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. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The 1884 Horses Vs. Bicycles Race: Another Crushing Defeat For The Home Club

The fourth game between the St. Louis and Wilmington Unions resulted in another crushing defeat for the home club, who were not only weak at the bat, but fielded poorly.  The 3 runs made in the sixth inning all resulted from inexcusable errors.  Sweeney did not exert himself much, and the fielders, confident of the outcome of the game, played with wonderful steadiness and brilliancy, and although many of the home club's hits were apparently safe they were gathered in before the spectators had time to appreciate it.  Whitehead, Boyle, Quinn and Dunlap distinguished themselves for the visitors.  Bastian played one of the prettiest games ever seen here.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 11, 1884

There was a light attendance at the bicycle-horse race at the Union Base Ball Grounds yesterday afternoon, but in the evening a large crowd was present and much enthusiasm was manifested.  Anderson gained steadily on Armaindo, but Morgan, who at times showed wonderful bursts of speed, more than held his own with the horses.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 11, 1884

At the end of the fourth day, Anderson and the horses led Morgan, Armaindo and the bikes 426 miles and 1 lap to 422 miles and 4 laps.  I think it's over and there's no way the bikes can come back.  They have to be getting tired. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Again With The Tedious

The third game between the Wilmington and St. Louis Unions resulted disastrously for the former.  They put Blakely, of the defunt Keystones, in to pitch and in the fourth inning the visitors hit him for eight singles and a triple, which, game them 9 runs.  The game became tedious.  Boyle pitched will, but two singles being made off him after the first inning.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 10, 1884

In the horses vs. bicycles race at Union Park, the bikes were still hanging in there, although they lost their lead.  At the end of the third day, the horses had 319 miles and two laps while the bikes had 319 miles and one lap.  I'm rather impressed with the performance of the bicyclists so far.     

Monday, November 5, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: The Game Became Tedious

The game between the St. Louis and Wilmington Unions was notable on account of the terrible batting of the visitors, who hit the "Only" Nolan harder than he had been hit this season, while the home club could do very little with Sweeney, whose pitching excited general admiration.  In the sixth inning Sweeney accomplished a remarkable feat.  Snyder made a single and scored on Lynch's triple, but the next three men were retired on strikes.  All interest ceased after the fifth.  The game became tedious and was drawn by mutual consent at the end of the eight inning.  The attendance was 500.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 9, 1884

Again: What kind of league was this?  The game is kind of boring and out of hand so let's just call it a day.  Ridiculous.  I'm honestly more interested in the big horse/bicycle race that was going on at Union Park than I am in the goings-on of the Maroons. 

By the way, after day one of the race, the horse had the led over the bicycles, 110 miles to 106.  However, on day two, the bikes had a good day and took a slim lead, 214 miles and two laps to 214 miles and one lap.  I don't think they can keep it up.  From what I can figure, there is a fresh horse everyday and the two guys on bikes are going to get worn out as this goes along.  I'm thinking the horse is going to win big. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Drown Your Sorrows

A man named John McGruder, a cigar-maker, employed by Joseph Hymer, Paducah, and a member of the cigar-makers' union, slipped overboard from wharfboat No. 2 [in Cairo] this afternoon, and was drowned.  Deceased came down on the Fowler on Sunday with the base ball excursion party, and had been drinking hard ever since.  The body was not recovered.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 10, 1884

The baseball excursion that's mention is related to the rather interesting Cairo/Charleston game I posted about the other day. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Horses Vs. Bicycles

The 19th century was awesome.  If there was something like this at Busch Stadium and they only charged twenty-five cents admission, I'd go everyday.   

Friday, November 2, 2012


A base ball game was played [in Cairo, Illinois] this afternoon which proved to be of considerable interest, not by reason of the scores recorded, but rather for the personnel of the visiting club.  The Cairo amateur nine have established an enviable reputation, and, while not prepared to contest with professionals, are capable of good work when pitted against other clubs of like character.  The Charleston, Mo., nine were represented as amateurs, and were invited on the Cairo field to-day to try honors with the home nine.  five hundred people witnessed the contest, which resulted in the Cairos being defeated by a score of 15 to 2.  Then the fact became publicly known that the visiting club were sailing under false colors, being mainly composed of professionals from abroad, including John Davis, reserve pitcher of the St. Louis Browns, who sustained the same position to-day, Krehmeyer, catcher, also of the Browns, and two others, Magner and McCaffrey, well known in base-ball circles.  A rugged fight was made by the Cairo Braves, but the St. Louis experts were too ponderous, and they went under with flags nailed defiantly to the mast-head.  In conversation with the St. Louis gentlemen to-night it was learned they were induced to come here under the impression that they were to contest a club into which a quartet of Chicago professionals had been smuggled, but upon going into the field they saw that they had been deceived, and to-night were not in the best of humor with the Charleston management.  The party left by rail for St. Louis not at all satisfied with the settlement for their services tendered by the Missouri club.  The Cairos take their defeat with the utmost good nature, and promises to even up in the near future.  Not much money changed hands on the result, as the talent imported by the visitors became known early.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 9, 1884

This is an absolutely fascinating story.  An amateur club from Charleston signed up John Davis, Harry McCaffery, John Magner and Charlie Krehmeyer for a no-account match against a local amateur club in Cairo.  Now, the Globe says that not much money changed hands but I'm having serious doubts about that.  Why else would you grab four currant or former major leaguers to play in an amateur match in Cairo?  I'm thinking somebody made some serious money betting on that game.   

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Von Der Ahe Had That Effect On Some People

Mr. James Williams, late manager of the St. Louis Club, has arrived home, and been offered a position at the Republican State headquarters, his duties being to schedule the speakers of the campaign, which will open next week.  Williams announces himself as being thoroughly disgusted with the business of base ball management, in St. Louis, at least.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 7, 1884