Part 1: Opening Day 1895
Part 2: The father of Seattle Baseball — The athletic field at 13th and Jefferson was the first home of the Father of Seattle Baseball, D. E. Dugdale. Dugdale is famous for creating a team in 1901 that eventually spawned the Milwaukee Brewers and the Seattle Mariners. But that was later, after YMCA Park.
In March 1898 D. E. “Eddie” Dugdale entered the Seattle baseball scene as a player, coach and owner of a professional team in the new Pacific Northwest League named the Klondikers. They took their name from the gold rush that started late the previous year when a ton of gold arrived on the steamer Portland in Seattle. The first game was in May in front of an audience of 425. Dugdale sold out his interest in July after the team lost too much money. Without him the team went on to win the pennant for that league as well as another for inter-league championship against California League teams. Dugdale represented PNL in a proposed merger with California, which fell through.
The next year “Dan” Dugdale secured funding from E. F. Sweeney, manager of Seattle Brewing and Malting. They named the new team after the brewery’s flagship product: Rainier Beer. Rainier was only 3 years old but already flowed from taps far away in Central America, Hawaii, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong, and even South Africa. This gave Sweeney cash to push back into local advertising to pay for the naming rights of Seattle’s semi-pro baseball teams. They were the first Seattle Rainiers.
Rainier didn’t sign up for a second year, however, and Dugdale renamed his squad the Seattle Stars in 1900. Despite the name Athletic Park being interchangeable with YMCA Park, the YMCA still managed the grounds. This meant that weekend games had to be played at Madison Park because the YMCA put the field to their own use. In 1900 the Union Trunk Line took over management of the field, and a new contract allowed “Daniel” Dugdale’s team to play weekends as well at YMCA Park. (Seattle Time Aug 5, 1899)
In 1901 a new Pacific Northwest League team formed in Seattle, fielding a fully professional roster again. In preparation, Dugdale and the team owners invested in YMCA Park. Per the Seattle Times, “The diamond and bases are newly laid off and the turf put in the best possible condition. New seats have been added to the grandstands and better accommodations made to meet the great crowds…”. A partial review of newspaper articles from 1901 Seattle Times and Seattle PI shows no team name. It is referred to as “Dugdale’s team”. The team became known as the Seattle Clamdiggers in 1902.
The Clamdiggers continued on after YMCA Park closed in 1903, as Dugdale and the PNL entered a war for the hearts of West Coast baseball fans with the Pacific Coast League. D. E. Dugdale owned or managed Seattle teams through 1919, and was actively involved in Seattle baseball until his death in 1934.
Dugdale was far and away the most important figure in the first 50 years of Seattle’s baseball history. The next era belonged to Emil Sick. He took Dugdale’s team and renamed it the Rainiers, after the brewery he owned. They were Seattle’s most popular sports team for decades. In 1968 we traded them in for the ill-fated MLB Seattle Pilots, who moved to Milaukee to become the Brewers after one season. Then the Seattle Mariners finally filled the pro ball gap again in 1977.
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