Sunday, June 16, 2013


I'm going to try and keep this short and unsentimental.

This blog has come to an end.  This blog is no more.  It has ceased to be.  It's expired and gone to meet its maker.  It's a stiff.  Bereft of life.  It rests in peace.  Its metabolic processes are now history.  It's kicked the bucket.  It's shuffled off this mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir eternal.  This is an ex-blog.

Now for the good news:  The all-new This Game of Games V.2 is up and running.  Just as The Godfather, Part 2 was better than The Godfather, TGOG V.2 will be an improvement over the original.  There's going to be a blog and I'll keep posting original research on a semi-daily basis but there's so much more at the new place.  Rather than tell you about it, I encourage you to head on over and take a look at it for yourself.

For all of my friends who are link-illiterate, the new site is at  Go there now.

The new site is still in development and I have a lot of work to do, lots of content to get up.  But the blog is live and I'm putting up new content as fast as I can.  When I finish, I expect TGOG V.2 to be the finest 19th century baseball website in the known universe.

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Southerns Arrive In St. Louis

St. Nicolas Hotel circa 1870s

The Southern Base Ball Club, of New Orleans, arrived in the city last night, and are stopping at the St. Nicholas.  They play a match on Monday with the Unions, and on Tuesday with the Empires.
-Missouri Republican, August 15, 1869

The reference to the St. Nicholas is a bit puzzling.  The famous St. Nicholas Hotel in St. Louis was designed by Louis Sullivan and built in 1893 but it appears that there was an earlier St. Nicholas on Fourth Street that was in operation by the 1870s.  Based on the above piece from the Republican, it must have been open by 1869.   

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Houston, We Have A Problem

So I got a new phone this week and it kind of automatically synched everything with my Google account.  When it synched, it added all of the pics that I posted to the blog to my phone gallery.  To conserve space, I, without thinking, deleted all of those pics from the phone.  Now it turns out that doing so probably deleted all of those pics from my Google account and, since Blogger is part of Google, from the blog.  So, to summarize: new phone, deleted pics, no pics on blog.

I'll probably go back and add the pics to the posts on the front page but there is no way that I'm going to go and add all of the pics to all of the posts.  Unless I can figure something else out, which appears unlikely, that stuff is gone forever.  It's a tough break but it should just motivate me to get the new site up and running quickly.  It's time to move on and since I just screwed the pooch here, I might as well do it now.

So here's the plan.  There's a post scheduled to go up tomorrow and then I'm going to go dark for a bit.  I have a big project for Protoball that I have to finish and that is going to take a few days.  After that, I'll try to bang out enough content to launch the new site and move the blog over there.  The new address will be and I'll post something here in the way of a formal announcement next week.  I'm shooting for May 3 for the relaunch of the blog and the website will probably be live sometime Memorial Day weekend.

Like they say, when God closes a door, he opens a window.  Losing the pics is a bit of bummer but I'm just going to look forward to launching the new site.

I have to thank Bob Wilke for bringing the problem to my attention yesterday.  Without Bob tipping me off, it may have taken a few more days for me to even notice what was going on.

So that's that and we're moving forward or onward or upward to the all new This Game Of Games.  Stay tuned for the official announcement, links and all of that stuff next week.

Update: I've gone back and fixed the posts on the front page but everything else is gone for good.  I have all of the box scores and pics on my laptop so they're not exactly lost but they're gone from the website.  In the great scheme of things, it's not a complete and total disaster.  I'll keep you informed about the launch of the new site and hope to see you there.  

Another 1869 Empires/Aetna Match

As the season for out-door sports advances, so it seems does the general interest augment in our national game, as is evidenced by the large number of clubs and the many match games being played in our city; and of course those games wherever the leading clubs are the contestants attract the larger attendance and the greater excitement.  The recent trip of the "Empire," besides being a successful and honorable one to the club, will be productive of bringing here for the gratification of the public some of the leading clubs from the East, among them the old and well-known "Haymakers," of Lansingburg, N.Y., and famous "Red Stockings," of Cincinnati.  In addition, it is highly probable that the "Forest City," of Rockford, Ill., a club second to none, will put in an appearance during the fall season.  Yesterday the interest was centered in the second game of the championship match between the Empire and Aetna clubs, and resulted, as did the first game, in favor of the former club, though not by so large odds.  The Aetna had out their full nine, with Whalen at his old position of pitcher, in which he did well.  The Empires were obliged to call in requisition three of their second nine, being short of pitcher, centre field and second base.  The game was a very handsome batting one, with quick, active fielding and base play, a game of which the Aetna need not feel chagrined if they were defeated.  They did some tall batting and excellent fielding, but they were playing "The Empires."
-Missouri Republican, August 6, 1869

Love that last sentence and think I'm going to start referring to the Empire Club as The Empires from now on.

And to the best of my knowledge, this was actually the third game between these clubs in 1869.  They played on May 9 and May 23, both victories for The Empires.   

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Life In The Best Baseball City In America

Last Saturday afternoon, I was going to watch the Cardinals take on the Rockies at Busch and stopped to watch a vintage baseball game that was played underneath the Arch.  The first of five scheduled games, the RSG Squirrels, of Decatur, played the West Lafayette Couriers in an exciting match, using the 1860 rules.  I had originally thought that the Cards were playing in the evening and I was going to get to watch vintage baseball all afternoon but I discovered that Saturday was an afternoon game and I only got to see most of the one game.  It was kind of a shame because it was a beautiful afternoon, a beautiful place to play a match (as can be seen from the above photos) and I could have sat in the park, underneath the Arch and watched this for hours.

While I didn't get to see as much as I wanted, it was a great deal of fun.  Everybody on the clubs that I talked to were very friendly and you can tell that they enjoyed educating folks about their game.  For that matter, I had a lot of fun talking about the game as it was played in 1860.  Random people would come walking by and just stop, amazed at what they were seeing and wanting to know what the heck was going on.  They loved it.  You can tell that the game just captured everyone's imagination and that was encouraged by the obvious fun that the players were having.

It was a great afternoon in St. Louis.  You had the vintage games under the Arch and, as we were walking to Busch, there were groups of people, here and there, playing catch.  There were 43,000 people at the ballpark and Adam Wainwright took a no-hitter into the 8th, throwing a two-hit shutout as the Cards secured a 3-0 victory.  The sun was shining, the beer was cold, the Cardinals were winning.  This is what life is like in the best baseball city in America.  It was a perfect baseball day and I honestly felt sorry for all the baseball fans in this country who don't live here and don't get to experience baseball the way that we do.    

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Silver Moons Of Belleville

The Eagle Base Ball Club, of this city, through their Secretary, have challenged the Silver Moon Base  Club of Belleville to a match game of base ball.  As yet, the Silver Moons have not accepted, but the probabilities are that they will do so.
-Missouri Republican, August 6, 1869

Is the first reference that I've found to the Silver Moons of Belleville.  Don't know anything about them but that's a great name for a ball club.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Return Of The Empire Club

The Empire Club arrived at home on Saturday afternoon by the O. and M. train from their trip to Cincinnati and Louisville, and were warmly received by their friends and admirers.  The "Boys" were all in good spirits and condition, and they justly feel highly elated over the successful result of the matches played while away; though disappointed in the unsatisfactory game with the noted "Red-stockings," which was (owing to the rain) brought to a sudden close in the first half of the fourth inning.  They expect, however, to have the pleasure of entertaining that club here at home about the middle of August.  Many pleasant and interesting incident are connected with their journey, and the Empire Club will not soon forget the numerous friendly attentions received, both at Cincinnati and Louisville, and from the various railroad officials.  The games played resulted as follows:

Buckeye 14, Empire 27; Kentucky 28, Empire 30; Eagle 24, Empire 35.
-Missouri Republican, August 1, 1869

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Empires Visit The Bluegrass State

A very interesting match game of base ball was played at Cedar Hill Park this afternoon, between the Empire Club, of St. Louis, and the Kentucky Cub, of Louisville, resulting in a victory for the former by two scores...The Empires will play the Eagles to-morrow afternoon.  The weather was clear and pleasant; attendance large.
-Missouri Republican, July 30, 1869

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Franklins Vs. Niaticks

In a return game of baseball played between the Franklin and Niatick clubs, the former were victorious, by a score of 70 to 21.
-Missouri Republican, July 19, 1869

These are two clubs that I don't know much about.  The Niaticks (or Neaticks) are completely new to me while I only have one other mention of the Franklins, which comes from 1865. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Claiming The 1869 Junior Championship Of St. Louis

An exciting game came off on the 11th inst. between the [Miami and Liberty] clubs, for the junior championship, which resulted in the defeated of the latter by a score of 23 to 16 runs.  The members of the Miami B.B. Club claim the junior championship of St. Louis.  Challenges may be directed to Mr. Cannon's grocery, on Seventh, between O'Fallon street and Cass avenue.
-Missouri Republican, July 13, 1869

The Miami Club is new to me.  The Liberty Club dates back to the Civil War and I have a specific mention of a senior club in 1865, so the junior club may date back that far.   

