Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Learning From Travel

When we were organizing the New Jersey committee on the Civil War Sesquicentennial a few years ago, I exchanged some e-mails with someone in New York who had undertaken a similar task in the Empire state.  I remember sympathizing with him about the difficulty of forming a state wide organization given the size of New York state. 

Here in New Jersey, of course, we tend to think of our state as being relatively small and it's certainly true that one can go make a day trip to almost anywhere in the state (barring traffic).  This past Sunday, however, I was reminded that New Jersey is not quite as small as we think or at least as I think of it.  The Neshanock traveled to Bridgeton, New Jersey to take on the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia and as a matter of course, I printed out Internet directions.  At the time, the only thing I paid attention to was the exit on the Turnpike (3) since any place in south Jersey has to be close to the Turnpike.

As a result I was more than a little surprised to find out that I had almost an hour more to drive after leaving the Turnpike.  I was operating under the misconception that an hour's drive from the Turnpike would have ended either in the Atlantic or the Delaware River!

As I drove through Bridgeton on my way to the site of the match at Alden Field, I found myself wondering how base ball (the New York game) found its way to this south Jersey community.  As noted previously I'm researching how base ball developed throughout all of New Jersey so it's a subject that comes to mind on a regular basis.  Since base ball tended to spread from urban to rural areas, most likely the game somehow gradually moved from Philadelphia throughout south Jersey.  There is a complicating factor, however, Philadelphia was a hot bed for town ball so the transition to base ball was slower than in some areas.  For example, the Camden, New Jersey club was still playing town ball as late as 1863.

I'm still in the early stages of researching the spread of base ball in northern New Jersey so it will be a while before I do any detailed research on Bridgeton and the surrounding communities, but the pattern so far in northern New Jersey is interesting.  Not surprisingly base ball first took hold in Hudson and Essex Counties, the two counties closest not only to New York and Brooklyn, but also to base ball's incubator at Elysian Fields in Hoboken. 

After that, however, the game doesn't seem to have moved very far north or west before 1860, but did seem to move to the south.  Base ball clubs were formed and playing in Elizabeth, New Brunswick and even Trenton prior to the Civil War.  In Paterson, however, which is closer to Newark and Jersey City there doesn't appear to have been a base ball club even in 1860.  That's a little surprising to me since people from Paterson were more likely to have visited Elysian Fields and/or to read Newark, Jersey City and New York newspapers.  Next I will look at Bergen and Sussex Counties - west and north of Paterson and I'll be very surprised if I find base ball clubs prior to the Civil War.   Of course you never know, after all I did think Bridgeton couldn't be much more than a two hour drive from Verona. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sophie Goes to Fenway and Grandpa's Speculations

Last Sunday Sophie Ann Zinn made her major league debut at Fenway Park when the Red Sox took on the Toronto Blue Jays.  With a 15-7 final score, I'm not entirely sure it qualifies as baseball, but that's the disadvantage of living in an area deprived of National League baseball.  In any event Sophie must have set some kind of record, attending vintage, minor league and major league games before she is three months old. 

Paul Zinn on the other hand wasn't quite that fortunate, he had to wait until he was 7 for his first game or more properly games - a 1986 twi-night doubleheader between the Mets and the Cubs at Shea Stadium.  Still Paul beat me as my first game was a Wayne PAL baseball league trip to the Polo Grounds in August of 1957 when I was 10.   

It's not surprising that Sophie's first game made me think back to Paul and my experiences, but it also led me to go back even farther to speculate about possible games for earlier generations of Zinns.  That starts, of course, with my father, Hank Zinn (1914-2002) who appears in both the above and below pictures.  In the first picture, he is the bat boy for the Maywood Athletic Association (I'm guessing in the early 1920's) while in the second, he is in the second row directly in front of the man in the suit.  The picture is of the Bogota high school baseball team in the 1930's when Hank was an all Bergen County outfielder before going on play baseball at Montclair State.

One of the many things I never thought to ask my father was about his first major league baseball game.  I know that he went to a World Series game in the 1930's at Yankee Stadium and also that he and my mother went to a Dodgers game at Ebbets Field.  My guess is that he probably went to a major league game sometime in the late 1920's or early 1930's - it wasn't Ebbets Field as I know he went there only once.  Chances are probably equal between the Yankees and Giants, both teams were very good during that time frame and both locations were equally convenient.

