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Baseball in Early Lincoln

Edward Manley, a Chicago educator, was the son of Samuel Manley, one of the five men that composed the faculty of the University of Nebraska when classes first began in the fall of 1871. The father's health failed and he soon resigned. The Manley family lived in Lincoln only a few years when Edward was less than twelve years of age. He later recalled these years in a paper read January 25, 1932, before the Chicago Literary Club.

Lincoln baseball is now centered around the Lincoln Saltdogs, a franchise of the Northern League. Haymarket Park, the newly constructed baseball stadium and softball complex, seats more than 4,500 people. Manley recalled in 1932 that Lincolnites of his day played baseball on "a fairly well kept field. They called the ball a red dead. It was covered with a very dark red leather--probably horsehide--and was as hard as those in use now. It was not so lively as the solid rubber ball that was popular in those days with younger players. Play with a red dead was considered a man's business in those days. It was quite as good as any now sold over the counter.

"Uniforms consisted of balbriggan or lisle shirts with modest sleeves, blue silk knee pants often with a white stripe down each side, and white stockings. The shoes were white canvas re-enforced with leather. Belts were generally white. In case there was another color, one belt had the word captain in white letters woven into it on the back.

"There was no protective or defensive armor. The pitching was underhand and over a distance of 45 feet. . . . The younger boys had two teams that played regularly. The patron saint of one team was George Quick, son of the most prosperous saloon keeper in town. [The elder Quick's saloon stood at the southeast corner of Tenth and P streets.] George's father was a jiner and was prominent in several fraternal organizations. He had in his armory the prescribed regalia for all of them. When George's team played, he brought parts of this equipment and let the other boys wear them. One team owned a loaded bat." Manley recalled that nobody ever batted with it but that it was brought to every game. where small boys enjoyed swinging it.

(September 2002)

 

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