Nebraska Minor League Baseball
Lincoln Tree Planters 1886

Harry Durfee, described as a Lincoln millionaire, brought Lincoln into the Western League for 1886. According to the Sporting News he hired the services of the Sporting News editor, specifically A. H. Spink himself, to scout talent for his new club. Spink sent on a number of ball players to Lincoln, including Perry Werden, Rademaker, East, Stoops, Reinagle, Sullivan and Hichman. Spink expected $100.00 for his services which Durfee did not pay.

In May, Harry went to St. Louis to discuss the matter with Spink. Spink had an "order" from a judge to take whatever means necessary to secure his proper due. Spink hired someone named Ryan and the two of them went to Durfee's hotel, roughed him up and took his gold watch. Durfee went to the local St. Louis police but they showed no interest in helping him. Durfee then filed a civil suit against Spink, but the case went nowhere. Many people believe that Durfee was wise in not going back to St. Louis where his safety would be in peril.

This was one of the last years for integrated baseball. Bud Fowler was an African American who played for Topeka in 1886. The Lincoln paper indicated that Bud was a barber in the off season.

St. Joseph had two teams in organized ball. They quickly decided to merge forces and entered the Western League with the best of both teams on their roster.

Lincoln started slowly and they were soon competing with Leavenworth for last place in the league. In July, Houtz and Rademaker were released and Nelson was made captain. Durfee decided that he had lost enough money and started shopping the franchise around. He approached Hastings and tried to get them to buy his team. Eventually a group of Lincoln business people bought the team. Led by Secretary of State L.R. Rogers, the Lincoln Baseball Company was formed.

Their on field woes continued. On July 26th the team was 13-30 and headed for last place. By the end of the year they were tied with Leavenworth with a 31-49 record. They did not complete their season until early October.

In 1887 both Omaha and Hastings joined Lincoln in the Western League.


Data is from the October 25, 1886 Sporting News and no pitching data was found.

Perry Werden led the Tree Planters with a .317 average. He was also a pitcher for the team.

Albert Swift averaged .290 with 238 at bats.

Hoover averaged .280.

Alexander averaged .276 and Jennings averaged .230.

Nelson averaged .230, while Foley and Dooms averaged .202.

Reinagle played short and averaged .189.

Hefner averaged .135

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