“Good weather, good grounds, good attendance, and two good nines – all the conditions were favorable for a good game of ball at Dundurn Saturday, and a good game of ball was had”
Hamilton Spectator. June 8, 1885
A weekend in the latter part of the season of spring in 1885 was memorable, maybe not for any spectacular occurrences, but for a series of lesser events which when put together give a taste of what life was like in the city at the time.
The baseball game at Dundurn Park attracted 1900 of Hamilton’s most enthusiastic fans to a game which lasted two hours.
The Hamilton Clippers were well ahead of the Guelph Maple Leafs, 4-1.
As described by the Hamilton Spectator reporter on the scene, it looked like the result of the game was already decided at that point:
“The Clippers did nothing in their half of the ninth inning, and the crowd began to move to the gate when the Maple Leafs went to bat, satisfied that the game was over. But it wasn’t.
“The Leafs had got (pitcher) Pete Wood’s range, as it were, and began pounding him so lively that three of them skipped over the home plate.
“ ‘How’s the score?’ demanded Pete Wood.
“ “A tie,’ cheerfully responded the scorer.
“Off went Peter’s cap, and the trouble began.”
The game went into the tenth inning :
“In the Clipper half of the tenth inning, (2nd baseman) McGra, who had sprained an ankle in the previous inning and now limped painfully, brought in two runs with a big hit, and the Clippers’ sympathizers breathed a trifle easier.”
In the bottom half of the 10th inning, Clipper pitcher Wood helped his cause with some nifty defensive efforts:
“For the Leafs, Jimmy Hower started off with a two-bagger. In this inning, Pete Wood did some capital play. Twice the ball was struck to him, and twice did he menace the base runners, making them hug their bags, and allowing himself just sufficient time to get the ball to first before the striker reached that bag. It was well and cooly done.
The injured Clipper 2nd baseman, Pat McGra, took the field despite his sprained ankle and made a key play:
“McGra closed the inning by sharply fielding a ball that he had to run nearly to first base to secure. Pat was the hero of the hour.
“The game was most interesting, and at times intensely exciting. There was little heavy hitting, but there was plenty of brilliant fielding, and just errors enough to give it variety.”
The Spectator coverage of baseball games in 1885 was very detailed as to the narrative of the game’s progress, plus a full scoreboard with all the appropriate statistics.
At the end of each games coverage was a section simply called “Notes.”
Here are just a few of the many notes which followed the coverage of the Clippers’ 6-4 extra inning victory over the Guelph Maple Leafs:
“The game of baseball seems to be understood, to some extent, in the place called Hamilton.
“The best batters do not make the best batting when the pitcher gives them their bases on ball.
“Chamberlain (Clippers’ 3rd baseman) was the ladies’ favorite in the Clipper-Leaf game. Charley Maddock (Maple Leafs’ 2nd baseman) was jealous of him.
“(regarding Clippers left fielder Pfann) Pfann plays a pfine game in the pfield.
“Baseball in Canada has now reached a high degree of excellence, and the league teams make games that are exceedingly interesting for the spectators.
“Charley Maddock tore around the St. Nicholas (a downtown Hamilton hotel), after the game, as if his name was spelled mad-ox. His temper was slightly ruffled by recent baseball events.
“The Maple Leafs and Clippers are bound to give Hamilton audiences the worth of their money. A 14 innings game and a 10 innings game so far, and both close and exciting.
“Wouldn’t it be a good policy for oitcher Wood to trust more to his fielders and not give so many strikers bases on balls? Those fellows who go to first on balls occasionally get around.
“The most exited man at Dundurn on Saturday was the man who in the sixth inning put up $15 to $2 on the Clippers. When the Leafs tied the Clippers in the ninth inning, the man who had backed the home team went behind the grandstand and lay down.
“Baseball has become fashionable in Hamilton as well as popular. The ladies’ side of the grandstand at Dundurn was crowded, and many handsome toilets were displayed. Not a few of the ladies had never seen a ball game before, and they voted it ‘ever so much nice than cricket.’ ”
It should be noted that the Clippers were not the only Hamilton team in professional Canadian Baseball league. On June 8, 1885, the second Hamilton team, the Primroses was tied with the Clippers for first place in the league.
In the Notes of the Spectator for June 8, 1885, it was noted that the tie for first place would be over by the end of the afternoon as the Primroses and Clippers had a scheduled league game at Dundurn:
“There’ll be wigs on the green this afternoon at Dundurn. Somebody is going to get beaten.
“There won’t be any monkeying this afternoon at Dundurn, when the Primroses and Clippers wrestle for the lead in the league race.
“You need not be at all astonished, if you see the Primroses coming down from Dundurn in hacks this evening, with brooms displayed.
“The Primroses are entitled to very great credit. They are all Hamilton boys, and have got together a rattling nine without the heavy financial backing enjoyed by some other clubs in the league.
“The Clippers and Primroses still stand even in the lead for the championship, with three won games each. The Maple Leafs are third with one game won; the Londons fourth with an unbroken goose egg, and the Torontos are to be heard from.
“Today, one must lose, either the Clippers or the Primroses, if there is a game. Each of the clubs lost bits first and won the three following games and now stand even in the race for the championship. The strongest eams that can be put on the field will be the ones for today’s match, and if it is not the best match yet there will be many surprised people in Hamilton.”
Market day conditions, especially prices and supply, were usually commented on in the press, and the Spectator on Monday June 8, 1885 noted that “the local markets were abundantly supplied on Saturday, and the demand good. There was very little change in prices. Meats and dairy products were a shade lower.”
