Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Graduating From A Circus Wagon

[McManus] was connected with the St. Louis Club as ticket-seller under Graffen, having graduated into that position from a circus-wagon, and was made "manager" because some one must have that title. He is, however, only business agent, and what "managing" is done is by McGeary or some Director who goes along. McManus is shrewd, sharp, cunning and has never shown any indications of being over-scrupulous. He would learn that either in Dan Rice's Show or in the St. Louis Ball Club.
-Chicago Tribune, August 5, 1877

I think that this article from the Tribune gives us some insight into the way the Brown Stockings ran their club. We don't have a lot of information about the way club management was organized so almost any information we find adds to our knowledge.

I don't think that it's particularly shocking to find out that the manager was essentially a business agent for the club nor is particularly shocking that the captain was really running the club on the field. The idea that one of the directors is traveling with the club and possibly running the show is interesting but I don't know how much stock to put into it. We have examples of club directors travelling with the club and we have examples of a club director making decisions that affected who was able to play. Specifically, I'm thinking about Orrick Bishop and the McGeary situation and the Tribune seems to confirm the influence that Bishop had on the day to day operations of the club.

On thing that I discovered while digging around was that J.B.C. Lucas, the president of the board of directors, was out of the country for most of the 1876 season. He was in Europe doing the Grand Tour so it's possible that Bishop was really the guy running the club.

All of this is relevant to yesterday's post about the resignation of Mase Graffen. While it's likely that the impetus for the resignation was the birth of his child, all the machinations behind the scene probably had a great deal to do with Graffen stepping down. The Tribune article, written almost a year after the fact, shows the influence of McGeary and certain directors compared to the club manager. We have speculated before that the directors and McGeary were working together to undermine Graffen's authority. The Tribune seems to confirm this in a roundabout manner.

And I'm not even going to make fun of McManus for going from the circus to ticket-seller to manager because I actually believe that business experience with a traveling circus would have been excellent training for someone who wanted to run a baseball club in the 1870s. As to Brown Stockings management in general, that was a bit of a clown show.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mase Graffen Resigns

Manager M.S. Graffen [sic], of the St. Louis Browns, has severed his connection with that club, and arrived here day before yesterday, having left the club in charge of McManus, the Treasurer.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 14, 1876

The "day before yesterday" would have been September 12 and therefore Graffen "severed his connection" with the Brown Stockings prior to the club playing their first game in Boston. No explanation was given in the Globe for the change in management and other than the above blurb, nothing was mentioned of it.

It is curious how differently people look at things. The St. Louis papers announce with fervor that Graffen-S. Mason Graffen-has resigned the managership of the St. Louis Club, when as a matter of record he never did anything of the kind; but received what rude boys on the street call the "G.B." On the other hand, the Courier-Journal, noticing the discharge, adds: "S. Mason was emphatically n.g..."

The St. Louis Republican says that there is very little doubt that Harry Wright will manage the Browns next season. It has long been known that Harry would like to come West again, but it is by no means sure that he will select St. Louis...
-Chicago Tribune, September 17, 1876

So I was in the middle of writing this grand, epic post on Graffen, detailing the mysteries of why he left the Brown Stockings (or why he was fired, if you believe the Tribune). It was a fantastic piece of writing and may very well have been the best thing I would have ever posted at this site. It's a shame that you'll never get to read it.

But I was doing a little more digging when I discovered this:

Sarah Matilda Barnes, married Samuel Mason Graffen, and had:-Charles H. Graffen, born at Philadelphia October, 1871; Paul Barnes Graffen, born at Philadelphia, 21 April, 1873; George Stevenson Graffen, born at Philadelphia, 20 August, 1876.
-Mayflower Pilgrim descendants in Cape May County, New Jersey

And I think that really explains the great mystery of Graffen's resignation. Graffen's wife has a baby on August 20, 1876. The Brown Stockings are in Philadelphia to play games on September 8 and 9. He has a young wife, a new baby and two other young children who, it appears, are still living in Philadlephia while Graffen is in St. Louis, managing the Brown Stockings. He gets back home to Philadelphia early in September, just after the baby is born, and decides to resign and stay with his family. It's a simple explanation that makes sense. This is why nobody made a big deal about it. Graffen didn't resign in disgust and he wasn't fired to make room for George McManus or Harry Wright.

It simply wasn't that big of a story. Graffen was needed at home and so he went home. The reason for the resignation wasn't mentioned by the Globe because this was the 19th century and it was a private family matter.

Now the grand, epic post that I had written involved a convoluted explanation that involved Harry Wright, Orrick Bishop, Mike McGeary and my usual take on a corrupt organization, a divided team and directors that were undercutting their manager to the point that he resigned in disgust. I also worked in the possibility that Graffen was fired.

It's likely that some of that may have played a part in Graffen deciding to step aside but the simplest explanation is that he had a young family and resigned so that he could spend more time at home with them. It's not nearly as good a story as my grand epic but I think it's closer to the truth. The corruption and craziness that surrounded the Brown Stockings probably made it easier for Graffen to make his decision but, in the end, I think he went home to be with the wife and kids.

I'm bitterly disappointed that you didn't get to read "The Curious Case of Mase Graffen" but I'm going to talk a bit tomorrow about some craziness regarding Brown Stocking management that I hope, in some small part, will make up for it. And I might post some biographical information about Graffen before I get to the last few games of the 1876 season, since it doesn't appear that I've ever mentioned him on the blog before.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Bent On Achieving Victory

The seventh meeting of the season between the St. Louis and Boston clubs occurred in [Boston] to-day, and was accorded the patronage of fully 1,500 individuals, including a number of ladies. The weather was fine, and but for a great misfortune the game would have been one of the most interesting of the year for both nines. Bent on achieving victory, both were prepared to contest every inch of ground. It was in the matter of the selection of an umpire that the misfortune happened. The St. Louis brought none with them, and the gentleman finally chosen, Mr. Hurll, of Boston, was what John B. Gough would style an "ignoramus." His intentions were good, but his decisions were simply wretched, and kept both clubs on nettles throughout the game. No partiality was shown, however, and the game resulted as it very likely would have done had it been played entirely on its merits.

The St. Louis were first at the bat, and Pike opened with a magnificent drive for three bases. Schaffer's fumble of McGeary's grounder gave Pike a life at the home plate, and enabled him to score. Battin forced McGeary at second, where he was left when the side went out. In the second inning Blong struck out, and Bradley and Mack retired in order. Dehlman made three ineffectual attempts to hit the ball in the next inning, but reached first on Brown's error. Three called balls, and Clapp out on a long fly to Manning, helped Dehlman to a run. The blanks then fell to the St. Louis in as many innings. In the seventh, Dehlman was given a base on balls, and two more on a wild throw by Brown and a poor stop by Morrill. Pike again rallied with a three baser, and was sent home by Clapp's safe single for a base, which earned a run. Errors gave the Browns another run in the ninth inning, Dehlman being the lucky runner. The Bostons scored only in the second and the sixth innings, and then by errors of their opponents. The individual playing of Clapp, Bradley and Battin was good; also that of Wright, Leonard, Murnan, Morrill and the Boston Bradley.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 13, 1876

We need, in this country, a reinvigoration of the kind of spirit that makes it proper and good to call an umpire an "ignoramus" in print.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Easily Defeating The Athletics

The St. Louis Browns again easily defeated the Athletics, although the latter were strengthened by an excellent new catcher, Muller, a left-hander, of [Philadelphia.] Pike led off with a base hit for the St. Louis, and secured a run by wild pitching. This was the only base hit scored by the St. Louis up to the sixth inning, they making two each in the next three innings, and punishing Knight for eight clear hits in the ninth inning, in which five runs were earned out of the seven they made. Force made the first base hit for the Athletics in the seventh inning, and they earned a run in the following inning by the good batting of King, Eggler and Fouser. In the ninth inning the Athletics made another run by safe hits of Hall and Fisher, and Blong's wild throw to third to head the former off. Bradley's pitching, fielding and batting were the chief features of this one-sided contest.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 10, 1876

Saturday, March 27, 2010


A large crowd witnessed the game between the Lockport and St. Louis Reds today [in Lockport, N.Y., on September 2.] Reds, 55; Lockport, 2...

