San Diego Uniques send Corpus Christi Mysterious Nine home packing

Members of the Uniques included, back row from left, Loreto Garcia Tovar, Smocker Gravis, Felipe Bodet, Tomas Collins, Arturo D. Garcia, Jose M. Tovar and Fidel Perez. In front row are Avelino Garcia Tovar, Alfredo Ridder and Dario G. Garcia. (Photo contributed by Eliseo Cadena)

All was not murder, mayhem, or politics in early Duval County. In August 1887, a group of men got together to form a baseball club in San Diego, and they immediately flexed their muscle by issuing a challenge to Corpus Christi for a game. The team’s name was the San Diego Uniques.

The challenge game against Corpus Christi’s Mysterious Nine was held on Sept. 29, 1887 near the Tex-Mex depot. An early cool norther and an occasional cloud did not keep fans away, as most of the town’s citizens came out to see game. The first pitch sailed towards home plate at half past noon.

The Uniques wore dark blue uniforms with red stockings and a large “U” on their chests. Suiting up for the San Diego nine included Avelino G. Tovar on the mound; Dario Garcia at catcher; Arturo Garcia at first base; Loreto Tovar covering second base; Felipe Bodet at third base; Captain Thomas Collins at shortstop; Fidel Perez out at left field; J. F. Gravis playing centerfield; and C. K. Gravis right field. J. Niland umpired and C. K. Gravis and M. Wolfram kept score.

Tovar got in some nice “twisters”; cannot be sure but that sounds like he had a mean curve ball. The Uniques got two “whitewashers” on Corpus Christi players; again not sure what this old term meant but perhaps it meant strike outs. The game was even through the fifth inning when San Diego bats came alive. Fidel Perez hit a home run that brought in two runs ahead of him. Capt. Collins hit a double into center, but split his bat that cut a nasty slice from his hand.

The Uniques crushed the visitors 36 to 10. The game was called off on the seventh inning because the Corpus Christi boys had to catch the train back to the bay city. “How is this for that inland town,” crowed the reporter for the Corpus Christi paper. Four Mysterious Nine players missed the train and stayed overnight in San Diego and were treated with good-natured entertainment from the winning hometown boys.

The Uniques traveled to Corpus Christi three weeks later, on Oct. 15, to take on the Red Stockings. The event caught the fancy of the town, and the Tex-Mex Railroad sold excursion tickets to the game. The round trip fare was $1.60. The town was fired up for the game when Uniques left on Saturday. As the team walked into the depot they were greeted by a large “U” painted in black; in the center was painted two bats forming a cross with a baseball dangling from them.

After their win over the Mysterious Nine, the San Diego boys were picked to take an easy win. Unfortunately, the Red Stockings were a different team and they prevailed over the Uniques 17-10.

The Uniques kept playing as baseball found a home in the brush country of Duval County.