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 were the Huntington Suffolks. They played for many years under various names including The Huntington Baseball Club, The Young Suffolks, and The Suffolks from Huntington.
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."
David Woodhull Conklin lived in a house that 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.
After the game the Dix Hills boys were entertained by the Huntington Club with a fine collation which they had prepared… A vote of thanks was tendered to Mr. Conklin for the use of his grounds and to the ladies for their presence on this occasion; and to the Press. The match ball was then presented by Mr. Godfrey, of the Dix Hills Club, to Mr. E. Dusenberry, who received it on behalf of the “Suffolk Base Ball Club” of Huntington… The Suffolks, of Huntington, are now ready to receive challenges from any Club in Suffolk or Queens Co., as they now claim the championship. (Queens Co. included what is today Nassau Co.) Address to E. Aitken, Huntington Long Island.
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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