Friday, November 30, 2007

Tommy McCarthy

"Thomas McCarthy is now the regular scout for the Cincinnati Club and when not at work for that organization spends his time in Boston."

"McCarthy in the days of the old and decidedly famous St. Louis Browns, was one of the star outfielders of that organization. 'Little Mack' was the 'Kid' who took the place in the Browns outfield of dear old Hughie Nichol. McCarthy was as fast as lightning in the outfield, a pretty man standing up at the plate and taking him all in all he might be termed one of the wonderful outfielders of the early eighties."

From The National Game

Tommy McCarthy was described by Jon David Cash, in Before They Were Cardinals, as "the best of the players the 1888 Browns recruited to replace their former stars" and was, along with Hugh Duffy, one of Boston's "Heavenly Twins". Bill James writes in the Historical Baseball Abstract that "(among) all major league outfielders playing 1000 games at the position, the highest rate of baserunner kills (assists) per game is by...Tommy McCarthy, who had 268 kills in 1,189 games, which is 36.5 kills per 162 games..." James also wrote that McCarthy is one of the few pure leadoff men in the Hall of Fame.

Why McCarthy is in the Hall of Fame is unclear to me. It's certainly not because of his stats. Certainly he was a smart, heady player and had one heck of an arm in the outfield but that lifetime OPS+ of 102 doesn't do much for me. In 1890, he lead the AA in stolen bases and a year later led the league in singles. That's about it for black ink. James makes the argument, based on the testimony of John M. Ward, that McCarthy invented the hit and run (or at the very least perfected and popularized the play). That's certainly significant, if true, but is that enough to get somebody in the Hall of Fame? Maybe it has something to do with his playing on the great Boston teams of the 1890's. I must be missing something here.

Okay, I went to the Hall of Fame forum over at Baseball Fever and found a great post from Fuzzy Bear explaining McCarthy's HoF selection. Fuzzy, whose opinion I respect, wrote this:

McCarthy actually gives George Kelly competition as the worst HOFer there is.

McCarthy's selection, from various sources I have read, was a result of the Old-Timers Committee of the 1940s making large numbers of inductions, in part because the writers of that period didn't seem to want to induct ANYBODY. This is how the gray area of the HOF started. McCarthy was elected by guys who were his pals and peers who were still alive. I guarantee you that if the writers were inducting worthy candidates at that time, the Old-Timers Committee would have made fewer inductions, and McCarthy would NOT be a HOFer.

McCarthy is a guy who MIGHT have a case if he (A) played CENTER field, (B) won MULTIPLE GOLD GLOVES, (C) had a longer career, and (D) posted the same numbers in a tighter offensive context. McCarthy was a good player, but nothing more.

I understand that McCarthy had some "fame" in his day. This may have played a role in his selection, but I'm not sure as to the extent of his "fame" while active.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

"The Greatest Game Ever Played In St. Louis" Part Two

My first post on the Browns' fifteen inning, 0-0 game against the Stars of Syracuse (which can be found here) was essentially Al Spink's take on the game. Bill Kelsoe also had quite a bit to say about the game in A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture of the City. Reading Kelsoe's account of the game (which is posted below), I think you can understand why everyone made such a fuss. It sounds like it was one heck of a baseball game.

Greatest of St. Louis Ball Games
(From the Sunday Evening Telegraph, St. Louis, Mo., May 1, 1910)

Thirty-Third Anniversary Today of Remarkable Game at Sportsman's Park--"Billy" Kelso, a Veteran Baseball Authority, Writes Interestingly of Great 15-Inning Struggle Between the Old Browns and the Famous Syracuse Stars.

How many fans at the Cleveland-St. Louis game this afternoon know it was played on the grounds and on the anniversary of the day made memorable by one of the most remarkable contests in the history of baseball? The opponents of "our Browns" on May 1, 1877, were the famous Syracuse Stars, who had won two games on the way to St. Louis from the ex-champion Cincinnati Reds and who the season before had defeated all the big clubs in the national organization, including the Chicago champions and the Boston ex-champions.

The contest was specially noteworthy on account of the brilliant fielding. Some of the batters were famous as sluggers and they had on their batting clothes that day, but as fielders they did even better than as batters. Every chance given a fielder to put out a man was accepted. Fifteen innings were played and not a run scored, darkness then putting an end to the game.

The Stars played McKinnon, Farrell, Geer and Carpenter at, respectively, first, second, short and third, and the Browns, Croft, McGeary, Force and Battin. In the outfield were Mansell, Hotaling and Clinton at left, center and right for the visitors and Dorgan, Remsen and Blong for the home club. McCormack and Higham formed the Star battery and Nichols and Clapp ours.

Only one batter in the game reached third base, but he almost scored, missing the chance by less than half a second. It was in the eighth inning and Dave Force had made third on hits to right field by himself and Jack Remsen.

In my report of the game to the old St. Louis Times, I said:"Only one man was out as yet and the hard-hitting Croft was at the bat. It seemed as though the Browns were about to score and when Croft sent a long fly to back center field everybody was sure Force would get in. The fly settled in Hotaling's hands, however, and the next instant the ball came home like a shot and Davy was caught at the plate. The play was the finest of a game full of brilliant plays and Hotaling had to take off his hat in response to the cheers that greeted him. The second half of the inning was remarkable for a fine catch by Remsen and a piece of lightning fielding by McGeary."

Darkness Stops Great Battle

The game would have been worthy of a conspicuous place in baseball history even if darkness had come at the end of the regulation nine innings. As stated in the Times report, "the batting had, for the most part, been heavy and the fielding brilliant, but good as either the batting or fielding was during the first nine innings, that which followed was even better. From now until the close of the fifteenth inning, when darkness ended the contest, the spectators were kept constantly busy with their hands and lungs, applauding brilliant plays by individual fielders. Nichols opened the tenth with a long fly to Mansell's field. Dorgan tipped a swiftly pitched ball and Higham shot out his left hand and fastened his claws on it (foul-tips counted out when caught thirty years ago). Clapp sent a hot one through McKinnon and stole second, where he was left by a fly to Geer. The batting of the Stars netted no bigger results. McGeary stood in the way of Carpenter's bounder and Mike Dorgan's long legs and long throw prevented Higham from getting farther than second base on a ball batted nearly to the left-field fence. Only one man was as yet out, but the spectators were relieved a little later when Remsen froze to Geer's fly and McKinnon was put out by Croft."

Dorgan, who had captained the Syracuse Stars the year before, was noted both as an outfielder and catcher and was considered the heaviest batter of the home team. In the eleventh inning the fans all expected Force to reach third base on a hit to the left-field fence. "The instant the ball left Force's bat Mansell started on a run toward the southwest corner of the ball park (in 1877 the home plate was in the southeast corner of the park), and when the ball neared the ground in that corner his right hand was there to receive it. Mansel was on a dead run when he reached the ball, and the play was the best one-handed catch ever made on that ball field."

In the second half of the same inning "a ball from Hotaling's bat went like a shot in Blong's direction (right field) and it seemed as if nothing short of a miracle could prevent the batter from reaching first, but McGeary managed in some way to get a hand in front of it and the next instant the ball was held by Croft."

An Epochal Session

Joe Battin, one of the picked men who had represented the United States in an all-around-the-world series of games a few years before, opened the fourteenth inning with a stinging, crooked bounder which struck Geer in the breast and "rolled twenty feet away," but the ball beat the batter to first. "Mansell distinguished himself again by taking a fly from Force's bat on a dead run. Remsen now came in for another safe hit, the ball going to centerfield, but in running to second directly afterward he unfortunately collided with a hot liner from Croft's bat and was decided out" (much to the surprise of the spectators, as the decision was under a new rule).

The sun being almost down, it was decided to play only one inning more. As Remsen was the last out for the Browns in the fourteenth inning, Croft, the next batter, who had caused the out, was, under the old rules, the first up in the fifteenth. He hit safely and after Joe Blong's out stole second base. "Everything now depended on Nichols and Dorgan, neither of whom had batted McCormack for a single safe hit. Nichols struck fiercely, but wildly, for a double-bagger and brought forth a skyball for Farrell, and then Dorgan, the last hope of the Browns, faced the pitcher. He swung his bat as if to send the ball to the out fence, but the sad result was a high ball, which dropped into Carpenter's hands, and the Browns took the field for the fifteenth time."

Farrell, the first striker, stood at the plate without making a motion with his bat and was finally sent to base on called balls. McCormack batted a fly to Croft and Carpenter hit to Nichols, who threw to McGeary and forced out Farrell. Then Higham, the last hope of the Stars, came to bat. A two-base hit would bring home the man at first and win the game for the Stars. Higham made a desperate lunge at the first good ball pitched, but a twist was on the sphere. It bounded to Davey's feet and the next instant was shot into Croft's hands, and the game was over-a 15-inning game with a score of nothing to nothing.

