Tenney: Remembering baseball in territorial Arizona

From John Darrin Tenney at the Prescott Daily Courier on July 10, 2016:

Baseball, the national pastime, has a long history dating back to the 1840s. The game evolved from older bat-and-ball games from England such as cricket and Colonial America era games like one-o-cat, two-o-cat. When most of us think of Arizona history, however, the game of baseball is not the first image that comes to mind.

Early on, the U.S. Army had incorporated baseball as a method to help young soldiers use their free time and excess energies in a positive competition that would foster unit cohesion and pride. In Arizona, once the soldiers stationed at posts such as Fort Whipple, Fort McDowell and Fort Huachuca had mastered the game, they went looking for competition against nearby towns like Prescott, Phoenix and Tucson. It is highly likely that soldiers introduced the game of baseball to the settlers of these early towns for the competition and extra money from wagering on the outcome of games.

Arizona was sparsely populated in 1872. The 1870 census would report that a scant 9,658 hardy souls were living in the young Territory. A decade later, the population would jump to 40,440. Fort Bowie, Fort Whipple and Fort Verde had become active hubs of military operations in the ongoing Indian Wars. Eager to break up the monotony of camp duty, the soldiers began playing baseball. One of the first reports of a game was at Camp Grant between the soldiers of the 23rd Infantry and Troops L and W of the 5th Cavalry on Christmas Day of 1872.

Read the full article here: http://www.dcourier.com/news/2016/jul/10/days-past-remembering-baseball-territorial-arizona/

Originally published: July 19, 2016. Last Updated: July 19, 2016.