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..."


David Ball said...

Jeff, it's fewer than 36 base runners, because not every error puts a runner on base. The nine passed balls and wild pitches counted as an error by the scoring methods of the day. So did the base on ball, which of course did put a runner on base but is double-counted as you're doing it.

The box score gives Chicago six LOB to go with twelves runs, and they probably had a few runners thrown out on the bases, so something like twenty base runners is probably about right.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Of course you're right. Good eye. This is why I'm not a sabermetrician.