“At the finish of the fourth inning, the score stood five and five,” The Glens Falls Morning Star reported on July 12, 1890, the morning after the game. “In the ninth inning, the Whitehall club succeeded in making one run, thereby winning the game.” Management of the Athletics had arranged with the Delaware and Hudson Railroad to have the 6:15 pm train stop at the Warren Street crossing, near the new ball diamond, to pick up the visiting Whitehall nine.
In the year 1890, Glens Falls (in Warren County) returned to the ranks of semi-professional baseball, after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus. The previous local team, The Hudsons, disbanded in mid-season during 1887.
“Young America is abroad [engaged in the Philippine-American War, sometimes misnamed the Spanish-American War] with his ball and bat, and his vocabulary is full of flies, curves, fouls, strikes, muffs and such like,” The Morning Star opined on April 22, 1890. Glens Falls would not be left out of the enthusiasm for the war, or baseball.
Baseball locally gained a new competitor when the Glens Falls Athletic Club, which operated a gym and social club downtown, voted April 19, 1890 to spend up to $100 – the equivalent of about $3,300 in 2023 dollars – to buy uniforms and equipment for a team, provided a suitable playing field could be lined-up.
The team, originally, was to be comprised exclusively of association members. But later in the season some out-of-town players were brought in to bolster the local talent and draw more spectators. “Much interest is taken in this manner, and it seems probable than an excellent nine will be gotten together and some good games played this season,” The Morning Star reported April 21st.
The local independent team played both amateur and professional teams, including a professional touring club comprised of all women.
At one point a game was scheduled against the The Cuban Giants, the top black professional team in the nation, but was canceled when The Giants couldn’t line up enough other games in the region to fund the road trip. The association team lost its opening game on the road against the Sandy Hill Union School 18-3 on April 26th.
Improvement came with practice. “The Athletic Association baseball nine is becoming more proficient in playing, and will continue practicing until the regular season opens hereabouts, when, it is expected, games will be announced with out-of-town clubs,” The Morning Star reported on May 3rd.
The Athletics lost a second game against Union School that afternoon, this time with a closer score of 15-14.
On May 29th, The Athletics defeated Fort Edward 13-7. Attendance was good, but playing by both teams was subpar according to the paper.
On June 24th, the Athletics lost 8-5 in a road game at Fort Edward. “The game was slow and not very exciting,” it was reported.
On June 27th, The Morning Star said that the association had leased land that George W. Brayton owned below the railroad crossing on Warren Street for three years to develop a baseball field. The field was expected to be ready for the Athletics to host Fort Edward for a double header on Independence Day.
On July 16th, The Morning Star reported that field foreman Johnson promised to have a part of the grandstand ready for that afternoon’s game, in which Greenwich, said to be one of the best teams in region, defeated The Athletics. “Three of the best players for the home nine,” the paper explained “were out of town, and their places were filled by substitutes who were comparatively out of practice.”
The Athletics added a crack pitcher and catcher for its July 25th home game against Ballston, a professional club. “The next game of the season is promised for this afternoon when the Ballston Club and the Athletics will come together for the first time on the Warren Street grounds,” The Morning Star reeported. The game was postponed due to rain, and later canceled when the Ballston club abruptly ceased operation.
Attendance at games was sufficient for the management to pick up advertising revenue. “Percy & Co., the wide-awake dealers in musical instruments, Troy and Albany, have purchased the privilege of using the ball ground fence for advertising purposes,” the paper reported on August 4, 1890.
There was major baseball ball news reported in The Morning Star on August 9th: “W.F. Phillips, press agent for a female baseball club, came to Glens Falls last evening and made arrangements for a game with the local nine on Saturday of next week at 3:30 p.m. The female club was organized in the west about ten weeks ago.”
It would be a respectable event. “They are said to deport themselves modestly on the ball field and elsewhere,” the paper said. “Their costume and manners are such, it is alleged, as not to be offensive to the most refined tastes.” A pregame parade was planned at 11:30 am, featuring a brass band and the female athletes riding in horse-drawn carriages.
The women’s club had drawn nearly 3,000 people, including about 200 women, to a recent game in Pittsburg, despite cold weather. “The baseball committee will say to the public and their friends that the game Saturday with the female baseball nine will be conducted in such a manner that no lady need hesitate to come and witness the contest,” the paper claimed.
The unnamed women’s team defeated the Athletics 16-9, but, after all, the women were professionals and the Glens Falls team amateurs. The box office receipts were favorable, as about 1,650 people attended the game.
With new players added to the roster, the Athletics defeated Greenwich 9-2 on August 26th. “Our boys played ball from the start, and the errors were very few,” The Morning Star reported the next morning, adding a pitch for increased attendance. “We can have as good a ball club as any north of Albany, if lovers of the game will give their support.”
The Athletics beefed up their roster for two games against Greenwich on Labor Day and the day after. “The former nine has been greatly strengthened by a battery (pitcher and catcher) from out of town,” The Morning Star announced on September 1st.
It would appear that the first-year season did not meet expectation, but organizers were committed to a second season. The Morning Star reported on October 6th that season tickets sold for the 1890 season would also be valid for the 1891 season.
The Athletics continued to play for at least three more seasons.
Photo: Glens Falls area school children playing a pickup baseball game in ca. 1900 (courtesy Crandall Public Library).