Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Our Late Worthy President

There will be a called meeting of the Union Base Ball club in parlor No. 5 at the Southern hotel, on Saturday evening next, the 8th inst., at eight o'clock, to adopt resolutions and take such other action as may be deemed necessary upon the sad and unexpected death of our late worthy president, Asa W. Smith.

All other base ball clubs are politely and urgently invited to send delegates to this meeting, without further notice, to unite with us in doing honor to an esteemed and respected member of our fraternity. 

By order of the club.
W.C. Steigers, Treasurer.

A meeting of the "Missouri State Association of Base Ball Players" is hereby called for Saturday evening, the 8th inst., in parlor No. 5 at the Southern hotel, to co-operate with the Union Base Ball club in such action as they may take upon the death of Mr. Asa W. Smith, late president of the Union Base Ball Club.  A full attendance of delegates from the various clubs comprising the organization is requested.

By order of the president, Wm. Medart.
F. Williams, Secretary.
-St. Louis Republican, August 4, 1874

I've been thinking about the death of Asa Smith lately and the importance of the 1874 season in general.  If the Empire Club's victories of 1865 represent the end of the pioneer era in St. Louis then the death of Smith marks the end of the amateur era in the city.  In 1875, the professional clubs would dominate St. Louis baseball and this, in many ways, was the culmination of everything that Smith was working towards over the last decade.  It's rather tragic that he didn't live to see the birth of openly professional baseball in St. Louis and a St. Louis club competing for a national championship but professional, championship baseball, that continues in St. Louis to this day, is his legacy.  Smith had pretty much been out of baseball since about 1870 or 1871 but the things he put into motion, in the second half of the 1860s, created the environment that allowed for the birth of modern St. Louis baseball. 

I've been thinking about the proper way to construct the story of the 1866-1874 amateur baseball era in St. Louis and, in many ways, it's the story of Asa Smith.  It just happens to be a rather convenient narrative point that he dies as the era ends.  

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