Friday, July 31, 2009

The Diamond Became Distasteful To Him

Arthur Croft, who was well and favorably known to the older patrons of base ball throughout the country, died yesterday of pneumonia. As a first baseman he had few superiors, but it was a gentlemanly and genial member of the profession that he was most popular. He covered first base for the old Browns after Dehlman left them. In 1877 he was a member of the famous Indianapolis Club that won the National Association championship, and his fielding record for the year leads that of all the first baseman in the country. For a short time in the season of 1878 he was on the Troy nine. Returning home he joined Cuthbert's Co-operative Browns, which team he led in fielding, and was near the head of the batting record. In 1880 and 1881 he played with local semi-professional clubs. The first game played here in 1881 was between the Stanfords and the Browns, and the former, who had Croft on first, won the trophy. That was about the last game he played in. For some reason the diamond became distasteful to him and he could not be induced to return to it. After retiring from the ball field he entered the employ of the wholesale dry goods house of Rice, Stix & Co., and remained with them until the time of his death.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 17, 1884

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Our Usual Disregard To Righteousness

St. Louis, with its usual disregard to righteousness, chose last Sunday as a proper time to open the base ball season. A picked nine, consisting of Pearce, Pike, Croft, Seward, Dolan, Loftus, Magner, J. and A. Blong, defeated the amateur Grand Avenues by 13 to 3.
-Chicago Tribune, February 18, 1877

Just a few thoughts:

  • That's a pretty good picked nine.
  • February seems a bit early to be opening the baseball season. Most likely a game was played simply because the weather was nice.
  • Leave it to a Chicago paper to take a swipe at the morals of St. Louisians.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Few Important Announcements

I will be giving a presentation on the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball on August 20th as part of a fundraiser for the Missouri Civil War Museum.

As the flyer for the event says, "Come support the MCWM and spend an enjoyable dinner and evening with baseball historian Jeff Kittel as he takes us back to the origins of baseball in St. Louis. Learn how the game first arrived in the Gateway City, the effects of the Civil War on the game, its involvement in Jefferson Barracks, and its ultimate survival and prosperity in becoming our nation's favorite pastime. If you love baseball, the Civil War, and/or Jefferson Barracks, you must attend this event! Tickets are only $15 per person. All proceeds benefit the Missouri Civil War Museum's building campaign. Reservations are required by August 15, 2009."

How can you pass up an evening listening to me prattle on about baseball? And it's for a good cause. In all honesty, I'm really excited about this and looking forward to it. It should be a great deal of fun. If you enjoy the blog, you'll certainly enjoy a more organized presentation of the material and I'm certain that I'll throw in some of the super secret stuff that I've been keeping to myself. Plus, I believe that the museum is going to be a great addition to the community and to the study of 19th century St. Louis history. They need our support.

For more information or to get your tickets, call the MCWM at 314-845-0541 or visit the museum's website. Or you can always email me at Hope to see you there.

Also of interest: I just got back from a day of going through the microfilm at the St. Louis Public Library and have found some rather interesting things. The information should find its way up on the blog starting Saturday, August 1st, and run through the next twelve days or so. I think the information I found should reshape the way we look at the game in St. Louis during Civil War era. Not that I'm building this up or anything.

A New Empire Club

The Empire Base Ball Club have organized for the season of 1884 with the following players: J. Yule, c.; W. Fitzgerald, p.; Dougherty, 1b.; T. Stack, 2b.; Tom Gorman, 3b.; R. Nagel, s.s.; W. Noole, l.f.; H. Heine, c.f.; J. Downey, r.f. All challenges should be addressed to T. Gorman, 1430 Market street.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 11, 1884

The Young Brennan Base Ball Club defeated the Empire Club after a hard fought contest by a score of 12 to 8. The features of the game were the work of the Brennan's battery and the batting of Hogan and Dean.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 28, 1884

To the best of my knowledge, the last active season of the Empire Club was 1877. All references between 1878 and 1883 that I've seen refer to the club in the past tense. This 1884 Empire Club is not the same club that existed from 1860 to 1877 and dominated the local St. Louis amateur baseball scene.

However, this new club may have had a connection to the Empires of old. As the Globe noted, the catcher for the new club was J. Yule and James Yule was a member of the old club. Not only was Yule a member, he was a core member of the first nine during the club's championship run, playing the outfield and serving as field captain from 1861 to 1863 and also in 1868.

James Yule was born in 1836 and would have been almost fifty years old in 1884. In 1876, he appeared in what was essentially an old-timers game and had most likely retired from the game. While it's unlikely that a forty-eight year old man was catching for a local amateur club in 1884, it can't be ruled out.

The bottom line is that this 1884 Empire Club is not the champion 1860-1877 Empire Club.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Couple Of Good Stories From Gus Schmelz

Manager Schmelz has an inexhaustible fund of baseball anecdotes. In a reminiscent mood the other evening he told of some of the ludicrous things he had seen on the ball field. Probably the funniest of these occurred here in Washington in 1886. In that year Mr. Schmelz was managing the St. Louis Maroons for Henry V. Lucas, who had at that time more money than he could use. But the story is told best in Manager Schmelz's own words.

"The Maroons," Mr. Schmelz said, "were a great team, with Jack Glasscock, Jerry Denny, Fred Dunlap, Al McKinnon, George Myers, and a lot of others just about as good. We arrived in Washington to play the Nationals, and in the game during the afternoon Al McKinnon had reached first base and George Myers was at the bat. McKinnon started for second just as Myers hit the ball on the nose. Hines was playing center for Washington and when the ball was hit it did not look as if Paul would get anywhere near it. By the time McKinnon had turned second it began to look as though Hines might get the ball, so Dunlap, who was coaching at third, yelled for McKinnon to go back. Just then Paul reached for the ball, barely touching but not holding it. By this time Jerry Denny, who was coaching at first, was yelling for Myers, who had turned back in disgust when he thought Hines was going to get the ball, to go on. In the excitement of the moment and the yelling of the balance of the team, who had in the mean while rushed up to the lines, McKinnon started back to first, while Myers ran on around to third. The two men met near second and Myers tried to head McKinnon off and turn him back toward third, but Al, who had been rendered nearly frantic by the noise and coaching cries, thinking Myers was one of the enemy trying to block him, gave George a shove which landed him on his back and continued back toward first. Meyers scrambled to his feet and chased himself up to third.