The result seemed to satisfy the players, as well as spectators, and everybody was jubilant at having witnessed the most remarkable game on record. The batting under ordinary circumstances would have netted a score or more of base hits. The fielding was never excelled on a ball field."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dave Foutz In Action

This is a fantastic picture of the great Dave Foutz in action with the Brooklyn Bridegrooms.

Al Spink wrote the following about Foutz in The National Game:

"On the St. Louis American Association team in 1883 to 1888 was Dave Foutz, who with Bobby Caruthers, pitched for the St. Louis Browns in those years when they were winning American Association and then World's Championships.

"Foutz was brought from the Bay City, Mich., Club to St. Louis and remained with the Browns while they were winning pennants.

"In the Fall of 1888 Caruthers and Foutz, pitchers, and Bushong, catcher, were sold to Brooklyn by President Von Der Ahe of the St. Louis Club. It was said he received enough for the releases of the trio to build a block of stone front houses on St. Louis avenue, just west of Grand.

"When those three left St. Louis, however, the St. Louis Club's prestige went with them. With the aid of Foutz, Caruthers, and Bushong, the Brooklyns won the American Association Championship in 1889 and 1890, but in the former year they lost in the fight for the World's flag with New York while in 1890 they tied with Louisville in the World's Championship series.

"Foutz was perhaps the tallest and slimest pitcher in the history of the game. He was from all outward appearances a consumptive. But despite his appearance he was the possessor of considerable strength and while he was one of the speediest of pitchers he could also hit the ball an awful hard crack.

"As a thoroughly gentlemanly player his whole career no one ever saw him lose his temper or heard him speak a harsh word to his most formidable opponent.

"When he left Brooklyn it was to go to Baltimore and he died in that city some years ago."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Empires And The St. Louis Fire Department

It's obvious to me that there was some sort of relationship between the Empire Base Ball Club of St. Louis and the St. Louis Fire Department. When the city instituted an all-paid fire department in 1857, Henry Clay Sexton, the president of the Empires in 1864 and again from 1870 to 1873, was named chief. John Shockey, who would serve as team captain in 1869, was an assistant chief with the department. Other members of the club who were known to have worked as firemen were Adam Wirth, Tom Oran, and Joe Schimper. Both Shockey and Schimper were, according to Bill Kelsoe, "killed by a falling wall at a fire" and are on a list of firemen killed in the line of duty kept by the StLFD.

Certainly not all the members of the Empire Base Ball Club were members of the StLFD. Al Spink wrote in The National Game that the club "had in its ranks many wide-awake business men as well as some of the most influential mechanics and tradesmen. It had for its officers the most popular men in the community-men selected for their great heart, wide acquaintance and numerous following." The Empires were by no means an extension of the StLFD but the fire department had both a strong presence and influence on the club.

This is not unique in the history of 19th century baseball. According to Warren Goldstein in A History of Early Baseball, one of the "most fertile sources of baseball nines were volunteer fire companies..." The most famous example of this was the New York Mutuals who were "founded in 1857 by the Mutual Hook and Ladder Company No. 1." It's Goldstein's contention that the volunteer fire companies and the early fire departments played a vital role in the development of early baseball, "providing a cultural bridge between this new sport and the earlier, more rough-and-tumble world of working-class leisure." He goes on to list some of the similarities between the two institutions including their names, social activities, and uniforms.

It's doesn't appear, based on Spink's observations on the make-up of the club, that the Empires fit Goldstein's pattern exactly. But, under the leadership of Sexton, a relationship between the club and the StLFD was established and this relationship was used to the advantage of the club. This can be seen in Tom Oran's switch from the Union Club to the Empires. Peter Morris, in his essay on Oran for SABR's Biography Project, writes that "(on) June 5, 1869, the Empire Club defeated the Unions to regain local supremacy. Shortly afterward, the Empires lost their catcher to injuries and recruited Oran to take his place...Both clubs appear to have been amateurs, and it is unlikely that Oran was offered money to change clubs. It is, however, quite possible that he received another sort of inducement to join the Empires. Empire club president Henry Clay Sexton was the chief of the St. Louis fire department and Oran was soon working as a city fireman."

I think it's safe to assume that there were more members of the Empire Club who were also members of the StLFD than the five that I'm aware of. I'm currently searching for a list of members of the StLFD in the 19th century in order to compare it to known members of the Empire Club. When these two lists are cross-checked then the extent of the relationship between the two organizations should become clearer.

Note: The picture at the top of the post is of a funeral procession of a St. Louis fireman who lost his life in the line of duty in 1916. It's the earliest photograph of St. Louis firemen that I've been able to find and was taken from History's Time Portal to Old St. Louis.

The Blue Stockings Battle The Uniques And Their Fans

"On October 13, 1875, in the same ballpark where the Cicago White Stockings played their home games, two African-American baseball teams waged a heated contest. One club, the Blue Stockings, hailed from St. Louis; the other, the Uniques, were a local Chicago squad. Two days earlier, the visiting Blue Stockings had defeated the Uniques, 12-8, and now the home team sought with grim determination to earn a split in the rain-shortened series. This game, with its premature ending and violent undertones, illustrated that African-American ball clubs were just as caught up in the regional rivalry between St. Louis and Chicago as their white counterparts in the major leagues.

"The Blue Stockings trailed, 17-14, as they came to bat in the bottom half of the ninth inning. After the first two Blue Stockings batters reached base safely, the Uniques attempted to stall until the umpire called the game on account of darkness. However, when the Uniques' first baseman hid the game ball, umpire J.F. Thacker simply tossed another baseball to the pitcher and ordered the Uniques to 'play ball.' The Uniques refused to heed this admonition; as a consequence, the game abruptly ended. As the Blue Stockings tried to leave the ballfield, a stone-throwing mob approached them and inflicted severe injuries to two of their players, William Mitchell and William Pitts.

"A dispute ensued over the outcome of the game. According to the Chicago Tribune, umpire Thacker waved off the unfinished ninth inning and proclaimed the Uniques 15-14 winners in a darkness-shortened eight-inning contest. In a letter written to the Tribune, though, Thacker declared that the ball game had been forfeited to the Blue Stockings: 'My that, upon the refusal of the Uniques to proceed with the game and their concealing the ball when called upon to produce it, under the circumstances, the game belongs to the Blue Stockings by 9 to 0.'

From Jon David Cash's Before They Were Cardinals

This piece about the Blue Stockings appears in the appendix of Cash's fine book. One of the major themes of his book is the rivalry between St. Louis and Chicago, how it spilled over onto the diamond, and affected the baseball history of both cities. It's interesting that he was able to continue this theme in a short piece on race issues in 19th century baseball.

The Blue Stockings are just one more reason why, to me, 1875 is the most interesting year in the history of St. Louis baseball.

Monday, November 26, 2007

An Interesting Note On The Union Club

There's an interesting note in the November 29, 1870 issue of The New York Times about the Union Base Ball Club of St. Louis. The Times writes that "(the) Union Amateur Club, of St. Louis, has disbanded. Its social status was too high for Sunday playing, which is in vogue in St. Louis."

Al Spink writes in The National Game that "(in) the early (1860's) the Union...came into the field. The Union had for their playing team Charles H. Turner, catcher; R.J. Lucas, pitcher; Henry Carr and Henry Berning, first base; E.C. Meacham, second base; Charles Cabanne, third base; Eugene Greenleaf, shortstop; Asa Smith, left field; Walter Wolf, center field, and Archie Easton, right field."

"It will be noticed by the above list," Spink writes, "that the Union team was made up of the silk stocking element of that day and the name Union was taken because the players of the teams were all men who had stood by the Union during the Civil War. Their very name at that time aroused feeling and animosity and added to the rivalry that already existed between the then leading local baseball teams."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Atlantic Base Ball Club Of St. Louis

Bill Kelsoe, in A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture Of The City, makes two references to the Atlantics of Brooklyn playing in St. Louis. He mentions a game played between the Reds and the Atlantics on July 29, 1874 and another between the Empire Club and the Atlantics on May 2, 1875. When I read those references, I was immediately skeptical (as seen in this post).

The Atlantics did come to St. Louis in 1868. They defeated the Union 68-9 on June 27th and then beat the Empire 53-15 two days later. This is the only record of an Atlantics' visit to St. Louis that I can find. The only other link that I can find between St. Louis and the Atlantics of Brooklyn is the fact that Lip Pike, Dickey Pearce, and Jack Chapman all played for the Atlantics before joining the Brown Stockings in 1875.

My assumption was that Kelsoe, who in writing his book used both the records of numerous St. Louis newspapers as well as his own personal recollections and those of his acquaintances, had simply confused the 1868 visit of the Atlantics of Brooklyn with games played in 1874 and 1875 by a St. Louis amateur team also called the Atlantics. He was, after all, writing almost fifty years after the fact and these things happen. When going through my notes, I found a reference to an Atlantic Base Ball Club in St. Louis that supports my assumption. This Atlantic Club was an amateur team that played its home games at the Compton Avenue Base Ball Park owned by Thomas McNeary.

