Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where's McNeary?

The St. Louis Reds held a meeting last night at the residence of their manager, Mr. John A. Stickfort, No. 208 South Fourth street, a large number being present and joining the club. They organized by electing Mr. L.C. Waite, the veteran base-ball reporter, President. Mr. John A. Stickfort was elected manager and Treasurer, and Billy McSorley, field captain of the nine. Following are the positions and members of the team: Maloney, catcher; Donovan, pitcher; Ruenzi, first base; W. Kolley, second base; McSorley, third base; Brady, short stop; Collins, left field; A. Kolley, center field; Bowman, right field; Liebke and Miller, substitutes. Mr. Kelley, of the Compton Avenue Park, was present and arranged for the Reds to play the Athletics at the Compton Avenue Park next Sunday. The battery of the Reds is a good one, Donovan, the pitcher, being a graduate of the Memphis Reds, and the other players being old hands at the game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 14, 1883

So where's Thomas McNeary in all of this?

Al Spink, in The National Game, wrote that McNeary founded the Reds and the Compton Avenue Grounds in the 1860's and continued to run them until his death in 1893, at which time his brothers continued to operate the club and the park for one more season. However, I've already written about how Spink was wrong about the date of the founding of both the club and the park. The best evidence shows the Reds to have first taken the field in 1873 and the Compton Avenue Grounds to have been established in 1874 (although baseball had been played on the property going back to the immediate post-Civil War period). I've also written that the final club known as the Red Stockings that played at the Compton Avenue Grounds disbanded in 1889. To complicate the matter even more, I've recently shown that McNeary disbanded the first incarnation of the Reds following the 1876 season and that they were not reformed until 1878 at the earliest and possibly not until as late as 1880.

The above piece from the Globe implies that McNeary had no involvement with the latter, mid to late 1880s incarnation of the Reds. The significance of this is that we can say with a high degree of certainty that the 1873-1876 incarnation of the Reds, led by McNeary and playing at his Compton Avenue Grounds, was a unique entity. There were attempts by McNeary in the late 1870s and early 1880s to reestablish the club that were met with various degrees of success. By 1883, however, it appears that McNeary was no longer involved in baseball and any club known as the Red Stockings after that date had no connection to him. There only connection to the Compton Avenue Grounds, after 1883, is that they may have played some games there.

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