Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The White Stockings Spank The Reds

The Chicago Club played the second game of its series with the St. Louis Red Stockings yesterday afternoon, on the Twenty-third street grounds. The audience was much smaller than the one of the previous day, though the weather was far more favorable for a larger attendance and a better game. A pleasanter afternoon could not well be desired for out-door amusement, it being comfortably cool, with a refreshing wind from the south. The home club profited by the natural advantages with which it was favored, and, with one or two exceptions, played an excellent game from beginning to end. A score of 26 to 1 against such a hard-hitting and sharp-fielding nine as the Red Stockings is a pretty certain indication that the professionals were attending strictly to business...The St. Louis nine did not play up to their standard. They were unaccountably weak at nearly every point, but more especially at third base. A change in the position of catcher was frequently made necessary, owing to the condition of Dillon's hands. He will not be able to play this afternoon, and his place will probably be filled by Quinn, of the old Aetnas.
-The Chicago Daily Tribune, May 8, 1874

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Reds Visit Springfield, Illinois

The St. Louis Red Stockings...stopped over (in Springfield, Illinois) to-day on their tour, and played the Libertys a game, which resulted in favor of the Reds by a score of 16 to 13. The game was the best and most hotly contested ever played in Springfield. The Red Stockings go to Chicago to-night to play the Franklins, who dispute with the Liberty's here the right to the amateur championship of the State.
-The Chicago Daily Tribune, August 22, 1874

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A St. Louis Cricket Match In 1858

This much talked of match came off on Thursday, to the great satisfaction of all the lovers of batting. There were some six or seven hundred spectators, among whom were a great many ladies.

Mr. Giles, of the Mound City Club, bolled exceedingly well. Mr. Philips, too bolled and batted to the great satisfaction of himself and to the great execution of his opponents.

Mr. Gorman, of the Jackson Club, bolled down nearly all the wickets, for which he received great applause from the lookers on. We admired Mr. James Flood and Patrick Conran's batting better than any I have ever seen. In one inning these two gentlemen made the large score of forty-seven aces.

Being a stranger in the city, it afforded me great pleasure to see that the citizens of St. Louis have become acquainted with this noble game, and ere long, I think, that the Jackson Club will beat any club in the world. I say this from seeing them play, and from the manner of their batting and bolling. They beat the Mound City Club thirty-seven aces in one inning to their two.
-The Missouri Republican, November 22, 1858

Less than a year after this cricket match was played, the New York game would take hold in St. Louis and its growth and success, in many ways, was built upon the infrastructure of the cricket and town ball clubs that already existed in the city. To better understand what was taking place in 1859, it's important to take a look backwards and see what existed in the way of bat and ball clubs in St. Louis and what the athletic environment was like at the time. This article from the Republican, written by, Ballyn Slown, certainly shines a bit of light on that.

Misc. Player Movement in 1878

A telegram from St. Louis to the Cincinnati Commercial says: "Joe Blong, pitcher of the St. Louis Browns in 1877, Charlie Houtz, the Indianapolis first baseman in 1876 and 1877, and George Baker, who is looked upon by many as the coming catcher of the country, to-day signed contracts to play with the Springfield (Mass.) Base-Ball Club, and will leave for the East to-morrow night. Baker is a splendid batsman, as well as a fine fielder. Daniel Morgan, who captained the Milwaukees last season, has rejoined that club, and left for Milwaukee to-night. This breaks up the St. Louis Brown Stockings for the present season, but they are to be reorganized by Mr. Charles Fowle, a prominent business-man, who is well known in League circles, and who intends placing the strongest possible team in the League next year."
-The Chicago Daily Tribune, May 26, 1878

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Reds Return From Their Western Trip

The St. Louis ponies returned from their Western tour yesterday morning, and the boys are all in fine condition. They played three games during their absence, with the following result:

Reds vs. Pastimes..........13 to 3
Reds vs. Topekas...........27 to 3
Reds vs. Pastimes..........20 to 11

The trip was also a success financially.
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 17, 1875

Note: The Pastimes were a club in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Wild Rumors About A St. Louis Brotherhood Team And A New Ballpark

It is reported (in St. Louis) tonight that a big exchange of stock between Will Johnson, the local street railway magnate, and Chris Von der Ahe, President of the St. Louis Base-Ball Club, has been made, Mr. Von der Ahe becoming interested in Mr. Johnson's railway properties and Mr. Johnson securing a large holding in the St. Louis Base-Ball Club franchise. It was stated that the recent increase of the capital stock of the St. Louis club from $5,000 to $50,000 was closely identified with this transaction, that the lease on Sportsman's Park will soon be given up, a new park established on the line of Mr. Johnson's street railway in South St. Louis, probably the present Brotherhood Park property being secured, and the future home of the St. Louis Browns being located there.

It is also stated that certain parties identified with the St. Louis brotherhood movement and who have for some time been antagonistic to Mr. Von der Ahe have been placated and no more opposition will come from that source. The general interpretation put upon the new situation by the few who know of it is that Will Johnson, a strong brotherhood advocate, has about succeeded in arranging a peace with the brotherhood and Von der Ahhe and for the early transfer of a club to this city, probably from Cleveland, Buffalo, or Pittsburg, and its consolidation with the present Browns, the two making one of the strongest organizations in the country.
-The Chicago Daily Tribune, May 16, 1890

Base ball circles are agitated over a report that has gained currency apparently on good authority, which would indicate that there is a prospect for peace between the Browns and brotherhood. The story is to the effect that a big exchange of stock between Will Johnson, the local street railway magnate, and Chris Von der Ahe, president of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, had been made. Mr. Von der Ahe becoming interested in Mr. Johnson's railway properties, and Mr. Johnson securing a large holding in the St. Louis Base Ball Club franchise.

The significance lies in the fact that Johnson is heavily interested in the brotherhood project here and the park of the brotherhood is on his line of railroad. It was stated that the recent increase of the capital stock of the St. Louis club from $5,000 to $50,000 was closely identified with this transaction, and that the lease on Sportsman's Park will soon be given up and a new park established on the line of Mr. Johnson's street railway in South St. Louis, probably the present Brotherhood Park property being secured.

Both Mr. Von der Ahe and Mr. Johnson are out of the city, and positive confirmation cannot be obtained, but others interested say there is good authority for the story.
-The Boston Daily Globe, May 17, 1890

Friday, September 26, 2008

Burning Down The House (Or Reality Intrudes Upon TGOG)

Completely off-topic but the information is too important not to share. We need to understand what is happening and why it has happened. Watch this video. It's an outstanding summary of the economic crisis in which we now find ourselves ensnared.

I quote Jefferson:
"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society
but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened
enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the
remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion
by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of
constitutional power."

"Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with
their own government."