In the April 5, 1875 edition of the St. Louis Globe, there is an account of a game played between the Reds and the Atlantics in which the Reds emerged with a 32-4 victory. Playing for the Atlantics that day were Libby, Price, Williams, Jones, Rippy, Myers, Kelly, Mueller, and Devinney. The Globe states that it was the intention of the Atlantics to join the Missouri State Association that year and compete for the amateur baseball championship of Missouri. The officers of the Atlantics were listed as J. Walter (president), E. Hogan (secretary), George Waugh (treasurer), and L. Meyer (director).

One has to assume, based on this evidence, that the team that defeated the Reds at the Compton Avenue Park in 1874 and the team that was beaten by the Empire at the Grand Avenue Park in 1875 was the Atlantic Base Ball Club of St. Louis and not the Atlantics of Brooklyn.

John Healy

"St. Louis, Mo., March 18 (1899)-

"John Healey, who ten years ago was a great base ball pitcher, has died in this city of consumption. In 1888-89 he was one of the American players who made the trip around the world and played in Europe, Asia, and Australia. He quit the diamond two years ago and became a policeman, but was obliged to give up his position last year on account of ill health. The funeral took place this morning from the family residence, 2418 Bacon street, to St. Teresa's Church. Joyce, Quinn, Whistler and a number of other ball players who are in the city attended the funeral...

"The deceased had been ill with consumption for about a year. After retiring from base ball in 1896, he secured a position with the St. Louis Police Department, covering himself with distinction the short time he served. Illness compelled him to resign from active duty last summer, and he was employed for a short while after that at office work at the Four Courts. Healy left a wife and two children. He saved considerable money during his playing career, and left his family comfortably fixed.

"Healey was one of the All-American team which opposed the champion Chicago team in the world's tour of 1888-89. He was a native of Cairo, Ill. and because of his birthplace was known among his fellow ball players as 'the Egyptian.' He was over 6 feet in height and of slender build. As a pitcher he was counted a good man. Of abstemious habits and always conscientious in his work, he was considered by team captains a thoroughly reliable pitcher...

"Healey attained his early prominence while pitching for Henry Lucas' St. Louis Maroons of the old Union league. His skill as a twirler at that time was famed throughout the land. Being particularly tall and slim of build, he was named 'Long John.' Healey was a member of the pitching corp of the Indianapolis Club in the late 80's and when Al Spalding made that famous 'round the world trip with the Chicago's and All-Americans, Healey was one of the party. Healey pitched for Baltimore through the season of 1891 and in the beginning of the season of 1892. In 1890 he pitched with such remarkable success for the Toledo Club that he was bought by Baltimore...'Long John' played in the Western League in 1895 and 1896, his last engagement having been with the Minneapolis Club. He then retired from baseball.

"Many base ball managers are indebted Healey for having 'tipped' them off on promising ball players, many stars of the present generation owing their present position to him. His death will be regretted all over the land: by the players, especially, who knew him as a comrade and by the public generally who had admired him as the professional artist he was."

From Sporting Life, March 25, 1899

John Healy was one of two reserve pitchers for the All-Americans on Spalding's world tour. Mark Lamster writes that "Spalding, with his acute sense of publicity, had instructed (John) Ward to start backup pitcher John Healy for the All-Americans (in the historic game played in the shadows of the pyramids at Giza)-Healy, a native of Cairo, Illinois, was known around the league as 'The Egyptian.'" Healy's nickname derived from his residence in "Little Egypt"-a local term used synonymously with "Southern Illinois."

Lamster goes on to write that "Chicago took advantage in the first inning, scoring twice before (Cap) Anson, perhaps daydreaming about the enigmatic ruins surrounding the field, was picked off base. The All-Americans countered in the second, taking a commanding lead with seven runs off Chicago pitcher John Tener. When Healy was hit by a pitch during the rally, (Chicago reporter Newton) MacMillan wryly noted that the Spinx was 'observed to weep' in sympathy. The hero of the day was Chicago catcher Tom Daly, who connected for the only home run of the contest in the fourth. Spalding, who served as umpire for the historic match, called the game after five innings, with the final score 10-6 in favor of the All-Americans. 'A triumph, in an artistic sense at least,' was MacMillan's take on the events, and that seemed to capture the general consensus."

Al Spink wrote that Healy was a "tall, graceful player" who was "popular with the public and his fellow ballplayers." He went on to say that Healy was no relation to "another pitcher, John Healy, a local St. Louis boy, who was at one time associated with Peoria and other minor league teams." According to Spink, John Healy was not just a policeman but served as "a member of the St. Louis detective force."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My 19th Century Baseball Photos

I just put a bunch of my 19th century baseball photos online at Flickr. There's about 180 photos that I've gotten from various places on the interweb, including American Memory, the Rucker Archive, and the Spalding Collection. Most of the photos that I uploaded are St. Louis related and some I've already posted here at TGOG. I'm hoping to go through the rest of my photos and upload more over time.

You can find my 19th century baseball photo collection here.

The Reds Have A Bad Road Trip

Bill Kelsoe writes in A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture View Of The City about a baseball game that took place on July 14, 1875 between the St. Louis City Council and a group of St. Louis newspaper reporters.

"A new City Council was elected in the spring of 1875," he wrote, "some of the members being ardent baseball fans, the same as many of the newspaper reporters here. While the Browns were on their first, or maybe it was their second eastern tour, advantage of their absence to use Grand Avenue Park, now called Sportsman's Park, was taken by two nines representing, respectively, the press and the city government...The game was played on the afternoon of July 14, resulting in a victory for the reporters."

Kelsoe goes on to write that "(while) the St. Louis reporters were having a holiday game with our City Fathers...the original St. Louis Browns, were defeating the Atlantics at Brooklyn by the score of 2 to 1. The following day they won a second game in Brooklyn, making their sixth victory, without a single defeat since leaving home the week before, the other victims being the Philadelphias and the New York Mutuals, with two defeats each. The St. Louis Reds...were in Cincinnati for two games, one being with the Covington Stars across the river, which they won, losing the other."

This reference to the Reds playing in Covington in July of 1875 seems to come from Kelsoe's personal recollection and therefore can't be taken at face value unless confirmed by another source. However, it is rather significant because it speaks to why the Reds stopped playing championship matches after July 4, 1875.

Most of the general histories that mention the Reds erroneously claim that the team ceased operations after July 4th. The various reasons given for this are that the Reds never planned on making an Eastern road trip, they didn't have the money to make a road trip, or the players refused to make a road trip. The fact is the Reds made at least two major road trips after July 4th. The first was the trip to Cincinnati and Covington and the second was to Little Rock. Couple these with an earlier trip to Keokuk and Chicago and it doesn't seem that the Reds had problems making road trips. While they did disappear from the history of major league baseball after July 1875, the Reds were still a viable operation and soldiered on until the late 1880's.

However, the fact remains that the Reds did cease playing games against other NA teams after July 4th. The most likely reason for this is two-fold. First, it appears that they had difficulties scheduling games against the Eastern teams that precluded them from making an Eastern road trip. At the same time, the team fell apart. Joe Blong was either expelled from the club for "hippodroming" or bolted the team for greener pastures. Either way, on June 29, 1875, Blong signed a contract to play with the Stars of Covington, Ky. Shortly thereafter, Charlie Sweasy jumped ship and joined a team in Cincinnati and Packy Dillon and Trick McSorley joined Blong on the Stars. Although it's unclear, Silver Flint may also have joined the Stars. In the middle of the season, the Reds lost half their team and were left scrambling to find enough players to field a nine.

One question I always had was how did Blong, Sweasy, Dillon, McSorley, and possibly Flint all end up playing baseball in the Cincinnati area after July 4, 1875? Kelsoe may have provided the answer. If the Reds are in Cincinnati and Covington in early to mid July and at the same time their players are jumping to teams in Cincinnati and Covington, it would follow that the Reds were raided by the local teams during the road trip. It's very likely that if Blong was already playing for the Stars, he might have enticed his former teammates to jump ship.

Another question that remains is why so many of the Reds were willing to jump ship in the middle of the season? It's unlikely that there's one simple answer for that. The influence of Blong would certainly explain some of it. Sweasy's connections in Cincinnati probably played a role. Sweasy himself, an outsider brought in at the last minute and a man known to be difficult to deal with, likely made for a divisive clubhouse and may have drove some people away. The lack of on the field success couldn't have been good for morale. If the Reds were truly a co-op team then the lack of a promise of an Eastern road trip would have hurt the players financially and had them looking for greener pastures. Added together, all of this put a great deal of pressure on the club and its players.

