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First Chicago Club Forms

Salience Noteworthy
Location Illinois
City/State/Country: Chicago, IL, United States
Game Base Ball, Town Ball
Age of Players Adult

[A]  "A team called the Unions is said to have played in Chicago in 1856, but the earliest newspaper report of a game is found in the Chicago Daily Journal of August 17, 1858, which tells of a match game between the Unions and the Excelsiors to be playing on August 19.  A few other games ere mentioned during the same year."

[B] "Though baseball match games had been played in Illinois since the very early 1850's, the first Chicago Club, the Union, was not established until 1856."

[C] "There seems to be some doubt as to when the first baseball club was organized at Chicago, but it has been stated that a club called the Unions played town ball there in 1856."

[D] If these claims are discounted, modern base ball can dated in Chicago in 1858 when a convention of clubs takes place and the Knick rules are published. 


[A] Edwina Guilfoil, et. al., Baseball in Old Chicago (Federal Writers' Project of Works Project Administration, 1939), unpaginated page 4.

[B] John R. Husman, "Ohio's First Baseball Game," Presented at the 34th SABR Convention, July 2004.

[C] Alfred Spink, The National Game (Southern Illinois Press, 2000 -- first edition 1910), page 63.

[D] "A Knickerbocker," Base Ball, Chicago Press and Tribune, July 9, 1858.


None of these sources gives a reference to evidence of the 1856 formation of the Union Club, so we here rely on the documented reference to a planned 1858 game. 


Jeff Kittel (email of 3/9/2013) notes that there is an August 1857 Chicago Tribune article on a cricket club called the Union Club; perhaps later memories confused the cricket or town ball clubs with a modern-rules base ball club? 

Jeff also notes that  "[A date of] late 1857/1858 fits the time frame for the spread of the game south and west of Chicago - into Western Iowa by 1858 and St. Louis by 1859, with hints that it's in central Illinois by 1859/60.  That spread pattern also fits the economic/cultural spread model that we've kicked around."  


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Can we find any clear basis for the report of 1856 establishment of modern base ball? 

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Submitted by Jeffrey Kittel, John Thorn
Submission Note Emails of 4/9/2013

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