Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Team Will Not Be A United Force

The club team of St. Louis was not a well-managed nine last season, by any means; and from the circumstance of the selection made of two players this season who are under the ban of suspicion it does not appear that there is to be any marked improvement exhibited. The new nine, as engaged, will be Clapp, catcher; Bradley, pitcher; Dehlman, first base; Pearce, short stop; Cuthbert, left field; Pike, center field, and Mack, right field. This is a good team, but it is stated that McGeary, of the whitewashed quartet of the Philadelphia nines, is to be third baseman, and Blong, an expelled player from the Covington Stars, the right-fielder and change pitcher. If this is so, the team will not be a united force or a reliable nine. Such a selection shows a faulty management, beyond doubt, and the result cannot but be disastrous to the career of the St. Louis Club during the coming season.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 29, 1875 (quoting the New York World)

The World was simply off by a year in their prediction of the disastrous effect that the personnel decisions made by Brown Stocking management would have on the club and baseball in St. Louis.


David Ball said...

I notice the Globe is content to say Blong was expelled by the Stars, without trying to add the Reds as well.

For those who haven't been following along, Blong was expelled by the Stars of Covington, in northern Kentucky across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, late in the 1875 season for his handling of the team as captain in a game against their archrivals the Ludlows.

There is at least some reason to believe Blong may have been a victim of overzealous and meddlesome club officials, and in particular a club president whose judgment could have been unbalanced by money wagered on the game -- at least, you might suspect that was the case, given that just a few months later he fled town after it was found he had defaulted with large sums of money in his office as a city official, reportedly because of very large gambling debts.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

The Globe stated on Sept. 15, 1875 that "Your correspondent has been credibly informed that in the case of (Joe) Blong, he was released by McNeary before joining the Covington Stars." So I think that it's relatively settled that Blong neither jumped the Reds for Covington nor was accused of throwing games during his time with the club. And the research that you did on his time in Covington raises more than enough doubts regarding the accusations that were made against him while with the Stars. All the accusations against Blong, grouping him with the "crooked" ballplayers of the NA, that originated in Covington and were pushed by the eastern press simply don't hold up to scrutiny. Of course 1877 is a different story.

I'm still working on a long piece on Dunlap and once I finish that I'm moving on to Blong. It'll be interesting (I hope) to see all this research pulled together into a logical narrative. It seems that a major theme of my work is that most of what we thought we knew about 19th century baseball in StL is simply wrong. Historians and writers have been wrong about Dunlap. They are wrong about Blong. They are wrong about the origins of the game in StL. They are wrong in many ways about Von der Ahe. They are wrong about the Red Stockings. They are wrong about baseball in StL during the Civil War. Etc. etc. I'm essentially spending my time writing a book about what we thought we knew and why we were wrong about it.