If Kelsoe is correct, and again I believe we need another source to confirm it, then we can place the break up of the Reds' NA team in mid July when they made a road trip to Cincinnati and Covington. While the situation is still unclear and many questions remain, Kelsoe gets us one step closer to figuring out what happened to the Reds in July of 1875.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Commie's First Game With The Browns

I've been skimming through a biography of Charles Comiskey written by G.W. Axelson and published in 1919. Axelson allowed Comiskey to tell much of the story in his own words and, in that sense, the book is almost an autobiography. The year of publication is certainly interesting but it's probably a coincidence.

One of the things in the book that grabbed my attention was an account of Comiskey's first game as a Brown. Axelson writes that "(the) team which took the field in 1882, with Ed Cuthbert as manager, had some good players in its lineup but it did not compare with those which followed. Before the regular season opened in the spring exhibition games were played..." He then gives a box score for the game that the Browns played in St. Louis against the Standards, "the first game in which Comiskey appeared in a St. Louis Browns' uniform".

That, in and of itself, is rather interesting but the best part is who was playing in the game for the Standards: Pidge Morgan, Art Croft, Charlie Hautz, and Packy Dillon. It seems that in 1882 the Standards had almost half of the starting nine of the 1875 Reds.

I find this information significant for a couple of reasons. First, the guys playing for the Standards (including Frank Decker and Eddie Hogan) identifies the Standards as a St. Louis team. While it was assumed that the Browns would be playing a local team to tune up for the season, the fact that the Standards were stocked with St. Louis baseball players pretty much confirms it. I had never heard of the Standards before but I feel comfortable adding them to my list of 19th century St. Louis baseball teams (which I'll post one of these days).

The second reason I'm excited about this information is because we just don't know that much about some of the guys on the 1875 Reds, especially Dillon and Morgan. Any piece of information about them or any reference to them that I find always adds to the record. Information about these guys is so scarce that if I find a paragraph about them it's like hitting the motherload.

Before I read this book, I knew that Packy Dillon had pretty much retired from baseball by 1886 but I couldn't tell you much about his career after 1877. Now I know that he was still playing baseball in 1882. Also, this information probably means that he was still living in St. Louis in 1882. That adds quite a bit to what we know about Dillon.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

As God Is My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly

Click the link above to watch the single greatest Thanksgiving-related moment in television history.

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tom Dolan

"Thomas J. Dolan, at one time one of the very best known catchers in the National League, now drives a fuel wagon for the St. Louis Fire Department.

Dolan learned to play ball with the old St. Louis 'Reds' and he was graduated from there to the Buffalo National League team, where he handled the terrific delivery of Jimmy Galvin.

Ted Sullivan brought Dolan back to St. Louis in 1883 to play with the St. Louis Browns and he left the latter team in the middle of the playing season of 1884 to play with the St. Louis Unions.

On the Browns, Dolan caught the speedy pitching of George McGinnis, Silver King, Elton Chamberlain and Tony Mullane and for the Unions he caught Boyle and Healy.

Before then Dolan faced the best League pitchers and had won a reputation of being one of the best and most reliable receivers in America."

-From The National Game

A couple of quick notes:
  • I've yet to find a baseball player or person that Al Spink didn't just love and praise to high heaven. But I'm still looking and will be highly amused when I find the player that Al Spink didn't like.
  • Happy 87th birthday to Stan Musial, the one and only. Baseball's perfect warrior, baseball's perfect knight.

  • I read in the paper today that there is a global shortage of hops. This is nothing but bad. Combine this with a poor global barley harvest and the price of beer is going to go through the roof. These are dark days indeed.

  • Things are probably going to be a little slow around TGOG the next day or two with the holiday and all that. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and a perfect time to reflect on all the things that God has given us-plus there's lots to eat and football on tv. The only thing that would make Thanksgiving better is if we held it in early October and we had a baseball playoff tripleheader. But I'm thankful for what I have.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kelsoe On St. Louis Amateur Baseball In the 1860's


The death of Asa W. Smith, president of the Union Baseball Club of St. Louis, was reported in the papers of August 2 and 3 (1874). Asa, who was a son of Sol Smith, the actor, was accidentally drowned off the coast of Maine, at Biddeford Pool. The Keokuk Baseball Club had arrived in St. Louis, but the game scheduled with the Unions was abandoned. The visitors played the Empires, winning by 7 to 6.

The Unions were the principal competitors of the Empires for the city and state amateur baseball championship, the Reds being excluded from the contest, as some of their players were paid for their services. The Empires had held the championship two or three years and were again winners in 1874. The last president of the Unions, Judge C. Orrick Bishop, remembers that their winning championship team consisted of Eugene Greenleaf and Jim Freeman, pitcher and catcher; Joseph Charles ("Charley") Cabanne, E. C. Meacham and Rufus J. Lackland, Jr., on the bases; Bob Duncan, at short, and Asa W. Smith, Bill Duncan (Bob's brother) and Tom McCordell in the field. The last surviving member of that team, Mr. Cabanne, died in 1922 (March 17). Judge Bishop used to play occasionally, and so did W. C. Steigers (who died May 25, 1923), well known for over forty years as business manager of the Post-Dispatch; also Robert J. Lucas (died May 18, 1922). Judge Shepard Barclay, remembered as a crack pitcher in his college days, pitched for the Unions in a notable victory over the Nationals of Washington. Then there were Arthur Strong, Henry Berning, Harry Carr, Billy Yore and others who had won honors with the Olympics of Washington University or the Pickwicks of St. Louis University before joining the Unions. In their best days the Unions and Empires made a good showing against the best clubs of the country, including the famous Cincinnati Reds, the Forest Cities of Cleveland, the Rockfords and the Nationals, the Atlantics of Brooklyn, the Excelsiors of Chicago, the Unions of Morrisania, N. Y., and the Athletics of Philadelphia.

Among the local ball players of note in the sixties and who became prominent later in the industrial field were John D. Fitzgibbon, Jeremiah Fruin and John W. O'Connell. Mr. Fruin died in March, 1912, and Mr. O'Connell in August, 1918. Mr. Fitzgibbon is still with us. All three played with the Empires, Mr. Fitzgibbon being the club's captain and pitcher. When I called Capt. Fitzgibbon on the phone recently (in November,1923) he named, in addition to Fruin and O'Connell, already mentioned, most of their fellow players of fifty and more years ago-Pitcher Little, Tom Oran (catcher), John W. Shocky (later assistant chief of the St. Louis Fire Department and killed at a fire), Tom Murray, Tom Walsh, Charley Stevens, Adam Wirth, John Heath and Joe Schimper (a fireman who played ball under the name of Cambers, as stated elsewhere, and who, like Shocky, was killed by a falling wall at a fire). All these had passed away, said the veteran builder, except Stevens, one of the last to go being Fireman Wirth of Engine Company No. 14, a famous first baseman in amateur days.

The night of the conversation with Pitcher Fitzgibbon I had one also with Judge Shepard Barclay, referred to in a former paragraph as a crack pitcher of the Unions in his St. Louis college days. The judge had pitched for the Pickwicks of St. Louis University in their games with the Olympics of Washington University before he joined the Unions. He pitched the Unions to victory in one of their games with the Empires for the championship of Missouri and was their pitcher when the St. Louis Unions defeated the Nationals of Washington City. His fame as a pitcher for a college club continued with him after he left St. Louis University. This was the Barclay who pitched in the game that won for University of Virginia the championship of the South over the Washington and Lee University, the contest being reported by Chadwick for his publication. Nor was that all. Not content with his pitching victories in America, the St. Louisan crossed the ocean and pitched a winning game for "Columbia," a newly organized college club in the University of Berlin. The victory, however, dearest to his heart, the one this ex-member of the Missouri State Supreme Court loves to talk about most, was the one played in St. Louis, May 23, 1867, by the Olympics and the Pickwicks, a contest between the college clubs of, respectively, Washington University of St. Louis and St. Louis University, the latter winning with Barclay as the pitcher. The Judge remembers that Nat Hazard pitched for the Olympics and that the only player in that locally famous game still living, besides the two pitchers, is George A. Strong, now a New York lawyer,who played second base for Washington University. The umpire of the game was Adam Wirth, of the St. Louis Fire Department, as before stated, and nationally famous (because of the honor of having his picture in Harper's Weekly) as the first baseman of the old St. Louis Empire Club. The judge told of a game in which one side scored 127 runs, but I think that was another contest, perhaps one between the Unions and Nationals. Judge Barclay died November 17, 1925.

I have several letters somewhere from Henry Chadwick, but have mislaid them. In one he expressed a great desire that I try to locate a championship baseball won by the St. Louis Unions, rivals of the Empires, and have it presented to The Missouri Historical Society, but I have not been able to find it. The ball has gilt lettering and some reader of this page may know where it is.

