Baseball has come a long way from the humble beginnings in the fields of 19th century America. For many of us, the introduction of team camaraderie and fair play first occurred on dusty sandlots, red clay diamonds, and neighborhood backyards. Contrary to popular belief, American baseball was not invented by an individual but evolved from various European “bat and ball” games.
Yet, if you were to mention “sports” in the Old West you’d probably get some strange looks. But sports, baseball, were as much a part of a town’s beginnings and, in many cases, its growth as cowboys and horses. Often, cultivating a pasture or vacant lot into a playing field was as important as establishing homes, a mercantile, a school, a church, and a clean water supply. While summer evenings and Saturday afternoons were prime times to gather up the fellas for a game, playing on Sunday was soundly discouraged.
Teams in each town were comprised of friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Everyone was welcomed to play regardless of race, color, or country of origin. It was common to see teams comprised of African Americans, those of Mexican origin, and those indigenous to the lands who were passing through the area. Not to be left out, some women’s teams were formed in the early colleges in Kansas. Women also formed teams in their respective towns. Research showed that a women’s league with five towns around Topeka was established, some even included a male player or two in their lineup. Though some townspeople were startled at this occurrence, others merely accepted the fact. (Hmm…wouldn’t this make a great series!
Setting these books in the purely fictitious town of New Hope, Kansas, I did considerable research into baseball in Kansas following the war.
- The history of baseball by organized clubs grew from the experiences of former Union and Confederate soldiers and spread across the prairie. The game became a great unifier in the years that followed the war.
- 19th century bats were heavier and thicker in the handle with more of a gradual taper from the handle to barrel.
- A catcher’s glove began as a leather work glove, similar to the glove a brakeman on the railroad would use.
- The more prominent clubs in the larger Kansas cities donned uniforms consisting of long woolen trousers, leather belts, flannel shirts emblazoned with the town’s initial, and woolen caps.
- Early baseballs were made from a rubber core from old, melted shoes, wrapped in yarn, covered in some form of brown leather, and stitched in a style known as a “lemon peel”. Pitchers usually made their own balls, which were used throughout the game.
Posey Campbell couldn’t understand why her love life, or lack thereof, was of such interest to her family and friends. Having endured one ill-fated relationship, she resigned herself to living out her days as New Hope’s spinster schoolteacher…until an unkempt U.S. marshal with inviting grey eyes and a kiss-me-smile came to town turning her well-ordered life off-kilter.
Glad for a temporary assignment keeping him in one place, Grayson Barrett never expected to find love, let alone a wife, a set of orphans, and a life he’d feared had passed him by.
When a secret from Posey’s past comes to light will Gray’s steadfast love be enough to convince her he is the right man? Or will an old nemesis put an end to their love before it begins?
My giveaway includes a $10 Amazon gift card, along with a digital copy of my newest release, Posey-Brides of New Hope Book Two. All you have to do to enter the drawing is to comment on this blog and Petticoats and Pistols will randomly select a winner.
I look forward to chatting with you…Play Ball!
A firm believer in HEA with a healthy dose of realism, Jo-Ann Roberts strives to give her readers a sweet historical romance while imparting carefully researched historical facts, personalities, and experiences relative to the time period. Her romances take her readers back to a simpler time to escape the stress of modern life by living in a small town where families and friends help one another find love and happiness.