Saturday, October 31, 2009

That Was Chris

In 1882 Chris (Von der Ahe) was just beginning his spectacular career of the diamond. He had taken over the old St. Louis Browns, and I was among the first batch of youngsters he engaged, coming on from the Dubuque club, with whom I had played during the summers, while spending my winters covering the central western territory for Ted Sullivan's news agency. Chris engaged me at seventy-five dollars a month, but when the first pay day rolled around he handed me my envelope with one hundred and twenty-five dollars. That was Chris.
-Charles Comiskey, Thirty-Seven Years Of Baseball (Pearson's Magazine, Volume 31)

It appears that Comiskey had a great deal of admiration and respect for Von der Ahe. Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything really negative that he ever said about Von der Ahe and his version of "Von der Ahe stories" always tended to portray Von der Ahe in a positive light or highlight a positive aspect of his character. It's possible that Comiskey's time as a club owner helped him to develop a deeper respect for the man and an understanding of the difficulties that Von der Ahe faced while running the Browns.

I know that Comiskey has a somewhat negative image in baseball history, largely due (I guess) to Eight Men Out. But I never think of him in those terms. I always think of Comiskey as the young field manager of the Four Time Champion Browns and as the man who visited Von der Ahe on his deathbed. I see him as a man of strength, principle and character. When Von der Ahe was down and out and others were turning him into an object of ridicule, Comiskey refrained from doing so and continued to treat his old boss with respect. I admire Comiskey for that.

Friday, October 30, 2009

How Hans Wagner Almost Became A Brown

Twenty-five years ago Chris Von der Ahe, owner of the pennant-winning Browns of (St. Louis), had a chance to buy Hans Wagner from the Louisville Club for $500. Today Wagner draws a salary of $10,000 a year, and could not be bought from the Pirates for any price...

"I thought it was a joke when Louisville asked $500 for Wagner," said Von der Ahe. "Why, I told them 'that bow-legged fellow couldn't catch a pig.'"

"Wagner was new to the Louisville Club, and the owner didn't know much more about him than I did. I watched him play a few games, and when I saw the style of his play I realized I had overlooked something good. Then I very adroitly tried to buy him, but Louisville had found out something. I was told the price was $5,ooo."
-Mixer and server, Volume 20

I've seen the Von der Ahe quote about Honus Wagner being bow-legged before but I don't remember it being in the context of Von der Ahe passing on the greatest shortstop of all-time. Considering that this quote was published in 1911, I'm not certain how true the story is. It might just be Von der Ahe talking out of his hat years later but the idea that the Browns could have gotten Wagner in 1897 or 1898 is intriguing. Not to get too carried away with it but if the Browns had gotten Wagner it would have had a serious impact on the history of St. Louis baseball. The Browns and (later) the Cardinals were not good during Wagner's entire career but adding the best player in baseball would have changed that. It probably wouldn't have been enough to save Von der Ahe in 1898 but Wagner would have been enough to make the 1899 Perfectos and the 1901, 1904 and 1911 Cardinals pennant contenders.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Joe Blong, Storekeeper

Joseph M. Blong was to-day commissioned Storekeeper for the First Missouri District.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 19, 1886

Just trying to get off the subject of the 1876 Brown Stockings for a few days so you'll have to wait patiently for the game account of the Brown Stockings/Louisville game. I thought I'd have the Top Games in St. Louis Baseball History posts ready to go but I'm still not done putting that together. Anyway...

I've posted something before about Blong working for the government as a storekeeper but I'm still not certain what the job exactly entailed. I assume it was something like a commissary or quartermaster gig and that his brother Andrew, who was a bigwig with the Democratic Party, got him the job.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Louisville Comes To Town

The Brown Stockings and Louisvilles will play at the Grand Avenue Park to-day, weather permitting, and a closely-contested game is anticipated. These clubs, in playing each other this season, have won and lost a game, and they seem to be pretty evenly matched. The Louisvilles, accompanied by their manager, Jack Chapman, arrived in the city last night. If the weather is fine a large crowd will doubtless be in attendance, as there is much interest manifested in the games between these two clubs. St. Louis seems to have the call, at small odds, in betting circles, and sporting men are backing the home club. The game will be called at 4 o'clock, sharp.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 9, 1876

It's nice to see that the Brown Stockings had won back the confidence of the gamblers.

And we still have a bit of unfinished business with Chicago...

Spaulding and his skillful companions left for Chicago last night, barely arriving at the depot in time to catch the train. They will meet the Cincinnatis to-day.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 9, 1876

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Ross Barnes Was A Heck Of A Player

Grand Avenue Park was yesterday afternoon the scene of a very exciting game of ball in which the representative nines of Chicago and St. Louis were again the main actors. That these clubs are very evenly matched was demonstrated by the score, which at the close of the ninth inning was three to two in favor of Chicago. St. Louis having won the first game of the series by the figures of one to nothing, the result of both games places three runs to the credit of each. St. Louis has a total of fourteen base hits for both games, to thirteen for Chicago. In the two contests St. Louis committed twelve fielding errors, and Chicago ten.

Although the weather was so cold that overcoats and shawls were a decided luxury, fully 4,000 ladies and gentlemen were in attendance, and were well repaid for coming out by the brilliant playing that proved to be in store for them. Mr. Michael Walsh-one of the best men in the country for the position-had been mutually agreed upon to act as umpire, and Spalding having lost the toss, "play" was called at 3:45 o'clock, with Barnes at the bat. Although he and Hines batted safely, and Anson reached first on called balls, sharp fielding prevented the visitors from scoring. The Browns were disposed of in one, two, three order. In the second inning White and Peters secured runs for Chicago, the former having been given his base on called balls. Base hits by Peters, Glenn and Barnes brought in one earned run. In this inning three men were on bases, with nobody out, and it looked as though Chicago was to gain an easy victory, but two runs were all the Whites could secure.

Whitewashes were then in order until the last half of the seventh inning, when the Browns led the score, the cheering being deafening. It occurred in this way: Base hits by Blong and Bradley and an error by White filled the bases. No one was out when Mack stepped up to retire on a foul fly. Cuthbert coolly waltzed up to the plate and sent the first ball pitched whizzing to extreme left field, thereby bring home two earned runs. Dehlman took chances and also endeavored to tally, but a pretty piece of fielding by Addy, Anson and White disposed of Dehl at the home plate, and as Clapp was immediately afterwards caught out by Barnes the score remained a tie at two each. In the eighth inning neither nine could score, although White and Battin each got in a safe hit. The ninth inning told the tale, as simple an error as the one made by Spalding on Friday giving away the game, but this time to the other side.

After Glenn and Bielaskie had been easily put out, Barnes sent a bounder to Battin, and by fast running, a rather low throw by Battin, which Dehlman should, however have held, and a clean muff by the latter, the champion base stealer of the country, reached first. He was at second in an instant afterward on a dropped ball by Clapp, and rushed home like a race horse on Anson's short fly to left field. Scarcely any other man in the fraternity could have engineered the run as neatly as Barnes did it, and it proved to be the winning tally, as the Browns were easily whitewashed in their final inning. On Cuthbert's throw to catch Barnes at the home plate, Anson reached third, and while Hines was at the bat McGeary demanded a new ball, the one in play being ripped. The umpire refused to accede to the request, being guided by rule 1, sec. 4, which says:

"When the ball becomes out of shape or cut or ripped so as to expose the yarn, or in any way so injured as to be unfit for fair use, a new ball shall be called for by the umpire, at the end of an even inning, at the request of either Captain."

Mr. Walsh very properly maintained that he was powerless in the premises, and had to comply with the rule. McGeary and the Browns declined to resume play for about ten minutes, but when warned by the umpire that he would declare the game forfeited they resumed their positions in the field and the contest was played to the end.

The finest feature of the game was the magnificent display of outfielding to which Hines treated the spectators. He secured five flies, two or three of which were extremely difficult. The infielding of Anson and Peters was also very fine, and White's catching up to his usual high mark. Glenn also played a fine game in the field but was weak at the bat. For the Browns McGeary, Pike, Battin, Blong and Mack played without an error and Cuthbert did yeoman service with the stick, securing no less than three safe hits off Spalding's teasers. Barnes was also credited with three safe hits and White and Spalding with two each.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 9, 1876

So after all the hubbub and rain, the Brown Stockings and White Stockings managed to get their two games in, although it took five days. The two games were split and nothing much was decided between the two clubs. Finding themselves three games out of first after six games, the Brown Stockings still considered themselves championship contenders and the equal of the Chicagos.

