This Tottenham Mystery addresses one of the enduring myths that surrounds the club and its early days, and possibly lays it to rest as we also explore how it may of become corrupted over the years.
We have all read that our Chairman, Charles Roberts was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball team and many believe it as they have heard the statement being repeated ad nauseam but do we have any evidence to support it.
Roberts was born in 1863 and became Tottenham Chairman in 1898 a post he would hold till his death in 1940. The man himself is a mystery as I’ve uncovered little about the man himself. We know that in 1885 he traveled to the USA on business, although details of what business elude me at this point. Whilst there he become fond of the American game and later he was one of the main figures in trying to introduce it to England’s as a summer pastime, not to mention it being a financial move by the club, (1).
Julian Holland in his excellent history of the club and who knew many of its leading characters writes of Roberts ‘one time pitcher for a Brooklyn baseball team.’ Notice the use of the word A and not The. Not that the Dodgers were 'The' team at the time.
Turning to Tony Matthews official encyclopedia, (2) he claims Roberts played for ‘the well supported Nassau club of Brooklyn.’ The Nassau club (no connection to the later named Dodgers) was attached to Princeton College and was one of the major teams during this era and The New York Times report that their games attracted large crowds.
I then approached the authors of the last time I have seen the ‘Dodgers Statement’ (twice) asking if he actually had any evidence to support his claim. He failed to respond but I notice that since then he has changed his stance to ‘said to have‘, and ‘is believed to have.‘ rather than delivering a straight forward fact.
I then decided to research from the Dodgers aspect. They are now situated in Los Angeles having moved from Brooklyn in 1957. I’m delighted to say unlike England’s football teams of the time the Americans have comprehensive records dating back to their earliest days. The Dodgers historian informs me they have no record of a Charles Roberts ever being attached to the team. Therefore I tend to feel the myth has outgrown the fact but it remains a good story.
Incidentally although the baseball side had a variety of official and nicknames in those early days the term Dodgers (from having to dodge the various trolley cars) doesn’t seem to have come into popular usage until 1895 and was officially adopted much later. Thus if one wants to be a ‘little picky’ Roberts would never of played for the Dodgers anyway.
If you have any evidence to counter my conclusions or indeed any info on Charles Roberts at all (the info I have on him is fairly sketchy), I know Andy Porter wrote about him some time ago in the old Spurs magazine, but I don’t think its online, I be pleased to hear from you.
t- Keith 16024542
f - https://www.facebook.com/keith.harrison.9659
My profile / archive is @ http://www.indiaspurs.com/keith_harrison.html
Notes - 1- I wrote about Tottenham's Baseball success in this article, which should be updated as I've uncover a reasonable amount more since then,
Notes - 2 - Julian Holland - 'A History of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club', and Tony Matthews
- 'The Official Encyclopedia of Tottenham Hotspur FC.'
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