Stony Brook Baseball Team (undated postcard). Identified on the back of the postcard are these eight players (left to right): Stanley Jewall, Fred Darling, Ernest Bennett, Frank Jacinsky, Duane Squire, Chas Conklin, Leroy Norton, Chester Wood. (Image from the Brookhaven Pictorial Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society [198.24.20]. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)
Baseball’s popularity as a national pastime spread across Long Island in the years following the Civil War, when it was a game played primarily at county fairs and in farmers’ fields. One of the earliest games recorded in Suffolk County was played at the Suffolk County Fair in Greenport in 1867, when the well-known Huntington Suffolks won the prized Silver Ball. Another well-known team in Suffolk, the Hawkins Nine from Ronkonkoma, played from the 1890s to 1935 and included six Hawkins brothers: Samuel, Morris, E. Stansbury, Ernest, Charles, and Richard.
Leo Fishel (1877-1960) of Babylon played for a number of Suffolk County teams. He was one of the first players in the county to make it to Major League Baseball and was the first Jewish pitcher in the majors. In 1899, when Fishel was attending Columbia University, the New York Giants requested him to pitch against the Cleveland Indians. Although Fishel lost his only major league game, he did strike out six batters and even got a hit for his team.
Some other early Suffolk County baseball teams included the Oregons from Mattituck, the Babylon Seniors, the Project Nines from Bay Shore, the St. James Nines, the Riverhead Nines, and the Old Field Club, among others.