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1857.39 First Baseball Attendance of a Thousand or More
"There were thousands of ladies and gentlemen on the ground to witness this game."
New York Times, July 10, 1857, about Eagles - Gotham game at the Elysian Fields. Post be Craig Waff on 19cBB, 4/23/2010
Lacking enclosed fields, turnstiles or ticket stubs, attendances are only visual estimates.
Waff counted 39 attendance estimates of one thousand or more in the NYC area prior to the Civil War.
1857.42 The "X" Letters
"DEAR SPIRIT:- As the season for playing Ball, and other out-door sports has nearly passed away, and as you have fairly become the chronicle for Cricket and Base Ball, I take the liberty of writing to you, and to the Ball players through you, a few letters, which I hope will prove of some interest to your readers."
Between October 1857 and January 1858, New York- based Porter’s Spirit of the Times, which covered Knickerbocker Rules base ball on a regular basis, published a series of 14 anonymous letters concerning the game. Identifying himself only as “X”, the author’s stated purpose was to “induce some prominent player to write or publish a book on the game.” The letters described the origins of the game, profiled prominent clubs in New York and Brooklyn, offered advice on starting and operating a club, on equipment, and on position play, and, finally, commented on the issues of the day in the base ball community. As the earliest such effort, the letters are of interest as a window into a base ball community poised for the explosive growth which followed the Fashion Race Course games of 1858.
Porter's Spirit of the Times, Oct. 24, 1857 - Jan. 23, 1858
The identity of "X" has not been discovered.
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?
1858.4 National Association of Base Ball Players Forms
"[A] "We should add that the convention have adopted, as the title of the permanent organization, 'The National Association of Base Ball Players,' and the association is delegated with power to act upon, and decide, all questions of dispute, and all departures from the rules of the game, which may be brought before it on appeal."
William H. van Cott is elected NABBP President. The chief amendment to the playing rules was to permit called strikes. The "Fly game" was again rejected, by a vote of 18-15.
[B] "The delegates adopted a constitution and by-laws and began the governance of the game of baseball that would continue [to 1870]."
The NA was not a league in the sense of the modern American and National Leagues, but more of a trade association in which membership as easily obtained. . . . Admission was open to any club that made a written application . . . and paid a five dollar admission fee and five dollars in annual dues (later reduced to two dollars per year). The Association met in convention each year, at which time new clubs were admitted."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, April 11, 1858.
Other coverage: New York Evening Express, March 11, 1858; New York Sunday Mercury, March 14 and 28, 1858; Porter's Spirit of the Times, March 20, 1858; New York Herald, March 14, 1858; New York Clipper, March 20 & April 3, 1858.
[B] William Ryczek, Baseball's First Inning (McFarland, 2009), page 49.
Formation of the NABBP, according to the New York Clipper, was really a "misnomer" because there were "no invitations to clubs of other states," and no one under age 21 can join." "National indeed! Truth is a few individuals wormed into the convention and have been trying to mould men and things to suit their views. If real lovers of the game wish it to spread over the country as cricket is doing they might cut loose from parties who wish to act for and dictate to all who participate. These few dictators wish to ape the New York Yacht Club in their feelings of exclusiveness. Let the discontented come out and organize an association that is really national - extend invitations to base ball players every where to compete with them and make the game truly national."
1859.66 Proto-Sports Bar
ENGLISH PLUM PUDDING AND ROAST BEEF FOR DINNER, TO-DAY. Also partridges, green turtle soup, and steaks.
RICHARDSON & McLEOD, 106 Maiden lane, corner Pearl.
Call and see the cricket and base ball books and bulletins.
New York Herald, Sep. 7, 1859
This may not actually have been the first establishment to cater to base ballists. The New York Sunday Mercury noted on Jan. 9, 1859, that "Mr. William P. Valentine, president of the Phantom Base Ball Club, has opened a dining saloon in Broadway, adjoining Wallack's Theatre, which he styles the 'Home Base'."
1859.62 Plea for Amateurism
CRICKETING. That eleven men who have devoted their youth and manhood to playing cricket, and have made their living thereby, should be able to beat twice that number who have played that game occasionally for exercise and recreation, is not at all surprising...We have steadily and ardently favored the recent efforts made in this country for the creation and diffusion of a popular taste for muscular outdoor amusements. We believe our industrious people have too few holidays, and devote too few hours to health-giving, open-air recreations... and we should be glad to hear of the inclosure of of a public play-ground, and formation of a ball-club in every township in the Union...But play should be strictly a recreation, never a business. As a pursuit, we esteem it a very bad one...Let us have ball-clubs, cricket-clubs, and as many more such as you please, but not professional cricket-players any more than professional card-players. We trust that the Eleven of All England are to have no imitators on this side of the ocean."
New York Tribune, Oct. 8, 1859
The All England Eleven played in Canada, New York City, Philadelphia, and Rochester in the fall of 1859, playing on occasion against 22 opponents, to provide competition.
1859.65 New For 1859: Rumors of Player Movement
[A] "RESIGNATION-- We understand that Brown (formerly catcher for the Eckford Club), and Post (catcher for the Astoria) have resigned, and become members of the Putnam Base Ball Club. Both of these gentlemen have stood A no. 1 in their respective clubs, and their retirement must prove a serious loss thereto, while the Putnams become materially strengthened by the addition to their number."
