A match game of base ball was played at Gamble Lawn, Saturday evening, between the "Baltic" and "Young Commercial" base ball clubs, which was decided in favor of the latter.
-Missouri Republican, May 10, 1863
The one thing I always like to point out about this particular game is that the Battle of Chancellorsville ended three days before it was played and that Stonewall Jackson died the day after. For some reason, the juxtaposition of this game and Jackson's death put everything into context for me. It flipped a switch in my head that allowed me to look at baseball during this era in a new way. Before, the war and the baseball of the war-era were two separate things. But it was discovering things like the fact that a game in St. Louis was played the day before Jackson died or the day after Gettysburg ended and the day Vicksburg surrendered that allowed me to place St. Louis Civil War-era baseball within the context of the war itself - at least in my mind. For some reason, that just made it all very real to me and made me think about the fact that this was the world in which these people lived.
The war was the reality for our baseball players in 1863. It was a huge part of their lives and, in many ways, it defines them. I can't think of E.H. Tobias or Edward Bredell without thinking about the war. I can't think about the Cyclones or the Commercials without thinking about the war. You can't understand baseball in this era without understanding the war. And that's what this series is about. It's about 19th century St. Louis baseball in the context of the American Civil War. If you want to learn about early St. Louis baseball and understand the history of the game in St. Louis, you're going to have to learn about the Civil War. There is no other way.