Base hits-Reds, 35; Lockport, 5.
Earned runs-Reds, 7.
Errors-Reds, 6; Lockport, several...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 3, 1876

The Lockport, N.Y., Morning Times, of last Monday, has a good deal to say about the game played at the Fair Grounds in that city, the Saturday previous, between the St. Louis Reds and the Lockport club, and the following are a few of its "sayings:"

The attendance on the Fair Grounds Saturday was the largest of the season, fully 1,200 people being in attendance. The game they paid their money to witness, however, was a burlesque. For some cause that we can not even manufacture a reasonable excuse for, the Lockports were beaten out of "all semblance of recognition." Such terrible muffling and juggling and scrouging to get out of the way of balls was never witnessed previously on the American Continent.

With the exception of Hallett, Hawkes and Flannigan, every man seemed to have lost his nerve, and tangled up his legs and tried to fall on the ball in a manner painful to behold...

What a hollow mockery the music of the fife and drum was on the return from the ball-match Saturday.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 9, 1876

The Reds scored nine in the first, four in the second, five in the third, one in the fourth, three in the fifth, thirteen in the sixth, eight in the seventh, nine in the eighth and three in the ninth. Sadly, I don't have the box score.

On September 11, the two clubs met again and the Reds prevailed by a score of 16-15.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Crushing The Athletics

The St. Louis Browns, for the seventh consecutive time, easily defeated the Athletics in a game played [in Philadelphia] this afternoon. The rain that fell in the morning affected materially the attendance, about 300 only being present. The Athletics were without Meyerle's services, he still being unable to play. The St. Louis won easily thanks to their heavy batting, Cuthbert and Pike taking the lead in this respect, the former making three two-base hits. Clapp also hit for a three-baser, while Blong and Bradley each made a two-base hit. Knight was terribly punished, eighteen clean hits being made off his swift facers, while but five were made off Coons, who pitched the last four innings. Errors by McGeary, Mack and Bradley, two, together with safe hits by Force, two, Fisler and Fouser, included five unearned runs to the Athletics.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 9, 1876

The twenty runs the Brown Stockings scored represent the most they scored in a game in 1876 (tied with the twenty they hung on Boston on June 14). Their margin of victory was the largest of the year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: An Extra-Inning Affair

A greatly diminished audience witnessed the game between the St. Louis and Mutual clubs to-day. Play was called at 4 o'clock, the Browns again going to bat first. In the first three innings neither side was able to score, so well were Matthews and Bradley handling the leather. The visitors were retired in one, two, three order. While for the home club Holdsworth reached first on called balls in the first inning. Booth earned first in the second, and Craver by a fair foul and a passed ball reached first and second. Mutual blanks were exchanged in the fourth. In the fifth inning the Browns scored a run on Nichols' fumble of Blong's hard hit and Bradley's three-baser to right field. Matthews, Nichols, Holdsworth, Start, Mallinan and Craver then batted in elegant style for three runs. The Browns added one to their totals in the sixth, Dehlman, after reaching first on called balls, being sent home on safe hits of Pike and McGeary. In the eighth inning, after two hands were out, the Browns tied the score, Clapp making the lucky run on his own and McGeary's safe hits. The excitement grew intense in the ninth inning, when, after the Browns had retired for a cypher, Holdsworth hit to right field for three bases, after one hand was out. Start drove a liner to Cuthbert, who not only made a good catch, but threw home in time to make a double play and save the game. In the tenth inning the Browns scored what proved to be the winning run by the safe batting of Pike, Clapp and McGeary, the Mutes being blanked.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 7, 1875

Heck of a play by Cuthbert in the ninth to send the game to extra innings.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Sixteenth Shutout

With their full nine once more together, the St. Louis Browns reopened the league campaign with a signal victory over the Mutuals to-day. The weather was cool and bracing, and, in the presence of about 400 spectators, play was called at 4 o'clock. The visitors having lost the toss went to the bat first. Two runs were scored by Clapp, who took first on called balls, and reached third on McGeary's two-baser. Both tallied by a safe hit of Cuthbert's. For the next three innings the play was sharp enough to prevent any more run-getting. In the fifth, the Browns, by the safe batting of Pike, McGeary, Cuthbert, Blong and Bradley, earned three runs, to which they added two runs in each of the sixth and eighth innings, which were made by the loose fielding of their opponents. The Mutuals failed to hit Bradley with any safety, and as he was well supported by the rest of the nine, another whitewash was placed to the credit of the Browns. The full score will give the further details. The St. Louis and Chicagos play an exhibition here on Thursday.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 6, 1876

This was Bradley's sixteenth shutout, setting a major league record that still stands (although Pete Alexander matched it in 1916).

How significant is this? The press at the time didn't seem to make a big deal about it and attributed the shutouts to the team as a whole. It appears that the shutouts were seen largely as a function of team defense rather than pitching. This fits with the idea of 19th century pitchers transitioning from merely the initiator of baseball action to run-preventor.

While sixteen shutouts is the record for a season, several pitchers in the 19th century recorded double-digit shutouts in a given year. Pud Galvin had twelve in 1884 and Ed Morris had twelve in 1886. Tommy Bond had eleven in 1879, as did Dave Foutz in 1886 and Hoss Radbourn in 1884. John Clarkson had ten in 1885, as did Jim McCormick in 1884.

However, looking at the NA, there was never anybody close to sixteen shutouts for a season. In 1871, no one had more than one shutout for the year. In 1872, Cummings and Spalding led the league with three each. McBride had three in 1873. Matthews and Spalding had four in 1874. In 1875, Zettlein, Spalding and Cummings had seven. At first glance, I thought the difference between the number of shutouts in the NA compared to the 1876 NL may have been the number of games played but this isn't so. NA clubs were playing sixty to seventy games a year which is comparable to what the clubs were playing in 1876. So the games played doesn't seem to be a factor in the increase in shutouts although there appears to be a trend of more shutouts per season.

But the reality is that, with the exception of Bradley and the Brown Stockings, there doesn't appear to be a huge increase in shutouts in 1876. Spalding was second in shutouts in 1876 with eight. Bond had six. Cummings and Devlin had five each. Throw out Bradley and the 1876 NL leader board looks similiar to the 1875 NA leader board. The big increase is Bradley going from five shutouts in 1875 to sixteen in 1876.

So, in general, I think we can say that the record is rather significant. Bradley increased the record for shutouts from seven to sixteen and that record still stands today. Other than Alexander, no one has come within three shutouts of the record. Other than Bob Gibson in 1968, no modern pitcher has ever challenged the record and only eight pitchers since the end of World War Two have recorded double digits in shutouts (including John Tudor in 1985, something which I had forgotten). While I wouldn't say the record is unbreakable, there aren't too many baseball record that have stood for 135 years. And if you want to portray the record as significant, I think that's what you hang your hat on: Bradley's record has stood for 135 years.

But this doesn't really address an important question. How much of this was Bradley having a great year and how much of this was the Browns' defense? My gut reaction is that a lot of this is the Browns' defense and the record is an indication that the 1876 Brown Stockings had a historically great defensive ball club. We've talked about the Browns' defense before and tried to break it down statistically somewhat, with the general conclusion being that they were a very good defensive club. But the fact that they recorded sixteen shutouts in sixty-four games played is extraordinary and is something that has been rather overlooked. That's twenty-five percent of their games. If a modern club shutout their opponents at the same rate, they'd have forty shutouts for the season (and the modern record for team shutouts in a season is 32, last done in 1909 by the Cubs). So we can say that the record is significant simply from a team standpoint.

I don't want to sell Bradley short because he had a great season but you have to believe that the defense and luck played a large role in setting the record. Bradley led the league in fewest hits allowed per nine innings pitched (among other things) but the number of base hits he gave up was not significantly lower than Bond's in 1876. He wasn't walking anybody or giving up any home runs but he also wasn't striking anybody out (although his fielding-independent numbers are probably better than anybody else in the League). There were a lot of balls in play and a lot of pressure on the Brown Stockings' defense to make outs. This isn't Bradley's fault but merely the way the game was played in 1876. Lots of balls in play, lots of base runners and lots of defense. While Bradley was clearly the best pitcher in the League, he wasn't dominating batters the way someone like Gibson was in 1968. I think that it's safe to believe that if you put Bradley on the Mutuals in 1876, he wasn't recording sixteen shutouts. So you have to conclude that the Brown Stockings' team defense played a significant role in the record.