Sunday, May 12, 2013

An 1869 Silver Ball Match

The silver ball match between the [Lone Star and Aetna] clubs was terminated by the game played on the morning of the 11th, at the B.B. Park in favor of the Lone Star, in a score which is quite satisfactory to themselves, but "stunning" to the Aetnas, who were generally considered the stronger club.  The latter club made a mistake, we think, which has been made before by others, too, than themselves, of underrating their opponents and not awaking from their delusion till too late.  The Lone Star boys are quick and wide-awake, and no club has the right to hold them cheaply.
-Missouri Republican, July 13, 1869

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Tom Oran's First Game With The Empire Club

The match between the Empire and Rowena took place on the afternoon of the 11th, at the Base Ball Park, and called forth a goodly attendance of the friends of either club.  The Empire Club made a fine appearance on the field in their very handsome new uniforms, and also presented for the first time their new catcher, O'Ran, who made good play throughout the game, and will prove a valuable acquisition to the club.  The "Rowenas" belong in South St. Louis; have a good reputation as ball players, and are a very fine appearing set of men, physically.  It was evident from the early part of the game that they were not of sufficient calibre to successfully cope with their opponents, yet they played their "level best" with determination and with good nature, enjoying even their own discomfitures as heartily almost as the friends of their adversaries.  Occasionally they gave an example of heavy batting, and throughout the game their infielders did well.

The Empire Club was represented by its full first nine, though three of them were not really in good health.  Their batting was excellent generally, but still there is a chance for improvement, by ceasing to bat "sky balls," of which they had several "muffed" by the Rowenas.  Their throwing to bases and base-running were superior to anything hereabouts, and demonstrated their ability to play a first-class game with any "cousins" from abroad.
-Missouri Republican, July 13, 1869

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Union/Empire Championship Series Of 1869: Game Two

In last Sunday's issue we gave a full report of the first game of best two in three for the championship between the Union and Empire Clubs of this city, in which the Unions were beaten by a score of 26 to 30.  Yesterday afternoon the second match took place, the Empires being again victorious by a record of 36 to 31.  The day was fine indeed, better weather could not have been desired.

Mr. W.L. Jesse, of the "Valley Club," Frankfort, Ky., was chosen umpire, and, we may say here, rendered his decisions promptly, and without complaint from either side.  The Empires won choice in the toss-up for position, and sent the Unions to bat.  The game opened brilliantly for the Empires who, with Wirth for short stop, showed very strong.  Our notes exhibit: Cabanne, Smith and Berning, all victims, one after the other on first inning, to the fielding of Barron, Murray and Spaulding, with Wirth at first base, who seemed destined to give the Unions no chance to pass his corner.  The innings ended with a whitewash against the Unions, who, however, were not discouraged making their discomfiture nerve them to better playing.  On their own first inning, the Empires scored five runs, Wirth, Spaulding, Barron, Murray and Fitzgibbons getting home, the inning ending with O'Connell falling a victim to Smith's fielding at 1 B, Shockey caught on fly by Berning and Wirth striking out.  Score, 5 to nought in favor of the Empires.

The Unions barely saved another whitewash on their second inning, Lucas getting 1 B on call, stealing second and making third and home on a wild throw by O'Connell.  The Empires themselves did no better, making but one run, Heep scoring his run by a muff of Berning, and Wirth, Spaulding and Barrow being all three cut off at 1 B.  Score, 6 to 1 for the Empires.

On the third, the Unions made three against some fine playing.  Easton, Turner and Smith getting home, Cabanne being a victim to Barron on a fly catch, as also Greenleaf to O'Connell.  Berning was caught at 1 B.  The Empires augmented their score by two runs, Murray and Shockey getting home, O'Connell and Fitzgibbons going out on the fly and Welch on 1 B.  The fielding of the Unions told heavily in this play.  Score 8 to 4 for Empires.

The fourth inning increased the Unions' score to 8, Lucas, Easton, Turner and Cabanne getting home y some very swift running and bad fielding of their opponents.  The Empire made a score of three through very hard work, though Spaulding, Barron and Murray got home by bad fielding of the Unions and a strong centre field hit by Murray.

The fifth innings was all one sided, the The Empires getting a score of 7 to 1, with a splendid one-hand running fly catch by Spaulding, well fielded to Wirth, which was the feature of the innings.  Score 18 to 9 for Empire.  In the 6th innings, the Unions struck out in a sudden storm of batting, which not only disconcerted the reporters and scorers, but waked up the Empires to the fact that they had not only not won the game, but were in danger of losing it.  Turner to centre field, Cabanne to left and Smith to centre, sent out some terrific balls, none of which were stopped; and they were followed by Strong, Lucas, Carr, Turner and Cabanne; the last two coming in for a second batting, the inning ending with a score of 11 - the finest work of the game.  The Empire came out with a score of four, Welch doing the most noticeable work on a splendid bat to left field.  Score 22 to 20 for Empires.

In the seventh contest, the Unions went at their work with a courage nursed into boldness by their success in the last, being not a little encouraged by the applause of their friends among the spectators, and aided by the muffing of Shockey, Stevens and Fitzgibbons.  They made an addition of 5 runs to their score.  But the Empires were now waked up, too; and when they came on to bat, showed a renewal of their former energy.  This, with the bad fielding of several of the Unions, gave them another heavy score of 8, leaving the count on the close of the seventh running 30 to 25 in their favor.

There was great depression now on the part of the Unions' friends, and some of the nine themselves, we think, began to feel as if they had more to carry than they could get home with.  The metal of the Empires did not flag; the seventh running gave them to believe they were the masters in the contest, and they played with a confidence based on success, which was wanting in the case of the others.  So the eighth innings was entered on almost as if both parties were satisfied with the result.  The Unions made two runs, but were discouraged by two successive foul catches by Barron, putting out Lucas and Carr.  Turner made a very good bat to centre field, sending Strong and Easton home, and being himself left on base by a foul caught by Murray from Cabanne.  But the game did not seem to take a final turn till Heep, having made his 1 B on an indifferent bat, went home on a wretchedly bad throw by Berning, which was soon followed with a similar fiasco by Smith, letting Spaulding home.  The action of the Unions in this was partially redeemed, however, by a magnificent running fly catch by Easton, and a very fine fly by Smith putting out Stevens.  Score 35 to 27 for Empires.

The interest was of course more intense on the last innings; but it was easy to perceive that the game was "played."  The innings, however, showed splendidly for the Unions, who contested the ground nobly, the score showing some excellent running and first rate batting.  They yielded to a superb running foul fly by Murray, showing a score of four for the inning, and a total of 31.  This of course gave the game to the Empires, who merely "walked over the course" with a score of one, to save a white-wash.

Thus the game ended amid the shouts of the multitude, who crowded inside the ropes to congratulate and commiserate the victors and victims.  There were cheers for the beaten first; then cheers for the "old belt" - and thereby hangs a tale: Some years ago there was a fine championship belt gotten up by honorary members of these clubs, to be played for by these same clubs.  The game for the belt came off, and the Empires won it.  It was held by them till (we believe) last season, when they yielded it to the Unions on a well-contested game for the championship and belt.  Now, the old belt has to be returned to the original holders, with the glories of the championship of the State of Missouri.

