Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Note On Dunlap's Early Career

I found a better source on Dunlap's early baseball career than the one used in this post. On October 6, 1887, the Atchison (Kansas) Daily Globe published the same information as Sporting Life (only this time, I could actually read it):

He first played ball at Gloucester, N.J., in 1874. In 1876 he played with the Chester team the fore part of the season, and the latter part with the Quicksteps, of Wilmington, Del., as pitcher. In 1877 he was with the Auburns, of New York, as second baseman, in 1878 with the Hornellsville and Albany clubs, of New York, in 1879 with the Albanys, in 1880 to 1883 with the Cleveland league team...Dunlap is called "the king of second basemen."

Combining the two sources, we now have the following information about Dunlap's pre-major league career:

1874 Gloucester, N.J. (at the tender age of 16)
1875 Greighers (?; based on information passed along to me, I believe this to be the Creighers of Camden, N.J.)
Kleinz of N.J. (playing catcher and ss)
1876 Chester
Quicksteps of Wilmington, Del. (pitcher)
1877 Auburns of New York (2nd baseman)
1878 Hornellsville of New York
1879 Albany

Also, while I'm thinking about it, the phrase "king of second baseman" appears to have originated in Sporting Life. At the very least, several correspondents of the paper seem to have been using the phrase consistently in the mid to late 1880s. This crowning of Dunlap as king often brought up the question, among other correspondents, of what to call Bid McPhee or Hardy Richardson, implying that they saw these players as superior to Dunlap.

Further Proof Of Dunlap's Good Business Sense

During the week some new points relative to the Brotherhood's proposed league came to light here....The brotherhood has appointed a committee of four players for each city. These players have the right to dispose of the stock of their respective clubs...They can subscribe the entire amount themselves if they so desire, but in any event they are to hold a controlling interest. The players appointed by the Brotherhood to have charge of the different clubs in each city are as follows:

Philadelphia: Fred Dunlap, of Pittsburg; Hardie Richardson, of Boston; James Fogarty and George Wood.
-Sporting Life, October 10, 1889

Considering that Dunlap withdrew his support for the PL and remained with the Pittsburg League club in 1890 (until his release), this is rather interesting. Not only had Dunlap agreed to join the PL, he was taking a leadership position within the organization.

As I was typing up the quote from Sporting Life all I could think was that if Dunlap, who was a good businessman, believed the PL was going to be a successful enterprise, he would have jumped on the opportunity to get in on the ground floor. That Dunlap decided not to do so should have been an indication that the PL was doomed to fail.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Best Second Basman In The Country

Second bag was guarded by Fred Dunlap, who was a wonderful fielder...Fred Dunlap was at one time, I refer to his engagement at Cleveland before he came to Detroit, the best second baseman in the country.
-Ned Hanlon, quoted in Sporting Life, September 11, 1897

I feel that it's my role in this life to collect every single quote that I can find proclaiming the greatness of Fred Dunlap. Luckily, these quotes exist in abundance.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What A Ball Player This Dunlap Was

So Fred Dunlap has passed into the great beyond, and the man whose salary figure marked the high-water limit of the long ago is gone! It seems like only yesterday to me that I saw Dulap chase the ball and yet it was ten years or so and most men had forgotten. I wonder how many of the great army of fans who tilled the parks last summer could have told whether Fred Dunlap was alive or dead. In base ball the fallen star is soon forgotten. Once in a great while he may have so vast and unique a personality that he will never fade from the memory of the fan, but as a rule he soon passes from our minds. Anson, perhaps, will never die in the talk of the ball cranks, but there will never be another Anson.

What a ball player this Dunlap was and what an artist in getting the fat salaries! Even the mighty boosts the salaries got last season were as nothing compared to the coin that Dunlap bagged, circumstances all considered. Lajoie alone managed to hit up the magnates for more money last season than Dunlap potted, but there was no such desperate warfare and cross-bidding in Dunlap's day as there was last season. Hence, Dunlap must command our admiration trebly, for, remember this as well, that Dunny was no such batsman as Lajoie and hence not really as valuable to a team.

Dunlap was a real infielder of the type so popular ten years ago, one of the solid bulky style through whom no grounder seemed able to pass, but who could nevertheless wave the hot ones goodbye with graceful ease when occasion demanded. With the gloves now in use to aid, Dunny would have been even a bigger wonder now than then. He was showy, yet effective. He averaged up quite well with the two other kings of second base in those days, Pheffer and McPhee. Each had his own way of going after the ball, his own style of throwing, his own methods in catching the throw and getting the runner. Dunlap never had quite the support that Pfeffer had, for it was never Dunny's luck to play in the middle of such a bunch as the stonewall infield of the Chicago champions. At least one or two spots were always weak in Dunlap's infields, but this, perhaps, made his individual glory stand out more brilliant in the contrast.
-Sporting Life, December 27, 1902

There was no such desperate warfare and cross-bidding in Dunlap's day? Really?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Information On Dunlap's Early Baseball Career

Fred Dunlap. This famous second baseman was born in Philadelphia and is 29 years of age. He is 5 feet 8 inches in height and weighs 167 pounds. He first played ball at Gloucester, N.J., in 1874, and in the fore part of the season of 1875 he played with the Greighers and the latter part with the Kleinz, of New Jersey, as catcher and short stop. In 1876 he played with the Chester team the first part of the season and the latter part with the Quicksteps, of Wilmington, Del., as a pitcher; in 1877 he was with the Aulairris, of New York, as a second baseman; in 1878 with the Hornellsville and Albany clubs, of New York; in 1879 he played with the Albanys...Dunlap is the king of second baseman, and a first-class all-round player.
-Sporting Life, 1887, Volume 10, Number 4

I was only able to find a bad text copy of this edition of Sporting Life so I was unable to get the exact date for its publication. Also, I had a great deal of difficulty deciphering some of the club names such as Aularriis, Greighers and Hornellsville so I may not have the names spelled correctly.

But this is good stuff. All the information about the clubs that Dunlap played for prior to Albany is new to me.