But this speculative exercise doesn't end there because there is also my grandfather, John G. Zinn (1892-1955) who I'm named after.  He appears in the above Borden's Milk Company team picture in Hackensack possibly in 1924, but sometime in the 1920's.  Of the four players in the second row, he's the second from the left. 

Not only is there a family resemblance, but if you look closely you could see something on his right hand.  For members of the Neshanock vintage base ball team, especially  our first baseman, Dave "Illinois" Harris, let me explain that it's a glove, specifically a left handed first baseman's glove.  I have no idea if he ever went to a major league game, I was only eight when he died and wasn't a baseball fan.  Still it's more than possible that at one point he went to a game, again I doubt it was the Dodgers and the Giants and Yankees are probably equally likely.  If it was prior to his 1913 marriage, however, my best guess is that it was a Giants game as they were the "Tiffany" franchise in New York while the Yankees were distant also-rans.

There's no realistic basis for further speculation, but I'm not going to stop.  The above picture shows my grandfather on a motorcycle and to his right is his father, John Zinn (1850-1920).  He was born in Hackensack and I would love to find evidence of his having played for a local base ball club during the 1860's, but no luck so far.  Certainly he grew up just as the New York game was taking hold in New Jersey and it's certainly likely he played the game at least informally, but I'd say the odds are against his having been to a major league game.

That's even more true of his father, the man on the left in the above picture, another John Zinn (1827-1897) who came to this country from Germany in 1849.  He was leading figure in the German community in Hackensack in the 19th century and I would guess the burden of providing for his family in a new country didn't leave him much leisure time.

So I think it's safe to say that Sophie represents at least the fifth generation of Zinns who have attended a major league baseball game.  Hopefully she will inherit the baseball gene and attend many, many more at least on some occasions with her grandfather who will make sure the earlier generations are also there, at least in spirit.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Missing In Action

                     Bat Toss at 2011 Gettysburg Tournament
The Neshanock were in Gettysburg this past weekend for the 3rd annual Gettysburg vintage base ball festival, but regrettably a death in the family kept me at home.  Playing four teams from the Midwest, the Neshanock went 1-3 in this rapidly growing event.  From six more or less local teams in 2010, the festival has grown to 14 teams this year with supposedly some 25 teams on the waiting list.  I look forward to being there in 2013 which is also the 150th anniversary of the battle.

Part of the plan was that I as going to conduct a battlefield tour on Friday night.  I did this last year and although I'm certainly no expert on Gettysburg, I was looking forward to sharing what I do know with members of the Neshanock. 

My knowledge of New Jersey's role at Gettysburg has been greatly enhanced by the New Jersey Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee's latest publication - "New Jersey at Gettysburg Guidebook," by David Martin.  David has been a leader in the effort to preserve, teach and commemorate New Jersey's role in the war and this publication is the result of a life time of study of this crucial battle in a crucial era of American history.  Available at www.njcivilwar150.org for $15 plus postage, this book is essential for any one from New Jersey planning a visit to Gettysburg.

During last year's tour we were able to visit two important New Jersey sites in the battle.  First we visited the 11th New Jersey's monument which is on the Emmitsburg Road just south of the Klingel House.  Here on July 2nd the regiment served severe losses when the crumbling of the Union line at the Peach Orchard led to an overwhelming Confederate attack.  All told the 11th New Jersey suffered 153 casualties including losing three commanding officers in the space of 30 minutes.  Not surprisingly the 11th suffered the highest casualties of any New Jersey regiment engaged at Gettysburg. 

11th New Jersey Monument

The second New Jersey site on last year's tour was the 12th New Jersey's monument which is located a short distance from the high water mark of the Confederacy.  After being heavily engaged at the Bliss barn on July 2nd and 3rd, the regiment helped to repulse Pickett's Charge on the afternoon of the 3rd.  Although it's casualty totals weren't as high as the 11th's, the 12th suffered 115 casualties a loss rate of just over 26% of their total strength.  In the course of the action the 12th captured not one, but two Confederate battle flags, both from North Carolina regiments.  

12th New Jersey Monument

In an earlier post ("Him Who Shall Have Borne the Battle,"), I wrote about the two New Jersey base ball players known to have been killed in the Civil War, Horace Smith and James Conklin).  I don't know about any players who were killed at Gettysburg, but it seems pretty certain that some of them were at least there.  The 2nd New Jersey (Smith and Conklin's regiment) played a lot of base ball to the extent they formed their own club called the Excelsior.  Looking at the names in a box score, one that leaps out is John W. Collins who played for the Eureka Club of Newark (the premier New Jersey team of the 1860's) both before and after the war.  The 2nd which was part of the New Jersey brigade was minimally engaged at Gettysburg suffering only six wounded over the three days. 

