Take me out to the ballgame

As the history of town baseball continues, this week features a brief summary of a few of the games from 1904, exactly as they were originally described in the Herald, about what was expected to be “the best team we have ever had.”

Feb. 24, 1904  

Base Ball to the Front

At a meeting of base ball enthusiasts at the city hall…plans were formed for the best club the town has ever had. No organization was completed, but the list of players of the new team will bring joy into the hearts of every local lover of the game. Six members of the club are new to BP, and with the best of our old players, the prospects are bright for a championship team. It will be an all home team, too.

First of all, there is Roger Denzer of National League fame. He will move onto the old Henry Thoms farm the first of March and has told the boys that he is anxious to get back in the game and will gladly work for the local team. A year ago, he was a member of the New York Nationals, and he has not yet lost the cunning that earned him a place among the big ones. [However, a couple months later, Denzer ended up playing for Henderson instead.]

Another new member is J.L. Burns, last season the star and mainstay of the Shakopee club. Mr. Burns is the equal of any player in this section and will strengthen the club greatly.

Peter J. Hahn will also be a new member and a new player in this section. He is a player of note in the extreme northwest and with the clubs of the Pacific slope.

W.N. Southworth can still play the game as he did in his university days and will be a valuable acquisition to the team.

W.E. Woehler also learned the game during his college years and has played more or less ever since.

Another new member is Herbert Botts, who will be remembered as the fast, little player on the Henderson club of last year. The above six players have never played on a BP diamond and are almost a team in themselves.

In addition, we have our own old reliables, whose playing is known to all. They are Peter Meyer, Frank Werrick, John Seiberlich, Nic Walerius, James Meade, players who will cinch victory every time. With several good pitchers and substitute men for every position, the above list constitutes a team that will last the entire season. As an all home aggregation, it cannot be equaled…

May 4, 1906

Base Ball Season Opens

Belle Plaineites will witness the first base ball game of the opening season next Sunday afternoon. The Shakopee ball tossers will meet the new BP team on the new diamond. The event ought to bring out a rousing big crowd, as it will be the first occasion the townspeople have of sizing up the club that will represent BP this year. The season would have opened a week sooner, were it not for the remodeling of the diamond, which work will be completed in time for next Sunday.

The batting list is not yet known, as a captain has not been elected. He will be chosen this week. It is known, however, that J.L. Burns will do the twirling. It will be his first appearance on the local diamond, and pitching against his former teammates, the Shakopee players, will give an added degree of interest. The Shakopee team was one of the strongest in this section last year, but we expect to see them vanquished next Sunday.

Admission to the game will be fifteen cents. It is the intention of the management that as soon as they have realized enough to pay for the new uniforms, the fixing up of the grounds, and other expenses which they have contracted, to reduce the price of admission to ten cents. They have gone to much expense to make things interesting for us this summer, and it is no more than natural that they should expect the encouragement of every one in town.

May 11, 1904

Wins Opening Game Handily

Did the new BP team make good? An affirmative shout would greet the query that would ring from end to end of town. With a decisive victory for the home team, the base ball season was ushered in Sunday.

A splendid crowd witnessed the initial performance, and it brought joy to the heart of every local lover of the sport, not so much on account of this single victory as in the knowledge that we have now a team that can play ball all the time. They may not always win, but they proved that they are always ball players.

The local team was as new to us as were the visitors. Only four had ever appeared before a BP audience previously, and the crowd was anxious to see how the new team worked. All pulled together beautifully, and it has been some years since we have had a more evenly balanced nine. The opening game disclosed not a weak spot, and in general every one played his position above criticism and in a manner which brought continuous applause.

The score [BP 13, Shakopee 2] would denote a one-sided game, and while the final result was not a moment in doubt after the second inning, the visitors at no time laid down their  arms but pluckily did their best until the last man was out. For the locals the battery performed the major part of the work; not once during the game did the fielders have a chance to distinguish themselves. Burns made his debut as the local slab artist by allowing the visitors but one scratch hit, a feat never before equaled on a local diamond that we can recall.

