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قراءة كتاب A Ball Player's Career Being the Personal Experiences and Reminiscensces of Adrian C. Anson

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A Ball Player's Career
Being the Personal Experiences and Reminiscensces of Adrian C. Anson

A Ball Player's Career Being the Personal Experiences and Reminiscensces of Adrian C. Anson

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

seems to be no doubt that the game was played in the United States as early at least as the beginning of the present century, for Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes declared a few years ago that base-ball was one of the sports of his college days, and the autocrat of the breakfast table graduated at Harvard in 1829. Along in 1842 a number of gentlemen, residents of New York City, were in the habit of playing the game as a means of exercise on the vacant lot at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Twenty-sixth Street, where Madison Square Garden now stands. In 1845 they formed themselves into a permanent organization known as the Knickerbocker Club, and drew up the first code of playing rules of the game, which were very simple as compared with the complex rules which govern the game of the present time, and which are certainly changed in such a way as to keep one busy in keeping track of them.

The grounds of this parent organization were soon transferred to the Elysian Fields, at Hoboken, N. J., where the Knickerbockers played their first match game on June 19th, 1846, their opponents not being an organized club, but merely a party of gentlemen who played together frequently, and styled themselves the New York Club. The New Yorks won easily in four innings, the game in those days being won by the club first making twenty-one runs on even innings. The Knickerbockers played at Hoboken for many years, passing out of existence only in 1882. In 1853 the Olympic Club of Philadelphia was organized for the purpose of playing town-ball, a game which had some slight resemblance to base-ball. The Olympic Club, however, did not adopt the game of base-ball until 1860, and consequently cannot claim priority over the Knickerbockers, although it was one of the oldest ball-playing organizations in existence, and was disbanded only a few years ago.

In New England a game of base-ball known by the distinctive title of "The New England game" was in vogue about fifty years ago. It was played with a small, light ball, which was thrown over-hand to the bat, and was different from the "New York game" as practiced by the Knickerbockers, Gotham, Eagle, and Empire Clubs of that city. The first regularly organized club in Massachusetts playing the present style of base-ball was the Olympic Club of Boston, which was established in 1854, and in the following year participated in the first match game played in that locality, its opponents being the Elm Tree team. The first match games in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Washington were played in 1860. For several years the Knickerbocker Club was alone in the field, but after a while similar clubs began to organize, while in 1857 an association was formed which the following year developed into the National Association.

The series of rules prepared by a committee of the principal clubs of New York City governed all games prior to 1857, but on January 22d, 1857, a convention of clubs was held at which a new code of rules was enacted. On March 10th, 1858, delegates from twenty-five clubs of New York and Brooklyn met and organized the National Association of Base-ball Players, which for thirteen successive seasons annually revised the playing rules, and decided all disputes arising in base-ball.

The first series of contests for the championship took place during 1858 and 1859. At that time the Elysian Fields, Hoboken, N. J., were the great center of base-ball playing, and here the Knickerbockers, Eagle, Gotham and Empire Clubs of New York City ruled supreme.

A rival sprung up, however, in the Atlantic Club of Brooklyn, and its success led to the arrangement of a series of games between selected nines of the New York and Brooklyn Clubs in 1858. In these encounters New York proved victorious, winning the first and third games by the respective scores of 22 to 18, and 29 to 18, while Brooklyn won the second contest by 29 to 8. In October, 1861, another contest took place between the representative nines of New York and Brooklyn for the silver ball presented by the New York Clipper, and Brooklyn easily won by a score of 18 to 6. The Civil war materially affected the progress of the game in 1861, '62 and '63 and but little base-ball was played, many wielders of the bat having laid aside the ash to shoulder the musket.

The Atlantic and Eckford Clubs of Brooklyn were the chief contestants for the championship in 1862, the Eckfords then wresting the championship away from the Atlantics, and retaining it also during the succeeding season, when they were credited with an unbroken succession of victories. The champion nine of the Eckford Club in 1863 were Sprague, pitcher; Beach, catcher; Roach, Wood and Duffy on the bases; Devyr, shortstop; and Manolt, Swandell and Josh Snyder in the outfield.

The championship reverted back to the Atlantics in 1864, and they held the nominal title until near the close of 1867, their chief competitors being the Athletics of Philadelphia and the Mutuals of New York City.

The Athletics held the nominal championship longer than any other club, and also claims the credit of not being defeated in any game played during 1864 and 1865, the feat of going through two successive seasons without a defeat being unprecedented at that time in base-ball history. The Eckfords of Brooklyn, however, went through the season of 1863 without losing a game, and the Cincinnati Reds, under the management of the late Harry Wright, accomplished a similar feat in 1869, the latter at the time meeting all of the best teams in the country, both East and West.

The Atlantic's champion nine in 1864 and 1865 were Pratt, pitcher; Pearce, catcher; Stark, Crane and C. Smith, on the bases; Galvin, shortstop; and Chapman, P. O'Brien and S. Smith in the outfield. Frank Norton caught during the latter part of the season and Pearce played shortstop.

The Athletics in 1866 played all of the strongest clubs in the country and were only twice defeated, once by the Atlantics of Brooklyn, and once by the Unions of Morrisania. The first game between the Atlantics and Athletics for the championship took place October 1st, 1866, in Philadelphia, the number of people present inside and outside the inclosed grounds being estimated as high as 30,000, it being the largest attendance known at the baseball game up to that time. Inside the inclosure the crowd was immense, and packed so close there was no room for the players to field. An attempt was made, however, to play the game, but one inning was sufficient to show that it was impossible, and after a vain attempt to clear the field both parties reluctantly consented to a postponement.

The postponed game was played October 22d, in Philadelphia.

The price of tickets was placed at one dollar and upwards, and two thousand people paid the "steep" price of admission, the highest ever charged for mere admission to the grounds, while five or six thousand more witnessed the game from the surrounding embankment. Rain and darkness obliged the umpire to call the game at the end of the second inning, the victory remaining with the Athletics, by the decisive totals of 31 to 12. A dispute about the gate money prevented the playing of the decisive game of the season.

The Unions of Morrisiana, by defeating the Atlantics in two out of three games in the latter part of the season of 1867, became entitled to the nominal championship, which during the next two seasons was shifted back and forth between the leading clubs of New York and Brooklyn. The Athletics in 1868, and the Cincinnatis in 1869, had, however, the best records of their respective seasons, and were generally acknowledged as the virtual champions.

The Athletics of Philadelphia in 1866 had McBride, pitcher; Dockney, catcher; Berkenstock, Reach and Pike on the bases; Wilkins, shortstop; and Sensenderfer, Fisler and Kleinfelder in the outfield. Their nine presented few changes during the next two seasons, Dockney, Berkenstock and Pike giving way to Radcliff, Cuthbert and Berry in 1867, and Schafer taking Kleinfelder's place in 1868.

The Cincinnati nine in 1869 were