                                     First New Jersey Brigade Monument

Thinking about all of this has revived my interest in learning to what extent members of the leading New Jersey base ball clubs served in the Union military.  I'm going to try to identify (no small feat) about 50 members of the prominent ante-bellum clubs - the Lone Star and Hamilton of Jersey City, the Eureka, Newark and Adriatic of Newark, the Liberty of New Brunswick and perhaps one or two from Bloomfield and Orange and then see what percentage served and the nature of that service.  In at least some cases, players served one tour with a nine month regiment that saw little or no combat.  The northern home front is reportedly a vastly under studied area and looking at this in more detail will at least give a better sense of the war's impact on the "new" national game.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Was Bloomfield, N. J. the birthplace of high school base ball?

                                           Seibert Hall, Bloomfield College

New Jersey high schools have a long history of producing major league base ball talent.  Rick Porcello of Seton Hall Prep and Mike Trout of Millville are just two recent examples.  Exactly how long high school base ball has been played in New Jersey is another question, but it's possible that some of the earliest interscholastic base ball in the United States was played in New Jersey, Bloomfield, New Jersey to be precise.

Today Bloomfield is a predominantly suburban community just west of Newark and east of Glen Ridge and Montclair.  In the 1850's, however, what was then Bloomfield Township encompassed a much greater area including both Glen Ridge and Montclair as well as parts of Nutley, Belleville and Newark itself.  During that time Bloomfield was also the home of multiple private schools. 

One such school dates back to the early years of the republic, founded in 1807 Bloomfield Academy first prepared young men for the ministry and then became a private school until its closure about 1866.  During the last two decades of its existence, the Academy's principal was James H. Rundell.  After the school was closed, the property was sold to the German Theological School the predecessor of today's Bloomfield College.  The 1866 Bloomfield Academy building is still part of the Bloomfield College campus, known today as Seibert Hall.

At least three other private schools existed in Bloomfield during the antebellum period, but the one of base ball related interest is the Bloomfield Institute operated by the Rev. Ebenezer Seymour from 1847 to 1860.  During its relatively brief existence, the Institute was coed - no explanation of its closing has been found, but it wouldn't be surprising if the beginning of the Civil War was a factor.

Base ball came to Bloomfield at least by 1857 with the formation of the Watsessing Club.  Given the proximity to Newark it's no surprise that base ball got an early start in a neighboring community.  Geography, however, was not the only factor facilitating base ball in Bloomfield.  The presence of the private schools had to help as well.  Some of the schools catered to young men in New York City and Brooklyn who were trying to earn their way into the College of New Jersey (today's Princeton University) and other institutions of higher learning.  Since base ball was familiar to many young men across the Hudson, it's almost certain that some of them brought their love of the new game to Bloomfield. 

                    Newark Daily Mercury - August 10, 1858

In August of 1858, the Newark Daily Mercury took note of a match between the Liberty and Waverly clubs, "two youthful clubs of Bloomfield."  The game which was won by the Liberty was a return match so the two teams must have played an earlier game won by the Waverly Club although no record has yet been found of that game. 

Less than a month later the two clubs met again in what was referred to as the conquering match.  This time, however, the Mercury's game account does not mention the names Waverly and Liberty.  Instead the match is described as being between "Mr. Seymour's and Mr. Rundell's boys."  As with the earlier game, there is fortunately a box score for the match.  Eight of the nine names for the Seymour/Liberty club match while in the case of the Waverly/Rundell team, there are two differences. However, one of the differences is explained by the fact that Rundell's boys only had eight players in the first match.  The high correlation between the two lineups establishes that the teams are the same.  Clearly the boys at the two schools formed teams with distinct names, not unlike Princeton's first team which was known as the Nassau Club.