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of
civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

The Most Disgusted Lot of Ballplayers That Ever Stood Before A Bar

A bout of rage swept through Sportsman's Park today until Von der Ahe threw up his hands in desperation and fled from the scene. The association champions are the maddest, most disgusted lot of ball-players that ever stood before a bar and cursed a manager. The trouble is this: At the annual meeting of the association $1,200 of the money received from minor league clubs was set aside as a prize to be divided among the players of the team winning the association championship. The Browns won it. When the series with New York was arranged, the players allege, a contract was made, which is now in possession of Mutrie, setting forth that the players of each team should receive $200 each, win or lose. The Browns lost. After the series a benefit game was arranged which knotted the players of each team $28 each. The New Yorks received their share, but the Browns have not received the association prize money, nor the $200 for the world series, not the $28 benefit. Von der Ahe, they claim has pocketed everything in sight and told them they were "chumps." King says: "I will never pitch another ball for that fellow if I can help it. He has gouged every player in the club out of $300, for that is what is coming to us." Tom Dolan, the catcher, gave Von der Ahe a terrible roasting to his face, while Big Jack Milligan, Robinson, and O'Neill threatened to make a slaughter-house of the office on Grand Avenue.
-The Chicago Daily Tribune, November 1, 1888

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A McManus Denial

Manager George McManus, of the St. Louis Base-ball Club, denies under oath that he attempted to bribe Umpire D.H. Devinney in Louisville. Devinney makes affidavit that he did attempt to bribe him, and the Louisville Courier-Journal says that the people of that city are inclined to believe that the latter has truth on his side.
-The New York Times, August 8, 1877

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Look At Management And Fans In 1877

It is undoubtedly true that the phases of base ball in the different cities are as varied as to make for an interesting study if one had time to pursue them. (In St. Louis), for instance, the patron and lover of the game is entirely different than anything else in the world and, like the whole development, deserves so much study as you can give space for.

The (Brown Stocking) Club itself is duly incorporated and has a great plenty of officers. Chief among them are Mr. J.B.C. Lucas, the President, a young man whose father left him some such indefinite sum as the average citizen speaks of as "ten or twelve million, sir." Unquestionably Mr. Lucas is a fine head to the Club, and is of course the representative of the young men of wealth who live a part of the time in St. Louis; and, to their great credit be it said, go to the ball-matches instead of to some worse places. Concerning their behavior when there, I may wan to say a word hereafter. Mr. Campbell O. Bishop, who is the Vice-President of the Club, is a lawyer in excellent practice and with a good reputation. He stands for the professional part of the Club's support.

Charles A. Fowle, the Club's Secretary, is a prosperous merchant and represents a street full of stock. He probably suffers more than any other man in the management, because, if his Club should suffer defeat, and he should thereafter appear on the street, he would be at once surrounded by indignant stockholders, who demand an explanation of the cause of the loss of the game. Let it be to Mr. Fowle's credit tat he furnishes the necessary talk, and keeps things smooth where they would most assuredly spike up with a less even-tempered man to run matters...to find a more fitting representative in this city would be a difficult matter. Behind the officers named there are a Board, a Treasurer, and a bunch of stockholders, who (spend their time), as far as I could judge, to petting different members of the nine, and, therefore, without the slightest desire or intention to do so, stirring up a row in the camp. I am informed by a gentleman connected with the Club that this "buttering" players from a spirit of partisanship and favoritism, without approving or disapproving their work in the game, was one of the elements which (he said) prevented them from winning the flag last year. I am compelled to add my belief that if Lucas (wealth), Bishop (legal knowledge), and Fowle (Yankee sharpness, shrewdness, and sense) had the whole concern in their own hands, they would win the flag and make money while doing it.

Referring back to the word "buttering" used above, I want to call attention to the fact that the whole credit of games won in St. Louis is given to the pitcher, and he cannot go to the bat without a round of applause-at least that has been the case this year. A more foolish notion can hardly be imagined.

A word is due to the St. Louis Club grounds, called Grand Avenue Park, and one of the prettiest bits of land in the country-when you get to it. I can hardly make a Chicagoan understand its location by comparison. Consider, then, that if you in Chicago were going to a ball game just like in St. Louis, you would have to go down State street fourteen blocks beyond where the cars now run, and then turn off to the right and go about twelve blocks further. In other words, you would have to ride in a street-car to a point twelve blocks beyond the Stock Yards and Dexter Park. When you have got this through your head, you will understand what the St. Louis citizen has to undergo to see his favorites play ball.

This matter of the location of the park has unquestionably a considerable influence on the number of people who attend, because they understand that to go to a ball-match is not a slipping out after work is nearly done but a serious and solemn matter which means a half-day lost. Despite this fact, the crowds are good, and a first-class Club always does well-at least so long as there is interest in the home nine. The Chicagos took more money last Tuesday than they will in both Louisville games...

With the heartiest wishes for the success of the St. Louis Club, it is impossible to compliment the city on its base-ball audiences. The grand stand is filled in good part with real ladies and perfect gentlemen; but, as has before been said, they are so bitterly partisan as to one or two players in their nine that they cannot see anything else. I have been on the watch in front of that stand, and heard a owl like tat of forty demons (well-behaved, well-dressed demons, I mean) go up because one man (say Remsen) made an easy catch, while an almost impossible stop (say Blong) would pass unrecognized. It is impossible not to recognize these little cliques, and they do no end of harm. To describe the outside crowd-the barbarians-hoi-polloi-would break up anybody's objections. They have a long row of seats to themselves and they take their 50 cents out in yelling-and if yells were only a cent apiece they would cheat the management at that rate. Nobody can possibly object to enthusiasm and all that, but when a parcel of men and half-grown boys empty upon the heads of a player opposed to their nine a volley of the most utterly filthy epithets known to the slang language of the world, it is proper to note that fact...The writer has heard a lot of boys and men who must have gone through the grand stand if they were honestly in the ground, shout out to John Glenn while he was running for a fly within a little distance of where the party stood, "God d--n your black soul to hell, drop that ball you ---of a ---." and then a moment after when he was running for a foul, "You black-hearted ---------, drop it or I'll cut you in two." The same things, or nearly, have been said to first basemen so loudly that scorers and reporters on top of the stand, a hundred feet off, could hear them plainly. Evidently, the "pigpen" needs reforming. And lest there should be some question of doubt about a plain matter, your correspondent wishes to add that he blames no part of this filthy or profane language on the management of the St. Louis Club. Being, one and all, gentleman, they have no sympathy with the scoundrels or the mob. They could not very well help themselves if they wanted to, and the whole scurrilous practice must be charged upon the imperfect civilization of the masses, for which the social economist, and not the ball-managers, must find a remedy.

Let no man dare to misunderstand me, and say that I lay the loss of any game to this blackguarding. I disavow all that. Glenn and Spalding caught the balls after which they were running when they were so foully bespattered with muddy names. Passing over the fact that both are gentlemen, and never in their lives did anything to be called names for, thee fact remains that the St. Louis cheap public feel so strongly over their Club that they cannot well refrain from breaking out into their native blackguardism. The question whether a man must submit, whenever he contracts to play ball, to have his mother's good name abused by a St. Louis crowd, is one on which I need not enter. I am not little sorry that the game in St. Louis should be so far an exception to others as to make, so far as my experience goes, a necessity to have loafers as patrons. i think I am right in saying that it is the only city which does.

