Reed Brothers Baseball Team, 1920
Rockville’s first experience with baseball was during the Civil War on the fields where Richard Montgomery High School now stands. It was known as “Camp Lincoln” because of the Union encampment there, and Federal soldiers helped popularize the new game they brought from the North. One little known part of the history of the grounds is that during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln was afraid that Maryland would secede from the Union and that the District of Columbia would thus be bordered on both sides by Confederate states. He used the land of the fairgrounds for tents to maintain up to 10,000 Federal soldiers at a time in order to do his utmost to keep Maryland, especially via the major thoroughfare of Rockville Pike, within the Union.
After the Civil War, those fields – known as the Rockville Fairgrounds – continued to be a popular place for baseball. At the dawn of the 20th century, Reed Brothers Dodge had their own company baseball team that played on those same fields. The photos below were taken by Lewis Reed on a field at the Rockville Fairgrounds in the early 1920s.
Note the player with the five finger glove in the photo above. Out of all of these photos, this is the only glove that can be seen on a player. The use of gloves wasn’t original to the first years of the game; needing a padded glove was viewed as pretty wimpy. (According to this article in the Smithsonian Magazine, one of the first players to wear a glove tried – and failed – to find one that would be invisible to fans.) By the 1880s gloves were accepted equipment, however, and soon inventors and manufacturers were coming up with new and improved gloves (more padding, deeper webbing…)