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1854.22 "Greatest Game of Base Ball Ever Played in this Country"
An Old Fashioned Base-Ball Club
The Stoneham 'One Hundred and Fifty' Held the Championship Forty Years Ago
"Forty years ago Stoneham was the greatest base ball town in New England and the Kearsarge Base Ball Club held the championship. In these days base ball playing has dwindled down to such an insignificant proportion that it only takes nine men on a side to play a game, but forty years ago this Spring the Kearsarge Club had no fewer than 150 players and a club that could get the best of them in a game of 'three-year-old-cat' [sic] had to be pretty spry. The club had a reunion at Maker's Hotel last evening, and after dinner talked baseball as it ought to be played now and as it was played in the days when the club was the leading social as well as the only athletic club in Stoneham in addition to being champion of New England. The reunion was attended by about fifty of the oldest players. Myron J. Ferris was the orator of the occasion, and he talked until the umpire called him out. During his address he recalled to the minds of those present the events of the greatest game ever played in this country. It was the game between the Kearsarge and Ashland clubs, and was played on the Boston Common forty years ago.
"The Kearsarge team won, and when the members got back to Stoneham that evening they were given about as much an ovation as were the soldiers when they returned from the war. Richard Park was the umpire of that memorable game and he was present last evening and told how he helped the team win. Then he told of the base ball league that which was formed after the war. This was a wonderful league then, but what would the baseball public think now if the Stoneham, and Peabody then South Danvers, and Saugus with a few other little towns should get up a base ball league. The league was prosperous and the players had a good time. Other speakers gave interesting accounts of baseball forty years ago."
Boston Evening Transcript, March 23, 1894, page 3.
Variant uses of "base ball" and "baseball" are as printed.
Can readers provide insight as to what game was played on Boston Common in 1854, whether there was a post Civil War league in this area, and otherwise help us interpret this account?
1857.45 Sharon MA Victory in Boston Seen As State Championship
"A much more pleasing picture is the recreation enjoyed by the boys of the 33rd [MA] Regiment. There were thirteen Sharon boys in the regiment and most of them had been members of the Sharon Massapoags, the state baseball champions of 1857. They were very fond of telling their [Civil War] soldier friends of this exciting occasion in which they defeated their rivals, the Olympics, in three straight games. They had borrowed red flannel shirts from the Stoughton Fire Department and contended for the championship on Boston Common. The last train for Sharon left around four o'clock. By special arrangement with the Providence R. R. they had been allowed to ride home in an empty freight attached to a regular train."
Amy Morgan Rafter Pratt, The History of Sharon, Massachusetts to 1865 (Boston U master's thesis, 1935, page74. Search string: <morgan rafter pratt>.
1858.2 New York All-Stars Beat Brooklyn All-Stars, 2 games to 1; First Admission Fee [A Dime] Charged
"The Great Base Ball Match of 1858, which was a best 2 out of 3 games series, embodies four landmark events that are pivotal to the game's history"
1. It was organized base ball's very first all-star game.
2. It was the first base ball game in the New York metropolitan area to be played on an enclosed ground.
3. It marked the first time that spectators paid for the privilege of attending a base ball game -- a fee of 10 cents gave admission to the grounds.
4. The game played on September 10, 1858 is at present  the earliest known instance of an umpire calling strike on a batter." The New York Game had adopted the called strike for the 1858 season. It is first known to have been employed (many umpires refused to do so) at a New York vs. Brooklyn all-star game at Fashion Race Course on Long Island. The umpire was D.L. (Doc) Adams of the Knickerbockers, who also chaired the National Association of Base Ball Players Rules Committee. But see Warning, below.
These games are believed to have been the first the newspapers subjected to complete play-by-play accounts, in the New York Sunday Mercury, July 25, 1858.
The New York side won the series, 2 games to 1. But Brooklyn was poised to become base ball's leading city.
Schaefer, Robert H., "The Great Base Ball Match of 1858: Base Ball's First All-Star Game," Nine, Volume 14, no 1, (2005), pp 47-66. See also Robert Schaefer, "The Changes Wrought by the Great Base Ball Match of 1858," Base Ball Journal, Volume 5, number 1 (Special Issue on Origins), pages 122-126.
Coverage of the game in Porter's Spirit of the Times, July 24, 1858, is reprinted in Dean A. Sullivan, Compiler and Editor, Early Innings: A Documentary History of Baseball, 1825-1908[University of Nebraska Press, 1995], pp. 27-29.
The Spirit article itself is "The Great Base Ball Match," Spirit of the Times, Volume 28, number 24 (Saturday, July 24, 1858), page 288, column 2. Facsimile provided by Craig Waff, September 2008.
