We present to our base ball readers in this week's issue, the third of our series of illustrations, and the second of the portraits of leading players of the country, the subject of our present sketch being Mr. Adam North, of the Empire Base Ball Club of St. Louis, Mo.
The furore for base ball which existed in the Middle States in 1860 to such an extent, reached as far West as St. Louis, and in that year it led to the organization of the Empire Club of that city-then, as now, the champion club of the Western States. The war, however, affected the Empire Club, as it did all base ball clubs, and for four years, play was, in a measure, suspended. In 1865, however, the activity and enterprise which marked the action of the Empire Club in 1860 were resumed, and by several finely-contested games with leading organizations of sister States and cities, the Empires fully established their claim to the title of the Champion of the West, and it will, doubtless, be some time ere the laurels will be wrested from them; for this season they open play stronger and seem more enthusiastic than ever before.
In accordance with our request, we have to acknowledge a prompt reply to our circular from Mr. H.C. Sexton of the Empire Club, the first Vice-President of the National Association, who has sent us the name of Mr. Adam North, the first baseman of the Empire Club of St. Louis. Mr. North is of the typographical fraternity, and as such, as a matter of course, is "a gentleman and a scholar," and, moreover, a first-class ball-player. His strong points of play are his accuracy in throwing and his certainty in holding a ball, these two physical attributes making his services exceedingly useful in other positions besides the one he has made his specialty-viz., the first base of the nine. To these desirable qualifications he adds calmness and steadiness of play, and presence of mind and evenness of temper in exciting and critical positions of the game.
Mr. North is about twenty-two years of age, possesses a manly physique, and considerable power of endurance, and his strength of muscle is shown in his batting skill-his average play at the bat being of the best of his club. At present he is an employee in the office of the Missouri Democrat, and is highly esteemed by his companions and employers. Among the games in which Mr. North has conspicuously figured are the contests between his club and those of Freeport, Ill., Dubuque, Iowa, and with the Morning Star and Commercial Union Clubs of St. Louis.
-Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, August 4, 1866
So the great Adam Wirth, who was probably the best St. Louis baseball player of his generation, gets profiled in a national newspaper and they get his name wrong. That's a tough break. But at least we got the above image of Wirth from this piece from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper and, for that, I'm very thankful. Below is the picture with its caption as it appeared in the paper:
Poor Wirth. He was a great ballplayer, a heck of a hitter, and the best player on a great championship club.
A very interesting game of base ball was played Saturday afternoon, on Gamble Lawn, between the Commercial, Junior, and Empire, Junior, Ball Clubs, which resulted in favor of the former.
I have mentioned in the past that Tom Oran, over the course of his career, played for pretty much everybody. However, I think I failed to mention the other day, when we saw the first reference to him playing with the Commercial Juniors, that he had played with the Empire Juniors in 1862. The guy had no problem with jumping from club to club. It's one of the reasons we love him.
Anyway, this is, I believe, the first reference we have to Adam Wirth. Wirth was the longtime first baseman for the Empire Club and a mainstay on their great post-war championship clubs. He was, in my opinion, the best St. Louis baseball player of his generation. The fact that he served as an umpire for this game is some kind of evidence that he was playing baseball in St. Louis in 1863. It's not particularly strong evidence but there was a tradition of players serving as an umpire for matches their club wasn't involved in. So I would argue that Wirth was playing baseball in St. Louis by the early 1860s and I know that he was still playing with the Empires in 1876. That's a rather long career for a pioneer-era player and I think it speaks to the level of his talent. Great players have longer careers. Wirth, in 1863, was about 16 or 17 years old and at the beginning of a great career.
Also, on June 9, 1863, the Battle of Brandy Station was fought. Brandy Station was the largest cavalry battle ever fought in North America and you have to think that it's going to hold that distinction for some time. It's like Cy Young's 511 wins. Times change, nobody is going to win 512 big league games, and you're not going to have a cavalry battle that big again.
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