Throughout the 1920s to the 1940s, the Eastern Shore League provided local residents their first taste of professional baseball. The closest Major League Baseball teams were in Philadelphia, the Phillies and Athletics, allowing the Eastern Shore to take advantage of a golden opportunity to watch professional baseball right in their
Throughout the 1920s to the 1940s, the Eastern Shore League provided local residents their first taste of professional baseball. The closest Major League Baseball teams were in Philadelphia, the Phillies and Athletics, allowing the Eastern Shore to take advantage of a golden opportunity to watch professional baseball right in their backyard here at home on the Eastern Shore.
More than a half-century before the Eastern Shore League formed, the Fair Plays of Easton invited people from the area to play the newly created game of baseball. It was a success forming a small league with teams made of people from the neighboring town surrounding Easton. The competition was fierce, and people flocked to the games as the fans of the Eastern Shore quickly started to build the reputation of one of the rowdiest, loyal, and supportive fanbases around.
At first, the games were free to enter, but on October 10, 1867, teams started the trend of charging admission to watch the game of baseball. “We understand that there is a proposed game of Baseball under consideration to take place between St Michaels Claborns and Easton Fair Plays,” The Easton Gazette published October 1867, “...The public will be invited to attend, and an admission fee of ten cents demanded at the gate for the benefit of the Fair Play.”
In following, Eastern Shore baseball fans continued their unwavering support and flocked to the ballpark to enjoy the great game of baseball. The attendance of the game remains a mystery to this day. Regardless, teams formed rivalries, and soon more towns started to join in with the baseball craze creating the first origins of organized baseball leagues right here on the Eastern Shore.
When the Eastern Shore League formed in 1922, The Eastern Shore rejoiced. With a taste of the Major Leagues, fans would flock to the stadiums to watch the future of baseball. The fans of the Eastern Shore showed great interest in the league with successful attendance and fan interest throughout its history that continues to this day.
The biggest welcome for fans in the early 1920s was MLB commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis planning a visit for the 1923 season. When he visited on July 19, Gordy Park in Salisbury, Maryland was packed with over 4,000 fans in attendance for the game between Cambridge and Laurel.
Later on, the fear of shutting the league down crept into the minds of the Eastern Shore League with money continuing to be the X factor that determined if the league would continue or fold. However, fan support encouraged the league to continue, with Cambridge and newly awarded town Easton leading the charge. Easton had local legend Frank “Home Run” Baker as a manager, and teen superstar Jimmie Foxx with the support of unwavering fans allowing the league to plug forward.
Fan support for the league continued until the league folded in 1928. Baseball fans waited patiently for the chance to watch professional baseball again and in 1937, they got their wish, and fan support was through the roof continuing the rich tradition of baseball for generations right here on the Eastern Shore with the best fans in baseball.
Keep an eye out in 2021 as Part 2 of this story will be released as we continue to dive into the origins of baseball right here on the Eastern Shore...
Credit: (A large part of this research was provided by the Talbot County Historical Society)