The beloved Brooklyn Dodgers, as we remember them, trace their roots to 1884. They opened for business as the Atlantics in the American Association, and seven years later the franchise was rolled into the National League as the Bridegrooms. The scorecard now presented is actually from 1883 as the Atlantics hosted Wilmington. Benignly printed below the Brooklyn lineup is a reminder that this is an “Official Score Card [for] Thursday, Sept. 20.” The problem here is that “Sept. 20″ was a Saturday in 1884. However, September 20th, indeed, fell on a Thursday in 1883. We suspect, then, that this was a late-summer exhibition game in 1883 between two teams that had just been founded, but had yet to play a game in their respective circuits. These Atlantics mustn’t be confused with the Brooklyn Atlantics of an earlier era who played in the National Association of the 1870s, and then withered as did the league. Instead, the latter-day Atlantics remained in the American Association until they were chartered into the National League in 1891, perpetuating after many name changes to become the Dodgers.
The Wilmingtons were founded in 1883 as the Quicksteps, and they were actually incorporated into the so-called Eastern League (which evolved to become our modern International League). The Quicksteps, however, were far too talented in the Eastern League, and late in 1884 they shifted to the Union Association. The team was a one-hit wonder though, as attendance plummeted, and their owner disbanded the roster before the 1885 season. In analyzing the scorecard’s pre-printed lineups for this game, we note that many (but not all) of those listed for Brooklyn continued on the Atlantics roster in 1884, and this team amounted to the original ancestor of the Dodgers.
Similarly, some (but not all) of those listed with Wilmington actually played for the Quicksteps in 1884 (though others shortly found their way to Philadelphia’s major league teams – the Quakers of the National League; or the Union Association’s Keystones). Of those listed for either team, none are enshrined, but certainly some of the names are familiar to 19th Century baseball historians. Though listed by last name only, we’ve researched to provide full names where possible – specifically, the Atlantics that day fielded Bill Greenwood, Joe (?) Doyle, Smith, Frank Fennelly, Oscar Walker, Charlie Householder, Billy Geer, West, and Adonis Terry. On the opposing bench, the Wilmingtons had Bill Kienzle, Ike Benners, Buster Hoover, Albert, Redleg Snyder, Tony Cusick, Chris Rickley, Smith, and Shadow Pyle.
As for the scorecard itself, it’s a simple fold-over publication that opens to 6″ x 7-1/2” – quite typical for the era with local advertising around the perimeter. This one, technically, is about FR/GD due principally to a fragilely insecure lower right corner. (It’s nearly detached.) Aesthetically, though, this is a masterpiece. The cover projects a colorized scene of a dynamic (by 19th Century standards) batsman calling for a “Low Ball.” And this image is acceptably clean noting only the faintest of pencil writings against the white backdrop. Finally, and with the fullest appreciation, this little treasure was scored – to its 9th-inning conclusion. The penciled proceedings are intricately neat and, ultimately, summarize the tilt as a 4-2 victory for Wilmington. We believe that this scorecard dates to the birth of the mighty Dodger franchise (Bidami.com).