Thursday, December 31, 2009

Solari's Obituary

St. Louis, May 16.-Augustus Solari, the father of base ball in St. Louis, died Thursday morning. He was well known to base ball players throughout the country. In the early sixties Solari leased a cornfield in the edge of town and cleared the land and built the first base ball park. It was here that he brought out the once famous Umpires [sic] and Unions. The teams continued, together with several minor clubs, for a number of years, when they were disbanded by internal dissensions. There was no professional ball here then until 1876, although Solari continued to organize clubs and play games. In the latter year he interested Charles H. Turner, Frank Fowle and Joe Carn and they organized the St. Louis Club, but it was driven out by the famous Red Stockings. Solari was in with them, and after the failure of the team he organized the Grand Avenues, which played in his park on 1879, when Chris Von der Ahe, Al Spink, W.W. Judy and J.F. Farrell organized the Sportsman's Park and club. They leased his grounds and he was made the groundkeeper, a position which he has since held. Although in the last few years he was too old to attend to his active duties, he was always present at the games. He was famous among ball players for his grounds, he having a gift of providing good playing grounds, even after a heavy morning rain.
-Sporting Life, May 21, 1898

I've been looking for Solari's obit for some time and have to thank Ed Achorn for passing this along to me. While the errors in this piece are numerous, it does provide a date of death for Solari. Someone had given me some information on Solari and provide a DOD of May 11, 1898 but the obit places his death on May 12th.

So lets count the errors in Solari's obit:

1. Solari was not the father of baseball in St. Louis and could not be considered such by any reasonable measure.

2. He did not build the first ball park in St. Louis. He did not even build the first enclosed ballpark in St. Louis.

3. He did not "bring out" the Empire and Union Clubs but rather the two clubs engaged Solari to build and maintain the park.

4. Professional baseball was being played in St. Louis prior to 1876.

5. Solari did not have a prominent role in the organization of the Brown Stockings.

6. The Brown Stockings were not driven out by the Red Stockings.

7. Solari organized the Grand Avenues in 1875.

8. Solari gave up his lease to the grounds in October of 1880 and the Sportsman's Park and Club Association was organized to assume the lease. They did not lease the grounds from Solari, who never owned the property upon which the ballpark was built.

Other than that, it's a good obituary.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The1876 Brown Stockings: Clapp's Hands Finally Give Out

The Bostons to-day reversed the defeat suffered by them at the hands of the St. Louis Club yesterday. Manning was substituted for McBride, Josephs taking right field, in case of need. St. Louis started well, but wretched errors by Battin and Bradley helped the Bostons in playing a good up-hill game. Clapp, after holding out for the last six games with a very sore hand, gave up in despair in the seventh inning, McGeary taking his place. The Bostons played a fine game in the field, and were luck in taking advantage of the errors of their opponents.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 16, 1876

It was a nice run for Clapp but these things happen. Especially after the backup catcher dies.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Worst Professional Game On Record

First Meeting This Season Of The Boston And St. Louis Clubs-A Score In Which The Errors Are The Principal Feature.

Charity must be broad indeed to cover the sins of the first game of the season between the Boston and St. Louis clubs. Never was there a professional game played which was so full of disgusting muffs, disgraceful fumbles and loose and slovenly playing. The Bostons played the first three innings without an error, but in the very opening of the fourth Leonard muffed a ball thrown him by Merrill, and from that point onward it was a race to see who could make the most mistakes. Leonard, having the more opportunities, easily led the score in spite of frantic efforts on the part of Schafer and George Wright. Leonard had no less than nine errors in six innings, and the rest succeeding in running the total up to 25. Most of this was while the St. Louis nine were posting McBride out to right field-on the fourth inning for six first bases and four runs; on the fifth, four bases and five runs; and in the sixth for eight bases and seven runs. Although there was a two-base hit in each inning, only four of these runs were earned. The Bostons made very little headway against Bradley, getting one run in the fourth inning on errors of Blong and Clapp, and in the fifth on passed balls, two in the seventh and two in the ninth on errors of Clapp, Mack and McGeary.

This sad exhibition was witnessed by about 800 people, only half of whom waited to see the whole of it.
-Boston Daily Advertiser, June 15, 1876

I couldn't find the box score or account of this game in the Globe so we have to go with the Boston Daily Advertiser. It all works out because we get great phrases like "disgusting muffs, disgraceful fumbles and loose and slovenly playing." Good stuff.

And if you're keeping track at home, there were forty total errors in this game.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Armstrong's Saloon

A shooting scrape occurred at Reub. Armstrong's saloon, on Christy avenue, between Eighth and Ninth streets, last evening about 7 o'clock. The place was crowded with negroes at the time, all excited over the base ball game between the Chicago and St. Louis colored teams, and the feeling was of a partisan character. A row finally occurred, which resulted in one of the Chicago players, named Benjamin Beatty, drawing a pistol and firing at Armstrong, who was not hit, however, by the bullet. Beatty was arrested and locked up at the Third District Police Station.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 16, 1876

Setting aside the Globe's proclivity to portray African-Americans (and African-American baseball players) as violent, this is a rather interesting story. It tells us quite a bit about the culture of black baseball in St. Louis. Here we find fans and players socializing at Armstrong's saloon after a game. You often hear stories about the 20th century Negro Leagues where fans and players are socializing at the same bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. It appears that culture was already established by 1876, where the social and economic limitations imposed on African-Americans creates an atmosphere where the ballplayers are more a part of and more immersed in the society in which they live than are white ballplayers. 19th century baseball, for white men, could be a way to raise himself above his social and economic situation or to improve his class standing to a certain extent. It does not appear, generally speaking, that this was true of the black experience with 19th century baseball.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Boss Colored Team Of Base Ballists

There is one fact that can not be disputed, Chicago journals to the contrary notwithstanding, and that is that St. Louis is possessed of the boss colored team of base ballists, who yesterday captured a victory from Chicago's famous nine of the same color. The coming of the Uniques, of the Garden City, has been eagerly anticipated by the Blue Stockings, of this city, for some time, and yesterday the long looked for struggle between these two clubs took place, and St. Louis forced Chicago to pull down her colors. Although the day was damp and disagreeable, there were several hundred people present, including many of the Caucasian race, who were anxious to witness the play between these clubs. The game was marked by many brilliant plays, and resulted in a victory for St. Louis by a score of 11 to 9. The same clubs play again Thursday afternoon, and, should the day be favorable, a large crowd will doubtless be attracted to this novel game.

Another colored club of this city is looming up as a candidate for honorable distinction in the National pastime, and yesterday met a white organization called the Lyons. The colored boys call themselves the Green Sox. The game was closely contested, the white club winning by a score of eleven to ten, in six innings, when darkness setting in put a stop to further play. The game was umpired by James Pollack (colored) who gave general satisfaction.

The Sunsets and Uniques are to face each other this afternoon, at grand Avenue Park.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 14, 1876

This may be the best article I've come across about black baseball in St. Louis during this era. In general, you have two periods when the Globe is covering black baseball to any extent: the mid-1870s and the mid-1880s. Both periods coincide with a peak in baseball popularity in St. Louis and an expansion in baseball coverage in local newspapers.

But even at the peak of its coverage of black baseball, the Globe usually only devoted a sentance or two to a game and would often fail to note the final score. Here we get a mention of three games and two scores. It's like hitting the mother load. Even better, we get an interesting reference to James Pollack, an African-American who umpired the Blue Stockings/Unique game. I'm not sure who he is but I'll have to take a look around and see if I can find anything on him. Also, the Green Sox is a club that I've never heard of before and we can add them to our list of 19th century African-American clubs.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Note On The Browns' Uniform In 1882

The firm of Casey & Lesson are hard at work making the uniforms for the St. Louis Browns and the Standards. The Browns are having two suits made. The regular is of white flannel, while the other is of bluish gray. The latter will be worn on practice and damp days, while the white uniform will be worn in fair weather and in regular games. The Standards are having their uniform made of white flannel. Theirs will be ready this week, while the Browns will be finished by the first of next week. The Standards will wear their new uniforms a week from to-day, while the Browns will don theirs two weeks from to-day, when they play their opening game with the Standards.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 6, 1882

The above picture is of the 1884 Browns and I remember posting the picture before and mentioning how bad an idea it was to wear dark uniforms in St. Louis during the summer. Based on the above account, it's likely that the uniforms were bluish gray and not brown or black like I assumed. I still wouldn't want to wear them in a game in St. Louis on a hot August day.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Cincinnati Meeting

This morning those interested in the formation of the new 25-cent League meet at Cincinnati to form a permanent organization. The cities of New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Louisville, Cincinnati and St. Louis will be represented, the latter by Christ Von der Ahe and David L. Reed, of the Sportsman's Association. That all will go well, and that the League will be formed, there can be no doubt.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 2, 1881

It seems to me that Von der Ahe does not get much credit for his role in the formation of the American Association. If we were making a Hall of Fame argument for Von der Ahe, doesn't that go pretty much at the top of the list?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Defining Sporadic

Well, I said posting would be sporadic but I guess what I really meant was that I wasn't going to get back to the 1876 Brown Stockings until after Christmas. Until then I'm just posting some random stuff that I find interesting and that doesn't take much time to put together. I am getting a bit of research done today and should begin to post new Brown Stocking stuff by Sunday or Monday.

