As American as baseball and cranberry pie (races)

With the Presidential election now behind us (and for those that are wondering, we will be fulfilling the election bet by carrying a reader across the Brooklyn Bridge in a wheelbarrow – date and time to be determined), we can now focus on Thanksgiving and its attendant culinary aspects. One of our favorite historical Thanksgiving traditions is the cranberry pie race.

Here’s how it works. Find a 12  or so young boys, who looked as though they could use a good  pastry. Line them up on a race track, and provide them with a large cranberry pie. Once the starting gun fires, each boy must finish his pie before running down the track, with the first, second, and third prize winners rewarded with a turkey, chicken, and a peck of cranberries, respectively.

Gamblers would, of course, bet on anything, but the cranberry pie races proved a difficult event to handicap. A portly little fellow might prove an excellent pie eater, but his ability to get down the track in a timely manner would be subject to doubt. A skinny young Cassius, complete with lean and hungry look, might seem fleet of foot, but his thin frame belies his ability to compete when it came to rapid eating. Cranberry pie races were seemingly fraught with wagering peril.

In  late November 1889, at Washington Park, the Brooklyn Base Ball Club (then known as the Bridegrooms, subsequently known as the Dodgers), sponsored a cranberry pie race which the wonderfully named Mortimorenci Judid won. The race was followed by a contest between the attaches and friends  of the Brooklyn Club, arranged by Charley Ebbett, later of Ebbett’s Field fame.

The teams were arranged as Bachelors and Benedicts, as befitted a team nicknamed the Bridegrooms, and the players were instructed to come in costume.[1] William Tate, played second base for the Benedicts dressed as Buffalo Bill, and was resented shortstop R. Caruthers, dressed as a sailor; Tate being a heavy gentleman couldn’t cover much ground, and Caruthers found himself guarding most of the middle infield. On the Bachelors’ side, Jimmy Murphy dressed as a schoolboy, gave up eight runs in nine innings, and despite driving in two runs, the Bachelors went down to defeat. The box score is below, and we’re not quite sure what intrigues us more; the fact that the entire game was played in 1 hour and 20 minutes, or Mr. J. Mapledoren’s ape costume.

[1] Benedicts referring to married men, specifically those who’d been newly married after a long bachelorhood, and refers to Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing. We’re duly impressed with ourselves for including two Shakespearean references in one post.

Leave a comment


  1. J. G. Burdette

     /  November 9, 2012

    “we will be fulfilling the election bet by carrying a reader across the Brooklyn Bridge in a wheelbarrow”

    Haha! I was just getting ready to ask about that!


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