Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Earliest Evidence Yet! Baseball Was Played in Pelham Only Months After the Civil War Ended

For many years I have researched the history of baseball in the Town of Pelham.  On Friday, December 11, 2009, I posted to the Historic Pelham Blog an item entitled "Earliest Reference Yet to Baseball Played in Pelham".   In it I quoted a reference to a recreational baseball game played during an outing of The Wm Cook Association from the Eleventh Ward, New York City on September 26, 1877.   

On March 9, 2010, I posted another item entitled "Earliest Reference Yet to Organized Baseball Played in Pelham."  That item described a game played by The Vail Base Ball Club of City Island against a team from Mamaroneck on June 13, 1878. 

Undated Photograph of the Pelham A.C. Jr. Baseball Team.
Although Difficult to See in This Version of the Image, There
Are Many Children Whose Eyes Can Be Seen Peering, and
Whose Fingers Extend, Through the Cracks of the Boards
Behind the Team. 

I now have been able to push that date back by another thirteen years.  Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog details a baseball game played by a City Island baseball team in October, 1865 -- only months after the Civil War ended.  

Today I share what I believe is a truly significant historical baseball "discovery" for Pelham!  The "discovery" is a direct result of my membership in The Bronx County Historical Society.  Indeed, I am a devoted and longstanding member of The Bronx County Historical Society. If you are a devotee of Pelham history, I emphatically encourage you to join the Society.  I could sing its praises, but all you need do is spend meaningful time on the Society's Web site at http://bronxhistoricalsociety.org/ 

I arrived home late last evening from work.  In the day's mail was a copy of the "Volume L, Numbers 1 & 2, Spring / Fall 2013" issue of The Bronx County Historical Society Journal.  I opened it and immediately focused on a spectacular article by Gregory J. Christiano.  Here is a full citation to the article:  Christiano, Gregory J., Baseball In The Bronx Before The Yankees, The Bronx County Historical Society, Vol. L, Nos. 1 & 2, p. 16 (Bronx, NY:  2013).  Knowing, of course, that much of our Town was annexed by New York City and became part of the Bronx during the mid-1980's, I was interested to say the least!

Sure enough, the article included listings of local baseball clubs that played in our area during the 19th Century.  I focused on the following, an excerpt from the article:


One of the themes of early baseball's development was the central role of New York City and vicinity in nurturing and spreading the infant game.  Virtually all the best baseball was played in and around New York.  The Bronx had many teams all playing by the New York Rules.  Their earliest known year is in parentheses.  Junior clubs (ages 12 to 18) are noted.  [Only prominent clubs are listed]. . . . 

City Island:

Beldenites (1884);
Nonpareil (Jr.) (1865);
Rivals (1884);
Shamrocks (1889); . . . 


Country Club Giants (1885); 
Pelham House (1877); 
Pelhamville Nine (1884)"

Id., pp. 27-29.

Regular readers of the Historic Pelham Blog will know that I have written of all of these teams and their known exploits with one exception:  the junior team named "Nonpareil" listed as beginning play in 1865.  (I have placed an extensive list of my previous postings on 19th century baseball in Pelham at the end of today's post.)

Armed with the knowledge that such a team existed and played in 1865, it took only a few minutes to locate a lovely account of one of its games played in October, 1865.  I have transcribed the entire reference immediately below, followed by a citation to its source.

"Base Ball.--The Uniteds of Westchester played a match with the Path-finders of West Farms, on Tuesday last, --score standing 20 to 17 in favor of the Uniteds--and only a few days previous a return game with the Nonpareils of City Island.

The day was one of those raw ones when the sun hangs heavy in the heavens, and the chill air seems to make crawl the marrow in one's bones, yet it did not in the least disturb the equanimity of the players, but apparently added a greater and a keener zest to the play.  The game was a well contested one, the Nonpareils making only 26 runs to the Uniteds [sic] 19, notwithstanding their 'experienced players from other clubs.'  In fly-catchers the Uniteds stood one ahead.  

Night having drawn her curtains, the 'boys' repaired to the hotel of George Blake, Esq., in Centreville, where they were regaled with a substantial repast, and lingered long over 'flowing lager,' while the 'jest and song went round,' and friends were toasted, and they had a good time generally.


