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, September 30, 2016

More on 19th Century Baseball in the Town of Pelham

As the sport of baseball grew increasingly popular and became our "National Pastime" during the 19th century, Pelhamites played the game with gusto.  As early as the 1860s until the end of the century, there were many "base ball clubs" founded on City Island and in Pelhamville and Pelham Manor.  Unsurprisingly, records of these various clubs no longer seem to exist given their recreational and social purposes.  Thus, we are left to piece together what can be gleaned from an incomplete collection of local newspapers to develop some semblance of a history of the rise of the sport in Pelham.

In 1884, William J. Belden was a new occupant of "The Mansion" at Belden Point.  When a group of City Islanders approached him for a donation to support a newly-organized "base ball club," Belden donated $20 to help pay for equipment and uniforms.  The new team promptly named itself the "Beldenites" (occasionally referenced as the "Beldens").  Another City Island baseball club at the time was known as the "Muffers."  The newspaper reference quoted below makes clear that by September, 1884, the Muffers had disbanded with many of the team's better players moving to the new Beldenites Base Ball Club.  According to one account, the form Muffer players who joined the new team made the Beldenites "much stronger than heretofore."

The brief article quoted below is significant for several reasons.  First, the article states that the Beldenites played an Eastchester club named the "Rock Crabs" on Thursday, September 18, 1882, although the results of the game are not recorded.  Second, the article describes the postponement of a game between the Beldenites and the Pelhamville baseball club that was originally scheduled on Saturday, September 13, 1882.  Third, the article notes that a game "was to be played" the previous day (Thursday, September 18, 1882) between the Beldenites and Pelhamville, "with what result we did not learn."  This, of course, means that the Beldenites either played two games against two different teams (the Eastchester Rock Crabs and the Pelhamville baseball club) on September 18 or that one (or both) games were never played.  Finally, the article notes (as referenced above) that "[t]he muffers having disbanded the better players joining the Beldenites, makes the latter club much stronger than heretofore."

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The text of the article containing these 1882 references to baseball played in Pelham is quoted in full below, followed by a citation and link to the source.


Painters are still at work on the interior of Mr. Belden's mansion, although the owner is occupying it.

A baseball nine, from Eastchester, styling themselves the Rock Crabs, played a game with the Belden's yesterday.

A rumor is current that Mr. William B. Astor is negotiating for the purchase of the Col. Duryea place, and intends to erect an elegant mansion.

Next Tuesday evening, the 23rd inst., as previously announced, the Bartow association will hold their third annual summer-nights hop at Secord's pavilion.  It promises to be enjoyable to the fullest degree.

Mrs. Bryant gave a birthday party, in honor of her niece, Miss Jennie Johnthrie, on Wednesday evening last.  A large number of invitations were issued, and the gathering of the friends of the hostess and her niece was very large.

Mr. John P. Hawkins has completed the arrangements for the reconstruction of the building, at the shipyard, now used for a dwelling and business purposes.  It is to be greatly enlarged and improved.  Mr. Isaiah Kinzy has the contract.

Mr. David Carll is expected home, from Florida next week.  Mr. C. went south to look after the interests of his orange groves, which were reported as suffering for the want of care, on account of the inability of his manager to look after them, he being seriously ill.

The Beldenites were to have gone to Pelhamville, on Saturday last, to test its powers with the club of that place, on the diamond field, but for some reason not explained, at the last moment telephoned that they could not go.  A game between the two clubs was to be played yesterday afternoon, with what result we did not learn.  The muffers having disbanded the better players joining the Beldenites, makes the latter club much stronger than heretofore.

The fishing season has fairly opened, and matters are lively around Pelham Bridge.  Large messes of snappers are being caught daily, and the bass and blackfish season has about opened.  A gentleman while fishing at Pelham Bridge, one day last week, caught a drum fish weighing 59 1/2 pounds.  It took him over two hours to land his splendid catch.  Capt. Gus Lawrence will be found always at his post of duty courteous and obliging, ready to fit you out with all the requisites to capture the members of the finny tribe.

The court house on City Island, has recently been painted inside and out, at a cost, it is said by the man who did the work, of $150.  No proposals were asked for, and in fact no competition was allowed for the work.  The labor was performed by days work, and the person doing it was allowed to purchase the material where he saw fit, and have the same charged against the town.  There are painters on City Island who would have given bonds to perform the work in the same manner as now done, and supply all material, for $100, had competition been allowed.  This may, to some, seem like a small matter, but it is the small leaks which lead to large ones."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 19, 1884, Vol. XVI, No. 783, p. 3, col. 5.  

1887 Baseball Game Like Those Played in Pelham.
GAUL -- [SEE PAGE 647.]"  Source: Harper's Weekly,
Sep. 10, 1887.  NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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I have written more than forty articles regarding the history of baseball in Pelham and early baseball games played in the Town of Pelham.  Below is a listing, with links, of some of my previous postings on the topic of 19th century baseball in Pelham.

Thu., Jul. 21, 2016:  "Base Ball" Match Played at Arcularius Hotel at Pelham Bridge in 1875.

Thu., Feb. 18, 2016:  More on the Storied History of 19th Century Baseball in Pelham.  

Tue., Dec. 15, 2015:  The 1894 Baseball Season in Pelham, New York.

Tue., Sep. 22, 2015:  Two Newly-Discovered 19th Century Accounts of Baseball Played in Pelham.

Thu., Jun. 18, 2015:  More Early References to 19th Century and Early 20th Century Baseball in Pelham.

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.

Thu., 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.

Archive of the Historic Pelham Web Site.

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