The scrapbook is a small treasure trove of information relating to amateur baseball in Detroit. It seems to cover the period between 1914 to 1917 most heavily. In addition, there are other items relating to local industrial leagues. This is great because it is very, very difficult to find ANYTHING about amateur baseball in Detroit from that era.
It was only after spending some time perusing the pages that I was able to figure out that it was assembled by one “Charles L. Fitz”. A 1918 military furlough describes him as, “22 yrs, 5 feet 71/2 inches”. His complexion is said to be “ruddy” and he has brown eyes and dark brown hair. I imagine that he was very much the typical soldier. Luckily, on the back of one piece of paper I was able to find his address: 952 Van Dyke Avenue.
That address places him downtown, just a long block off Jefferson Street. Jefferson was in effect the first major street in Detroit, the first off the river and it winds through downtown and the early neighborhoods, more or less hugging the flow of the river. Here’s a photo of Charles Fitz’s home as it looks today, a century later:
Well, the wife said that I should find something fun to do away from cards. She mentioned something about it being “unhealthy” to “obsess” about them. What utter nonsense! But to placate her I’ve been casting around recently, wondering what else might catch my interest…
And then this odd scrapbook fell into my hands.
It happened on a gloomy, cold Saturday evening last December. I received a call from someone that I hadn’t heard from in a number of years. He said that he had run across an item that brought me to mind, and that it was something that he knew I just had to have. In fact, he said, I might be the only person in the Detroit area that would appreciate it. He wanted to show it to me and was, in fact, calling from my driveway.
So I invited him in and, after some small talk, he thrust an old blue scrapbook into my hands. At first glance, and second glance for that matter, it looked pretty boring. Nevertheless, I bought it from him, thinking that it would join all the other unread books in the basement.
Recently, though, I’ve been leafing through it and find it to be intriguing from a baseball history perspective. I’ll write more of that later, but for now here is a photo of “the book”: