Sunday, September 30, 2012

Base Ball Battle in Monroe

After a return to the game's urban roots last weekend in Jersey City, this past Saturday saw the Neshanock in a more rural setting at the Dey Farm in Monroe, New Jersey (Exit 8A on the Turnpike).  The occasion was an event sponsored by the Monroe Historical Society and a good sized crowd attentively watched the Flemington club play two matches with the Athletics of Philadelphia.  In the first match, played by 1864 rules, the Athletics scored once in the top of the first, but the Neshanock jumped out to a 5-1 lead after two and never looked back for a 14-6 victory.  

                                                      Photo by Mark Granieri

Especially noteworthy was the pitching of Bob "Melky" Ritter who was in dominant form including four strikeouts, a rarity in vintage games.  Another interesting feature of the first match was the Neshanock scoring six of their tallies on one bounce outs to the outfield.  One of the major differences in the 1864 game is that any fair ball caught on a bounce is an out so the modern day one hop line drive to an outfielder is nothing more than an out.  Runners can, however, advance at their own risk and three separate times, two runners scored on bound outs hit by Gerard "Jacks" D'Angelo (twice) and Ken "Tumbles" Mandel.  

                                                     Photo by Mark Granieri

As in Jersey City the prior week, the second match was played by 1870 rules and once again the Neshanock got off to what seemed to be a comfortable lead.  Things go much closer, however, as the Neshanock stopped scoring while the Athletics rallied (never a good combination) to draw within 10-9 after seven.  Neither club scored in the eighth and when the Neshanock had two out and one on in the top of the ninth, there wasn't a real comfortable feeling on the club's bench.  Fortunately, however, three hits and a walk produced three tallies and a little more error room as the match headed to the bottom of the ninth.  While it was nice to have, the extra margin wasn't needed as Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw set the Philadelphia club down in order aided by two strong throws by Neshanock third baseman, Joe "Mick" Murray.  The two wins put the Neshanock within one game of .500 with three more chances to at least get to break even.

The matches marked the second time the two clubs had met, with the earlier contest taking place in Bridgeton in July when I learned exactly how far away Cumberland County is from Essex County.  My research into the spread of early base ball in New Jersey has now reached southern New Jersey as I work my way through newspapers like the West-Jersey Pioneer, which was printed in Bridgeton.  I would guess that I'm about half way through the different south Jersey papers and, thus far, I haven't found any evidence of base ball being played before the Civil War.  Given the geography of New Jersey one of the issues is the possible impact of base ball spreading from Philadelphia in the south much like it did from New York City in the north.

Last week I found the below article, "A Trip to the City," where the editor of the paper describes what is involved in a trip to Philadelphia since, as he says, not many readers of the paper had done so.  I thought I was reading it incorrectly at first, but apparently residents of the village of Bridgeton made arrangements with the stage coach company to wake them up in time to catch the 4:00 stage to Salem which would get them there in time to take the 8:00 steamboat to Philadelphia.  And we think we have tough commutes today! 

The significance of this is that if the trip was that difficult, it's doubtful (as the writer acknowledges) that many people did it, which eliminates or at least drastically limits their chance of seeing base ball being played and coming home excited about bringing the game to their local community.  I still have to look at the newspapers for Camden and Gloucester counties, the two closest to Philadelphia so I'll reserve judgement, but it certainly looks as if base ball, or at least the game played in the northern part of the state, didn't arrive in south Jersey until at least during the Civil War. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Hoboken Nine

                                                        Photo By Mark Granieri

               Picture of the Hoboken Nine plus Umpire, Mr. Sam "It ain't nothin till I say" Bernstein

New Jersey's Newest Vintage Base Ball Club

For over a decade now New Jersey has had two vintage base ball clubs, the Elizabeth Resolutes and the Flemington Neshanock who both strive to recreate base ball the way it was played in the 19th century.  Over that period there have been a number of efforts to start other teams and it certainly seems that a state with as rich a base ball history as New Jersey should have more than two clubs.  After several years of playing an annual game with the Neshanock, a group from Hoboken supported by the Hoboken Historical Museum, now seems well on their way to establishing New Jersey's third vintage club, the Hoboken Nine.  Although in their first year, the players are far from muffins as shown in a number of contests including winning two games in the Philadelphia Naval Yard Festival on September 15th.  

