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.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Pelham's Country Club Giants Defeated the Famed Knickerbocker Club of New York City in 1885

One of the first sports teams organized by the members of The Country Club that operated in the Town of Pelham during much of the 1880s was the base ball club known as "The Country Club Giants."  The team played a number of games during the first full year of The Country Club's operation and faced some of the same ball clubs during the 1885 season.

Research slowly has revealed much about The Country Club base ball team during the 1880s.  Today's Historic Pelham Blog article documents yet more about the team.

On Wednesday, June 3, 1885, The Country Club base ball team faced one of the most storied 19th century base ball clubs of the region:  The Knickerbockers based in New York City.  

The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York started play in 1842 and developed a formalized set of rules to govern the club and its play in 1845.  Some consider the club to be the first "organized" baseball club created for regular play.

During the 1880s the Knickerbockers became regular visitors to the Polo Field of The Country Club at Pelham where they faced the Pelham nine that came to be known as The Country Club Giants.  The polo grounds of The Country Club at Pelham were located on an area now within the Pelham Bay Golf Course roughly around the greens and portions of the fairways of the 10th and 17th holes of that course.

The Country Club team beat the Knickerbocker Club 37 to 34.  A host of previously-described newspaper reports confirm that the previous season in 1884, The Country Club team played match games against The Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York and the Calumet Base Ball Club (often referenced as the "Calumeters").  

The seasons of 1884 and 1885 were important and formative years in the evolving sport of "base ball."  In 1884, all previous restrictions on the delivery by a pitcher were removed including the requirement that the pitcher had to face the hitter before pitching to him and had to deliver a pitch from below the shoulder.  Six called balls signaled by the umpire merited a base on balls for the hitter.  The following year, additional changes occurred.  Chest protectors came into wider use by catchers and umpires.  One portion of the bat could be flat (only one side).  Home plate could be made either of marble or whitened rubber.  

Pelham, it seems, played a role -- however small -- in the evolving sport of baseball in the 19th century.  It is left to us, successors to 19th century Pelhamites, to try to document that role.

de THULSTRUP," A Colored Engraving Showing Baseball Game
Played on August 6, 1885 Only Weeks After Members of the Country
Club Baseball Team Played the Knickerbockers on the Country Club
Polo Grounds in Pelham.  Source:  Harper's Weekly, Aug. 22, 1885.
NOTE:  Click on Image to Enlarge.

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"The Country Club, at Bartow-on-the-Sound, has daily the appearance of activity, and the members, who are nearly all New-York men are beginning to go out to it.  Sunday is the great day of the week there, and many men prefer to spend the day at the Country Club with their male friends rather than to enjoy all the gayeties which Coney Island affords.  On Wednesday a game of baseball was played on the polo grounds of the club between a nine composed of members of the Knickerbocker Club and one from the Country Club.  The result of the game was the defeat of the Knickerbocker Club players by a score of 34 to 37.  Last Summer the Country Club nine played a match game with the Knickerbockers and Calumeters.  It is more than likely that a series of games will be played this Summer between the Country Club nine and nines formed from the members of the different clubs in this city.  The wives and sisters of members can enjoy the same privileges of the club as members, and on fine mornings the tennis grounds are besieged by lady players.  Miss Leavitt and Mrs. Fellowes Morgan have arranged a tennis tournament for Monday and Tuesday of this week, and a team from the ladies' club of Staten Island will contest for a series of games with the ladies of the Country Club.  A large number of New-Yorkers live during the Summer in Westchester County, and they find the Country Club a source of much pleasure.  On Decoration Day Mrs. Harry A Coster gave a luncheon to 40 ladies, and in the afternoon they played lawn tennis and other games.  The polo matches which are held there are one of the features of the club, and there are stable accommodations for the horses of members."

Source:  [Untitled], N. Y. Times, Jun. 7, 1885, p. 14, col. 3 (NOTE:  Paid subscription required to access via this link).

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

Wed., Feb. 07, 2018:  Nineteenth Century Pelham Baseball Team Was Outsmarted by the New Rochelle Colored Giants Baseball Team.

Fri., Jan. 12, 2018:  More on Pelham's Shamrock Base Ball Club that Played on City Island in the 1880s.

 Mon., Nov. 20, 2017:  More References to Baseball in 19th Century Pelham.

Tue., Aug. 01, 2017:  More on 19th Century Baseball in the Town of 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.

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