The primary reason a blog seemed the best vehicle for writing about early
base ball is the fluid nature of the research. While some historians, notably George Kirsch, have studied the game’s early days in our state, this part of New Jersey ’s past remains largely "terra incognita." I have to regularly modify my talk on New Jersey base ball during the Civil War era to take into account new material and insights. All posts, therefore, are “subject to change” especially posts like this one that try to name the clubs playing in a specific season. New Jersey
To date a total of 15 clubs have been identified from the inaugural 1855 season. Not surprisingly almost half were in
Newark followed by three from . As noted previously the Newark Club was Jersey City ’s first base ball club followed shortly thereafter by the Orientals who quickly changed their name to the Olympic Club. By season’s end Newarkers had also formed the Friendship, Newark Junior and Empire clubs. Two other New Jersey clubs played at least once in 1855, but are so historically significant they will be discussed in the next post. Newark
Newark teams may have gotten on the field first, they were not as competitive or proficient as their neighbors. Both of Hudson County ’s first two teams, the Pioneer and Excelsior Clubs defeated out of town rivals and the Excelsior Club finished 1855 with a perfect 7-0 record. The Jersey City teams, on the other hand, primarily played among themselves and had no success against outside competition. Newark
In spite of their superior performance, however, neither of the Jersey City teams survived the 1855 season at least partially because some of their best players moved on to the Eagle Club of New York City. Both the Excelsior and Pioneer Clubs are the subject of essays in the forthcoming second volume of Base Ball Pioneers and will not receive much attention in this blog.