Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/147

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117
AMERICA'S NATIONAL GAME

Hence, as an apology for and in explanation of that which seems purely personal in the few following pages, I beg the reader to have in mind that much of sentiment still clings to the memories of those days of my early Base Ball career, and I could not refer to the times without also recalling the men with whom I was then so closely and so agreeably associated.

My association with the game of Base Ball began at Rockford, in 1865. As a school boy, I belonged to a club called the Pioneers. Since nobody in the team was over sixteen years of age, the title may have appeared to some as a misnomer; but it sounded all right. Most of us had heard our fathers spoken of as "pioneers," and we knew it could not mean anything bad. The Pioneers put up a pretty fair article of ball, for boys—if I do say it—and it was not long before we became ambitious. There were at Rockford at that time two amateur rival nines—the Forest Citys, just organized, and the Mercantiles. These played occasional matches, the Forest Citys having rather the better of the argument.

Ross Barnes, afterwards to win fame on the diamond as one of the greatest second basemen of his time, and in my opinion one of the best all around players the game has produced, was a member of the Pioneers, and he and I conceived the idea that we could "do" the Mercantiles, whose players were for the most part salesmen in the several stores of the city. A challenge was therefore sent; but the tradesmen at first regarded it as a joke; they were not in the game to play with children. However, after much insistence on our part, and some chaffing,