The Fort Douglas Browns – History of the Men of the 24th Infantry Regiment – Part 2

 

 

The Pioneer Day Jubilee was was the largest event held in the state of Utah in 1897, and the week long event was publicized in newspapers around the country, comparing it to the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. Over $60,000 in private and public funds had been raised, and more than ten other states had donated money to usher in Utah as the 45th state of the Union. The city of Salt Lake was lined with the patriotic colors of the United States, while at the same time, the Jubilee colors burst forward in a brilliant spectacle to remind all the participants who attended this affair, that Utah still possessed its own cultural heritage.

 

“MAIN STREET

The entire front of the State Bank of Utah is concealed behind a drapery of the National and Jubilee colors, interwoven and blended into harmony.

The decorations on Templeton consist of long steamers of Stars and Stripes bunting, while the north front has innumerable flags of all sizes.

The Templeton restaurant has as single star in Jubilee colors in the center of which is a life-size portrait of William J. Bryan.” — Salt Lake Tribune, July 21, 1897

 

Utah voted predominately Democrat during the 1896 election cycle, and it was noted in many papers that Republican President William McKinley would not be showing up to the Pioneer Day Jubilee. Democratic-Populist, William Jennings Bryan, “The Great Commoner”, was the favorite son in the state of Utah during the Presidential campaign of 1896, based on his “Silverite” policy. Bryan had lost the electoral college by 95 votes, and the popular vote by over 600,000, but still remained the people choice in the state of Utah. The political and economic conflicts that endured between these two contradictory forces was represented in the colors that were flown by these opposing citizens of Utah, Goldbugs vs. Silverites; and the Republican Party would be represented by the 24th Infantry Regiment as a symbol of the United States during the Pioneer Jubilee. Bryan  attended the Pioneer Jubilee, representing the bimetallic platform for the Democratic party. President McKinley would not be at the Pioneer Jubilee, even though a formal delegation representing the new state of Utah was sent to Washington D.C. to invite him personally.

 

“(Special to the Herald) Washington, July 2 —

It can be safely stated now that President McKinley and his cabinet will not be visit Utah during her Semi-Centennial Jubilee. During the past week the president has confidentially expressed to several western members of congress, who were interested in the perspective trip, and who sought to learn his intentions regarding it, that he does not believe that he will see his way clear to go as far west as Utah until probably the later part of August, when he hopes to go to the Pacific Coast.

The committee sent to invite the president to Utah will be formally notified within a short time of his inability to accept the invitation. The apparent small interval which will exist between the adjournment of congress and the occasion of the celebration will be given as the principal reason therefore.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 3, 1897

 

The Hon. Moses Thatcher, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, made the introduction for Bryan at the Logan, Utah Tabernacle, in a speech on July 22, which stirred the Mormon champions of silver’s “16 to 1” currency policy, held by Utah’s moderate Democrats.

 

“Mr. Thatcher made a brief speech, saying, in part: “You all know that I’m not given to laudation of men, but it is a pleasure to find one who has the moral courage to stand forth and oppose the encroachments of oppressors of the people that I wish to here pay my humble tribute of admiration to our honored visitor today. With his eloquent voice, attuned to 16 silver, 1 golden tune of harmony, he has declared to all the people that oppression of the poor by the money changers must cease. I introduce to you Hon. William J. Bryan.”

BRYAN’S ELOQUENCE

“I have had a most pleasant time since I came to Utah.” said he. “In Salt Lake I had the pleasure of attending the Trans-Mississippi congress, also the opening exercise of the Pioneer Jubilee. I have learned that the people of this state are overwhelmingly in favor of bimetallism, and I will tell you my friends, we propose to continue the battle until financial freedom is won.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 23, 1897

 

Baseball was on still everyone’s mind though, including the Park City Miners who were devout ‘Silverites’. The Fort Douglas Browns had already played more games that season than the Park City Miners, and they had also won more games than the former state champions. Yet, the continuing feud between them would remain evident to the population of Salt Lake since the first time they met on the diamond. The Browns represented every aspect of life that the Miners of Park City had rejected since the 24th Infantry Regiment’s arrival in the state of Utah. They were black, they were U.S. government soldiers who spoke on behalf of the McKinley Administration, and they were good at the game of baseball.

