Rochester’s Baseball Pioneers

May 13, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

I’m going to go a little off the topic of sports photography here, to write about something else I’m equally passionate about.  Baseball history!

On Saturday May 11th 2013, before I went to shoot the afternoon Red Wings game, I attended a fantastic program put on by my colleagues of the Rochester Baseball Historical Society www.rochesterbaseballhistory.org. This event was the Rochester Baseball Pioneers Tour at the Mt. Hope Cemetery. It was well attended even though the weather forecast was not very favorable.

Two of my fellow RBHS founding members, John Foster and Tony Brancato, did an amazing job of bringing several local 19th century base-ball players back to life as they discussed the early impact many of them had on the sport here in the Flower City.

We visited the graves of folks like William W. Mumford, whose meadow, which was located on the west bank of the Genesee River above High Falls, was used in 1825 for some of the earliest base-ball games in American history.

On another stop, we learned about James Backus, the manager and score keeper for the famous 19th century base-ball club, the Rochester Live Oak. Mr. Backus was such an influential figure in Rochester’s early baseball history that he was dubbed the Father of Rochester base-ball in a turn of the century newspaper article.

Tour guide Tony Brancato wore a replica Rochester Live Oak uniform and John Foster dressed in a top hat and frock coat represented Thurlow Weed, one of Rochester’s first residents. Weed documented the location of Mumford’s meadow and described the activity taking place there in his 19th century autobiography.

I guess in a sense, my work as a Red Wings team photographer does tie into baseball history in Rochester. History is documented the second the shutter is released and an image is captured.  Photographs, after all, are historical records.The Grave of William Mumford


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