Laurel Glen, Connecticut: 1876.
Hardcover. Octavo blank book with 257 lined and press-numbered pages (mostly unused). Three-quarter leather over marbled papercovered boards. The first 17 pages consist of the manuscript record book for the Laurel Glen Base Ball Club. Secretary J.F. Burdick records the following: "At a meeting held at Laurel Glen, Conn. on Thursday, August 31st 1876, for the purpose of organizing a Base Ball Club... ." The officers were appointed, the meeting was set for the following Saturday afternoon, and each person was to be prepared to pay 50 cents to defray expenses. Henry F. Babcock was elected president, Burdick as secretary, and A.H. Eccleston as treasurer. The Constitution and By-laws follow on the next three pages, as well as a list of the 18 members. A note beside each name records their payment of the dues.
Article 3 states: "This club shall be composed of nine players who shall do their best to promote the interest and welfare of the club." The board of directors was responsible for ensuring that the grounds were in good order and that bats, balls, and flags were provided. Practice was held on Saturdays. The box scores for the first game, on Sept. 9, 1876 between the Centennials and the "Picked up Nine" are recorded. Over the seven innings, the Centennials scored 54 runs, their opponents 21. The box scores for five more games over the following several Saturdays are recorded against the Picked up Nine, the Milltown Experts, the Shamrocks, and the Fleets. The game against the Fleets lasted two hours and four minutes, the umpire was Eugene Bill, and the score keeper was Elisha Lewis. A record of expenses for balls, bats, payment of the umpire, etc. is also given.
At a later date, the book was repurposed (pages 28-46) as the manuscript notes and minutes of the "Young Peoples Aid Society." The members, seven young women, include Pearl M. Babcock, whose name appears on the back of the title page. Presumably Ms. Babcock was related to the baseball club's president. The first meeting was held Nov. 17, 1896, and subsequent club events are noted, including a record of expenses. The last entry is April 10, 1898. On a later page, Pearl Babcock has penned a poem.
Also, laid in are six leaves of notes related to a later club, the "Tribune Sunshine Neighborhood Club" of Clark's Falls (circa 1907?). The club colors, flower and song are given, as well as the object of the organization: "To radiate sunshine everywhere opportunity permits." A list of members and dues is recorded. Three news articles related to the work of the Tribune Sunshine Neighborhood Club are also laid in.
Amateur baseball continued to be a source of community pride in small towns even as professional baseball's popularity began to grow, following the Civil War. According to Harold Seymour in *Baseball: The Early Years* (1960): "With peace restored, [baseball] continued to advance in growth and popularity, but at a greatly accelerated pace. It became the foremost pastime in America, and was universally regarded as the National Game." The names on the club roster were likely well-known to the communities of Laurel Glen and Clark's Falls (both near North Stonington, Connecticut).
An interesting document showing the popularity of 19th Century baseball at the local level.