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.        

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