Note: Brilliant reader David (and over time I will steal all of Joe Posnanski's gimmicks) pointed out that over at Baseball Reference, they have SABR's minor league data up and it lists Dunlap as playing for Auburn in 1877 rather than Aulairris. The Aulairris reference is most likely a result of the corrupted text that I had and my inability to read it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Champion Club Of America

The members of the Empire Base Ball Club of this city returned last night from Dubuque, Iowa, after winning the silver ball and the championship of the northwest, in one of the best and most ably contested match games ever played in this country. The people of Dubuque, who witnessed the game, magnanimously extend to the St. Louis boys the praise to which their nobly won victory so justly entitles them, and declare the Empire Club of St. Louis to be the Champion Club of America. The game was witnessed by an enthusiastic multitude, numbering over fifteen thousand persons, including hosts of the fair sex, and representatives from all the States of the Northwest. The Empire boys, on arriving in East St. Louis, yesterday morning, were received at the depot by a large delegation of their friends, including members of the Baltic, Liberty, Magenta, Dinga, Columbia and O.K. Base Ball Clubs, and with music, escorted to their headquarters, No. 124 North Third street. The handsome prize ball of solid silver will be on exhibition at Miller's saloon for some days, and every one can see it who wishes to gratify a curiosity. The Empire Base Ball Club is composed of our worthiest citizens-gentlemen who would reflect credit on any community-representing as much intelligence and wealth as any society of a similar nature in the United States. Their object is to cultivate a taste for out-door sports, which has been too much neglected by the American people in their march to opulence and greatness-over-burdening the mental faculties while the physic system remains undeveloped. Our citizens should take a lively interest in fostering and encouraging such associations as the Empire Club, and when such sports become more generally indulged in by our youth, we can dispense with billiard saloons and similar dens of iniquity. We extend to the Empire boys our congratulations, and feel a tinge of pride suffuse our cheeks when we hear the notes of praise that are uttered by all who witnessed the achievements of the Empire Base Ball Club of St. Louis.
-St. Louis Daily Press, October 3, 1865

Tobias has a bit to say about the Empire's victory in Dubuque:

...on September 25, 1865, the Empire club went to Dubuque, Iowa, to play for a silver ball offered by the Agricultural Association of that city at their Fair and here the Empires were again victorious, not only defeating all other clubs but also again defeating their namesakes of Freeport, Ill., who in the meantime, since the former match, had met and beaten Chicago's best club. This game was much talked about and...was declared by witnesses to have been the very best fly game on record at that time. It was umpired by Samuel Cox, Esq., of Dubuque and occupied three and one half hours and the silver ball won there was deposited with the other trophies of the club...

The arrival of the St. Louis Club was marked by an ovation hitherto unknown in the West, being in the form of a torchlight procession participated in by the following clubs: Baltic, Liberty, Atlantic, Magenta, Columbus, O.K., Resolute and Hope, all in uniform and each club accompanied by a number of its friends in citizens clothes. It was the hour of midnight when the train conveying the Empires arrived in East St. Louis and the boys were most completely surprised at there being received with the cheers and congratulations of such an enthusiastic crowd of the base ball fraternity. Upon returning to the St. Louis side of the river (by ferry boat) the procession marched down the levee to Chestnut street, to Fourth, to Pine, to Third, to Locust, to Fourth, to Washington Avenue, then to the Empires' Hall on the West Side of Third street near St. Charles, upon arrival there forming in line in front of the old City Hotel. Facing the hall were the club's rooms, brilliantly lighted and filled with its friends and members, who deputized Mr. E.H. Tobias, Secretary of the club, to voice their words of welcome which he did from the balcony of the hall, "couched in elegant and appropriate terms," as one of the morning papers said the next day.

I believe that the excitement generated by the victories of the Empire Club in 1865 was unmatched in St. Louis until the Brown Stocking's victory over Chicago in May of 1875. These victories, within the context of a general baseball revival following the end of the Civil War and along with the Empire/Union rivalry, helped fuel a dynamic St. Louis baseball scene for the rest of the decade. The Empire Club's victories over Freeport in May and September of 1865 are two of the most significant moments in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball.

Now as to the championship of the West...I certainly believe that they have a legitimate claim to the hypothetical championship in 1865. In 1866, however, they loss any claim to a Western championship to the Excelsior Club of Chicago at the Bloomington tournament that year. And at no point, despite the acclimation of the people of Dubuque, could the Empires ever dream of claiming the national championship. But for that one year, in 1865, the Empire Club could legitimately claim to be the best club in the West.

Also of note, I believe that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned the reception that the Empire Club received after returning from Dubuque but I think I confused it with their first game against Freeport and said that the reception was upon their return from Illinois in July of 1865. Obviously, that was a mistake. I believe that I've tended, over the last few years, to combine the two events in my mind and, periodically, my writing. Two seperate events: Empire vs. Freeport in Freeport, Illinois in July of 1865 (first fly match in the West); Empire vs. Freeport in Dubuque, Iowa in September of 1865 (Empire Club claims championship of the West).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We Are Rejoiced

Champions Of The West
Empires of St. Louis Victorious

We are rejoiced to announce that the Empire Base Ball Club, of our city, have won the silver ball, at Dubuque, and are now the champions of the West. We are permitted to copy the following private dispatch, received yesterday afternoon, announcing the fact:

Dubuque, September 29, 1865
W.H. Barklage: Empire Base Ball Club, of St. Louis, won. Ball score twelve to five.
W.P. Thorne
-St. Louis Daily Press, September 30, 1860

Love the telegram. The W.H. Barklage, I'm guessing, has to be Herman Barklage, an original member and long-time treasurer of the club.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Think They're Getting Jipped On The Fare

The Empire Base Ball Club leaves on Wednesday for Dubuque to enter the contest for the silver ball given by an agricultural society to the clubs of the Northwest to contend for. The Empire boys will show the clubs some fine playing, and St. Louisans expect they will bring the ball home with them. The round trip will be made for $18, and friends can have an opportunity to join them at the same price. We understand quite a number have availed themselves of this opportunity to visit Dubuque.
-St. Louis Daily Press, September 21, 1865

Eighteen bucks for a round trip ticket to Dubuque? Seems kind of pricey. According to the Historical Currency Converter (which I love to play with), that's $237 in today's dollars. I can take Amtrak to Davenport, round trip, tomorrow morning for $120. Not that there's a point to any of this.

