Local History Index:
Early Baseball History
Baseball, Land O' Lakes, and More and
O' Lakes Baseball News
Compiled and transcribed by Michael R. Reilly
This postcard photo is thought to be of a
Colgate, Wis. baseball team. The uniform jerseys are circa-1910 or earlier
(Note: Major league baseball teams were phasing out the collar type about that
time.), Also, picture postcards like this were popular in the early 1900's.
Click on photo to see full size. Any information about this photo would be
Did it take nearly 20 years for baseball to
arrive in the Sussex/Lisbon area? The first recorded baseball game , the
Knickerbocker Club of New York City against the New York Club was played at
Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 19, 1846.
Below are some of the earliest recorded base
ball or baseball games played in the area. It's interesting to see that cricket
players and base ball players competed against one another. The Sussex/Lisbon
area was English origin and the game of cricket was a popular pastime. Somewhat
similar in play, it's no wonder the teams played together.
Baseball may have had its local roots at the
college level, as shown by this Waukesha Freeman, June 25, 1867:
Base Ball - Another
very spirited games of base ball (national game) took place on the grounds of
Carroll College on Friday afternoon. Both contestants were pretty confident of
success. In the first three or four innings of the game, neither side played
very brilliantly, but as the game progressed the contestants warmed up, and some
very fine batting was done by both parties. Also good fly catches were made...
Some of the players on the two
team rosters were probably sons of Sussex-Lisbon area residents: Rankin,
Wildish, Jeffrey, and possibly others. No doubt these college students brought
the game back home.
Base Ball At Sussex - The matched game of base ball
came off at Sussex on the 26th last, between the Sussex B. B. C. (Base Ball
Club) and the Sussex Cricket Club, which resulted in the defeat of the latter
club by a score of 16 runs, but we think the Cricket Club done remarkably well
as they had never played the game before, and was deficient of three their best
players, but notwithstanding all the odds, that they had to contend with
against, they made nine runs ahead up to the eighth inning, when a little bad
fielding on the part of the Cricketers, and a little sharp management of the
Base Ball boys, they won the game by 16 runs. The same clubs will play a matched
game of cricket on Saturday next, at Sussex, for a new cricket ball, the wickets
to be pitched at 10 o'clock a. m. Waukesha Plaindealer, September 29,
Editor's note: This is the earliest mention
of Sussex or Lisbon base ball found to date on the Ancestry.com website search
of local newspapers.
Base Ball - The match game of Base Ball between the
Lisbon and Menomonee Base
Ball Club and the Sussex Cricket Ball Club, on the 28, resulted in
the defeat of the last named club by a score of 64 to 46. Waukesha Freeman,
October 8, 1868.
On the 3rd (see below), a match game of Cricket Ball, between the above
named clubs, the "Crickets" won by a score of 94 to 93 - the latter
having eight wickets standing.
Waukesha Freeman, August 19, 1869. Editor's note: This
article of Aug. 19, 1869 indicates either there was a separate base ball club
called the Lisbon and Menomonee Base
Ball Club or perhaps members of of both locales joined to take on the Sussex Cricket Ball Club
(earlier called the Cricketers).
Cricket Match at Sussex - Waukesha
Plaindealer, Tuesday, October 13, 1868: Our Cricket match came off on
Saturday the 3rd last, at Sussex, and proved to be a very interesting game,
though the base ball boys were rather slack in making their appearance; but
about 11 o'clock a goodly number of spectators - something less than ten
thousand - has assembled on the ground. We decided to make a start by giving the
B. B. boys the first innings. Their Captain, John Ross, took the bat and made
some good plays by running up a score of seventeen runs before leaving the
wicket. The balance of their boys did as well as could be expected. They finally
retired for a few minutes. The sun now shining due south we thought it best to
refresh the inner man. Accordingly we did a beautiful supply, furnished by the
local good people of Sussex. One o'clock we again resumed the game and scored a
good inning of sixty-two runs. Some fine batting was made by T. Mason, who
scored eighteen runs, and S. Weaver, who made the same score. The B. B. boys now
again took the bat and some fine play displayed by G. Hickmott, who ran up a
score of 27 runs, which, with the balance, gave the B. B. a score of 54 on the
second innings, the Cricket club - now had 80 runs to get to win the game. When
Bob Ridley and T. Mason took the bat and made a few runs, and at the fall
of their timber, the Captain came to the rescue, and after a few of his well
directed hits put an end to the contest by the Cricket club winning the game
with seven wickets to spare. Among the spectators on the ground we noted our
nominee for Assembly, who came forth in his usual frank manner and put up the
lager to recruit the boys after their day of fatigue. Being somewhat refreshed
and the sun yet shining, some two hours, it was decided to try our luck again at
base ball. Accordingly we went to work, and at the finish of the game at dark,
the score stood 20 tallies for the B. B. boys and 8 for the Cricket boys, thus
we came out twice victorious. Our boys seemed quite elated as much so that they
retired for a few hours to wind up with a little singing from old Bob - who by
the way is always ready with something for such occasions. T. Mason and others
also added to the harmony of the evening, and all left for home well pleased
with their holiday. Each one wishing that in this place, cricket had more
supporters. Below is the score.
