Take Me Out To The Brawl Game

The Gay Nineties weren't all that gentle a time.

Darrell Pittman is a fine baseball historian and writer over at Astros Daily and also a valuable member of our SABR research team and our work-in-progress project, “Houston Baseball, The Early Years: 1861-1961.”  Both the title of this column and the following story that Darrell retrieved from Page 3 of the May 18, 1896 Houston Daily Post are to his credit. Thank you very much, Darrell Pittman. Your story-finds both lighten and enlighten our days and lives. 

It’s an interesting cultural piece, a funny look at the reporter’s use of language in bringing us this story of absolute mayhem, and a real look at the practical index on racial prejudice against Italian immigrants in rural Pennsylvania back in the last decade of the 19th century:

BALL GAME RIOT

SPECTATORS AND PLAYERS WERE MORE OR LESS INJURED.

HAZLETON, PA, MAY 17  –  Six persons were shot and a number of others seriously injured during a riot at Macadoo, a town four miles from here this afternoon. The injured are Jos. Ward, shot in knee; Thomas Karns, shot in arm;  James M. Downey, finger blown off: Burke Brennan, shot in shoulder; James Brennan, shot in arm; Mary Burke, shot in back; Antonio Rizzio, nose broken; Mrs. Ruth Viecho, scalp wound.

A game of baseball was in progress when a gang of drunken Italians charged upon the players and spectators with revolvers, clubs, and stones. Last night an Italian had been arrested for assault and battery. A number of young men took him from the constable and unmercifully beat him. The Italians, hearing of the beating, threatened revenge. They fulfilled their threat today. The first inning had just been finished when there  was a pistol shot. It was followed in a few minutes by a promiscuous discharge of firearms. The crowd attempted to run away, but the Italians chased them, discharging their pistols and throwing stones.The foreigners were almost mad with rage and blazed away incessantly until the police arrived.

Several of the Italians were arrested and more will be taken into custody tomorrow. Ward, who was the catcher for catcher for the Macadoo club, is the most seriously injured. He is lying in a hospital in critical condition.

– Houston Daily Post, May 18, 1896 Edition, Page 3.

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4 Responses to “Take Me Out To The Brawl Game”

  1. Bob Hulsey Says:

    “a promiscuous discharge of firearms”

    Shocking. And in broad daylight too.

  2. Darrell Pittman Says:

    What gets me is the article doesn’t even give the score!

  3. Sue Says:

    “What gets me is the article doesn’t even give the score!”

    I wonder if Milo wrote it.

  4. Darrell Pittman Says:

    @Sue: The time frame would be about right.

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