Fascinating Account of Baseball Game Played at Pelham Bridge in 1878
Over many years, research has revealed that from the mid-1860's through the end of the 19th century, the Town of Pelham was a hotbed of baseball activity. Citizens of the town embraced the national pastime with gusto. There were baseball grounds at Pelham Bridge, Bartow, City Island, in today's Pelham Manor, and in Pelhamville. In short, there were baseball grounds all over the Town of Pelham. Ballplayers from all over the region from as far away as Staten Island and Yonkers and as near as Mount Vernon and New Rochelle traveled to Pelham to play ball.
Baseball, at the time, could be a day-long affair ending with a glorious meal either hosted by the home team or, occasionally, paid for by the losing team after losing a bet on their own baseball prowess. Clearly, during the last quarter of the 19th century, baseball games in Pelham were truly social affairs that drew large crowds, particularly those played during the 1880's at the "Country Club" that once stood along today's Shore Road near the Bartow-Pell Mansion.
Baseball was a different game in those days. Indeed, today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes a brief account of a baseball game played at Pelham Bridge on Wednesday, June 26, 1878. It was a day-long, high scoring event. The account itself suggests how different a game baseball was at the time.
It seems that very early in the day on Wednesday, June 26, 1878, the citizens of Mount Vernon, New York began noticing an unusual, large number of carriages and a lot of horse traffic passing through the streets of the town. Local residents also noticed that most of those passing through the streets of the were residents of Yonkers. Moreover, the travelers were not ordinary Yonkers residents, it seems, but "heavy weights" of Yonkers.
Inquiries quickly revealed that all the traffic was headed from Yonkers to the Arcularius Hotel at Pelham Bridge for "a game of base ball." There, two Yonkers "Colonels" were selected to captain the teams. Each selected eleven men and play began at 10:00 a.m.
Six hours later, the two teams had only finished three innings and declared the game at an end. The team led by Colonel Joseph L. Proseus beat the team led by Colonel Matthew H. Ellis by a score of 80 to 63. Although the report is silent, it is most likely that the combatants then retired to the Arcularius Hotel and its famous bar for refreshment after the match.
Below is the text of the article. At the end of this posting I also have included an extensive list of links to previous postings and articles about baseball in 19th century Pelham.
"Last Wednesday [i.e., June 26, 1878] vehicles of all sorts were seen passing through Mt. Vernon, to and from Yonkers and it was impossible not to notice that many of the Yonkersites who filled these vehicles were heavy weights. It seems that they went to Arcularius's, at Pelham Bridge, for a game of base ball. Col. Joseph L. Proseus and Col. Matt. H. Ellis were chosen captains and they selected eleven men each to assist them. The began at 10 A. M., and at 4 P. M. had played three innings. In the first inning, Col. Proseus's side made 32 runs, but Col. Ellis's made 36. In the second inning, both sides fell off considerably, Col. Proseus's men making only 11 and Col. Ellis's 13. The game now stood at 43 to 49. Col. P.'s men now made a grand rally and scored 37 runs. In vain did Col. E. urge on his men to the scratch. They scored but 14 and were ignominiously vanquished. We regret that our limited space prevents a full report, but take pleasure in concluding with the remark that the chivalrous bearing of the victors and the quiet submission of the vanquished were worthy of the grandest days of knight-errantry."
Source: [Untitled], The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jun. 28, 1878, Vol. IX, No. 458, p. 2, col. 3.
Below is a listing, with links, of my previous postings and a published article on the topic of 19th century baseball in Pelham.
Tue., Apr. 08, 2014: More 19th Century References to Baseball in the Town of 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.Fri., Apr. 16, 2010: Formation of the City Island Beldonites Baseball Club in June 1884
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.
Fri., Nov. 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.
Bell, Blake A., Baseball in Late 19th Century Pelham, The Pelham Weekly, Vol. XIII, No. 17, Apr. 23, 2004, p. 8, col. 2.