[B] "BALL PLAY-- ...We notice that several important changes have taken place in the Brooklyn clubs. Amongst others we learn that Pidgeon, of the Eckford, has joined the Atlantic; Brown, also of the Eckford, has gone into the Putnam club; and Grum in the Excelsior. The Stars have divided themselves, and many of them, Creighton and Flanley in particular, having joined the Excelsior. Dickinson goes into the Atlantic. The trial for the championship, next season, will be between the Atlantic, Excelsior, and Putnam's...We have not heard of any particular changes in the leading clubs of New York...The Union of Morrisania will gain one or two strong players next season.
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, Nov. 20, 1859
[B] New York Clipper, Nov. 26, 1859
After the Eckford Club contradicted the claim that several players were resigning and moving to other clubs, the Clipper issued a retraction on December 3: "...we are pleased to learn that it is not correct, for we do not approve of these changes at all."
1860.18 Juniors Organize in NYC
[A] THE CONVENTION OF THE JUNIOR CLUBS.-- On Friday evening last,in accordance with an invitation from the Powhatan Club, of Brooklyn, a convention of delegates from the junior clubs was held at their rooms, for the purpose of forming an organization for the better regulation of matches...The following delegates were present from their respective clubs: (delegates from 31 clubs listed)
[B] THE JUNIOR CONVENTION.-- The second meeting of the delegates from the Junior Clubs was held , at Brooklyn, and the report of the Committee on Constitutions and By Laws was received and accepted. The Constitution of the Senior organization was accepted with...amendments...the Bylaws of the Seniors were adopted without amendment." The convention adopted the name "National Association of Junior Base Ball Players."
[C] The new association's first meeting convened in New York City on January 9, 1861.
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 7, 1860
[B] New York Clipper, Oct. 20, 1860
[C] New York Sunday Mercury, Jan. 20, 1861
The Junior clubs had been excluded from membership in the National Association of Base Ball Players at the time of its formation in 1858.
1860.64 The First Enclosed Ballpark
In a review of candidates for the title of first enclosed ballpark, Jerrold Casway nominates St. George Cricket Grounds, Camac's Woods, Philadelphia. The site was first enclosed for cricket in 1859 and used for baseball on July 24, 1860.
Jerrold Casway, "The First Enclosed Ballpark-- Olympics of Philadelphia vs. St. George", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp. 32-33
1860.69 Knickerbockers, Inc.
[A] 'Our Albany Correspondence.-- ...Some half a dozen notices were sent in this morning for the future introduction of bills (in the New York State Assembly) organizing as many base ball clubs in the City of New York, indicating that the lovers of this game are making extensive preparations to become skilled in the mysteries of the game."
[B] "NEW-YORK LEGISLATURE. ASSEMBLY...BILLS PASSED. ...By Mr. COLE (William L. Cole, New York County 5th District)-- a bill to incorporate the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York.
[C] "BASE BALL.-- ...We notice in the proceedings of the State Legislature at Albany, that the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of this city has been chartered. The object of this, we believe, is to enable them to secure from the Central Park commissioners jurisdiction of the ground to be allotted for base ball players.
[A] New York Herald, Jan. 14, 1860
[B] New York Tribune, Jan. 21, 1860
[C] New York Sunday Mercury, Feb. 5, 1860
1860.73 Batting Cage Debuts
[A] (ad) "CRICKET COURT, 654 BROADWAY.-- CRICKET AND Base Ball Practice.-- The spacious saloon, 654 Broadway, is now open. Gentlemen wishing to perfect themselves in the above game will do well to call, as they will always find wickets pitched and a professional bowler to give instructions to those who require it."
[A] New York Herald, April 4, 1860
New York Sunday Mercury, April 8, 1860
Spirit of the Times, June 2, 1860
1860.76 Trade Games Proliferate
Games between teams of employees from "commercial establishments" proliferated in 1860, to not everyone's enjoyment:
"A SUGGESTION.-- We observe that matches at base ball are being put up by business establishments. The World and Times newspapers had a match...We presume we shall next have a contest between Spaulding's Prepared Glue and the Retired Physician, or a Standish's Pills nine vs. Townsend's Sarsparilla. Why not? A little gratuitous advertsiing may, perhaps, be got in this way. But, for goodness' sake, gentlemen, don't run the thing into the ground."
New York Sunday Mercury, Oct. 7, 1860
1860.77 Treat Us Special
"BASE BALL. ACCOMMODATIONS FOR REPORTING.-- We would suggest to clubs, uponn whose grounds matches are played during the season, the propriety of providing a small table and a few chairs for the accommodation of the press. We have frequently found all the best places for seeing a match monopolized by members of the playing club, while we have been compelled to do our reporting on the back of some kindly-disposed gentleman on the outside circle. The Eckford, Excelsior, and a few other clubs we might name, manage this business better; and all ought to follow their example."
New York Sunday Mercury, May 20, 1860
1860.82 Famous Baseballists Turn To Cricket
CRICKET.-- Long Island vs. Newark.-- The first contest between two American elevens on Long Island took place at East New-York yesterday...considerable interest was created among the base-ball players of Long Island, from the fact that players from each of the first nines of the Excelsior, Atlantic, and Putnam Clubs were to take part in it; and accordingly the largest collection of spectators ever seen on the East New-York grounds collected yesterday...the result was a well contested game of four innings...the time occupied in playing the innings being under five hours, the shortest regular game of cricket on record."
