Monday, October 16, 2017

Not Quite There

On Sunday, October 15, the Neshanock closed out the 2017 base ball campaign with a visit to Fort DuPont State Park in Delaware for matches with the host Diamond State Club of Delaware and the Mohican Base Ball Club of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.  First up was a match with the Diamond State Club which saw Flemington get off to a 3-1 lead in the first inning, but the Delaware team quickly matched that and led 6-3 after three innings.  Both teams added three runs so that after five innings Diamond State led 9-6 in what was still a close contest.  However, in the top of the sixth, Diamond State's strikers came through with some clutch two out hits driving in three runs for what proved to be an insurmountable 12-6 lead.  The final score was 15-9 with Flemington's offense led by Dan "Lefty" Gallagher with three hits and the Neshanock's father and son act, Chris "Sideshow" Nunn and his father, "Jersey" Jim Nunn chipping in two apiece.  Rene "Mango" Marrero also contributed two hits for Flemington including a double with the bases loaded.

After a brief respite, the second contest against the Kennett Square squad got underway.  Once again, the Neshanock had a productive first inning, tallying twice, but that was the extent of Flemington's offense for the seven inning match.  This was the first time, I've seen the Mohican Club and they combined well placed, strategic hitting with sound defense and pitching.  Not only were the Neshanock limited to two runs, but Flemington's bats only produced five hits, two coming from "Lefty."  With the two losses, the Neshanock record fell to 29-13 for the season, coming up just short of an unprecedented 30 wins.  Still the 2017 team set a new club record for wins, four more than the 2016 squad with a .690 winning percentage compared to .658 a year ago.  All told a very successful year highlighted by wins over the Atlantic Club of Brooklyn, the Talboy Fairplays and the Walker Tavern Wheels plus the retention once again of the New York - New Jersey cup.

Expressions of thanks have to begin with a tip of the hat to club founder and president, Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw for everything he does to put together a schedule approaching 50 games and making all the necessary arrangements.  A major reason for the improved records of the past two years has been an influx of new blood, especially younger talent.   The Neshanock roster now ranges from high school students to those around the scriptural three score ten.  Thanks to everyone who played regardless of whether it was one match or 42. Although he's not on the roster, thanks are also due to Sam Bernstein who umpires many of the Neshanock's matches, it's a pleasure to work with Sam.  As always, it's essential to thank the spouses, partners and significant others who support the team in so many ways.  In addition the off the field supporters has been expanded to include parents who drive their teenage sons all over the East Coast as well as some of the players' young children who bring a new and enjoyable presence to the season.  Thanks to all.

With the end of the 2017 season, A Manly Pastime reverts to its off season schedule with a goal of posting something every two weeks.  I say goal because as with last year, there may be a need for some type of sabbatical between now and next season.  When I took a sabbatical last year to finish my biography of Charles Ebbets, scheduled to be published in early 2018, I thought there would be no need for further breaks from blogging.  However, even before I finished the Ebbets biography, I fell into the opportunity to write a book about early New Jersey base ball which will be the companion to the exhibit scheduled to open in June of 2018 at the Morven Museum in Princeton.  I'm not sure if a sabbatical will be necessary this time especially since I'd like to use the blog to preview some parts of the book and the exhibit so we'll see.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Almost There, but a Long Way to Go

On Sunday, the first day of October, nine Neshanock players, one slightly disabled club president, a rapidly aging score keeper and the always supportive group of spouses, parents, significant others and children traveled to Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park as the club continues its pursuit of an unprecedented 30 win season.  The opposition was provided by a Picked Nine, consisting primarily of Gothams with a Hoboken, a Resolute and assorted muffins mixed in for good measure.  Last week in Monroe Township, the second was the big inning for the Neshanock, but this time it was the third when Flemington tallied ten times for the most part with two out.  The Neshanock lead expanded to 16-3 at one point, but the Picked Nine scored five in the sixth and four in the seventh in a seven inning game as Flemington held on for a 17-12 win.  Three innings of the second game was played before the depleted ranks of the Picked Nine made it impossible to continue, the Nine were ahead at the time, but three innings did not qualify for an official game.

In the first game, the Flemington offense was led by Dan "Lefty" Gallagher, Dave "Illinois" Harris and Jeff "Duke" Schneider with four hits apiece.  "Illinois" and "Duke" would have earned clear scores but for being put out on the bases.  Danny "Lunch Time" Shaw and Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner added three hits each and everyone in the Neshanock line up had at least one hit.  The defensive play of the game came in the top of the first when a runner from the Picked Nine tried to score on what would have been a sacrifice fly only to be cut down by a remarkable throw from "Lefty" which even more remarkably, Ken "Tumbles" Mandel snagged on the fly.  The victory left Flemington's record at 29-11 for the season, but more importantly still one victory shy of the coveted 30 win mark.  The Neshanock's final chance at reaching the big 30, will take place on Sunday, October 15th at Fort Dupont Delaware when Flemington will play two of the following fine clubs - the Diamond State of Delaware, Lewes, Delaware and Kennett Square.  No matter the opposition, it will be a big challenge. Stay tuned or better still join the Neshanock as we bring down the curtain on the 2017 season.

