“War Against the Ballplayer”

6 Mar

As baseball continued to gain popularity in Chicago during the 1870s, the amount of pickup games being played in the city’s streets and alleys increased.

By June of 1877 the Chicago Police Department viewed baseball as a nuisance and issued an order to arrest anyone “Throwing balls…in, from, or to any street, sidewalk or alley.”

The Chicago Inter Ocean editorialized about the plan under the headline “War against the Ballplayer:”

 “Every now and again the Police Department of this city is seized with a sort of virtuous spasm, a desire to execute some coup d’état, some brilliant strategic movement which will cover the force with glory, and plant it still deeper in the confidence and affection of the noble taxpayer…Long and patiently have we waited, much have we suffered, loudly complained in vain.  But it has come at last.  War has been declared against the gamins, and the advance guard of the enemy has crossed the alley.”

After similar ridicule from all corners of the city, the order was rescinded by the end of the month and the streets of Chicago were again safe for baseball.

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