Friday, October 7, 2016

Cubs vs. Giants - 1883 edition

Tonight, October 7, 2016, the Cubs and the Giants play in the National League Division Series in the Windy City. The teams first met 133 years ago, when the White Stockings hosted the new to the league New York Gothams at Lakefront Park.

The Saint Paul Daily Globe - May 16, 1883
from Chronicling America

Different papers give different bits of information.  Two thousand turned out to see the game.

The Rockford Gazette - May 16, 1883

The umpire was Mr. William Furlong.

New York Herald - May 16, 1883

But wait.  The Cubs weren't even a team in 1883.  Yes.  And no.  The National League franchise from Chicago was then known as the White Stockings.  According to the Cubs 2015 Media Guide other nicknames for the Cubs over the years have been :
  • White Stockings (1876-1894)
  • Colts (1887-1906)
  • Black Stockings (1888-1889)
  • Ex-Colts (1898)
  • Rainmakers (1898)
  • Orphans (1898-1902)
  • Cowboys (1899)
  • Rough Riders (1899-1900)
  • Remnants (1901-1902)
  • Recruits (1902)
  • Panamas (1903)
  • Zephyrs (1905)
  • Nationals (1905-1907)
  • Spuds (1906)
  • Trojans (1913)
  • Cubs (1902-present)

Well, the Giants didn't move to San Francisco until 1958.  Before that they were the New York Giants, from 1885.  The two previous seasons they were the New York Gothams.  Same team.

Back to mid-May, 1883.  The Chicago White Stockings swept the New York Gothams in that first three game series (8-7, 6-2, 15-2).

It wouldn't be until June 2, 1883, when the Chicago club visited New York that they would first lose to the Gothams (7-22).

Times, and names, have changed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

George Wright and bread crumbs

John Thorn posted a nice biography of George Wright at Our Game.

He used a quote that I'd never seen.  And I like the imagery.

Here's the quote that John shared:
“Whenever he would pull off one of those grand, unexpected plays that were so dazzlingly surprising as to dumbfound his opponents, his prominent teeth would gleam and glisten in an array of white molars that would put our own Teddy Roosevelt and his famed dentistry establishment far in the shadow.” - Sam Crane
The source for the quote that John uses is:
Undated clip, part of a series on “The Fifty Greatest Ball Players in History” by Sam Crane that ran in the New York Evening Journal in 1911-12.
I thought that was a strange attribution.  An undated clip?  A two year span?  Those are rather vague sources.  John is one of the more detailed researchers / historians around and it didn't seem quite right.

But then I remembered looking through scrapbooks of collected clippings in libraries and historical societies.  There might be a year penciled at the top of an article, but rarely was there a hint of which paper it came from.  John's source made perfect sense.

It reminded me of the advice that Dr. George Schweitzer gave about  attaching sources to genealogy research.  "Put something in that source box.  Title and date of the publication?  Great.  Phone call with Aunt Alda?  Good.  Just make sure you put something in there so that the next researcher can have a sense of where you got it."  Or words to that effect.  Dr. Schweitzer would be proud of John.

But still, with all the newspapers that are online these days, shouldn't we be able to find that article and pin down a date?

Off to google.

William J. Craig, in his book, A History of the Boston Braves, A Time Gone By, uses the quote, but credits an "unknown sports writer".

A History of the Boston Braves, A Time Gone By
Google Books

In Roger I. Abrams' book, The First World Series and the Baseball Fanatics Of 1903, he includes the quote but credits "Sporting News" in 1904.

The First World Series and the Baseball Fanatics of 1903
Google Books

PSA uses the quote and attributes it to The Sporting News, 1904.

PSA website

Finally, William A. Cook's book, The Louisville Grays Scandal of 1877: The Taint of Gambling at the Dawn of the National League, puts Crane, The New York Evening Journal and the year 1911 all together.

The Louisville Grays Scandal of 1877
Google Books

It is nice to see it referenced in a book, but I wanted to see the original article.

I searched Chronicling America.  Nothing.  No.  The Sporting News at  Nope.  NY State Historic Newspapers?  Nada.

My guess is that The New York Evening Journal hasn't yet been digitized.

Then I remembered  I did not find The New York Evening Journal, but I found Sam Crane's article in The Duluth Herald from December 23, 1911.

Here's the "prominent teeth" quote:

The Duluth Herald (Minnesota) - December 23, 1911
image from

For completeness, and because it is interesting, here's the whole of Sam Crane's article:

The Duluth Herald (Minnesota) - December 23, 1911
image from

Thanks, John, for sharing George's story with us.  And for leaving a bread crumb trail for future researchers to follow.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

George M. Uhaze

I was looking for some info on the New York Blue Sox in the late 1940s and early 1950s when I came across this image of George Uhaze.
Trenton Evening Times - May 1, 1951
image from

That's a rather unique name.  So I looked him up on BaseballReference.  Here's his player page.

It seems that he was in the Boston farm system for a number of years.  A bit more searching provided this story from 1946.

Trenton Evening Times - September 9, 1946
image from

Since BaseballReference didn't have much info on the man, I dug a little more.

"United States Social Security Death Index," database,
FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), George M Uhaze, 13 Jun 1996;
citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database
(Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).

I found George in the 1930 Census.  But under the name George Uyhazi.  The maternal grandfather in the family is Czechoslovakian.

"United States Census, 1930", database with images,
FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2015),
George Uyhazi in entry for George Kicainko, 1930.
We can add a photo, a birth date and a death date for George Uhaze.

I did not find him on FindAGrave.

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

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 ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : 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

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
Four years before that his father, Jesse, passes away.

Philadelphia Inquirer - November 2, 1904

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 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.