Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Early base ball in Iowa

Eddyville, Iowa, is a small (pop. just over 1,000) city in the southeastern quadrant of that state.  The Friends of the Eddyville Library just announced the launch of the “Eddyville Newspaper Archives: Opening the Digital Window to the Past.”

I took a look around and found an early reference to base ball.  In 1862 The Eddyville Star reported that:
The young men of Eddyville being desirous of promoting rational enjoyment, have, or are about to organize, under the above name (Union Base Ball Club).  They, we are informed, play Wednesday and Saturdays, in Benedict Hall.  Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the young men comprising this club.  We are happy to say that the names of some of our best citizens are already enrolled. (names listed) 


The Eddyville Star - April 19, 1862

Looking at the list of Earliest Baseball Clubs from MLB's Baseball Memory Lab, I see that the first base ball club in Iowa is in 1864 in Dubuque.

Looking at Protoball's list of Pre-pro Clubs and Games in Iowa I see that they have a club listed in 1858 from Davenport.

So, Eddyville's Union Base Ball Club isn't the earliest in Iowa, but it is early.

Note: I digitally cleaned up some of the detritus on the article image, making it a bit easier to read.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

What was John Sterling's middle name?

John Thorn, MLB's Official Historian, shared his fine blog space with SABR member Richard Malatzky today.  Richard was looking into identifying the player identified only as "Sterling" who played for the Philadelphia Athletics in a game against the Syracuse Stars on October 12, 1890.

Philadelphia Inquirer - October 13, 1890
from GenealogyBank.com

Baseball-Reference has him listed only as Sterling.

Richard suggests that this Sterling was John A. Sterling, citing the 1870 and 1880 US Census.

"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-11122-28859-50?cc=1438024 : 22 May 2014), Pennsylvania > Philadelphia > Philadelphia, ward 02 > image 252 of 1554; citing NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

"United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-25156-18535-78?cc=1417683 : 24 December 2015), Pennsylvania > Philadelphia > Philadelphia > ED 78 > image 3 of 24; citing NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

So, there's John, aged 5 and then 14.  What's so bad about dropping a year when you're a baseball player?

In the 1870 Census we see that John has a middle initial, A.

In the 1880 Census we see that John has a middle name, Albert.

Now that we know who his folks are, Jesse and Henrietta Sterling, let's try to find any mention of his birth.  FamilySearch shows that there was a John Pierce Sterling.  This is just an index.  I was not able to access the image.

"Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709-1950," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V2J6-4MG : 9 December 2014), Jessee D. E. Sterling in entry for John Pierce Sterling, 06 Sep 1865; Birth, citing Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; FHL microfilm 1,289,310.

The 1890 Census is not generally available for the majority of Americans, due to a fire that destroyed many of the records.  For a more complete explanation of that disaster see the National Archives' Prologue magazine from the Spring of 1996.

Richard states that John Sterling married a Maggie and they had children.

I found John and Maggie in the 1900 Census.

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11776-110760-70?cc=1325221 : 5 August 2014), New Jersey > Camden > ED 97 Gloucester city Ward 2 > image 57 of 82; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

No middle name or initial.  But we can see that John and Maggie had been married for 13 years.  That would put their wedding date at about 1887.

The 1905 New Jersey State Census transcription doesn't list a middle initial.

"New Jersey State Census, 1905," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KMWC-JMF : 8 November 2014), John Sterling, , Camden, New Jersey, United States; citing p. 13, line 95, Department of State, Trenton; FHL microfilm 1,688,593.

The more records the better.  When doing genealogical research it is sometimes difficult to see what the records contain.  The following is the death certificate for John and Maggie's young daughter, Frances C. E. Sterling.

"Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-266-11828-92339-70?cc=1320976 : 16 May 2014), 004010409 > image 880 of 1102; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

She died when only 13 months old.  It must have been heart breaking for newlyweds to have to bury their child.

But we see the middle initial of A again.

John isn't in the 1910 Census as he passed away on November 10, 1908.

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 12, 1908
from GenealogyBank.com

We have the A again.

Here's the obituary that Peter Morris found in The Billboard magazine.

The Billboard - November 28, 1908
from Google Books

The next week John's mother, Henrietta, passes away.

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 17, 1908
from GenealogyBank.com
Four years before that his father, Jesse, passes away.

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 2, 1904
from GenealogyBank.com

All three of them are buried at Union Cemetery.  Only Jesse has a FindAGrave memorial.

John's wife, Maggie, now going by Margaret, can be found in various state and federal census records going up to 1940.  I have no record of her death or burial.

So, where does that middle name of Pierce come from?  I don't know.  The bulk of the records show A and the 1880 Census shows Albert.  I think that either of those is fine.
.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Broadcast of July 8, 1941 All-Star Game

John Thorn wrote a piece for the 2016 All-Star Guide titled The San Diego Kid where he asks:
Has there ever been a more dramatic finish to an All-Star Game?  The question is rhetorical; the answer is No.  We’re talking about a Midsummer Classic of 75 seasons ago: July 8, 1941.
I wasn't familiar with that game so after reading John's story, I sought out the box score.  There are several available.  Baseball-Reference has a nice version.  Lots of links.

