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.


David Ball said...

I have seen that same rooster image in other newspapers, after election results. It probably does indicate crowing over a victory.

I notice the umpire was Joe Simmons, who played for the champion Chicagos in 1871 and then briefly for other NA teams, then managed the Wilmington team that briefly played in the Union Association in 1884.

As an umpire, Simmons was the target of a near riot in Cincinnati in 1882, after he made a crucial call against the home team in the ninth inning of an important game against the Reds archrivals, the Athletics of Philadelphia.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

It's interesting that the same rooster image was being used by at least three different papers but I would guess that their access to graphics was rather limited. TSN, when they used it in 1886 to report on the Browns' World Series victory, was certainly crowing and that rooster image made an impression on me for some reason. It was odd to see it in the same context a decade earlier.

Speaking of umpires, Michael Walsh umpired the second game of the series and made an interesting and slightly controversial call with regards to a ripped ball. He stuck to the letter of the law and refused to replace the ball during the inning after McGeary had requested a new one. The ball may or may not have resulted in Chicago scoring the winning run and McGeary seems to have come close to pulling his team off the field.

The account of that game should be up in a couple of days.