Base Ball Pioneers, 1850–1870

The Clubs and Players Who Spread the Sport Nationwide

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About the Book

By 1871, the popularity of baseball had spread so thoroughly across America that one writer observed, “It is as much our national game as cricket is that of the English.” While major league teams and athletes that played after this prophetic statement was made have been exhaustively documented and analyzed, those that led the game during its pioneer phase from 1850 to 1870 have received relatively little attention. In this welcome work, leading historians of early baseball provide profiles of more than fifty clubs and their players, from legendary teams such as the Red Stockings of Cincinnati and the Nationals of Washington to forgotten nines like the Pecatonica (Illinois) Base Ball Club and the Morning Star Club of St. Louis. Engaging narratives bring these long-ago clubs back to life, stimulating more research on this fascinating era and creating a standard reference source for all who study America’s national pastime.

About the Author(s)

Baseball historian Peter Morris is a two-time winner of the Seymour Medal for best baseball book of the year and was an inaugural winner of the Henry Chadwick Award for lifetime achievement in baseball research. He lives in Haslett, Michigan.
<William J. Ryczek is a finance professional from Wallingford, Connecticut, who writes about early baseball, football, the Yankees, and the Mets.
Jan Finkel, a retired English professor, serves as chief editor of the SABR Biography Project. He lives in Swanton, Maryland.
Len Levin, a retired newspaper editor, is a SABR member and twice a national officer of the society. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
Richard Malatzky has worked with Bill Haber through SABR’s Biographical Committee researching missing players. He lives in the Bronx, New York.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Peter Morris, William J. Ryczek, Jan Finkel, Leonard Levin and Richard Malatzky
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 364
Bibliographic Info: 13 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6843-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9001-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

General Introduction: The Spread of Baseball in the 1860s (Peter Morris)      1
Timeline of the Pioneer Era (Robert Tholkes)      5
Note on Sources and Usage (Peter Morris)      7

E CHAPTER ONE: CONNECTICUT AND MAINE E
Introduction (Richard Hershberger)      9
Pennesseewassees of Norway, Maine (Peter Morris)      9
Charter Oaks of Hartford, Connecticut (David Arcidiacono)      18
Quinnipiacks of West Meriden (Michael Bielawa)      22
Mansfields of Middletown (David Arcidiacono)      26
Bridgeport’s 1866 Clubs (Michael Bielawa)      32

E CHAPTER TWO: UPSTATE NEW YORK E
Introduction (Richard Hershberger)      42
Hudson Rivers of Newburgh (Peter Morris)      42
Victory Base Ball Club of Troy (Peter Morris)      49
Unions of Lansingburgh (Troy “Haymakers”) (Peter Morris)      53
Excelsiors of Albany (Peter Morris)      67
Utica Base Ball Club (Scott Fiesthumel)      69
Syracuse Base Ball Club (Peter Morris)      71
Central City Base Ball Club of Syracuse (Peter Morris)      76
Ontarios of Oswego (Peter Morris)      87
Flour City, Live Oak, Olympic, and Lone Star
Clubs of Rochester (Priscilla Astifan)      91
Niagaras of Buffalo, Prewar (Peter Morris)      101
Niagaras of Buffalo, Postwar (Peter Morris)      107
Cliftons of Buffalo (Peter Morris)      115

E CHAPTER THREE: WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA AND EASTERN OHIO E
Introduction (Peter Morris)      118
Mountain Base Ball Club of Altoona (Peter Morris)      119
Allegheny Base Ball Club (Peter Morris)      121
Forest City Base Ball Club of Cleveland (Peter Morris)      125
Independents of Mansfield (Peter Morris)      133

E CHAPTER FOUR: CINCINNATI AND NORTHERN KENTUCKY E
Introduction (Peter Morris)      137
Live Oaks of Cincinnati (Greg Perkins)      138
Buckeyes of Cincinnati (David Ball)      141
Cincinnati Base Ball Club (“Red Stockings”) (David Ball)      146
Western Unions of Cincinnati (Greg Perkins)      160
Eagles of Brooklyn, Kentucky (Greg Perkins)      162
Covington and Copec Clubs of Covington (Greg Perkins)      163
Holt Base Ball Club of Newport (Greg Perkins)      166

E CHAPTER FIVE: MICHIGAN E
Introduction (Peter Morris)      169
Franklins of Detroit (Peter Morris)      169
Detroit Base Ball Club (Peter Morris)      176
Early Risers of Detroit (Peter Morris)      185
Daybreaks of Jackson (Peter Morris)      189
Kent Base Ball Club of Grand Rapids (Peter Morris)      193
First Nationals of Hancock (Peter Morris)      198

E CHAPTER SIX: INDIANA, ILLINOIS, WISCONSIN, IOWA AND MINNESOTA E
Introduction (Peter Morris)      202
Summit City Base Ball Club of Fort Wayne (Robert E. Gregory)      204
Excelsiors of Chicago, Prewar (Peter Morris)      206
Excelsiors of Chicago, Postwar (Peter Morris)      210
Byron (Illinois) Base Ball Club (Peter Morris)      221
Forest City Club of Rockford (Peter Morris)      224
Pecatonica Base Ball Club (Peter Morris)      235
Olympians of Beloit College (Fred Burwell)      239
Mutuals of Janesville (Peter Morris)      247

E CHAPTER SEVEN: MARYLAND AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA E
Introduction (Peter Morris)      252
Excelsior/Pastime Base Ball Club of Baltimore (Peter Morris)      253
Marylands of Baltimore (Peter Morris)      261
Olympics of Washington (Peter Morris)      265
Nationals of Washington (Peter Morris)      271

E CHAPTER EIGHT: ST. LOUIS E
Introduction ( Jeffrey Kittel)      281
Cyclones ( Jeffrey Kittel)      282
Morning Stars ( Jeffrey Kittel)      288
Unions ( Jeffrey Kittel)      291
Empires (Jeffrey Kittel)      296

E CHAPTER NINE: LOUISVILLE AND ATLANTA E
Introduction (William J. Ryczek)      307
Louisville Base Ball Club (Peter Morris)      309
Gate City Base Ball Club of Atlanta (Peter Morris)      314

E CHAPTER TEN: SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA E
Introduction (Angus Macfarlane)      318
Eagles of San Francisco (Angus Macfarlane)      323
Pacifics of San Francisco (Angus Macfarlane)      329
Cosmopolitans of San Francisco (Angus Macfarlane)      332
Wide Awakes of Oakland (Angus Macfarlane)      333

General Bibliography      341
About the Contributors      343
Index      345

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Winner, SABR Baseball Research Award
  • “This is a scrupulous work that will enchant avid historians of early baseball”—Library Journal