Monday, August 24, 2009

No Sort Of Doubt

The Empire Base Ball Club, of this city, who won the victory over the Freeporters last July, held a special meeting Monday night, and unanimously decided to visit Dubuque on the 29th of September to take a hand in the great silver ball match for the championship of the Northwest. The Dubuque County Agricultural Society offer a heavy silver ball, of regulation size, as a prize to the Club declared to be the champion base ball club of the Northwest, the championship and prizes to be played for on the grounds of the Dubuque County Agricultural Society, on Friday, September 29, 1865. The contest is open to all base ball clubs in the Northwest-clubs from Illinois, Wisconson, Minnesota, Missouri and Iowa. The friends of the Empire have no sort of doubt that the members will acquit themselves with honor, and will be able to bring away the prize.
-St. Louis Daily Press, September 20, 1865

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Great Silver Ball

A great silver ball match for the championship of the Northwest will come off at Dubuque, Iowa, September 29th, 1865. The Dubuque County Agricultural Society offer a silver ball of regulation size as a prize to the club declared to be the champion base ball club of the Northwest, the championship and prizes to be played for on the grounds of the Dubuque County Agricultural Society, on Friday, September 29th, 1865, commencing at 9 1/2 o'clock A.M., and 2 o'clock P.M. The contest is open to all base ball clubs in the Northwest. Clubs from Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, and Iowa, are particularly invited to attend and take part in the contest.

We premise that our Empire Club-which carries the champion belt of the West-will not fail to be present and contend for the silver ball.
-St. Louis Daily Press, September 19, 1865

And now we arrive at the tale of how the Empire Club was declared Champions of the West in 1865.

The reference to the champion belt is interesting because I thought they got that after their victory in Dubuque (sorry, didn't mean to spoil the ending for you). I was talking to somebody last week about 19th century memorabilia and mentioned the belt and the trophy ball from the Cyclone/Morning Star match as the two pieces of St. Louis memorabilia I'd really like to find. My assumption is that they were both in a box in Jeremiah Fruin's attic and got thrown out after his death.

And I found the Tobias reference to the belt:

On September 6th, 1865, the Empire Club was presented with an elegantly devised belt as "champions of the West." The presentation speech was made by Martin Collins, Esq., on behalf of citizens who were interested in base ball and who desired that all Western clubs should take a whack at winning it, whenever they felt able to tackle the holders. As president of the club the late Judge John F. Walton accepted the belt in one of his most graceful speeches and it was placed in a...receptacle of the club room on Third street.

So the belt was not necessarily a representation of a championship that the Empire Club was claiming but rather a trophy to be won in a struggle for that championship. Essentially, the club was saying that they believed that they were the best club in the West and if you wanted that championship, you had to play them. If you wanted the belt, you had to beat the Empire Club.

Essentially, by winning in Dubuque, the Empire Club gained not only the Great Silver Ball but also a legitimate claim to the belt.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The O.K. Grounds

A very interesting game of base ball came off on the O.K. grounds Sunday (August 27), between the Hope, Jr. and Baltic, Jr. clubs in which the Hope, Jr. came off champions.
-St. Louis Daily Press, August 29, 1865

Really the only thing of interest here, besides more documentation of the rebirth of the game in St. Louis during 1865, is the reference to the O.K. Base Ball Club. Tobias mentions the club as existing in the postbellum period but I don't have much more information about them. I'd like to know more about them but I just don't.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Good Time Was Had By All (or Fear And Loathing In St. Louis)

I remember reading something that Hunter Thompson wrote in Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail comparing Richard Nixon to Mick Jagger. While I can't find the exact quote, Doctor Thompson was making a general comparison between politicians and rock stars and said something along the lines of both Nixon and Jagger having a kinky gene that made them get off on the adoration of the public. They were genetically predisposed to performing in public and had a deep need for the attention and applause that came with it.

I do not possess this gene. I'm not the kind of person who is naturally inclined to getting up in front of a group of people and performing. While I'm not necessarily shy or reticent by nature, I do not naturally enjoy being the focus of attention. It's just not something that I really like. And this is a long winded way of saying that, even though I don't possess that strange Nixon/Jagger gene, I still had a great time last night at the fundraiser for the Missouri Civil War Museum.

I had the opportunity to give a presentation on the history of 19th century baseball in St. Louis and it was a great time. We had a big crowd and everybody seemed to enjoy this blogger's ramblings about premodern, unregulated folk games, the spread of the New York game to St. Louis and the effects of the Civil War on the development of baseball. In all honesty, it went much better than I had any reason to hope for considering that I'm more Suetonius than Cicero and not naturally inclined to public speaking.

I certainly want to thank everybody involved at the MCWM for the opportunity to talk about my favorite subject and also everyone that came out to support the museum. We were able to raise some money for the museum's building fund and hopefully that gets us a bit closer to opening what will be a great addition to our community.

And I can honestly say that, after I recover emotionally from the ordeal of having to talk about 19th century baseball in front of 150 people, I'm actually looking forward to doing more stuff like this in the future. It was fun. Maybe the Nixon/Jagger gene lies fallow in my makeup and simple needs to be exercised a bit to become active.

Note: I'm hoping to get some pictures of the event up soon. I need to talk to the guys at the museum and get them to email me the pics they have. So hopefully soon you'll have the opportunity to see pics of me in full-on Nixon/Jagger mode.

The Resolutes Come To The American Bottoms

The first annual picnic of the Resolute Base Ball Club, which was to come off at Long Lake Station, August 13, is postponed until Sunday, August 20. Cars leave Terre Haute depot at 8 o'clock, A.M.
-St. Louis Daily Press, August 18, 1865

Tobias mentions that the Resolute Club was among "the very first of regularly formed clubs in St. Louis..." and they were active during the antebellum era but it's unknown what the club was doing during the Civil War. Obviously, once the war ended, the Resolutes were playing baseball again.

The location of the picnic is something that intrigues me. While I can't prove it, Long Lake Station and the Terre Haute Depot imply that the event was held in Illinois, just a few blocks from where I live. If this is true and the Resolutes played a game during the picnic (and I'm seriously speculating here) then this would be the first evidence of baseball played in Granite City, Illinois. At the very least, it would be the first recorded visit of a baseball club to Granite.

Let's see if I can explain this without doing ten thousand words on the early history of Granite City:

Between a flood in 1844 and a cholera epidemic in 1848, what population existed on old Six Mile Praire in the American Bottoms was pretty much wiped out. The area is repopulated by German farmers and the town develops as a satellite trading post. While modern Granite City would develop on the site of Six Mile Praire in the 1890s as an industrial town, during the Civil War period the area was known as Kinder or Kinderhook and there would have been plenty of wide open farmland to picnic on.

In 1858, two railroad companies build a station in Kinderhook at what today is the intersection of Pontoon Road and Nameoki Road in Granite City. The station is located about two miles south of Long Lake and a few miles north of the Terre Haute, Alton, and St. Louis Railroad and the St. Louis, Vandalia, and Terre Haute Railroad facilities in East St. Louis. Therefore, it seems logical that you could take a ferry from St. Louis to the East St. Louis depot of one of the trains going to Terre Haute and get to the Long Lake Station in Granite City. It would be about a six mile trip, one way.

