The most exciting game of the baseball season played between Mount Carroll and Lanark . . . Anybody’s game until the ninth inning. Read the column in the weekly Gazette. The front page article went on to say, “It was the most orderly game of the season with no serious kicking done . . .”
Mounted on a cardboard mat with games played that season of 1889 by Lanark’s championship team, Dud Risley is seated second from right holding the baseball. Note that there are but nine players ... No defensive or offensive teams or substitutes as in today’s game. If the pitcher tired, positions were merely exchanged. This photograph was obtained by a series of telephone calls, the first to Tampico, Illinois where Dud Risley’s aunt, Frederika Isherewood, had lived as wife of the editor of the newspaper, “The Tampico Tornado.” Thinking that perhaps Risley photos might be on file at the Tampico Historical Society/Ronald Reagan Birthplace Museum. Joan Johnson and Denise McLaughlin collaborated and got in touch with a local woman who knew families ‘way back when and did know a relative of some sort in Texas. She was called by the Tampico “agents” and they called us back. We then contacted Evie Mims in Jefferson, Texas who w the great-neice of Dud Risley and remembers him from her childhood. Her daughter, Dana Graves, lives in Washington State, near Seattle, in the house she inherited from Dudley Risley, Jr. whose father owned it before him. There were still goods stored in the basement from the Risley habitation including albums and large baseball pictures such as this which has been reduced from about 12”x16” and another of Dud with the St. Joseph, Missouri 1897 team, a 16”x24” fancily printed setting. We were awed by their generosity in sending them, The “Carroll County Champs” and especially welcome image. Thanks EVERYONE involved.
A purse of $200 had been gotten up, presumably to pay the players because the majority of them must have had jobs, being adults, but took time off to play. Some, apparently were teens such as Dud Risley who was just eighteen in 1891.
Betting was a popular and common activity at the time and a collection could have been taken because the “Notes of the Game” reported that gate receipts were $66.83. Baseball was quite different then than today’s summer pastime.
Arguments, downright brawls often occurred at the hometown games, rivals were drawn early on. “Kicking” was reported as well as the score.
At the end of the long article about the game, the reporter stated, “The Mt. Carroll people called our boys “babies” but our infants managed to creep in and win the game at the finish.” Competition had been fierce.
“In the first inning Dud Risley had scored, then George Tallman scored in the fourth. But Mt. Carroll tied the runs in the fifth on errors. In the seventh with the bases full, a “hot ball” from pitcher, Risley, got away from “Bismarck” Schoen (Biz was German). All runners scored.”
Now came the play of the game — the ninth inning. Two men out and the bases filled with Biz coming to bat. He was equal to the emergency. He knocked the ball to center field and all three base-runners scored. “Such yelling as you’ve never before heard. All was uproar. Umbrellas poked and prodded. When the home team went to bat the bottom of the ninth inning there was nary a tally on their part. Lanark again the winner but with the close margin (6-5) such a battle was honorable.”
August 19, 1891—
LANARK 10–FREEPORT 0
“That was the way the score stood in Friday’s baseball game. One made the difference, that is a one before a cipher,” stated the writer of the sports article on the Gazette’s front page. The Freeport team went home feeling blue but the reporters from the three Freeport newspapers took it pretty straight ... The Journal, The Democrat were alright with the game but the man from The Bulletin was plenty sore and indulged in some rather ungentlemanly remarks and said there wasn’t a baseball player in town, calling them, derogatorily, “farmers.”
Baseball play-by-play might not be quite as spirited today as it once was! But spectators, teams and even those on the periphery of community involvement were fanatics in those days.
Stinging remarks were met with the following about the umpires decisions. H.F. Tallman and Henri Smith, an attaché at the Brewster House (Freeport’s hotel) were the umpires. At one point, Capt. Spore of the Freeport nine was dissatisfied with one of Tallman’s decisions. Spore raised his bat and threatened Tallman ferociously, but then changed his mind. Tallman was captain of the Lanark team from 1878 to 1890 so he knows a lot about the game,” wrote the hometown writer.
