Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Base Ball Nuisance

The base ball nuisance commenced here again on Sunday last.
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, April 8, 1874

We hear several complaints about boys bathing in ponds near private dwellings in the city...It is as great a nuisance as base ball on Sundays, and ought to be stopped in some manner.  But it seems that it is not the duty of the city marshal nor has he any authority to make arrests in such cases, although he is an eye-witness to the offence.  Base-ballers may come here from all parts of the country every Sunday during the summer months and they can go through the streets singing ribald songs, swearing and even knocking the ministers' hats off with a ball as they go into church and yet the city police is invested with no power to make arrests...Fifteen years ago the people of Edwardsville would no more think of tolerating base ball in the town on Sunday than they would a circus.
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, July 8, 1874

The Intelligencer has no particular objection to base ball playing but it objects to the manner in which it is done in this city.  Every Sunday the town is overrun with as rowdy a set of fellows as ever congregated together.  Base ball seems to be preeminently suited to this class of people.  When they retire from the field, they go through the streets yelling, cussing and singing to the great annoyance of law-abiding citizens.  A batch was here from Collinsville last Sunday and the way they conducted themselves was a disgrace...Where does our town police keep themselves on Sunday?
-The Edwardsville Intelligencer, October 21, 1874

I'm not sure how serious to take these accounts of the behavior of amateur clubs given the Intelligencer's anti-baseball editorial stance but, if accurate, they're rather colorful.  And it really is a shame that the Intelligencer took this anti-baseball stance because in the early 1870's they were covering baseball to a certain extent and it would have been nice if their coverage had grown and developed.  While they returned to a positive coverage of the game in the 1880's, it would have been nice to have had another source for baseball from this era.  

Also, I believe that this is the earliest reference to a Collinsville baseball club that I've come across.    

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