Friday, December 4, 2009

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Getting Back To Baseball (But Without My Accustomed Life And Vim)

The first game of the series between the Athletic and St. Louis clubs was witnessed by about 2,000 people, but was one of the dullest and most uninteresting of the season. Pearce took McGeary's place at second, and Knight played in Eggler's place for the Athletics. The St. Louis Club played without their accustomed life and vim, and won the game because the Athletics would not. Tom Miller's sudden and unexpected death seemed to affect all the players, and made the game tedious to witness. He is to be buried to-morrow, and all the players will attend his funeral, a game that had been arranged with the Easton Club being put off. In the first inning Force got his base on balls, and went to second on Fisler's hit to third, he making first on Pearce's error. Myerle out on the fly to Pike, and Force at the home plate on the throw of Pike to Clapp. Sutton went out at first, and Cuthbert and Pearce also retired at first. Clapp reached first on a bad throw by Myerle. He stole second. Pike went to second and Clapp home. Battin went out on a right field fly. In the second inning Malone reached second on a muff by Blong. Coons retired on strikes. Hall got his base on balls and Knight went to second on a hit to left. Malone came home. Coons was put out at the home plate. Zetlein retired on strikes. Blong got a base on balls, and went out at second. By a good throw of Malone's, Bradley went out at first. Dehlman reached first on a hit to center, but went out at second on a steal. In the third inning Force went out at first, and Fisler went to first, second on Myerle's hit to right. Sutton reached first by Bradley's error. The bases were full. Fisler got home on Malone's out at center. Coons went out at first, Mack fouled out. Cuthbert went to first, and out at second in an attempt to steal. Pearce out at first. In the fourth innings Hall reached first on an error by Pearce. Knight got first on an error by Battin. Zetlein out at first. Hall home. Force and Fisler out at first. Clapp reached second on a hit to center. Pike out at first. Battin out at first. Clapp home and Blong to second on a left-field hit. Blong came home on Bradley's hit to center. Dehlman out on a fly to left field. In the fifth inning Myerle went out at first; Sutton fouled out to Clapp, and Malone ditto. Mack flew out to second, Cuthbert went out at first and Pearce on a foul to Malone. In the sixth inning Coons reached first, and Hall and Knight went out at first. Coons out at the home plate. Clapp reached second, Pike fouled to left field, Battin went to second, and Clapp came home. Blong flew out at second, Bradley flied out at right. In the seventh inning Hall got a base on balls, and Knight went out on a fly to Pearce. Zetlein out at first and Force out at first. Dehlman fouled out to third base. Mack went to first, and reached second on Cuthbert's hit to left. Pearce's fine, fair foul filled the bases. Mack home on Clapp's out at first, and Pike ditto. In the eighth inning Fisler went out at first, and Myerle fouled out to third. Sutton flew out to Cuthbert, Battin out on a fly to second; Blong to third by a beauty to center; Bradley out on a fly to center, and Blong home on Dehlman's hit to left. He went to second and came home on Mack's hit to center; Cuthbert out at first. In the ninth inning, Malone out at first; Coons reached first, and went out at second on a steal; Hall to first, and Knight out on strikes; Pearce out at first, and Clapp on a fly to left; Pike fouled out to the catcher.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 31, 1876

This is just a terrible game account. It certainly was not written by the same person who wrote the game accounts from Chicago and New York. I'm not looking forward to reading the accounts of the other games in Philadelphia.

I've always thought of the death of Tom Miller in rather abstract terms. I don't know a great deal about Miller and he's certainly not a major figure in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball. However, reading the account of this game, I was struck by the similarities between the description of the lack of "vim" displayed by the Brown Stockings and the way the modern Cardinals played following the death of Darryl Kile and, later, Josh Hancock. Those were strange games that (understandably) lacked any intensity. The Cards lost both games and, without a doubt, lacked life and vim. Thinking of those games and the deaths of Kile and Hancock helps me to understand what was happening with the Brown Stockings at this time.

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