Okay, there's no easy way to explain the early history of Granite without launching into the early history of the American Bottoms (see above map) but I gave it a good try (and it probably took me a good forty-five minutes to write the preceding two paragraphs). But the point is that I can make a (convoluted) argument that the Resolutes came to the Granite City area in 1865. And I've been looking for 19th century references to baseball in the area for several years with no luck. So just let me have this one and we'll move on.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sometimes You Just Kind Of Scratch Your Head And Move On With Your Life

A game of base ball was played on the Fourth of July by the Concordia and Ambidextrous Clubs, which resulted in the defeat of the later by five runs in two wings, when they gave up the Ball.
-St. Louis Daily Press, July 7, 1865

I'm not sure what to make of this. Both clubs are unknown to me but the Concordia Club could have been made up of students from Concordia Seminary. I have a vague feeling that I've seen references to baseball at Concordia in the postbellum period but I don't have it in my notes.

Two wings? I had to look at that for a long time before I was certain that it said what I thought it said. It may just be a misprint or it may be some strange colloquialism that I've never seen before.

They gave up the Ball? This could be taken literally in that the Concordia Club gained the game ball as a trophy upon winning the match. Or it could just be a figure of speech.

And did the Ambidextrous Club forfeit the match after being down five runs after two innings or was the game only scheduled to last two innings? There are baseball variants where you had to retire everyone on the opposing club before the inning would end and this kind of game could have been played for only two innings. Of course, this wouldn't have been the New York game. Most likely I'm over-thinking this and this was a baseball match played under the rules of the National Convention and the Ambidextrous Club just quit after two innings.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More On The Freeport Match

The game of base ball played at Freeport, on the 4th of July (1865), by the Empire Club of St. Louis and the Empire, of Freeport, was a closely contested and splendid game, and resulted in the victory of the St. Louis Club, by seven runs. We shall publish the score and particulars to-morrow.
-St. Louis Daily Press, July 6, 1865

The members of the Empire Base Ball Club, arrived from Freeport yesterday morning at four o'clock, greatly pleased with their excursion. The boys speak in unmeasured terms of praise of the generous hospitality extended to them by the citizens of Freeport, and by members of the Freeport Club. They were treated to the best that the town afforded.

The match game, which was witnessed by six thousand people, and in which the St. Louis Club came out champions, was one of the most spirited ever played in the West. There were present representatives from the Julien Club, Dubuque; Garden City Club, Chicago; Eagle Club, Laporte, Ind.; and the Rockford Club. After a splendid dinner, speeches were made by Col. T.J. Turner, of Freeport; J.R. Scroggs, editor of the Freeport Bulletin; R. Little, and by Capt. J. Fruin, of the St. Louis Empire Club.

The St. Louis boys were also invited to partake of the hospitalities at the fine residence of Col. J.W. Shaeffer, late Chief of Gen. Butler's staff, but owing to the lateness of the hour, the invitation was declined. The St. Louis boys desire an opportunity to reciprocate the attentions received from the Freeport people at the earliest opportunity.
-St. Louis Daily Press, July 7, 1865

The score of the match, which according to Tobias was the first fly ball match played west of the Alleghenies, was 27-20. Playing for the Empires was J.R. Barrett, c; A. Worth, 1b; J. Quinn, p; C.C. Norton, 3b; E.H. Tobias, ss; J. Fitzgerald, cf; J.M. Johnston, lf; J. Fruin, 2b; and Robert Duncan, rf. Playing for Freeport was R. Buckman, 1b; E. Cavanagh, ss; W. Lighthart, 3b; G. Butler, rf; J. Deifendorf, cf; H. Farwell, 2b; H.G. Tweed, p; L.F. Brewster, lf; and Wm. B. Thomas, c.

Looking at the box score, Jeremiah Fruin, who scored five runs while only making one out, had to have been the player of the match. Adam Worth seems to have had a touch game, making five outs while only scoring two runs. L.F. Brewster, for Freeport, also had a good game, scoring three runs and making only one out.

Interestingly, the box score of the game that Tobias published in TSN on November 9, 1895 is perfectly in order with the contemporary box score published by the Daily Press. I don't know if Tobias used the Daily Press or the records of the Empire Club as his source but this certainly speaks well of his reliability as a source.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sunday Baseball During The Civil War

Playing Ball on Sunday.-John Casey, Thos. Shields, Daniel Borland and John McKelligan were arrested and taken before the Recorder for playing ball on Sunday, in the neighborhood of Second and Biddle streets. As they disturbed nobody's peace, they were discharged.
-Missouri Democrat, May 10, 1864

This is interesting on several levels.

First, this isn't necessarily a reference to baseball or the New York game. It could be darn near anything but the assumption is that it's some form of baseball. The fact that only four people were arrested may mean that it was a four person game or that the rest of the players got away. It's interesting to speculate about what form of ballgame these guys might have been playing.

Second, this is a reminder that not all baseball during this era was being played on the club level. I tend to focus on the organized clubs because the sources tend to focus on them. If I had twenty sources talking about pick-up baseball played by kids in the neighborhood during the antebellum era, I'd be ecstatic and would certainly be writing about that. But the sources focus on the more successful clubs and I have to follow the sources. We should remember, however, that there was more to the game than just the clubs.

Also, this is a rare instance of people being arrested in St. Louis for playing baseball on a Sunday. As I've written before, the strange mix of Creole/American frontier culture in St. Louis created an atmosphere where Sunday baseball was not frowned upon. There are numerous sources from the antebellum/Civil War/postbellum era that show games being played on Sunday. It would be interesting to compare this to somewhere like Baltimore and see if a predominantly Catholic culture produced an atmosphere where Sunday baseball was accepted or if St. Louis was an exception proving a rule.

