Early Championships

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by Larry McCray, October 2012

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It's About Winning, Stupid!

Until 1855, most modern base ball was apparently played intramurally, and the main objectives were healthful exercize and comaraderie, the latter often achieved at jolly post-game banquets.

But soon, match games began to dominate, and the main point was winning. Not eating lots, not breathing hard, but winning.

We noticed this trend when we weren't looking for it. In the newly collected data on the SABR "Spread of Base Ball" site, a surprising number and variety of claims of area championships turned up, often for ad hoc local territories. Below is our initial compilation of such championship claims.

Month Crown Crowned Club Note URL
Sept 1858 Champs of Rochester Live Oak BBC Unbeaten Against other County Clubs link
1859 Champs of Buffalo Niagara BBC Beat the Erie BBC of Buffalo link
July 1860 Champs of Rochester Lone Star BBC Beat the Live Oak bBC link
Sep 1860 Central New York Champions Syracuse BB Club Had beaten champs of surrounding counties link
Aug 1864 Champion, Union Prison Camp Ohio's "earliest match game" link
Apr 1866 Indiana State Championship Laporte BB Club Best of 3 Series link
July 1866 Champs of No. Illinois (?) not yet known Multi-state tourney in Rockport (IL?) link
Aug 1866 Champs of Tennessee and Kentucky Louuisville BB Club Beat a Nashville club, 39-23. link
Aug 1866 Champs of Northern Missouri Empire BB Club of Chillicothe MO link
Sept 1866 Champs of New Hampshre Dartmouth College BB Club Beat a Concord NH Club, 38-7 link
Oct 1866 Champs of Oregon Pioneer BB Club of Portland "May wear their laurels until fairly won from them" link
Oct 1866 IA State Tourney Champs not yet known link
Oct 1866 Champs of Greater Cincinnati not yet known 5-club tourney: Cincy, Dayton KY, Covington KY clubs link
Oct 1866 Champs of SE Iowa (?) not yet known 7-club tourney: Burlington, Davenport, Ottumwa, Mt. Pleasanrt link
Nov 1866 City Champs, Virginia, Nevada not yet known Virginia BBC vs. Northwestern BB Club link
July 1867 Champs of Delaware Diamond State BB Club of Wilmington 3-game series against Wawasser Club of Wilmington link
July 1867 Champs of the West not yet known Omaha BBC vs. Occidental Club of Denver link
Aug 1867 Champs of Kansas Frontier BB Club of Leavenworth link
Sept 1867 Champs of Tennessee not yet known Holston Club of Knoxville vs. Mountain Club of Chattanooga link
Sept 1867 Champs of Central Vermont (?) not yet known 5-club tourney, all central VT clubs link
April 1868 Champs of Texas Stonewall Club of Houston Beat R. E. Lee Club of Galveston, 34-6 link
June 1868 Champs of the County Eagles of Wabasha MN (A newspaper's aspiration for this new club) link
July 1868 Champs of West Tennessee not yet known Pride of the South Club, unnamed others in series of games link
Sept 1868 Champs of Arkansas not yet known BB Tourney at the State Fair link
Feb 1869 Champs of Mississippi Osyka BB Club Beat Summit Club 47-23. link
July 1870 Champs of Utah Territory Corinne BB Club Beat Salt Lake Club, 42-31 link
Sept 1870 Champs of Vermont not yet known Round robin State Tourney Set link
May 1871 Red River Championshi, Louisiana not yet known Rapides Club vs. Lone Star BB Club link
Aug 1871 Champs of Colorado (?) not yet known Tourney played by Greeley CO club link
June 1872 Championship of 1872 Blue Stockings of Shreveport LA Beat Arlington BB Club 57-32 link
July 1875 Champs of Kane County IL Bluff City BB Club link
Aug 1875 Champs of Alabama and MS A Mississippi Club Beat Demopolis BB Club of Alabama link
May 1876 Champs of Arizona Territory Champion Club of Prescott Beat Whipple BB Clob of Fort Whipple link
July 1876 Champs of Colorado (?) not yet known Tourney in Central City, CO link
July 1876 Champs of No. Mississippi Corinth BB Club Beat Iuka BB Club link
Aug 1886 Champs of King County, WA not yet known Seattle BB Club vs Newcastles link
undated Champs of Canada Maple Leaf Club of Hamilton ONT see P. Morris et al, Base Ball Pioneers, page 88.