Spalding's Base Ball

Edward Burson Spalding

52nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Submitted by Leonard J. Jacobs

The name of Albert Spalding looms large in the business world and in the game of baseball. But his cousin may have been his tutor in learning the rules and fundamentals of America's national pasttime—baseball. That cousin was Edward Burson Spalding.

Edward was born in Byron, Illinois, the son of Asa, the first postmaster of Byron, Illinois. Albert was also born in Byron, the son of James (brother of Asa). The Spalding family-lines go back to the Revolutionary War, while standing out in the fields of business, the law, and agriculture. The Spalding Sporting Goods Company, formed in Chicago in 1876, is still prominent in that field.

Before the Civil War, Asa and family moved to Rockford where he went into business. When James died, Albert went to live with relatives in Rockford, while his mother settled the estate (of her husband, James).

When the Civil War started, in 1861, Edward enlisted in the 52nd Illinois Infantry Regiment, as a sergeant. The 52nd served in Grant's army at the Battle of Shiloh where Edward received crippling wounds to his left hand and arm. (In this action, Edward was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.)

While recuperating from the wounds, Edward's condition worsened. Asa went t the Shiloh are, and took Edward home to Rockford on a cot.

In Albert Spalding's book, "America's National Game," he said that he learned the rules and fundamentals of the game of baseball from a "returning soldier." It is strongly believed that Edward was the returnee, while recovering in Rockford.

Lieutenant Edward said in 1863: "Relieved this morning on Picket by Lieut. Doty of Company K. DeWitt is on Picket. Had a game of 'base ball' in the afternoon. Our side beat 99 against 83. The weather is pleasant and Spring like." So this demonstraates Edward's knowledge of the game of baseball. Edward kept the diary from January to May of 1863.

Although the Shiloh wound was disabling, Edward, after Army service, went west, settling in Sioux City, Iowa where he became quite prominent in city affairs. He was a member of the law firm of Hubbard, Spalding, and Taylor.

The Sioux City Journal headlined on March 5, 1920; "E. B. Spalding Dead." The article went on, "Spalding, a prominent citizen of Sioux City, and a resident for the last 55 years, died at 2 o'clock yesterday morning of a cerebral hemmorhage. He was 80 years old."

So, in Edward and Albert, cousins, the family has a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and a Congressional Medal of Honor winner.

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