1888-1889 US Baseball Tour

In an effort to promote Baseball world wide, the Chicago and an all star All American team was managed by sporting goods magnate Albert G. Spalding. This was originally to be a tour of Australia but was later expanded to a World Tour. The Americans were anxious to see Australian Football in action. Despite being late December, two matches were organised with Carlton playing shortened games against St. Kilda and Port Melbourne.

1888 December 31 Monday
Carlton played St.Kilda at St.Kilda.
This game was played at the request of the visiting American baseball teams, the Chicago and the All American team.
The baseballers were anxious to see a demonstration of the Australian game.
Many had played both the British Association and the Rugby games, but they felt neither game was not exciting enough for American tastes.
Each of the winning team will receive a US silver dollar from Mr. A. G. Spalding manager of the baseball teams.
The baseballers were from the Chicago, Boston, New York, Detriot, Philidelphia, and St.Louis clubs.
One of the players, M. Kelly from the Boston club had transferred from the Chicago club.
The Boston Baseball Association had paid a fee of £2,000 for his services!
(In comparison in 1888, in Melbourne, a brick villa, 6 room house on a 48x250 foot block close to Brighton station cost £1,000)
Crowd; 6,000.
St. Kilda won the toss and kicked with the aid of the wind.
Both clubs fielded first class teams.
The Blues team included many Second twenty players.
Carlton team; (26 named)
Baker, Berry, Batters, Bailey, Crapp, Carroll, C. Coulson, Connarty, Daff, Green, Gellatly, Goer, Hutchison, Jones, Leydin, Moloney, McKechnie, McInerney, Newton, Strickland, Steele, Smith, Sutton, Tubbs, White, Whelan.
The game consisted of two 20 minute halves. (Shades of the 2011 NAB Cup)
Although the teams were improvised, they gave a really good exhibition.
The Americans enjoyed the match, especially the non-stop aspect of the game.
Carlton won; 2.3 - 1.4 (Half time 0.? - 1.?)
Goals; Steele, Leydin.

A mixed 20, Carlton - St.Kilda team then played the US baseballers at Australian Football.
Then a mixed 7 of cricketers plus a US pitcher and catcher played the US baseballers.
This match was stopped because of rain.

1889 January 01 Tuesday
The Americans played a baseball match at the M.C.G. on New Year's Day.
Their tour was managed by Mr. A. G. Spalding of the Spalding Sporting Goods fame.
Spalding was also the president of the Chicago Baseball Club.

1889 January 05
A letter from Mr. A. G. Spalding to The Argus;
Thanked the Carlton and St.Kilda clubs for showing the Americans the Australian game, and they were very pleased with it.
They will endeavour to introduce it to the USA.

1889 January 05
A crowd of 11,000 attended the M.C.G. to see a demonstration baseball match between the all professional players of the Chicago and All America teams, and also a football match between Carlton and Port Melbourne.
This was the largest attendance the baseballers played in front of on the entire world tour, including many US matches!
The Americans are interested in taking the Australian game to the U.S.A.
Gates opened at 2pm.
Admission; 1s (10c) grandstand 2s 6d (25c)
The Day's Programme;
2.30pm. Melbourne Baseball Club vs Chicago.
3pm. Carlton vs Port Melbourne.
4.30pm. Chicago vs All America baseball match.
5.30pm. "Daring balloon ascent, and leap from the clouds" via parachute by Prof. Bartholomew. ("the most daring aeronaunt ever known")
This leap was cancelled due to the weather.
Instead, there was a cricket ball throwing contest and the Americans broke the Australian record with a throw of 128 yards 10 1/4 inches (117.3 metres), by Ed Crane, (Edward Nicholas Crane) aka "Cannonball Crane" of the New York Baseball Club.
Chicago beat the Melbourne Baseball Club 12-0.
The cricketers were unable to hit the ball, and their throwing was wide of the mark, they missed catches, and fumbled.

Carlton played Port Melbourne
Carlton team; (25 named)
Bailey, Batters, Berry, Crapp, C. Coulson, A. Coulson, Connerty, Daff, Dawson, Gellatly, Goer, Hutchison, Jones, Leydin (Capt.), Moloney, McKechnie, McGrath, Strickland, Smith, Steele, Sutton, Tubbs, Woods, White, Whelan.
Former Blue, William 'Billy' Hannaysee captained Port.
The ground was in excellent condition. Some of the cricketers were concerned that the ground would be damaged.
In the football match, Carlton soon had the lead with two goals from Leydin.
Both of Tommy Leydin's goals were from beautiful kicks, at least 40 yards out that pierced the centre of the goals.
Port rallied and scored two goals to equalise.
Bert Rappiport, the Fitzroy player, took a mark close in and scored the Blues third, and just before half time Port equalised once again.
In the second half the play was fast and even. No further goals were scored.
Match drawn.
Carlton 3.0 3.2
Port Melb. 3.1 3.4
Goals; Leydin 2, Rappiport.

Al G. Spalding thanked the players for the exhibition match, and when back in the States he promised to send each player of the Carlton, St. Kilda, and Port Melbourne teams a US silver dollar with the player's name engraved, attached to a chain so it can be worn.

In the baseball, Chicago defeated the All Americans 5-0
Then the cricket ball throwing contest was then conducted.
The balloon ascent was hampered the southerly wind and it did not go ahead even after the wind had moderated.
Bartholomew said that it was too late in the day to attempt the jump, much to the disapproval of the crowd who had stayed behind to watch it.

1889 January 07 Monday
The US baseballers left for New York via Columbo, Rome, Paris, Berlin, London, and Dublin.

There are early reports of the game being played on the Victorian Gold Fields in the 1850's and 60's and also in Tasmania. In 1857, Bell's Life in Victoria (March 07 p4) reported on a match between Richmond and Collingwood played in the Carlton Gardens. Whether these early games were a form of rounders or in fact baseball is debatable. The Melbourne Cricket Club formed a baseball club before the arrival of the Americans.
As a result of this tour many new baseball clubs were soon established in Melbourne. The game became a winter sport in Australia as cricket clubs controlled most of the available grounds during the summer.
Australian Football clubs also formed baseball teams in the late 19th century and these games became the curtain raiser to the football matches. The football club's Reserves teams played their matches on the ground of the Senior "away" team.
The Victorian Baseball League was formed in 1890.
Carlton, Fitzroy, Melbourne, South Melbourne and others all had a baseball club. Baseball would continue to be the VFL football curtain raiser until 1947 until the formation on the Thirds or U/19 competition. The Thirds, then for short time became the opening game of the day until swapping with the Reserves during the 1950's.
So, for the best part of 60 years baseball held a prominent position in Melbourne and elsewhere. Former Australian Test Cricket captain Ian Chappell played baseball during the winter months in Adelaide at local and State level.

See Princes Park for further details and photos of the Carlton Baseball Club. Also photos of the Victorian team playing a US servicemans' baseball team at Princes Park.

The Carlton Baseball Club was based in the Gardiner Stand for many years, an excellent history of the club can be seen in the videos below.

Pre VFL |Exhibition Games | Charity Games

Contributors to this page: Jarusa and blueycarlton .
Page last modified on Monday 17 of July, 2023 23:11:06 AEST by Jarusa.

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