A Baseball Game on Washington Green, 1869
The Reunion Game, August 4, 1869This photograph is from the Archives at The Gunnery, a private, college preparatory school located in Washington, Connecticut. The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, thinks this is one of the earliest images of a baseball game in progress. Through extensive research much information has been uncovered about this very interesting image.
The photographer was Seth C. Landon. On this day, August 4, 1869, the game was played between Gunnery alumni and a team from New Milford (the Weantinaugs). With Mr. Landon and his new camera, it took approximately twenty minutes to complete a photograph. It is remarkable that people stood still for that long!
It is believed that the game being played is the New York Game, or baseball according to the Knickerbocker rules, rather than an earlier version known as Town Ball. It is said that the new and improved game of baseball, familiar in cities like New York, was brought by the Van Cott boys to rural Washington. If you examine the photograph carefully, you can outline the playing field. You will notice that it is in the form of a diamond (Knickerbocker Rules) rather than a square (Town Ball).
The photograph of this particular game, referred to as "The Great Game" by Headmaster John Brinsmade, was part of a week-long Gunnery Reunion.
Washington GreenEver since the construction of the First Congregational Church, the Green in the village of Washington has been a center of life and activities. In addition to a place of worship, the nearby Gunnery School and Library had their modest beginnings here, and business and commerce were evidenced by a carriage maker's shop, tavern and Post Office. Today the Green is an area of about two acres of carefully maintained greensward with beautiful trees and surrounded by many stately and historic buildings. In 1869 when classes ended, the Gunnery's first and second "nine" went to the Green -- where the baseball field was located-- for practice. One can mark the progress of years by noting the changes since this photograph was taken:
- The road in the foreground is today's Route 47, and the view is to the south. The corner of the Congregational Church is barely noticeable to the far left side of the photograph. This is the third Meeting House built on this site, constructed in 1801.
- To the far right (not seen in the photograph) were located the Post Office and carriage and wagon-maker's shop. Today the Post Office continues in this location with the Crossroads Café located next door.
- The two houses in the center of the photograph still exist today. In 1869 Henry Church owned the house on the right side, and the Fenn family were the owners of the house to the left. In 1882 the Fenns sold this house to Cornelius Gold at which time it was painted red, and stayed that way for some 40 years. Although this house has been altered externally and presently is painted white, this house is still referred to locally as the Red House.
- The house on the right side of the photograph was Daniel Brinsmade's house in 1869. It has since been moved. The road in front of the Brinsmade house is Kirby Road, which is still there today, though a bit more substantial and paved rather than dirt.
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