As part of working on the book about early New Jersey base ball which will accompany the 2018 exhibit at the Morven Museum in Princeton, I've been going through multiple years of articles in the sporting papers of the day.  Recently I found the below article in the September 30, 1876 issue of the New York Clipper describing an unusual game where the New Haven nine played two other nines, the Star and Gerard Clubs simultaneously.  In other words, the combined team batted 18 players and also had the same number in the field.  A quick search didn't provide any further information about this game, but batting more than nine is similar to vintage base ball where in respect for those who give their time everyone gets to hit.  It doesn't usually reach 18, but I can remember at least one occasion when the Neshanock had a line up of that number which needless to say didn't work very well as the best hitters get less chances at the striker's line.  That may explain the Star and Gerard Club's limited offensive output of three tallies, but it's hard to understand how New Haven managed to get nine runs even with restricted roles for the multiple fielders.  Maybe the fielders got in each others way!

New York Clipper - September 30, 1876

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The New York game comes to south Jersey (with some help from Philadelphia)

Having suffered three straight losses, the Neshanock were more than ready to get back on the winning side of the ledger when they visited the Dey Farm in Monroe Township for the annual matches with the Athletic Club of Philadelphia.  While there didn't appear to be any gamblers present, anyone who took the Neshanock in the second inning would have well rewarded as Flemington tallied nine times in the second inning of the first contest and then topped that by scoring 11 times in their second at bat in the second game.  Both big innings got Flemington started on what turned out be easy victories.  Leading the Neshanock attack in the first game was Dan "Sledge" Hammer who had four hits and a clear score.  Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner also had four base hits with Dan "Lefty" Gallagher, Dave "Illinois" Harris and "Jersey" Jim Nunn adding three apiece.  In the second contest, "Sledge" added another clear score while Chris "Sideshow" Nunn, "Lefty," "Illinois," Jeff "Duke" Schneider and Meshack "Shack" Desane added four each followed by Ken "Tumbles" Mandel and Scott "Snuffy" Hengst with three apiece.  As usual Bobby "Melky" Ritter delivered a strong pitching performance aided by a solid defense behind him.  With the two wins, the Neshanock are now 28-11 for the season, heading into two games next Sunday against the Gotham Club of New York at Garret Mountain in Woodland Park.

"Illinois" at the striker's line

Back in August when Flemington played the Providence and Boston clubs at Old Bethpage, I described it as playing 19th century base ball royalty.  The same could be said of the Athletic Club of Philadelphia which was one of the power house teams in the years immediately after the Civil War and it turns out the Philadelphia team also contributed to the spread of the New York game into south Jersey.  Other than the Camden Club, which played Philadelphia town ball through 1863, I haven't found any New Jersey newspaper accounts of base ball clubs south of Trenton until after the Civil War.  There is, however, evidence that one south Jersey community had a club during the war years.  Early in the 1864 season, as part of the Great Central Fair in Philadelphia, a picked nine from New Jersey played, and defeated, a similar squad from the City of Brotherly Love.  Included in the New Jersey lineup was Baird, representing the Bridgeton Club, the county seat of Cumberland County in extreme southern New Jersey.  I need to look again, but I'm fairly sure that the Bridgeton papers from 1863 make no mention of such a team.  It wasn't until I was looking for something else in the Philadelphia City Item (courtesy of Richard Hershberger) that I found an account of the founding of the Bridgeton club.  Falling down a metaphorical rabbit hole is a fairly common occurrence for 19th century base ball researchers.

According to the September 23, 1863 issue of the Item, Franklin Westcott, and others were in the process of organizing a base ball club in Bridgeton.  Westcott, it turns out was a prominent local lawyer, very active in Republican politics and an outspoken supporter of the Lincoln administration.  He graduated from Princeton in 1858, a time when according to Frank Presbrey's 1901 history of athletics at what was then called the College of New Jersey, "base ball clubs of all descriptions were organized on the back campus" which may have been Westcott's introduction to the game.  Just about six weeks after the September article, the November 4, 1863 issue of the Item reported on a visit paid to Bridgeton by the Athletics Club.  Founded as a town ball club in 1859, the Athletics had converted to the New York game and 1863 marked the beginning of the club's climb to a prominent role in base ball circles.  The Athletics' visit to Bridgeton was their second trip that year to take on a less experienced club, in September they journeyed all the way to Altoona where they pounded the Mountain Club 73 to 22.   Trips of this nature would become the norm for the Philadelphians in the 1860's where they would visit and overwhelm local clubs who apparently enjoyed the experience.