New York Tribune, Sep. 6, 1860
The players, their names helpfully italicized in the box score, were Edward Pennington and Charles Thomas of the Eureka BBC of Newark, James Creighton and John Whiting of the Excelsior, Dick Pearce and Charley Smith of the Atlantic, and Thomas Dakin of the Putnam. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted in its report on Sep. 6 that "The base ball players showed themselves to as much advantage as at their favorite game."
Creighton was successful in cricket both as a bowler and batsman. At the time of his death in Oct. 1862 he was considered the best American player in the New York area.
1861.22 Ad Biz
"(advertisement) JOHN C. WHITING, 87 FULTON STREET, N. Y., manufacturer of BASE BALLS and Wholesale and Retail Dealer in everything appertaining to BASE BALL and CRICKET. Agent for Chicester's Improved SELF-FASTENING BASES, and the PATENT CONCAVE PLATES for Ball Shoes, which are free from all the danger, and answer all the purposes, of spikes."
New York Sunday Mercury, Dec. 8, 1861
With thousands in the Greater New York City area playing the game, providers of playing grounds, playing manuals, and equipment sprang up.
1861.45 Shrunken NABBP Meeting Does Little
"BASE BALL. Annual Meeting of the National Association of Base Ball Players....The attendance of delegates was not so large as we had hope to see..the delegates of thirty-one clubs answered to their names...The Committee on Rules...reported that they had no changes in the Rules to recommend...only one proposition had been submitted to them (discussion of a proposition to change the rule for deciding the outcome of a game called by darkness was tabled; a resolution to donate the Association's surplus funds to war relief was also tabled, as the funds were small...the existing rebellion, which has enlisted amny base-ball players in the service of the country, has had a tendency to temporarily disorganize many of the base ball clubs."
New York Sunday Mercury, Dec. 15, 1861
Three clubs were admitted to the Association; of 80 existing members, nine were expelled due to non-payment of dues for two years, and 27 more listed who had not paid for 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
1862.9 First Admission Fees for Baseball?
May 15, 1862: "The Union Baseball Grounds at March Avenue and Rutledge Street in Brooklyn is opened, the first enclosed ball field to charge an admission fee."
James Charlton, The Baseball Chronology (Macmillan, 1991), page 15.
Regarding the opening of the Union Grounds, see:
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb. 12 and May 16, 1862; New York Clipper, Feb. 22, 1862; New York Sunday Mercury May 11 and May 18, 1862,
Caveats: Admission was charged in 1858 for the Brooklyn-New York games at the Fashion Race Course, Queens, which was enclosed but not a 'ball field'.
Before the Union Grounds, there were no ball field enclosed for the purpose of charging admission.
Admission had occasionally also been charged for "benefit" games for charities or to honor prominent players.
1863.56 Have Fast Ball Will Travel
[A] THE ATHLETIC CLUB OF PHILADELPHIA.--...Pratt, the well-known pitcher of the club...has been desirous for some time past of belonging to one of our leading clubs here; and during the visit of the Athletics to New York, Pratt being offered a good situation here, accepted it, and at once had his name proposed as a member of the Atlantic Club...Of course, he will henceforth be their pitcher...His accession to the Atlantic nine will strengthen them in what they have considered their weak point...We presume that the Atlantics will not play their match with the Eckfords until they can get Pratt in their nine..."
[B] "THE ATHLETIC CLUB OF PHILADELPHIA.-- A great change has suddenly occurred in the formation of the first nine of the Athletic club of Philadelphia. Pratt, their able pitcher, resigned from the club the day of his arrival in Philadelphia, the reason he assigned being that he had been offered a good situation in New York, and had joined the Atlantic club of Brooklyn, and henceforth he was to be the pitcher of that noted club, an honor no doubt that he was exceeding ambitious of obtaining."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, July 12, 1863
[B] New York Clipper, July 18, 1863
Tom Pratt was age 19.
1863.63 NABBP Curbs Swift Pitching, Swats Fly Rule Again
The (NABBP) meeting of December 9 (1863) adopted all recommendations made by the Rules Committee. Though the suggestion of counting wild pitches as runs was not approved, three measures were taken to curb fast, wild pitching: a back line was added to the pitcher’s position, ending the practice of taking a run-up to increase speed, as in cricket; pitchers were required to have both feet on the ground at the time of delivery; and, finally, walks...:
"Should a pitcher repeatedly fail to deliver fair balls to the striker, for the apparent purpose of delaying the game, or for any other cause, the umpire after warning him, shall call one ball, and if the pitcher persists in such action, two and three balls, and when three balls have been called, the striker shall be entitled to his first base, and should any base be occupied at that time each player occupying them shall be entitled to one base.
The exception to the meeting’s unanimous acceptance of the Rules Committee’s action concerned the fly game, which, as with all previous attempts, was rejected, by a vote of 25 to 22.
