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

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