Frank Westcott's grave, he died in 1875, only 36 years old

While I'm not completely familiar with the nature of these other visits, the trip to Bridgeton on Tuesday, November 2nd seems to have taken a somewhat unique format.  After arriving in the south Jersey village, the two clubs played two games, first a game between the two teams and then a second contest where the two clubs divided into teams with five players from the Athletics on one squad with the remaining four joining five members of the Bridgeton Club on the other team.  It's safe to say the Athletics won the first contest, although no score or box score is provided which was also the case for the second contest.  After enjoying the local hospitality for the night, the two teams played another game the next morning, again without any score being reported in the paper.  The Athletics then enjoyed one more meal with their hosts before returning to Philadelphia.  While little or no details were provided about the matches, far more information was provided about the off the field activities.

President of the Athletics and Publisher of the City Item

When the first two games were over both clubs adjourned to the Bridgeton Hotel for dinner featuring a speech by the honorable John T. Nixon, like Westcott a prominent local lawyer and a leader of the Republican Party.  Once that speech was complete, the players went to the Union meeting hall at the town hall where Thomas Fitzgerald, president of the Athletics and publisher of the Item "spoke upon the issues of the day" for 90 minutes to a crowd of 500-600 people.  Not surprisingly his paper reported that "Mr. Fitzgeral's justification of the leading measures of the administration was most heartily endorsed by the intelligent and loyal citizens of Bridgeton."  Fitzgerald, needless to say, was also a Republican noted for his progressive views on racial issues.  It feels at some level, like the visit was as much about politics as base ball.  Perhaps the idea was to help the local Republicans solidify their position as the country headed into a presidential election year where the outlook was not at all favorable to the Republicans.  It couldn't have hurt as the Lincoln carried Cumberland County 2669 - 2032, a result the Camden Democrat claimed was due to the "corrupting influence of Philadelphia." Be that as it may and regardless of whether the game was a side benefit to political machinations, base ball had arrived in south Jersey to stay.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Satisfaction to All

Unfortunately I was again unable to make this week's Neshanock game, a visit to South Orange, New Jersey to take on the local town team.  Multiple sources confirm that Flemington held the lead going to the top of the ninth, but the host club rallied for three runs and a two run lead headed to the bottom of the inning.  As they have all season, the Neshanock rallied, scoring once and putting the tying run on third, but this time it was not to be and the South Orange club held on for a 13-12 win.  A lone source informs me the Flemington attack was led by Bobby "Melky" Ritter, Dan "Lefty" Gallagher and David "Illinois" Harris with three hits apiece.  According to the same source, "Illinois" parleyed his three hits into a clear score and also stole six bases, three times when his wily base running skills forced the opposing pitcher into a balk or at least that's what I'm told.  But who could possibly question the veracity of a gentlemanly 19th century base ball player, even a 21st century re-creator. 

Photo courtesy of Karen Marlowe's Facebook Page

Just one example of base ball's gentlemanly is past is how detailed newspaper accounts of matches invariably ended with the phrase "the umpire's decisions gave satisfaction to all" or words to that effect.  It was apparently a standard formula to emphasize base ball's gentlemanly nature even in the heat of competition.  While that was probably to some extent wishful thinking even then, by the beginning of the post Civil War era, winning became the priority with little being done to disguise that reality.  The below exchange in a Jersey City newspaper in 1866, between what were most likely junior clubs, illustrates the changing nature of the game and the extent to which those disputes became public.

American Standard (Jersey City) - July 14, 1860

American Standard - July 16, 1866

This was clearly not unique to the Orion and Aetna clubs since a similar dispute between the Una and National clubs later in the season, led the paper to wisely opt out of another dispute.

American Standard - September 26, 1866

By the end of the 1860's, not only was the "satisfaction to all" attitude gone forever, it had been replaced by actual public criticism of the umpires, one of whom was unwilling to take such criticism without a response.

Daily Times (Jersey City) - July 30, 1869

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Faces in the Base Ball Crowd

Returning to the base ball wars after taking the Labor Day weekend off, the Neshanock saw their winning ways come to an end, losing both games to another fine vintage club, the Eckford, by scores of 17-10 and 11-9.   With the twin losses, the Neshanock's overall record falls to 26-10.  Unfortunately I wasn't at the games so  I have no more information beyond the scores.  With five scheduled games remaining Flemington still has a shot at 30 wins, but there's little margin for error.

In lieu of any additional game information, I've posted below some New York Clipper drawings of some important 19th century New Jersey base ball players. They and some of their peers will be part of the early New Jersey base ball exhibit opening at the Morven Museum in Princeton in June of 2018.

New York Clipper - July 26, 1879

Andy Jackson Leonard was part of the Irvington Club's historic upset of the Brooklyn Atlantics in June of 1866.  Heading west a few years later, he played on the famous Cincinnati Red Stocking Club in 1869 and enjoyed a distinguished major league career.  Coincidentally, the Grave Marker project of SABR's 19th century committee, led by Ralph Carhart dedicated a new monument to Leonard at his grave in Massachusetts on Saturday.

