Monday, December 31, 2012

Winter Warm-Up 2013

I'm going to be speaking at the 2013 Winter Warm-Up on Saturday, January 19th.  Not sure what time we're going on but I do know that we have an hour and a half to talk.  Last year we packed the room for an hour on Saturday and Sunday, plus we stayed late on Sunday to answer any and all questions.  It was a blast. 

This year, I'm going to be talking about early bat and ball games in the St. Louis area, going all the way back to the 18th century, and Ted Yemm will be talking about vintage baseball in St. Louis.  I believe we also have Dwayne Isgrig talking a bit about the history of black baseball in the city and Steve Pona may speak a bit about the St. Louis Baseball Historical Society.  It's going to be a lot of fun.

You can get tickets to the event at the Cardinals' website.  And if you're coming, come up and say hi.  I'd love to meet and talk to as many of you as I can.     

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone. As my gift to you, here's some Dean Martin and some Darlene Love:

I'm going to take the week off and try to get some rest.  I'll be back right after New Year's with more 19th century St. Louis baseball nonsense and some Winter Warm-Up news.  If you're desperately missing my wonderful prose, head over to Protoball and check out some of the stuff we're doing there.  My piece on the Massachusetts Game just went up and it's long enough to keep you busy for a bit.  And if you're going to read that, you might as well read my piece on Town Ball.  

Monday, December 24, 2012

The End Of An Era

A match game will be played to-day between the Hope and Empire Clubs on the grounds of the former Club, corner of Biddle and Twenty-sixth streets.  The game will commence at 1 o'clock, and ladies and gentlemen desirous of witnessing the game are assured that the strictest rules of propriety and good breeding will be observed upon the grounds.
-Missouri Republican, November 4, 1865

This is the last St. Louis baseball game of the 1865 season that I'm aware of and it really was the end of an era.  In my thinking, the 1865 season marks the end of the pioneer baseball era in St. Louis.  Beginning in 1866, the city would see an explosion in the popularity of the game and the development of the Empire/Union rivalry, which would mark the golden age of amateur baseball in St. Louis.  It's distinguished from the pioneer era by a new generation of clubs and players as well as by Asa Smith's attempt to bring St. Louis baseball into the national mainstream.  The St. Louis baseball landscape was much different going into the 1866 season than it was in 1859, when Merritt Griswold came to town and inaugurated the pioneer era in the city.

Also of note here is that the Hope grounds were located at Biddle and Twenty-sixth street.  Always good to know.   

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Triumph Of The Empire Club

The members of the victorious Empire Base Ball Club returned about 11 o'clock Monday night from Dubuque, bringing with them the handsome prize ball of solid silver.  They were received on the other side of the river by the remaining base ball clubs of the city, including the Baltic, Liberty, Magenta, Diana, Columbia, Hope and O.K.  Frank Boehm's silver band was in attendance, and all the clubs together formed quite a procession.  Several flags, including a very large one borne by the Empire fellers, gave a sort of martial or triumphal aspect to the procession.  After landing at the Levee the company marched up Chesnut street, stopping to give a round of cheers for the Republican, and then proceeded to their quarters, at No. 124 North Thrid street, over Miller's oyster saloon.  On reaching their rooms they were addressed in a few words of welcome by Mr. E.H. Tobias.  Mr. Walter, President of the club, responded in a few remarks, in which he thanked the different clubs for welcoming the "Empires" home, and hoped that they might all go on similar expeditions one of these days, and bring home silver prizes.  The silver ball, we are informed, will remain on exhibition in Mr. Miller's saloon for a time, and every-body who desires may see it.  The following are the names of the young men who won it:  John Quinn, Adam Wirth, Robert Duncan, David Duffy, J.M. Johnson, C.C. Northon, S.R. Barrett, J. Frain, and F.C. Billow.
-Missouri Republican, October 4, 1865

This account of the Empires' return to St. Louis, after their victory in Dubuque, is similar to Tobias' account, which appeared in The Sporting News in 1895.  I don't have much to add except that the description of Miller's saloon as an "oyster saloon" is new to me.  Also, the Republican got the names of several members of the Empire Club wrong.  Nothing like returning in triumph only to have your name mangled in the local paper. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Great Base Ball Match At Dubuque

The great base ball contest which took place at Dubuque yesterday, competition having been invited from all parts of the Northwest, resulted in favor of the Empire Base Ball Club of St. Louis, to whom the silver ball was awarded.  The score stood twelve to five.  The Empire Club of Freeport, who were defeated in their contest at Freeport, some weeks ago, with the Empire of St. Louis, were again defeated yesterday.  The news of the result came by telegraph last evening to some of the friends of the victors in this city.
-Missouri Republican, September 30, 1865

The Empires' victory in Dubuque was notable enough to receive two notices in the same issue of the Republican

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Victory In Dubuque

A private dispatch received from Dubuque yesterday says that the base ball match in that city was won by the "Empire Club," of St. Louis, on a score of twelve for themselves, and five for their opponents.  The prize contended for was a superb ball of silver, offered by a club at Dubuque.
-Missouri Republican, September 30, 1865

I know I've been mocking the Empire Clubs' big victories of 1865 but they really are significant.  They were the first games played by a St. Louis club against outside competition and the first victories by a St. Louis club against outside clubs.  The idea that the Empires were the best club in the West doesn't really hold up but these games were historically significant. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Note About How The Championship Of The West Was Won

The Empire B.B. Club, of this city, accompanied by a number of their friends, take their departure this morning for Dubuque to engage in the Silver Ball contest, on Friday next.  Special arrangements have been made for the round trip, by which parties desirous of joining the excursion can procure tickets at half price.  The club will leave their rooms, No. 124 North Third street, at 11 A.M.  May success attend them.
-Missouri Republican, September 27, 1865

I think I've posted this before but I wanted to contrast it with yesterday's information about the Empire Club crowning themselves Champions of the West. 

I had previously believed that the Empires didn't claim their invented Championship until after the Dubuque tournament, which they won by once again defeating the Empires of Freeport.  But that isn't true.  They threw themselves a party, gave themselves a championship belt and declared that they were the Champions of the West three weeks prior to the Dubuque tournament.

I always thought that their claim to the mythical Championship was tenuously based on the Fourth of July victory at Freeport and the Dubuque tournament win.  That's a weak nail to hang your championship claims on.  But I was wrong.  The Empire Club's entire basis for claiming the Championship of the West is their victory over the Empire Club of Freeport, at Freeport, on July 4, 1865.

And that is an absurd basis on which to make such a claim.    

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Empire Club Crowns Themselves Champion

 We are glad to see that this noble national game is fast gaining ground in popularity in our city.  There are several fine clubs in St. Louis, and our readers will not have forgotten that the championship of the West is held by the Empire B.B. Club, having wrested that proud title from the Empire Club of Freeport, Ill., last 4th of July, in commemoration of which event our well-known citizen, Martin Collins, Esq., has presented the club with a magnificent belt, gotten up in the most artistic manner.  The presentation was accompanied by an eloquent and interesting speech, delivered in our friend Martin's most happy manner, and was appropriately responded to by Messrs. J. Fruin,. B. Higgins, and other members of the club, all of whom expressed the sentiment that the club would give a "hard fight" to whatever club may endeavor to take it from the Empire.
We understand that an interesting game will shortly take place between the married and single men of this club; also that the second nine propose to play any other first nine in St. Louis.
-Missouri Republican, September 7, 1865

There should be no doubt about the fact that the Empires were the self-proclaimed "Champions of the West."  I usually refer to the championship as mythical but I think self-proclaimed may be a better description.  Collins, who presented the club with the championship belt, just so happened to have been a club member and it looks like the Empires invented a championship, threw themselves a party and presented themselves an emblem of said championship.  A year later, the Chicago all-stars would show them what that what that self-proclaimed championship was worth.   

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

It Looks Like We Have A Trend

In Consequence Of The Very Disagreeable weather last Sunday, the Picnic of the Hope Base Ball Club has been postponed till Sunday, July 30, 1865.  Ample preparations have been made for the accommodation and enjoyment of all our guests on the occasion.  Tickets of 16th inst. remain good.
-Missouri Democrat, July 22, 1865

If I had been better organized, I would have put all these picnic notes in one post and wrote something about the social nature of a baseball club.  But that's not how I work.  I'm rather unorganized and usually just hunt around 19th century newspapers until I find something interesting to post.  Lately, I've been going through the Civil War-era Missouri Democrat and writing up posts as I find good stuff.

Anyway, it looks like the baseball club picnic was a trend in St. Louis during 1865.  And that really is rather interesting and sheds some light on what it was like to be a member of a baseball club in the city during that period.  

