Ice Baseball made its first appearance in the winter of 1866 when the Athletic Baseball Club of Philadelphia played a game on ice against a “picked nine’ comprised of other local baseball teams. Games were played occasionally over the next 50 years, but the game never caught on.
That changed briefly the winter following the 1919 season when the game, along with Ice Boxing, became a sensation in Cleveland. The Cleveland Press said the biggest star among the “many ice baseball clubs” was Chicago Cubs centerfielder, and Cleveland native, George “Dode” Paskert “an expert skater (who) says the exercise he is getting is going to put him about a month ahead” of his teammates.
The paper said Cleveland Indians players Bill Wambsganss and Jack Graney played, and that Ray Chapman, the Indians second baseman, and William “Pickles” Dillhoefer, catcher for St. Louis Cardinals would be joining teams.
Indians Manager Tris Speaker umpired at least one game.
Like every other short-term Ice Baseball craze, the game quickly faded in Cleveland.
As for Paskert, after a horrible 1919 season–.196 in 88 games–the 38-year-old seems to have benefitted from his “extra exercise.” He hit .279 in 139 games in his final full season in the major leagues.