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.

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