"Hines had now secured the ball, but seeing one of the Maroons breaking for third while another was running still harder to get back to first, Paul didn't know what to do. Finally he ran in with the ball in his hands, accompanied by the whole Washington team. He found McKinnon, who should have been on third, safely perched on first while Meyers, who belonged on first, was wildly clutching third with both hands.

"Now ensued one of the funniest scenes ever witnessed on a ball field. Paul first went up and touched Meyers with the ball then he was dragged by his club mates over to first for he would not relinquish his hold on the ball to touch McKinnon. Then they changed their minds and dragged Paul back to third and made him touch Meyers again. Needless to say that by this time the procession back and forth across the diamond had been joined by all the Maroons, who had the Umpire in their midst, and were arguing and gesticulating as they dragged that official from one side of the diamond to the other. All this combined with the howls, yells and laughter of the audience, so confused the umpire that it was fully half an hour before he could give a decision and all that time the Senators determined to make sure of at least one man dragged Hines and the ball from third to first and first to third, touching first one man and then the other, according to the direction in which the umpire seemed to be inclined to give his decision. The Maroons, equally determined not to have either man declared out, dragged the poor umpire in the wake of the other procession. Taken altogether the scene was too funny to be described.

"The most remarkable play I ever saw," continued Mr. Schmelz, "was made on the St. George grounds, Staten Island, when Erastus Wiman owned the Metropolitans. I was managing the Cincinnati team at the time. Jim Keenan, of Indianapolis, was the mainstay catcher of our aggregation, and he was the receiving end of the battery that day. A foul tip struck his hands, went straight up in the air, fell on top of his head (he had his cap on), rolled up against the edge of his mask and stayed there. Keenan reached up, picked the ball off the top of his head and the umpire declared the batter out."
-Washington Post, April 1, 1894

Monday, July 27, 2009

The King Of Second Base

Filed under "beating a dead horse":

Fred Dunlap has at last succumbed to the inducements of Nimick. The famous second baseman was visited by the Pittsburg magnate last Sunday, and the two held a conference in the Continental. Dunlap will not admit that he was agreed to play at a much lower figure than what he said he would. But it is true nevertheless. He clung to the last moment to the price of his salary last season, $5,000, but now the once "king second baseman" has fallen like all other big men of history. He is to get, so a good authority says, the sum of $3,500 for his season's work.
-Chicago Tribune, March 30, 1890

Fred Dunlap Signed

The King of Second Base Will Play With the Washington Team

...The terms of Fred Dunlap were accepted tonight, and he will play with the National Club, of Washington, next season.
-Washington Post, February 6, 1891

Charley Sweasey, Al Reach, Jimmy Wood, Ross Barnes, John Burdock and Fred Dunlap were the great second basemen of the past...
-Boston Daily Globe, November 1, 1891

Here we have Dunlap described as "famous," "the once 'king second baseman,'" "The King of Second Base," and one of "the great second basemen of the past" but, remember, he was never a legitimate star in a legitimate league.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

He Was A Professional; He Played For Money

There's a really interesting article in the March 23, 1890 edition of the Chicago Tribune that lists the salaries of players who had jumped to the PL, with numbers taken from the 1890 Spalding Guide. Since Dunlap was, to put it mildly, motivated by money, I thought I'd list his salary numbers from 1882 to 1889:

  • 1882: $1300
  • 1883: no salary listed
  • 1884: no salary listed
  • 1885: no salary listed
  • 1886: $4500
  • 1887: $4500
  • 1888: $7000
  • 1889: $5000
In yesterday's post, I listed his 1884 salary as $3200 and his 1885 salary as $4000. I have no idea what he was making in 1883 but I seriously doubt it was more than $2000.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dunlap's Contract

Fred Dunlap has determined to go to St. Louis. Last week he signed a two years' contract with Lucas, receiving for his first year $3,200 and $4,000 for the second year, the largest salary ever paid a ball player.-Philadelphia Item.
-Washington Post, March 16, 1884

Friday, July 24, 2009

Blong's Contract With The Brown Stockings

Blong was called in at the meeting last night, but declined to say anything of consequence. He expressed himself outside as totally indifferent to the action of the club, and well he might be, for he had in his pocket at the time a written contract for the year beginning November 1 with the St. Louis Base Ball Association at $1,500. That contract was executed at the Gibson House yesterday.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat (quoting the Cincinnati Enquirer), September 23, 1875

If I have all the dates lined up correctly, Blong was signed by the Brown Stockings on September 20, 1875. This was two days after the "incident" and the same day he was expelled from the Stars (but before he met with the club). Any speculation on my part that Blong had signed before the Stars/Ludlow game was wrong. However, it's still likely that Blong was talking to the Brown Stockings about a contract prior to the game.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

And I'm Not Done With The Subject Just Yet

Just before the above game commenced, the St. Louis Brown Stockings, in full uniform, appeared on the field. They had gone to Cumminsville, to play the Blue Stockings, but it seems that the latter had made arrangements for the game to come off to-day. The game, however, is off, and the Browns will, we understand, play the Ludlows to-day, and the Reds to-morrow. After practicing a while on the Blue Stocking Grounds, during which Dehlman, first baseman, had the misfortune to lose his pocket book, containing a sum of money and a railroad ticket, which he would like to have returned, the Browns retired in disgust, and visited the grounds of the Reds, where they were provided with pleasant seats to witness the game. Cuthbert, the center-fielder, was pressed into service to umpire the game, and gave perfect satisfaction.-[Cincinnati Gazette]
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 20, 1875

I think this is a rather amusing story about Herman Dehlman and also gives you a different view of what life on the road was like for a club during the period. It appears that the Browns had scheduled the game with the Blue Stockings on September 16. Also note that there is no mention of a game with Philadelphia.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

On Neutral Ground (or It's About Frakkin' Time)

It's like we finally get to New Brunswick and instead of finding a White Castle we find a Burger Shack. For those who don't know what that means, all I can say is: Let's burn it down, Pookie!

The following detailed account of the Brown Stockings' game with the Philadelphias, on Wednesday, is clipped from the Cincinnati Commercial:

The seventh game of the championship series between the Philadelphia Club and the Brown Stockings, of St. Louis, was played at Ludlow Park yesterday, in the presence of about 600 spectators. It was a necessity with both clubs to play the game, as the season is drawing to a close, and the clubs entered for the the whip pennant have too many games yet to play to permit of their passing a day in idleness, or in playing semi-amateur clubs, such as the Stars and Ludlows. As a pecuniary speculation the affair was a failure, but as an exhibition of the beauties of the "National Lunacy" it was considerable of a success.

