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1860.14 Potomacs "Conquer" Nationals in Washington
"For many reasons this game has excited more interest than any other ever played hereabouts." "Geo Hibbs, Dooley, and Beale of the National, went into the "corking" line pretty largely, the latter leading the score of his side."
"Base Ball: Potomac vs. National: the Conquering Game," Washington [DC] Evening Star, October 23, 1860, page 3.
The Evening Star carries a full game account and box score. It was the deciding game of the match.
1861c.3 Lincoln and Baseball: The Presidential Years
[A] "We boys, for hours at a time, played "town ball" [at my grandfather's estate in Silver Spring, MD] on the vast lawn, and Mr. [Abe] Lincoln would join ardently in the sport. I remember vividly how he ran with the children; how long were his strides, and how far his coat-tails stuck out behind, and how we tried to hit him with the ball, as he ran the bases."
[B] "Years after the Civil War, Winfield Scott Larner of Washington remembered attending a game played on an old Washington circus lot in 1862...Lincoln, followed by his son Tad...made his way up to where he could see the game...On departing Lincoln and Tad accepted three loud cheers from the crowd."
[A] Recollection [c.1890?] of Frank P. Blair III in Ida M. Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 (Lincoln Memorial Association, New York, 1900), page 88.
[B] The Evening Star (Washington, D. C.), July 12, 1914. Quoted in American Baseball: From Gentleman's Sport to the Commissioner System (university of Oklahoma Press, 1966), p.11.
Blair, whose grandfather was Lincoln's Postmaster General, lived in Silver Spring, MD, just outside Washington. Blair was born in 1858 or 1859.
1861.17 American Guard [71st NY Regt] 42, Nationals BB Club 13
"The National Base Ball Club requests the pleasure of your company on their grounds at the intersection of Maryland Avenue and 6th Street, East, on Tuesday, July 2d , at twelve o'clock, to witness a match game with the 71st Regiment Base Ball Club"
71st Regiment Veterans Association, "History of the 71st Regiment, N.G., N.Y.," (Eastman, New York, 1919), pages 157, 232, and 236-237. Accessed 5/30/2009 via Google Books search "71st regiment baseball." PBall file: CW-3.
The 71st had the duty to protect the Nation's Capital against rebel incursions, and fielded a picked nine to play a National BBC nine. After three innings, they led 12-2, and coasted to victory. A familiar name for the 71st was 3b Van Cott, and for the Nationals French played 3b. The regimental history later reported that the game "was witnessed by a large number of spectators." The Philadelphia Inquirer announced the contest on July 1 under the headline "The New York Seventy-First Despairing of Work, Going to Play Ball." Note: Frank Ceresi reports [19CBB posting of 2/28/2009] that the French collection of the Washington Historical Society includes a handwritten scoresheet for the match, which describes a 41-13 Army victory.
The two sides played again a year later. On August 7, 1862, the Nationals won a rematch, 28-13. The regimental history says that "the game was played on the parade ground; the result was not as satisfactory to the boys as the year before. There was quite a concourse of spectators on the occasion, including a number of ladies . . . . At the close the players were refreshed with sandwiches and lager." On June 25th, 1862, and the regiment's company K took on the rest of the regiment and lost 33-11.
1861.35 Awaiting Deployment to Washington, the 44th NY Plays Ball Evenings
1861: While the regiment trained at an Albany facility in September, a local newspaper noted: “They are under drill six hours during the day . . . Their leisure hours are devoted in great part to athletic exercises, fencing, boxing, and ball-playing, while their evenings are passed in singing, a glee club having been formed.” [page 17]. In a Virginia camp near Washington, “Christmas day of 1861 was given up to the enlisted men. They played ball in the morning and in the afternoon organized a burlesque parade which was very comical” [page 56].
1863: The regiment was near Culpepper in September. “Capt. B. K. Kimberly was an experienced and skillful base ball player and took the lead in inaugurating a series of games of base ball” [page166].
Captain Eugene A. Nash, A History of the Forty-fourth Regiment, New York Infantry (Donnelley and Sons, Chicago, 1911).
1864: In a May 25th letter to his sister from “Near White’s Tavern,” Sgt Orsell Brown noted “Monday [May] 2d I felt poorly. . . . The officers of the Brigade had a great game of ball in the afternoon, in front of our Reg’t.” Provided by Michael Aubrecht, May 15, 2009.
1861.54 The "best players" of NYC and Brooklyn play in the army
The DC National Republican, June 28, 1861 prints a June 25th letter from Camp Wool [in DC] saying that Steers' nine (Company E) played Baldwin's nine (Company D), the two nines containing some of the best players of NYC and Brooklyn. The Washington Evening Star, July 1, 1861 reports that this was between 2 companies of the 14th New York, camped near 7th Street Park, and that Co. D won 39-17.
