Thursday, January 21, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Crowd Almost Went Wild (And My Top 5 Baseball Memories)

The Hartfords were presented with another nest of goose eggs by the St. Louis Brown Stockings at Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon, the crowd of Tuesday being slightly increased by the fine fielding display in the previous game. McGeary, for the fifth time in succession, won the toss, and the Dark Blues were sent to the field promptly at 4 o'clock. The play during the first six innings was almost absolutely perfect, neither side being able to secure a tally, although the batting was fierce. The Browns, however, secured singles in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, the first two on bad errors by Burdock and Harbidge, and the last on a terrific drive to right by Pike, which earned that fleet-footed gentleman a home run. The outfielding of both nines was magnificent, Blong making an extraordinary one-handed catch, that robbed Ferguson of a home run, and Remsen securing three beauties by the swiftest kind of running. The infield work of all except Burdock and Harbidge was very fine, the errors made by these players proving very costly. Each nine made five base hits, Pike securing two for St. Louis, and the reliable Higham two for Hartford. The game was far more interesting than that of Tuesday, for the reason that the hard batting gave numerous chances for brilliant plays, all of which were accepted, the errors being made on very simple balls. Harbidge's wild throwing and passed balls proved especially disastrous. The crowd almost went wild with enthusiasm, and cheered lustily as each consecutive whitewash was chalked against Hartford.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 14, 1876

The second consecutive shutout for Bradley, a 0-0 game going into the seventh and another bad game for Harbidge. For those counting at home, Bradley had a twenty inning shutout streak going.

This has nothing to do with nothing but one time, when I was in high school, I ditched school and went over to Busch Stadium for a day game between the Cards and Mets. Joaquin Andujar against Doc Gooden. The final score was 5-1 but it was 0-0 going into the seventh. You see how I just tied all of that together? Anyway, it was the best pitching duel I ever saw live and easily in my top five of all-time baseball memories.

Okay, just for fun, here's my top five all-time favorite baseball memories (witnessed live):

1. Opening Day 1998. McGwire's grand slam off of El Presidente. Regardless of anything we want to say about McGwire and the 1998 home run chase, it was an amazing moment. Busch Stadium was literally rocking.

2. Andujar/Gooden 1985. I was sitting in the bleachers with a friend, had skipped school and there was this old guy sitting right behind us with a little transistor radio, listening to KMOX and telling us stories about the old days. Beautiful spring day without a cloud in the sky and a great pitchers duel. And I wasn't at school.

3. Cards 7-Pirates 6; September 5, 1983. Cards were up 3-0 and 4-1 after six. Pirates score two in the top of the ninth to go ahead 6-5. Andy Van Slyke hit a pinch hit home run to lead off the ninth to tie it and the Cards win in the tenth when Ozzie leads off with a double, moves to third on a sac and was driven in by a Dane Iorg sac fly. I don't think I have ever been so hot at Old Busch (or Busch II if you want) than that night. I was sitting in the back bleachers underneath the overhang and it was something like 100 degrees outside with 90% humidity. Miserable, but a fantastic game.

4. Cards 2-Reds 0; May 31, 1985. There's a reason I love the 1985 Cards above all other teams and 1985 was my favorite season. Danny Cox threw a no-hitter for 7 2/3 and shutout the Reds on two hits. The closest I ever came to seeing a no-hitter live.

5. Cards 7-Atlanta 0; October 7, 1982. The first game of the 1982 NLCS and Bob Forsch throws a shutout. The real game one was rained out the day before with the Cards getting shut down by Phil Niekro, who the Cards never hit. Dodged a bullet there. This game was my first taste of October baseball and, while it never gets old, the first time is always the sweetest.

My father always told me the story that he took me (as a six month old infant) to Game One of the 1968 World Series. Cards/Tigers and Gibson strikes out 17. But, while I have ticket stubs and a program, I don't have any memories of the game and can't count it. My dad always had great baseball stories and, while I'm not certain how true they all were, as I get older it's more fun to believe them than it is to question them. So I always say I was at Game One of the 1968 Series.

And one day I'll tell you the story of how my dad played baseball with Willie Mays.

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