I know you're just on pins and needles wondering what happened to the boys after their disastrous Hartford trip but I don't want this to turn into all Brown Stockings, all the time.

Baseball Without License

"St. Louis Sportsman's Park and Club (Christ. Von der Ahe)" was read on the docket of the Second District Police Court yesterday, and after it, under the head of "Alleged Offenses," the words "Base ball, cricket, etc., without license." Lovers of sport assembled to hear all about it, but they were disappointed, for the case was continued until the 12th, next Wednesday.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 9, 1881

Maybe I'm getting a bit cynical in my old age but I'm going to guess the problem here was that somebody forgot to pay somebody off. And since the problem is never mentioned again, I'm thinking at some point somebody did indeed get paid.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Spam, Comments, Etc.

I've been having some problems with spam in the comments and have gotten a bit tired of dealing with it lately. Nothing major but it's a pain in the rear end to continuously remove spam from the comment section on old posts. But rather than go to straight comment moderation where I have to approve every comment before it's posted, I'm setting it so that any comments on posts older than two weeks have to be approved before they get posted. Shouldn't really be a problem for anyone not spamming my blog. And if you are finding an old post that you want to comment on, I'll certainly approve it. The only thing not getting approved is the spam. Hopefully this will take care of the problem.

Also, I'm going to be posting rather sporadically over the next week or so. I've been a bit under the weather lately and haven't gotten much research done. Between that and the holidays, there's just not going to be much content going up. I'll try and pull it together after Christmas and get back on track.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Comiskey's Jackass

Charley Comiskey, the Browns' captain, brought a handsome (?) little jackass from the North with him. The other night the ass managed to get loose and was raising the mischief around the neighborhood of Sportsman's Park. Some one called to Charley and told him that his ass had broken his halter and was out in the street. Charley started out in search of his animal and thought that he saw him in a fence corner back of the park and made a lunge for him, but, alas, the dark object that the Browns' captain took for his mule was a large hole in the ground. This, I believe, is the first case on record where a man didn't know his mule from a hole in the ground. Comiskey was a little bruised in the fall, but he has fully recovered.
-Sporting Life, March 9, 1887

I don't know about you but I thought that was funny.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Curt Welch On Hand Ball

I was talking to Curt Welch, the Browns' centre fielder, on the preliminary practice usually taken y clubs in the early spring. "I am a great believer in good, honest athletic exercise in the gymnasium," he remarked, "but my hobby is hand ball. I believe you can get more solid benefit out of hand ball than in any other mode of exercise. To play the game as it should be played will develop all the muscles that are called into play on the diamond. It sharpens a man's appetite for physical culture, stimulates his muscular powers, and keeps him hustling to excel in his work. It brightens up the eye, is a damper on sluggishness, and calls into play a fellow's best energies. It's no game for a lazy man, but on the contrary has physically bettered many and many a player who might otherwise be inclined to inactivity. Just give me plenty of systematic hand ball exercise and I'll be in good condition to play ball for all that's in me all summer."

If Curt's field work is any criterion of his love of hand ball, its general adoption by the fraternity in general could find no better endorsement.
-Sporting Life, March 9, 1887

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Championship Situation

The past week has been an unprecedentedly unfortunate one for St. Louis, and has materially altered the relative standing of several of the clubs. Hartford, by her three brilliant victories over St. Louis, has emphatically settled the question as to which club is entitled to second place for the time being. These victories also bring the dark blues a notch nearer to the Chicagos for the pennant, as the Whites have played two more games than the Hartfords. The race between these formidable rivals will be watched with increased interest in the future. St. Louis still retains third position, but the Louisvilles are gradually crawling up, and from present indications bid fair to pass the Brown Stockings. The Kentuckians have been playing a magnificent game lately. The Mutuals have advanced a peg or two, and the Red-legged champions have, for the present, to content themselves with sixth place.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 11, 1876

Friday, December 18, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: This Is A Mistake

A great many people might suppose, from the week's base ball record, that the Brown Stockings did not know how to play against the Hartfords and Athletics "and sich," but this is a mistake. The St. Louis boys have gate money in their eye, and want to draw the big crowds at the return matches to be played in St. Louis, where they pocket two-thirds instead of one-third of the receipts. If the Eastern clubs come here with the reputation of having been beaten by our home club, they would excite comparatively little interest, whereas the whole town may be confidently relied on to go and see the champions who have gotten away with the Brown Stockings. This is our theory of the thing, but we are sorry to say that it does not affect the bets, which are a total loss.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 11, 1876

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Rain Ends The Muffing

For the third successive time, the Hartfords have scored a victory over the St. Louis Club-the attendance being no better than at the other games. The Hartfords played in fine form, batting Bradley free and hard, and fielding finely, the St. Louis doing exactly the reverse. In the first inning, Burdock fouled out to Battin; Remsen hit to McGeary, and retired; Higham out on a bound to Clapp; Cuthbert and McGeary out on flies to York, and Clapp to first on a safe hit. He stole second, where he was left, Pike striking out. In the second inning Ferguson and Carey went out on

Fouls To Clapp,

and Bond on a fly to Battin. Remsen caught Battin's high drive. Blong and Bradley made their bases by safe hits to right field. Dehlman popped up a high fly which Carey allowed to drop, and then threw to third, and Ferguson completed the double play by a good throw to Burdock. In the third inning York opened by a hot liner to Dehlman, which he handsomely stopped, and by McGeary's aid retired the striker. Mills out on a fly to second. Allison took first on a safe hit to right, where he was left by Burdock's hit to Battin. Dehlman

Hit Hard

to third, but was thrown out by Ferguson. Mack hit hard over York's head, but was latter made a beautiful catch. Cuthy out on a foul fly to Ferguson. In the fourth inning Remsen got first on a fair foul. Higham corked one over Mack's head, and Pike's slow handling gave Remsen third. Ferguson hit to McGeary, and Mack threw the striker out after McGeary, and Mack threw the striker out after McGeary had muffed the hit, Remsen scoring. Carey out on a fly to Pike. Bond hit safe and brought Higham home. York hit to Battin and forced Bond at second. Clapp out on a foul fly to York, McGeary on a foul bound to Ferguson, and Pike the same to Higham.

In The Fifth Inning,

York and Mills earned their bases. The latter, with Allison, were then doubled up on Allison's hit to Mack. Burdock flied out to Cuthbert. Battin, Blong and Bradley popped up easy fly catches, and retired. The sixth innings was fruitful of runs for the Hartford. Cuthbert dropped a hard line drive of Higham's. The latter was caught between first and second, but Dehlman gave him a life by dropping an easy fly, which was accepted. Carey and Bond then hit safely, Higham scoring. York hit to center,

Carey Coming Home.

Pike threw the ball home, and Clapp caught Bond between second and third, but Battin dropped the throw and the runner was safe. Mills hit high to right, and as Blong dropped the ball two more runs were made; Mack finally throwing Allison out at first, and ending the muffing. In the seventh inning Burdock went out on a fly to Mack; Remsen was safe on a high fly between center and left, and got all the way to third on a passed ball, Burdock yelling like a bull as the ball was pitched, causing Clapp to miss it entirely; Higham out at first; Remsen scoring; Ferguson struck out. During the last half of the inning

Rain Fell

so that play had to be stopped, and the game was ultimately called, the score going back to the end of the sixth inning. The Hartfords won by their superior batting and fielding, the display in both of these respects made by the St. Louis nine being lamentable, all their errors being costly.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 11, 1876

The Brown Stockings were three games out of first place going into their series with Hartford. They had gone 6-2 on their Eastern road trip to that point. Then they got swept by the Dark Blues while Chicago, also on an Eastern trip, won three in a row. The Brown Stockings woke up on June 11 to find themselves six games out of first.

