Page:America's National Game (1911).djvu/77

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51
AMERICA'S NATIONAL GAME

very name of their organization suggests respectability! There is no photo of the players of that team on the field, but one almost unconsciously uniforms them in white silk stockings, shoes with silver buckles, silk knee breeches, blue swallow-tail coats and powdered wigs, under hats with the white cockade! They did not put up much of a game of Base Ball as we understand it now, those nice old boys; the curved ball was not in evidence, the spit-ball had not put in an appearance; the base on balls was an unknown factor, and if any player of that club ever slid to base, it was on skates or a hand-sled in the games regularly played by them every winter on frozen ponds.

But, while they left us no records of 1-0 twenty-four innings games, let us ever hold in memory the stamp of respectability imparted to Base Ball by its earliest champions. Let us never forget that the men who first gave impetus to our national sport in the way of organization for that purpose were gentlemen "to the manor born," men of fine tastes, of high ability, of upright character. It was not until long after the days of the Knickerbockers that Base Ball was nearly ruined by the ascendancy of rowdies and gamblers. But of this more anon.

It was in the year 1845—although the Knickerbockers had been playing practice games since 1842—that the desirability of effecting a formal organization was first conceived. Previous to that time its members had been held together by ties of congeniality; now, the element of business system was to be injected.

To Alexander J. Cartwright, beyond doubt, belongs the honor of having been the first to move in the direc-