Tag Archives: Alfred Reach

Baseball on Skates

28 Aug

In the winter of 1866 the Athletic Base Ball Club of Philadelphia had a novel idea.  The Philadelphia Inquirer said:

“It would naturally be supposed that, with the advent of ‘winter’s rude blasts,’ the noble game of base ball would be laid on the shelf and kept there until the season when the earth brings forth its products in the shape of green leaves and budding flowers, but not so, for our base ball devotees are such enthusiasts in the game that they have resorted to the novelty of playing it on skates, thus indulging in two exhilarating recreations at the same time.”

The Athletics were scheduled to play the team from the Hamilton Club of Philadelphia.  When several of the Hamilton players were unable to participate, an ad hoc team was assembled which also included players from the Camden, Olympic, Philadelph’s, and Keystone clubs.


Al Reach batted third for the Athletics on skates

The Inquirer said:

“The game was “witnessed by several hundred persons, and excited great amusement, owing to the trouble experienced by the players endeavoring  to do two difficult things at the same time, i.e. keep their equilibrium on skates and play base ball well.  The game was remarkably well-played, taking into account the pedal difficulties.”

The Athletics won 76-35

The Box Score

The Box Score

Within two weeks a “base ball match on skates” was played between the  Active and Eureka clubs in Newark, New Jersey.  The Trenton State Gazette said Eureka won 26-16, and that the game was “very interesting,” and “witnessed by five thousand people, including many ladies.”

For the next 50 years games played on ice would occasionally be staged, usually with amateur teams.

A Really Complete Chronology, and Quite a Reason to End up on the Disabled List

10 Oct

The Reach Guide, founded by Major Leaguer turned sporting goods magnet Alfred Reach in 1883, along with the Spalding Guide, founded by Major Leaguer turned sporting good magnet Albert Spalding in 1878, were the annual bibles of baseball.

Both publications prided themselves on providing the most complete chronology of the previous season.

An example of just how complete the Reach Guide could be is found in the 1906 edition.

The entry is about a young pitcher named Gus Bonno.

Bonno was born November 27, 1882 (Baseball reference incorrectly lists his birth year as 1881) in Ohio.  Records for his career are spotty.  After playing for a semi-pro team in Urbana Ohio in 1901 and part of ’02, late that season Bonno appeared in two games with the Toledo Mud Hens in the American Association.  Bonno returned to semi-pro the following season and played for the Paducah Indians in the Kitty League in 1904.

Bonno pitched for the Newark Sailors in the Eastern League and Norwich Reds in the Connecticut State League in 1905.

The Kentucky New Era referred to the Bonno as: “The handsome black haired, black-eyed debonair Italian twirler.”  In fact, nearly every contemporaneous newspaper article about Bonno referred to his ethnicity, which underscores the domination of players of Irish and German heritage in 19th and early 20th Century baseball.

Back to the Reach Guide.

On page 160, for the date September 23, 1905:

“Pitcher Gus Bonno at Cincinnati broke his ankle jumping from a second story window of a young woman’s home to avoid being shot by a jealous rival suitor.”

1906 Reach Guide

Bonno recovered enough to join the Augusta Tourists in the South Atlantic in the spring of 1906, but was sold to the Norfolk Tars of the Virginia League at the beginning of season.  He continued to pitch until 1911 with stops in the Western League and Bluegrass League.

He passed away in Cincinnati in 1964.

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