I wish to add-and I do it with considerable loss of pride in, and respect for, my profession-that I am afraid that the St. Louis press is partly responsible for this state of things. The papers here have faithfully inculcated the idea that their Club was the best in the world, and they have hinted, and once in awhile said, that if they lost it must be corruptly. Let me cite a case: A paper, which stands in St. Louis a shade below the station of the News in Chicago, but which is largely read by the bums and slums, said after the 4-2 game last Tuesday that it was thrown by St. Louis for the purpose of getting a larger crowd Thursday...upon which another paper...gravely reads the League a lecture on the sinfulness of giving away games for gate-money, when assuming to reform the game, taking its facts from the other previous idiot's assertions.
-The Chicago Tribune, May 27, 1877

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Empire Club's Anniversary Game of 1876

To-day is the sixteenth anniversary of the Empire Base Ball Club, and, should the weather be fine, the event will be celebrated by playing a match game, this afternoon, at their park, on Grand Avenue. Nine married men will play the same number of single men, and both sides will do their best to win.

-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 16, 1876

The Empire's anniversary game, which was normally a match between the married and unmarried members, was an annual event for the club and dated back to 1861. This was an important event on the club's calender and E.H. Tobias, a club member, mentions just about every one of the anniversary games between 1861 and 1875, providing box scores as well, in his series of letters to The Sporting News detailing the early history of the game in St. Louis.

While I have no evidence to support this, I believe that this is one of the last anniversary games the Empire played. The 1875 and 1876 seasons were difficult ones for the club and the advent and growth of professional baseball in the city had a negative effect on the club's baseball fortunes. I think it's very likely that the club quit playing baseball in 1877 or 1878.

Monday, September 22, 2008

This Is The Hour Of Lead

Under The Water

The Sad Drowning of a Son of Old Sol Smith

Pulled in by the Undertow at Biddeford Pool

Our readers will learn with profound regret that Mr. Asa W. Smith, of (St. Louis), son our late well-known fellow-citizen, Mr. Sol. Smith, came to his death by drowning at Biddeford Pool, yesterday morning, while bathing. The dispatches, which are very meager and unsatisfactory, say that every effort was made to save him, but without avail. Whether he was taken with cramp or drawn out by the undertow, or died from exhaustion is a matter of conjecture; but most likely the latter, as the lifeboat seems to have been brought into requisition and strong efforts made to rescue him.

The Bathing Ground

Those who have visited this place of resort will remember that the bathing ground is distant half a mile or more, southeast, from the little hamlet called The Pool. All boats and sailing craft lie at the wharf, three quarters of a mile west of the beach, and these boats, in order to be used, would have to be carried across the neck of land, through the village, and so down to the shore, or rowed down through the harbor and around East Point, and its rugged reef of rocks, a distance of five or six miles, so that the chance of rendering any of these boats of any avail in such an emergency would be desperate enough...

In all likelihood, young Smith was swimming at the usual hour with the bathers, at 11 o'clock, and ventured too far or was drawn out by a hidden reflux of the tide, which is, we are told, sometimes the case, where the rollers are very heavy at the nothern end of the beach, and after a gallant struggle for life was

Compelled To Succumb

before the boat could be gotten to him. Doubtless, too, everything which kind hearts and strong arms could do was done. No doubt the brave skippers pulled well and heroically with their life-boat, straining and tugging every nerve to the rescue...But it seems to have been in vain.

Diis Aliter Visum

Asa W. Smith was the seventh son of "Old Sol"-called such by everybody, out of regard rather than derision or disrespect-yet the first to join his father in the eternal world. His age was 29. Mark Smith, the popular actor, we believe, is the elder of the brothers.

Probably no one of the young men of St. Louis could have been taken away whose loss would occasion such

General And Poignant Sorrow.

He was a friend and companion whose qualities of head and heart were of the rarest character. He was intelligent, quick-witted and humorous; honest, generous, genial and carried everywhere an influence which made him always the favorite of whatever social circle he mingled with. In his business he had been very successful, and no doubt, had he lived, would have proved one of our moust valuable and influential citizens. His loss will be long and most deeply deplored.

The Telegraphic Announcement

The following telegram, received at the banking-house of Asa Smith & Co., No. 208 North Third street, yesterday, conveyed to the brother of the deceased and friends the first information of the sad event:

Bidgeford Pool, Me., July 31.-S.P. Smith: Your brother Asa was drowned this morning, while bathing. Every effort was made with a lifeboat to save him. Your Mother desires you to come here at once. E.H. Whedon.

In response to the telegram, Mr. Smith started last evening.

-The Milwaukee Sentinal, August 3, 1874 (From The St. Louis Democrat)

After I read the above account of Smith's death, I started thinking about Emily Dickinson's poem After great pain a formal feeling comes. It's odd how the brain works.

After great pain, a formal feeling comes--
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Toombs--
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round--
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought--
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone--

This is the Hour of Lead--
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons recollect the Snow--
First--Chill--then Stupor--then the letting go--

This has always been one of my favorite poems. And I have no idea what it's about. Probably something about death or bees, I really don't know. In fact, I really never understand what Emily Dickinson is talking about. I just think she has the most unique voice in all of literature.

But I do know that if Dickinson had gotten out more and had been a baseball fan, she could have dedicated that poem to Asa Smith upon his passing.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Packy Dillon Sighting

Packie Dillon will play ball again this year. There was a time when Packie was the king-pin of catchers in this neck of the woods.
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 9, 1882

A pretty vague reference but Dillon was playing baseball in some form as late as 1886, specifically in the Sullivan benefit game. In 1887, he purchased the Mehlville farm and was certainly done playing ball by then.

A Benefit For David Reid

The game advertised to come off yesterday afternoon at the Grand Avenue Park, between the St. Louis Browns and a picked nine, for the benefit of Mr. David Reed, was played notwithstanding the cold weather. About 500 spectators witnessed the contest. The errors committed on both sides were numerous, owing to want of practice. Clapp caught Bradley's pacers in the highest style of the art, and his throwing to bases was first-class. When he learns Brad's tricks, he will, no doubt, improve even on his good play of yesterday. Ned Cuthbert played his part without an error, as did also Pike and Loftus, the other two fielders. Loftus, of the Reds, played the Browns' side and got in two good base hits off Joe Blong. McGeary made some fine plays. Pearce and Battin were decidedly off, and did not play up to their usual standard.

On the picked nine side, Collins, Dolan, Croft and Redmon of the St. Louis Reds, who were kindly allowed to play by the manager of said club, did all they could, but having strange bats to handle, and no regular uniform, they could not do themselves justice. Collins covered himself with glory, and, with the exception of one error, played his base right up to the handle. Joe Blong was "some" at the stick, and seemed to have no trouble in knocking Bradley all over the field. Harry Little, of the Grand Avenue Nine, made a couple of fine base hits off the old man. It will be seen by looking at the score that the picked nine outbatted the Browns. It so happened that the errors committed by the "picks" were costly, while those committed by the Browns did not amount to much. Both sides made a double play during the game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 6, 1876

One has to assume that the benefit was for David L. Reid but I couldn't begin to tell you why the Brown Stockings would have a benefit game for him.