But Bradley was an important part of that defense. Even with the metrics we have today, I don't think we've totally been able to separate pitching from defense so I think it's too much to ask that we do so for the 1876 Brown Stockings. We should note the sixteen shutouts and attribute them to Bradley while at the same time noting the unique nature of 19th century baseball and the importance of team defense in run prevention during that era.

The sixteen shutouts are a significant achievement and Bradley and his Brown Stockings' teammates should be celebrated for that achievement.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Back In The USA

A very pretty game was played before a very fashionable audience here to-day, the St. Louis Brown Stockings and the Ithaca Club being the contestants. It resulted in favor of the former, by a score of 9-3. The fielding and batting of both nines were about equal, the errors of the home club being made at the most critical stages...

The Browns play the Stars, of Syracuse, tomorrow, and Rochesters on Friday.

-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 31, 1876

Monday, March 22, 2010

Canada Owns The 1876 Brown Stockings

The Maple Leaves, champions of Canada, to-day defeated the St. Louis Brown Stockings, by a score of 9 to 8.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 30, 1876

Interestingly, while the Browns were getting beaten by the Maple Leafs on the 29th, the Reds were in Hamilton, beating the Standards 22-0. At least one St. Louis baseball club was able to handle the Canadian scourge.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Oh, Canada

The splendid pitching of Goldsmith, together with loose outfielding by Pike and Cuthbert, enabled the Tecumseh Club of [London, Ontario] to defeat the Browns today [10-9]...The Manager of the Browns offered Goldsmith liberal terms to join them for the balance of the season, which were refused.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 29, 1876

After finishing their series against the Chicagos, the Brown Stockings headed to Canada to play a few exhibition games as they worked their way to New York for a League game on September 5. In this particular game, they were down 9-6 before scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie it up. The Tecumsehs scored one in the top of the ninth to win it.

As I'm still a little bitter about the gold medal hockey game, I want you to know that it's taking a great deal of effort to refrain from taking shots at our Canadian friends.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Regarded As Wonderful

The Whites struck a golden streak of luck to-day, and experienced whatever satisfaction there was in winning the last game with the Browns after losing the series. The Chicagos seemed perfectly oblivious of Bradley, and batted magnificently. The fielding did no great credit to either side, and the victory of the Whites was solely due to the extraordinary batting fever which had suddenly attacked them. Bradley has always been a stumbling block to the Whites, and, considering that they confronted this almost invincible pitcher, this batting display to-day is here regarded as wonderful.

They pounded to pieces the pitching of the man whom in half a dozen games they had not been able to hit for a single run. Out of thirty-one who reached first base but five were left on bases. The Browns were far behind their record in batting and the falling off from their brilliant display of the previous day was very marked. As a display of fielding, the game was not a success on either side. The Whites has an opportunity to return to the visitors one of the coats of whitewash to which the Browns have so liberally treated them this summer, but they failed to improve it.

The Chicago sporting fraternity is jubilant over the victory. It has gone a little ways toward healing the sores that made them groan so bitterly and curse with such vigor last evening.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 27, 1876

This was, any way you measure it, the Brown Stockings' worst defeat of the year. The twenty-three runs were the most they gave up in a game and the margin of defeat was the largest they suffered all season. But what the heck. They already had the Championship of the West in their pocket.

The worst thing about the defeat was that it meant that they lost two of three in Chicago when they really couldn't afford to do so. After their victory in the second game, the Brown Stockings had climbed within five games of the Chicagos and a victory in the third game would have got them within four with twelve to play. Instead, with the defeat, they found themselves six games out. And they would finish six games out. This game didn't cost them the pennant (and I'll post them thoughts on what did after we finish going through the season) but there is a big difference between being four out with twelve to play and being six out with twelve to play.

But in all reality, nobody was going to beat out Chicago in 1876 (and I'm pretty sure I've said this before). On June 17, the Browns were 14-10 and six games out. They then went on to win twenty-two of their next twenty-nine and still found themselves six games out. That's ridiculous.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: A Monody For The White Stockings

[From the Chicago Tribune.]

Something more than a year ago the writer sat in a chair in the Tribune office and wrote from memory:

Westward the course of empire takes its way;
the four first acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day;
Time's noblest offspring is the last.

At that time the Chicago Club had been beaten in St. Louis by decisive scores, and, though the season ended with an even score as between the clubs, yet the balance of victory lay with the gentlemen from the bridge, because they had taken a better position in the championship race than Chicago could get.

When the season of 1876 opened, the Tribune did not expect to be obliged to knuckle down to St. Louis in matters concerning base ball, but now that the ninth game between the clubs has been
played, and in view of the fact that the White Stockings have lost five and been cheated out of one, as against three which they have won, it is quite time to take off a dilapidated hat, and say to the Great Bridge City that we acknowledge the corn; and, basing judgment on results, are willing to allow that their nine is a better one than Chicago's when opposed to it, and that, so far as the championship of the West is concerned, it will rest with St. Louis until another year.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 27, 1876

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Champions Of The West

The Browns to-day fully retrieved their defeat of last Tuesday. The game resulted in favor of St. Louis, and by giving them six games out of nine games played with the White Stockings, made them the winners of the series. The Browns have won the championship of the West, and even if the Whites take the national championship, the glory of the achievement will be woefully dimmed by the fact that they lost the series with the rivals whom they most keenly ached to whip. The grounds were in good condition and the audience was large.

The numerous fine plays made by the visitors were loudly applauded, and if the audience was chagrined when the Browns took the lead and plainly held victory in their hands, it swallowed its disappointment in silence. The game was interesting, because the result was very uncertain until revealed by the last inning. The Whites took a strong lead in the first inning, but were overtaken in the fourth, and from that point victory trembled in the balance. The closeness of the contest, and the fact that the game was likely to be the decisive game of the series, made the excitement intense.

The score will show that it was not a brilliant fielding game, but no game this season has shown more brilliant plays than occasionally occurred in this. Mack played short for the Browns instead of Dick Pearce, and filled the position admirably. There was a good deal of sharp and perfect in-fielding on both sides. Clapp played with much greater vim and nerve than in the preceding game. He beautifully nipped several of the Whites in their attempt to steal second. Every member of the nine showed that the nervousness of last Tuesday, induced by the shameful treatment of the crowd, had wholly disappeared, and all played with great zest and spirit.

The batting display was fine, particularly on the part of the St. Louis nine. When Pike opened the game with a splendid three-base hit to left field, the crowd had a premonition that the Browns had made up their minds to give Spalding a drubbing, and subsequent events proved the correctness of the surmise. The truth is, he was pounded all over the field in a beautiful and thorough manner. Long hits were the rule, and two and three bases were frequent.

The Chicago outfielders made numerous excursions to the fence for the swift flying spheroid which had shot over their heads high in air. Pike hit for a total of six bases, Clapp for four, and Mack surprised himself and his admirers by hitting for four bases. The ball was lively, such a one as the Whites always furnish. The batting of the Whites was good, but they were fairly outbatted by their opponents. Barnes and Andrus contributed handsomely in the eighth inning to the defeat of their nine. Barnes' muff of Pike's grounder, which allowed Mack to travel from first to third base, and a serious muff of Clapp's fly, were fatal errors.

A brilliant double play was made in the sixth inning by Barnes, Peters and McVey. A marked feature of the game was a magnificent stop by Mack, in the eighth. Anson sent a hard bounder between short and second base. The ball seemed destined for the outfield but Mack, quick as lightning, turned, ran with the ball, and caught it as it was bounding past him. He gathered himself quickly and threw it to first in time to bring Anson to grief. It was a critical point of the game, when neither side could afford to lose a chance.

Joe Blong distinguished himself by a very brilliant catch of a foul fly from Andrus, in the ninth inning. The ball was reached after a long run into the west side seats. Right after he caught a fine fly from Barnes, and threw so magnificently to first that he nabbed Glenn, who was trying to get back to first, thus ending the inning and the game with a neat double play.