This was a nice little series with a lot on the line for both clubs.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The White-Hosed Gentlemen Have Remained In St. Louis

The white-hosed gentlemen, by whom Chicago is represented on the ball field, have remained in St. Louis with the evident determination of to-day wiping out the inglorious defeat administered to them by the Brown Stockings on Friday. The Whites may be able to do as they desire, and then again they may not. It is among the possibilities that St. Louis may treat Chicago just as Cincinnati treated the former in the games between their representative clubs last week. The fight will assuredly be a tough one, for the reason that the game may be looked upon as the most important of the entire season. If the St. Louis boys can duplicate their victory over Chicago to-day, it is more than probable that they will, in a very few days, be able to offset the three unlucky defeats with which they were credited in the opening week, and that ere long they will be neck and neck with the Whites in the race for the championship.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 8, 1876

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Little Common Sense Regarding Rain Outs

Gambling and rain outs. Rain outs and gambling. I feel that I've gotten a bit far afield. I just want to write about baseball for gosh sakes. Now where did I put that list of the twenty-five best 19th century baseball games played in St. Louis...

To the Editor of the Globe-Democrat:

St. Louis, May 6.-Your editorials of the past two days on the subject of base ball have been characterized by such good common sense and fairness that I feel impelled to say a word in endorsement of your position. With all due deference to the young gentlemen who claim that it is the universal custom in the East to invariably hold on to the gate money after "game" has been called, I would like to inquire if "game" has been called, I would like to inquire if "game" will not be very surely called on all occasions, whether the weather is threatening or not, or even if it should be actually sprinkling? With the desire to hold on to $3,000 or $4,000 gate money, which they have a right to do according to this custom, particularly and peculiarly their own, how many club managers will throw the opportunity aside, when, by simply placing the men and having the umpire call "game," the money can be retained. Let the gate money go with the game; that is, if enough innings have been played to constitute a legal game, the gate money to be retained, otherwise, to be returned-and the public will be satisfied, but not with the unfair and unsatisfactory ruling now in practice. Had the public been fairly deal with on Thursday, twice as many people would have gone out to see the game on Friday, and the managers would have lost neither money nor reputation. The gate receipts will be very light on cloudy days if the objectionable rule remains in regular operation, and as for quoting the custom in the East, I would remark that this very fact may have something to do with the very light attendance at three-fourths of the professional games played in that part of the country last season. Perhaps the people there had been victimized often, as the people have here on two occasions, and their interest in the game diminished in about the same ratio. Unless the people get what they pay for the "National game" will soon degenerate into a mere catch-penny affair.

-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 7, 1876

Saturday, October 24, 2009

More From The Gambler's Archive

I'm not trying to be a prude about the whole gambling thing but it's just that given the history of baseball gambling specifically and sports gambling in general I find this glorification of the culture of baseball gambling to be a bit strange. I find it difficult to look at this stuff in its proper historical context and without thinking about everything that happened between 1875 and 1920. It's difficult to read this stuff and not think about Pete Rose. Anyway...

The rotunda of the Lindell (Hotel) presents a sad sight to-night. A number of Chicago gentlemen arrived here yesterday morning with their pockets full of blue check, offering any odds on the Chicago Club in its match with the St. Louis nine. The rain yesterday left your boys to their own resources, but Lew. Clarke started up a little game, which beguiled away the hours, and added to the stacks on hand. Early this morning the boys were on hand. Taking three open barouches, they drove out Franklin to Grand avenue and up to the ball ground. A ten-gallon demijohn had been stowed away in the brick house on the corner and the lads opened their bets. Col. Joel, Hunter Bettis, the old Boiler Inspector, Andy Haley, Jack Slevin and Alderman Madden, of (St. Louis), were on hand and ready to take anything. As the demijohn tipped, the bets increased till your boys stood to win or lose everything.

Along about the seventh inning things looked blue. There was no chance to hedge, for there was nothing to hedge with. Upon the last half of the ninth inning the sickest lot of Chicago men that ever struck this town stood around an empty demijohn, flat broke.

Joe Mackin lost $1,500, and has made arrangements to start for home on foot to-morrow. He will take the Alton track, because he insists that the rolling stock on that road is the best, and it is shorter than the Central.

Frank G. Barnes has just received a dispatch from Erby stating that he will not remit the price of a ticket, as walking is good enough for any man who will go to St. Louis for a ball match.

Charley Clayton is trying to negotiate a mortgage on his cigar-stand but Williams has hurt him in the market here by statements that the stock was depreciated, and is not worth the price of a ticket.

Walter Williams tried to borrow $9 from the Water commissioners on an extemporaneous invention of a street-sprinkler. But the Board still remembers McKeever's scheme and they bounced Williams. He tried to spout his overcoat, but McChesney, who has bought out Ahrahams' pawn-shop, dropped on it and refused it at any price. In answer to Williams' telegraph to Chicago, a dispatch has been received that O'Brien has gone to Cincinnati. Walter has sold one of his shoes, with Charles R. Thorne's endorsement, and he is rigging up the other to sail up the Mississippi to the Illinois and up the canal to Chicago...

O.H. Smith has got an annual pass, and is now trying to induce the road to endorse it for meals. If he succeeds he will be home in time for a clean shirt.

Dan Boynton, an old member of the club, expects to get home on half-fare, but Spalding has stabbed his plan and wishes something unpleasant if that Jonah, to whom he ascribes the loss of the game, can ride on the same train with the club.

Cone, formerly a member of the White Stockings, but who now elevates his striped stockings to the Matteson House counter, has gone before a caucus of hotel proprictors here to-night. He has great hopes in a subscription that has already reached $4.85.

Dispatches have been received here from Admiral Bill, saying that he feels it is not good to be here. He admits to having bought pools on the Whites to the whole of his side-roll, but he has got a place to sleep.

So things are blue in the rotunda of the Lindell to-night, and the boys are in sorrow and distress.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 7, 1876 (from the Chicago Tribune)

Now this stuff is certainly being played for humor and can be seen as a bit of a cautionary tale. As far as its historical significance, it paints a nice picture of the gambling culture that surrounded baseball in this era. While I'm interested in all of that, the fascinating thing to me is still that this stuff is getting written up in the Globe. Given the allegations that were floating around in 1875 and William Spinks' role in uncovering the corruption surrounding the Brown Stockings in 1877, it is amazing that the Globe essentially had a pro-baseball gambling editorial policy in 1876. While it may be more accurate to say that they did not have an anti-baseball gambling editorial policy, it is a fact that the Globe was covering the activities of gamblers and the culture of baseball gambling in 1876. Regardless of the amount of humor in the pieces, there was no condemnation of a culture that would help destroy the Brown Stocking club in 1877.

On a lighter note, I learned three new words today: barouche, demijohn and proprictor. That's a good day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Well Ducked With A Vengeance

The Chicago White Stockings have been very shabbily treated by the weather clerk since their arrival in St. Louis, and they, as well as the thousands who were present at the Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon to witness the second game of the series with the Browns, were greatly disappointed. In spite of the fact that rain threatened all day, hundreds of the fair sex were also present, and the majority of them were, doubtless, well ducked before reaching their firesides. When the rain did make up its mind to fall, it fell with a vengeance, and play was, as a matter of course, out of the question. Hail followed rain, and the storm was an unusually fierce one. The probabilities are that the Whites will remain in the city and pull off their second game on Monday-weather permitting. On Tuesday, Spalding's men are booked to play the Cincinnati team in Chicago, and a longer stay here at this time is, of course, impossible.
-St. Louis Globe Democrat, May 7, 1876

There's a few interesting things here in this little rain out notice:

-The first two home games of the season were rained out. I've talked about the weather in St. Louis during the spring, specifically regarding the poor weather the clubs experienced at the beginning of the 1875 season, and there's no real need to go into it again. If you want to experience all of the extreme weather conditions that this planet offers, come live in St. Louis for a year. We have it all.

-No Sunday game. The game was scheduled for Saturday, May 6, but weather interfered. The make-up game was played on Monday, May 8, rather than Sunday, May 7.

-I've not really tracked it and this can't be the first time it was used but note the reference to the Brown Stocking as "the Browns." The nickname wouldn't be officially shortened until 1883 and that was really a different club altogether. But, still, the nickname Brown Stockings/Browns has a long history in St. Louis and there would be a club by that name, playing baseball in the city, from 1875 through 1953 (except for 1899-1901). It's a shame that the name has faded away.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Redemption, Part III

The detailed account of the contest by innings, which is appended, will give readers a good idea of how the game was lost and won:

First Inning.

Chicago-Barnes, after one ball and two called strikes, was retired by Clapp on a very peculiar foul bound which first struck the batsman. Two strikes were called on Anson, next two balls, and then the long fellow reached first on McGeary's juggle. Hinew was disposed of by Pike in center field, and as Mack and Dehlman retired Spaulding, a goose egg was the result.