The interest manifested by the public in this game was evinced by the presence of at least two thousand people who witnessed the game.
-Missouri Republican, June 6, 1869

Random thoughts:

-This wasn't much of series, with the Empires winning the first two games.  The first game was definitely the better of the two matches.

-"A sudden storm of batting" is a great phrase and I need to start working that into my writing.

-The two game accounts by the Republican where not particularly well written but I think they're significant.  I can't think of an earlier game account from the local St. Louis papers that was more detailed than these two.  They very well may be the first example, from a St. Louis paper, of that 19th century-style, detailed, inning-by-inning baseball reporting.  I'm not exactly certain but, off the top of my head, I can't think of any detailed game accounts that predate this.

-The stuff about the "old belt" is significant.  I was aware of a championship belt prior to this but I believed that it was the belt that the Empire club fashioned for themselves in 1865, after claiming the mythical Championship of the West.  This account states that there was another belt that the Unions and Empires competed for amongst themselves.  It was a trophy for the winner of their annual contest.  That's new information and adds a little color to our understanding of the Union/Empire rivalry.  And it's another St. Louis, pioneer-era trophy that has been lost to the mists of time.   

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tragedy On The Meramec

The Meramec River

The body of John Kane, a young man about 29 years of age, was recovered on Friday last from the Meramec river, in which he was drowned on Sunday.  He was a resident of this city and was of a party of base ball players who went out to the Meramec river, on the Pacific Railroad, to play ball.  Going in the river for a swim, he took cramp and was drowned.
-Missouri Republican, June 6, 1869

Kane is the third pioneer-era, St. Louis baseball player, along with Asa Smith and Alexander Crosman, who I'm aware of that met a watery end.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Interest Manifested

The second game between the Union and Empire Clubs has been definitely appointed for Saturday the 5th, at St. Louis Base Ball Park.  The interest manifested in the result of this match will call forth the best talent of both clubs, and, no doubt, a numerous attendance of spectators.

Matches To Come Off.

13th June - Lone Star vs. Atlantic; at Veto grounds.

8th July - Olympic, of Washington, D.C., vs. Union, of St. Louis; at Base Ball Park.

We also understand that the first nine of the Empire Cub have been challenged for a game by the old players of this club, and that the match will take place shortly.
-Missouri Republican, June 4, 1869

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Union/Empire Championship Series Of 1869: Game One

The Union and Empire Base Ball Clubs of St. Louis played a match game yesterday afternoon in the beautiful Base Ball Park, situated near the Fair Grounds on Grand avenue.  The rain in the forenoon, though wetting the ground seriously, did not act unfavorably for the play, and at 3 o'clock when all were met for the game, the sun was shining brightly and everything promised well.  Early during the game, too, the sky became overcast, with clouds, rendering the air cool and very pleasant - just the thing most desired by the players.

The game was between picked nines of each club, and was the first of a match of best 2 of 3 for the championship.

After the selection of Mr. Wm. McGowen, of the Atlantics, as umpire, the game commenced, the Union winning the choice of positions and taking the field.

First Innings.

Empire - Wirth cut out at 2 B by short ball to right field; Spalding out on foul by Turner; Barron took 1 B on called balls; Murray out on a grounder well fielded from short stop to 1 B.  (Whitewash.)

Union - Cabanne out on 1 B; Smith, splendid bat to left field and made 3 B; Wolff, fine bat to left field, making 3 B and sending Smith home; Strong, good bat to centre field, sending Wolff home, stole 2d and 3d and went home on a bad catch; Lucas out on ball fielded by short stop to 1 B; Greenleaf 1 B on ball to centre field and stole 2d; Carr out on foul by O'Connell, leaving Greenleaf on 3 B.

Score on the Innings - 3 to nothing for Union.

Second Innings. 

Empire - O'Connell 1 B on called balls, stole 2d and 3d, and quietly waiting his chance, stole home; Fitzgibbons had his first given to him, stole 2d, made 3d on passed ball; Shockey out on 3 strikes; Welch got his first on call balls, as also Heep, thus placing three men on bases; Wirth, by sending foul to B, which was fielded by Smith put out Fitzgibbon and Welch, ending inning with a score of 1.

Union - Easton 1st B on calls, stole 2nd and 3d and brought home by Turner, who himself was out on 1st base; Cabanne 1st base by a swift grounder to short stop, which, though well fielded by Barron, was badly thrown; Smith 1st base by a sky ball to right field muffed by Murray, bringing Cabanne home; Wolff offered Heep, at right field, a splendid fly which the latter muffed, letting in Smith; Strong 1st base on a swift ball to centre field, which brought in Wolff, 2d base on bad ball, and stole home; Lucas made 1st base; Greenleaf out on foul; Carr out on a ground ball well fielded by Barron to 1st base, leaving Lucas on 3d - giving Unions 5 runs.

Score - 8 to 1 for Unions.

Third Innings.

Empire. - Heep 1st base on calls, and 2d and 3d by bad throws; Wirth, grounder over 3d base, giving him 1st base, stole 2d, took 3d on pass ball, and home on bad throw; Spalding 1st base on calls; Barron swift ball to centre field, giving him 1st base and Spalding home, made 2d on pass ball, and brought home by Murray sending long ball to centre field, which gave him 3d base, from which he stole home; O'Connell out on foul bound; Fitzgibbon captured at 1st base by a well fielded ball from Greenleaf from right field; Shockey 1st base on ball to right field well fielded by Greenleaf, stole 2d, and made home by bad throw of Turner; Heep out on three strikes.  6 runs.

Union - Easton struck out; Turner out on splendid bat to right field admirably taken by Heep; Cabanne out at 1st base on quick-fielded ball by Barron.  (Whitewash.)

Score - 7 to 8 in favor of Union.

Fourth Innings.

Empire - Heep 1st base on ground ball, stole 2d, where he was put out, having started on a foul; Wirth 1st base on good stroke to centre field; Spalding made 3d base on a fine hit to right field, muffed by Strong; Barron line ball to centre field, made 3d base, bringing Spalding home; Murray, low ball to L. field, made 2d base, stole 3d and got home; Barron also making home; O'Connell captured at 1 B; Fitzgibbons 1 B on a muff by Wolf; Shockey out on foul bound, leaving Fitzgibbons on 2d, adding 4 runs to Empire score.

Union - Smith 1 B on a ball well fielded by Barron; Wolff grounded ball to C F, giving him his 1 B, bringing Smith home, and eventually stealing home himself; Strong out on foul fly well taken by O'Connell; Lucas 2d B on swift ball to L F, and brought home by Greenleaf, who made 2d B on a grounder to R F, and in turn brought home by splendid grounder of Carr, who made 2d B and stole 3; Easton 1 B on low ball to L F, giving Carr his run; Turner splendid long-field ball, which brought in Carr, gave himself 2 B, stole 3 B, where he was left by Cabanne being caught out on fly by Barron - 5 runs.

Score - 11 to 13 in favor of Union.

Fifth Innings.

Empire - Welch 1 B on calls; Heep 1 B on straight ball to R F, bringing Welch home; Wirth 1 B on grounder over 3 B, which was badly fielded by Smith; Spalding heavy bat to R F, bringing Heep home and Wirth to 2d B; Barron line ball to C F, taking Wirth home and Spalding to 3 B; Murray good hit to C F, adding 1 to Spalding's score, a bad throw from Lucas to 2 B, letting both Murray and Barron home; O'Connell out on foul bound by Turner; Fitzgibbons 1 B on call, stole 2, though near being caught by Easton and Carr; Shockey 1 B by fine bat to C F, bringing Fitzgibbons home, made 3d by bad throw, and stole home; Welch out on 3 strikes; Heep 1 B on ball to C F, making narrow escape at first, eventually caught between 2d and 3d by Wolff - 8 runs for Empire.

Union - Smith out on foul bound by O'Connell; Wolff 1 B on swift ground ball to L.F.; Strong 1 B on bad muff by Murray, who missed a fine chance for double play, the only opportunity offered during the game; Lucas 1 B on bat to C.F., and makes 3d on bad balls, which also brought Wolff and Strong home; Greenleaf out on a difficult foul bound by O'Connell; Carr out at 1 B on well fielded ball by Barron - 2 runs on inning.

Score - 15 to 19 in favor of Empire.

