I recently acquired a copy of the 1890 Boston Municipal Register which appears to have been originally owned by Thomas N. Hart, who was Mayor of Boston for 1889-90 and again from 1900-1902. (for his initial term, Hart defeated Boston's first Irish mayor, Hugh O'Brien). Hart used his copy of the Muncipal Register as a scrapbook, pasting in newspaper clippings, letters and notes from city employees and other acquaintances, pieces of research he had conducted on the census, street railway ridership, and a host of other subjects. The book is a fascinating look into how Boston's city government operated a little over a hundred years ago. I will be scanning and posting some of the more interesting items in upcoming weeks, but the initial item is one that Hart hadn't intended to save because it was found on the back of newspaper clipping of an obituary.
I've written previously about the Congress Street Baseball Grounds, primarily because of its use as the temporary home for the Boston National League team when the South End Grounds burned in 1894. But as the clipping above shows, the Boston Reds, who played in the American Association in 1891, also played at Congress Street.
The Boston Reds began their 1891 season training in Charlottesville, Virginia and decimated the American Association during the regular season. Managed by Arthur Irwin and led by Hugh Duffy, the Reds finished in first place that year with a 93-42 record. The St. Louis Browns, under the leadership of player/manager Charles Comiskey (Comiskey would eventually buy the Chicago White Sox, hence Comiskey Park in Chicago) finished second. (Statistics from baseball-reference.com, my favorite baseball research site) Longstanding conflicts between the two professional leagues kept Boston's National League team, the Braves, from meeting the Reds in a championship game (in prior years the National League champion had met the American Association champion) so it appears that Boston and St. Louis agreed to play one another as a substitute. I've not found an account of the game they played, but will update as soon as I can. What were some of the differences between the American Association and the National League? According to Wikipedia,
The American Association offered cheaper ticket prices and more liberal libations to its patrons, and became known as "The Beer and Whiskey League", especially by supporters of the National League, in reference to the fact that many of its biggest backers were breweries and distilleries. The NL at that time prohibited the sale of alcohol on its grounds."
After the 1891 season, the American Association disbanded (selling beer only gets one so far), with some of its teams joining the National League, and its star players moving over to the National League, including Hugh Duffy, who simply switched to the Boston Braves where he starred for several years, including hitting .440 in 1894, an average greatly inflated by the return of the Braves to the Congress Street Grounds after the Great Roxbury Fire of 1894 left the team homeless.
The image below, from an 1899 map of Boston, shows the Congress Street Grounds as open space, but one can also see the projections for the new wharves and Northern Avenue. The rail lines shown on the 1891 map above are gone. Click image to enlarge. (Image copyright the City Record and Boston News-Letter, all rights reserved)