Monday, July 28, 2008

The Reds First Big Win

If we accept E.H. Tobias' assertion that the Reds came into existence in 1873 (as I believe that the evidence suggests we should) then the Reds first big win against a St. Louis amateur power came on July 19, 1873 against the Turners. The Turner Base Ball Club had been in existence since at least 1869 and was a member of the State Base Ball Association. They challenged for the championship in 1872 and were able to take one game from the Empire Club. In 1873 they challenged the Empires again although they lost all three games to the champions. The Turners' reputation was such that when the Chicago White Stockings visited St. Louis in 1874 one of the teams that they played was the Turners.

Despite the Turners reputation as a top amateur team, the upstart Reds were actually favored in the first game between the two. On July 5, the two teams met and to the surprise of the Red Stocking faithful the Turners hung eleven runs on the new club in the third inning and went on to win the game 19-17. Tobias writes that Packy Dillon, the Reds' catcher, was suffering from a finger injury during the game that caused the Reds to shuffle their lineup to the teams' detriment.

The second game of the series between the two clubs took place on July 19. In what was described as "a splendid exhibition of cool, watchful playing," the Reds avenged their earlier defeat. Jumping out to a 7-0 lead, the Reds defeated the Turners 16-5 behind four runs by Billy Redmon and three each by John Paul Peters and center fielder Dean. Pidge Morgan pitched well, putting up goose eggs in six frames, and the Reds defense played outstandingly behind him, committing only "three or four" errors.

This was a significant victory for the Reds, establishing them as a power on the local baseball scene and validating the hype that had surrounded them entering the 1873 season. It also jump-started a successful season that saw the club take the Empires to a deciding fifth game in their championship series before falling to the defending champs.

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