At least twenty-six newspaper articles published around the nation in 1868 reported the existence of women’s baseball clubs. Thanks to Elizabeth Cady Stanton and an anonymous reporter, the baseball club in Peterboro was the best documented of the women’s teams in the 1860s. During a three week visit in August 1868 at the Peterboro home of her cousin, abolitionist Gerrit Smith, Stanton wrote three letters for her women’s rights publication The Revolution. Read more
When you discuss Negro baseball, most people think of names like Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, and Cool Papa Bell. These were some of the biggest stars in the professional Negro leagues. However, this was not the only place where you could see Negro teams play. Throughout the country there were independent teams, like the Mohawk Colored Giants.
The Giants got their start in 1913 under the organization of Bill Wernecke. Although this was seasonal work for these ball players, they were full time paid players. By offering full time jobs, Wernecke was able to lure players into Schenectady from all over the country. The Giants would play their home games at the nicest ball field in Schenectady, Island Park.
Gotham will host a Super Bowl, putting the city in the same big boys league as Dallas and Miami. As Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced, the grand spectacle is coming off after many years of planning by knowledgeable gentlemen with their eyes on hoopla and tourist dollars. Read more
Ski historian Jeremy Davis, the founder of the
Renovation to the facade of the Lake Placid Olympic Center’s 1932 rink is underway. The contractors, J.T. Erectors, are restoring the structure to its original appearance in the 1930’s. Some of the work includes the installation of windows that have been enclosed by brink since prior to the 1980 Olympic Winter Games.
The revitalization project is being financed through the remaining funds from a grant through Empire State Development, which funded the construction of the newly completed Conference Center at Lake Placid.
When complete the 1932 facility, along with its conventional use for skating and hockey and akin to the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, will join the conference center to provide nearly 100,000 square feet of convention space. The fresh look will complement the conference center, which opened for business May 2011.
During Prohibition, both booze and drug smuggling were rampant. In 1930, US officials were tipped off that a number of homing pigeons were routinely being shipped north into Quebec. Upon release, they crossed back into northern New York.Authorities at Ogdensburg were put on the case when it was found that each pigeon bore a payload of about one ounce of cocaine. At times, it was literally a fly-by-night operation—some of the birds had been trained to fly under cover of darkness.Homing pigeons also played a role in regional historical events. In 1920, a military balloon launched from Rockaway Point in New York City sailed across the Adirondacks. Last sighted above Wells in Hamilton County, it then vanished. Extended high-profile searches turned up nothing, and three men aboard the balloon were lost.Such missions routinely carried homing pigeons for air-to-ground communication. It was believed that an injured pigeon found on a Parishville (St. Lawrence County) farm had been launched from the balloon, and that its message had been lost during the accident that had broken the bird’s leg. This led to the belief that the balloon had gone down over Lake Ontario.One of the most famous kidnapping cases in American history occurred in 1932 when the Lindbergh baby disappeared. When the body was found, nearly every newspaper in the land covered the story the next day with multiple articles.Among the first stories was one emanating from Lowville, New York, where a homing pigeon had landed at the home of Arthur Jones. The bird’s leg had a non-traditional attachment—a piece of twine holding a paper tag bearing the inscription, “William Allen, New Jersey.” It was William Allen of New Jersey who found the Lindbergh child’s corpse.Lead investigator Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf (Stormin’ Norman’s father) followed up on the information and then issued a statement: “Reports from Lowville show that no registry tag was found on the carrier pigeon. This practically precludes the possibility of further tracing the pigeon unless the owner of the same voluntarily reports its absence.”In June, 1936, before more than two dozen reporters and celebrities, former World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey and his wife released a homing pigeon from the tower of the Empire State Building at 11:20 am. Less than five hours later, it arrived at Scaroon Manor on Schroon Lake, bearing the first honeymoon reservation of the season.It wasn’t for Dempsey’s honeymoon—it was just a publicity stunt to keep his name active in the media, and certainly raised the manor’s profile as well.Photos: Top?Homing pigeon with message in tube. Bottom?US Naval Station pigeon houses (1925).
Keetz has written several publications about sports in the Schenectady area, including They, Too, Were ‘Boys of Summer:’ A Case Study of the Schenectady Blue Jays in the Eastern League 1951-1957, Class ‘C’ Baseball: A Case Study of the Schenectady Blue Jays in the Canadian-American League 1946-1950, and The Mohawk Colored Giants of Schenectady.
The cost of admission is $5.00, or free for Schenectady County Historical Society members. For more information contact Melissa Tacke, Librarian/Archivist at the Schenectady County Historical Society, at 518-374-0263 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Schenectady County Historical Society is wheelchair accessible, with off-street parking behind the building and overflow parking next door at the YWCA.Photo: Tommy Lasorda, member of the 1948 Schenectady Blue Jays team (courtesy
For most people, the loss of a limb might well be the focus of the remainder of their lives. But Eddie’s story is one where outstanding achievements offered no hint on the surface that great physical impairment had been overcome.
