Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Return Match

Base Ball-Empire vs. Morning Star.-The return match was played between the Empire and Morning Star Clubs last evening, between Twenty-first and High streets, and resulted in favor of the former.  The large crowd in attendance seemed to take great interest in the game, and frequently applauded the players when an extra play was made, but we regret to say that a great many boys and others, of whom we should have expected better conduct, crowded around the scorers so as to make it almost impossible for them to keep an account of the game.  It was utterly impossible for them to make a correct report of the fielding, and they soon abandoned the attempt.  We give below a list of the runs made, and believe it to be correct.  Soon after the game began, two of the players attempted to catch a ball on the fly, and one of them, Mr. W.A. Hudson, was struck in the pit of the stomach by the other player's knee, and was so disabled that he had to quit, and his place was filled by Mr. D.H. Naylor.
-St. Louis Daily Bulletin, September 15, 1860

The final score of the game was 37-18 in favor of the Empire Club.  Playing for the Empires that day was Henley, Reynolds, Williams, Higgins, Coyle, Walton (who made seven outs), F. Kern, Barret, and Connell.  Playing for the Morning Stars was R. Henry, Burke, Naylor, Duff, Case, W. Henry, J. Henry, Rawsot, Franklin, and the injured Hudson.  The batting record of the Morning Stars is incomplete because there is no mention of Hudson, who may have scored runs and who definitely made three outs in the game.  So the Morning Stars could have actually scored more than 18 runs.  William Sanford, of the Commercial Club, was the umpire.

The reference to the attempted fly catch is interesting but I really can't speak intelligently about what it means.  I have no idea how rare a fly catch would have been in an 1860 St. Louis baseball game.  If I had to guess, I'd say that they were uncommon.  However, I think the reference is really meant to highlight the injury of Hudson rather than the attempted fly catch.  

I also like the fact that it's September 1860 and we're already have problems with the rowdies.   


Richard Hershberger said...

Regarding the fly catch, this looks to me like that was simply to set the context of the collision. Presumably they did not yet know to yell "I got it!"

I don't interpret the complaint about people crowding the scorers table as being about "rowdies" but rather being thoughtless. I have seen similar complaints in eastern accounts. There being no scoreboard yet, spectators would go to the scorers and inquire, distracting the scorers from their job. Or if the crowd was big enough, the issue would be people finding that standing in front of the scorers was a prime viewing spot.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

The fact that there was no scoreboard is interesting and something I've never really considered. Knowing how the mind wanders at ballgames as well as the socialization that goes on, it must have been difficult to follow a game without a scoreboard. Still, I think it should be noted that in one of the earliest accounts of a baseball game in StL there's complaints about the behavior of the crowd.

I still can't imagine fly catches being that common. Infielders weren't snagging too many hot liners and a line drive to the outfield (even one hit right at an outfielder) had to be difficult to catch. Really high flys had to be tough as well. While we're never going to get fb/gb numbers, the opportunities for a fly catch must have been limited.

Also, we're talking specifically about the baseball backwater of StL. I think Fruin, in his interview with Spink, talked about having to teach the Empire Club how to catch the ball properly. This would have been in 1861 (when I also assume he taught them how to call off another outfielder). The Daily Bulletin reference shows that the fly catch was being utilized but to what extent is still a question that's up in the air.