This game is essentially the Brown Stockings versus the Reds and, once again, the Reds got it handed to them by a score of 13-4. It's interesting to note that Joe Blong, scallywag, was pitching for a team that included several of his old teammates from the 1875 Reds and that Reds' management, meaning Thomas McNeary, approved of this.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The 1880 Brown Stockings Take The Field (And A Packy Dillon Sighting)

The faithful were on hand at the base ball park on Compton avenue, yesterday afternoon, to witness the opening of the season between the St. Louis Brown Stockings of last season, and the strongest picked nine that could be got together. All of Cuthbert's men were on hand but the best batsman of the lot, Croft, did not show up in time to participate. Cotton manned first in his stead. Dan Morgan, who is always equal to any emergency, cared for short field, and Jack Gleason, the best third baseman that St. Louis ever produced, filled that position. The picked men were of the best, including Trick McSorley, Billy Gleason, Redmond, Geer of the Cincinnatis, McCaffrey, and others who have made their mark in the professional arena. The contest was a beauty in every respect, but seven errors being indulged in during its progress. The batting of the Browns was very light, denoting their lack of practice, but their opponents, especially Redmond, made a very creditable display against the tricky McGinnes. Poor base-running cost the Browns a victory, several runs being sacrificed by bad judgement. Cunningham's batting was a feature of the game...

Packie Dillon showed up (at the game) yesterday. There was a time when Packie was regarded as the most graceful catcher in the country.

The Brown Stockings will be reorganized during the present week. Arthur Croft promises to be one of the number. such a team as McGinnes, Decker, Croft, McDonald, J. Gleason, Morgan, Cunningham, Cuthbert, Schenck, W. Gleason, Bowles and McSorley would be well-nigh invincible.
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 19, 1880

The Blue Stockings Are Attacked By A Chicago Mob

The Blue Stockings, a colored organization of (St. Louis), started for Chicago on Friday last to play their return games with the Uniques, the champion colored club of that section of the country. They were to have played on Saturday, but rain interfered. On Monday they met the Uniques and warmed them handsomely by a score of 12 to 8. On Wednesday the St. Louisans again visited the White Stocking Park and crossed bats with their Chicago rivals. The Uniques took the lead at the start, but...the Blue Legs went to work to catch up. The Uniques, in nine innings, secured seventeen runs. When the Blues, with fourteen runs to their credit, got two men on bases in their half of the last inning, with nobody out the first base man of the Chicago club hid the ball. Another was furnished and the umpire called "play," but the Chicago men, fearing defeat, refused to continue. The umpire was afraid to declare a forfeit, owing to the mob, who stoned the Blue Stocking omnibus as it left the grounds, severely hurting Wm. Mitchell and Wm. Pitts, two of the St. Louis nine. This outrageous conduct will not soon be forgotten by those who treated the Uniques so well when they were in (St. Louis).
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 15, 1875

I've actually written about this incident before as Jon David Cash covered the story in Before They Were Cardinals.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The St. Louis Club Has Thrown Up The Sponge

You have seen, I suppose, before now the announcement that the St. Louis Club has thrown up the sponge, resigned from the League, and gone out of business. You have, of course known that this thing was likely to come, but still you may be sure that it hurt us just as bad when it did come as if we hadn't expected it. The reasons which led to the collapse were, at the first remove, financial. I will state the case for you so that you can understand it in the winking of an eye. We have had a club during the years 1875, 1876, and 1877-that is one side. Per contra, we have had a capital stock aggregating all told about $20,000. As near as I can ascertain, we have collected in the neighborhood of $16,000 on this $20,000. In addition to this, I am given to understand that some of the Directors raised money on their notes for the use of the Club and then had to pay the notes, amounting to close to $9,000. That went where the rest went, and, in addition to both items, there is some $3,000 due the players of 1877...

Of course you would be justified in asking me for the reason to my reason-that is, why we made these losses. And I can tell you straightaway...In the first place, Grand Avenue Park was too far away from "down-town" to ever hope to induce people to go to games there. A ride of more than an hour on a street-car is unpleasant and tedious at any time, and doubly so in warm weather and with a crowd. When I come to look back on the past, I wonder how so many people ever got out to the grounds.

In the second place, I attribute a good share of our trouble to the fact that we disgusted a certain class of people by playing ball on Sunday. One of the soundest expressions I ever heard on that subject was from a strong well-wisher of the Browns who once said in my hearing: "I tell you the bums and roughs are done busted; they've got no money. The money is all a gittin into the church folks' hands, and just so sure as you git them down on you, you're gone. And just so sure as you go to playin' games on Sunday them knock-kneed old dads won't let their girls go of a week day; and then the curly-haired boys won't go, and I tell you them's the chaps that have the money." There was more of this homely sermon but it was all to the same purpose, and I firmly believe it was based on better knowledge of human nature than the management had.

Then again, while the management-as far as the officers were concerned-was away above proof, yet there was a flavor of poker-rooms and such like that the people sniffed at.

One other thing which hurt very much was the unfortunate selection of umpires. Of course, it is foolish to charge, as some papers have done, that the Club put up Burtis with an idea of dishonesty. They put him in as one of five, and the other clubs chose him-the St. Louis Club didn't. But anyhow he was a very unfortunate selection, and it was poor policy-as it turned out-for the Club to uphold him and boost him along, and insist on him for umpire after he was so terribly disgusting to outsiders. But they thought they were right. Well, after the Burtis business began to be plain to the people, some of them wouldn't come again...I don't intend to say anything about crookedness among the players, for I don't believe in it, and I think all the row the papers have been making in this city is pretty much bosh. I don't care what Mike McGeary was before he came here. I believe he has been honest and straight with the people of St. Louis. It is pretty clear, of course, that Burtis was in with gamblers but all the talk about the men seems to me unfounded-at least I don't know of any proof.

But in spite of all these things-the debt and all-we should have gone on all right if it hadn't been for those Louisville expulsions. They struck us right when we were trying to raise a little money to go on with next year, and it flattened us out as flat as the dollar of our dads, and there we have been ever since.
-Chicago Tribune, December 16, 1877

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Game Hardly Calls For A Detailed Description

The Chicago Base Ball Club inaugurated the match game season of 1870, today, by a contest with the Unions, of St. Louis, and achieved one of the greatest victories on record.

The Chicago nine reached (St. Louis) at 11 o'clock this forenoon, after a safe and comfortable journey over the Illinois Central, being supplied with quarters in the sleeping car, and proceeded to the Laclede Hotel, where they were allotted spacious and nicely furnished rooms, the same suite as that occupied by the Red Stockings (of Cincinnati) on the occasion of their visit here last season.

Dinner over, the club entered carriages supplied by the Unions, and were driven to the base ball park, about four miles northwest of the city, where both clubs were soon on hand in readiness for work.

The Chicago nine were clad in their new uniform, which they had donned for the first time and an elegant one it is. It consists of a blue cap adorned with a white star in the centre, white flannel shirt, trimmed with blue and bearing the letter C upon the breast worked in blue. Pants of bright blue flannel with white cord, and supported by a belt of blue and white; stockings of pure white British thread, shoes of white goatskin, with the customary spikes, the ensemble constituting by far the showiest and handsomest uniform ever started by a base ball club. Already the snowy purity of the hose has suggested the name of "White Stockings" for the nine, and it is likely to become as generally accepted, not to say as famous, as that of the sanguinary extremities.

