Wednesday, May 22, 2013

1913 Naperville Goes up to Bat

To continue our look at Naperville in 1913, let’s play ball!
  • Woodrow Wilson threw out the first pitch at the first ever game played by the New York Yankees. (Before then, they were the New York Highlanders.)
  • Ty Cobb and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson were at the top of their games and Honus Wagner was the oldest player in the National League – although still playing!
  • The Chicago Cubs made Johnny Evers of the famous “Tinker to Evers to Chance” their manager, succeeding Frank Chance.
  • And in Naperville, the Exiles Athletic Club was organized to play their first base ball season.
According to Genevieve Towsley of the Naperville Sun, the Naperville Exiles was born when some young men from Ellsworth High School were prevented from organizing a school team by their principal.

The Exiles hired a young Chicago fireman to be their pitcher and played teams from Aurora, Wheaton and Chicago, towns they could get to by Burlington rail. The team included boys named Drendel, Wehril and a few Stengers, familiar families from Naperville’s history.

Recreating vintage base ball games is a popular pastime today, played with period-appropriate uniforms, rules and equipment.

You can see base ball (two words in 1913!) in action and talk with the players about the history when local vintage base ball teams like the Downers Grove Plowboys or the Chicago Salmon play in the area. Check out their websites to see when and where you can watch games.