 

The opening day events for the Pioneer Jubilee were numerous, and the draw to the baseball games were as important as any of the rest of the activities that were scheduled. The first game would be played between the Browns and the Jubilees. It would be called, “The Best Game Of The Season” by reporters.

 

“It was the best game of the season. So said everyone of the thousand people who saw the Browns defeat the Jubilees at the Fort Douglas grounds yesterday afternoon. It was close and exciting from the start to finish, with few errors and many clever plays by both sides. At the end of the sixth inning the score was 2 to 1 in favor of the Jubilees. Then Richards lost his temper at a decision of the umpire and the Jubilees and the Jubilees began to find him, and they made six runs in the two following innings. Kidder hurt his arm in a vain endeavor to stop a liner from Countee’s bat and after that he let down somewhat, and in the ninth inning, with the score 8 to 6 in favor of the Jubilees, McFarland replaced him. He sent a couple of men to base on balls, and then, with the bases full, Armstrong lifted the ball over the fence and the game and the game was won.” — Salt Lake Tribune, July 19, 1897

 

Armstrong’s grand slam had sealed the fate of the Jubilee team. It also sent a very strong message to the public at large. The final score was 10 to 8, in favor of the Browns.

 

“Armstrong’s Play Snatched Victory From the Jubilees and Perched It On the Banners of the Soldiers, But the Former Demonstrated That They Are Now Rivals Worthy of Any Other Team.”

BIG ARMSTRONG’S FEAT

It was then that big Armstrong took up the bat and rapped the ball so fiercely that it went many yards clear of the fence, and many yards above the left fielder’s head. And while men came dashing over the home plate, followed by Armstrong, the wild din of countless voices clattered over the field. Armstrong was gathered up and triumphantly held upon the shoulders of the enthusiast. Meanwhile the Jubilees limped away dazed and heavy of heart.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 19, 1897

 

The Pioneer Day Jubilee’s major event on July 21, 1897, between the most sought after rival  teams, the Park City Miners and the Fort Douglas Browns drew a crowd of three-thousand fans. It was by far, the largest draw of the season. After the defeat of the Jubilee team, the Park City Miners were out for blood. Cheating was not above them, or their traveling umpire, James Byrne. There would be trouble at this game from the very beginning.

 

“A baseball game, which came near terminating ere half-played, was on at the Fort Douglas grounds yesterday and 3000 people watched the Park City boys gain their second victory of the week by a score of 14 to 9 from the Browns of the Douglas garrison. It was in the last half of the third inning that the only thing to mar the pleasure of the game occurred, when Reid of the Browns collided with Capt. Lloyd, the miners shortstop, who was after a hot liner and claimed he did not see the colored man coming. The crowd, which by the way, was a very demonstrative one, simply raised up in the seats and yelled when Umpire Byrne, acting, so it seemed on impulse of the moment, declared Reid, who at meantime reached third, to be safe. No sooner was this done, than Capt. Lloyd walked over to the scorers’ stand, sacked his bats and retired from the field. This Achillean movement caused Byrne to reverse his decision and call Reid out. This made Capt. Loving of the Browns angry and had it not been for the timely appearance of Lieut. Jackson of Company B on the ground, the Browns would have withdrawn also. He advised Capt. Loving to go on with the game and the latter gave in, much to the chagrin of his team”. — Salt Lake Tribune, July, 22, 1897

 

With two game out of the way, one win against the Jubilees and one loss against Park City, the Browns would meet the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s, on July 24, 1897. The Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s had just lost their game by a score of 7 to 3 against the Park City Miners in front of a crowd of 2,500 screaming fans the day before, and they gave the ‘Silverites’ a run for their money.