St. Louis-Cuthbert sent an easy bounder to Peters, and was thrown out at first. Clapp hit an easy one to Spalding, who threw miserably to first, and the striker was safe. Mcgeary earned first on a neat fair foul, sending Clapp to second. Pike's fine bounder to right brought Clapp home, gave McGeary third and the striker first. Anson made a good running catch of Battin's foul fly. Here pretty work came in. Pike started to steal second and McGeary third to come home. The ball went from White to Barnes and back again like lightning, and McGeary was disposed of at the home plate. One unearned run.

Second Inning.

Chicago-Addy was furnished a back seat by McGeary and Dehlman; White earning first on a corker to right. Battin and Dehlman retired Peters; White reaching second, where he was left, as Mack and Dehlman proved too much for Glenn. Goose egg number two.

St. Louis-Pike, after two called balls, retired on a foul bound to Bielaskie, in right field, and Battin was furnished with an out by Anson and Glenn. Blong was retired by White, on three strikes. No runs this time.

Third Inning.

Chicago-The first ball pitched was a called strike, and then Bielaskie furnished Bradley with an easy fly. Barnes also popped up an easy fly, which Dehlman secured, and Anson was sent to first on three balls, Bradley being a little wild. He was left, however; Hines sending a hot one to McGeary, which reached first in advance of the striker. Still no runs.

St. Louis-Bradley was easily thrown out at first by Anson, who treated Dehlman in exactly the same way. Mack also favored Anson with a bounder, who this time juggled it for an instant, and the striker was safe. Cuthbert's fine fair foul to left sent Mack to second, and earned the striker a base. Both men were left, as Peters forwarded Clapp's bounder to Glenn in plenty of time. No runs. Score 1 to 0. St. Louis still ahead.

Fourth Inning.

Chicago-Spalding drove a bounder to McGeary and was thrown out at first. Addy was furnished with a back seat in precisely the same way, and as Clapp clutched White's foul bound, the fourth whitewash created much enthusiasm.

St. Louis-Barnes and Glenn furnished McGeary with an out, but Pike reached first on Barnes' juggle. Battin drove an apparently safe fly to center, which Hines captured in style and by a splendid throw to Glenn doubled up Pike. No runs.

Fifth Inning.

Chicago-Peters earned first on an elegant liner to right. Glenn's bounder to Bradley forced Peters out at second, but the striker reached first. Bielaskie's sharp foul tip was well held by Clapp, and as Blong grabbed the high fly sent him by Barnes the fifth consecutive goose egg was placed to the credit of Chicago.

St. Louis-White made a good catch of Battin's foul bound, and Barnes secured Blong's easy fly, after almost allowing it to escape. Bradley earned first on a light fair foul, and reached second on Anson's wild throw. Dehlman also reached first on a patent fair foul, and reached second on Anson's wild throw. Dehlman also reached first on a patent fair foul, and a wild pitch advanced the runners one base each. Mack's foul fly was badly misjudged by Addy, but Bob immediately afterwards gobbled the fair fly sent him, and the side was out; score unchanged.

Sixth Inning.

Chicago-Anson popped the first ball pitched into McGeary's hands, and Hines was retired by Clapp on strikes, the first being called, Pike made a good running catch of Spalding's drive to right center, and Chicago was thereby presented with its sixth coat of lime.

St. Louis-Peters, by a handsome pick-up and throw disposed of Cuthbert at first, and Hines took Clapp's line fly in out of the cold. Addy also froze to the fly sent out in left by McGeary, and the first half of this inning was short and sweet. Score still unchanged.

Seventh Inning.

Chicago-Bradley made a very difficult fly catch of Addy's short hit over his head, and battin and Dehlman furnished White with an out. Clapp made a good catch of Peters' foul fly, and it began to look very much as though the White Stockings were doomed to a "Chicago."

St. Louis-Pike drove a high fly out to Bielaskie, and did not find it necessary to run. Battin's sky scraper was coolly accepted by Spalding, and Blong earned first on a handsome drive to left center. Bradley's base hit and Bielaskie's slow fielding allowed Blong to reach third. Again White's sharp play did the business. Brad started for second, and White feinted as though endeavoring to head him off, thereby catching Blong between third and home, and out Joe went.

Eighth Inning.

Chicago-Glenn furnished Mack with an easy bounder, and was thrown out at first. Bielaskie reached first on Dehlman's excusable muff of Battin's low throw. Barnes was disposed of by Bradley and Dehlman, Bielaskie reaching second, where he was left as Anson's little fly was squeezed like grim death by Battin. Still no runs.

St. Louis-Bradley's foul fly was easily captured by White. Dehlman furnished Bielaskie with a short fly, and Peters aided by Glenn caused Mack to retire. Score still 1 to 0; St. Louis ahead.

Ninth Inning.

Chicago-To Hines, Spalding and Addy was allotted the task of getting that much coveted run. Hinew was first out on a fly direct to Cuthbert. Spalding followed with a hit to exactly the same spot and also sat down, and as Clapp made an elegant pick-up of Addy's foul bound the Whites were defeated, and the cheering was deafening.

St. Louis-Cuthbert and Clapp were disposed of in short order by Peters and Glenn, and McGeary was retired in exactly the same way.

The Browns, as usual, were victorious on their own grounds, and the crowd almost went wild with enthusiasm.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 6, 1876

The TGOG Three Stars of the Game:

3. Albert Goodwill Spalding (or maybe John Edgar Clapp)
2. James Laurie White
1. George Washington Bradley

And that's right, I brought out the Rooster.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Redemption, Part II

Well Won.

A Chicago chicken comes Home to Roost.

Goose Eggs Presented to Louisville Returned by St. Louis.

The White Stockings Work Hard and Accomplish Nothing.

0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.

The above goose eggs were a few days ago presented to Louisville by Chicago. Louisville turned them over to St. Louis to be returned, and yesterday afternoon, at Grand Avenue Park, they were handed back to the Garden City boys by the Brown Stockings, about 2,000 spectators evincing their appreciation of the act by loud and continuous applause. If any one is anxious to ponder over the uncertainty of base ball, let him take into consideration the fact that Chicago whitewashed Louisville, Louisville treated St. Louis in the same way, and St. Louis in turn goose-egged Chicago. The score was one to nothing, and as the Browns secured the run much enthusiasm was manifested throughout the city. Spalding, Captain of the famous White Stockings, can blame no one but himself for the reverse, as it was his inexcusable error which did the mischief. The game was a brilliant one from start to finish, and it was

Won On Its Merits

the Browns both outbatting and outfielding their opponents. The pitching was so effective that neither nine used the stick with much effect, but the fielding was very fine, the Browns being credited with but three errors, Bradley giving a man a base on three balls, McGeary juggling a bounder, and Dehlman failing to handle a low throw, which he did well in stopping in time. Clapp secured the only run of the game, Spalding allowing him to reach first on a miserable throw, McGeary sending him to second on a fair foul, and Pike bringing him home. This occurred in the first inning, and although they endeavored desperately to offset the advantage, the whites failed to get the hand of Bradley's pitching and were, as a matter of course, defeated. Brad was in splendid trim, and such famous batsmen as Hines, Barnes, Spalding and Anson failed to secure a single hit. "Our" Peters, however, pasted him nicely once, and Jim White got in a clipping hit to right, which was all that the White Stockings could accomplish in the batting line.

On The Other Hand,

the St. Louis boys secured seven base hits off Spalding, Bradley being credited with two, and Dehlman, Blong, Pike, McGeary and Cuthbert with one each. The catching of both White and Clapp was superb, neither committing a single error. Mack, Battin, Glenn and all of the outfielders are also deserving of credit. Peters, however, carried off the honors of the day in the field, the little fellow being always in the right spot when wanted. He made several very handsome stops, and in the ninth inning retired all three of the Browns as they came to the bat. His record shows one put out and seven assistances without a single error.

A Marked Feature

of the game was the brilliant double play accomplished by Hines in the fourth inning. After making an apparently impossible catch of Battin's line fly, he sent the sphere like a shot to first and caught Pike off that bag. Some "Boston points" were also shown the crowd by that artist, White, notably in the first and seventh innings, when McGeary and Blong were deprived of runs in a manner peculiarly White's own.

As stated before, the game was won on its merits. The browns went into the struggle with everything to gain and nothing to lose, and with the evident determination of wiping out the disastrous record of the past few days with a brilliant victory, and they did it. Their play in the field was like clockwork, and, as it was a game characterized by weak batting, success was the natural result. As the Globe-Democrat has always maintained, the Browns can not be beaten by fine fielding. It is their weak batting which has thus far told so disastrously against them.

Badly Bitten

were the betting men. The long odds of two to one had been laid on the White Stockings, and a great deal of money changed hands at these figures. In this connection, a good story is told of Joe Mackin. He came down from Chicago with a big bundle of greenbacks, and after considerable trouble succeeded in securing a bet of $1,000 to $500. He was highly elated at having found a "sucker," and felt perfectly confident of landing a winner to the tune of $500. He was probably slightly disgusted at the result, but as Joe, it is said, never hedges, the probabilities are that he will clean out some of the local sports today should Spalding's men succeed in reversing the result of yesterday's game.