The Browns had covered themselves with honor, and the Whites retired to their dressing-room a badly whipped crowd, who were more deeply stung by the reflection that they had lost a prestige they couldn't win back this season, than by the defeat they had suffered. A lot of poor fools who were willing to stake their last nickle on the Whites were badly sold. The odds offered on the Whites in some of the pool rooms were as high as 5 to 1.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 26, 1875

And out comes the roster to celebrate the mythical Championship of the West.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Placing Some Restraint On The Mayhem

The Chicago Tribune says: "During Monday's game in St. Louis there were several interruptions, caused by demands of the Captains that players on the opposite side stand away from the line. To avoid anything of that kind in Chicago, the management caused lines to be drawn parallel with and fifty feet back of the foul lines to indicate where the players must not come without reason. Still other lines fifteen feet from the diamond showed where the Captains and assistants might stand. The idea was a good one."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 25, 1876

This naturally made me think of the coach's box and so, of course, I turned to A Game of Inches. Morris wrote that by 1872, "the rules specified that a base runners' teammates had to remain at least fifteen feet away from him. Two years later the rules were amended to state that only the captain and one other player could approach that close...During the 1886 season the coach's box was introduced to try to place some restraint on the mayhem that passed on coaching." While what we have described by the Tribune is not exactly the coach's box, this does seem to fit somewhere within the evolutionary pattern of trying to "place some restraint on the mayhem..."

And Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all. Here's some Chieftains to enjoy on this fine day:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Raining At Chicago

At 3 p.m. it was raining so hard that the St. Louis-Chicago game was postponed until to-morrow. It has been decided that Mack shall play short stop in this game.
-St. Louis Globe Democrat, August 25, 1876

I don't know why but I get a kick out of posting information about the rainouts. I think they make the whole thing a bit more real for me. It's raining right now in St. Louis, it was raining in Florida yesterday and a bunch of spring training games got cancelled and it was raining in Chicago on August 24, 1876 and they couldn't get the St. Louis/Chicago game in. It's all part of the story.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: There Is Some Bitterness Existing Between The Two Cities

Concerning the game at Chicago on Tuesday the Times says:

"The Chicago audiences heretofore have been remarkable for their courteous treatment of visiting clubs, as they confined their demonstrations to a perfectly natural exultation over the success of their club, and have been willing always to acknowledge the fine playing of rial nines with applause. On yesterday, however, they conducted themselves in a reprehensible manner. The unfortunate and disagreeable manner in which the Monday's game at St. Louis terminated seemed to have aroused among them a very bitter feeling toward the St. Louis Club was hailed with the cry of 'Kickers,' other uncomplimentary remarks and jeers were hurled at them, and their bad plays were received with shouts of satisfaction. There is some bitterness existing between the two cities in base ball matters, to be sure, but it certainly does not warrant such rudeness. The question as to which city has the best club should be settled by the playing of the clubs themselves; it should not be interfered with by the conduct of the audiences."

In the face of this Meacham continues his dirty work, as the following, from the Tribune, will show:

"About 4,000 persons were present at the game, and while it was too much to expect that they would remain silent throughout after the beastly abuse their club had received in St. Louis, yet it is much to the credit of the city and the management that no one could hear either profanity, threats or obscenity loudly mouthed, as is the custom in St. Louis. There was some noise and cheering, but not a foul word nor an angry one."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 24, 1876

Enough about the wonderful, courteous Chicago baseball fans. If I hear any more of that stuff, I'll be forced to link to a couple of posts that might embarrass them. And remind me, one day, to write up a few thousand words on the St. Louis/Chicago baseball rivalry. I have a few things to say about that.

One point about the rivalry and I'll shut up about it, before the anger and bitterness overwhelms me. While I appreciate the numerous championships that the Cardinals have won and I've enjoyed celebrating the two World Series championships, six pennants and countless division titles the Cards have won in my lifetime, I define a successful baseball season in one simple way: winning the season series against the Cubs. That's it. Win the season series against the Cubs and everything else is gravy. Win the Series but finish with a losing record against the Cubs and the championship is tainted.

The irony, of course, is that the season series was the way that championships were decided prior to 1870. We've lost our appreciation of the season series and now focus on October baseball to define success and failure. Don't get me wrong. I love October baseball but the old ways are usually the best ways. We need to reinvigorate our appreciation of the regular season and the season series.

Of course, this may just be old age talking. I think the gray hair is starting to impede the thinking process.

I should also mention, before senility sets in, that "Meacham" is Lewis Meacham, who covered baseball for the Chicago Tribune from 1875 until his untimely death in 1878. Bill has all kinds of information about him in his sports writers threat at BBF. The Meacham stuff is on page sixteen.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Much Bitterness Of Feeling Was Manifested

The eighth game between the Chicago and the St. Louis Clubs occurred on the Twenty-third street grounds today, in the presence of 4,000 people. Chicago audiences have generally extended very courteous treatment to visiting clubs, and have always acknowledged meritorious playing with impartial applause, but on account of the unfortunate manner in which Monday's game at St. Louis terminated, much bitterness of feeling was manifested in the crowd, and the visitors were greeted with the cry of "Kickers," and no chance was lost to jeer at them, and to cheer ecstatically when they made errors.

The game was tedious and uninteresting. The St. Louis club never played so poorly on our grounds. For some inscrutable reason, nearly every man in the club seemed incapable of playing his game. Their apparent great anxiety to win betrayed them into a nervousness that was fatal to good playing. In the first inning, Clapp astonished himself with a record three passed balls and two poor throws. His errors had a dispiriting effect on the rest of the nine, and they played from that time in a nervous and half-hearted way. Bradley's pitching was not so effective as usual, and many bases were taken on wild pitches.

Cuthbert dropped two flies that he was expected to take, though they were difficult to handle. Dehlman didn't appear to be at home at first, and gave that base to several White Stockings by bad muffs. Battin and Pearce were equally unreliable at third and short. The fielding of the Whites was by no means perfect, but they got off with but four errors. Their batting was unusually good considering the pitcher they were facing, they made fifteen base hits off Bradley, considerably more than they got altogether in the three recent St. Louis games.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 23, 1876

So the Brown Stockings' last road trip of the season didn't get off to a particularly shining start. Good lord. Twenty errors, fifteen hits and a walk. That's thirty-six base-runners for Chicago. I think it's kind of amazing that they only scored twelve runs, given the number of guys they had on base.

I'm particularly fond of the way the Globe wrote up the Browns' poor play. "Clapp astonished himself...," "Bradley's pitching was not so effective...," "Dehlman didn't appear to be at home at first...," "Battin and Pearce were equally unreliable..." That's some fine writing.

And I'll pass on making any comments about the reputation of Chicago fans regarding "courteous treatment to visiting clubs..."

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Checking In With The Reds

During this season the St. Louis Reds have played sixty-two regular games to date, forty-seven being victories, twelve defeats and one a tie. The Reds, so far, have Chicagoed eight clubs and been treated that way four times. Out of these sixty games twenty-seven are represented by single figures, and the Reds scored 676 runs to 286 by their opponents.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrats, August 24, 1876

The Reds had an interesting 1876 season and I've covered a great deal of it before. Just thought I'd mention the fact that as of August 24, 1876, their record stood at 47-12.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Romance Of The Diamond Field (A Baseball Tragedy In Four Parts)

I pass this along for no other reason then I liked it.

[From Harry Harley's Oil City Derrick.]

Chap. I. "This, then, Miss Bangs, is your final answer?" "Irrevocably so," was the proud reply.

Chap. II. They made a pretty picture standing in the doorway of her father's mansion; he, the Captain of the Melon Stealers, tall and strong in limb, and the hero of his little first base in many a hot contested game. She, the fair daughter of the banker who had wagered the entire assets of the bank and the deposits of many a poor man on the return game between the Moth Eradicators and the home club on the following day. Our hero's answer came hot and quick: "Then," cried he, "to-morrow's setting sun will shine upon the beggar daughter of a ruined man. It rests with me to throw the game on which your proud father's wealth is staked. You have to-night settled your own fate. So be it. Good night;" and turning himself seven times round on his heel, at the same time boring a large hole in the hall carpet, Mose Fitz Allen was gone.

