The Richland Album: Ball Fields

The Law of Time

This is the law of time: for every hour we go on there is an hour that slips behind, so that for every bit of gain there is equal loss. In order to enter the future we must relinquish the past.

As each generation creates its own new version of America, the old way, the old style, passes into history; and as each wave of people takes the stage to witness a particular and unique new story, so it watches the putting away of sets and scenery and props from the play just concluded.

This series of photo essays takes a look at landmarks from the past that were once common and familiar components of the landscape to Richland County residents long since passed on. Folks 150 years ago couldn’t really imagine a county without covered bridges, hitching posts, and livery stables.

Today the only way you have to picture these sights is with our virtual Richland Album.

This collection of images from the virtual album features Baseball Fields of Richland County.

About 100 years ago the fabric of life in Richland County was stitched together with elements of community that are not such common threads today. One of these was baseball.

Back then it was called the National Game because it touched the lives of everybody in the community, and it served to tie all communities to one another.

We really have nothing like that today that compares in cultural presence. We have sports — lots of sports — but no national game that serves to unify all ends of the community spectrum.

Back then every town and village and crossroad had a baseball field.

During the summer months it was the place toward which folks gravitated when shouting echoed off the barns, through the streets.

Fortunately for us today, someone back then took a camera to the noise and captured the fleeting moment for all time.

PLYMOUTH

A ball field, being made primarily of grass and dirt, doesn’t survive long once the base paths are no longer polished by dashing baserunners.  Plymouth had shaded spectator stands in 1912.

SHILOH

A Shiloh team in 1910.
True baseball fans in the early 20th century never needed bleacher seating to watch the game.

SHELBY

Shelby had its own league park. It was the site of many thrilling games and one historic riot.
The best view of the game came from atop the fence. (detail of Shelby League Park photo.)

MANSFIELD

Mansfield had its own League Park on Newman Street, and the city fielded teams there in various state and interstate leagues throughout the decades from the 1880s to the 1920s.
The Ohio State Reformatory had an officially designated and outfitted ball field on the grounds for hosting visiting teams, but just as often games were played within the walls on the drill grounds.

LEXINGTON

This team photo from around 1915 captures one of the few contemporary portraits of the pitcher Carl Maul (lower left) who achieved everlasting local fame, and brief national acknowledgement, when he struck out Major League superstar Ty Cobb in 1914 at a Crestline tournament.

BELLVILLE

The Bellville ball field is believed to have been located somewhere on the west side of town.
This detail of the Bellville game shows an elevated viewing stand for announcers and dignitaries.

BUTLER

It was not uncommon to find any village ball field located next to a railroad track, to accommodate visiting teams.
Apparently this train on the B&O tracks was in no hurry, and paused to watch the game.

LUCAS

This photo, dated 1911 and labeled Lucas Cubs, shows the team and their best friend.


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