater, and orator against orator, when the result seemed to be uncertain, the choice so nearly equal. But Saturday last we witnessed the array of muscle, bone, joints and activity, against activity, joints, bone and muscle. At first muscle was in the ascendant, 24 to 9, bearing down all beneath it, when activity came the rescue, and, aided by joints, muscle was compelled to relax, making the contest nearly equal. Again muscle takes the lead, supplemented by activity, is hotly pursued, and even outstripped by counter muscle and activity 33 to 32.

The Freshmen class were arrayed against a picked nine from the College in a game of baseball. The Shurtleff club had beaten the Atletics, of Carlenville, by a score of 38 to 30, the Actives, of Alton, 52 to 14, and the Bluff City, 59 to 10. Now a part of the Shurtleffs meet a part of the Shurtleffs, and it is "nip and tug" with only a slight gravitation towards tug.

The Freshman took the ins, and with K. Dubois to pitch and F. Dubois to catch, and promised hard work to their opponents. Though Fred at the bat did not play with his usual skill, yet as catcher took balls under all circumstances, sending them swiftly to the 2d base, stopping short the run of one and another. K. Dubois, being hurt in the beginning of the game, was unable to pitch for a few innings; in which the College seemed to gain an advantage, making 15 runs in two innings, but recovering somewhat, he checked their gain, and made a good score for himself. Riggs was at home in his part of the field, and no wonder, for he hails from Rockford, and has seen the "Forest City" play. A ball from the bat coming near him is a fly catch or is on a very short route to the first base, where Stookey was well prepared to hold every one of them. Simpson, at the 2b, took good care of it, of all balls that came to him, and when he appeared at the bat he was there to some purpose. A. Phillips, Gilham and Haugh, in the field, did good service, the last taking three fly balls in succession (applause), the former two, and played well at the bat and base, the first on forced run, saving a tally by swift running.

We noticed in the playing of the College nine that Castle hit the ball hard and caught well, putting out 13 men on foul strikes. Starne light of foot, sure of hand and swift as Achilles, made one-fifth of the whole scores. Merriam did some heavy batting, caught two fly balls in fine style, and added six to the score. McFarland went in on his muscle, put out one on the first base, another and then another to emphasize it. Beran as usual used but one hand in striking, but hit full double-handed blows, and showed himself "no sardine" at catching. At one period of the game Dixon was seen pursuing a foul ball. The ball hit by Clawson, was going swiftly, and Dixon, was going swiftly ten feet at a stride; the ball made a bound and Dixon made a jump, catching it fair, by reaching out one hand apparently two yards (applause). Stiffler attended well to the 3d base, took foul balls, and gave more than one the sad pleasure of walking to the home base as slowly as he chose. J.E. Phillips batted fair, adding four to the score, while Corey gave the ball some of the hardest hits, and as a fielder sent it quickly to the place where needed.

At the close of the ninth inning, a hasty count announced 33 for the College, and 34 for the Freshmen. (Great cheering for the latter.) A second count increased the cheers, as it showed a drawn game of 34 to 34.

A tenth inning is proposed to settle it. Heigh, in earnest, is at the bat but his expectations are cut short, for McFarland is on the alert, and takes the ball straight from the bat. Simpson makes one run, and the two following go out on fouls caught by Castle.

The College boys come in from the field cheering. Starne is at the bat, and with one of his hard hits, sends the ball beyond every fielder, going to the third base with hearty cheers, many hoping he may make a home run. He finishes it, while the next three go out on fouls caught by Stockey and F. Dubois, and the tenth inning stands 35 to 35. (Furious cheering.)

An eleventh is called for and every ballist throws off his hat and strings his nerves. Clawson, in behalf of the Freshmen, hits a "high roller" which promises a home run, but nimble feet are in pursuit of it, and he is forced to halt at the 2d base before coming home. One, two are out. Gilham is called to the bat, and F. Dubois on deck. The Freshmen are hopeful. G. puts in one of his last, but is left for the fourth time on base, for Fred, though he gave the ball a blow full of power, was caught out on the fly by Merriam, and the freshmen gave place to the College nine, who make five runs and win the game 40 to 36. The Freshmen claim 11 fly catches and 3 passed balls, to the College 8 fly catches and 6 passed balls. The game lasting three and a half hours, was spirited and highly interesting, the umpire, H. Milts, of the Shurtleff club, giving general satisfaction. F. Long and S.B. Force acting as scorers...
-Alton Telegraph, November 22, 1867

A hotly contested game of base ball played upon the beautiful campus of the Wyman Institute at Upper Alton, between the students of that Institute and a nine made up of Shurtleff College students and town players, was commenced last Saturday, continued on Tuesday and concluded last evening. The result was in favor of the Wyman Institute boys by a score of 32 to 31 with the last inning unfinished.
-Alton Daily Telegraph, May 14, 1880

A game of base ball was played last Thursday p.m., on the Shurtleff College campus, between a College 9 and a picked 9 of this city. The game resulted in a score of 16 to 9 in favor of the Shurtleff boys. The time of the game was 2 hours 40 minutes; umpire Dr. H.T. Burnap.
-Alton Telegraph, June 14, 1883

Playing that day for Shurtleff was Morrill, ss; Johnson, p; Kendrick, 3b; Worden, 1st; Williams, 2b; Caldwell, rf; F. Morrill, cf; Bonham, lf; and Roach, c.