In presenting the great Chicago team with an unbroken chain of nothings, the Brown Stockings have thoroughly reinstated themselves in the good graces of thier admirers, and the brilliant record which they have been credited as capable of making will be looked forward to with more hope.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 6, 1876

A few thoughts:

-I'm surprised that this game isn't more famous than it is. Of course, this game isn't remembered at all in the annals of St. Louis baseball history so any recognition of it makes it more famous than it was. But my point is that this was a huge victory by a historically important club against its main rival, who also happens to be a relatively famous, historically recognized baseball team. This Brown Stocking club was probably the best baseball team in the first twenty-five years of St. Louis baseball history (although I'd like to see it play a seven game series against the 1883 Browns) and here it wins a well-played, 1-0 game against the hated Chicagos and you never hear anything about it. I think there are probably three reasons for this. First, it's a baseball game that was played 130 odd years ago and not many people really care about stuff like that. Second, for those who do care, this particular story was already covered by the May 6, 1875 10-0 Brown Stocking victory over Chicago, a substantially more significant victory. There's only so much room in the history books and in people's brains for obscure Brown Stocking shut outs of the Chicagos. Finally, as I think I've mention before, this particular Brown Stocking club is easy to overlook. It wasn't the first, as the 1875 club was, or the corrupted, as was the 1877 club. The 1876 Brown Stockings were merely the best, and least colorful, of the three clubs and have gotten the short end of the historical stick. I would put this game in the top ten of all baseball games played in St. Louis in the 19th century, as far as quality and importance are concerned. It was a big game.

-I don't know why I'm surprised by this but I find the gambling stuff amazing. I probably need to take a look at the history of gambling in America because I'm curious as to when the proscriptions against gambling began. One would assume that it started during the Progressive era and that any proscription against gambling during this era came simply from a moral/religious standpoint rather than it being a matter of jurisprudence. But what really amazes me, especially in the context of the formation of the NL in part as a reaction to the effects of gambling on the game, is how accepted the culture of baseball gambling seems to be. In a year and a half, William Spink would rail against gambling corruption in the game in St. Louis but here he has no problem with it and is spinning colorful yarns about gamblers and their activities. And this is not the first nor last instance of this attitude by Spink in 1876. Of course, there were those in the press who condemned the mixing of baseball and gambling because of the perceived effects that it had on the game but it would take almost another fifty years until the situation was seriously addressed. Spink should have already understood this. He had been involved with the game for several years, read Chadwick on the subject and had some experience dealing with allegations of crookedness in 1875. He should have known better than to glorify the culture of baseball gambling. I think one can argue that this accepting attitude towards baseball gambling among the St. Louis baseball elite (of which Spink was a member) helped to facilitate the culture of corruption that engulfed the Brown Stockings in 1877. I'm not saying that William Spink is responsible for the actions of others but only that he, as an observer, as a interested party, and as a public watchdog, not only seemed to have turned a blind eye towards a behavior that lead to the corruption in 1877 but seemed to celebrate the behavior.

-I'm going to give the inning by inning account of the game tomorrow. Normally, I don't post that part of the game account but I think this game deserves it.

-Now that I'm thinking about it, I'm going to put together a list of the best and most significant games played in St. Louis during the 19th century. Just off the top of my head, I can think of more than ten games that should be on the list and I might have to go with a top 25 list. I have to admit that I like this idea. It'll be a fun list to put together and it should be interesting trying to rank the games. Plus, it'll give me 25 posts and that's nothing to sneeze at.

-And I almost forgot the rooster at the top of the post. That rooster also appeared at the top of the game account, above the headlines. I assume it has something to do with the Brown Stockings having something to crow about. But the reason I included it is that I've seen the roster before. He appeared in TSN game accounts about the Browns' 1885 World Series victory over the White Stockings. I guess if the Cardinals ever defeat the Cubs in a NLCS, the rooster will return.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More On Rainouts In 1876

We cheerfully accede to a request from some gentlemen interested in the St. Louis Base Ball Club to give to their side of the question the same publicity which we gave to what seemed the popular side of the question of the termination of the game of Thursday. They say that the custom that no money nor tickets shall be refunded after the game is called is so universal that no other rule has ever existed since the game was known; that it is a rule against which no complaint is heard in Eastern cities, and that it stands on the same ground as the similar custom at a horse race, a cricket match or a balloon ascension; and they say, moreover, that, as they supposed the public knew the rule, they are free from any imputation of dishonesty in enforcing it. Of course, when we said that the policy was dishonest, we had no intention of imputing personal dishonesty to any one, and should be very sorry to hear that the words had borne such a construction. The whole question is one of expediency rather than of morality, and though the judgment of the base ball managers is entitled to a great deal of weight on the question as to whether any policy is expedient or not, we incline to believe that they have fallen into an error through looking at the question from only one side. A rule which may not injure horse-racing, may injure ball-playing, because the successful maintenance of the base ball clubs depends entirely on the receipts at the gate, while the passion for horse-racing is always strong enough to induce its wealthy patrons to spend thousands and hundreds of thousands, if need be, in keeping it up. While they can afford to be comparatively indifferent to the receipts at the gate, the base ball clubs would be certain to go to pieces in a very few years, if the receipts should uniformly fall short of the expenses. Since the base ball clubs depend as entirely on public favor as if they were so many newspapers, it is a vital matter with them to retain and to increase it by every means in their power. It is because we want to see ten thousand spectators at the Base Ball Park, where we now see only one thousand, that we call attention to a rule which we are sure the better judgment of the League would abrogate. A city of the size of St. Louis can send twenty thousand spectators to a base ball match as easily as it can send two thousand. On one of these pleasant afternoons of May, when the sun is just warm enough to brighten the velvet grass of the Park, and when every instinct urges us to be outdoors, it requires a stronger inducement to keep people away from a base ball match than to draw them to it. All that is wanted is that in the public mind the game shall be freed from every element of unfairness, and from every possible cause of complaint. A great step was taken when the League was formed, and when the exclusion of weak clubs removed a permanent occasion of distrust; but as base ball claims to be the National game, it must not rest content until it has vindicated its title to the name by meeting every just claim, and putting itself wholly in accord with the National spirit of fairness.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 6, 1876

I know I promised a game account and box score from the Brown Stockings/White Stockings 1-0 game today but I meant to post this editorial the other day but couldn't find it in my notes. Obviously, it's a companion to this editorial about the Brown Stockings' rain out policy. Both the Brown Stockings and the Globe made good points in this piece but it's difficult to be sympathetic to the Brown Stockings after a century or so of rain checks.

Again, the context of this debate is that the Brown Stockings home opener in 1876, against rival Chicago, was rained out and a large crowd, that paid NL ticket prices, had nothing to show for their money. The point that the Brown Stockings made, that this was common practice, is well taken. I don't remember ever reading anything in the Globe about the subject before this and there were plenty of rain outs in 1875. It's possible that the increase in ticket prices that went with the creation of the NL had something to do with the fuss.

Anyway, I promise (seriously this time) that I'll post the box score and game account from the 1876 home opener tomorrow.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Redemption, Part I

Yesterday being an off-day at the Base Ball Park on account of the weather, there were many thousands who missed the opportunity of seeing a game that was not only most brilliantly contested, but which had the crowning merit of redeeming the St. Louis nine from the dispargement incurred during their recent trip. Bradley's pitching went far to justifly the opinion of his friends that he is simply the best pitcher in the United States, and as faor the talk of batting his balls all about the field, it is pretty well established that the Chicago nine are not up to that feat, but are so far from it that no club in the country need hope to achieve it. Behind the bat Clapp left nothing to be disired for perfect coolness and finish of execution. The Chicago nine made a valliant struggle, and are well worthy of their reputation, but the nine goose eggs laid at their feet yesterday are proof conclusive that our home club is well worthy of the zeal and pains which have been bestowed on it. What with the early closing movement on Saturday and the prestige of yesterday's game, a fair afternoon ought to call out such an attendance to-day as the Park has never known; and if the playing is as fine as yesterday's the victory will be all the more honorable, while defeat will incur no discredit.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 6, 1876

The Brown Stockings met their rivals, the White Stockings of Chicago, at the Grand Avenue Ground on May 5, 1876. It was the Brown Stockings' home opener after a rather disastrous four game road trip to start the season. After disappointing games and shockingly poor play against Cincinnati and Louisville, the Brown Stockings returned home to stormy weather that postponed the home opener that had been originally scheduled on May 4 and to face a Chicago club that was the favorite to win the pennant.

