This photograph is of the earliest known baseball team from Gratz, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, probably taken in August 1901. In the back row, the first person is Jim Beisel, who was visiting from Lehighton. He is wearing his Lehighton baseball uniform. One piece of evidence to confirm the date is a small article that appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph of 17 August 1901:
GRATZ — James Beisel of Lehighton, arrived on Tuesday to spend some time with relatives at this place.
Only one other person has been identified in the photograph, John E. Miller, who is said to be the second person from left, seated.
According to information in the Gratz Sesquicentennial Book, 1955, page 127, some of the men who played on the earliest teams were: Charles “Pat” Wise; Calvin Miller; John E. Miller; Homer Blyler; Jim Beisel; Ike Hinkle, Gurney Williard; George Kitzmiller; Fred Coleman; Charles Evitts; Willie Clark; Jim McNoldy; and Art Blyler. Those who came a short time later were: Allen Ritzman; Charles Clark; George Umholtz; Charles Ferree; John Hoffman; and Milton Schoffstall.
The following memory was also included about early baseball in Gratz and was written by Lloyd Bellis and C. H. Willier:
Mrs. Sarah Kratzer made the uniforms for the first team. There were no such paraphernalia as skin guards or chest protectors for the catcher. They had only one bat and used the same ball over and over in games. When a ball was ripped, Willie Clark stitched it with cobbler’s thread. When a ball became too badly mutilated, one of the players walked across the mountain to Lykens and bought a new “dollar and a quarter ball,” then the price of the best A. J. Reach or A. G. Spalding ball. They always managed to have two balls, a fairly good one for games and a beaten-up one for practice. At each game the hat was passed and the team was rewarded with a collection averaging perhaps sixty cents!
Since most of the individuals in the above photo are not identified, a number key is presented below for those wishing to comment.
Corrections and additional information should be added as comments to this post.