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History of the Independents Base Ball Club

Bay City has a very long and proud baseball tradition. Youth league and high school students have played the game with pride and excellence for decades in the city by the bay. Many baseball championships have been attained over those years, and stories of individual greatness achieved by the scores of young ballists throughout the Bay Area are well known, but the story of base ball's infancy in Bay City goes back well into the 19th century. It is a story that begins in a time when the world seemed much larger and the game of base ball (Then spelled with two words.) was taking the country by storm. In these next few paragraphs I would like to tell the first known chapters of that long ago story.


Base ball had begun to take hold of America in the late 1850's. During the Civil War the game was introduced to parts of the country which had previously been foreigners to its rules and intricacies. When the war ended base ball had grown from a localized East Coast fever into a nationwide epidemic. Previous to the war's outbreak, the base ball bug reared it's head here in Michigan, when the Franklin Club of Detroit became the first ball club in the state in 1857. Soon after, clubs sprang up in other parts of Michigan as well.

Following in the footsteps of the Franklins the Washington Club of Bay City was founded in 1865 by a gentlemen named A. C. Maxwell. The Washingtons had a good level of success in their first season, and found themselves victorious in matches against the Capital Club of Lansing. They defeated the Capitals both in Lansing, and in a return engagement in Bay City where the home town boys would hold off the gentlemen from Lansing 30-29.

In 1866 the boys from Bay City found themselves to be the first club to challenge the Detroit Base Ball Club for the State Championship. According to reports the Bay City club had it's practice schedule interrupted by rain, many of their first nine were absent in Canada, and their starting short-stop, W. H. Fennell, had been accidentally shot in the hand just days previous to the match. It was no wonder, that the Detroit club mopped the floor with them by a score of 40-13.
After the Washington club's flower had faded, other clubs sprang up here in Bay City. Two club's of note were the Empire Club of the later 1860s and The Nationals, of the 1870s.

 

GLASSCOCK

One of the first mentions of the Bay City Base Ball Club can be found in the pages of the Bay City Tribune on May 26, 1882. The Tribune gives an account of a game played between the Bay Citys and Capt. Jack's Mascottes, which was played on the grounds on the corner of Sherman and Second Streets. Five innings were played that day, resulting in a score of 6 to 4 in favor of the Bay City team that would later become known as the Independents. The team they battled that day was a barnstorming team formed by the then great professional ballist known as Captain Jack Glasscock. Glasscock would later play shortstop for the Indianapolis team of the American Association. The article would then go on to document that the Bay Citys had already raised $125 by subscription and would soon appear in uniform. The fact that the team had to raise money to buy uniforms would lead you to believe that the original Bay City Base Ball Club was a completely amateur team. That thought is proven as truth in a later Bay City Tribune article that boasts of the ball teams talent at defeating "All picked nines", despite the fact that all members of the team were amateur players who resided in the Bay City Area. Some of the area clubs of the day had begun to enlist some professional players when they engaged themselves in high stakes matches. After besting several such opponents the Bay City team would finally appear in their new uniforms on June 21st during a match against the Caro team. The team was outfitted in white pants, white jerseys, red stockings, red belts, and red caps.

The Bay Citys would don those uniforms with a great measure of success against area teams. By mid-August the club had rung up quite a splendid record which included only 4 defeats by area amateur competition. The Bay City team had also tried their luck against many barnstorming major league clubs during the summer of 1882, but they tallied no victories among the professional ranks. The accomplishments of the Bay City nine led them to abandon the less then accommodating grounds of Sherman and Second Street, and procure a better playing field at the corner of Woodside Ave. and Lincoln. The team leaders were also able to engage the Shearer Company to take up a contract for the construction of a grandstand at the new ball grounds. The grandstand was supposed to have a capacity of approximately 450 persons, and it would be the cornerstone for what would become Woodside Park. It was at this time that the fledgling ball club found out that they had been chosen to be one of the charter members of Elias Mather's Northwestern League.

The Northwestern League was scheduled to begin play in the spring of 1883, but it was in February of that year when the game truly began. It was in February that Mather met with the leaders of the two major leagues that existed at the time and entered his Northwestern League into a National Agreement with the two leagues. This agreement would make the Northwestern League the very first minor league whose player's contracts would be respected by Major League Base Ball. This in effect made Bay City one of the charter teams in what would become the first modern minor league.

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2014 
Leaders

As of July 23, 2014

 

Hits


    1. Sean “Tanner” LeRoux 39

    2. Alan “Kid” Garcia 36

    3. Jeff “Silverback” Rahl 30

    4. Tom “Cat” LeRoux 25

    5. Jeremy “Schoolboy” Stedry 25

Runs Scored


    1. Sean "Tanner" LeRoux 29

    2. Alan "Kid" Garcia 27

    3. Jeff “Silverback” Rahl 21

    4. Jeremy “Schoolboy” Stedry 14

    5. Tom “Cat” LeRoux 11

Runs/Game


    1. Sean "Tanner" LeRoux 3.22

    2. Alan "Kid" Garcia 3.00

    3. Jeff “Silverback” Rahl 2.33

    4. Jeremy “Schoolboy” Stedry 1.75

    5. Tom “Cat” LeRoux 1.38

     

Extra Base Hits


    1. Jeff “Silverback” Rahl 13

    2. Tom “Cat” LeRoux 9

    3. Alan "Kid" Garcia 7

    3. Sean “Tanner” LeRoux 7

    4. Aaron “The Constable” Gerken 3

Home Runs


    1. Alan “Kid” Garcia 1

     

 

Hands Lost/Game


    1. Alan “Kid” Garcia 1.11

    2. Sean “Tanner” LeRoux 1.44

    3. Jeremy “Schoolboy” Stedry 1.63

    4. Jeff “Silverback” Rahl 1.78

    5. Jimmy “Two Quarts” Arnold 1.88