 

“The ball game yesterday afternoon between the Browns of Fort Douglas and the Ogden team, on the Fort Douglas grounds, was attended by a large crowd of very enthusiastic spectators, who appeared to feel well repaid for their their attendance. The game, which was unusually interesting and at times exciting, was very closely contested from start to finish. The Browns were whitewashed in the first, second and seventh innings, and the Ogdens in the second, third, forth, seventh and ninth. For the Browns, Richards and Dean were pitchers and Emmett and Ferrin for the Ogdens. The field work was good on both sides. Home runs were mad by Wheeler and Loving of the Browns, and by Greenwell of the Ogdens. A number of two and three-base hits were made on both sides. As usual, there was much fault found with the umpire.” — Salt Lake Tribune, July 25, 1897

 

In a tight game, the Browns defeated the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s by a score of 9 to 8, which put them at two wins and one loss for the Pioneer Day Jubilee baseball series. In their final game, the Browns would once again take on the Jubilees.

 

Jubilee Boys Demonstrated There Right to Retire From the Diamond — Cannot Play Ball a Little Bit.

If the Jubilee nine ever had any illuminations, their lights went out yesterday on the dusty, sun-baked diamond at Fort Douglas. At the end of the melancholy and depressing conflict, the Jubilees were as much defunct in a baseball way as is the luminous celebration which they were created to represent.

PLAYED LIKE FARMERS

But there was a difference in the manner of the demise, for instead of going down amid belching cannons and meteors of flashing light, as the celebration did, the Jubilees simply went up against the soldier nine and were eaten up.

SPORT FOR THE BROWNS

And the Browns deemed it rare sport forsooth. They gathered in a harvest of seven in one inning and captured 12 more easily and gracefully before the curtain fell. There were home runs and sensational raps on the ball when three men covered the bags. The Browns gamboled as in the dust and grinned large mahogany grins. When the game was over they did not jubilate or tear severe cheers from their throats. All they did was to wrap up their countenances in big wide smirks.

The crowd, which had looked for no other ending to the burlesque filed out of the gate, meanwhile, a solemn and sad procession.” — Salt Lake Herald, July 26, 1897

 

The seven game series had ended, and the Park City Miners made quick work of announcing their domination in baseball at the Pioneer Day Jubilee. A ‘Jollification’ was in order, again staking claim to being the finest baseball team in the state of Utah. The Park City Miners had won three games. The Browns had also won three games out of the four they had played.

 

“Park City, July 27 — The Park City and Independent bands and the baseball club held a jollification last night, celebrating the victories won at the Jubilee last week. It will be remembered that the Park City band took the first prize of $200, and the Independent band took the second prize of $100, while the baseball nine defeated each of three contesting teams, the Browns, Jubilees, and Ogdens.

Brooms were carried by victors of the diamond. On the banners were inscribed:”Eleven victories out of twelve contest: that ain’t bad for drill drivers.” “Park City band won the $200 prize; Independent band won the $100 prize.” “We’re the only Pebbles on the Beach.” “All coons look alike, Park city on top.” “Ogden Y.M.C.A. nine drank all the red lemonade in Salt Lake.” “We’ve got next to the whole works; turn your lamps on us and see ‘lumination’.” “The Jubilees, they couldn’t split wood.” —  Salt Lake Herald, July 28, 1897

 

The month of August held some interesting developments for the Park City Miners and the Jubilees after the Pioneer Jubilee week, where baseball was concerned. These two teams disbanded, and reorganized in order to take down the Browns, while the Browns would continue to play against teams like Leadville and the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s. This new team would be eventually call themselves the Salt Lake “Cracks”.  Another reason for this consolidation of the Jubilees and Park City Miners had to do with the shutting of two major mining camps in Park City. The Daily and Ontario mines were not producing, and many of the men working them would be thrown out of their current employment. In July of 1897, the miners of Park City accepted a wage cut during the Pioneer Jubilee Day event.  By early August, 1,200 men would be out of work.

