Stalker: Ross Barnes to be honored with memorial in New York

By David Stalker

I am pleased to announce that at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 19, 2017, in Mount Morris, New York, a monument will be dedicated honoring baseball pioneer Ross Barnes. All baseball fans are invited.

The ceremony will be held at a small park in the village center. The Barnes memorial will be placed next to an old refurbished fountain which already has a memorial for Francis Bellamy, the author of the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Both Barnes and Bellamy are natives of Mount Morris. Immediately following the dedication, a vintage base ball game will be played, made up of players from the Rochester area.

This will be a two-sided monument that will have a portrait on the front and a full body etching on the reverse side along with the text. The top of the memorial will be left blank to have room for an induction date, if he is eventually elected into Cooperstown.

Barnes was selected as SABR’s Overlooked 19th Century Legend in 2013.

I teamed with Mount Morris resident and Barnes expert Gary Passamonte to make this memorial possible. Gary captured my attention with his passion and knowledge for Ross Barnes. I knew that he would be the best person to work with and he certainly has been, gaining full support from the community.

After moving from Mount Morris to Rockford with his family roughly at the age of fifteen or sixteen, Barnes played for the Rockford Forest City team from 1866 to 1870, teaming with Albert Spalding. They put Rockford, Illinois, on the baseball map and drew great interest to the game in the west. Their efforts are told on the Forest City team monument at Beyer Park, home of the Rockford Peaches of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Beginning in 1871, Barnes and Spalding helped the Boston Red Stockings win four championships in the five-year history of the National Association. They both returned to Illinois in 1876 and won the championship for the Chicago White Stockings in the first year of the National League. Wherever they played, they won. They both passed away in 1915, but only Spalding is a member of the Hall of Fame.

Ross had a career batting average of .360. He won three batting titles, and hit over .400 in four seasons. Not only could he hit, his obituary described him as the “greatest second baseman known to the game.” Spalding called him the greatest of all players.

Gary and I both believe Ross Barnes belongs in the Hall of Fame. The 10-year rule for eligibility was lifted for Addie Joss, rightfully so, who like Barnes played only nine years in professional baseball. Barnes played years before professional baseball began. Gary has spent much time pushing and hoping for his election, which includes having petitions signed and sent to the Hall of Fame. Ross Barnes has been “Knock, Knock, Knocking on Cooperstown’s Doors” even longer.

Barnes will now become a member of David Stalker’s Baseball Memorial Series. This series began in 2005, with Fred Merkle as the first honoree. It was followed with other players from the Deadball Era and a monument at Miller Park commemorating the AL beginning in Milwaukee and the 1901 Brewers.

As the series continued to grow, a decision was made to go back further in time and include the 19th century. First a team monument for the 1865-71 Forest City team in in Rockford, Illinois. This was followed by a monument at the site of the first professional game played in 1871 in the National Association at Fort Wayne, Indiana. This monument recognizes both the Fort Wayne Kekiongas and Cleveland Forest City teams which played.

My decision was made to make Ross Barnes the first player honored from this era in the memorial series. If he should never be inducted in the Hall of Fame, we now will have the certainty of knowing that his accomplishments will be remembered forever at a beautiful setting in his hometown of Mount Morris, New York.

David Stalker is a member of SABR’s Deadball Era Research Committee. He lives in Watertown, Wisconsin.

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Originally published: June 24, 2017. Last Updated: June 24, 2017.