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Baseball’s beginnings on the Eastern Shore

December 17, 2020

The game of baseball has been with us for more than 150 years. For those on the Eastern Shore, we take in the sights of the Delmarva Shorebirds game and watch the future of baseball every summer. However, many do not know about its impact in the past, shaping the

The game of baseball has been with us for more than 150 years. For those on the Eastern Shore, we take in the sights of the Delmarva Shorebirds game and watch the future of baseball every summer. However, many do not know about its impact in the past, shaping the future into what it is today. If one tours the Talbot County Historical Society, where anyone can learn about baseball’s past, they will find a treasure cove of information of not just a sport, but a way of life.

After the Civil War, morale was at an all-time low. People faced depression and were looking for an "antidote from the bitter fights of the Civil War." Along came baseball to take their minds off the pain for just a few hours and in thanks to war veterans, people took it up quickly and fell in love with the sport.

For the Eastern Shore, the idea started September 29th, 1866 when Easton’s newspaper, Gazette, published the first thought of playing the beautiful sport of baseball. "The young men of Easton and its vicinity favorable to the organization of a Baseball Club in this place will please meet at the courthouse on Sat, 29th at 10 O'clock AM. The object of the formation of this club will be to improve, physically, its members, and to give a social standing and representation in the Baseball Association of Baltimore."

On April 3rd, 1867, Easton was the first town to create a team called “The Fair Plays.” The Gazette noted “The young men of Easton have organized a Baseball club, and enjoyed the first game on Wednesday, April 3. This is one of the most popular games now in the country and is a very wholesome exercise. The society has appointed Wednesday and Saturday as the days of playing, and everyone who can spare the time, would no doubt, be benefitted by occasionally indulging in this sport.”

Towns nearby started teams to play against Easton. The small town of Trappe formed a team called the Choptanks, and St. Michaels formed two teams with the Claibornes and the Independents.

The first recorded game was on September 6th, 1867 between the Easton Fairplays and the Trappe Choptanks. The game was very lopsided, as Trappe won the game 85-47. The captain of Easton pitched the whole game (it was seven innings) and gave up all the runs! The loser paid for dinner that was at the Talbot House.

Eastern Shore residents took every opportunity they could to play baseball. At school, in a parking lot, on the farm field, or even a real baseball diamond! At the time, cycling and croquet were getting attention, however, they would not be able to reach the popularity that baseball had received. Baseball quickly became a very inclusive sport wherein 1867 women began to participate and the future of the sport of baseball appeared to be very bright and start shaping the game into what it is today.

Credit: (A large part of this research was provided by the Talbot County Historical Society)