Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The 1885 World Series: More On Game Two

The second game for the base ball championship of the United States came to an abrupt termination today. The day was bright and warm and 2000 persons assembled to see the game. The Chicagos were minus the services of Gore, their crack batsman, and the St. Louis were without Bushong, their regular catcher. In the first inning Sunday, after Dalrymple had been retired at first by Comiskey, hit safe to left, and then went to second on a passed ball. Kelly hit safe over Gleason, and Welch fumbling the ball Sunday came all the way home. Gleason led off for the Browns with a hit over Clarkson for two bases, Welch sent the ball through Williamson's legs and Barkley advanced Welch to second by sacrificing to Pfeffer. Comiskey hit to Pfeffer, who threw home to catch Gleason, but failed. Kelly threw to Pfeffer to catch Comiskey as he stole second. Pfeffer muffed the ball, and Welch came home while Comiskey went to third, and the latter scored a moment later on a passed ball.

In the second inning Pfeffer hit to right field for two bases, and came home on Nicol's muff of Burns' fly. In the fourth Robinson reached first on Burns' error. O'Neill hit to Burns, forcing Robinson at second. Then Latham hit to centre for three bases, and O'Neill came home. In the fifth both sides drew blanks, and at the commencement of the sixth inning the Browns were in the lead by 4 to 2.

Up to that time Umpire Sullivan of the regular League corps had been giving the home team a tough deal, and the crowd were ripe for a row. Sunday led off in this inning with a double over Nicol. Kelly hit to Gleason and was thrown out at first, but Sullivan, who was watching Sunday steal home, did not see the play at first and refused to declare Kelly out. There was a great to-do in consequence. Play was suspended for full fifteen minutes and Captain Comiskey threatened to withdraw his nine from the field. He was at last induced to go on with the game. Kelly held his place at first, went to second on a wild pitch and came home with the tie run on Anson's hit to centre. Pfeffer hit an easy fly to right, which Nicol muffed, but Anson was forced out at second. Pfeffer stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Williamson was at the bat, and the Chicago's prospects of securing another and leading run were excellent. Williamson hit the ball on the ground in such a way that it first rolled foul and then curved around into fair ground. Comiskey fielded the ball on fair ground and threw it to Barkley, who had covered first. Williamson beat the ball to the bag by at least five feet, and Pfeffer scored on the stroke, but Comiskey claimed that the ball Williamson hit was foul, and that Sullivan had shouted foul, and he asserted that unless the umpire called it foul he would quit the field. Sullivan at first said that Comiskey was right, and that Williamson would have to go back to the bat, but when the Chicagos kicked he changed his mind. Before the controversy ended the crowd had jumped from the grand stand and had taken possession of the field. Several persons made for the umpire, but he was taken care of by the police. In the midst of the uproar both sides left the field.

Tonight the Chicagos are claiming the game by a score of 9 to 0, on the ground that the St. Louis left the field, while St. Louis deny that they left the field, and claim they were simply forced off by the crowd. Umpire Sullivan left the grounds with the Chicagos. At the hotel tonight Sullivan gave the game to Chicago by a score of 9 to 0. Tomorrow's game will be played with some local man umpiring.
-Boston Daily Globe, October 16, 1885

The Boston Globe's account of the game differs significantly from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat's. The Boston paper claims that Comiskey did not take his team off the field until after the crowd took the field and that the White Stockings also left the field at the same time. The St. Louis paper stated that Comiskey took his team off the field first, at which time the crowd stormed the field. Only then did the Chicago club leave the field. The Boston paper also states that the decision to award the game to Chicago by forfeit was not made until later in the evening.

While the Boston account seems to absolve Comiskey of some of the blame that the St. Louis Globe-Democrat assigned to him, the forfeit still seems to have been awarded correctly. Regardless of whether Comiskey pulled his club off the field or the St. Louis crowd put an end to the game by storming the field, the game was rightly given to Chicago by forfeit. Game two of the series is rightly counted as a Chicago victory.

Jon David Cash writes about the game in Before They Were Cardinals:

...while bickering ballplayers from each side swarmed the umpire to offer their own perspectives on the play, the [Chicago] Tribune reported that "about two hundred men" left their seats and stormed the field with intentions to do bodily harm to Sullivan. Amidst the subsequent pandemonium, Sportsman's Park security personnel whisked Sullivan off the field to an awaiting carriage, the White Stockings armed themselves with their baseball bats to fend off the uncontrolled mob, and the Browns left the ballpark.

The question of precisely when the Browns departed the diamond later took on increased importance. Sullivan, from the safety of the Lindell Hotel, ruled the game forfeited to Chicago on the basis that Comiskey had pulled his men from the field of play. The Browns raised two objections: they had not left the field prematurely, but had exited with the White Stockings when both teams simultaneously were forced off by the rampaging spectators; and the declaration of a forfeit was invalid because Sullivan did not issue it on the playing site as required by the rules, but waited instead until he was ensconced at his hotel. Ironically, a Chicago newspaper offered a time sequence supportive of the Browns' version of events. The Tribune noted that "the spectators and players walked off the field in a bunch," thereby lending credence to the Browns' claim that they had been "forced off by the crowd." In another surprise, however, three St. Louis newspapers concurred with Sullivan's opinion that Comiskey pulled the Browns off the field before the fans rushed onto the diamond. These St. Louis newspapers differed only in how they assessed the propriety of Comiskey's actions.

Cash, while noting the contradictions in the various newspaper accounts, does take Comiskey to task for his actions in game two. Quoting Francis Richter and Joe Ellick on the abuse that umpires of this era were subject too, he writes that "Comiskey, still fuming over Sullivan's earlier mistakes and angry at himself for not hastily fielding Williamson's grounder, had provoked hundreds of St. Louis fans into attempting an assault upon the suddenly endangered umpire."

I'll post the Chicago Tribune's account of the game tomorrow and I'll try to sort out all of my thinking of this game before we more on to game three.

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