Sixth Inning.

Empire - Wirth out on beautiful fly caught [in right field]; Spalding suffered same...[illegible]...Fitzgibbon fell a victim to Wolff's fielding at 1 B, leaving O'Connel on 3d - 2 runs.

Union - Easton out on 1 B by the sprightly fielding of Barron; Turner 1 B on line ball to C.F., stole 2d; Cabanne 2 B on fine hit to L.F., which carried Turner home; Smith, by straight ball to C.F., made 1 B, putting Cabanne and Turner home, and himself making 3 B on a muff; Wolff 2 B on swift grounder to R.F., Smith home, stole 3d; Strong 1 B on safe bat to L.F., stole 2d; Lucas out on splendid one-hand foul-bound catch by O'Connell; Greenleaf 1 B by centre fielder, giving Wolff his run and strong 3 B; Carr made strong hit to L.F., which Shockey failed to take, bringing Strong home and Greenleaf to 3 B, who immediately afterwards was captured between 3 B and home by Fitzgibbons - 5 runs for Union.

Score, 20 to 21 in favor of Union.

Seventh Innings.

Empire - Shockey out on well-taken fly by Greenleaf; Welch got his first on calls, made 3d on bad balls and stole home; Heep 1 B on ball to C.F., and 3d by wild throw of Smith, run home on passed ball; Wirth out on foul bound by Lucas; Spalding 1 B on daisy cutter to R.F., stole 2d and got 3d on bad call; Barron out on ball well fielded by Smith to Carr - 3 runs.

Unions - Carr out on ball to L.F., which was deftly sent by Spalding to Wirth; Easton out on fly by Spalding; Turner 1 B on a sky ball to L.F., which again slipped through Shockey's fingers, stole 2d and made home on a wild throw; Cabanne got 2 B on a ground ball to L.F.; Smith out on a splendid fly taken at R.F. by Heep, leaving Cabanne on 3 B, and only 1 run for the innings.

Score, 24 to 21 in favor of Empires.  

Eighth Innings.

Empire - Very short work, Murry, O'Connell and Fitzgibbons going out in 1, 2, 3 order (whitewash).

Union - Wolff 2 B on a grounder to R.F.; Strong, 2 B on safe ball over 3 B, bringing Wolff home; Lucas caught at 1 B; Greenleaf 1 B on swift ground ball to R.F. which was well stopped by Wirth, but not in time; Carr out on foul fly by O'Connell; Easton 3 B on long hit to L.F. and home on bad throw by Murray.  Turner out at 1 B on well fielded by Spalding to Wirth who took it with one hand on a jump - 4 runs.

Score 25 to 24 in favor of Unions.

Ninth Innings.

Empire - Shockey 1 B on straight ball to C.F., stole 3d; Welch 1 B on call; Heep 1 B on good left fielder, bringing Shockey home; Wirth 2 B on grounder over 3 B, taking Heep and Welch home; Spaulding caught out on long fly ball by Strong at R.F.; Barron made his 2 B on a heavy bat to C.F., 3d on muff, which carried Wirth home; Murray 1 B on left fielded, giving Barron his run; O'Connell out at 1 B, ball fielded by Smith; Murray home; Fitzgibbon taken on fly by Strong, ending innings with 6 runs for Empires.

Unions - Cabanne made 3 B on a beautiful sky ball to C.F. which Welch muffed; Smith out on foul bound by O'Connell; Wolff struck out; Strong 1 B on a left fielder, which was again muffed by Shockey, giving Cabanne his run; Lucas out at 1 B on ball nimbly fielded by Barron, ending the innings with 1 run, and giving the game to Empire by a score of 30 to 26.


The game was closely contested, and was well played throughout.  The batting was remarkably good, and much of the fielding excellent.  A cordial spirit prevailed during the entire game, and, although the decision of the umpire were frequently the subject of criticism, deference and respect were accorded him.  The game was decidedly the most interesting and best played that has transpired at any grounds in this neighborhood this season.  It being the first game for the championship, due notice will be given of the subsequent game or games, as the case may be.  
-Missouri Republican, May 30, 1869

Some random thoughts about a rather remarkable game:

-This was game one of the 1869 championship series between the Unions and the Empires and I'll post the other games as I make my way through the Republican's coverage of the season.

-The Union Club were the two-time defending champions, having won in 1867 and 1868.  Their victory in 1867 dethroned the Empires, who, essentially, had been the best club in St. Louis since at least 1861.  The Empires were the self-declared Champions of the West in 1865 and the St. Louis (and, by extension, Missouri) champions in 1866.  The 1867-1870 seasons were the highpoint of the Empire/Union rivalry, when two very good and very even clubs would battle for the St. Louis and Missouri championship.  

-This game is a perfect example of what baseball was like in the pioneer era.  Lots of base-runners, lots of stolen bases, lots of muffs, lots of runs.  Put the ball in play and run like hell.  The game was all about base-running and defense.  If you couldn't field the ball and keep guys off the bases, you were going to give up lots of runs.  The main difference between good clubs like the Empires and Unions and the great Eastern clubs was that the Eastern clubs were consistently better defensively.  Also, the Eastern clubs had better and swifter pitchers, which also helped in keeping guys off base.

-Check out John O'Connell leading off the second inning for the Empires. He walked, stole second, stole third and then stole home.  He scored a run without the offense ever having put the ball in play.  That's amazing and wonderful baseball.  I've seen guys walk, steal second, steal third and then come home on a ground-out or a fly-out but I've never seen a run scored without the ball ever being hit.  As a guy who grew up watching Whitey Herzog's Cardinals, that's the kind of baseball I love.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Paying Our Respects

Saturday, Ed Achorn, Steve Pona and I went out to Bellefontaine Cemetery to pay our respects to Mr. Chris Von der Ahe.  We also got a quick tour of some of the more interesting and historically important graves at the cemetery by Richard Lay, who I had a chance to meet at Ed's presentation at Left Bank Books on Thursday evening.  Richard was a fantastic guide and I really appreciate the time he took showing us around, especially considering that we just kind of showed up unannounced.  He was very gracious, told some wonderful stories and even shared the contents of the cemetery's Von der Ahe file with us.  

I also want to thank everyone who showed up at Left Bank Books to see Ed.  I know that he was very appreciative and amazed at the turnout.  If you didn't make it, you absolutely missed out on a good time but I know that Ed signed a big stack of his books and left them at the store if you're interested in picking up a signed copy of The Summer of Beer and Whiskey.

It was great talking to everyone Thursday and I hope that we can find opportunities to get together again soon.  And, yes, that's me in the picture, standing next to the our boy's grave.

Back to our regular scheduled programming tomorrow.      

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Base Ball Pioneers Wins An Award

Since we're pushing books this week:

Base Ball Pioneers: 1850-1870 was one of the winners of the 2013 SABR Baseball Research Award.  As you may remember, I just so happened to have written the book's chapter on St. Louis and am proud to have been a part of the project.  Congratulations to all of the great people who were involved in writing, editing and publishing the book and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the second volume, which I hope will be out soon.

Base Ball Pioneers is a great book and, if you haven't read it yet, get a copy.  You'll love it.  I may not have mentioned this but all of the royalties from the book have been donated to a couple of great causes: the Negro League Baseball Grave Marker Project and the Early Baseball and Deadball Era Memorial Series.  The folks involved in putting the book together, including me, are not taking a dime so I think it's safe to say that we did this one for the love of the game and its history.

Also, while the award was given to our editors (Peter Morris, William Ryczek, Jan Finkel, Leonard Levis and Richard Malatzky) who did a fantastic job and were great to work with, I demand, from this point forward, to be called an Award-Winning Author.  I think it's only right.            

