A Match Game of Base Ball, between Excelsior and Commercial Juniors, will take place THIS DAY, at 2 o'clock, p.m., on Empire's ground.
-Missouri Republican, May 25, 1861
The Excelsior Club was active in 1860 and I have a reference to a match game they played against the Lone Star Club in August of that year. Tobias mentioned them in his history:
In a previous communication mention was made of the Excelsior Club as being one of the ante-bellum organizations that met with an early dissolution. Through the kindness of one of its surviving members, John McKernou, Esq., of Washington avenue and Twenty-First street, the following additional and interesting data has been obtained: The club was orgainized by the election of Jas. Fitzwilliams, president; Patrick Keenan, a whitener, was treasurer; W. Sullivan, a drummer, who taught the comedian, Jos. K. Emmett, how to handle the stick, was secretary and among its active members were Peter Fitzwilliams, who was killed in the rebel army; John Hogan, a bookbinder; Joseph Champine and my informant, whose memory fails him as to the others. The club found birth and home in two old omnibusses placed end to end at Sloan's Carriage Factory, Eighth and St. Charles streets where now stands N.O. Nelson & Co.'s building. When the club membership became too large for its original quarters, its meetings were held on the east side of Sixth street between Morgan and Franklin avenue back of what was known as Beckner's Garden and in front of the Sans Souci Garden, both being places of public resort. The club played on Gamble Lawn during its brief existence of one season, that period of time being long enough to tire the boys out in carrying the old style sand bag bases back and forth the long distance to the grounds. Another feature of the game that added to the disheartening of this mis-named club was the round shape of the bats, whereby they were unable to hit the ball so frequently as with the old paddle.
-E.H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, November 16, 1895
However, the most fascinating thing in Tobias' notes on the club is that, in the past, they had used flat bats. This is evidence of the possibility that the Excelsiors had formed originally as what one might call a "town ball" club. To be more specific, it is possible that the club was active prior to 1860, when they were playing the baseball according to the national rules, and likely were playing the local, St. Louis version of baseball.
We have precious little information about the old St. Louis baseball variant. We know that, in Alton, there was a local variant that involved thirteen men per side and a five inning game. However, it's impossible to say if that variant was also played in St. Louis, although I am of the belief that it was. Tobias' notes give us the possibility that the St. Louis game involved a flat bat and that's just fascinating.
I should also point out that this appears to be the Excelsiors' junior club rather than the Excelsiors proper.