Sunday Afternoons on the Prairie
While the population of North Dakota has always been too small to support a major league baseball team, the state has a long and rich history when it comes to the sport.
Baseball traveled to Dakota Territory with the first settlers and soldiers. The first recorded baseball game in what is now North Dakota was played at Fort Abercrombie in 1864. The troopers of George Custer’s Seventh Cavalry played baseball at Fort Abraham Lincoln before their disastrous expedition to the Little Big Horn. Baseball was never played at the major league level in the state, but the local team was an essential social institution in North Dakota’s small towns. The sport was considered so important to the state that railroads agreed to give reduced rates to baseball teams traveling for games. Headlines like “Fargo Licked the League Leaders” applauded winning teams.
On this date in 1910, the Hope Pioneer proudly announced that Hope would field a baseball team for the coming season. The newspaper was so confident that it said: “Our city will have a team that will equal if not excel any team that has ever represented Hope.”
The businessmen of the city quickly got behind an effort to organize a team and they raised over $600. The investors held a meeting and elected a Board of Managers. The three managers would be in charge of running the team and were assigned to name a captain who would direct the team on the field. The managers had contacted other towns to set up a schedule for the summer.
The season was scheduled to open on May 30th. Citizens of Hope were urged to turn out and root for the hometown boys. The newspaper noted that the great merit of baseball was that spectators were also participants, saying: “The thing to do is to take off your coat and root as long and as loudly as you can, even if you don't know what is happening.”
Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher
Bismarck Daily Tribune. “It is said the railroads will give reduced rates….” Bismarck ND. 4/28/1926. Page 3.
Hope Pioneer. “Hope is to Have Fast Ball Team.” Hope ND. 4/7/1910.
Fargo Forum and Daily Republican. “Fargo Licks League Leaders.” Fargo ND. 8/13/1906. Page 2.
NDSU Archives. “North Dakota Baseball Amateur History Added to Collection.” https://library.ndsu.edu/ndsuarchives/recent-news/north-dakota-baseball-amateur-history-added-collection Accessed 3/10/2022.
ND Baseball. “Dakota Baseball History.” https://ndbaseball.weebly.com/ Accessed 3/10/2022.