John Thorn, "The All-Star Game You Don't Know", Our Game, http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/07/08/the-all-star-game-you-dont-know/
Thomas Gilbert, How Baseball Happened, ( David R. Godine, 2020) pp 163-168.
For more context, including the fate of the facility, see William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning, McFarland, 2009), pp. 77-80.
See also John Zinn, "The Rivalry Begins: Brooklyn vs. New York", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century.(SABR, 2013), pp.10-12.
Richard Hershberger (email of 10/6/2014) points out that the Sunday Mercury account of this game's key at bat "makes it clear that they were swinging strikes'[not called strikes].
These games were reportedly most intensely-covered base ball event to date-- items on the planning and playing of the "Fashion Race Course" games began during the first week in June. Coverage can be found in both the sporting weeklies (New York Clipper, New York Sunday Mercury, Porter's Spirit Of The Times, The Spirit Of The Times) and several dailies (New York Evening Express, New York Evening Post, New York Herald, New York Tribune). Note --Craig Waff turned up 26 news accounts for the fashion games in Games Tab 1.0: see http://protoball.org/Games_Tab:Greater_New_York_City#date1859-9-7.
The Sunday Mercury's path-breaking play-by-play accounts were probably written by Mercury editor William Cauldwell and are enlivened with colorful language and descriptions, such as describing a batting stance as "remindful of Ajax Defying the lamp-lighter", a satire on the classical sculpture, Ajax Defying the Lightning.
This series of games has also been cited as the source of the oldest known base balls: "Doubts about the claims made for the 'oldest' baseball treasured as relics have no existence concerning two balls of authenticated history brought to light by Charles De Bost . . . . De Bost is the son of Charles Schuyler De Bost, Captain and catcher for the Knickerbocker Baseball Club in the infancy of the game." The balls were both inscribed with the scores of the Brooklyn - NY Fashion Course Games of July and September 1858. Both balls have odd one-piece covers the leather having been cut in four semi-ovals still in one piece, the ovals shaped like the petals of a flower." Source: 'Oldest Baseballs Bear Date of 1858,' unidentified newspaper clipping, January 21, 1909, held in the origins of baseball file at the Giamatti Center at the HOF.
Richard Hershberger (email of 10/6/2014) points out that the Sunday Mercury account of this game's key at bat "makes it clear that they were swinging strikes'[not called strikes].
Note: for a 2021 email exchange on claims of base ball "firsts" in this series of games, see below
Tom Shieber; 3;31 PM, 11/11/21:
The New York Atlas of August 13, 1859, ran a story about the August 2, 1859, baseball game between the Excelsior and Knickerbocker clubs that took place at the former club's grounds in South Brooklyn. (It was after this game that the well-known on-field photo of the two clubs was taken.) In the first paragraph of the story I find the following statement: "There was also a large number of carriages around the enclosure."
I believe that there is the general belief that the Union Grounds in Williamsburgh were the first enclosed baseball grounds. Should we rethink that?
Tom Gilbert, 4:29 PM:
I don't think so -- the mere existence of a rail fence surrounding or partially surrounding the Excelsiors' grounds in Red Hook does not make it a ballpark in any sense. the Union Grounds had stands, concessions, bathrooms, dressing rooms - and most important: it regularly charged admission - this was the key reason for the fence. the union grounds was the first enclosed baseball grounds in the only significant sense of the word.
John Thorn, 4:48 PM:
[sends image of 1860 game at South Brooklyn Grounds]
Gilbert, 4:54 PM:
Note the rail fence that might keep a carriage or a horse off the playing field-- but not a spectator.
Shieber, 8:34 PM:
Yes, but.... "Enclosed" was the term of art used at the time. The confusion in the 1859 cite is that this term of art was not yet established. Jump forward a decade and "enclosed ground" means a board fence. This usually implied the charging of admission, but not always. Occasionally it was for privacy. An example is the Knickerbockers, when they moved from the Elysian Fields to the St. George grounds. The St. George CC, for that matter, did not usually admit spectators, except for infrequent grand matches. The Olympics of Philadelphia had their own enclosed ground by 1864. They later started charging admission to match games, but initially this was a privacy fence. So it is complicated.
Bob Tholkes, 7:53 AM, 11/12/21:
A ballpark for us is a place where baseball is played; even major league parks like the Polo Grounds were built originally for other purposes, and used for other purposes after baseball became their most frequent purpose.
If this game did not give us the first called strikes, when did such actually appear?