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

More On The Summer Of Beer And Whiskey

Here's a quick round-up of some of the press Ed Achorn's new book, The Summer of Beer and Whiskey, is getting:

Don't forget:  Ed will be at Left Bank Books tomorrow and at the Perfectos game on Saturday.  Come buy, meet the author, pick up the book, get it signed and watch the Perfectos roll to victory.  It's going to be fun.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Ed Achorn, Author of The Summer of Beer and Whiskey, In Town This Week

Ed Achorn is going to be in town this week to talk about his new book, The Summer of Beer and Whiskey.  If you haven't gotten a copy of Ed's new book yet, you should do so now.  Or you can come by Left Bank Books on Thurday, May 2, at 7 P.M., buy your copy, listen to Ed tell stories about Chris Von der Ahe and the 1883 St. Louis Browns and have him sign your book.  He also will be out at Lafayette Park on Saturday, May 4, at 11 A.M. to watch a vintage game between the Perfectos and the Springfield Long Nines.  Both event are going to be a lot of fun and I plan on being at both.  So I hope to see you there and I know that Ed would love to have you come out.

If you have any questions about the events, drop me an email and I'll get you more information.  

A Determination To Win

The first game of the season for the championship will come off on Saturday afternoon, at the St. Louis Base Ball Park, between the Union and Empire clubs.

The Union club being at present champions will undoubtedly put their "best foot foremost" while the Empires will present a strong nine who will enter the contest with a determination to win.  Much interest is manifested as to the termination of the game and no doubt there will be a large attendance.
-Missouri Republican, May 28, 1869

No one should be surprised that a look through the 1869 season would involve a championship series between the Unions and the Empires. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

No Equal Hereabouts

The second game of the match between [the Empire and Aetna] took place on the afternoon of the 23d, at St. Louis Base Ball Park, in the presence of a goodly number of spectators.  The grounds were in admirable condition and the weather all that the most ardent lover of the game could desire.  The playing, though not characterised by any very brilliant display, was a close contest and showed an improvement on the play of the former game some two weeks since, especially at the bat.

The Empire's Wirth is to be credited with a fine running fly and some very excellent play at 1st base, which was more in his old style than anything he has given lately.  Fitzgibbon, pitcher, did well, and is evidently improving, his balls being delivered with more accuracy and regularity.  Murray, short-stop, did some handsome fielding to 1st base, and captured his share of the "flies."  Barron, catcher, "filled the bill" admirably, though he is not fully at home in that position, and we cannot but think that it is a mistake to take him from his own position of short stop, in which he has no equal hereabouts.  Of the Aetnas we must say they played a fine fielding game, displaying much activity, and in throwing of balls more accuracy and skill than their opponents.  Kenney, catcher, did great execution both behind and at the bat.  Savignac at 1st is a promising player, as also O'Brien, 3d base, who should use more care in batting and running the bases.  Tighe, at 2d, is in the right place, and did safe business at the bat, but was "out of luck."  Messrs. Whalen, Carroll and Wheeler filled their positions with credit and did some fine batting.

The result of the game we give below, and, considering all things, it is creditable to the Empire Club, if it is not of the same huge proportions as the previous one.  Mr. H. Smith of the Union Club, filled the position of Umpire with much credit to himself and general satisfaction to the players.
-Missouri Republican, May 25, 1869

James Barron, who is described here as the best shortstop in St. Louis, was one of the cornerstones of the great pioneer-era Empire Club.  He was a mainstay at shortstop, playing with the first nine from at least 1867 to 1875, and a member of seven championship clubs.  Barron was also the Empires' field captain in 1869.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Nothing Is More Uncertain Than A Game Of Base Ball

The second game between the Union Club and the Union Jr. Club, took place Thursday afternoon at the St. Louis Base Ball Park, and was well attended, considering the state of the weather.  Both clubs presented good representatives, and it was generally expected that the Union Club would take all the honors of the match, but nothing is more uncertain than a game of base ball, as was demonstrated by this match.  The result of the game is very creditable to the Union Jr. and places them among the foremost clubs of the city, a position which they have great confidence in maintaining.

The Union Club did not make such an exhibition of strength as was generally looked for, though their batting was very commendable and of the safe order.  Messrs. Carr, Greenleaf, Turner and Lucas are deserving of creditable mention for fielding as well as batting.

Of the Union Jr. Club, Yeatman, Wolff and McCreery take the honors.  Yeatman particularly distinguishing himself by a running fly catch.  Barada, pitcher, did good execution, and is evidently improving.

Owing to the weather but six innings were played, resulting in a score of 8 to 6 in favor of the Union Jr...
-Missouri Republican, May 15, 1869

Even in a shortened game, this was a huge upset.  The Unions were the two-time defending champion of St. Louis and Missouri and they weren't supposed to lose to a junior club.  They weren't supposed to lose to anyone but the Empires or one of the big Eastern clubs that periodically came to town. 

Having said that, the Union Juniors had some good ballplayers on the club.  Wayman McCreery was a young player who would play with the Unions in the future and Wally Wolff was an experienced player who had played with the antebellum Olympic club and also had played with the Unions.  They weren't a bunch of scrubs.   

Friday, April 26, 2013


A match game of the most interesting and exciting character came off on the Veto Grounds, on the 13th inst., between the two clubs, the former, students of the Christian Brothers' Academy, the latter of the St. Louis University, which resulted in the defeat of the Academic.  Both nines exhibited in a proficiency at the "bat" and in the field not to be expected in the initial game of the season.

The excellent play, together with the favorableness of the weather, rendered the game all that could be desired.  The conduct of the defeated nine merits unqualified approbation from members of the Pickwick, nevertheless, we would suggest to the non-combatants who cheered so vociferously, and whose sympathies appeared to be enlisted on the side of the Academic, that attempts to disconcert opponents are by no means manly, nor are they exactly in good taste.  We hope the gentlemen of the Academic will not take offence at these remarks, as they are not intended for them.  On the contrary, we repeat that they accepted their defeat gracefully, and as becomes a nine beaten, were not dishonored.

The score at the end of the ninth inning was: Academic 38; Pickwick 48.
-Missouri Republican, May 15, 1869

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Considerable Good Play

The first game of the season between the Empire and Aetna clubs of this city took place at the St. Louis Base Ball Park, on the afternoon of the 9th, and called forth a large attendance of the friends of the game, who were treated to a display of considerable good play for so early a time in the season.  The result of the match was not unlooked for, though the score of 2 to 1 was more than could have been expected by any one.  The Empire presented a good nine, both at the bat and in the field, a nine who gave assurance for the season's play.  In their nine we were pleased to notice some old faces who acquitted themselves in an honorable manner.  Their batting was very safe in general, and their fielding more lively and far better than last season.  Those worthy of mention for fly-catches are Messrs. Welsh, Barron, Wirth, Heep and Fitzgibbon.

Of the Aetna nine, Messrs. Savignac, Tighe, Mack, Carroll and Queenan are to be credited with fly-catches, the latter with the most difficult of the game, and, had they displayed more judgment at the bat and in running bases, would have shown a better score.
-Missouri Republican, May 11, 1869

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Charles H. Thurber

Charles Hequembourg Thurber, the secretary of the 1859 unknown St. Louis baseball club, was born on December 25, 1842 to Edward E. Thurber and Emma Hequembourg, most likely in Buffalo, New York, where his parents were married in 1840.  His father died in 1857 in Cincinnati and it's probable that Charles and his widowed mother moved to St. Louis shortly thereafter.  While there is conflicting evidence, several sources state that Emma was born in St. Louis around 1820 and it appears that Emma Thurber returned home in the late 1850s, following the death of her husband.  Interestingly, Charles Thurber is directly related to Charles Hequembourg, in whose offices the Empire Club was formed in 1860 and who was also the brother of Emma Thurber.

By 1860, the young Thurber was working as a clerk in an insurance office in St. Louis and, following the outbreak of the Civil War, he joined the 1st Missouri Infantry in June of 1861, mustering in as a sergeant.  In August of 1861, he saw action at the Battle of Wilson's Creek and, soon after, his unit was reorganized as the 1st Missouri Light Artillery.  At some point prior to April of 1862, when his unit was fighting at the Battle of Shiloh, Thurber had been promoted to Lieutenant.  In 1863, the 1st Missouri Light Artillery was transferred from the Army of Tennessee to the Department of Missouri and Thurber spent the rest of the war in central and western Missouri.  Also, in May of that year, he was promoted to Captain.