The Union Club, which is composed entirely of the best class of St. Louis young men, also sported their new outfit for the first time, the same being made up of white cap, shirt, and pants and blue stockings.

About 600 hundred people were present, and the day was as bright and warm and beautiful as could have been prayed for.

The grounds were not in the best of condition, owing to the extreme length of the grass, which materially altered the calculations of the Chicago players in stopping ground balls. A vast deal of interest was taken in the game by the St. Louis people, who were curious to see whether the Chicago Club would administer as severe a beating to the Unions as did the Red Stockings in 1869, when the score stood 70 to 9-the prevailing opinion being that it would not be done.

The Union nine is considered materially stronger than that of last year, being now constituted as follows: Turner, second base; German, short stop; Easton, first base; Mellier, left field; Lucas, pitcher; Greenleaf, right field; Duncan, third base; Wolff, centre field; and O'Brien, catcher. They certainly proved themselves a strong nine in the field and on the bases-stronger than any of the amateur organizations-but id not develop a corresponding skill at the bat.

The Chicago Club was positioned in the regular way, McAtee playing at first, although yet troubled by his leg, and Flynn served as a substitute, the first game, by the way, which he ever witnessed as a spectator, played by a club with which he was connected.

...(The) game hardly calls for a detailed description, the Union...scoring but 1 run in the game, while Chicago secured 47.

In the fifth inning Pinkham, who had played at third, took Myerle's place, the latter having been far more effective and regular than usual. Of course, Pinkham sent them in hot and hard to hit, the Unions being unable to bat more than high flies during the game. Their fielding, however, was splendid, there being very few muffs in that line, while the bases were most efficiently played. Lucas is a swift though rather irregular pitcher and O'Brien an excellent catcher. In the seventh inning the latter was severely hurt by a ball, and was obliged to retire for a time, Turner taking his place, Wolff coming to second, and Asa Smith going to centre field. The result was a few more passed balls, which made no especial difference in the score...

This evening the Chicago nine accepted the invitation of the Unions and visited the Varieties, where two private boxes were placed at their disposal. The club has been handsomely received and treated by the Unions, and the St. Louis people in general.

To-morrow the club plays a match game with the Empires, of this city, a nine about the same strength as the Unions.
-Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1870

This is without a doubt the finest written account of a 19th century baseball game I have ever read. It was written as a special dispatch to the Trib so I don't know who wrote it but all I can say is that the Spink brothers were hacks compared to this guy. The detail in this piece is incredible and I even edited out the inning by inning account of the game. As a researcher, I simply can't ask for a better game account than this.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Novel Encounter

About 500 enthusiasts assembled at Compton Avenue Park, to witness the novel encounter between the colored Blue Stockings and their white rivals. The game was hotly contested throughout, and was a tie from the third to the ninth inning...
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 5, 1876

The implication was that the game between the Olives and Blues took place the previous day. The Blues scored first, getting a run in the second inning, with the Olives striking right back with a run of their own in the top of the third. Both teams scored two runs in the seventh and the game was tied 3-3 going into the ninth. In the top of the ninth, the Olives plated four runs to take a 7-3 lead. In the bottom of the inning, the Blues managed just a single run and lost 7-4.

At the Red Stocking Park, the colored Blue Stockings got away with their white antagonists in style...
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 10, 1876

The second game between the Blues and the Olives, which most likely took place on the 9th, was a rout. The Blues jumped out to a 9-1 lead and won the game 16-9.

It seems (from what I can understand) that interracial games in this era were common in some areas but not in others. Lawrence Hogan, in Shades of Glory, mentions a game played between a white and black club in Philadelphia in 1869 and another played in Baltimore in 1870 but indicates that these were exceptions to the rule. He states that, in the North, the "opportunity to play a white team would be a significant feather" in the cap of a black club. However, he goes on to write that in New Orleans interracial games were "frequently held, without the need for (the) extensive diplomacy" that was needed to arrange these games in the North.

Where St. Louis fell along this spectrum is unknown at present.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Carbonale Blue Stockings

The Carbondale Club, of Carbondale, are now on a two weeks' tour of Central New York, playing in Unanvilla, Oneouta, Albany, Utica, Syracuse, Auburn, Rochester, Ithaca, Elmira, Oweo, Binghampton, Norwich, Deposit and Cortland. The Carbondale "Blue Stockings" have been very successful this season, playing twenty-three games and having been beaten but by two amateur teams.
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 21, 1875

I occasionally post about Illinois teams, such as the clubs in East St. Louis and Alton, because I consider these cities to be part of the St. Louis metropolitan area. Plus, I live on the East Side and I'm interested in baseball history on this side of the river. However, Carbondale is a good one hundred miles south of St. Louis, down in Little Egypt. So why am I posting about the club? Because I went to school in Carbondale, lived in the area for several years after graduating, and I'm fascinated by the fact that not only did Carbondale have a baseball club in 1875 but they went on an Eastern tour.

To get even further off-topic, Southern Illinois has a Frontier League team now called the Miners. I'm not totally sure but I think their stadium is either in Marion or somewhere between Carbondale and Marion. I keep meaning to get down there and see a game but I haven't been down that way in about two years.

Go Dawgs!

Monday, September 15, 2008

No Time For Fishing

There were two young married men together in front of the Post office Monday evening. Asked one, "Will you go a fishing to-morrow?" Said the other with a troubled countenance, "I can't. There will be work at the shop to-morrow, and I must work when I can get it. Besides, I have got to play ball three days this week."
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 17, 1875

It's important to have priorities in this life.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Has It Been A Year Already?

Well, it seems like this is the one year anniversary of TGOG. Congratulations to me.

In all seriousness, the blog has exceeded all my goals and expectations. Certainly, I think that the content has vastly improved over the course of the year as I figured what it was I was trying to achieve. Also, figuring out the software helped a great deal. I know that there are plenty of areas where I can improve as far as content, writing, formatting, etc is concerned and I appreciate the patience with which I've been treated as TGOG struggled (and continues to struggle) to find its voice.

Whatever success I've had with this blog is due to you guys, my loyal readers. All four of you. I can't thank you enough. Every time somebody visits, leaves a comment, sends an email, subscribes to my feed or in any way interacts with the blog, you do me a great honor. I just try to be worthy of the time that you lavish on my little corner of Al Gore's Interweb.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And now on to the celebratory video (like you didn't know that was coming).

Aimee Mann is one of my favorites. Great voice, great writer. And she put on a fantastic show when she was in town a couple of weeks ago. So here's some Aimee Mann for you:

Freeway (from the new cd Smilers)

Red Vines (off the Magnolia soundtrack and the Bachelor No. 2 cd)

King of The Jailhouse (easily my favorite Aimee Mann song)

Goodbye Caroline

Going Through The Motions (these last three songs are the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th tracks off of The Forgotten Arm and are just devastating back to back to back; The Forgotten Arm is just an extraordinary piece of work; it got labeled as a "concept album" which is the kiss of death commercially; what the work has is narrative and theme (and great songs); it may be the best album of the decade)

Looking For Nothing (another song off the new cd; there's so many just flat out good songs on Smilers that it's tough to choose what to put on here; this is a great live video too-it looks like the guy taking the footage was in the front row)

A Blue Stockings/Sunset Game

The Blue Stockings and Sunsets, rival colored organizations of this city, contest for supremacy this afternoon, at the Red Stocking Park.
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 12, 1875

The information is in bits and pieces-meager scraps scattered all about-but I'm starting to find it. While I'm certainly no expert on black baseball, all the information that I've seen has ignored the 19th century history of the game in St. Louis. In the one book I have on the subject, the first mention of an African-American team in St. Louis is Charles Mills' Giants early in the 20th century. There's at least forty years of baseball history previous to this that has been neglected.

