Freight Agents vs. Cotton Buyers

By 1876, after the first professional baseball league (the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players) had collapsed, it looked as though the recent baseball fad had reached its peak and was declining. A game that had once been played for fun and recreation had been infiltrated by gamblers and mercenaries, and the bloom was off the rose. So it came as a surprise to the editors of the Memphis Daily Appeal, when in May of 1876 that city was once again baseball crazy. New professional clubs had sprung up, but the amateur game was still very popular. Among the regularly scheduled matches announced in the Memphis papers were also recreational games played for charity or just for the fun of it.

From the Memphis Daily Appeal, May 12, 1876 –

We, the freight agents of Memphis, do challenged the cotton-buyers of Memphis to play a match game of base-ball, on Wednesday, the seventeenth of May, at Olympic Park. Proceeds to be donated to charitable purposes.

[freight agent names]

We hereby accept the above challenge

[cotton buyer names]


The freight agents have chosen a white shirt to consist of white shirt, black pants, sailor-hat with black band, with the inscription on the band, “No Rebate.” That of the Cotton Buyers will be duck-linen pants, whites shirts, skull caps, with black bands, on which will be inscribed “How Much Rebate.” The nines are regularly organized, and are “daily rehearsing” in private. Now the fun is begun, it will not do to let it subside. After the game on Wednesday, let us have a succession of games by other clubs, organized for the purpose, the proceeds of which, like those of the game Wednesday, to be devoted to worthy charities.


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