The Brown Stockings won their home opener and shut out their rivals by a score of 1-0. This defeat of the White Stockings took place just one day short of the one year anniversary of the Brown Stockings historic 10-0 defeat of the White Stockings on May 6, 1875.

I'll have much more about this game tomorrow, including the box score. Also, I imagine that we'll be talking about this game and the White Stockings for the rest of the week.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rainouts And The 1876 Brown Stockings

A National Base Ball Convention seems to be needed to settle the question as to the right of base ball clubs to pocket a couple of thousand dollars of gate money, and then turn the visitors out with only the satisfaction of knowing that if they pay their way in the next day they may see a game-if does not happen to rain again. The thousands of people who took the chances of the weather yesterday to encourage the game of base ball were entitled either to see a game, after having paid their money, or to have their money refunded. The former alternative would have been very easy for the managers, as they would have had nothing to do put to return the tickets they had taken, and allow them to be used for to-day's game. Instead of this, however, they propose to keep the money, and to take in as much more to-day, if they can get it. Such a policy may bee penny wise, but it is pound foolish, as well as dishonest. If the people who pay full price to see a game can be turned out of the grounds at the end of two or three innings, whenever it rains, they will take very good care not to subject themselves to the risk of rain, or of any other interruption, and they will largely avail themselves of the American privilege of staying away. Our St. Louis base ball players have, as yet, given no promise of attracting unusual crowds in other cities, and the extraordinary concourse yesterday was called out chiefly by the fact that it was the first League game of the season here. It is to be regretted that it was made the occasion for so very undesirable a manifestation of grabbing, and if the Centennial season shall pan out badly for the St. Louis Club, the managers will have chiefly themselves to blame.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 5, 1876

I'm pretty sure that I've run this piece from the Globe before but now I think we can understand it a little bit better in the context of the Brown Stockings' 1876 season.

There was a great deal of excitement around the Brown Stockings going into the season and expectations were high. They opened with four road games and the home opener against their rivals from Chicago was scheduled for May 4, 1876. But the game was rained out. They probably had a huge crowd at the Grand Avenue Grounds and all of those folks who turned out and paid their money did not get to see a baseball game. They also didn't get their money back or a rain check.

While this was the common practice at the time and those who attended games must have understood that, there is an inherent unfairness to the practice of taking someone's money and not giving them what they paid for. It is, as the Globe states, dishonest. Thankfully, baseball would eventually address the issue and solve the problem.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: A Preview Of The Game Of The Season

By all odds, the most important base ball game of the season takes place this afternoon at the Grand Avenue Park. The contestants are to be the representative nines of Chicago and St. Louis, each engaged with the avowed purpose of carrying off the Centennial whip-pennant. The result of this game will, in a great measure, determine the question whether St. Louis is capable of giving Chicago a close race for first place or not. Our reverses in Cincinnati, and the result of the game in Louisville yesterday, coupled with the White Stocking triumphs in those villages, would seem to indicate that Chicago has much the strongest team, but such, in reality, is not the case. Individually, the Browns are stronger in the field than the Whites; but at the bat, they have thus far fallen lamentable behind the. "Show me batters, and I can call winners," said a delighted sport, as he witnessed the little Red Stockings thumping McSorley's twisters all over the field the other day, and this remark is applicable to the game which takes place to-day. The Browns are noted for their fine fielding, and if they can only be induced to go in for line hits and hot bounders, instead of showy flies to the outfielders, their chances to win are exceedingly favorable. The fact that they have been defeated in Cincinnati and Louisville, has not caused their friends to lose confidence in them in the least. They deserve no censure. The games have probably been lost on their merits. Ill-luck, doubtless, contributed its share to the result. Fortune, ever fickle, may change, and should it do so to-day, great will be the rejoicing thereat. It should be borne in mind that all clubs have their streaks of luck, both good and bad, and that players who curse the latter the most are always the last to acknowledge kind treatment by the fickle goddess.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 4, 1876

I like the quote "Show me batters, and I can call winners." It's not any more true than "Ninety percent of the game is pitching" but after watching the Cardinals stop hitting during the last month of the season and then crashing and burning in the playoffs, it rings true with me and I think it deserves to enter the pantheon of great baseball quotes.

Of course, the truest baseball statement ever made is that good pitching always stops good hitting and vice versa. Casey Stengel was a wise man.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Advancing The Cause Of Morality

Merely because our Brown Stockings showed their good nature and their real kindness by allowing the Louisvilles to present them with nine goose eggs, there are people so unjust and so unreasonable as to make cursory remarks about them and to suggest the propriety of receiving them with a calithumpian band and escorting them home with a procession of bill board men, headed by the peripatetic donkey cart which sets forth the nocturnal existence of Looney's Varieties. But we would remark that when two clubs play it almost always happens that one of them gets beaten, and the St. Louis Club is that one. Instead of saying harsh things about them the lovers of base ball should thank them for valuable services they have rendered to the manly game; they have settled the vexed question as to whether the Cincinnati Club or the Louisville Club was the worst club in the League, and they have set forth with a clearness never before illustrated the evils of betting. In the conduct of a strictly religious paper, we have frequently had occasion to warn young men about the pernicious and deplorable effects of betting, especially of betting on a base-ball match. But we doubt whether a year's preaching would reach home so thoroughly and achieve so complete a conversion as the one short week's experience of our home club in its first four games. We are confident that a great many young men, who would have bet wildly and lavishly on the game this afternoon will now see the wickedness of such conduct, and witness the game without degrading its healthy excitement with the feverish pollution of gambling. To have accomplished this much is to have done a great deal for the cause of morality, and we can utter no better wish for the Brown Stockings than that before the end of the season they may take as high a rank among the base ball clubs as among the teachers of morality.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 4, 1876

I don't know about you but I'm detecting a high degree of 19th century snark. Also, I'm not exactly sure what they're talking about in that first sentence with their calithumpian bands, bill board men and peripatetic donkeys but I don't think it's complimentary.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: And This Wasn't The Worst Loss Of The Season

The Louisilles defeated the Brown Stockings 11 to 0, today. The St. Louis boys appeared with the same nine that has been playing together, but Louisville presented a stronger team than previously, Carbine's place at first being taken by Gerhardt. McGeary won the choice of innings. Hastings led off for Louisville with a pretty, clean hit to left center. Snyder knocked a solid one to right, which sent Hastings to second and put Snyder out. Devlin drove a beautiful two-base hit to center, and passed in Hastings, soon following himself on clean hits by others. From their first inning until Manager Graffin folded up the bats and walked silently away, the Browns failed to hit Devlin with any success, getting only two first-base licks during the entire game. On the other hand, the Louisville men batted Bradley very heavily, every player except Ryan and Bechtel getting one and two hits off him. The Browns worked hard for a run, but were disappointed, Battin being the only man in nine innings to reach third base.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 4, 1876

So after dropping two to Cincinnati to open the season, the Brown Stockings went to Louisville and managed only five hits off of Jim Devlin in two games while committing twenty-one errors. It wasn't a glorious start to the year for the Brown Stockings. They were 1-3 and lucky to have the one win. And Chicago was coming to town.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Browns Have Commenced Winning

The St. Louis boys met the Louisvilles to-day and vanquished them by a score of six to two. The nines are very evenly matched and the game to-day was most beautifully contested throughout. The Brown Stockings failed to hit Devlin, making only three base hits, but fielded much better than their adversaries, and to this fact owe their victory. The Louisvilles batted Bradley rather handily at times, but after securing bases were left. The St. Louis boys put in two runs in their first inning and the Louisvilles two in the third. No more made by either nine during the next three innings. Excitement ran high and Louisville folks were confident of victory, so freely was Bradley batted. The splendid fielding of the Brown's began to tell at this juncture. In the fifth inning Louisville had three men on bases, none out with heavy hitters at the plate, Bradley put in his best licks. Clapp threw down his cap and Dehlman bent his knee. One, two, three outs quickly followed. In the eighth inning this again occurred. Then it was, after whitewashing Louisville, that St. Louis got in three runs, being already one in the lead, made in the seventh inning. Two men were given bases on errors. Clapp appeared before the plate, and, by a beautiful three-baser to right, sent them home and soon followed himself. Clapp, Dehlman and Mack distinguished themselves by numerous pretty plays, and were each generously applauded. Devlin, Hague and Hastings carried off the glory the Louisvilles are entitled to. The home nine laid off Gerhardt and Chapman to play Hague and Ryan, and will probably retire Carbine and substitute either Allison or Gerhardt in future games.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 30, 1876

How do you win a game when you only get three hits and commit ten errors? I'm not sure exactly but I think it would help if your opponent commits fifteen errors.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This Is Why I Don't Gamble

When the result of the first Cincinnati-St. Louis game was announced, an ardent admirer of the Browns stuck a $1,000 roll in his pocket, hopped on the first train, and struck the City of Pork the next morning. The object of his visit was to invest that $1,000 on the Browns. It was so invested; and the St. Louisan confidently told his friends that so soft a bet was equivalent to finding just that amount of money. Base ball is known to be uncertain; and by many it was considered a hazardous transaction. At the close of the ninth inning, on Thursday, a sad-eyed man started on a pedestrian excursion from Cincinnati to St. Louis. He was last heard from at Lawrenceburg, Ind. The walking was good and the ties had been counted. In response to an inquiring hail from friends on a passing train, the pedestrian signaled that he was all right, and that, on arriving home, explanations would be in order as to how that 5-2 score was brought about. His depleted wallet, which had been flattened out as though stamped on by an elephant, was to be used as a sail in case of emergency.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 29, 1876

Seriously. This is why I don't gamble. Regardless of whether the story is true or not (and it does sound a bit like a tall tale), this is a perfect example of how people who bet on games think. The Brown Stockings lose their opener to the Reds, a terrible team, and there is no way that can happen again so bet the Brown Stockings in the second game. Then it happens again. Of course, if you had bet a thousand dollars against the Reds every game of the 1876 season, you would have ended up a rich man.