And the thing is that whatever hopes they had of winning the pennant were over. They were six games out and would finish six games out. They never got any closer than five games out the rest of the season. The Brown Stockings championship hopes were dashed in Hartford and never recovered. They'd play good ball the rest of the way but they were never in contention after this.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More High School Baseball In 1876

The St. Louis High School nine yesterday defeated the Bignall Pumps by a score of 16 to 6. The heavy batting of the schoolboys, led by Cranden, Truesdal and Lemoine, won the game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 11, 1876

This is confirmation that the students at Central High School had organized a baseball club. I had speculated about this a few days ago and am glad that for once I happen to be correct. Again, I should add that this is not high school baseball as it's presently organized but rather a club made up specifically of students from Central High School. However, if one were to trace the history of high school baseball in St. Louis, I believe that it would be proper to begin with the clubs from Central and Sumner.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Another Tough Loss To Hartford

Even a smaller audience than on Tuesday greeted the second appearance of the St. Louis Club to-day, not more than 300 people being present when the game was called, at 3:30 o'clock. In the first inning, Cuthy went out on a foul bound, but Clapp got to first on a safe hit to right field, and was put out at second on a steal. McGeary went out on a fly to center. Burdock retired on a foul, and Remsen and Higham at first by the assistance of McGeary and Battin. In the second inning, Pike went out at first, Battin on a foul bound and Blong on a fly to Remsen. Ferguson went out on a foul bound, but Carey reached first on a safe hit to right. Bond reached first on

Battin's Muff

of a ball hit to Mack. York went out on strikes, and Mills on a fly to McGeary. In the third inning Bradley, Dehlman and Mack went out on flies to Ferguson, York and Blong. Harbidge and Remsen went out at first, and Burdock on a fly to Pike. In the fourth inning Cuthy was put out on strikes, Clapp on a fly to York, and McGeary at first on a hit to short. Higham reached second on a square muff of his high fly, hit to Cuthbert, and he reached third on Ferguson's safe hit to right, and home on McGeary's error and Clapp's throw;

Ferguson Scoring

on Bond's out at first. Carey out by battin to Dehlman, and York on a fly to McGeary. In the fifth inning Pike went out, and Battin, also, on fly balls to Ferguson and Mills. Blong reached first on a safe hit, but Bradley went out on a foul fly to Harbidge. After Mills and Harbidge had been retired on fly catches by Pike and Battin, Burdock hit safe for one bag, took second on a passed ball, and scored on Remsen's safe hit to center, the latter being thrown out while trying to steal second. In the sixth inning, Dehlman opened with a fair-foul, and

Stole Second,

reaching third on Mack's hit to second. On Clapp's hit and out at first Dehlman scored, and Cuthy reaching first on Higham's drop, and scoring by stealing second and third, and home on McGeary's hard hit to second, but was caught between that base and third and run out by Ferguson. Higham opened with a safe hit, but was thrown out at second. Ferguson earned first and reached third on Blong's error in dropping Carey's high fly. Ferguson scored while Bond was being thrown out at first, and York ended the inning by a

Grounder To M'Geary.

In the seventh inning Pike and Battin were thrown out at first, and Blong retired on a foul to Allison, who had taken Harbidge's place, the latter having had his hand badly split while playing up under the bat. Mills out at first, Allison on a fly to Pike, and Burdock on a fine running foul-bound catch by Cuthbert. In the eighth inning Bradley, Dehlman and Mack went out on weak hits. Remsen reached first on a safe hit. Higham hit to Battin and McGeary dropped the throw to make a double a double play, Remsen scoring while Ferguson was being thrown out at first. Carey and Bond were then retired

At The Same Place

before Higham could get home. In the ninth inning Cuthbert and Clapp opened with good hits, McGeary helping each along one base on a block hit, but was thrown out himself. Pike brought Cuthbert home on a safe hit to left field, Battin out on a foul fly to Ferguson. Pike ran down to second, and Clapp was neatly caught too far off third by Allison. York reached third on a beauty to center, and scored on Mills' two baser to left, the next three strikers going out at first base.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 9, 1876

A couple of thoughts:

-This was not the lead baseball story of the day in the Globe. The top story was the Stocks 10-9 victory over the Reds. The Reds had been down 10-4 after five innings and staged a furious comeback, scoring one in the seventh and four in the ninth. With two outs in the final inning, Pud Galvin dropped a fly ball to put the tying run on third. "The excitement was painful." The game ended on an outstanding play by John Gleason, who snagged a hot-shot at third off the bat of Billy Redmon.

-There were a rather interesting play in the sixth. First, Cuthbert reached on an error, stole second and third, and then scored on a grounder to second. That is how you manufacture a run right there. I saw Whitey Herzog's Cardinals score in the same manner many a time. The only way that play could be any better is if the batter reaches on an infield hit. The other interesting part of the play was, if I'm reading it correctly, that McGeary, whose grounder scored Cuthbert, was tagged out between second and third. The play must have went 4-2, runner safe at home, McGeary aggressively taking second on the infielder's choice, and then getting tagged out by Ferguson when either McGeary lost his mind and tried to take third or the ball was fumbled at the plate and McGeary thought he could get one more base. That's a crazy couple of at bats.

-When I originally read the account of the play, I thought to myself that I haven't noticed many guys getting tagged out on the base paths in these games. We can say that it's a small sample and all that but in all the games that I've looked at in this era, I really can't remember too many guys getting tagged out between bases. Don't know why that is. You would think that with the aggressive base running of the era, you'd see that play more but you really don't. Think of how many guys you see in a modern game caught between the bases and tagged out. I bet Albert Pujols, who's a very aggressive base runner, got caught between bases at least six times last year. These guys are certainly running into a lot of outs but it appears to me that when they're taking the extra base, for the most part, they get it. In this era, the base runners were forcing the defense to make plays that it doesn't appear that they were capable of making.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: A Few Words About Poor Tom Miller

Thomas Miller, the late catcher of the St. Louis Club, died in Philadelphia, Pa., his birthplace, on May 29, of disease of the kidneys, to the great regret of his comrades and of the members of both the St. Louis and Easton clubs, with all of whom he was a favorite. Miller began play in 1865, in Philadelphia, and during his career as a ball-player he was connected with the Jackson, Logan, Expert, Olympic and Marion clubs of Philadelphia, in the latter of which he was catcher in 1871. In 1873-74 he caught for the Easton Club, and in 1875 he became catcher of the St. Louis nine. This year, owing to ill-health, he was superseded by Clapp, but was, nevertheless, in the St. Louis team. He was a very effective player in the position, and, moreover, had a reliable record. The funeral took place Wednesday afternoon, and was numerously attended, the members of the St. Louis Club accompanying the body of the deceased to its final resting-place. A very handsome floral wreath-the gift of his associates-was placed on the burial casket.

At a meeting of the St. Louis Club, held at the Bingham House, Philadelphia, Tuesday, May 30, 1876, the following preamble and resolutions were adopted:

Whereas, The Ruler of the Universe has seen fit to remove from our midst our late associate and fellow-member, Thomas P. Miller; therefore, be it

Resolved, That we bear testimony to the manliness, honesty and courtesy that ever stamped his intercourse with us, and that it is with genuine sorrow we record his early demise.

Resolved, That we express to the grief-stricken relatives of the deceased our deep and earnest assurance of sympathy with them in their hour of affliction, and that we, his fellow-members, are admonished:

"We, too, shall come to the river side,
One by one;
We are nearer its brink each eventide,
One by one."

Resolved, That we, his late associates, wear a badge of mourning for thirty days as a token of respect for his memory; that the secretary forward a copy of these resolutions to the family of the deceased.

