Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Sullivan Benefit

The benefit game for Tom Sullivan was played at the Union Grounds last Sunday afternoon, and there was an immense crowd in attendance. It was the biggest success in the way of a benefit scored in this country, and great credit is due for the able manner in which John T. Magner managed the affair. Tom Sullivan's friends were there in a body, and we noticed among the gathering the Sheehans, the Cullinanes, the Caseys, the McCafferys, the Lyons, the O'Neills, the Sullivans, the Hunts, the Fitzgeralds and all the rest of the Kerry Patch gang. The game between the Vets and the Peach Pies brought to the memory of the oldest inhabitant the days when base ball in St. Louis was in its infancy. In the veteran team appeared Joe Chambers, who did the pitching for the Empires twenty years ago. It is needless to say that his curves were lambasted terribly. At short field was John T. Magner, looking like Falstaff, with "good round bell," not as reliable though as when the great fielder of the St. Louis Reds of '76 and the Browns of '81. At third was Pidge Morgan who has not been seen on the field these many years, but looking like the old Dan and playing as earnestly as ever. At second was Packie Dillon, who with Morgan, played with the St. Louis Reds of '74 and '76. At left was (Ned) Cuthbert, once the prince of left fielders, running as lively as ever and capturing everything within reach, but not hitting the ball as hard as in the olden time. At right was (George) Seward, who with Cuthbert played with the Browns of '74, which was just twelve years ago. At center was Dean Simpson, the pitcher of the old Evansville club; while at first was Casey of the old Quincy's. Last but not least was Harry McCaffery, whose catching was not as effective as of old and, to cap the climax, there was Dan Devinney, of the old Louisville Brownstocking memory, officiating as umpire. Is it any wonder these old Vets failed to make a hit off Silch. They lost track of the ball long years ago. The Peach Pies on the other hand had a picnic with Chambers, while their fielding was unusually sharp and brilliant. The outfield had little or nothing to do. They played four new men who did splendidly, and proved themselves acquisitions. For the Vets, Cuthbert at left carried off the honors, making some beautiful catches of hard hit balls, particularly one from Black's bat, which was a liner, and good for two bases, which he headed off and spoiled a good hit. McCaffrey behind the bat and Dillon at second base also did well. Ingraham caught Silch splendidly for the Peach Pies and Black, Bouchard and Drissel all did good fielding. There was no mule race. The gentleman who had promised to furnish the mules brought out but one animal and it was like the Vets, too old to run. The sprint races were also postponed. The sprinters were afraid the time they would make effect them in the handicaps of May 30, and for that reason they refused to run...

From a financial standpoint the benefit was also a huge success. Mr. Magner alone sold $300 worth of tickets. The gate receipts were $500. Lew Simmons, of the Athletic Club, sent $39, te contribution of himself and players. Harry Wright sent $20. The Detroits also purchased a lot of tickets. Mr Magner desires to return thanks to Jack Sheehan, the Cullinane boys, Danny Lyons and all others who assisted him in making the benefit a success. Over $900 was realized in all, which will set Tom up in business.
-The Sporting News, May 10, 1886

I've written about Sullivan's troubles and the benefit game before and finally stumbled across the TSN article. I have to admit that, for some reason, this game ranks very high among all the historical games that I would have liked to have seen. You can have Ruth's called shot and Merkle's boner and the Homer in the Gloamin' and all that-I'll take a nice little exhibition game on a Sunday afternoon at the Union Grounds in 1886.

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