Robert Tholkes, "A Permanent American Institution: The Base Ball Season of 1863", in Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Vol.7 (2013), pp. 143-153
Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec. 10, 1863
1863.65 Ravaged By War
The Sunday Mercury, in its summary of the (NABBP) meeting on December 13, 1863, first noted that the disappointing attendance (28 clubs, compared to 32 in 1862)...The convention’s action in dropping 29 clubs, one more than attended the meeting, from the rolls because of inactivity in 1862 and 1863 indicated the scope of the war’s impact...In addition to diminished activity in New York City, Brooklyn, Boston, and Philadelphia, the widespread formation of clubs and beginning of match play in the west and in some southern states before the war came to a halt in most locales. The contributors to Base Ball Pioneers 1850-1870 (Morris et al, eds.,2012) found interclub play on a regular basis continuing in 1863 only in upstate New York and in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, including its inauguration that year at the University of Michigan. Other places, such as Baltimore, Washington, D. C., Altoona and Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, Chicago and Freeport, Illinois, St. Louis, and perhaps San Francisco) retained single clubs that relied on rare intercity visits for interclub competition. In a far greater number of locales, from Minnesota to Louisiana and from Maine to Augusta and Macon, Georgia, organized play apparently ceased.
Robert Tholkes, "A Permanent American Institution: The Base Ball Season of 1863", in Base Ball: A Journal of the Early Game, Vol. 7 (2013), pp. 143-153
1864.36 NABBP Holds Special Meetings
[A] "THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION.-- Pursuant to a call issued by the President of the National Association of Base-Ball Players, a meeting of the delegates to the last Convention was held at the Gotham Cottage, No. 298 Bowery, on Tuesday evening last, February 23, the object being to take such action as might be necessary to procure an act of incorporation for the association, and also to take into consideration the alleged misconduct of the late Treasurer, in refusing to make a proper transfer of the funds, etc., of the Association to the new incumbent."
[B] "THE MEETING OF THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION.-- The adjourned meeting of the members of the National Association took place at the Gotham Cottage, No. 298 Bowery, on Tuesday evening last, March 8th...The first business of the meeting being the consideration of the action of the late Treasurer, Mr. Cozans (explained)..that a more satisfactory explanation had been made,..Mr. Brown's affairs, as Treasurer of the Association, would be found to be all correct."
[C] "The second meeting of the National Association, at Gotham Cottage, Bowery, New York, took place last evening...The principal business was the appointment of three committees...First, a committee to examine into the books and papers of the officers of the association and to ascertain the position and standing of the clubs whose delegates comprise those officials...Second, of a committee to secure an act of incorporation for the association...and third, a committee to meet with the Central Park Commissioners with a view to securing the use of the Park Base Ball Ground this season..."
[D] "THE SPECIAL MEETING OF THE N. A. B. B. PLAYERS (on May 11)...statements were made by members of the three committees referred to..the act of incorporation could not be obtained except from the State Legislature at their next session, and in consequence of this fact the committee on Central Park grounds had not deemed it necessary to take measures to procure the same, as it was requisite that the Association should be a corporate body..."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, February 28, 1864
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, March 13, 1864
[C] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 9, 1864
[D] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 12, 1864
1864.47 "Union" Games Started 1864 Season
[A] "...These practice games are simply nothing more or less than substitutes for the useless and uninteresting ordinarily played on practice days by our first-class clubs. It has been suggested, time and again...that they devote one day in a week...to practicing their men together as a whole against the field; but as yet, not a solitary club has ever practiced their best players together in this way...It is this neglect on the part of or clubs, to improve the character of the practice games on their club grounds, that has led to the arrangement of these Union Practice Games.”
[B] “THE GRAND PRIZE-MATCH IN BROOKLYN. The prize-game of the series of Union practice-games inaugurated by Mr. Chadwick, which took place on Saturday, May 21st...proved to be a complete success in every respect, and one of the best-played and most interesting games seen for several seasons past...(it) afforded those present proof of the advantage of such a class of games...”
[C] “THE SECOND PRIZE-GAME IN BROOKLYN.—...the Atlantics refused to play according to the rules of these series of games...They also seemed to regard the match as one on which their standing as a playing-club was concerned, rather than...one of a series of games designed to test the merits of the flygame.”
[D] "The Eckford was defeated by the field at the so-called prize game, and the Atlantic won the game with the field. The prize game, so far as it interferes with the rules of the Convention, should be frowned down by all clubs, as it was repudiated by the Atlantic and Enterprise clubs.”
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 21, 1864
[B] Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, May 28, 1864
[C] New York Sunday Mercury, June 5, 1864
[D] New York Evening Express, June 13, 1864
See Supplemental Text for further newspaper coverage.
1865.10 New England Association Formed
[A] "...the fact is, the Massachusetts and Maine players are so far removed from New York, that they cannot conveniently participate in the meetings of the National Association, and therefore they purpose setting up a duplicate institution...They will, of course, indorse the rules of the National Association...At a meeting lately held at the rooms of the Tri-Mountain Club, the following resolutions were adopted...Resolved, That the Tri-Mountain Base ball Club us its utmost influence and endeavors to secure the formation and organization of a New England Convention of National Baseball Players."
[B] "...A preliminary meeting of Delegates from those Clubs who propose joining the New England Convention of National Base Ball Players will be held on WEDNESDAY next, Oct. 25th, at 12 M., at the Hancock House, Court square, Boston...The following named Clubs have signified their intention of taking part...Tri-Mountain, of Boston, Fly-Away of East Boston, Harvard of Cambridge, Granite of Holliston, King Phillip of East Abingdon, Dictator of Newton, Continental of Newtonville."