                   Newark Daily Mercury - September 3, 1858

Thus far I have worked my way through Essex and Hudson County newspapers from 1855 to 1860 and this is not just the earliest, but the only instance I have seen of clubs associated with or sponsored by a school.  Where does this fit in nationwide?  A posting on SABR's 19th century e-mail list generated a lot of schools that had base ball clubs earlier than the two Bloomfield institutions.  But in none of these cases did the school team play against other schools.  The earliest interscholastic contest I've heard of, doesn't come until almost a year later in 1859.  It's much too early to draw definitive conclusions, but it would certainly seem that New Jersey was a pioneer in high school or prep base ball much like it was with African-American clubs.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Sailing We Will Go

                                       Photo by Mark Granieri

Saturday was a long day for the Flemington Neshanock both on and off the field.  We had a doubleheader with the New York Gothams who now play all or almost of their home games on Governor's Island in New York harbor.  For most of the Neshanock that meant a car ride to Staten Island followed by not one, but two ferry rides - first on the Staten Island ferry to lower Manhattan and then a brief ferry trip on the Governor's Island Ferry.  I opted for two subway rides and one ferry boat, but it was still pretty complicated.

                                           Photo by Mark Granieri

Once on the island itself, it wasn't a great day of base ball as the Neshanock dropped both games, by scores of 14-8 and 19-4.  Perhaps not surprisingly there were no clear scores and more than a few players in the "no runs scored" column.  The first game was actually pretty competitive until a moment when unknown to the Neshanock, there was a temporary suspension of the 1864 rules and we apparently went back to a predecessor game where there was no such thing as foul territory.

                                                  Photo by Mark Granieri

Things got out of hand during the second game as the heat and some strong hitting by the Gothams put the game out of reach fairly early.  The day wasn't over, however, as there was first the wait to get on a ferry back to Manhattan (took me two tries) and then a 25 minute ride in a sardine packed subway car.  All in all, it made historically accurate travel in a stage coach or horse and carriage sound pretty attractive. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

1850's All Star Games - New Jersey Style

As John Thorn rightly mentions in a blog post yesterday about the first all star game (ourgame.mlbblogs.com) 19th century base ball aficionados immediately think of the 1858 Fashion Course games - a best of three series between select (all star) teams from Brooklyn and New York.  There is an excellent in depth article about these historic games in the Fall 2005 issue of "NINE" written by Robert Schafer.   My own much more modest essay will appear in "Inventing Baseball," to be published later this year by SABR's 19th century base ball committee - it's a series of essays about the 100 most important games of the 19th century.

The two clubs split the first two matches, but New York scored seven times in the first inning of the deciding contest and went on to a 29-18 victory.  The above picture is of the game ball from the second match (won by Brooklyn) which was ultimately presented to Henry Chadwick in 1906 in honor of his 50th anniversary as a sportswriter.  It was sold at auction for almost $500,000.

Interestingly the New York Daily Tribune (7/21/1858) account of the first game refers to it as a match between a Brooklyn nine and "a chosen side from New York and Hoboken," no doubt a reference to the New Jersey home of New York clubs by someone with an eye for geographic correctness.

Contemporary newspaper accounts refer to large crowds and apparently some of those in attendance were from New Jersey.  On the day of the deciding third game, the Daily Courier and Advertiser (9/10/1858) in Jersey City mentioned local residents who were on their way to the match.

But even earlier, New Jersey base ball players were well aware of the matches and were thinking about replicating them on a local level.  The Newark Daily Advertiser (9/3/1858) reported on a meeting of Newark base ball players called to determine a process to pick an "All Newark Nine." 

The referenced match with an all New Brunswick nine never came off and, if it had, it would have  been little more than an all star team playing the Liberty Club of New Brunswick as there wasn't much else of the way of organized base ball activity in that locality.
The Newarkers were much more fortunate, however, in arranging a similar match with their neighbors in Bloomfield township.  Bloomfield (which then included Montclair and much of Nutley) had three to four clubs in 1858 and the below box score shows players from at least two - the Watsessing and Union Clubs.

Played in Bloomfield, the match was apparently a close one with the Newarkers prevailing by only three runs.  Mention was made of J. L. Conklin's home run - as noted in an earlier post Conklin would make the ultimate sacrifice at the battle of Gaines Mill in 1862.

New Jersey interest in the Fashion Course games doesn't surprise me, nor does the desire of New Jersey ball players to replicate it in New Jersey.  I was somewhat surprised by the mention of a group from Jersey City making the trip to see the deciding game.  I'm not sure how the train connections worked, but at the least it had to be a long journey with a late return home.  Perhaps on some kind of symbolic level it shows how the New York game was taking root not just in New Jersey, but among New Jerseyans.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Importance of Showing Up

Eric Miklich - not always right, but never in doubt!

