By Toby Kissam, with Barbara LaMonica
Shortly after the Civil War, baseball’s popularity rapidly spread throughout Long Island. Many towns, including Brooklyn and Queens, (Nassau County was part of Queens until 1899), formed their own baseball clubs. Rival clubs would challenge each other, with many games played at county fairs. Most of the teams consisted of farmers, merchants, and students, although they often had semi-pro players in their lineups.
One of the most famous teams was the Huntington Suffolks. The team was formed in 1866. Their organizational meetings were held at the Suffolk Hotel that was located on the south side of Main Street between New York Avenue and New Street.
Later, other clubs were formed including the Young Suffolks, the Huntington Base Ball Club and teams from different parts of town like the Northport Base Ball Club and the West Side Boys.
Huntington Suffolk Baseball Club, 1893
The First Baseball Match
What appears to be the first organized baseball match in Huntington was between the Huntington and Dix Hills Base Ball Clubs, as reported in the November 2, 1866 issue of The Long-Islander:
"A series of base ball matches have been played between the Huntington and Dix Hills Base Ball Clubs. The first game score: Huntington 21 outs 31 runs; Dix Hills 21 outs, 25 runs… The second game was played at Dix Hills before a large audience of ladies, the score being as follows: Huntington, 15 outs 21 runs. Dix Hills 15 outs, 30 runs… The home & home match (rubber game) was played in Huntington at Woodhull Conklin’s lot on Wednesday, before as fine and large an audience as have ever assembled for such an occasion in this county."
The match was played near the home of David Woodhull Conklin. His house still stands on the west side of West Neck Road near Tanyard Lane. Conklin’s lot was on the east side of the road about where the Methodist Church stands today.
Tintypes of the early Suffolk Base Ball Club
In April of the following year, the Suffolk Base Ball Club held an inter-club match between the 1st Nine and the Field, to select the team for 1867. The following month they called for a meeting to be held on Friday evening at the Suffolk Hotel on Main Street to ready them for the up-coming season.
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