On Yesterday evening the second match game of the Unions and Empires was played at the grounds of the Union Club. A pleasant day added its interest; rivalry lent the spiced wine of its vintage to the match, and a respectable assemblage had seated themselves before the playing began.
The old story of victory was repeated. The Unions had the science, and the Unions won. After the game was finished the score stood:
O'Ran led the score and played beautifully. The best players of the Unions were Lucas, pitcher, Easton and Greenleaf.
Wirth and Barron, of the Empires, did exceedingly well. The Empires were whitewashed four times, on the 1st, 2nd, 5th and 9th innings, and the Unions but once - on the 4th inning.
The Empires have appealed to the Judiciary of the State Association to declare the game played on the 18th null and void, upon the ground that some technical rule, with which we are unfamiliar, had been uncomplied with. Notice to the effect has been served upon Mr. C.O. Bishop, the conservative and accommodating young President of the Union.
-Missouri Republican, June 25, 1868
This is at least the second time I've seen Tom Oran, the first Native American to play in the Major Leagues, referred to as "O'Ran." Was this some kind of conscious effort to portray Oran as someone of Irish descent rather than the Native American that he was? I don't know but it wouldn't surprise me if that was the case.
A game between the Enterprise and Young Commercial Clubs yesterday, for a ball, resulted in the success of the Enterprise, who scored twenty-two to the other's five, putting also six whitewashes on the Young Commercial. Field Captain for the Enterprise, John Berry; for the Young Commercial, Frank Ellis. Umpire, T. Orann.
When last we saw our friend Tom Oran, he was the captain of the Commercial Juniors in 1863. Here we find him umpiring a game that included the Young Commercials. And again, I have to point out that the Commercial Juniors and the Young Commercials were two separate clubs. I have no idea what the relationship was between those two clubs and the Commercial Club but we have to assume that they were junior affiliates.
A few days before the above game was played, the Fort Pillow massacre took place. It was, without a doubt, one of the ugliest incidents of the war and involved the slaughter of black Union troops, who were trying to surrender, at the hands of Confederate troops under the command of Nathan Bedford Forrest. Even in a fierce, bloody conflict such as the Civil War, Fort Pillow stands out as a rather gruesomely unethical act.
A very interesting game of base ball was played Saturday afternoon, on Gamble Lawn, between the Commercial, Junior, and Empire, Junior, Ball Clubs, which resulted in favor of the former.
I have mentioned in the past that Tom Oran, over the course of his career, played for pretty much everybody. However, I think I failed to mention the other day, when we saw the first reference to him playing with the Commercial Juniors, that he had played with the Empire Juniors in 1862. The guy had no problem with jumping from club to club. It's one of the reasons we love him.
Anyway, this is, I believe, the first reference we have to Adam Wirth. Wirth was the longtime first baseman for the Empire Club and a mainstay on their great post-war championship clubs. He was, in my opinion, the best St. Louis baseball player of his generation. The fact that he served as an umpire for this game is some kind of evidence that he was playing baseball in St. Louis in 1863. It's not particularly strong evidence but there was a tradition of players serving as an umpire for matches their club wasn't involved in. So I would argue that Wirth was playing baseball in St. Louis by the early 1860s and I know that he was still playing with the Empires in 1876. That's a rather long career for a pioneer-era player and I think it speaks to the level of his talent. Great players have longer careers. Wirth, in 1863, was about 16 or 17 years old and at the beginning of a great career.
Also, on June 9, 1863, the Battle of Brandy Station was fought. Brandy Station was the largest cavalry battle ever fought in North America and you have to think that it's going to hold that distinction for some time. It's like Cy Young's 511 wins. Times change, nobody is going to win 512 big league games, and you're not going to have a cavalry battle that big again.
A match game of Base Ball was played yesterday afternoon, on Gamble's Lawn, between the Commercial, Jr., and Cyclone clubs...
I want to call these guys the Fake Cyclones or the Not-Really-The-Cyclones but that's not particularly nice. It's not their fault that they're not the Cyclones that you're thinking of and it's kind of nice that they picked up the Cyclone banner. They were honoring one of the pioneer clubs of St. Louis by using the name so let's not make fun of them.
And we should also point out that the Second Cyclones were playing the Not The Young Commercials and our old friend Tom Oran. Also, the day after this squib appeared in the Republican, the Army of Northern Virginia was on the move and heading for Pennsylvania.
At a match game of Base Ball played Friday, May 30th, between the Empire, Jr., and Imperial, which resulted in the defeat of the former, the score was as follows: [Imperial 36, Empire, Jr., 18.]
Two things here.
First, this is the first reference to the Imperials that we have and they appear to have been a new club in 1862. The appearance of a new club is significant and shows that the game in St. Louis is still dynamic and viable, even in the middle of the Civil War. We've already seen a reference to the Commercials, Empires, and Unions in 1862 and here we see the Empire, Jrs., again along with this new club. So we have some continuity among the clubs from 1861 to 1862 along with at least one new club. I don't know if this pattern will hold throughout 1862 but early in the season, the game in St. Louis seems to be healthy and growing somewhat.
Secondly, we have our old friend Tom Oran. When last seen, in 1861, he was playing with the Commercial, Jrs., and here he's the captain of the Empire, Jrs. The guy must have been one heck of a ballplayer because in the post-war period, he played with the Unions, Empires, and Reds - probably the three best clubs in St. Louis during that time. The guy probably swung the championship by moving from the Union to the Empire and then almost did it again by moving from the Empires to the Reds. He was certainly in demand and it wouldn't surprise me to learn that he was first St. Louis baseball player to get paid to play.
The day that the notice of this game appeared in the Republican, the Battle of Seven Pines began. This particular fight pretty much put an end to the Union offensive on the Peninsula.
A match of base ball was played on Gamble Lawn, Saturday morning, between the Commercial, Jr., and the second nine of the Union Club, and was handsomely won by the Commercial...
I love this box score.
First thing you should note is the fact that Tom Oran was playing with the Commercial, Jr., in 1861. Oran is widely - and rightly - recognized as the first Native American major league baseball player and gained that distinction by playing in the NA with the Reds in 1875. He was probably only about fourteen or fifteen years old in 1861 and just beginning what would be a rather interesting baseball career. This is the first record we have of Oran playing baseball and, therefore, is of some historical significance.
The other thing you should note is the guys playing for what is described as the Union Club's second nine. Asa Smith, Charles Cabanne, Willy Freeman, Joseph Carr, with Frank Billon keeping score. All of these guys would go on to make names for themselves as ballplayers in the post-war, amateur era. The Union had themselves a pretty nice second nine that would develop a lot of the talent that would go on to win the championship in 1867.
They are playing base ball amateur championships here. "Amateur championships" is good.
-St. Louis Republican, September 3, 1874
Does putting "amateur championships" in quotes in 1874 mean the same thing it does in 2013? I'm thinking it does.
We have enough evidence to suggest that St. Louis players were getting compensated in some form by the late 1860s and I've found a few subtle references like this in various papers. The guys who were playing for top clubs like the Empires, Unions or Reds were getting paid or getting jobs at the fire department or with some construction firm owned by a fellow club member. Tom Oran wasn't jumping from club to club to club because he was fickle. He jumped from the Unions to the Empires for a job with the St. Louis Fire Department and, I assume, he jumped from the Empires to the Reds for a better share of the gate.
They were amateurs only in the 19th century baseball sense of the word.
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