New York Clipper - May 29, 1880

Although the above article incorrectly lists Paterson as Mike "King" Kelly's birthplace, the future Hall of Famer did begin in his base ball career in what was some times known as the "Cataract City."  Called professional base ball's first matinee idol, Kelly had a life time .300 average over 16 major league seasons before dying young at the age of 37.  

New York Clipper - June 7, 1879

New to me is this south Jersey product who played in the major leagues for 13 seasons, hitting .299 with Buffalo, Detroit and Boston among others.

New York Clipper - September 27, 1879

Less prominent than the above threesome, John Farrow played for Brooklyn's first major league team in 1884 after being part of two National Association clubs, including the the ill-fated 1873 Elizabeth Resolutes.  

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Short Handed but Not Short Changed

About the only thing consistent in vintage base ball player attendance, is it's inconsistency, a problem that also sometimes plagued 19th century clubs.  Last Saturday for example, it looked like the Neshanock would have enough players for two teams, allowing perhaps for a two platoon system.  This Saturday, however, on a gorgeous day at an attractive venue (Rahway River Park), Flemington could muster only six players to take on the Elizabeth Resolutes, New Jersey's senior vintage club in years of service and the Neshanock's long time rival.  Fortunately, as was probably the case in the 19th century, other players were on hand, including Steve Dienes and Mike Ohlson, who gracefully stepped into the Flemington lineup and made major contributions in the field and at the striker's line.

Having unaccountably lost the bat toss, the Neshanock hit first and were retired without a tally which was followed by the Resolutes scoring twice for an early 2-0 lead.  Flemington then did to the Resolutes what other teams typically do to the Neshanock (or what the Neshanock usually does to itself) scoring four times after there were two outs and nobody on.  Elizabeth quickly returned the favor, however, tallying three times after there were again two out and none on.  Flemington tied the game in the top of the third and matters were even at 3-3 when the Neshanock batted in the fourth.  Keyed by Dan "Lefty" Gallagher's first vintage home run, a three run shot, Flemington scored seven times for a 12-5 lead.  Although the Neshanock added one more in the fifth, Elizabeth countered with two in their half to pull within seven at 13-6.  Neither team scored in the seventh, but Flemington added four in the top of the eighth for a commanding 17-7 lead with a final count of 17-10.

The Flemington offense was led by Joe "Mick" Murray with four hits, a total also matched by Steve who regularly plays for the Monmouth Furnace Club.  Mike, the Neshanock's other guest player contributed three hits, followed by Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw, Danny "Lunch Time" Shaw, Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner and Bobby "Melky" Ritter with two apiece.  "Brooklyn" and "Melky" shared the pitching duties, rotating to first base and based on their performance at that position, the regular Neshanock first base men would be well advised to remember Wally Pipp.  With the win, Flemington is now 26-8 on the season, setting a record for most wins in a season.  After taking Labor Day weekend off, the Neshanock have seven matches left on the schedule and the opportunity to reach the 30 win mark for the first time in the club's history.  Stay tuned.

Playing the Resolutes was appropriate since my work on my book on early New Jersey base ball is now focused on the post Civil War period, specifically 1865-1880.  Based on prior research, I thought there were two major themes for the period, the spread of the game throughout the rest of the state and the efforts of New Jersey clubs to play at the game's highest levels.  In the second half of the 1860's, two New Jersey teams, the Eureka Club of Newark and the Irvington Club competed against the country's best, but fell short, sometimes heartrendingly short.  The last club to take up the state's banner was the Elizabeth Resolutes, but they were also unsuccessful, marking the last time in the 19th century a New Jersey club tried for national prominence.  In reading through the New York Clipper and the New York Sunday Mercury, I've realized there was another trend that I missed.  As national prominence became less viable, success at the state level became more important, sparking the beginning of local rivalries within New Jersey.  I need to look at the state championship competition more closely, but the Resolutes were state champions in 1870 and, I believe, runners up to the Champion Club of Jersey City in 1871.  Again, stay tuned.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Playing Uphill

Photo by Mark Granieri

On October 21, 1805, moments before the British navy attacked the combined French and Spanish fleets off Cape Trafalgar in what would become one of the most decisive victories in naval history, British Commander, Horatio Lord Nelson tried to inspire his men with these deathless words  - "England expects every man to do his duty."  For the Flemington Neshanock, on their way Saturday to Harleysville, Pennsylvania for two games with the Brandywine Club, the modern equivalent was an email from vacationing club president, Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw advising the club to "BE SPLENDIFEROUS."  It's doubtful those words will live in history, but every bit of encouragement helped in what proved to be two close tense matches with the Pennsylvania club.  The games were played as part of the annual Heckerfest which wasn't, as some might think, the Neshanock's weekly verbal treatment of Ken "Tumbles" Mandel, but rather demonstrations of colonial crafts connected to the nearby Heckler Farmstead.

