Tuesday, May 4, 2010

They Just Can't Let It Go

The St. Louis Browns do not relish the idea of being swindled out of second place in the championship race, and the following protest, which explains itself, signed by the Secretary of the St. Louis club, will be presented to the Directors of the League for consideration in December:

St. Louis, Mo., November 16, 1876-To the Board of Directors of the National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs: Gentlemen-The St. Louis Base Ball Club of St. Louis, Mo., respectfully presents this, its complaint and claim, against the Mutual Base Ball Club of Brooklyn, New York, and says:

1. That said St. Louis club has faithfully complied with all requirements of the Constitution of the National League, especially with so much thereof as is embraced in section 2 of article xii, and more particularly that during the season of 1876 it played five championship games with said Mutual Club on the grounds of said club in Brooklyn, N.Y., as follows:

The first on the 23rd day of May; the second on the 25th day of May; the third on the 27th day of May; the fourth on the 5th day of September; the fifth on the 6th day of September.

2. That said Mutual Club, during said season, played two championship games with the St. Louis Club, on the grounds of the latter, in St. Louis, MO., as follows: The first on the 27th day of June, and the second on the 29th day of June, and that these seven games were all the games played by said clubs with each other during said season.

3. That by the terms of said section 2 of article xii, said St. Louis club was entitled to have five games played upon its grounds by said Mutual Club, so that three games are still due from said Mutual club to said St. Louis Club, and playable on the grounds of the latter.

4. That when the last game was played, viz: in Brooklyn, N.Y., on the 6th day of September, the St. Louis club then and there required, and was by the Constitution entitled to require, and expect the said Mutual club to play the remaining three games on the grounds of the St. Louis club within a reasonable time, not exceeding two months; that more than two months have elapsed up to and including the 15th day of November, on which last mentioned day the playing season closed, so that it is now impossible to play said games; that the St. Louis Club, ever since the 6th day of September and up to the close of the playing season, offered every facility to the Mutual Club to play said games; and, in addition also guaranteed said Mutual Club a sum of money sufficient to cover its traveling and other expenses if it would come to St. Louis and play said games, but the Mutual Club wholly failed and refused to play said games.

Wherefore, the St. Louis Club claims that, under the provisions of said section 2 of article xii, it is entitled to and should be allowed a forfeiture of said three games from said Mutual Club, and prays the Board to decree that said three games are forfeited to the St. Louis Club by a score, each, of 9 runs to 0, and that they shall be counted in favor of the St. Louis Club as three games won in the championship season of 1876.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 19, 1876

I think that the Browns had a reasonable argument and a fair claim to the three games against the Mutuals. But, at the end of the day, this was a fight over second place and that just doesn't get the blood boiling.


David Ball said...

I've lost track now, who is this directed against? Who was saying St. Louis shouldn't have second place?

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I would have to believe that it's technically directed at the League. The Browns, and the Globe, believed that they were being jobbed out of second place because, while they had a higher winning percentage than Hartford, they had fewer wins than the Blues. The Blues, with more wins, were second and StL was third. However, the problem is that Hartford played more games than StL because of the Phil/NY situation. The Browns beleived, and they were proved right in the long run, that they should be awarded their unplayed Phil/NY games as a forfeit and therefore would have more wins and a higher winning percentage than Hartford. They were arguing that the League should award them the forfeits and second place.

Even though this was done and the official League standings for 1876 have StL in second, go to B-Ref and check the 1876 standings. They have Hartford in second over StL and don't have the forfeits as part of the record. So I guess you can say that the argument was also unsuccessfully directed at history. The final standings, with the forfeits, that was published at the League meeting in December 1876 (which I'm posting sometime this week) is substantially different than the one at B-Ref.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Of course, in the end, it's not all that important. StL has and had a serious inferiority complex, especially when it comes to Chicago, and these kind of slights are not taken lightly. The Globe was trying all kind of rhetorical arguments to make up for the fact that the Browns finished six games back (although after all the forfeits were counted, it was only a five and a half game deficit). They won the series against Chicago, they won all the series against all their opponents, they should be awarded the forfeits, Chicago used a lively ball, etc. It's a loser's argument. Who gets this worked up over second place?

David Ball said...

I think I didn't read closely enough. I took this as an appeal against an unfavorable decision that hadn't been made, when on closer inspection it seems to be just a pro forma document that had to be filed to get credit for the unplayed games. It's only the Globe-Democrat that adds the comment about being "swindled," and that word is probably aimed at the Mutuals, not the League itself, as I thought.

It does seem tough on Hartford, though, that they should be the ones effectively to suffer a penalty as punishment for the Mutuals' failure to play out their schedule.