Sunday, October 9, 2011

When Wall Street Occupied the Ball Park

With the "Occupy Wall Street" movement sweeping the country, it may surprise the reader that there was a time when the stock brokers of Wall Street (and those of State Street in Boston) occupied the ball park.

On May 26, 1904, the Boston Globe announced that "a baseball nine composed of members of the New York stock exchange has challenged a nine of the Boston stock exchange and the challenge has been accepted. The game is to be played on the American league grounds, Huntington av, Thursday, June 2, at 3:30."

The New Yorkers won the contest, 1-0, behind the stellar pitching of Gil Greenway, the former Yale pitcher who had purchased his seat on the New York Stock Exchange just months before. New York's lone run was tallied by none other than Bob Wrenn (seen below). Wrenn was the captain of Harvard's football team in the 1890s and was also the first left-hander to win the U.S. Open Singles Championships in tennis, capturing titles in 1893, '94, '96 and '97. He was President of the United States Tennis Association from 1912 to 1915 and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1955.

The following year, the clubs met again, this time at Hilltop Park in New York City on May 13. A slugfest ensued, with New York emerging victorious, 14-8.

The Boston brokers finally won their first contest in 1906, when they topped New York, 11-4 at Boston's South End Grounds on May 19. According to the New York Times, "the attendance upon the floor of the Stock Exchange was greatly reduced by the pleasanter prospect of a baseball game with members of the Boston Stock Exchange, and those brokers who remained upon duty found ample time to wonder why."

No game was played in 1907, but on May 23, 1908 the brokers renewed their challenge at the Polo Grounds in New York City. The Boston brokers topped the NYSE 11-4 to knot the series at two games apiece. Stock broker and former major league pitcher Huyler Westervelt unpired the game.

Two photos from the event are found at the Library of Congress's web site. The first shows three members of the New York contingent that attended the game (left to right): Jay Carlisle, Clark Runyon (who had participated in some of the earlier contests) and Ira Richards Jr. (misidentified on the photograph as Ira Richardson). The date of the game was also erroneously noted on the photograph as "5/22/08."

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-00480

Just days after the game, Carlisle, Runyon, Richards and four others organized Carlisle, Mellick & Company, a new Stock Exchange house. Here's an advertisement from the New York Times published just a few weeks after the game:

The following action shot also comes from the New York vs. Boston Stock Exchange game of 1908:

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-00475

Catching is one W. Clark of the Boston Stock Exchange nine, and at bat is the New York Stock Exchange's Gil Greenway, Jr., a former pitcher at Yale.

These photos were taken just a few weeks after those taken as lantern slides for the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

The rival stock exchanges met just twice more before ultimately abandoning the series. On May 22, 1909, Boston defeated New York at the Huntington Avenue Grounds, 8-4. Three years later, on May 25, 1912, the final contest took place at the Westchester Country Club and resulted in a second-straight 8-4 victory for Boston. Boston thus took the six-game series, four games to two.

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