Photo by Mark Granieri

Striking second, Flemington recorded single tallies in the first and third inning plus two in the fifth for a 4-1 lead, but Brandywine matched that with three in the sixth and the game was tied 4-4 after seven.  After the Pennsylvanias took a 5-4 lead in the top of the 8th, the Neshanock knotted the game one final time in the bottom of the inning.  In the top of the 9th, however, Brandywine tallied twice so that Flemington trailed by two headed into their last at bat.  After "Jersey" Jim Nunn reached on an error, Joe "Mick" Murray contributed a clutch single getting the tying runs on base, but two Neshanock were retired without either run crossing the plate.  Flemington's last chance belonged to Terry Crumlish, a muffin in his first vintage match and the newcomer didn't disappoint with a ringing double to tie the game, bringing Joe "Irish" Colduvell to the striker's line with chance to win the game.  The Neshanock veteran also didn't disappoint delivering a clutch single to give Flemington an unlikely 8-7 win.  In addition to his clutch double, the "Muffin" had one other hit, joining Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner and Rene "Mango" Marrero with two hits apiece, "Mango" earning a clear score in the process.  Flemington's defense was helped by a trap ball play pulled by "Tumbles" himself plus the usual stout pitching of Bobby "Melky" Ritter and "Mango."

Photo by Mark Granieri

Unlike most Flemington games, the first match started almost on time, punctuality that continued with a closely monitored break between games before the Neshanock batted to start the second contest.  Although still not generating a lot of offense, Flemington did lead 5-0 going to the bottom of the fourth, but Brandywine quickly countered with three of their own and another close contest developed.  Flemington failed to score in the last three innings, usually a recipe for defeat, but tight Neshanock defense kept Brandywine at bay, leading to another hard fought victory, this time by a 7-5 count, a game that took just 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Flemington's limited offense was led by Dave "Illinois" Harris and Dan "Sledge" Hammer, both of whom had two hits while earning clear scores.  "Sledge" also had a strong day at catcher, throwing out four would be base stealers in the two games.  Also of note was fine throw by Chris "Sideshow" Nunn to nail a Brandywine runner trying to score on a sacrifice fly.  With the two wins, the Neshanock's record is 25-8, tying the team's previous mark for victories, set a year ago.

The Neshanock congratulate Irish (center with mustache) after his game winning hit.
Photo by Mark Granieri

Since vintage base ball games are frequently played as part of events and/or at historic locations, the playing field is frequently something less than a well manicured, level greensward.  Such was the case Saturday where the games were basically played uphill, something the two clubs adapted to remarkably well.  Such conditions do however, have a certain amount of historical accuracy.  As noted previously, I'm working on a book on early New Jersey base ball that will be the companion volume to Morven Museum's 2018 exhibit on the same subject.  Currently, I've been revisiting the Irvington Club, a team, I've written about before, particularly how it seemingly came out of nowhere to upset the Brooklyn Atlantics in early 1866.  Apparently the Irvington Club's home field was so bad New Jersey's other prominent club, the Eureka refused to play at Irvington that same year.  By the 1867 season, the Irvington had a new field, but it was still far from ideal or even level since, according to the New York Sunday Mercury, runners "are liable to overrun first and second bases," a situation somewhat offset by having "up hill work in reaching third."  Even getting to the field was a challenge, forcing fans, reporters and others to walk "four miles to see a match, with the option of being sweated to suffocation in an over crowed car."  A home field advantage is one thing, but that's ridiculous.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Commuting to Connecticut

Almost 150 years ago, the Olympic Club of Paterson began their four game Connecticut road trip by taking a train from Paterson to Jersey City, a ferry to Manhattan, followed by a steam boat to Bridgeport.  Having finally gotten to the Nutmeg state, the young Patersonians boarded a train, a member of the party with the pen name, Olympus, called "the rudest cars and ruggedest railroad to be found anywhere."  Although the Neshanock also came to Connecticut for four matches, 150 years of advances in transportation allowed the trip to be made over two days rather than four.  Indeed given the relative proximity to northern New Jersey, the Zinns were actually able to commute both days.  Unlike the Olympics who began play in Waterbury, the Neshanock went no further west than the quaint village of Wethersfield for two matches at Cove Park with the Red Onion Club so named because the village was once a major exporter of the red onions.

After having, as per usual, won the bat toss, Flemington elected to strike second and retired the Red Onion strikers without incident in the top of the first.  In the bottom of the inning Renee "Mango" Marrero put the Neshanock on the tally board with a two run home run, but the lead was short lived when the local team tied the match in the top of the second.  The Neshanock were able to chip away and score five more times to lead 7-2 after five, but the pitching of Jeff "Pine Tar" Kornhaas and the stout Red Onion defense kept the game close and some timely hitting by their strikers in their half of the sixth made it a one run game at 7-6.  Flemington failed to respond in the bottom of the inning and the Red Onion added a tally to tie the game which is where matters stood when the Neshanock approached the striker's line in the bottom of the eighth.  Fortunately some clutch Flemington hitting put four tallies on the board and the Neshanock closed the game out for a hard fought 11-7 win.  Leading the Neshanock attack with three hits apiece were Jeff "Duke" Schneider, Dan "Lefty" Gallagher and Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner with "Thumbs" recording a clear score.