The St. Louis team was as strong a one as the club can muster. Seward was the only substitute in the list, and he fielded and batted up to the highest standard. The Philadelphia nine was also composed of the picked players of the club, and every man at the outset of the game was in his home position. Mr. Mack, of the Star Club, was chosen umpire, and called play at 3: 40 p.m., with the Philadelphias at the bat, they having lost the toss.

The Quakers opened the play in a style that augured well for their success. Murnan and McGeary, the first two strikers, made clean hits for bases, and were each in turn thrown out while attempting to steal second. The throwing of Miller and the skill with which Battin handled the ball are deserving of special note, as the men who were put out in this manner are among the best runners and base stealers in the profession. Their failure to play this point had a very dampening effect on their comrades, and proportionately elated the Browns.

When the St. Louis nine went to the bat, Pike made his base on an error of Murnan after Cuthbert had been retired. Base hits by Battin and Pearce followed, and Pike scored his run, being helped to it by Addy's failure to stop Pearce's hit for a single base. Bradley drove a hot grounder to Fulmer, who failed to stop it, as also did McMullen at center field, these errors giving two more runs to St. Louis. There the tally stopped, however, and no runs were scored on either side in the following inning. In the third inning the Philadelphias got their third blinder, while on a one-base hit by Pearce, and a two-baser by Bradley, two runs were added to the St. Louis score, completing their total for the game. Neither of these runs was earned, as McGeary's carelessness gave Pearce a life at second base on a hit that Addy fielded in promptly enough to have nabbed him had McGeary been quick enough in putting the ball on to Dickey.

The Philadelphias failed to score until the ninth inning. In the fourth inning, Addy was left on third base, and in the seventh inning Meyerle was thrown out at home base while attempting to run in on Miller's throw to Battin to catch Fulmer, who, as a substitute for Snyder, was stealing to second. Meyerle's hit in this inning sent the ball over center field fence, but he was restricted to one base on it. In the ninth inning McGeary made a good base hit to left field, and got second on a wild return of the ball by Cuthbert. A passed ball gave him third, and he came in at Addy's expense, that tricky player hitting to right field and being thrown out at first by Battin.

There were some very clever plays in this game. Battin and Miller, of the St. Louis Club, guarded their positions splendidly, and while Miller's throws were made quickly and accurately, Battin was always on hand to hold them, and it was like walking into a man trap for a Philadelphia player to endeavor to steal to second base. Battin's fielding record in this game is a most remarkable one. Pearce also played well both in the field and at the bat, and displayed his usual excellent judgment in directing his men in their plays.

Te best playing done on the Philadelphia side was done by Meyerle, Snyder and McGeary. Snyder caught without an error, although the pitching at times was quite irregular. Fulmer played poorly at short field, and in the fourth inning was transferred to third base, where he rendered a better account of himself. After this inning McGeary played at short and Meyerle at second base. Addy had one error at right field, but played a lively, skillful game. The victory was the fifth to be placed to the credit of the St. Louis Club, although the Philadelphias in one of the two games of the series in which they were successful, scored sixteen runs against nine consecutive whitewashes of their opponents.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 24, 1875

The final score to this rather odd game was 5-1 in favor of the Brown Stockings.

So the first two batters get on for Philadelphia but are both thrown out trying to steal and then later Bob Addy gets a hit and drives in a run only to be thrown out at first. That's a good bit of strangeness. I don't think I've ever seen the first two batters of a game get on and then thrown out stealing.

Also, we have the Commercial's take on why the game was played in Ludlow: "It was a necessity with both clubs to play the game, as the season is drawing to a close, and the clubs entered for the the whip pennant have too many games yet to play to permit of their passing a day in idleness, or in playing semi-amateur clubs, such as the Stars and Ludlows." The game had to be played because the season was almost over and a club couldn't be wasting their time playing the Stars and the Luds. But wasn't that exactly what St. Louis and Philadelphia were doing? It's kind of a non-explanation. It doesn't address why specifically St. Louis and Philadelphia were playing in Ludlow on September 22, 1875 but rather generally addresses the idea that they needed to play. The game was played because it was necessary to play the game.

What was Philadelphia doing in Cincinnati? We know the Brown Stockings were there wasting their time playing the Stars and the Luds. Did they arrange to meet in the city and play? Was the game arranged before the Brown Stockings left St. Louis? Was the game arranged at the last minute as a matter of convenience?

I think after a week's worth of posts on the topic I may have more questions then when I started looking into this. But that's life. And I was going to post the "Burn it down, Pookie!" clip for you but decided that, besides being NSFW, it was seriously inappropriate at a family-friendly blog like TGOG. But here's the link. Just don't play it around the children.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

And Here's Where It Gets A Little Interesting

The Globe reported on September 21, 1875 that the Brown Stockings were "expected home from their Cincinnati trip tomorrow." No mention of Philadelphia or a game on the 22nd.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Whites were playing Hartford in Cincinnati on the 21st and winning 13-8. Also, they played Chicago in Cincinnati on September 23, winning 5-0. Philadelphia played three league games in Cincinnati in three days against three different opponents. So I think it's safe to say that the Philadelphia club was the impetus behind the league games in the Cincinnati area.

The question I have is whether or not the game between the Brown Stockings and Philadelphia was scheduled before the two clubs arrived in Cincinnati. I don't think that it's totally clear. There is no advance mention of the game between the two clubs while the paper does mention the upcoming games with the Stars and Luds. Is it possible that the two clubs happened to me in Cincinnati at the same time and decided to get in a championship game while they had the chance? More research is certainly needed and I don't have easy access to the necessary newspapers in Cincinnati and Philadelphia. It would be interesting to see if the papers in those cities mentioned the game in advance.

However, the game doesn't fit the scheduled pattern of the Brown Stockings' league games. It stand out like a sore thumb. It's possible that the club had scheduled some games against local teams in Cincinnati during a lull in the league schedule and Philadelphia, for whatever reason, had scheduled some games in the area as well towards the end of the Brown Stockings visit. Once the two clubs realised that they were both in town, maybe they decided to arrange a match. One possible reason the game was played in Ludlow rather than in Cincinnati (like Philadelphia's games on September 21 and 23) is that it was arranged at the last minute and the Luds' grounds was the only available park.