[C] "N. E. CONVENTION OF BASE BALL CLUBS.-- A convention of delegates from the Dictator, Eureka, Electric, Fly-Away, Granite, Harvard, King Phillip, Lightfoot, Lowell, Orient, and Tri-Mountain Base Ball Clubs, was held at the Hancock House, yesterday...the association shall be called the New England Association of National Base Ball Clubs."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, Feb. 19, 1865
[B] Boston Herald, Oct. 21, 1865
[C] Boston Herald, Nov. 9, 1865
1865.12 "Professional" Players? Yes. Playing For Money? No
[A] "THE MUTUAL CLUB AND THEIR GROUNDS. The Mutual Club...have rented the enitre ground (at the Elysian Fields)...their object being to afford equal opportunities for both the 'professional' and amateur players of the club to enjoy practice to their hearts' content."
[B] "PLAYING BASEBALL FOR MONEY.-- ...We trust never to see our national pastime brought down to the level of contests in the prize ring of pugilism. The honor of incasing the ball as the only trophy of victory in a match is sufficient without bringing pecuniary rewards into the game as incentives for extra efforts. When the time arrives for money to be made the object in playing ball, then good-bye to friendly contests and the rule of gentlemanly ball-players..."
[A] New York Sunday Mercury, May 7, 1865
[B] New York Sunday Mercury, July 30, 1865
1865.13 Elysian? Yes. Sacred? No.
"The old (Elysian Field baseball) grounds have lately been greatly improved. Trees have been cut down, rocks have been taken up, hollows filled up and hills levelled, and in fact everything has been done to make the field one of the finest ball grounds in the country. Permanent seats are to be placed on the boundary line set apart for spectators, and henceforth no difficulty will be experienced in keeping the crowd from interfering with the players around the catcher's and first and third base player's positions."
New York Clipper, May 13, 1865
1865.21 Fitz Credited With Originating Tournaments
“To the untiring exertions of Col. (Thomas) Fitzgerald, the worthy President of the Athletic, is due the inauguration of the ‘tournament’, which has awakened such a wide-spread interest in all parts of the country...”
Philadelphia Illustrated New Age, Nov. 1, 1865
Few and far between in prior years, festivals or tournaments mushroomed in 1865, for example:
Portland, ME—at July 4 celebration. Open to all teams in ME, considered for state championship. 4 teams entered, knockout competition. 2 games at a time in the morning, championship game in the afternoon. 9 innings. Cash prizes for 1st and 2nd. Portland Daily Evening Advertiser coverage on July 6 indicated that the only out-of-town team was subject to “expressions of strong sympathy against them.”
Altoona, PA- per a reprint in Fitzgerald's City Item (Philadelphia) on 7/22, Altoona Tribune was promoting a baseball carnival—Athletics, Mountain Club of Altoona, and Alleghany Club of Pittsburg
Wash DC- Games on 8/28 between the Nationals and Athletics, 8/29 between the Nationals and the Atlantic of Brooklyn, “a festival such has never before been offered in Washington”. Washington Daily National Intelligencer, 8/28
Wash DC- Oct. 9-11 tourney had the Excelsior of Brooklyn, the Nationals, and the Enterprise of Baltimore. Round robin, one game per day. Wilkes Spirit of the Times, 10/21
Wilkes Spirit of the Times on Oct. 21 printed a letter from Chicago describing problems encountered at a tourney in Rockford, IL. 5 teams, two days, two games each day.
1865.23 NABBP Meeting Sets Attendance Record
[A] "The ninth annual convention...proved to be most numerously attended...ever held...over ninety clubs were present."
[B] "...forty-eight clubs from New York State; fourteen from Pennsylvania; thirteen from New Jersey; four from Connecticut; four from Washington, D. C.; two from Massachusetts; and one each from Kansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Maine, making a grand total of 91 clubs represented..."
[A] Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 15, 1865
[B] New York Clipper, December 23, 1865
1865.25 Three Mutuals Banned for "Heaving" Game to Eckfords for $100
"On September 27, 1865, gambler Kane McLoughlin paid $100 collectively to three [Mutual] players to heave, in the favored term of the period, a game the following day to the Eckfords. . . . in the fifth inning the Mutuals amazingly allowed eleven runs to score through [what the NYTimes described as] 'over-pitched balls, wild throws, passed balls, and failures to stop them in the field.' "
The Mutuals obtained confessions and banned catcher Bill Wamsley and two others. John Thorn cites this as base ball's first game-fixing incident.
John Thorn, Baseball in the Garden of Eden (Simon and Schuster, 2011), page 127. The book includes [pp. 128-129] the written confession of the youngest plotter, Tom Devyr, whom the Mutuals reinstated the following year.
See also Philip Dixon, "The First Fixed Game-- Eckfords vs. Mutuals", in Inventing Baseball: The 100 Greatest Games of the 19th Century (SABR, 2013), pp.46-48.