Finally, and this ties in to the last point, it's interesting to speculate on who the arresting officers were. Marital law was declared in St. Louis on August 14, 1861 and Federal rule existed in the city until at least March, 1865. Therefore, it's likely that the ballplayers were arrested by Federal soldiers rather than a local constabulary that would have been more in touch with the societal norms of St. Louis. Not to make too much of this but one can almost look at this event as an example of the tyranny of martial law in Civil War-era St. Louis. It's not exactly the Massacre of the Innocents but those lousy blue coast were arresting kids for playing baseball. Fight the Power!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Refreshments Will Be Provided

The married and unmarried members of the Empire Club will play a match at Gamble's Addition next Wednesday afternoon (April 20) at two o'clock. It will be a interesting affair, if the weather proves favorable, and the friends of the club are invited to witness the sport. Refreshments will be provided.
-Missouri Democrat, April 18, 1864

In the game of base ball on Wednesday last between the married and single men of the Empire Club, the bachelors carried off the palm. This is seconded for by the fact that a number of handsome young ladies were present to witness the sport, and the young fellows "put in their best licks," more for the purpose of pleasing the girls than to best their opponents. The married men, having traveled that road before, and being indifferent to the smiles of the charmers, did not exert themselves as much as they would have done had they been in the matrimonial market.
-Missouri Democrat, April 22, 1864

One assumes that this is the Empire Club's fourth anniversary game.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Let Us Cross Over The River And Rest Under The Shade Of The Trees

A match game of base ball was played at Gamble Lawn, Saturday evening, between the "Baltic" and "Young Commercial" base ball club, which was decided in favor of the latter (by a score of 34-25).
-Missouri Democrat, May 11, 1863

This is rather significant because, at the moment, this is the only record of a match game played in St. Louis during the Civil War (excluding the questionable April-June 1865 period). All other references are to intramural club games.

Not only was this game played during the war, it was played right in the middle of the war when things were as bad as they could be. The future of the Union, in May of 1863, was very much in doubt. To put it in context, the battle of Chancellorsville was fought during the first week of May and Lee launched his second invasion of the North on June 3. Gettysburg would be fought less then two months after this game was played. This game took place at the height of the war.

And just to add a bit more color, Stonewall Jackson (pictured above) died on May 10, the day before the game was played.

Another note of interest is the reference to the "Young Commercial" club. It's unknown if this is a reference to the Commercials, a junior auxiliary of the club or a completely unrelated club. One would imagine that the first or second option is most likely.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Third Anniversary Game

The anniversary of the Empire Base Ball Club will be celebrated to-day (Thursday) by a match between the married and single men of the club. The playing will be at Gamble Lawn, commencing at 2 o'clock P.M. Ample arrangements have been made for the accommodation of visitors. The contest between the bachelors and their opponents will be most spirited, and cannot fail to attract a crowd of spectators.
-Missouri Democrat, April 16, 1863

This the third anniversary game of the Empire Club and it appears to have gone off without a hitch. No troops breaking up the game, no rain out, no postponements due to the death of Abraham Lincoln.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Old And Well Known Commercial Base Ball Club

The old and well known Commercial Base Ball Club having completed their arrangements for the season, will resume their field exercises on Saturday, the 5th inst., at 4 o'clock P.M., on their beautiful grounds in Lafayette Park. Base ball players and all lovers of out-door sports are invited. Regular field days are Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Below will be found a list of officers for the year:

President, E.H. Tobias
Vice President, A.W. Senter
Secretary and Treasurer, H.L. Clark
Directors, C.F. Gauss, P.H. Jacobs and Jas. S. Wilgus
Field Captains, Edwin Fowler, David Hutchinson
-Missouri Democrat, April 4, 1862

This puts the final nail in the idea that the Empire Club was the only active baseball club during the war years. The question remains, however, as to how active the baseball scene was in St. Louis during the 1861-1864 period. Certainly it was not as active as in 1860 or 1865 when there were about a dozen clubs in existence. Without looking through my notes for the period, I'd say that there were four or five clubs active each season. When I'm done posting all this new material, I'll go through it, post some general thoughts and put together a list of Civil War-era clubs.

So where did the idea come from that the Empires were the only active club in St. Louis during the Civil War. Obviously it wasn't Tobias, who probably would have remembered being the president of a war-era club. Looking back through the Tobias material, I found this: "It was in the latter years of the '50's that base ball found a permanent lodgement here and in 1860, 1861, and 1862 it became quite 'the craze...'" I'm sure I've read this before and must have ignored it because it didn't fit with my idea that the St. Louis Civil War-era baseball scene was a relatively barren one. So Tobias, while not giving much in the way of details, did give leave some clues about what was going on.

Al Spink? I just skimmed The National Game and don't see any reference to the Civil War. Spink did give a list of the Empire Club's officers and field captains for the era and this was certainly my basis for stating that the club was active during the war years. But I don't find a statement that the Empires were the only club active.

I don't know where I came up with the idea or what the basis for my thinking was. There might be a record of it somewhere on this blog but I'm too lazy to look for it. The main point here, however, is that I was wrong and there were several clubs active in St. Louis during the Civil War. While the outbreak of war impeded the growth and development of the game in St. Louis, it didn't kill it and it didn't diminish the game to the extent that I had previously believed.

I should also point out the use of Lafayette Park by the Commercial Club. The Cyclones had been using the grounds in the antebellum era and, in 1861, the grounds were commandeered by Federal troops for use as an encampment. This is evidence that the park was being used as a baseball grounds during the war years.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Match At The Camp Jackson Site And A Possibly John Dillon Sighting

A match game between the Liberty and Defiance Base Ball Clubs was played on Sunday, June 18th. The match took place on the Defiance Club's grounds, at old Camp Jackson.
-St. Louis Daily Press, June 21, 1865

This is the earliest reference that I've seen to baseball being played in the Camp Jackson area. By 1867, the Veto Club would be playing their regularly and in 1874, Thomas McNeary would build the Compton Avenue Grounds on the site.

One interesting thing of note is that pitching for the Liberty Club that day was "J. Dillon." It's impossible to know for certain if this was the illusive John Dillon of Red Stocking fame. Dillon would have been about fifteen years old at the time which is probably old enough for him to have been a member of the club. As much as I'd love this to be Packy Dillon's brother, it's impossible to say for sure. And I can't begin to tell you how frustrating that is.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


A very interesting game of base ball was played June 18th, by the Hope, Jr., and the Resolute, Jr., clubs, which resulted in a draw game (27-27).
-St. Louis Daily Press, June 20, 1865

A very interesting game of base ball came off Sunday, the 18th, on the Baltic grounds, between the Resolute, Jr., and the Hope, Jr., resulting in the defeat of the later (21-19).
-St. Louis Daily Press, June 20, 1865

These two game notices appeared back to back in the Daily Press and I wrote it up this way because I wanted you to see it just as I did when I stumbled upon it in the microfilm. What was going on here? I reread everything and initially thought that we had a doubleheader on our hands. I really thought that we had two games played on the same day decided by two runs. That would have been a great day of baseball.

