Don’t read this without first watching the video. But then definitely read this because I’m going to hopefully expand on the video and explain things a little more clearly, and point you in the direction of additional resources for this beast.
One of those resources is going to be a CardAnnals podcast. If you’re reading this on day one of release, the Podcast isn’t available to you. The Video will have a few days to breathe on its own, and then the podcast will roll out soon after.
So come back to this site in the next few days, and we’ll be linking them here. Like here, like just below the next paragraph.
There will be 5 podcasts rolling out, and these podcasts are designed to take what you’ve seen in the video, and go much, much deeper. So if you’re interested in what you’ve seen, the podcasts are a must. They’ll probably scare you. I ramble for a long time.
1 – The audio from the video will be released as a podcast on its own
1a – We’re going to look deeper into the founding of St. Louis and what transpired to lead Thomas Jefferson to feel he needed to send someone on a secret mission.
1b – We look at the Lucas family, how they got their money, and specifically how James Lucas ended up with a huge inheritance, even though he wasn’t nearly their only son (hint, it’s very bloody).
1c – We look at the history of baseball and the rules at the time of its introduction into St. Louis
1d – We look at the lead up of baseball coming to St. Louis, and eventually going from amateur fun to a professional team.
So we have a 10 minute video, and well over an hour of podcasts, and here in this blog I’m somehow going to tell you even more stuff. It’s well established I have a sickness.
Finally – I need to get this out of the way before I personally get into any of my thoughts – the blog “This Game of Games” by Jeff Kittel, is THE resource for 1800s baseball in St. Louis. It’s better than any book, any blog, any video out there. And it’s thorough. And it doesn’t suffer myths kindly. And you can get lost for days in there. There are things (like scores) that I researched through old newspapers that didn’t match what Jeff had on his site. I went with my scores because I was getting them from direct source material. But it wouldn’t shock me if Jeff had even better source material I wasn’t aware of.
Here we go.
It’s funny to look at the world from a 2020 perspective, and try to imagine what life was like 150 years ago, but cities definitely had rivalries we can’t imagine today. St. Louis – I mean there is no other way to put it – they were jealous and upset that Chicago was quickly overtaking them after the railroad made Chicago one of the most important cities in the country. The railroad made Chicago’s eventual dominance inevitable – it’s almost absurd to think of the cities on equal grounds today. I mean, Chicago is known as the capital of the Midwest. Meanwhile, St. Louis gets extra draft picks because it’s market is one of the smaller ones in baseball.
But in the middle 1800s, cities competed in everything. And boy did residents of the two cities hate each other, and in Episode 2 of Annals, well, if you’ve ever wondered how far back the Cardinals Cubs rivalry actually goes, the answer is: Day 1. And frankly it was probably fiercer day 1, then any other time in history. Come back after the next episode and ask yourself when the Hell this ever became known as a friendly rivalry?
St Louis was at one point the 4th largest city in the United States, but the Civil War did a tremendous number on the city. The union had a blockade on everything south on the Mississippi river, and, well, that was basically the reason St. Louis was an attractive option in the first place.
It got so bad, that St. Louis actually lied during the 1870 census. Knowing Chicago was going to overtake it in population, St. Louis held back its results until it could see what the final Chicago numbers were, and then it simply forged the data to make its population higher. This is how important the rivalry between the two cities was. Here’s a fun blog post on the topic:
What’s hilarious is that you’ll still see information today lamenting that St. Louis’s population has fallen so low, it’s now equal to 1870. Indeed, the decline of St. Louis over the last century is sad – the city has often had long period of terrible leadership (though the last decade has signaled quite a revival, business wise) – but never fear. As far as St. Louis has fallen, they aren’t actually below where they were in 1870, because 1870 was a complete lie. So that’s good news!
So yeah, it’s hard to think of many ways Chicago hasn’t completely surpassed St. Louis, but it’s easy to think of one: Baseball. And it’s gotten to the point of absurdity. There is no reason a city like St. Louis should be more successful than the deep pocketed cities like Chicago. But St. Louis made a baseball team to prove that they could be better than Chicago, and 150ish years later, when everything else seems lost to the point of there not being a contest, there the Cardinals are, still getting the better of the Cubs. Even in this last decade, where the Cubs finally, pathetically, actually won a World Series (and proceeded to act like it was a miracle – where the real miracle was why it took so long), the Cardinals still won more games. Still won as many, and went to more World Series, and ended the decade just as they started it, looking down on Chicago.
And what’s amazing is how much this matters. Back then, people took pride in population, businesses, celebrities that would visit, new construction feats, etc. Does anyone really care about this today? Does anyone really look at some new building in Chicago and get jealous? Does anyone care about that sort of thing?
Nah, but people DO care about sports. People’s hatred over rival cities can often completely based upon athletic achievements, and at this, the Cardinals are the constant thorn. Beautiful.
