Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Game Four

At least 12,000 people were at Sportsman's Park yesterday afternoon to witness the fourth game between the Browns and the Chicagos for the championship of the world. It was the most exciting game of the series played thus far. It was also one of unusual interest and import for capt, had the Chicagos won it, their chances for capturing the championship and the gate receipts would have been decidedly favorable. On the other hand, had the Browns not won they would have lost heart and confidence, and with such a big lead staring them in the face would have undoubtedly succumbed to their opponents without resistance. The result of yesterday's game was not altogether a surprise. The Browns were seen to have a slight advantage over the Chicagos, and the betting was accordingly regulated that way; $20 to $15 being the latest odds before the game. The Chicago management announced Wednesday that they would pitch Flynn yesterday. Probably because they thought that his curves might be batted rather freely, but possibly for the reason that Clarkson, like Caruthers, was anxious to have his name heralded through the country as having pitched two winning games on two succeeding days, the position in the box was, therefore, filled by Clarkson. The latter's work yesterday, or Caruthers' on Wednesday, plainly demonstrated that no pitcher can appear against a team that is equally matched with his own, two successive games, with any satisfactory results.

But one more hit was made off Clarkson yesterday than the Chicagos made off Foutz, but the latter's wildness and inability to control the ball properly at the most critical times lost the game for his club. The long hits were also equally divided. Three-baggers were made by O'Neil and Dalrymple, and doubles by Foutz and Burns. O'Neil's hit should have been a home run, but by a poor decision on the part of Umpire Quest he was put out at the plate. Foutz started out to pitch in precisely the same manner as Caruthers did Wednesday, and the chances for the home club's winning were decidedly blue. When the Chicagos had got three men in and Browns were unable to score a single run, the League club, of course, was the favorite in the betting and the Browns' backers hedged out all they possibly could at odds of 2 to 1. When the Browns were just two runs behind, however, at the end of the third inning the home club's stock took a decided rise, and even money was obtainable. When the Browns, in the fifth inning, took the lead by two runs there was a scene at the park that has never been equaled on similar occasions in the past. The yelling, hand-clapping and cheering, which made a deafening roar of applause, lasted for fully five minutes. Hats, canes and umbrellas were thrown in the air, men shook hands and embraced each other and the ladies showed their delight by waving their handkerchiefs. The game was stopped until the demonstration was over. When in the sixth inning, however, the Chicagos tied the score there was scarcely a ripple of applause, which showed very plainly that the visitors had but few admirers in the vast audience. In the same inning, though, when the Browns run three men across the plate, and made it a sure victory, there was a scene similar to that which marked the fifth. Both teams fielded in a remarkably fine style, brilliant catches being made by Ryan and Gore for the Chicagos, and Welch, O'Neil and Caruthers for the Browns. Four errors were made on each side.

It was 3:15 before the game was called. Under American Association rules Capt. Comiskey had the choice about taking ins or outs. He chose the field. Joe Quest, of the League staff, was drawn as the umpire. Foutz's work in the opening inning was anything but encouraging. Gore was the first batter, and after two strikes and four balls had been called on him, he made a safe ground hit to right good for only a single. Kelly then stepped into the batter's box. Foutz was unable to get the ball over the plate, and Mike was sent to his base on balls. Capt. Anson was the next man to handle the stick. After two strikes had been called he knocked the ball with great force between short and third. Gleason made a dive for it, and succeeded in getting it up, but could not throw to first in time to put Anson out, the ball reaching there but an instant later. This filled the bases, and with no one out the crowd and the Browns knew that it would be impossible to prevent scoring, but did not expect to see Foutz, who is usually so reliable, send Pfeffer to base on balls and force Gore across the plate with a run, as he did in this case. Dave worked hard to get them in over the plate, but could not do so. He sent in an easy one to Williamson, the next batter, who knocked a long high fly to right. Caruthers caught it safely, but Kelly, who was on third, scored before it could be thrown in to cut him off. Pfeffer started to steal down to second and Bushong threw down to Robinson to catch him, while Anson, who was on third, started for home. Robinson, in attempt to make a quick return of the ball to the plate, threw wildly, Anson scoring in safety and Pfeffer reaching third on the error. The latter was left, however, by Burns' foul fly to Comiskey and Ryan's out from short to first.

