Sporting Men (and Women) in 1880

Bobby Mathews, Ed Nolan in 1880 Census

Bobby Mathews, Ed Nolan in 1880 Census

Here’s a squib for the genealogical set. Alone among federal censuses, the 1880 edition is searchable by occupation. Thanks to and other sites, many of the baseballists included herein are recognizable figures about whom such basics as spouse, children, parental birthplaces, etc., now become easily visible.

Searches for conceivable baseball occupations produced the following results:

Ballist yields 28 individuals.

Ball Player yields 90.

Player yields 228.

Professional player yields 7, including chess player Paul Morphy and baseball player Ed “The Only” Nolan.

Ball Manufacturer yields two billiard ball makers, but Ball Maker yields 29, including such familiar names as Ben Shibe.

Base Ball yields 48, including workers in baseball factories.

Baseball and base-ball yield the same 91 individuals.

Ball club yields 1 (Charles “Frank” Bancroft).

Bass-ball, like the two entries below an orthographic survivor of the previous century, yields 1 (Cal McVey).

Bass Ball yields 1 (Charles Foley).

Bass Baller yields 1 (Fred McNeill).

Ball Grounds yields 2.

Ball yields 221 of decidely mixed trades.

Gambler yields 1313 (not precisely baseball but in 1880 a kissing cousin).

Athlete yields 4.

Cricketer yields 1.

Cricket player yields 2.

Cricket yields 4.

Sporting Goods yields 37.

Sporting yields 379, most of these “sporting women.” For all the vaunted prudery of the Victorian period, prostitutes plied their trade far more openly than we might imagine.


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