One interesting thing, it appears that many of the games played by the black clubs in the 1870's and 80's were held at the Compton Avenue Park. I'm not sure how significant this is. It may speak to the character of Thomas McNeary or it may indicate that McNeary, due to the poor location of the grounds and the failure of the Reds as a NA entity, simply needed the money and took any tenant or game he could get.

A Great Doubleheader

Manager McNeary, of the Compton Avenue Park, has arranged to give his patrons the worth of their money to-day. Commencing at 11 there will be a game between the Black and Blue Stockings, rival colored organizations, for the local championship. The colored lads play surprisingly well, and those who witness the contest will ace proof of their efficiency. In the afternoon, at the regular hour, the Red Stockings and the Nationals of East St. Louis, champions of Southern Illinois, will cross bats. Either game will be well worth seeing, but one admission fee will cover both.
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 14, 1881

This is just a fountain of information. We have an African-American club I've never heard of, the Black Stockings, playing the Blues in a championship game. We have the Nationals described as the champions of Southern Illinois. And we also have an interesting glimpse at baseball during the Interregnum, when there was no major league baseball in St. Louis and the game was struggling to survive.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Blong Gets Caught With A Corked Bat

The Covington Stars, in their game with the Louisville Eagles, on Tuesday, were caught again using a spring bat. Mr. Blong went to the bat and struck a foul, breaking his bat in two pieces. He made an attempt to conceal the pieces, but accident disclose the fact that it was a bored bat, the same he and his friends used here, contrary to all the rules of fair play. This discovery threatened for a time to put an end to the game, but it was finally allowed to continue. A Lexington gentleman, who was on the ground, testified to this fact. Is this honorable dealing? Can the Covington News defend such practices? But why ask? It has already shown its capacity for that sort of dirty work.
-The Lexington Press (published in The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 29, 1875)

This story, in and of itself, is classic but the fact that Joe Blong was involved is icing on the cake. Blong certainly had a nose for trouble.

It seems that the tradition of corking a bat is a long standing one. In A Game of Inches: The Game on the Field, Peter Morris quotes George Wright as saying that it was being done as early as 1860 and he notes that the National League had a rule in place in 1876 that stated that bats had to be made "wholly" of wood.

The Sunset Colored Club

It is reported that the Unique Colored Base Ball Club, of Chicago, will play a match game with the Sunset Colored Club, of this city, at the Grand Avenue Park, next Monday.
-The St. Louis Globe Democrat, September 3, 1875

I'm really excited about this bit from the Globe. While researching the 19th century game in St. Louis, I'm always on the lookout for information about African-American clubs in the city. The information is rather scarce and anytime I find something it's cause to rejoice.

The Sunset Colored Club is now the second black club that I know to have existed in 1875, the other being the Blue Stockings. I had always assumed that there were clubs besides the Blue Stockings-it only seemed logical-and now I have the evidence.

There is evidence of African-Americans playing baseball in St. Louis as early as 1867 and we now have evidence of multiple clubs by 1875. I know this information seems scant but, given the dearth of information in contemporary newspapers, this is a big step forward. Slowly but surely, we'll reconstruct the history of black baseball in St. Louis during the 19th century.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Alexander's Drug Store

Above is an ad for Maurice Alexander's Drug Stores. Alexander, of course, had been a member of the Cyclone Club in 1860 and the records of the club were lost when one of his stores burnt to the ground. This ad appeared in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat on February 25, 1876.

Alexander's Drug Store: where you can purchase unrivaled cologne and handkerchief extracts from competent clerks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

All The Photos Ever Posted On This Blog In One Place

Come to find out all the photos that I post here at TGOG are stored in albums over at Picasa. Who knew?

I just went over there and made the albums public so anybody who wants can go over there and take a look at them. They're currantly an unorganized mess. If I get aggresive, I may clean them up a bit.

If you're interested, you can see the pics and whatnot here.

A $3000 Profit?

A meeting of the stockholders of the St. Louis Base Ball Association was held in one of the parlors of the Southern Hotels last night, the attendance being large. The reports of the various officers were read and adopted, after which officers for the ensuing year were elected, no change being made except in the directory, Messrs. Carr, Medart and Steigers dropping out. The report of the Treasurer showed that there was a balance in the treasury of over $3,000. Park improvements cost the association between $3,000 and $4,000, and quite a sum was paid in advance to secure players for next year's nine, otherwise there would have been a larger sum to report. Financially, the season was a success, but as members of the press were excluded from the meeting, for purposes best known to the association, and those most interested do not evince any desire to make the affairs of the club public, the figures cannot be given.
-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 10, 1875

So while the Globe was unable to get all the Brown Stockings' financial numbers for 1875, they report that they had "over $3000" in the treasury at the end of the year. I may be wrong but I read that as a $3000 profit for the year. I'm not certain if, in context, that's good or bad but it doesn't seem too bad to me.

September 11th

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Trick McSorley's Obituary

McSorley, 84, Dead; Former Ballplayer

St. Louis. Feb. 10 (AP).-John B. (Trick) McSorley, 84, old-time professional baseball player, died today of apoplexy.

During his career, which began in 1874 and ended in 1890, he played with the St. Louis Red Stockings and the old St. Louis Browns, Indianapolis, Buffalo, Detroit, Toledo, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Peoria. He appeared at every position, but chiefly shortstop and centerfield.
-The Washington Post, February 11, 1936

I don't know why but I think it's awesome that McSorley's death made the AP wire.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Notice Of Reds' Last NA Game

I thought this was kind of neat.

Above is the notice for the July 4, 1875 game between the Reds and the Nationals of Washington, which the Reds lost 12-5. This happens to be the last National Association game the Reds ever played. The notice appeared in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat on the day of the game.

The Perfect Story

"You may talk about Chris Von der Ahe's explosions of dialect. Chris did himself proud one Sunday, eleven years ago," says Ted Sullivan. "I was managing Henry Lucas' Union Maroons in St. Louis, and Jimmy Williams managed the Browns. Our team was scheduled for a game with the Chicago Unions, and the Browns and Brooklyns were the counter attractions scheduled to play at Chris' park. We advertised the game extensively in the Sunday papers. Both sides were fighting each other-the Association and Union-and we were hustling for a Sunday crowd.

"I met Chris at noon on Sunday standing in front of his office, with an umbrella over his head. It was raining in sheets and buckets.

"'Are der Maroons and Chicago's going to play, Ted?' he asked.

"'Not much. Our grounds are afloat Chris.'

