Friday, February 5, 2010

Al Pierce

At the Stocks' Park yesterday afternoon, the Black Stockings defeated the Independents-both strong colored clubs-by a score of 18 to 14. Al Pierce did not strive with the brilliancy of a Wright at short.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 29, 1876

Al Pierce, I believe, was playing with the Independents and most likely was the club's manager as well. He's a rather interesting gentleman who was an outstanding athlete and had the reputation as a successful gambler. It's unique that the Globe would mention him by name, regardless of the derogatory nature of the reference.

I think it says something about his status in the community that he's mentioned in a newspaper which, to a great extent, ignored black baseball and black athletes. The reference to Pierce, without any other information other than that he was playing short, leads one to believe that he was well-known in St. Louis.

Edit: Brilliant reader James Brunson corrected me in the comments. Pierce was playing for the Black Stockings. The Independents were a Kansas City club. Much thanks to James. And, again, I make no apologies for stealing Joe Posnanski's shtick (but I like to credit him because he's the best baseball writer in the business).


james e. brunson said...


Albert Pierce played with the Black Stockings of St. Louis; the Independents were a colored club out of Kansas City (The Blue Stockings played them as well).

Pierce was also a jockey and famed bicyclist: he appeared in tournaments on the east coast, and in England. Of course, the infamous gambling episode was linked to the White Stockings-St. Louis Brown Stockings games, where he served as the Browns team mascot.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I appreciate the information. From what I had read, I had assumed that he was playing with the Independents. I'll correct things in the post.

As far as the gambling is concerned, are you talking about the games in late 1877?

Thanks again for the input. I'm glad I have readers who are smarter than me. It makes things easier.

james e, brunson said...


During the May 1875 series between the Brown Stockings and White Stockings in St. Louis, the Browns defeated the Whites twice and sent the city into a frenzy.

Pierce, the team mascot, was in attendance. According to newspaper accounts, he won $200 betting on St. Louis pitchers. Following those victories, the press and fans demanded his presence, imbuing him with 'magical' powers.

Later, when they later played the Louisiville club and would have lost had it not been for a rain-out, fans and the press blamed him for not showing up for the game.

It's a good guess that Pierce was on the road with with the colored nine.

By the way, I wouldn't say smarter, my friend; I simply had additional information.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

The gambling stuff is interesting because it goes to the corruption that surrounded the club and eventually destroyed it. Stuff like that is more rare in 1875 than it is in 1876/77. But with the Pierce story, we can see that even at the moment of the club's greatest triumph (the victories over Chicago in May of 1875) and as the Browns become the most popular baseball club in StL, gambling is part of the story. It seems that with every major event in the club's history, there is some sort of gambling angle.

james e. brunson said...


It is certainly a narrative worth developing. Ciao!