Charles Porter

This article was written by Charlie Bevis

During the 1873 season of the National Association, Charles H. Porter served as president of the Boston Base Ball Association, the corporation that entered the Boston baseball team to compete for the National Association championship. As the Boston team won the championship in 1873, Porter led a financial revitalization of the Boston Base Ball Association to cover the ballclub’s loss from 1872 and show a small profit in 1873.

Charles Hunt Porter was born on April 3, 1843, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, the son of Whitcomb Porter and Susan Bowditch Hunt.1 Porter could track his descendants in America back to 1635, nearly to the initial landing by the Pilgrims from England.2 He lived his early life in Quincy, Massachusetts, where he was educated in its public schools and graduated from Quincy High School. Porter served in the military during the Civil War, in the 39th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.3 After returning from the war, Porter worked with his father at Whitcomb Porter & Company, an insurance brokerage, located in Boston.4 He married Hannah French on June 3, 1870.5

As a prominent young businessman in Boston, Porter was an associate of Ivers Adams and John Conkey, the first two presidents of the Boston Base Ball Association. When the Association incurred a significant financial loss during the 1872 season, Porter was elected president at the ballclub’s annual meeting in December 1872.6 Porter led the effort to recruit new season-ticket purchasers for the 1873 season and convince more businessmen to buy stock in the ballclub. Through Porter’s leadership, the Boston Base Ball Association was able to cover the loss from 1872 and show a small profit in 1873 as the baseball team won the championship.7

Although Porter was re-elected president for the 1874 season, he declined to serve in that capacity and instead became a director.8 Porter umpired one game of the Boston team on May 9, 1874, and also helped to manage Boston’s tour of England during the summer of 1874.9 He also served as interim president of the Association for three weeks in December 1876, between the time Nicholas Apollonio was deposed from the post and Arthur Soden was elected president.10

Porter settled into life beyond professional baseball. By 1880, his family, which included three children, lived in a large house on Hancock Street in then-outlying town of Quincy.11 When his father died in 1881, Porter became head of his father’s insurance firm, which he renamed W. Porter & Company.12 During the 1880s, he served the town of Quincy as selectman and state representative. When Quincy converted from town government to the city mayoral system in 1888, Porter served two terms as the city’s first mayor.13

When the Boston ballclub in the Players’ League was formed in December 1889, Porter was selected to be its titular president to give credibility to the new organization.14 During Porter’s tenure as president, the new ballclub was sufficiently capitalized by investors, the Congress Street Grounds was built, and ballplayers were raided from the Boston National League team. Although the team won the Players’ League championship, the league collapsed after its one and only season of existence.

Porter died on August 10, 1911, in Quincy and is buried there at the Mt. Wollaston Cemetery.15

 

Notes

1 Birth information from death records of Quincy, Massachusetts, for 1911, page 430; no birth record can be located.

2 Joseph Porter, A Genealogy of the Descendants of Richard Porter (Bangor, ME: Burr & Robinson, 1878), 177.

3 Obituary of Porter, Boston Globe, August 11, 1911.

4 Boston City Directory, 1870.

5 Marriage records in the Massachusetts State Archive for 1870 (Volume 227, Page 339).

6 Boston Globe, December 12, 1872; New York Clipper, December 14, 1872.

7 Boston Globe, December 15, 1873.

8 Boston Daily Advertiser, December 15, 1873.

9 Boston Daily Advertiser, May 11, 1874.

10 Boston Globe, December 8, 1876; Boston Daily Advertiser, December 28, 1876.

11 Federal census records for 1880 for Quincy in Norfolk County, Massachusetts.

12 Boston City Directory, 1885.

13 Obituary of Porter, Boston Globe, August 11, 1911.

14 Boston Daily Advertiser, December 2, 1889.

15 Death records of Quincy, Massachusetts, for 1911, page 430.