"'Neder are der Browns. It's too vet, Ted,' said Chris, and he began to toss bad words at the weather.

"I went over to our park and engaged a crowd of men and boys to unload sawdust all over the field.

"The rain held up, and at 3 o'clock our grounds were dry enough for a game.

"I sent Fred Dunlap, captain of the Maroons, over to Chris' office, instructing him to tell Chris that the Maroons wouldn't play-that the grounds were too wet.

"About an hour later the sky cleared and the crowd poured into our grand stand and bleachers. It wasn't till our game was half over that Chris discovered the job we had put up on him. After the game he was tackled by scores of his friends.

"'Great game over at Henry Lucas' park, Chris. Over 8,000 paid admissions,' said Fred Dunlap.

"'That was an awful job Ted Sullivan put up on you," said Henry Boyle.

"'My Gott, vot you tink of dot. Ted to giff me an inshoot like dot. He vos a foxy Irishman. Eight tousant paid admissions. Vot you tink?'

"And Chris drowned his troubles in cocktails."
-The Washington Post, December 30, 1895

Will I ever find a more perfect story to post than this? Seriously, we have one of Sullivan's Von der Ahe-as-buffoon stories and a mention of Fred Dunlap. This story gives me an excuse to go off on two of my favorite rants. I could do paragraphs here about the need to rehabilitate the reputations of VdA and Dunlap. I could do a week-long, multi-part series based on nothing more than this story. Good God, talk about coming right into my wheel-house.

Of course, I'm going to spare you the beating the dead horse rants and just ask that you appreciate the sublime perfection of this story.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Beating A Dead Horse (Again)

I thinks it's been more than two weeks since I beat the dead horse that is my disdain for the conventional wisdom regarding Fred Dunlap. I'd give you links to all the other posts where I methodically destroy the idea that Dunlap was not a great player but who has time for that? If you're interested in my obsessive rantings on the subject, check the tag over there in the sidebar.

Over at Walk Like A Sabermetrician, Brandon has finished his excellent series on the 1876-1881 National League. It's fantastic stuff (I'm pretty sure I've mentioned it before) and you should definitely head over there and check it out. Even better, he's promised to continue the series and include data for the American Association which I'm sure will provide me with all kinds of posting fodder.

Anyway, since Dunlap was a rookie with Cleveland in 1880, Brandon has data for his first two seasons in the major leagues and, surprise, has concluded that Dunlap was one of the best players in the NL. In 1880, he had +4.2 WAR (wins above replacement for those of you who are metrically challenged) good for fourth best in the league. Brandon has Dunlap as the best second baseman in the league in 1880 as well as the best rookie hitter.

In 1881, Dunlap was even better. He was second in Runs Created, WAR, WAA, and ARG (how's that for sabermetricly geeking out). Again, Brandon rates him as the best second baseman in the league and it's pretty clear that Dunlap was the second best player in baseball behind Cap Anson.

While he hasn't posted his work on 1882 and 1883 yet, I can tell you that Brandon's work rates Dunlap as the best second baseman in the NL for both seasons. He also said that he has Dunlap as the MVP in 1883.

So, metrically, Dunlap was the best second baseman in the National League from 1880 through 1883, from his rookie year until he bolted to the Maroons. We all know what he did with the Maroons in 1884. And this is one of the things that kills me about the CW surrounding Dunlap. One of the arguments in downgrading Dunlap's achievements is that his 1884 season should be dismissed because of the league quality issues surrounding the Union Association. If someone like Dunlap, the argument goes, can dominate the league, how good could it have been? But the metrics now show that Dunlap was one of the very best players in baseball between 1880 and 1883 and there's an argument to be made that he was the very best player in the game at the time. This was a great player in his prime putting up one of the best seasons baseball has ever seen. Since adjustments can be made for league quality, there is no reason to dismiss Dunlap's 1884 season. It's part of the record and must be accounted for.

I'm interested in seeing how Brandon interprets Dunlap's numbers for 1885 and 1886 and I suspect that Dunlap will still rate as a top player during those seasons. From 1887 until his retirement, Dunlap was no longer the same player due to a series of leg injuries. However, when all is said and done, I think Dunlap's numbers will show him to have been one of the best players in the game from 1880 to 1886, a nice run of seven seasons as the best second baseman in the game.

Previously, I've stated that I wasn't pushing for Dunlap's inclusion in the Hall of Fame or saying that he needed to be recognized as the best player in the game or anything like that. I was simply trying to counter the CW. But we can throw all of that out the window now. Dunlap was arguably the best player in the game from 1880 to 1886 and should be recognize as such. The Jamesian argument that Dunlap was "never a legitimate star in a legitimate league" holds no water whatsoever. Both the metrics and the historical evidence is now on the side of proclaiming Dunlap the best second baseman of the 1880's.

The proper way to recognize these facts would be to put Fred Dunlap in the Hall of Fame.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hey Look, It's A Picture Of Patsy Tebeau

Are you guys as tired of these portraits from The Sporting News as I am? At one point, I was all excited about these things but I'm pretty much over it. Still, they have their uses when it's six in the morning and you haven't slept in two days and have been out all night. I lead a seriously interesting life. My evening/night/morning was much more interesting than this post could ever hope to be.

Anyway, there are a couple of interesting tidbits from the TSN blurb that accompanied the Tebeau portrait. It said that his first professional team was "the Jacksonville, Illinois, Club in 1885" and that he also played for "the St. Joseph Club of the Western League" in 1886. In 1887, Tebeau was with Denver before he was sold to the Chicago White Stockings.

And since I've been pretty much off-topic all week, I seriously recommend Aimee Mann's new cd, Smilers. I honestly think it's her best work yet. You should check it out. And I promise to pull it together here and get refocused on whatever it is I'm trying to do with this blog. Seriously, I should just start a new blog where I can write about music and drinking and women and politics. It would probably be a much more interesting read.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Lazy Saturday Afternoon Post

The best way I've found to run this blog has been to batch my posts. I'll usually take one day out of the week and write about seven to ten posts and get the whole thing out of the way for the next week. However I didn't get a chance to do that this week and so I'm just kind of winging it. And if you've ever been faced with the blank page, you know that isn't a particularly productive way to write. But it's been a particularly unproductive week for me, so you reap what you sow. Bottom line: I didn't have a clue what I was going to write about today when I sat down at the computer. I doubt you want to hear about my job or the Squeeze/Aimee Mann show I saw on Tuesday (which led to a vicious hangover on Wednesday) or the woman I was out at the bar with or my take on the Republican convention so what does that leave me with?

I think I'm going to write about the books that are sitting on my desk.

I always have a stack of books on my desk. Usually it's a combination of books I'm reading and books that I've already read and that I'm using as source for something I'm working on.

So what's on my desk right now?

Baseball Before We Knew It by David Block: I just got this book last week and haven't gotten that far into it but I think it's rather good so far. Per the dust jacket, "David Block looks into the early history of the game and of the 150-year -old debate about its beginnings. He tackles one stubborn misconception after another..."

