Although the hearing before the clergy group focused on the debt issue, including bouncing checks at Paterson banks, base ball was still on the agenda. Clearly not tired of the base ball theme, the Guardian headlined its account by proclaiming Hageman "put out at third base, and now in the field." The paper claimed the discussion was so intense the body moved behind closed doors for "lively arguments" focused "on the ethics and morality of ball playing." It's not clear how the Guardian knew what was going on in a closed session, but the paper reported the problem was not Hageman's ball playing, but the "odium brought upon the church by the report their pastor had swore a swear while playing ball." The very idea! Even if this vicious rumor was true, Hageman was not without his defenders, one of whom complained that those taking exception didn't explain "how a man was going to avoid swearing when his knuckle was knocked out of joint by a hot ball from the bat." It's a sentiment many vintage base ball players can identify with. In the end, the council took no action which was probably fortunate for the young former pastor who skipped town, taking with him his library even though the books had been attached for payments of his debts.
Mike "King" Kelly
While it's doubtful most people in Paterson in 1873 found base ball morally objectionable, the game's popularity had clearly waned from where it stood in the years immediately after the Civil War. In 1869, the Paterson Daily Press claimed all the focus on base ball was hurting business and whether for that or other reasons, the Olympic Club, the city's leading team stopped playing and organized play seems to have dropped off dramatically. A year after the Hageman controversy, however, the Olympic Club was resurrected, sparking renewed interest in base ball that never abated. From 1874 to 1876 four future major league players, Edward "The Only" Nolan, William "Blondie" Purcell, Jim McCormick and Hall of Famer, Mike "King" Kelly played for the Olympics, a first step on their way to fame and glory. Not only were the four good ball players, they were more than a little rambunctious or in more genteel terms "colorful." While Hageman was gone by then, had he been on the same nine with that group of ball players, church leaders would not have been pleased to see their pastor cavorting with them, especially if it extended to off the field activities.
Samuel Miller - Hageman's grandfather
A sample of Hageman's poetry - Brooklyn Daily Eagle - June 19, 1905
Brooklyn Daily Eagle - October 9, 1887Unfortunately I haven't found a picture of Rev. Hageman, but over the years, the Eagle painted a pretty vivid word picture. Only a year after leaving Paterson, the paper said Hageman "looks very much like an actor," probably not a compliment for a minister, with "long flowing dark hair" and "a brilliantly flashing black eye." Thirteen years later in 1887, he now had two "glittering black eyes," between "intensely black hair" and an equally "intense" mustache. Perhaps explaining Hageman's penchant for controversy, the paper claimed Hageman "looks upon critics as a deadly enemy." With regard to the minister's literary ambitions, the Eagle felt that "something has put it in his head he is the successor of Edward Allan Poe" and was trying to outdo "that weird genius in the presentation of literary grotesqueness." Hageman made his final effort at ecclesiastical empire building in May of 1897 when he had female members of his congregation act out the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) to encourage the governing body to think of him as their Messiah or at least worthy of "some salary." No record of such payment survives and Hageman died in 1905 eulogized by the Eagle as a talented jack of all trades, who spread himself too thin to be effective at one One thing is for sure, in the 19th century, base ball wasn't the only profession with its share of eccentric characters.