Friday, August 1, 2008

A Reckless And Carelessly Played Game

The final game of the (1873) season for the still champion Empires was with the Rowenas on November 9, who defeated the former in a score of 12 to 7. It was a reckless and carelessly played game with nothing in it for the Empires to win or loss and but a portion of the regular nine participated in it. Andy Blong Umpired the game and he and the scorers all say that there was not a single earned run in the whole game.
-E.H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, January 18, 1896

That's a bit odd. Eighteen runs scored in a game and all of them were unearned. I can honestly say that I've never seen anything like that in all my years of watching baseball. Certainly, the number of unearned runs scored in a 19th century baseball game was very high due to the lack of gloves and large number of errors but to have a game played where not one single earned run was scored must have been exceedingly rare. It was certainly unique enough for Tobias to mention it.


Cliff Blau said...

Keep in mind that they defined earned runs differently then. A run had to score entirely on hits to be earned; a walk or wild pitch would make it unearned.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Sorry about taking so long to get your comment posted. All the comments on posts older than two weeks have to be manually approved. This helps to eliminate a lot of spam but it also means I have to pay attention to who's posting what.

Anyway, the unearned run situation is interesting. We had a long discussion about it a couple of months ago (I think) when I broke down unearned runs as a percentage of total runs scored in 1876. I can't remember if the rules came up but the context was more along the lines of judging team defensive skill based on the number of errors and unearned runs allowed.

I think the bottom line is that, regardless of the rules, clubs committed a large number of errors and that led to a large number of unearned runs. Nothing shocking in that really. It's what you're going to get when you play baseball without gloves.