Saturday, the Flemington Neshanock made their third and final 2012 visit to Long Island, traveling once more to Old Bethpage Village, a restored historical village and the birthplace of vintage base ball.  The opposition was the Brooklyn Eckfords, a second year club under the leadership of Eric Miklich, one of the pioneers and great characters (said with much respect) of the vintage game.  Although a second year club, the Eckford have a combination of veterans from other clubs and new talent so they were not in any sense of the word "muffins."  Amidst the high heat and humidity, the Eckfords took both games by scores of 12-3 and 7-3.

There is no evidence to suggest that the "original" Neshanock and Eckfords ever met on the base ball field, but if they had, not only would the end result have been the same, but the scores wouldn't have been any where near as close.  Little is known of the original Neshanock, but as noted on the club's web site, they were known to lose local matches while giving up over 70 runs a game!  The Eckfords on the other hand are one of the storied clubs of early base ball reigning as national champions in both 1862 and 1863.

The thought of such a possible historic mismatch brings me back to a topic that was mentioned in the post about the Neshanock's visit to Hoboken in June.  New Jersey clubs had a very unique situation because of their close proximity to New York City and Brooklyn, even more so with so many New York clubs actually playing in New Jersey at Elysian Fields.  This proximity had advantages and disadvantage and also raised issues such as whether these early New Jersey clubs should compete with the superior New York and Brooklyn teams. 

My research so far on Hudson and Essex Counties suggests that New Jersey base ball clubs of this period fell into three categories - local/junior, competitive and highly competitive.  Local and/or junior clubs typically played only other local teams perhaps venturing into the adjoining community.  Competitive clubs played teams in New Jersey beyond their adjoining communities and also played some Brooklyn or New York clubs, but not the top clubs.  An example of this second group is our old friends, the Hamilton Base Ball Club of Jersey City.

A highly competitive club on the other hand either played one of the top clubs multiple times or played a number of the top Brooklyn and New York clubs.  The Liberty Club of New Brunswick is an example of the former group - the Liberty played the Brooklyn Atlantics numerous times before the Civil War and even beat them in 1861. Based on my research so far the only other New Jersey team in this category prior to 1861 is the Hoboken Club.

It's been hard to track down information about the Hoboken Club which apparently only existed during the 1859 season.  There was no daily newspaper in Hoboken and thus far I have only found limited issues of the weekly paper.  During their one season, the Hoboken Club did not play any matches with New Jersey clubs, instead taking on some of the best clubs from Brooklyn and New York such as the New York Mutuals, the Star Club of Brooklyn and, of course, the Eckfords.  In eight matches, the Hoboken team won only once against clubs which were 31-15 for the season.  The above box score of an 40-16 August 17th drubbing at the hands of the Eckford is only one example.

It would have been hard to have been less successful, but at some level the Hoboken Club deserves some credit for just showing up.  Many years ago someone gave me a button that said "70% of life is showing up."  By doing just that the Hoboken club demonstrated that there was at least one New Jersey team that was willing to take on the best, no matter the result.  Almost ten years later, the Newark Eureka and Irvington Clubs would follow in the Hobokens footsteps with much better results.  It's impossible to know if either club even knew about the Hoboken's efforts, but in any event, they set an example of not being afraid to compete not matter how long the odds or bad the result.  It was, in other words,very manly behavior.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Art and Base Ball - Perfect Together

                                                  Ship: Valparaiso

I've mentioned before that I've written a number of club histories for the second volume of Base Ball Pioneers which is scheduled to be published sometime next year by McFarland & Company.  The structure of the team history includes a section of biographies about the player's lives both during and after their base ball careers.  It was difficult to write the biographies primarily because of the challenges in identifying the players many of whom are listed in box scores by only their last names. 

One of the team histories is about the Eureka Club of Newark. A number of the Eureka players went on to lead prominent lives and I was surprised and somewhat saddened by how infrequently their obituaries mentioned their part in New Jersey's premier base ball club of the 1860's.  For example. R Heber Breintnall went on to be Adjutant General of the New Jersey State National Guard (highest military position in the state), but his obituary makes no mention of being a New Jersey base ball pioneer.

I thought about this as I was analyzing the spread of base ball in Hudson County from 1855 to 1860 - part of a larger project to study the whole state for the same period.  Part of the process is to create a master list of the different clubs and a roster of the players.  The formation of the Union Club of West Hoboken (today's Union City) was announced in the Daily Courier and Advertiser on June 7, 1859. 