                                                           Photo by Mark Granieri 

This past Saturday, the Neshanock returned to Hudson County, this time to Pershing Field in the Heights section of Jersey City to play two games with the newcomers, one by 1864 rules and one by 1870 regulations.  In the first contest, the Hoboken Club got off to an early 2-0 lead and used outstanding defense with timely hitting to secure a 10-5 victory.  In the second match, the Neshanock bats came to life with a vengeance as the Flemington club scored eight times in the first inning and followed that with a 12 run fifth inning which was more than enough for a 21-5 triumph.  The Hoboken Club is to be commended for their fine start and it is certainly hoped that they will go on to a long history like the Flemington and Elizabeth clubs.  Personally, I hope that at least one more New Jersey club will be formed so there can be an annual New Jersey championship.

                                                             Photo by Mark Granieri 

While the Neshanock's offensive explosion in the second match was spread throughout the lineup, Mark "Gaslight" Granieri's performance at bat, in the field and on the bench merits special mention.  The Neshanock catcher had the day's only clear score with two doubles and two singles and even scored once as the designated runner for Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw.  In the field, "Gaslight" not only recorded a number of putouts including two tag plays at the plate, but also threw out a Hoboken runner trying to steal second.  The throw wasn't exactly a Mark "Peaches" Rubini laser, but it got there or at least before the runner did.   There's no truth to the rumor that the runner's nickname was "turtle."  "Gaslight" also outperformed the rest of the Neshanock in cookie consumption on the bench to the point that a new nickname might be in order.

                                                          Photo by Mark Granieri

The game was played in Jersey City because there were no available fields in Hoboken which isn't without a certain amount of irony since base ball first came to Hoboken because of the lack of space in New York City.  Pershing Park is in the Jersey City Heights area which prior to 1868 was actually a separate municipality, called Hudson City.  Hudson City was home to one of New Jersey's earliest base ball clubs, the creatively named Fear Not Club which played in 1855, the first season of documented New Jersey match play.  After losing their first match to the Excelsior Club of Jersey City (undefeated in 1855), the Fear Nots came back and defeated the Palisades Club of West Hoboken (now Union City).  At least two other teams, the Columbia and National Clubs were founded in 1859.

The Neshanock will be back in action this coming Saturday, September 29th in a double header against the Athletic Club of Philadelphia in Monroe, New Jersey.  Check www.neshanock,org for more information.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eureka vs. Atlantics - The Return Match

Not surprisingly the Atlantic-Eureka cliff hanger on August 18, 1865 received significant media attention.  The New York Clipper alone devoted almost two full columns and 16 paragraphs to the contest including close to a play-by-play description.  It is more than a little surprising, therefore, that the August 31st return game received very little coverage.  The Clipper, for example, summarized the rematch in one paragraph.  As we shall see, the lack of coverage wasn't because the second contest lacked drama.

                                                    Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn

A possible explanation may lie in the Atlantics activities just prior to the match at their home field, Capitoline Grounds.  Just three days earlier, the Atlantics followed an August 28th rout of the Eagle Club with a 10 hour, overnight train trip to Washington, D.C.  Over the next two days, the champions sandwiched tours of the nation's capital around a 32-19 victory over the National Club of Washington. In a somewhat sensationalistic twist the  first day's itinerary focused on the sites related to the relatively recent assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  A highlight of the second day was a meeting with President Andrew Johnson at the White House.  Accompanying the Atlantics was legendary sportswriter, Henry Chadwick, who lobbied the new President to attend a base ball game in person.
After meeting the President, the Atlantics visited other government offices before making the return trip arriving in New York City at 7:00 a.m. on the morning of the Eureka match.  Accounts apparently written by Chadwick in the Clipper and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle understandably claimed the Atlantics were “much jaded out” from a lack of sleep during the trip.  Perhaps the great sportswriter himself was also feeling the effects of the journey limiting his interest/ability in giving a full account of a match that would have required a lot of concentration to provide a detailed account.