Monday, December 17, 2012

It Must Have Been Picnic Season

First Grand Annual Picnic will be given by the members of the Baltic Base Ball Club at Pecan Grove, Ill., Sunday, June 25th.  Cars leave Terre Haute Depot at 8 A.M.  No intoxicated liquors will be on the ground.  Cars return at 6 P.M.
-Missouri Republican, June 25, 1865

Yesterday, we saw that the Jackson Club was holding a picnic and now we see the Baltics doing the same.  It must have been the cool thing to do.  More importantly, this shows that the social function that a ball club served had not been completely consumed by the growing competitive nature of the game.  These were still social clubs and not just baseball teams.

The reference to Pecan Grove, Illinois, is puzzling because I can't find a town in Illinois by that name.  It's possible, based on quick research, that it may have been in Greene County but that might have been a bit far to travel in 1865.  It's an odd reference.   

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Jackson Base Ball Club

First Grand
Annual Basket Picnic
Of The Jackson Base Ball Club,
will be given at Gritasley Station, Iron Mountain Railroad, on Thursday, June 15, 1865.
Tickets - One Dollar.
Cars will leave Plum Street Depot at 8 A.M.
-Missouri Republican, June 12, 1865

I can't find any record in my notes or on the blog of a Jackson Base Ball Club so I'm calling this a new discovery.  They're probably an example of the explosion in popularity of baseball that we see immediately after the Civil War ends.   

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Resolutes Were A Bunch Of Cheaters

The match game of base ball, which was to come off on yesterday afternoon between the Hope and Resolute Clubs of this city, did not come off on account of a dispute arising between both Clubs - the latter Club having two players on their nine belonging to the Empire Club.
-Missouri Republican, September 27, 1864

And know we know even more about the Hope and Resolutes.  The Resolutes were a bunch of cheaters and the two clubs probably didn't like each other much. 

At first glance, the Resolutes attempt to use two members of the Empire Club in their nine doesn't appear to be that big of a deal.  It wasn't uncommon for a club to use members of other clubs to fill out their nine for a match, if they were short players.  The fact that the Hope protested this tells us a few things.  First, the scheduled match was viewed by the clubs as something more than a friendly.  There was something at stake in this match.  It may have been simply pride or honor but it may also have been the season series.      

Secondly, this tells us a great deal about the nature of baseball in St. Louis during the Civil War.  The fact that there was a protest shows us that the game had developed beyond its social function and was seen as something more than physical exercise and fun.  The game had developed a competitive function and the teams were playing to win.  This is extremely important as it parallels the national evolution of the game Morris talked about in But Didn't We Have Fun? and Goldstein wrote about in A History of Early Baseball.  This is more evidence to support the idea that St. Louis baseball, during the war, was dynamic and growing.         

It's possible that were looking at the development of the idea of a St. Louis baseball champion and a series that determined or impacted the championship.  While I've always believed that the Empire Club was the best team in St. Louis during the war years, the Hope and Resolutes appear to have been more active in 1863 and 1864 and it's possible that they were the two best clubs in St. Louis at the time.  The list of teams that could have been the champions of St. Louis during the period is certainly limited to the Empires, Hope, Resolutes and Commercials and I have no real evidence that suggests one club was better than the others.  The idea of a St. Louis and Missouri champion didn't really develop officially until after the war and it's probably futile to talk about a St. Louis champion until the 1865 season, when the Empires claimed the mythical Championship of the West.  But, if the game in St. Louis had developed a competitive character by 1863 or 1864, it would have been natural to argue over and attempt to determine who was the best club in the city.  It's human nature. 

We see this kind of dispute, again and again, in the late 1860s and early 1870s, as teams are fighting for the championship under the auspices of the state amateur association and the association had to adjudicate the disputes.  It's fascinating to see the same thing in 1864 when there was no official body to mediate between the clubs and enforce the rules of competition.  It's simply not something I expected to see during the war years and is another in a growing list of examples showing that the evolution of the game in St. Louis was not as retarded during the Civil War as I had previously believed.     

Friday, December 14, 2012

It Seems That I Know A Lot About The Hope And Resolute Clubs

There was an interesting match of base ball Saturday afternoon, between the Hope and Resolute clubs, the former being successful.  The total runs were: Hope 33; Resolute 21.
-Missouri Republican, August 30, 1864

The Hope and Resolute Clubs were two of the more active clubs in St. Louis during the later part of the Civil War and they continued to play in the post-war era.  They both had junior clubs and there is substantial evidence of the social activities of the clubs during the late war years.  It is known that the Resolutes had their home ground at the Abby Racetrack and that the Hopes formed in September of 1863.

This is actually a shockingly large amount of information to have about two obscure St. Louis Civil War-era clubs.   

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The 1861 Rules

There is an ad in the August 8, 1864 issue of the Missouri Republican for a book entitled The Finger-Post to Public Business.  The subtitle of the book is Containing the mode of forming and conducting Societies, Clubs and other Organized Associations and the ad mentions that it contains the "Rules of Cricket, Base Ball, Shinny, Yachting and Rowing, and Instruction concerning Incorporations..."

Being the industrious fellow that I am, I thought I'd see if I could find a copy of this book and, it just so happens, that there is a copy online at Google Books.  It turns out that The Finger-Post to Public Business contains the "Rules and Regulations Adopted by the National Association of Base-Ball Players, Held in New York, December 11, 1861."  

The 1861 rules (or the rules for the 1862 season) are interesting in themselves but they are not as significant as the 1857 rules, which defined the modern game, the 1858 rules, which allowed the umpire to call strikes on the batter, the 1860 rules, which introduced the batter's box, or the 1863, which allowed the umpire to call balls.  I don't consider myself to be an expert on the minutia of 19th century baseball rule changes but those four sets of rules, I believe, are the most significant of the antebellum and war years.  I haven't gone through the 1861 rules in detail but it may be that they introduced the use of chalk foul lines, which is a unique distinction.  

More importantly, we see here, in the use of newspaper advertising, a way in which the rules of baseball were spread from New York throughout the country.  The Finger-Post was a book published in New York and it could be purchased from the publisher by anyone in the United States for $1.50.  Send your money to New York and you would receive your book in the mail.  Simple enough.  But if it wasn't for the growth of daily newspapers in the antebellum era, someone in St. Louis would never have discovered that he could have purchased the book.  When we talk about the growth of baseball and its spread outside of New York, newspapers and the new information technology of the era are an important part of the story.         

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

More Civil War-Era St. Louis Baseball Clubs

A match game of base ball came off on Thursday afternoon, between the Laclede and Young Commercial Base Ball Clubs, which resulted in a victory for the former.

A match game was also played yesterday afternoon on Gamble Lawn, between the St. Louis and Missouri Base Ball Clubs, which resulted in the defeat of the former.
-Missouri Republican, May 7, 1864

We continue to discover more baseball clubs that played in St. Louis during the Civil War.

I was aware that the Lacledes had organized in 1861 but this is the first evidence that I think I've ever seen of them playing a match during the war years.  The Young Commercials, I have always assumed, were the same club as the Commercial Juniors, who I knew were active during the war, but I should really look into that more.  And here we also find evidence of the existence, during the war, of the St. Louis and Missouri Clubs.

I should also point out that the St. Louis/Missouri match is more evidence of the popularity of Gamble Lawn as a site of games during the war.    

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Were The Morning Stars Active In 1863?

An interesting game of Base Ball came off on Thursday, at Lafayette Park, between the "Morning Star" and "Young Commercial" Base Ball Clubs, resulting in the defeat of the former.
-Missouri Republican, May 3, 1863

I'm not sure why I titled the post in the form of a question given the material that I just presented to you but I have some doubts.  I've shown previously that clubs using the name "Morning Star" were active in both 1861 and 1862.  Here we have a club using the name and active in 1863.  But I'm unconvinced that the old antebellum, Carr Park Morning Stars were still active in 1862 and 1863.  I can see them being active in the spring and summer of 1861 but I know too much about the antebellum club to accept that it was still in existence after that. 

What I think we have here is clubs using the Morning Star name after the original club disbanded, much as you see various versions of a Red Stocking club in St. Louis in the 1880s.  I don't have much evidence to support this other than a hunch and the fact that there is no one in this 1863 game that I can identify as a member of the antebellum club but I think I'm right.        

