The game of base ball played at Freeport, on the 4th of July (1865), by the Empire Club of St. Louis and the Empire, of Freeport, was a closely contested and splendid game, and resulted in the victory of the St. Louis Club, by seven runs. We shall publish the score and particulars to-morrow.
-St. Louis Daily Press, July 6, 1865
The members of the Empire Base Ball Club, arrived from Freeport yesterday morning at four o'clock, greatly pleased with their excursion. The boys speak in unmeasured terms of praise of the generous hospitality extended to them by the citizens of Freeport, and by members of the Freeport Club. They were treated to the best that the town afforded.
The match game, which was witnessed by six thousand people, and in which the St. Louis Club came out champions, was one of the most spirited ever played in the West. There were present representatives from the Julien Club, Dubuque; Garden City Club, Chicago; Eagle Club, Laporte, Ind.; and the Rockford Club. After a splendid dinner, speeches were made by Col. T.J. Turner, of Freeport; J.R. Scroggs, editor of the Freeport Bulletin; R. Little, and by Capt. J. Fruin, of the St. Louis Empire Club.
The St. Louis boys were also invited to partake of the hospitalities at the fine residence of Col. J.W. Shaeffer, late Chief of Gen. Butler's staff, but owing to the lateness of the hour, the invitation was declined. The St. Louis boys desire an opportunity to reciprocate the attentions received from the Freeport people at the earliest opportunity.
-St. Louis Daily Press, July 7, 1865
So the deed was done and the Empire Club claimed the Championship of the West, based on defeating the best club in Illinois. It was the first time a St. Louis club had ever played a club from outside of St. Louis. It was the first time a St. Louis club had ever played outside of St. Louis. And it was, according to E.H. Tobias, the first fly match played in the West. It was a rather historic victory and, I believe, one of the most significant games in St. Louis baseball history.
But we're not done with this just yet. There is still a little matter of a championship belt and a tournament in Dubuque.