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Exhibition Baseball Americana

In the Bleachers

In the 1880s, life at the ballpark got considerably more interesting for fans of the American Association, also known as the Beer and Whiskey League. The association, a rival to the National League, attracted fans with cheap tickets and modern-day amenities, including Sunday games, comfort food (“dachshund sausages,” later dubbed “hot dogs”), and alcoholic beverages. These were especially appealing to the large German immigrant populations that supported teams in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Louisville, and Pittsburgh. The leagues also courted women, often with free admission or designated Ladies’ Days, which helped build a strong female presence. John Montgomery Ward of the New York Giants noted at the time that “the sport has no more ardent admirers than . . . its lady attendants. . . . if her favorite team fails to bat well she characterizes the opposing pitcher as a ’horrid creature,’” and she was liable “to criticize plays and even find fault with the umpire.”

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