1864 was an interesting year for Capt. Thurber.  He was transferred to the 2d. Missouri Artillery and was stationed in Warrensburg, Missouri.  In Warrensburg, he met Amanda Ellen Moody, a sixteen year old local girl, and married her on May 24, 1864.  In the fall, Sterling Price invaded Missouri and Thurber was involved in several battles, helping to drive the Confederate raider back into Arkansas.  By the end of the year, Thurber was serving as a staff officer in Warrensburg and operating as the district inspector for the army.

In 1865, Thurber and his wife had a daughter, Mary, and, with the war over, he mustered out of the army in the fall.  Thurber and his new family settled in Warrensburg and it appears that he spent the rest of his life there, working as a clerk in the Secretary of State's office.  He and his wife had three more children, all sons.

Charles Thurber died in Warrensburg on June 9, 1891.  He's buried in Warrensburg and that's his tombstone at the top of this post, which I found at Billion Graves.

Thurber certainly lived an interesting life and his was rather typical of pioneer-era St. Louis ballplayers.  Meeting his young bride during the war, while he was stationed at Warrensburg, was a nice detail but the most interesting part of his biography was his relationship to Charles Hequembourg.  Now I stated earlier that Hequembourg was his uncle but it's entirely possible that he was his grandfather.  Both Emma's father and brother were named Charles but the father was a Reverend and, therefore, I don't think he would have been the Justice of the Peace in St. Louis in 1860.  The young Charles was in his late forties and, without looking into it too deeply, I peg him for the Justice Hequembourg in whose offices the Empire Club was first organized.  Charles Hequembourg didn't really have anything to do with the organization of the Empire Club and I doubt that he was ever a member but it's an interesting coincidence that Thurber, a member of what was possibly the first baseball club in St. Louis, was related to Hequembourg, who is tied to the organization of another antebellum St. Louis club.  It is probably just a coincidence but it's something that jumped out at me.  Without reading too much into it, it's possible that there is some connection between the Unknown Club of 1859 and the Empire Club.                

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Did You Miss Me?

So I'm back from vacation, batteries are recharged and I'm ready to get back to it.  Some interesting stuff coming up this week.  I have something on Charles Thurber going up tomorrow and then some stuff from the 1869 season.  Working on a long piece on the Cyclones that I'll have finished in the near future.  Also slowly working on a new version of This Game of Games that I hope to launch sometime this summer.  Lots of stuff on the burner.  So come back tomorrow.  

Monday, April 15, 2013

On Vacation

I'm on vacation and out of town so there won't be any posts this week.  Since I'm spending the week traveling around Illinois and digging through various library collections, I'll hopefully have some interesting things to post next week.  And, yes, my idea of a vacation is spending a week in a library reading 150 year old newspapers. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Peculiarity Of Clapp's Catching

John Clapp

We can almost safely say that the finest display of catching we have ever seen in a single game was that exhibited by Clapp of the St. Louis nine during the June contests in Brooklyn in 1876.  His play close behind the bat on these occasions was excellent.  A peculiarity of Clapp's catching the past season was his adoption of the rule of play behind the bat - mentioned in an article on catching published in 1866 - of a rapid return of the ball to the pitcher.  This is as important for effective play as is a rapid delivery by the pitcher; we don't mean as regards pace, but in sending in balls in rapid succession, by which the batsman is obliged to be on the alert all the time, with but little opportunity afforded for leisurely judging the balls.  Some catchers hold the ball, after receiving it from the pitcher, for some time, with a view of throwing it to a base, or being ready for that play.  But the best plan is to promptly return it to the pitcher, unless a base-runner has started to run on the actual delivery of the ball.  We have seen many a base stolen while the catcher has thus held the ball, apparently in readiness for a throw.  A prompt return bothers a base-runner, especially if the return throw is swift and accurate to the pitcher.  But the main value of it is that it enables the pitcher to play his strong point of catching the batsman napping by a rapid return of straight balls when the batsman is not ready to strike.  This point was played by Bradley last season almost as frequently as by Spalding, and its success was mainly due to Clapp's quick returns.  Clapp is another of those quiet players who are seldom heard of except in the way of fine play in their position. 
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 4, 1856-1907

This is a great article because it's rare to get specific details about a player's idiosyncrasies like we're getting here with John Clapp and George Washington Bradley.  I knew that Clapp and Bradley were two of the best players in the NL in 1876 but, besides the numbers, I couldn't have given you a lot of details about what made them great players.  This little play, where Clapp quickly returns the ball back to Bradley who, in turn, quickly delivers it back, tells us something about why they were so successful in 1876.  It's a small but illuminating detail.    

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Claiming The Forfeit

The Red Stockings Club of St. Louis, Mo., claim forfeit of a game which the Philadelphia Club failed to play with them on Sunday, June 20...

On the 20th the Atlantic of St. Louis, Mo., surrendered to the Red Sox, who scored 36 to 4...
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 4, 1856-1907

This is kind of interesting.  The Whites of Philadelphia played four games in St. Louis from June 14 to June 21, including one with the Reds on June 15, and I'm not sure what happened with the game that the Reds believed was supposed to be played on the 20th.  The Philadelphias were in town and didn't play the Brown Stockings that day, so they could have played the Reds.  Maybe they just chose not to play the game.  Regardless, it looks like the Reds picked up a game against the Atlantics after the game with Philadelphia fell through. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Great Injustice

George Smith, a member of the Empire Club of St. Louis, Mo., writes as follows, under date of Sept. 25 [1874]:

Your article in this week's Clipper about the Empires being ungentlemanly at Louisville does the Empires great injustice.  They wanted the game played out, and it could have been, as it was only 6 o'clock when the umpire called the game.  The Eagles played their half of the ninth inning, making two runs.  The Empires then pitched in and made three runs, tieing the game, 16 to 16, with no man out on the Empire side, and one of the best batters (Wirth) the Empires have at the bat.  The Empires went to Louisville twice this season, and the Eagles have not returned the visit.  I was on the grounds, and saw nothing done whatever by the Empires that gentlemen would not do.  The Empires, being the visiting club, handed a dead ball to play with, which the Eagles objected to, as they said they were nt used to a dead ball, and the umpire, Capt. Seward, allowed them to furnish the ball, a live one.
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 4, 1856-1907

Thursday, April 11, 2013

September 27, 1874

Games at St. Louis, Mo., Sept. 27: Empire vs. Red Stockings, 19 to 9; Essex vs. Olympic, 20 to 16; Rover vs. Little Eagle, 41 to 15; Jackson vs. Silver Star, 32 to 11; Haymakers vs. Rapids, 25 to 7; Cows vs. Calves, 30 to 28; Alma vs. Granger, 9 to 0; Una vs. Currier, 9 to 0; Atlantic vs. Imperial, 31 to 27...
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 4, 1856-1907

This must have been an interesting day of baseball in St. Louis, highlighted by the championship game between the Empires and the Reds. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Let A Club Be Started At Once.

The admirers of the game in St. Louis, Mo., are talking about getting up a reliable baseball ten to represent St. Louis in the contest for the professional pennant of 1874.  They do not relish the idea of Chicago having a club and getting a chance of winning the championship, while St. Louis has to look on without participating in the fight.  A well-managed professional ten in St. Louis would not only pas as a stock investment, but it would greatly add to the interest of the game in that section of the country.  We hope the St. Louis gentlemen will not allow Chicago to be the only representative in the arena from the West next season.  Ten fine players could be had at very moderate salaries now.  Let a club be started at once. 
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 4, 1856-1907

This seems to come from the Clipper of January 3, 1874, and it's the first time I've ever heard of the idea of putting a St. Louis Club in the NA for the 1874 season.  It's significant that people in St. Louis were talking about putting together a professional St. Louis team in 1874 (and, most likely, going back to the late fall of 1873) prior to the events of the 1874 season.  Certainly, this doesn't change the fact that the loses St. Louis clubs suffered at the the hands of Chicago in 1874 was a motivating factor in the formation of the Brown Stockings but it's extremely interesting that there was talk about a professional club well prior to that.     