President Andrew Johnson

While the Atlantics may have been tired, the memory of the last game had to have been fresh in their minds, since they put almost the same lineup in the field.  Unlike the first match, the Eureka had Collins and Northrop back, but they were now without Pennington.  Chadwick claimed the Atlantics were so tired that one “fell asleep while awaiting his turn at bat.”  If so it most likely didn’t happen in the bottom of the first as the Atlantics, “jaded” or not, scored 10 times for a 10-1 lead.  However the problems the Atlantics had on defense in the last game hadn’t been eliminated.  In the top of the second with the bases loaded and two out, the Atlantics left fielder dropped a fly ball which opened the flood gates.  Before order was restored the Eureka scored nine times to tie the game at 10-10.

With 20 runs scored in 1 ½ innings, this was clearly not going to be a low scoring contest and all of the scoring to come may have been too much for the exhausted Chadwick and other reporters to describe in detail.  Things did slow down somewhat over the next few innings and the Atlantics came to bat in the bottom of the fifth leading 16-13.  In that frame, however, the champions erupted for nine runs and what in normal circumstances would have been a safe 25-13 lead.  But these were far from normal circumstances as the Eureka demonstrated with an eight run rally featuring three home runs, cutting the score to a more manageable 25-21.  The Atlantics got three back in the bottom of the sixth, but the Eureka responded with two in the top of the seventh and then blanked the Brooklyn club in the bottom of the inning.

                                                             Henry Chadwick

The match now went to the top of the eighth inning with the Atlantics trying to hold on to a 28-23 advantage.  With their backs to the wall, the Newarkers responded with a vengeance scoring 10 times for a 33-28 lead, their first of the contest.  As the Atlantics came to bat in the bottom of the inning some of them had to be wondering about the wisdom of their schedule in Washington.  Tired or not, however, the Atlantics responded with a six run rally and took the field for the ninth literally clinging to a one run lead.  By this point, probably few of the Atlantic fans in the crowd estimated at 5-6000 expected the Eureka to go quietly so they were not surprised when the visitors scored four times and led by three as the Atlantics came in for their last chance.

For some reason the Eureka had been late arriving at Capitoline grounds which combined with an almost three hour game meant the sun was setting as Charlie Smith of the Atlantics was the first striker to the line.  Smith led off with a single, but the Eureka’s hopes got a boost when the dangerous Joe Start flew out to Northrop in right field.  Game accounts are not clear on what happened next, but it appears Chapman hit a two run home run, cutting the Eureka lead to one.  Crane followed this with a hit, bringing up Pratt, who hit one towards Eureka second baseman Bomeisler with disastrous results for the Eureka.  Not only was Pratt safe at first, but the throw was so wild that Crane scored with the tying run followed by Pratt with the winning tally. 

Amazingly Chadwick described the match as “uninteresting,” apparently because as a purist he was displeased with the bad play and poor judgment in the field.  He had a point about the sloppy play as the two teams combined for sixteen fly ball muffs.  But even amidst this criticism, Chadwick had to admit that when Pratt scored the winning run, “the scene was dramatic in the extreme.”  While the Atlantics and their fans celebrated in the gathering dark, the Eureka must have been bitterly disappointed as their thoughts turned to the long trip back to Newark.  Twice they had a great victory in their grasp, only to come up just short.