Euclidean logic does not apply to sports gambling. Let me repeat this: Euclidean logic does not apply to sports gambling. Sports is governed by chaos and unpredictability. There is no evidence that the second law of thermodynamics applies to the sporting universe.

There are times, quick delusional moments, when I think that I could make a living betting on baseball. Move to Las Vegas, spend my days in sports books, crunch the numbers and bet baseball all day, everyday. Then I come to my senses and realize that if I did that I'd quickly end up destitute and homeless.

Gambling is bad, m'kay.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: That Second Surprise

[From the Cincinnati Enquirer of yesterday.]

Fully 3,000 people went out to see the game, in spite of the threatening appearance of the sky just after noon. It was a collection of as respectable people as one can ever see together in such numbers. A large number of ladies occupied the grand stand, and seemed to enjoy the playing equal to the most enthusiastic of the men and boys. For the second time the Cincinnatis were unfortunate enough to lose the toss and be sent to the bat. It seemed impossible for them to hit Bradley's pitching during the first five innings, while, on the contrary, the Browns batted Fisher in the same five innings with less trouble. But in the sixth inning the tables began to turn; then it was that Mr. Bradley showed up his defect in pitching by "weakening," while Mr. Fisher disclosed that wonderful grit which places him among the best pitchers in the country. It is only after pitching four or five innings that the "Cherokee," as he is endearingly called, warms up to his work, and gets in his most effective pitching. It is the great power of endurance which made the lamented Harry Wright pronounce him the best pitcher in the profession.

Goose eggs fell to the lot of both nines during the first five innings. In the sixth inning the Reds once more scored a blank, but the Browns were more successful. Clapp got to the first base on a safe hit to center, reached second on a wild throw by Pearson to Sweasy, and third on a passed ball by Pearson. MeCreary brought him home by a base hit, while the crowd cheered the first run. When the Reds went to the bat in the opening of the seventh inning, they had more confidence in themselves than would be expected under the circumstances. Indeed, it is their pluck which adds largely to their strength. After Fisher and Kessler had been retired, Booth got first base on an error of Bradley in throwing to Dehlman. He reached second on a passed ball by Clapp, when Charley Gould brought him home by a splendid two-base hit into center field. The score now stood one to one, with Red stock in the ascendant. They retired the Browns without a run, and began on the eighth inning-"the wonderful eighth inning." Sweasy was the first man at the bat; he took first on a corker to right field. Pearson and Fisher followed, each with a clean cracking base hit. Three men were on bases and not one out. The crowd almost went wild, but when Kessler sent another shoulder driver full out into the field, and brought Sweasy home, it was too much for the spectators, and they stood up and yelled for glory, all but the few St. Louis gentlemen who had come over and "coopered" their Browns. They couldn't have stood up if they had tried. After Sweasy came in there were still three men on bases and no outs. Booth, however, went out on a foul bound to Clapp. Then Gould stepped to the home plate while the crowd once more stood up and cheered lustily, while cries of "Home run, Charley" went up from a hundred throats. The recollections of old days, when Gould never failed to bring men home when they were on bases before him, came flashing across the minds of almost everyone present, and the hope that he would reassert his old reliance at the bat was strong. The remembrance of the almost ill-fated Union game in 1869 also was recalled by the situation; when Gould, by a hard hit in the ninth inning, after two men were out and two strikes had been called on him, made a home run and brought in three men before him, thus saving the game by one tally. Witness the similarity in yesterday's situation. Three men were on bases, two strikes had been called on Gould, everything was as still as anxiety could make it, and people were almost holding their breath; then he batted a liner out into right field, bringing in Pearson and Fisher, sending Kessler to third and taking first himself. It was after this, even, that he made the master-play of the game and got in the famous strategy of Harry Wright's old club. While Clapp was at the bat Gould took occasion to run and allowed himself to be purposely caught between first and second bases. And while he was tantalizing McGeary and trying to run him down, and at the same time keep Kessler from getting home, the latter stepped upon the home-plate and tallied just as Gould fell, a willing sacrifice for the sake of his club. As he came in from the field he met with such an ovation from the spectators as the fine play deserved, and admiring shouts of "Gould! Gould! Gould!" were distinguishable above the ringing shouts of the multitude. In the ninth inning McGeary succeeded in making another tally for the Browns, through two errors of Pearson. And so ended one of the most brilliant and hotly-contested base ball games ever played in Cincinnati.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 29, 1876

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Bradley Weakened And Fisher Grew Strong

The second game between the Cincinnati and St. Louis clubs was played this afternoon in the presence of about 3,000 people. The result was 5 to 2 in favor of Cincinnati. St. Louis won the toss and sent the Cincinnatis to the bat. In the first five innings goose-eggs were scored on both sides, although several times the Browns had a man on third, and only plucky playing on the part of the Reds prevented them from scoring. In the sixth inning Clapp got first on a base hit to center, took second on a wild throw of Pearson, and third on a passed ball by Pearson. Pike brought him home by a base hit to left field. In the sixth inning Clapp got first on a base hit to center, took second on a wild throw of Pearson, and third on a passed ball by Pearson. Pike brought him home by a base hit to left field. In the seventh inning Booth got first on an error by Bradley, and second on a passed ball by Clapp, and Gould brought him home by a two base hit to center. In the eighth inning, Sweasy, Pearson, Fisher and Kessler came to the front in the order named, with base hits, bringing Sweasy home, and leaving the other three on bases. No outs, and excitement high. Booth went out on foul bound to Clapp. Gould, after two strikes had been called on him, made a base hit to center, taking first, bringing home Pearson and Fisher, and sending Kessler to third. While Clack was at the bat, Gould purposely allowed himself to be caught between first and second, and while McGeary was running him down Kessler scored. In the ninth inning Clapp went out on a fly. McGeary reached first on a base hit, second on a wild throw by Pearson, third on a passed ball by Pearson, and home on a base hit by Pike. Pike was caught at third, and Blong went out on a fly. In first six innings the Reds could not bat Bradley, and the Browns batted Fisher hard. In the last three innings Bradley weakened and Fisher grew strong. While the Reds earned four runs the Browns earned none.

Sommers, of the Blue Stockings, umpired.
Base on called balls-Bradley, 1.
Time of game-Two hours and ten minutes.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 28, 1876

The box score and more from the Cincinnati Enquirer tomorrow. But, good gosh, how did the Brown Stockings loss two in a row to this club. Glorious Uncertainty and all that but the Reds got over twenty percent of their victories in two days against one of the top clubs in the League. It's rather shocking really. Then again, the 2009 Kansas City Royals were 18-12 on May 8 and spent 27 days in first place before finishing 65-97 and 21.5 games out of first. The lesson (to quote the great and wise Joaquin Andujar): You never know.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: More On The Opening Day Loss

[From the Cincinnati Enquirer of yesterday]

The prettiest and best game of base ball played in Cincinnati since the disbanding of the old Red Stockings occurred on the new grounds of the new Cincinnati team yesterday. Our home club met the crack St. Louis Brown Stockings, and walked away with them to the tune of 2 to 1. There is not a bit of doubt in the minds of those who were present at the game yesterday that Cincinnati has a club this year that she may well be proud of. Its players are, with three exceptions, young and without a professional record. But they were picked out of semi-professional nines and brought together by the same unfailing judge who "discovered" the players of the famous Red Stockings of 1869, who went through the whole season that year without losing a game; and if the present club is not as strong as Harry Wright's old team, it is not far behind. As we said, the players are, most of them, young and without a professional record. For this reason the nine was looked upon as the weak one of the League, and the Clipper even took occasion to ignore it as much as possible. Other papers sucking the teat of the famous sporting paper did the same even in this city; and when the Red Stockings sent their first "man to the bat" yesterday they had every thing to gain and nothing to lose. To their credit and Cincinnati's pride they gained everything and lost nothing. The game they won will notify the other League Clubs that the Red Stockings are not the soft snap, and it will not do for even the great White Stockings of Chicago to "fool" with them much. But the greatest victory of the Reds was not over the Browns, but over themselves. We refer to the splendid discipline and true gentlemanly conduct of every member of the nine in the field. It is with the most exceeding sense of gratification that we record for them what they so well deserve-praise for manly conduct on the field. It is this that will win you friends, boys, both at home and when you go abroad. It will also please the management of the club more than your superb playing. Keep it up throughout the season and we promise you that warm personal friendship from Cincinnati's people which followed your predecessors, and which still goes out toward the memory of the gentlemen of the old Red Stockings. Your friends do not expect you to win all the games you play. And whenever you are fairly beaten you will have none the less friends if your conduct throughout is modeled by that of yesterday.