Tomorrow: The long awaited, heavily anticipated and certain to disappoint post on the Brown Stockings/Philadelphia game in Ludlow, Kentucky.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Brown Stockings In Kentucky (or Play Harder And With Less Errors)

This is starting to remind me of The Monster At The End Of This Book, which, by the way, was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. Let's see if we can move this along.

The Brown Stockings came to the Cincinnati area, as we've seen, on September 15, 1875 and played the Covington Stars, winning 12-8. Right around this time they signed Joe Blong to a contract for 1876, possibly leading to Blong's "incident" during the Stars/Ludlow exhibition a few days later. On September 17, they played the Luds, winning 27-6. The next day, the Brown Stockings played the Cincinnati Red Stockings:

The Cincinnati Commercial thus describes the unsatisfactory finish of Saturday's game between St. Louis and Cincinnati:

Ninth Inning-Clark went out at first, Sweasy on a fly to the pitcher, and Nichols out at first.

Browns-The game now stood 12 to 9 in favor of the Reds, and a half inning yet to be played by the Browns. Pike, with a safe hit, reached first. Battin struck a fly to right field, which was taken by Wardell very close to the ground. The umpire decided it out, and Pike, who had run to second, was declared out at first. The Browns declared that the ball had not been fairly caught, but picked up. The question was noisily quarreled over by the two clubs, and a crowd of spectators who had rushed in. The umpire holding to his decision, the Captain of the Browns refused to finish the game, and so it ended, the umpire deciding the result to be 9 to 0 in favor of the Reds. It was an unfortunate termination. The Browns, of course, claim that they were unfairly used by the umpire, but there is another side on that claim. Had the Browns paid less attention to the cheers of the crowd for the Cincinnati Club, taken less to heart the decisions of the umpire against them, and played harder and with less errors, it is not at all unlikely that they would have come out winners. But if, under these circumstances, they had played the game out and been beaten in the end, they would stand in a better light before the base ball public than they now do.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 21, 1875

Dickey Pearce stated later that the reason the Browns left the field was that they thought there were three outs and the game was over. I'm not sure that that's believable.

To wrap this up, on September 20 the Brown Stockings made a trip to Louisville to play the Joe Ellick and the Eagles, winning 11-3. Also, on the same day, Philadelphia arrived in Cincinnati and defeated the Reds (Cincinnati, not St. Louis) by a score of 6-5.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dillon Injured (Again)

Packie Dillon, of the Stars, was so seriously hurt on Tuesday, that he had to be taken home in a carriage.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 17, 1875

Dillon had a tough season. To add insult to injury (literally), Dillon was hurt in the game against his old teammates on the Reds.

And, yes, I'm really going to get to the Browns/Philadelphia game in Ludlow on September 22 but I want to build up a bit of dramatic tension first.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Interfering Considerably

Another interesting aspect to the Brown Stockings trip to Cincinnati and their game against Philadelphia in Ludlow (which, I promise, I'm getting to) is that the Reds happened to be in the area at the same time. All quotes come from the September 16, 1875 edition of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

The Ludlows still maintain their reputation for quarreling on the ball-field, as the following extract from an account of their game with the St. Louis Reds, on Monday, will demonstrate:

It was clear to the unprejudiced eye that Warner and Doescher had quarreled, but what the misunderstanding could be about, was less easy to determine. Some conjectured that it was on account of the double play in the previous inning which Warner had been instrumental in making, and which only a fortunate muff had enabled him to make. By the persons sitting nearest the parties as they sat on the bench awaiting their turn at the bat, the difficulty is interpreted to have been about the respective batting qualities of the two. Warner is somewhat proud of his reputation as the safest man at the bat of the whole nine. He seems to have grown irritated at the chaff of his companion, and to have taken umbrage at language such as he and other members habitually used towards each other. He suddenly made some statement. Doescher retorted as quickly, but with a smile, "You are a liar." The words were no sooner uttered than they were greeted with a blow that landed on Doescher's nose. The fight was on instantly, but was stopped by the intervention of Jones and other players. Warner walked off the field with a torn shirt, and refused to reappear.

Fantastic story. Made me thing of Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent. The Reds, by the way, beat the Luds 8-1.

The next day the Reds played the Stars, losing 8-5:

Oran, of the Reds, played right field magnificently, and drew forth the applause of every spectator by a grand running catch, taken single-handed, and then throwing to second base, putting out his man. Houtz, at first base, and Collins in left field, played elegantly, neither one making an error in the game.

The Stars were behind in their score until the ninth inning, when, by a combination of brilliant batting and good luck, they added six to their runs, putting them ahead, and winning the game amidst the wildest huzzas.

You really can't beat a combination of brilliant batting and good luck.

The Brown Stockings came to town the next day and played the Stars. The Globe had this to say:

The Browns have hopped over to Cincinnati, and yesterday played the Stars, thereby interfering considerably with the gate receipts of the St. Louis Reds in their game with the Cincinnatis.

This is not to imply that the Brown Stockings specifically planned to go to Cincinnati at the same time as the Reds and steal their box office but we are still looking for reasons why the club was in the area and spite can be added to the possibilities. Not to take the idea too seriously but there was a rivalry between the Brown Stockings and the Reds, as much in the front office as on the field. McNeary had been involved in the organization of the Brown Stockings until such time as it was apparent that the club was going to play its home games at the Grand Avenue grounds rather than on Compton Avenue. Brown Stocking management could not have been pleased with McNeary's decision to place the Reds in the NA and their refusal to schedule more than two games against the upstarts is, I believe, evidence of this. Both clubs probably believed that the other had negatively affected their finances.

So we can consider the possibility that the Brown Stockings, with some time on their hands, travelled to Cincinnati on the heals of the Reds simply to cut into their box office. It's a bit far fetched but, considering the relationship between the two clubs, not out of the question.

Note: Weren't we talking at some point about players making one-handed outfield catches and the rarity of such things? Can't remember but Oran's catch is an obvious example of such a thing and it was remarked upon in several different papers. I would argue that the fact that it was remarked upon in all game accounts I've come across and the brilliancy of the play was universally noted would mean that one-handed outfield catches were still rather rare.

