Appendix: Female Baseball Teams in New York, 1850-1898

By Debra Shattuck

This article was published in the 2017 The National Pastime.

This appendix is related to the article, "Women’s Baseball in Nineteenth-Century New York and the Man Who Set Back Women’s Professional Baseball for Decades," by Debra Shattuck.

 

Female Baseball Teams in New York

Late 1850s
Steuben County (Public School Team)
Baseball is “the game at our district schools during intermission hours, and often engaged in by youths of both sexes.”1

Spring 1866
Poughkeepsie (Women’s College Team)
First and second year students at Vassar College organized the Laurel and Abenakis baseball clubs.2

Spring 1867
Poughkeepsie (Women’s College Team)
First and second year students at Vassar College organized the Precocious baseball club. None had played on the Laurel and Abenakis teams in 1866.3

August 1867
Hallsport (Civic Team)
“We are informed the Ladies B. B. C. of Hallsport, indulged in a spirited practice game Saturday afternoon last.  Will they please send us an invitation to witness a game; or the score of one to publish?. . .”4

October 1867
Hallsport (Civic Team)
“Female Base Ball Clubs are being formed in some portions of the state . . .”5

July 1868
Peterboro (Civic Team)
“We were delighted to find here a base ball club of girls. Nannie Miller, a grand-daughter of Gerrit Smith, is the Captain, and handles the club with a grace and strength worthy of notice. . . .”6

September 1868
Brooklyn (Civic Team)
“Following in the example of the ‘Gushing Girls’ of Peterboro, a movement is on foot in Brooklyn to organize a Club of female base ball players. They are to discard hoops and skirts utterly, and appear in a genuine Arab rig. Most of them are undergoing physical discipline, and all of them are making preparations for a match.”7

April 1874
Rhinebeck (Civic Team)
“South street boasts of a female base ball club. They challenge the world.”8

Fall 1875
Poughkeepsie (Women’s College Team)
Students at Vassar College organized seven or eight teams.9

Spring-Fall 1876
Poughkeepsie (Women’s College Team)
Baseball was one of the sports physical educators taught students during the Spring term and summer gym program. The clubs were reorganized in the Fall of 1876.10

June 1876
Brooklyn (Civic Team)
“The suggestion has been made that a female base ball club be originated and that ladies who wish to distinguish themselves this Centennial year be permitted the opportunity.”11

August 1876
Erie (Civic Team)
“The little city of Erie has only thirty-three base ball clubs, but it has taken all the available men of the community and now the matrons are seriously considering the question of organizing themselves into the thirty-fourth nine.”12

c. May 1877
Kingston (Civic Team)
“Nine young ladies in Kingston, N.Y. have organized a baseball club.”13

Spring 1877
Poughkeepsie (Women’s College Team)
Twenty-five of 338 students selected baseball as their optional form of exercise during the Spring term.14

January 1878
Auburn (Civic Team)
“….Our citizens need not be at all surprised this year if they see a lady base ball club on the diamond….” “Auburn is anxious for a female base ball club.” 15

January 1878
Rochester (Civic Team)
“A female base ball club is to be organized in Rochester.”16

April 1878
Phoenix (Oswego County) School
Articles across the country carried articles about a team of school girls known as the Amazons.17

c. May 1878
Poughkeepsie (Women’s College Team)
Poem in Vassar College Class Book for 1878 reported the difficulty one of the baseball team captains had finding enough players for her team.18

June 1878
Syracuse (Civic Team)
“Syracuse is happy because she has a genuine female base ball club, under the name of ‘Young Independents,’ and an investigating exchange says its members wear red and white striped stockings.”19

March 1879
New York City (Professional/Theatrical Team)
“A female base ball club, including two nines—handsomely costumed in silk and woolen—of ‘American brunettes’ and ‘English blondes,’ under the management of Sylvester F. Wilson of Camden, N. J., has lately been organized, . . .”20

November 1881
North Edmeston (Civic Team)
“The female base ball club of this vicinity met for practice on Wednesday afternoon at the premises of Delos Giles.”21

April/May 1882
Silver Creek (Civic Team)
“Silver Creek has a female base ball club.”22

