Base Ball Championship Of The West.
A game was played in Freeport, Ill., on the 4th of July, for the Championship of the West, between the Empire, of St. Louis, and the Empire, of Freeport, Ill. The following is the score: [27-20, in favor of the Empire of St. Louis.]
-New York Clipper, July 22, 1865
The really interesting thing here is the explicit declaration that the game was played for the Championship of the West. I have often said that the Empires claimed the "mythical Championship of the West" because there was no such thing. I always believed that it was something that the club or the local St. Louis press cooked up. But here it is, blessed by the Eastern establishment sporting press. I don't think it gets much better, in 1865, than having Henry Chadwick saying you're the Championship club in the West. That's certainly better than declaring yourself the champion, which is something I always believed the Empire Club had done.
So, I guess the Championship of the West was really a thing, at least in the mind of Mr. Chadwick. With the win over Freeport (who were the best club in Illinois) and the blessing of Henry Chadwick, the Empire Club had every right to claim it. However, and I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here, I don't think that the Empire Club, based on their victories in 1865, had any right to claim the national championship. I'm just throwing that out there for now.
Champions of the West? Sure. Why not? National champions? I'm just going to guess and say that the Empire Club would have lost to the Atlantics of Brooklyn by thirty runs. And that's me being conservative.