Monday, June 15, 2009

An Inadvertent Fireworks Display

About noon yesterday the pipe of the stove in the fireworks house at the Sportsman's Park fell and threw hot embers among the pyrotechnics stored there, setting fire to them. Several small explosions occurred, but none of them were of any consequence. The building and contents were entirely destroyed. The loss on the building was $200 and on the stock $1,500. There is no insurance on either building or stock, both the property of the Sportsman's Park Association. The building was erected on a permit issued by the Commissioner of Public Buildings, calling for the erection of a storehouse. It was obtained by Congressman-elect O'Neil for Mr. Chris Von der Ahe. When it was ascertained that the building was to be used for storing and manufacturing fireworks material, several citizens called upon the Commissioner of Public Buildings and endeavored to induce that official to revoke the permit. No action, however, was taken by the Commissioner.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 31, 1882

In his entry on fireworks in A Game of Inches, Peter Morris notes that Von der Ahe "initiated the use of fireworks at the ballpark..." Morris cites Hetrick's book but checking the reference it says that "Once a week (in 1882), revelers could enjoy dancing to their hearts' content as fireworks burst overhead from a bamboo Japanese cannon." No mention of fireworks at a ballgame.

Prof. Wm. Hand will give a closing display of fireworks at Sportsman's Park to-morrow evening, and a brilliant programme is promised. Amongst the sets are the mammoth battle scene and the base-ball set, with motto. Miss Hand, who is reputed as the only female pyrotechnic expert in America, will fire the pieces.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 5, 1882

This somewhat confirms Hetrick's statement about fireworks at Sportsman's Park but we still have nothing on fireworks at a game. I'm going to try to run this down and see what else I can find. I'll certainly post anything relevant or interesting.


Clifford Blau said...

You'll want to check the St. Louis Globe-Democrat of June 30, 1882. It describes the fireworks show before the game on the 29th.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Excellent. I'll take a look and post it. Thanks.