Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Empire-Union Series Of 1867, Part One

The following comes from Anthony Lampe's The Background Of Professional Baseball In St. Louis, published in the Missouri Historical Society Bulletin of October 1950:

In 1867 the city championship took on a new aspect when the Empire Club, city champions for the past six years, were challenged early in June by the Union Club.  Early in the season the newspapers began preparing the public for the coming matches.  On June 14, 1867, the following article appeared [in The Missouri Republican]:
The Union Club having challenged the Empire to a home and home match for the St. Louis Championship, the first of the games will be played Wednesday, the 26th inst., 2 P.M., on the Veto grounds, near the machine shop of the Pacific R.R. Co.  The Empire Club has successfully defended the championship for the past six years, the Union being the only St. Louis Club that has gained a victory over them in that time; the latter having won one in a series of thee games played between these rival clubs.  As both nines are in active training and confident of victory, a close and exciting contest may be expected.

Lampe goes on to write that "By June twenty-sixth the people of St. Louis were referring to the game as the championship not only of St. Louis but of Missouri."  He quotes The Missouri Republican of June 22, 1867:

The grand match of baseball for the championship of Missouri will be played to-day on the old Veto grounds, north of the Pacific Railroad Machine Shop.  The match is to commence this afternoon at two o'clock, between the Union and Empire Clubs, the latter having won the distinguished honor of being the championship club of the Northwest.  The contest will doubtless call out a crowd of spectators, including the ladies.

The most interesting thing of note here is that we now have a contemporary source that backs up the idea that the Empires were the St. Louis champions from 1861-1866.  The Tobias source notes that they were champions in 1865 and 1866 and implies that they were the champions through the war years but there was never any hard evidence to support that.  I really didn't have any doubts about it but, in the end, it was just an educated guess.  Now, thanks to Lampe, we have the Republican's account from 1867 stating it as a fact.  

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