Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Two Leading Local Colored Base Ball Organizations

The Black Sox and Eclipse nines, representing the two leading local colored base ball organizations, will play at Compton Avenue Park this afternoon, beginning at 4 o'clock.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 3, 1884

I've probably mentioned this before but I'm disappointed in the Globe's 1884 coverage of black baseball in St. Louis.  I know that, in general, their coverage of black baseball was poor, at best, but I expected much more than I've found.  My thinking was that, whenever baseball grew in popularity in St. Louis, the Globe expanded their baseball coverage and you'd have more coverage of the amateur clubs, the minor professional clubs and the black clubs.  Now, generally speaking, this is true and there is a great deal of information about the St. Louis amateur and minor professional clubs in the paper in 1884.  They just didn't cover the black clubs beyond the occasional blurb mentioning that a game was scheduled to be played.  There is hardly nothing on games themselves.  There are no game accounts and no box scores.  It's disappointing.


Mike S said...

Given the times though, is it expected - or have you found coverage of Black Baseball n other papers?

Jeffrey Kittel said...

If you look at James Brunson's work and the sources that he used, there is a great deal of coverage (game accounts, box scores, etc) of black baseball in StL papers. And there is some interesting stuff, from time to time, in the Globe. I just thought I'd see more coverage in 1884, as I went through the Globe on a day to day basis, assuming that I had missed a lot of stuff in the past when I was just using keyword searches. But I haven't found that and it's disappointing.

But, like you said, given the times this isn't unexpected and the Globe's coverage of black baseball didn't really change. It was a short mention of a game to be played that day (that was probably something like paid advertising) and usually no follow up. When they did have a rare game account, the tone of the article was condescending at best and horribly racist at worst.

The really frustrating thing is that these were damn good baseball clubs and they were being ignored by the Globe, who would often find column inches to devote to some of the most obscure and irrelevant amateur clubs or some silly muffin game. So, I just realized, the Globe isn't giving us an accurate portrait of baseball in StL at the time. Yes, their baseball coverage is fantastic and that's the legacy of William Spink but they ignored a very important part of the story. And they did it simply because these clubs were made up of black players. It's stupid and frustrating.