Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tom Oran Jumps To The Reds

We know that Tom Oran was playing with the Empire Club on July 4, 1874 in a game against the Liberty Club of Springfield, Illinois. On July 12, however, Oran was playing with the Reds against the Rowenas. So sometime between those two games, Oran jumped from the Empires to the Reds.

E.H. Tobias wrote that there was a great deal of jumping going on in 1874, specifically mentioning Peters and Collins jumping to the White Stockings, but certainly he had Oran's defection in mind as well. This was a move that, like Chicago stealing Collins, had a direct effect on the fortunes of his club. Oran's move had the potential of tilting the balance of power in the St. Louis baseball world. The Empires were forced to a deciding game five in their championship series against the Reds in 1873 and Oran's defection did nothing but improve a strong young club while leaving a hole in the champion's outfield.

The Rowenas noticed Oran playing with the Reds and protested the game. The State Association had adopted a rule that stated a player upon leaving one club was not eligible to play for another until sixty days had passed. However, while the State Association would eventually sustain the Rowenas' protest, before the judgment came down the two clubs mutually agreed to call the July 12th game a practice game and the Reds were subject to no penalty.

This would not be the last time the Reds were hauled before the State Association in 1874 and the Empire/Reds series, as well as the championship of 1874, would be decided by the Reds' use of an ineligible player.

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