First Public Airing of the Lawson Brother Feud

[Between 2009 and 2011, I maintained a TypePad blog, “More Fiends,” intended to update my book Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines. Those posts can still be found in the archive.org Wayback Machine, but I stopped updating that site in 2011. Because this WordPress site promotes and updates all my books, I’d like to republish some of those earlier posts.]

Posted 12/21/2009:

In Baseball Fiends and Flying Machines I imply that the bad blood between Alfred and George Lawson likely started in the aftermath of the 1895 Boston Amateurs tour of England. Additional circumstantial evidence from 1897 was also offered to suggest that George tried to undermine Alfred’s efforts to organize his North Adams team into a league; and that George was probably the con-man who impersonated Al in North Adams. The feud erupted in full force in New Hampshire in the spring of 1898, and at that time the fact that the brothers were fighting each other made it into the papers there.
    However, newly digitized editions of Sporting Life from February and March of 1898 make it clear that the Lawsons were warring with one another before they got to New Hampshire. In late February, as George was getting on a steamer to go to England on theatrical business, he decided to regale a reporter with a story calculated to drive Al apoplectic, It appeared on the front page of Sporting Life on Feb. 26, 1898:


George went on to give a sketch of the state of baseball in England, sounding like a seasoned authority. Moreover, he took credit for being the manager of the 1895 Boston Amateurs tour of England.
George must have chuckled to imagine Al’s reaction when he read the story. Al’s rebuttal appeared in the Mar. 12 edition of Sporting Life:


A couple of weeks later, Al Lawson’s refutation of George’s story was affirmed by Joseph Wright, owner of the Middlesborough team. (I had quoted Wright on another occasion on page 63 of Baseball Fiends..):


And so it seems that the first public scuffle between the Lawson’s gave the last word to Al. However, only weeks later, Al was being branded as the scoundrel and George as the upright businessman in the Battle of New Hampshire (Chapter 8 of Baseball Fiends…)

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