|J. R. Weaver
|A. (Bob?) Ridley
|W. Weaver, Jr.
Umpires for above game were John Weaver,
Jr. and Jeremiah Smith; Scorer - John Keating.
Editor's note: It's difficult to discern whether
there was a single cricket game with two innings, which was won by the Sussex
Cricket Club, a two-inning cricket game with an additional base ball game which
the Base Ball Club won (20-8)? It is noteworthy that some of Sussex-Lisbon's
finest citizens were engaged in the Cricket vs. Base Ball match games.
A game of Base Ball will be played at County Fair in Waukesha. Waukesha
Freeman, May 5, 1870
The "Prairie Clippers" (of Waukesha) and other
clubs will have a match games of base ball. Waukesha Freeman, July 12,
Menomonee - We are to have a game of ball
next Saturday. The Sussex nine are coming down and will play the Menomonees.
A little fight stirred up the quiet village of Sussex on the
4th. The boys were having a game of base ball when one concluded that the umpire
had given a base decision and accordingly used some base terms which brought on
a base fight and two base ball law suits, which seem to please the base ball
lawyers, who received the profits of the whole base job. Boys, the next time
don't play so base.
Menomonee - The Sussex B. B. C. came into the village last
Saturday with flying colors and flashing uniforms; but they went out a few hours
after carry a score of 5 to 54 in favor of the Menomonees. There were but five
innings played, the first two of which proved white-washes for the Sussex boys. Waukesha
Freeman, July 19, 1877
Editor's note: From the article above, it's
seen that the Sussex Base Ball Club was in existence for at least 10 years.
Lisbon - The game of base ball played at the picnic on the
grounds of Hon. Wm. Small last Saturday, resulted in a score of 40 for the
Democrats and 30 for the Republicans. A closely contested foot race after the
ball game was won by Elmer Weaver. Waukesha Freeman, June 27, 1889
Yesterday there was an unusually large crowd present and the various attractions
(Waukesha County Fair) were well patronized. The base ball game between Sussex
and Eagle went to Eagle by a score of 7 to 21. Waukesha Freeman, August
In the base ball game between Sussex and Menomonee Falls, the former team won.
The score: Sussex, 8, Menomonee Falls, 1. Waukesha Freeman, September 6,
The Merton and Sussex baseball teams played here [Merton] on Saturday. Score
12 to 6 in favor of Merton. source: Waukesha Freeman May 30, 1901, page 5
Brookfield defeated Lisbon by a score of 38 to 5 in a baseball game Sunday.
