I see great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game.
More than any other sport, baseball inspires writers.
It is unclear if the following essay flowed from the pen of San Luis Obispo Tribune editor George Staniford or if it was one of the filler stories that newspaper editors of the time circulated, embroidered and republished.
Even back in the day things ain’t like they used to be. The article has paragraph breaks inserted for readability as well as fixed typo but the odd spellings are authentic to the original article. Reprinted again here from the Tribune archives August 23, 1879:
There was a time when base ball was fun. That time has long since passed a way. There are probably remote portions of the country where there is still some amusement in a game of base ball —where the rustic inhabitants have not yet learned how awfully scientific the game has become. Then when the triker hits the ball a good reliable whack he runs for all he is worth.
When the other fellow gets the ball he does n’t place it quietly on the base, but hurls it with unerring precision at the runner and knocks two dollars worth of breath out of his body. The runner is then out.
He generally goes and lies down on the grass to think over matters and rub the spot where the ball hit.
But the balls in those days were not the globular bricks they are now.
Any boy with a little ingenuity and an old stocking could make a ball.
A piece of cork or a bit of rubber to make it “bounce” did to start on. Then the old stocking was raveled and the yarn wound on this rubber basis until the ball reached the proper proportions, when it was covered with leather. The boy who owned a nice, soft covered ball, was a king among his kind. Next to him came the boy with a good bat.
The principal official in the old style base ball was the fellow who sat on the top rail of the fence and kept tally. He cut the notches for one party on one edge of the shingle and for the other party on the opposite edge. Sometimes a good tallyer would do more for his favorite side than its best batsman.
There were no umpires in those days for both captains to quarrel with.
When the two captains were ready to choose sides, one tossed a ball club to the other and they went hand over hand to the top; the last hand that held the club had the first choice of players. Sometimes a boy would insist that his hand was last, while it projected over the end of the bat.
This was settled by another boy striking with another bat on the end of the choosing bat.
If the last hand could stand the strokes it was all right, but if the hand projected a little too high it was generally withdrawn after the first blow. Those were the days when baseball was not composed of four parts science to one of fun.
This article is followed by a “Prize Essay on Woman.” A series of one-liners that may have played better in the male only bar rooms of late 1870s.
Here is a sample knee slapper, “It costs more to keep a woman than three dogs and a shotgun.”
Baseball quotes from Brainyquote.
The photo above was used once before with another post, linked here.