Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Alton Base Ball Clubs of 1858

The Alton Base-Ball Club. - Pursuant to notice, a meeting was held on the evening of May 18, to organize a club, on which occasion J.H. Hibbard was called to the chair.  The chairman made a few remarks, explanatory of the object of the organization, the meting proceeded to elect officers, J.J. Hibbard was duly elected President; John Bailer, Vice-President; J.M. Stauton, Secretary; Thomas Diminock, Treasurer; A.J. Hawley, Br. Hez. Williams and E.T. Sneernigen, Executive Committee.

The Upper Alton Base Ball Club, the name of the officers I am not in receipt of , which was organized a short time after, sent us a challenge to play a match game, on Saturday, the 19th of June, which was accepted by our club; each side had five innings, and thirteen players each, with the following result:

The Alton Base-Ball Club made...224 rounds
The Upper Alton Base-Ball Club made...90 rounds

L.B. Sidway, George S. Ferguson, Joseph Quigley, scorers and umpires.  I remain your obd't servant,  One of the A.B.B.C.
-Mears Baseball Scrapbook, Volume 4, 1856-1907

Based on information in the Protoball Chronology, this probably comes from Porter's Spirit of the Times, Volume 4, Number 20 (July 17, 1858). 

I've written before about these Alton clubs and the significance of the source material that we have on them and their games.  These are the earliest known baseball clubs in the St. Louis area and their matches are the earliest known matches for which we have a contemporary source.  They, of course, were not playing the New York game but, rather, a local variant of American baseball.  It's unknown if this variant, with five innings a game and thirteen a side, was prevalent throughout the St. Louis area or unique to Alton but it's an interesting glimpse at baseball in the St. Louis area prior to the introduction of the New York game.   

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