Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Reds Play The Atlantics Of Brooklyn

The old Atlantic Club of Brooklyn, N.Y., the second club organized in the United States being antedated by the New York Knickerbocker only, arrived in St. Louis on a tour through the Wild West and showed how it is done in the city of churches to the special edification of the Red Stockings Club and the six thousand St. Louisans assembled at the Compton Avenue park July 21...There was much disgust over the Reds’ play. Dillon, catcher, lost his head in the third inning because Redmon made a wild throw over first base and refused to catch; then Redmon went behind where he was not at home, making a “dead give away” of the whole game. The Reds fielding was exceedingly faulty. Of the general play of the visitors nothing need be said further than that Dicky Pearce’s antique manner of playing shortstop was not up to the modern standard, three hot balls getting past him. The Reds had no difficulty in batting Bond.
-E.H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, January 25, 1896

A couple of interesting things here (besides me being wrong about the Atlantics of Brooklyn coming to town). The thing about Packy Dillon throwing a fit over Billy Redmon's error is fascinating. It certainly gives a layer of depth to our understanding of Dillon and his personality. It also shows something about what was happening to the Reds in 1874. It seems that there were several incidents like this and that the club was not one big happy family. Tobias writes about several contentious events among teammates, the club bringing in new players, the club being hauled before the Judiciary Committee of the State Association, and things of that ilk. The fact is that the Reds, a promising young team in 1873, failed to meet expectations in 1874 and 1875 would be even worse. I've written before about the possibility of there be cliques on the Reds in 1875 and that having something to do with the club falling apart in late June of that year. I think that Tobias confirms the idea that the Reds did not have a harmonious clubhouse.

I also like Tobias' quote about the Reds having no problem with young Tommy Bond. Looking at the box score, the Reds lost by a score of 27 to 2 and didn't score after the second inning. I'm going to guess and say that they had some problems with Bond's pitching. But that's Tobias' style. While he could be harsh in his observations, he also had a habit of praising a club if it put up any kind of a fight against what he perceived to be a vastly superior opponent. In his letters to TSN, he almost always praises the St. Louis clubs when they lost to the strong Eastern clubs as long as they put forth the effort. For Tobias, the fact that the St. Louis clubs got on the field with the elite clubs and competed was a victory in and of itself.

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