Newark Daily Advertiser - July 27, 1857 - suggesting a connection between the Friendship Club and the Empire Base Ball Club
The fourth club was called the Newark Jr. Club and appears to represent another base ball first for Newark (the St. John's African-American Club being the other). I had thought it interesting that Newark had three types of base ball clubs (senior, junior and African-American) as early as 1855, but I didn't realize the junior version might be unique until I saw it was the only club on Richard Hershberger's list of 1855 teams playing the New York game identified as a junior club. Thinking about it, it seems that unlike the three other Newark white clubs, the Newark Junior Club didn't have an example or model to follow. The Newark, Friendship and Olympic Clubs could, at least theoretically, have learned about organizing a team from the New York clubs. I don't want to make too much of this as many of the details of forming a "senior" club also applied to junior clubs, but for anything unique to a younger population, the Newark Junior Club apparently had to be pathfinders.
Like their brethren across the river, the initial Newark clubs focused on practice (inter-squad games) rather than match play. After the two Newark and Olympic Club matches in June and July, the next match didn't take place until September 5th when the Juniors made their first match appearance, losing to the Newark Club, 27-19. From that box score and that of the club's other 1855 match (a 24-21 loss to the Empire Club), 12 members of the Newark Juniors have been identified. Their ages range from two youngsters of 14 to an elder statesman of 21 with an average age of 16.
Newark Daily Advertiser - September 6, 1855 (It was not the first match of the season)
I would have liked to have compared this group with the rest of the Newark base ball class of 1855, but unfortunately the Empire and Olympic box scores are full of common names, making it possible to identify only one or two on each club. More of the 1855 Newark Club line up can be identified with ages ranging from 20 to 27 with an average age of 24. I half expected to find some overlap between the two clubs, indicating younger brothers copying their older siblings, but if there were family relationships, they aren't obvious. My best guess is a group of teenagers witnessed the Newark Club organizing to play base ball and decided to copy them, the same way they were copying the New York teams. Most likely they added "Junior" to distinguish themselves from the "other" Newark Club.
Porter's Spirit of the Times - July 4, 1857
After the 1855 spurt of base ball activity in Newark, things slowed down the next year. After only one season, the Olympic Club went out of existence and no further record has been found of the St. John's Club. Once again the Newark Junior Club didn't begin match play until September of 1856 with a contest against the Empire Club which wasn't finished "due to some dissatisfaction." The young Newarkers then found some peer competition, playing three matches against the Columbia Junior Club of Brooklyn. With two seasons under their belt, the Newark Juniors apparently decided it was time to grow up and step up. On March 30, 1857, they re-organized as the Adriatic Club with 22 members. A review of the ages of the new members indicates most being 21 so they were clearly no longer a junior club. The move from junior to senior status suggests a renewed sense of purpose and foreshadows the path followed by some of New Jersey's premier teams of the 1860's. In the next post we'll take a look at the next phase of the history of this group of New Jersey base ball pioneers.