Friday, February 23, 2018

Baseball - A Family Pastime

Fritz & Frank Newhouse, 1906
This picture is one of my favorite family pictures. A father and a son with the father showing his love of baseball.  The father is my grandfather Fritz Valentine Newhouse (1880-1923); he is holding his oldest child, my father, Frank George Newhouse (1906-1972).

In 1906, when this picture was taken, some of the national baseball figures were Ty Cobb, Cy Young, Rube Waddell, and Joe McGinnity.  The American League champion was the Chicago White Sox, the National League champion was the Chicago Cubs, and the World Series Winner was the Chicago White Sox. 

Baseball was recognized as the official national sport of America by the late 19th century. It was being played in villages, small towns, and large cities. It was being played in Pine Island, Minnesota, where my grandfather and father were born. In 1900, the population of Pine Island was 832 – a 51 percent increase over the 1890 population; and, it is situated 17 miles northwest of Rochester, Minnesota, in southeastern Minnesota.

Fritz played baseball with a team made up of friends and relatives in Pine Island. In the picture below, the 1900 team is shown in calico uniforms which were made by mothers and wives. However, by 1906, apparently the team had official uniforms as the picture of my father and grandfather shows them both in standard uniforms. Of the ten men pictured below, at least six, counting Fritz, were related in some way:

· Art Rueber (Charles Arthur Rueber, 1883- ) – nephew of Ada Huntsinger Rueber (1859-1942), Fritz’ 1st cousin
· Bill McCutcheon (William Charles McCutcheon, 1879-927) – husband of Iva May Rueber (1882-1969), Ada’s     daughter
· Jack Newhouse (John Leon Newhouse, 1882-1932) – Fritz’ brother
· Frank Shay (Francis Shay, 1840-1923) – husband of Mary Elizabeth Huntsinger (1874-1930), Fritz’ first cousin
· R. K. Irish (Riley Kirkwood Irish, 1871-1944) – husband of Fritz’ sister Edna May Newhouse (1865-1909)
· Fritz Newhouse (self)

It would appear from both pictures that baseball was important to Fritz, and it became important to my father. I assume my father, like his father, played baseball in his youth. I do know, however, that he was a rabid baseball fan, especially when the Minnesota Twins came to Minnesota in 1961.

Ah, baseball – the harbinger of spring. The sport that fans wait for all winter. What is more American that than the sport of baseball. Jacques Barzun, a historian, once said, “Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball.”

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