Thursday, August 5, 2010

The 1885 World Series: The Very Entertaining Tribune Account Of Game Two

The second game for the championship of the world between the Chicago and St. Louis clubs today broke up at the end of the sixth inning in a disgraceful row which almost culminated in a riot. The umpire narrowly escaped mobbing and for a time the feeling was so intense that the mob were on the point of laying violent hands on Kelly and Anson of Chicago...Sullivan, the umpire, had given several close decisions against St. Louis, and was subjected to considerable abuse from the crowd. Sunday opened the sixth by a terrible drive over Nichol's head and reached second. He reached third on a wild pitch while Kelly was sawing wind at the plate. Kelly finally got on to the sphere and landed it in Gleason's hands. As Gleason threw the ball to first Sunday started for home and this play attracted the attention of Umpire Sullivan, and he did not see the play at first. The ball beat Kelly to the base [by] at least ten feet, but Sunday scored. The umpire, to the surprise and indignation of the crowd, declared Kelly safe...Play was suspended and all the players gathered around Anson, Commiskey, and the umpire, who were quarreling in a disgraceful manner. Commiskey threatened to take his men from the field, and was told by Sullivan that if he did the game would be given to Chicago. After the umpire had called play at least a dozen times without any notice being taken of it he finally gave the two Captains just two minutes to get their men in position. This had the desired effect, and amid curses and jeers play was again resumed. Anson took up his favorite bat and hit safe in centre, and Kelly, who had meantime stolen a base, came home and tied the score. Pfeffer hit a fly back of first base, which Nichol dropped but fielded the ball to second and forced Anson. Williamson danced around the plate for five minutes, during which time Kelly went to third on a passed ball. The big third baseman at last hit the ball and it struck outside the foul-line, but curved in on fair ground. Commiskey gathered it in and fielded the ball quickly to first base, which was covered by Burkley. Williamson, however, beat the ball to the base and Sunday came in. Commiskey claimed the ball was foul, and the umpire at first agreed with him and told Williamson he would have to come back. Then Anson and Kelly came to the front and in a few minutes convinced the umpire that the ball was fair. The players had by this time again congregated around the umpire another scene occurred. The crowd could not be controlled, and about 200 men jumped into the field and made for Sullivan. He would have been handled roughly but for the police. When this demonstration was made nearly all the male spectators in the grand stand jumped into the field and took sides in the trouble. The Chicago men seized their bats and held their ground, but the umpire was escorted from the field by the police. The spectators and players walked off the field in a bunch, and now the Chicago men claim the game by a score of 9 to 0 because the Browns left the field. The latter claim that they did not leave the field before the Chicago men and did not leave at all, but were forced off by the crowd. Sullivan was seen tonight by your correspondent and said that Anson called foul when Williamson hit and not him. He decided the game after he reached the hotel 9 to 0 in favor of Chicago. Commiskey says that this can't be done: that the home game had to be decided in the field. Sullivan will not umpire tomorrow and the St. Louis men will contest the game.
-Chicago Daily Tribune, October 16, 1885

I gave you three different newspaper accounts of game two of the 1885 World Series (along with Jon David Cash's version) and nobody can agree on what happened. That's not exactly unusual but I think it does speak to the chaos that broke out in the sixth inning. While Sullivan certainly lost control of the game and the Browns may or may not have left the field in protest, the biggest factor in the forfeit has to be the actions of the crowd. It doesn't matter what rule is used to decide fair and foul; it doesn't matter that Sullivan had botched some calls; it doesn't matter if Comiskey pulled his men off the field, if the Browns left the field at the same time as the White Stockings or if they fled the field in fear for their safety. It doesn't even matter what rules Sullivan used to declare the forfeit or if his declaration of a forfeit was correct within the confines of the rules. It doesn't matter because the St. Louis fans stormed the field in protest of an umpires decision and broke up the game. Putting aside the details and the legalities, the rules of common sense declare that the game is forfeited to Chicago.

St. Louis would try to claim this series based on their argument that the forfeit didn't count and this argument was aided, in part, by certain members of the White Stockings. I'll get to all that eventually but the argument was specious. The first game of the series was called due to darkness and was counted as a tie. The second game was broken up by a mob of St. Louis fans and forfeited to Chicago. After two games, regardless of all argument, the Chicago led the series 1-0-1.

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