-From A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture Of The City

Note: This is a fascinating piece by Kelsoe on the St. Louis amateur baseball scene of the 1860's. The first thing that jumped out at me was Kelsoe's statement that the Union had defeated the Nationals which was simply not true. Also, there's obviously some connection between the St. Louis Fire Department and the Empire Club which I was only vaguely aware of and that needs further research. It's also interesting that Kelsoe states that the Reds were excluded from the amateur championship when I have other sources that say they not only competed for the championship but they actually won it in the early 1870's. Finally, the ball that Chadwick was looking for may have been the ball that was used in the game between the Morning Stars and the Cyclones in 1860, the first game played in St. Louis. Supposedly, the ball was gilded and used as a trophy ball in St. Louis for years. According to Merritt Griswold, the ball was last in the hands of the Empire Club.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Jack Glasscock

"In the 1883 season by common consent Jack Glasscock, then a member of the Cleveland Club of the National League, was considered the greatest short-fielder.

Glasscock was a member of Cleveland's famous stone wall infield, which included Bill Phillips at first base, Fred Dunlap at second, Jerry Denny at third and Glasscock at short-field.

These four were all great players, but in fielding none of them had the edge on Glasscock. He was such a great player that when the Union Association was organized in 1884 and its manager went hunting for phenomenal players, men who would draw the crowds, Glasscock was among the many selected.

He was one of the trio of Cleveland players, Briody and McCormick being the others, who left the Cleveland team in the midst of the 1884 season to join forces with the Cincinnati Club of the Union Association. At this time Glasscock's playing was simply wonderful and his accession by the managers of the Union Association gave that organization a mighty boost.

When the Union Association was disbanded in 1884 Glasscock joined his old partners, Dunlap and Denny, on the St. Louis National League Club, which held forth at the old Union Grounds at Jefferson and Cass avenues for a single season. The St. Louis infield that year included Alex McKinnon, first base; Fred Dunlap, second base; Jerry Denny, third base; and Jack Glasscock, short-field.

St. Louisians were very proud of this organization and expected great things of it. But the team was not successful, either from a playing or financial standpoint and before the season was half over its owners were plunged into bankruptcy. But Glasscock's great playing was often talked of afterwards.

After leaving St. Louis, Glasscock went to Indianapolis, where he led the League short-stops in 1889 and then went to Pittsburgh, where in 1894, he again bobbed up as the leading man in his position.

Glasscock is now a carpenter working at his trade in Wheeling, W. Va. He was one of the greatest players from a fielding standpoint the game has ever known."

-From The National Game

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ubbo Ubbo

Joe Hornung has no connection to 19th century St. Louis baseball that I'm aware of but I just discovered that his nickname was "Ubbo Ubbo" and felt it necessary to share this information.

You have to take this with a grain of salt but there's an explanation for the nickname at Wikipedia. The article on Hornung claims that he earned his nickname because he habitually shouted "ubbo ubbo" when he got a hit or made a nice play in the field. Shockingly, there's no source cited for this claim.

"Ubbo Ubbo"-it's kind of funny, slightly disturbing, and just one more reason to love 19th century baseball.

John Clapp

In The National Game, Al Spink writes that "John Clapp was one of the greatest catchers that ever lived. He was the leading catcher of St. Louis' first major league team away back in 1876. In 1878 he was catcher of the famous Indianapolis team and later he played with the best nines in America. He was a wonderful receiver, handling the speediest pitching with the greatest of ease." Clapp, whom Spink claimed enjoyed a "world wide reputation", played for the 1876 and 1877 Brown Stockings National League team.

William Ryczek, in Blackguards and Redstockings, called Clapp "an outstanding receiver". He went on to write that "John Clapp, a tough youngster from Ithaca with a powerful throwing arm, was brought to (Middletown, Connecticut in 1872) to work behind the plate. In January Clapp had written to Harry Wright attempting to secure a position with the Red Stockings but had been rebuffed. He quickly became a standout with the Mansfields and lasted 11 years in the majors, establishing a then record National League consecutive game streak of 212 between 1876 and 1879, no mean feat considering the lack of protection for the man behind the bat. The streak was due not merely to good fortune, but to Clapp's stoic nature as well. He was an ironman in every sense of the word. In an 1872 exhibition against Yale, the catcher was hit in the side with a bat, hit in the head with a ball, and had a finger dislocated, yet he remained in the game."

Kelsoe And The Old Capitals Visit St. Louis

In A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture of the City, W.A. Kelsoe has a nice piece on the great Boston Red Stockings' visit to St. Louis in 1875. One of the baseball writers covering the trip was Phil McDonald, who was working for the New York Clipper. McDonald was "a tall, rather slender young man who had seen much active ball playing in St. Louis late in the sixties, when he was manager of the Imperials, an amateur club whose players (with one or two exceptions) lived on or near Easton avenue between Twenty-fourth street and Grand avenue." Kelsoe, in a fascinating digression, tells about his days playing baseball for the Old Capitals of Vandalia and a trip they made to St. Louis to play the Imperials and the Empires.

Kelsoe writes that "(the) Imperials played in the first ballgame I ever attended (either as spectator or player) in St. Louis. The match, as such games were then called, took place August 18, 1869, at the Grand avenue park (now the home of the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals), their opponents being the "Old Capitals," of Vandalia, Ill., the capital of that state back in the twenties and thirties. (A few years later the Old Capitals won the baseball championship of Southern Illinois.) McDonald's club had played a short time before in Vandalia (my home town then) and Greenville (my home town earlier in my life) and this was one of the return games. The Old Capitals were the victors here, as at home, but the next day we were soundly trounced by the Empires, the champions of Missouri, on the same grounds...Not long ago (December 16, 1921) I received a visit from (a former Old Capital teammate) and during the conversation the two St. Louis games here mentioned were recalled and our defeat the second day attributed to our poor playing condition after a night of conviviality in a big city, particularly the illness of our man on second base (my regular position later, but in the St. Louis games I covered third)."

During his friend's visit in 1921, Kelsoe "made a search for a little memorandum book in which, on the day of the game in Vandalia, July 20, 1869, I had written the names and addresses of the visiting Imperials, but...I failed to find it. Later the little book turned up and knowing my liability to mislay things, I have copied off the list (including the names of the substitutes and manager) for (this book): 'Phil. McDonald, corner of Twenty-sixth and Mills streets; Ben. Bonner, 2618 Franklin avenue; Joe. Dubuque, Sixth street and Franklin avenue; --Granger ,Grand and Easton avenues; --Kenefick, Mills and Twenty-sixth streets; Fred. Skeele, Twenty-fourth and Morgan streets; -- Easton, Alby and Easton avenues; --Eaton, Bell street and Grand avenue; Jake Corbett, 2822 Easton avenue; --Mathews, Cass and Grand avenues; -- Gannett (or Garnett), East St. Louis; --Fitzgibbon, 2822 Easton avenue.'"

Saturday, November 17, 2007

David Reid

In a post about George Munson, I mentioned the death of David Reid, a prominent 19th century sportswriter. Al Spinks wrote that there "were few newspaper men, if any, who were more prominently and actively identified with the National Game from the inception of professionalism up to his retirement..."

At Baseball Fever, Bill Burgess has a great thread about baseball writers. One of the more than three hundred writers that Bill chronicles is David Reid. Bill dug up Reid's obituary in The St. Louis Republican and posted it in his thread. The obituary was published in the May 3, 1885 issue of the Republican and I'm presenting it in full below.

Dave Reid Dead; Sudden demise of a Well-Known Sporting Editor.

David Lytton Reid, one of the best known sporting writers and base ball enthusiasts, died at the residence of his friend and chum, George Munson, 1321 Pine street, very unexpectedly last evening at 9:40. His death was a very unexpected after a very brief illness. Late Friday afternoon, while at Grand and Easton avenue, he was suddenly taken with a congestion chill, resulting in severe cramping of the stomach and the pain became violent after he arrived at Mr. Munson's room on Pine street. He laid down on the lounge for a while and his wants were administered to by Mrs. Brothers, who at his suggestion called in Dr. Rutledge and after a short while relief was afforded and he passed an easy night, relieving to a great extent the anxiety and fears which the symptoms first aroused. In the morning he woke up early about 6 o'clock, and seemed greatly refreshed over his night's rest. He spoke cheerfully of his condition, and in response to inquiries stated that he was very greatly relieved. During the day, however, he became worse, and toward evening the hand of death became visible over his cold body. Surrounded by a large number of friends, he quietly passed away at 9:10 P. M., being conscious to the last. His death will be a severe blow to his legion of friends throughout the country, his many excellent qualities of heart and mind endearing him to all with whom he came in contact. He was best known by his remarkable knowledge of national game affairs, his writings on base ball having been recognized everywhere as authoritative and thoroughly reliable. Dave Reid was a name familiar to all baseball men, managers, players, and all those associated with the national game, and his untimely death will be all the more mourned, because of the loss of one whose versatile talents and fine abilities as a writer and grand characteristics as a man made him a prominent figure in the everyday walks of life. He was born in Nashville, Tenn., nearly thirty-seven years ago. His parents soon removed to New York city, where he was reared and received his education. He began life in the dry goods business, but his remarkable natural bent for newspaper work soon found cultivation in the large range of the metropolitan press. He wrote largely for the New York Clipper, Herald, Sunday Dispatch, New York Times, Sunday Mercury and other noted New York papers. Early in the seventies he moved to Philadelphia and became one of the managing editors of the Philadelphia Sunday Dispatch, devoting the greater portion of his time and talents to the base ball department, which was recognized as the leading authority on the national game, and established for the paper a grand reputation.

