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, and in Protoball, 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, updated March 2021.

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
Sep 1859 Champs of Chicago Atlantic BBC Beat the Excelsior BBC of Chicago [1]
Oct 1859 Champs of Brooklyn Atlantic BBC of Brooklyn Beat the Eckford BBC of Brooklyn 22-12
July 1860 Champs of Rochester Lone Star BBC Beat the Live Oak BBC link
Aug 1860 Junior Champs of Brooklyn Powhattan BBC of Brooklyn beat the Oriental BBC of Brooklyn 16-11 [2]
Aug 1860 Champs of Brooklyn Atlantic BBC of Brooklyn versus the Excelsior BBC of Brooklyn. Game called at 6-6
Sep 1860 Central New York Champions Syracuse BB Club Had beaten champs of surrounding counties link
Oct. 1862 Champs of Pennsylvania Olympic BBC Versus the Athletic BBC of Philadelphia [3]
Aug 1863 Champs of Illinois Garden City BBC of Chicago versus Empire BBC of Freeport, best of 3
Aug 1864 Champs of Canada Young Canadians of Woodstock Beat the Maple Leafs of Hamilton
Aug 1864 Champion, Union Prison Camp Ohio's "earliest match game" link
Sep 1864 National Champs Atlantic BBC of Brooklyn Mutual BBC of NYC
July 1865 New England and Massachusetts Champs Harvard U. BBC beat Lowell BBC of Boston 28-17. In Oct. Lowell beat Harvard 40-37 and claimed the state championship.
Sep 1865 Champs of Michigan Capital BBC of Detroit beat Central BBC of Jackson 31-13
Nov 1865 National Champs Atlantic BBC of Brooklyn beat Athletic BBC of Philadelphia, 27-24
Feb 1866 Champs of California Pacific BBC of San Francisco beat Eagle BBC of San Francisco 32-18
Apr 1866 Indiana State Championship Laporte BB Club Best of 3 Series link
July 1866 Champs of Midwest Excelsior BBC of Chicago Multi-state tourney in Rockford IL link
July 1866 Champs of Western Reserve (N. Ohio) Forest City BBC of Cleveland beat Penfield Club of Oberlin 48-14
Aug 1866 Champs of Tennessee and Kentucky Louisville BB Club Beat Cumberland BBC of Nashville club, 39-23. link
Aug 1866 Champs of Northern Missouri Empire BB Club of Chillicothe MO link
Sep 1866 Champs of Michigan Detroit BBC versus Anchors of Adrian
Sept 1866 Champs of New Hampshire Dartmouth College BB Club Beat a Concord NH Club, 38-7 link
Sept 1866 Champs of Connecticut Charter Oaks BBC of Hartford Beat the Chester Club of Norwich
Oct 1866 National Champs Atlantic BBC of Brooklyn vs Athletic of Philadelphia. 3rd and deciding game not played
Oct 1866 Champs of the South Lone Star BBC of New Orleans beat Magnolia BBC of New Orleans, 42-29
Oct 1866 Champs of Oregon Pioneer BB Club of Portland "May wear their laurels until fairly won from them" link
Oct 1866 Iowa 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. Pleasant link
Nov 1866 City Champs, Virginia, Nevada not yet known Virginia BBC vs. Northwestern BB Club link
March 1867 Champs of North Carolina Nationals BBC of Raleigh beat Meteor BBC of New Bern, 49-40
June 1867 Champs of Colorado Colorado BBC versus Rocky Mountain BBC
July 1867 Champs of Delaware Diamond State BB Club of Wilmington 3-game series against Wawasset 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 Maryland Maryland BBC of Baltimore beat Pastime BBC of Baltimore 47-26
Aug 1867 Champs of Kansas Frontier BB Club of Leavenworth link
Aug 1867 Champs of Columbus, Ohio Capital BBC beat Excelsior BBC 53-48
Sep 1867 Champs of Virginia Pastime BBC of Richmond versus Independent BBC of Petersburg
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
Sep 1867 Champs of Wisconsin Cream City BBC of Milwaukee Beat Whitewater BBC 44-19
Oct 1867 National Champs Union BBC of Morrisania Beat Atlantic of Brooklyn in 2nd game of series
Oct 1867 Champs of Maine Bowdoin BBC of Brunswick beat Eon BBC of Portland, 39-36
Oct 1867 Champs of Iowa Hawkeyes BBC of Mt. Pleasant beat Western BBC of Burlington 115-42
Nov 1867 Champs of Vermont Queen City BBC of Burlington beat Mountaineer BBC of West Randolph 103-8
April 1868 Champs of Texas Stonewall Club of Houston Beat R. E. Lee Club of Galveston, 34-6 link
May 1868 Champs of Alabama Montgomery Club of Montgomery Beat Dramatic Club of Mobile, best 2 of 3
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 Bluff City BBC of Memphis beat Pride of the South BBC of Memphis, best 2 or 3 link
July 1868 Champs of Rhode Island Hope and Anchor BBC of Pawtucket Beat the Olympic BBC of Providence 41-35
July 1868 Champs of Minnesota Minnehaha BBC of Northfield Beat the North Star BBC of St. Paul 77-38
Sep 1868 Champs of West Virginia Baltic BBC of Wheeling beat United BBC of South Wheeling 50-35
Sept 1868 Champs of Arkansas not yet known BB Tourney at the State Fair link
Oct 1868 National Champs Mutual BBC of NYC Atlantic BBC of Brooklyn 28-17, in 3rd game of series
Nov 1868 Champs of New Mexico Santa Fe BBC Beat Bradley BBC of Fort Union 74-36
Aug 1869 Junior Champs of Illinois Occidental BB Club of Quincy Beat Liberty Jr. Club of Springfield. [4]
Sep 1869 Champs of Mississippi Osyka BB Club Beat Summit Club 47-23. link
Oct 1869 Champs of Los Angeles St. Vincent's BBC beat Energetic BBC 47-23
July 1870 Champs of Utah Territory Corinne BB Club Beat Enneas (Salt Lake City) Club, 42-31 link
Aug 1870 Champs of Nebraska Elkhorns of Omaha Beat the Otoes of Nebraska City 34-21
Sept 1870 Champs of Vermont not yet known Round robin State Tourney Set link
Oct 1870 Champs of Georgia Blue Stockings of Savannah beat Olympic of Macon 86-21
May 1871 Red River Championship, Louisiana Rapides Club of Alexandria beat Lone Star BBC of Pineville link
Aug 1871 Champs of Colorado Denver Blue Stockings defeated other clubs but no championship awarded, because winning club used ringers link
June 1872 Championship of "1872" Arlington BBC of Shreveport Beat Blue Stockings BBC of Shreveport 57-32 link
Oct 1873 Montana Territory Champs Fort Ellis BBC beat Helena BBC 56-7, Helena not being used to fast pitching
July 1875 Champs of Kane County IL Bluff City BBC of Elgin 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 Club 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 1876 Champs of King County, WA not yet known Alkis of Seattle vs Miners of Newcastle