Rules that regulated the game were much different, perhaps, more casual not with everything covered as they are now. Errors seem to have been a large part of any game. The gloves were flat, not cupped as they are presently.
And, importantly, a player could perform on any teams’ play ... As you will see in the game description following. What the “pay” was is not known. In the above named game a pitcher, Barnes, was to play for Freeport though he was from Yellow Creek, (Pearl City). Arriving at the game he decided the odds were against him and besides he was to go to Warren to play the next day.
Fifteen enthusiasts had come from Yellow Creek to see him pitch but were highly disappointed when he didn’t. Freeport team followers traveled back home by the 7:20 train “blue as blue could be.” Lanark’s team made only two errors. The writer said, “Pretty good play for a bunch of ‘farmers’.”
August 12, 1891—
“Last Friday our boys went to Fulton to play the game of their lives against a Fulton-Clinton aggregation. Dud Risley had pitched at Stockton the day before, pitching 13-7 for Yellow Creek besides driving the fifty miles to play but he was in excellent form, holding them to three base hits ... When news of the win was received, a crowd assembled at the depot to welcome them home. They got a perfect ovation. Not a hit or run was made until the sixth inning. Of the 36 men at bat, Dud struck out 12. The score was 4-0.”
August 12, 1891—
“In answer to a telephone call from Barnes at Yellow Creek but who pitches at Freeport, he asked for assistance for the Yellow Creek club. Dud and Bert Risley, Otten and Warren Giddings drove all the way to Stockton in response. When our boys got up to bat they were sneered at on account of their size but they got there all the same. The game stood at 7-7 in the seventh inning. Six more runs were piled up by Yellow Creek. Stockton didn’t tally anymore. Dud Risley and Otten were the battery with Bert Risley and Warren Giddings at short stop and third base respectively. Stockton’s pitcher was Kent from Dubuque.”
As you see, “substitutes” could be called in from anywhere to play any place.
What prompted that regulation, is not known to us. It seems a bit loose-ended and able to be taken advantage of. That may have been the reason, eh!
A series of twelve games had been signed between Mt. Carroll and Lanark, each one being dutifully reported in the papers.
August 12, 1891—
Reported in the same issue as the Stockton-Yellow Creek games was this with Mt. Carroll.
The baseball grounds were not in very good condition due to the recent rains (it is believed that Lanark’s “stadium” was in the northeast part of town, north now of Elkay-Medallion). “The playing, however, could not have been better. The score was tied 6-6 in the eighth inning. Four games a week was too much for Dud Risley to pitch and the Hill City nine pounded him for eight base hits. At the bottom of the ninth then with Lanark at bat, Hartzell made a short hit with a man on first. That runner was out at second but when the second baseman threw to first to put out Hartzell, the ball went wide of its mark. Skimmer, the runner, seeing the ball go wild made for second. Two more wild throws advanced the runners to third and home. Cal Feezer, Mt. Carroll’s ‘prize kicker,’ insisted Hartzell should have to return to first because he hadn’t touched the base. The terrible argument that resulted caused Cal Feezer to wave his arms and claim he was quitting and wouldn’t play anymore. In turn the umpire, George Tallman ruled that the game would be called and awarded to Lanark (9-0) which act quieted the crowd very soon. Most of the Mt. Carroll fans and players regreted Feezer’s ‘baby act.”
The Lanarkians had, according to the newspaper, “come for blood” and got a win by default. It was but one in the series of twelve, plus the many other teams they played during a season.
PLEASE DON’T QUOTE ME is not becoming a sports column what with this article about baseball and the recent one featuring pitcher, Warhop, buried in the Lanark Cemetery and who threw the baseballs which Yankee, Babe Ruth, hit for both his first and second home runs for the New York club. We are however introducing you to a Hometown Hero nobody’s every heard of: Dud Risley, born and raised in Lanark and who played decades of baseball including twelve years as a “semi-pro,” the minor leagues. He was much admired with regular mention of him in the local papers. He is featured in the Lanark Sesquicentennial book to be ready for circulation within days, if not weeks, among other leading citizens!!