Monday, August 30, 2010

The 1886 World Series: An Ode To Poor Old St. Louis

St. Louis came down like a wolf on the fold,
And their pockets were filled up with greenbacks and gold.
They told us great tales, amid smiles and frowns;
They bet all their greenbacks, and swore by the Browns;
But a basket of goose-eggs they got for their share.
For Williamson, Kelly, and Anson were there.
Three-baggers, two-baggers, and Latham take care;
For the Browns may play ball in a country town well,
But the Kings of the League you'll find, Latham, are--well.
-The Daily Inter Ocean, October 19, 1886

Now there's a bit of doggerel for you. To add insult to injury, the Inter Ocean went on to write the following:

Last evening a young man brought to the office...the following challenge, which the visiting club may wish to consider:

Mr. Editor-I, as manager of the Bootblack Base Ball Club, challenge the St. Louis club, better known as the Browns, for a series of games to be played here for all the money they can get.

E. Ward, Manager,
Bootblacks' Base Ball Club


Richard Hershberger said...

Not doggerel: parody. The original is The Destruction of Sennacherib by Byron, taken from 2 Kings 18-19, and begins:

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

There is a minor tradition of sports parodies of this poem. In 1878, following the defeat of Marylebone Cricket Club by an Australian team, including an uninspired performance by W.G. Grace, Punch published:

The Australians came down like a wolf on the fold,
The Marylebone cracks for a trifle were bowled;
Our Grace before dinner was very soon done,
And Grace after dinner did not get a run.

The Inter-Ocean version is actually a more faithful parody, as it maintains the dramatic form of the attacker coming down like a wolf getting its comeupance.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Very nice. I have to admit it's been some time since I've read Byron. Never really one of my favorites. I'm more partial to Dickinson and Blake.

But while the poem is parody, it's still doggerel. That last rhyme made me cringe.

David Ball said...

In all fairness, Byron and even the Punch writer were not working on a deadline nearly as tight as that of the Inter Ocean man. But, yeah, rhyming "well" with "well" is lame to the extreme. And the challenge from a team of bootblacks is not exactly the freshest idea I've seen.