1867.7 Nationals Inaugurate Western Tours
"...the Nationals (of Washington, DC)...were the first Eastern club to widely "tour." And so among their other accomplishments should be noted their popularizing of the "tour" which came to dominate the baseball seasons of 1868, 1869 and 1870, before the National Association began in 1871...these tours did much to help convince club owners and supporters that baseball could sustain a professional existence."
Greg Rhodes,19cbb post June 17, 2002
1867.13 Moneyball 1867
"Many will be surprised to learn that the Atlantics have vacated the scene of their greatest triumphs, and have located themselves on the Eckford grounds, or rather the Union ball grounds, in Williamsburgh, entirely out of the way of the residence of the majority of their members, and in opposition to the wishes of many of the best men in their club. It would appear from all accounts that the present ruler of the club, failing to make any advantageous arrangement with Weed & Decker for a greater share of the proceeds in match days than the players received last year, and finding Cammeyer of the Union grounds ready to offer good terms to secure the club, they availed themselves of the latter offer of sixty per cent of the receipts and closed with him at once. But this being against the rules of the association, they made out a new form of agreement and hired the grounds after paying forty per cent of the receipts taken in lieu of rent. They change will not benefit the club, and it is the worst precedent Cammeyer could have adopted as all clubs can now fully claim a share of the sale money."
New York Daily News, April 21, 1867, per 19cbb post by Richard Hershberger, Sep. 30, 2013
1867 would be a watershed year for baseball finances. At the beginning of the season ten cents was still the standard admission. Midway through the season some clubs would experiment with twenty-five cent admissions. It turned out that the public was willing to pay this, and this changed everything. At ten cents the receipts paid for expenses, but only the top draws like the Atlantics and the Athletics could turn a significant profit. At twenty-five cents this opened up a revenue stream to many more clubs, and the fraternity found itself awash with cash (at least compared to previously). A similar thing would happen a century or so later with television money. The effect in the 1860s was to lock in professionalism. By 1868 there were openly professional picked nine games being played, and the following year they dropped the pretense entirely.
1867.27 Union Club Offers Season Tickets in Washington Paper
"The Union Base Ball Club, of Lansingburg, New York, will arrive here today and play a match game with the Nationals, near the State Department, on Wednesday afternoon. Season tickets may be had at Cronin's, or at James Nolan's at No. 372 Pennsylvania Avenue, near Sixth Street. The price of a single admission ticket for a gentleman and ladies is fixed at twenty-five cents."
Daily Morning Chronicle, September 3, 1867.
From Bob Tholkes, 11/2/2021: "First reference I've seen in '67 for sale of season tickets...seller not named, though likely the Nationals. Innovation?"
Note: Peter Morris' fine A Game of Inches: The Story Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball (Ivan R. Dee, 2006), section 15.1.1, notes that the White Stockings charged $10 for a season ticket in 1870. Like the 1867 Washington offering, the Forest Cities of Cleveland in 1871 noted that a $10 season ticket would admit both a gentleman and lady, but the club also sold season tickets for individual entrants at $6.
Is earlier use of season tickets known?
1869.7 Cincinnati Club Forms as First All-Professional Nine
Harry Wright, George Wright
"In the fall of 1868, a group of Cincinnati businessmen and lawyers, serving as directors of the Cincinnati Base Ball Club, agreed to a concept so commonplace today that it is difficult to imagine how risky it seemed at the time. The club would recruit the best players it could find, from around the country (and), pay all the players a salary..."
Rhodes, Greg & Erardi, John, The First Boys of Summer. Road West Publishing Co., 1994, p.4
1870.14 Boston, Other Towns Eye "First-Class Professional Nines" Like the Red Stockings
[Beyond the Cincinnati-Chicago base ball rivalry] "The pecuniary success attendant upon of the Red Stocking Club -- the best managed club in the country -- has tempted other cities to try the professional nine experiment. The Boston Journal says that for some time past, gentlemen interested in the game of base ball have been considering the subject of securing for Boston a professional base ball nine who should do honor to the city. It seems to be one of the few notions in which Boston is lacking. The success of the Union Grounds as a pecuniary investment has shown that the thing is perfectly safe and feasible. . . . It is proposed to petition the next Legislature for a special charter as a base-ball club, with a capital stock of not less than $10,000, in shares of $100 each."
"Indianapolis is raising a first-class professional nine under competent management. Cleveland will again have a professional nine;: Troy, ditto, and an opposition tot he Athletics is organizing in Philadelphia. St. Louis, too is in the market, and also New Orleans.
Brooklyn Eagle, November 17, 1870.
Richard Hershberger, "150 years ago in baseball" [FB posting, 11/17/2020:
"Rumors about new professional clubs for next season. Here we see an intermediate stage, combining the assumption that the Cincinnati Club will keep on doing what it does, along with early rumors of a new club on Boston. The Union Grounds mentioned here is not the one in Cincinnati or the one in Brooklyn, but the one in Boston, so named because it originated as a joint project of several local clubs. Its pecuniary success is in part due to the visits of the Cincinnati Club. The Boston baseball establishment has been paying attention. More developments will soon arise.
"As for the other predictions, they are a mixed bag. Cleveland and Troy will indeed have professional clubs next season, but the other proposals won't pan out, or at least not right away."
Do we know more about the fate of the Union Grounds and Boston sports?