July 1883
Olean
Discussions in paper about whether to organize a team.23

August 1883
Almond (Civic Team)
“The Blondes and Brunettes, two female base-ball clubs of Almond, played a match game of ball at that place one day last week.”24

April 1888
Nyack (Civic Team)
“It is said that a female base ball club is to be organized in Nyack this season.”25

May 1888
Utica (Civic Team)
“Utica has a promising female base ball club. The girls practice in a ground so walled in that no one can see them, but they intend to cross bats with their brothers in a short time.”26

July 1888
Elmira (Civic Team)
“Elmira has two female base ball clubs, and they recently played a game on Sunday. Naughty girls.”27

July 1889
Brooklyn (Civic Team)
“Two colored women, named Mary E. Thompson and Mary Jackson, who live in the classic precincts of Crow Hill, are members of a ladies’ base ball club.28

June 1890
Utica (Civic Team)
The local newspaper reported that townswomen were in the process of organizing a team.29

August 1890
Staten Island (Civic Team)
Female members of Huguenot’s Harvard Social Association organized the Whites and Reds baseball teams.30

June 1891
Caledonia (Civic Team)
“The girls of Caledonia have organized a base ball nine, and they term themselves ‘Belles of the Bat.’31

c. Jun-Sep 1891
Unknown city (Professional/ Theatrical Team)
Mark Lally organized the Cincinnati Reds in New York. The team barnstormed throughout Pennsylvania and New York competing for players with Sylvester Wilson’s Young Ladies Base Ball Club.32

August 1891
Johnson (City) (Civic/Barnstorming Team)
“The Johnson female base ball club will play a picked nine in this city, on Monday, Aug. 24.”33

August 1891
Mt. Morris (Civic )
“Mt. Morris has a female base ball club. When the giddy girls assemble for practice all the storekeepers take a holiday.”34

April 1892
Ovid (Civic Team)
“Ovid has a female base ball club.”35

April-??? 1892
New York (Barnstorming Team)
The Cincinnati Reds opened the season on April 23rd. Soon thereafter, papers began calling it “Miss Lillie [sic] Arlington’s Cincinnati Reds” in honor of its star pitcher, Lizzie Arlington. Maud Nelson played too.36

May-Sep 1892
New York (Barnstorming Team)
The New York Champion Young Ladies BBC (a.k.a. Young Ladies BBC of New York) had multiple managers, including three men who were arrested in Missouri for attempting to defraud their players out of their earnings.37

June-September 1892
New York (Barnstorming Team)
New York Giants (a.k.a. “Champion Female Base Ball Club”) play games against men’s teams throughout New York.38

July 1892
Unknown city (Barnstorming Team)
“The manager of the . . . [American Stars] club has gone to considerable expense to get a good club of lady ball players together for a tour of the states, and good ball playing is assured.”39

February-March 1893
New York (Barnstorming Team)
American Female Base Ball Club (former American Stars) kicks off its second season by embarking on a tour of Cuba. The tour ends after only one game when unruly spectators attack the players and destroy the playing venue in Almendares, Cuba.40

July 1893
Greenwich (Civic Team)
“I hear that some of the ambitious society ‘buds’ are organizing a female base ball club.”41

1894
New York City (Barnstorming Team)
Young Ladies Champions of the World Base Ball Club (newly renamed) began its third season in Brooklyn in early May. Maud Nelson was on the team as were several of Sylvester Wilson’s former players and several members of the team that caused a riot in Cuba in 1893.42

1894
New York City (Barnstorming Team)
Bertha Gordon, a member of the team that traveled to Cuba, pitched and caught for the newly-organized New York Brunettes.43

June 1894
New York City (Pick-up Team)
Newspaper article described the activities of the estimated 200,000 persons who visited Central Park one Sunday in June noting that “half grown girls played baseball with their full grown brothers.”44

July 1894
Rhinebeck (Civic Team)
“A female base ball club is being organized. It will be called the ‘Ostrich Feathers’ and play its first game with the Pond Lillies on the home grounds on the 28th at 3 P.M.”45

August 1894
Brooklyn (Civic Team)
“[N]ine enterprising and sport-loving girls of Brooklyn have organized a club with the intent of knocking a leather-covered sphere about a field diamond.”46

c. 1896
Pelham Manor (Private School Team)
Students at Mrs. Hazen’s School posed for a team picture.47

