Sunday, September 30, 2007
In November of 1875, as the St. Louis Red Stockings were wrapping up their season, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, a notorious pro-Reds paper, provided a look back on the season. While modern reference material have the Reds finishing at 4-15, the Globe reported that the Reds had played 18 championship games with a record of 4-14. Sadly, they did not give the Reds' record in non-NA games.
The article reported that the Reds planed to hold a meeting on November 8th at the Laclede Hotel in St. Louis, with the intention "to place a Centennial nine in the field, composed entirely of home talent..." The Globe was well aware of the machinations that were taking place leading to the end of the NA and the birth of the NL. They believed that, when reorganized, the Reds would be the class of "the second tier" of teams, those left out of the NL.
As to the season just past, the Globe stated that "the Red Stockings made a record of which they may well be proud. The nine, with the exception of Sweasy, the veteran who 'coached' them during the early part of the season, was made up of St. Louis players...had they been properly treated by the leading clubs, they would have stood better at the close of the season..." The Globe had complained all season about the way the Reds had been treated by the Eastern powers as well as by Chicago and the Brown Stockings.
Their main point of contention was that the powers would not schedule games with the Reds. They believed that the Reds should have gotten agreements about the schedule in the early part of the season and thought it a mistake to begin the season without scheduling commitments from Eastern teams. The Globe also had some unkind words about the Brown Stockings and their refusal to schedule more than two games with the Reds.
This is an interesting take on events being that most modern accounts of the 1875 season state that the Reds never had any intention of going on an Eastern road trip and they existed as a Western co-op team simply to give Eastern teams another opponent in the West. This contemporary account by the Globe contradicts that interpretation. The Globe states that the Reds would have gone East in 1875 if they could have scheduled the games. Essentially, the Globe's position was that the Eastern teams ignored the Reds and didn't want them in their parks.
The Globe also believed that it would have been better for all involved if the Reds had remained an amateur club. "Each amateur organization is allowed one professional for training purposes, and, had the boys not entered for the whip pennant, they would have been the champion amateur club of the country. St. Louis can, without a doubt, get together a finer team of non-professionals than any other city in the Union."
The Globe believed, given the competitive nature of the Reds' games against the "clubs of first class" and their winning record against the NA's second division, that if the Reds had consolidated the amateur talent in St. Louis for the purpose of competing for the amateur championship rather than the professional championship then the Reds would have been the best amateur team in the country. Regardless of whether this is true or not, I think this reflects the heavy bias in St. Louis in favour of amateur baseball.