Thus memories of '87's Commencement bring thoughts of a year of "sweetness and light," with suggestions of the pioneer class day banquet, the beginning of the ladies' hall, the last great literary contest, the nearly organized orchestra, and the inauguration of the school of music, to say nothing of the baseball team, which won laurels in its victories over Blackburn University and other hapless contestants.
-The Pioneer School: A History of Shurtleff College

Another game of ball was played between the Shurtleff and the W.M.A. boys Saturday afternoon. It was an exceedingly closely contested game. The Shurtleff boys led off with 5 runs to 1 for the first few innings and scored no more runs afterwards. The W.M.A. boys kept gradually gaining until in the last half of the ninth inning the score stood 5 to 4 in favor of Shurtleff, with the W.M.A. at the bat. The Academy boys had splendid prospects for the game with two men on bases, but just after a foul ball, before the pitcher was in his box the man on second stepped off his base and was declared out. This made three out and the game was ended. Sloane, of the College, and Shapleigh, of the W.M.A., both pitched a very fine game, fanning one after another as they stepped up to the bat. Both teams are weak on batting. The next game will be between Shurtleff and Blackburn next Saturday at Sportsman's park.
-Alton Telegraph, May 14, 1896

There seems to be sufficient evidence (much of which, believe it or not, I didn't include here) to state that Shurtleff College had an active baseball club from the end of the Civil War and into the 20th century. Interestingly, there is numerous references to a college football club in the 1890's suggesting that the college had a rather healthy athletic life.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Little History On Lafayette Park

One of the oldest parks in St. Louis, (Lafayette Park) is situated between Mississippi and Missouri, and Park and Lafayette Avenues. Its location is one and a half miles southwest of the courthouse, and it contains 29.95 acres. It was among the most beautiful and best shaded parks in the city until utterly desolated by the terrific tornado which swept over that portion of the city, May 27, 1896...Lafayette Park was a part of the St. Louis commons authorized by an act of the Legislature, passed in 1835, to be sold, the territory comprising the park having been reserved afterward by the city for that purpose. It was acquired from the city commons in 1844, and was dedicated and established as a park by an ordinance approved November 12, 1851. It was at first designated as Lafayette Square, and was known under that name for several years, until August 23, 1854, when the name was changed to Lafayette Park. Under the same ordinance a board of improvement was provided, which organized February 13, 1852. The first board consisted of Luther M. Kennett, then the mayor of the city; Samuel R. Curtis, city engineer; John C. Rust, Stephen D. Barlow and Edward Bredell. The ordinance made no appropriation, but was to take effect when $5000 should be subscribed and donated to inclose and plant the square. The property owners around the park then raised $8,173, which they paid into the board of improvement. With this money a plain paling fence was built around the park, and a large number of trees planted. In 1859 the city council made its first appropriation for the park, amounting to $2,000, and the same amount was set apart for their use the following year, a portion of which was utilized in laying out eight acres as a parade ground for use of the military companies of the city...
-Encyclopedia of the history of St. Louis

I almost jumped out of my seat when I read that Edward Bredell Sr. was on the board of improvements for Lafayette Park. The park had been used in the antebellum era as one of the earliest baseball grounds in St. Louis by the Cyclone and other clubs. Bredell's son, Edward Bredell Jr., and one of his employees, Merritt Griswold, were the founding members of the Cyclone Club and it seems likely that the elder Bredell may have had a role in steering them towards Lafayette Park as a potential place to play. I've always been interested in the elder Bredell's story. He's an interesting guy and, being a rather prominent citizen of St. Louis, there's a great deal of information about him out there. This piece of information may give me the excuse I've been looking for to write something up on him.

Also of interest to me is the amount of money being raised and the improvements going on around the time the Cyclones would have first been using the park. There are a couple of sources that mention the fact that the Cyclones and the other clubs raised money for improvements to the park to make it suitable for baseball. If memory serves, I believe that the clubs were given permission to use the park under the condition that they made some improvements to it. It seems that this was part of a larger program of improvements going on to the park at the time.