Spring 1896
Poughkeepsie (Women’s College Team)
From article about Vassar College in Harper’s Bazaar: “In athletics, football, baseball, and basket-ball divide popular attention.”48

June 1897
Lowville (Grammar School Team)
“Two base ball teams have been organized at the State street school, to be known as the Miss Allen and Mrs. Jones teams.”49

1897 or 1898
Salamanca (Pick-up/Civic Team)
Caption on photograph of women baseball players stated, “Ladies playing base ball at Island Park, Sala. 1897 or 1898.”50

April-May 1898
Morris (Civic/ Barnstorming Team)
“A female base ball nine has been organized in Morris. The members are practicing daily, weather permitting, and expect, during the season, to rival the record of the famous Cincinnati Reds of several years ago.”51

April-May 1898
New York City (Theatrical Team)
H.A. Adams and “William S. Franklin” (a.k.a. Sylvester Wilson) organized a short-lived baseball operation.52

 

Notes

1 Harper’s Weekly (5 Nov 1859): 707.

2 Team rosters and firsthand accounts of the teams are available in the Vassar College archives.

3 Ibid.

4 Wellsville Free Press (4 Sep 1867), 3.

5 “Girl Base Ball Clubs,” Utica Morning Herald (17 Oct 1867).

6 The Revolution (6 Aug 1868), 65-66.

7 “Female Club in Brooklyn,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, (10 Sep 1868), 2. This team does not seem to have been organized. Reporters may have confused advertisements for a female baseball performance at Tony Pastor’s Opera House in late August and early September with an actual female team.

8 “The Local Switch,” (Rhinebeck, N.Y.) Gazette (16 Apr 1874).

9 Richardson, 526.

10 “Annual Report of the Department of Physical Training 1875-1876,” Lilian Tappan to President John H. Raymond, June 1876, VCSC; see also “Home Matters,” Vassar Miscellany 5 (July 1876): 769, 773-775 and “College Notes,” Vassar Miscellany 6, no. 1 (Oct 1876): 56.

11 Brooklyn Daily Eagle (21 Jun 1876), 2.

12 “Town News,” Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (4 Aug 1876), 4.

13 Unidentified clipping. Likely from a New York City paper dating from May 1877 based on other items on the page.

14 “Annual Report of the Department of Physical Training 1876-1877,” Lilian Tappan to President John H. Raymond, June 1877, Vassar College Special Collections.

15 “Some Base Ball Notes,” Auburn Daily Advertiser (17 Jan 1878): 4; “City News and Gossip,” Syracuse Sunday Times (27 Jan 1878),

16 “The News,” Plattsburgh Daily Republican (26 Jan 1878), 2. News appeared in many other papers as well.

17 The first report appeared as “Phoenix,” Oswego Daily Times (26 Apr 1878). As other newspapers reprinted the story they omitted the word “county” after Oswego, leading to the error that the team was in Oswego instead of Phoenix, New York. A report that the girls would play a men’s nine appeared in “The Country ‘Round: News About the State,” Evening Auburnian (30 Apr 1878), 1. It may be that two different teams, one composed of school girls and one composed of adult women, were playing in the county at this time.

18 “Poem, Prophecy and History,” 1878 Class Book, [Vassar College], 23. VCSC.

19 “County News,” (Skaneateles) Free Press (29 Jun 1878).

20 “Sporting Matters,” Lowell Daily Citizen (27 Mar 1879).

21 “North Edmeston,” Brookfield Courier (9 Nov 1881).

22 (Randolph, N.Y.) Weekly Courant. Date extrapolated from other articles on the page.

23 “Emporium,” (Olean) Sunday Morning Herald (29 Jul 1883), 5.

24 Watkins (N.Y.) Express (30 Aug 1883). These are not Wilson’s Blondes and Brunettes. They were in Philadelphia that week.

25 Mount Kisco Recorder (13 Apr 1888), 2.

26 “News Summary,” Potsdam Courier & Freeman (2 May 1888);

27 “Vicinity,” Watkins Democrat (19 Jul 1888).

28 “Female Ball Players: How They Knocked Luke Kenney All Over the Diamond,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle (23 Jul 1889), 6.

