Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Unmanly Behavior

Included in the first look at the 1855 season was a portion of an article from the Newark Daily Advertiser (August 11, 1855) which discussed the growing popularity of "The manly game of Base Ball" in Newark.  Cut off from the article was the report that the Newark Club had enjoyed an evening boat trip to the "Fishing Banks" which was part and parcel of the social aspects of early base ball clubs.  Perhaps prompted by this report, the Friendship Club tried a similar excursion the following week, but with far less pleasant results as reported by Advertiser (August 18, 1855)

Excessive drinking was apparently a hot issue in Newark as the following article complains of the "intolerable nuisances" of some "Lager-Bier Saloons in Green Street" with a recommendation of summary justice similar to the above the suggestion that rowdies on future cruises be thrown overboard.  Although the Friendship Club is mentioned several times as one of Newark's first base ball clubs, to date, no record has been found of their playing a match.  One possibility is that like the Oriental Club they changed their name and became the Empire Club which is not mentioned in early articles, but did play some 1855 matches.

A Manly Pastime is going to take a brief respite, returning in about a week.  Next up will be a series of posts using the minute book and by-laws of the Hamilton Club of Jersey City to explore different aspects of early New Jersey base ball clubs.  Research and analysis is also underway on how the game developed in Newark through the end of 1860 which is part of a larger study of how the game developed and spread throughout New Jersey. 


  1. Richard HershbergerMarch 21, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    How do we know that this is a baseball club? It certainly could be. An excursion such as this is well within the bounds of expected activities for an early baseball club. But it is also typical of many other sorts of clubs. The reference to a "manager" is something of a red herring. Baseball clubs in this era didn't typically have anyone with that title. It could be an ad hoc title for the person organizing the excursion. So I'm not saying that this isn't a baseball club, but nothing in this item suggests that it is. It appears that you have other citations of a Friendship Base Ball Club. This would go a long ways, though still not completely eliminating the possibility of two organizations sharing a name.

  2. The Newark Daily Mercury (6/29/1855), the Newark Daily Advertiser (6/26/1855) and the New York Times (6/28/1855) all list the Friendship Club as one of the four Newark base ball clubs (others are the Newark Club, Newark Junior and Oriental/Olympic). No Friendship game accounts have surfaced in the Newark newspapers and Craig Waff doesn't have the club on his list of Newark clubs.

    The first reference to the Empire Club is Newark Daily Mercury (10/27/1855)reporting a match against the Newark Junior Club. The absence of Friendship Club games and the appearance of the Empire Club without prior notice is what suggests a possible name change by the Friendship Club. At some point (not the immediate future) I am going to go back through the Newark papers for 1855 and see if I can find a reference to a name change.

    Another possibility is that like other early clubs they formed as a social club that included base ball among its activities, but never got on the field. I do recall seeing references to the Friendship Club after 1855 all of which are social in nature.