Geo. W. Bradley, Joseph B. Battin,
Jno. E. Clapp, Edgar E. Cuthbert,
H.J. Dehlman, Lipman Pike,
M.H. McGeary, Joseph W. Blong,
Dennis McGee, S. Mason Graffen
C. McManus, Secretary

-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 8, 1876 (from The New York Clipper)

Is anybody else intrigued by the idea of a Brown Stocking team meeting on May 30 with McGeary suspended and Orrick Bishop in town about to undermine the authority of Mase Graffen? That meeting immediately makes my top 50 list of historical events I would like to have been at. Actually, I think I'd rather be in a pub with Cuthbert after the meeting, having a few drinks and asking a few questions.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Meanwhile, Back In St. Louis...

Honors were pretty evenly divided yesterday in the base ball contests between the representative league clubs of the East and West, Chicago and Louisville winning, and St. Louis and Cincinnati losing. By all odds the most important of the four contests was that between the Browns of St. Louis and the Dark Blues of Hartford. To these organizations the task has fallen of depriving the Chicago White Stockings of the championship, and as each of these clubs had won the same number of games the meeting was looked forward to with more than usual interest. Hundreds of people assembled in the vicinity of the Globe-Democrat office where the game by innings was bulletined, and runners were busily engaged in carrying the figures to saloon-keepers and others who displayed them as though they had paid for them in order to attract custom. The first inning and the fourth were hailed with shouts of joy by the friends of the absent ones, but the others were silently received and at the end of the game the disappointed spectators retired in decency and in order.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 7, 1876

The 1876 Brown Stockings: On To Hartford

A very poor crowd greeted the first appearance of the Brown Stockings in (Hartford). The game was called promptly at 3:30, Mr. Daniels umpiring. The Browns lost the toss, and, by lucky hits of Clapp, Pike and Batting, scored two runs in their first inning. An error by Dehlman gave Burdock his base. Remson's out at first sent him to second, where he was caught napping. In the second inning Blong opened with a hot one to short, which was muffed by Carey. Bradley struck out. Dehlman hit to third, and forced Blong at second, and was caught napping at first by Bond. By Ferguson's two-baser, and York's single, the Hartford's scored an earned run. Carey and Bond flew out to Cuthbert and McGeary, and Mills tipped out.

In the third inning both sides failed to score, the Browns having a narrow escape, as, after they had put two of their opponents out, Remson hit a beauty to left for two bases, and Mack made a weak throw of Higham's hit. Ferguson dropped an easy fly back of Bradley, which McGeary quickly passed to Dehlman in time. In the fourth inning, after two men were out, Battin hit a hard liner, Carey weakened on. A bad throw of Harbridge game him second, and an error of Burdock's on Blong's hit let him score. In the fifth inning Dehlman earned first, stole second, and by good base running, scored on Mack's and Cuthbert's hits to Carey, Clapp fouling out. Mills and Harbridge hit flys, and were taken in. Burdock and Remson both earned their bases, and scored on Higham's hit, which Battin allowed to pass him.

In the sixth inning, McGeary opened out with a nice hit, and stole second. Pike allowed two good balls to be called strikes, and then tipped out. McGeary was thrown out trying to steal third, and Battin hit to second and retired. The Dark Blues, by the good batting of Ferguson, Carey and York, scored two earned runs, and took the lead and maintained it to the end. In the ninth inning, St. Louis had a good chance to win, or at least tie the game. McGeary, the first striker, was well caught at center. Pike reached first on a short hit to right, but neglected two good chances to run down to second, from where he could easily have scored on Battin's safe hit to left. As it was, he only reached second on the hit. Blong, the next striker, hit to Carey, and a double play resulted. Battin, considering the bad condition of his leg, played a good game. His one error on Higham's hit proved very costly, however, two men scoring on it in the fifth inning.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 7, 1876

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Evidence Of Low Level, Amateur Black Baseball In 19th Century St. Louis

While playing base ball in the county north of St. Charles, a few days ago, a quarrel and desperate fight with bats took place, resulting in the death of Semp. Hardy by a blow on the head at the hands of Presley Younger; all the parties negroes.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 7, 1876

Now this is how low level, amateur black baseball was normally presented. It's merely a backdrop to a story about the inherently violent nature of the negro.

But we can take the story apart a little bit and actually learn something about African-American baseball in 19th century St. Louis. The game takes place north of St. Charles, north of the city and possibly north of the Missouri River. This was a growing area but also an area with a great deal of open land-plenty of space for a baseball game. This could have been a pick-up game or a game among a group of friends. There is no mention of any clubs and if clubs were involved they were most likely very low level social or mercantile organizations. This wasn't the Blue Stockings or the Sunsets playing at the Compton Avenue Park and what it shows us is that black baseball in St. Louis was organized along similar lines as its white counterpart. You had youths/students playing the game. You had low level amateur social/mercantile clubs. You had low level professional clubs competing on a local and regional basis. You also had at least one major professional club by the 1880s competing on a national level, playing the best western clubs and travelling to face the best eastern clubs. Black baseball in St. Louis, while facing unique challenges (I say with understatement), appears to evolve in a similar way as white baseball did. At the very least, I think we can say that it organized itself in a similar way.

Friday, December 11, 2009

19th Century African-American High School Baseball In St. Louis

It was the Colored High School nine that defeated the colored Brown Stockings on Saturday. The Central High School boys request this statement.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 6, 1876

This is a rather extraordinary little notice. If I'm reading this correctly the "Colored High School" is Sumner High School. Sumner opened in 1875 in St. Louis and was the first high school for African-American students west of the Mississippi. Some noted Sumner alums include Chuck Berry, Arthur Ashe and Tina Turner. And it looks like they had a pretty good baseball club in 1876. That's very exciting information.

The second sentence is also of interest. Central was the first high school west of the Mississippi and opened in 1853. It was segregated by race (and possibly sex, although I'm unsure about that) and admitted only white students. This segregation provided the impetus for the opening of Sumner twenty years later. One can infer from the request of the Central students that they may also have had a baseball club and wanted it publicly known that they would not have played against a black club.

As I said, this is very exciting because this is the earliest evidence that we have of baseball being played in St. Louis at the high school level. We have evidence of baseball being played by college students during the antebellum era but this is new stuff. This isn't to say that these clubs are official, school-sanctioned organizations because they most likely are not but at the same time they are clubs made up of high school students playing baseball.

At the same time, it's evidence of amateur youth baseball among the African-American community in St. Louis and it's the first time I've come across something like that. Evidence regarding this level of amateur baseball among blacks in St. Louis is just very rare in my experience. We know quite a bit about low level amateur baseball among the white community in St. Louis because it was covered by the local papers. It was covered by The Sporting News for a long time. But low level amateur baseball among the black community was ignored. For the most part, even the best black clubs in St. Louis were ignored or only infrequently covered.

Therefore, I have to say that this little two sentence notice in the Globe is fairly significant and greatly expands our knowledge about 19th century St. Louis baseball.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Brown Stockings Hitting Stats Through June 1st

Thought you might be interested to look at the clubs hitting stats through June 1, 1876, as supplied by the Globe-Democrat on June 4.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Posessed Of Nerve And Pluck

The attendance at the third game between the Athletics and St. Louis showed a decided falling off. The Athletics changed their nine-Knight pitching, Zettlin playing at center field, Sutton going to third, and Meyerle to second.

First Inning.

St. Louis again lost the toss and went to the bat first. Cuthbert fouled out. Clapp and McGeary hit safe, the former scoring on Pike's out at first. Battin out on a fly to the pitcher.

The Athletics got in two unearned runs. Force got first on a weak fair foul. Fisher helped him along by a hot one past Battin, both scoring on a safe hit by Meyerle-Sutton, Malone and Coons then going out.

Second Inning.

Blong, Bradley and Dehlman went out on easy chances, the last named being called out on strikes without calling the fair ball. Hall and Knight got on to Bradley for two bases Zettlein out on a foul to Cuthbert. Force to first on an error of McGeary's, but was forced out at second on Fisler's hit. Meyerle out at first.

Third Inning.

Force fielded Mack and Cuthbert out and threw well to Fisler on Clapp's hit, but Fisler dropped it. McGeary hit to short and was out. Malone made a base hit, but was left by the other three strikers.

Fourth Inning.

Pike and Battin opened with safe hits, and Hall dropped Blong's hit. Bradley hit safe, bringing in two runs. Blong was run out at second, and Bradley decided out at second. Dehlman retired on a foul fly. The Athletics went out in one, two, three order.

Fifth Inning.

Mack to first on called balls. Cuthbert, McGeary and Pike followed with safe hits. Battin out on a fly to right. Blong struck out. The Athletics tied the score by safe hits of Meyerle and Sutton and a passed ball.

