Category Archives: Biographies

From the Ballfields to the Battlefield

From famed New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra to Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman, there have been many athletes who sacrificed their sports careers to serve their country. Berra was a gunner’s mate on the USS Bayfield during Operation Overlord (D-Day) in 1944, and Tillman was a member of the Army Rangers and was killed in action in the Khost Province of Afghanistan in 2004. For St. Louis, baseball is the heart and soul of the Gateway City. Baseball’s history in St. Louis can be traced back to just before the Civil War. In 1862, one 22-year-old St. Louis baseball player gave up his favorite pastime to enlist in the Confederate Army.

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Merritt Griswold’s drawing of the baseball field. Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Missouri.

Edward Bredell, Jr. (hereafter referred to as Bredell) was born in St. Louis in 1839 to a wealthy family. His father Edward Bredell, Sr. was not only a successful attorney, but also owned Bredell & Bro. Dry Goods. In 1855, Bredell began his college education studying engineering at Brown University, where a fellow St. Louis baseball researcher, Jeff Kittel, believes Bredell learned about the sport of baseball.[1]

By 1859, Bredell returned to his hometown from Brown, where he and friend Merritt Griswold created the Cyclone Base Ball Club, St. Louis’ first baseball team. The “First Base Ball Match in St. Louis,” was played between the Cyclones and the Morning Star Base Ball Clubs on July 9, 1860 near Fair Grounds Park.[2]Around the same time, Bredell, Sr. became president of the Missouri Glass Company, where Bredell and Griswold were hired after college. As the impending political and military situations grew dire in St. Louis, the Bredells’ Democratic, pro-secessionist views became more hard line. With large numbers of Republican German and Irish immigrants, the Bredell family’s views were in the minority within the city.

On March 6, 1861, the Cyclones played their first game of the season at Lafayette Park. Though “a jolly time was had” on the field that day, there was still a sense of gloom and anxiousness, as the city, state, and country began to split apart following the 1860 Presidential Election and the formation of the Confederate States of America.[3] Unlike Bredell’s pro-Southern views, Griswold was a staunch Unionist, likely a member of the paramilitary Republican Wide Awakes. Griswold eventually joined the 3rd United States Reserve Corps, which was the 3-month Home Guard unit under Capt. Nathaniel Lyon that captured Governor Claiborne Jackson’s militia at Camp Jackson on May 10, 1861. Though Bredell had Southern views, there is no evidence or proof that he was a member of the pro-Secession Minutemen Militia. Continue reading