Base Ball.-The good old social game of base ball, which we used so much to delight in when a student, and which, semi-occasionally, we have indulged in since arriving at man’s estate, is fast becoming one of the most popular pastimes among us. On Monday night a base ball club was organized, with twenty-four members, under the style of the “Morning Star Club.” The following officers were elected: President-J.R. Naylor; Vice-President-R. Henry; Secretary-Geo. Franklin; Directors-C.C. Ferguson, R.H. Franklin and Chas. Scudder.
The club will meet every morning for practice. We wish them much enjoyment, and shall accept their kind invitation to take a game when convenient.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, June 6, 1860
I've posted this before but I'm going to use it as an ending point for what I've been talking about lately. What we have here is the earliest reference to a St. Louis baseball club in a St. Louis newspaper. The only earlier reference to a St. Louis club comes from the September 3, 1859 issue of the New York Clipper.
That's all wonderful but it's not what I wanted to mention. What I want to point out to you is that first sentence and the reference to the "good old social game of base ball." Specifically, I'm interested in the use of the word "old." The implication is that baseball was a game that had been played in St. Louis for some time. The writer of this piece had played the game when he was at school and identifies that game with the game that the Morning Star Club was playing. There are other sources that mention that a local St. Louis baseball variant - usually referred to as town ball - was played in the city prior to the introduction of the New York game but this is the earliest mention of that idea.
Now, by this point, the Morning Star Club was playing the New York game, having in the past played the local variant. I very much doubt that the writer had played the New York variant when he was in school (unless he went to school in New York) so what the writer is doing is identifying the New York game with the St. Louis variant. Or, rather, what he's doing is not making a distinction between the two. To the writer, it was all just baseball. That's really interesting and lends credence to the idea of an overarching family of American baseball games that includes modern baseball and all of its variant forms, past and present. It's all just baseball.
I do have one problem with this source. Everything that I just said - all the inferences that I just made - kind of goes by the wayside if the writer of the piece was not from St. Louis. If the writer was not from St. Louis then the reference to ball-playing at school is most likely a reference to ball-playing somewhere other than St. Louis. So, yeah, that's a bit of a problem. On a scale of one to ten, with one being a provably lie and ten being metaphysical certainty, I would rate this source as something like a three or a four when it comes to helping us establish factuals regarding the St. Louis baseball variant.
The rest of the stuff in the article is top notch. As I said, it's the earliest reference to a St. Louis club in a St. Louis newspaper. It's also, obviously, the first reference we have to the Morning Star Club. All and all, it's a real interesting source that's full of fun stuff to play with.