1870.16 Red Stocking Leader Explains Background for Club Decision to Exit Pro Base Ball Scene
Aaron Champion, past club President, in a December 1870 speech touching on the costs of excellence after the club decided not to support a pro club after 1870:
" . . . we have tried it [to fund a nine via outside subscription], and have failed most beautifully. The season 1868 we had a professional nine, and succeeded in getting in debt with it. The season of 1869 we engaged a professional nine. . . . [in November 1868] we found that the Cincinnati Club was $17,000 in debt. . . . 1869 went by. We had the best nine in the country -- the leading club. They had played fifty-seven games, and did not lose a single game. We were out of money, and were still in debt."
"How Cincinnati Supports Base Ball," Cincinnati Gazette, December 8, 1870. From Richard Hershberger, "150 Years ago in Base Ball, FB posting, 12/7/2020.
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
1871.10 Player Salaries Bump Up: Well-funded Mutuals Deplete the Atlantics
"The Mutuals will now have a nine in field of old Atlantic players, with but one exception."
"(The Mutuals) engaged Dick Pearse, who signed papers on the 3rd . . . at $2000, we believe. . . . Now all (of the Atlantic's fate) is left in the hands of the only veteran of the nine, viz: John Chapman."
Brooklyn Eagle, February 6, 1871.
Richard Hershberger, 2/6/2021"
1871.15 White Stockings Choose New Orleans for Extended Preseason Play
"The White Stockings, of Chicago, arrived here yesterday on the mid-day train, and will remain here for four or five weeks. Their first game will be with the Lone Stars, at the Base Ball Park, next Sunday."
New Orleans Republican, March 22, 1871
Richard Hershberger, FB Posting, 3/21/2021:
"150 years ago in baseball: Spring Training. The Chicago White Stockings arrive today in New Orleans. The season began much later than it does nowadays. Spring Training today is entering the home stretch, while just starting in 1871. It also was far less consistent. Few clubs made trips to the South at this point. It will be decades before that is universal. These things were pretty much done on the fly, with the financial prospects weighing heavily in the decision whether to make a trip or just train at home."
The White Stockings stayed in New Orleans until April 17th, making their stay 4 weeks. See New Orleans Times-Democrat, April 17, 1871. [ba]
1871.16 Professionals Edge Away from NABBP; Modern Standings Begin to Take Shape
"BASE BALL BOTHER. National Professional Association. The Championship Question Settled.
"A convention of delegates from the professional base ball clubs of the country was held at #840 Broadway last evening. At the time that the call for the convention was sent out its objects were stated to be the settlement of the manner of achieving the title of champion club of the country, and the arrangement of the routes of the club tours during the season. But the action of the amateur clubs in withdrawing from the National Association see 1871.14 . . . caused the scope of the Convention's duties to be enlarged, and . . . made necessary the reorganization of the National Association on a professional basis."
New York Herald, March 18, 1871
Richard Hershberger, FP posting of March 17, 2021:
"150 years ago today in baseball: The big day! Yesterday the amateurs met in Brooklyn and formed a new association. See 1871.14. Today we move across the East River, where the professionals form theirs. It wasn't originally supposed to be this way. The meeting was initially called simply to coordinate travel schedules. From there it expanded to arranging a championship system. With yesterday's event the meeting expanded yet further. The status of the old National Association of Base Ball Players is up in the air. Simpler for the professionals just to start fresh. . . . .
"Their championship system is quietly revolutionary. The old unofficial system followed the model of champion and challenger, like in boxing. The new system is not laid out explicitly here, but it is close to the modern system of every club playing a series against every other club.
This 'championship season' (which is what the official rules still call what the rest of us refer to as the 'regular season') is the great invention of the NAPBBP. This often is overlooked, as NAPBBP tends to carry the stench of failure today. So let us pause a moment and contemplate the glory that is the regular season.
Done? Excellent! This is not quite the regular season as we understand it today. It is a series of best-of-five series. If a club won the first three games of the series, there was no need to play the last two. This is why the win-loss records for 1871 are so scattered. Teams did not play the same number of games, but they weren't expected to. This will result in some wackiness in determining the championship. No spoilers! We will get to that in the Fall. Suffice it to say that for 1872 they will switch to every team playing the same number of games, at least in theory."
1871.19 Chicago Club Expires A Month After Great Chicago Fire
"BASE BALL. The Last of the Chicago Club.
At a recent meeting of the stockholders of the Chicago Base Ball Club, where it was by resolution declared that the stock of that club is canceled and surrendered, and a committee was appointed to wind up all the affairs of the club, the following resolutions of thanks and acknowledgement were unanimously adopted. . . "
Chicago Tribune, November 26, 1871:
From Richard Hershberger, Facebook posting of 11/25/2021:
"150 years ago in baseball: Wrapping up the affairs of the Chicago Club. It was gutted by the Great Chicago Fire and stumbled through the close of the season. Continuing as the city was rebuilding clearly was not in the cards. Say what you will about Chicago businessmen, they do appreciate the formalities. Rather than simply walking away they shut it down properly. Here we have the formal dissolution.
This relates to the trivia question, what is the oldest baseball club still in existence? If we don't count colleges, and if we insist that the club still play baseball, then the candidates are the Braves (by way of Milwaukee) or the Cubs. The Braves were founded in 1871 as the Boston Base Ball Association. The Chicago Club we see shutting down here was a year older. If we can tie the modern Cubs to it, then that is our answer.
