Tombstone Silver

Baseball In Tombstone

Tombstone formed a semi-pro baseball team in 1882--and it seems like the team was pretty good.


Introduction

The Tombstone Baseball Team

Tombstone first organized a baseball team in May 1882. They were composed of local men who were pretty good ball players and then played against teams from the mining camps, mills, and other villages in the area. The photograph on the right is undated, but is purported to be taken by C.S. Fly, which would likely date it in the 1880s or 1890s. None of the men in the photo are identified.

Newspaper Accounts

The following notice in the Tombstone Epitaph appeared on May 1, 1882.


A PRELIMINARY meeting, tending towards the organization of a base-ball association in Tombstone, was held last evening. Much interest was manifested and another meeting called for next Monday night at 7:30 o'clock, at Mr. Rice's rooms, opposite the Vizina office. All desiring to join are requested to attend. A game is to be played at the Boston mill, Saturday afternoon, by a picked nine from here and the Boston Mill club.


The same newspaper also ran the following announcement about a game between the San Pedro and Tucson clubs, but the announcement also mentions that the “local nine” will later play the San Pedro club. Notice, the word "practising" was spelled that way in the original article.

The base-ball season is about to open in earnest. An effectual organization of the local nine will be made next week. This club will play with the San Pedro boys Saturday, at the Boston mill. The San Pedro club, of which Geo. S. Rice is captain, is practising continuously and will play a match game at Tucson on the 12th of May, against the professional ball tossers of that place. Of course the Cochise boys can beat anything in Pima county, and after "whitewashing" the nine of Tucson the San Pedro club propose to play against the other ball organizations of the territory for the championship of Arizona.


The March 6, 1882, Epitaph mentions a “match game” being played between the Tombstone and San Pedro teams. Since the official Tombstone club would not be formed for several months, this seems to be an exhibition game designed to generate interest in the new club.

Base Ball

A match game of base ball is shortly to be played in our city between the Tombstone and San Pedro nines. The boys of our town are practising daily on Mr. Light's lot, corner of Third and Safford streets, and all ball tossers are requested to come down during the afternoon and join them. As yet the clubs have not been fully organized, and it is hoped that these who are fond of the sport will assist in completing the arrangements. A well played game of ball would be much appreciated by the public, and if the boys will go in with a will, get their respective clubs up in trim, and play with science, we will insure them deserved success.


The next Epitaph article reprinted here is from December 1882. This is a full report of a game played between Tombstone and Tucson. It seems that Tombstone did not do so well, but the Tucson pitcher could “...curve a ball until it looks like a blacksnake going through a wheat field.” This article also mentions the following about Tucson’s pitcher, “He sings a good song and plays a seven octave harmonica with rare ability.” Keep in mind that baseball was not the cutthroat business that it is today. Since travel between Tombstone and Tucson was lengthy, the teams would often have dinner and a party after a game then the visitors would return home the next day, leading to friendship between players.

TOMBSTONE VS. TUCSON

The “Ancient Pueblo" Sends a Nine Which Makes the Tombstoners Weep.

Doling's park was thronged Thursday with the lovers of base-ball, and the enjoyment of the various sports presented never lagged. Much talk had been occasioned by the friends of the respective nines, and large amounts were wagered on the result of the game, but owing to the Tucson nine having Mast, a professional ball-tosser and one of the most expert pitchers in the country, with them, the umpire very properly declared all bets off. From the commencement of the game it was seen that the Tombstone nine would be defeated. At the end of the fifth inning the home club was eleven runs behind; but owing to poor fielding and wild throwing on the part of the visiting nine, reduced it to seven in the sixth inning. From that time to the end of the game the Tucson boys had it all their own way, the score at the finish being as follows:

Baseball Box Score

Earned runs—Tucson, 4; Tombstone, 6.
First base on errors—Tucson, 11; Tombstone, 8.
First base on called balls—Tucson, 2; Tombstone, 4.
Left on bases—Tucson, 7; Tombstone, 7.
Struck out—Tucson, 7; Tombstone, 7.
Called balls—Mast, 122; Goodale, 33; Hawke, 53.
Passed balls—McQuilken, 5; Flynn, 3.
Called strikes—Tucson, 11; Tombstone, 21.
Missed strikes—Tucson, 30; Tombstone, 39.
Fouls struck—Tucson, 30; Tombstone, 31.
Home run—P. Corpstein.
Umpire—R. E. Kearon.
Scorers—F. J. McQualkin, Tucson; E. W. Stump, Tombstone.
Time—3 hours 5 minutes.

INCIDENTS OF THE GAME. James Nash, while endeavoring to field A ball, collided with Hawke, another player bent on the same errand, the result being that Jim's optic now bears the insignia of mourning,

Billy Hopkins, of the Palace hotel, Tucson, made a good record in the game. He is justly considered one of the best general players in the territory, and is certainly one of the best fellows.

Mast, the pitcher of the Tucson nine, has been a member of several crack professional nines in California, and justly earned the reputation of being one of the most expert pitchers in the business. He can curve a ball until it looks like a blacksnake going through a wheat field. He is immensely popular with all the boys. He sings a good song and plays a seven octave harmonica with rare ability.

Both the Tombstone and Tucson nines are credited with a game each. It would be well for the home nine to issue a challenge for a match game to take place at an early day and definitely settle the claim for supremacy.

F.J. McQuilkin, of Tucson, and E. W. Stump, of this place, acquitted themselves in a most creditable manner, in the capacity of scorers.

The pitching of Hawke, of the home nine, was highly spoken of by all who witnessed the game.

The selection of R. E. Kearon, as umpire, was a most fortunate one. His decisions were prompt and impartial, giving general satisfaction to all.

Corpstein, as captain of the home nine, won golden opinions, not only by his excellent playing, being the only one who made a home run, but by his good judgment and generalship.


The last article reprinted here from the Epitaph was from May 10, 1882. It seems that the Tombstone team became rather proficient over the years and was able to claim the championship.

Champions!

Base ball!
Territorial championship!

At last a series of square games have been played and Tombstone is on top with the record of winning every game.

Tucson played well but Tombstone played better.

We are not in receipt of the complete scores, but it is sufficient that we have won, and our boys will be given a royal reception when they return.


Location

The old baseball park was located near the Doling Driving Park (the racetrack). The Goodenough Historic Trolley Tour stops near that location and I point it out to my guests, though today it is just desert land. The following map shows the gravel road to the Schieffelin Monument and the oval that was the Doling Driving Park is barely visible below it. The baseball park was somewhere nearby, though its exact location is not known for certain.