McLaughlin, Kiefer and Gaynor played good games for Brookfield, while Detman and
Hurtgen did good work for Lisbon. source: Waukesha Freeman May 8, 1902,
page 8 of 8
The second annual picnic of the supervisors of the town of Lisbon was held last
Thursday at Elmer W. Weaver's grove, a mile and a half south of Sussex... - The
feature of the day was the baseball game between the Weber and Sussex teams, the
former winning by a score of 6 to 1. The score by innings was as follows:
Sussex.....0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 --1
Weber......0 1 0 1 0 0 2 1 1 --6
Waukesha Freeman, September 4, 1902
The following year's picnic, "A baseball game between the Weber and Sussex
teams for the championship of the town of Lisbon will also be one of the
features." Waukesha Freeman, July 2, 1903
At the 4th annual picnic - "A picked up ball team from Menomonee Falls
defeated Sussex for a purse of $10 and the defeated team received free tickets
to the grand ball in the evening." Waukesha Freeman, September 8,
Both the senior and junior Merton basket ball teams were defeated at Sussex
Saturday evening. Waukesha Freeman, March 20, 1913
The basket ball game Saturday evening between Merton teams and Sussex teams was
won in both cases by our boys. The score of the first teams was 8 to 50; the
second game's score was 4 to 18 in favor of Sussex Juniors. -- I wish to correct
a statement that appeared in The Freeman last week, The game between the Sussex
team and Waukesha High school team was won by the Sussex team, 18 to 42, and not
by the High school, as was stated. Waukesha Freeman, March 20, 1913
The baseball score between Merton and Lannon should have read 5 to 4 in favor of
Merton, instead of Lannon. Waukesha Freeman, July 16, 1914
Don't forget the date of the May ball held in Lee's hall Friday, May 14, given
by the basketball boys. Waukesha Freeman, May 13, 1915
Arbor Day Sussex school contests included "baseball throw". Waukesha
Freeman, May 11, 1916
Menomonee Falls - Ben Minten is organizing a baseball team. source:
Waukesha Freeman April 21, 1921, page 2 of 8
Land o' Lakes Baseball League mentioned May 11, 1922
Merton - A baseball game was played on the home ground between Merton and
Lannon--Merton boy team and Lannon boy team and Merton girl team; Score 1 to 16
in favor of Lannon. Waukesha Freeman, May 5, 1927
The Sussex girl's baseball team played the Merton girls team on Monday. The
score was in favor of Sussex. Waukesha Freeman, May 25, 1933
The baseball boys are sponsoring a card party to be held in the Town Hall on
Thursday evening. Waukesha Freeman, April 4, 1934
" The Sussex baseball team was defeated by the Slinger team
at Sussex on Sunday by a score of 10 to 4."
Note: Not until about May 23, 1934 (see above),
does the Waukesha Freeman's Sussex correspondent begin mentioning anything about
a Sussex baseball team. Perhaps more coverage was provided in the Menomonee
Falls News ?
Waukesha Freeman May 30, 1934 - Sussex lost at Rubicon to that
place's team on the previous Sunday afternoon.
Sports Dial...By Ferde Adams
The Land O' Lakes and Land O' Rivers baseball leagues are assured of a record
breaking field for their 1947 season, the 25th successive campaign which will
get underway throughout the circuits May 4. Fifty-six teams will be fielded on
the diamonds throughout the leagues this season, a personal triumph for Director
Martin C. Weber, the Merton farmer and insurance salesman, and the old-timers
who came up that long climb with him.
It's been quite a pull since 1922 when only six teams---Oconomowoc, Hartland,
Monches, Delafield, Genesee and Okauchee---had nines entered in the circuit. But
it has grown steadily into the largest and oldest baseball league in the state.
Only in 1934 was the league play suspended. However, even in that season, nearly
all of its players entered in Uncle Sam's service, a tournament was held.
The Rivers league is an off-shoot of the parent loop, the Land O' Lakes, and
several years ago, the Brooks was added to give younger players a chance to
compete without having to mark time" for a year before graduation from Junior
America Legion play to Rivers.
The three circuits will field more than 80 teams this season, the silver
jubilee of the Merton sports enthusiast. Weber, who first started the league,
and served as an umpire as well as the circuit's secretary, had held the destiny
of the Land O' Lakes A. A. Inc., in his grip and watched it grow. And one of the
ironies of it all is that Merton, the ol' home town, may not be able to field a
team this season. Not because of a lack of home town talent, mind you, but
because of the lack of a playing field.
With the growth of the league this season, comes new perplexing problems,
that of enough umpires to handle the stepped-up schedule this summer. And Weber
is ready to meet this challenge and is banking on help that has never failed to
come in the past. He has called an umpire session at the Merton high school
gymnasium for tonight, beginning at 8 p. m., at which time he urges that all men
interested in becoming a bonified official this season to attend. More than 20
additional umpires will be required to handle the 1947 games.
source: Waukesha Daily
Freeman April 21, 1947, page 8 of 10
Sports Dial...By Ferde Adams
To top off the 25th anniversary celebration of the Land O' Lakes
organization, a 25 year book will be published giving a
complete history and growth of all activities sponsored by the Land O' Lakes A.