The first match may have seemed hard fought, but it was nothing compared to the second encounter which began with the Neshanock crossing the plate twice for an early 2-0 lead.  However, that was the last time any one from Flemington approached the plate from third base for six long innings.  Not only did the Red Onion, again led by "Pine Tar's" pitching and solid defense, keep the Neshanock off the board, only three Flemington players reached base.  Fortunately, Flemington's defense held the Red Onion relatively in check, but the Connecticut team still led 4-2 heading to the eighth inning.  Flemington got one back and the Neshanock held off the Red Onion in the bottom of the eighth setting the stage for one last Flemington chance.  With one out, Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw executed a fair-foul play getting his runner, Ken "Tumbles" Mandel to first and while the next batter was put out, "Tumbles" advanced to third.  Down to the last chance, "Duke" a hit well placed ball between the pitcher and third base.  Unfortunately "Duke" fell down right after leaving the striker's line, but he recovered and aided by a rare Red Onion miscue reached first, allowing the tying run to score.  Flemington held the Red Onion at bay in the bottom of the ninth before recording three tallies high lighted by a clutch two out hit by "Jersey" Jim Nunn.  It was far from easy, but the Neshanock held on for an even harder fought 7-6 10 inning victory.

According to "Olympus'" account of the Olympic Club's 1867 visit to Connecticut, the local teams hosted the Paterson boys for entertainment and relaxation at their club rooms.  The modern equivalent took place on Saturday night at a local restaurant, reportedly enjoyed by all.  Other members of the Neshanock party attended a minor league game in Hartford where they were confused by large leather objects the players on the field wore on their hands.  Sunday morning saw the Neshanock at Fort Trumbell State Park in New London for two seven inning matches against the Thames Base Ball Club.  In the first match, Flemington got on the scoreboard early and often, leading 12-0 after three innings on the way to a 17-0 victory.  A high point of the game was the defensive play of the trip.  The Thames club had a runner on second and one out when the third striker hit a hard line drive in the left center field gap.  Rushing over, "Lefty" got a hand on it, hitting it in the general direction of "Duke" who retired the striker on the bounce and then threw the ball to "Thumbs" whose throw to "Mango" nailed the Connecticut runner at the plate.  "Thumbs" and "Lefty" each contributed four hits to the Neshanock attack while "Duke," "Mango," Dave "Illinois" Harris and "Tumbles" added three apiece.  Also noteworthy was the striking of Adam "The Vic" Schneider who reached base twice including a single.

Amidst all of the Neshanock's offensive fireworks, we can't lose sight, or so he told me, of the fact that "Tumbles" three hits plus reaching once on a muff was a clear score.  Not only was it a clear score, but since he didn't score a tally on any of the four occasions, he's one of the few players, vintage and otherwise to have a clear and blank score in the same game.  Not resting on his first game heroics with the bat, "Tumbles" took to the pitcher's box for the second game which was close until the Neshanock broke it open in the last few innings for a 14-4 win.  "Lefty" and "Thumbs" both had four hits with "Thumbs" earning another clear score.   Even while pitching "Tumbles" didn't neglect the offensive side, getting two hits and also struck out two of the opposition's batters.  The Olympic's also played their last game in New London, after which they waited until 10:00 p.m. to take the steamboat "City of Boston" to New York an eight hour journey before finally arriving back in Paterson at 8:00 the next morning.  Not sure about the rest of the Neshanock's trip home, but my own was uneventful and not terribly long after an enjoyable weekend of games against worthy opposition.  With the weekend's results, Flemington is now 23-8 on the season only two short of last year's win total.  Next up are two matches with the Brandywine Club of Pennsylvania as part of the Hecklerfest in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, the Neshanock's final 2017 matches outside of New Jersey.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A Connecticut Road Trip - 1867 Style

Paterson Daily Press - September 2, 1867

Apparently the "honorary members" did the necessary defraying and the Olympic Club made its planned trip to the Nutmeg state.  On their return, "Olympus" took the time to submit a written account to the paper which is reprinted in full as follows:

"To the Editor of the Press:  Starting on our tour last Tuesday morning, the 17th, we arrived in New York and there took the boat for Bridgeport.  It was a splendid sail, the sun beaming upon the calm unruffled waters as on polished glass, and the breeze which blew calmly through the day, cooling the sun and air, enhanced our pleasure. We arrived in Bridgeport at half four and from there took the cars, for Waterbury, arriving there at half past seven after a ride on the rudest cars and the ruggedest railroad to be found any where.  The Waterbury club had carriages waiting to receive us, we dashed for the Scovill House, where like hungry men we did justice to our supper.  In the evening a deputation of the Monitor club waited upon us and invited us to visit their Club room; we proceeded there in a body and whiled away a pleasant hour.  From there we returned to our hotel and retired for the night to sleep and dream of victory on the morrow.  The next morning our players dressed themselves in their field costume and awaited the hour for our first game.  At 9 o'clock we proceeded with the Monitor boys in carriages to the ground, we arrived after a pleasant ride through the city.  The arrangements for the game were soon made and playing commenced at 9:30 A.M.  We were defeated by a score of 27 to 22.

