Virginia Magazine of History and Biography
Volume 106 / Number 3
Baseball, the Lost Cause, and the New South in Richmond, Virginia, 1883-1890
- By Robert H. Gudmestad, pp. 267–300
In the years following the Civil War, baseball became enormously popular throughout
the United States. It took hold in Richmond, and soon the city had several amateur teams. In
1883 several residents formed a joint stock company that fielded a professional team known as
the Richmond Virginias. The club joined several leagues and became the first team in the former
Confederacy to play in the majors.
Much of the team's management had fought for the Confederacy, and they used the team to
promote the memory of the southern war effort. Even while the veterans who ran the team wanted
to remember the sacrifices of southern veterans, they also sought reconciliation with the North.
The team joined leagues full of northern squads and brought in players from north of the
Mason-Dixon Line. Those who ran the team were also astute businessmen who incorporated the
standardized business practices of the day. They sought to bring order to the team's chaotic
schedule, realized the need for an expert to oversee direction of the club, and familiarized the
citizens of Richmond with values of the growing middle class.
The team also served as a diversion for the working class of the city, who were growing
increasingly weary of their repetitive jobs. Baseball was an affordable amusement that allowed
fans to go to the ball park and blow off steam by engaging in rowdy behavior. Baseball in
Richmond became one way to reconcile these differences.