Sunday, June 9, 2013

Rain Outs and Omnibuses

While there may be many base ball firsts that are hard to date with a high degree of certainty, rained out matches isn't one of them - obviously rain outs began when base ball began.  Interestingly our knowledge of what appears to be the first match between African-American clubs on October 23, 1855 may be documented only because it was rained out after two innings and a friendly party at the quasi-abolitionist Newark Daily Mercury decided to let interested parties know when the match was going to be made up.  No record of the make up match taking place as been found.

Newark Daily Mercury - October 24, 1855

In the course of  a vintage base ball season running from the beginning of April to the end of October, it stands to reason there are going to be some rain outs.  Last year was unusual for the Neshanock as there was only one rain out all season.  Ironically it was the championship game of the National Silver Ball tournament in Rochester after Flemington had already played two games earlier in the day.  Now just a little over two months into the 2013 season, there have been two washouts, the second coming yesterday with the cancellation of a match with the Elkton Eclipse scheduled for Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Trow's New York City Directory for the Year Ending May 1, 1857

In an earlier post (, I wrote about the first New Jersey club to play a match outside of the state, when the aptly named Pioneer Club of Jersey City journeyed to the Williamsburgh section of Brooklyn to take on the Columbia Club.  At the time I speculated that the Jersey City men took the ferry to New York City and then took some type of horse drawn transportation to the Columbia Club's home grounds.  Friday, I was interested to find a very specific possibility for their means of crossing lower Manhattan island.

At the request of Larry McCray of SABR's 19th century base ball committee, George Thompson looked into the ferry service between Brooklyn and Jersey City and found some information in an 1854-55 New York City directory.  Reading the information led me to take a look at other NYC directories available at (I'm just starting to realize the extent of the resources available through this subscription service) and found an 1856-57 New York directory.  In addition to seeing the ferry schedules, I also noticed the listing of omnibus lines and found that a line operated by Charles Curtiss & Company operated 40 stages providing a direct link between the Jersey City and Williamsburgh ferries.  It seems only reasonable to believe that both clubs availed themselves of this service to play their home and home matches and that knowledge of its existence facilitated their willingness to play each other.

19th Century Omnibuses

I also noticed there were three ferry lines from New York City to Hoboken, but only one to Jersey City.  That's interesting to me because of what it might say about antebellum commuting routes between New Jersey (especially Newark) and Manhattan.  I'll speculate about that next week after the Neshanock pay their annual visit to Hoboken (wind and weather permitting) for a match with the Hoboken Nine in honor of the June 19, 1846, Knickerbocker-New York Club match.

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