One more thing I should point out is the mention that the park had been originally part of the commons. This is something that I've mentioned before and believe to be rather significant. The availability in St. Louis of large areas of land, I believe, played a large role in the development of the game in the city. There was ample land available to play the game in antebellum St. Louis and this encouraged and enabled the creation of numerous clubs in a short period of time. One thing I've not really touched on but am beginning to look at is the transfer of parts of this common land into a public park system. This was a process that seems to have begun in the late 1830's and you see the results with not only Lafayette Park but Carr Park, the Fairgrounds, and other parks in the late antebellum period.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A New Baseball Rule For 1868

The new base ball rules for 1868 require that all balls used in a match must be stamped with the size, weight and maker's name, and if any other is used the game played will be "null and void." The new ball is smaller and lighter than the old one, being but nine inches in circumference, and weighing five and a quarter ounces.
-Alton Daily Telegraph, April 1, 1868

While I'm not particularly interested in the arcana of 19th century baseball rules, I do find it interesting that they were publishing such matters in an Alton, Illinois newspaper in 1868.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baseball Is Violent, Dangerous, And Tiresome?

Now that...base ball season is over, we would suggest, in order that the muscle developing process may not lie dormant during the long winter months, that the base ball athletics turn their attention to sawing up the wood piles of widows and sick people during the winter. The exercise is fully as healthful, is not so violent, dangerous nor tiresome as base ball, and we are sure the results will gratify a curious public fully as much, and we would prefer to give the score of a wood sawing class to that of a base ball club in our columns. Therefore, those of our friends and readers who aspire to have their names emblazoned high upon the roll of fame as champion wood-sawyers will have an opportunity to blaze as such through the columns of this paper.
-Alton Telegraph, November 3, 1871

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Protoball Chronology Has Been Updated

The extraordinarily fantastic Protoball Chronology has been updated and I thought I'd share some of the new St. Louis related stuff they now have up on the chronology. I've been sitting on this information since it was passed along to me a month or so ago and I wanted to wait until they put it up before posting it here. I can't tell you how difficult it was to sit on this stuff and not share it with you. But enough about me and my internal struggles, here's the new St. Louis entries:

1858.42 – In Downstate Illinois, New Club Wins by 134 Rounds

“BASEBALL IN ILLINOIS. – The Alton [IL] Base-Ball Club . . . a meeting was held on the evening of May 18, to organize a club . . . . The Upper Alton Base Ball Club . . . sent us a challenge, to play a match game, on Saturday, the 19th of June, which was accepted by our club; each side had five innings, and thirteen players each, with the following result: The Alton Base-Ball Club made 224 rounds. The Upper Alton Base-Ball Club made 90 rounds.” “Base-Ball”, Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 4, number 20 (July 17, 1858), p. 309, columns. 2-3 Alton IL is a Mississippi River town 5 miles north of St. Louis. Missouri.

Obviously, this isn't the New York game that they're playing in Alton but I believe this is the earliest reference to a non-cricket safe haven game in the St. Louis area that anyone has found as of yet. Very significant and very exciting stuff. This certainly helps shed some light on what was happening with bat and ball games in St. Louis prior to the introduction of the New York game.

1859.39 – Club Organized in St. Louis MO

“CLUB ORGANIZED, -- A base ball club was organized in St. Louis, Mo, on the 1st inst. It boasts of being the first organization of the kind in that city, but will not, surely, long stand alone. It numbers already 18 members, officers as follows: President, C. D. Paul; Vice do, J. T. Haggerty; Secretary, C. Thurber; Treasurer, E. R. Paul. They announce their determination to be ready to lay matches in about a month. Source: Underidentified clipping in the Mears collection – The Clipper or the Spirit of the Times – annotated “Sept 1859” in hand. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.

Again, very significant in that this is the earliest contemporary reference to a club that was (most likely) playing the New York game in St. Louis. While the best available evidence suggests that the Cyclone club organized in the summer of 1859, all the references are based on the later memories of the participants. Interestingly, this club is a complete mystery in that I have no information about it. The men mentioned in the source are not mentioned by Tobias in his history of early baseball in St. Louis. It's possible that this may be the Resolute, Hope, or Olympic Club but much more research is needed.

I have done some research and identified three of the men mentioned in the source. Edmund R. Paul was born in Missouri in 1837 and in 1860 he was working as a clerk in a real estate office that was owned by his father Edmund W. Paul. He had a brother named Charles S. Paul who is most likely the C.D. Paul mentioned in the source. Charles Paul was born in Missouri in 1841 and in 1860 he was working as a printer. C. Thurber is most likely Charles H. Thurber who was working as a clerk in an insurance office in 1860. J.T. Haggerty has been difficult to identify because of the fact that there were several Haggerty's and Hagerty's and Hagarty's with first names that started with "J" living in St. Louis in 1860.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Biographical Sketch of Jeremiah Fruin

This biographical sketch of Jeremiah Fruin, of the Empire Club, appears in Encyclopedia of the history of St. Louis:

Fruin, Jeremiah, who has constructed a large share of the public works of St. Louis, and who has been, literally as well as in its broadest significance, one of the builders of the city, was born in the picturesque Glen of Aherlow, County Tipperary, Ireland in the year 1831. His parents were John and Catharine (Baker) Fruin, who came to the United States when the son was two years of age, and settled in the city of Brooklyn, New York. His father was a graduate of Maynooth College, an intelligent and successful man of affairs, who was actively engaged for many years in the construction of public works in Brooklyn and elsewhere as a contractor. He died in Brooklyn in 1861, and both he and his wife, who died some six years later, are buried in Holy Cross cemetery of that city. Jeremiah Fruin was educated in the public schools of Brooklyn, and when he was sixteen years old became associated with his father in business. He remained in Brooklyn until 1860, and as a young man was an active spirit, identified with many organizations around which cluster historic associations of more than ordinary interest. Among these was the famous "Water Witch Hose Company, No. 8," which, in the old days of the volunteer fire department, was the pride of Brooklyn. He was captain also of Company E of the Seventy-second Regiment of National Guards, of Brooklyn, and belonged to the old-time "Charter Oaks Base Ball Club," of that city. His interest in base ball was not left behind when he came West and in later years, when he was actively engaged in business for himself, he was captain of the old "Empire Ball Club," of St. Louis. Leaving Brooklyn in 1860, he first went to New Orleans, but remained there only a short time, and then came to St. Louis. This was on the eve of the War of 1861-5, and he did not become regularly engaged in business for himself until after the war closed. During the war he was connected with the Quartermaster's Department of the Union Army, and most of the time was stationed in St. Louis. When this connection ended he became engaged in the construction of sewers and grading of streets under contract with the city of St. Louis, and for thirty years he has been largely engaged in work of this character, and of a kindred nature. A large part of the contract work in connection with the building of the great system of street railways, which now traverse the city in every direction, has been done under his supervision, and, from time to time, he has furnished to the laboring classes of the city a vast amount of employment. In 1872 he formed a partnership with W.H. Swift, under which he engaged extensively in contracting, and in 1885 was organized the Fruin-Bambrick Construction Company, a corporation with W.H. Swift, president; J. Fruin, vice-president, and P. Bambrick, secretary; which, in addition to operating stone quarries in St. Louis, has engaged largely in the construction of railroads and other public works. The operations of the Fruin-Bambrick Construction company have extended from the Indian territory to the Atlantic Coast, and in 1897 it had contracts for building a large masonry dam at Holyoke, Massachusetts, and laying several asphaltum street pavements in the cities of New York and Brooklyn. It has engaged also in the construction of city water works in some of the larger and many of the smaller cities of the country, and the enterprise is one which has made Mr. Fruin and his associates widely known throughout the country. As a citizen of St. Louis Mr. Fruin has always taken an active interest in public affairs, and during the years of 1895 and 1896 he served as one of the police commissioners of the city. In politics he has been identified with the Democratic party, contributing to its success, and wielding an important influence in the party councils. He is a member of the Masonic order and a Knight Templar, and a member also of the Royal Arcanum. In 1856 he was married to Miss Catharine Carroll, of Brooklyn, New York, and has two children, a son and a daughter.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Biographical Sketch Of Edward Farish

This brief biographical sketch of Edward Farish, who was a member of the Cyclone Club, appears in Encyclopedia of the history of St. Louis:

Farish, Edward T., lawyer, was born in Woodville, Mississippi, in 1836, and came of a very prominent family of that State. His father was a distinguished physician and his mother was a granddaughter of Sir William Hamilton. Left an orphan when he was eleven years of age, he was reared under the guardianship of relatives of his father, and was educated at St. Louis University, from which institution he was graduated in the class of 1854. He studied law under the preceptorship of Honorable A. Fenby, and was admitted to the bar in 1856. Soon after his admission he became associated in practice with the Garesches, who in their day were among the most distinguished members of the St. Louis bar. Later he practiced in partnership with Honorable R.A. Bakewell, and in later years has continued his law practice alone. While he is a close student and a judicious counselor, he has been especially conspicuous as an eloquent advocate and a trial lawyer of very superior attainments. He has served St. Louis as city counselor and is numbered among the ablest of those who have held this office. An occasional contributor to the press, he is known as a polished and forcible writer, as well as a sound and able lawyer.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Long Brothers

Matthew and Wallace Long were brothers who played for the African-American Nine Star Base Ball Club of St. Louis in 1885. According to the Globe-Democrat, the Nine Stars organized in April of 1885 with Matt Long as the right fielder and Wallace Long as the left fielder. There is some evidence to suggest that the Nine Stars may have existed prior to 1885 but my reading of the source material is that the club was a new one and that 1885 was their first season. Although the club was certainly not as prominent as Henry Bridgewater's Black Stocking club, the notice in the Globe, mentioning the organization of the club and the players, seems to be rather unique.