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tobias Was Holding Out On Us

At a meeting of the "Commercial Base Ball Club," the following gentlemen were elected officers for the ensuing year:

Wm. Bliss Clark, Esq., President.
A.W. Howe, Esq., Vice President.
Jno. W. Donaldson, Esq., Secretary and Treasurer.
Messrs. C.F. Gauss, Edwin Fowler and Hy. L. Clark, Directors; and Messrs. E.H. Tobias and E.C. Simmons, Field Captains.
-Missouri Republican, May 3, 1863

While he mentioned that he was a member of the Commercials, Edmund Tobias never bothered to mention that he was one of the captains of the club during the Civil War.  I also don't believe he ever mentioned the fact that the Commercials played during the war.  In fact, I believe that he specifically mentioned that the club broke up at the beginning of the war.  But I guess I can find it in my heart to forgive the Herodotus of 19th century St. Louis baseball. 

Captain Tobias' club was one of the most important pioneer-era baseball clubs in St. Louis and I regret not writing about them in Base Ball Pioneers.  When the publication of the book got pushed back, I mentioned to Peter Morris that I wanted to add something about the club to my chapter, which was already completed.  In the end, I choose not to do so even though Peter thought it was a good idea.  I liked my chapter as it was and while I had some information on the Commercials, I just didn't think I had enough to put together something interesting.  Of course, it's three years later and I know a lot more about the club.  I know that they were one of the two most active clubs in St. Louis during the Civil War.  I know about their role in developing Lafayette Park as a baseball grounds.  I know more about the members of the club.  I know that they had a junior club.  I know who their officers were in 1863.

The Commercials have been overlooked by baseball historians.  That's something I want to rectify.        

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Third Anniversary Game

The Match Game of Base Ball between the married and single nines of the Empire Club, on Thursday, 16th instant, was won by the former by five runs.  
-Missouri Republican, April 19, 1863

This was the Empire Club's third anniversary game and was played at Gamble Lawn.  Unlike most of their other Civil War-era anniversary games, there were no problems or postponements.  For once, everything went smoothly.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Empire Club Officers For 1863

The Empire City Base Ball Club held a meeting Monday evening and elected the following officers for the ensuing year:

President, L.P. Fuller; Vice-President, Jno. F. Walton; Secretary, Jno. W. Williams; Treasurer, Henry Barklage; Captains, James Rule and Jno. F. Barrett; Directors, Daniel Coyle, C. Mosier and J.T. Murphy.

A grand game is to be played by the Club on Gamble Lawn on the 16th inst., the occasion being the anniversary of the organization of the Club - playing to commence at 2 P.M.
-Missouri Republican, April 9, 1863

A couple of weeks ago, I gave you the Empire Club officers for 1861 and now we have the officers for 1863.  Still haven't found the officers for 1862.  Of interest only to me is that one of the club directors was a Mosier.  My maternal grandmother was a Mosier and I like the idea that one of my ancestors could have been a member of the Empire Club.   

Friday, December 7, 2012


I'm not certain that I can write English well and I know that I often struggle to speak it.  But, being from a generation that was actually educated in the language, I know that I can speak it, write it and read it better than those who have had the misfortune of having attended school in the last twenty years.  This interests me because, as someone who works in a written medium, I'm trying to communicate ideas in language and it's possible that, regardless of my level of mastery of English, the number of people who can comprehend what I'm doing is dwindling rapidly.

Some of you may know that I work in the restaurant industry.  I've been in the business for a long time and I'm used to working with young people.  It's fun to work with young kids and I enjoy it, for the most part.  Most of the people who I work with are teenagers and kids in their early twenties who are going to school or working their first real job.  And while I hate to sound like a cranky old man, these kids are, for the most part, morons.  Very few of them have any understanding of history, literature, philosophy, economics, politics or anything you need to understand in order to live well.  They certainly have no understanding of English, grammar or spelling.  I've threatened, on more than one occasion, to buy everyone I work with a dictionary and an English grammar for Christmas.  I've also accused them of speaking Dolphin, which is some kind of high-pitched squeal that I've yet to master, and Gibberish.  I often quote Jules Winnfield. And then I yell at them in German. 

The point of all of this, besides insulting young people, is that I was reading an article about how English has devolved over the last twenty or twenty-five years.  The author talked about how we're failing to teach the language and how that resonates across all areas of society.  It was a relatively interesting and familiar argument but it made me think of George Orwell and "Politics and the English Language".  So I looked the essay up online and reread it for the first time in many years.

I first read Orwell's essay, like many others, as a college freshman.  At the University of Illinois, all freshmen had to take an introductory rhetoric course, which was the equivalent, I suppose, of English 101.  We read Orwell and The Elements of Style and learned how to construct sentences, paragraphs and essays.  We learned how to write and, more importantly, how to think critically.  To this day, I still believe it was the most important class I ever took and my rhetoric professor was one of the two best teachers I ever had.

Rereading Orwell, it amazed me how much the lessons of that essay has stayed with me.  When writing in a more formal style than I apply in a blog post, where I tend to ramble and I'm usually pressed for time, Orwell's rules still influence me.  I use his rules all the time and had forgotten where I had picked them up.

For fun, I'll give Orwell's six rules from "Politics and the English Language":

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Rules two, three and a casual combination of one and five have always been in my mind when writing anything over the last twenty-five years.  Always, even after I had forgotten where I first read these rules, Orwell has probably had more of an influence on my writing than anyone.

I'm now thinking that, along with dictionaries and grammar books, everyone will also be getting a copy of this essay for Christmas.

Note as to the title of this post:  I actually thought I invented the term Anglish, although I like to call it Angle-ish.  I figured that the word "English" must have derived from something like the word "Anglish" and that's the word I often use, along with Dolphin and Gibberish, to describe the devolved form of English.  But, it appears, as happens often, that I'm wrong and I did not invent the word.

Another random note:  I just wanted to point out that I went to a public high school.  My family wasn't rich and I didn't get a fancy, private school education.  But we read Shakespeare when we were high school freshmen.  We read Milton when we were sophomores.  We read Faulkner when we were juniors.  We read Kafka when we were seniors.  You can't write well if you don't read well.                     

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Only A Game Of Trap-Ball

On the second of October [1819], there was a game of cricket played at Wanborough [Illinois] by the young men of the settlement; this they called keeping Catherine Hill fair, many of the players being from the neighbourhood of Gadalming and Guildford, &c...

This day [October 2, 1820] was kept at Wanborough, as last year, instead of Catherine Hill fair; but as some of the young men were gone to a county court at Palmyra, there was no cricket-match, as was intended, only a game of trap-ball.  There have been several cricket-matches this summer, both at Wanborough and Birk Prairie; the Americans seem much pleased at the sight of the game, as it is new to them.
-Two Years' Residence In The Settlement On The English Prairie, In The Illinois Country

These references to cricket and trap ball, as I mentioned yesterday, are the oldest references that I'm aware of to ball-playing in Illinois.  Given the sparseness of the population in Illinois prior to 1818, I would be pleasantly surprised to find a reference to a ball game that predates this one.  I believe we still need to take a closer look at the 18th century French settlements in Illinois but nothing I've seen to date, other than the Gratiot reference, has been fruitful with regards to ball-playing among the early French settlers.  The two earliest references that I know of that mention ball-playing in the Trans-Appalachian West date to the late 1790s and ball-playing references in the West prior to 1820 are rather rare.  So the English Prairie reference is a significant one.

Two Years' Residence was written by John Woods and published in London in 1822.  According to Robert Rogers Hubach's Early Midwestern Travel Narratives, "John Woods...was a British farmer who settled on the English prairie in 1819.  His book gives a favorable view of conditions there and contains a full account of his life and much valuable information on social, economic, and political conditions in Illinois during 1819-1821.  It includes notes on travel, agriculture, towns, and American customs."  John Drury, in Old Illinois Houses, described English Prairie as "a semi-utopian colony of British immigrant-farmers" that was centered around Albion, Illinois, in Edwards County.  The English nature of the settlers explain why they were playing cricket and trap ball, both well known English ball games.

I should also point out that the 1820 reference is the earliest, as well as one of the few, references to trap ball being played west of the Appalachians.

Note: The picture at the top of the post comes from the David Block's Baseball Before We Knew It site.  Please don't sue me, David.            

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Pioneer School House

The above illustration comes from A History of Edgar County, IllinoisPublished by Wm. Le Baron, Jr., & Co. in 1879, the book appears to have been one in a series of Illinois county histories that were published in the late 1870s.  The Edgar County history is notable because it contains the Jonathan Mayo town ball reference, which, if I've dated it correctly, is a reference to the second oldest known instance of ball-playing in the Illinois Country.

