Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Stop Base Ball On Sunday

Before I get to game two of the 1886 World Series, I thought I'd pass this along:

Two weeks ago a movement was commenced looking to the more proper observance of the Sabbath on the part of business men of [Edwardsville, Illinois,] and also to the abolition of Sunday games, especially base ball. The matter was undertaken by the W.C.T.U. and their friends. As soon as the first meeting was held the merchants of the city voluntarily signed an agreement to not keep open at all on Sundays, beginning next Sunday. At the meeting to-night in the Sunday school room of St. John's M.E. Church the matter was viewed in its legal status, and a committee was appointed to wait upon the Mayor to-morrow and ask his assistance in compelling saloons and all classes of business except drug stores and livery stables, to close. It was determined to endeavor by moral suasion to stop base ball on Sunday, and if that failed then legal process is to be adopted.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 15, 1886

Edwardsville, which is just across the river from St. Louis, had a baseball tradition that stretched back to at least to 1870 and, in the mid-1880s, the Madisons of Edwardsville were one of the best clubs in the area. It appears that they liked to play on Sundays and that some of their fellow citizens wished to put a stop to that.

This fits with some of my ideas about Sunday baseball in St. Louis in a couple of ways. The fact that Edwardsville clubs were playing baseball on Sunday fits with the general pattern of St. Louis Sunday baseball during this era. Also, the fact that there was a group trying to put an end to that practice is a bit unique in the region and shows the difference between the Creole/German/Irish Catholic influenced culture of St. Louis and the culture in Southern Illinois, an area settled by Americans from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. While Edwardsville was a satellite of St. Louis, it was settled by a different group of people with a different culture and that produced a different outlook towards Sabbath observance.

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