Base Ball -- Ottawa vs. Marseilles
Some two weeks ago the Marseilles Base Ball Club challenged the Base Ball and Wicket Club of Ottawa to a trial of skill. - The challenge was promptly accepted, and Friday of last week fixed as the day and Marseilles the place for the game. At the time appointed, although the weather was intensely hot, the game was played with great spirit, yet with the utmost good feeling throughout, on both sides...
J.H. Burlison, of Ottawa, and A.B. Thompson, of Marseilles acted as the Umpires. The time occupied in the game as 3 hours and 40 minutes.
The Ottawa boys, it will be seen, came out 21 points ahead. The Marseilles boys took their defeat in great good humor, and had prepared a grand supper at the close of the contest, which however, owing to the late hour and their fatigue, the Ottawa boys did not remain to discuss.
-Ottawa Free Trader, June 26, 1858
I think the really interesting thing here is the existence of a wicket club in Illinois in the antebellum era. At Protoball, the Glossary of Games has an entry on wicket that describes the game as follows:
The game of wicket was evidently the dominant game played in parts of Connecticut, western MA, and perhaps areas of Western New York State, prior to the spread of the New York game in the 1850’s and 1860’s. Wicket resembles cricket more than baseball. The “pitcher” bowls a large, heavy ball toward a long, low wicket, and a batter with a heavy curved club defends the wicket. Some students of cricket speculate that it resembles cricket before it evolved to its modern form.
Also of interest is the existence of organized base ball clubs in the area in the antebellum era. While there was certainly a culture of ballplaying in central Illinois dating back to the 1820s, evidence of organized clubs is fairly rare, prior to the introduction of the New York game. We know that there were two organized clubs in Alton, Illinois, in 1858 and members of the Morning Star club have stated that the club was active, playing a St. Louis baseball variant, by 1857 but, in general, we don't see a lot of references organized baseball clubs in the greater St. Louis area, central Illinois and Missouri prior to 1859.