Baseball Sportswriter Insults, 1894

1894 baseball team portrait

Baseball was a popular pastime during the 1890s, and so was newspaper coverage full of colorful insults. In late summer of 1894 the Lincoln, Nebraska, baseball team played a three-game exhibition series with Des Moines. Lincoln boosters were less than enthusiastic about the first two games (one won and one lost by the home team).

The Nebraska State Journal on August 31, 1894, headed its coverage of the first game: “Let Des Moines Win. The Lincolns Give an Exhibition of Awful Ball. Pitcher Sets a Bad Example and Others Follow.” The article continued: “It is not because Lincoln was beaten [by a score of nine to five] that there is a kick coming but because the team was downed by its own wretched playing. It was more than a comedy of errors, it was a tragedy, . . . Baltz pitched. That is about all that can be said. His work in the box and on the field was characterized by as about as sheepheaded playing as has ever been seen on a diamond.” Worse than the offending Baltz’s performance, was his unnamed behavior on the field when “someone in the grandstand called for pitcher Johnson.”

Although Lincoln won the second game by a score of sixteen to seven, the Journal was not mollified, reporting on September 1: “Another tedious ball game was witnessed yesterday… Burris [the Des Moines pitcher] seemed to have no more control of the ball than a populist senator has of his mouth. Man after man was allowed to take his base on balls or after being hit until fifteen had gone to first.

“Then the playing of the two clubs in the field was something phenomenal. The men could not get their hands on the ball without making an error and in many cases they went after it in a manner that positively gave the four hundred spectators a desire to hire a kicking machine for being present. Then to give a finishing touch to the fiasco Haskell umpired with about as much accuracy as a phonograph which had never had a word concerning baseball talked into it.”

The third game (won by Lincoln, seven to three) displayed more skill by both teams. The September 2 Journal noted: “After two very tough games of ball, the Lincoln and Des Moines teams braced up and gave as pretty an exhibition yesterday as the most cranky crank in the city would want to see. The game was full of sharp, brilliant plays, and although there were a number of errors, the good plays overbalanced the poor ones.”

Just imagine what these guys would have done with sports talk radio.



The 1894 David City baseball team, Nebraska’s champion amateur team that year and one of the few racially integrated teams of the day. NSHS RG3064-26


[May 1999; Revised May 2018]

Become a Member!

Our members make history happen.

Join Now

Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
About History Nebraska
History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
Explore Nebraska
Discover the real places and people of our past at these History Nebraska sites.

Upcoming Events

View our new and upcoming events to see how you can get involved.

Become a Member

The work we do to discover, preserve, and share Nebraska's history wouldn't be possible without the support of History Nebraska members.

History Nebraska Education

Learn more about the educational programs provided at our museums, sites, and online.

History Nebraska Programs

Learn more about the programs associated with History Nebraska.

Latest Hall of Fame Inductee

The Nebraska Hall of Fame was established in 1961 to officially recognize prominent Nebraskans.

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to the articles and authors published in the Nebraska History Magazine with our new Nebraska History Podcast!

Nebraska Collections

History Nebraska's mission is to collect, preserve, and open our shared history to all Nebraskans.

Our YouTube Video Collection

Get a closer look at Nebraska's history through your own eyes, with our extensive video collections.

Additional Research Resources

History Nebraska Research and Reference Services help connect you to the material we collect and preserve.

Support History Nebraska
Make a cash donation to help us acquire, preserve, and interpret Nebraska’s history. Gifts to History Nebraska help leave a legacy and may help your taxes, too! Support the work of History Nebraska by donating to the History Nebraska Foundation today.

Volunteers are the heroes of History Nebraska. So much history, so little time! Your work helps us share access to Nebraska’s stories at our museums and sites, the reference room, and online.