(But boy would it be cool if a city that clearly has the potential to be a major, successful location – because it WAS one – would someday actually invest in itself intelligently and start having such a historic and beautiful city live up to its potential once again).
For the Lucas Family, something should be cleared up:
There are 3 Lucas’s of note to the Cardinals significance:
1) Jean Baptiste Charles Lucas
2) James H Lucas
3) JBC Lucas II
Those researching the Missouri Glass Company, where Ed Bredell Jr. and Merritt Griswold created the 1st amateur baseball team in St. Louis, will find that Ed Bredell St. Have a handful of other investors when he opened up in 1858, and one of those other investors was named James A Lucas. I have no clue if he’s related to the Lucas family. I can’t find anything on him. But it sure is a suspicious coincidence that a James Lucas had money to invest in St. Louis at that time. It’s at least possible the family is even MORE tied to baseball than we thought.
(and if this is all you know about the Lucas family, then it’s DEFINITE they are more tied to baseball than you know, as in Episode 2, you’ll find out something you never knew about baseball in St. Louis)
One of the best things you can find on the strange and sad story of the Lucas family can be found here
Oh, and one more key note on the Lucas family now that I mention the very rich and intelligent Ann. Her mother is actually to blame for this entire thing, and I regret accidentally cutting it out of the video. Anne Sebin married Jean Charles Baptiste Lucas, and his family hated her so much, he was basically kicked out. It was the catalyst for them moving to the United States. Of course had that never happened, he’d have never been sent to the Louisiana Purchase by Jefferson. But more directly, when Lucas arrived in St. Louis in 1805 and bought everything – it was at the direction of his wife. Smart lady. Also, thanks for the baseball.
OK, so let’s talk the Missouri Glass Company. I can’t tell you how hard it was to find the location of this place, but just so we’re clear about it:
Middle block, between Pine and Olive. The top street is 5th street (now Broadway). Bottom side, 3rd building from the left. This is the location of the Missouri Glass Company in 1858. I can’t be 100% confident. The Missouri Glass Company failed quickly once the Civil War started, went under new management, and moved several times. That’s part of the problem. EVERYONE moved. Not a single business that existed between Pine and Olive on 5th street in 1858 was still there in 1866. Also, the buildings were entirely replaced by 1875. Also, the address naming convention had completely changed. Today it’s the 200 block. The building is 200 North Broadway. In 1875, it was very similar, with the addresses in the 200s. In the 1850s – nope! But I did extensive research to figure out with almost total confidence that it was on the right side of the street, and probably the 4th door down, although I did find evidence of random address numbers being in different places. No matter, while it’s possible the Missouri Glass company was one building to the right in this picture – the approximate location today is still the same, what is as of this date, an Edward Jones Financial Office. Now of course the road has changed, and the buildings have changed many times over. Things have probably shifted a few feet. Any trace of the original building is long gone. But it you want to feel the aura of where 2 men talked baseball for the 1st time in St. Louis, well, Edward Jones is your place. And no one there knows it! There have to be Cardinals fans working there, right? Someone go tell them!
Some may have noticed another picture we flashed a few times, showing the headquarters for the Brown Stockings. Somewhat ironically, this is now a mega bank. But this is another thing they couldn’t possibly have known. In 1875, this was the location where you could buy tickets to watch Brown Stockings games. Investors could pick up their (version of) season tickets there. It cost them $10! And there’s no way these original, hardcore baseball fans could have known that baseball came to St. Louis almost directly across the street (albeit in an already demolished and replaced building). Freaking awesome.
In the meanwhile, because I’m an idiot, I clearly did not go on enough about Merritt Griswold and just how much he meant to the game of baseball. This guy came from New York, talked and formed a team with Ed Bredell Jr., and also spent time teaching locals how to play and convincing THEM to play baseball. He SENT FOR the original baseball that they played with to be one used in New York. He advertised the first game in papers. He’s truly the father of St. Louis baseball, even though he never quite got the credit. The fake Shepard Barclay was published in 1910. The Merritt Griswold story was added in 1911. Somehow, it was almost too late. The Barclay story lives on to way too many trusted sources.
But we showed you 2 things in the video we didn’t even talk about. For many St. Louisians, there intro to baseball was reading about it in the paper. Because Merritt Griswold actually drew a diagram of a baseball field and explained the rules and had it published for the town to see. And he still had this to show the world 50 years later! It’s a freaking treasure, and you should probably stare at this for the next 10 hours.’
Basically, tremendous kudos to Mr. Griswold, who needs to be in any Missouri based Hall of Fame, because probably no one is more responsible for St. Louis becoming a baseball city.
