"Let me see generation times, will we hear children singing rhymes? Sweet memories gone by..."

23 October 2012

Baseball in the Family

Well, this year the Orioles made the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years, and tomorrow starts the World Series... so I thought I'd post a blog about baseball in the family history.

I meant to write this up last week, but ran out of time.  This past Sunday, October 21, marked the anniversary of the death of Henry Boschen, the brother of my great-great-great-grandmother.  Henry was known as the grand-daddy of baseball in Richmond, Virginia.

Henry C. Boschen was born on August 15, 1845, the second child of German immigrants John H. & Christina Johanna Boschen.  He followed in his father's footsteps and went into the shoe business in Richmond.  On March 19, 1868, Henry married Margaret Frischkorn, and together they had twelve children.  He opened his own shoe factory in 1872.

According to legend, Henry was told by his doctor that he needed to exercise more, so he took up a bat and ball.  He soon grew tired of hitting the ball around on his own, so in 1875, he organized his own team with men from his shoe factory.  Spectators paid for game tickets, but it seems most of the money to pay for the team came from Henry himself.

A number of the players he discovered went on to play in the major leagues, among them Billy Nash of the Boston Beaneaters, Charlie Ferguson of the Philadelphia Quakers, and Edward "Pop" Tate of the Beaneaters and the Baltimore Orioles.

In June of 1883, a group of investors formed the Virginia Base-Ball Association, luring away several of Henry Boschen's players.  Henry wrote a public notice in the Richmond newspaper, promising to do "the best in my power to secure a good club" as he rebuilt his team.

Below is a recap of game from May of 1884 when Henry's Richmond team lost to Baltimore:  "Mr. Boschen pitched a well-speeded ball, and with the exception of one wild pitch, pitched a splendid game."  Also of note from this article was that Henry's nephew, my great-great-grandfather Charles Siegel, was in charge of keeping score, though he was "young and inexperienced."

Henry Boschen continued to remain active in Virginia baseball, managing a team at least through 1886, but after that fades from newspaper accounts.  His obituary in 1898 briefly mentions his baseball team, and describes him as "a man of good qualities."

Henry was buried at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, alongside his parents and two brothers.