The Empire Base Ball Club, of this city, who won the victory over the Freeporters last July, held a special meeting Monday night, and unanimously decided to visit Dubuque on the 29th of September to take a hand in the great silver ball match for the championship of the Northwest. The Dubuque County Agricultural Society offer a heavy silver ball, of regulation size, as a prize to the Club declared to be the champion base ball club of the Northwest, the championship and prizes to be played for on the grounds of the Dubuque County Agricultural Society, on Friday, September 29, 1865. The contest is open to all base ball clubs in the Northwest-clubs from Illinois, Wisconson, Minnesota, Missouri and Iowa. The friends of the Empire have no sort of doubt that the members will acquit themselves with honor, and will be able to bring away the prize.
-St. Louis Daily Press, September 20, 1865
The reality was that the Empires were the best baseball club in Missouri and had defeated the best baseball club in Illinois in July 1865. That was a significant victory and, to me, claiming that it represented the Championship of the West kind of oversells it. And there was no need for it. It was a huge victory by itself. But human nature is what it is and I understand why this was happening.
One aspect of this that I don't think I've mentioned is that creating these sorts of championships was a bit of a marketing gimmick. That's the real reason I believe that Chadwick, writing in the Clipper, was the one who came up with the idea of declaring the victor of the Freeport match as champion. That was in his character to hype the game this way. And we're seeing it here again, in this piece from the Daily Press, hyping up a Championship of the Northwest. It's marketing. It's selling the game. It's drumming up interest. It's what they called up-building the game and they did a heck of job of that in the post-war era.
But beyond the hype and the marketing and the up-building, the Empire Club was going to Dubuque to play some of the best baseball clubs in the West. They were going to have to prove themselves once again, as they had in Freeport. The were going to have to defend their championship.