On the Fourth the Garden City base ball club played the Unions at the park. The number of spectators was not large. The game was a most interesting one, as the Chicago men took the lead from the first, and maintained it throughout the game, badly beating the Union's score. It is due to the Union club to say that they played under some disadvantages. Three of their best players were absent, which necessitated the employment of other men, and the changing of the regular positions of the nine.
-Missouri Republican, July 6, 1870
According to Tobias, the three missing Union players were Charles Turner, Robert Lucas, and Joseph Carr.
According to E.H. Tobias, "The original Union Club was composed of high school pupils who organized under the name in 1860 with Asa W. Smith, president; Robert Niggeman, vice-president; J.P. Freeman, secretary; E.F. Finney, treasurer...In the latter part of '61 the Union Club disbanded on account of the Civil War and did not reorganize until 1865. Of those who belonged to the original club Asa W. Smith, Wm. E. Greenleaf and J.P. Freeman were the promoters of the new organization." Now I have written on more than one occasion that the idea that the Union Club founders were high school students was an anachronism. I have argued that they, in fact, were actually students at St. Louis University and Washington University. However, while there is no doubt that many members of the Union Club went to SLU or Washington University, I was absolutely wrong in arguing that the club founders were not high school students because they were.
In the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the St. Louis Public Schools for the Year Ending August 1, 1872, there is "a complete list of the graduates of the High School" from the time the school opened through 1872. Among the graduating class of 1861 was Asa W. Smith and Robert Niggeman. Members of the graduating class of 1862 included Edward Finney and J.P. Freeman. Other known members of the Union Club who graduated from the High School around the same time were Thaddeus Smith, Asa's brother and a member of the class of 1858, and Frank Billon and Joseph Carr, members of the class of 1863. Joseph Gamble, a member of the Cyclone Club, was a member of the class of 1860.
So I was absolutely wrong in my thinking about the origins of the Union Club and there is no doubt that the club was founded in 1860 by high school students. Tobias was correct in this and I (shockingly) was wrong. And the reason I was wrong was that I did not know enough about the antebellum St. Louis school system. I did not know that what would eventually become Central High School was founded in 1853. Without knowing anything about the subject, I had assumed the first high school didn't open in St. Louis until after the war. But that was only an assumption and, as it turns out, a wrong one. So I've been forced to educate myself a bit on the history of the St. Louis public school system and I guess I'm a better person because of that (or something).
But, in all seriousness, this is an important piece of information that corrects my erroneous thinking about the origins of one of the most important PIoneer-era St. Louis baseball clubs. It may contradict some things that I've written in the past but it doesn't matter if I look foolish or not, as long as we get the story correct.
Now, to make myself feel better, I will point out that Tobias was wrong in writing that the club disbanded in 1861, as there is sufficient evidence in the Missouri Republian showing that the club was very active throughout 1862. Tobias' entire timeline, when it came to the Union Club, was off by a year. He had them forming in 1859, playing the Empire Club for the first time in 1860 and then disbanding in 1861. I have evidence showing that the club formed in 1860 and played the Empire Club for the first time in 1861. Also, after 1862, I find nothing else about the club until the war is over. So, I have been arguing for some time now that Tobias, when it came to the Union Club, was simply off by a year. When you're writing history, these kinds of mistakes happen and I'm the perfect example of that.
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