Artifacts #28
Adventures in the National Pastime #18

Today's adventure: Special Instructions to Players, a rare 1898 document that had to be personally delivered to professional ball teams — it was considered too obscene to be issued via the postal service — admonishing its members for the colourful language they used upon the field.

Click here for a better look.

While some have cast doubt on the authenticity of the document, its provenance has been established, and it sold at auction for $32,312.50.


Brent McKee said...

There are numerous reports in the press of the 1900-1920 period of a player of manager calling the umpire "a piece of cheese." Presumably the real word would be covered under these instructions. Off hand I think it might be rather mild compared to some of what I heard yelled at the last Major Junior Hockey game I attended (which is why it was the last Major Junior Hockey game I attended).

jim smith said...

I'll buy that the flyer dates to 1898 and, to that extent, it's genuine. What rings dead false is that the "Committee" would re-iterate in print, verbatim, the language they found so abhorrent. I think the broadside was the work of some wit doing a sendup up on the bluenoses who really did give the teams grief about language on the field. I think it was passed around the dugouts and clubhouses--for laughs. Jim Smith

VP81955 said...

One wonders how much it helped. Baseball in the 1890s -- when the National League had a monopoly after the American Association folded in 1891 -- was pretty rowdy, as teams such as the Baltimore Orioles were infamous for their dirty play...and one would guess that extended to their vocabulary, as well. A fascinating document.