Minneapolis Millers, 1896

This is a print of a press photo of the Minneapolis Millers, 1896. The team had just won the Western League baseball championship. The Minneapolis Millers existed in some iteration for 76 years, beginning in 1884. They originally played in the Northwestern League, but when that failed they were absorbed into the Western League. The team pictured above was formed in 1894 when Ban Johnson and Charles Comisky (of that famous stadium Comisky Park) revived the Western League.

In the year the Millers won the championship, they played 150 games between April and October, then six additional games giving them the win over Indianapolis. Many of their season games were double headers and they often played every day of the week. They ended their season with 89 wins and 47 losses. Some of the scores of those games have staggering tallies: losses 14-20, 6-24 and 8-41, wins 22-7, 30-3, and 18-3 are just a few that stand out. It is no wonder some of those games had such high scores. The fellow second in from the left in the back row hit 49 home runs that year. That’s Perry “The Moose” Werden. Center front was their manager/outfielder Walter Wilmot.

There is a fantastic page dedicated to the Millers (click here) that has stats from the various seasons.

The photo itself has an interesting story. While this is simply a press photo circulated globally, it was picked up and printed in Argentina. Gillermo (William) Maubach ran a photo studio in Buenos Aires, and also worked for the Deutsche La Plata Zeitung newspaper. By 1940, the newspaper was forced to close by the government because it was considered socialist. All of the holdings of the paper and Maubach were sold among various buyers and are scattered across the world. If you don’t remember your history, by 1943 a military coup had taken over the Argentine government, setting in motion events that would make Juan Peron president. It is very complicated so I won’t go into it further here. Maubach was identified by 1947 as having been a German agent in Argentina and was ordered deported. Strangely, he disappeared before deportation could take place and his where abouts remained unknown. This of course feeds off the Argentine and other South American governments offering asylum to German war criminals after World War II ended. Was Maubach really a German agent? Did he return to Germany or escape to another country friendly to Germans? I suspect we will never know.

Baseball, 1890

This fantastic image is identified only as “Baseball, 1890.” I wish I knew more about the team! Their uniforms have a large W on the front, but that could be anything from Washington to Woonsocket. Baseball was really well developed by the 1890s, having started out prior to the 1850s with local teams each having some variation of their own rules. In 1860, the National Association of Base Ball Players unified all the local rules into one set, and these were published and distributed throughout the US and beyond, enabling teams to travel more and play clubs farther away from home with confidence in the rules.

Early baseball used a black or brown leather ball stitched with white thread – unlike our modern white leather with red stitching. The men also didn’t use gloves, but caught the ball barehanded. Can you imagine catching one of those screaming line drives with your bare hands!? Me neither!  There is great similarity between vintage and modern baseball, but also some nuances that really make a difference. Until 1884, pitchers had to keep both feet on the ground and pitch underhanded. Early on, a ball that was struck and bounced inbounds before going out of bounds was considered fair regardless of where it left the field. In the 1870s, the umpire might ask a bystander if a ball was caught fairly before making a ruling! Until 1892, a bat could have a flat side. After that time, all bats had to be round.

Although Abner Doubleday (1819-1893) is credited as the inventor of baseball, he was well unaware of that during his lifetime! The myth came about after a dispute between Henry Chadwick, a British journalist, and Albert Spalding, an American baseball player. When Chadwick (correctly) asserted that baseball had evolved out of many ball and bat games, in particular rounders, Spalding took great offense and helped establish the Mills Commission in 1905. The Commission searched far and wide for someone who could identify any American person who might have had an early knowledge of the game. Well, out came an elderly fellow who claimed to have seen drawings made by Doubleday back in 1839. It did not matter that the “witness” had been five years old, while Doubleday was in West Point at that time, they took his assertion that he had attended school with Doubleday in Cooperstown, NY as factual. The false identification was published in newspapers and Spalding forever linked Doubleday to baseball. Spalding, by the way, was the originator of a little sporting goods company in 1875…you may have heard of them?

Today there are vintage baseball clubs that play by their favorite year’s rules, be they before the Civil War, the Knickerbocker rules, the Union Association rules, etc. These clubs dress much as our fellows above, in bibbed shirts and knickers, and there is a definite emphasis on gentlemanly behavior among players. Early on, a base ball player could be fined for using coarse language in front of fans.

There are many wonderful resources available to learn more about the history of baseball. Click the links below for more reading.

19th Century Baseball

Vintage Base Ball Association

The Society for American Baseball Research

For other vintage sports photos, click on the category “sports.”

Vintage sports

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows Irish boys taking a break from a game called hurling. Well, we don’t have hurling here in America (at least, not as a sport!) so I’m drawing on American sports to provide us with our image for the week.

