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The Wheelmen seem to be all mascots at base ball, for they have more than once won games with everything against them, and with their best players absent. They play a “gritty” game even where the score is against them, and this seems to win for them.

Westfield Times & News Letter / July 28, 1886

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1886 - The Westfield Wheelmen

The Westfield Wheelmen would be Westfield's short-lived town team and would feature such Westfield baseball legends as Allen Hubbard, Frank Cushing, and Herbert T. Snow. The Wheelmen were another name for a Westfield team simply known as the "Westfields." There is so much about Westfield baseball history leading up to the Wheelmen and after I suggest clicking on the logo at the bottom of this page to learn more about the history. In the meantime, I present to you the 1886 Westfield Wheelmen and other base ball happenings in Westfield.

 

1886

The year 1886 was the beginning of a new era in Westfield baseball. No longer would Moseley’s Park be the primary ball ground. New fields of play would begin to become prominent. Westfield would no longer have a primary town-team but instead in-town teams and school nines would now become the local favorites.

 

May 22 – “The Normals vanquished the High School boys in a friendly game of base ball on the old Association grounds (probably Moseley’s Park),” reported the Times & News Letter, “We understand that the Normal lady players contemplate challenging the High School boys. Look out for your laurels boys.”

 

May 29 – “The Normal ball nine scalped the Crane’s Mill scalpers on the Association grounds (The new, Silver Street ball grounds) to the tune of 34 to 5,” reported the Times & News Letter.

 

May 31 – “A closely contested game was played between the High School nine and the Normals, resulting in victory to the latter after a hard struggle, by a score of 14 to 10,” reported the Times & News Letter.

 

May 31 – The following report from the Times & News Letter is on a “Westfield nine,” that looks to be a town team but nothing else is known about this club; “The Westfield nine went to Holyoke and beat the Holyokes on their own grounds in a score of 10 to 9. It was a good game.”

 

June 5 – “Crane’s paper mill nine were slaughtered by the school combination,” reported the Times & News Letter.

 

The Wheelmen defeat the Normal & High School Combinations 13 - 12

June 18 – Titled; “Fun At The Bat,” the Times & News Letter reported; “There was fun galore on the Silver Street ball grounds, when a nine composed of the active and associate members of the Westfield Wheelmen, pitted themselves against the combination of ball talent selected from the Normal and High Schools. Between three hundred and four hundred people were present, full half of them young ladies, who showed as much enthusiasm over the hopes of their favorite’s success as any lover’s of the sport. Scores of carriages were scattered about, and the rail fences afforded excellent points of observation for the Normal girls. Among the crowd to be seen, the familiar faces of but a few of our business and professional men, who evidently enjoyed the two or three hours’ relaxation with zest. Several brilliant, as well as most ludicrous plays were made by both nines, and the honors were quite evenly divided. The Wheelmen made less safe hits and errors as their opponents, but excelled them in stealing bases, thus winning the game, which but for this would have been in favor of the students. Clothier Grant carried off the honors in fielding by two fine running foul catches, and Little and Snow admirably handled all the work given them. Dean proved a very effective pitcher, and Shepard also showed no little skill in twirling the ball. The enthusiasm of the players and their friends rose at times to such a pitch that dwellers on Day Avenue and Court Street could tell.”

 

“It was such a game a game of base ball, such a delight in seeing, first one side leads, then the other, and no one knowing how it will end.”

 

A few highlights worth noting;

 

“In the second inning, Green (of the Wheelmen) skipped lightly to the bat, and with legs akimbo, gracefully poised himself on tiptoes, waiting for a good ball. One finally came, and he sent it to Murphy (the combination team first baseman), who fumbled, and the sombre-hued batter got first base.”  

 

“The record was 6 to 4 in favor of the combination, and beaming over the smiles and plaudits of the Normal and High School girls, at their hard hitting and lively running, they went to bat in the fourth inning, but were easily retired in one, two, three order.”

 

“Not until the eighth inning did the veteran short stop of the Wheelmen, Cap Snow have a chance at fielding but also he was given a couple of flies, which he took on a run in his old time form.”  

 

H.T. Snow - Captaincapsnow.jpg

 

In the see-saw game in which the lead changed hands several times, the Wheelmen were down by one run going into the bottom of the ninth after leading by two entering the eighth. “The excitement was at a boiling point when Snow grabbed the stick in the last half of the ninth inning, for the Normal and High school combination was one run ahead. He sent the third ball pitched in Murphy’s territory (the Combinations first baseman), who failed to get it in season to out the runner off from first base. Next came up the Dromio of pestle and mortar. He seemed to feel the height of responsibility, and looked as determined as though he was nerved to swallow a compound of his own decoction. To his own and all, his fellow Wheelmen’s surprise and delight, he hit a hot daisy cutter, which no one could get. On this Snow tried to reach the home plate, but stumbled and fell just after passing third base. It was his good luck, however, that the ball should be thrown wild, and as it disappeared over the crowd, both he and Parsons tallied, winning the game by one run with none out.”

 

Between three hundred and four hundred people were present, full half of them young ladies, who showed as much enthusiasm over the hopes of their favorite’s success as any lover’s of the sport.

 

Times & News Letter / June 23, 1886

 

Actives defeat Associates 25 - 20

June 28 – The Active and Associate members of the Westfield Wheelmen squared-off against each other in a wide-open, error filled game. According to the Times & News Letter; “There was another large audience at the ball game, and the spectators were well rewarded for their attendance, by the exhibition they witnessed of the national spirit.”

 

“There was little choice in the fielding between the Associates and the Actives, but the former managed to make four less errors than the bicycle riders.” Forty-six errors were made in all.

