The reorganization of the old Union Base Ball club took place last night at the office of Asa W. Smith, No. 203 North Third street. The following officers were elected:
Col. A.R. Easton, president.
Asa W. Smith, vice-president.
Jos. P. Carr, secretary.
Wm. C. Steyers, treasurer.
The club expects to have one hundred active members by the next meeting, 23d inst. W.C. Bragg and A.G. Easton were appointed a committee to draft by-laws and constitution.
-St. Louis Republican, February 10, 1874
It was one of the greatest baseball seasons in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball and, also, one of the most important. It was due to the growth in the popularity of the game in 1874 that two professional St. Louis clubs entered the National Association in 1875 and competed for the national championship. The success of the 1874 season lead directly to professional baseball in St. Louis.
The only way that the 1874 season could have been better is if the Union Club had been a part of it. The club, which had originally formed in 1860, was one of the most successful St. Louis amateur clubs in the post-Civil War era and was the only club, besides the Empires, to win the city and state championship during the era. However, after the 1870 season, the club essentially disbanded and never put a team on the field again. There were several attempts to reform the club and there were always rumours that a reformation was imminent. But it never happened.
This report from the Republican is the most detailed account I've seen of an attempt to reform the Union Club and it's kind of amazing that it didn't come off, given the men who were involved. The club itself was operating in some capacity in August, when Asa Smith died, but they never organized a team to play that season. I have to assume that one of the purposes of the club was to put a team on the field and that just never happened.
Really, it's kind of a symbol of the era. The Pioneer Era was ending and the Professional Era in St. Louis was about to begin. The 1874 season was, really, the last season of the Pioneer Era and it marks the end of the golden age of amateur baseball in St. Louis. The Union Club was struggling to reorganize, the Empire Club would never again be the best club in the city, the Reds were about to join the NA and Smith would die in August. The period of baseball history was over and it just would have been nice if the Unions had gotten one more day in the sun.