After taking a steamboat from NYC to Bridgeport, the Olympic Club traveled by train to Waterbury, Hartford, New London before once again boarding a steamboat to the return trip to NYC

The umpire chosen for the game was Mr. A.H. McCarty of the Waterbury club, and he proved himself an able and impartial one.  The game was well contested, but our boys played with a coolness which showed that they husbanded their strength for the more important game in the afternoon.  In the afternoon, the Waterburys took us in conveyances to their ground, which is a splendid one, and at 2:30 P.M. our game with them commenced, and I tell you our boys went at it in good earnest.  Toomey's pitching was superb, having the double charm of speed and accuracy.  McKiernan behind the bat played that afternoon his prettiest game, capturing the crankiest fouls imaginable.  A noteworthy feature of the game was the playing of "Young Robinson" in centre field, he captured  two running flys in a style which called forth the repeated applause of the assembled spectators.  Fitzgerald on second base and Lotan at short stop made some admirable plays and catches, and in fact our whole nine played with a determination and vim which presaged victory.  In the last six innings, the Waterburys made but three runs, and the game was handsomely ended by a wonderful catch of Crocker's in the left field; he turned his back to the ball while it was shooting through the air and ran at least thirty yards, then turned around and caught the ball in such a manner that it still remains a mystery how he held it.  We won the game by a score of 30 to 15.

In the evening we had a social time with the Monitors, speech making, vocal and instrumental music being the order of the evening.  Mr. Prall of our club favored the Waterbury boys with one of his fine performances on the Piano.  As our players were somewhat fatigued after the games of the day, we bid our friendly opponents good bye at ten o'clock and retired to our hotel.

Obviously the Olympic Club traveled first class

The next morning, the 19th, we packed our baggage and started on the train for Hartford, where we arrived at ten o'clock, meeting at the depot a deputation of the Charter Oaks, who conducted us to the United States Hotel.  After a brief rest we were invited to their club room, which is fitted up in fine style.  We saw there a gold mounted bat in miniature, made from the wood of the Charter Oak, that time honored noble tree.

Paterson Daily Press - September 23, 1867

In the afternoon we proceed to the ground of the Charter Oak Club, which is a beautiful park surrounded by splendid trees.  The ground is very smooth but being on an incline is unadapted for playing ball.  Our game with them commenced at 2:15 P.M. and was witnessed by about two thousand spectators.  It was a fine game; our boys, played up to their usual mark and the Charter Oaks kept up their high reputation as players and gentlemen.  Towards the end of the game the fatigue produced by the games of the day before began to have its effect, and our boys scored blanks on the last three innings, being unable to make the bat connect with the ball, consequently losing the game.  Score, 23 to 12.  

Hartford Courant - September 20, 1867 - note that Paterson is misspelled

In the evening we sat down with the Charter Oak boys to a splendid supper at the United States Hotel, after which Mr. McKiernan, the able captain of our nine while on the tour, made a most appropriate speech and presented the trophy to Mr. Bunce, the Captain of the Charter Oaks, who followed with a brief and witty acceptance.  We next took a stroll through the city of Hartford in company with the Charter Oak boys and retired to rest at an early hour after bidding them good-bye.  At five o'clock in the morning (of the 20th) we arose, partook of breakfast, proceeded to the depot and departed at 6 o'clock on the train for New London.  The train went at a speed which gave us an opportunity to view at our ease the beauty of the landscape.  

The Olympics traveled home on the City of Boston

We arrived in New London at 11 A.M. and started for the Metropolitan Hotel where we put up, took dinner and then made preparations for the game with the Pequots, the Champions of the State of Connecticut.  As that was to be the last game of the tour, the Riversides being unable to play us, our boys went in to terminate the tour in a tall manner by winning a ball from the Champions.  And they did it.  The game commenced at 3 P.M., our boys going in and doing the heaviest kind of batting, Prall and Lotan each scoring two home runs and all the rest doing batting which defied the efforts of the fine fielders of the Pequots to keep the ball form breaking through their line.  Robinson in centrefield made a fine clear leap over a five-rail fence in running for a fine ball knocked, and by it saved a run.  The playing of Toomey and McKiernan was like working of a well regulated machine.  We won by the score, 50 to 21.

We sailed for New York in the steamer City of Boston at 10 P. M., and arrived there at six in the morning, and got here at 8 A.M.  Thus ends our tour.