 

“Loomis’s (of the Associates) and Blinn’s (of the Actives) work behind the bat was excellent. Gowdy, Cadle and Loomis led in hard hitting and run getting for the Honorables, and C. Cooper and Herrick for the Actives.”

 

The Wheelmen win sharply over the Normal, High School & Middletown College Combinations 12 - 6

July 3 – According to the Times & News Letter; “The Wheelmen’s ball nine won their sharpest victory over a team composed of members of the High and Normal schools and Middletown college. The game was witnessed by a large audience, and sharp plays were freely applauded. The combination team started off bravely by shutting out their opponents in the first inning and scoring 3 runs on five errors rolled up by the Wheelmen. But the latter then took a big brace and in the other eight innings, played all around the school and college boys, making but four more errors and piling up a dozen runs, while the other chaps vainly struggled for six innings before they could gain another tally. Shepard (of the Wheelmen) and Dean (of the Combinations) proved effective pitchers; Mahoney caught handsomely and Beals and Parsons led in fielding.” Mahoney, Beals and Parsons are all members of the Wheelmen.

 

July 10 – The hill towns of Huntington and Dalton would also have active baseball clubs at the time. In the Times & News Letter it was reported; “The Huntingtons and Daltons met and crossed bats Saturday on the grounds of the latter, which resulted in a defeat for the Daltons by the score of 14 to 5. Considerable interest was manifested, as the presence of 400 spectators will testify.”  The Huntingtons would feature former Firemen Ed Deihl and Tony Madden.

 

July 15 – For the third time, the Wheelmen defeated the Combinations, this time, 15 to 10.

 

The Wheelmen defeat the Whipple’s nine in “hotly contested game” 14 - 11

July 19 – “In a hotly contested game,” according to the Times & News Letter, “the advantage first one side and then the other until the eighth inning as they done up Whipple’s factory team 14 to 11.”   

 

The Whipple’s nine have a “carnival” week of base ball games

According to the Times & News Letter; “The employees at Geo. E. Whipple’s had a carnival of base ball last week, playing four games and winning two of them.”

 

July 20 – Whipples lose to the Wine Clerks 8 - 1.

 

July 22 – “The effect of practice was shown, and they downed the redoubtable Crane’s mill team, 12 to 2,” reported the Times & News Letter.

 

July 24 – “In one of the best games seen on the Wheelmen’s ground this season,” the Whipple’s beat the American Whip Company nine, 5 to 3, reported the Times & News Letter.

 

The Wheelmen seem to be all mascots at base ball, for they have more than once won games with everything seemingly against them, and with their best players absent. They play a “gritty” game even where the score is against them, and this seems to win for them.

 

Times & News Letter / July 28, 1886

 

The Wheelmen defeat the Whipples in come from behind victory 8 - 7

August 13 – The Times & News Letter reported; “The ball game between the Wheelmen’s and the Whipple’s teams, was as close and exciting as the most ardent admirers of the sport could desire. Both nines were on their mettle to win, for the Whipples had scored six straight victories over other clubs, and the Wheelmen had their record of never being defeated to maintain. Clary (of the Whipples) pitched in great form and was well supported by Dyer. He was most effective in the early part of the game. On the other hand Shepard’s (of the Wheelmen) pitching improved as the game progressed, and Mahoney backed him handsomely.”

 

“For three innings matters looked pretty dubious for the bicycle boys, the score standing 7 to 2 against them. Then they took their usual brace up and the rest of the game by sharp fielding whitewashed the Whipples, and good luck, hard hitting, and lively base running, added six tallies to their own score. Aside from the battery work of the teams, the best fielding was done by Capt. Nordstrom of the Whipples, who also led his side in batting, and Cushing of the Wheelmen. Cap Snow showed up strong at the bat, getting half the Wheelmen’s hits.”

 

The Wheelmen suffer first defeat at the hands of the North End picked nine

August 26 – According to the Times & News Letter; “The Wheelmen suffered their first defeat, a picked nine of young men from the stores and shops from Bartlett Street to the depot, scored 16 to their 15.” The North End picked nine would feature many top local players from the Actives, the school combinations and the famous Ed Deihl of the Westfields and Firemen clubs.

 

“The game was practically won by the Wheelmen in the first inning. They made more hits off Clary in that inning, than had been made off him in any whole game before. Twelve men went to bat, and the number of crosses that appeared in the score, one after another, was something surprising. Nine runs were piled up before they left the bat, and they thought they had everything their own way.”

 

“But as in many fine starts, an if came in before the finish. Parsons and Shepard were not there (for the Wheelmen), and Cushing was obliged to take the box. This weakened the infield; and, although the weakness was not apparent in the first inning, it became so before the game had progressed very far. Cushing pitched finely, as was seen from his striking out thirteen of the other nine, while only four Wheelmen struck out. But that could not save the game, and by adding run after run to the score, and blanking their opponents five successive innings, the picked nine sailed ahead, with a lead of one run at the end of the ninth inning.”

 

September 4 – “The Crane mill ball nine and many spectators were disappointed in the expected game with the Athletics of Springfield, the latter failing to put in an appearance,” reported the Times & News Letter.

 

September 27 - Wheelmen defeat the Combinations 9 - 4

 

Wheelmen Roster of 1886

Beals - (1b, p)

Bragg - (lf)

Cadle - (rf)

Cooper - (rf, cf)

Cushing - (cf, 2b, p)

Goodnow - (cf)

Gowdy - (lf)

Grant - (3b)

Green - (lf)

Herrick - (2b)

Hubbard - (c)

Loomis - (lf, rf)

Mahoney  / Mahaney - (c)

Parsons - (2b, 3b, cf)

Scott - (rf, cf)

Shepard - (p, 1b)

Smith - (1b)

Snow, H.T. “Cap” - (ss)

 

Link to Westfield Base Ball History
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