He was secretary of the Athletic club of Philadelphia in its palmiest days - 1872-73. He came to St. Louis, about ten years ago. He was the official scorer of the original Brown stockings club, and for several years did most of the base ball writing for the St. Louis Times. During the base ball season of 1883, and for some years afterwards he was sporting editor of the Republic and afterwards held the same position on the Post-Dispatch and at the time of his death was running the baseball department of that paper. He has also done a great deal of work for the Critic, Sunday Sayings and other weekly local papers. He was also for more than a year amusement editor of the Post-Dispatch. He was unmarried, but leaves a mother and two brothers in New York city.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Jack Brennan Was A Piece Of Work

It seems that Jack Brennan had a nose for trouble. Just a few months after getting out of jail in St. Louis, Brennan returned to the city and had a sordid tale to tell in the December 4, 1886 issue of The Sporting News.

"Jack Brennan, the catcher for the old St. Louis Union team, has just returned from Little Rock. He tells quite a story of how a gambler down here gave him $50 to throw a game. As soon as Jack had the money in hand, he told the manager of the Little Rocks about the offered bribe, and then went in and instead of helping to throw the game, he helped win it. And he was able to do that, because he was catching. The Madisons, of Edwardsville, were playing in Little Rock at the time. After the disposal of three games they were about to leave town for St. Louis, when a man named Rich approached the manager of the Madisons and asked if he would stay over and play a fourth game. The manager asked what there was in it. Rich replied that he had bet the Little Rock Club $500 that the Madisons could beat them and he had put up a $200 forfeit. The manager replied: 'I will play if we get half of the gate receipts.' After talking the matter over with the manager of the Little Rock Club it was decided to give the Madisons half of the gate receipts in order to keep them over to play for the $500 bet.

"The same night a certain person approached Rich, saying: 'Why don't you get somebody to sell the game?'

"Rich replied: 'Who can I get?'

"The other person (who, by the way, pretends to be an honest player) said: 'Why not get Jack Brennan? If you get him to sell the game, we will have them, for he is the 'kingpin' of the team.'

"After some further conversation, it was agreed to get Brennan to sell the game that night. While Brennan was passing the Capital Hotel he was approached by Rich, who asked Brennan to take a buggy ride with him. After riding around awhile and taking a few drinks, Rich said: 'Jack, how would you like to make fifty dollars?'

"'That would hit me were I live,' said Brennan, 'but how am I to make it?'

"'I can put you on to a scheme that will work to perfection,' said Rich, at the same time giving Brennan a poke in the ribs.

"'Well, spit it out,' said Jack.

"'Well,' said Rich, 'if you will throw this game for me to-morrow, I will give you fifty dollars.'

"Brennan said: 'All right; give me the fifty.'

"Rich replied: 'I have not got it just now, but if you will meet me at the Capitol Hotel in about five minutes, you can have it.'

"Brennan went around to the hotel and there met Zlick Alexander, the assistant manager, and Douthett, the centre fielder of the Little Rock Club.

"After standing there about three minutes, who should come out of the door of the hotel but Rich, who called Brennan to him, and walking along side of him said, 'Here is your money,' and slipping it into Brennan's hand, walked away. After Rich had gone, Brennan went up to Alexander and Douthett and said: 'Let's take a walk in the park. I want to tell you something.'

"When in the park they seated themselves, and Brennan said: 'Zlick, a man approached me and asked me to sell to-morrow's game and gave me fifty dollars to signify that he meant business.'

"'Well, are you going to sell the game?' asked Douthett.

"'No, you fool; what do you take me for? I'm no chump,' said Brennan. 'I only want to show the sucker how easily he can be bled.'

"The next day, as already stated, Brennan went in and played like a good fellow, his side winning the game easily. Of course the gambler was enraged and threatened to shoot Brennan, but that was all. The fifty dollars was turned over to the Little Rock management, who in turn gave it to one of the local charitable institutions."

I have to give a big hat tip to Jason Christopherson, who sent me a bunch of information on Brennan, including the above piece.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

W.A. Kelsoe

There's a large section of The National Game devoted to profiles of baseball writers. Al Spink, a baseball writer and newspaper man himself, believed that these men played a prominent role in building up the game and making it the national pastime. He believed that their role in the history of the game deserved to be chronicled. One of the baseball writers that he profiled was W.A. Kelsoe, author of my new favorite book, A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture Of The City When We Got Our First Bridge, And Of Many Later Happenings of Local Note.

Spink wrote that "(one) of the first of St. Louis baseball writers was William A. Kelsoe, now a member of the editorial staff of the Post-Dispatch. Mr. Kelsoe was one of the men who reported the famous game between the St. Louis Browns and the Syracuse Stars on May 1, 1877. In those days the local newspapers placed an embargo on baseball news. And the man who wrote that sort of thing did it through sheer love of the game and then had to beg his way into print. 'Bill' Kelsoe, as we called him in the long ago, was one of the men who wrote the game because he loved it. He was the city editor of the Republic in the early eighties and I was a cub reporter on that newspaper then. It was my ambition in those days to write of the baseball games and to smuggle as much of the stuff into the newspaper as possible. In my essays in this direction I always found a true friend in 'Old Bill.' He passed my copy early and often, and was so kind and good always that I learned to love him as did the other reporters who followed me. To-day 'Old Bill' often goes to the ball games and of the little army of newspaper men that follow the game there are none so universally beloved, so well honored and respected or so well thought of as he."

The 1877 game between the Brown Stockings and Syracuse that Spink mentions was a fifteen inning, 0-0 game that was called on account of darkness. Kelsoe entitled his piece about the game in A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture Of The City "The Greatest Of St. Louis Ball Games". I can't remember if I've posted anything about this game or not. I'll have to check. Regardless, I may post some of Kelsoe's recollections about that game this weekend.

Update: It looks like I did post something about the game here. It's getting harder and harder to remember what I've covered and what I haven't. Premature senility, I guess.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

General Sherman Visits The Ballpark

W.A. Kelsoe, in A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture Of The City, describes the second Brown Stockings-White Stockings game:

"The second game between the Chicago Whites and the St. Louis Browns, played here Saturday, May 8 (1875), resulted in another victory for the home club, but this time St. Louis made only four runs and Chicago scored three, all in the last inning. The crowd was even larger than at the first game, being estimated at over 8,000 people. One of the spectators was General Sherman, who viewed the game from a seat with the reporters in the press stand. He seemed to enjoy the game fully as much as he did the trotting when with General Grant at the 'Big Thursday' races of the St. Louis Fair a few months before, in October, 1874. The headquarters of the United States Army were still in St. Louis, southwest corner of Tenth and Locust streets. It was a splendid game throughout, 'the best ballplaying ever seen west of the Mississippi,' said City Editor Stevens in one of his headlines for my report of the contest. Ed. Cuthbert, noted as an outfielder, caught three flies in this game and ended the eighth inning with a foul-bound catch, fouls taken on the first bound then counting as outs. Chicago had now had seventeen innings in succession (counting those of the first game) without making a single run. Then came the last inning of the second game, when Bradley, the St. Louis pitcher in both games, was batted for three safe hits, as many as Chicago had made in the other eight innings, and three runs resulted, every one of them earned. The umpire was James Baron, shortstop of the old Missouri champion Empires."

Sherman, who had been appointed Commanding General of the United States Army by President Grant, had moved his headquarters to St. Louis in order to escape the political infighting of Washington D.C. Prior to the Civil War, Sherman had lived in St. Louis and served as president of the Fifth Street Railroad. Interestingly, Sherman writes in his memoirs "that Mr. Lucas...held a controlling intrest of stock" in the railroad and was one of the people who wanted to hire him for the job. Lucas was most likely J.B.C. Lucas, one of the richest men in St. Louis and president of the Brown Stockings. Sherman, who died in 1891, is buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis.

The "St. Louis Fair" that Kelsoe mentions is, of course, not the World's Fair that was held in 1904 but rather an event that was held annually in the city. In 1856, a group called the St. Louis Agricultural and Mechanical Association purchased a site of 50 acres north of the city on Grand Avenue and set up the Fairgrounds, which included what was at the time the largest amphitheater in the United States, a mechanical hall, a agricultural hall, a floral hall, a Gothic fine arts hall, a three stories high "Chicken Palace" for displaying poultry, a race track, and a grandstands. According to the Fairground Park website, "(the) fair was an immediate success and soon became noted all over the country. It was, in reality, a gigantic country fair. There were booths for vending wine, beer, and other delicacies. There were displays of livestock, poultry, vegetables, grains, and the latest inventions in farm machinery, tools, household gadgets, etc." In 1860, the first baseball game ever held in St. Louis took place on the Fairgrounds.

