Friday, December 30, 2011

The Fourth Of July 1861

Married vs. Single.--This match which took place at Gamble Lawn, on the morning of the 4th, resulted in a decided victory for the married men.  The players were selected from all the senior organizations of the city, which fact imparted an unusual interest in the result of the game, as was shown by the large number of spectators present.  The play on both sides was highly commendable-in the field, as well as at the bat-and resulted in a score of 55 for the married and 32 for the single men...
-Missouri Republican, July 7, 1861

So much interesting stuff here.

First, there were a number of games played between the married and single club members in 1861.  There were at least three games played between the married and single members of the Cyclones, Commercials and Morning Star clubs and there was actually a bit of 19th century trash talking going on in the press after the single men won the first two games.  I think it's significant that the majority of games that I have a record for in 1861 were not games between senior clubs but either matches between junior clubs or a muffin game between a conglomeration of senior clubs.  I would imagine that, as May 1861 ended, the senior clubs had a difficult time finding enough men to stock their nine, as club members began going off to war.  The Civil War did not end baseball in St. Louis but there is no doubt that it made it more difficult to organize a senior club.

The second thing here is the mention that the Cyclones, Commercials, Morning Stars and Empires were the only senior clubs in St. Louis in the summer of 1861.  That's a very useful piece of information.  I have a list of about ten clubs that were competing in the summer of 1860 and the fact that there were only four in the summer of 1861 is again evidence of the negative effect of the war on baseball in St. Louis.  There were numerous junior clubs playing in 1861 but I think it's obvious that the older ballplayers had more important things to deal with in that summer.  Neither the Cyclones nor the Morning Stars survived the 1861 season.  

The last thing I want to point out is the significance of this game.  It was played on the Fourth of July 1861.  Fort Sumter was attacked on April 12, Camp Jackson fell on May 10 and, by early June, it was obvious that the war was going to be contested in Missouri.  The battle of Boonville was on June 17, the battle of Carthage would be fought on July 5 and the first battle of Bull Run would be fought in a few weeks.  It must have been a rather bittersweet holiday.  Clubs had already started to dissolve as political division and military recruitment and responsibilities began to take their toll.  I look at that box score and see men who would fight on both sides of the war.  But for one day, and possibly for the last time, they came together to celebrate the birth of their country and play the game they loved.                     


Ted Yemm said...

Enjoying all of the 1860's posts!

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Thanks. Glad you enjoy it. I'm always amazed at how much stuff I find when I look through the StL papers from the Civil War era. And the non-baseball stuff that I find is pretty cool as well. Reading the political news from 1860 into the summer of 1861 as stuff heats up is just fascinating.