Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Brillant Struggle Between The Home Clubs

On May 29, 1875, "(about) one thousand spectators were in attendance" to witness the Reds play the Brown Stockings at the Grand Avenue Ballpark in the second and last game of the season between the two clubs. The Browns won the game 6-0 in what the St. Louis Globe-Democrat described as a "brilliant struggle".

"The Browns succeeded," wrote the Globe, "by good fielding and the weak hitting of their opponents...while (the Reds), by equally good fielding, kept the score of the Browns down to six runs." George Bradley, pitching for the Browns, held the Reds to five hits while "Chicagoing" the crosstown rivals. The Browns' Joe Battin, Lip Pike, and Jack Chapman were singled out by the Globe for their fine hitting while Joe Ellick and Charlie Houtz got two hits apiece for the Reds. The defensive play of the game was probably Ned Cuthbert's "brilliant running catch" in short left field that retired Joe Blong in the ninth inning.

I am continually amazed at the fact that these teams only played two games against each other. By contrast, the Athletics and Whites, both of Philadelphia, played ten games. The Centennials of Philadelphia played almost half of their 14 games against the other Philadelphia teams. The New York Mutuals and the Brooklyn Atlantics played seven games against each other.

While it's true that the Reds did not schedule NA games after July 4th, the opportunity was there in the first half of the season for the Reds and Browns to play each other. The fact that they didn't lends credence to the Globe's insinuations that there was animosity between the two organizations.


Richard Hershberger said...

There was discussion at the time about the commercial effect of having multiple teams in one city. There was a theory that the local competition would stimulate interest, as well as a theory that it would dilute interest. Comparing Philly with St. Louis, we may be seeing differing ideologies. The Philly baseball community was open to the former theory, though it didn't work out well. When the NL formed, limiting the league to one club per city was cited as one of its reforms. It could be that the Browns never accepted the idea of more than one team per city in the first place. I suspect that you really need to do a close reading of where the club was playing early in the season. Were there open home dates where they could easily have played the Reds?

Jeff Kittel said...

The "Western" part of the schedule was established in early April with the Browns scheduling four games each against Chicago and Keokuk and two against the Reds. The Browns opened in St. Louis against the Reds and then hosted Chicago for two games. They went on the road to play Keokuk and Chicago, returned home, and didn't make another road trip until July. The Reds played essentially the same schedule although their trips to Keokuk and Chicago were made two weeks apart. So looking at the "Western" part of the schedule, before the Eastern teams came to St. Louis, there was a window at the beginning and end of May for the teams to play at least two more games.

One interesting thing is that the two teams didn't play each other in April. Some in the Eastern press were of the believe that the Browns were going to use the Reds to "tune up" for the season. But while the Browns played picked nines with some Reds players on it and the Reds played picked nines with some Browns players on it, the two teams themselves would not meet until May 4th.

The Globe implies that the two clubs were not able to come to a financial arrangement and this was one of the main reasons that the two teams didn't play more than the two games. Both teams probably saw the other as an interloper. The Reds looked at the Browns as johnny come lately carpetbaggers while the Browns saw the Reds infringing on a turf that they believed they would have to themselves. If this was the case then it's understandable why the two teams were unable to do business with each other.

Richard Hershberger said...

Regarding April games, I don't believe professional teams typically played pre-seasons against one another in this era. I'm not sure, but I don't recall the Athletics and the Philadelphias playing each other. The normal pattern was to start out with picked nines and move up to local amateur clubs or college teams to warm up for the championship season.

Jeff Kittel said...

That's certainly the way things went in StL in April of 75. I'm just disapointed that there weren't more games between these two teams.