Unlike many of the players on the Black Stockings, who appear to have been brought in by Bridgewater from clubs outside St. Louis, most of the Nine Star players were St. Louis natives. The Long brothers, although born in Kentucky, had been living in the city for several years, at least since 1880. The 1880 census lists Wallace Long as working as a barber in the city and Matt Long as working as a boot black, although there are references to his working as a barber as well by 1883.

There are several references to the Long brothers in the Globe-Democrat in the early 1880's due to their inability to stay out of trouble. The earliest incident reported by the Globe took place in 1881:

The case against Virgil Fox, Frank Shannon, Matt Long,Wallace Long, Chas. Gibson and Wm. Brown was continued generally on motion of the Prosecuting Attorney. The parties are all colored lads of from 18 to 20 years of age, and were charged with making an assault with intent to kill Sylvester Henderson, also colored. Henderson and Fox had a quarrel on Sunday night, November 13, at the colored church on Eight street

Fox said that a little girl, that was standing near Henderson, had kicked his foot. Henderson said she didn’t. Epithets were exchanged, and they went down-stairs to fight.

A crowd jumped on Henderson, and he was badly cut in the melee. He was taken to the Dispensary, where his wound was dressed, and thence to the City Hospital, where he lay very low for a long time, and it was thought that his injuries would prove fatal. He recovered, however, and has entirely forgiven his assailants. When the case was called yesterday he failed to put in an appearance.

In November of 1883, the Globe reported an incident involving Matt Long:

A lively disturbance occurred last evening during the services at the colored Baptist Church on Almond street. Matt Long, alias Jefferson, a barber, became involved in a quarrel with several other negroes, and during the disturbance drew a pistol and fired a shot. The excitement which ensued was great and the services were abruptly concluded. Long ran away, followed by a crowd of nearly 100 men and boys, yelling and howling. Near the corner of Third street the fugitive met his wife, and picking up a heavy rock, struck her in the face, fracturing her jaw. Although closely pursued, Long made good his escape. The woman had her injuries attended to at the Free Dispensary, Seventh and Clark avenue.

Finally, in August of 1884, Wallace Long was fined $10 for carrying a concealed weapon.

Little else is known about the Long brothers. Wallace Long died on February 13, 1911 in St. Louis and had been working as a janitor at city hall. It's possible that Matt Long lived into the 1950's and died in Texas but that's unsubstantiated.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Yank Robinson Gets A Medal

W.H. Robinson was born in West Philadelphia, and is 28 years of age. He played ball in Philadelphia with amateur clubs when very young. In 1881 in Detroit, 1883 in Saginaw, and 1884 with the Baltimore Unions. It was while playing with this club last winter that Von der Ahe secured him and he has proved a valuable man. Since he joined the Browns he has developed into a splendid base-runner. While recently in Philadelphia a number of his friends presented him with a beautiful gold medal.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1885

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Charlie Waitt's Glove

Albert Spalding wrote in America's National Game that the "first glove I ever saw on the hand of a ball player in a game was worn by Charles C. Waite, in Boston, in 1875. He had come from New Haven and was playing at first base. The glove worn by him was of flesh color, with a large, round opening in the back...I asked Waite about his glove. He confessed that he was a bit ashamed to wear it, but had it on to save his hand. He also admitted that he had chosen a color as inconspicuous as possible, because he didn't care to attract attention. He added that the opening on the back was for purpose of ventilation."

Waitt, at the time, was playing with the St. Louis Brown Stockings and was a backup outfielder and first baseman. If you do a bit an internet search for him, you're going to find several sites that state that Waitt was the first player to ever wear a glove. While I think it's nice that there is some information about Waitt, who really wasn't that good of a baseball player, out there in the ether, it's a shame that most of it's wrong.

There's evidence that baseball players were using gloves as early as 1860 and there is documentation that Doug Allison used a glove in a game in 1870. So not only was Waitt not the first player to ever use a glove (as I've seen stated), he is also really not even one of the first to use a glove (as some have qualified it). The significance of Waitt's glove is that Spalding noticed it, thought about how much damage his own hands were taking, and in 1877 used one himself, leading to the acceptance of the glove as a baseball tool.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Principle Topic Of Conversation

(Mike) McGeary is the principal topic of conversation in base ball circles, at the present time, and the manner in which he has stirred up certain gentlemen is amusing in the extreme. At the time McGeary was engaged by the St. Louis Club there were only two newspapers in the country that saw fit to speak of the man as a "marked" player, and to maintain that the Browns had made a vital mistake in hiring him. The Globe-Democrat and the New York Clipper are the journals referred to, and the result was that bigoted partizans availed themselves of every opportunity to sling mud at Mr. Henry Chadwick, the base ball editor of the Clipper. Because that gentleman maintained that McGeary and Blong had been guilty of discreditable acts and should not have been employed, he was roundly abused by those who were willing to overlook the former records of the men in the hope that their playing skill would enable the St. Louis Club to win the championship. If McGeary is the traitor that the Brown Stocking manager, by his telegram, would lead the Public to believe, the officers of that club have learned the lesson which Chadwick maintained they would be taught before the end of the season. It is exceedingly lucky that this expose has occurred this early, thereby enabling changes to be made in the team, which later in the season might prevent the Browns gaining one of the first places in the championship race. If the charges against McGeary can be substantiated, the National game will profit greatly thereby. The League will doubtless see that he is punished, and punished severely that other players will be deterred from similar actions. A noticeable fact in connection with this affair is that the very men who could see nothing wrong in the engagement of the players with tarnished reputations are now howling like hyenas at the result of the game in Brooklyn on Saturday. "Such is life."