A. Inc., such as baseball, basketball, boxing tournaments, etc.
The book will contain pictures of championship teams, high scorers, batting
champs and all outstanding feats accomplished by teams or individuals. It will
begin with the first baseball pennant won by Delafield way back in 1922 and end
with the 1947 winner. This information is being compiled by Martin C. Weber,
Jr., son of Director Weber.
If you have any information don't hesitate to let him know. It will be picked
up, catalogued and returned. The book will be edited by Russ Lynch, sports
editor of the Milwaukee Journal. it has the endorsement of Francis H. Casey,
executive director of the 1948 corporation. After publishing costs are paid, all
proceeds will go into the Accident Benefit fund.
Waukesha Daily Freeman April 25, 1947, page 10 of 20
"Meanwhile, Martin C. Weber, the director of the organization, states that
work on the 25th anniversary book is going forward at a rapid pace. It is a
tremendous undertaking to secure all the picture of the championship teams in
Lakes, Rivers, Valleys and Brooks since 1922 in both baseball and basketball.
All the batting champs will also have illustrations and the 250 page book will
be full of pictures.
The cost of this bound book with colorful plastic cover will go over $5,000,
and will include this year  winners and all the features of this year's
Advertising in this book will be different than other types of advertising as
the ads will include pictures of the industry, business, pictures of the
officers and men who have made the business and been responsible for its growth.
It will also mention if the members of the firm were players, managers or
sponsors of the Land O' Lakes in the past 25 years."
source: Waukesha Daily Freeman May 28, 1947, page 3 of 14.
What is Vintage Base Ball?
Vintage base ball is the re-creation of the styles, speech, rules and
terminology of the 1860s game. It's not only a competitive game, but also a
re-enactment of baseball life, similar to an American Civil War re-enactment.
Back then, the game's name was two words rather than one. Vintage base ball
incorporates historical details enjoyed by both players ("ballists") and fans
("cranks"). Players wield fat-handled bats at lemon peel-stitched balls. No one
wears gloves and there are no strike zones. Above all, it's a gentleman's game
in which there is no showboating or taunting, and the umpire is always addressed
Vintage base ball is a fast-growing sport in the United States. Until
recently, the game had been mostly a local phenomenon, with clubs playing
weekend games in open parks under a variety of rules. Now there are 225 clubs in
You'll be amazed at the rules that guided the 1860s teams. See them in
practice at our vintage base ball games. These vintage rules, using
vintage terminology, add a new — or
rather old — dimension to the game.
The ball must be pitched, not jerked or thrown to the bat.
The striker is out after swinging and missing three balls if the behind
catches the third strike on the fly or first bounce.
If three balls are struck at, and missed, and the last one is not caught,
either flying or upon the first bound, it shall be considered fair, and the
striker must attempt to make his run.
The striker is out if a fair ball is struck, and the ball is caught
either without having touched the ground, or upon the first bound.
If an adversary stops a ball with his hat or cap, or takes it from the
hands of a party not engaged in the game, no player can be put out unless the
ball shall first have settled in the hands of the pitcher.
Clubs may adopt such rules respecting balls knocked beyond or outside of
bounds of the field, as circumstances of the ground may demand; and these rules
shall govern all matches played upon the ground, provided that they are
distinctly made known to every player and umpire, previous to the commencement
of the game.
The player is out if the ball is in the hands of a base tender before the
runner steps on the base.
If two ballists are already out, no player running home at the time the
ball is struck can make ace if the striker is put out.
The hurler must deliver the ball as near as possible over the center of
home for the striker.
Foul balls do not count as strikes.
Any ball first touching the ground or touched by a player within the base
lines is fair, even if it goes foul thereafter.
An ace shall be tallied when a base runner steps on the home base.
No person engaged in a match, either as umpire, scorer or player shall
be, either directly or indirectly, interested in any bet upon the game.