Based on the research that I've done, I believe the game that Mayo witnessed took place in 1822.  The oldest known reference to a ball game in Illinois is the Wanborough cricket and trap ball references from 1819 and 1820.  Since I don't think I've ever written anything about the Wanborough reference, I'll post something about that tomorrow.  But my point here is that the Mayo reference is rather significant and that makes the Edgar County history a fairly important work.

What I really want to point out, however, is this illustration.  It's entitled "A Pioneer School House" and, if you look at it closely, the details reveal something rather fascinating.  On the side of the school house, in the yard behind the boys by the creek, there are three boys.  It appears to me that the boy on the left has a bat in his hand and the middle boy has his arm thrown back, as if in the act of pitching a ball.  This looks to me like some sort of ball game, played by school boys.

I find this significant.  There are numerous accounts of ball games being played by school children in Illinois during the first half of the 19th century.  The most popular ball games were bullpen and town ball, although there are references to other games, such as long town, being played as well.  But it is well established, based on the recollections of people who were children in Illinois during the pioneer era, that bat and ball, safe-haven games were a popular pastime.  And here we find an illustration portraying that.

It should be pointed out that this was not an illustration portraying a contemporary event but, rather, an illustration made specifically for the 1879 book in which it appeared.  It is, essentially, a work of fiction put together by the illustrator to convey an idea about what life was like during the pioneer era in Illinois.  Having said that, the illustration is based on the testimony of people who lived in Illinois during the era and it has to be one of the earliest portrayals of Illinois baseball in existence.     

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New Protoball Launch

Larry McCray sent out an email last week announcing the launch of the redesigned Protoball and I wanted to pass along the link to the site.

Among other things, Larry had this to say:

Our general view is that a website like ours may help the origins community by putting a range of relevant data where it can be easily found, and, more important, corrected, as fresh information from digitized sources comes to light.  David Block estimates that early writers on origins had only a small fraction of the data that we now have, so we need a way to test their early conjectures against our new stock of facts.

If you haven't visited Protoball recently, take a look at what wiki-type software can do for a clunky old Word-oriented facility.  Amazing. 

What's new.  There is a much better site-search capacity and ease of navigation.  That's thanks to our developer, Dave Anderson.

What's old are:

[] An 1150-item origins chronology at, with about 30 "subtopic chronologies" for different locations, different games, etc. 

[] The Protoball Games Tabulation (version 1.0), built by Craig Waff, with data on almost 1700 games played through 1860, at

[] A list of active researchers, and a big old bibliography of published sources.

[] A “Glossary” of over 200 baserunning games, some of which preceded base ball (the Massachusetts game, Philadelphia town ball) and some of which were later derived from base ball (softball, stickball, kickball, Finnish baseball).

What’s coming, we think, is a comprehensive data base on the spread of base ball, including club data, players, and maps.

I'd also like to point out some of the stuff that I worked on for the Glossary.  Larry and I are in the process of working through the list of games in the Glossary and analysing them in an attempt to discover what role some of these games played in the evolution and development of baseball.  It's a long process but the work is beginning to bear fruit.  You should take a look at the write ups we did for town ball and rounders to get an idea about where we're heading.  I also came up with a chart that divides the glossary into new classifications.  The links in the chart all lead back to the Glossary and, in the near future, I'm going to expand the thing outward, putting in more details about each game and linking that to the Chronology.

While I've done a bit of work for the new site and feel fortunate to be involved in the project, all of the credit for new Protoball has to go to Larry and Dave Anderson.  The two of them have done a fantastic job taking the best baseball research site online and making it better.  Great job by them.     

Monday, December 3, 2012

Some Misunderstanding

According to previous announcement, the Harvard University Base Ball Club, of Cambridge, and the Union, of this city, met yesterday afternoon on the St. Louis base ball park.  Owing to some misunderstanding between the two clubs in regard to the time when the game was to be called, the members of the Union did not arrive on the field until 4 o'clock.  Unluckily the Harvards had arranged to leave on the 5:15 train for Chicago.  This of course made the proposed game short, only one inning being terminated. 

The game was called at 4:10 by the favorite umpire, Mr. W. Kennon, of the Olympic Base Ball Club, of Carondelet.  His fame in the position of umpire is well known.  During his short term of office yesterday, he acquitted himself in his usual creditable manner.

The Unions winning the toss, went to the field; the Harvards the "bat."

First Inning.

Harvards. - Eustis, on a low grounder made his first.  Wells out on first by Easton, assisted by Greenleaf.  Prim got his base on called balls.  Eustis came home on a passed ball by W. Wolf.  Prim stole home on a passed ball.  Bush attempted to steal home but was put out at the "plate" by Turner.  Austin Smith and Willard scored each a run.  White was put out on first, closing the inning with a total score of 5 runs.

Union - Turner took his base on called balls.  Gorman knocked a low one to second base, which was held and then thrown to first, putting Turner and Gorman both out, by this beautiful, but easy and mechanical double play of the Harvards.  Easton got his first on a swift grounder to centre.  Stansberry out on first, leaving Easton on second and adding the last 0 for a white-wash; terminating the first inning with a score of 5 to 0 in favor of the Harvards.

Second Inning.

The inning was not completed on account of the hastened departure of the Harvards.  The Harvards had 9 runs with two men out and two on bases, when the captain of their nine called them from the field, thus ending the game.

It might be well to state, that unless five innings are played the game cannot be called a match, hence we omit the base ball order of the score, it being enough that the game was entirely under control of the Harvards, they using their opponents to suit themselves.

The crowd being a little displeased at the sudden termination of the game, Clay Sexton, assisted by some members of the Empire club, made up a picked nine, composed of the best players on the ground, including, we believe, some members of the Lone Star B.B.C. of New Orleans.  The bat thrown down by the Harvards was taken up by this undaunted picked nine, and the Union found in them some true base ball metal.  This impromptu match was quite interesting and the spectators were highly pleased with it.
-Missouri Republican, July 24, 1870

So let's just say that I was right all along.  Harvard did not technically play a baseball game in St. Louis in 1870.  The whole thing, if you ask me, was fubar from beginning to end.

The Lone Stars, if you were wondering, were in town to play the Empires and the Unions.  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

We Are Ready

So, maybe I was a bit hasty yesterday in saying that Harvard didn't play a game in St. Louis on their 1870 tour.  Looks like things were a bit more complicated:

Until yesterday morning it was not known that the Harvard club were prepared to play in St. Louis, but a telegram received by Mr. Asa W. Smith, president of the Union, yesterday morning, put that idea to rest.  The Harvard club inquired if the Union were ready and Mr. Smith laconically replied "Come on, we are ready."  They are expected to arrive this morning and the match will be played at the base ball park during this afternoon between the Harvard University nine and the Union club.  They were supposed to leave Louisville last night at half past ten o'clock.
-Missouri Republican, July 23, 1870

There was also an ad in the paper promoting the game.  According to the ad, game time was at 3 o'clock.  Remember that.  It's relevant to tomorrow's post.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

That Explains That

The Harvard club of base ball players, which is making a tour of the country, was expected to play the Empire club of this city yesterday and the Union club on Saturday next, but owing to the oppressive heat of the weather and the fatigued condition of the Harvards the project has been abandoned for the present.  Asa W. Smith, president of the Union club telegraphed on Tuesday to the president of the Red Stockings, offering them their grounds and the whole proceeds of the gate money if they would come here and play a game with the Harvards on Saturday next.  The answer was received yesterday morning and stated that it would be impossible for them to come.  It also stated that the Harvards were so terribly worn out that they begged to be released from their engagement here.  A favorable response was made and there will be no game.
-Missouri Republican, July 21, 1870

Years ago, in the New York Times, I found the itinerary of the Harvard Clubs' 1870, that included games against the Empires and Unions.  I looked for years to find any evidence that the Harvards came to St. Louis and played a baseball game but to no avail.  Now I know why.

The reference to the Red Stockings is interesting.  It has to be a reference to the famous Cincinnati ball club because the St. Louis Reds didn't come into existence until 1873.  It looks like this was a missed opportunity to get the Cincinnatis back to St. Louis.   

And I almost titled this post "Harvard Dainties Can't Handle The St. Louis Heat" but didn't want to be cruel. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

The 1860s St. Louis All-Stars

I have some cool stuff in my files and I've forgotten a lot of what I have.  Just looking for cool stuff to post, I came across a little document I made that listed a St. Louis all-star team for the 1860s.  And I figured you might like to see it.  Not surprisingly, there are a bunch of players from the Empire and Union Clubs.

The 1860s All-St. Louis Team

C  John Barrett, Empires

Barrett was a founding member of the club; field captain in 1863; member of club until the Empires stopped fielding a nine in the late 1870s.

