In perusing the issues of the "Brooklyn Daily Eagle" of the last half of the 19th century, I noticed that Chess happenings are very often put in the Sports section. In fact about the two most popular items in that section seems to have been Chess and Base Ball (as it was often called). The doings of various local clubs and even popular members of those clubs was fodder for the editors. Chess and baseball were the first two pasttimes in America to form national orgaizations. The American Chess Association was formed on Oct. 10, 1857 during the First American Chess Congress. In May 1857, 16 amateur baseball clubs convened as a group and formulated the rules and recognized a need for a governing body. The National Association of Baseball Players was formally created and joined by 25 N.Y. clubs in March 1858.
It so happened that a very frequent chess contributor to the "Brooklyn Daily Eagle" since the 1870s, and actual chess editor from Nov. 1892 through Jan. 1893, was none other than the "Father of Baseball" himself, Henry Chadwick. Chadwick provided many firsts in baseball, including compiling the first rule book, creating or implementing the box score, batting average and the earned run average. Chadwick never played baseball seriously but he did take chess seriously and was one of the better players in the city. In 1905 Chadwick even published a beginner's chess book (with Charles Gilberg), "How to Learn to Play the Game of Chess."
"The American Chess Magazine," July 1897, mentions:
Henry Chadwick, of baseball and chess fame, gave a simultaneous performance at the residence of Mr. Alfred Bates, Montreal Avenue, Sag Harbor, L. I., winning 8 out of 12 games played.
The U.S. Champion, Jackson Showalter is often credited with inventing the curve ball. While this is clearly untrue since the curve ball had been around since he was a baby, the March 1935 issue of "Chess Review" credits Showalter with the more modest but equally unsubstantiated, "first man in Kentucky to pitch a curve ball ."
It's enough to know that Showalter was an avid baseball fan and amateur player. The Brooklyn Daily Eagles tell us in it's Oct. 17, 1893 edition:
. . .The article is called A Fair Chess Expert, and it remarks that while chess champion Jackson Showalter is an excellent amateur baseball player and the noted pitcher of the Lexington team, his young wife is also a fan of baseball and quite an expert at chess. Mrs. Showalter often accompanied her husband on trips, and it is often noted that both she and their child play chess.
One baseball clubs in N.Y. was named after Paul Morphy-
"Brooklyn Daily Eagle"
Sat. April 16, 1859
Base Ball - A new club has recently been organized in this city called the "Morphy Base Ball Club." The following are the officers:-
President, Rufus W. Craft ; Vice-President, Edward W. Fern ; Secretary, James H. Bellingham ; Treasurer H.T. Rennison.
Fri. July 22, 1859
A game of Base Ball was played Wednesday last between the Morphy and the Harmony Clubs of this city and resulted in favor of the former. The score was Morphy Club - outs 27; runs 19. Harmony - outs 27; runs 13. The game was a good one and well contested throughout by both Clubs.
On Aug. 9, 1859 Morphy Club lost to the Exercise, Jr. Club 28-34 ;
On thursay, Nov. 10, they lost to the Vigilant Base Ball Club 14-11.
Yet another U.S. Chess Champion's name was associated with baseball : George Henry MacKenzie. Chadwick wrote a couple long-winded accounts of a game, and a mixed-up return match between 2 teams composed of N.Y. chess players.
Two truncated "Brooklyn Daily Eagle" accounts (notice the steep admission price):
July 16, 1873
Chess Players on the Ball Field - A match is one the table to be played on the Capitoline field, in which the contestants will be two nines of noted chess players. One nine will be captained by Theo. M. Brown, the well known Brooklyn composer, and the other by the chess champion Captain McKenzie.
The nines, or rather tens, will be as follows:
Gilberg, H. Munoz, P. Richardson, Sterl, Stamper, McCutcheon, Marache, Tompkins,
Delmar, Perrin, Mason, Dill, Dr. Barnett, Monroe, J. Munoz, R. Richardson, E. Munoz.
The substitutes will include McCutcheon, Carpenter, Chadwick, Horner, Phillips, Worth and Moore.
Capt. Ferguson of the Atlantics will umpire the game, and Mr. Chadwick will score. The charge for admission will be five dollars to outsiders. If necessary, two days will be occupied in playing the game.
Aug. 16, 1873
Chess Players on the Field.
MacKenzie show up with his team for the second game, but since it had rained the day before, Brown didn't show up. Rather than accept a forfeit, the game was rescheduled [though apparently either never played or not reported on]. However a game was arranged from the available chess players who did show up either to play or to watch andd two teams were formed, captained by MacKenzie and Eckhorn.
MacKenzie, right field; Madden, 2nd base; Weir, short stop ; Chadwick, pitcher;
Dill, left field; Delmar, center field; Bird, 3rd base; Miller, 1st base; Carpenter, catcher.
Eckhorn, left field; Hall, catcher; Brenzinger, 3rd base; Chapin, 1st base; Donaghue, 2nd
base; Clark, pitcher; Chapin, right field; Decker, short stop; T.M. Brown, center field.
MacKenzie's team scored 10 runs; Eckhorn's team scored 24 runs.
In a highly entertaining article called "Baseball Ph.D.s," the author, Mr. Williams, recounts a peculiar competiton held between Amherst and Williams Colleges involving both baseball and chess on July 1, 1859.
Click the photo for the article
"The respective student bodies selected teams of 13 baseball players and three chess players, and dispatched them to neutral Pittsfield, Mass."
Amherst College easily won the baseball game.
"Next day, muscle rested as the two schools turned to chess. The arrangements were odd and the play protracted, with the opposing teams situated in separate rooms and given 15 minutes for each move; when they finally made one, an intermediary rushed off to deliver it. The match stretched to 11 hours. "
Although the Williams team was favored, their star chess player took ill and Amherst won the chess match also.