old war-time baseball up for auction…

We’re not talking WWII, or even WWI.

Or even the Spanish-American War.

We’re talking Civil War.

civil war baseball 1 sm

This ball was in Sherman’s march to Atlanta, in 1864. Written on it is Zouave B.B.C. [which must mean Base Ball Club]. The Zouave units in the Civil War were modeled after the French elite Zouave units, which were first formed in Algeria, from native tribesmen. There were numerous volunteer Zouave units on both sides of the Civil War, and initially at least some of these units practiced light infantry tactics. They often wore eye-catching (and bullet-attracting) uniforms, with baggy red pants, short open jackets, and, at times, fezzes.

Zouave fez

In any case, this old baseball is up for auction. Interested? Details here. It will be interesting to see what this goes for.

Antiques Road Game II

I came across this, this morning – a baseball signed by members of the 1919 World Champion Cincinnati Reds. Nobody thinks about them much; they’re the team that defeated the White Sox in the 1919 Series – and all the attention is on the “Black Sox,” throwing the series. People forget that the Reds had a pretty good team that year. They went 96-44, finishing 9 games ahead of the Giants. Heinie Groh hit .310 for them that year, and Edd Roush hit .321. Dutch Ruether went 19-6 with a 1.82 ERA, and Slim Sallee went 21-7 with a 2.06.

1919 championship baseball

How many 1919 baseballs signed by the Reds team exist? Well, the appraiser says that he thinks about five. How much is it worth? Well, this was in 2008, and the appraiser says about $45,000. You can watch it on the Antiques Roadshow website: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/archive/200704A30.html.

Cincinnat Reds 1919

Slim Sallee?

Never heard of him. Interesting bio of him on the SABR website, and here’s how it starts:

Hall of Fame catcher Roger Bresnahan claimed that Slim Sallee “had the best control of any southpaw that ever curved a ball over the plate.” Pitcher Dutch Ruether said, “He [Sallee] is a wonderful pitcher. If I ever begin to learn all he knows about baseball I shall be satisfied.” Baseball Magazine attributed Sallee’s success to “imperturbable calm which nothing can disturb, faultless control, and back of all a scheming, crafty brain wise to all the quirks and twists of the pitcher.”

Despite his talents, Harry Sallee’s career was checkered with training rule violations, fines, suspensions, threats of retirement, and a constant battle with alcohol that eventually ended his life. Further, he toiled in obscurity for eight and one-half seasons with what might have been the worst major league team of the Dead Ball era. Through it all, Sallee was considered one of the National League’s best pitchers.

Slim Sallee 1911 T3 Turkey Red b

Ahhh, demon rum.

Huntington Base Ball Company

Huntington Baseball Co - Federal League BallThis morning I came across this – a nice looking old Federal League ball. Well, no. Not old. Brand new, and made-to-order by the fine folks at the Huntington Base Ball Company, purveyors of hand-crafted base ball equipment since 2009.

I came across them on their Etsy site, but they have their own online store as well.

Huntington Base Ball Company was started by a man named William Peebles, who was trained as an artist and and wound up studying industrial design at the Massachusetts College of Art. where his studio had an elevated view of Fenway Park. He made his first baseball in 1997 on Huntington Avenue, “home of world-class art institutions and the first World Series.”

As he says on the “about us” page:

From day one, my goal for the Huntington Base Ball Company has been to bring the history of the game back to life through beautifully crafted and game-ready equipment.  Each model is meticulously researched and re-created by hand, using the exacting standards of a bygone craft.  This dedication to quality ensures that you will, for the first time, truly experience what it was like to play ball when the game was young.  Though beautiful on display, these historic relics are re-created to be worn and used.

Huntington makes a variety of bats, balls, and gloves, and they are beautiful.
Check ’em out.

Huntington Baseball Co - 1880s Style Ring Bat w Corded Handle

smithsonian: design of the game

smithsonian-vintage-baseball-1Smithsonian magazine has stepped up to the plate, and published three nice articles about baseball equipment:

A Brief History of the Baseball – 28 June 2013

The Past and Future of the Baseball Bat – 2 July 2013

The Invention of the Baseball Mitt – 16 July 2013

The Smithsonian has published a number of good pieces on baseball, including the book, Smithsonian Baseball: Inside the World’s Finest Private Collections, which I took out of the library earlier this year. (I thought it a bit odd that the book focused on things in private collections, rather than in the Smithsonian. I don’t see that they’ve published anything about holdings in their collection. The Library of Congress, though, has published Baseball Americana: Treasures from the Library of Congress, which was also a fun book to read.) Anyway these little articles on baseballs, bats, and gloves are well written, informative (I’d thought Banana Bats would be flying from tree to tree), and have great illustrations!

baseball - spalding ad- 1878Thanks, Smithsonian!