 

“Salt Lake, Aug. 6 — The Ontario and Daily mines in Park city, Utah closed down this evening. A cut in wages was made several days ago and the men cheerfully submitted, but owing to the drop in silver during the past few days it was deemed best to close them altogether. This action means the throwing out of employment of at least 1,200 men. There is intense excitement in this city and Park City tonight over the actions of these companies. No one blames them, however, as it is a well known fact that the mines have operated at a loss. A crash in the other direction is anticipated.” — Ogden Standard, August 7, 1897

 

“The Park City baseball club, on account of the mines closing, have disbanded, and each was paid his share of the money in the treasury, which was quite an amount.” — Round Up, August 13, 1897

 

“The Jubilee and Park City baseball teams have consolidated, and propose to pick their best men with the view of “doing up” the boys of Fort Douglas.” — Ogden Standard, August 13, 1897

 

“The Ogden base ball nine are arranging for a game with the Fort Douglas Browns, at Salt Lake for some day next week. While this is going on, the Jubilees have consolidated with the Park nine and the best members of each team now constitute the “Jubilees”. They are after the “Browns” scalps.” — Ogden Standard Examiner, August, 13, 1897

 

At the Fort Douglas compound, the soldiers continued on with their duties, which included drilling and inspections, and spent their recreational time playing baseball among themselves.

 

“The soldiers are now anxiously awaiting orders for the practice march. The exact date is not yet known, but they will undoubtedly leave very shortly after the inspector general arrives and makes his inspection.

The inspector general is expected to arrive in the post on the 16th. He is on a regular tour and will thoroughly inspect the troops and the garrison here. The troops will be put through all the different forms of squad, company, battalion and regimental drills. Besides this the quarters, storehouses and the whole post will be carefully inspected.

Skirmish firing is now nearly completed and it is expected that volley will commence today. With the completion of volley firing the season’s practice will be over and the season of field work will commence.

Baseball is one of the most interesting topics among the men at present. There are several teams in existence among the different companies, and contest are of frequent occurrence. One of the games announced is for the 4th, when the F company  “Chunks” will play the B company “Chumps”. The game will be called at 7:00 am sharp. All the men who wish to see the game will have to forego their after breakfast nap. Game is called at such an early hour to give to give the players time to finish nine innings before dark. The last score between the two teams was 204 to 185.

Professor Loving, the crack all around ball player for the Browns, has suddenly stepped forth and tipped his cap to a delighted audience that sat in rapture over his musical work. Loving has shown that his voice — which so often is heard on the baseball field crying “slide, Reid, or you’ll cash your checks” — has the power to charm as well as coach. He is leader of the choir and fills his position with credit. He is also leader of the mandolin club and shows that his fingers can touch the strings of a mandolin as deftly as they can grab a baseball bat.” — Salt Lake Herald, August 12, 1897

 

The new, ‘improved’ “Jubilee” team, that was gunning for the Fort Douglas Browns would suffer their last defeat under that name at the hands of the Browns in mid August.

 

“The Salt Lake team, an aggregation composed of some of the best men from the Jubilee nine, Park City boys and others, went up against the Fort Douglas Browns, yesterday afternoon, and the score — 20 to 14 — in favor of the soldiers, tells the whole story.

The city boys put up a good game, but were deficient in team work, while their pitchers were not strong enough to hold the Browns down. Allen, McFarland, and Kimbrough were put in the box in succession, but it made little difference to the warriors, who kept right on playing ball. The city team did some good stick work in the first, pounding out four runs, and scored two in the second, three in the fifth, one in the seventh and four in the eight, but closed the ninth with a goose egg.

The soldiers scored three runs in the first, three in the second, seven in the third, two in the fourth and then let up until the eight when they piled up five.” — Salt Lake Herald, August 16, 1897

 

This would be last game of August for the Browns, even though they were challenged by a pick nine called the Salt Lake Athletics. The negotiations fell through, and the Browns never played the Athletics. All roads would lead to Leadville, the “Champions of Colorado”, who would challenge the former Jubilee-Park City consolidated team now known as the Salt Lake Cracks. The Fort Douglas field is where the game would be staged for all to witness, and Cracks and Leaville teams would end the game in a riot in the eight inning, with Leadville walking off the field, forfeiting the game to the Cracks.

 

The Browns would soon face the Leadville Blues in a three game series at the Fort Douglas grounds to determine who was the best between them. The Blues always brought the same attitude to the field. Win, or start a riot, then claim victory. The Browns would win two of the three games, one of them by forfeit of the last game, which ended up in a tie score of 13 to 13, and a riot in the tenth inning with Leadville walking off the field. Leadville left town claiming they were the victorious, and staked a claim of being the champions of both the state of Colorado and Utah. [11]

 

Second Game of the Series Produces a Score of 19 to 10

The Browns found the Leadville team somewhat easy victims at the Fort Douglas grounds yesterday. In the third inning they knocked Francis out of the box and scored twelve runs. More than enough to win the game.” — Salt Lake Tribune, September 19, 1897

 

“The game of ball at the fort ended yesterday with more or less glory for the Browns, but for all that it was an unhappy termination to a good battle.

