After trouncing nine of their ten opponents out west, the Nationals returned. From what I can tell, Washington went INSANE! Please note that I’m no longer going to transcribe entire articles because they started getting LONG…
People showed up “en masse”, brass bands played fanfare, order had to be restored, and then Major Ellerbeck, president of the District Association, delivered a speech to the “gentlemanly” Nationals congratulating them on their “glorious trip” and inviting them to a banquet on Friday.
The Nationals were apparently in excellent health. With the exception of their “bronzed faces” they bore “no marks of the severe strain to which they were subjected.”
These men just came back from war, and this is their triumph.
And then the best part - the article says that any “lady friends” who would like to “contribute bouquets” to the banquet can leave them at Cronin’s store “at any hour on Friday.” The flowers will be cared for and presented to the player whose name is on the card. “This will make a very interesting feature of the festival, and the fair donors will no doubt be legion.”
This was Beatlemania with explicit instructions on how to break off a piece of these superstars.
And how did the banquet go?
Well, there goes everything you’d need to know about the banquet.
First and foremost, everyone was gentlemanly. There was a large crowd from the start that was hanging out and singing songs because that what people did back then. Then they took their seats, the press was introduced, and everyone ate clam soup, halibut in anchovy sauce, boiled corned beef, the tongue of some animal, roast ribs of beef and lamb, some chicken and veal, ornamented ham, decorated beef tongue, “chicken salad a la mayonnaise,” broiled spring chickens, kidney saute, champagne sauce with breads, macaroni, boiled and mashed potatoes, stewed and sliced tomatoes, beets, stewed onions, apple, blackberry, and whortleberry pie, pound, sponge, and Jenny Lind cake, lemon chips, lady fingers, blanc mango, and lemon water ice.
So, you know, a little meal - no big deal.
Then the champagne was popped and Major Ellerbeck gave another speech and here’s where the amateur baseball historian in me gets the chills. Ellerbeck talks about baseball in New York 10 years ago and how many familiar faces (Wright, Fox, Fletcher, Norton, Smith, Berth___, and Studley) were out there playing baseball for the Nationals. Yesterday I said that the Cincinnati Red Stockings of 1869 are widely acknowledged as being the first professional baseball team, bringing players from all over America and paying them salaries. I then made the assessment that they used the 1867 Washington Nationals, who whipped the 1867 Red Stockings’ butts, as the Proof of Concept. Well, here it is. Eight New York players on the Nationals squad but, more importantly, LOOK AT THIS BANQUET. You don’t have a banquet like this for a bunch of scrubs who went out and just played some guys. These guys left with no fanfare and came home to a million-course banquet. These guys showed that baseball could be immensely popular and profitable.
This was followed by more speeches and more songs and the presentation of flowers. There were toasts made to the “fair sex” and “the press” and then…
“The National game.” This is almost ten years before Mark Twain started pumping-up the sport.
That feeling you have…that’s called the chills.
And this is where my history of the 1867 Washington Nationals ends. Once again, pick up a copy of District Comics to get the story I did with Chalres Fetherolf on the subject. You have the background, now you just need the pretty pictures to go with it.
Previously: 1867 Washington Nationals: Heroes…and Cheats