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The 1871 Atlantics Of St. Louis

Atlantics, of St. Louis. - At a regular meeting of this club, held at their rooms on April 6th [1871], the following named gentlemen were elected officers for one year: - W.R. Peterson, president; Christ. H. Overbeck, vice president; Henry Peterson, treasurer; H.A. Libby, recording secretary; Charles F. Mueller, corresponding and financial secretary; field captains, William R. Peterson and Charles F. Mueller; board of directors - Christ. H. Oberbeck, president; Julius C. Seamen, Robert Terry, J.C. Peterson, J.J. Mathews, E. Giegler and J. Nangie.  The corresponding secretary would be obliged to clubs if they would send names and address of their corresponding secretaries in full.  Address Charles F. Mueller, care of Grether and Boeck, No. 322 Chestnut street, St. Louis, Mo.
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 4, 1856-1907

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Olympics of Carondelet

Olympic B.B. Club of Carondelet, Mo. - The following officers have been elected for the coming year: - Pres., F.W. Kennon; Vice Pres., James Burke; Sec., J.J. Foster; Treas., Jos. Decker; Directors, S.Y. Collins, W. Knight and J.J. Foster.
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 4, 1856-1907

This item comes from 1870.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The 1869 Convention Of The Missouri State Base Ball Association

The delegates to the Annual Convention of Base Ball Players of the State of Missouri met at St. Louis on Nov. 5th.  Owing to the inclemency of the weather a great many clubs belonging to the association were not represented.  The meeting was very harmonious and considerable business was transacted.  The following gentlemen were elected officers and delegates to the National Convention for the ensuing year: - President, Joseph Ketterer, of the Lone Star Club; 1st Vice-President, James Foster, of the St. Louis Club; 2nd Vice-President, David Murphy, of the Washington Club; Recording Secretary, Wm. Medart, of the Turner Club; Corresponding Secretary, George D. Barklage, of the Empire Club; Treasurer, C.H. Overbeck, of the Lone Star Club; Delegates to the National Convention, Col. David Murphy, of the Washington Club, Washington, Mo., and Joseph Ketterer, of the Lone Star Club, of St. Louis.
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 4, 1856-1907

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Summer Of Beer And Whiskey

Look what I found.  Ed Achorn's new book, The Summer of Beer and Whiskey, is available for pre-order at Amazon.  You should get yourself a copy.  I can tell you that it's a fantastic book but you don't have to take my word for it.  Over at Ed's website, there are reviews and an excerpt.  It's a great book, covering a fantastic pennant race and Chris Von der Ahe and the Browns play a big role in the story.  I know that Ed's going to be in town in early May, doing some events and hawking the book, and I'll let you know what's going on as I get more information.

By the way, that's the 1883 Browns on the cover of the book so that should tell you about the role the club plays in the story.  

Friday, April 5, 2013


The source of the trouble

 "CLUB ORGANIZED, - A base ball club was organized in St. Louis, Mo, on the 1st inst.  It boasts of being the first organization of the kind in that city, but will not, surely, long stand alone.  It numbers already 18 members, officers as follows: President, C. D. Paul; Vice do, J. T. Haggerty; Secretary, C. Thurber; Treasurer, E. R. Paul. They announce their determination to be ready to play matches in about a month.

Source: Under-identified clipping in the Mears collection - The Clipper or the Spirit of the Times - annotated "Sept 1859" in hand. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
-Entry 1859.39 of the Protoball Chronology

Protoball Chronology entry 1859.39 is problematic.  I've dealt with the problem mostly by ignoring it or rationalizing my disinterest in it by noting Larry McCray's description of the source as "under-identified."  But if we're to have a complete understanding of early baseball in St. Louis, we have to deal with 1859.39 and, to that end, I decided to take a closer look at the thing.

There are three aspects of 1859.39 that have to be looked at if we're to make any sense of the thing.  First, we need to deal with the issue surrounding the sourcing.  Second, we need to analysis the information contained within the source.  Finally, we need to consider the implications of the information gleaned from the source.  Hopefully, by doing this, 1859.39 will cease to be a thorn in my side and become a celebrated part of early St. Louis baseball history.

I. The Source

 I have nothing but the utmost respect for the work done by Larry and his group of diggers at Protoball and, being involved in the project myself, I know how the sausage is made.  I know that Larry isn't going to put something up on the site that isn't properly sourced.  Protoball is one of the best baseball history sites out there and I personally believe that it is the very best.  The integrity of the site can not be questioned.

With that in mind, I took Larry's description of 1859.39 as "under-identified" seriously.  It's always been a big red flag for me.  As a historian and researcher, I try to be meticulous in my sourcing.  You have to document your sources.  It's rule number one.  Document the source not just so that your work can be checked but so that others can find the source and use it or build on it.  A second-hand reference to a primary source is much different than the original source itself.  As a historian, I make judgements based on the sources I see but other people may reach different conclusions and sometimes they may reach better conclusions.  You have to allow others to see the original source so that they can reach their own uninfluenced conclusions.  And when you can't properly document the source, you tell people that, as Larry did with 1859.39.

But it was obvious that there was something there, although I didn't know what it was.  The source was provided by Craig Waff, a fantastic researcher who was well respected within the community of 19th century baseball historians.  I didn't know Craig but I know people who knew him and they all speak highly of him.  If Craig Waff found this and passed it along to Larry then there had to be something to it.  I couldn't be dismissed out of hand.

So where did Craig find this?  The entry at Protoball says that it was found in the Mears Collection and came from either the Clipper or the Spirit of the Times.  The first time I saw 1859.39, I had no idea what the Mears Collection was.  When I decided to get serious about digging into this, I did some research on the collection and found the scrapbooks contained in the collection online.  If you've been reading this site the last month or so, you know that I found the Mears Collection and that it contains an incredible wealth of information.  But the reason I went looking for the Mears Collection in the first place was to check the sourcing for 1859.39 and I was able to confirm that the information was in Volume 1 of the Mears Baseball Scrapbooks, grabbing the picture at the top of the post as proof.

But that was only the first step.  The problem with the Mears scrapbooks is that the sourcing within them is inconsistent.  Sometimes you can tell where the information comes from and sometimes you can only approximate the date.  And that's not good.  For 1859.39 to have any significance, we need to know where exactly it came from.  Waff gave us a general clue that it came from the Clipper or Spirit of the Times and that information is based on the nature of the Mears Collection, which contains the papers of William Rankin and Tim Murnane, but, based simply on the information we have in the chronology entry, we can't be sure what paper it originally appeared in.  This is what Larry meant when he notes that the source is under-identified.           

However, there is one more clue.  There is a hand-written note on the article from the Mears Collection that says "Sept. 1859" and you can see that in the picture above.  This, of course, implies that the article appeared in an issue of either the Clipper of Spirit of the Times in September of 1859.  And that's all the information I needed to run this thing down.

I started with the Clipper.  Fulton History has a nice online collection of 19th century New York newspapers that includes numerous back issues of the Clipper.  The search engine didn't return any information so I decided to browse the individual issues.  I have another, unrelated project I'm working on and I needed to look at back issues of the Clipper from the mid 1850s anyway so I started going through page after page, beginning in 1854.  About 2:30 in the morning, I remembered that I needed to check September 1859 and started looking through that.  And I found what I was looking for in the September 3, 1859 issue:

It was a rough looking copy and there was some damage at the bottom of the page, where the article appeared, but there was no doubt that this was the same article as the one that appeared in the Mears Collection.

So, based on this, we can identify 1859.39 as coming from the New York Clipper of September 3, 1859.  One problem solved.

II. The Information

So we confirmed that 1859.39 originally appeared in the Clipper in September 1859 but what information can we glean from the source.  Let's quickly go through what the source says:

  • "Club Organized. - A base ball club was organized in St. Louis, Mo., on the 1st inst."
This appears to be self-explanatory but there is a little wrinkle that we need to look at.  Obviously, the source relates the organization of a baseball club in St. Louis in 1859 but when exactly in 1859 did this happen?

The club organized on "the 1st inst." and that implies the first of the month.  "Inst." is an abbreviation for instant and refers to the previous first of the month.  With this notice appearing in the September 3rd issue of the Clipper, my immediate thinking was that the club was organized on September 1, 1859.  The notice appears on September 3 and the 1st inst., in relationship to September 3, would be September 1.  However, that's simply not possible.  There is no way that the information got from St. Louis to New York and into the Clipper in two days.  Therefore, "the 1st inst." can not refer to September 1, 1859 and most likely refers to August 1, 1859.  If the club organized on August 1, that's plenty of time for the information to reach New York and find its way into the newspaper.

