Monday, April 26, 2010

An Argument Among Losers

Every one who takes an interest in the national game will be pleased to learn that the little job put up by the Mutuals and Hartfords, to beat the St. Louis Brown Stockings out of their proper place in the race for the championship, is not likely to succeed. In an interview with Mr. Fowle, Secretary of the St. Louis club, last night, that gentlemen stated that the Browns intended to claim forfeit from the Athletics and Mutuals in each of the unplayed games of their series. It will be seen by the following extracts from the League's Constitution, that the claim is a perfectly valid one.

Art. 12, Sec. 2. Each club shall be entitled to have five of its games with every other club played on its own grounds; and when a club shall have first played one or more games, pursuant to agreement, upon its adversary's grounds it may require its adversary to play an equal number upon its own ground in return within a reasonable time (not to exceed two months), under penalty of forfeiture of the number of games due: Provided, however, That if any game arranged according to the requirements of this rule be prevented by rain, or if a tie or drawn game be played, the visiting club shall not be required to extend its stay, or to again visit such city for the sole purpose of playing off such tie or drawn game, or game prevented by rain.

Sec. 3. Clubs shall be entitled to forfeited games-to count in their series as games won by a score of nine runs to none-from other clubs, in the following instances, namely:

Any club which has agreed to play with another club upon a day certain, and fails to meet its engagement, shall forfeit the game to the latter club, unless the failure is caused by an unavoidable accident in traveling, or the game is prevented by rain; provided, however, that games shall be postponed upon the death of a player belonging to either of the contesting League clubs, as the request of either club.

It is true that section one of the same article states that each club entering the lists shall play ten games with every other club so entering; and if any club shall of its own fault fail to finish its series with every other club, its games shall not be counted at the close of the season, and such club shall not be eligible to enter the championship lists the ensuing season.

The words in italics, Mr. Fowle claims, crept into the constitution by mistake, but even then they have no bearing on the case in point, as the second section expressly stipulates that any club which fails to fulfill its engagements shall forfeit the number of games due.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 15, 1876

The situation is this: Hartford and St. Louis both finished six games back of Chicago. St. Louis had the better winning percentage but Hartford was awarded second place due to the fact that they had two more wins than the Brown Stockings. St. Louis was not pleased, especially considering that the Brown Stockings won the season series against Hartford and that if St. Louis had gotten to play a full schedule, they most likely would have finished with more wins than Hartford.

It's a bit of a mess but Brown Stockings' management believed that they had the League constitution on their side and that St. Louis had rightfully won second place. However, I can't claim that I can work up much enthusiasm regarding a fight over second place. Maybe if there was money at stake...

Anyway, I'm just noting that this was an issue and moving on with my life.

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