A meeting of the judiciary committee of the State Base Ball association was called for last night, in order to take action on an appeal made by the Union club against the Empires. The former state that the Empires played illegally at a recent contest. In consequence of the absence of Mr Hantz and Mr. Stith, two members of the committee, it was decided to adjourn until a full meeting could be had.
-Missouri Republican, July 9, 1870
If I had to guess, I'd say the Unions were complaining that the Empires were using an illegal player. Shockingly, that complaint had come up before and would come up again with regards to the Empire Club. To the best of my knowledge, nothing every came of this specific charge.
A large crowd of spectators assembled yesterday afternoon at the base ball park to witness a game of base ball between the Garden City club of Chicago, and the Empire club of this city. On the part of the Empires the play throughout was very indifferent. All of the players except Murray on the third base, who played well up to his standard, batted and fielded poorly, and muffed a great many balls.
Tobias wrote that this game was "devoid of interest and not complimentary to either club insomuch as both failed to come up to their standard of play." He contradicts the Republican by stating that the umpire made numerous errors but does agree that Jake Murray was the standout for the Empires.
The game of base ball for the championship of this state which, as has been advertised, would be played yesterday between the Empire club, the preset champions, and the Union club, came off at the appointed time and place and resulted in the defeat of the Unions. Notwithstanding the extreme severity of the heat yesterday afternoon, some 800 to 1,000 people assembled at the park to witness the contest between these rival clubs.
The Republican's account of the game goes on to give a detailed inning-by-inning account but I'm going to spare myself the burden of typing that up. Bottom line was that the Empires won the first game of their championship series against the Unions by a score of 36-28.
The Clipper also published an account of this game:
These old rival clubs of St. Louis entered the arena for the championship of Missouri for 1870, on the 23d of June, the game being played at the base ball park at St. Louis, in the presence of a large crowd of spectators...The ball played with was a lively one, and hence there was no less than 39 fielding errors in the game, heavy hitting deciding the contest...
The challenge which the Union base ball club of this city some time ago sent to the Empire club to play a match game of ball for the championship of the state, has been accepted by the Empire. The game will be played at the base ball park on Thursday the twenty-third day of this month.
The Unions and the Empires were, in 1870, still the best two clubs in St. Louis. They weren't good enough to compete on a national level but they were the best baseball clubs in Missouri. Their series would decide both the city and state championship for the year, as it had for the best several seasons.
Another respectable crowd of people assembled yesterday afternoon at the park, to witness the match game of base ball between the Chicago club, and the Empires. The weather was pleasant, and the ground in a better condition than on Friday. A great deal of interest was manifested in the game by the spectators, especially in the first part of it, where the Empires played in a fine manner, making a number of runs, and fielding admirably. The Chicagos played as well if not better than in the match with the Unions, and particularly, an improvement in their fielding was noticeable. A number of muffs however were made, but we will not here particularize them. Mr. Harris was selected as umpire and gave general satisfaction.
The Empires certainly gave a better account of themselves than the did the Unions but, in the end, they still were beaten handily by the White Stockings. And, as usual when the St. Louis clubs met up with a top national team, the difference was the pitching. The Empires, like the Unions, were unable to handle Chicago's pitching while Chicago had no problem hitting St. Louis pitching.
Also, this is an odd game account and I had trouble following along with it. There were a couple of spots when I was reading it where I just stopped, scratched my head, and was forced to reread a sentence. There are more than a few things in this game account that make little to no sense. Al Spink was not writing for the paper until 1875 but this article has a very Al Spink feel to it. It certainly seems to me that the two accounts of the Chicago games were written by different people.
The Empire Club was organized in 1860 at a meeting held in the office of Justice Hequemberg on the south side of Vine, between Second and Third streets.
On page 38 of The National Game, Spink states specifically that the Empire Club was founded on April 16, 1860. Present at the club's founding, according to Spink, was B.J. Higgins, J.W. O'Connell, John F. Walton, Daniel Coyle, P.J. Cooney, H.G.D. Barklage, J.C. Adams, James Utley, P.H. Tobin, Jacob Ruppenthal, J. Schenck, James Fitzgerald, Thomas Cappell, Jacob Hollenbeck, Joseph Kinwiddy, and William Henley.