I think that Sherman's presence at the game shows the significance of the Brown Stockings' May 6th victory over Chicago. The hoopla that followed that game brought out not only a larger crowd, as noted by Kelsoe, but also one of the city's most prominent citizens.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Chicago Is Sorry She Was Ever Rebuilt"

If I could choose one game in the history of baseball to attend, I would without hesitation choose the May 6, 1875 game between the St. Louis Brown Stockings and the Chicago White Stockings at the Grand Avenue Ballpark. While the game itself was not a great one, its significance was enormous.

Since its inception, the Chicago club had been coming down to St. Louis and having its way with the best teams the city had to offer. This was extraordinarily galling to the people of St. Louis for several reasons. First, they were proud of their baseball teams, players, and tradition and were not pleased to have outsiders come in and trounce their favorites. Second, and more importantly, the rivalry between St. Louis and Chicago was alive and very real by this time. The two cities were in a fight for the economic dominance of what would come to be called the Midwest. Both cities were experiencing tremendous growth in population and economic development and were, by 1870, the fourth (St. Louis) and fifth (Chicago) largest cities in the United States. This rivalry with Chicago, both on the baseball diamond and in general, was the major impetus for the creation of St. Louis professional teams that would compete in the NA for the championship.

In A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture of the City, W. A. Kelsoe has a nice account of the first meeting between the new St. Louis professional club and the hated White Stockings which is reproduced in full below.


Under an announcement, May 6, that the Chicago Baseball Club would arrive in St. Louis from Keokuk at 8:30 that morning, the Times printed this item under the headline "Spicy Correspondence":

"A telegram was received from Chicago as follows: 'To W. C. Steigers, Times Office, St. Louis, Mo.-I am authorized to ask of you if the St. Louis club will bet $1,000 against the Chicago club on the result of the coming match. Money up. Answer. (signed), Ralph A. Ladd, Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago.' Mr. Steigers, vice-president and acting president of the St. Louis club, promptly replied: 'St. Louis, May 5. To Ralph A. Ladd, Grand Pacific Hotel, Chicago. The St. Louis club will not gamble. I think individuals here will accommodate you in any amount from one to ten thousand dollars. (signed), W. C. Steigers.'"

The morning these telegrams were published (May 6) the famous Chicago White Stockings arrived in St. Louis and that afternoon the city's second professional baseball game was played, the first one for St. Louis in which another city was represented. It was the dedication of Grand Avenue Park, now called Sportsman's Park, to professional baseball. The contest ended in a victory for the Browns by the score of 10 to 0. Adam Wirth, a member of the St. Louis Fire Department and a member also of our crack amateur ball club, the Empires, umpired that historic game. It was a one-sided game and Adam had no close plays to decide. George Washington Bradley held the visitors to four hits, all of them singles, and only three Chicago men were left on base. St. Louis made 13 hits, with a total of twenty bases, and seven men were left on base. "The crowd was simply enormous," said the St. Louis Times next morning, and a little further on the paper continued: "A rope had to be extended across a portion of the right field (then on the northside of the park) to give relief to those who were packed like sardines in a box against the fence between the field and the seats (bleachers).

* * * A comical sight was when the occupants of the eastern tiers rose en masse to stretch, the effect being indescribably ludicrous * * *

When the surprise was over and the fact that the Whites had drawn a nest of goose-eggs was realized, the entire assemblage in the seats arose and shouted until they were hoarse. They danced and sang and threw their hats in the air. They kissed, wept and laughed over each other, embraced, shook hands, slapped each other's backs and ran to and fro like mad men. " When the Boston champions were here a little later another such scene occurred, but it hardly equalled this one as seen from the press seats. All the St. Louis papers made a big ado over our victory. The Globe's report (written by Wm. M. Spink), had a long head topped with the one word "Chicagoed," which was explained in the introduction in this way: "In 1870 when the Mutuals (of New York) defeated the Chicagos by the score of 10 to 0, the baseball term 'skunked' was changed to the less vulgar and equally suggestive expression 'Chicagoed,' which the Whites (Chicagos) now, more than ever, are fairly entitled to." How the Chicago papers took the defeat of the Whites in St. Louis may be inferred from one (the third) of ten "lines" in the head of the Chicago Tribune's report of the game: "The fate of the two cities decided by eighteen hired men. St. Louis no longer wants to be the national capital and Chicago is sorry she was ever rebuilt."

Kelsoe was not exaggerating about the reaction of the crowd to the victory. Other sources tell of the people streaming out of the ballpark and parading jubilantly through the streets of the city with the crowd growing and growing as news of the victory spread. The celebration lasted throughout the night, the next day, and carried over into the second game between the Brown Stockings and White Stockings on May 8th. When the home team won that game 4-3, the celebration again went well into the night.

With the victory on May 6th, coupled with that of May 8th, the baseball honor of St. Louis was restored, a blow was struck in the rivalry with Chicago, and professional baseball was established in the city on a firm foundation of popular support.

Monday, November 12, 2007

So Run, That Ye May Obtain

"When I played ball I could outrun any man in the National League," (Billy Sunday) said. "Arlie Latham could do the same in the American League, so we fixed it up to have a race one Sunday afternoon. But in the meantime I got converted. I went to Cap Anson and said : "Cap, I can't do it. I'm converted and I can't run that race on Sunday." Cap said to me, "Bill, don't show the white feather. We've got $12,000 bet on you and all the boys have bet their last cent on you. If you don't win that race they'll have to eat snowballs next winter. You go down to St. Louis and run that race and fix it up with God afterwards."

"Well, I ran the race and I beat Latham by 15 feet and came home with my pockets full of money. I then went before the presbytery and told 'em all and stuck to the church, and after eight years they ordained me as a minister. And then the other day Westminster gave me an honorary "D. D." Say, that's going some for an old sport that's never seen the inside of a college, isn't it?"

-From The Spectacular Career of Rev. Billy Sunday by Theodore Frankenberg

Bill James, in The Historical Baseball Abstract, has a nice account of the big race, which took place in August of 1885. James wrote that "(Latham) had a famous foot race with Billy Sunday, the fastest man on the Chicago White Stockings. The Browns players bet on Latham; the White Stockings, on Sunday. Sunday beat him easily, ran away from him. Latham was maybe the fastest man in the American Association, but Sunday, as it turned out, was way faster."

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture Of The City

I recently found a great book, written by W.A. Kelsoe, with the unwieldy title of A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture Of The City When We Got Our First Bridge, And Many Later Happenings Of Note. Kelsoe, who worked as a newspaper man in St. Louis from the mid 1870's until July of 1919, wrote in the introduction that the book was "a record of the local news in St. Louis..." covering "the twelve months ending June 31, 1875." While Kelsoe used contemporary newspaper accounts from the period, including those from the Times, the Globe, the Democrat, the Globe-Democrat and the Republican, he also certainly based much of the book, which was published in 1927, on his own personal recollections and those of his friends.

The best thing about this book, from my point of view, is that during 1874 and 1875, Kelsoe was covering baseball for the St. Louis Times and he has quite a bit to say about baseball during this period. Besides being a sportswriter, Kelsoe also happened to have been a baseball player, having played with the Old Capitols of Vandalia in the late 1860's when they visited St. Louis to play the Empire Club and the Imperial Club.

While it's definitely a gold mine of information, the book presents some difficulty. Kelsoe was writing the book in 1920's and his memory was faulty in many instances of fact. It's difficult to tell sometimes when Kelsoe was using a contemporary source or was writing from memory. There are enough minor errors in the book to make one question the entirety of the work and there are just enough whoppers (such as Kelsoe's claim that the Union defeated the Nationals of Washington) to make one wonder if Kelsoe was senile when he wrote the book.

One example of the difficulty I have with the book is the report of a game on July 29, 1874 between the Reds and the Atlantics. According to Kelsoe, "the St. Louis Red Stockings were defeated on their grounds, the Compton Avenue Ball Park, by the Atlantics of Brooklyn, one of the best baseball clubs in the country. This Compton avenue park could be reached by trains on the Missouri Pacific railroad, but it was seldom the attendance was sufficient to justify the running of such accommodation trains. Manager Thomas McNeary's club, as the Reds were called, was a member of the National Baseball Players Association the next year (1875), the year 'our original Browns' were organized, when St. Louis was represented in the National organization by two clubs."