The Eddie “Peg Leg” Jones story is one of 51 original North Country history pieces appearing in
He owned baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates from 1946–1985 (one of his partners was Bing Crosby), winning the World Series in 1960, 1971, and 1979. He was also a graduate of Ohio State and a longtime supporter of the school’s athletic program, one of the most successful in the nation.
Galbreath became fabulously wealthy as a real estate developer, owning major properties in Columbus, Los Angeles, New York, and Pittsburgh. In 1986, the family fortune was estimated at $400 million. Despite his substantial fame in baseball and real estate, Galbreath’s favorite subject was horseracing. Perhaps the name of his birthplace (in 1897) was a good omen for a future in the sport: he was born in Derby, Ohio.
Among other things, Galbreath’s great wealth allowed him to indulge his passion. He became involved in horse racing in the 1930s, eventually serving as chairman of Churchill Downs in Louisville (where the Kentucky Derby is run). Near Columbus, Ohio, he developed the famed Darby Dan Farm into a 4000-acre spread, producing many outstanding racehorses.
He had never won the Kentucky Derby, a goal of all major owners, and in 1963, none of Galbreath’s horses seemed particularly promising. Then, shortly before the Derby, one of his colts captured three straight races, including the Bluegrass Stakes. Suddenly, anything was possible.
The horse’s name was Chateaugay, and despite the sudden success, most of the media hype went to several other competitors prior to the Triple Crown races. Never Bend was the leading money-winner, and Candy Spots and No Robbery were the first undefeated horses to face off in the Derby in 88 years.
In front of 120,000 fans at the Kentucky Derby, Galbreath’s favorite horse went off at 9-1 odds. There appeared to be little chance for success. After running at mid-pack for much of the race, Chateaugay moved up to fourth. Near the final stretch, future-hall-of-fame-jockey Braulio Baeza steered his horse through an opening to the inside, and Chateaugay strode to the front, topping all the pre-race stars to win by 1? lengths.
Only a close loss at the Preakness prevented Chateaugay from winning the Triple Crown, but Galbreath’s colt had proven nevertheless to be a great racehorse.
During this time, the excitement in the North Country was fairly palpable, especially in the town of Chateaugay (in the northeast corner of Franklin County). Many residents were fervent supporters of Galbreath and his horse, and the famed owner expressed his appreciation in a letter that appeared in local newspapers:
Dear Mr. Peacock:
It was certainly nice of you to write me a letter about Chateaugay winning the Kentucky Derby. Several people have asked me how we happened to name this horse as we did.
As you perhaps know, we have some interest in Lyon Mountain and Mineville, New York [the iron mines], and while I was up there several years ago, I saw the name Chateaugay. I made the remark at the time that I thought it was a pretty name for a town, and also thought it would be a good name for a horse.
Since Chateaugay’s older sister, Primonetta, was our best filly to date, we naturally hoped this colt would be a good one, and for that reason, we applied the name to him.
It has been very gratifying indeed to have so many nice letters from people of your town, and I hope you will thank the members of the Chamber of Commerce for their nice telegram which they sent under your name last week. I am going to have some pictures made just as soon as we receive the proofs, and I will eventually send you a picture which you can use for publishing in the paper.
Thank you again for your nice letter and wire.
John W. Galbreath
In honor of the victory, Galbreath named one of Darby Dan’s buildings “Gay Chateau” (well before a new meaning for “gay” entered the vernacular).
A few years after winning the Derby, Chateaugay was retired to stud service, first at Darby Dan Farm, and later in Japan after his sale to racing interests there. He died in 1985.
Galbreath died in 1988 at the age of 90. Besides a grand legacy in the sporting world, he left behind the John W. Galbreath Company, America’s third-largest real estate developer. A second Darby Dan horse, Proud Clarion, won the Derby in 1967, but it was Chateaugay who first made Galbreath’s long-held dream a reality.
Photos: Top?Chateaugay after winning the Kentucky Derby (1963). Bottom?Chateaugay after winning the Belmont Stakes (1963).
Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 20 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit
Billed as the first of its kind anywhere in the world, the museum will feature the history of the sports of bobsled, luge and skeleton and will also exhibits tracing the evolution of equipment and sections of past and present sliding tracks with a display explaining how those tracks were built. Plans are being developed for a historical walking tour of the 1932/1980 track and the new combined track with informational signage creating a self-guided exploration of the venue.
Organizers hope to build a comprehensive sliding display that will include historic race sleds, equipment, video, photographs, medals and trophies. Several of these items are already on display at the Olympic museum.
Photo: Steven Holcomb (center) with (L-R) Ted Blazer, ORDA president/CEO- Jack Favro, associate director of Lake Placid Olympic Training Center- Joe Lamb, community organizer- Craig Randall, Village of Lake Placid mayor- and Mary Lou Brown, chairman of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.