Sixth Inning.

Two runs for St. Louis were made by the safe hits of Bradley and Cuthbert, Dehl taking first on called balls. Another whitewash for the Athletics, Battin, McGeary and Dehlman making a neat double play.

Seventh Inning.

Clapp hit safe, but went out at second on a throw by Malone; McGeary out on a fly to right field. Pike reached second on a dropped fly at right, and home on Battin's safe hit to center. Blong brought Battin home on a two baser to left, but was put out trying to make third. Force, Fishler and Sutton went out, and Meyerle was left after making first on a safe hit.

Eighth Inning.

St. Louis out in stairstep order. The Athletics, on good batting, and bad throwing of Battin and Dehlman, scored six runs. The Browns were not to be outdone, and after Cuthey had tipped out in the

Ninth Inning,

every man in the nine went in with a will and earned seven runs, and then blanked the Athletics.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 4, 1876

So the Brown Stockings escape Philadelphia after a rather interesting week. They took three straight from the Athletics, Miller died and the McGeary situation may have divided the team. Brilliant reader David brought up some good points about the McGeary/Graffen relationship in the comments and you should check them out. I think that it may be reasonable to argue that the way the club dealt with McGeary following his suspension may have led to Graffen's leaving the club towards the end of the season. It was an eventful week and it may have been the most significant weeks in the history of the club, setting the seeds for everything that would happen in 1877.

The club, at this point, was 12-6 and only three games out of first. However, they were on their way to Hartford, where their pennant hopes would die.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Steady Now

On Monday last, a noted ball-player, "Tom" Miller, died at the house of his parents in Philadelphia, and was buried to-day (Wednesday). Miller was well known from his connection with the Easton nine of 1874, and latterly as catcher for Bradley in the famous Brown's of St. Louis. A gentleman of this place, whose brother is the manager of the Brown's, informs us that the last words spoken by Miller were in connection with his business, that of professional ball-playing, and were these: "Two out Brad; steady now-he wants a high ball-steady Brad; I knew it, that settles it." In another moment the spirit had fled from its mortal casket.-[Daily Pottstown Ledger.]
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 4, 1876

Monday, December 7, 2009

Salaries In 1876

Of the St. Louis Browns: Clapp and McGeary receive $2,500 each; Bradley, $2,200; Cuthbert and Pike, $1,800 each; Battin, Pearce and Dehlman, $1,500 each, and Mack, Blong and McGinley, $1,000 each.
-Chicago Daily Tribune, July 16, 1876

The numbers come from an article that appeared in the Brooklyn Argus and has salary figures for every player and club in the League. The Trib, however, goes on to state that "every salary paid by the Chicago Club is wrongly stated, except one. The sums named may be more accurately guessed at as regards other clubs." So take the numbers with a grain of salt.

Just looking at the numbers given for the Brown Stockings, they don't seem right. I would have thought that Pike and Pearce would have made more. However, the total amount paid of $18,500 appears to be in line with what other clubs were paying.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: A Great Day For St. Louis

To-day was a great day for St. Louis. A long series of old grudges were wiped out in the worst defeat defeat the Athletics have ever received. When about to commence the game they kicked about Heubel, but rather than retaliate upon them for their ungracious conduct in St. Louis last summer, under similar circumstances, the St. Louis Club agreed to take Warren White, of Washington, who was on the ground, and the game proceeded.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 2, 1876

Rather than give you the batter by batter results, I'll just hit the highlights (as the writer of the game account should have):

-Battin's triple in the first was the big blow and scored two; Battin was driven home by Blong

-In the second, Cuthbert scored from first on a Clapp's double; Pike drove in McGeary and Clapp on a single and a throwing error

-The fourth was the big inning; "Dehlman out at first. Mack and Cuthbert got in base hits, and Mack went home on Clapp's hit, followed by Cuthy on the steal. McGeary got first on a muffed fly. Pike out at first. Clapp and McGeary home on Battin's two-baser, he scoring on Blong's two-baser, and latter coming in on Brad's three-base hit. Dehlman out at first."

-In the fifth, Pike again drove home two runs and then scored on Battin's triple

-In the sixth, Dehlman scored on Cuthbert's double

-And finally, in the seventh, McGeary scored on Battin's single

-Bradley recorded another shutout and gave up only three hits

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Some Journalistic Infighting (or William Spink Lays The Smack Down)

The rage of a mad bull at witnessing a red rag flaunted in his face is not a marker to the effect which the name of "Chadwick" has on a Philadelphian. The Times is at present afflicted with the services of a gentleman who hails from the city of systematic swindling, and has brought with him as a journalist all those qualities which have made Philadelphia newspapers famous for their dullness. Because the Globe-Democrat has seen fit to refer to the fact that Chadwick's prophecies have come true, this would-be authority froths at the mouth. Chadwick has demonstrated the fact that he is able to take care of himself. This is not written for his benefit, but for the benefit of the Philadelphia journalist who is at present giving St. Louisans an insight into the manner in which Quaker City newspapers have gained a reputation for "enterprise." On May 23 this journalist manufactured a special telegram from New York, stating among other things that "in the early part of the game Mathews, the pitcher of the Mutuals, was struck by a ball and so badly injured that he had to retire, the score at that time standing 2 to 1 in favor of St. Louis." It is needless to say that no such accident occurred and that the special telegram never saw the inside of a telegraph office. Another bogus dispatch, dated Philadelphia, appears in the Times of yesterday. It was supposed that Pearce would play short and Mack second in the Athletic game, and the telegram referred to contains that information. Unfortunately for journalism on the Philadelphia plan, Pearce played second and Mack short in that game; hence the bogus telegram manufacturer was for a second time given away. When, by evincing similar enterprize, the Dispatch hanged a man at Fort Smith, who is at present alive and kicking, and the Republican resurrects "specials" from New York papers a week old, and both were exposed by the Globe-Democrat, it was thought that the "racket" was played out; but it remained for the Philadelphia base ball reporter of the Times to bring up the rear even in "journalism" of this stripe. Here he will be left, never again to be resurrected in these columns.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 1, 1876

Wow. That was a bit harsh but also rather amusing. My favorite part is when Spink put quotes around "journalism." The point, however, for all of us is that there were people in the 19th century who were making up their game accounts. That's a very serious and very frightening charge from a historian's point of view. Information can be difficult to come by and you have to scratch and dig and fight to find the stuff you're looking for (and many times without success). The idea that there is information out there in the contemporary sources that was knowingly falsified gives one pause. We know that people have biases and that they make mistakes and, as historians, we look for that and we can account for that. But we are not expecting the contemporary sources to lie to us. We know that they can be wrong but we have to be able to trust our sources. We have to be able to expect a good faith effort on the part of 19th century journalists in reporting the truth as they see it. I may be a bit naive about this but I find this kind of thing rather unethical and I enjoyed reading Spink laying the hammer down.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Getting Back To Baseball (But Without My Accustomed Life And Vim)

