Union Club of Chicago

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Awaiting Review
Nick Name Union
Earliest Known Date Tuesday, August 12, 1856
Location Chicago, IL, United States

Andreas' Chicago, v.2  p. 613, says that the Union Base Ball Club organized Aug. 12, 1856.

Andreas' book claim is obviously referencing a notice in the Chicago Daily Democratic Press, Aug. 12, 1856, p. 3, col. 1:

"Union Base Ball Club.--A company of young men will meet this (Tuesday) evening at the Hope Hose Carriage House at 8 o'clock, to organize under the above name and elect officers for the year.

All active young men who need exercise and good sport, are invited to be present."

Note--the Hope Hose company of volunteer firemen was considered one of the city's best. They owned fire-fighting equipment which they kept in a carriage house. The implication is that like, with other cities, the young men who organized the firefighting company took the lead in organizing baseball also.

From Protoball Entry #1858.58 – First Chicago Club Forms

"Though baseball match games had been played in Illinois since the very early 1850's, the first Chicago Club, the Union, was not established until 1856."

Query: are details of the earlier IL games available? Are we sure that the Union played by Association rules? [LMc]

Answer: the Chicago Tribune, July 9, 1858, printed the NY rules and announced a convention of Chicago BBCs to meet next week. Same, July 23, 1858 says that on July 21st the Chicago BBCs adopted the NY rules. That notice is signed by the Secretary of the convention, William B. Willard. [Willard was born c. 1835 in MA, the son of Joseph Willard, Chicago druggist, and was in 1861 agent for a sewing machine company.]

The Chicago Tribune, July 8, 1858 reports on the first recorded game of this club, against the Plowboys of Downers Grove. The Plowboys won. The game was played on the Union Club's grounds, corner of West Harrison and Halstead Streets (just west of the modern Loop).

Goodspeed's History of Cook County, p. 581, says: "As early as 1856 baseball began to be played in the city [Chicago] but .... was not well patronized until  1858."  By 1858, "half a dozen" clubs existed in Chicago. [Bruce A]

The Chicago Tribune, July 27, 1867, has a big article on the state baseball convention, with 54 clubs represented. Among the clubs was the Union Club of Chicago. with delegates W. P. Thayer and W. S. Wheeler.

The club's 9-13-58 game (see box score in games listing) and newspaper reports (see Chicago Tribune 8-17-59, 9-14-58) give us some names of this club's officers and players:

Officers: William Jauncy/Jauncey (1827 NY-1910 Chicago), a druggist

James T. Furney (1830 IR-1876 Chicago), a grocer who'd lived in Brooklyn before coming to Chicago

Players: John J. Gillespie (1833-1901), fire chief, later president of the Excelsiors

George Simons (1826-89), carpenter

William Varian (1832-1920), physician

"McAllister"--probably William King McAllister (1818-88), lawyer and later judge. Or Charles McAllister (1829-88), an upholsterer.

"Livsey"--probably one of the brothers Joseph (1826-94) or John K. (1838-1906) Livesey, English born Iron moulders and later foundry owners.

Cline, Saunders, Davenport, McClellan--too many of this name in Chicago to identify. Saunders is probably the F. Saunders who played for the Columbia in 1859.


The Chicago Daily Democratic Press, Aug. 12, 1856, p. 3, col. 1

John R. Husman, "Ohio's First Baseball Game," Presented at the 34th SABR Convention, July 2004. The cite for this is a newspaper article written in 1919. [Bruce A]



Several of these players migrated to the Columbia club, which see.

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Found by Bruce Allardice
Entered by Bruce Allardice
First in Location IL
Entry Origin Sabrpedia

Win/Loss Records As Far As We Now Know

Warning: Users should not rely on a team's won-loss record as a reflection of its "standing" among all base ball clubs. Team schedules were not balanced, and a good record against mostly weak opponents does not signify a leading club.

Year Games Wins Losses Ties
1858 3 Played 0 Won 2 Lost 0 Tied


Page Date City Borough State Team 1 Team 2 Score First in Contributor
Ballgame 1858-07-07 Chicago IL Union Club of Chicago Plowboys Club of Downers Grove Chicago, IL Craig Waff
Ballgame 1858-08-30 Chicago IL Excelsior Club of Chicago Union Club of Chicago 17 - 11 Craig Waff
Ballgame 1858-09-13 Chicago IL Excelsior Club of Chicago Union Club of Chicago 30 - 17 Craig Waff

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Playing Fields

Field Years Edit Association with Club
Union grounds at the corner of South Halstead and West Harrison streets

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