Tobias first mentions the Atlantics while discussing the 1865 season. He notes that, in late September of 1865, the Empire Club had won matches in Freeport, Illinois, and Dubuque, Iowa. When the club returned to St. Louis, they were met at the East St. Louis ferry by representatives of several of the other St. Louis clubs and were paraded by torchlight to their club rooms. One of the clubs that took part in the parade was the Atlantics.iii Interestingly, there is a contemporary account of this event in the Missouri Republican and numerous clubs are mentioned as taking part in the festivities. However, the Atlantics are not mentioned in the Republican's account. But the Republican does mention the fact that E.H. Tobias was there and actually gave a speech, welcoming the Empires home.iv Regardless of this discrepancy, we do know for a fact, based upon the reporting in the Daily Press, that the Atlantics were active in 1865.
Throughout the second half of the 1860s, the Atlantics were one of the better clubs in St. Louis. They were one of the original members of the Missouri State Base Ball Association, which was formed in 1868, and they competed annually for the state championship.v However, they could never defeat the Empire or Union clubs in a series and, while they came close a couple of times, they were never able to win the championship of St. Louis and Missouri. While they may not have been a championship club during this era, the status of the club can be seen in the fact of their continued membership in the state association and the fact that they would play matches against some of the better clubs that visited St. Louis. In 1868, they played a match against the Excelsiors of Chicago, losing 71 to 7.vi In 1869, they played, and lost to, the Southerns of New Orleans.vii In 1870 and 1871, they played, and lost to, the White Stockings of Chicago.viii They never appeared to have been able to arrange a match against any of the better Eastern clubs that visited St. Louis and they were never able to defeat the best clubs in the West but it is arguable that the Atlantics were probably the third best club in St. Louis during this period. In 1869, they lost the deciding match in the championship series against the Empires by a run and Tobias wrote that they were the favorites to win the state and city championship in 1871.ix
There is no doubt that the Atlantics were a fine baseball club and their failure to defeat the Empire and Union clubs in the second half of the 1860s and early part of the 1870s is hardly unique among St. Louis baseball clubs of the era. However, in 1876, the Atlantic Base Ball Club of St. Louis would finally win the championship that they had been striving for over the previous decade. On July 9, 1876, the Atlantics defeated the Empires for the second time that season, thereby winning their series against the club and the championship of the state of Missouri and the city of St. Louis.x The Atlantics were the first club other than the Empires or the Unions to win the championship and they were the first club to defeat the Empires in a season series since the Union Club had done it in 1868. The Empires had held the championship for seven straight seasons before the Atlantics dethroned them in 1876.
It was the end of an era in more ways than one. The mighty Empire Club had finally been defeated. The Union Club had not fielded a team in several years and while there were always rumors that they were considering reorganizing a nine, it never happened. Asa Smith, the long-time president of the Union Club and one of the great leaders of the St. Louis baseball community, had died in 1874. But the main change, of course, was that the focus of the baseball world was no longer on local, amateur competition but, rather, the professional game. By the time the Atlantics finally won their championship, the National League already existed and the most popular team in St. Louis was not the local amateur champion but the professional, major league Brown Stockings. The game had changed and the Atlantics were a vestige of an old, dying world.
The Atlantic Base Ball Club of St. Louis has an interesting legacy. The won probably the last amateur state baseball championship in Missouri that mattered. It is certainly the last amateur championship that the local papers reported on before their baseball coverage was completely taken over by the professional game. Also, we can trace the lineage of the Red Stockings, who played in the first major league baseball game in St. Louis history, to the Atlantics, the last of the great St. Louis amateur clubs.
i St. Louis Daily Press; June 17, 1865.
ii St. Louis Daily Press; June 11, 1865.
iii E.H. Tobias; The Sporting News; November 9, 1895.
iv Missouri Republican; October 4, 1865.
v Missouri Republican; April 23, 1868.
vi Missouri Republican; October 11, 1868.
vii E.H. Tobias; The Sporting News; December 7, 1895.
viii E.H. Tobias; The Sporting News; December 28, 1895.
x St. Louis Globe-Democrat; July 11, 1876.