Click to enlarge

 

Here we have a truly American sport that was invented by James Naismith in 1891. Basketball was invented as a distraction for the YMCA in Springfield, MA to keep energetic students occupied during the winter. It was also designed to be a strategic game, not a physical one. The only way to score a goal was to carefully lob a ball into a basket suspended over the players’ heads. Players were not allowed to bounce the ball, but instead were to move the ball down the court by passing it to one another. The original baskets were in fact, baskets: peach baskets, to be exact. The first basketball game was played in December 1891 as a nine-on-nine game and ended with a score of 1-0.

The photo above was advertised as a basketball team in 1890, but since basketball was not invented until ’91, we now know that date to be wrong. The team was G. H. S. and it was suggested the team was from the Chicago area. That makes it likely this is Geneva High School, Geneva, IL – a school that dates back to 1876. The photographer is listed in the lower right corner as Northup. The team has six players and I find it interesting that they have padded knickers. Being as the game was invented to be nonphysical, I don’t really know why padding would have been necessary. While you can see the ball they used, apparently this style of ball wasn’t the standard until the 1950s. Prior to that time, soccer balls could be used where no basketball was available. My best guess is that the photo is from 1895-1905, based on the studio props. By that timeframe, basketball was wildly popular in high schools and colleges across America. The photo itself is rather large, about 8.5″x10.5″ matted to 11.5″x14″.

Modern basketball of course is fraught with injuries, the players are incredibly strong and not at all scrawny like those shown above. Scores for professional teams routinely get into the 100s. A lot has changed in the 111 years since the sport was invented, but basketball continues to be an exciting and fast-paced game enjoyed by many.

Check back later for some 19th century baseball teams.

For more Sepia sports, click over to Sepia Saturday to see what other participants have kicked up.

Go for the goal!

Esther or Alveda Fillmore

This photo accompanied yesterday’s photo of Millard Fillmore, and you can see they were produced by the same photographer. However, this cabinet card is much longer than the standard, making it about 4.5″ by 8″. On the back is written “Alveda Fillmore” but this is the only reference I can find calling her Alveda. However a census entry did list a middle initial “A,” so who knows.

Esther was born in 1852, in Ohio to Alfred and Rebecca Eylar. Alfred was a farmer. Esther had two older brothers, Daniel (1846) and Alfred R (1849). I found one census record in the 1860 Federal census that put the family in Pontiac, IL.

About 1875, Esther and Millard married and by 1888, they are living in Pomona, which is right outside Los Angeles, CA. Millard indicated to the state voter registrant that he was a capitalist by occupation, but I believe he meant more like venture capitalist. In 1896 they lived on Maple Ave, Los Angeles, at a location that today is part of a school athletic field.

The family shows up on the 1900 census, with Millard as a machinist and a son Millard E aged 11, then on the 1910 census having Millard retired. Esther is listed on the 1930 census as widowed and living with a companion at age 78. By this point, her son Eylar had moved to Santa Barbara with his family. More tomorrow on Eylar.

UPDATE: Iggy found a death record for Esther Alverda Fillmore of January 3, 1940. Thank you!!

Großfater

This 1890-1910s cabinet card also came from my Denver trip and features a young girl, her grandmother and grandfather, and an uncle. There was writing on the back in a beautiful German hand identifying them and also giving us Onkel Emil and Helene as two of the names. On the front under the photo it says “Me” under Helene. I am a bit loose with the dating on this because the style of mounting is more similar to post 1900 photo mounts and the photo also appears to have been taken in a home setting, versus a studio setting. The individuals are seated on some type of high backed bench and the wall is papered and adorned with objects I can’t quite identify…candle holders? religious icons?

Had I realized the pricing noted on the backs of these photos in Denver was wrong I would have purchased more! They all stated very clearly $5, but then the shop only charged $1. I put back so many others that appeared related to this one, and then my friends called me from the restaurant (where ARE you???) and I didn’t get time to return. Ah, regrets…

Short hair

This cabinet card from Gendron in Boston features a young lady, approximately aged 13, with short cut hair. I had to have this as a great example of trimmed hair on a female in the 19th century. Hair was considered a point of pride for most women, but girls were able to cut theirs. In certain extreme situations, the hair might be cut, such as a fever. It was believed that removing the hair would prevent the fever being trapped and allow the person to recover more quickly. Or, as in the case of the Gift of the Magi, a person might cut and sell their hair as it was quite valuable to wig makers and in catalog sales. We will never know why this person has shorn hair, but let us hope it was by choice.

A Mister Mystery

  

Yesterday’s CdV of one of four possible women was directly next to today’s photo of either Andrew Hedlund or Carl Johan Sjoman. I spoke to a friend of mine who’s last name also has that Sj- in the beginning. The Sj in Norwegian is pronounced as a “Sh” sound. So the couple might be from Norway before making their way to the J. W. Upham gallery in Jamestown NY.

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