1900 – 1910 was a bully time in American sport, as President Theodore Roosevelt might have phrased it. Boxing fans turned out by the thousands for open air boxing matches. For example, the “Fight of the Century,” July 4, 1910, between heavyweight champion Jack Johnson and challenger Jim Jefferies before 20,000 spectators in Reno.
Then there had been the Olympics held for the first time in America in 1904 in St. Louis. The Judy Garland 1944 movie Meet Me in St. Louis uses that as a subplot for the story.
Baseball was also on the rise during the decade, and had, as historians note, “truly gone big league with the formation of a second major league called the American to rival established National League.”
Small-town America had baseball teams, too. Recreational only for the most part, nowhere close to the level of competition in the pro American or National Leagues.
In Eureka, the Sentinel carried the following story in the July 10, 1909 edition.
“A game of baseball was played at the grounds on Ruby Hill last Thursday [July 8] afternoon between the Ruben Hill Clippers and the Dewdrop League, which was a continuous round of excitement from start to finish.”
The challenge sent by Captain Carol Short of the Ruben Hill Clippers to Captain George Bailey of the Dewdrop League was the first intimation the people of this neighborhood had that there were two league teams in the town. The result of the game however, showed to the complete satisfaction of the admiring people present that the National game was thoroughly mastered by the victorious team.
Throughout it was an errorless game on the part of Captain Short’s aggregation. The score was rolled higher and higher until the end, when Captain Bailey’s dumbfounded players slowly backed out of sight into the tall sagebrush.
When the Dewdrop League went to bat in the last half of the ninth inning most of the spectators retired from the scene, believing to their own satisfaction that Captain Short in the pitcher’s box would certainly “fan” two, and in case of an accidental hit Phil Martin, left fielder, would certainly be on the spot to take it in.
At the end of the contest the score stood as follows: Ruben Hill Clippers 36, Dewdrop 27.”
Baseball cards had first appeared in the late 1860’s. Soon after, Peck and Snyder, a sporting goods store, also handing baseball equipment, in New York City, is thought to have mass produced the first baseball cards. And by the turn of the century baseball trading cards were very often made and sold by confectionary companies and tobacco companies.