Eighteen black men representing St. Louis and New Orleans swam out to Sportsman's Park yesterday and showed 800 colored "folks" and a small sprinkling of whites how to play ball. The weather was against the exhibition, and after looking in vain for life-preservers, the game game had to be called in the seventh inning. The New Orleans club is named after Louisiana's most distinguished colored statesman, P.S.P. Pinchback. The St. Louis men are known as the "West Ends." Next to a watermelon and a coon hunt, a negro likes a ball game, and they go at it with such zest that even a policeman is compelled to stay awake. The Pinchback team is homeward bound, having defeated the Chicago Unions and other strong Northern clubs. They talk English and French and always swear at the umpire in French. Their uniform was navy blue, white striped caps, white shirts, with a large blue "P" on the right breast. The "West Ends" were arrayed like the lily, pure white, but after skating around in the mud a few minutes the original color of the uniform was hard to discover. The game began at 3:45 o'clock, and the guying a few minutes later. Every play, good or bad, was greeted with yells. Price, the boss "yeller" of New Orleans, took a day off in order to grease his tonsils and have his lungs repaired. Jones of the West Ends was the best coacher, and when a black man reached his bass Jones offered these suggestions:"Watch 'im dar, watch 'im. Hyar dar; watch dat ball. Now, niggah, go dar; go. Hyar you; get dar. Oh sho man, is you boardin at dat base!"The West Ends were very rugged in their fielding, but made some good hits. Each man going to bat was advised to "Swiper er over de fence, now den, niggah, kill dat ball. Sho, man, wat's you tryin to do, anyhow?"...The Pinchbacks took the lead from the start and came near shutting out the St. Louis men. They consider the West Ends "pie." Johnson, Jones and Bracey played well for the West Ends, and all the Pinchbacks showed good form. The New Orleans second baseman proved to be a corker, while Johnson lined them down in a way that made the West Ends sick.
-St. Louis Republic, August 26, 1888
The final score of the game was 6-1. The "P.S.P. Pinchback" mentioned in the article,one has to assume, was P.B.S. Pinchback, the African-American Republican governor of Louisiana from 1872-1873, whose photo is posted above.
The images below were included in the text of the article:
Any questions about how black baseball and black ballplayers were portrayed in the St. Louis press in the 19th century?
The images, the language and the tone speak for themselves. Black baseball was not to be taken seriously by white society. It was minstrelsy. Both white and black baseball were seen as entertainment but white baseball was the supreme competition for athletic superiority on the playing fields while black baseball was a clown show. Arlie Latham's "coaching" was seen as an annoying distraction from the game and undignified while the antics of Price and Jones were portrayed as a defining characteristic of black baseball. What was not acceptable among white ballplayers was fine among black ballplayers because black baseball was not real baseball. That's the message that comes through the 19th century newspaper coverage.
Black baseball was not worthy of coverage by the white sporting press and, when it was covered, the emphasis was never on the game itself. The emphasis was always on a stereotype that the writer wanted to perpetuate. The coverage of 19th century baseball in the St. Louis press was never about chronicling the game but about defining blacks and their place in St. Louis society.