Jefferson City enjoyed great baseball and winning teams in the mid-1890s to the year 1900.
The team played at Cottage Place Park at the base of Hobo Hill, now the vicinity of School Street. Crowds numbered from 900-1,800 people when the city's population was about 10,000 -- quite a bit less than it is today.
The State Republican reported that in 1893, "Baseball and trotting races seem to have taken a fresh hold in Jefferson City."
An account of a September 1894 game has Jefferson City coming out on top 10-6 in a game against Mexico, Missouri. A crowd of 350 Mexico fans traveled by rail to see their team. Gate receipts of the game were said to total $120.
June 1895 saw Jefferson City win a high scoring game against Fulton, 16-15. May 1896's celebration of a new bridge included a "Jeffs" versus the St. Louis Browns game.
In 1896, the Jefferson City Baseball Club was organized by local businessman Henry Priesmeyer. Priesmeyer was said to be "fond of baseball and all the manly sports." His associates were William Dallmeyer and Edward Miller. Dallmeyer, among other sporting activities, was a "lover of the national game of baseball."
They continued management of the team until 1899. Priesmeyer was secretary/treasurer of the Priesmeyer Shoe Company, Dallmeyer was president of Exchange Bank and Miller was an agent for Anheuser Busch.
The 1899 team was one of the most memorable in city history. It was managed by Harry W. Sieling, who owned a dry goods store at 227 Madison St. The team played throughout Missouri and Illinois, defeating every team it played, with the exception of the Alton Blues of Illinois, with whom they split a series.
The team drew admiration of their old rival, Sedalia. A July 24,1899, article in the Sedalia Democrat reported of Jefferson City, "The players are not professionals but border closely there-on. Not a man on the team has had less than five years' experience in ball playing on good teams. The Jefferson City team, as now composed, could hold its own in the Southern and Texas Leagues."
Jefferson City did have one player with professional experience, pitcher Walter Coleman of Bunceton. The left-handed pitcher had experienced an unsuccessful tryout with the St. Louis Browns, losing on Sept. 25, 1895, against the Cincinnati Reds. Coleman had a good fastball and was said to be drawing interest from the team from Brooklyn, New York.
University of Missouri catcher Lee Garvin played in 1899. Garvin would go on to play in the minors, helping the Birmingham Barons win a Southern League championship in 1906.
After leaving baseball, Garvin would return to Lee's Summit and work in banking. In 1912, he would act as manager and press agent for reformed outlaw Cole Younger, who was doing a lecturing tour. Garvin acted as a pallbearer at Younger's funeral in 1916.
Dick Rohn of Auxvasse played first base. His presence on the team was enough that the team was sometimes referred to as "the Dogs of Dick Rohn." Rohn would have a 15-year minor league career, mostly playing and managing for teams in Missouri.
Playing second base was University of Missouri student Richmond L. Hawkins of Slater. Hawkins would later become a French professor at Harvard and Radcliff colleges. After retiring from teaching, he would become a world traveler, crossing the Atlantic Ocean 57 times. He also authored 12 books, all written in French.
Charles Dewey, 23, of the Press Printing Company in Jefferson City, played third base. He was captain of the team for most of the season, giving the title to Garvin in late fall.
Jefferson City's Bud "T.A." Dodge was one of the older players on the team at the age of 29. He had previously played for teams at Keytesville, Vandalia and Lexington, Virginia. He also had experience in the Texas League.
Also on the team were shortstop Les Wilcox and Willie Popp of St. Louis. Jefferson City's Henry Maupin and Brace Penn did some pitching.
Joseph Goldman was the team's scorer and sportswriter of the era. Later, he was assistant editor of The Daily and Weekly State Tribune prior to becoming editor of the Cole County Democrat.
The players would not field the same team in 1900. Regarding Cottage Place Park, Michelle Brooks writes in her book "Lost Jefferson City," that "In 1902, Edward Holtschneider bought it from baseball men Harry Sieling and George Stampfli and had it surveyed for building lots. By 1909, former Mayor Cecil Thomas and shoe mogul Lester Shepard Parker had bought the park and began selling lots as the Parker-Thomas subdivision, ending the career of the city's first intentional ball park."
Travis Crede lives in Westphalia and is the grandson of Ernie Vivion. He works at Capital Region Medical Center and has been collecting information on Jefferson City baseball for many years.