The old ball game | Texas Cooperative Power

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The day after this report, Confederate troops bombarded Union forces at Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina. The war was underway and efforts to create baseball teams ceased. In POW camps, however, Union troops taught captured Confederate soldiers the game. After the war, they brought the game back to the South. A few games may have been played during the war, but the first baseball field in Texas was marked out on the east end of Galveston Island, largely due to Doubleday’s enthusiasm for the game, according to the Galveston Historical Foundation.

It was here that the newly formed Galveston Base Ball Club held its first game, in early 1867. A year later, the The telegraph of the day reported the first intercity game in Texas. Galveston Robert E. Lees took on the Houston Stonewalls (both named for Confederate generals) at the San Jacinto Battlefield near Houston.

More than 150 years later, that original spirit of camaraderie, tempered with a healthy dose of competition, still lives on for those who play a version of the sport called sand-pit baseball.

Hal Rochkind, who runs an insurance agency on Galveston Island, is one such player. Wearing number 14, Rochkind plays second base for a 10-year-old sand team called Gulf Coast Sugar. Its players are baseball fans of various ages from Galveston and Houston. Like many sandlot teams, the Sugar only play a few games a year. The team members have families and day jobs, after all. They play at home in a city park not far from the island from this first Texas ballpark.

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