Did you know that the Indianapolis Indians have been around for over 100 years?  Or that Indianapolis hosted the Toledo Blues, a team with two African American players, all the way back in 1884, 60 years before Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color line?  Have you heard of the short-lived, third major baseball league, the Federal League; and did you know that Indianapolis’ Federal League won the Federal League championship back in 1913?

1887 ad card

1887 ad card: An 1880s Osterhout & Goodrich Clothing baseball trading card with National League and American League Philadelphia schedules on reverse and including Nation League games against Indianapolis. (courtesy of the Scott Carter Collection)

Indianapolis baseball history is richer than most people may perceive.  This city has been a part of many major events in the baseball world that have impacted the game for the rest of history.  At the Indianapolis Historical Society, an exhibit is currently showcasing the private collection of Scott Tarter, in order to immerse the greater Indianapolis community on the immense, but little-known baseball history the city holds.


1889 scorecard: An 1889 scorecard of a National League home game between Indianapolis and Boston with Mike “King” Kelly in the lineup for Boston. Bates House used to stand on the northwest corner of Illinois and Washington Streets (courtesy of the Scott Carter Collection)

The exhibit covers a variety of aspects of Indianapolis’ baseball lineage, including the origins of the Indianapolis Indians and the Indianapolis Hoosiers, the Federal League team, the founding of the Negro American League, the Indianapolis Clowns, and even information on the Indianapolis Star Bloomers, the female professional barnstorming team.  The exhibit displays and explains the origins of baseball, the early stages of the five major league teams that have called Indianapolis home, the accomplishments of the teams, and also explains the art of baseball advertising through time.

exhibit 2

Exhibit 2: The Hoosiers Win the Pennant: Indiana Roots of American Baseball exhibit on display at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center. (property of the Indiana Historical Society)

Items on display range from original cigarette baseball cards from the late 1800s, to the 1971 Official American League Reach baseball signed by Leroy “Satchel” Paige, the first Negro League Hall of famer, and an Indianapolis Clown alum.  Other notable artifacts include a volume of The Village Green from 1829 which contains one of the earliest known depictions of baseball, original baseball bats and gloves from the turn of the century, scorecards from 1889, and advertisements dating from 1867.


Glove: Original baseball glove, early 1900s. (property of the Indiana Historical Society)

The exhibit, demonstrates that baseball is a sport that Indianapolis, and greater Indiana, has nourished and cherished for a long time, the legacy keeps on growing

baseball bat

Baseball bat: Indiana Bat Company, baseball bat, circa 1930. (property of the Indiana Historical Society)


Baseball: Raised-seam baseball/softball, late 1800s. (property of the Indiana Historical Society)

The  Hoosiers Win the Pennant: Indiana Roots of American Baseball is on display at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center from September 9 until November 15,2014.


1915 Cracker Jack card: George Kaiserling PSA 6, 1915 Cracker Jack baseball trading card, from complete team set. (courtesy of the Scott Carter Collection)

The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of the Indiana Historical Society, is located at 450 West Ohio Street in downtown Indianapolis.  Admission to the Hoosiers Win the Pennant exhibit is included with the Indiana Experience Admission ($7/adults, $6.50/seniors and $5/ages 5-17).  For more information go to


Glasscock: Goodwin Champions N162 Jack Glasscock baseball card, 1887. (courtesy of the Scott Carter Collection)

Guest Author: Leah Grynheim

4 responses to “Baseball of Yesteryear”

  1. Rick Patton says:

    If you are ever in St Louis, check the Lafayette Square Historic District’s websote. In their magnificent Victorian Park in the center of their neighborhood they have a ball park and their are teams from St. Louis, Chicago, Cincinnati, etc that play in the old uniforms and by the original rules of baseball. Great to watch.

    Rick Patton

  2. Barbara Bennett Haunton says:

    Some blacks were also in legislatures and in white churches. It was later the bans were imposed.

  3. Barbara Bennett Haunton says:

    Blacks were in churches and state legislatures in the mid-1800’s. It was later the bans were imposed. Black men also got the vote years before white women did.

  4. todd morris says:

    Indiana currently has a richer sports history than any state .More sports teams from other states travel to Indiana.Even though New York and Virginia had more years of sports than Indiana.Today with the number of sporting events Indiana gets no one can pass Indiana in sports history.

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