Saturday, January 30, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Globe Uses The Word "Execrable" In A Sentence

Not more than 200 spectators were present at Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon, to witness the Cincinnati and St. Louis Clubs play the sixth game of their series, which was umpired by Dan Collins, of the St. Louis Red Stockings, and commenced promptly at 4 o'clock, each club presenting its full nine. In the first inning for St. Louis Cuthbert tallied on errors by Kessler, Booth and Pearson, and Clapp an earned run on base hits by himself, Pike and Battin, Pike's being a two-baser. McGeary flew out to Pearson, and Jones caught Blong's difficult fly, and nipped Pike at the home plate by a splendid throw. A juggle by Pearce and a wild pitch allowed Gould to reach second, which was the best Cincinnati could do. The second inning was productive of an earned run for St. Louis on Battin's single and Blong's three-baser, Pearson and Jones distinguishing themselves by fine catches. The Cincinnatis could do nothing, Pearson being the only one to get a base hit. The third inning was marked by Foley's magnificent stop and throw, which disposed of Cuthbert. A base hit by McGeary, Dean's wild pitch which gave his his run, and Pike's three-base hit over Pearson's head that made the run earned. The Cincinnatis were retired in one, two, three order, Blong making a fine catch of Jones' hard hit. The fourth inning saw the Browns disposed of in one, two, three order, while Booth for Cincinnati got a base hit and as far as third, and Dean to second, on errors by Pike and McGeary, but both were left. In the fifth inning Foley went behind the bat and Booth to third, and Cuthbert got in an unearned run on errors by Booth and Foley. For Cincinnati, after two men were out, Pearson, Bean and Sweasy came to the rescue with safe hits, and the former tallied an unearned run on Cuthbert's error. Blong tallied for St. Louis in the sixth inning on a safe hit and bad errors by Gould and Kessler, while the Cincinnatis were retired without scoring, Pearce and Dehlman doubling up Jones and Booth, the former having reached first on Pike's excusable error. In the Seventh inning the Browns should have been whitewashed, but costly errors by Kessler and Sweasy gave St. Louis three runs, McGeary and Pike helping matters along by fine base hits. The Reds retired in one, two, three order. The Browns failed to increase their score in the eighth inning, and their opponents were also treated to lime, Pearson, Dean and Sweasy going out in step-stair order. One, two, three was the order of the Browns' retirement in the ninth inning, and of the Cincinnatis' also, Cuthbert ending the game by a brilliant catch of a long hit by Jones. The umpiring was execrable.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 21, 1876

Did they just say that the umpiring was execrable? I'll just direct you to a Latin dictionary, suggest you look up the word excrementum and leave it at that. Wow. That's pretty strong stuff for a newspaper in 1876.

I should point out the lousy crowds the Brown Stockings were getting for the Cincinnati series. Sure, the Reds were bad and the games were played on weekdays but these are terrible crowds. The conventional wisdom is that the Brown Stockings had poor attendance in 1876 or that, at the very least, attendance was down from 1875. While I haven't added all the numbers up, the 1876 attendance didn't seem that bad to me in the first half of the season and this is the first series were poor attendance numbers really stand out.

I've been wondering for awhile if the turmoil surrounding the club had an effect on attendance. At some point, I'll put the numbers together and we'll have some empirical evidence but I find it difficult thinking that all the rumors, infighting, etc. wouldn't drive down attendance. The 1877 team didn't draw well and while that probably has a lot to do with the fact that the team didn't win, it's possible that the attendance decline from 1875 to 1877 has something to do with St. Louis baseball fans rejecting a corrupt ball club and this rejection process may have begun in 1876. I don't have the answers to this right now but when I put the numbers together, we'll be able to take a closer look at this.

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