Our look at the old days of town baseball in Belle Plaine continues this week with the “Tigers.” After using a variety of team names since the beginning of BP baseball in 1885, the team finally chose the name still used today.
This week features a brief summary of games from the years 1899-1900, exactly as they were originally described in the Herald. Interestingly, in 1899, the Herald started giving Base Ball its own sub-heading in bold type, usually near the end of news from Town and Vicinity on page five in the eight-page newspaper, but sometimes the story was placed on the front page. There’s also much more detailed coverage of each game, inning by inning, including a special, little addition at the end called “Notes of the Game.”
In 1899 and 1900, the “Tigers” were playing a full schedule of at least a dozen games each summer. Here are a few entries from the first two years of the Belle Plaine “Tigers.”
May 3, 1899
Base Ball Takes a New Hold
in Belle Plaine
Last Sunday afternoon the exponents of the national game from our county seat, Shakopee, came here with the avowed intention of taking the scalp locks of the boys of the Belle Plaine base ball team. The gentlemen from the village with the Indian name commenced the battle with a rush as though they were upon an unprotected settlement. But our boys held their ground and after Jupiter Pluvious had commenced to dampen the ardor of the Shakopee savages, the score stood 7 to 7 at the expiration of the 7th inning of one of the finest games played on the Belle Plaine unscraped diamond.
Notes of the Game:
The contribution box was stopped by rain, so was Meyer’s arm.
Kirchoff’s three-bagger stopped the Indians. After Krieger’s home run, Court was adjourned at Shakopee…
The boys are now thoroughly organized and will play any and all comers. The personnel of the team at present is as follows: Peter Kirchoff, rf; Vincent Becker, cf; Wm. Moellering, lf; Frank Werrick, 3b; James Meade, 2b; F.M. Chard, 1b; Joseph Albrecht, ss; Peter Meyer, p; and Emil Krieger, c.
May 19, 1899
The Fatal 7th Inning…best tells the downfall of our Base Ball Tigers at New Prague last Sunday. The New Prague Banners commenced the game with a rush and at the close of the 6th inning, as all throughout the game, they were ahead of the Tigers, who, however, were playing a steady uphill game, winding up in their half of the seventh with the score standing 9 to 8 in favor of our boys. It was at this time that every man, woman, and child in the new capitol of Bohemia commenced to play ball with their lungs and sent home for their domestic animals and others of the faithful friends of men, until Manager Simon wished all the Tigers would be as deaf as the center fielder. The boys broke, and the Banners wound up the seventh with 3 and the eighth with 4 runs making the score stand 15 to 9 against our boys.
Notes of the Game:
The battery work of Meyer and Krieger was noteworthy, the former striking out 12 men and the latter always remaining behind the bat, never taking advantage of the backstop.
…Our boys were well satisfied with the treatment they received at the hands of the New Prague management and are all willing to return the compliment.
The Tigers will from this time out report for practice every evening at 6:45 p.m. All town people interested in base ball are cordially invited to attend…
May 24, 1899
Banners 13 – Tigers 12
The above is the result of last Sunday’s game between the above teams. It was a raw, windy day for base ball, but the score was always so close and interesting that the 200 to 300 spectators were kept warm all the time. The game itself, in spite of the high wind which made good clean fielding well nigh impossible, was well played and the spectators kept on the ragged edge of suspense until the last player was put out…
For our boys the seventh commenced with Van Poll flying out, an out on first for Krieger, a safe hit for Werrick, ditto for Kirchoff, a two base hit for Albrecht scoring 2 runs, a hit by Moellering, scoring Albrecht and leaving Moellering on third. At this juncture Werrick, who was coaching, demanded that the pitcher let him examine the ball. Serry standing in the pitcher’s box did not find it necessary to wait for an order from the umpire but threw the ball into the crowd, as Werrick had stepped aside and Moellering ambled home much to the astonishment of Serry and his base ball students, thereby netting the Tigers 4 runs...
May 31, 1899
Belle Plaine 8 – Henderson 7
Rah! Rah! Rah! Zib! Boom! Ah! We play ball! There’ll be no rain! We’re the Tigers of Belle Plaine!
That was the burden of the yell which our Tigers shouted out to the ears of the vanquished Hendersonites last Sunday and they kept up until they could shout no more. And good reason therefore had they, for it was the first time in the annals of local base ball history that the mighty Maroons were forced to bite Henderson dust by the Belle Plaine boys.
June 28, 1899
Belle Plaine 8 – Henderson 7
The above explains the hilarity in Belle Plaine and corresponding gloom in Sibley County’s seat since last Sunday’s game. The game was one of the kind that kept on edge the nerves of the cranks, ladies, and patrons of the game in Belle Plaine, not excluding that contingent of dead beats who would rather throw their money away for questionable amusements than contribute to the support of a ball team. The names of the latter are legion and the base ball boys are determined at their next game here to shame them into staying away or doing what the reputable people here do, namely, pay the admission price.
August 23, 1899
Last Sunday the boys from St. John’s under the leadership of our townsman Wm. Bailey and reinforced by John Van Poll, the quondam pitcher for the Tigers, came here to exploit the national game. They continued the above pursuit for seven innings when they all followed the example of their pitcher and stopped with the score standing at the following numerals: St. John’s 5 – Belle Plaine 11.
May 9, 1900
Our Tigers last Sunday initiated the baseball season in the presence of about 300 people, half of whom were from surrounding towns and the victims selected were the gentlemen from the county seat.
The good attendance was very gratifying to the boys, and it also demonstrated that the national game had placed its rear pedal extremities into Belle Plaine soil and is here to stay.
Promptly at 2:30 p.m. the game was called and the umpire passed the ball to Mayor Hahn of our Borough who threw the first ball so high that it would have taken a bat 100 feet long to reach the same…
May 23, 1900
The boys went down in a bandwagon gaily decorated, full of good cheer, determined to at last break the incubus of continued defeats at the hand of the New Prague boys. At the end of eight innings with the score standing 8 to 3 in favor of Belle Plaine, the Banners bunched their hits and the Tigers their errors, leaving the score at Belle Plaine 9 – New Prague 14.
May 30, 1900
Belle Plaine 3 – Le Sueur 14
Three times and out is what the Tigers hope will be their fate after last Sunday’s defeat. The victory Le Sueur won was deserved ad proved that old and seasoned players are always to be relied upon to win baseball games…Le Sueur went to bat first and out of the first six men up, three pushed some soft spot of their anatomy at Meyer’s curves and the fun would have kept up had not Arney Smith got his head in the way, after which the boys from the city with the French name kept their persons on the side of the home plate…
June 27, 1900
B. P. 16 – Green Isle 12
The game never was in doubt before and after the fourth inning, as before that time Cyclone Meyer for Belle Plaine pitched winning ball. In the fourth the gentlemen from the village with the European name landed on Cyclone and the boys from the beautiful prairie bunched their errors until Manager Simon commenced to complain upon which the butcher’s 6 inch gun commenced a cannonade which continued to the ninth inning, in which said gun, i.e. Meyer, threw nine balls to retire the side and bring home the game for La Belle Prairie.
As the history of town baseball continues in 1901, a new team, called the Juniors, was organized for players under the age of 18. In 1902 the Governors team was formed for players under the age of 16, as well as another team of younger players called the Scrubs.