November 22, 2019

Chicago National League Ball Club of 1876 Honored On Monument

July 3, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

On May 18, 2019, a monument dedication was held at Little Cubs Field in Freeport, Illinois. The black granite memorial honors the Chicago National League Ball Club of 1876 known as the Chicago White Stockings and today’s Chicago Cubs. The public was invited and joining the event were family members of the catcher of the 1876 Chicago White Stockings, Jim “Deacon” White.

The dedication began with Tim Weik of Freeport’s Stephenson County Historical Society and myself of David Stalker’s Baseball Memorial Series unveiling the monument. Denny Garkey, who had the dream of building a replica Wrigley Field in Freeport then read a thank you letter from the Chicago Cubs, expressing their appreciation.

I was asked to speak about the memorial series and why I picked Little Cubs Field to place the 1876 Chicago monument. Taking a baseball trip with a friend in 2018, we stopped at this field. Seeing how the community and Chicago Cubs all chipped together to build Little Cubs Field, I made the decision that I too wanted to contribute. It seemed like an ideal place for Cub fans and baseball fans to learn about the National League’s beginning in 1876 and the Champion Chicago White Stocking team.

I told how the series began in my hometown of Watertown, Wisconsin back in 2005, for player Fred Merkle. After great public response to the Merkle monument, it was decided to continue with other players, teams, leagues and events. It has now become a National series that started out honoring the Deadball Era and now includes the nineteenth century.

My wife Lynne, spoke about the nineteenth century part of the series and told how the 1876 team was put together. She made an announcement that plans have begun for a White brother’s monument, this one to be put up in Caton, New York for Deacon and his brother Will.

Ben Versluys, the great-great-great grandson of Jim “Deacon” White shared a few experts of the induction ceremony speech that his grandfather Jerry Watkins gave when Deacon White was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Deacon White was a catcher at a time when catchers worked bare-handed and stood back from the plate. Known as “the Cat” because of his quickness, he would creep up behind the batter as the pitch was being delivered, catching the ball before it hit the ground. The story of how White’s hands were gnarled and twisted from catching barehanded has been passed down in the family.

Some of his many accomplishments were, getting the first hit of the first professional league on May 4, 1971, twice leading the league in batting with a career .312 average, and led the league in RBI’s three times, which included 1876 as a member of the Chicago White Stockings.

White was a life-long member of the Advent Church and given the nickname Deacon by his teammates because he reads his Bible and drinks water, and does not get mad and swear when a red-leg drops a ball or an umpire makes a doubtful decision, as noted in the Peter Morris book, Catchers.

His Christian commitment has been a significant influence on the family with many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren deeply involved in Christian causes.

Jerry’s induction speech said, “seeing him inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame was one of the best memories of my life. To this day, whenever my family and I are sitting around watching the Cubs game, we still talk about Deacon White and the 1876 Chicago White Stockings team and the impact their legacies have had on baseball.

Thanks, were given to Archie Monuments of Watertown, Wisconsin for their contribution and to John Thorn, the official baseball historian for Major League Baseball for the editing of the memorial, and Little Cubs Field for their efforts and preparation to have the memorial placed at their location.

The front side of the monument reads:

IN HONOR OF THE
CHICAGO NATIONAL LEAGUE
BALL CLUB OF 1876

On February 2, 1876, the National League formed at the
Grand Central Hotel in New York. The league consisted of
eight teams. William A. Hulbert was a founder of the
league and president of the Ball Club known as the
Chicago White Stockings, today’s Chicago Cubs. Home
games were played in Chicago at the 23rd Street Grounds.
The team included four men who had played for
Rockford’s Forest City team early in their careers, Bob
Addy, Adrian Anson, Ross Barnes, and Albert Spalding.
They won their first game in franchise history by
defeating the Louisville Grays 4-0 in Louisville, on April
25th. It was the league’s first shutout, pitched by Spalding,
who led the NL with 47 wins. Barnes hit the league’s first
home run and was league leader in batting average, runs,
hits, doubles, triples and base on balls. Catcher Jim White
led the league with 60 runs batted in. First baseman Cal
McVey (.347) second baseman Barnes (.429), shortstop
John Peters (.351), and third baseman Anson (.356) gave
Chicago the finest hitting quartet in major league history.
The White Stockings finished with a 52-14 record,
becoming the first NL Championship team. Of the eight
inaugural teams, the Chicago Cubs are the only remaining
National League team still playing in their original city.

The backside of the monument reads:

1876 NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPION
CHICAGO NATIONAL LEAGUE BALL CLUB

ALBERT SPALDING P/MANAGER
JIM WHITE C
CAL McVEY 1B
ROSS BARNES 2B
JOHN PETERS SS
ADRIAN ANSON 3B
JOHN GLENN LF
PAUL HINES CF
BOB ADDY RF
OSCAR BIELASKI SUB OF
FRED ANDRUS SUB OF
Most common lineup used during season.

Anson, Spalding, White and Hulbert are all members of
the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

DONATED IN 2019 BY:
DAVID STALKER’S BASEBALL MEMORIAL SERIES
DAVID J. & LYNNE M. STALKER AND ARCHIE MONUMENTS

By: David Stalker

David and Lynne Stalker with the family of player Deacon White, Ben Versluys, Joan Watkins, Haley Versluys, Jack Versluys, Kelly Versluys, Back: Fred Versluys

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