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.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

More on 19th Century Baseball in the Town of Pelham

Today's Historic Pelham article provides further research in the Quixotic quest to document nineteenth century baseball in the Town of Pelham.  

Games of the Clam Diggers Played in 1878

One of Pelham's most interesting baseball teams during the late 1870s was known as the Clam Diggers.  The team likely was not a baseball club but the baseball team of a broader men's social club known as "The Clam Diggers Club of City Island."  The club appears to have operated at least during the years 1878 and 1879, but likely operated for a longer period.  

Clearly one important event hosted by The Clam Digger Club of City Island was an annual parade followed by a Clam Bake.  In 1879 the parade was scheduled to be held in September.  Members of the Club marched behind a large painted banner that was six feet high and ten feet long.  On it was painted a giant clam beneath which was painted the motto "No gentlemen need apply."  The philosophy of the club reportedly was "Plenty of clams and good markets."  In 1879 the club was scheduled to march with the City Island Cornet Band and, at the conclusion of the parade, gather at Horton's Grove for a "monster clam bake."

According to a brief news account, on July 4, 1878 (the previous year), a City Island baseball team named "Clam Diggers" played another City Island team named "Vails."  The Clam Diggers likely were the team that represented The Clam Diggers Club of City Island, although that has not yet been established with certainty.

It appears that during the week before July 4, the game was highly anticipated.  The news account suggests that the members of the Clam Diggers were engaged in trash talk all week, "telling the Vails at every opportunity how they were going to beat them."  The game, however, did not go as the Clam Diggers planned.  The Vails had an "overwhelming victory," beating the Clam Diggers 23 to 3.  The umpire for the game was George Bell of City Island.  According to a local newspaper, after the game the Clam Diggers declared that "this is the last game with the Vails."

It seems that during 1878, the Vails and Clam Diggers were arch rivals on City Island and played a number of games against each other (about which I have written before).  On May 25, 1878, the Vails beat the Clam Diggers "on the grounds of the Vails."  Interestingly, a man named "A. F. Vail" acted as the umpire "to the entire satisfaction of both clubs."  Thus, it would seem that the Vails were named after a member of the Vail family of City Island.  See City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], May 31, 1878, Vol. IX, No. 454, p. 2, col. 5.

The two teams were scheduled to play the previous week as well, although no record of the result yet has been located.  See City Island, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], May 17, 1878, Vol. IX, No. 452, p. 2, cols. 4-5 (noting "The Vails will play against the Clam Diggers on the grounds of the former, tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon [May 18, 1878].").

Pelhamville Club Split for Practice Game in 1885

According to a brief report, on April 19, 1885, the Pelhamville Base Ball Club split into two teams of nine players and played a practice game.  One team was captained by "M. Lynch" and the other by "T. Patterson."  Although there is no record of the score, the team captained by T. Patterson won the game.

It should come as no surprise, of course, that 19th century teams practiced and there are records of Pelham teams practicing diligently for their season.  This particular intrasquad scrimmage seems unusual and, indeed, illustrates that the Pelhamville Club was fairly large when compared to other local teams in Pelham.  

1886 Game Between Refrigerator Manufacturer Team and City Island Team

On Monday, July 5, 1886, an unidentified baseball team from City Island and a baseball team from the refrigerator manufacturer L. H. Mace of New York City.  The City Island team won by a score of 5 to 2.  

This game, like others about which I have written before, illustrates that club teams, teams from companies and businesses, and even makeshift teams traveled throughout the New York City region during the 1870s and 1880s to play ball.  

Currier and Ives Print of an Early Game of Base Ball.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

*          *          *          *          *


A game of base ball was played on the Fourth of July, between the Vails and Clam Diggers, both of City Island, which resulted in an overwhelming victory for the Vails.  Score, 23 to 3.  The Clam Diggers declare this is the last game with the Vails.  Mr. Editor, we would say nothing about this if it were not for the fact that, for a week before the game came off the diggers were telling the Vails at every opportunity how they were going to beat them.  But we are all liable to mistakes, and such was the case with the Clam Diggers on July 4th.  Umpire, Mr. Geo. Bell. . . ."

Source:  CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jul. 12, 1878, Vol. IX, No. 460, p. 3, col. 1.  

"City Island and Pelham.

The Clam Diggers Club of City Island, will hold their annual parade some time next month.  The club will be escorted by the Cornet Band.  At the conclusion of the parade a monster clam bake will [be] served at Horton's Grove.  A good time may be expected.  The banner of this justly popular club is a marvel of beauty.  It is six by ten feet, more or less in size.  On it has been painted by City Island's most popular artist, a large hard clam, underneath which is the motto 'No gentlemen need apply.'  The watchword of this justly popular club is 'Plenty of clams and good markets.' . . ."  

Source:  City Island and Pelham, The Chronicle, Aug. 1, 1879, Vol. X, No. 515, p. 2, col. 6.


-- A practice game of ball was played between two picked nines of the Pelhamville Club on the 19th inst.  One nine was captained by M. Lynch, and the other by T. Patterson.  The latter nine won the game. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, New Rochelle Pioneer, Apr. 25, 1885, p. 3, col. 6


-- The Country Club, of Pelham, announce a variety of outdoor sports, including polo, trap shooting, baseball and lawn tennis, to take place during May and June. . . ."

Source:  LOCAL INTELLIGENCE, New Rochelle Pioneer, Apr. 25, 1885, p. 3, cols. 1-2.   


A game of baseball was played Monday, between a nine belonging on City Island and a nine from the refrigerator manufactory [sic] of L. H. Mace, New York.  The game resulted in a victory for City Island, by a score of 5 to 2. . . ."

Source:  PELHAM AND CITY ISLAND, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Jul. 9, 1886, Vol. XVII, No. 896, p. 3, col. 2.

*          *          *          *          *

I have written nearly fifty 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 previous postings on the topic of early baseball in Pelham.

Wed., Jul. 12, 2017:  The Nonpareils Base Ball Association of City Island During the 1860s.

Wed., Apr. 19, 2017:  Pelham Manor Club Defeated Gramatan Country Club in Baseball Game in August, 1902.

Mon., Feb. 13, 2017:  Important Information About Early Baseball in Pelham Including a Game Against the Monitors of Brooklyn.

Wed., Jan. 11, 2017:  Baseball Star Paddy Smith of Pelham.

Fri., Sep. 30, 2016:  More on 19th Century Baseball in the Town of 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.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home