The year was 1866 and the War Between the States had just recently been completed and everyone was coming back home from the battlefield. This scene was repeated in every large city and every small town across eastern America and it was no different in Elkton, Maryland. Men from Cecil County fought on both sides of the conflict and stood side by side with fellow soldiers from New York, Philadelphia, Boston and other metropolitan areas. Being so close to Wilmington and Philadelphia and being a large port city at the time, Elkton had a lot more in common with these areas than other parts of Maryland’s eastern shore such as Easton, Betterton, and Wicomico County.
In the spring of 1866, 40 men from Elkton who had some leisure time available to them started an athletic and social club called the Elkton Base Ball Club. Many of these men were Civil War veterans who learned the new sport of base ball which was being played in New York and New England by their fellow soldiers. They would play this new game on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at five o’clock. A field was “…generously granted the Club…north of the railroad…” by W.P. Howard until something was more permanently established. This Club would last 4 months until a new organization called the Eclipse Base Ball Club of Elkton was formed in November. The President was Charles W. Maxwell, Harry Wells was the Vice President, Evans Taylor the secretary, and Richard McFarland was named the treasurer.
The first inter club base ball match in Elkton took place on July 17, 1866 in searing heat. A large, curious crowd was in attendance for the match between Elkton and the visiting St George’s Base Ball Club of Delaware. The game was so new that the local paper had to not only provide game details, but rules explaining the sport. The match took over six hours to complete and the home town club won 62-37. After the match Elkton treated the St Georges’ club to dinner at the Howard House.
The Modern Eclipse
The current Eclipse Base Ball Club of Elkton is set up just as its predecessor was in 1866. It is a social and athletic club whose goal is to promote camaraderie and exercise while also showing the public how base ball was played in the 19 th century and what a sporting event was like in the 1860s in Cecil County.
The club practices and plays most of its home matches at The Terrapin Station Winery just outside of Elkton. While it is not where the original Eclipse played, it is indicative of what the grounds would have looked like when the original Eclipse took the field.
The club draws members from four states including Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. They play between 35 and 40 games per year from April until the end of October against other clubs up and down the east coast from Maine to Virginia. Two to three days per month are scheduled as match days against other clubs. There is always room for more players as well as social members who do not wish to participate on the field, but want to be part of the club.
Home Field: Terrapin Station Winery, 80 Ricketts Mill Rd, Elkton, MD 21921
Admission: Check with Club, plenty of free parking
Contact Info: email@example.com
Accepting New Players?: Contact club for more information