1b  Adam Wirth, Empires

Wirth was probably the best St. Louis player of the pioneer era; had a reputation as an outstanding defensive player; one of the few St. Louis players of the era to receive any positive national attention.

2b  Jeremiah Fruin, Empires

Fruin was the field captain of the Empires through the war years; the most experienced baseball player in St. Louis; brought his experience and knowledge from New York and introduced the "scientific" style of baseball to St. Louis; one of the most influential players in St. Louis baseball history.

3b  James Spalding, Empires

Spalding was one of the mainstays of the Empire Club's great championship teams; field captain for several years in the 1870s; was described as "a fine fielder and superior [player.]"

SS  Ferdinand Garesche, Cyclones and Empires

Garesche played in the first match game and recorded the first unassisted triple play in St. Louis baseball history; was described as being an outstanding base runner.

OF  Joseph Charles Cabanne, Unions

One of the finest players on the Unions' championship clubs; described as both an outstanding hitter and a fine fielder.

OF Henry Carr, Union

Another mainstay of the champion Unions; described as being a great all-around player.

OF  William Duncan, Unions and Empires

Tobias stated that Duncan was "one of the best fielders that St. Louis had."

P  James Fitzgibbons, Empires

Field captain of the Empires in 1870; once threw the last four innings of a game with a gapping and bleeding cut on his pitching hand;  began his pitching career at Yale.

P  Robert Lucas, Unions

Brother of Union League founder and Maroons owner Henry Lucas and Browns Stockings' president J.B.C. Lucas; a left-handed pitcher who could hold his own at other positions. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Nationals At St. Louis, Part Three

On Tuesday the Nationals played the Empire Club of St. Louis on the same grounds, at 10 A.M., the game being called thus early in consequence of the Nationals having to leave for Chicago in the 4:30 [train...]  The Empire Club was the champion club of the State last year.  Their first game with the Unions this season resulted in the success of the Union Club, and they now claim the championship honors, though the Empire do not lose the title until they have lost two games out of three played, providing they do not refuse to meet the Union Club.  At an early hour on Tuesday, President Fruin, of the Empire Club, with a committee of reception [was here] on hand with carriages to take their guests to the grounds, and at 10:30, all being in readiness to begin, play was called by Mr. Coon, who had been especially solicited to act as umpire by the Empire Club.  Far better order was observed on the occasion by the crowd than the day previous; the police, too, were more efficient in keeping the crowd back, the strictures in the Democrat evidently having had a good effect.  But few ladies were present in such numbers as marked the games in Cincinnati and Louisville.  Several ladies, however, occupied seats and some were in carriages.  The attendance of spectators was not generally as numerous as the day before, the early hour keeping many away.

The Nationals led off at the bat in the game, and in a decidedly better style than the day before, five runs being the result of their first innings' play.  The Empires for their share managed to secure two, the tally standing at 5 to 2 in favor of the Nationals.  Two things were apparent in the play of even the first innings, the one being that all "vim" had been taken out of the fielding of the Nationals by their day's hot work on Monday, and secondly, that they had a better trained nine against them than they had in the Union game, the Empires playing more in the New York style than any of the other nines.  In the second innings the result of the contest in favor of the Nationals was made a dead certainty by their scoring 21 runs.  But as the Empires followed the lead of their able captain, Jerry Fruin, by good batting, he leading off with a fine hit, no less than nine runs were scored, the fielding of the Nationals showing how totally unfitted they were for play, Fox fielding very loose in this inning; in fact, it looked as if he did not care about the game at all, and the Empires were not slow in taking advantage of it.  After four runs had been scored, Wright went in to pitch, Williams going to left field, and Parker at second.  The moment Parker touched second he began to feel at home, and, of course, fielded better.  Had all the chances offered off Wright's pitching been taken, not another run would have been scored, but three fly balls were dropped and four more runs were scored, the tally at the close leaving the Empire score at 11, while the Nationals stood at 26.  Barron took two balls well in this innings and Murphy one.

In the third innings the Nationals added 8 to their score, Worth capturing two prisoners at first, one ball being well picked up with one hand.  He will find that the one-hand business won't pay with swift throwing, and the sooner he gets out of the habit of it, the better.  He plays the base well, however, but he is not a Joe Start by any means.  On the Empire side but one run was scored, Duffy making a good hit.  In this innings the Nationals resumed their positions, with McLean playing behind well.

In the fourth innings the Nationals retired for thee runs, while the Empires scored five; in the fifth innings this order was reversed, the Nationals scoring double figures again, while the Empires secured but three, the tally at the close of the fifth innings standing at 50 to 20 in favor of the Nationals.  In the fifth inning Parker, when striking for the second time, hit a ball to Jerry Fruin, who sent it in hot to Worth, the latter taking it with one hand, but he did not hold it until it had rebounded in his hand, and before it was held the base was touched.  The umpire did not see the point, and Parker had to retire.  A ball must be held before the striker reaches the base, or he is not out.

In the sixth innings, the Nationals again had to retire for three, the fielding being quite sharp, while before the Empires retired they had placed six on their score book.  In this innings George Wright was at third base, dodging round, when a ball was thrown to the base man and not held.  George picked it up afterwards, and when he was off the base, and prevented the player from putting him out.  It was a clear case of obstruction, though doubtless not intentional; but a player on the in side has no right to touch a ball.  The tally at the close of the sixth innings stood at 53 to 26, and as it was now nearly half past one, and not time to play another innings out, the game was called, much to the annoyance of a party who had bet high on the Empires beating the score of the Union game, which they did not, though there is no doubt they would have done had the game been played out; but it should be taken into consideration that it is questionable whether the Empires would have made half the score they did had the Nationals played as strongly against them as they did against the Unions the day previous.

After cheers for the two clubs, the Nationals returned to their hotel, and after dinner took their departure for Chicago, being taken to the depot in carriages, escorted by both clubs, mutual cheers being given as the Nationals left the depot.
-The Ball Players Chronicle, August 1, 1867

Again, thanks to Richard for passing this along to me. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Nationals At St. Louis, Part Two

It was 2:40 P.M. before the field could be cleared so as to admit of play, and at that hour the Nationals sent in Parker at the bat to the pitching and catching of Greenleaf and Freeman.  Parker opened with a poor hit, on which he was easily put out at first base by Cabanne and Prouty, and Williams was well disposed of on a foul fly by Freeman - two outs and no runs - amidst the applause of the crowd.  George Wright now came in to the rescue, and the Nationals fully expected to see the ball sent whizzing to the outer field; but this time they were disappointed, for George gave Freeman a chance for a foul bound, which was accepted, and the Nationals retired for a blank, a perfect yell of applause greeting the retirement of the strangers.  This was a rather novel commencement for the Nationals, and entirely a surprise to the Unions, who went in to the bat determined, if possible, to prevent the compliment being returned.  Meacham opened play with a safe one to the right field, and secured his base, and Freeman followed suit with a high one to centre field, and Cabanne with a similar ball, Parker not judging the first well, while the second he dropped; and as Williams assisted the base runners by inaccurate delivery, sending balls out of fair reach of the catcher, two runs were scored.  Berthrong, Wright and Studley disposed of the next three strikers by well-taken fly balls - the innings closing with a score of 2 to 0 in favor of the Unions.  It was amusing to hear the comments of many of the St. Louis assemblage on the result of the first innings' play.  "They ain't got the soft thing with us they thought they had," remarked one; "This is going to be a close game," said another; and a third inclined to the opinion that the Nationals would lose their first ball in St. Louis; while the general idea was that the contest would be the most closely played of any.

In the second innings, however, the Nationals woke up to their play, and went in at the bat urged to extra exertions by the position the play of the first innings had placed them in.  Before a man was put out they had scored 14 runs, three of which were clean home runs by Wright, Fox and Studley, one after the other; and before the side was put out 28 runs had been recorded, Freeman putting two out, and R. Duncan and Prouty one.  Smith was missed by Meacham, and Wright gave him a chance.  The uneven character of the ground enabled several of the Unions to secure their bases on hits in this innings, some wild throwing, too, helping them round, Meacham and Smith alone earning bases by their safe hits, although four runs were scored, the Unions hitting Williams without difficulty, all but Greenleaf having a crack at him in this innings.  The tally was 28 to 6 in favor of the Nationals, and with the lead had gone all confidence of the Unions in their ability to make a close fight of it, and the very quiet manner which the previously talkative parties assumed at the close of this innings was noteworthy, nothing more being said about a close game, &c.