I find that paragraph significant for several reasons. First, due to my 21st century point of view and my personal experience with trains and railroad tracks in St. Louis, I never considered the fact that the Missouri Pacific yards at Compton Avenue could be used to bring people to the game. Trains are used to haul freight not people. Kelsoe has caused me to adjust my view of what a game at Compton Park would be like. Second, he writes that "seldom the attendance was sufficient to justify the running of such accommodation trains." This also gives me a great deal of information. It tells me that sometimes special trains were run to Compton Park for games and also that the Reds' attendance, in general, wasn't that great (which is supported by most contemporary sources that have their attendance on average at around 500-1000 people). Also, it's interesting that Kelsoe claims that the Reds were referred to by the name of their manager, Thomas McNeary. There are several references in the book to "the McNeary's" or "the McNeary Reds". I had never seen that before.

But the problem is that the Reds most likely never played the Atlantics of Brooklyn on July 29, 1874. I can find no supporting evidence anywhere that the Atlantics were in St. Louis in 1874. On July 15th, they played a game in New York against the Mutuals. On July 22nd, the Brooklyn Eagle reports that the Atlantics are in Canada. During the first week of August, they played the Dayton Club in Ohio. So while the Atlantics were certainly on a road trip in the second half of July of 1874, I can't find any source that supports Kelsoe's claim that they came to St. Louis and played the Reds. It's possible that the Reds played a team called the Atlantics that day and Kelsoe, writing fifty years after the fact, assumed it was the Atlantics of Brooklyn.

Also, Kelsoe writes that the Reds were a member of "the National Baseball Players Association" in 1875 when he meant the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. That may seem nit picky but the book is full of small errors like that where Kelsoe misidentifies a league or a team. As a reader, you know what he means and adjust mentally but it still makes you scratch your head.

All in all, A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture of the City is a great book and worth reading if you're interested in the history of 19th century St. Louis. As a baseball researcher, I find the book to be both a treasure trove of information and a source of extraordinary frustration.

A Newspaper Man's Motion-Picture Of The City When We Got Our First Bridge, And Many Later Happenings Of Note can be found online here.

"A Character All Its Own"

There's a fantastic article written by James Parton in the June 1867 issue of The Atlantic Monthly entitled The City Of St. Louis, telling of a trip the author made to St. Louis in that year. The author manages to be both amazingly condescending to the people of the city while at the same time being highly impressed with all that he saw. He went so far as to proclaim that St. Louis would one day be the capitol of the United States.

Parton states that "(St. Louis) has a character all its own, to which many elements have contributed, and which many influences have modified. The ball-clubs, playing in the fields on Sunday afternoons, the billiard rooms open on Sunday, the great number of assemblies, balls and parties, the existence of five elegant and expensively sustained theatres in a town of two hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants, the closing of all the stores by sunset in winter, and before sunset in summer, and an indefinable something in the tone and air of the people, notify the stranger that he is in a place which was not the work exclusively of the Puritan, nor even of the Protestant." So I guess you can blame Sunday baseball on all of us evil, lazy Papists here in St. Louis where, the author writes disdainfully, "the civilization is...essentially Catholic."

Parton goes on to write about the influence of African-Americans on St. Louis. "As the chief city of a State that shared, and deliberately chose to share, the curse of slavery, it has much of the languor and carelessness induced by the habit of being served by slaves. The negro, too, has imparted, his accent to the tongue of the city..." Obviously suffering under the sinister influence of the Catholics of the city, even "the imitative negroes turn out on Sundays and play matches of base-ball in costume." Parton's article is the earliest reference that I've found so far of African-Americans playing baseball in St. Louis.

Note: The above picture of the St. Louis riverfront was taken from the cupola of the Old Courthouse sometime in the 1870's. The steeple of the Basilica of St. Louis, King (also known as the Old Cathedral) is visible in the picture.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dunlap's End

On May 15, 1890, Fred Dunlap was released by Pittsburgh. A series of leg injuries had limited Dunlap to a total of 147 games in 1887 and 1888 and had essentially ended his usefulness as a baseball player by the time he was thirty years old. In his last full season in the major leagues in 1889, Dunlap hit a mere .235 with an OPS+ of only 74.

After his release, Dunlap joined a very good New York Giants Players League team for one game. It's ironic that at the end of his career Dunlap finally fulfilled his desire to play in New York and was able to do so in a league that was created by a labor movement that he had helped facilitate. The following year, his playing days came to an end after he managed to play in only eight games for the Washington Nationals of the AA.

Dunlap, who was known to be thrifty, had made a lot of money while playing baseball and "being of an economical turn he put away a great deal of this sum." The Brooklyn Eagle, in an 1895 article, wrote that "his savings was turned into real estate and out of these investments he has grown comparatively rich." When Al Spink ran into Dunlap in 1901, the former second baseman told him that he had saved most of his money and invested it in Philadelphia real estate. He also claimed to have $100,000 in the bank.

The last year of Dunlap's life was a difficult one. Although the circumstances are unclear, sometime in 1902 Dunlap lost his savings and investments and fell on hard times. Financially ruined, he was described in his final year of life as living as "a pauper". While no one seems to know what happened to Dunlap's money, it's probably safe to assume that he lost his investments in the economic instability of the era rather than through dissipation.

Fred Dunlap died on December 1, 1902 at the age of 43 of a "tubercular distended rectum". At the time he was living in what is variously described as an alms house or a seedy rooming house. His body lay unidentified in a Philadelphia morgue for some time until it was finally identified by a former teammate. Since Dunlap had died destitute, he was to have been buried in a potter's field until a local sportswriter arranged for him to have a proper funeral. According to Spink, "(his) funeral...was ignored by the professional players of the Quaker City with whom he was never a favorite." The sportswriter who had arranged Dunlap's funeral later told Spink that "(there) was not enough friends of Dunlap at his funeral to bury him and we had to call on the hack drivers to make up the list of active pall-bearers."

Friday, November 9, 2007

The Sad, Lonely Life Of Fred Dunlap

Fred Dunlap was born in Philadelphia on May 21, 1859. It was in Philadelphia that Dunlap learned to play baseball and was discovered by the Cleveland League team.

Orphaned sometime before his tenth birthday, Dunlap never attended school, could neither read nor write, "and the people that he lived with cared little were he went." Al Spink wrote in The National Game that "when he was not 'at home' eating his meals he was out...hitting fungoes, catching the ball, throwing it...the lad learned nothing but ball-playing, it was his only source of delight."

I find Spink's choice of words rather sad. Dunlap didn't have family. He had "the people that he lived with". Home was only a place to eat meals and sleep. Dunlap, who never married, lived his entire life alone, with no family and few friends.

Without trying to psychoanalyze him, it seems that much of Dunlap's behavior can be explained by this upbringing. The fights, the interpersonal difficulties, the moving from team to team, the preoccupation with money, the "me first" attitude-all of this can be seen as the behavior of a man who never learned to trust people. It doesn't take Freud to see a person in Dunlap who lost his parents at a young age and never was able to form strong bonds with people ever again.

Dunlap tried to replace personal relationships with money in an attempt to find the security that he lost when he was a boy. Ironically, Dunlap lost his fortune around the turn of the century and died broke and alone.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Report Of The Baseball Game

Hoosier Lyrics is a book of poetry by Eugene Field, who was born in St. Louis in 1850. While Field was raised in Massachusetts and lived in various places throughout his life, he returned to St. Louis as an adult and worked for several local newspapers from 1876 to 1880. Hoosier Lyrics contains three poems that have baseball as its subject and, in my opinion, the best is Report of the Baseball Game, a humorous account of an 1886 World Series game between the St. Louis Browns and the Chicago White Stockings. The fact that Field lived in Chicago from 1883 until his death in 1895 gives the poem an interesting perspective. I post it here for your pleasure.


It was a very pleasant game,
And there was naught of grumbling
Until the baleful tidings came
That Williamson was "fumbling."
Then all at once a hideous gloom
Fell o'er all manly features,
And Clayton's cozy, quiet room
Was full of frantic creatures.

"Click, click," the tiny ticker went,
The tape began to rattle,
And pallid, eager faces bent
To read the news from battle;
Down, down, ten million feet or more,
Chicago's hope went tumbling,
When came the word that Burns and Gore
And Pfeffer, too, were "fumbling."

No diagram was needed then
To point the Browns to glory-
The simple fact that these four men
Were "fumbling" told the story.

There is not a club in all the land-
No odds how weak or humble-
That beats us when our short-stop and
Our second baseman "fumble."

There was some talk of hippodrome
'Mid frequent calls for liquor,
Then each Chicago man went home
Much wiser, poorer, sicker;
And many a giant intellect
Seemed slowly, surely crumbling
Beneath the dolorous effect
Of that St. Louis "fumbling."

Ah, well, the struggle's but just begun,
So what is the use of fretting
If by a little harmless fun
Our boys can bull the betting?
When comes the tug of war there'll be
No accidental stumbling,
And then, you bet your boots, you'll see
No mention made of "fumbling."