Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lookee down by the train depot! I do declare, the St. Louis Browns are passing through our lil' ol' town!!

100 years ago this week, the Daily Journal-Gazette of Mattoon, Ill., reported in their April 30 edition:
MATTOON -- The St. Louis Browns baseball club of the American League will pass through Mattoon on the Big Four Railroad the morning of May 2.

I shall leave it to our readers in the railroad buff community to explain the details of the Big Four Railroad (the name popularly given to the Central Pacific Railroad, a/k/a the first transcontinental railroad).*

The Browns were finishing up a road trip in Cleveland and heading home to St. Louis to begin a homestand Tuesday.   Robert Lee Hedges, the original owner of the Browns is still owner for one last year. Still on the team is Hall of Famer Bobby Wallace, who goes all the way back to the St. Louis Perfectos (they of "best opening record in franchise history fame").  Branch Rickey is the manager. The Browns are stagnant in 8th place.

You can peruse other stories noted on April 30, 1915, courtesy of the Mattoon Journal Gazette and Times-Courier website.

I would note three things:

1. The daily newspaper was the thing, not twitter.  But the amount of minutia is roughly the same.

2. The Browns are in last place, but simply being part of the "Big 8 teams" of any one of the three major leagues operating at the time, was, at least by Mattoon standards, an attraction.

3. Not sure if there is a freight rail-line still passing through Mattoon, but look at how amazingly straight-arrow it is to pass over there "as the crow flies" from Cleveland to St. Louis. 

If you went by Amtrak today, you would have to go through Chicago; if you drove, through Effingham.

* Though I cant resist pointing out that the railroad had its origins with a bill introduced by Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri for a "Great National Highway from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean, straight as may be, with branches to Oregon and Mexico. The Government was to reserve a strip one mile wide for it, so as to provide for every kind of a road and means of conveyance – railway, plank, macadamized, with railroad trains, wagons, stages, pack trains and even sleds in Winter".

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