And then I read this:

Notice.-The two scorers (T. Martin/Resolute, Jr.; J. Hobbs/Hope, Jr.) compared the books together and found the score as above stated (21-19). The Hope, Jr's book was then taken away and soon after brought back with the score even. The umpire then examined the books and found the mistake in the Hope, Jr's book. These two clubs will have another match game on Sunday, the 25th, on the Resolute's grounds, opposite Abbey Course. The public are cordially invited to attend, as a very interesting game is expected.
Very Respectfully,
Members Resolute, Jr., Base Ball Club

So we had one game reported in the paper twice with different scores and it seems that we had some shenanigans going on with the Hope, Jr.'s score book. Likely, the Hope, Jr.'s reported the game to the Daily Press as a tie and the Resolute, Jr.'s reported the 21-19 victory, with the addendum as to the tomfoolery with the score book.

The disagreement as to the final score of the game appears to have been handled gracefully with the decision by the two clubs to play another match.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Cyclones Play The Atlantics

A lively game of base ball was played on Thursday, June 15, between the first nine of the "Cyclone" and "Atlantic" base ball clubs, which resulted in the complete victory of the former (by a score of 39-8).
-St. Louis Daily Press, June 17, 1865

Playing for the Cyclones: B. Nelson, 3b; F. Hoyt, ss; W. Teasdale, rf; M. Anderson, 1b; B. Fine, cf; G. Stroup, c; H. Carroll, lf; F. Ellis, p; and D. Bland, 2b.

Playing for the Atlantics: C. Miller, lf; Hafkemeyer, p; H. Diel, cf; W. Peterson, 3b; C. Terry, 1; R. Terry, ss; A. Kraw, c; H. Lahrman, rf; and J. Peterson, 2b.

Obviously, we're dealing with two different clubs here. While the reference in yesterday's post made it appear that the Cyclones were the Atlanic Club by another name, I think it's possible that the members of the Atlantics may have broken off from the club and formed the Cyclones. If that's true then this victory must have been rather sweet.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another 1865 Match Game

A match game of base ball was played on Thursday afternoon, between the first nine of the Olympic Junior and Cyclone (late Atlantic) base ball clubs. Only seven innings were made, on account of the lateness of the hour.
-St. Louis Daily Press, June 11, 1865

The score of the match was Cyclones 29 and Olympic Jr. 11. Playing for the Cyclones was Nelson, c; Thornburg, lf; Hoyt, 3b; Enders, cf; Fine, ss; Carroll, lf; Teasdale, 2b; Anderson, p; and Riley, 1b. Playing for the Olympic Jr. was McCreery, ss; Greely, 2; Chapman, 1b; Lackland, 3b; Peck, p; Filley, c; Lackland, lf; Courrier, rf; and Maxwell, cf.

Obviously, this is not the antebellum Cyclone Club reformed. Tobias mentions that the Atlantic Club was active in 1865 and states that they were one of the clubs who met the Empire Club on their return from Freeport. My initial reaction to the reference to "late Atlantic" was that the Cyclones had previously been known as the Atlantics but had changed their name. However, as you'll see tomorrow, the Cyclones and Atlantics were two different clubs.

Another interesting thing here is a couple of players for the Olympic Jr. Club. McCreery is possibly Wayman McCreery and one of the Lacklands is likely Rufus Lackland. Both were teenagers in 1865 and would go on to play for the Union Club, who do not appear to have been active in the early part of the 1865 baseball season.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Freeport Club Demurred

We noticed a few days since that the Empire Base Ball club of Freeport had issued a general challenge to all clubs in the West for a series of match games. We are informed that the Empire base ball club, of St. Louis, sent the Freeport club a challenge some time since, naming Chicago as the place. To this the Freeport club demurred, claiming the right as the challenged party to select the ground for the first match. We are informed that a meeting of our Empire boys was held last night to take the matter into consideration, and we have no doubt the Freeporters will find that no quibble will be allowed to stand in the way of a fair and manly contest.
-St. Louis Daily Press, June 7, 1865

This is the back story to the Empire Club's match with the Empire Club of Freeport, Illinois, which has been described as the first fly match played in the West. I've written about the game on a couple of occasions.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Few Thoughts On The Location Of Gamble Lawn

Tobias writes that Gamble Lawn "was situated just south of Gamble avenue and West Twentieth street. It was a large vacant piece of property admirably suited for the purpose, the north side alone being in proximity to any buildings whatever, and the eastern end was blessed with a spring of clear cold water." The problem here is that, as I wrote yesterday, there is no Gamble avenue nor is there a West Twentieth street in St. Louis. This makes identifying the location of Gamble Lawn difficult.

Twentieth Street in St. Louis runs north to south from East College Street just north of the Fairground down to Clark Avenue by Union Station. Also, there is a Gamble Street which runs for several blocks between Martin Luther King Drive and Jefferson Avenue. I speculated yesterday that Gamble may have, at some point, intersected with Twentieth. On the east side of Jefferson is Desoto Park, which is bordered by Twentieth on its eastern side, and if Gamble was extended to Twentieth, Desoto Park would be bisected and a large section would have been just south of Gamble and Twentieth.

The problem is that after looking at Pitzman's 1868 Map of St. Louis, it's clear that Gamble never intersected Twentieth. The layout of the Gamble Street neighborhood is almost exactly the same in 1868 as it is now. I really have no idea what Tobias means by "Gamble avenue and West Twentieth street." It's a set of directions that makes no sense.

The Missouri Republican, on September 10, 1858, makes reference to a cricket match at the "regular playing ground on Gamble's addition and Twenty-second street..." Now Twenty-second Street just happens to be the western boarder of Desoto Park and the reference to Gamble's addition is interesting. Gamble Street was named after Archibald Gamble, a prominent St. Louis attorney and businessman, and according to the St. Louis Steet Index it was part of the Stoddard Addition of 1851. I assume that the Stoddard Addition is the little subdivision west of Jefferson Ave.

