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A Brief History of Early Colorado Base Ball

  • 1830s ... Numerous clubs in the upper-Atlantic states are playing some form of Base Ball (note two words), usually according to the ‘‘Massachusetts Rules’’.

  • 1845 ... Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York City is formed, and radically alters the game. Most importantly, their ‘‘New York Rules’’ establish foul territory, which allows for the convenience of spectators and greatly boosts the game’s popularity.

  • 1858 ... Gold discovered near the confluence of Cherry Creek and the Platte River in western Kansas (later Colorado) Territory.

  • 1862 ... The Territory’s first organized team is formed, the Colorado Base Ball Club.  However, only a handful of games are played due to the expanding Civil War.

  • 1866 ... Organized base ball returns, with teams such as the Young BachelorsRocky Mountains and Occidentals.  Typical scores through the 1860s and early 1870s are 50 to 39 and 33 to 20.  Defense is so abominable that any game with fewer than 20 errors is lauded by newspapermen as extremely well-played.

  • 1869 ... The Star Base Ball Club of Central City is formed, an "eclectic", or what today is called an "all-star" team, from among all the many clubs around that mining metropolis.  The undefeated Stars are declared Territorial champions in 1869 and 1870.

  • 1871 ... The Blue Stockings, a Denver "eclectic" team, wins the Territory's first true championship tournament.

  • 1872 ... Drunkenness and gambling has taken root and nearly every contest is fixed or suspected of it. Many newspapers refuse to cover games until order is restored years later.  Despite this blackout, the game continues to thrive.

  • 1876 ... Colorado becomes the 37th state and the National (Baseball) League is formed.

  • 1877 ... Denver Brownstockings become the state's first semi-pro team. They play for eight years in the Colorado Base Ball League with the Colorado Springs Reds, Pueblo Pastimes and Leadville Blues, among many others.

  • 1882 ... Colorado Springs builds the State's first "permanent" base ball stadium, capable of seating 1,000 cranks, or spectators.  Leadville flirts with ‘‘big time’’ baseball, as the Blues hire players on loan from Eastern leagues, and predictably sweep the league title.

  • 1885 ... Denver Base Ball and Athletic Club makes formal entry into professional ball when the Denvers begin play in the Rocky Mountain (Minor) League.  Denver finally gets a stadium at 32nd and Larimer Streets, Denver Base Ball Park, very near the present-day location of Coors Field.

Sources: Home Run in the Rockies by Mark Foster; National Baseball Library in Cooperstown, NY (courtesy of Thomas Heitz); Rocky Mountain News; Western History Section of the Denver Public Library.


 

These are articles submitted by our players concerning the history of baseball for various cities in Colorado, enjoy. 



Colorado Springs Baseball - by Roger "Digger" Hadix (June 2010)

  The first organized baseball team in Colorado Springs was the 1874 IXL Club.  They may have been sponsored by the IXL Dairy.  The IXL club played the Valley Club of Pueblo on July 4th, 1874, the Springs club lost 53 to 44.  The Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph reported that the IXL Club were "attired in white flannel shirts, blue caps and pants".  No photo was available.  Colorado Springs had various other teams through the 1870's some were known as the Alerts, the Athletics, the Freshmen and the College Boys.

  In 1881, the D & R G Reds made their debut and lasted until 1889.  Their uniforms were red and white with the D & RG on the front flap of the shirt trimmed on three sides in red.  There is a picture of the Reds on page 61 of Mark "Fearless" Foster's book, They Came to Play (click to visit the book at Amazon.com).   By that time, the catcher wore a mask and gloves were starting to be used.  In 1890 there was a team known as the Jacksons.  They played a team known as the Denver Suns.

  From 1901 to 1905, the Colorado Springs Millionaires played in the Western League.  The first year, the Millionaires played on Washburn Field on the campus of Colorado College.  From 1902 to 1905 they played at Boulevard Park, built by Winfield Scott Stratton.  A great picture of the Millionaires is on page 70 of Mr. Foster's book.  Their colors were cream and maroon.

  In the 1930's Colorado Springs had a semi-pro black ball club known as the Orioles and in 1940, there were the famous Brown Bombers.  Then from 1950 to 1958 Colorado Springs had the original Sky Sox. They were a Class A farm club of the Chicago White Sox.  Their uniforms were blue and white.

  Then there was a thirty eight year drought until Dave Elmore moved the Hawaii Islanders to Colorado Springs and adopted the Sky Sox moniker.  This Sky Sox team started out as a Triple A farm team of the Cleveland Indians and the uniform mirrored the colors and style.  The Indians ended their partnership with the Sky Sox and the Rockies took over in 1993 when their franchise was started.  The colors changed to green and black.  In 2009 and 2010 the uniforms went back to red, white and two versions of blue.

That's the basics,

Roger Hadix



Mastodon Mine Minstrels - by Gary "Red Dog" Wickett (June 2010)

The Minstrels were born after Mike Moger attended an exhibition of the National Game at a summer festival in Broomfield, where he met Stretch Bosio, manager of the Sweepers.  Mr. Bosio, when hearing that Mr. Moger wanted to field a time from Boulder, offered as a loan a full set of uniforms, and the team was born.

The first uniforms were put together mostly through the Gohn Brothers mail order house out east, and consisted of the plain workingman’s Ropp shirt (without the collar), the very much heavy duty drop front trousers, and red suspenders.  Being miners, work boots were common, and the caps came separately shortly thereafter.

Deacon Massengill mentioned that a game reported in a local Denver newspaper and played in the 1860’s pitted the Mastodon Mine Minstrels against another respected team on the plains, but was forfeited before the traditional nine innings, as the mountain players were late for their musical show in town.  It appears that the team staged a musical review for donations in order to pay for their traveling base ball habit.  With Mr. Massengill’s blessing, the new team shouldered the moniker and was named the Mastodon Mine Minstrels.  To uphold the musical tradition, the team’s third base tender and hurler, Tom Fats Casey, and his lovely wife Amy wrote the team song.  The team, to the chagrin of a few of the local crowds, continued for some time to sing on purpose and out loud at their early matches.  Those rare bugs with a good ear for music cheered them on. 

The opening game for the Minstrels was played in Laramie, WY, where the greater association of players taught the new team the rules and more mannerly attitudes of the National Game as it was played in the 1860’s.  Those lessons were not easily accepted at first, but thoroughly learned in that short summer season, and the more boisterous boys of Boulder became more respected as equal in talent and study before the year’s end.

Respectfully submitted for the historical records by Mike Moger, inaugural manager of the Mastodon Mine Minstrels.  

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