The first game of the series between the Athletic and St. Louis clubs was witnessed by about 2,000 people, but was one of the dullest and most uninteresting of the season. Pearce took McGeary's place at second, and Knight played in Eggler's place for the Athletics. The St. Louis Club played without their accustomed life and vim, and won the game because the Athletics would not. Tom Miller's sudden and unexpected death seemed to affect all the players, and made the game tedious to witness. He is to be buried to-morrow, and all the players will attend his funeral, a game that had been arranged with the Easton Club being put off. In the first inning Force got his base on balls, and went to second on Fisler's hit to third, he making first on Pearce's error. Myerle out on the fly to Pike, and Force at the home plate on the throw of Pike to Clapp. Sutton went out at first, and Cuthbert and Pearce also retired at first. Clapp reached first on a bad throw by Myerle. He stole second. Pike went to second and Clapp home. Battin went out on a right field fly. In the second inning Malone reached second on a muff by Blong. Coons retired on strikes. Hall got his base on balls and Knight went to second on a hit to left. Malone came home. Coons was put out at the home plate. Zetlein retired on strikes. Blong got a base on balls, and went out at second. By a good throw of Malone's, Bradley went out at first. Dehlman reached first on a hit to center, but went out at second on a steal. In the third inning Force went out at first, and Fisler went to first, second on Myerle's hit to right. Sutton reached first by Bradley's error. The bases were full. Fisler got home on Malone's out at center. Coons went out at first, Mack fouled out. Cuthbert went to first, and out at second in an attempt to steal. Pearce out at first. In the fourth innings Hall reached first on an error by Pearce. Knight got first on an error by Battin. Zetlein out at first. Hall home. Force and Fisler out at first. Clapp reached second on a hit to center. Pike out at first. Battin out at first. Clapp home and Blong to second on a left-field hit. Blong came home on Bradley's hit to center. Dehlman out on a fly to left field. In the fifth inning Myerle went out at first; Sutton fouled out to Clapp, and Malone ditto. Mack flew out to second, Cuthbert went out at first and Pearce on a foul to Malone. In the sixth inning Coons reached first, and Hall and Knight went out at first. Coons out at the home plate. Clapp reached second, Pike fouled to left field, Battin went to second, and Clapp came home. Blong flew out at second, Bradley flied out at right. In the seventh inning Hall got a base on balls, and Knight went out on a fly to Pearce. Zetlein out at first and Force out at first. Dehlman fouled out to third base. Mack went to first, and reached second on Cuthbert's hit to left. Pearce's fine, fair foul filled the bases. Mack home on Clapp's out at first, and Pike ditto. In the eighth inning Fisler went out at first, and Myerle fouled out to third. Sutton flew out to Cuthbert, Battin out on a fly to second; Blong to third by a beauty to center; Bradley out on a fly to center, and Blong home on Dehlman's hit to left. He went to second and came home on Mack's hit to center; Cuthbert out at first. In the ninth inning, Malone out at first; Coons reached first, and went out at second on a steal; Hall to first, and Knight out on strikes; Pearce out at first, and Clapp on a fly to left; Pike fouled out to the catcher.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 31, 1876

This is just a terrible game account. It certainly was not written by the same person who wrote the game accounts from Chicago and New York. I'm not looking forward to reading the accounts of the other games in Philadelphia.

I've always thought of the death of Tom Miller in rather abstract terms. I don't know a great deal about Miller and he's certainly not a major figure in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball. However, reading the account of this game, I was struck by the similarities between the description of the lack of "vim" displayed by the Brown Stockings and the way the modern Cardinals played following the death of Darryl Kile and, later, Josh Hancock. Those were strange games that (understandably) lacked any intensity. The Cards lost both games and, without a doubt, lacked life and vim. Thinking of those games and the deaths of Kile and Hancock helps me to understand what was happening with the Brown Stockings at this time.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Pearce Game

By far the largest congregation of citizens at a base-ball match were assembled at the park of the St. Louis Browns today (June 7, 1875). The defeat of the Bostons on Saturday, the first the boys of the Hub had received this season, had whetted the almost blunted purposes of the St. Louis citizens and, as the games stood 1 to 1, there was, of course, considerable anxiety manifested to see the boys who had dared to defeat the Reds of Boston. The day was beautiful for ball work, and gave a fair and square chance to both sides to show where the skill and ability lay, and every one is wishing to acknowledge the score in favor of the Bostons. There were several rumors afloat this morning that Pearce, the short-stop of the St. Louis nine, had received money from a prominent merchant on Main street to keep himself out of the way of balls, but there was certainly no evidence of such a transaction in the playing of Pearce, who has only one error charged to him. Bradley, who was carried off on the shoulders of six men after the game on Saturday, on account of the victory of the Browns, fell from his usual standard of pitching, being indisposed from an attack of vertigo. The score stands 15 to 2 in favor of the Eastern club.
-Chicago Daily Tribune, June 8, 1875

So this is most likely Ginsburg's source and it is, at the moment, all I can find regarding accusations against Pearce. Not much meat on the bone. There was a rumor floating around St. Louis the day of the game that Pearce was being paid off and then the Brown Stockings got spanked by the Bostons. Well, a lot of teams got spanked by Boston in 1875 so there's nothing unusual about that.

However, if I'm a St. Louis gambler and bet big money on Boston to win the series, I might be inclined to seek some kind of deal after St. Louis shocked Boston the day before and handed them their first loss. The Browns were a good club in 1875 and actually beat Boston (who only lost eight games overall) twice that year. So I guess it's plausible that the game could have been fixed.

And what's up with Bradley? Vertigo? Really? Did Bradley have a history of vertigo? This is a bit odd. It was insinuated that Bradley was involved in a possible fix against the Mutuals in 1876 and here he is in 1875, in another disputed game, having a horrible game and a rather strange excuse for his performance.

The most likely explanation is that the Brown Stockings got beat by a much better club, Bradley had a poor game due to illness and the Pearce rumor was just a rumor. But the damning thing here is that the rumor was making the rounds before rather than after the game.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Letter From Dickey Pearce

I found this February 3, 1908 letter that Dickey Pearce wrote to Sam Crane at the Robert Edwards Auction website. It sold for $5287.50 in 2007. Crane was investigating the origins of the curveball and Pearce offered a few thoughts. In the letter, he wrote the following:

Friend Crane - I see by the journal that was sent me from New York I see that you want hear from the old players. I think I am the oldest player. You want the name of the first curved a B Ball not one in front of a bar. I have seen a grate [sic] many but Boby [sic] Mathews was the first that I ever saw when he came to New York with a club from Loway and dumped all that went against him but if you will consult pop Chadwick or Will N. Rankin of the New York Clipper you may get what you are looking for as they have all the records from way back when the ball took its first curve. - Hope that you will meet with success. I remain yours truly - Dicky Pearce.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Here's Another Fine Mess

Did I say something about wanting to look for accusations of game fixing during the Brown Stockings' 1875 season?

In early June (1875), rumors were afloat that a game between the Boston Red Stockings and the St. Louis Brown Stockings had been fixed. Boston won the game 15-2, and gossip hinted that St. Louis shortstop Dickey Pearce "had received money from a prominent merchant to keep himself out of the way of ground balls."
-Daniel Ginsburg, The Fix Is In: A History of Baseball Gambling and Game Fixing Scandals

Well, there you go. During their entire existence and at least once a season, members of the St. Louis Brown Stockings were accused of game fixing. I think Ginsburg's source is the Eagle but I'll have to run it down.

I'm not prepared to state that the Brown Stockings were a corrupt club from head to toe and beginning to end but we have lots and lots of smoke here. Pearce, McGeary, Battin, Blong, Force, and McManus were all accused of game fixing to one extent or another between 1875 and 1877. There were subtle accusations against Bradley during the McGeary incident in 1876. Were all of these accusations creditable? No. But some were. Throw in problems with the umpires that the club employed and rumors that cropped up among the fans from time to time that the team was laying down and it's one big ugly mess.

Now given the times, it's possible that this was something that all clubs went through. I don't know if that's true but there were a lot of accusations flying around and not all of them were true. So it's possible that there were several clubs during the 1875-1877 period who's players were habitually accused of game fixing. If so, we can add the Brown Stockings to the list and move on. If not...

And completely off topic, did you know that Oliver Hardy never said "another fine mess" in a film? He always said "another nice mess." You learn something new everyday.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: McGeary Vindicated

On June 1, 1876, the Philadelphia City Item published the following letter:

It having been asserted, and published over the country, that the defeat of the St. Louis baseball club in Brooklyn last Saturday was due to the "crooked" playing on the part of Mr. McGeary, he was, in deference to the National League, suspended from play until the matter should be investigated. I immediately came to the city and have made careful inquiry into the matter. Justice to the accused requires me to say publicly through the press that there is no evidence, aside from the fielding errors made by him in that game, that McGeary was false to his club, and therefore he was reinstated today.

To many people the mere restoration of Mr. McGeary to his former position in the club will not be any assurance of his innocence. I am authorized to say that the St. Louis club will pay a reward of $250 for any proof that he was directly or indirectly interested in any pool, wager, or money consideration on the game alluded to.

Yours respectfully,
C.O. Bishop, Vice President, St. Louis

-Daniel Ginsburg, The Fix Is In: A History of Baseball Gambling and Game Fixing Scandals

Mike McGeary has been "vindicated" by the managers of the St. Louis Browns, and he will go back to second base again. An investigation was duly held, and the investigators were "satisfied" that Mike hadn't sold out that Mutual game after all. In the Athletic-Brown Stocking game Saturday Joe Battin made three errors, and it was lucky for him that the Browns were not defeated. If they had been he would certainly have been a subject for an "investigation."
-Chicago Daily Tribune, June 11, 1876 (originally printed in the Cincinnati Enquirer)

They didn't have to worry. Joe Battin's turn was coming.

