Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/146

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might be an embryo pitcher or catcher, or shortstop or baseman, or batsman, whose future achievements on the diamond would make famous the burg that had nurtured an artist of such phenomenal prowess.

In this chapter it is my purpose to write, briefly, the story of the Forest City Base Ball Club, of Rockford, Illinois, presenting it as a type of clubs in other small cities, which in the early development of the game did so much to add prestige to the pastime, and whose influence for the upbuilding and maintaining of the dignity of the sport, as well as skill and science in play, is felt unto this hour. I write of the Forest City Club, not because it was in all respects greater than any other—although I shall be able to disclose for it a record of which no friend need be ashamed—but because I was a part of it; because with it I began my active Base Ball career, and because I know its story better perhaps than I do that of any other Base Ball organization.

In writing of the Forest City Club, of Rockford, I am compelled by the very nature of the case to introduce local facts, probably of greater interest to me than to anyone else in the world; but I would be guilty of gross injustice, of base ingratitude, were I not in this, my only work on the game, to acknowledge appreciation of the sound and unselfish advice of some, the kind words of cheer and encouragement from others, and were I to withhold an expression of the high regard I have ever entertained for my first comrades in the game, to whom I bade a regretful farewell when I elected to make a business of what had been theretofore simply a pleasant pastime.