On this day in Iowa History: June 15, 1912.

(From the Iowa City Press from June 15, 1912)

Iowa City press/Canva/TSM
Iowa City Press/Canva/TSM

According to Our Iowa History: When most sports fans reflect on the history of baseball, they often harken back to the golden age of the 1920s, when legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig dominated the sport, solidifying its status as the Great American Pastime. However, baseball's roots run much deeper, with significant early developments occurring in the mid-19th century. 

The 1850's: Baseball was All the Rage

In the 1850s, baseball clubs were already forming across America, including Iowa. One notable example is the "Pastime Base-Ball Club No. 2" of Davenport, established on May 28, 1858. The game gained momentum after the Civil War, as Union soldiers returned home with a newfound passion for baseball, having learned important traits like camaraderie and discipline on the battlefield. 

By 1867, nearly every town in Iowa was eager to field its baseball team, viewing it as a point of community pride. This trend continued to grow, and by the mid-1880s, Iowa boasted a robust baseball culture. Tournaments became regular events, and towns vied for the title of state champions each year, adhering to the rules established by the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. 


Iowa City Played an Important Role

Iowa City, too, played a significant role in Iowa's baseball history. One standout team was the 1885 Iowa City Neversweats, who gained local fame for their dominant record, losing only once that season. Composed of skilled players like Charles C. Shrader, George A. Sueppel, and others, the Neversweats left a lasting mark on the community before disbanding after a few seasons. 

Many teams were successful some didn't make it

In 1912, Iowa City's baseball legacy continued with the formation of the Iowa City Gold Sox at Rundell Park, a new community field established in the recently annexed Rundell neighborhood. Originally successful on the field, the team faced financial challenges and was later purchased and rebranded as the Racine Ramblers by Fred Racine, a prominent local cigar salesman. 

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Despite these efforts, the Racine Ramblers struggled to sustain interest and Rundell Park was eventually repurposed for housing developments, marking the end of an era for baseball in that location. 

In conclusion, while the 1920s are often celebrated as baseball's heyday, Iowa's rich baseball heritage dates back much earlier, with communities across the state fostering teams and tournaments that contributed to the sport's enduring popularity and cultural significance. 


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