29 “Tom’s Chat: Female Base Ballists,” Utica Sunday Tribune (8 Jun 1890).

30 “ʽLady Champions’ at Ball: Disgraceful Sunday Exhibition With the Allertons at Monitor Park, Weehawken,” New York Herald (1 Sep 1890), 6.

31 “Vicinity Notes,” Caledonia Advertiser (18 Jun 1891). This was not one of Wilson’s teams and does not seem to have been a barnstorming team. The article went on to say that the girls kept the dates of their games secret from the press.

32 (Bloomsburg, Penn.) Columbian (5 Jun 1891), 1; “Diamond Dust,” Wheeling Register (28 Jul 1891), 3.

33 “Brief Mention,” Oswego Daily Times (c. 21 Aug.). Johnson is 134 miles west of Oswego; the team may have barnstormed.

34 “State News,” Oswego Daily Times (10 Aug 1891), 1.

35 Union Springs Advertiser (28 Apr 1892).

36 “Hard Lines for Female Baseball: The Girl Ball-Players Had to Stop Swing Bats,” (New York) World (25 Apr 1892), 1; “Sports and Sport: Wouldn’t Allow the Girls to Play,” Wheeling Register (26 Apr 1892), 3.

37 Emporia Daily Gazette (26 May 1892); “Amusements,” Wichita Daily Eagle (28 May 1892), 5; “General Notes,” Buffalo Courier (12 Aug 1892), 8. R.C. Johnson, John E. Nolen, and James A. Arlington were arrested in Kansas City on August 29th after stealing the gate money from a game in Winston, Missouri. “Ran Away With the Cash,” Emporia (KS) Daily Gazette (29 Aug 1892); Atchison Daily Globe (2 Sep 1892).

38 “Female Base Ballists,” Utica Sunday Tribune (26 Jun 1892); “Observations,” Utica Daily Observer (27 Jun 1892), 2; “’Twill be a Great Day: The Celebration To-Morrow Promises Great Things,” Utica Sunday Tribune (3 Jul 1892); “The Female Base Ball Players,” Utica Daily Press (5 Jul 1892), 1; “Sporting World: Summary of Interesting Events in the Fields of Sport,” Oswego Daily Times (6 Sep 1892), 2. Dateline: Warsaw, Sept. 3

39 Very little is known about this team apart from its appearance in Saginaw, Michigan in early July 1892. “Carrollton,” Saginaw News (28, 29, 30 June and 1, 2, and 5 July 1892).

40 “A Female Base Ball Club in Danger: Attacked by a Cuban Mob and One of the Players Hurt,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle (6 Mar 1893), 10. See details in Chapter 5.

41 “Atlantic Breezes: Echoes From Greenwich,” New York Herald (9 Jul 1893), 14.

42 “Girl Base Ball Players. . . .” Brooklyn Daily Eagle (6 May 1894), 7.

43 “Girls Played Ball. Two Thousand People Watched Them Do It,” The (Jersey) Evening Journal (3 Jul 1894), 6. It is uncertain how long this team lasted. Gordon’s real name was Mattie Myers.

44 “Throngs in Central Park. . . .” New York Herald Tribune (11 Jun 1894), 4.

45 “Notes,” Rhinebeck Gazette (21 Jul 1894).

46 “Girl Baseball Players: They are Fond of the Sport and Wear Nice Costumes,” Grand Rapids Press (11 August 1894), 7.

48 Annie E. P. Searing, “Vassar College,” Harper’s Bazaar (30 May 1896): 469.

49 “Brief Mention,” (Lowville) Journal & Republican (10 Jun 1897), 5; “We and Our Neighbors: News and Notes From Nearby Towns,” Brookfield Courier (23 Jun 1897), 4.

50 [Willard] Gibson Family Album, WLCL, UM. Call No. A.1.1897.2.

51 “In Central New York: All Around Us,” Ostego Farmer [Cooperstown, NY], (29 April 1898), 1.

52 “A Missing Partner: Lady Baseball Players’ Manager Left With Cash; Levied on Bloomers; Manager Smithson of the Cricket Grounds Determined to Have his Share of the Receipts—Manager Franklin Arrested—His Partner Adams Is Missing,” Jersey Journal (31 May 1899), 4.