So, in the end, this was much ado about nothing. Not all that shocking really. I made the comparison before between accusations of game fixing during the 19th century and accusations of PED usage today. Make five errors in a game in 1876 and you were a fixer. Put up historically great numbers between 1990 and 2009 and you're juiced. Of course, there were people fixing games in the 19th century and there were guys on steroids in the 21st century. But it wasn't everybody all the time.

And I'm not drawing a moral equivalence between throwing games and steroids because I don't see one. They are two completely different things. As the old coach once said, "You play the game to win." One of these things helped you win and one didn't. No comparison.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

1876 Brown Stockings: Notice Of Suspension

McGeary, the captain of the St. (Louis) Browns, and who has been playing second base all the season, has been suspended by the manager of the nine for "crooked" playing in a game with the Brooklyn Mutuals last week.
-Daily Arkansas Gazette, June 1, 1876

McGeary has been suspended, charged with selling the St. Louis-Mutual game of May 27.
-Chicago Daily Tribune, May 31, 1876

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: An Incident Worthy Of Note

The Clipper weighs in on the McGeary game:

One plain fact was elicited in the week's play, and that was that the St. Louis team, with all playing their level best to win, is one strong enough to successfully cope with the best in the League; but if doing their best can not be insured, the strength they possess becomes comparatively useless...But there appears to be other drawbacks in the composition of the team, which will tell against their record before the season is over. There was an incident connected with this game which is worthy of note. Cuthbert, before the game began, was very active in the field, holding difficult fly balls with ease. After the second inning had ended, though he had not handled the ball in the game, he declined to play further, the alleged cause being "a sore hand." Pearce was put in to play in his stead at left field, and the veteran, when he stepped up to the bat, received a hearty greeting of applause.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 1, 1876

The Cuthbert incident was mentioned in a previous post and the insinuation was that Cuthbert left the game in disgust, angered by McGeary's play.

I'm still surprised that there were rumors of game fixing surrounding the club in 1876. It's not that this kind of thing wasn't going on (see the 1877 Brown Stockings) but that I've never heard anything like this in connection with the 1876 Browns. We can now say that, regardless of the facts on the field, there were allegations of game fixing surrounding the Brown Stockings in both 1876 and 1877.

I believe that the most relevant question right now is whether or not there were any allegations made against the 1875 Brown Stockings. As of right now, I'm not aware of any but it seems like we need to take a closer look at that. Allegations of game fixing against the 1875 club would significantly change the story of the 1875-1877 Brown Stockings.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Poor Tom

Philadelphia, May 29.-Headquarters St. Louis B.B.C.-Tom Miller died this afternoon at 5 o'clock. S.M. Graffen, Manager.

The above telegram will be read with profound regret by every lover of base ball in the country. Miller, by his unobtrusive and gentlemanly demeanor in private, and his skill on the ball field, had endeared himself to all, and the announcement of his death is all the more painful from its suddenness. Tommy was a natural ball player. As a catcher he had no superior in the profession, and his throwing to bases was superb. Were it not for his weakness at the bat, Clapp would never have superseded him. He was an especial favorite with the Directors of the St. Louis club, who admired him for his honesty, and the faithful way in which all his duties were performed. The brilliant manner in which the pluck little fellow supported Bradley last season is a matter of record. The success of the Browns last year was due in a great measure to Miller's catching. He will be remembered as long as the National game has an existence for his skill and will never be forgotten by the thousands who were honored by his friendship.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 30, 1876

I know I've posted this piece about Miller's death before but I figured I'd repost it in the context of the Brown Stockings 1876 season. In the same issue, the Globe ran the following:

Mr. Thomas Miller, change catcher of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, died at the residence of his parents, in (Philadelphia), this afternoon. His associates grieve deeply at his loss, and the engagements of the club have been canceled until after his interment. The game with the Athletics to-morrow is therefore off.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I got myself a niece and a great-niece in the last year and a half and I can't tell you how thankful I am for them. I've been very fortunate in that I get to spend a great deal of time with them. It may be a dog eat dog world out there and we may all be wearing milk bone underwear but it doesn't really matter when you get to hang out with those two chubby little ham hocks.

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God!
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people,
and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
-Psalm 100

I've been watching pretty much nothing but Westerns lately so I'm in the mood to share these with you:

The Searchers is simply the greatest Western of all-time and I'll accept no argument about that. The science is settled.

One of the best things about Westerns is the music and this is my favorite.

Since it's a holiday, I'll also share this: the showdown between Henry Fonda and Charles Bronson from Once Upon A Time In The West. Keep an eye out for Claudia Cardinale (hubba hubba).

And just so we're clear, here's my top ten all-time Westerns:

1. The Searchers
2. Once Upon A Time In The West
3. The Magnificent Seven
4. Unforgiven
5. Fistful of Dollars
6. Rio Bravo
7. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
8. My Darling Clementine
9. The Outlaw Josey Wales
10. She Wore A Yellow Ribbon

Very heavy on the Duke, Clint and Henry Fonda. I'm pretty settled on 1 through 4 but 5 through 10 changes from time to time. Sometimes High Noon sneaks in there; sometimes The Good, the Bad and the Ugly; sometimes Winchester '73. But Shane never makes the list.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Had To Do It

Sorry but I just couldn't resist posting this. I've seen it three times at three different blogs I follow and watched it every time. Consider it a Thanksgiving aperitif.

The 1876 Brown Stockings: A Very Awkward Predicament

McGeary is the principal topic of conversation in base ball circles, at the present time, and the manner in which he has stirred up certain gentlemen is amusing in the extreme. At the time McGeary was engaged by the St. Louis Club there were only two newspapers in the country that saw fit to speak of the man as a "marked" player, and to maintain that the Browns had made a vital mistake in hiring him. The Globe-Democrat and the New York Clipper are the journals referred to, and the result was that bigoted partisans availed themselves of every opportunity to sling mud at Mr. Henry Chadwick, the base ball editor of the Clipper. Because that gentleman maintained that McGeary and Blong had been guilty of discreditable acts and should not have been employed, he was roundly abused by those who were willing to overlook the former records of the men in the hope that their playing skill would enable the St. Louis Club to win the championship. If McGeary is the traitor that the Brown Stocking manager, by his telegram, would lead the public to believe, the officers of that club have learned the lesson which Chadwick maintained they would be taught before the end of the season. It is exceedingly lucky that this expose has occurred thus early, thereby enabling changes to be made in the team, which, later in the season, might prevent the Browns gaining one of the first places in the championship race. If the charges against McGeary can be substantiated, the National game will profit greatly thereby. The League will doubtless see that he is punished, and punished so severely that other players will be deterred from similar actions. A noticeable fact in connection with this affair is that the very men who could see nothing wrong in the engagement of players with tarnished reputations are now howling like hyennas at the result of the game in Brooklyn on Saturday. "Such is life."

At noon yesterday the Directors of the St. Louis Club held a meeting and decided to sift the charges against McGeary thoroughly, and, if they are well founded, he will at one be expelled from the League. The action of Manager Graffen in suspending McGeary for the time being was also upheld, and that official was notified to that effect. It is very evident that the gentlemen connected with the club intend doing all in their power to suppress fraud of every description. The death of Miller and McGeary's suspension place the Browns in a very awkward predicament, as they are now without substitutes in the event of injury, illness or accident. For this reason it is more than likely that the nine players left will do their level best to show St. Louisians that they are worthy of the confidence reposed in them, and the team may possibly be strengthened, instead of weakened, by the club's misfortunes.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 30, 1876

It was a rough couple of days for the Brown Stockings. They lost to the Mutuals, McGeary was accused of throwing the game and suspended and then Tom Miller died in Philadelphia. Such is life, indeed.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Old Leaven Of Crooked Play

The unwise policy adopted by the League Association of mixing up unreliable and "marked" men with their reorganized teams, on the principle of forgiving past misdeeds and trusting to a strict enforcement of stringent laws against foul play to prevent fraud in the professional arena, is just now beginning to show its fruit. The Eagle pointed out the error last March, in its comments on the action of the League Convention and for this all sorts of abuse was poured upon the writer, especially by the St. Louis papers. There is nothing like experience, however, as a teacher for some people, and professional club managers will not learn from any other source, as a general thing. The League Association threw the Philadelphia Club out of the arena, ostensibly on account of the "crooked play" countenanced by the Club, and yet the League Clubs have since absorbed every man who played in the Philadelphia team in 1875.