Chap. III. Prominent among the immense crowd assembled on the ground is the pale face of Amelia Bangs. The Moth Eradicators are at the bat on the last half of the ninth inning, with two men out and one man on the third, and the score stands 53 to 53. "Will that man get in?" is the breathless question which pervades the scene. Mose Fitz Allen, standing on the first base, mutters, "Now for revenge! Now do I give the thing away! Ah!" and his face was distorted with passion like a mud-ball dried in the sun. "Two strikes!" yells the umpire. The batter must hit it next time. He does hit it, and a fly mounts and descends beautifully to Mose. "Take it, Mose," goes out from the throat of Banker Bangs and hundreds of his friends. "Not if Mose is thoroughly acquainted with himself," is his low response, and the ball passes through his hands and the man on third goes home. Score, 54 to 53.

Chap. IV. Two months later finds Amelia Bangs taking in plain sewing, her father the janitor of the Oil Exchange, and Mose, though somewhat troubled in mind, still takes his beer.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 22, 1876

Mose Allen is Snidely Whiplash. Amelia Bangs is Nell Fenwick. We just need a Dudely Do-Right character and we have ourselves a nice silent film. The sad thing is that we'll need to rework the ending because we can't have our hero fail to stop the dastardly Mose Allen and our heroine having to take in sewing.

But, besides the fantastic stock characters, my favorite part of this story was the denouncement. It makes for a nice piece of tragedy. If Miss Bangs had simply given in to the demands of Mose Allen, her father would have won his bet and the family would not have been destroyed. However, because of her purity and virtue, Amelia was incapable of compromising her principles and, the next thing you know, her father's a janitor.

Amelia Bangs was guilty of hubris and it was Nemesis that directed the pop-up to Mose Allen in the bottom of the ninth. Note her "proud reply" in Chap. I. That's hubris. She's doing what she believes is the correct thing, according to the mores of her time, but, setting aside the question of whether or not she actually was doing the correct and principled thing, by reacting with pride she has invited the wrath of Nemesis. If Amelia had set aside her pride for the sake of the greater good and given in to or reacted humbly towards the demands of Mose Allen, tragedy would have been avoided.

If we included a Dudley Do-Right hero in the story, we would have lost the richer tale.

And I've now officially thought way too much about this.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Graffen Responds

To the Editor of the Chicago Times.

Chicago, August 22.-In to-day's issue of the Tribune there appears a special dispatch from St. Louis, purporting to give an account of the base ball game played between the Chicago and St. Louis clubs there yesterday. I desire space enough in your columns to pronounce every word of that account relating to the last half of the ninth inning absolutely false in every single particular, except the statement that "Battin had gone out on an easy fly." Every other item purporting to describe the play in that inning I pronounce an unqualified falsehood, and can prove the same by every member of the Chicago club. The special reporter of the Tribune was within a few feet of the writer of this during the entire game, and was overheard to remark that McGeary's obstruction of the ball was accidental.

He was been known to frequently excuse his virulent and exaggerated reports of games at St. Louis on the plea that he did it to "help business" in Chicago. I can not think that the people of this city, whose patronage of every class of respectable sport is proverbial for its liberality, will approve of the means thus adopted to secure their attendance at base ball games.

A word about Mr. Walker. He was nominated by Mr. Spalding, and I can safely say that he is a gentleman, and that a man more thoroughly intent on being honest never occupied the position.


S. Mason Graffen,
Manager Brown Stocking Club.

N.B.-I shall look in to-morrow's Tribune for a severe criticism upon Anson for willfully running into Pearce this afternoon in the fourth inning, preventing the latter from fielding the ball hit him by Hines.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 24, 1876

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Champion Liar

A man named Meacham, who should have been christened Ananias, sent the following special telegram to the Chicago Tribune, on Monday night, concerning the disgraceful scenes enacted by the white-hosed and white-livered gang from Chicago at Grand Avenue Park:

"An extraordinary crowd for St. Louis witnessed the game, and there were about 3,000 of them by count. After Battin had gone out on an easy fly, Cuthbert came forward, and, after much whispering and consultation among the nine, he was directed to give McGeary a chance to exercise those peculiar talents which have caused him to be tried and suspended so many times. Accordingly Cuthbert refrained from trying to hit out, and bumped a little one down near the foul line. McGeary was aware of what was to be done, and he ran up, and stopping long enough to get a good aim, deliberately kicked the ball away from Anson's hands, and the, laughing at what he had done, ran home and claimed a run. The first impulse of young Walker, the umpire, was to declare the man out, as a matter of course, for so glaring an infraction of the rules, but when the crowd arose and demanded as one man that he give the run, accompanying it with threats of cutting 'the heart out of the [d*mned son of a b*tch] if he dared do anything else, these cries and the like had no little effect on the boy, and, to speak within bounds, his liver turned to water, his head shook, and he repeated after the crowd whatever they saw fit to say. Add to this that the St. Louis players followed by the crowd rushed around the youngster, and it is easy to see that he did what was wisest for his own safety. Of course, Capt. Spalding refused to play under the circumstances, and the game was given to St. Louis by the trembling umpire 9 to 0. It was very good of the crowd not to ask for 100 to 0, for they would have got it if they had."

It would be mighty safe investment to bet that 5,000 of the very best citizens of St. Louis are willing to make affidavits to the effect that the author of the above nonsense is a greater liar than Ananias ever dare be, and that there is not a single word of truth in the telegram, except that Chicago lost the game by a score of 9 to 0, as she richly deserved. As the champion liar of this or any other country, Meacham will, in future, wear the emblematic belt. It can assuredly never be wrested from him.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 24, 1876

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: More On The Disgraceful Row

The feeling throughout the city, last night, was very bitter against the action of the Chicago club. Mr. Fowle, of the St. Louis club, stated that in conversation with Mr. Walker, after the game, that gentleman said that White, the White Stocking catcher, and Mr. Meacham, reporter for the Chicago Tribune, both acknowledged to him that the game had been fairly won by the Browns, without taking the McGeary matter into consideration at all. These gentlemen stated that a passed ball, which the umpire declared "dead," and on which McGeary came home, should have been adjudged in play, as it did not strike the umpire until it had hit White's hands, and the rules stipulated that no pitched ball can be declared "dead" after it has passed the catcher, no matter who it may strike. Mr. Fowle also stated that Walker had been chosen to umpire these games out of a list of five names, by the White's themselves, as he had previously given them satisfaction...

In Chicago there will doubtless be war to-day. Both teams left for the Garden City last night, and this afternoon the St. Louis lads will beard the lions in their own den. It will require a great deal of nerve to pull them through, as Chicago crowds are noted for their abuse of visiting clubs, and the triple victory gained by the Browns will intensify the hatred of the Hoodlums...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 22, 1876

Monday, March 8, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Right Here The Trouble Began

Between 6,000 and 7,000 enthusiastic admirers of the national game witnessed a disgraceful row at the Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon, for which the ball players from the Garden City were entirely responsible. No such crowd has been seen in the park this season, the grounds being lined on all sides. The game commenced promptly at a quarter to 4 o'clock, with the White Stockings at the bat. They were disposed of for nothing, while the Browns, on their first attempt, got in an unearned run, Pike making a safe hit, and scoring on a wild pitch and a passed ball. In the fourth inning McVey tied the game, earning first and tallying on an error by Dehlman and an overthrow by Blong.

In the fifth inning the Whites assumed the lead, errors by Battin, Clapp and McGeary giving Glenn a run. The next inning was a bonanza for the home club, the Browns striking one of their splendid batting streaks, after one man was out, and scoring three runs, two of which were earned by the fine batting of Battin, Cuthbert, Blong and Bradley. Two more were tacked on by the home nine in the seventh inning, for which glaring errors by Bielaski, McVey and Hines, and safe hits by Pike and Cuthbert, were responsible. At this stage of the game it was dollars to cents that St. Louis would win with ease; but in the eighth inning, after two men were out, Battin gave Peters first, on a miserable throw, and splendid hits by McVey and Hines brought him home.

The score stood at six to three when the ninth inning commenced, and the first striker for Chicago went out. Spalding then earned first, but Bielaski flew out to Mceary. A passed ball by Clapp and a safe hit by Glenn brought Spalding home. Barnes, for the first time in two games, hit safe, Glenn going to third and he to second. Peters faced Bradley and sent a swift bounder to McGeary, which was thrown elegantly, but Dehlman muffed and the men on bases came home, Barnes by the fastest kind of running. McVey then struck out, but the score was a tie.