One of the good things about club formation announcements is that, as in the case above, they tend to include first names.  When that happens I typically do Internet searches to see if anything turns up.  In the case of the Hudson Club nothing happened until I got to the last name on the list - James Butterworth who was a director.  According to one web site Butterworth is "considered among the foremost American ship portraitists of the 19th century."  Born in England in 1817, the web site confirmed that he moved to the United States in 1845 and lived in West Hoboken. 

Butterworth was 42 in 1859 so he was probably serving in a non-playing capacity which was not untypical.  Only one box score of a Hudson Club game has been found and Butterworth's not listed.  He may also have been too busy with his painting.  The above picture of the Valparaiso is dated circa 1855 which would suggest he was very active in his "day" job at this time.  His paintings of clipper ships were so highly regarded that Nathaniel Currier and James Merrit Ives (yes, that Currier and Ives) used his paintings for many of their lithographs.

While Butterworth's role in early New Jersey base ball was minimal, it would have been interesting to see if it made his obituary.  I haven't been able to check that though because in this case I can't even find the obituary!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Plethora of Clear Scores

Just before Saturday's first game, a member of the Diamond State Club of Delaware asked a few of us where the Neshanock's home  field is.  The short answer is that we don't have one - instead of hoping crowds will follow the Neshanock, the Neshanock follow the crowds.  It's a good strategy, the one time in my 2 1/2 years we played in Flemington, not only weren't there any spectators, hardly any family members showed up!  So this past Saturday's games with the Diamond State Club were played in Princeton, an annual event for the Princeton Historical Society.

The Diamond State Club is relatively new, this being their third season, but they have quickly moved up the ranks and are formidable opponents as the Neshanock learned a year ago.  Saturday, however was the Neshanock's day as the "local" club won both games 7-6 and 19-12, the latter in one extra inning.  In the first match Flemington took an early 4-1 lead and held on for the win.  Both "Jersey" Jim Nunn and Jack "Doc" Kitson earned clear scores in the match and it was established that at least for this year, a batter must make at least two plate appearances to qualify for a clear score (Neshanock rule - no historical basis).

The first match was played by 1864 rules and after a quick break the second match got underway this time using 1873 regulations.
Although the Neshanock again took an early lead, the Delaware Club battled back and took a 10-7 lead into the top of the seventh (two seven inning games because of the heat).  A three run Neshanock rally tied the contest, but things looked bleak in the bottom of the inning when Diamond State loaded the bases with only one out.  But a 9-16-4 (5-2-3 under modern scoring) double play erased the threat and sent the game into extra innings where the Neshanock broke the game open with nine runs.  

                                                 Photo by Mark Granieri

Clear scores abounded with Bob "Melky" Ritter and Ken "Tumbles" Mandel earning their first clear scores of the season and Dan "Sledge" Hammer and Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner each recording their second.   "Thumbs" arrived late and in a Frank Merriwell like appearance made major contributions on both offense and defense.  In his own unique style "Tumbles" made his clear score by reaching base all three times on muffs by the other team - in addition to providing comic relief, it showed one of the fallacies in the concept.

Like Hoboken, Princeton has its own place in early New Jersey base ball history since the Nassau Club of Princeton was most likely New Jersey's first college team.  One of the prime movers in founding the club was a young man named Lewis W. Mudge.  I first encountered Mudge when researching the opening of Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.  Just prior to the April 1913 debut of that historic park, Mudge wrote to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle to describe how he and two other young Brooklynites enrolled in the Class of 1862 at the College of New Jersey (today's Princeton University) and brought with them their bats, balls and above all their enthusiasm for base ball.  They founded the Nassau Club and Mudge came to be known as the Father of Base Ball at Princeton. 

                                 Photo by Mark Granieri

Mudge also figured in another part of the development of base ball in New Jersey.  Prior to his arrival at Princeton, Mudge spent some time at a prep school in Bloomfield, New Jersey which was then the much larger Bloomfield Township.  During that period he played in at least one game for the Union Club of Bloomfield.  There was a fair amount of base ball activity in Bloomfield before the Civil War and it appears that at least some of it was due to the existence of a number of schools like the prep school Mudge attended.

After graduating from Princeton in 1862, Mudge and a number of his teammates went on to Princeton Seminary to prepare for the Presbyterian ministry.  While in Seminary, he continued to play for the Nassau Club (eligibility rules were obviously more flexible in those days).  Mudge later spent 20 years as the Pastor of the 2nd Presbyterian Church of Princeton, but resigned in 1895 in order to facilitate the merger of two Presbyterian churches.  It was after all the "manly" thing to do