Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/422

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in fact, evolved from the other two, and is, I have no hesitation in saying, a pronounced improvement upon both. Our footballers are all young fellows, who either attend the schools and colleges or work at their trades—artisans, clerks and others, clerks and tradesmen preponderating—and all our matches are played on Saturday afternoons, the Saturday half holiday being an established institution with nearly every class of the community.

"Base Ball, I am certain, will not supplant or even rival either football or cricket in public esteem in this country, but I quite agree with you and with Spalding, Palmer and others who think they may become kindred sports."

That Mr. Hedley's prophecy was not too bright, the following recent letter from Mr. Leonard I. Lillyman, showing conditions of the game in Australia at the time of the visit of our fleet, in 1908, will amply attest:

"Twenty teams play regularly in Sydney in Base Ball and there are a like number in Melbourne. These are under the control of the New South Wales Association and the Victorian League, respectively.

"Last season we introduced the game in South Australia and Tasmania, and efforts have been made to introduce it into Western Australia, and I have not a doubt that they will be as successful as other efforts have been to popularize the American sport.

"For the benefit of those in the United States who take an interest in what we do, I would like to say that we play the game here for the pure love of it. Professionalism is entirely absent, and would be stamped out as soon as it made its appearance. Those who take part are generally devotees of cricket, which is played in the summer months, and consequently we are compelled to play ball in the winter, which accounts for a good number of lame arms among our pitching brigade. We only play once a week and on holidays, and if we do get but little encouragement we know that we are progressing all the time.

"The standard of Base Ball in Australia is steadily improving each season, and the visit of the United States fleet to our shores gave our players a much-needed practical lesson in the finer points. Up to last season we had been self-taught—taught by studying the rules as they are laid down in Spalding's Guide, with the assistance of a casual visitor from the United States, who would be willing to impart any knowledge of which he was possessed. It was eagerly devoured by our players, who were only too glad to obtain it, and in turn they imparted it to their comrades.