[Posted on L&P on Mar 2, 2012.]
It’s almost a general rule when doing research in The American Stationer, that if you’re looking for one thing, you’re bound to find something else as well, or instead, along the way. One of the unexpected bonuses that I found was a group of articles about a stationers’ baseball league in New York, some with pictures of the Waterman’s baseball teams. A whole world that I wasn’t aware of simply opened up before my eyes.
It started with an article titled “Baseball League”, June 8, 1907, p.20, with a proposition to organize a league in the New York stationery trade. There were five “teams already in the field”, and a game on June 1 between the Waterman’s team and the Stationers’ Association team was reported on. The score was 16 to 9 in Waterman’s favor. In the June 15, 1907, p.40, article a couple more games are reported on, with the Waterman’s team winning against the Metropolitan Bank team, 19 to 8. The June 22, 1907, p.20, article reports that the Waterman team won against the McMullen Advertising Agency, 4 to 0, and the June 29, 1907, p.12, article reports yet “Another Win for the Ideals” with a score of 31 to 3 against “The Tec’s” of the Technical Supply Co. With that score, perhaps the mercy rule should have kicked in, but the Waterman’s company was not known to show mercy.
Then an article on July 13, 1907, p.32, reported on a game between the Waterman’s New York team, “the pen shop boys”, and the Waterman’s Rubber Factory team in Seymour, Conn. “Last Saturday was an Ideal day”, it said, and “The Ideal baseball team, which has been walloping everything in sight in New York all season, was defeated by the Seymour team by a score of 10 to 7”. A party of 84 made the trip to Seymour in a special train car reserved for the company. Seymour, it said, was “where the team from the offices goes regularly once each year to get defeated”. There was “a good dinner, an excellent supper, good speeches, and a brand of good fellowship which will not be forgotten”. Some of the “mottoes” on the banners in the hall where the supper was served included variations of some of the sayings from The Pen Prophet. One of them was, “It is easier to make a mark around the world in New York than to get around the bases in Seymour”. In another article about that baseball game on Aug 10, 1907, pp.21-22, the two Waterman’s teams are called “The Ideals” and “The Rubbers”. Nice names! The article also includes, as it says, “excellent pictures of both teams”. That article goes on to say that, “Baseball has been a matter of more than ordinary interest among the stationary houses this season”, and “It looks like a league and a hot race for a pennant next season”.
Early the next year, on Jan 11, 1908, p.40, an article says that, “Efforts are being made to organize a stationers’ baseball league in New York this season”. An article on Jan 25, 1908, p.8, reports that, “A meeting of those interested in organizing a stationer’s league is called for February 6 at 173 Broadway”, the Waterman’s “Pen Corner”. Also an article titled “Interest in Baseball Growing” appears on Feb 29, 1908, p.30, but then we see nothing else in Am. Stat. about the New York league for the rest of the year.
It’s the same in 1909, no news about baseball in N. Y., but then some articles about bowling teams and a bowling league start showing up instead. The only two articles about the N. Y. baseball league all year appear on June 19, 1909, p.8, and Aug 7, 1909, p.12. The second of these mentions an upcoming game between the two Waterman’s teams, and “a silver mounted cup for [which they] will play”. The trophy was “generously offered by Frank D. Waterman”, but this time the game was to be played at Jersey City on August 28, and “half of the New York trade [was expected] to be present”. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t find any reports in Am. Stat. of the game in 1909, but then early in 1910 a photo with the title “Waterman Baseball Trophy” appeared all by itself with no accompanying article, on Feb 19, 1910, p.14. Under the title there is also one short line that reads, “The body is made of vulcanized rubber, the same material used in the Ideals”. It’s a Waterman’s black hard rubber and silver filigree cup, made the same way they made their pens, and probably made in one of their shops or factories. That means that they probably also made the filigree. If you look closely, you can just make out the name of the first recipient of the trophy, “1909 Seymour Team 9-6”. Has anyone ever seen the actual Cup, and does anyone know of The Cup’s whereabouts?
The only two articles on baseball in 1910 appeared on July 9, 1910, p.32, and July 16, 1910, p.21. The first of these articles announced the annual “Waterman Outing” and second baseball game, again to be held in Seymour, Conn. It also mentions the “handsome trophy made from fountain pen rubber, decorated with chased silver filigree, which was won last year by the Connecticut ball players”. The second article reports on the outing and the game. Three private cars were chartered to transport 170 employees from the N. Y. office, “170 happy members of the Waterman Family”. This time, however, the city team won by a score of 9 to 0. The trophy is described as “a handsome cup made from rubber used in the famous Ideals. It stands nearly three feet high and is covered with delicate filigree silver”. The article is accompanied by the following photo of “The Winning Waterman Team”, The Ideals.