Eureka Outs Runs Atlantic Outs Runs
Calloway, l.f. 2 7 Pearce, ss. 3 5
Thomas, ss. 4 4 C. J. Smith, 3b. 1 7
Littlewood, c.f. 5 2 Start, 1b. 4 4
Breintnall, c. 3 4 Chapman, lf. 3 5
Collins, 3b. 1 6 Crane, 2b. 2 6
Faitoute, p. 3 4 Pratt, p. 4 3
Northrop, rf. 1 4 Sid Smith, rf. 4 3
Bomeisler, 2b. 3 4 Galvin, 3b 3 2
Mills, 1b. 5 2 P. O'Brien, cf. 3 3
Total 27 37 Total 27 38

Monday, September 17, 2012

Base Ball and Boats

It was very difficult for 19th century New Jersey base ball clubs to play matches far from home due to the limited means of transportation.  Clubs were able to travel by train, horse drawn conveyance, ferry and some clubs even made trips by steam boat, mostly after the Civil War.  In today's world of vintage base ball, the Flemington Neshanock make most of their trips by automobile, but in the past two years we seem to have gone back to one 19th century mode - the ferry.  This year, for example, the Neshanock have traversed Boston and New York harbor by means of local ferries.

                                 Photo by Mark Granieri

Most of us, I think, have had enough boat travel for one season, so this past Saturday, it was nice to see the boats preserved at the Philadelphia Navy Yard without having to sail on them.  The occasion was the Philadelphia 19th Century Base Ball and Exhibition Fair hosted admirably the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia on the parade ground at the Naval Yard.  It was a wonderful venue, large enough for three games to be going on simultaneously.  

                                                 Photo by Mark Granieri

In the first match, the Neshanock took on their long time rivals, the Eclipse Base Ball Club of Eltkon, Maryland.  It was a back and forth affair that went 12 innings before Elkton emerged the victors by a 13-12 count.  It was a tough loss, but after a short respite, it was time for the second match originally against the Chesapeake and Potomac Base Ball Club.  However there were only two members of this team present so the Neshanock ended up facing a team made up of the two Chesapeake players as well as members of the Talbot Fair Plays, the Arundel Excelsiors, the host Athletics and probably another team I'm missing.

                               Photo by Mark Granieri

The Neshanock won the match 10-4, led by what are reportedly some record setting performances.  Mark "Peaches" Rubini hit not one, but two home runs, the second of which was preceded by a homer off the bat of Greg "Southwark" Stoloski.  Those present indicated these were the first back-to-back home runs in club history, the first two homer game for a Neshanock, not to mention the first three home run game by the club.  

With the second match victory, the Neshanock have won nine of their last twelve matches as they try to reach the .500 mark by season's end.  Next up is a match on Saturday, September 22nd against the Hoboken Nine, a new New Jersey club, at a yet to be announced venue.  

Thanks again to the Athletic Club and everyone who made the weekend possible.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Great Match at Newark for the Championship - Part 2

When the Atlantics came up in the top of the seventh, leading 12-11, the match seemed to lose its offensive momentum.  First the Eureka limited Brooklyn to a single run in the top of the seventh and the Atlantics were even stingier using another double play to shut out the Eureka for the fourth time in the game.  After seven innings, the Atlantics led 13-11, but if the lack of scoring in the last two innings made some in the large crowd think the two club's offenses were a spent force, they weren’t paying attention.

First it was the Atlantics’ turn with Start belting another two run home run, this time a shot which rolled all the way to the center field fence.  However, when the Eureka retired the next two Atlantics, it looked as if the Newarkers would get out of the top of the eighth without too much damage. But the Atlantics were far from done and added three more tallies for an 18-11 lead. 

Time was running out on the Eureka and they responded in manly, if not championship style, scoring four times to cut the margin to three runs.  Unfortunately for the Newark club however, Charles Thomas was thrown out at the plate, the second Eureka put out trying to score, both of which would prove to be costly, very costly.