I looked to the local paper, The Knoxville News-Sentinel, to view their coverage.  It was an evening paper, so the published what they had on the same day the game was played.  Which was through the 4th inning.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel - July 8, 1941

Was there film of this game?  Yes.  I found a few minutes on YouTube.



But what about audio?  Was there a radio broadcast that was captured?   I found a copy of the game n four parts on Old Time Radio Downloads and pieced them together.  The quality was okay, but had some warbles.

Back to YouTube.  I found this copy of the complete game.  It was much more pleasing to the ear than what I concocted.



If you're itching for some All-Star action before Tuesday night, take a few hours and click the play button.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Augusta Giants

On the facebook group, The Historical Negro League Baseball Site, researcher Steve Cain wrote:
I am still trying to find any information on negro minor/amateur baseball in Augusta, Georgia. I know there was a team called the Augusta All-Stars that played at the Augusta Sea Beach in 1932 and there was another team clled the Augusta Giants that played at Jennings Stadium. If anyone has more information, it would be greatly appreciated!
I took to GenealogyBank.com and found the following articles and ads about the Augusta Giants.


The Augusta Chronicle - May 14, 1933

The Augusta Chronicle - June 18, 1933

The Augusta Chronicle - July 2, 1933

The Augusta Chronicle - August 1, 1934

The Augusta Chronicle - August 21, 1934

Charleston News and Courier - September 2, 1934
I've shared them with Steve, but I wanted to make them available to others.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Neutral Game in Covington, KY - 1875

The Marlins and the Braves are going to play a game at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on July 3.  John Thorn, Official Historian of MLB, wrote a nice piece about games being played on Neutral Sites.

Several years ago I wrote about my 'discovery' of the Star Base Ball Grounds in Covington, Kentucky.  It was used by the Philadelphia Whites and the Hartford Dark Blues on September 21, 1875.

I thought that it was time to recount the story of the game.  I found it in the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, dated September 22, 1875.


A disputed coin flip to start the game.  A ball rolling under carriages in the 9th.  And lots of action in between with a wonderful write up. 

The weather report from the day before indicated that the temperature was 50°, clearing, with winds out of the NW.  The Hartfords were in Covington that day, playing a game against the local team.  The Hartfords lost.  From the following story we find out that Mr. Mack, who was umpire for the Philly/Hartford game, was the first baseman for the Stars.  Interesting to note that Umpire Mack was Dennis "Denny" Mack, who had played mostly infield for the Philadelphia National Association team the previous two seasons.

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune - September 21, 1875

Also playing on that Monday were the Philadelphians and the Red Stockings of the Queen City.

Cincinnati Commercial Tribune - September 21, 1875

And there you have a the story (and more) of one of 10 neutral site games played in 1875.



All newspaper images from GenealogyBank.com

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pitiful Pitching

Baseball was different in 1866, notably in this article about a game in Brooklyn.

The New York Herald - September 12, 1866


Eckford vs. Enterprise.
 
  The game between these clubs played at the Union grounds, Brooklyn, E.D., on Monday afternoon, resulted in a victory for the Enterprise Club, after a finely played game of eight innings. When it is asserted that the game was well played, it must be understood as applying only to the fielding, as the batting was not at all what it might be, while the pitching was as wild almost as when the pitcher was allowed to run in half a dozen yards before he delivered the ball. But the Umpire did not mind it, and the pitchers were allowed to worry the batsmen to their hearts' content. As an instance, in one innings Hall, of the Enterprise, was at the bat and Southworth pitching. The ball was pitched seven times without reaching the home base once except after a bound or two; then a ball was pitched about eight feet up in the air; then one for which the catcher had to run at least five yards to the left of his position in order to stop. At the tenth ball the batsman struck, but the ball was not at all within reach; then four more bounders and the fifteenth ball was hit. During all this time no "ball" was called. Of the Enterprise nine Richards, Hall and Patterson deserve mention, and of the Eckford Ryan, Manolt and Snyder. The last mentioned was substituted in McDonald's place, who was playing finely, but in attempting to catch a line ball from Pinkhams bat, in the third innings, was badly hurt and obliged to retire. 

I have no comment.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Researching The Patriarch

Samuel Wright was the father of two men in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Harry Wright and George Wright.  He was also the father of Samuel Wright, Jr., who played in 45 games spread out over four years in the big leagues.

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection,
The New York Public Library. "Sam Wright". The NYPL Digital Collections.

So, who was Samuel Wright?  He was a cricketer, one of the first professional cricketers in the United States.

But what about his life?  I'll attempt to answer that question using a variety of documents and public records.  I relied on Christopher Devine's Harry Wright: The Father Of Professional Base Ball to guide me through the basics.  I utilized Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, GenealogyBank.com, NYPL.org, ChroniclingAmerica.loc.gov, FindAGrave.com, and the direction of Jimmy Leiderman to get me to this point.  Try to think of this post as a mess of annotations and less of a narrative and you'll do fine.

Samuel Wright was born on May 22, 1812 in England and christened the next month.

