Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Season, again.

Well, the baseball season has come and gone. For the Mariners, the season was an unremarkable one exceptional only in the short between hope and dismay. Of course, it could also be that its potential is only pushed farther out into the future. The team is young, as we are often reminded. Not at young as the little league players the majority of Mariners are not far removed from being, but rather young in terms of unrealized talent, one hopes. One of the major aspects of their potential improvement has been in the overall base production of the team. It is a slowly increasing trend, which still needs improvement in order for the Mariners to become a winning team. Roughly speaking, if the Mariners don't find a way to add 150 runs a year, it doesn't matter if they have five Felix's pitching.

At a certain point, the season was a distraction, if we can call hope such a thing. I do need to get back to transcribing the daily stories of the 1924 Indians. Lately I have been distracted by writing up a 'game biography' of the August 5, 1921 contest between the Phillies and the Pirates at Forbes Field. It was the first game broadcast on the radio. Also, and even more time consuming, has been the research into Pacific Northwest pre-professional baseball.

In regards to that, I think I may have found the Johnny Appleseed of Salish Sea krankdom. The guy I'm on the trail of was given the moniker John C. Keenan. He was from Ireland, born around 1830. He came to the US, eventually, via Texas, possibly being a Ranger, by the age of 20 to 21, he was in the gold fields by 1850. At some point he made his way to Sacramento, having founded one saloon and then another. The Fashion Saloon made money the old fashioned way, the oldest, and also sold alcohol. Probably a good bit of gambling as well. Keenan became involved with the Sutter Course, and presumably a hand in the betting on the races. He was also involved in the Sutter Rifles and when not involved in civil defense, bartending, prostitution, horse racing and gambling...oh, he was also a volunteer fireman.

By 1858, he was going back and forth somehow between Victoria and Sacramento. This can be gathered by reports in the Sacramento papers of Keenan being there, and census data places him in both locations. He was involved in a cricket club in Victoria by 1858, but is playing baseball in Sacramento by 1860. There was organized baseball in Sacramento by late 1858. In fact, there was probably a game in 1851. Finally in 1862, the Fashion Saloon of Victoria was the site of the organization of another cricket club, and then a team made up of players named for the Fashion played a group of cricket players in a game base ball, referred to then as being like rounders. Its a peculiar attribution, which may indicate the writer of such a story was familiar with Chadwick.

That game was in March 1863. The papers mentioned that Keenan provided instruction on the game to the other players, helping in develop their skills. Base ball was played intermittently, often against cricket players, in Victoria after that. In 1866, the Olympic club was organized, "under New York Rules". By then, Keenan had made his way back to San Francisco. In 1864 or 1865, his wife had closed up their business interests in Sacramento and was travelling to Victoria 7 or 8 young women to work at the Victoria Fashion Saloon when they all died in a shipwreck. By around 1868 Keenan had was living in San Francisco and he died. He left a will that wound its way through the court, disputed by a mother and another wife.

More to come.