The Browns went in for the winning run, and McVey went in to pitch. McGeary's very difficult fly was missed by Peters, and an execrable throw by McVey to catch him at first gave Mike third immediately afterwards. Battin flew out to Barnes. Cuthbert was the next striker, and right here the trouble began.

He batted an easy grounder along the line of third base, and McGeary started for home. The ball struck him as he ran and rolled away from Anson. The question at once arose whether the interference was accidental or not. The umpire held that it was not, and decided that McGeary's run should count. This should have settled the matter, but it did not. Both nines surrounded Mr. Walker, the umpire, and chinned at each other at a great rate. He very properly refused to reverse his decision, and was sustained by the large crowd, who were perfectly satisfied that he was right. Capt. Spalding made some inquiries among his men, particularly Anson, and again button-holed the umpire, who wouldn't be talked out of his opinion.

President Hurlburt, of the Chicago Club, was next appealed to by Spalding, and immediately afterwards the White Legs entered their carriages and drove away amid a storm of hisses, howls and groans. This action of the Chicago Club can not be too severely censured. Spalding is as familiar with the rules as any man breathing, and Hurlbert is anxious to be classed in the same category. They well knew that there was only one thing for them to do after Walker had given his decision, and that was to play the game out-under protest, if they wished. That was their only recourse, and the only act left for the umpire to perform, after they had refused to do so, was to declare the game forfeited to St. Louis by a score of 9 to 0, which he did.

The contest, as far as it went, was one of the worst-played this season, a great amount of muffing being indulged in on both sides, Pike, Cuthber, Anson, Glenn and Spalding being the only players not charged with errors. Clapp, Battin, Dehlman, McVey, Bielaski and White played a fielding game that would have caused amateurs to blush. Dehlman's error in the ninth inning was the most costly of the game. Had he held the ball thrown by McGeary the Chicago score would have remained at four, and the disgraceful row which ended the game would not have occurred. McVey also distinguished himself in the ninth inning by his bad throw, which sent McGeary to third.

The redeeming features of the game were Anson's third base play, and splendid line catches by Peters and Pearce. Anson guarded third throughout as it has never been guarded before in this city, as a glance at the score will show. The batting of the Browns was very heavy, and that of their opponents very weak, until the last two innings, during which they got four of their seven base hits, but not until the third man had been given a life in each instance. Pike's batting especially was a model display, his three safe hits being beauties. Battin and McVey also did very effective work for their respective teams. A detailed account of the game will be found appended, the score of the game as played being given, although a score of 9 to 0 goes on record.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 22, 1876

Here's the Globe's detailed account of the bottom of the ninth:

McGeary came to the front, his side needing one run to win. McVey relieved Spalding in the pitcher's position. Peters failed to capture McGeary's difficult fly, and McVey's wild throw let him around to third. Battin flew out to Barnes. Cuthbert hit an easy bounder towards third, and McGeary, who was running in, knocked it out of the line, which created considerable excitement, the Chicagoes claiming that McGeary did it purposely. The umpire, however, decided that it was accidental, and, as McGeary had tallied, the game was won. Cuthbert, while the men were disputing stole to second and third.

I'll have more on this disgraceful row over the next couple of days and we'll get Chicago's side of the story. I really don't think the whole thing was that big of a deal. McGeary probably did kick the ball on purpose but the umpire, intimidated by the home crowd, wasn't about to call interference. The game, once the umpire refused to overturn his call, was essentially over. Chicago storming off the field didn't change anything. Was it poor sportsmanship? Sure. But the game was over. Big deal.

Interestingly, the score of this game is listed at B-Ref and Retrosheet as 7-6 rather than 9-0, although they both note that the game was forfeited to St. Louis. I think this brings up the question of whether or not the stats from this game count in the record. The game was not played to completion and was forfeited by Chicago. The stats shouldn't count but I think that they're included in the record. Bradley certainly got the victory. Is he credited with giving up six runs or zero? I'm a little confused about how the official record is treating this game.

Also, I'm amused by the fact that Cuthbert stole second and third while everyone was standing around arguing. That's heads-up baseball.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Possessinng Their Souls In Patience

It was a great pity that it rained so hard yesterday afternoon, as the treasuries of the Chicago and St. Louis Clubs must have suffered greatly thereby. Thousands have also disappointed that the game could not be played. The beautiful weather of the morning led base ball enthusiasts to anticipate a glorious afternoon for the sport, and the result was that nearly every reserved seat had been sold by noon; and so universal is the excitement regarding this contest that it is safe to predict that the largest crowd of the season would have been present had the rain held off. As it was, a few unfortunates, including Ticket-seller McManus, Andrus, of the Chicago club, and Meacham, of the Tribune, were imprisoned in the ticket office, and witnessed a strange transformation scene. So heavily did the rain fall that within half an hour the park had disappeared, and quite a good-sized lake took its place. Meacham enjoyed the thorough drenching which he received, as it was the first chance he had had to get cool since arriving in the city. It has been arranged that the postponed game shall take place on Monday, and ticket purchasers will have to possess their souls in patience for forty-eight hours longer. As this contest will have a great deal to do with settling the championship question, a crowd of 6,000 to 7,000 may be looked at the park to-morrow afternoon.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 20, 1876

The weather in St. Louis had been poor for the entire series and the Tribune noted that this had negatively effected the size of the crowds.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: The Most Brilliant And Most Wonderful Game On Record

And out comes the roster for Bradley's fifteenth shutout. Only Pete Alexander, in 1916, had more in a single season.

The 2,500 spectators who were present at Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon witnessed the most brilliant as well as the most wonderful base ball game on record, the Chicago White Stockings being defeated for the fourth time this season by the St. Louis Browns. The score was three to nothing, all three runs being earned. The Whites won the toss, and their opponents were sent to the bat promptly at 4 o'clock, Mr. Walker, of Cincinnati, having again been mutually agreed on as umpire, and doing much better than in the game on Tuesday.

Not an error was made until the last half of the eighth inning, when Anson was sent to first on called balls, and not a run scored until the ninth. Three errors in all were made, one by White, of Chicago, who missed a difficult foul bound in the ninth inning, which, however, cost nothing, and a similar error by Clapp in the same inning, with a like result.

The batting of the Whites in the face of Bradley's extremely effective pitching was very weak, White being the only one to make a safe hit. The batting of the Browns, on the contrary, was tolerably fair, Clapp getting in three model hits, McGeary two, and Pike, Battin and Dehlman one each. McGeary and Pike each got doubles. The game was won in the ninth inning, when the home team made its wonderful spurt at the bat. After Bradley had retired on a fly to Peters, Dehlman earned first on a fair foul just out of Anson's reach. Pike then flew out to Hines, but Clapp, McGeary and Battin gallantly came to the rescue, and by their skill and nerve brought in three earned runs, Capt. McGeary coming in for the lion's share of the enthusiastic applause, which was deafening, by his magnificent drive to left center, on which Dehlman and Clapp, by fast running, scored the winning runs.

The fielding of both teams was simply perfect, the players of each nine being compelled to face the hardest kind of balls. In the first inning a strategic piece of fielding by Barnes, Peters and Anson disposed of the side after Clapp and McGeary had earned their bases. Red-hot liners were handled with the greatest of ease by Peters, Anson and McGeary, that by the former being taken with one hand. Extraordinary stops and throws were made by Anson, McGeary and Spalding, and Anson, Battin and White captured several extremely difficult foul flies. Most of the work was done by the in-fielders on both sides, and where all did so well, it is useless to discriminate. The game was won fairly and squarely on its merits, the fine fielding of the foreigners going for naught in the face of the fine batting of their adversaries. It is safe to predict that many a long day will elapse before another such desperate struggle is witnessed on the green diamond...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 18, 1876

There's a great deal of hyperbole in the press accounts of 19th century baseball games but this was indeed a most brilliant and most wonderful game. The Globe did not exaggerate at all when describing it as such.

Only three errors in the game, one of which was a walk given up by Bradley. No score through eight innings. The Browns scoring three two-out runs in the ninth. McGeary with the big hit, "a corking drive over short" that brought in the winning run and "elicited uproarious cheering from the large crowd in attendance." Fantastic game.