Friday, July 17, 2009

There Is No Such Thing As Coincidence, Just The Illusion Of Coincidence

After returning from an eighteen game Eastern road trip, the Brown Stockings played thirteen of fourteen games at home, interrupted only by the game they played against Philadelphia in Ludlow on September 22, 1875. But that's not really what I want to talk about at the moment. Don't despair; I'll be getting to that game shortly.

If one looks at the schedule, the Brown Stockings were at home from August 12, when they played the Athletics, through September 13, when they played Hartford. They had the game against Philadelphia on September 22 and then returned home to play Philadelphia three more times at home, starting on September 27. The pertinent question is what was the club doing on those eight days when they didn't have a championship game scheduled?

By September 15, the Brown Stockings were in the Cincinnati area playing baseball and they remained there through the 22nd. But, again, this isn't what I want to write about. This post isn't really about the Brown Stockings. This is actually a post about Joe Blong.

Follow along:

-The Brown Stockings arrive in the Cincinnati area by September 15 and play a game against the Stars which they win 12-8 (and which was umpired by Charlie Sweasy).

-On September 18, the Stars play the Ludlows in an exhibition game and lose 7-5 to their rivals. Joe Blong is suspended after the game. Rumors fly that Blong had "sold" the game and/or was drunk during the game.

-Blong is expelled from the club on September 20 and there are reports that he had already signed a contract with the Brown Stockings for the 1876 season. During his hearing, Blong is rather defiant towards the trustees of the club and one explanation for this is that he has a contract for $1,500 from the Brown Stockings for next season.

So we now know how Blong signed with the Brown Stockings for 1876. The Brown Stockings were in the area playing baseball and actually had a game against the Stars in which Blong pitched. One can assume that the contract was offered to Blong sometime between September 15 and September 20 and that this contract colored Blong's view of his service with the Stars. It's possible that Blong already had a contract with the Brown Stockings before the Ludlow exhibition game and, if this is true, his behavior in the game should be interpreted in that context. Blong was a St. Louis native, had arranged to play with one of the top clubs in the country for the following season in his home town and was already fixed on his future rather than on endeavours in Covington. He had no loyalty to Covington or the Stars and probably couldn't care less about the rivalry with Ludlow. Blong was headed back home to play baseball at the highest level and, as far as he was concerned, the Stars could go pound sand.

It's arguable that the Brown Stockings' trip to the Cincinnati area lead directly to Blong's blow up with Covington and the beginning of his reputation as a crooked ballplayer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


To add to his other troubles, it is now rumored that Joe Ellick, captain of that nine, has abandoned them to accept a position with the Eagles of Louisville. It certainly is to be hoped that the association will take such cases in hand and deal with them severely, which they, no doubt, will in all the cases where the jumpers come under their discipline...Your correspondent has been credibly informed that in the case of Blong, he was released by McNeary before joining the Covington Stars. Both (Ellick) and McSorley are absent with the club on a trip through Ohio, but both will, no doubt, have something to say in defense of their action...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 15, 1875

I really like the use of the word "abandoned" to describe Ellick, Blong, et al. leaving the Reds in 1875. It seems fitting.

The two most interesting things in this piece is that Ellick was "captain of that nine" after Sweasy and that Blong is "credibly" reported to have secured his release from the club before joining Covington. I think that little facts like Ellick serving as captain adds needed detail to what we already understand about the broad picture while there are still questions about how Blong left the Reds.

And if you can't tell, I'm working my way (in my own meandering style) up to the Brown Stockings' September 22 game against Philadelphia in Ludlow, Kentucky.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Pioneer Baseball Era In St. Louis And The Civil War

I have an article up at the Missouri Civil War Museum, entitled The Pioneer Baseball Era in St. Louis and the Civil War. The piece discusses the origins of baseball in antebellum St. Louis and the effects of the Civil War on the games development in the city, as well as attempting to put these developments in a national context. Follow the link and give it a read if you have the time. It's a more organized presentation of a great deal of the information that I've posted here as well as a reflection of my thinking after working on the Pioneer Project (whose publication sadly seems to have been pushed back to Spring of 2011).

I should also take this opportunity to thank John Maurath from the museum for his work on the article. John edited the overly long piece, added a preface and note about Al Spink, and also placed the pictures into the article. He did a great job with it and I'm very appreciative of his time and effort. While you

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Al Spink Testifies

Alfred H. Spink, formerly secretary of the Browns, and at present a sporting writer on one of the local dailies, was the first witness called. He testified to the organization of the St. Louis Baseball association by himself, his brother, the late William Spink, and William Pennoyer. This organization, according to Mr. Spink, formed the St. Louis Browns during the season of 1881 and their games were played on the grounds of Sportsman's Park and club on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The St. Louis Baseball association, said Mr. Spink later on, had a contract with Sportsman's Park and club whereby they got 90 per cent of the gross gate receipts, the corporation getting 10 per cent of the gate, reserved seats were sold, and all other privileges, such as sale of score cards, etc. When the season of 1881 had been completed he and his associates turned over their baseball interests to Von der Ahe, who continued the arrangements with Sportsman's Park and club.
-Chicago Daily Tribune, January 19, 1899

Spink was testifying in the suit brought by the Missouri Valley Trust Company against the Sportsman's Park and Club Association. Von der Ahe was arguing that his baseball club and the Sportsman's Park and Club Association were two separate entities in an attempt to stop the seizure of the ball club. He eventually lost that argument but as a result of the suit we have Spink's testimony about the founding of the Browns.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Reds/Star Ad From 1875

This ad for a June 14, 1875 game between the Reds and Stars was sent to me by Cam Miller. Much thanks.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

We Have Witnessed Many Worse Games Than This

Last Monday a large number of the male population of Ludlow visited the new Star Base Ball Grounds, at the head of Madison street, Covington, to witness the great game between the much-talked of and loudly advertised "Shining Stars" (see Covington news in all the Cincinnati dailies,) and the famous St. Louis Reds. The Stars having defeated the Ludlow club when it was in its infancy, and the Ludlows having made four runs in their game with the Reds, keeping their score down to 13, and whitewashing them five times, an easy victory was anticipated for the Covington boys.

A crowd estimated at between 3,000 and 4,000 was on the ground when game was called, about 4 o'clock, and as the larger proportion of those in attendance were Covingtonians, the enthusiasm was unbounded. When the Asterisks began to toss the ball, just to show how they were going to do it, the crowd applauded, and smiled pityingly at the St. Louis boys, especially poor Blong, the lame pitcher, and Houtz, the first baseman, who, in practicing, muffed every other ball. Some of them felt sorry for Sweasy, too-he had seen better days, when he belonged to a club which could play almost as well as the Stars. Then there was a delicate-looking boy named Flint, who was going to try to catch!