Source: Beadle's Dime Base Ball Player, 1860
Vintage base ball is a stark contrast to today's modern game. It had its own
lingo and our team's players stick to it. Batters are referred to as "strikers,"
a catcher is called a "behind," players are "ballists," errors are "muffs," and
a scored run is a "tally" or "ace." Learn more vintage base ball terminology
Ball: apple Bat: ash, willow, timber Batter: striker
Catcher: behind Error: muff, boot, juggle, mug Fans: rooters,
cranks, bugs Fly Ball: cloud hunter, skyer, air ball Game: match
Ground Ball: bug bruiser, daisy cutter, grass clipper, ant killer Hit:
knock Hard Hit: hammer, stinger, stunner Hurrah!: Huzzah! Home
Plate: Dish Innings: rounds Outfield: garden, outer garden
Pitcher: hurler, bowler Player: ballist Run: ace, tally
Shutout: whitewash Team: club, nine, match nine, side
Nothing like 50s and 60s for
While most people complain about getting old,
I love it. I wish I was older, at least a couple
of years so the government could send me those
good social security checks, and maybe supply
some health insurance while they're at it. As
for my kids, maybe when I get older they'll quit
begging me for all kinds of favors, mainly
As I drive around during these beautiful,
warm, sunny afternoons, I never see a pickup
baseball game, a game of strikeout, a wiffle
ball game, a game of 500, maybe pickle or home
run derby. Heck, I don't even see young kids on
I know where they are. Instead of being
outside, playing some baseball with their
friends, they're inside their houses, playing
X-Box 360 or whatever it's called. If not,
they're playing other games on their computers,
such as Call of Duty, Halo or Grand Theft Auto.
Back in the day, it was baseball all day. I
packed a lunch, played a pickup baseball game in
the morning, strikeout in the afternoon and
then, two nights a week, it was time for a
Little League game. When I didn't have a game at
night, I was at the Land O' Lakes games in
Hartland, watching the likes or Junior Klink of
Hartland, Pete and Terry Stapleton and George
Miller of North Lake, Jack Murphy of Merton,
Chuck and Russ Bergles and Al "Stork" Hansen of
Pewaukee and Ron Athas, Don Luko and Marty
Barker of Oconomowoc.
I can remember leaving my house at 9 in the
morning, putting my glove over the handlebars,
holding onto my lunch and wearing my best pair
of tennis shoes. Come to think of it, it was my
only pair of tennis shoes, and most of the time
they were worn out. Now, what, do kids have five
pairs of tennis shoes, or more? Nowadays, they
can't figure out which pair to wear, the Nikes
or Addidas. For what one of those pairs cost, we
could buy two pairs, a baseball glove, two
hardballs and two bats.
In our day, every building we could find that
had a brick wall (no windows close by, of
course), some room to hit the ball, a fence or
tree line to designate a home run, was home to a
strikeout field. The strike zone was marked in
chalk on the wall, and any pitch that hit the
line or went inside it of it was a strike.
The strike zone was the same for everyone,
whether you were 6-foot Clem Fetkenhauer, who
was 25 years older than us, or 5-foot-8 Johnny
Engel, who was impossible to strike out. As a
5-4 kid, you learned to hit pitches that were
We played with fuzzy tennis balls and wooden
bats. If you could hit the tree line at the old
Hartland Grade School on Capitol Drive, you were
Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Harmon Killebrew
wrapped into one. When the tennis balls broke,
we went and bought a new can, and they were
white then, not bright yellow. And if you could
throw a curve with the tennis ball, you were
either Bob Gibson, Warren Spahn or Sandy Koufax
And Clem or Carl Benz had the best curve in
town. Charlie Lippert had a big advantage on us
playing strikeout. He lived right across the
The pickup baseball games were the best.
Sometimes we only had six or eight guys. You ran
the bases just like Major Leaguers, but each
team had one or two imaginary runners if they
needed them. With that few guys, you had to pick
which side of second base you were going to hit
to. If you hit it to the wrong side of second,
you were out. I hated it when we had seven
right-handers and one lefty, Bob Mallow. If we
knew we had all righties, we'd conveniently
forget to call Mallow.
We played with whatever kind of hardball we
could find. Sometimes they were about as hard as
a sock. Every now and then, somebody's mom would
buy us a new one. As for bats, it was more like
bat. We always had just one, two if we were
lucky. When the wood broke, we got a couple of
screws and put it back together. We played weeks
with a cracked bat. Now, I have girlfriends that
don't last that long.
These games were played all over the Lake
Country: at Nixon Park in Hartland, the Armory
in Oconomowoc and the Village Park in Pewaukee.
The games were the same, only the players were
I just don't get why the baseball fields
never have anyone on them during the day. Don't
these modern-day kids get it?
Granted, we didn't have X-Box back then, not
even computers. Maybe color television if we
But what we did have is a love for the game
of baseball, a love I know doesn't exist the
same way today. And that's too bad.