Without going back and checking, this has to be the best fielded game the Browns were involved in that season. Only the three errors and, more shockingly, no unearned runs. The errors themselves were rather minor. The walk isn't something that we would even consider an error today. In the top of the ninth, "Bradley's foul bound was missed by White, but he then flew out to Peters." In the bottom of the inning, "Bielaski's foul bound escaped Clapp, but his foul fly was well held by Bradley..." So we had a walk and the two catchers each missed a putout on a foul-bound. That's about as crisply a fielded game as you're going to get in 1876.

So we have the two best teams in the League who happen to have a bit of a bitter rivalry going on, still fighting it out for the League championship and the season series, and playing baseball at the highest level. The only way this game gets any better is if St. Louis had scored their runs in the bottom of the ninth.

And we also have Bradley shutting down Chicago on a one-hitter. Chicago only had two base-runners all day. Three, if you count a fielder's choice in the fifth. "White earned first on a corker to center, but was forced at second on Hines' easy bounder to Battin, Hines himself being caught napping at first by Bradley and Dehlman." In the eighth, Bradley walked Anson to lead off the inning and he advanced to second on a fielder's choice before being stranded. Those were the only two scoring opportunities for Chicago all day.

This was a great game.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The 1876 Brown Stockings: Capturing The Chicago Giants

Four thousand delighted spectators shouted themselves hoarse at Grand Avenue Park yesterday afternoon, over the splendid display made by the Brown Stockings in the fifth game of their series with the big team from the Garden City. The Chicagos were out in full force, and their looks denoted that they were perfectly confident of winning. The game started promptly at 4 o'clock, with the Whites at the bat, and a young gentleman named Walker, from Cincinnati, in the umpire's position. He was not a success, giving great dissatisfaction in the third inning by deciding Glenn not out at second, where he had been touched by McGeary in attempting to steal. He also erred in the previous inning in giving Bielaskie out at first, and his calling of balls and strikes was erroneous in the extreme. The crowd was very indignant at the decision in Glenn's case, but as the home team more than got even in the same inning, it put the spectators in a good humor again.

Six of the nine runs scored during the game were made in the third inning, Chicago getting her two on errors by Bradley and Clapp and base hits by Peters and McVey. In this inning, after Bradley had earned first, a dropped ball by McVey, a juggle by Spalding, a square muff of Clapp's fly by Rielaskie, and a wild throw by the same player, led to the St. Louisans getting in the four runs which gave them a commanding lead, and their magnificent play in the field thereafter showed that they meant to keep it. A safe hit by Spalding and a three-bagger by Barnes, in the ninth inning, gave Chicago her third and last run. In the fourth inning a two-base hit by Bradley and another muff and wild throw by Bielaskie gave Brad. his second run; and in the sixth inning the Browns earned a run on a safe hit by Pearce and Bradley's terrific drive to extreme left field for three bags. This ended the run getting.

Spalding proved more effective than Bradley, and the Chicagos outbatted their opponents at the ratio of almost tow to one, but were in turn out-fielded, and fine fielding won the game for St. Louis, as it has on innumerable occasions. A man was unjustly sent to first on three balls, which gave Bradley an error and Clapp is charged with four-two passed balls, a wild throw, and a missed foul bound. Every other man on the nine fielded to perfection. The work done by Dehlman, Battin, McGeary and Pearce was superb, the former especially making some wonderful stops. Every ball sent to the Brown Stocking outfield was captured, neither Cuthbert, Pike nor Blong committing an error. Bielaskie, Spalding and McVey played wretchedly, on the part of the White Legs, the former doing most of the bad work.

McVey dropped two beautifully thrown balls, and Spalding made a very costly error at a critical stage of the game, when the bases were full. Peters made a bad overthrow, which, however, cost nothing, and that player subsequently redeemed himself by several bits of brilliant play. Barnes, White, Hines and Glenn acquitted themselves splendidly in the field, Jim catching throughout without an error. One-handed catches by Barnes, White and Pearce elicited great applause. The batting was fair on both sides, Bradley and Barnes especially doing great work with the stick, the former, however leading with three singles and six totals, to three and five totals by his famous rival. McVey and Hines also got two hits each. The game was without the shadow of a doubt won on its merits, the home nine after getting the lead, doing the most effective work seen here this season, and never giving their opponents a chance to make good their lost ground. The Browns have demonstrated that they can play a much stronger game at home than abroad, and it would not be at all surprising to see them again capture the Chicago giants in the sixth game of the series, which will be played to-morrow.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 16, 1876

Between August 15 and August 26, St. Louis and Chicago played six games against each other, three in St. Louis and three in Chicago. Going into the series, St. Louis was eight games behind Chicago and this was their last chance to make a race of it. Besides the first National League championship, the season series was also at stake, the two clubs having split their previous four games.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Facebook Friends With Benefits (And Spring Training Baseball)

I don't do Facebook. It's not my thing. I like Twitter and have fooled around with it a bit. I think the best thing about Twitter is that it's the best place to get real-time, unfiltered information about breaking news. If something's going down, the first thing I usually check is my Twitter feeds. Now, having said that...

My friends at the Missouri Civil War Museum have a Facebook page (if that's the right term for it). They're in the process of putting up some great photos, including a picture of a baseball club from 1910 taken in front of the building that will house the museum. It's cool stuff. If you do the Facebook thing, add them as your little Facebook friend or spend some of your hard-earned cash and become a member of MCWM. They're still in the process of rehabbing their building and getting the museum up and running so they need your help.

Also, we have real, live baseball today. I have Cards vs. Mets on the tv and Braves vs. Pirates on the computer. I missed it. I'm glad it's back. It's sunny and fifty degrees outside and it's baseball season. I'm feeling pretty happy about my life right now.

Some Thoughts On Ball-Playing In The Illinois Country, Part Five

Five thousand words later, I promise that I'm wrapping this up. Probably.

I think that there are two benefits to looking at the history of ball-playing in the Midwest within the context of the history of the Illinois Country. First, it gives us a well defined time frame and a better defined geographical framework to investigate the early history of baseball in the area. The Illinois Country defines the time frame that we should be researching. Marquette and Joliet begin their exploration of the area in 1673. Fort de Chartres is built in 1718. So we have a 150 year time frame to look at and research between the coming of the Europeans to the Illinois Country and the coming of the New York game. Geographically, it makes better sense to look at the Illinois Country, encompassing parts of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa, rather than looking at things on a state-by-state basis. Modern state borders are rather arbitrary and have little to do with the cultural units that exist in the United States. Their is a much stronger cultural relationship between St. Louis, Missouri and Cahokia, Illinois than there is between Cahokia and Chicago or St. Louis and Kansas City. The geographical boarders of the Illinois Country (even defined as loosely as they are) provide a better cultural unit to investigate than do modern states.

The second benefit to the Illinois Country construct is that it illuminates early ball-playing in St. Louis (which is kind of what I'm about here at TGOG). It helps to place pioneer St. Louis in a proper context. St. Louis, like Kaskaskia or St. Genevieve, was just a little French trading village in the Illinois Country and did not have the cultural impact on the surrounding area that it would have later in the 19th century. St. Louis was heavily influenced by the French culture of colonial Upper Louisiana as well as the Anglo-American settlements in Illinois. It's entirely possible that the Anglo-Americans introduced pre-modern baseball to St. Louis and the relationship between the communities is something that we'll have to come to grips with if we want to understand the history of 19th century baseball in St. Louis.

I'm at the beginning of this project and it's something that I'm excited about. It's going to be a long-term, on-going thing that will take a great deal of time and effort to see through. Most of what is uncovered will probably end up at Protoball and whatever the SABR Spread Project becomes, although I'm sure that I'll post some of the more interesting things that are discovered here at the blog. I'm very much interested in bringing others into this and hope that we can get some of the local historical societies involved. Anybody that's interested in the history of early baseball in the Midwest or in the pioneer society of the Illinois Country should email me at or leave a comment here at the blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts about all of this.

Basically, where we stand at this point is that I'm aware of ball-playing going on in the Illinois Country as early as the late 18th century and I believe that ball-playing was going in the Illinois Country from the time of first European settlements. These settlements didn't exist in a vacuum. They were part of a broader culture which had ball-playing as one of its features. It makes sense that the early pioneers brought this culture of ball-playing with them to the Illinois Country.