All of this was preparatory. The Reds went to the field, when game was called, with the air of men determined to do their best, even though their cause was hopeless. The Stars went to the bat, and for some reason, unexplained as yet, they didn't make any runs. The Covington people winked and smiled, and "guessed" the boys were throwing off on the Reds, to make it appear like a close game. But the St. Louis boys were evidently not let into the secret, for in their half of the the first inning they scored 8.

In the second inning the Stars seemed undecided as to whether they would merely "tie" the Reds, or make it 16 to 8; but after some reflection and consultation, they concluded to give their opponents a still better chance, and generously permitted themselves to be whitewashed a second time. The St. Louis boys, not to be outdone in matters of this kind, also scored a goose egg.

When the third inning had been played, and the score stood 9 to 0, it began gradually to steal over the minds of the Covingtonians that if the Stars were really going to score two to one, they had arrived at a point in the game where it was necessary to make a start-just the smallest kind of a start. This conclusion was made known to the directors, who communicated the same to the Nine.

Then, after the Umpire had remarked "Out on first," three several times, the still Shinning Stars went to the field, and the St. Louis, still in the dark as regards the intentions of their opponents, went to the bat, and after a reasonable time spent in exercise, left the score 14 to 0.

At this state of the proceedings Coroner McCabe, in a very excited manner, asked if any one had heard from Campbell's Creek. Our reporter, who has an aunt living in that vicinity, lost all further interest in the game, and in his struggles to get within speaking distance of the man of inquests, lost his score card; and to add to his misfortunes, he was lost in the large crowd, and failed to hear any of the Campbell's Creek news. The rest of our report, therefore, is made up from our exchanges, principally the Covington papers...

We have witnessed many worse games than this; and we believe that with close application, much practice, harmony, discipline, &c., the Stars will be a very good club by next summer...
-Ludlow Reporter, July 3, 1875

This may be the best account of a 19-0 game I've ever read. Good stuff.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Drunken, Dishonest Player

Blong has left the city. So far as we have heard any opinion expressed as to the action of the Directors of the Star club in his case, it is favorable to such action. It was simply a question as to whether a drunken, dishonest player should rule the club, or the Directors. Blong was impudent and reckless in his manner, when brought before the Directors. We believe he was advised to this course by those who were concerned in buying the Ludlow game. For our part we are fully convinced that the game was bought, sold and paid for; and this is the general opinion of those well informed.

Among the ten members of the Board of Trustees who were present when Blong was expelled, there was not one to speak in his favor. The pretence that the Directors had nothing to do with an "exhibition game" is utterly preposterous. Does any one think it the duty of the Star Directors to allow a player to come on the grounds drunk at an exhibition game, or to sell such a game? Certainly not...

The Philadelphias and St. Louis Browns played a fine game for the championship on the Ludlow grounds, Wednesday. Only six errors wee made on each side, but the Browns batted Zettlein freely, and made 5 runs to 2, by the Philadelphias...

It seems the Enquirer reporter has entered into a kind of literary partnership with Blong. We believe one of them would sell out just about as quick as the other.
-The Ticket, September 23, 1875

Friday, July 10, 2009

Whiskey And Flattery

Since the last issue of our paper, events have been transpiring of an interesting character, particularly to the friends of the Stars. Last Saturday the "exhibition game" between the Stars and Ludlows, for the benefit of the players, came off. The result of the game was-Stars five, Ludlows seven; and the conduct of Blong, captain and regular pitcher of the club was such that Capt. Hawes, president, and acting manager of the club in the absence of Mr. Bostwick, felt it his duty to reprimand him during the progress of the game, and to suspend him immediately after it, making Mr. Dennis McGee, who plays ball under the name of "Mack," captain of the nine.

On Monday the Stars played the Hartfords an interesting game, the score standing eight to three. Strief tried to play, but had to give up at the end of the second inning, his not being able to run for a fly costing the Stars three runs. Dennison, the new acquisition from New Orleans, made five passed balls behind the bat in the first two innings, and Dillon was put there afterwards, making only one passed ball. The new man went to center, and caught flies well. Our boys batted very well, making eight base hits. Mack and Dillon led the score.

Last evening the Board of Trustees of the Star club met and, after a hearing from Mr. Blong and a full statement of his case, unanimously passed the following resolution:

"Resolved, That, for conduct unbecoming a player, and gross neglect of duty as captain of our nine, Mr. Joseph Blong be, and is hereby, expelled from the Star base-ball club."

The evidence against Mr. Blong was very strong. There can be no doubt that he was under the influence of liquor on the grounds, Saturday, nor but little that he purposely threw the game. In fact, he acknowledged as much to one directors, saying he thought it would make the clubs draw at the next game. Whiskey and flattery have made Blong of no use to the Star club.

The contemptible and false articles on this subject in the Enquirer are, it is hardly necessary to state, from the pen of Henry Hallam, a man who was kicked out of the Star club last spring, and has tried to injure it ever since.

Blong claims to have a contract with the St. Louis Browns to play next season for $1,500.
-The Ticket, September 21, 1875

Just when you think we've covered Blong's Covington escapade from every conceivable angle...

I was going to write that, even given everything that we know (or think we know), the quote about Blong admitting to being drunk and throwing the game to drive up the gate for the next game was rather damning. But, thinking about it, that really isn't anything we haven't heard already. At first glance it seems solid but in the end it's hearsay. If the club director was named and quoted directly, I would certainly take it seriously. Unless the club director had bet on the game and was looking to punish Blong for his role in the loss.

This particular item was passed on to me by Cam Miller who is working on some projects involving baseball in Northern Kentucky. Over the next few days I'm going to post some of the other stuff Cam sent me and I want to take this opportunity to once again thank him for sending it along.

