Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

1913 Yearbook

1913 Yearbook


1913 Yearbook


Athletics in Early Days.
THE athletic history of St. Ambrose College began, when, on a crisp November morning in 1883, Tim Mullen, then a lay professor, now pastor of Adair, kicked a football over the belfry of the Old Hose House on Iowa street, and the mighty boot of Joe Halligan, also a lay professor, returned it to the top of St. Marguerite's School House, where it lodged in the water-spout, causing a suspension of
class work until it could be recovered.
I believe that these two marvelous feats may well be regarded as the beginning of athletic activities of St. Ambrose College. Between that time and the following spring, so many windows were broken in the school house, and in the pastor's residence, by McNamara, by O'Donnell, by McMullen, and others, that the faculty clapped hands with joy when the warm days of March put an end to the football season. But the hand-clapping soon ceased; their joy was of short duration. One bright day in March—about the seventeenth, I think—the same Tim Mullen, wreathed in his customary smiles, returned from dinner with a new bat on his shoulders, and hit a new Spaulding one-dollar-and-fifty-center into a crowd of incipient fans. Then day after day O'Donnell hurled his cannon balls into the bare feet of McMullen, totally
ignorant of the existence of mitts, masks, shin-pads and breast-protectors.
Soon complaints of broken windows began to arrive from across the street. By the end of the term, these complaints had become so numerous and forcible that there was nothing left for the good Bishop to do but to procure a new site for the college, which he did at the expense of ten thousand dollars; and in the following September he sent us to the tall timber out on Locust street, where the college now stands.
While these grounds were of ample proportions, yet the presence of so many
trees made the development of football or baseball talent next to impossible. Under the circumstances nothing could be accomplished in the way of scientific baseball. In 1890 a space of ground was cleared off and a suitable baseball field laid out. This obstacle removed, we were still hampered by scarcity of baseball talent. There were only twelve grown-up students in the house interested in the game who showed any
natural ability for baseball. Out of these, nine were chosen as regular players to represent the college on tHe diamond. Then came the task of instructing them in the various points of the game, of developing their latent talents, and of forming them into a baseball machine, capable of upholding the honors of their Alma Mater. At best we were but crude material. Day after day the instructor assembled us in a class room, drew a diagram of the ball field on the blackboard, explained how to play the various positions, and then took us out on the diamond and put us through a course of practice on the points that had been explained in the class room. We had perfect confidence in the ability of our instructor; we followed his directions to the best of our ability and gave him docile but manly obedience on the field at all times. In course of
three or four months we acquired a very creditable knowledge of the theory of baseball. The rest had to come from practice; but, I may say, that we spent all our spare




St. Ambrose University, 518 W. Locust St., Davenport, IA 52803