                                        Charles Thomas

With the Atlantic leading 18-15, the match moved to the ninth, and it’s unlikely few, if any,  in the large crowd were leaving, especially not, the ladies who were reportedly “quite absorbed in the progress of the game.”  Another inning like the eighth could have given the Atlantic an insurmountable lead, but they were limited to three runs, leaving the Eureka six behind, down, but definitely not out.  With one on and one out in the Eureka ninth, the next four strikers reached safely and, more importantly, four runs scored, bringing the tying run to the plate with one out. 

With the Eureka possibly on the verge of a monumental upset, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, reported that “all Newark was wild,” including “the women who could not sit still” and “the boys who were jubilant.”  The next two batters were the two substitutes, Pennington and Rogers.  Pennington hit a ball to second base and the Atlantics wisely took the out while allowing the run to score, making it 21-20 Atlantics.  Now the Eureka needed only one to tie, but there were two out, none on with second team member George Rogers at the plate.  Could he keep the rally going?  Alas it was not to be.  On the first pitch, Rogers hit a fly ball in foul territory behind first base, Start could not reach it on the fly, but taking advantage of the bound rule on foul balls, the Atlantic’s hitting star caught it one on hop for the final out.


No doubt the Eureka fans in the large throng fell silent at the realization their team’s gallant effort had come up one run short.  While there is no record of the Atlantics’ supporter’s reaction, the most appropriate response would have been a huge sigh of relief.  Certainly the Atlantic players, could take pride in escaping from such a tight spot, after all that’s what champions do.  Although only 2-4 for the season, the Eureka could take some solace in showing they could hold their own with anyone.  Their four losses were at the hands of three teams (Athletics, Mutuals and Atlantics) who would finish a combined 45-7 for the season. 

Atlantic Outs Runs Eureka Outs Runs
Pearce, c 5 1 Calloway, l.f. 1 4
C. Smith, 3b 2 4 Thomas, s.s. 3 3
Start, 1b 1 4 Littlewood, c.f. 4 2
Chapman, l.f. 3 3 Pennington, 2b 3 2
Crane, 2b 4 2 Rogers, r.f. 4 2
Pratt, p 2 3 Breintnall, c. 5 0
S. Smith, r.f. 3 3 Faitoute, p. 3 2
P. O'Brien, c.f. 3 1 T. Bomeisler, 3b 3 2
Sprage, s. s. 4 0 Mills, 1b 1 3
Total 27 21 Total 27 20

In an interesting way the real winners were the fans who had seen the country’s best team (or so the system said) tested to the utmost by an underdog club which never gave up to the last out.   Competitive club base ball (New York style) was only 10-15 years old and the 5000 or so spectators had witnessed one of the “new” game's best moments.  And that wasn’t all, a return match in Brooklyn was scheduled in less than two weeks.  Of course it couldn’t match this one for drama, or could it?  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Return of the Neshanock

     Flemington 12 - Elizabeth 5

After a long break, the Flemington Neshanock returned to action yesterday with a doubleheader in Belvidere, New Jersey against their instate rivals, the Elizabeth Resolutes.  While I wasn't able to be there, Mark "Gaslight" Granieri was kind enough to provide the some pictures and the scores.


              Flemington 14 - Elizabeth 4 (4 innings due to rain)

Next Saturday, the Neshanock will be back in action at the Philadelphia Vintage Base Ball Festival on the parade grounds at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Second part of the story of the Atlantic-Eureka game will be up on Wednesday morning.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Grand Match at Newark for the Championship - Part 1

Like greatness, unforgettable base ball games come in multiple forms.  Sometimes they are long anticipated match ups which live up to the advance billing in every respect.  It’s also not uncommon, however, for a game that beforehand didn’t seem exceptional to become memorable on the field.  Such was the case when the Atlantic Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, traveled to Newark on August 18, 1865 to take on the Eureka Club.  The Atlantics were United States champions and hadn’t lost a match in almost two years.  The Eureka, on the other hand, had been New Jersey’s premier team, but they were only 2-3 thus far in 1865 and had lost to the Atlantics 25-13 the prior year. 

