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.

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