Just before the opening of the baseball season in Acton the Reverand MacPherson of Knox Church, Acton made a speech with regard to the game of baseball. He had expressed admiration for athletic sports in Acton, baseball in particular.
He mentioned in one of his sermons that unfortunately some of the straight-laced townspeople were against the game, considering it something not to be attended. He mentioned that the young men of Acton would be unsuccessful if they tried to get along without Acton’s best. He went on to say that they should make every effort to give the sport a good name by playing well and cleanly. He also mentioned that while representing Acton they should refrain from anything that would mar the good name of the town in which they lived.
He went on to say that if they heeded his words that he would stand behind them but if the players did otherwise they will not receive his support nor sympathy.
This it would appear, showed that there had been some play in the past that was less than sportsmanlike, or possibly just warning to keep the boys in line.
It would appear that young men in small towns, that played sports were less likely to get into mischief than those that had too much time on their hands. Keeping them active in a positive way helped shape them into individuals who were proud of their community and able to work together as a team.
Baseball in Acton was very popular at the end of the 19th century and two of my great uncles Frederick Ryder and Edward Ryder were part of the local baseball team as well as other team sports offered in the community. I think that is why my father had such an interest in baseball as well. His mother, Maude Ryder-Bell and younger sister of Fred and Ed most certainly cheered them on in her youth at the local baseball games. Had my father not had to go out and earn a living for the family he might have pursued the game and become a pro baseball player. We will never know that.
It was not until the year of 1897 that I started to the Fred and then Ed mentioned in the local newspaper as players of the local team.
It would also appear that even back in the late 1800’s rules for teams were changed to fit the ideas of the people of the community.
On April 29th 1897 new rules were posted in the paper for the baseball team.
Unfortunately, too many of us and often those who actually do not play the game, do take it too seriously. There will always be those who go on to play a sport professionally but hopefully they do not lose sight of the aspect of sportsmanship and team play.
Following are a few of the articles about the local boys baseball in Acton back just before the turn of the 20th century.
He who hesitates is out
A closed glove catches no flies
Strike while the pitcher is hot
Where there’s a hit there’s a way
The early bird catches the pennant
A fool and his bane are soon parted
Good pitching in time saves the nine
It’s a short game that has no kicking
Never look a gift pitcher in the mouth
Baseball in Acton in 1897
First of the Season
The baseball season was opened in Acton on Saturday by a match between Aetnas of Guelph and the Acton baseball team. The game was for the most part played in the rain, which prevented to a certain extent, the players from exhibiting perfect work. Considering the weather, however, the game was characterized by several brilliant plays. The home team had the beat of the game throughout, the score standing at the end of the seventh inning, when the game was called, Acton 12 Aetnas 10. A second match between the same teams will be played her next Saturday.
Acton Free Press (Acton, ON), 12 Aug 1897, pg 3
Two games were played in the park on Saturday last between the St. Lawrence Baseball Club, of Toronto, and the home nine with the result that Acton won both games. 18 to 4 and 5 to 1. The St. Lawrence Club are the leaders of the Toronto senior city league and had previously only lost one game this season. This shows that Acton has on of the best amateur teams in Ontario.
Batteries Maloney, Mills, Hamilton and O’Dea, Steiber and Ryder. The club will play with Milton on Saturday.
Milton Team Vanquished
Acton baseball team went to Milton last Saturday and again defeated the Milton nine. The results gives Acton three out of four gams played with the county Town team this season. The game played by Acton was first-clss in every respect and clearly demonstrated their superiority, and also give the player reason to feel that no team in the county is able to defeat them. The score was 7 to 4. Batteries Steber and Ryder; Brush Mahoney and Elliott. Umpire Mr. Hall of Toronto. Struck out by Steber 10, by Muhoney 4.
Acton Free Press (Acton, ON), 2 Sep 1897, pg 3
The Two Teams Composition
The Milton Champion smarting under the defeat suffered by the Milton Baseball Club at the hands of the Acton nine, falls back on the same old excuse that Acton has been playing outsiders. Now, the facts are, that every player in the Acton team lives within the corporation of Acton. Milton’s aggregation is taken not from Milton only but from the County of Halton at large. In the beginning of the season they stole two of the St. Anns players and prevented that club from entering the league. The rest of the players are from the surrounding townships. It is asserted that only three or four, at the ourtside live within the corporation of the town of Milton and one of these was imported from Freelton. In the last game Acton played at Milton they had not only to beat the players but also a croud of outside hoodlums who threw stones and apples at Acton’s pitcher. In this they were encouraged by the Milton coachers. If the Milton team are in the earnest about playing ball let them play with some good team, say Berlin or St. Lawrences, of Toronto, and ifthey can beat them, Acton will be pleased to play with them. But the Acton baseball team is not paying any attention to teams without a reputation.
For the Fuss Pusses
‘Do nothingism’ with some alloy
Is met with now and then,
But treasured in its purity
By Acton’s leisure men.
But the baseball club are all ‘Up and do’
When they to a contest hie,
And ‘do up’ too, as Milton’s nine
Can truly testify.
To Miton flocked the countryside--
That popular game to see;
Suggesting as it does the time,
The Diamond Jubilee
The innings toss-up orthodox
Sent Acton to the bat;
It then fared ill with Milton’s braves,
On their own ground at that.
To beard the monster in his den
Was much from them to ask;
But the prowess of the Acton men
Was equal to the task.
Discomfiture and deep disgust
The citizens betray,
‘Tis futile to attempt to stop
The Acton fog-horn’s bray.
Return they now to Acton, proud
With their well-earned fair renown,
When not in Speyside’s suburbs they
Are met by half the town.
The throng fell into their heroes train
A jolly cavalcade,
Like a royal progress through the land,
Ere there were railways made.
But when the Mill Street corner’s reached
The crowd is surging wild;
The populace are there on masse,
Each man, maid, woman, child.
Thence, headed by the band, they march
To the civic temple, where
Orations are the order, from the
The magnates and the Mayor
Three rousing cheers reverberate
With a hip, hip, hip hooray.
The victors blush, the ladies smile,
But we know not what they say.
Vociferation mingles with
The music of the band--
When next they lay the Miltons out
We all shall be on hand.