Paterson Daily Press - September 23, 1867

Sunday, August 6, 2017

New England Standoff

Photo by Mark Granieri

When the Neshanock traveling party, including three members of the Elizabeth Resolutes, arrived at Old Bethpage Village on Saturday, it would have been understandable to believe we somehow missed a turn and ended up in New England instead.  On tap for Flemington were two matches in the Doc Adams Festival against the Providence Grays and the Boston Beaneaters, two New England clubs with more than a little base ball history behind them.  The Providence Club, for example, is famous for its 1884 National League pennant winning season led by the unbelievable pitching performance of Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn who won 59 games (yes 59) that season, throwing some 678 innings with a 1.38 ERA.  Just mind boggling numbers.  Anyone interested in learning more should take a look at Ed Achorn's fine book Fifty-nine in '84.  More information about the Grays and their recreation of late 19th century base ball including overhand pitching can be found at

Photo by Mark Granieri

Back in mid July, the Neshanock took on the Grays at the Gettysburg Festival and emerged with a hard fought win in a game played under 1864 rules.  For Saturday's game on Long Island, the two clubs moved the rules up a year to 1865 (no fair bound outs), but the game could have been played by the rules of 2000 BC for all it would have mattered.  Flemington did score twice in the top of the first and was still close at 4-3 after two, but Providence tallied eight times in the third, to lead 11-3 on the way to an easy 20-4 victory.  Flemington's offense was led by Lawrence Major with three hits, followed by two apiece by Jeff "Duke" Schneider, Danny "Lunch Time" Shaw, Ken "Tumbles" Mandel and Joe "Mick" Murray, with "Mick" coming up with a clear score.  Lawrence was one of three Resolutes, helping the Neshanock out on Saturday, even though he was wearing the uniform of the Liberty Club of New Brunswick, a club he is starting.  Thanks also to Paul Salomone and Kyle Gautieri for filling out the limited Flemington roster and thanks to the New York Mutuals for organizing this fine event.

Photo by Mark Granieri

After a brief break with nary a "Casey at the Bat" to be heard, Flemington's second match was against the Boston Beaneaters, the first time the Neshanock have taken on the Massachusetts club which like the Grays favors the overhand game.  The Beaneaters have a long and distinguished history that I seem to keep running into in some of my writing endeavors.  For example, one of the essays that I wrote for the SABR publication Inventing Baseball, was about the National League's first game which featured the Boston club (then called the Red Caps) against the Philadelphia Athletics (  Next, I wrote four game accounts for another SABR book, Boston's First Nine about the Boston club's dominance of the National Association from 1871 to 1875 (they were then called the Red Stockings).  In 1883 the club adopted the name Beaneaters and went on to dominate the National League winning seven 19th century pennants and putting seven players and one manager in the Hall of Fame.  I'm currently working on two game accounts for another SABR book about the Beaneaters.  Although they are long since gone from Boston, the club still exists as the Atlanta Braves.  More information about the vintage version can be found at

Photo by Mark Granieri

Striking second in the second contest, Flemington kept Boston off the board and tallied six aces in their half of the first, before adding two more in the second and one in the third for a 9-0 lead on the way to an 18-5 win, almost the direct opposite of the first match.  Danny "Lefty" Gallagher led the Neshanock attack with four hits, earning his first career score in what was only his fourth vintage match.  "Duke," Kyle and "Mick" also chipped in three hits while "Gaslight," "Lunch Time," "Mick" and Lawrence added two apiece.  Lawrence also pitched the full nine innings and made an outstanding defensive play, catching a line drive on the bound in the top of the seventh.  Having split the days two matches, the Neshanock are now 19-8 on the season, heading into a long weekend in New England (where else) with Saturday and Sunday games in Connecticut.  As noted a few weeks ago, the Neshanock trip takes place 150 years after the Olympic Club of Paterson made a similar visit to the Nutmeg State and a post towards the middle of the week will reprint a contemporary account of that trip.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tuttle Tintypes

Saturday's event in Washington Valley became an exhibition game so the Neshanock's record remains at 18-7, heading into Saturday when Flemington will once again take part in the Doc Adams Festival at Old Bethpage Village on Long Island.  After a hiatus of many years, the Neshanock will play the Providence Grays for the second time in just three weeks.  In their second match, Flemington will take on the Boston Beaneaters, either for the first time or at least the first time in a decade.  In the meantime, below are pictures of some of your favorite Neshanock, courtesy of Dennis Tuttle (all rights reserved) who does an outstanding job of photography each year at the Gettysburg Festival.  Remember to click on the picture to enlarge.

Danny "Lunch Time" Shaw

Flemington defense awaits the ball being put in play by the Walker Tavern Wheelmen

Mark "Gaslight" Granieri (erect) and Chris "Low Ball" Lowry go after an outfield hit

Meshack "Shack" Desane

Rene "Mango" Marrero

Jeff "Duke"Schneider

Although omitting his trademark tumble, Ken "Tumbles" Mandel reaches the bag safely