In an attempt to decide a tie game by the tenth inning, a dispute arose in the Leadville camp over a decision by the umpire, and as the Colorado men refused to play any more in the soldiers’ yard the umpire awarded the game and the victory to the Browns. This gave the Browns two games out of the tournament of three.”  — Salt Lake Herald, September 20, 1897

 

“In a congratulatory story headed, “The Champions Of The West”, the Leadville Herald, Democrat, pats its returned baseball team on the back for the record it made on its recent trio through Utah.

The article says in part: “The baseball club returned from their successful trip through Utah Tuesday, and the boys all report a splendid trip financially. Manager Grier says the club played excellent ball while on the trip, and conducted themselves as gentlemen at all times, making friends at all the different cities where they appeared. Out of eleven games played the club won six, lost two and had three drawn games. The Blues have played forty-nine games this season, winning thirty-seven, losing nine and playing three tie games. This is the best record made by an independent club in Colorado, and the people of our city should certainly feel proud of the club which has succeeded in winning the championship of both Colorado and Utah. The city has been certainly advertised over the West, as a winning baseball team creates more interest and excitement than any other attraction in the country. Last Sunday the boys played to 1500 people in Salt Lake City against the famous Fort Douglas Browns in the most exciting and interesting contest ever played in Utah. At the beginning of the tenth inning the score stood 13 to 13, when a small-sized riot was started by the people betting on the contest, and the game was broken up” — Salt Lake Tribune, September 25, 1897

 

After the Salt Lake Cracks won their game by forfeit to the Leadville Blues, they would take a final stab at the Fort Douglas Browns. It was natural to think they stood a chance at seizing the day, and placing a final nail in the coffins of the Browns notoriety. Game after game, the Brown drew a crowd of a thousand or more spectators in attendance. The Cracks would be hard pressed to prove their point about which team would dominate the state of Utah, and after weeks of practice, their challenge of the Browns would be met by defeat.

 

“Nearly a thousand people watched the Browns and the Salt Lake gambol for two hours about the Fort Douglas baseball grounds yesterday afternoon. It was not very good baseball at any stage of the game, but the players had lots of fun and so did the spectators. The Browns won out in a very leisurely sort of way by a score of 13 to 5. Their victory was principally due to the very clever work in the box of pitcher Harris. It was Harris’s debut in the box before the Salt Lake audience and he created a most favorable impression. The Salt Lakes scored all of their runs in the first three innings. Harris held the Salt Lakes down to three scratch singles. He has good speed and excellent control, watches the bases well and is fairly good with the stick.

Reid of the Browns was in a hilarious mood and kept the players and spectators convulsed during most of the game by his antics. Adams was hit by a pitched ball in the sixth inning and had to be carried off the field. He recovered sufficiently to be able to go on with the game.

The feature were Lloyd’s fine stop of Countee’s sharp grounder in the seventh and Matthews’s splendid catch of Reid’s long fly at the left field fence in the sixth.” — Salt Lake Tribune, September 27, 1897

 

War was brewing between the United States and Spain, and Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt made it clear that there was no way around it. Any and all negotiation had failed.

 

Secretary Roosevelt Believes War With Spain Is Almost Certain

Uncle Sam Making Preparations for the Prospective TroubleThe Navy Department Gathering its Available MenWhat Wooford Said.

New York, Sept. 22–“This country is on the verge of war with Spain.”

These are the word of the Assistant Secretary Of the Navy Roosevelt. He used them at a conference of some of the commanders of the naval militia, whom he had summoned to Washington to learn of the state of their commands and a number of men that can be depended on to complete the complement of warships and auxiliary navy.” — Logan Journal, September 25, 1897\

 

The final game of season for the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment would be a rematch between the Browns and the Ogden Y.M.C.A.’s.  It would be an away game, played on the Ogden field in mid October.  It was a hard fought victory for the Y.M.C.A.’s, by a final score of 7 to 4, but what hadn’t been known by anyone in the Salt Lake area, is that after this game, the Ogden Y.M.C.A’s would disband their club and claim that they were now the champions of the state of Utah.