At noon yesterday the Directors of the St. Louis Club held a meeting and decided to sift the charges against McGeary thoroughly, and, if they are well founded, he will at once be expelled from the League. The action of Manager Graffen in suspending McGeary for the time being was also upheld, and that official was notified to that effect. It is very evident that the gentlemen connected with the club intend doing all in their power to suppress fraud of every description. The death of Miller and McGeary's suspension place the Browns in a very awkward predicament, as they are now without substitutes in the event of injury, illness or accident. For this reason it s more than likely that the nine players left will do their level best to show St. Louisans that they are worthy of the confidence reposed in them, and the team may possibly be strengthened, instead of weakened, by the club's misfortunes.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 30, 1876

Mike McGeary, like Joe Blong, seemed to have a nose for trouble. While I've written a bit about the charges that were leveled against him in 1877, I'm not that familiar with his troubles in 1876. I'll check around and see what I can find.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Quick Reference To A College Game In 1886

The Resolutes, of the Christian Brothers' college, defeated the Monarchs, of the St. Louis university, on last Thursday, by a score of twenty to three. The heavy batting of C. Jenks and J. Shockey were the features of the game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 16, 1886

I'm absolutely not an expert on 19th century college baseball so I'm not really sure that this game represents an actual college baseball game or just a game between clubs made up of college students. In fact, I don't know enough to state that that's even a distinction that should be made.

There were clubs in St. Louis made up of college students going back to the mid-1860's when both SLU and Washington University fielded clubs that, at least unofficially, represented their respective schools. The Union Club, of course, was made up largely of students from those two schools and was established in 1859 or early 1860. So college students were forming clubs and playing games twenty years before this particular game.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

An Interview With George McManus

The following interesting interview took place between Mr. George McManus, Manager of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, and a reporter of the Indianapolis Sentinel on Thursday inst. Mr. McManus is expected home on Tuesday when the facts gleaned in relation to his accuser by the gentlemen who are investigating his career here will be laid before him. What course Manager McManus intends to pursue will probably soon be made public:

The Interview

Reporter. Is there any truth in the charges made by the Louisville papers against you?
Mr. McManus. They are without foundation, and there is not a word of truth in them.
Rep. Did Mr. Devinney meet you at the depot and accompany you in a hack to the hotel?
Mr. McM. Mr. Devinney met me at the depot and told me he could get me a hack very cheap. The price he named that would be asked being very reasonable, I accepted his offer. After three of my men had got into the hacks I asked Devinney if he was going up town. He said he was. I then told him the hack was crowded, but I would try and make room for him. He answered he would rather walk up. We then drove off, and he walked up town.
Rep. Did you see Devinney at the hotel?
Mr. McM. When I was going up to my room at the hotel, I saw Devinney on the elevator, and he followed me to my room. After I got to my room I proceeded to take a bath, and Devinney, after talking for a while, said that these two games would decide who carried off the pennant, and that he (Devinney) would like to see them go to St. Louis. I replied: "That is what we came here for." He then said:

"I Can Fix Them For You."

I replied: "You have not nerve enough to give a visiting club a square deal." He said: "I had nerve enough to give the two Boston games to Louisville." I then told him I had him where I wanted him, and if there was an unfair decision made, I would fix him so he would never umpire another game. He answered: "You will, will you?" and left the room.
Rep. While in your room did you offer Devinney $250 to give the games to St. Louis?
Mr. McM. I did not offer him a cent, and could not have offered that amount, as I did not have more than $30 with me.
Rep. Then his statement that you showed him a $100 bill as an inducement is false?
Mr. McM. It is in every regard.

Mr. McManus also stated that in the first game played at Louisville this season, Devinney told Arthur Croft that Chapman told him, before the game commenced, that Louisville must have the two games, and must be given every close decision.

Mr. McManus stated that he thought Chapman was at the bottom of the whole matter. He thought he had a grudge against him because he had engaged Devlin and Snyder.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 5, 1877

For more background on the charges that Dan Devinney was making against McManus, Mike McGeary, and Joe Blong, see this post.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Joe Pritchard

I found the above image of Joe Pritchard in the December 22, 1887 issue of The Sporting News. Pritchard was identified as "the well-known baseball writer of St. Louis." I had never heard of Pritchard, couldn't find much information on him, and even those with much more knowledge about 19th century sports writers than I hadn't heard of him. I was at a dead end with it and just filed the pic away.

