The Last of the 1865 Atlantic

The 1865 Atlantic

The 1865 Atlantic

If you’ve been following along, you may be very happy to read that title. I’ve done a lot of stuff on them recently. Now it’s time to look at the last playing member of the team and make some general observations.

Sidney Churchill Smith is the man in the lower right of the team picture above. He played right field and is almost totally obscure. He was born 6 January 1842 in New York and spent some time with the Star, one of the minor teams in Brooklyn, before catching on with the Atlantic in 1864. He remained through 1866, the year he married. I have no idea if marriage caused him to leave baseball, but he does not appear on any future roster I can find. He managed to hook on with the Kings County Tax Office while playing with the Atlantic. In the 1860 census he is living with a Lucius Smith in Brooklyn. He is 18 and no occupation is listed for him. In the 1870 census he shows up living with the same Lucius Smith who is in wholesale dry goods. Lucius Smith is old enough to be Sidney’s father, but the census info in neither census confirms that (although his Find A Grave info says it’s true). Sidney is listed as being born in New York  and is a “dry goods clerk.” So it may be he’s working for his father’s dry good business. Certainly he’s left the Kings County Tax Office. In 1900 he’s living with his son-in-law, Theodore Richrath and his (Smith’s) wife whose name is Sophie in Brooklyn. No occupation is listed and he’s 58 so it’s possible he is retired. So he’s had at least one child, a daughter named Lillie. Other information indicates a second daughter who died early. For what it’s worth, his wife is originally Sophie Pike and is the sister of former Atlantic great Lip Pike. In 1905 he and his wife are living in a boarding house in Brooklyn His death certificate indicates he died in Kings County  7 February 1908 and is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn (in the picture below, Leonora and Lillie shown on the grave marker are daughters). He is the only member of the 1865 Atlantic to never play in either the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players or in the National League.

Smith's grave from Find a Grave

Smith’s grave from Find a Grave

And a few miscellaneous notes:

1. A few months ago I did something similar to this series on the 1860 Excelsior. The Atlantic are only five years later, but while only one (Asa Brainard) member of the Excelsior make a professional team, all but one of the Atlantic make a professional team.

2. Again, as with the Excelsior, there are an inordinate number of the Atlantic who end up with jobs with the City of Brooklyn or Kings County. It was one of several ways teams, not just the Atlantic, got around amateurism rules.

3. In many ways they are a cross section of American society in the era. One becomes a millionaire. One has a nervous breakdown. Most live fairly simple lives as working stiffs who hold down a job, get married, and have kids.

4. None of the others have the big league success of Joe Start, but two (Dickey Pierce and John Chapman) go on to have serious baseball careers (and a couple of others do some umpire work). Pierce plays into the National League era and Chapman is a big league manager.

5. It seems the baseball community could be close knit. One of the players, Sydney Smith, married the sister of another player, Lip Pike. Although Pike wasn’t with the Atlantic in 1865, he did play for them later. I’ve found a couple of references to other players who are related by marriage (for instance Folkert Boerum and Jack Remsen–Remsen married Boerum’s sister). If you think about it, that makes sense. The men knew each other, worked closely together, and surely met each other’s families.

The 1865 Brooklyn Atlantic were a great team in that era when baseball is transitioning from a gentleman’s club to a professional team. The men were extraordinary ball players. They were also fairly normal men of their day.

 

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3 Responses to “The Last of the 1865 Atlantic”

  1. glen715 Says:

    Interesting how he married Lip Pike’s sister. Intermarriages were unusual then, and Pike was Jewish.

    How did you get ahold of the censuses of New York State or New York City for that time? The only way that I’m aware of is to become a member of the New York Historical Society.

    Throughout your articles, I’ve noticed, by the last names, that these ballplayers must have come from a lot of prominent Brooklyn families. I mean, just in this article alone, you mention Folkert (any relation to Rich Folkers, formerly of the Mets?) Boerum and Jack Remsen. There’s a Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn and also there’s a Remsen Avenue that runs through Brownsville and East New York. (Both are sections of Brooklyn.) They don’t name streets after non-prominent citizens, except in the notorious and questionable naming of a street, Sean Bell Way, which is in the Jamaica section of Queens, which was named after a drug-dealing street thug punk who aimed his car at cops. But, hey, that’s the left-wing New York City Council for you. I’m not a conservative, but I’m not a liberal, either. I’m a pragmatist, and that street-naming was out-of-line.

    http://nypost.com/2009/12/22/street-renamed-for-sean-bell/

    Glen

    • verdun2 Says:

      For the NY Census you can go to Ancestry.com. You’d mentioned the Boerum section before when I did a post on Folkert Boerum but the Remsen Avenue was new. Thanks for that and thanks for reading, Glen.
      v

      • glen715 Says:

        There’s also a Remsen, New York (not far from Cooperstown), where I was an assistant camp counselor at Camp Northwood in 1978. Interestingly, Remsen is a tiny town outside of Utica; what’s interesting about it is that there’s also a Utica Avenue that runs through Brownsville and East New York sections of Brooklyn. A coincidence? Probably not.

        Glen

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