Second Chance No Help to LaGrange Nine

Another great old newspaper find by our ardent frequent research contributor, Darrell Pittman. Thanks again, Darrell, for a most interesting story from our area baseball historsy.

Another great old newspaper find by our ardent frequent research contributor, Darrell Pittman. Thanks again, Darrell, for a most interesting story from our area baseball history.

April 6, 1897

The rag-tag small town amateur club from LaGrange, Texas had little hope, but a lot of heart on that late 19th century day they rode the train to Houston to play the professional city boy club, the Houston Buffs, at Fair Grounds Park. The Buffs needed a warm up game prior to the imminent opening of their new Texas League season. The date of the game was April 6, 1897. It was also Ladies Day at the ballpark and Houston fans turned out to get a glimpse of how the local club was shaping up for the new base ball season.

Even though Houston was the home club, they exercised their option to bat first. Not much could have been expected from the amateur LaGrange club, but they came to play with all the game they could stuff in a loose ends equipment bag.

By the end of seven innings, the LaGrange club had acquitted themselves well. The Buffs led 4-0, but that close loss served as sort of moral victory for the country boys from seventy or so miles west of the big city. All agreed to call it a game due to the tight scheduling of the LaGrange club’s train home late that same afternoon. Tight scheduling? The seven inning game only lasted one hour and thirty minutes, but LaGrange still needed to cut the action short and rush to the depot with a chance of missing their train home.

LaGrange missed their train, alright, but Houston tried to console them with an unscheduled opportunity to play the Buffs again the next day. LaGrange was consoled – and probably buoyed by the ether of their good show the first time of even hoping for an improvement on luck and underdog performance in a second time around.

APRIL 6, 1897 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ~ R H E
HOUSTON 0 1 0 2 0 0 1 ~ 4 5 0
LAGRANGE 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ~ 0 4 1

Official Time: 1:35

Umpire: Clark


April 7, 1897

Love isn’t always lovelier the second time around, and neither are gloves, bats, ballgame hopes, and the skills of amateur players. The Houston Buffs really raised the spring heat on the small town small fries that second day, pasting them 26-3 in a game that was called a wrap after eight because of another train the LaGrange nine sorely needed to catch, but also because it was the humane thing to do.

This kind of anecdote always makes me think even more sentimentally than normal about the long-range aftermath. – Do you suppose this experience became part of “grandpa’s shared lore with his grandchildren”  as the 20th century moved in and Father Time took its toll upon those younger LaGrange ballplayers? – And are some of the older attics of LaGrange today, and unknown, as well, to descendants or current residents, still serving as the long-time mausoleums of old gloves, uniforms, and other equipment from that fated two-game series in Houston?

Sometimes ancient baseball stories are like morphine to the baseball mind.

APRIL 7, 1897 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ~ R H E
HOUSTON 5 2 0 3 7 3 1 5 ~ 26 21 2
LAGRANGE 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 ~    3    6 5

Time: 1:33

Umpire: Clark


eagle-0rangeBill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas


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