The most marked of the suspected minority of the Philadelphia team of that year, was McGeary, a fellow whom Burdock of the Hartfords openly charged with offering him $1,000 to sell a game. Another player engaged by the St. Louis Club for 1876 was Blong, who was just as openly charged by the Cincinnati Times with selling a game as Captain of the Star nine of Covington. Now here was an element introduced into an otherwise well selected team, which was calculated to be greatly demoralizing in its influence before the season was over, and results are apparently proving that it already has been baneful in its effects. But without further preface, reference is now made to the peculiar occurrences which marked the contest of Saturday between the Mutual and St. Louis nines, in which the first cropping out of the old leaven of crooked play appears.

Facts and facts only are submitted below for the consideration of the League Directory, whose attention is called to what may be termed "the play of a marked man."

In the first game between the St. Louis and Mutual nines McGeary put out five players on his position at second base, three of which were by beautiful running catches of "short high balls," or balls which are hit so as to fall between the infielders and the out fielders. He made but one error and that was on a hot ground ball from Hick's bat, his throwing, especially, being very accurate. In the second game he put out six players in his position, four of whom were by similar fly catches to those of the first game, two of them, as before, being running catches back of second base. In these games he plainly showed what he could do when he chose to play ball, his earnestness, activity and skill being noteworthy, for he is undoubtedly a fine player. But the contrast between his play in these two games and that he exhibited in Saturday's game was so striking as to elicit marked comment from all who beheld it. But for the gross and unmistakable misplays he made in the first two innings in Saturday's game the Mutuals would certainly not have scored a run. Moreover, after the game had practically been given into their hands by his errors, he played the position as well as ever, putting out four players without an error, the Mutuals not scoring a run, in the last seven innings. If the errors had been such as the exigencies of the game admitted of there would be no need of complaint; but they were not. The errors-if such they may be called-were palpable misplays. First he throws a ball with great speed to Mack at second base, when within twenty feet of him; then he throws a ball home as many feet above the catcher's head; then he drops a ball which he gets hold of, and thereby misses a catch similar to several which he made several times without difficulty in the previous games; and finally he again throws the ball in over the catcher's head, and by these errors he allows the Mutuals to escape blanks, and to score six unearned runs. After the damage is done, and the game is in the hands of his opponents, he plays his position without an error. So palpably "crooked" was his work that one of his companions left the field in disgust, though ostensibly for other reasons, and those of the crowd who had seen his brilliant fielding in the previous games could not help being struck with the contrast. If Dehlman or Clapp, or others of the nine had done this, their reliable record might have pleaded in their behalf, and led to a verdict of poor fielding being given. But here is a man who is charged with offering another player a thousand dollar bribe. Taking this into consideration, what other conclusion can be arrived at than the one in question?

It is stated that the matter is to be "investigated" by the St. Louis Club officials. It is due to the honest players of the club that this should be rigidly done. An analysis of the play plainly shows avoidable errors, and if circumstantial evidence tells anything in ball play it tells that this game was "given away" in the first two innings. It was hoped that the Centennial year would have not been marked by a single instance of "crooked play," but it looks very unpromisingly now for such consummation being arrived at while such work is permitted.

Besides McGeary's suspicious play there is an unaccountable contrast in the effect of the pitching in the first two innings compared with that in the last seven. The Mutuals led off with two base hits, the comparative ease with which they punished Bradley's delivery in these two innings to that of the previous games eliciting surprise. Singularly enough they scored five base hits in the first two innings and four afterward in seven innings. This might have been the result of the demoralizing effect of the McGeary fielding, but it was commented upon as rather peculiar.
-Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 30, 1876

Well, well, well:

-When I started this little project, I stated that one of the reasons I was picking the 1876 Brown Stockings to chronicle was that unlike the 1875 or 1877 club there was little drama surrounding the team. They weren't the first professional club in St. Louis or the one that finally defeated the Chicago professionals or the one that was tainted by scandal or the one that destroyed professional baseball in St. Louis for several years. They were just this nice, quiet, little club that went about their business and was probably the best of the Brown Stocking clubs. I guess that's all kind of out the window now, isn't it?

-I'm not familiar enough with his writing style to say for certain but I assume this is Mr. Henry Chadwick in full-fledged attack mode and an ax to grind. This was a really long, wordy piece when all he really wanted to say was "I told you so."

-Ironically, this piece is probably the best description of McGeary as a defensive player. According to Chadwick, McGeary was one hell of a defensive second baseman. He had an accurate arm, was fantastic going back on the ball and was all-around "brilliant" at the position.

-Chadwick, an eyewitness, flat out states that McGeary threw the game. He didn't mince words or dance around the question. Chadwick wrote that the game was given away by a crooked ballplayer. That's a very bold statement.

-And he threw George Washington Bradley under the bus for good measure.

-I understand that anytime anything hinky happened in a 19th century baseball game, people started yelling fix. But it gets a little tiring and you can never really be sure whether you should take it seriously or not. Considering everything that would happen in 1877, I think that this incident should be looked at more. I'm not saying anything about McGeary's guilt or innocence but only that more research is needed.

-One time, back in the day, I watched a Braves/Giants game and Bob Brenly was playing third base for San Francisco that day. He made four errors in one inning and I think two errors on one play. Not once did I think Brenly was throwing the game. Of course, I think he also went on to win the game with a home run in the ninth. And he was a catcher playing out of position. But the point is that if Chadwick had seen that, he'd have gone on to write ten thousand words on how Brenly was crooked and the game was corrupted by his inclusion in the fraternity. Then again, if I saw that Ross Barnes put on fifty pounds of muscle in the off season and was knocking the ball all over the park, I'd be certain that he was on PEDS.

-I really need to find a new picture of Mike McGeary.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Here We Go Again

The third game of the Mutual-St. Louis series was played this afternoon in Brooklyn, in the presence of about 1,500 people, Mr. Daniels umpiring. The Mutuals won the toss, and took the field at 4 o'clock. Cuthbert went out by Hallinan's assistance. Clapp was saved by an error of the same player, and scored on Pike's two-baser to right field. For the Mutuals, Holdsworth and Start made safe hits. Tracy hit to McGeary, and the latter threw wild to Mack, to make a double play, Holdsworth scoring. Start was forced at home plate on Hallinan's hit to Mack. Another bad throw by McGeary of Craver's hit let Tracey home, and Hallinan scored on Hick's high fly to Blong. Booth ended the inning for three runs by going out at first.

In the second inning Blong, Bradley and Dehlman went out in the order named. After Mack had cleverly disposed of Matthews and Nichols, Holdsworth hit safe, and Battin muffed Start's grounder. McGeary muffed Tracey's fly, and threw high home to catch Holdsworth. Hallinan hit safe past third, and two runs came in. Hick's high fly to Battin ended the inning for the three runs.

In the third inning Mack and Cuthbert went out at first. Clapp also retired on a line hit to center, well caught by Holdsworth. Booth, matthews and Nichols were retired on weak hits to the in-field. In the fourth inning McGeary took first on Hallinan's juggle, stole second, and scored while Battin was being thrown out at first, Pike and Blong being the other outs. Holdsworth retired on a weak hit to Bradley. Start and Tracey made safe hits, the former being forced out at third on Hallinan's hit to Bradley, and, as Craver also hit to Bradley, he retired.

The fifth and sixth inning saw both sides blanked in first-class style, Battin putting three players out in splendid style, and the Browns all going out on fly balls. The remaining innings were devoid of interest, save the eighth, when Bradley and Dehlman, by errors of Hallinan and Craver, made their bases. Mack then hit direct to Nichols, and a double play resulted, destroying all hopes of the St. Louis Club making a rally. The game was lost by the bad playing of McGeary, whose errors gave the Mutuals every run they made.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 28, 1876

McGeary had five errors in the game and let's just say that we're going to be talking about that for the next few days. The Globe's headline for this article was "McGeary Responsible for a Brown Stocking Defeat." Anybody want to guess what the New York press had to say about all of this? Mike McGeary. The Brown Stockings. The New York press. Nineteenth century baseball. Anybody? I'll take "Accusations of Game Fixing" for a thousand, Alex.