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Baseball Letters from 1905

baseball letter11SEACOAST SPORTS

How did baseball teams communicate before the proliferation of telephones? They wrote letters like everyone else. Following is a collection of notes and postcards, never before published, from Seacoast area baseball teams in 1905. Teams traveled by trolley, shared expenses, and had to raise money to buy costly baseballs.




Behind the Scenes Summer Season

SEE early baseball team photo

With the thrill of instant replay cameras and the expense of multi-million dollar players, we can easily forget baseball’s humble beginning as America’s national sport. The following letters take us far from the excitement of the Red Sox at the World Series. Here, instead, we see the quiet grassroots correspondence between Seacoast amateur baseball teams in 1905. This was the same historic summer of the Treaty of Portsmouth and the explosion at Henderson's Point.

Back before telephones, local teams had to communicate by mail and travel by public trolleys. These letters came to us from reader Nancy Sell and are published here for the first time with our thanks. They offer interesting details on how teams in Kittery, Portsmouth, Hampton and Dover arranged – or failed to arrange -- summer baseball games through polite letters. -- JDR

baseball letter 02

All letters are addressed to RJ Ballard of Portsmouth, NH.

March 22, 1905
Dear Sir: Having ask (sic) a few of the players, and all seem to be in favor of joining the league I think you can count us in, but don’t take any actions on the matter until you hear from me later. Would like you to ask the York team to join, they are a fine set of fellows. Will let you know as soon as possible of our intentions.
Sincerely, F. N. Pray, Kittery, ME

April 6, 1905
Dear Sir: I would like to arrange a game to be played with your club on your home grounds on Fast Day afternoon. Our team is composed of boys from 18 to 20 years and we expect to play others of the same age. We will come with the understanding that your club will pay half of our expenses. Waiting an early replay I am I am
Yours respectfully
Geo. A. Smart, Mgr. of the D.A.C. Club, Dover, NH

April 12, 1905
Dear Sir: Your letter of the 10th inst. at hand. In reply will say that we will come to Portsmouth for a game Fast Day forenoon. We will leave here on the 8:10 o’clock car and will arrive there in time to leave the game at 10, Kindly write me where you will meet us as we do not know where your grounds are situated. We should probably have an umpire and would like to have one so there can be no feeling caused from that direction. Yours truly, Geo. A. Smart, Dover, NH

April 17 -- See letter reproduced at bottom of page

April 19, 1905
Dear Sir: In answer to your letter of the 10th, I would say that I think one game a day would be all we could manage. If you would come out here first, say May 13 or 20, and we can come to Portsmouth Memorial Day, I will send you half expenses for 10 men & an umpire, provided you guarantee to come.
Roland C. Emery, Mgr. H.H. S., Hampton, NH

May 3, 1905
Dear Sir: We will come at our own expense but it is customary for the home team to furnish the balls. As you are playing at home it is your place to look out for the balls and I will do likewise when you play here on our grounds.
Yours Respectfully,
Al Goodwin, Kittery, ME

May 5, 1905
Dear Sir: Would like to give you a return game here any Saturday in June. Please let me know at once so I can book the game.
Geo A. Smart, Dover, NH

May 9, 1905
Dear Sir: We are not in the habit of paying the expenses of a team before we see it. Besides, if you come by team, how should I know what amount to send you? If you come to Hampton next Saturday the 13th, I guarantee to pay one half the expenses rightfully incurred in so doing.
Very Truly Yours, Roland J. Emery, H.H.S.

May 23, 1905
Dear Sir: A number of our players say they would rather not come to Portsmouth on May 30, and as your team failed to show up May 13, perhaps it would be better to consider the game for May 30 with Hampton High School as cancelled.
Yours very truly, Roland C. Emery, Mgr. H.H. S. 

May 26, 1905
Mr Ballard: Can we arrange a game with your team for tomorrow in Portsmouth? We have a game with Young Kittery in the A.M. and will be in Ports. at 9 A. M. Can you meet me at that time or send someone who wants at game? I know this is not giving you much time but we ask for no guarantee and want to play just for the fun of it. Meet me if possible.
Yours truly
CC white, Mgr. Rye & Hampton BB Club

June 6, 1905
Dear Sir: Suppose you are all ready for the game here next Saturday afternoon. Please let me know what car you will be on. Tell the conductor to let you off where the car comes on to Portland St. as the grounds are right over back of the woods in sight of the car track. We will be on the look out for you if we know what time you arrive.
Geo. A. Smart, Dover, NH

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