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.

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