"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NBWB-6BF : accessed 5 March 2016), Samuel Wright, 21 Jun 1812; citing , reference ; FHL microfilm 919,327.

Samuel's wife was named Ann.  I have not found a record of their marriage.  The christening of their son, William Henry Wright, also known as Harry, was recorded in 1832.  Devine states that Ann was Annie Tone, and they were married in 1830.

Harry, born William Henry Wright, was christened on November 8, 1832, at St. Peter, Leeds, York, England.

At some point the Samuel Wright family leaves England and travels to America.  I find them living in New York City at the time of the 1840 US Census.  There are five people in the household.  Two males under the age of 5, one male aged 30-40, one female under age 5, and one female aged 20-30.  Samuel would be the older male, Ann would be the older female.  According to the christening record, Harry would be in the second column, males aged 5 to 10.  From the 1840 Census we can't really tell anything else about the family, such as names or birth years.

"United States Census, 1840," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHRK-39X : accessed 5 March 2016), Samuel Wright, New York Ward 11, New York, New York, United States; citing p. 75, NARA microfilm publication M704, (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 305; FHL microfilm 17,197.

Ten years later (1850) the family is still in New York.  And the Census Bureau does a great thing for future genealogists and researchers.  They include every name, age, sex, color, profession, place of birth, and a few other things.

"United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCBZ-3GP : accessed 5 March 2016), Samuel Wright, New York City, ward 12, New York, New York, United States; citing family 631, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

In the 1850 Census we find:
Samuel Wright, 37, Joiner Tool Maker, England (est. birth year = 1813)
Ann, 37, , Ireland (1813)
William H., , 15, Silver Smith, England (1835)
Daniel, 12, , New York (1838)
George, 3, , New York (1847)
Samuel, 1, , New York (1849)

This is where it starts to get fun.  More children, missing child.  Date ranges.  If William (Harry) was born in 1835 in England, and Daniel was born in 1838 in New York, then we can assume that the Wright family came to America between those years.  I have not found any ship's manifest or immigration papers that shows when the travel occurred.

I've realized that I'm starting to open a can of worms for myself.  I easily get sidetracked.  In this exercise I will try to stay focused on Samuel, the father.  I guess I'll have to write up some posts on the children at another time.  If you stick with me I'll be recycling some of these items.

Trying to keep things in somewhat of a chronological order, here's an 1856 profile on "Veteran Sam".

New York Clipper - July 19, 1856
image from the University of Illinois UC Digital Newspaper Collections
From that profile we're shown a different birth date than the FamilySearch document above.

So, on to the 1860 Census.  The family is now living in Hoboken, New Jersey.

"United States Census, 1860", database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MFHB-TS9 : accessed 6 March 2016), Samuel Wright, 1860.

In this Census we find:
Samuel Wright, 55, Cricketer, England (est. birth year = 1805)
Ann, 50, , England (1810)
George, 12, , New York (1848)
Samuel, 10, , New York (1850)
William, 8, , New York (1842)
David, 23, Clerk , New York (1837)

And then on to the 1870 Census.

"United States Census, 1870," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MNDF-ZC1 : accessed 7 March 2016), Daniel Wright, New Jersey, United States; citing p. 16, family 117, NARA microfilm publication M593 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 552,360.

In the 1870 Census we find:
Daniel, 33, Clerk , New York (est. birth year = 1837)
Margaret E., 30, Keeping House , New York (1840)
Sammie Sr., 57, No Occupation, England (1813)
Ann, 50, At Home, Ireland (1820)
Sammie, 21, Works at Book Binding, New York (1849)
Mary, 20, At Home, New York (1851)
George, 5, , New Jersey (1865)

Samuel is no longer head of the house.  Still the Patriarch, but not the head of the house.  This will be the last federal census we find him in, as he dies in 1877.

New York Clipper - December 29, 1877
image from the University of Illinois UC Digital Newspaper Collections

And the official record we see he had disease of the kidneys (among other things), lived at Savin Hill, was a wood turner, and was born in England to Daniel and Sarah.

"Massachusetts Deaths, 1841-1915," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-267-12389-118929-21?cc=1463156 : accessed 11 March 2016), 0960213 (004221428) > image 633 of 797; State Archives, Boston.
Another death record shows that he was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston.  It also shows that the cause of death was apoplexy, which could either be internal bleeding or a stroke syndrome.

Boston Record of Deaths, 1877; Vol· 3 (Jan-Dec) Source Information Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

I called Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston, Massachusetts and spoke with Sally.  She was able to confirm that Samuel Wright was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery on December 21, 1877.  He is in Section 25, grave number 1790.  That section is known as the "Field of Manoah".  I asked if his wife, Ann (who died in 1887), was buried near him.  She said that they had no record for her.

image from ForestHillsCemetery.com

I've created a FindAGrave memorial for Samuel Wright and have requested a volunteer to take a photo of his grave marker.  Maybe when the weather in Boston becomes more mild someone will fill the request.

I've already started working on the next portion of Samuel's life, this time recorded in the directories of the cities in which he lived (Hoboken, Newark, and Boston).  Other bits will include some of his cricket history.  I've got plans to share similar posts about his wife and children and their families.