Posts Tagged ‘Sumner Hunnewell’

Sumner Hunnewell: Our Vintage Guy in St. Louis

June 5, 2013
Sumner Hunnewell St. Louis Perfectos

Sumner “Moose” Hunnewell
St. Louis Perfectos

Every now and then I just like to write about some of the people who make life in our little close-at-hand and extended family baseball culture so much fun. These are the people who make life on these diamonds of the mind, body, and soul so much fun. I know a bunch of folks who fit this description, but the person I have in mind today is a friend in St. Louis whom I’ve known for several years now through our shared membership in the St. Louis Browns Historical Society and some work he did for Jimmy Wynn and me when we were writing the Astro Icon’s autobiography, “Toy Cannon”.

Sumner Hunnewell was our index creator – and what a great job he did. He did such a great job, in fact, that he’s now back at work with our SABR editorial team as the index creator for our 2014 planned publication, “Houston Baseball, The Early Years: 1861-1961”.

A native of Portland, Maine, Sumner and his family moved to Arnold, Missouri in the Greater St. Louis Area several years ago and quickly settled into the informed St. Louis Cardinal mode of following baseball as though they were either the club’s general manager or the “effin'” (stands for efficacious) Commissioner of Baseball. “Cardinal mode” also means that those who have it are able to think, hear, watch, feel, taste, and talk baseball without coming off as someone who is a blow-hard know-it-all. These people are not arrogant. They are just solid at the seams – and they have no need to prove themselves to anyone.

We have people like Sumner in Houston too. St. Louis just seems to have more. Maybe that’s because the die-hard Cardinal baseball fans simply don’t waste their off-season time on the NFL Rams or the NBA Anybodies. They are twelve months a year baseball fans.

Sumner Hunnewell also introduced me to my first game of vintage base ball during the 2007 National SABR Convention in St. Louis. While there, I trekked on over one block to the banks of the Mississippi River where Sumner’s St. Louis Perfectos were playing an 1860’s rules game against their top competitors, the St. Louis Unions.

And why did the Perfectos and Unions agree to meet and play their game directly under the national Gateway monument that towered over them at this site? It’s like Sumner explained: “It’s because the Perfectos and Unions are arch-rivals!”

There was a lone vintage team in Houston in 2007 called the Montgomery County Saw Dogs, but I had never seen them play – nor had I seen an 1860’s rules game played by anyone. They actually played three games by three different sets of 18th century baseball rules that day, but the 1860s package was the one that struck a chord of joy with me. The following year, 2008, some of us from our Houston SABR chapter and a few of our independent friends got together and formed the Houston Babies as the reincarnation of our city’s first declared professional team in 1888. With a nod to Sumner and his vintage company for the momentum they added to our fire, I’m proud to say that our 21st century versions of the Houston Babies are now playing into their sixth season and that they have now outlasted the life span of our 19th century brothers six times over.

May the future of vintage base ball, the heart of professional baseball, and the spiritual ghosts of the joyful old sandlot be with us forever – and they will be too – if we keep good people like Sumner Hunnewell in our lives.

Thanks for the baseball card, Sumner. I’ll put it in the same shoebox I use to protect my rare 1909 Honus Wagner card and hide it deeper in the closet. j/k

Just in case everyone who reads these words doesn’t understand “j/k”. It means: “I don’t really have a Honus Wagner card. Not even close. But I do have a loaded Smith & Wesson.

Hope your Wednesday hump is a short one, friends. And don’t let work get n the way of joy.