The problem is that we see here the original organization formally dissolving. We will next spring see the formation of the organization that will, in 1874, field the professional team that came to be known as the Cubs. The only facts available to argue for continuity between the two is that some individuals were stockholders of both. This is very weak tea. It certainly isn't the standard we apply to other clubs. If we did, it would remove the Cubs' claim, as this standard would also connect the Phillies to the original Athletics, who were founded in 1859. But this would be absurd special pleading. So sorry, Cubs. You aren't the oldest club. You are, however, the oldest still in your original city. That isn't as sexy a first, but it is not nothing."
The Great Chicago Fire occurred October 8-10, 1871. 17,000 structures were destroyed, and 300 people were killed.
1872.4 Harry Wright Offers Game, Players, to Harvard
Letter from Harry Wright, of the second-year Boston pro league club, to a representative of the Harvard club, March 18, 1872:
". . . would it be agreeable to play . . . Saturday April 6th . . . upon our grounds . . .
We propose having our first game played on Fast Day, weather permitting
Harry Wright, Secy"
From the Spalding Collection at the New York Public Library
Was it common for pro league clubs to play amateur clubs? (see BA response, above)
Did the game come off?
Was the Boston club known as the Red Stockings in 1872?
Was the proposed game to amount to a pre-season warmup for the Boston pros?
1872.5 Chadwick Foresees Amateur Base Ball's "Revival"
"AN AMATEUR REVIVAL -- Now that the distinction between the two classes of the fraternity is marked beyond the possibility of mistake, each class having its own National Association and its own special rules and laws, there being no longer any just cause for amateurs retiring from base ball playing for fear of being classified as professional or hired ball tosser; not that it necessarily follows that to be a professional ball player is to occupy a degrading position, but that the majority prefer, for business reasons, to be participating in the game for recreative reasons. No ball player can now be regarded as a professional unless he be attached to a club nine which either pays its players a regular salary or a share of gate receipts. This appears to be the boundary line between the two classes . . ."
Brooklyn Eagle April 5, 1872.
Richard Hershberger, 150 years ago in baseball (FB posting, 4/4/2022)
"Chadwick on amateur clubs. He is optimistic that amateur baseball will be more popular than ever, since the existence of separate amateur and professional associations ensures that no one will mistake an amateur player as being a professional.
There is a lot of classic Chad here. He hopes for an amateur "revival," and so reports that it will happen. He quietly passes over the detail that there were separate associations last year, too. He defines professionals as members of any club that "either pays its players regular salaries or pays them by a share of gate receipts." Then in the next paragraph he adds a class of "quasi amateur organizations" without explaining what these are. This is Chad in his ideologically-motivated hand-waving mode.
In reality there is no need for a revival. Amateur baseball was doing just fine. Chad is right that there were far more amateur teams than professional. The same is true today. It could hardly be otherwise. But notice the three specific clubs he identifies: the Knickerbockers, Gothams, and Excelsiors. These are the kind of amateur clubs he likes, on the old fraternal club model. This model is, in 1872, irrelevant. Those three clubs are dinosaurs. The amateur club of this era is nine guys, with perhaps one or two substitutes, organized for the purpose of playing--and beating!--other, similarly organized clubs. These clubs are amateur or semi-professional or professional precisely to the extent that they can persuade people to pay to watch them play. Chadwick's idea of how baseball should be organized is a thing of the past. He will figure this out eventually, but we need to give him time to process."
1872.6 Umpiring Evolves As A Profession: Certification, Bipartisan Pay
"Having pointed out the evil of indiscriminate selection of umpires, we will now suggest a remedy.
And this is the appointment of certain persons by the annual convention to act as umpires, and who will receive a certain sum -- say $10 and their traveling expenses -- for every game they umpire . . . .
The contending clubs can each pay a moiety of the expenses, and it will fall heavily n neither."
New York Sunday Dispatch, May 19, 1872.
From Richard Hershberger, 150 years ago in baseball, May 19, 2022.
"The umpire question. Umpire selection in the early days was very informal. Sometimes arrangements would be made ahead of time, but even for important matches it was not unknown for the two captains to pick a guy out from the crowd. It would usually be someone they both knew, so it wasn't totally random, but if he had not shown up, they would have picked someone else.
Here in 1872 this system is wearing thin. This is the professional era and the stakes are higher. In today's excerpt, we see a radical suggestion: pay the guy. This will start happening soon. It will help, but won't solve the problem entirely. There still is the matter of finding someone both captains agree upon. The next decade or so will see endless overly elaborate schemes to come up with an equitable system. The underlying problem is that even once everyone agrees the umpire needs to be paid, no one wants to pay enough for this to be a full-time job. Employing part-timers means they are using local guys, with all this entails. The bickering will be endless. Or at least it will be until they finally bite the bullet and go with a full-time umpire corps employed by the league. That won't be until the 1880s. Here in 1872, the NA doesn't even have a league structure to run an umpire corps, much less the operating funds.
The article here suggests $10 per game. This won't be enough to persuade capable men to put up with grief for two hours. The going rate will settle in at $15. That is roughly equivalent to $300 to $400 in today's money."
What is a good general history of umpiring?