There were over two thousand people out to see the opening of the new grounds-grounds acknowledged to be the finest ball-field in the United States. The in-field is sodded for a distance of more than ten feet outside the bases, and altogether it is as level as a floor. The effect of the beautiful green plat in and around the diamond strikes the observer's eye with delight.

The Reds lost the toss and were sent to bat, which, to their friends, augured ill. But they started out with four first base hits on Bradley's pitching, after Kessler had struck out, and made one run. After that the playing was sharp on both sides. The Browns scored one run in the fourth inning, which tied the game. From that time until the eighth inning goose eggs filled up both nines' score. But in the eight (the Reds' favorite) inning they tallied another run and won the game amid the wildest shouts from the crowd...

The Brown Stockings acknowledged that the Reds outplayed them at every point, but claim that they lost the game by too much overconfidence at the beginning of the game. But four base-hits and one run should have been more than enough to warn them of the Red Stockings' strength. Of the Red Stockings, the out-fielders played their faultless game. Snyder caught seven flies and one fine one-hand foul bound.

Jones had four flies and took them all. One of them was a splendid low, running catch. Clack had only two flies sent to him, but did some sharp fielding. And Booth at third base did as fine and sharp fielding as was ever seen on a ball field. Mr. Booth is one of the Red's strong dependents. Gould played at first without an error, and brought back to the spectators remembrances of old-time games. Pearson, behind the bat, was errorless, and played in such a manner as to warrant the prediction that he will make the best catcher in the country. Fisher's pitching needs no praise. "The Cherokee" never weakens, and when Harry Wright says he is one of the best pitchers in the profession, we have nothing to say to the contrary. Sweasy and Kessler had very little to do, and, with one excusable error of the latter, held their own. The strength of the Cincinnatis is their new style of batting-nearly all batting from the shoulder. Of the Browns, the terrific three-base hit of Battin into the left field, and Bradley's effective pitching were the fine points. Without any discredit to the St. Louis men, we are bound to say that the Reds outplayed them yesterday at every point.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 27, 1876

Friday, October 9, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: An Opening Day Loss To The Worst Team In The League

Were it not for the "glorious uncertainty" of base ball, that pastime would never have been chosen as the National game of America. There was not an enthusiast in this city yesterday who would not have bet dollars to cents that the Brown Stockings would win the first game of their championship series with the Cincinnati Reds. That game was played yesterday, and the result was: Cincinnati, 2; St. Louis, 1-a result which reflects almost as much credit on the losers as on the winners. That it was a brilliant struggle there can be no doubt, and Cincinnati is to be congratulated on the possession of a nine, hitherto looked upon as the weakest in the field, capable of lowering the standard of one of the two clubs which is conceded to be the strongest.

Great excitement prevailed in the vicinity of this office throughout the afternoon, the result of each inning being bulletined pro bono publico. The opening inning was announced-a tie at one each-Brown Stocking admirers breathed freer. In the next three innings, no runs being added on either side, ominous looks were exchanged, and such remarks as "Those Cincinnatis are holding them down nicely," and "What's got into the boys?" might have been heard muttered. With the result of the eighth inning-Cincinnati 1, St. Louis 0-fears were, for the first time expressed that the St. Louis favorites might possibly lose, and the probability became a certainty when it was announced that both sides had been presented with goose eggs in the ninth inning. Though disappointed at the result, the friends of the home club took the defeat of their favorites with a good grace, attributing it to the fickleness of fortune. As stated before, to lose finely contested a game reflects as much credit on the vanquished as on the victors...

The special correspondent of the Globe-Democrat at Cincinnati sends the following particular of the struggle by telegraph:

About two thousand spectators, many of whom were ladies, witnessed the game between the Cincinnati and St. Louis Clubs to-day. It was by all odds the best game ever played in this city. The batting on both sides was heavy, but the Reds got in the safest licks, being credited with eight base hits to the Browns four. Battin secured two of the four, and Pike and Clapp one each. Battin's three-bag hit in the fourth inning brought home Pike, who was the only Brown Stocking to cross the home plate. Bradley and Dehlman went out on flies, leaving Battin on third twice. On two occasions the Reds had three men on bases, but could not succeed in getting in a run. The last time was in the ninth inning, when Blong captured Pearson's fly to right field, and, by an excellent throw, headed Jones off at the home plate, thereby accomplishing a magnificent double play...

The Browns erred as follows: Clapp, 2; Batten, 1; Bradley, 2; Dehlman, 1. The Reds made but three errors, Fisher being charged with two and Kessler with one. For the Cincinnatis Jones secured two safe hits, and Kessler, Booth, Gould, Clack, Snyder and Sweazy one each. The Reds got four base hits off Bradley in the first inning, scoring in that and the eighth. Fourteen of the Browns were disposed of on flies to the outfield, Snyder at left gathering eight of them. Mack and McGeary did the most effective work in the field for St. Louis, while Booth, the new third baseman, and Pearson, the youthful catcher, did the lion's share of the work for Cincinnati. The best of good feeling prevailed throughout. The Browns are in tip-top condition, and say they will get even on Thursday. They claim that the game was won by a scratch. Houtz, formerly of the St. Louis Reds, umpired...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 26, 1876

I'll post the box score tomorrow along with a game account from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

This incarnation of the Cincinnati Reds was not a good ball club. They finished last and won only nine of fifty-seven league games. After taking the first two games from the Brown Stockings to open the season, the Reds would only win seven more league games the rest of the way.

The main problem for the Reds appears to have been a lack of pitching (although I can't speak to their defensive talents or their ability to generally prevent runs). The pitching appears to have been split between twenty-three year old Dory Dean, who put up an ERA+ of 59 in 262 innings, and thirty-one year old Cherokee Fisher, who posted an ERA+ of 73 in 229 IP. While I don't know much about the club, I'd speculate that the Reds started with the veteran Fisher and, once he proved that he couldn't get the job done, tried the young Dory Dean (without better results).

Offensively, they weren't much better (and when you lose eighty-seven percent of your games, there is plenty of blame to go around). Charley Jones had a pretty good year with the bat (OPS+ of 154) but he was the only player on the club who you could say was an above average hitter that season. Charlie Gould and Henry Kessler were just about league average but everybody else, including our old friend Charlie Sweasy, was just flat-out bad. Redleg Snyder, twenty-one years old and playing everyday in left field, may have been the worst everyday player in the history of baseball (although I'd argue that that honor goes to Steve Jeltz). Snyder hit .151/.155/.176 with an OPS+ of 17. He had 36 total bases on the year with three doubles, one triple, ten runs scored and twelve RBI. The clubs starting third baseman, Will Foley, had nine RBI in 221 AB.