 

They are now Champions of Utah.

The Club has Disbanded for the Season and Will Open Up Next Year With the Intention of Holding the Banner in Ogden

During the past week, the Salt Lake teams, including the Fort Douglas Browns, have been endeavoring to secure a game of ball, with the Ogden team, to take place in Salt Lake. To all the inquiries the manager of the club has replied that the Ogden team has disbanded and would play no more games this year. The departure of Emmett, the crack pitcher for the Ogdens, left a vacancy which cannot be filled this season, but the club management is pushing matters for the securing of a tip top twirler and some other good timber for the coming year.

One point which the last game with the Browns brought out, but which was kept quiet for some reason, was that the game was for the championship of Utah. The Ogden team had defeated the Jubilees twice, and the Browns twice, while the Browns had defeated Ogden twice. This game was the rubber, and Ogden won it out from the start, thus securing the championship, and they say they are going to keep it.” — Ogden Standard Examiner, October 13, 1897

 

Of course, the Ogden Standard Examiner laid its own twist on the game in question, boosting the story to secure the pride of the home team. The Salt Lake Tribune called a different game, where both teams were battling fiercely, with Ogden in the lead and the score standing at 5 to 4 in the seventh inning in favor of the home team, until Ogden pulled ahead and shut the Browns down with good pitching and batting. The Ogden team batted out two runs in the eight innings, and the Browns could not recover at the plate. [12]

 

With the 1897 season officially over, the Browns prepared for next year by making plans for a grass field, to cut down on the dust that came with every play.

 

“The Browns are now hard at work on the baseball grounds, getting them in shape for next season. The club has purchased a large amount of grass seed, and are preparing to sow it all so that the grass will be up in the spring. The ground were very dusty last summer and made it disagreeable, for the players as well as the spectators. By sowing the field with grass, it is hoped to do away with the nuisance of dust. An attempt will be made to make a lawn of the whole enclosure, but a especial attention will be given to having grass in the diamond and in front of the grand stand. Next season will probably see the inevitable signs “Keep off the grass” placed about the field.

In the general work about the ground will be included the leveling of the field and a rebuilding or repairing of the grand stand. The fences will be repaired and the grounds laid out anew. The season just past was a very successful one for the Browns, both in financial and professional ways. The net proceeds of the season will be about $500, and a great deal of it will be spent in buying new suit, bats, balls and other necessaries for the season of ’98. In a professional way, the Browns won a great many laurels. The only team that could boast over their victories over the Browns were the Park City boys. And even they have not much to boast of, as their victories were hard earned and not “walk-aways.” Countee has been elected to fill the place of secretary for the team for the next season.” — Salt Lake Herald, November 29, 1897

 

Corporal Thomas W. Countee, of Company F, would also take over as team manager of the Fort Douglas Browns. replacing Sergeant Mack Stanfield, of Company B, who would be placed on a three month furlough to visit his family and friends in Nashville, Tennessee. [13]

 

The Browns of Fort Douglas had made a name for themselves throughout the West in ’97, and were recognized as one of the premier teams to play the game of baseball. Their 1897 season was filled with more wins than losses, against more teams than any other team in the state of Utah. That fact would not be soon forgotten by the citizens of Utah, so far as the game of baseball was concerned. They endeared themselves to both spectators and opponents, and brought excitement to every Sunday event they undertook. So much so, they were slotted as one of the main teams to be invited to play in the newly developing 1898 State League of Utah. [14]

 

The Browns would never get a chance to play in the scheduled state league games; and for most of the men of the 24th Infantry Regiment, they would never play baseball again.

 

End: Part II

Part I   Part III   Part IV

 

[11] Herald Democrat-September 23, 1897

[12] Salt Lake Tribune, October 6, 1897

[13] Salt Lake Tribune, Dec 26, 1897

[14] Salt Lake Trubune, March 6, 1897

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