A case at the Saturday morning Police court drew interest as the day before (Friday) a very large funeral took place. Captain Henery, the head man at the Barton Street Jail, had passed away and there was an unusually large procession of his friends, family and associates accompanying the hearse to the Hamilton Cemetery.
The procession was probably too long for the patience of Henry McLaren’s coachman, William Dillon who decided to drive through the procession. Dillon did not appear in the Police Court but police constable Limin told the magistrate that Dillon did indeed commit the offense. Magistrate Cahill found Dillon guilty and imposed a fine of $2 or10 days in jail.
In June 1885, a prolonged and bitter strike by unionised cigarmakers was still in progress. The cigar makers had brought in non-union into their premises to continue production.
An incident, involving the strikers and non-union workers was reported as follows :
“Several non-union cigar makers were assailed on Saturday evening near the corner of King and James streets by a crowd of union men, who shocked their sensibilities by calling them ‘scabs,’ ‘rats,’ and other names expressive of the intense scorn in which the non-union men are held by the union men. So terrible were the threats of the assailing party that the frightened non-union men sought refuge in a neighboring store, and would not come out until a couple of policemen were sent for to escort them home. They were also accompanied by two cigar manufacturers, one of whom, Mr. J. Schwartz, was struck in the leg by a stone.”
Saturday evening proved to be an eventful time on Stuart street as a notorious pair of brothers tangled with a Hamilton policeman :
“Two brothers, John and William Collins, were behaving themselves unseemingly, and Constable Cruickshank undertook to arrest them. They resisted, and a hard struggle took place. Both the Collins are powerful men, John being an iron moulder and William, a blacksmith, and they fought desperately. They got Cruickshank down on the road, and pounded him, and sat on him, and rolled over him. But Cruickshank is a plucky young fellow, and as sturdy as he is stout-hearted. He caught on to John Collins and never let him go until constables Nixon and Robinson arrived on the scene. William got away when he saw reinforcements arriving, but was shortly afterwards arrested in his own house, Queen street. A man named Craig was also arrested for interfering with the police. Cruickshank was considerably bruised and shaken, but is not much the worse for his struggle. Many absorbers of mixed drinks have suffered far more than he from their little encounters with John Collinses.”
Sunday June 7, 1885 proved to be a very hot, humid day, with an occasional outburst of rain through into the mix. But neither heat not rain could curb the weekly outdoor demonstrations of the Salvation Army in downtown Hamilton:
“Notwithstanding the very hot weather, the services all yesterday were conducted with more than exuberant fervor, and crowds of people were present at the three meetings on the market square; though here the little English captain complained of “Canada’s broiling hot sun.” In the barracks during the day, several sensations occurred arising, as usual from the presence of visiting female officers. Capt. Miss Lee, an American officer from Rochester, wielded the sceptre, and called for a “hallelujah sing-song,” that is, demanding the each soldier give his or her experience in the verse of a hymn, which had to be sung. Some of these pieces were very well given. Miss Lee has a remarkably clear, loud, ringing voice, and her singing and address told well; but the decided impression was made by a cadet, Miss Commbs, of Oakville. This officer displayed most remarkable power and a wonderful flow of words. She will doubtless make a distinct mark as an army orator. Another officer, Miss Bowman, also spoke well and produced a decided effect by her supplications during a very fervent prayer meeting, during which five persons professed conversion. Capt. Dyer stood aside during all these proceeddings, but his quiet, earnet exhortations during the holiness meeting made such an impression that erring soldiers were drawn from their seats to the penitent form. There is now every possibility that the new barracks will be immediately proceeded with.”
The last major event of the weekend of June 6th and 7th 1885 was a near tragedy on the bay:
“Several boats were on the bay when a squall arose. One of them – a small lugger with five young men of the city in it – was struck and capsized 300 yards out from Browne’s wharf. Fortunately all the young men were swimmers and also sober, and they clung to the boat until they were taken off by the crew of the sailboat Neptune, which put out from Browne’s wharf. They were in the water about 20 minutes, and were pretty well exhausted when rescued. Daniel Phillips especially distinguished himself in rescuing the party, and after they were safely on board the Neptune, he swam about for some time recovering their stray articles of clothing.”
In 1885, every article of the Spectator contained a column headlined as follows :
“The Diurnal Epitome: What Goeth On In and About the City : Items of Local News Gathered by Spectator Reporters and Presented in Attractive Form for the Interested Reader.”
The column under that headline on Monday afternoon June 8, 1885 contained many items, a few of which looked back at the weekend:
“- The new street sweeper has arrived. It looks as if it ought to do its work well. It will be put into operation as speedily as possible.
- A lad named Mars fell from a swing at Ainslie wood yesterday afternoon and received some pretty severe bruises about his body.
- There will be plenty of sport at the cigar-makers’ picnic at Dundurn today. The ball match between the Clippers and Primroses is sure to attract a big crowd if the day turns out fine.
- The Bayview band and a portion of the Independent gave a concert at the corner of King and James streets. The playing was not for the championship.
- A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Fred Kane and Edward McCullough for the larceny of a bouquet of flowers from Walter Holt, at the James street market Saturday morning.
- The hailstones that fell yesterday afternoon were remarkably large. One, picked up on James street south, measured nearly four inches in circumference, and many were as large as ordinary-sized walnuts.
- The rain yesterday caused a cave-in in the gravel path in front of the court. A circular hole, several feet in diameter, sank. There was a cave in at the same sport a couple of weeks ago. There was probably a well there at one time which was never properly filled up. The matter will be attended to now.
- The hot spell yesterday afternoon sent sweltering citizens in droves to the water. The Beach, Bayview and Landsdowne park were liberally patronized, and the bay was dotted with yachts, luggers and smaller boats all day. It was cool on the water, and a steady sou’westerly breeze made sailing good.