So I guess I should amend my previous statement that the main problem was pitching. The main problem for the 1876 Reds of Cincinnati was that they couldn't pitch or hit. They were just a bad club.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

William Spink's Obituary

Before we start into the 1876 regular season, I thought I'd pass this along:

William M. Spink, the well-known newspaper man, died last night of typho mania, after an illness of three weeks duration. Mr. Spink was born in Montreal, Canada, May 26, 1848, and was, therefore, 37 years of age. At 10 years of age he learned telegraphy, and at 12 he had charge of the telegraph office in the House of Parliament at Quebec. When 16 years old he went to Chicago and engaged in the service of the Western Union Telegraph Company, receiving a first-class operator's pay. Subsequently he achieved a national reputation as one of the fastest "receivers" in the country. Operators who worked with him assert that no telegraph writer in the country was fast enough to make him "break." At one time he was the only receiver on duty at night in the Western Union office in this city, which now runs a night force of over fifty men. In 1870, when the telegraphers' strike occurred, he was in Cincinnati and was Secretary of the Telegraphers' Protective Association. When the strike ended in failure he was black-listed, and it was then that he turned his attention to newspaper work and became a reporter on the Cincinnati Chronicle. In 1873 he came to St. Louis and accepted a position as a reporter on the St. Louis Globe. When the Globe and Democrat were consolidated, in 1875, he was appointed telegraph editor of the Globe-Democrat, which position he occupied with marked ability for seven years. During these years he also acted as sporting editor of this paper, his untiring industry, systematic methods and wonderful speed as a writer enabling him to handle both departments with apparent ease...and his sporting column was by odds the most interesting and complete that was published in any daily paper in the country. Unlike a great many sporting reporters, his work was not limited to one specialty, for he handled the running and trotting turf, base ball, cricket, field sports, billiards, athletics and pugilism with equal facility and ability. In 1883 he had charge of the Globe-Democrat's "Flood Expedition" down the Mississippi, which furnished the Readers of the Globe-Democrat with exhaustive and interesting reports of the effects of the high water of that year between Cairo and New Orleans. Subsequently he was city editor of the Globe-Democrat, but was not connected with the paper for two years. The deceased leaves a widow. He will probably be buried on Thursday.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 1, 1885

William Spink was one of the first baseball writers in the Midwest. Going to Cincinnati as a telegrapher, he left the Western Union Telegraph Co. to work on the Cincinnati Gazette and then moved to St. Louis, where he joined the Missouri Democrat. When the Globe merged with the Democrat, Spink took over as telegraph editor and during his spare time developed the sports page for the Globe-Democrat. He covered all sports and was regarded as one of the top writers of his day because of his versatility. He is credited with naming the Cincinnati team the "Reds" in 1896, first to tag the St. Louis team the "Browns" and the Chicago team the "White Stockings."
-Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 2, 1885

Hat tip to Bill Burgess for the photo and Daily Eagle obit. And in case you're interested, typho-mania is a form of manic-depressive psychosis that is more commonly referred to as Bell's mania. The symptoms include a sudden onset of overactivity, marked sleeplessness, a great push of speech with statements that are disconnected at times by reason, disconnected and poorly systematized delusions, transient hallucinations, and the appearance of confusion that can be suspended long enough to answer direct questions. According to an 1934 article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, "(the) course of the illness is from three to six weeks, with a fatal termination in a large percentage of cases, apparently from cardio-vascular failure due to overactivity."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Game As A Whole Was Decidedly Brilliant

About eight hundred spectators at the Grand Avenue Park, yesterday afternoon, were delighted at the display made by the rival ball-tossers of the two most prominent home organizations. The Browns had on their new suits, and the uniforms, though it varies little from that of last year, is a very tasty one. The Reds presented their full nine, and the ponies acquitted themselves nobly. Play was called promptly at 4 o'clock, with the Browns at the bat, Capt. McGeary having again lost the toss. The professionals opened well in the first inning, scoring two runs, one of which was earned by Cuthbert's ferocious drive for three bases, followed by Clapp's single. Run-getting after that was slow, the Browns adding one run in the seventh and one in the eighth, neither of which was earned. The Reds were presented with an unbroken chain of nothings, the boys, failing utterly to master Bradleys delivery, off which but two safe hits were made, one by Collins and one by Magner. The Browns secured five base hits, Dehlman being credited with two, and Cuthbert, Clapp and Blong with one each. The pitching on both sides and the fielding throughout were admirable, errors being few and far between. Loftus made as brilliant a catch as any ever seen in St. Louis, and carried off the honors, he making no less than five catches. Dolan caught in splendid style, and all did well. The Browns one and all played up to their usual high standard, and the game as a whole was decidedly brilliant.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 23, 1876

This is another great game account by William Spink. Being an admirer of his writing, I'm really looking forward to following his day-by-day game reporting on the Brown Stockings. Just in this paragraph, there are four turns of phrase that forced me to stop, admire his work and despair over my own ponderous prose stylings. William Spink was a darn fine writer.

Also, note Spink's description of the Brown Stockings and Reds as "the two most prominent home organizations." It's almost shocking to see the Empire Club not included as one of the two most prominent clubs in St. Louis. That this was certainly true goes to the point that I was trying to make the other day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Season Tickets

Season tickets admitting purchaser to all home games of the Brown Stockings (including the thirty-five championship games), for sale at $10 each, at 207 North Fifth street.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 23, 1876

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another Anniversary For The Empire Club

To-day is the sixteenth anniversary of the Empire Base Ball Club, and, should the weather be fine, the event will be celebrated by playing a match game, this afternoon, at their park, on Grand avenue. Nine married men will play the same number of single men, and both sides will do their best to win.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 16, 1876

The St. Louis baseball landscape had changed considerably in the sixteen years of the Empires' existence and the day of the old fraternal, social baseball club was fading away but the club continued with its traditions and activities. With the establishment of openly professional baseball clubs competing on a national level, the Empire Club was beginning its slide into irrelevance and eventual extinction.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: A Busy Week

The Brown Stockings have arranged games for the ensuing week, as follows:

Monday-Empires, at Grand Avenue Park.
Tuesday-St. Louis Reds, at Reds' Park.
Wednesday-Athletics, at Grand Avenue Park.
Thursday-St. Louis University, at Grand Avenue Park.
Friday-Grand Avenue, at Grand Avenue Park.
Saturday-St. Louis Reds, at Grand Avenue Park.

The last game mentioned will be the Browns' farewell when they will make their first appearance in their new rig. The games with the Empire, Athletic, St. Louis University and Grand Avenue nines are for a silver ball. Every day the nine will be timed in running bases, and the nine will be tried in throwing. Prizes will be offered to the Browns for the players making the most runs and base hits, most right-field hits or hits for the side, best out-fielding record and best in-field record in the games...

The Brown Stockings leave next Saturday evening for Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Louisville, and will be absent until the 3d of May.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 16, 1876

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Bradley Vs. Galvin

The Stocks made their first appearance in public yesterday afternoon, at Grand Avenue Park, having as opponents the full Brown Stocking nine. Though short-handed-two of their principal players not having yet arrived-the members of the new club acquitted themselves nobly, and the score, at the end of the ninth inning, was only three to one against them. The threatening weather kept many away who would doubtless have been present, but the dark clouds passed over and rain did not interfere with the contest. Simmons, who is to captain the Stocks, lost the toss, and owing to his bad error, McGeary secured an unearned run in the first inning. In the sixth, McGeary and Clapp also secured unearned runs on errors by Ring and W. Gleason. In the ninth inning Monsell reached first on Bradley's poor throw, second on a passed ball, third while a man was being thrown out at first, and home on Johnny Gleason's model base hit over third. The Browns committed but three errors in the field, the two previously mentioned and one by Battin. Ring and W. Gleason were weak in the field, the latter, however, offsetting his errors by one or two brilliant plays. Galvin and J. Gleason played splendidly, the former making some magnificent stops. The pitching was unusually effective, the Browns securing but four base hits, two of which were scratches. Only two safe hits were made off Bradley's pacers. Blapp and Dehlman retired no less than twenty-two players.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 16, 1876

This was a nice duel between two outstanding young pitchers. George Washington Bradley was only 23 years old and about to have his finest season while James Francis Galvin was 19 and still several years away from establishing himself as a great pitcher.

Growing up in St. Louis in the 1980s, I developed a deep appreciation for small ball. So I particularly like how the Stocks scored their run in the ninth. Error, passed ball, fielder's choice, base hit-very nice. The description of how the run scored was also well done.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Season Formally Opens

Now that I'm done writing about the weather and arpents, we can get back to the Brown Stockings:

The beautiful weather yesterday afternoon should have attracted a much larger crowd to the Grand Avenue Base Ball Park, to witness the season formally opened by a match between the Brown Stockings and a picked nine. As it was, about 500 spectators were in attendance and apparently enjoyed themselves thoroughly. The picked nine were aided by Blong, Miller and Pearce, of the St. Louis Club, and each of this trio did their work well. The others were not quite up to the mark. The Browns played a tip top game, batting freely and making very few errors in the field. McGeary and Dehlman did most of the work, the former making some surprisingly fine stops and retiring twelve players, with but one excusable error chared to him. Battin was slightly off at third, and Clapp made one very wild throw in attempting to catch a man napping at first. Nine base hists were scored off Blong, of which Mack is credited with three, and Dehlman and Cuthbert with two each. Battin earned a clean home run by a drive to left center; Mack got in his work for a three baser, and Pike for a double. But two singles could be coaxed out of Bradley, one each by Miller and Sullivan, and the latter furnished the "picks" with their only tally. Pearce played short in his old form, assisting no less than eight times and putting out three men direct. Sullivan and Wolff caught a number of pretty flies in the out field, and, taken as a whole, the game was a creditable one for this early in the season. The universally expressed opinion was that the Brown's nine as now placed will work together like a charm.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 9, 1876