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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Boys of Summer

The Chicago Cubs are having a wobbly season, but it's summer and that means baseball!

The game we know and love today developed in the 1840s and 1850s. This photo was taken about 1885 and is from the Museum's Lux Family Collection.

By the Civil War in 1861, baseball was so popular it was being played by the soldiers in prison camps, and five years later, baseball was referred to as the national pastime.

The rise of the game’s popularity correlates with the rise of manufacturing jobs in the United States. This economic boom increased the size of the middle class and gave families more leisure time to play and watch sports.

U.S. Army Fort Sheridan baseball team on the post's parade grounds, circa 1900.

Grayslake baseball team, 1905. Pictured are Dr. William Clarke, A.A. McMillen, Rev. Schultz, William Brandstetter, George Thomson, Fred Battershall, R.W. Churchill, J.T. Morse, and George Fredericks.

In Lake County, Lake Forest Academy organized a team that played its first game in 1867 against the Waukegan Amateurs. Local baseball teams regularly played against one another beginning in the spring of 1871. Teams such as the Pioneers and Lake Shores of Waukegan, the Nine of Lake Forest Academy, the Prairie Boys of Libertyville, and the Highlanders of Highland Park played each other for championship titles. Wauconda was the archrival of Lake Zurich, and Grayslake of Monaville (east Fox Lake).

This terrific photo shows a crowd cheering on the Fort Sheridan team, circa 1930. On June 9, 1944, the Fort’s team played an exhibition game against the Chicago White Sox at the Fort, beating the Sox 8 to 6.

Thought I'd include the "Girls of Summer," too. Here members of the Women's Army Corps play ball on the parade grounds, circa 1950.

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