The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 636
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Much of baseball is about the one-on-one confrontation between the
pitcher and the batter. It is a face-off as much psychological as physical.
Melvin Gallia faced a sneering Cobb at the plate. Cobb let Gallia's first two
pitches go by for strikes so that he could size up the young pitcher. Then,
no doubt expecting the third pitch to be a fastball, Cobb dug in. Instead,
Gallia threw a spitball that Cobb reportedly missed by a foot. The kid
from Woodsboro had struck out the best hitter in baseball!3 A fierce com-
petitor, Cobb had fire in his eyes when he next came to bat. He hit a Gal-
lia pitch far into the mesquite brush for a home run, and the Tigers won
the game. Ty Cobb went on to have the best season of his legendary career
that year. Melvin Gallia went home to the small South Texas town of
Woodsboro at the end of the school term, having set a collegiate record
by striking out 150 batters in fifteen games.4
Yankee soldiers generally are credited with introducing the game of
baseball to Texas. The bluecoats arrived in force to occupy the Lone Star
State at the end of the Civil War. The first games in San Antonio were
played in Military Plaza and at San Pedro Springs. Baseball was not only a
form of recreation for the soldiers. It was also an activity that allowed sol-
diers and locals to interact. By the end of the federal government's occu-
pation of the state in i870, baseball was on its way to becoming an estab-
In the early twentieth century, nearly every small town in Texas, like
small towns across America, had its own baseball team. Baseball was not
just the national pastime. It was the national passion. It was about the
hometown nine beating the team from the neighboring city. As the in-
tensity of competition rose, teams supplemented local talent with outside
players, whom they managed to attract for sometimes a few dollars a
game. Yet, for the most part the game remained pure and pastoral. Base-
ball was about green grass and the bright sunshine of a hot summer af-
ternoon. Townspeople congregated around the local ball field, shared
picnics, and courted. The pop of the hardball in the leather mitt and the
crack of the bat connecting with a ball punctuated conversations.
A number of towns in America in those days had two organized base-
ball teams, one white and one black. One rarely if ever played the other.
Instead, the white team played other white teams and the black team
other black teams from nearby towns. In South Texas, there was also of-
ten a third team comprised of Hispanic players. In the 185os numerous
A Bill Cunningham, "Rattlers First Ball at A&M," San Antonzo Express, n.d., Melvin Gallia scrap-
book (in the possession of Mrs. Michael Larkin, formerly Helen Gallia, Melvin Gallia's daughter);
Beevlle Bee, May 27, 1910.
4 BeevzlleBee, May 27, 1910.
5 Fred W. Mosebach, "American National Game Starts in San Antonio with Cotton Batting Ball,"
n.d., Baseball File (Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/692/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.