Source:  Base Ball, The Statesman [Yonkers, NY], Nov. 2, 1865, Vol. X, No. 507, p. 1, col. 4.

The following reference from the article is particularly interesting:  "In fly-catchers the Uniteds stood one ahead."  The reference to "fly-catchers" is a reference to fly balls caught for a putout.  The author thought it significant enough to note that the Uniteds caught one more fly ball for an out than did the Nonpareils because the rules had only been changed that year.  Previously, catching a ball on the first bounce earned an out.  After the rule change, the ball had to be caught on the fly -- it had to be a "fly-catcher."

Very Rare Photograph of a 19th Century Women's Baseball Team.
This Image, Taken in 1896, Shows the Women's Baseball Team
of Mrs. Hazen's School in Pelham Manor.

*          *          *          *

Below is a listing, with links, of my previous postings on the topic of 19th century baseball in Pelham.

Thu., Mar. 20, 2014:  19th Century Baseball in Pelham - Newly-Discovered References.

Tue., Feb. 16, 2010:  Photograph of Only Known 19th Century Women's Baseball Team in Pelham, New York.

Thu., Jan. 28, 2010:   News About Pelham Manor and Pelhamville in 1895 - Lighting Districts, Gas for the Village, Baseball and More.

Tue., Dec. 15, 2009:  Baseball Games Played by the City Island Beldenites and the City Island Rivals in 1884.  

Mon., Dec. 14, 2009:  Baseball Games Played by the City Island Shamrocks in 1889.  

Fri., Dec. 11, 2009:  Earliest Reference Yet to Baseball Played in Pelham.  

Thu., Dec. 10, 2009:  More 19th Century Baseball and Firefighting References

Wed., Dec. 9, 2009:  City Island Shamrocks Base Ball Club Changed its Name to the Minnefords in 1888.

Wed., Nov. 25, 2009:  Even More Early References to Baseball Played in Pelham.

Tue., Nov. 24, 2009:  Yet Another Reference to Early Baseball in Pelham.

Mon., Nov. 23, 2009:  Additional Brief Accounts of Baseball Played in Pelham in the 19th Century.

Friday, November 20, 2009:  More Accounts of Early Baseball Played in Pelham.

Fri., Nov. 13, 2009:  1894 Account of Developments in Pelham Including a Reference to a Baseball Game Played that Year.

Thur., Nov. 12, 2009:  More Early References to Baseball Played in Pelham.

Wed., Sep. 30, 2009:   Score of June 1, 1887 Baseball Game Between the Country Club and The Knickerbocker Club.

Fri., Mar. 20, 2009:   Another Reference to 19th Century Baseball in Pelham.

Tue., Mar. 4, 2008:   Another Brief Reference to 19th Century Baseball in Pelham.

Mon., Nov. 26, 2007:  Box Score of a Baseball Game Played on Travers Island in Pelham Manor in July 1896.

Wed., Nov. 21, 2007:  Baseball on Travers Island During the Summer of 1897.

Fri., Jul. 20, 2007:  Account of Early Baseball in Pelham: Pelham vs. the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island in 1897.

Fri., Nov. 10, 2006: The Location of Another Early Baseball Field in Pelham.

Mon., Oct. 9, 2006:   Reminiscences of Val Miller Shed Light on Late 19th Century Baseball in Pelham and the Early Development of the Village of North Pelham.

Thu., Mar. 23, 2006:  Baseball Fields Opened on the Grounds of the Westchester Country Club in Pelham on April 4, 1884.  

Tue., Jan. 31, 2006:  Another Account of Baseball Played in Pelham in the 1880s Is Uncovered.  

Thu., Oct. 6, 2005:   Does This Photograph Show Members of the "Pelham Manor Junior Base Ball Team"?

Thu., Sep. 15, 2005:  Newspaper Item Published in 1942 Sheds Light on Baseball in 19th Century Pelham.  

Thu., Feb. 10, 2005:  New Discoveries Regarding Baseball in 19th Century Pelham.  

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