Brooklyn Atlantics Base Ball Club

In spite of the apparent disparity between of the two teams, the game was billed as "The great game for the championship of the United States." At the time championships were decided by best of three series with any club able to issue a challenge to the champions as the Eureka had done in this case.  Although the match didn’t have the “name” appeal of prior Atlantics contests with the Mutuals or Eckfords, a large crowd gathered at the Eureka’s new grounds at Ferry and Adams Streets in Newark’s Ironbound section.  Base ball fans from New York and Brooklyn joined hopeful Eureka followers to make up a crowd estimated at 5000, reportedly the largest crowd to see a base ball game in New Jersey.

After taking the ferry from Brooklyn to lower Manhattan, the Atlantics took a 1:00 train which got them to Newark by 1:40 and they were ready to play at 2:00.  However whether due to a delaying tactic or for legitimate reasons, the Eureka were “detained” and the game didn’t get underway until 3:20.  By that time the Newark Daily Journal reported “every available space was taken” with the “crowd encircled by carriages and vehicles all filled with spectators.” 

                            Eureka Base Ball Club of Newark

Although the Atlantics were clear favorites, they were taking no chances and were at full strength.  Especially noteworthy were “household names” like “Dickey” Pearce and hard hitting first base man, Joe “Old Reliable” Start.  Not so fortunate were the Eureka who were missing John Collins and Henry Northrop both of them averaging over three runs a game.  Their replacements were Edward Pennington and George Rogers.  There was little drop off with Pennington who had been one of the Eureka’s best players, but was playing less frequently probably due to increased business and professional commitments.    Rogers was a member of the Eureka’s second nine, called up for the big match.  No explanations were offered for the absence of Collins and Northrop, but with games played on weekday afternoons, it was not uncommon for work commitments to keep even the best players out of action.

                                        Dickey Pearce

Finally the stage was set, the Eureka took the field and the first Atlantic striker to the line was Dickey Pearce, a star player and member of the club since its formation in 1855. Pearce lofted the first pitch behind third where third base man, Theodore Bomeisler caught it “handsomely” for the first hand and the match was underway.  Although Atlantic first base man, Joe Start began what would be a memorable day for him with a double, the Eureka held the Atlantic scoreless.  In the bottom of the inning the Eureka, aided by some sloppy Atlantic fielding scored three times and after one, led 3-0.  In the top of  the second,  Tommy Pratt of the Atlantics got one back by hitting a ball that got past Eureka center fielder Albert Littlewood for a home run, but it was the champions only tally in the inning. 
Eureka fans were, no doubt, pleased with the early going, but what happened next must have brought them to their feet, clapping and huzzahing for all they were worth.  Further shoddy Atlantic defense helped load the bases for Fred Calloway who responded with a bases clearing hit.  Surprisingly the Atlantics less than championship defensive play continued and the Eureka scored three more times before the inning was over.  Amidst their meltdown in the field, however, the Atlantic defense did pull off a double play and more importantly threw R. Heber Breintnall of the Eureka out at the plate. The latter play may not have seemed important at the time, but would loom larger by game’s end.

                                    R. Heber Breintnall

Still the Eureka led 9-1 and there had to be some of the Eureka and their fans who started dreaming big dreams of a championship coming to Newark.  The Atlantics couldn’t have been pleased with the results so far, but if they were intimidated, they didn’t show it, using some hard hitting to score four times and cut the Eureka lead in half.  The champions then tightened up their defense, retiring the Eureka in order in the bottom of the inning so the Newark club led 9-5 with three innings complete.

Neither team scored in the fourth, the Atlantics going out in order and the Eureka victimized by the Atlantics second double play.  When an underdog has a chance to widen its lead and fails to do so twice, it can be costly and such was the case for the Eureka in the top of the fifth.  Not only did the Atlantics start hitting, but the Eureka defense now deserted them leading to five Atlantic runs and a 10-9 Atlantic lead. 

