Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gentlemanly Pastimes

A gentleman always knows the rules of proper behavior. His appearance is flawless, refined, and never eccentric. His manners exceed expectations, and his moral code is chivalric. He is perfectly bred. From the 1850s on, the etiquette market was inundated with books, pamphlets and manuals defining how to measure up socially as a gentile lady or refined gentleman. After training in manners, morals and decorum, the Victorian gentleman was also encouraged to take up hobby. Not only for entertainment, a gentleman’s pastime developed character, civility, and confidence. 

The Rules of Etiquette and Home Culture 1886 read"It is the duty of a gentleman to know how to ride, to shoot, to fence, to box, to swim, to row and to dance."
With the population of Telluride near 5,000 at the height of the gold rush in the 1890s, the men of Telluride undoubtedly had a vast choice of character building hobbies. Seemingly, the most popular was a civil game of poker at one of the many saloons or parlor houses, but the Victorian era was also when baseball first saw developments towards the All American game we know today.
Catcher's Mitt, THM Collection
The first set of rules were laid down in 1845 by Alexander Cartwright, founder of New York City’s Knickerbockers club - one of the first organized baseball teams to play under a set of rules. Marked by the spirit of gentlemanly sportsmanship, baseball soon became known as the "gentleman's game." The strategy of the era was base hits, stolen bases, and hit and run plays. The home run? That was considered so boring it was worthy of rotten tomatoes being pitched at the hitter. It wasn’t until Babe Ruth made the home run a famous achievement of strength in baseball that a "hit out of the park" was celebrated.
Telluride Team, Western Slope Champions 1913

Telluride has a long standing tradition of baseball. In 1913, the Telluride Baseball Team became the Western Slope Champions and in 1964 the team won state. During baseball season town park fills with teams cheering, yelling, heckling, winning and losing. Baseball camaraderie gives a sense of community and sportsmanship. The gentleman's game has now also become a ladies game, and the sidelined fans patiently await the home runs.

~ Cameo
Exhibits Curator
Telluride Historical Museum