Jan 30, 2024

Item of the Week: At the Old Ballgame, 1905

Item of the Week From the East Hampton Library's Long Island Collection

A large crowd gathers to watch a game of baseball in this glass-plate image. Most likely the players are part of the East Hampton Baseball Club.

References to the club begin in The East Hampton Star in 1895. The team was called the Eelpots until it was decided that was too undignified, and the name was changed to Excelsior, the New York State motto, a Latin word meaning "higher."

While an amateur group, the East Hampton Baseball Club ran an extremely well-organized operation; they held elections, voted on team colors, and practiced regularly. Through the 1940s, East Hampton's nine team members regularly played several local teams, including those from Springs, Riverhead, and Wainscott. In 1947 the team renamed itself again, this time to the Bonackers.

Regardless of the name used, the East Hampton Baseball Club's members were local men playing in their spare time. Members included William Hand (1886-1934), Alexander Parsons Dayton (1882-1923), and George (Jake) Fowler (1889-1965).

A diamond on a Pantigo Road lot owned by Dr. Frederick Russell was the home field, which bordered on property owned by Felix Dominy and Frank Stratton, according to a 1916 atlas. In 1905 Charles O. Gould built a shaded grandstand for the diamond. It is visible on the far left side of the photograph. Also visible are spectators sitting in their horse-drawn carriages or automobiles, as others stand and sit on the grass. These features help date this image to sometime between 1905 and 1915.

While most of the people nearest the camera in this photo are men and boys, women are visible sitting in the grandstand. Baseball was a popular pastime across social lines and regardless of age or gender. East Hampton's Decoration Day (now called Memorial Day) observances included a baseball game.

Moriah Moore is a librarian and archivist in the East Hampton Library's Long Island Collection.