Feb 1896. In a letter to editor Ripley Hitchcock, Crane notes, “I see also that they are beginning to charge me with having played base ball. I am rather more proud of my base ball ability than of some other things.” (From the Almanac at this site)
From “When I Knew Stephen Crane” by Willa Cather
Irving Bacheller, the founder of the first major American newspaper syndicate, sent one of his young reporters, Stephen Crane, to Nebraska in February 1895 to report on the extreme drought and famine endured by the state’s residents during the previous two years. Only two months earlier the Nebraska State Journal had published the serialized version of The Red Badge of Courage. At the time, Willa Cather was a senior at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and the drama critic for the Journal, writing several articles each week. At some point during Crane’s stay in Lincoln, the 23-year-old author met the 21-year-old student, who was overwhelmed with a heavy course load and a full-time job requiring her to attend the local theater productions most nights of the week.