As for the Cardinals being today’s Brown Stockings, it’s hard to say too much without giving too many things to say. I’ll have a LOT more to say about this in future episodes, without doing spoilers here. But if you were watching the video, you saw the part about the great Chicago fire of 1871. The White Stockings finished that year without a stadium. They actually played out the season on the road, borrowing equipment from other teams. They then ceased to exist for the next two seasons, coming back in 1874. For over TWO FULL YEARS the White Stockings didn’t exist. And when are the Cubs considered to have been founded? 1870. No games, no stadium, no team for 2 years, and yet it’s the same franchise somehow. Please remember this when you hear the Browns story.
As for those team names, from the White Stockings to the Cubs, and the Brown Stockings to the Cardinals, technically that isn’t true.
The Cubs were the Chicago Baseball Club. They were just CALLED the White Stockings. If you’ve ever heard of team names referred to as nicknames, this is why. Often names were media driven. The White Stockings were called the White Stockings because they, get this, wore White Stockings. Later on they got the nickname the Colts (not mentioned in the video) because the team was turned over and ended up being all new young guys under the watch of Al Spalding. When Al Spalding left, they were called the Orphans, because it was as though daddy left the team. These were just nicknames that stuck. The Cubs name came out of a fan contest. I don’t want to give the idea much of this stuff was official back then – and future episodes will highlight just HOW unofficial all of this stuff was.
Also, just to tell you a few great things I discovered in this research that’s kind of an aside:
One of the investors of the Brown Stockings owned a Dollar Store. I’ve spent the last month imagining what a dollar store was like in 1875. I mean, are these fine goods?
I cannot tell you how many articles about baseball were about how good baseball USED to be before the modern players ruined it. Again, we’re talking about before pro baseball even existed.
I especially liked one article that proclaimed rowing was becoming so popular that it would be overtaking baseball for the big city attraction in the next year. Spoiler: didn’t happen.
An article from the Chicago Tribune describing the 36-8 whomping as “interesting” and “sharply contested” It was 36-8. This probably describes just how little was known about baseball from the media watching it – as it was just the 2nd game in White Stockings history – and considering the 1st one was 47-1, 36-8 might just seem sharply contested after all.
Oh, and I’ll tell you when I’ve told Cubs fans this story in the past, I’ve often gotten an eye roll about how obsessed St. Louis is with Chicago that they are living rent free and blah blah blah because the Cardinals were created to take down Chicago. Don’t let any Cubs fan tell you that crap. The White Stockings were created with the exact same purpose – to challenge at take down Cincinnati. There’s no holier than thou crap going on Chicago was every bit as petty as everyone else. The only real difference is that they’ve just spent the better part of 100+ years failing at their task.
Last I want to tell you some sources that you should read that I gathered information and inspiration from for this Episode besides the ones listed above, and many to come through this time period.
Special Credit to those that helped me
⦁ @drewmaniac for his help that is probably not quite ethically sound enough to spell out what he did, but he knows what he did, and it’s amazing and has expanded the research abilities endlessly.
⦁ @WhitewaterAtty who went out to the freaking Jefferson Memorial and spent part of his day taking pictures for a baseball blog video. I love you guys and your willingness to waste your life for stuff like this
And Lastly to the Annals team, all who have been a part of the creative process and consulting and promoting this thing, but also have done their parts specifically:
Lauren Bundy, @lbundy90 If you want to know who took their time taking pictures of Parking Garages, and Edward Jones buildings, it was Lauren. What a strange trip she signed up for, and we’re all just so happy she did, so we can bring you as much of the real story as we can from the actual sites. Next episode join Lauren’s trek under an overpass for a search for St. Louis baseball history. It’s glamorous working on this team.
Jeff Niehaus, @Fly_The_L As of this writing Jeff is married, but it can’t be for much longer, because the amount of hours he’s put into making this video is astounding to me. I’ve assumed along the way he’s going to quit, and the last thing he said on it was that he “couldn’t wait to start the next episode.” In life, it’s great advice to surround yourself with freaks. They’re the best.
cardinalsgifs, @cardinalsgifs You know Gifs. How can I possibly thank Gifs and have it do it justice? The visuals you saw in this last video were mostly created by him. All of his free time is spent creating, creating, creating for this community. I doubt I’ve ever had more fun collaborating with anyone in my life. We’re truly blessed, me above all.
And of course, thank you. You’ve read this huge blog. You’ve watched the videos. I hope you listen to the podcasts. I hope you give feedback. We need it. There’s just no point to doing this without all of you out there saying you want it. This is the first in depth episode. We sure hope you like it. We sure hope this continues to be a regular thing we can all share in together.
The next episode is all about 1875, the first professional baseball season in St. Louis. I’ll tell you, it is nuts. You’re going to smile. This freaking game, this freaking team, they are just so fun, you have no idea.
But you will soon. ;-)
(I want to leave you with a full size image of the original certificate sold to raise money for pro baseball in St. Louis, in case anyone wants to get me an Xmas gift)