In the third innings, the Unions made a change in their positions, Freeman going in to pitch, Greenleaf to second base, and Meacham behind.  Meacham began play with a good foul bound catch, after Cabanne had dropped a fly ball, and took the next striker on three strikes - two out again and no runs - amidst more yells from the sans culottes; and had Cabanne not missed another fly ball off Wright's bat, the Nationals would have again retired for a blank score, their batting being more than usually favorable for fly catches.  Before the third hand was put out, however, four runs were scored, Meacham putting the side out on well-taken bound balls.  Greenleaf was the first victim on the Union side in this innings, and he retired on the fly, a victim of Fox's.  Berthong has a chance offered him by McCorkell, but the tip bound was dropped, McCorkell afterwards securing his first by a good hit to right field, a poor throw and a wild pitch sending him to third; but there he was left, Williams and Smith assisting Fletcher to capture the next two at first - a blank score being the result, with the tally at 32 to 6 in favor of the Nationals, thus at once settling the question of the victory.

In the fourth innings another change was made in the positions of the Union nine - a very bad habit to get into...This time the Nationals again went into some tall batting, and before the side could be put out 25 more runs were added to the score, Freeman capturing two of the prisoners on well-taken foul balls, and Meacham one.  Some of the nine scored three runs each in this innings...But for a muff and wild throw of Fox's, and a muff by Smith and a dropped foul ball by Berthrong, the Unions would have retired for a single in this innings; but those errors, with some good hits by Prouty, Greenleaf, McCorkell, W. Duncan, Smith and Freeman, enabled the Unions to score no less than nine runs, it being the first time more than seven runs had been scored against the Nationals...This brought the Union score up to respectable figures, the tally at the close of the fourth innings standing at 57 to 15.

In the four following innings, however, the Unions scored but three additional runs...In the same four innings the Nationals ran their score up to 108, despite the excessive heat of the sun.  In this they were assisted by no less than 14 missed catches, they giving plenty of chances for outs, which were not accepted, only five catches being made by the Unions in the four innings, Greenleaf and the two Duncans taking fly balls well.  The close of the eighth innings saw the totals at 108 to 15, and when the Nationals entered upon their ninth innings it was getting towards dark, and they were pretty well played out.  They managed to add five runs to their score, however, leaving their tally at the high figure of 123.  The Unions got Williams in a tight place this innings, his pace being slower than before, and they punished him in lively style to the tune of no less than eight runs, Freeman hitting him for a clean home amidst loud applause, something no other player had done in the tour.  Berthrong, towards the close, in trying to catch a sharp fly tip, was severely hit in the eye and though he wanted continue play half blind, the colonel replaced him with McLean, who went to third base and Fox to second, George Wright going behind, two fine throws of George's to Fox putting the side out, thus closing the game with the totals at 123 to 26, the best score yet made against the Nationals.  Of the play on the occasion on the part of the Nationals, though they made such a large score, their batting was not up to the high mark of that at Indianapolis, and neither was their fielding as a whole.  On the Union side some good fielding was shown at all the positions in the in-field, except at second base, Greenleaf's and R. Duncan's play being the best.  The outer fielders seemed to be quite demoralized by the batting, for though they had chances for catches time and again, they failed to avail themselves of them at any extent, W. Duncan taking the only fly balls held in the outer field.

The behaviour of the crowd on the left of the home base was discreditable in the extreme.  Their language was of the lowest slang at times, while they crowded in upon the players both here and back of the catcher so much as to necessitate the game being stopped until the field was cleared.  The Union Club were powerless to improve matters, as the "roughs" are "down upon them" for being about the only club who do not play on Sunday, and also because they bear a reputable name as gentlemen.  The police present were as useless as so many sticks, the crowd doing just as they liked.  It was noticeable the fancy the roughs took to Fox, and, apparently, he felt quite proud of it.  Good humor and fun in a player we like to see but we cannot say that we respect the ambition which would court the favor of the portion of the crowd who came up to shake hands with him, as one drunken rowdy did.

The umpire succeeded in doing what no one else had done in St. Louis for some time past, according to all accounts, viz., in satisfying all the contestants, and likewise the club followers.  He certainly discharged his duties with sound judgement and thorough impartiality, and merited, as he received, the thanks of both clubs for the service rendered them.  The most good feeling prevailed throughout the match among all parties, and the game proved to be an enjoyable one, though a bad defeat for the Unions.
-The Ball Players Chronicle, August 1, 1867

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Nationals At St. Louis, Part One

I know that I posted about the Nationals' 1867 visit to St. Louis recently and I've covered it in the past but it was an important moment in St. Louis baseball history and it's important to look at it from as different angles as we can.  Plus, Richard Hershberger sent me a copy of the August 1, 1867 edition of The Ball Players Chronicle, which had fantastic and detailed coverage of Washington's trip and I wanted to share that.  As usual, big tip of the hat to Richard. 

As The Ball Players Chronicle's coverage of the two St. Louis game was extensive and runs rather long, I'm going to break it up into a few posts for ease of reading:

The Nationals At St. Louis

Interesting Contests with the Union and Empire Clubs.

At 9 P.M. they reached the great river of the West, opposite St. Louis, and there they were met by a committee of the Union Club, who had stages in readiness for them, and in these they crossed the river on board one of the wide ferry-boats.  As the stages left the depot, three cheers were given by the crowd for Fox, who had become notorious already.  At 10 P.M. they were all assigned apartments in the Southern Hotel at St. Louis, the most splendid establishment of the kind in America, a parlor being set aside especially for the use of the club.  The large hall was crowded with ball players on their arrival, the reception given the visitors being the best they had yet had on their tour.  The worthy president of the club met the Nationals some miles from the city, and the Union Club did all they could to make the Nationals feel at home, and they succeeded admirably.

After a good night's rest in splendid apartments, the Nationals on Sunday formed themselves into little parties, each having members of the Union Club to accompany them.  Some attended the churches, and others took walks around the city until dinner time.  The day was excessively hot.  In the afternoon carriages were placed at the service of the Nationals, and they were taken to the noted residence of Mr. Shaw, the millionaire, whose botanical garden is not only the feature of the city, but the finest horticultural collection in America.  The beautifully laid out lawns, the endless variety of shrubs, the splendid floral display, and the rare collection of tropical plants, was a sight worth the journey to witness.  A novelty to the strangers was the sight of the number of ball clubs engaged in play, either in practice or match games, outside the city.  On the common and the Benton Barrack ground, as well as on the river grounds, clubs were to be seen playing from 1 o'clock till near dusk.  The Catholic Institution known as the "Brothers" allow their scholars to play ball every Sunday.  In fact, there are but two clubs out of about thirty in St. Louis who do not - in Northern eyes - break the commandment.  Despite the argument that, if they were not playing ball they would very likely be engaged in something far worse, there is no doubt that Sunday ball play militates greatly against the interest of the game in the West.  Business men, though, are much to blame for this, by not allowing their employees some time during one week day for healthy relaxation of this kind, as our business men of the North now do by closing up their stores at 3 P.M. on Saturdays.

We beg to acknowledge our indebtedness to Mr. T.S. Smith, the efficient secretary of the Union Club, for most courteous attentions during our stay in St. Louis, as also to the president and other gentlemen of the Union Club.  The secretary, by the way, is the best posted man on the rules of the game we have met with on the tour, and we should judge him as first-rate authority for the State clubs.  He was evidently studied them closely. 

On Monday the heat of the weather was intense and the boys kept pretty quiet until it was time to go to work.  After dinner, the Nationals were taken in carriages to the Union Ball Grounds, located on Grand avenue, near Franklin, and on their arrival they found a huge crowd.  Only a few ladies were present, while the roughs of the city seemed to have got in on the free principle to a very great extent, although fifty cents admission was charged, the enclosure of the ground being merely an ordinary farm fence around the greater part of it, over which the barefooted urchins and the rowdy crowd of the city jumped with impunity, the police force present being useless and glaringly inefficient.  The seats appropriated for ladies were chiefly occupied by the noisy class, while on the left about a dozen ladies managed to procure seats, the others who were present taking seats in the carriages, a number of which were inside the grounds.  The fact was, the grounds were entirely unsuited for a contest of the kind, not only from being too limited in extent, but also from the rough surface, good fielding being next to impossible.  Had the ground been properly prepared early in the season and entirely enclosed, the admission fee charged would have led to a very respectable gathering, and the amount received would have defrayed expenses.  As it was, however, nothing was satisfactory, either to the club or the crowd, the grounds being entirely inadequate to the purpose.  So great was the desire to witness the game, some three thousand people crowded themselves on a field not large enough to allow of a thousand seeing the game without encroaching on the players.
-The Ball Players Chronicle, August 1, 1867

We'll get to the Unions/Washington game tomorrow but I want to point out a few things that Mr. Henry Chadwick covered here:

-T.S. Smith is Thaddaeus Smith, the older brother of Asa Smith.  While I know the outline of Thaddaeus Smith's life and his basic biographical details, I really couldn't tell you anything about what the man was like.  Chadwick gives some nice details about the man.