1858.10 Four-day Attendance of 40,000 Souls Watch Famous Roundball Game in Worcester
"One of the most celebrated games of roundball was played on the Agricultural Grounds in Worcester, Mass., in 1858. It was between the Medways of Medway and the Union Excelsiors. It was for $1000 a side. It took four days to play the game. The attendance was more than 10,000 at each day a play [sic]. In the neighboring towns the factories gave their employees holidays to see the game."
"H. S.," [Henry Sargent?] of Grafton, MA, "Roundball," New York Sun, May 8, 1905, p.6. From an unidentified clipping found in the Giamatti Center. The clipping is noted as "60-27" and it may be from the Spalding Collection.
David Nevard raises vital questions about this account: "I have my doubts about this item - it just doesn't seem to fit. 1) The club names don't sound right. The famous club from Medway was the Unions, not the Medways, and I haven't seen any other mention of Union Excelsiors. 2) Lowry's evolution of the longest Mass Game does not mention this one. He shows the progression (in 1859) as 57 inns, 61 inns, 211 inns. It seems like a 4 day game in 1858 would have lasted longer than 57 innings. 3) It's a recollection 50 years after the fact. $1000, 10,000 people." [Email to Protoball, 2/27/07.]
The source also contains a lengthy description of "Massachusetts roundball", reprinted in Exposition in Class-Room Practice by Theodore C. Mitchell and George R. Carpenter, 1906, p. 239
Can we either verify or disprove the accuracy of this recollection?
1860.40 "Championship" Game: Atlantic 20, Eckford 11
"Great Match for the Championship. Atlantic vs. Eckford. The Atlantics Victorious" The article notes: "the results of the games this season between the Atlantics and the Excelsiors led them [sic] latter to withdraw entirely from the battle for the championship, which next season will lay between the Eckfords and Atlantics." by Craig Waff, September 2008.
New York Clipper Volume 8, number 30 (November 10, 1860), page 237, column 1.
The article includes a play-by-account of the game, and unusually detailed box scores, including fielding plays and a five-column "how put out" table. Also included were counts for "passed balls on which bases were run" , "struck out" , "catches missed on the fly" [9, by six named players], "catches missed on the bound" , and "times left on base" 
1861.23 War Sinks Silver Balls
[A] "CONTESTS FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP.-- Additional interest will be imparted to the ensuing base ball season by the playing of a series of contests between the senior, as well as between the junior clubs, for a silver champion ball (and)...will initiate a new system of general rivalry, which will, we hope, be attended with the happiest results to the further progress and popularity of the game of base ball.
[B] "We learn from Daniel Manson, chairman pro tem. of the Junior National Association, that the Committee on Championship have resolved to postpone the proposed match games for the championship...Among the reasons...is the fact that quite a number of the more advanced players, from the clubs selected for the championship, have enlisted for the war."
[C] The senior-club silver ball competition, offered not by the national association but by the Continental BBC, a non-contender, was also not held due to the war. In 1862, with the war then appearing to be of indefinite duration, the Continental offered it as a prize to the winner of the informal championship matches, with those games played as a benefit for the families of soldiers.
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, April 7, 1861
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, May 12, 1861
1862.1 Brooklyn Games Organized as Benefits for Sick and Wounded Soldiers
Three games were announced in June 1862 for which net proceeds would be used for sick and wounded Union soldiers. The Eckfords and the Atlantics would play for a silver ball donated by the Continental Club. William Cammeyer provided the enclosed Union grounds without charge. Admission fees of 10 cents were projected to raise $6000 for soldiers' relief. The Eckford won the Silver Ball by winning two of three games.
"Relief for the Sick and Wounded," Brooklyn Eagle, June 21, 1862, page 2.
Craig Waff, "The 'Silver Ball' Game-- Eckfords vs. Atlantics at the Union Grounds", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 39-42
1864c.52 Former Mass-Game Champs Form Winning Wartime Team
"A much more pleasing picture is the recreation enjoyed by the boys of the 33rd [MA] Regiment. There were thirteen Sharon boys in the regiment and most of them had been members of the Sharon Massapoags, the state baseball champions of 1857. . . .
"They formed a nine of their own and soon defeated every team in the regiment. The New York boys of the 136th regiment next fell before them. At Atlanta their contest with a nine from the whole Cumberland army was crowned with success. Though unfortunately, but quite naturally the victors became insufferably conceited."
Amy Morgan Rafter Pratt, The History of Sharon, Massachusetts to 1865 (Boston U masters thesis, 1935), page 74. Search string: <morgan rafter pratt>.
1866.4 Admission charged for Atlantic - Athletic championship matches
The Atlantic of Brooklyn and the Athletic of Philadelphia played two of three scheduled matches for the championship of 1866; admission was charged for both games.
