Base Ball Match For The Championship Between The Union and Empire Clubs Of This City - The "Union" Triumphant In The First Encounter. - Base ball is now generally conceded to be our national game, although it is of comparatively recent origin. From the infant of a few years ago it has risen to the proportions of a giant, and strides through the country gathering new followers at every point. That which in the earlier days of many of us was deemed a childish pastime has become a game that requires skill, manliness and strength.
A few gentlemen, whom we need not particularize, have within the last two or three years devoted almost their entire time and energies to the advancement of the base ball game in St. Louis, and their success has been most cheering. Numerous clubs have sprung up here, some of which might not hesitate to throw down the gauntlet to any in the Northwest.
A few weeks ago a challenge was given by the Union and accepted by the Empire Club to meet in friendly contest for the championship - the game to be two best in three. A meeting occurred last week, as our readers will remember, on the grounds of the old Veto Club, but was interrupted by the rain, and the many visitors present were deprived of the pleasure of witnessing the anticipated match. Yesterday the elements were more propitious, and the first trial was completed, resulting in an overwhelming victory for the Union Club, which, in nine innings, scored 59, while the Empire scored but 29. The almost insufferable state of the weather, and the unfortunate state of health in which two or three players were said to be, doubtless caused the game to be played with less brilliance than it otherwise would have been. Still, however, there were some very fine exhibitions of skill on both sides, as the score will show. There was some splendid batting by both nines, particularly the Union; while the members of the Empire seemed to be more expert in fielding. A number of plays were made by the members of either club which have rarely been surpassed.
Apparently about two thousand spectators were on the grounds, including quite a large number of ladies. For the most part excellent order prevailed. Young America, as is usual on such occasions, manifested his displeasure at intervals, by hoots and groans when something transpired that did not exactly meet his...favor...We learn that large sums of money changed hands among the outsiders on the issue of the contest...
At the conclusion of the encounter the clubs gave each other three times three, and sport was declared at an end. The next meeting will occur on the 10th.
-Missouri Republican, July 3, 1867
Pursuant to this postponement the two clubs again met on July 2, at the same grounds before 2,000 spectators. The day was an extremely hot one telling against the players quite noticeably and resulting in the defeat of the Empires by the score of 59 to 29. This was the most substantial victory achieved by the Union Club in all its years of rivalry with the Empires. The marked feature of the game was the strong batting of the Union team and while the Empire’s fielding was superior they showed weakness with the willow as is demonstrated by the score of Leftfielder Johnson who got no run to his credit while in general he could be safely depended upon to materially enlarge the score. He and two other Empire players were suffering from the heat so severely as to be quite sick men. The Duncan brothers appeared in this game, opposing their old comrades of the Empires, with whom they had played several seasons with marked ability and their defections proved a loss of no mean proportions. Wirth, of the Empire’s, put out twelve men in this game.
These activities, I think, go beyond the normal upbuilding that you see during the Fever era and were attempts to compete on the national level. I believe that these two clubs thought that they could compete with the best clubs in the East and they believed that they were as good as anyone in the United States. Now, the Nationals of Washington were, at the time this game was being played, making their way to St. Louis and about to disprove that notion. But the fact that the Union and Empire Clubs were not as good as the Eastern clubs should not take away from the fact that they were attempting to compete nationally. That, in and of itself, said something about baseball in St. Louis. I think it speaks to the level of maturation that the game had reached in the city in the second half of the 1860s and to the vision of the men who were running the top clubs in St. Louis.