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Dee Burris Blakley ([personal profile] dee_burris) wrote2014-03-23 10:08 am

The Ne-Hi baseball league - here's the historic proof

About geneablogging, I have long said...

If we build it, they will come.

An email from a complete stranger in my inbox this week turned me onto historic documentation for Pop Balding's Ne-Hi League, which my Grandma Dee had often told me about, but for which she had no documentation, only her memories.

Memories of her father creating the world's first "little league" baseball league, long before the officially recognized Little League created by Carl Stotz in 1939.

Grandma Dee remembered her mother sewing uniforms. She remembered the names of some of the teams, like the Midgets and the Microbes, although I do not recall her talking about the Cannibals.

My correspondent shared some pages from the 1914-1915 and 1916-1917 volumes of Reach's official American League base ball guide (publ. A. J. Reach, 1883-1927).

And said there were photos of the team members also.

I found the Reach guides online.
I don't recall Grandma Dee saying anything about the impetus for Pop's decision to create a baseball league for little boys.

According to the Reach guide:
Mr. Balding, whose home is at 229 Rice Street, organized the league in 1913 on account of the ill health of his son. To-day his son is as healthy as any other member of the league. Mr. Balding first organized a base ball team of boys in his neighborhood. Finally a second team was organized and games played between the two teams. The boys grew tired of playing each other, and the idea of a league appealed to Mr. Balding, which resulted in the forming of the worlds
only organized "short pants" base ball league.

That son had to be Eugene - Gene as I always knew him, and Genie-boy, as I understand his mother called him. Gene was born in 1905, so he would have been 8 at the time Pop Balding created the league. Marvin and Linky weren't born until 1915 and 1917, respectively.
For the cousins, here are scans of the pages from the 1914-1915 and 1916-1917 volumes of Reach's official American League base ball guide that discuss Pop and the Ne-Hi League. (Cousins, right click and save.)

 photo R15Ne-HiLeagueInfo.jpg

THE REACH OFFICIAL AMERICAN LEAGUE GUIDE, 1916-1917, at pp 391, 393 and 394.
 photo R16Ne-HiLeagueInfo.jpg

 photo R16Ne-HiLeagueInfo2.jpg

 photo R16Ne-HiLeagueInfo3.jpg

There were photos on page 376-377 in the 1914 volume, and page 392 in 1916 volume.

My correspondent extracted them from the pdf documents and has hosted the results here. Naturally, they are a bit grainy - after all, they are images of old photos published on paper.

But what a wonderful find...

Wonderful story!

(Anonymous) 2014-03-28 07:13 pm (UTC)(link)
And now we know the rest of the story. How great is that?!