Thursday, December 31, 2009

Solari's Obituary

St. Louis, May 16.-Augustus Solari, the father of base ball in St. Louis, died Thursday morning. He was well known to base ball players throughout the country. In the early sixties Solari leased a cornfield in the edge of town and cleared the land and built the first base ball park. It was here that he brought out the once famous Umpires [sic] and Unions. The teams continued, together with several minor clubs, for a number of years, when they were disbanded by internal dissensions. There was no professional ball here then until 1876, although Solari continued to organize clubs and play games. In the latter year he interested Charles H. Turner, Frank Fowle and Joe Carn and they organized the St. Louis Club, but it was driven out by the famous Red Stockings. Solari was in with them, and after the failure of the team he organized the Grand Avenues, which played in his park on 1879, when Chris Von der Ahe, Al Spink, W.W. Judy and J.F. Farrell organized the Sportsman's Park and club. They leased his grounds and he was made the groundkeeper, a position which he has since held. Although in the last few years he was too old to attend to his active duties, he was always present at the games. He was famous among ball players for his grounds, he having a gift of providing good playing grounds, even after a heavy morning rain.
-Sporting Life, May 21, 1898

I've been looking for Solari's obit for some time and have to thank Ed Achorn for passing this along to me. While the errors in this piece are numerous, it does provide a date of death for Solari. Someone had given me some information on Solari and provide a DOD of May 11, 1898 but the obit places his death on May 12th.

So lets count the errors in Solari's obit:

1. Solari was not the father of baseball in St. Louis and could not be considered such by any reasonable measure.

2. He did not build the first ball park in St. Louis. He did not even build the first enclosed ballpark in St. Louis.

3. He did not "bring out" the Empire and Union Clubs but rather the two clubs engaged Solari to build and maintain the park.

4. Professional baseball was being played in St. Louis prior to 1876.

5. Solari did not have a prominent role in the organization of the Brown Stockings.

6. The Brown Stockings were not driven out by the Red Stockings.

7. Solari organized the Grand Avenues in 1875.

8. Solari gave up his lease to the grounds in October of 1880 and the Sportsman's Park and Club Association was organized to assume the lease. They did not lease the grounds from Solari, who never owned the property upon which the ballpark was built.

Other than that, it's a good obituary.

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