I'm in the middle of a busy stretch at work right now and have very little time for anything other than my job. Not a big deal but I'm going to take a break from the 1868 season to just randomly post some pictures I have in my files, along with some information about the subject of the picture that I've written previously. We're pretty near the end of the 1868 stuff and will get back to that next week but, for now, this will have to do.
Up first, obviously, is Jeremiah Fruin:
Born in Brooklyn in 1831, Fruin played with the Charter Oak Club and claimed to have played with the Atlantics and Excelsiors. While living in Brooklyn, Fruin also served as an officer in New York State Militia. During the Civil War, he was a member of the Union Army, serving in the quartermaster corp.
In 1861, Fruin was transferred to St. Louis and continued his ball playing. Arriving in the city, “(he) quickly sought the headquarters of the Empire Club…joined the club, (and) showed that he was a master hand at the game…” As probably the most experienced baseball player in St. Louis, Fruin quickly became the second baseman for the Empire Club’s first nine and its field captain.
It was under Fruin’s leadership as field captain that the Empire Club developed into a championship baseball club. His significance lies in the fact that he brought first-hand knowledge of the game as it was played in New York and taught the Empire Club the lessons he had learned on the playing fields of Brooklyn. Fruin himself stated that he gave the club “a few lessons on the improved Eastern method (of play)…(showing) the boys how to trap the ball, to make a double play and…(how) to catch the ball by giving to it as it was thrown, with the hands low down or high up as the occasion demanded.” With Fruin as their teacher and the war years as an apprenticeship, by 1865 the Empire Club had developed into a force to be reckoned with on the diamond.
While Fruin did bring his considerable knowledge of the game to St. Louis and influenced a generation of ballplayers through his instruction and leadership, the claim was made by Shepard Barklay and others that Fruin was actually the first to introduce the game to St. Louis. The fact that the game was being played in St. Louis prior to Fruin’s arrival in the city in 1861 proves this to be false but that has not stopped Barklay’s claim from spreading and being accepted as fact. This claim continues to appear in histories of the game, in articles, and on websites even though Fruin himself stated that “I have heard it said that I was the first to introduce baseball into St. Louis…But I make no such claim.”
Fruin, who was extremely well-respected by the members of the club and the baseball fraternity in St. Louis, went on to successful career in the construction business after the Civil War and died in St. Louis in March of 1912.
-Base Ball Pioneers, 1850-1870