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.

1 comment:

Cliff Blau said...

I don't think Addy got a hit on that RBI play; sounds like he just grounded out to second. "Hit" was often used to mean "batted ball" and "right field" might just mean to the right side of second base.