Then I finally stumbled across a reference to Pritchard in the February 5, 1890 issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune. "Pritchard," the article stated, "has for several years been the St. Louis correspondent of Sporting Life, and will be remembered as the individual who negotiated the transfer of Bobby Caruthers from St. Louis to Brooklyn." It also identified Pritchard as the President of the Inter-State League.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A New Blog You Might Like

Latin Baseball Archaeology is a blog run by Cesar Gonzalez Gomez that covers the history of the spread of baseball in Latin America. It looks like he just got it up and running but I think that if you like my blog, you'll like his.

An expert on the origins of baseball in Mexico, Gomez has some fantastic posts and pictures up already. I think the blog has great potential and I already have his feed up on my home page. I'm looking forward to reading what Gomez has to say about a topic that I know very little about.

Visit his blog, leave comments, add his feed, encourage this new endeavor. We need more stuff like this online.

Chris Von Der Ahe And The Players League, Part Seven

Frank Brunell, Secretary of the Players' League, arrived here (in St. Louis) this morning from Kansas City. He stated that his errand here was to negotiate with St. Louis players and that his mission had been entirely successful. "We have been," said he, "after Comiskey for a long time and were anxious to secure him. I went to Denver some time ago on the same errand, but failed to come to an understanding. George Munson, then the Secretary of the Browns, and who is a warm friend of Comiskey, stood between me and the latter, and prevented my making terms with him. Now, however, Munson and Von der Ahe have parted company and Comiskey, feeling that the former was unjustly treated has agreed to play in Chicago. That is definitely settled. You can say positively that he will play in chicago next year. I will return to Chicago tonight bearing a letter from him, in which he states without qualification that he will leave St. Louis Thursday night and Friday will affix his signature to a contract to Captain and manage the Chicago brotherhood team for three years. We now have five of the St. Louis players-Comiskey, Latham, King, O'Neill, and Boyle-the four latter having already signed. Robinson I have also seen, and he has agreed to sign either with Cleveland or Brooklyn."

Comiskey was seen this evening, and when asked about his future movements said: "You are free to announce that I shall bid good-by to St. Louis and will go to Chicago Thursday to sign a contract to manage and captain the brotherhood team in that city. I have made an agreement to that effect and mean to carry it out to the letter."
-Chicago Daily Tribune, January 16, 1890

Capt. Comiskey said in an interview: "I take this step for the reason that I am in sympathy with the brotherhood. I believe their aims are for the best welfare and interest of the professional player. I believe that if the players do not this time stand true to their colors and maintain their organization, they will from this forward be at the mercy of the corporations who have been running the game, who drafted the 'reserve' rule and gave birth to the obnoxious classification list.

"I have taken all the chances of success and failure into consideration and I believe that if the players stand true to themselves they will score the grandest success ever achieved in the baseball world. But besides having the welfare of the players at heart. I have other reasons for wanting to play in Chicago. My parents and all my relatives reside here and all the property I own is in this city. I was raised here and have a kindly liking for the place."
-Boston Globe, January 18, 1890

I'm desperately trying to wrap all of this up as I have no doubt that you all are as tired of this topic as I am.

So by January, Von der Ahe has lost most of his players except for Icebox Chamberlain and Tommy McCarthy who had both signed early (and who, based on their statements at the time, would have jumped to the Players League with the rest of the team). There's no doubt that the PL was after the St. Louis players for some time. Certainly there had been talk of the players jumping to the PL since December, with Arlie Latham making the most noise (as usual). It makes perfect sense that the PL would be after the St. Louis players being as they were some of the biggest and most famous stars in the game.

For those who haven't been following the 27 part epic that is this series of posts, it's my contention that Von der Ahe was, in December of 1889, attempting to move the Browns into the PL. There are several reasons to believe this. First, the American Association had splintered in November of 1889 and was down to four teams. With the threat of a new league and the potential loss of star players, the AA was on the brink of falling apart. Second, there was a general belief that VdA was facing financial ruin. With his stars jumping to the new league, the loss to the AA of some good baseball markets, and the potential of a PL team in St. Louis, the Browns were looking at a tough financial situation. Lastly, I believe, with little support from the evidence, that VdA believed that he would be able to keep his players if he joined the PL. If, in December and before the players officially jumped, VdA was able to bring the Browns, in toto, into the PL it would have been a significant coup for the league. Having the Four Time Champions in the new league and a strong hold on the valuable St. Louis baseball market would have been a strong inducement for the league to allow VdA to keep his players.

