Thursday, December 05, 2013

An 1883 Brooklyn Scorecard from Huggins & Scott - Earliest Dodgers Artifact?

A couple of years ago, I featured a scorecard from a 1883 Baseball game that was thought to be the earliest known artifact featuring the Dodgers franchise.  It was being sold by an auction house named Huggins & Scott.  Well, that same auction house now has a Dodgers scorecard that is even older.

Featured in this post is a scorecard for a game between the Brooklyn Polka Dots and Newark's Hamilton ballclub, dated July 4, 1883.  From the auction description:
Combining the Fourth of July, “Ladies Day” and Brooklyn baseball, this thick stock scorecard was issued at Washington Park for the July 4, 1883 Interstate Association battle between the Brooklyn Polka Dots and Newark’s Hamilton club. A brave new world in 1883, Brooklyn fielded its first-ever professional team on May 12, erected the Brooklyn Bridge on May 24 and won the league title that same year. The namesake of the club’s eventual venue, 23-year-old team secretary Charlie Ebbets sold programs – perhaps this one! With pre-printed lineups listing combatants, this stadium heirloom is definitively earlier than an 1883 Polka Dots scorecard unearthed in 2011, as this one lacks the names of five players acquired from the disbanded Camden Merritts on July 20.
As you may know, the Brooklyn franchise became a Major League team in 1884 as a member of the American Association Baseball League.  They were dubbed the Brooklyn Atlantics back then, but were also known as the Grays and Bridegrooms. 

The true birth of the franchise happened a year before, though.  In 1883, real estate developer Charles Byrnes decided he wanted to field his own team.  So, he created a club early in the year, and had them play their first-ever professional game on May 12th.  This was also the year they first moved into Washington Park.

At the time, his Brooklyn team played in the Interstate Baseball Association; which was not considered a Major League.  Also, fans called the team the Polka Dots.  Why, you ask?  Well, for that season the team wore socks with polka dots, and fans took notice.

By 1884, they were admitted into the American Association, and officially became a Major League franchise.  As you might have guessed, the club tossed away the polka dots leggings. 

The scorecard has been scored and shows that the Polka Dots won the game with a blowout score of 37-1.  It should also be noted that the pre-printed lineup card includes 3 players who would go on to play for the franchise the following season: Billy Geer, Adonis Terry and Oscar Walker.  Adonis Terry was the franchise's earliest "most popular" player, and the reason should be obvious.  His real name isn't Adonis.  It's William.  He was nicknamed Adonis because of his dashing good looks, and female fans are said to have fawned over him.

The scorecard itself is one of the more desirable styles available in the hobby.  They were created in the 1880's by publisher John B. Sage.  I have several of these kind of scorecards in my own collection.  I'll have to take some time to scan and put them up.
(Auction Link)

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