I have questions about ball-playing among the settlers of Southern Illinois. At the moment, there is little evidence suggesting ball-playing among the Southerners who settled the region until after the Yankees had settled the central part of Illinois. While I expect to find evidence of ball-playing in Southern Illinois in the 1800-1820 era, I'm thinking that the Yankees had an influence on the types of games played in Southern Illinois after 1820. Much more work needs to be done in this area and I still need to take a look at western Indiana and eastern Iowa (and Kentucky, for that matter). Where the settlers of Southern Illinois fit into the big picture at this point is still a mystery.

The influence that the Yankee settlers of central Illinois had on the area is unknown but we know that a ball-playing culture exits in central Illinois from the moment the Yankees show up. They bring not just ball games but it appears that they bring a specific form of pre-modern baseball that they called town-ball. There is no evidence suggesting that this form of pre-modern baseball was played among the French or Southern settlers of the Illinois Country. The earliest I can place pre-modern baseball in St. Louis is in the 1840s and that takes a generous interpretation of one specific source. But there are sources that place town-ball in Southern Illinois and parts of Missouri in the same period. So it's not much of a stretch to think that the Yankees brought pre-modern baseball to the Illinois Country in the 1820s and it spreads throughout the region in the next couple of decades. There is ample evidence to suggest that versions of the game were popular in the area in the 1850s.

Essentially, what I've presented here is a thin sketch of an outline tracing the development of pre-modern baseball in the Illinois Country from 1700 to the late 1850s, when the New York game found its way west. There is much work to be done fleshing out this outline and I'm certain that many of my conclusions will be reworked as more evidence comes to light. But I think we're off to a good start.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Some Thoughts On Ball-Playing In The Illinois Country, Part Four

So here I am, still prattling on about ball-playing and the Illinois Country. But at least today, we're getting to the juicy stuff.

The second wave of Anglo-American settlement of the Illinois Country occurred immediately after Illinois became a state in 1818. It took place in the central part of the state and followed the Illinois River north. In the above map, we see the extent of the spread of settlement in 1840. We see the southern settlements in the American Bottoms and Wabash River areas as well as a new population center in the Sangamon River valley that was settled largely by Yankees from New England, New York and Pennsylvania. These new settlers brought a culture of ball-playing with them.

Their are numerous accounts of pioneer life in the Illinois Country in the decades before the Civil War and many of them contain references to ball-playing. In the histories of Menard County, Mason County, Fulton County, McLean County, and Henry County, there are several references to town-ball and bull-pen as favorite pastimes. All of these counties were in the Sangamon River valley, just north and west of Springfield, Illinois. But together, they describe a lively ball-playing culture existing among the Yankee settlers of central Illinois that began in the 1820s and continued into the Civil War era.

Before I pass along a few of these references, I want to make one observation. Evidence of this ball-playing culture in central Illinois lends a great deal of credence to the Abraham Lincoln town-ball stories. It is often difficult to separate truth from myth when it comes to Lincoln and this is true when it comes to the Lincoln ball-playing stories. They are often dismissed as apocryphal and having been created in an attempt to wrap baseball in the flag. While some of that may be accurate, the fact that a vigorous ball-playing culture existed in central Illinois at the time Lincoln lived there and that the men of the community were active ball-players supports the idea that Lincoln was a ball-player. Each Lincoln ball-playing reference has to be judged on its own merits but, in general, I think it's safe to say that Lincoln, like all the men in his community, played pre-modern baseball. It would have been an aberration if he hadn't.

The evidence of an active ball-playing community exists in the county histories of central Illinois. A series of these histories were written in the 1870s and, while they are not contemporary evidence of ball-playing in the area, they do present testimony from people who had lived during the pioneer era. All the caveats about the memory of human beings apply and much more research needs to be done but the fact that there are multiple accounts describing, in similar detail, ball-playing in central Illinois in the 1820-1840 era gives weight to the evidence. I offer some of the more interesting accounts below:

The principal game among the boys was "bullpen," a kind of ball. The party was equally divided. A field was laid out with as many corners, or bases, as there were men on a side. They tossed for choice, the winners' side taking the corners, or bases, the others going into the "pen." The game was this: The men on the bases, tossing the ball from one to another as rapidly as they could, threw and struck one in the "pen" whenever they could. If one threw and struck no one, he was out; but if he struck one, the men on the bases all ran away, and if the one struck first did not throw and hit one in return, he was out; though if he did, both kept their places. So the game went on till all on the "corners" were out; the others then took the bases. This was a rough, but lively and amusing game. Those in the "pen" often had their ribs sorely battered with the ball; but many became such adepts in the art of "dodging" the ball when thrown at them, that it was almost impossible to strike them. The game was, in time, abandoned for a game called "town ball;" the present base ball being town ball reduced to a science.

-The History of Menard and Mason Counties, Illinois

Almost all sources agree that bullpen was a popular game in central Illinois during the pioneer era. A close reading of this source has town-ball growing in popularity in the 1820s.

Canton was incorporated as a town Feb. 10, 1837. Upon that day an election was held to vote for or against incorporation, resulting in the adoption of the measure by a majority of 34, there being 46 ballots cast. Immediately thereafter the following five Trustees were chosen: David Markley, Joel Wright, Thomas J. Little, William B. Cogswell and Franklin P. Offield. They held this first meeting March 27, 1837, "at Frederic Mennerts' inn..." Under by-laws adopted by this Board, revenue was to be raised by a tax on all real estate within the boundaries of the town, which, it was provided, should be assessed at its true value, and upon the assessment "an ad-valorem tax of not exceeding fifty cents on every one hundred dollars should be levied by the President and Trustees annually." Section 36 of the ordinances provided that "any person who shall on the Sabbath day play at bandy, cricket, cat, town-ball, corner-ball, over-ball, fives or any other game of ball, within the limits of the corporation, or shall engage in pitching dollars or quarters, or any other game, in any public place, shall, on conviction thereof, be fined the sum of one dollar."

-History of Fulton County, Illinois

This is a fascinating reference that gives us a catalogue of ball-games that were being played in central Illinois in the 1830s. I find it significant that one of the first things that the Board of Trustees did upon incorporation of the city was to ban ball-playing on Sundays. This speaks, I believe, to the extent of ball-playing activity in the area. If there wasn't a great deal of ball-playing going on, there would have been no need to pass a law against it. Also, the fact that town-ball is specifically mentioned, separate from a number of other ball-games, suggests that this was a specific game played in central Illinois, rather than a catch-all term used to describe any number of pre-modern ball games. I believe that Larry either has this reference up at Protoball already or it will be up after the next update.

The boys didn't play base ball in 1835. It hadn't been invented. Where I lived..., we played "town ball." There was a pitcher and catcher. We ran in a circle, and being hit by the ball was out, or the man running the bases could be "crossed out," by throwing the ball across his path ahead of him as he ran. They also played "one-old-cat" and "two-old-cat" with ball and bat.

-History of Henry County, Illinois, Volume 1

That's a nice reference to a cross out and again distinguishes between town-ball and other forms of ball games.

We played games to a finish, such as long town; town ball, which was a kind of rudimentary football; [and] shinny in cold weather to keep all warm and going...

-Educational Review: Volume XL

An interesting reference that complicates things a bit with the reference to town-ball as a type of football game but the reference to long town makes up for it. The writer is speaking about his school days in Canton, Missouri in the early 1850s. While the reference is dated a bit late for our purposes, I'm really interested in the possibility of the Anglo-American culture of ball-playing spreading to the rest of the Illinois Country. Canton was just across the river from the Sangamon River valley ball-playing area and the ball-games they were playing should have been influenced by the games played just east of the Mississippi. Also, shinny was being played in St. Louis in the 1850s so, again, we may be looking at evidence of a specific game spreading throughout the region. I'll have more to say about that tomorrow.

In the general, the point I'm trying to make today is that we see a great deal of ball-playing in the Illinois Country after the Yankees arrive in the 1820s. While there is evidence of the French and Southerners playing ball, it is nothing like what we see once the Yankees arrive. Once the Yankees settle in central Illinois, we see an explosion of ball-playing and a vibrant ball-playing culture. It appears, at this point, that we can trace the origins of baseball in the Illinois Country to the Yankees who settled central Illinois between 1820 and 1840. There was ball-playing going on in the Illinois Country prior to that but pre-modern baseball was most likely brought to the area by the Yankees.