Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Birthday Brooklyn Base Ball Legend, Jim Creighton

Jim Creighton
Born: April 15, 1841, Manhattan
Died: October 18, 1862, Brooklyn

Before there ever existed a Hall of Fame museum in Cooperstown, there was GreenWood Cemetery in Brooklyn - a national landmark - where the fathers of baseball (Henry Chadwick, Duncan Curry) along with many of base ball's earliest players from the mid-to-late 19th century rest eternally.

Among the era's most celebrated players was New York City native Jim Creighton Jr. - better described as the best player of his time.  In fact, he is historically considered to be base ball's first superstar.

A distinguished striker (batter) by age 16, Creighton initially played second base for the 1859 Niagaras of Brooklyn.  After the Niagara club folded later that season, Creighton switched to the Brooklyn Stars.

Over the winter, Jim Creighton joined the Excelsior Base Ball Club of Brooklyn (also known as the Jolly Young Bachelors Base Ball Club), for whom he pitched from 1860 through the 1862 season.   En route to leading the Excelsiors to a national championship during his first season with the club, he also set about revolutionizing the game itself.

  • "...something new was seen in base ball - a low, swift delivery, the ball rising from the ground past the shoulder to the catcher."

Other sources are quoted, saying:
  • "Why that man was not bowling, he is throwing underhand.  It the best disguised underhand throwing I ever saw, and might readily be taken as a fair delivery."
  • "...his pitch "as if it was shot out of a cannon." 
  • "...had wonderful speed, and, with it, splendid command.  He was fairly unhittable."

Outcries abounded regarding illegal pitches and unsportsmanlike conduct.  Accused of failing to keep a stiff arm on the back swing of his delivery then snapping his wrist, Jim was generally cleared of such transgressions when a Brooklyn Eagles reporter determined Creighton threw a fair square pitch, rather than a jerk, or an illegal underhand throw.

Jim Creighton was injured on October, 14, 1862, during a game against Bronx competitors, Union BBC of Morrisania.  Four days later, he died suddenly in his home due to internal hemorrhaging.  Jim was just 21-years/six months of age.

  • His death was not only a loss to his club but to the whole base ball community.  Which needed such as he as a standard of honorable play and ability.

Jim Creighton is credited for being among the very first players to be paid (professionally); credited for throwing a speed ball - a precursor of the fastball; is said to have invented the curveball; and above all else, is believed to have been first to propagate the pitcher batter confrontation.

In his honor, members of the Excelsiors Base Ball Club of Brooklyn erected this monument at his grave sight in GreenWood cemetery.  It is believed to be the very first baseball monument ever erected.

In its original condition, the monument featured a baseball adorning the very top which through the past century had been compromised by erosion.

In 2014, the monument was restored to its original state thanks to the efforts of Tom Gilbert and Richard Moylan, along with help from baseball historian Eric Miklich of ...   otherwise known as, Express, pitcher for the present day Eckfords vintage BBC of Brooklyn (featured here wearing Brooklyn Excelsior attire).

133 Clinton Street

Former Home of the Brooklyn Excelsiors Base Ball Club
Champions of the United States - 1860

Club Founded 1854
Last Season     1870

Home Field
Carroll Park (Carroll St. at Court St.) 1854-1859
Red Hook Grounds (Court St. at Bay St.) 1859-1870

!!.Happy 176th Birthday.!!

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