Also, I was going to name this post "Conduct Unbecoming And Gross Neglect Of Duty" but I went with "Whiskey And Flattery" because it reminded me of one of my favorite albums, Fear and Whiskey by the Mekons. I'm easily the worst headline writer of all-time.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Two Birds, One Post

I found this completely by accident:

Mr. Adolphus Busch, of the Anheuser-Busch Brewing Company, has bought the interest originally held by Mr. Ellis Wainwright in the St. Louis Athletic Association. Mr. Wainwright is therefore no longer in any way connected with the Union Club.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 11, 1884

There I was, minding my own business and researching something totally unrelated, when my eyes caught the words "Adolphus Busch" and I stopped to read. Lo and behold, I found something that killed two birds with one stone. We can now say that Wainwright, while an original investor in the Maroons, was bought out in April of 1884. We can also say that Adolphus Busch (pictured above) was an investor in the Maroons and that the brewing family has a history in St. Louis baseball that began eighty years before August Busch, Jr. bought the Cardinals in 1953.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Few Quick Notes About Asa Smith

I'm in the process of writing a long piece on Asa Smith and thought I'd pass along a few things I dug up recently:

-The Daily Picayune, while reporting the death of Smith's mother on November 24, 1887, describes him as "one of the most popular young men in St. Louis" before his death in 1874.

-Sadly, Smith's brother Mark, an actor, died in Paris in August of 1874, just a few weeks after Asa drowned in Maine. It must have been a difficult summer for the Smith family.

-According to the Globe, there is a "marble shaft" at Bellefontaine Cemetery inscribed with the names of Asa Smith, whose body was never found, and Mark Smith, who was buried in Paris. This monument is located near the grave of their father, Sol Smith, and other members of the family.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Indianapolis/Chicago Series

For the past five or six years the Chicago Base Ball Club has put in an appearance at the Grand Avenue Park during fair week, and although St. Louis is without a club this season, the White Stockings intend keeping up the time-honored custom, and games with the Indianapolis Club have been arranged for Wednesday and Thursday. The Blue Stockings have been in the city for several days, and have been practicing vigorously for the coming contests, yesterday annihilating a strong picked nine by the slab-sided score of eleven to nothing.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1878

Not more than 400 spectators witnessed the defeat of the Chicago club by the Indianapolis team at Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon. The game was an interesting one, Shaefer, Clapp, Croft and Peters doing some brilliant work in the field, and the batting of the Chicagos being a fine display. The catching of Flint and Powers was superb, the pitching on both sides being wild. Healey and McCormick exchanged places in the eight inning, and the move worked well. The same clubs are to meet each other again this afternoon.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 11, 1878

Indianapolis won the game by a score of 9-7.

The game between the Chicago and Indianapolis base ball clubs at Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon was witnessed by a good-sized audience. The batting on both sides was heavy, and the outfielders were kept busy from start to finish. This afternoon these two clubs play their last game here, and this will be the last chance lovers of the sport will have this season of seeing a professional game. A good crowd will undoubtedly be on hand, as the weather is just the thing for ball tossing. The best field play in yesterday's game was that of Peters at short and Joe Start at first, while Cassidy, Powers and Ferguson did good work with the stick. For the Indicanapolis Clapp and Flint excelled in fielding, while Williamson and Healy led at the bat.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 12, 1878

Chicago won the second game 16-10.

The Chicago White Stockings found no trouble in defeating the Hoosiers in a five-inning game at the Grand Avenue Base Ball Park, yesterday afternoon...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 13, 1878

Chicago won the final game, and the series, 9-6.

And that's it as far as Indianapolis playing in St. Louis in 1878. All the talk about Indianapolis playing their home games in St. Louis came to very little: three League games against Boston and three exhibition games against Chicago. Did these six games fulfill the contract the club had with Solari? That's unknown but if the club had only contracted to play six games in St. Louis then the talk of a new St. Louis League club was nothing more than an attempt to sell tickets.

I find it unlikely that the club had any real intention of "relocating" to St. Louis for the second half of the 1878 season. It's possible that if the three games against Boston had drawn well Indianapolis would have played more League games at the Grand Avenue Park. That's probably why the contract was for six games. It allowed the club to keep their options open as far as the St. Louis market was concerned. If the fans came out, they got three more games and Indianapolis would have probably signed a new contract for more games.

It's all very interesting but I don't believe that it's accurate to say that St. Louis almost got a National League club in 1878 or that Indianapolis almost moved to St. Louis in the second half of the 1878 season. It is accurate, however, to say that it was portrayed in the local press that way for a variety of reasons.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A Set Of Frauds

The Indianapolis and Milwaukee Clubs were to have played three of their series of championship games in (St. Louis) on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of the present week. President Pettitt, of Indianapolis, so informed Superintendent Solari, of Grand Avenue Park, with whom he has a contract to play a certain number of games in St. Louis the present season. At Pettitt's request the announcement was made, and now comes a letter from that gentleman stating that owing to "fever and the prevailing hot weather" the games will not be played here, but that he will complete his contract with Solari before the season closes. The gentlemen who take a lively interest in the national game here have about come to the conclusion that the Indianapolis crowd are a set of frauds. The excuse quoted above is so thin as to prove for itself that other engagements, which probably promise better, will be entered into before the St. Louis contract is carried out...The fact that the Milwaukee and Indianapolis Clubs will not play here should be a matter for congratulation. To witness the two worst clubs in America cross bats, after the magnificent entertainment furnished by the old Brown Stocking Management, would go a great way towards knocking the last spark of life out of the national game, which is already nearly dead, owing to the manner in which players have been compelled to do crooked work by men in high places who claim to be immaculate. Not the slightest breath of suspicion ever attached to any officer of the St. Louis Club, and while the record of the home organization is clean, care should be taken that it is not smirched by any foreign element.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 1, 1878

The most important matter here is that, according to the Globe, Pettitt had a contract with Solari to play "a certain number of games in St. Louis..." That, I think, speaks to a seriousness of purpose with regards to a possible "relocation" of the Indianapolis club to St. Louis. The question, of course, is how many games did the contract call for Indianapolis to play at the Grand Avenue Park. Based on the evidence, I'm thinking that the contract wasn't for more than six games. The club played the three games against Boston in St. Louis and there was continuous talk about another series. As we'll see later, the club did return to St. Louis after the season for an exhibition series against Chicago and, following that, there was no longer any talk about a contract or possible games in St. Louis. The season was over with and there was really no more games to be played but the fact that Chicago series put an end to the Globe's grumblings lends credence to the idea that the contract was for a limited number of games rather than for the remainder of Indianapolis' home schedule.