-I must admit that I always pictured the Union Grounds as having a tall fence surrounding it but it seems it had an ordinary, waist-high fence.  Amazing. 

-As usual, the heat and the poor condition of the field are mentioned. 

-The stuff about Sunday baseball and the Early Closing movement is fascinating.  I'm always interested in reading about how outsiders viewed St. Louis and Chadwick's view of St. Louis' Sabbath practices is great stuff. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Conduct Anything But Creditable

Empire vs. Union (of St. Louis). - A very exciting contest between these clubs took place June 18; and we regret to state that the match was marked by conduct anything but creditable to the followers of the Empire Club.  The games with the Athletics on the 12th and 13th of June were looked upon as testing the comparative strength of the two home-organizations and the result of those games led the partisans of both clubs to expect a close contest...

The trouble occurred on the occasion of the effort of Kennedy to play foul.  Murray popped up a ball, which Duncan settled himself to take; but just as the ball touched his hands, Kennedy, who had stolen his second, concluding to risk his third, ran with his full force into Duncan, causing him to drop the ball.  The umpire promptly decided "out"; but the partisans of the Empires, who had staked large sums on the result, raised a yell of disapproval, shouting "Not out; reverse that decision", and began to crowd inside the ropes, with threatening looks and other spiteful demonstrations.  For a few minutes great disorder prevailed; and it was with no little difficulty that the police succeeded in clearing the playground of the rabble.  The umpire being then appealed to by the Empire captain, promptly answered, "Out, for intentionally obstructing the fielder in catching the ball", when another hubbub arose.  Shockey, of the Empires, tossed his cap upon the ground, shouting that he would not play the game out, which (to say the least) unseemly demonstration was loudly cheered by the enraged crowd.  Mr. Jerry Fruin, however, advanced into the field, and with a few remarks appeased the tumult; and Mr. Worth, Captain of the Empires, promptly ordered his men to take their positions in the field.

We are glad to see one umpire manly enough to punish this mean style of play, which is only worthy of the lowest riffraff of the city.
-New York Sunday Mercury, June 28, 1868

E.H. Tobias wrote about this game in his series on the history of St. Louis baseball: "On June 18 the Union and Empire Clubs met in the first game of the season's contest for supremacy, the latter being the challenging club with the hope of regaining the championship.  Nearly 2,500 people witnessed the game, the interest in it being sustained by a close score throughout.  The issue of this game caused the Empire Club to appeal it to the State Association on the ground that the umpire in the eighth inning after having declared one of the Empire players "not out" reversed himself at the suggestion of the Union captain and decided him out and for a second reason cited fact that the umpire failed to sign the score.  This appeal was heard by the Judiciary Committee on the 9th of July and after hearing evidence took the case under advisement.  This committee was composed of E.S McKeon, of the Athletic Club, G.H. Denny, of Dirige, Jno. Halpin, Baltic, and C.P. Stener, Resolute.  Their decision, when given late in the season, sustained the action of the Empire Club and declared this game invalid, necessitating the game which was played Oct. 14 and which was won by the Union Club."

Two things should be pointed out.  First, these two clubs, by 1868, didn't like each other much.  The Unions had defeated the Empires for the championship in 1867, dethroning the Empires after a seven year run as the best club in St. Louis and Missouri.  Also, there was the whole silk stockings/blue collar thing going on, with the working class Empires not having much respect for the more well-to-do members of the Unions.  These two clubs fought each other for the championship over the entire second half of the 1860s and it was a rather heated rivalry.

The other interesting thing here is the role Jeremiah Fruin played in calming the situation.  Fruin, of course, had been the long-time captain and second baseman of the Empires and had recently retired from the game.  However, this incident shows the respect in which he was held by the Empire Club and the St. Louis baseball fraternity in general.  This is the second game that I know of where Fruin, through strength of personality and leadership, calmed an unsettled situation and stopped things from getting completely out of hand.

Lastly, I have to thank Richard Hershberger for sending this game account to me.  Richard always finds the best stuff.    

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The First Amusement Col. Mayo Remembers

In the early times, fifty or sixty years ago, when the modern games of croquet and base-ball were unknown, the people used to amuse themselves with marbles, "town-ball"-which was base-ball in a rude state-and other simple pastimes of a like character.  Col. Mayo says, the first amusement he remembers in the county was a game of town-ball, on the day of the public sale of lots in Paris, in which many of the "young men of the period engaged."
-The History of Edgar County, Illinois

As this history of Edgar County was published in 1879, "fifty or sixty years ago" would put the playing of town ball in Paris, Illinois, at sometime in the 1820s.  Col. Jonathan Mayo moved to Paris Township in 1827, although it appears that he moved to Edgar County in 1817.  If we could date the reference to the sale of public lots in Paris, we'd have a better idea of when this game was played. 

And, again, this reference speaks to the ball-playing culture that existed in central Illinois in the decades prior to the Civil War.    

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Young Men Had A Game Of Ball

Illinois State University, or, as we like to call it, ISU

In the month of June, 1858, the Normal students had an excursion to view the site of the future seat of learning, and on their return the young men had a game of ball on the green grass where now we see the business part of the town, and the site was one of the best that could possibly be imagined for that purpose.  The writer has a distinct and vivid remembrance of the scene, and to his mind the view was one of the most charming ever met.  He watched the game as a spectator, and remembers wondering whether the town would ever grow enough to encroach upon what was then called by the students the "ball-ground."  The spot was covered only with grass as late as 1863.
-The History of McLean County, Illinois

This game of "ball" was played in Normal, Illinois, and again gives us an example of the ball-playing culture that existed in central Illinois in the antebellum era.  The site the students went to visit would be the future site of Illinois State, which was founded in 1857.  The book this reference comes from was published in 1879.

One thing we need to look at is the possibility that the game played was the New York game.  There is no specific evidence to suggest that it was but it's possible.  The New York game was being played in Chicago in 1858 and would be played in St. Louis in 1859 so the game had already arrived in the Midwest and was spreading through the area.  Now, most would argue that the New York game, at this time, was largely restricted to the urban areas of the Midwest and that it wouldn't reach the more rural areas of Illinois and Missouri until after the Civil War, in the 1865-67 period.  But I'm not entirely convinced of this.  There is some evidence that the game was being played in Mason County, Illinois, as early as 1861 and it's likely that places like Freeport, Illinois, had the game prior to 1865.  While I have absolutely zero evidence to support this, I'm open to the idea that some central Illinois communities may have been playing the New York game as early as 1858.     


Friday, November 23, 2012


Illinois College

Entering Illinois College in 1840, I found the word further transformed.  The first syllable only was used in our game of "bull-pen," called also "sock-ball."  Four players, among whom a ball was passed from hand to hand, stood at the corners of a square of about fifty feet; inside the square four other players danced about, who must dodge the swift balls sent at them by the players on the corners when these thought that they could score a hit.  The phrases "sock him" and "sock it to him" were used.
-The Dial, Volume XXXII (1902)

This comes from a letter, written by Samuel Willard, that appeared in The Dial in 1902 and there are several things of interest here.  First, Willard was actually writing in regards to the etymology of the word "sock" and its development from the word "sockdologer."  The other things that are important in the letter relate to the ball-playing culture that existed in central Illinois in the forty years prior to the Civil War.

Bull-pen was a game that appears to have been very popular in central Illinois in that period and most likely was the most popular and most played ball game in the area, especially among school children.  It is mentioned time and again in memoirs and histories.  Willard is just one more reference to a game that we already know a good deal about, although his letter does contain a nice description of the game.  However, this is the first reference I've seen equating bull-pen with sockball.  Sockball was mentioned by name in Henry Philpott's article A Little Boy's Game With A Ball, published in 1890, but I think this is the only reference we have to the term being applied to a game played in Illinois.  Actually, Willard and Philpott are the only two references I know of that mention a game called sockball but I haven't really looked at it too closely.

