Authors Reunite Long-Lost Ball, Belt and Book

From SABR members Brian Turner and John S. Bowman at Hampshire Life on July 15:

The man went on to say that he had the 1866 championship silver ball of western Massachusetts. And maybe we would like to see it.

Oh yes, we wanted to see it.

Up until this point, we weren’t sure it even existed.

We, a pair of devoted baseball historians, wanted to touch this ball, which was once held by the Florence Eagle Base Ball Club, champions of western Massachusetts baseball from August to October 1866. We wanted to inspect the engraved scores of matches played when games were arranged by invitation and players took to the field without gloves.

Before baseball went pro, it was the custom to award such balls – some merely coated baseballs but others made of silver or an alloy – to local champions, such as the Eagle club, one of the first integrated teams in the United States and now, thanks to sleuthing and dumb luck, one of the best documented ball clubs of that era.

Our search for the silver ball had begun years earlier, during our preparations for “The Hurrah Game,” a 2002 exhibit of local baseball memorabilia at Historic Northampton.

We are both members of the Society for American Baseball Research, so we joined forces for the exhibit, and co-wrote a catalog which subsequently grew into a book, also called “The Hurrah Game.”

While much had been written about the Florence Eagle team, we were in need of tangible artifacts for the exhibit.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: July 25, 2011. Last Updated: July 25, 2011.