Chris Von der Ahe and the St. Louis Browns by J. Thomas Hetrick: Surprisingly, this is the only modern historical work on Von der Ahe and I really think that it's time for someone to take a more radically critical look at Von der Ahe's life and significance to St. Louis baseball. Published in 1999, Hetrick's work is well-written and well-researched but I think that my interpretation of who Von der Ahe was and what he achieved is different than Hetrick's more mainstream view. Sometimes as a reader I fall into the trap of looking at a work through the lens of what I want it to be rather than accepting it for what it is and that's my biggest problem with Hetrick's book-it's not the biography of Von der Ahe that I wanted to read or that I would have written. And that's really not a fair criticism. It's a darn good book.

A Game of Inches: The Game Behind The Scenes by Peter Morris: It seems that I always have one of the Game of Inches books on my desk. What can I say, I'm a lazy researcher and why on earth should I bother to go digging information up when Peter has already done the work for me? I have the chapter on money bookmarked because I'm very interested in how the game in St. Louis transitioned from amateur to professional baseball and I'm sure that Morris has some interesting general statements on that evolutionary aspect of the game.

Lion of the Valley by James Neal Primm: Simply the best general history of St. Louis ever written.

Civil War St. Louis by Louis Gereis: Just a fantastic book. If you're interested in St. Louis history or the history of the Civil War, I can't recommend this book enough.

The National Game by Al Spink: A classic. Another book I can't recommend enough. Easily my favorite baseball book and, among all my favorite books, it ranks right up their with the Bible, A Light In August, and The Life of the Twelve Caesars. I think my copy is about two years old and it has never been on the shelf.

I also have The Whiskey Merchant's Diary on order from Amazon and I'm really looking forward to reading that. It's the diary of Joseph Mersman, a liquor salesman, who moved to St. Louis in 1849. The diary covers his life in the city through the war years and, while I have no idea if there is any mention of baseball, I'm sure it will give me an interesting perspective on life in St. Louis during that era.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reach Ads From 1893

One of the things I really like about reading the old issues of The Sporting News is the advertising. For some reason, I can easily get caught up just looking at all the old ads. I honestly think I could start a blog just about 19th century advertising in the sporting media. The two ads above, for the 1893 Reach Guide and for Reach Sporting Goods, particularly caught my eye and I thought I'd share them.

Click on the image to get a better look at them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Grand Avenue Vs. Peerless

According to announcement, the (Grand Avenue and Peerless) clubs met at Grand Avenue Park yesterday morning to see "which was which," and Grand Avenue came out first best; and, of course, are exceedingly happy, although they only won the game by a close rub, but that does not make any difference to them, as they wanted revenge on the boys from "Kerry Patch," because they had to lower their flag to those very same lads, it being the only defeat they ever received. The Grands batted terribly, but did some of the tallest muffing ever seen on a ball field. It is thought that the Grand Avenue nine could not do as much muffing again if they tried their level best. Seven base hits in the first inning and six runs, five earned, was what the Grands accomplished, and then they muffed outrageously, and ought to be ashamed of themselves. The Peerless lads played a much better fielding game than the Grands, but they were not as strong in wielding the willow. They did not earn a single run in the game, but they played a splendid up-hill contest. C. Sullivan did the pitching for the Peerless after the first inning, but the avenue boys had no trouble in pasting him all over the field. During the game, little Joe Solari got a terrible bad hit in the left eye from a foul tip, and he had to retire, Dolan going behind the bat, and McDonald taking his place at third. Before Joe got his eye put in mourning he caught well, and had only one error charged to him, it being a wild throw. Bauer at left field took everything that came to him, tow or three of his catches being very brilliant ones. Koring, the left-fielder of the Peerless, made two splendid catches after long runs.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 25, 1875

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cards/Dbacks Live Blog

And now for something completely different...live blogging the Cards game.

Joe Visner

The portrait that we give this week is that of Joseph Visner, the well known catcher and outfielder. Visner is a native of Minneapolis and learned to play ball with the amateur teams of that city. His first professional engagement was in 1884 when he caught for the Stillwater Minneapolis Club, then a member of the old Northwestern League. That team disbanding in August of that year, he signed with and finished the season of 1884 with the famous Union Pacifics of Omaha. In 1885 he signed with the Kansas City Western League team and remained there until the team disbanded in June. He was engaged by the Baltimore Club but did not play in any games with the "Orioles," as he was suffering from a dislocated shoulder. In 1886 he was with Rochester in the old International League, playing behind the bat and in the field. He also remained with Rochester during the season of 1887. In 1888 he signed with the Hamilton, Canada, Club in the same league. While in the International League he did splendid work in all departments of the game. The Brooklyn Club then in the American Association purchased his release from Hamilton in the winter of 1888-1889 and he joined that club for the season of 1889. That season he played fine ball for Brooklyn, doing most of the catching also hitting well. In 1890, he was acquired by the Pittsburg Player's League Club. While with Pittsburg he did not catch much, playing the outfield most of the time. This season Visner is with the Omaha Club, in the Western League and is playing good ball. He has given up catching for the present at least and is playing right field for Omaha. Visner is a steady and reliable player. He is a good fielder and a hard hitter. His signing with Omaha strengthens that club greatly both in the field and at the bat.
-The Sporting News, July 2, 1892

In 1891, Joe Visner was playing with Washington and somehow ended up with the Browns. I have absolutely no idea how Visner ended up in Washington after the collapse of the Player's League and how the Browns picked him up. Looking at his stats, it seems that Visner was a pretty good ballplayer and I'm surprised he didn't get more time in the major leagues. But those are the breaks.

For all you Cardinal fans out there, the sixth most similiar player to Visner, according to Baseball Reference, is the immortal Hector Luna.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Harry Staley

Harry E. Staley, of whom we give a splendid likeness this week, is the well known pitcher of the leaders in the great League race-the Bostons. Staley is a native of Springfield, Illinois, and first played as a professional in 1885 when he signed with the Decatur, Illinois, Club, a semi-professional team. In 1886 he pitched for the club of his native city, and in 1887 went back to Decatur. In 1888 when St. Louis was admitted into the Western Association, Manager Tom Loftus secured him to pitch for the new team. His work in the Western Association was first class and he was looked upon with longing eyes by quite a number of managers who were anxious to secure his services. Their opportunity came soon, for the Whites were a financial failure, and President Von der Ahe was compelled to disband the team. Just before the team disbanded Horace Phillips, the manager of the Pittsburgs, secured Staley and Jake Beckley for his club. He remained with the Pittsburg League Club during the seasons of 1888, 1889 doing excellent pitching. In 1890 he was with the Player's League team of the same city. He began the season of 1891 with the League club of Pittsburg but about the middle of the summer was transferred to the Boston League Club with which he finished the season. This season he is with the same club and has so far proved to be one of the best members of their splendid corps of pitchers.
-The Sporting News, June 18, 1892

Monday, September 1, 2008

Shorty Fuller

William Benjamin Fuller was a light-hitting shortstop who played with the Browns from 1889-1891. One of the interesting things to me is that Fuller broke into the majors in 1888 with Ted Sullivan's Washington club. After the trade of Bill Gleason to Philadelphia following the 1887 season, the Browns never were able to fill the hole at shortstop and I can imagine Comiskey having an off-season conversation with his buddy Sullivan about this and Sullivan offering to sell him the young Fuller.