Of course there are a couple of problems with that last part. As David Ball has been kind enough to point out, if the Browns had jumped into the PL there would have been nothing to stop the National League from raiding the team and stealing the Browns' stars. My argument against that happening is to basically point to the Comiskey quote above and say that the players were supporters of the Brotherhood and the PL and wouldn't have jumped to the NL. Now again, David makes a very good point that the Browns' players were sick and tired of Von der Ahe and I can't argue with that. There are enough quotes to fill a book about how sick and tired some of these guys were of VdA. If you search this blog, I'm sure you'll find a few of them. It's entirely reasonable to believe that regardless of what league the Browns played in, the players, given an opportunity, would have jumped to another one to get away from VdA and make more money.

But I don't think that these two points change my thinking on the bigger issue of what Von der Ahe was trying to do in December of 1889. Facing the loss of his players, the possible collapse of the AA, and an uncertain financial situation, VdA made an attempt to move the Browns to the Players League. If the Pittsburgh club had been willing to step aside or had not been able to secure financial backing, he would have succeeded in doing so. While things may not have worked out as VdA planned, I have no doubt that this is what he was trying to do and I have little doubt about why he was doing it.

So I think I'm pretty much done with this. I have more stuff in the files but I've beaten this dead horse enough and really want to move on with my life.

I Want To Make One Simple Point (or Pay Me Money And I'll Blog About Whatever You Want)

Part 27 of the VdA/PL epic will be up sometime this afternoon (as soon as I get a chance to go through the information that David Ball sent me and that just happens to be very relevant to the post; thanks, as always, David). But I want to make a quick point.

Yesterday I had a couple of comments in the New Year's Day post that were, shall we say, less than positive. The two anonymous commentators (who were most likely one commentator and his sock puppet) took exception to my putting up music videos instead of posting on 19th century St. Louis baseball. They also took a couple of shots at me and my character in the process. I responded in a less than charitable manner. What can I say? I'm a flawed human being.

In the last week or so, I had another commentator state that they'd like to see me stay on topic and made a very good point that since there were few places on the internet where they could find the kind of information that I post here, they would rather not have me writing about things that distracted from that. Since this person was someone that I respect and who has been more than generous with his time in helping me navigate the waters of 19th century baseball, I certainly took his comments seriously. I didn't necessarily agree with him but I think his criticism was fair. I'm certainly open to criticism but it helps if you're somebody I respect or, at the very least, someone who doesn't hide behind a curtain of anonymity.

But the point I want to make and that people need to keep in mind is this: This Game of Games is my blog. I have 100% total editorial control and I will post what I want to post. And by God if I want to post some music on a holiday as a change of pace I will. I don't have to answer to anybody.

I don't have any co-bloggers helping out. All the content on this site comes from me. I've put up around 700 posts over the last year and a half. Certainly some were crap but I think in general I've done some good work that's worth reading. I'm proud of what I've achieved with this site.

But I have a full time job, people. I work for a living. I have three baseball related book projects I'm working on for other people and I have two projects of my own that I'd like to see finished before I die of old age. I have a personal life. There's plenty of things to keep me busy besides this blog. And this site doesn't bring in a dime. So until somebody starts putting coin in my pocket, I have no time for complaints. If you want to argue baseball or have a problem with my interpretation of a certain event that's great and I'm more than willing to talk to you about that. If you just want to gripe that I'm off topic or not posting about your favorite player then you can find another corner of the internet because this one's mine.

Wrapping this up, I want to say that it's been a pleasure and an honor to talk to people who've visited the site over the last year and a half. I've enjoyed it immensely and look forward to talking to all of you some more. But I just wanted to get this off my chest. I feel much better now.

And to prove what an obstinate cuss I really am, here's some more music:

Sonic Youth-Teenage Riot

Note: Now that I think about it, this whole "putting coin in my pocket" thing is a really good idea. If someone wants to start paying me or can hook me up with a sponsor, I'm certainly willing to relinquish some editorial control. The more money you give me, the more editorial control you can have. Heck, if you have enough money we can scrap this whole baseball thing and I'll blog about whatever you want me to blog about. If you're putting beer in my frig then you can call the shots.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Is It 2009 Already?

Happy New Year...let's get to the music.

Dinosaur Jr-Freak Scene (One of my favorites bands)

The Breeders-Happiness Is A Warm Gun (The best Beatles cover ever; sadly I couldn't find a version with Tanya Donelly on it)

Frank Black-Headache (If I'm going to post the Breeders, I have to post some Black Francis or there'll be problems)

The Martinis-You Are The One (I guess I can't leave out Joey Santiago and his Mrs.; let's say it together: Rock me, Joey)

Throwing Muses-Not Too Soon (My Tanya Donelly obsession knows no bounds)

The Stone Roses-I Am The Resurrection (a killer ten minute live version from Blackpool 1989)

And just in case you don't know what I'm looking forward to this year, here it is (I've been trying to live right, eat well, exercise, drive defensively, cut out some bad habits, etc. because I refuse to die before I get to see the final ten episodes of the greatest television show ever):