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Fresno Morning Republican Tigers Baseball Team, 1897

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At the turn of the nineteenth century, organized baseball had many levels of competition. Sponsored baseball teams, characterized by uniforms depicting the names of local sponsoring businesses and organizations, were widespread throughout the Central Valley. The Republicans were associated with the Fresno Morning Republican and wore “F-R” uniforms with tiger-striped sweaters. The visually appealing pattern of the sweater overshadowed their official title. The popular nickname for the team, the “Tigers,” won out in the press. The Tigers were a robust team, with Chance as their star catcher. In 1897, the Tigers partook in a statewide tournament hosted by the San Francisco Examiner. They finished second, yet twenty-year-old Frank Chance was scouted by the Chicago Cubs and went on to make his professional debut in 1898.