BAKER STOCK COMPANY. The Baker Stock Company ( Portland, Oregon), first known as the Ralph Stuart Stock Company and then as the Neill Stock Company, opened in April 1902. A combined effort of manager George L. Baker and actor-manager Ralph Stuart, the company proved successful in its six-week engagement, encouraging Baker to pursue plans for the establishment of a permanent stock organization in Portland with actor-manager James Neill. The new company opened on August 31, 1902, with a society comedy by Mary Stone , A Social Highwayman ( 1895). Neill withdrew from the organization in December 1902, and by January 1903 his name had been dropped from all advertisements, and the company had been renamed "The Baker Stock Company."
Prior to the advent of the Baker, several small stock companies specializing in melodramas had operated in Portland. No permanent stock company presenting a variety of recently released plays and fully mounted productions had been present in the city. On the West Coast, Ye Liberty Players (see Bishop Players) in Oakland, California, and Frederick Belasco's Alcazar Theatre Stock Company*, in San Francisco, had operated with success and provided models for the Baker.
Other companies were to be formed and disbanded during the time Baker was involved in theatre management. In August 1904, Ruben Welch, who had come to Portland from St. Louis to manage an independent theatre, the Columbia, hired many of Baker's actors at a substantial increase in salary and presented them as the Columbia Stock Company after the collapse of the independent revolt against a cartel of theatrical producers and owners of theatrical real estate known as the "Theatrical Syndicate" ( 1896- 1916). Overextended, Welch was forced to withdraw from the Columbia within two months. Larry Keating and Daniel Flood, primarily active in vaudeville, offered a "10¢" melodrama company, the Blunthall, during the 1908-9 season.