Eric Miklich, "Money Ball-- Atlantics vs. Athletics", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 51-52.
1866.11 California Clubs Hold Conventions, View Championship Games
"In 1866 . . . about a half dozen California baseball clubs sent representatives to first Pacific Base Ball Convention in san Francisco. This was primarily a San Francisco affair; only one team, the Live Oaks from Oakland, came from outside the city. This gathering of baseball tribes sought to standardize rules and organize a local championship."
A second SF convention was held the following year, and "twenty-five clubs from as far away as San Jose attended the meeting. One account claims that one hundred clubs" attended.
P. Zingg and M. Medeiros, Runs, Hits, and an Era: The Pacific Coast League, 1903-1958 (University of Illinois Press, Chicago, 1994), page 2. Cited in Kevin Nelson, The Golden Game: The Story of California Baseball (California Historical Society Press, San Francisco, 2004), page 12.
Is there an indication of what standardization was needed, and whether rules were discussed or adopted that wee at variance with New York rules?
Can we determine what original sources Zingg and Medeiros used?
1866.12 Club Claims County Championship in MA
"ANAWAN BASE BALL CLUB - The Anawan Base Ball Club, of Mansfield, which was organized August 4, 1866, claims to be thus far the champion club of Bristol County. The following is the report of the matched games it has played this season - September 1, 1866, Norfolk, of Foxboro, 39, Anawan, 26; 8th, Rough and Ready, of South Walpole, 17, Anawan, 99; 15th, Taunton, of Taunton, 13, Anawan, 154; Oct. 13, Taunton, of Taunton, 23; Anawan, 30; 23d, Norfolk, of Foxboro, 14, Anawan, 52; 25th, Chemung, of Stoughton, 2nd 9, 27, Anawan, 2nd 9, 63; Chemung, of Stoughton, 1st 9, 24, Anawan, 1st 9, 45".
Taunton Union Gazette and Democrat November 1, 1866
Mansfield MA (1866 pop. about 2300) is about 25 miles SW of Boston and about 20 miles NE of Providence RI.
1867.5 Morrisania Club Takes 1867 Championship, 14-13
The Union Club of Morrisania won the 1867 Championship, winning its second game of the series, 14-13, over the Atlantic Club. Charlie Pabor is the winning pitcher. Akin at shortstop and Austin in center field make spectacular fielding plays.
Game played Oct. 10, 1867.
Gregory Christiano, Baseball in the Bronx, Before the Yankees (PublishAmerica, 2013), page 75. Original sources to be supplied.
Can we add something about the first game, and the sites of each game? A bit more about interim game scoring?
1867.21 Wisconsin's First State Base Ball Tourney Lists $1500 in Prizes
"FIRST ANNUAL STATE BASE BALL TOURNAMENT OF WISCONSIN, $1500 IN PRIZES TO BE AWARDED. There will be a State Base Ball Tournament at Beloit, Wis. commencing Tuesday, 30 September, 1867. Under the auspices of the Wisconsin Association of Base Ball Players.
"The following are the prizes to be awarded. . . ."
"A New Baseball Discovery," John Thorn, June 17, 2013, posted at https://ourgame.mlblogs.com/a-new-baseball-discovery-a1d8f579388.
(John found the 7-foot broadside for the tournament at the Beloit Historical Society, and posted it in a short article about the experience.)
Top first class prize -- $100 cash and $100 Gold Mounted Bat
Junior prizes (under age 18), "Pony Clubs" (under age 15)
Prizes for top out-of-state club, plus several "special" prizes: best pitcher, best catcher, most homers, best runner, best thrower.
From John Pregler: "The Beloit Free Press published the following complete list of the prizes awarded at the Beloit Base Ball Tournament:
Senior Clubs - First Class: 1st prize, Cream City of Milwaukee; 2nd prize: Whitewater of Whitewater; 3rd prize: Badgers of Beloit.
Second Class: 1st, Capital City Jr. of Madison; 2nd: Delavan of Delavan; 3rd, Eagle of Beloit.
Juniors: 1st, Badger Jr of Beloit; 2nd, Excelsior Jr of Janesville.
Pony: Rock River Jr of Beloit
Outside the State - Seniors: 1st, Phoenix of Belvidere, IL; 2nd, Mutual of Chicago" - Janesville Gazette, Sept. 19, 1867
[A] Is "Pony Club" a common term for teen clubs?
[B] Wasn't $1500 a tidy sum in 1867?
-- from John Thorn, 9/22/20: "$1500 was a hefty prize: $27,783.73 in 2019 dollars (via Consumer Price Index adjustment)."