See also the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 5, 1861, which calls the soldiers in Co. D "many old and almost professional players." The regiment's colonel umpired the game.
The DC National Republican, June 28, 1861
1861.65 4th Pennsylvania plays till dark
The Washington Evening Star, May 23, 1861 reports that the day before: "The men of the Fourth Pennsylvania amused themselves and a large number of lookers on with a game of ball in the wide space in front of their quarters at the Assembly Rooms. The activity of the players after a day of hard exercise in the school of the company was astonishing. They kept up the sport until it was too dark to see the ball in it flight."
The Washington Evening Star, May 23, 1861
1861.77 White House Secretaries watch Zouaves play ball
"When John Hay and George Nicolay drove their rented buggy over to Camp Lincoln to say hello to their friend Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, they found him wearing his “blouzy red shirt” and enjoying that New York favorite: Base Ball. Most New York firefighters played the game, and among those involved was Ellsworth’s aide-de-camp, Captain John “Jack” Wildey.
Wildey played ball before he became a Fire Zouave. He played for the New York Mutuals, named for his own Mutual Hook and Ladder Company Number 1. The Mutuals were formed in 1857 and played amateur ball at the Hoboken Grounds, their home field. Many firefighters and city employees played in a variety of New York teams, but the Mutuals were reckoned the best. It was perfectly normal for a handmade ball, a bit larger and softer than today’s baseball, to be found in the knapsack of an 11th New York Fire Zouave."
Hay and Nicolai were Pres. Lincon's Secretaries, and Ellsworth was perhaps Lincoln's closest young friend. Hay later became Secretary of State.
"Home Run Derby Star Captain "Jack" Wildey, The Emerging Civil War blog, July 16, 2018
1861.78 12th New York Plays the Nationals of DC
See the New York Sunday Mercury, June 30, 1861. Members of the 12th NY played a pickup team of the Nationals of DC, in DC, on "Tuesday last." Gives a box score.
1862.47 Hawthorne Sees Ballplaying at Washington-area Camp
Notes upon visiting a camp near Alexandria VA: “Here were in progress all the occupations, and all the idleness, of the soldier in the tented field. Some were cooking the company-rations in pots hung over fires in the open air; some played at ball, or developed their muscular power by gymnastic exercise; some read newspapers, some smoked cigars or pipes.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Fortress Monroe,” in I. Finseth, The American Civil War (CRC Press, 2006), page 398. Accessed in restricted view on Google Books 6/16/09.
1862.85 76th NY plays baseball--or is it drive ball?
Note: this entry was, in February 2022, merged in Chronology item 1862.104.
The 1862 letters of Lester Winslow, of the 76th NY, at the National Archives, feature stationary printed with the heading "Camp Doubleday" "76th New York" and show soldiers playing a bat-ball game. On this David Block writes:
"In the foreground of the illustration two soldiers face each other with bats, one striking a ball. Since no other players are involved, the only game that seems to correlate to the image is, in fact, drive ball. If not for Abner Doubleday's association, we would pay this little heed, but it is a matter of curiosity, if not amusement, to place baseball's legendary noninventor in such close proximity to a game involving a bat and ball." David Block, Baseball Before We Knew It (U Nebraska, 2005), page 198. See entry on Drive Ball.
Camp Doubleday, named for brigade commander General Abner Doubleday, was a fort protecting DC, near where Fort Stevens is/was.
1862.89 71st NY enjoy themselves with a baseball game
The New York Sunday Mercury, June 29, 1862 reports on a baseball game between Co. K, 71st NY, and a picked nine from the rest of the 71st. The box score is given. Co. K lost 33-11, but they were all "enjoying themselves." Another game of the same regiment, same place, is reported in The New York Sunday Mercury, Aug. 3, 1862. The officers of the regiment gave a "splendid colaltion" after the match.
1862.93 71st NY gets treated to beer after a match
The New York Sunday Mercury, Aug. 17, 1862 gives the box score of a game between the 71st NY and the Washington Nationals. The Nationals won 28-13. The ballgame attracted a large crowd, including numbers of the "fair sex." Both teams retired to "sandwiches and lager" after the game.
1865.7 Awaiting Release, Soldier in DC Plays and Watches Base Ball
“This afternoon I played ‘base ball’ for four hours a 1st baseman in a match game between the Officers of the 12th V.R.C. and the Officers of the 24th the game – after seven innings – standing in favor of the former club, the score being 53 to 23”
Letter, October 2, 1865, from York Amos Woodward, 24th Veteran Reserves. A series of Woodward’s letters, written in October and November 1865, contain 9 references to base ball, including a report of a game between the National club of Washington and the Excelsior of Brooklyn [October 9]. Woodward appears to have been in Washington at the time. From an auction offering accessed via Google Web search on 5/19/09.