I found nothing more in Am. Stat. about the Waterman’s baseball teams except the report on “The Waterman Outing” and baseball game on June 27, 1914, reported on in the July 4, 1914 issue, pp.3-4, also the occasion of the presentation of the giant key in the shape of a pen to F. D. Waterman. The penmakers played against the Delford Athletic Club and won by a score of 3 to 1, but there are no pictures of the teams, just pictures of the officials and directors. There was also no mention of the Waterman’s trophy, although there was room on the cup to list the annual winners at least up to 1914. Perhaps WWI, which began on July 28, 1914, put an end to all their fun, or perhaps the other pen and stationery companies, or the other sports leagues complained about all this one-sided attention paid by Am. Stat. to the Waterman’s company baseball teams, and the straw broke the camel’s back. But in the meantime, they documented those teams, and they got to print that picture of “The Cup”, and I’m certainly glad they did.
Olle Hjort asked whether some of the team members might possibly be identified. Could the manager of the Seymour team, he wondered, be Charles Nichols who received patent 726,561, and might Liddell on right field be the same as Robert C. Liddell who held patent 1,762,104? We might never know for sure, but I think he’s right about those names. And that was the whole point of this article. It’s not the baseball that’s important, it’s the guys. They’re all penmakers, or somehow else involved with running a penmaking company. And that Cup, which is a bit of a masterpiece, might have been made by some of them. It’s too bad that they didn’t include at least the initials of the men, let alone their full given names. Since I found these photos, I have found the given names or initials of a few of the men in other articles and ads in Am. Stat. Mortimer “Mort” L. O’Connell, W. H. Kernan, and Robert C. Liddell all appear and are named in the Waterman’s ad on Dec 25, 1909, p.1, which has pictures of twelve of the company’s directors.
It’s nice to put a face to a name.
P.S. By the way, here’s the Parker baseball team, and the Weis baseball team. And here’s a Lewis Hine photo of a 1908 baseball team composed mainly of glass bottle factory boys.
[Addendum, added on Nov 4, 2015.
Since I first posted this, I found a few more references to the Waterman’s baseball team in American Stationer. The article “The Waterman Ball Tossers” on Aug 25, 1906, p.16, tells of the forthcoming game in Seymour, Conn., between the team from the office and gold pen factory and the team from the rubber factory. And the article “‘Ideal’ Ball Game” on Sept 1, 1906, p.26, reports that the score was 5 to 3 for the rubber team, and that the ceremonial first pitch was hit with a bat shaped like a Waterman’s Ideal fountain pen. There is no photo, but all the players are listed by surname. Another article titled “Ideal Ball Tossers” on May 18, 1907, p.13, relates that a baseball team is being “organized among the employes of the L. E. Waterman Company”, and that the team “is looking for other teams who can be led to the slaughter”, and “is searching for victims so they can get into practice” to take on the rubber team again after their defeat the year before. The article simply titled “Baseball” tells us that the 1907 game “was a sequel”, and the score was 10 to 7 for the rubber team even though The Ideals “had been walloping everything in sight in New York all the season”. And “Every employe who had a wife [or girlfriend] took her along”. The game was held again at Seymour, where it was said “the team from the offices goes regularly once each year to get defeated”. One of the mottoes in the supper hall was, “It is easier to make a mark around the world in New York than to get around the bases in Seymour”. The article “Waterman Ball Game” on Sept 4, 1909, p.8, calls the game that year “the third annual baseball game”, so that proves that there was, indeed, no game in 1908. And again the rubber team won. This time they won by a score of 10 to 6, which “earned for them the loving cup”. That’s what the trophy pictured above was called, but the actual score recorded on the cup was “9-6”. Also, more than 1,500 invited guests attended. And then two items appeared on Sept 20, 1913, p.30. One item was a photograph without an accompanying article, but the caption said that it was another Waterman baseball game, this time in St. Lambert, Que., Canada, a “game between the New York [and] Montreal teams”. On the same page, however, was an article titled “New York Stationers’ Bowling League Forming”. The inaugural meeting was held at the office of the L. E. Waterman Co., and the person listed as the one to contact for “information concerning this league” was Mort O’Connell, “care of” the Waterman’s company. This was the guy who played in almost all of the baseball games, and who was instrumental in forming the New York baseball league. Perhaps the Baseball League was replaced with a Bowling League. Perhaps they got old, and ran out of steam, and started a bowling team. And perhaps the baseball players had become old tossers.
There is one more article, on June 20, 1914, p.5, but it is only an announcement of the upcoming 1914 game, the one in which the Ideals finally beat the Delford team by a score of 3 to 1, and one of the other “attractions” was to be “a special fat man’s race”.]