1870.10 Philly Paper Lists Betting Odds for US Championship Match in Brooklyn
"The Athletic Base Ball Club [of Philadelphia]has again been defeated, making the sixth thrashing [of 11-10] which they have received during the present season. This afternoon [September 15] they played on the Union Grounds, in Brooklyn, the deciding game for the championship of the United States, with the Mutual Club . . . . Bets were freely offered prior to the game of a hundred to fifty . . . but even at these heavy odds there were few takers." The crowd was reported as about three thousand persons.
"Another Defeat," Philadelphia Inquirer, September 16, 1870. As reproduced on Richard Hershberger's Facebook posting, September 15, 2020
"Note also how the betting line is featured prominently in the account. The baseball press routinely decried the influence of gambling on baseball, while carefully reporting the odds. Consistency was not a priority here.
"The crowd of three thousand seems a bit low. It is respectable for this era, but a really big game would draw a lot more. The Philadelphians claimed that that the A's held the championship, with this loss passing it to the Mutuals. No one outside Philadelphia really believed the A's held the championship, or more would have turned out today."
-- Richard Hershberger, 9/15/2020
1871.3 Coup d'grace for the Amateur Era
"In March 1871, ten members of the National Association met in New York for the purpose of forming a new group...This act essentially killed the National Association."
Marshall Wright, The National Association of Base Ball Players, 1857-1870, p.328
1871.8 First Co-Ed college baseball game?
Sheppard (ed.),"History of Northwestern University and Evanston" p 154 cites the college paper as reporting that on July 4, 1871: "Baseball Match Between Ladies' College nine and Northwestern University: prize a silver ball: score 57 to 4 in favor of Northwestern."
The "Evanston College for Ladies" was at the time separate from the main college.
Sheppard (ed.),"History of Northwestern University and Evanston" p 154. Seymour, "The People's Game" also references this event.
1871.12 Pro Clubs to Meet in March, National Association Starts Its Fade
"The appointed meeting of the Secretaries of the professional clubs, announced to take place in New York on the 17th of March, St. Patrick's Day, has been changed into a convention of the professionals, and the meeting will settle not only the dates of all the matches for the season, but also the championship question. The best thing they can do is to organize an association of professional clubs at once. . . .
"Mr. Chadwick resigned all connection to the National Association last October. . . . To the Excelsior club in this city [Brooklyn] is due the credit of inaugurating the movement for an amateur association . . . ."
Brooklyn Eagle, February 28, 1871.
Richard Hershberger, 2/28/2021: This column "tacitly acknowledges that the old National Association is dead. Or perhaps it is a nail in the coffin to make sure it stays that way. The National Association met last December just as it had for years. It adopted rules revisions, elected officers, and so on. From a procedural perspective, it is chugging along as always. But it is in fact dead. The corpse will twitch a little bit, but there will never be any discussion of holding the convention next December."
"The discussion of the upcoming meeting of March 17 is portentous. It was originally called by Nick Young, secretary of the Olympics of Washington, so the professional clubs could coordinate their schedules. The idea wasn't to set up a detailed schedule, but so that a club going to, for example, Chicago could be confident that the Chicago Club wasn't in Boston at the time. The secretary of the Chicago Club has suggested upgrading the meeting to also set up a formal championship system for the professionals."
From 150 Years Ago in baseball FB posting
Did the March 17 date hold up? Was it held in NYC?
Was St. Patrick's Day an extra special day in the 1870s?
Was Chadwick's departure a matter of controversy? Why?
1871.17 Philadelphia Claims Best 1870 US Record -- Over the Red Stockings? Really?
"BASE BALL MATTERS: Answers to Correspondents:
[to] K. S. M. The Mutuals of New York city won the national championship last year, but the Athletics of this city had the best record. . . ."
Philadelphia Sunday Mercury April 9, 1871; See Hershberger commentary, below/.
Richard Hershberger, FB Posting, April 9. 2021:
"150 years ago in baseball: a bit of historical revisionism via homerism by the Philadelphia sporting press. Thank goodness that no longer plagues us! For the record, the 1870 Mutuals went 68-17-3 while the Athletics went 65-11-1. Presumably the claim to a better record was based on winning percentage, rather than absolute number of games won. This criterion was not at all established at the time. The problem with claiming the moral, if not nominal, championship this way is that the Cincinnati Club went 67-6-1. Those records include both professional and amateur games. Perhaps the writer was thinking of just professional games? The Athletics went 26-11-1, while the Cincinnatis went 27-6-1. So while there is an argument to be made that the A's had a better record than the Mutuals, this is not at all the same as the A's having the best record. So it goes."
Did the Mutuals themselves claim the best 1870 record, or just the NABBP Championship, or what?