Thirteen Shakopeeans made big dents in the atmosphere and then returned to the bench; the visitors could not win even if there were no other forces to contend with than our star twirler. Niedenfuehr pitched a steady game for the visitors, but the boys in blue early took kindly to his delivery and swathed the sphere for long drives. Hardly a man failed to connect safely, and five two-baggers are to their credit. The batting as well as the battery alone were enough to win were the other features absent…

May 18, 1904

…Close and Exciting Contest

Again BP’s base ball team crowned itself with glory, a majority of scores, and the plaudits of the multitude. Before a splendid audience Sunday, the home team defeated the crack nine of the Amateur Athletic Association of St. Paul in one of the fastest games seen on the home diamond in several years. Score 5 to 4.

The game was full of ginger and uncertainties, and the excitement never abated until the last man was out. The ninth inning opened with a tie, and not until the last half was the winning score made for BP. Both sides played steady ball and struggled hard to win, but the locals had clearly the better of it throughout – in pitching, fielding and batting.

It was a pitcher’s battle from start to finish, and to the excellent work of both Burns and Hoff is due the smallness of the score. Hits were as scarce as strawberries at a church festival. BP’s record was but four hits, one of them a double [by Engfer], while the best the visitors could do was three singles. Burns came near establishing a record in the number of strikeouts, having fifteen to his credit, while three other Athletics fanned and were put out on first…

The pitching of Burns was not altogether a surprise to the Athletics; they knew what kind of ball they were going up against when they came here. Burns pitched with the Athletics about four years ago and won fourteen straight games for them that season. The team was out for the state championship that year and they won it.

The number of people on the grounds Sunday probably exceeded 300, which was about as large as the best in the old days. The town is loyally supporting the team, and while the expenses of bringing a city team here is large, the gate receipts more than met it. The boys hope to get out of debt soon, when they can add further improvements to the ball park…

May 25, 1904

Henderson Forfeits Game

By far the fastest, most interesting, and altogether most exciting game ever witnessed on the home grounds terminated abruptly in the latter half of the seventh inning Sunday, and while BP was awarded the victory, it was not so decisive as the friends of the local club would desire, and what might have been a record-breaking game was marred in the finishing.

For seven innings the contest waged nip and tuck, neither side giving, neither side losing. Not a score was made. The pitching of both sides was superb, the fielding was as near perfect as amateur teams could do. Only four of the visitors reached first during the entire game, only three of those reached second, not one got as far as third. It was a game calculated to inspire the wildest excitement and make every player put forth his strongest efforts.

Henderson had got Roger Denzer, of National League fame, to pitch for them, and the mighty Roger played in old-time form – steady, quietly, unconcerned; with any other pitcher, an altogether different score would have resulted. Opposed to him was our own reliable Burns, in his best form Sunday, and pitched a game that could nowhere be improved upon. Cool, calculating, he had the heaviest hitters of the opposing team at his mercy; even Workings, who has considerable local fame as a sure batter, was fanned twice. But one hit was got off Burns, while Denzer was touched for two, one of them a two-bagger [by Engfer]…

There was one man out [in the last half of the seventh inning] when Werrick came to bat and knocked out a pretty single over second base. Burns followed with a fast grounder to short, who fumbled, and two runners were now eagerly watching a chance to advance another bag. First baseman Bosel, who for years has had the reputation of being the disturbing element in every game in which he takes part, here tried rough work with Burns, by blocking him, roughly punching and rubbing in his elbow uncomfortably, which became more than the base runner could stand and he waded into his bigger antagonist. In a minute they had clinched, but several BP players near first promptly separated the combatants, and the incident would have undoubtedly ended there…were it not for the action of an outsider from Henderson, a Mr. Wiest, who felt himself called upon to butt in, and running across the diamond got into the affair by brutally kicking Burns in the face. An officer present promptly arrested and removed him from the grounds.

A few of the Henderson players used this arrest as a pretext for not continuing the game. And despite the earnest desire of their real ball players, their battery and others left the field. In the meantime, Seiberlich had bunted and the catcher, excited by the trouble, failed to play his game, and Werrick crossed the plate, scoring. The umpire gave the visitors several minutes to resume play, when he declared the game forfeited to BP…

Note:  After beginning the 1904 season with five straight wins, the Tigers lost the final eight games.

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