  • " It boasts of being the first organization of the kind in that city, but will not, surely, long stand alone."
And here it is.  This is the most important piece of information in the notice and what makes 1859.39 so significant.  According to the Clipper, the first baseball club in St. Louis was formed on August 1, 1859.  This directly contradicts the Cyclone thesis - the idea that the Cyclones were the first baseball club in St. Louis - and the testimony of members of the Cyclone Club, several of whom stated that they formed the first baseball club in St. Louis in the summer of 1859.

While there is a great deal of evidence supporting the Cyclone thesis, there is no primary source evidence of their existence prior to 1860.  We have Griswold publishing the rules of the game in the Missouri Democrat in the spring of 1860 and then references to the match between the Cyclones and Morning Stars in July.  If you want to be technical, the earliest reference we have to the Cyclones comes from July 1860.  There is no primary source evidence that notes their existence prior to that.

I've been looking for primary source confirmation of the Cyclone thesis for years and have come up with very little.  I've discovered evidence around the edges - stuff like when Griswold came to St. Louis, when the Missouri Glass Company was formed and Ed Bredell's likely exposure to the game in the East.  All of that supports and strengthens the thesis.  But there is no smoking gun.  I'm looking for an article or notice of the formation of the club and have been unable to find it.

But we have 1859.39 and the formation of an unknown club in St. Louis on August 1, 1859.  Assuming that the club was playing the New York game (a reasonable assumption based on the fact that the notice appeared in the Clipper), then this is the earliest known reference we have to a baseball club in St. Louis.  Not only that, it's the earliest reference we have to baseball in the city.  We can argue the Cyclone thesis all we want but the fact remains that this is the earliest documented baseball club in St. Louis history.  And, it's important to notice, the club itself makes the claim that they are the first baseball club in St. Louis.   

  •  " It numbers already 18 members..."
Eighteen members is the absolute minimum number of members that a baseball club could have.  If they're playing the New York game, they need nine men a side and, therefore, eighteen members to play a game.  It's really not enough guys.  A baseball club of the era really needed about thirty playing members to ensure that enough people showed up on club days to have a game.  It's possible that the Unknown Club added more members after its formation but it's also possible that the club fell apart due to a lack of members.

  • "...officers as follows: President, C. D. Paul; Vice do, J. T. Haggerty; Secretary, C. Thurber; Treasurer, E. R. Paul."
 I've been able to identify three of the four officers of the Unknown Club.

Chas. D. Paul, according to the 1860 census, was born Missouri in 1840 and was living with his father, Edmund W. Paul.  He was working as a printer.

E.R. Paul, according to the same source, was born in Missouri in 1838 and was also living with his father.  He worked as a real estate agent, most likely with his father, who was also a real estate agent.  The 1860 St. Louis directory lists E.R. Paul's occupation as clerk, so he was probably working as a clerk for his father.  One assumes that his first name was Edmund, like the father.

It's obvious, based on the sources, that Charles and Edmund Paul were brothers.   

There is a Charles H. Thurber in the 1860 city directory, working as a clerk in an insurance office and it's likely that this is the C. Thurber of the Unknown Club.  According to the 1860 census, there was a Charles Thurber living in St. Louis, who was born in 1842.  The Missouri Historical Society has some information about Charles H. Thurber that confirms that the Thurber in the city directory is the Thurber in the census.  According to their information about the Charles H. Thurber papers, "Charles H. Thurber was born in 1842 and mustered into the Union Army at the St. Louis Arsenal on 11 July 1861 as a 2nd Lieutenant in Buell’s Battery, Missouri Volunteers.  Throughout 1861 and 1862 he was mustered into various batteries until his battery was transferred to the 1st Missouri Light Artillery, Battery I in August 1862. The battery was part of the Army of the Tennessee and was at the Battle of Shiloh. Eventually Thurber returned to Missouri and was captain of Company L of the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery Battery that participated in forcing General Joseph O Shelby’s retreat from western Missouri. Thurber died in 1891."  I'll post more information on Thurber soon. 

There are numerous J. Haggerty's in the city directory and the census.  Most are blue collar workers, although one is an engineer.  There is one John Haggerty in the census who was 19 and listed his occupation as laborer but I've not as yet made what I believe to be a positive identification. 

  • "They announce their determination to be ready to play matches in about a month."
Who were they going to play?  "Matches" implies games played between clubs but if they're the first baseball club in St. Louis, who would they play a match game against?  Maybe they're talking about intra-club matches.  I don't know.

 III. Implications

I've written before about the need to recognize what we know and separate that from what we think we know.  By this, I mean that we need to recognize what facts we've established through primary source documentation and separate that from the things that we think we know based on secondary sources and deductive reasoning.  It's important to remember that a lot of what I do involves deductive reasoning, intuition and guess work.  There's so many holes in the historical record, especially prior to 1860, that we make a lot of educated guesses about what was happening.  We have to remember that a lot of this is guess work rather than established fact.

1859.39 is an established fact.  An unknown baseball club formed in St. Louis on August 1, 1859.  This unknown club is the earliest documented club that we know of.  Evidence of this club predates the evidence we have regarding the Cyclones, Morning Stars, Empires and Unions.  That's a fact.  That's real.  Unless other evidence presents itself, we have to accept that the Unknown Club is the earliest St. Louis baseball club we have evidence of.

This is extremely significant because it brings the Cyclone thesis into question.  The testimony of the former Cyclones leads us to believe that the club was established in the summer of 1859 but there is no primary source material supporting this.  The Unknown Club was established in the summer of 1859 and we know that for a fact.  It's much easier at this point to make an argument that the Unknown Club was the first baseball club in St. Louis history and that the Cyclones didn't form until 1860.  Occam's razor forces me to this position.

1859.39 and the Unknown Club forces us to re-evaluate the Cyclone thesis, Merritt Griswold's role in introducing the New York game into St. Louis and everything we know about the origins of the game in the city.  It is a significant source and running it down, I believe, is one of the most important things I've done as a researcher.  It brings everything into question.      

And this is not, in any way, a negative thing.  This is something to be celebrated.  I've been trying to find primary source material about St. Louis baseball in 1859 for years, without any success.  Now I have it.  I've proven (with the extraordinary help of Craig Waff and Larry McCray), beyond a doubt, that baseball was being played in St. Louis in 1859 and that the first club formed that year.  Did all of this happen exactly as I expected it to happen?  Absolutely not.  But it's done.  It's an established fact that can never be erased.  That's a fantastic thing.

Now I just have to deal with the fallout and I'll start by posting a restatement and re-evaluation of the Cyclone thesis here in the near future.      

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Reds, Of Course, Were Not Allowed To Score A Run

On April 28 the amateur Red Stocking Club of St. Louis, called so in compliment to the Boston champions, met the professional White Stocking nine.  The players of the St. Louis "Reds" are lithe and active youngsters, who go in for fielding skill in preference to heavy hitting, and on this special occasion they gave the Chicago professionals about as close a fight as they are likely to have in their championship battles in the professional arena.  The contest up to the close of the fifth inning was marked by one of the prettiest displays of fielding ever seen in St. Louis, neither side scoring a single run.  In the sixth inning, owing to a wild throw of Redmond's, the Chicagos escaped a blank, and before the inning closed they had credited themselves with four runs, not one of which was earned.  In the seventh and eighth innings the "Reds" again "whitewashed" the "Whites," and it was only in the last inning that the Chicago nine even came near earning a run, errors giving them two more, which made their total 5.  The "Reds," of course, were not allowed to score a run.  The game was witnessed by a numerous assemblage of spectators, and the result of the game, so different from that anticipated, will have a tendency to give a new interest to the national pastime in St. Louis.
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 2, 1870-1877

I'm always entertained, for some reason, by the whipping the Chicagos gave to the St. Louis clubs in 1874.  They went through the best that St. Louis had to offer like a knife through butter, like Sherman marching through the South, like something something through a goose.  And it's an important moment in the history of St. Louis baseball.  When the Chicagos got through chewing bubble gum and kicking butt, the baseball fraternity in St. Louis realized that it was time to put together a serious professional club, leading to the birth of the Brown Stockings.