Here in Minnesota we have the Twins as our representatives in Major League baseball. Not since their big World Series win, in 1991 against the Atlanta Braves, has there been so much excitement for the team. Yet when spring training starts, it somehow stirs up memories of past winning seasons and sparks hope once more.
Personally, I much preferred watching baseball as a kid, when my dad would take us to a game in Milwaukee. The Braves was the team of that era and I had the joy of watching the Series winners parade down Wisconsin Avenue in 1957 as the conquering heroes drove by in convertibles. My grandmother had an apartment with huge windows that overlooked the main street. I gained immediate popularity with all my friends when I invited them up to view the parade.
Jack Boyle played third base for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1912. The Boston Red Sox won that year over the New York Giants. This was a time when America’s summer pastime consisted of hot dogs, peanuts, Cracker Jack and baseball. It was the purest age of the sport. Men without helmets would don their uniforms and display their talents to a crowd of cheering fans. The games often took place on open fields outside the city limits.
Jack was born on this day, 1866 in Cincinnati, Ohio. By the time he was 20, he was playing for the Cincinnati Red Stockings – American Association. Nicknamed “Honest Jack,” he played first base and catcher in Major League baseball. His younger brother, Eddie would follow his footsteps in 1896.
The first American team to play under modern rules were the New York Knickerbockers. The Red Stockings were the first team to hold the title as most prominent team of the era.
The sport itself hasn’t changed much over the years, except maybe the uniforms and a few of the rules. Now mega stadiums house the fans and all sorts of food and beverages are sold. Ticket prices are crazy and so are the fans at times. But there is nothing like going to watch a game of baseball with your dad on a Saturday afternoon.
Jack was traded several times in his career, but he returned to Ohio and opened a saloon, which became a successful business for the remainder of his life. He died at the age of 46 from Bright’s Disease – a disorder of the kidneys.
Even though he had a short life, he got in on the early history of baseball in the United States. It’s because of guys like him that we still like to say, “Take me out to the ballgame.”
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEST JACK!