I think it's safe to assume that we're in the right ballpark here (no pun intended). The grounds referred to as Gamble Lawn or Gamble's Lawn were most likely located just east of the Stoddard Addition, near the eastern terminus of Gamble Street and between Twentieth and Twenty-Second Street. Interestingly, this happens to have been the location of the Pruitt-Igoe housing projects (pictured above) and Desoto Park was built as part of that development rather than being a remnant of the Gamble Lawn grounds.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Muffin Game

A match between the married and single men of the Empire Club, will come off this afternoon, on Gamble Lawn, at half past two o'clock.
-St. Louis Daily Press, June 1, 1865

Gamble Lawn, which was originally used as a cricket ground and was one of the first baseball grounds in St. Louis, was located at the intersection of Gamble Avenue and West Twentieth St. Looking at a map, there is no Gamble Avenue or a West Twentieth St. in St. Louis today. There is however a Gamble St. that, if continued a couple of blocks east, would intersect with N. 20th St. at what is today Desoto Park. This location also happens to be a block west of Carr Square Park, which was used as a baseball grounds by the Morning Star Club in the antebellum era. It's impossible to say for certain if Desoto Park was the location of the Gamble Lawn grounds but it's certainly a wide open space that was in the right neighborhood. I'll have to see if I can find an old map with the 19th century street layout on it and we'll know for sure.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wonderfully On The Increase

An outstanding match of base ball came off last Sunday, at two o'clock, near the Abbey, on the grounds of the Resolute Base Ball club. The contest was between the Hope and Baltic Clubs, and resulted in the defeat of the later (by a score of 30-15)...

An unusually large number of spectators were on the grounds, and the game passed off pleasantly.

There are now five base ball clubs in this city-the Empire, Resolute, Hope, Baltic and Eureka, and we learn that they all are in a flourishing condition.

As peace is about dawning upon us, and the winter months are gone, sports of all kinds are reviving. Outdoor sports and gymnastic exercise are wonderfully on the increase.
-St. Louis Daily Press, May 10, 1865

A few quick notes before I comment on this rather informative article:

The umpire for the game was James Brennan of the Resolute Club and the scorers were Jas. Graham for the Hope and P. Dillon for the Baltic. One would have to assume that this was not Packy Dillon of Red Stocking fame, as he would have been twelve years old at the time.

Playing for the Hope that day was Richardson, c; Seaman, p; McMahon, 1st; Wiber, 2nd; Reed, 3rd; Rutherfur, ss; Verhein, lf; Ruble, cf; and McDonald, rf. Playing for the Baltic was Donnelly, ss; Delaghy, c; Reilly, 1b; Nugent, 2b; Clancy, 3b; Mahoney, cf; Cooke, lf; Farrell, rf; and Wilker, p. The field captains were Joseph Reed for the Hope and Edward Donnelly for the Baltics.

The Hope Base Ball Club is mentioned by E.H. Tobias as among "the very first of regularly formed clubs in St. Louis..." I have no record of them playing in the antebellum period but Tobias groups them with other antebellum clubs. It's unknown if they were active during the war, had reformed in 1865 or if this is an unrelated club that assumed the name.

The location of the game was at the Abbey Race Track Grounds. Tobias writes that the "Atlantic Club having established itself on new grounds at the Abbey race track played an inaugural game on Sept. 14 (1870) with the Empire Club...The grounds were not in suitable condition but one prior game having been played upon it." We now know that the site, which was located near the intersection of Page Blvd. and Whittier St. (southwest of the Fairgrounds and northwest of St. Louis University), was used as a baseball grounds as early as 1865.

The thing that really stands out for me is how quickly the game rebounds from the interruption of the war. This article mentions five clubs and there were several more that would become active by June of 1865. While we are now assuming that there was substantially more baseball activity during the war years then previously believed, it certainly had declined from the dozen or so clubs that were playing in 1860. By the summer of 1865, baseball in St. Louis had recovered to the point that there were as many clubs active in the first summer of peace as there were during the last summer before the war.

However, the question still remains, in my mind at least, as to whether or not the war was actually over in May of 1865 and whether these games should be classified as having been played during the war or as postbellum games. In this article, the statement that "peace is about dawning upon us" gives one pause. The logical conclusion of that statement is that peace has not, as of yet, dawned and that the war was still going on. Certainly, the war was in the process of ending and was, for all intents and purposes, over. But the Confederate Cabinet held a meeting on May 5, 1865 and Jefferson Davis wasn't captured until May 10th. Andrew Johnson stated that the war ended with Davis' capture. So if we go by the word of the President of the United States, the Hope/Baltic game was technically played while the war was still going on.

Just to continue the discussion of when the war ended, it should be noted that General Jeff Thompson, who was in charge of the military district of Arkansas, didn't surrender until May 11, and that Confederate forces in North Carolina didn't surrender until the next day. The Battle of Doaksville, the last battle of the war, was fought on June 23, 1865. And as I've mentioned previously, the last Confederate force surrendered in November of 1865. This was the CSS Shenandoah (pictured above), which continued hostilities throughout June and was heading to attack San Francisco in August when it received word of Lee's surrender.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Baltic Base Ball Club in 1864

The first anniversary game of the Baltic Base Ball Club will be played on Monday, May 1st. All friends and lovers of the game are respectfully invited to attend, near the terminus of the Fifth street railroad.
-St. Louis Daily Press, April 30, 1865

The Baltic Club was mentioned by E.H. Tobias as one of the clubs that took part in a torchlight parade in 1865, welcoming back the Empire Club after they returned victorious from their trip to Freeport, Illinois. The significance of this notice in the Daily Press, however, is in the fact that if the Baltics were celebrating their first anniversary in May of 1865 then the club was founded in the spring of 1864.

Again, as I mentioned a few days ago when talking about the Laclede Club in 1861, the source material, up to this point, was unanimous in stating that the Empires were the only baseball club active during the war years. But if the Baltic Club was founded in the spring of 1864 then it is most probable that they were playing baseball that year. What's the point of forming a baseball club if you're not going to play baseball?

While I haven't, as of yet, found the records of any club other than the Empires playing baseball during the 1861-1864 era, I think it's only a matter of time. At this point, I have little doubt that there were clubs besides the Empires active in St. Louis during the Civil War.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Final Day Of The War?

The Empire Base Ball Club will celebrate their fifth anniversary on Gamble Lawn to-morrow afternoon. We shall be there to take note.
-St. Louis Daily Press, April 18, 1865

Opening of the Base Ball Season.-The Empire Club observed their fifth anniversary yesterday by a match between the married and single members. There was a large assemblage of ladies and gentlemen on the ground, who were received with that kindly hospitality so characteristic of the Empire boys. The married members, under the sagacious lead of Captain Fruin, obtained a single victory over their bachelor brothers, who under the lead of Captain Wirth, struggled hard to carry off the prize. The runs stood: married 25; single 11. The marked features of the game were an ace by J.T. Murphy, of the bachelors, and five runs made by H. Noble, of the benedicts.
-St. Louis Daily Press, April 27, 1865

As we've seen, the Empire Club was in the habit of playing their anniversary game on April 16th, the date of the club's founding. However, April 16, 1865 happened to be Easter Sunday and even in St. Louis, where Sabbath observations were not as strict as in other parts of the country and Sunday baseball was quickly becoming part of the culture, they weren't going to play this game on Easter. Therefore the game was scheduled for April 19th.

However, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 and his funeral procession in Washington D.C. (pictured above) was scheduled for April 19th. The Empire Club's anniversary game was once again overcome by events and it appears that the game on the 19th was cancelled in order to observe a period of mourning for the fallen President.

The game was rescheduled and played on April 26, 1865. This brings up the question of whether of not the Empire Club's fifth anniversary game was technically played during the Civil War. Lee had surrendered on April 9 but Joe Johnston didn't surrender until April 26. There were still Confederate forces surrendering in June and the final surrender of a Confederate force didn't take place until November. Generally, I always believed it was Johnston's surrender that marked the end of the war and I'm willing to argue that this game took place on the final day of the Civil War.

Of course, one of the reasons I'm willing to make that argument is that I like the symmetry of St. Louis Civil War baseball beginning with a game three days after the fall of Fort Sumter and ending with a game on the war's final day. It's perfect.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Technical Difficulties

I'm having computer problems again at home. Until I can fix my laptop, my internet access will be limited. I changed comment moderation so that you can leave comments without my approval (try not to abuse the privilege) and I'll check in as much as I can. Posts are queued and ready to roll through August 14th so we shouldn't have any interruption as far as content is concerned.

Basically, you guys are one your own for a few days. Try not to burn the place down.

The Second Anniversary

The Empire Base Ball Club will celebrate its second anniversary to-day, by a game and festivities at Gamble Lawn. At 2 1/2 P.M. the members, with numerous invited guests-ladies and gentlemen, are expected to meet at the above named spot, where ample preparations will be found to have been made for a joyous occasion. A match at base ball will first come off, between nine of the club's best players on one side, and nine more of them on the other. Refreshments and additional social delights will follow. We are authorized to extend a general invitation to our citizens and their ladies to be present.
-Missouri Democrat, April 16, 1862

The proposed game of base ball between the two select parties, nine in each, of the Empire Base Ball Club, was yesterday prevented by the storm, but will come off at 2 1/2 P.M. to-day, at Gamble Lawn, in the style heretofore announced.
-Missouri Democrat, April 17, 1862

The notice for this particular game, which at this point is only the second Civil War-era St. Louis baseball game that we know of, was easy to find. We know when the Empire Club generally held their anniversary game and it was a simple matter of looking through the April 1862 issues of the Missouri Democrat.

One thing that should be noted is that the Empire Club had unusually bad luck with their first few anniversary games. The first was broken up by the Home Guard and the second was postponed by rain. I have newspaper accounts for the fifth anniversary game (which I'll post tomorrow) and if you can know what was going on around the middle of April 1865 then you can imagine the difficulties that were involved in getting that game played.

Come back tomorrow for the story.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Three Days After The Fall Of Fort Sumter

The gentlemen of the Empire Base Ball Club design celebrating the first anniversary of their club next Tuesday afternoon (April 16), on Gamble Lawn. The programme will include games, refreshments, &c., and the inauguration of new bats, new bases, and a new regulation ball. There will be a ample tent for refreshment and retirement, and an abundance of seats for ladies and gentlemen. The exercises are announced to commence at 2 P.M. As the Market street cars run to within two squares of the lawn, visitors will experience no difficulty in getting to the grounds. We trust the weather will beam auspiciously upon the occasion.
-Missouri Democrat, April 12, 1861

The April 16th date for the Empire Club's first anniversary game is significant. Considering the events of the game and the behavior of the Home Guard in breaking up the game, the question was always whether or note the game took place before or after Fort Sumter and the outbreak of the Civil War. Considering that Al Spink wrote that the club was founded on April 16, 1860, I always assumed that the game took place after Fort Sumter but now we know for certain. Technically, the Empire Club's first anniversary game was the first baseball game played in St. Louis during the Civil War.

Sadly, I was unable to find an account of the game in the Missouri Democrat. The tone and the coverage of the paper, and that of the other Civil War-era St. Louis papers, changes immediately upon the attack of Fort Sumter. The focus of the paper is concentrated upon the outbreak of the war and all local news has to do with preparations for war, troop movements, etc. This is completely understandable. One of the difficulties in finding information about baseball in St. Louis during the war years is that there seems to be little room in the newspapers for baseball coverage amid all the war coverage. Of course, there is also substantially less baseball activity during the 1861-1864 era when compared to 1860 or 1865 and finding accounts of what activity there was in the archives is difficult. I have no doubt that we'll find the information but it will take time.

The one thing I like about the notice for this game is the announcement of the "inauguration of new bats, new bases, and a new regulation ball." Obviously, baseball equipment was precious and difficult to come by. It's fascinating to see the Empire Club trumpeting the fact that they had a new baseball.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Lacledes In 1861

The Laclede Base Ball Club have a meeting this evening, at their rooms, to make preparations for the coming season. Members should be on hand.
-Missouri Democrat, April 4, 1861

The Laclede Base Ball Club was mentioned by Al Spink, in The National Game, as one of the early opponents of the Empire Club. E.H. Tobias stated that the club was made up of master mechanics, described them as one of the "early" clubs and noted that their grounds were located "on a lot one block north of Easton Avenue between Jefferson and Garrison." I was always unclear as to whether or not they were active during the antebellum era but I think that question has now been answered.

The most interesting thing to note here is that the club was making plans for the 1861 season. The conventional wisdom is that the only active club in St. Louis during the Civil War years was the Empire Club but this brief notice in the Missouri Democrat brings that into question. This, of course, is not conclusive evidence that the Lacledes were active during 1861 but it does raise the possibility. The club meeting was on April 4th and this was a good week before Fort Sumter and the beginning of the war. It's possible that the outbreak of hostilities forced a change in the plans of the Laclede Club. They may very well have broken and all their members may have joined the war effort (on whichever side). However, I think that the members of the club would have been very aware of the fact that war was eminent and that fact was most likely already taken into consideration before the meeting was called.

More research needs to be done to confirm whether or not the Laclede Club was active in 1861 but this is first evidence we have that a club other than the Empires was active in St. Louis during the war years. Because of that, it's rather significant.