At that meeting, a constitution and set of by-laws, patterned after those of the Knickerbocker Club, was adopted and officers were elected. Kinwiddy was chosen as president, Hollenback was named secretary, and Barklage was selected as treasurer - a post he would hold for ten years.
What's interesting about this April 16, 1860 date is that it allows you to make an argument that the Empire Club was the first baseball club in St. Louis history.
If one believes that the Cyclone Club was not founded until Merritt Griswold published the rules of the game in the Missouri Democrat, or until just afterwards, then one must believe that the Cyclones were not founded until April 26, 1860 or at some point after that. If this is true then the Empire Club, according to Spink, was founded before the Cyclones.
Empire Base Ball Club.-At the regular monthly meeting of this Club, held at their hall, corner of Third and Vine streets, on the 3d day of July, the following officers were duly elected: B.J. Higgins, President; Peter Naylor, Vice-President; John F. Walton, Secretary; Patrick Cooney, Treasurer. The following preamble and resolution was also adopted:
This is the earliest contemporary reference I have to the Empire Club and it shows that, as of July 1860, the Empires, Cyclones, and Morning Stars (as well as other, unnamed clubs) were already in existence, without giving us any idea of which of the clubs had formed first. Interestingly, we have an election of officers for the the club which is completely different than the list Spink gives us. Also, there is no mention of the Commercial Club, who had formed a month earlier.
I'm not really certain what to make of all of this information. The contemporary source mentions a regular monthly meeting, which implies that there had been previous meetings. The election of officers makes it seem as if the club had just formed. But the April 16 date from Spink is very specific and has to have some basis in fact but Tobias, who had access to club records and was a former member, didn't mention it.
So what do we do with the Empire Club? I tend to accept the April founding date for the club. It's too specific and the fact that the Empire Club always played their anniversary game in the middle of April lends credence to the April 16 founding date. But the fact remains that the date comes from a source written fifty years after the fact and I have no idea what Spink's source was. The contemporary sources are silent on the matter and you can make the argument that they support a founding date of June or July 1860. There is no doubt that the Empires were one of the first baseball clubs in St. Louis but it's difficult to argue that they were the first. If we're going to base all of this on Spink then you have to deal with Griswold stating that the Cyclones were the first club and formed in the winter of 1859/1860. We also have a source from 1895 that says the Cyclones formed in the summer of 1859. And if we base it on the contemporary sources, the Commercial Club has a better argument for being the first club.
I think I'm going to have to create a chart to track all the possible dates that a pioneer St. Louis baseball club could have been formed. I think a timeline for the sources would be helpful.
Base Ball. - We are glad to see that this noble national game is fast gaining ground in popularity in our city. There are several fine clubs in St. Louis, and our readers will not have forgotten that the championship of the West is held by the Empire B.B. Club, having wrested that proud title from the Empire Club of Freeport, Ill., last 4th of July, in commemoration of which event our well-known citizen, Martin Collins, Esq., has presented the club with a magnificent belt, gotten up in the most artistic manner. The presentation was accompanied by an eloquent and interesting speech, delivered in our friend Martin's most happy manner, and was appropriately responded to by Messrs. J. Fruin, B. Higgins, and other members of the club, all of whom expressed the sentiment that the club would give a "hard fight" to whatever club may endeavor to take it from the Empire.
On September 6th, 1865, the Empire Club was presented with an elegantly devised belt as “champions of the West.” The presentation speech was made by Martin Collins, Esq., on behalf of citizens who were interested in base ball and who desired that all Western clubs should take a whack at winning it, whenever they felt able to tackle the holders. As president of the club the late Judge John F. Walton accepted the belt in one of his most graceful speeches and it was placed in a...receptacle of the club room on Third street.
This prominent Mason and insurance expert is upwards of sixty years of age, having been born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in the year 1826. [Martin Collins] is, however, a man of excellent preservation, and is very frequently mistaken for a much younger man. His excellent physique and his genial manner make him conspicuous among his co-workers, and during his long connection with this city he has earned and maintained the respect of all with whom he has come in contact, and more especially of members of the Masonic fraternity.
Martin Collins was a member of the Empire Club and Edmund Tobias mentions him playing in an 1876 "old-timer's" game with other veterans of the club.
The above article comes from the September 18, 1860 issue of the St. Louis Daily Bulletin and is one of my favorites. I found it about six or seven years ago and posted the information at the old blog back then. As far as the early history of St. Louis baseball is concerned it's a rather significant source as it gives us a lot of information about what was really the first baseball season in the city's history.