Another interesting thing is the fact that this game was played at Illinois College, which is located in Jacksonville, Illinois.  The Social Order of a Frontier Community, a book which has influenced my thinking with regards to the spread of bat and ball games in United States, is, essentially, a social history of Jacksonville from 1825 to 1870 and Illinois College and its students play an important part in that story.  Don Harrison Doyle, the book's author, doesn't mention baseball or town ball or sockball or anything like that in what is really a fantastic book but his ideas about how frontier communities developed during the antebellum era and how they structured themselves in a search for stability and order in a very chaotic world gave me a lot of ideas about the role ball games played in the development of frontier society.  I find it ironic that I found a reference to ball-playing in the town that Doyle used to illustrate his thinking about frontier society.          

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sweasy Arrives In St. Louis

Charlie Sweazy, the veteran second baseman of the old Cincinnati Red Stockings, arrived in town yesterday morning, looking remarkably well and hearty.  The Red Sox will now get down to work in earnest.
-Missouri Republican, April 14, 1875

Brown Stocking Season Tickets

The price of season tickets to the Grand Avenue park has been fixed at $15, and they are now on sale at Graffen & Floyd's baseball headquarters, on Olive street, near Seventh.
-Missouri Republican, April 4, 1875

Graffen is Mase Graffen, Brown Stocking manager.  Not sure who Floyd is. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Andy Blong Goes To Philadelphia

Mr. A. Blong has gone to Philadelphia to look after the interests of the Red Stockings and will act as their delegate on the admission of the club into the Professional association.
-Missouri Republican, February 28, 1875

Monday, November 19, 2012

Just Because It Comes Out Of Chicago Doesn't Mean It Isn't True

A report published in the Chicago Tribune, stating that three of the Brown Stockings were constantly inebriated, is, it almost needless to say, entirely without foundation.  The men are exceedingly temperate, and the utmost zeal and caution used to keep them in good trim.  Such charges emanate either from malice or love of sensation.
-Missouri Republican, June 27, 1875

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tom Oran, Umpire

A game between the Enterprise and Young Commercial Clubs yesterday, for a ball, resulted in the success of the Enterprise, who scored twenty0two to the other's five, putting also six white-washes on the Young Commercial.  Field Captain for the Enterprise, John Berry; for the Young Commercial, Frank Ellis.  Umpire, T. Orann.

The Empire Club, on Wednesday next, play their annual match game between the married and single men of the Club.  The play comes off at two o'clock, on Gamble Lawn.
-Missouri Republican, April 17, 1864

Saturday, November 17, 2012

On Empire Ground

A Match Game of Base Ball, between Excelsior and Commercial Juniors, will take place This Day, at 2 o'clock, P.M., on Empire ground.
-Missouri Republican, May 25, 1861

I'm pretty sure that "on Empire ground" means Gamble's Lawn. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Empire Club Officers For 1861

At a regular meeting of Empire Base Ball club, held April 2d, the following officers were elected for the ensuring year:

President, Lewis P. Fuller; Vice President, Peter Naylor; Secretary, John W. Wiliams; Treasurer, Herman Barklage; Captains, James Yule and John Connell; Directors, Daniel Coyle, Joel Utley and John Reynolds.
-Missouri Republican, April 4, 1861

Is it odd for me to think that it's cool to find the results of the Empire Club's election of officers from 1861?  Okay, it might be but, come on, the Civil War hadn't even started when this took place.  It's cool and I don't care what you say. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Morning Stars Had A Junior Club

A base ball match will come off to-day on Gamble's Lawn, at one-half past 2, between the Morning Stars, jr., and the Empire, jr., base ball clubs.  Thursday, September 11, 1862.
-Missouri Republican, September 11, 1862

I've found evidence that the Morning Stars were still active in 1861 and this seems to suggest that they may have been active in 1862 as well.  If the Morning Stars, jr., was affiliated with the Morning Star Base Ball Club, which doesn't necessarily have to be true, then this is evidence that the club was active into 1862. 

Also, I think it's worth mentioning that Gamble Lawn appears to have been the most popular site for games during the war.  I'd have to go back through my notes to confirm this but I believe that more games were played there during the war than at Lafayette Park or the Fairgrounds.   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Commercial's Club Room

Commercial Base Ball Club - There will be a meeting of the members of this Club at their room, (Gas Company's Building,) No. 31 Pine street on Thursday, 13th March, 1862.  A full attendance is requested, as business of importance will come before the meeting.  Wallace Delafield, Secretary.
-Missouri Republican, March 12, 1862

This is significant because it gives us the address of the Commercial's club room during the Civil War.  Also, I can't remember if I ever mentioned that Delafield was an officer of the club or not so let's pretend that this is new information.   

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The War On Base Ball

A great many young men of [Jerseyville] have taken to base ball as fish do to water, and have been at it without any interruption from outsiders for the last three years until last week, when Dr. J.O. Hamilton had a number of them arrested for playing inside the corporation.  The base ballists will have their trial to-day before Judge Peter P. Voohrees  JW. Merrill prosecutes, and Hon. Robert A. King defends young America.
-Missouri Republican, August 30, 1870

The earliest account of baseball in Jersey County that I had before this was from 1875 but this article, which was headlined "War on Base Ball," shows that the game was being played there around 1867.  That's not exactly surprising, as it fits with what we know about baseball's spread pattern, but it's useful information. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Life Is Good: The Final Edition

So I'm alive and survived a rather busy week.  I'm seriously sleep deprived but I'm awake, functioning and happy.  Life is good. 

I was going to write up a review of the Paul McCartney show that I went to last night but I don't think I have the energy or inclination to put my experience into words.  To say it was great is an understatement and doesn't begin to explain it.  I'll just say that I saw Paul McCartney sing Eleanor Rigby last night.  I saw him sing Day in the Life.  The second encore was Yesterday, Helter Skelter and the last six minutes of Abby Road.  It was an amazing set list and a fantastic show.

The only negative was that, at times, the whole thing felt to me like an exercise in nostalgia rather than a musical performance.  I had a strange feeling that I was a consumer being sold my own past.  Also, the entire show was haunted by three people who weren't there.  Hearing a certain guitar lick, drum fill or vocal harmony, my mind would immediately go to George, John and Ringo.  While the band, last night, was in fine form, I found myself thinking, more than once, that Paul had, in the past, played with substantially better musicians.

But, my God, the man played half the Rooftop Concert.  He opened with Magical Mystery Tour.  He had fifty years worth of material and seemed to enjoy bringing those songs to life.  There was nobody else in the world who could have put on the show that he did last night.  And I'm glad I was there with him.     

Life Is Good, Part Four

If I can get over the hangover, I'll let you know how the show was. And we should be getting back to the baseball tomorrow. But for now:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Life Is Good, Part Three

The McCartney concert is tonight.  And happy Veterans Day.

This is For You Blue from the Concert for George:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Life Is Good, Part Two

My thinking is that we'll be back to our normally scheduled programing on Tuesday.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Life Is Good, Part One

I find myself rather busy this week so I don't have much time to devote to the blog and the never-ending story of the 1884 Maroons.  Got a couple of writing projects that actually pay, so that goes to the front of the line.  My normal, paying gig is busy as ever plus there is another project that is coming to completion this month that I'm sure I'll be telling you about when the time comes.  So I'm keeping busy and I'm always happy when I'm busy.  Life is good.

And I'm going to see Paul McCartney on Sunday.  I'm going to assume that there may be a few cocktails and whatnot involved before, during and after the show and I may be feeling the effects of that well into Monday.  But I'm willing to pay the price (literally and figuratively) to see Sir Paul.

So, to save myself some time, I'm just going to post some McCartney videos the next few days until I can get back to the baseball stuff.  Enjoy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The 1884 Horses Vs. Bicycles Race: Why Didn't They Just Add The Quincy Club?

The original Chicago Unions, which have recently figured as the Pittsburg Unions have disbanded, and their place in the Union Association will be taken by the Milwaukee Club, of the defunct Northwestern League.  Daily, King, Gardner and Wheeler will go to the Baltimore Unions, which will make that organization a very strong one.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 12, 1884

All together now:  What kind of league was this?

The fifth day of the eight day race, bycycles vs. horses, ended last evening with the horses in the lead.  The Union Grounds were well patronized in the evening, the open seats to the south of the grand stand being crowded with spectators...When last night's racing was at an end Anderson led the combined score of the bicyclists, having scored 530 miles and 4 laps, to their 526 miles and 3 laps, a lead of three miles and one lap, the longest he has held since the opening day of the tournament.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 12, 1884

It's going to be very difficult for Morgan and Armaindo to make up those three miles but it's possible.  Morgan had a very strong race up to this point and, I think, if he had had a better partner or Armaindo had come closer to Morgan's pace, the bikes would have won easily.