Dakota Datebook


Wednesday, May 16, 2012


On this date in 1905 in Mayville, Traill County, baseball was in the air. In fact, the sport was on the minds of the local youth to such an extent that they decided to form not just one team, but two! The second nine called themselves the Mayville White Caps, and, according to the local newspaper, they “meant business, having ordered a complete set of uniforms and ball paraphernalia.” Although they were the second team to form, they had every intention to play against the teams of all the surrounding small towns, “and make ‘em all go some.”

These boys certainly tested the idiom, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again,” though, as the first few games they played, neither Mayville team managed a win. The Mayville Tribune reported:

“But few towns of Mayville’s size have two ball teams. Alas! Our superfluity of teams doesn’t seem to be conducive to victories, however, as this week’s record tends to demonstrate … baseballically speaking, Mayville just now is in sackcloth and ashes.”

A few more games didn’t even the odds any; after playing against Northwood three times, and Hunter once, the White Caps still hadn’t won a game. Neither had the first nine, though they were set to face the mighty Northwood team at the end of the month, and the Mayville Tribune boasted that Northwood would now be pitted against the real thing and stands about as much chance “as Munroe had when he set out to eat up [Heavyweight champion] Mr. Jeffries” … a reference to the 1904 heavyweight championship in boxing.

But after more defeats, Mayville residents had to admit that the “baptismal name of ‘big leaguers’ for the first nine,” which was granted by one local, “would make a wheelbarrow laugh.” In six games, the first nine had not yet won.

It doesn’t take much to trigger a change, though, and the first nine finally won a game in mid-June, and then a second against Hillsboro’s team. The first nine reorganized themselves, taking in some of the White Caps and making a stronger team, all of which led the Mayville Tribune to revive its spark for its home team, writing: “Keep your eye on Mayville’s Big Leaguers and see ‘em come up the pike from now on. They have just struck their winning gait and will henceforth ‘do things.’”

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


Mayville Tribune, April 6, 1905

Mayville Tribune, May 18, 1905

Mayville Tribune, May 25, 1905

Mayville Tribune, June 22, 1905



This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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