Thursday, February 3, 2011

West Ends Vs. Pinchbacks

The New Orleans Pinchbacks, who claim to be the colored champions of the country, will arrive here this morning and meet the locally famous colored club, the West Ends, at Sportsman's Park this afternoon. the game has been the talk of the colored population for months and as a series of three contests will be played, there will be the most exciting times the colored people will have had since "de wah." Price, the great caliope coacher of the Pinchbacks, is said to be able to discount Latham in the depth of his "hollerin'" powers and in the extent of his funny sayings. The Pinchbacks have told the people of Chicago that they will wipe up the earth with their colored brethren in St. Louis. Game will be called at 3:30 p.m.
-St. Louis Republic, August 25, 1888

Due to the hard work and generosity of Dwayne Isgrig, I have game accounts of all three games between the West Ends and the Pinchbacks. Big hat tip to Dwayne.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone but some of the language used in these accounts is ridiculously offensive. The images which accompany the text are just as bad, if not worse. I make no apologies for presenting the information as it is. This is the historical record, warts, stupidity and all. We have to, need to and should want to confront the record honestly. I'm not going to gloss over the overt racism of 19th century newspapers and baseball writers to spare our delicate feelings. This kind of stuff was the truth of the matter; it was the reality of the situation. I don't feel the need to hide truth just because it makes me uncomfortable. So it is what it is and I'm going to post it.

The important thing here is to take these games and put them in the context of 19th century St. Louis baseball. I refuse to allow the story of 19th century African-American baseball players to be segregated from the overall history of the game. That story must be incorporated into the whole if we're ever to arrive at a complete truth, at a comprehensive history of the game. And to do so, we have to look at and understand the racial attitudes that were a part of our country's history. The language and images used in the Republic have to be dealt with as part of the history of the game in St. Louis and I have no problems doing that.

1 comment:

james e, brunson said...


Readers shoould note (and how quickly 19th century sportswriters forget): Asa "Acie" Price the coacher for Walter L. Cohen's Pinchbacks came from St. Louis. In 1885, Acie and his brother, David, served as the St. Louis Eclipse Club battery. That same year, the Black Stockings and Eclipse Club put together a team that traveled to New Orleans and played all the local colored teams. Following this road tour, David Price returned to St. Louis and Acie stayed in New Orleans and played for Cohen.

In 1889 Price died of yellow fever and was buried in New Orleans. Only 23 years old, he was buried baseball uniform.