Although Abner Doubleday’s notability as one of the game’s founders might be up for debate, his bringing baseball to Galveston in 1867 isn’t in question.
General Doubleday found his way to Galveston on November 4, 1866, as Commander of the Army’s forces following the Civil War. Doubleday never personally made claim to founding baseball, but he was one of its earliest adopters. It was thanks to his posting in Galveston that the state’s first baseball games would be held on the island and Texas’s baseball history would be born.
The Galveston Base Ball Club was formed in January 1867, and the first baseball diamond in Texas was drawn in front of the city hospital on the East End. The club held its first game on February 22, 1867, and the first inter-city match was held on San Jacinto Day of April 21, 1868. The game pitted the Houston Stonewalls against the Galveston Robert E. Lees. The Stonewalls won, 35-2.
Baseball caught on quick, and by the early 20th century, Galvestonians had organized a city league made up of teams from local businesses that played a lively schedule of league games throughout the spring. Galveston’s diamond became known as the “little cigar box” that looked like a turtle when covered with tarps for rain protection. The diminutive size of the diamond allegedly made it easier to make home runs. The Texas League, which included the Galveston Sand Crabs, started in the late 1900s and continues to this day with teams from the Lone Star State, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
Early Galveston Baseball Teams
Although it’s easy to associate Texas baseball history with major league teams like the World Champion Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, you don’t have to go far to see historic game-play. Aside from the numerous minor league teams throughout the sate, a resurgence in Sandlot style games has been garnering attention in recent years.
Drawing inspiration from many of the teams from the early 1900s, community teams like Galveston’s own Gulf Coast Sugar, Houston Gamblers, East Austin Jardineros Baseball Club, Texas Playboys Baseball Club, and many more throughout the state still play year-round.
Well written, informative, delightful! Go Sugar!
Excellent article and I love the historic baseball pictures! Keep up the good work!
Yes, I love baseball history. It’s amazing how many HOF’ers played in the Texas League. Dizzy Dean with the Houston Buffalos is one of my favorites along with Tris Speaker from Hubbard. Go Galveston Sandcrabs!
Where was the baseball field in Galveston
I have searched for a photo of it as there was a ballpark! My father took me to a game with him as a small child & I have loved baseball ever since!
Do you have any primary sources for Doubleday’s involvement in Galveston’s first games? Asking as someone who would love to investigate more!
Great article, but please correct the part about the Texas League operating through the 1920s. It still operates today and has been doing so since the 1880s!
Professor of History, Lone Star College (Kingwood)
Great story. As a native Galvestonian I remember the White Caps that played at a stadium built where the Golfcrest subdivision is located. Dizzy Dean would sometimes announce the games.