Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The More Things Change . . .

Most early references to base ball in New Jersey newspapers praise it as being beneficial to the municipality or community's young men.  However, as the below August 20, 1855 letter to the editor of the Jersey City Daily Telegraph indicates, there was at least one resident and tax payer who took exception to at least the timing of some ball playing. 

The references to the Recorder and Chief of Police are apparently to George E. Cutter, Justice of the Peace and Recorder and Charles J. Farley who was the Chief of Police.  Since both men were members of the Excelsior Club, the young men may have been practicing for their upcoming return match with the Pioneer Club which was most likely the first base ball game played in Jersey City between Jersey City clubs.

In the next day's paper, the Chief of Police (most likely Farley) not only "shot" back at Erie, but took advantage of a lobbying opportunity as well.

"Erie" may have thought he prevailed when the Excelsior and Pioneer Clubs went out of existence in 1856 and no new clubs took filled the vacuum, but it was a short lived triumph as a number of new clubs were formed in the late 1850's, some of which continued to play in the disgruntled taxpayer's neighborhood.


  1. Richard HershbergerMay 20, 2012 at 8:51 AM

    Excellent find! And good eye to catch it. This sort of item is easy to overlook while scanning microfilm.

    As for the content, the ideology of favoring exercise, "muscular Christianity," was fairly new in 1855, at least as a widespread opinion. The letter writer gives off more than a hint of "you kids get off my lawn!" but he is also expressing the older ideology I call "ora et labora" from the rule of St. Benedict: the idea that the only suitable activities for a grown man are work and worship. I am actually surprised that we don't see more of this than we do.

  2. The scary thing is that I found this on the second time through the paper while I was actually looking for 1855 population figures that were being reported in the media. Makes me wonder how many other things I missed - I'm going to back through the main Newark and Jersey City papers at least once more.