The 1907 McHenry Blues

Baseball was a small town’s game and many towns featured semi-professional clubs during the 1900’s.   McHenry was no exception. The baseball team the  McHenry Blues started in 1905 and played through 1909. The town was also  home to the McHenry Shamrocks who played from the early 1930s until the mid-1960s.

1907-blues
The Blues in 1907. Compliments of the McHenry Public Library collection.

Semi-Pro baseball was similar to today’s minor league baseball in that many players were hoping to make it to a professional team. Players back then didn’t make a lot of money and probably had a second job, but playing with the local team kept the dream of playing professionally alive. For the fans, it was great entertainment.  This era of baseball was also known as “townball”, due to the fact that most teams were financed by a local business or businesses. Sometimes other events were arranged the same day as the ballgame, such a dance or fundraiser.

On April 28, the Blues opened the season with 13-0 win over the Pekin Giants of Chicago. It took twelve innings to beat the Elgin Tigers 9-8. The following week was another blowout again with the Blues winning 12-2 against the Rock Island Athletics. The Blues even beat the Elgin Code of Honor team in June and the Waukegan city All-Stars in August. Overall , the Blues did very well for themselves. However, they had one huge problem.

wattles-subdivision-1908
Image of Wattles Subdivision, located  at Front & James, where the Blues played their games.

Even back then, baseball ran off of ticket sales. In the early 1900s the cost of attending a game was 25 cents for adults and 10 cents for children . If your attendance was too low, your team wouldn’t be able to make any money. Even worse, if they did too poorly they might not be able to pay their players and would have to cut their season short. That is exactly what happened to the Blues in 1907 when their poor ticket sales caused them to cancel the last eight games on their schedule. Again, this wasn’t due to poor performance, as they only lost one of their games. Sadly, this would happen to the team again in 1908, although the 1908 club wasn’t as good as its predecessor. Poor attendance seemed to affect many of the other local teams as well, which led to some to question as to whether the game was dying out. McHenry didn’t really have a baseball team with any continued success until the McHenry Shamrocks formed in the 1930s.

Please stay tuned for further historical updates on the famous McHenry Shamrocks baseball team appearing here in our local history blog in the Spring.

Sources

“Concerning Baseball” McHenry Plaindealer 12 Mar. 1907: 5. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Will Have Team” McHenry Plaindealer 18 Apr. 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“First Game Sunday” McHenry Plaindealer 25 Apr. 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“A Victorious Opening” McHenry Plaindealer 2 May 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Takes Twelve Innings” McHenry Plaindealer 23 May 1907: 8. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Baseball Sunday” McHenry Plaindealer 30 May 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“McHenry Blues Win” McHenry Plaindealer 6 Jun. 1907: 8. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Game Next Sunday” McHenry Plaindealer 13 Jun. 1907: 8. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“They All Look Alike” McHenry Plaindealer 20 Jun. 1907: 8. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Baseball Sunday” McHenry Plaindealer 27 Jun. 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Elgin White Sox Lose” McHenry Plaindealer 4 Jul. 1907: 8. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Terra Cotta Tigers Winners” McHenry Plaindealer 18 Jul. 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Baseball” McHenry Plaindealer 8 Aug. 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Pre-Labor Day Picnic” McHenry Plaindealer 22 Aug. 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Is Baseball Dying Out” McHenry Plaindealer 29 Aug. 1907: 6. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Trounce Waukegan Team” McHenry Plaindealer 5 Sep. 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Shut Out North Ends” McHenry Plaindealer 26 Sep. 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Baseball Game and Benefit Dance” McHenry Plaindealer 10 Oct. 1907: 1. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Team Next Summer?” McHenry Plaindealer 26 Dec. 1907: 8. Newspapers.com. Web. 18 Sep 2016.
“Johnsburgh Defeated” McHenry Plaindealer 10 Sep. 1908: 8. NEWSPAPERS.COM. WEB. 18 SEP 2016.

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