The Washington University Club was a strong combination of young players being excellent fielders and strong batters who essayed to down the Union Club on June 2. The weather was so excessively hot that both nines exhibited but little energy, the play of the Unions, however, showing improvement.
-The Sporting News, December 14, 1895
With the scant material I have to work with from the Republican, I'm turning to Tobias' history of St. Louis baseball that ran in The Sporting News in 1895 and 1896. I've always been interested in the Washington University baseball club, as well as the St. Louis University club, and believe that the strong tradition of amateur, collegiate baseball in the city has largely been forgotten. Tobias did a fantastic job of covering that and it's largely through his efforts that we're aware of the great clubs that the universities in St. Louis had during this era.
Judge Shepherd Barclay of the State Supreme Court was another of the brilliant players of the Union Club, and sustained the difficult position of pitcher with great effect. He was also a fine fielder.
Barclay, who played with both the Unions and the St. Louis University baseball club, is, in my opinion, most famous for pushing the idea that Jeremiah Fruin had introduced the New York game to St. Louis. He was very wrong in that but that doesn't take away from the fact that he was a fine pitcher who went on to a distinguished legal career.
I actually have a copy of Shepard Barclay's biography. Privately published in St. Louis in 1931, the book appears to have been edited by William L. R. Gifford. The biographical sketch was prepared by Clarence E. Miller and the book also includes a brief essay on Barclay's legal career written by S. Mayner Wallace. The primary source for the biography was Barclay's private papers and the book was written at the request of Edward Mallinckrodt, Barclay's nephew, "(in) affectionate remembrance of a long and happy relationship."
A couple of interesting things based upon reading the book:
-With regards to Barclay's parentage, there appears to be a reason why it wasn't mentioned in other sources. It's a bit complicated and a tad scandalous. Shepard Barclay was born on November 3, 1847 to Britton Armstrong Hill and Mary Shepard Hill. Britton Armstrong Hill was a lawyer from New York who had come to St. Louis in 1841 and married Elihu Shepard's daughter on October 8, 1845. The marriage was not a happy one and ended on March 2, 1849 when the two were divorced "by act of the state legislature." On June 26, 1854, Mary Shepard married David Robert Barclay, a lawyer and native of Pennsylvania, who had moved to St. Louis in 1850.
-While he was known as Shepard Barclay to his teachers and friends, the man's legal name was actually Shepard Hill. In 1868, "upon reaching his majority," he had his name legally changed from Hill to Barclay.
-There are a couple of references to baseball in the book although not much in the way of detail. Miller quotes Barclay, with regards to his days at St. Louis University, as saying that "(in) 1867, the year of my graduation, we held the local college championship in base ball, after a great game with our leading rival in St. Louis." This game is most likely the one between SLU and Washington University that Kelsoe wrote about in his book. There is also a reference to Barclay enjoying athletics and the outdoors and as someone who had a lifelong love of baseball. There is no mention of his having played baseball at the University of Virginia or in Europe. There also is no mention of the Union Club.
-Of the top of my head, I can't imagine Barclay having played that much with the Union Club or having been a rather prominent member. I can't imagine him playing with the club before or during the Civil War and Kelsoe wrote that Barclay pitched for SLU before joining the club. So based on that, Barclay most likely didn't join the Union Club until 1867. In December of 1869, he left for Europe and would not return home until May of 1872, by which time the Union Club had stopped playing baseball. At best, if Kelsoe is correct and Barclay didn't join the club until after he graduated from SLU, Shepard Barclay was a playing member of the Union Club for two years.
The photo above comes from Notable St. Louisans in 1900.
The above is an image of the 1882-1883 St. Louis University baseball team and I believe that it's the earliest image of a SLU baseball team that we have. The history of SLU baseball goes back to at least 1868 and I think there is some evidence that it predates the Civil War. SLU has a very rich baseball tradition that is never really talked about and I don't even think the school acknowledges it.
Somebody sent this to me sometime ago and I stashed it in my bookmarks, saving it for a day when I'm too lazy to post anything else (and I have a lot of stuff like that stashed away for a rainy day). But, for the life of me, I can't remember who sent it to me. My humblest apologizes but I'm getting old and the memory is going. Contact me if you sent this pic to me so I can give you proper credit.
Back to the 1868 season on Monday.
A game of base ball took place yesterday on the old "Jackson" grounds near Lafayette Park between the "Pickwick" B.B.C., of the St. Louis University, and the "Palmetto" B.B.C., of the Academy of the Christian Brothers. At the close of the seventh innings the game was called, and the "Pickwick" was pronounced victorious; the score being "Pickwick," 65 runs; "Palmetto," 20 runs.
This is a very interesting reference to "the old 'Jackson' grounds." I have a nice list of 19th century, St. Louis baseball grounds and the Jackson grounds is not on it. Given the reference to the grounds being near Lafayette Park, I have to think that this is what would become known, in 1867, as the Veto Grounds and, later, the Compton Avenue grounds would be built on the site. Interestingly, I also have a reference to a Jackson Base Ball Club, in St. Louis, in 1865 and it is possible that the club used the site as their home grounds, although it's also possible that the name of the grounds came from the fact that it was located at the former site of Camp Jackson. The site was certainly being used as a baseball grounds that year, with the Defiance and Liberty clubs playing a match there on June 18, 1865. Also, the Empire Club used the site as their home grounds in 1866.
So I'm thinking that the Jackson grounds was located on the old Camp Jackson site (which was just south of SLU, making it convenient for a SLU/CBC game) and possibly was used by the Jackson Club in 1865. It would later become known as the Veto Grounds, be used as the Empire Club's home grounds and Thomas McNeary would build the Compton Avenue Grounds at the site in 1874. It's a site with a rich baseball history.
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