I have absolutely no idea when or where I got a digital copy of the article. Just kind of stumbled across this in one of my files while looking for something to post. I first found the article when looking at the actual, original, physical copies of the Bulletin from 1860 at the St. Louis Public Library. Still, to this day, I can't believe that I had those issues in my hand and remember just being terrified of touching them and harming them in some way. They didn't even give me gloves to handle them with. I just asked for them and they gave them to me. Crazy.
Having said that, I'll never forget that day. It was one of the best and most productive days of research I ever had and looking at these one hundred and fifty year old documents was an amazing experience. It's rare for me to have my hands on original source material. You usually get microfilm or a digital copy, which is great. But there's nothing like having the fragile original in your hands.
According to Hether Pearson-Pillman at Find A Grave, John Shockey was the son of Abraham Shockey and Mary Jane Sexton and was born in 1840 in Wheeling, West Virginia. While this is reasonable evidence supporting the idea that Shockey was Henry Clay Sexton's nephew, I've not been able to find anything that shows conclusively that Mary Jane and Henry Clay Sexton were siblings. The best I could find was census data stating that Mary Jane Shockey's parents, like Henry Clay's, were born in Virginia. I don't have any doubt that John Shockey was Henry Clay Sexton's nephew but I can't really prove it.
Also there are a few problems with the Find A Grave information. Shockey's father's name was Abram and not Abraham. His name appears as Abram in the census records, city directories, and on his Missouri death record. Ms. Pearson-Pillman also lists "Abraham" Shockey's occupation as fireman and states that he died in the line of duty. The problem with this is that Abram Shockey was a policeman rather than a fireman and in 1887, when he died, Abram Shockey was 75 years old and not likely running around putting out fires. The Wheeling, West Virginia place of birth for John Shockey also does not conform with the information that I have. According to census records, he was born in Pennsylvania. However, it's possible that he was born in Wheeling and that the census records are wrong.
Note: I realized that I needed to check Shockey's wife and see if she was Sexton's daughter-the assertion by the Globe being that Shockey was Sexton's son in law. Shockey's wife was named Annie and she was born around 1849 in New York. There is no record of Sexton having a daughter named Annie so we can rule out that Shockey was Sexton's son in law.
Also, while looking up Annie Shockey's information, I found another source that has John Shockey's place of birth as Virginia.
Mr. John Shockey, Assistant chief of the Fire Department, and nephew of Chief Sexton, who was severely injured at the fire at 113 and 115 Bremen avenue just one week ago yesterday, died at his residence, No. 1711 North Eighth street, at 2:30 a.m. yesterday. The details of the accident which caused him to lose his life have previously been given in the Globe-Democrat. The injuries were considered fatal at the time, but many of his friends hoped that his strong constitution would enable him to successfully combat them. The funeral will take place from the residence to Bellefontaine Cemetery at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The funeral discourse will be delivered by Rev. Dr. Vincil, of the M.E. Church, South. chief Sexton, with two representatives of the department from each engine-house, will participate in the obsequies, as also will the Knights Templar, of which organization deceased was a member. No man in the department was better liked than Shockey-a brave and competent fireman-whose death is universally regretted.
The funeral of the late Assistant Fire Chief, John W. Shockey, will take place at 10 o'clock this morning...Each engine house will send two of its force, and the Salvage Corps will also be represented on the occasion. As yet no successor has been appointed for the lamented deceased. It was thought that there would be two vacancies to fill, as the resignation of Assistant Bame was known to have been tendered, as stated in these columns yesterday. But it is now understood that he has withdrawn his resignation until such time as an investigation can be had. As for Chief Sexton himself, the death of his nephew, Shockey, is just now what concerns him most, and he says he has made no plans as yet.
In the aftermath of Shockey's death Sexton and John Bame, both of whom had been with the fire department since the late 1850's, threatened to resign. It seems that they felt "harassed" by a group of "enemies" that was questioning their management of the StLFD. While it's unknown if Shockey's death was the cause of this harassment or merely an excuse to increase criticism of the department's leadership, Bame did mention an investigation that would be looking into the events of the Scholtz fire. Of course the investigation and criticism came to nothing and Sexton remained as chief until 1885 when he resigned to take a job with the federal government as a revenue collector.
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