The second point I'd like to make regards the "magnificent entertainment" furnished by the Brown Stockings. Obviously, someone forgot about the disaster that was Brown Stockings baseball in 1877. Baseball in St. Louis was "already nearly dead" and at the beginning of a major league interregnum for a reason.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Undetermined As To Their Future Course

The fact that less than 500 people attended the three games of base ball at Indianapolis last week, would seem to indicate that the Hoosier Club is an expensive institution to its backers. That it should be, is indicated by the manner in which the officers have acted recently. The team was transferred to this city, and, in spite of the intense heat, and the fact that the Blues played a game which the local amateurs could discount, the attendance was fair. Supt. Solari had gone to a great deal of expense in fitting up the park, but the moment the club found that they could not draw large crowds until they demonstrated their ability to play ball, they skipped back to Indianapolis, and, if the reports in the Pittsburg papers are true, will ignore their St. Louis engagements and play in that city. Last night the Indianapolis correspondent of the Globe-Democrat was informed by President Pettitt that the report as to Pittsburg was without foundation, and that, as stated heretofore, the club would alternate between St. Louis and Indianapolis, coming here when the weather was cooler. On the heels of the above telegram, a message was sent to John Clapp, the manager of the club, stating that the weather was cooler, and asking whether the club intended keeping its engagements here, to which the following reply was received:

"No. We are due in Chicago next week; can not tell about week after next. (Signed) John E. Clapp."

The above shows that the directors of the club are undetermined as to their future course. If they think it will pay they will come here; if not-not...For the benefit of the jealous scribes in League cities who misrepresented the numbers in attendance at the three games played here, it may be stated that St. Louisians are educated up to the fine points in base ball, and that they have no use for a club which can neither bat nor run bases. Lovers of the national game who saw a club made up of six of the present Chicago team, with three of the strongest men in the Providence nine-the Hartfords of '76-whitewashed in three straight games in one week by the St. Louis Brown Stockings, are not willing to patronize any except a strictly first-class organization.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 21, 1878

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day

I hope you enjoy your Fourth of July. On to the videos (patriotic edition).

It doesn't get any better than this. Kate Smith-God Bless America:

You should really watch this. It's silly and chuckle-inducing. The Muppets-Stars and Stripes Forever:

Not patriotic, but definitely silly. Beaker doing Ode to Joy:

More Muppet silliness. I'm pretty sure this is the Blue Danube Waltz:

This I Can Understand

Owing to the intensely hot weather, the Indianapolis Club will play the Providence team at Indianapolis on Tuesday, returning here for the contests Thursday and Saturday.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 14, 1878

So much for playing the rest of their home games in St. Louis. While I like hot weather, things can get rather uncomfortable in St. Louis during the summer and I wouldn't blame anybody for not wanting to play baseball at the height of a warm spell here. St. Louis, as Casey said about Busch Stadium II, holds the heat well.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Third Game

The attendance at Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon was not what it should have been, in view of the fact that the Boston and Indianapolis clubs were to meet in this city for the last time this season. The game was virtually lost to the Blues in the first two innings, the Reds batting "the only Nolan" all over the field, and to add to the misfortunes of the Hoosiers, Flint was hit by a fierce foul tip, which necessitated his being relieved by Clapp, who supported McKelvey magnificently. The Blues were outplayed at every point, and the game was lost and won on its merits, nothing brilliant, except the batting of Leonard, being achieved on either side.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 14, 1878

Boston jumped out to an eight run lead and cruised to a 12-4 victory. The game report didn't state when exactly McKelvey replaced Nolan on the mound.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

No Season Tickets

The matter of season tickets for the series of base ball games to be played by the Indianapolis Club in (St. Louis) has given rise to considerable question. On the arrival in St. Louis of Mr. Scott, on Tuesday last, it was announced that the sale of season tickets was a fixed fact. But as none have been offered for sale, the inquiry has naturally been made as to the reason for their being withheld. Mr. Scott explains the matter very satisfactorily, as follows: After canvassing the ground thoroughly on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, he arrived at the conclusion that it would be far better to rely upon the direct gate patronage of the patrons of the game than to sell tickets in advance. This conclusion he reported to Mr. Pettit on his arrival, and that gentleman at once indorsed his decision. The friends of base ball will understand this straightforward policy of the managers, and will show their appreciation of fair dealing by a liberal patronage on each day of play.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 13, 1878

I'm intrigued by the statement that the decision regarding ticket sales was made after "canvassing the ground thoroughly..." It's possible that the Indianapolis Club had made a decision to play their remaining home games in St. Louis (although that's far from certain) but after an inspection of the Grand Avenue Grounds, which was operating under a smaller configuration than it had in previous seasons, decided that the ballpark did not meet their expectations or needs. While speculative, it's possible that the state of the ballpark combined with what Al Spink described as poor attendance for the series against Boston convinced Pettit that St. Louis would not be an improvement over the situation in Indianapolis.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Second Game

Notwithstanding the intensely warm weather there was a fair attendance at the Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon, on the occasion of the second contest between the Boston and Indianapolis Base Ball Clubs. McCormick replaced Nolan in the latter team, and his pitching was eagerly watched by the crowd, very few of whom had ever seen him play. The game was one of the best ever witnessed in this city, and was only won by a combination of good luck, dashing base running and nervy work on the part of the champions...

There should be a rousing attendance at the Grand Avenue Park Saturday afternoon, when the Reds and Blues again meet. Such a contest as that of yesterday, though only seen once in a lifetime, may be duplicated to-morrow.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 12, 1878

So the once in a lifetime game will be duplicated tomorrow? Really? Wouldn't that then not make this game a once in a lifetime experience? I'm just asking.

This once in a lifetime experience was nothing more than Boston coming back to win the game after they were down 4-1 going into the eighth inning and anybody who's a fan of a team with a bad bullpen sees something like that a dozen times a year. Boston scored four in the eighth and three in the ninth after Nolan replaced McCormick, who broke "one of the small bones in his fore arm," and won 8-4. The Only Nolan really had a poor series and was lit up rather good by Boston in this series.

I just took a look at Nolan's stats over at B-Ref and I guess I never looked at them before because I never realized that The Only Nolan wasn't all that good. I know that B-Ref doesn't have his full record, missing seasons when he wasn't pitching in the major leagues, but still...I assumed that he was a great pitcher. The guy was a star; he was The Only Nolan. But Ed Nolan was a bit of a bum and a headcase. It's as if my entire world has changed; black is white, day is night, The Only Nolan was not a good pitcher. So I guess that the only reason we remember Nolan is the nickname and a couple of non-League seasons he had as a teenager with Indianapolis.