Baseball at Cushman Park

Baseball was a part of the Lancaster County Old Settlers’ Association reunion and picnic on June 19, 1889, at Cushman Park in Lincoln. The Nebraska State Journal of June 20 included an extensive report of the day’s activities and estimated the crowd “at from 1,500 to 5,000. Of these fully 600 were members of the Old Settlers’ association, or were entitled to membership by reason of residence here prior to the year 1875.

“After the programme of the day was finished and the old settlers had been duly photographed [by E. G. Clements from the roof of the park’s baseball amphitheater] they turned their attention to other amusement. One of the great attractions of the day was a game of base ball and the people flocked to the amphitheatre soon after 4 o’clock. In the meantime a picked nine of young fellows had gathered on the diamond in readiness to meet a club from the old settlers. J. V. Wolfe and others proceeded to sign players after the photograph had been taken, and in a few minutes the two clubs, the new and the old settlers, faced each other with their coats off and their faces set in grim determination. . . .

“They [old settlers] played for all they were worth, and yet considered from a scientific standpoint the game was not strictly a success. Sheriff Melick guarded second base, and had the honor of muffing more balls than any man on the grounds. J. V. Wolfe was stationed in the left garden, and his pose when making a dive for a grounder was graceful in the extreme. Col. Caster in left field was not so effective as he would have been had the carriages not interfered with his pursuit of high flies. E. Hallet on third held his hands open for so long a period before the arrival of expected balls that he would forget to close them when the missiles finally came and this contributed greatly to the ease with which the young men found the home plate. . . .

“The game was vastly amusing for a few innings; but spectators and players soon tired of the sport and time was called. No score was kept. The umpire, H. W. Kelley, was of the impression that the youngsters won the game, although no one could tell positively. The score will probably be kept a profound secret.”

(June 2003)

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