“We don’t undertake many things which we don’t surpass in”
On Saturday, two vintage baseball teams, the Houston Babies and Katy Combines, played a match as part of the Galveston Island Beach Revue, an annual kick-off to the summer beach season that’s been growing over the last few years. I didn’t make the game, but I wish I had, because it sounds like it was great fun.
Baseball has a long history in Texas, dating back before the Civil War. In March 1859, the Galveston Civilian and Gazette Weekly reported that “the Base Ball Club organized [at Richmond] on the 24th inst., numbers thirty-five members. . . . Friday has been selected as the regular practice day. We understand that the club has been organized under the same rules as govern the clubs at the North.” Even as the war was beginning in earnest, two days after the surrender of Fort Sumter, the Houston Weekly Telegraph reported that “a meeting for the purpose of organizing a Base Ball Club, was held over J. H. Evans’ store Thursday night. After the organization of the meeting, and the adoption of the name of “‘Houston Base Ball CLub,” a ballot for permanent officers was had.” By June 1861, the Galveston Weekly News noted that Houston now had two “base ball” teams taking the field. And just about exactly a year after Appomattox, the Houston Tri-Weekly Telegraph was calling for the reorganization of the sport:
The formation of Base Ball Clubs seems to be the order of the day among the young men in many cities at the present time. We notice that some of the clubs are flaring defiance in the face of the whole world to surpass them if they can. Let us revive the one which we had here before the war. After getting the thing a little under way, no doubt us Texans can pick up a multitude of these gloves and fling them back with a vengeance. The fact is, we don’t undertake many things which we don’t surpass in, particularly in that line.
I think Nolan Ryan would agree.