The St. Louis Cardinals are one of Major League Baseball’s storied franchises. This summer, more than 135 years after their inception, original score sheets from the team’s first road game will go on display.
The team’s first games were against the Louisville Eclipse at home in St. Louis. Following that three-game series, the two teams played three more contests in Louisville. Those are considered the first road games in Cardinals history. In 2015, score sheets from the Eclipse’s home opener in 1882 were donated to the Louisville Slugger Museum. After a short while, museum officials realized the game played was also the Cardinals’ first road contest in club history.
While the St. Louis Brown Stockings previously played a few seasons in the National Association and on a barnstorming tour, 1882 is generally recognized as the franchise’s official start. In 1882, they played as the Brown Stockings before officially changing the name to the Browns in 1883. After one year as The Perfectos in 1899, they became the Cardinals in 1900.
That 1882 Brown Stockings team wasn’t a good one. At 37-43, they finished fifth out of six teams in the American Association Standings that season. Finishing ahead of only the 19-54 Baltimore Orioles, the franchise’s first year was a rocky one. The season got off to a good start as the Brown Stockings won their first three games of the year at home. But things turned sour in that Eclipse home opener. The team dropped four straight games after that 3-0 start and finished under .500.
Score Sheet Donation
Keith Reccius donated a group of 1880s scorebooks to the Louisville Slugger Museum including the pages from that Louisville-St. Louis contest that took place May 5, 1882. Reccius’ ancestors ran the Eclipse franchise and the books were passed down to him.
While most of the players are unfamiliar to today’s collectors, one name found on the score sheets is recognizable to just about everyone – Charles Comiskey.
Comiskey played 13 years of major league ball and was a member of that Brown Stockings team. He’s better known for later becoming the owner of the Chicago White Sox. Famously, he presided over the 1919 ‘Black Sox’ team, which had eight players banned for life by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis for their part in accusations of fixing World Series games that year.
Another interesting player found on the score sheets was Pete Browning, a member of the Eclipse. Browning was instrumental in using the Louisville Slugger bat and was the first player to buy one, helping that company get off the ground. He batted leadoff in that historic contest.
Despite being more than 130 years old, the score sheets remain in decent condition and are legible. They are fragile, however, and when first displayed in 2015, the closed book was displayed with visitors to the museum able to see scanned copies of the score pages. They will go on display again in August as Louisville celebrates not only the upcoming solar eclipse, but the Eclipse franchise that played an interesting role in the early history of professional baseball.