                                            Joe Start

If the Eureka’s 9-1 lead now seemed short lived, the one run Atlantic lead disappeared even more quickly as a good hit by Pennington keyed a two run rally and the Eureka regained the lead 11-10 after five innings and 1 hour and 15 minutes of play.  However, no lead was safe in this game and the Atlantics quickly returned serve as Start followed Smith’s “fine hit” with his own “splendid hit,” a two run home run to center giving the lead back to the Atlantics at 12-11.  Even better for the Brooklyn club this time they made the lead stand up, stopping a budding Eureka rally in its tracks by “easily” putting out three straight strikers after the first two got on base.  Although it had taken a while with six innings complete the Atlantic had finally taken control of the match or so it seemed.

                                     To Be Continued

Monday, September 3, 2012

Base Ball in Paterson - Revisited

In my last post I wrote about two expectations that proved erroneous, first that Paterson would have significant base ball activity prior to the Civil War and, second, that if Paterson didn't have base ball then smaller, more relatively rural Morristown definitely wouldn't.   I also mentioned a warning from Sherlock Holmes about drawing conclusions with insufficient data.  Turns out, I should have paid more attention to the latter piece of advice.
Anyone who read the comments to that post knows that Richard Hershberger alerted me to a Paterson game in 1860 and then wisely suggested I consult the source (New York Sunday Mercury) myself instead of his sending me copy of the article.  Since I needed to look at the Mercury any way, I went to the New York Public Library this past Friday and went through the newspaper's accounts of 1860 base ball matches.

William Cauldwell
This was the second time I used the Mercury so I knew what to expect both the good and the bad.  Under the leadership of publisher, William Cauldwell, the Sunday Mercury was one of the first newspapers to provide extensive base ball coverage - that's the good news.  The bad news is that the quality of the microfilm is frequently poor , bordering on being illegible.  Anyone who has worked with 19th century newspapers on microfilm knows the difficulties, but the Mercury takes this to a new level - a very low level.  And not only is the film hard to read, photo copies are equally hard on the eyes.
In spite of the challenge, I forged ahead and as Richard said there is an account in the May 6, 1860 edition of the paper of a match between the Unknown Club of Paterson and the Franklin Club of New York so there was at least one base ball club in Paterson in the antebellum period.  Reading on I found an account of a second match between the two clubs and then in the July 22, 1860 edition there was an account of a match between the Unknown and the Gotham Junior Club of New York City.  Not only did the article state that both clubs were juniors, but it also mentioned the two clubs had played twice the prior year.  So there is solid evidence base ball activity in Paterson not only in 1860, but also in 1859.
Later in 1860 I found two articles (August 26, 1860 and September 16, 1860) which describe matches between the Flora Temple Club and the Henderson Club which both confirm further base ball in Paterson, but also create confusion.  The first article says that the Flora Temple Club was from Paterson and the Henderson Club from Belleville, but the second one reports the Flora Temple Club being from Bergen (now part of Jersey City) and the Henderson Club being of Paterson. 

As the picture above illustrates Flora Temple was a race horse, indeed a famous race horse of the 1850's and according to one source the "bob-tailed nag" of Stephen Foster's classic song "Camptown Races."  Fascinating information, but not of much help in determining which club was from Paterson.  There was a race track in Paterson during the period so that could be an indication that the Flora Temple Club was from Paterson, but obviously more research is needed.
19th Century base ball teams certainly had fascinating names.  In a recent post to the SABR's 19th century e-mail list, Richard Hershberger reported finding four teams named "Morphy," apparently after a champion chess player of the period.  It's certainly not impossible that some young Patersonians with an affinity for horse racing and base ball decided to promote themselves as the "Flora Temple" of base ball.  But what about the Unknown Club?  Perhaps the lack of local media coverage made them feel unknown and under appreciated in their home city.