For the Browns Latham, after bunting the ball several times, finally struck out. Caruthers knocked a long fly to right which was captured by Ryan after a long run. O'Neil went out from short to first. Dalrymple opened the second with a fly to Caruthers and Clarkson went out from short to first. Gore got to first on Latham's fumble of his grounder to third, but Kelly's out from Foutz to Comiskey retired the side. The Browns secured their first run in this inning. Gleason led off with a slow grounder to second. Pfeffer fumbled it and Gleason got safe. Comiskey reached first in precisely the same manner, and, but for Pfeffer's blunder, a double play might have been made. Welch's grounder to Williamson forced Comiskey out at second, but sent Gleason along to third. Foutz then came to the bat, and about the third ball that Clarkson delivered the tall pitcher was sent whizzing out to the left field for two bases, Gleason of course scoring on the hit. Robinson succeeded in getting his base on balls, but Bushong's fly to Yore left him. The Chicagos were unable to score in the third. Anson was retired from second to first. Pfeffer went out on a foul tip to Bushong, and Williamson was sent to first on balls. Burns followed with a neat two-bagger. Neither base-runner, however, could get in, as Ryan's out from Foutz to first made the third one. The Browns got in another run in their half of the inning, Latham was the first batter. He successfully fouled no less than ten balls, had five balls called and but one strike, when a scarcely audible foul tip to Kelly retired him. Williamson fumbled Caruthers' grounder to short, letting Bobby to first safely. O'Neil, the heavy slugger, was the next man to face the pitcher. He knocked the ball with tremendous force to right. He started to make the circuit of the bases. He passed third in safety, and started on home and reached there certainly as quick as, if not before, the ball did, but Quest declared him out. Caruthers, of course, had come in. Gleason went out from pitcher to first, ending the inning.

Foutz struck out Dalrymple, the first man to bat in the fourth inning. Clarkson knocked a short high fly to Robinson at second. Gore was retired on a fly to O'Neil. The Browns also went out in quick order. Comiskey was thrown out at first on his grounder to Pfeffer, Welch fouled out to the catcher, and Foutz knocked a long fly to Ryan. The next inning, the [fifth], the Chicagos were again retired on easy plays. Kelly struck out. Anson got his base on balls and stole second. He got no further, though, as Pfeffer's fly to Caruthers and Williamson's grounder Comiskey made the three outs. The home club came to the bat and secured their three runs. Robinson was the first batter. His hot grounder to third was stopped in fine style by Burns and thrown to first in plenty of time to put Robby out. Bushong got first on bad balls and Latham hit safely. Bushong was advanced to third on Caruthers' sacrifice to Ryan. Then followed a most insignificant and contemptible play on the part of the Chicagos. As O'Neil came up to bat kelly walked up to Clarkson and whispered something in the latter's ear. As soon as Clarkson pitched the first ball Kelly's secret became known. He had instructed Clarkson not to give O'Neil a chance to hit the ball, but to give him his base, and it was speedily done. Kelly stepped at least five feet to the right from his regular position, and Clarkson commenced to toss the ball to him. The sphere, of course, didn't come near O'Neil, and the batter trotted to first after the six balls had been thrown in. This filled the bases. Two men were already out, and nothing but a hit or an error would bring in a run. Gleason was the batter upon whom so much depended. The game was to be won or lost right here.

As Gleason stepped up to the plate there was a marked stillness, both on the part of the spectators and the players. Even Latham became silent. Gleason struck at two balls, but without success, and all hopes of getting in any runs were abandoned. The next ball that was pitched Gleason hit squarely and drove it between second short to a safe place in the field. Bushong and Latham scored, and O'Neil got around to third base. Comiskey, the next man, knocked the ball to almost exactly the same territory as Gleason. The hit brought O'Neil in. The side was finally retired by Welch, who fouled out to Kelly. Gleason, for his good work, received a great ovation. Several pool tickets, amounting to over $100, were thrown at him from admiring spectators. Bushong also was presented with some. When the Chicagos retired in the sixth the score was tied. Burns led off with a hit to left, but he was forced out at second by Ryan. The latter scored on Dalrymple's drive to the right field seats for three bases. A safe hit to the right by Clarkson brought Dalrymple in. Gore went out on a fly to Welch, and Kelly from third to first. It was in this inning that the Browns won the game. Foutz made a rather bad opening by striking out, Robinson got his base on balls, and was advanced to second on a safe hit by Bushong. Robinson successfully stole third. Latham also was given first on six balls, filling the bases. Caruthers knocked a short fly to Pfeffer, which the latter purposely muffed, forcing everybody to run. Robinson and Bushong got in safely. Latham, however was thrown out at third. O'Neil again got his base on balls, but Clarkson this time tried hard to pitch them over the plate. Gleason again was the batsman at a critical time, and again he showed his reliability by knocking the sphere safely to center, sending Caruthers safely across the plate. Comiskey's fly to Burns finished the inning. It was now quite dark, but the Chicagos insisted on playing, and opened the seventh inning. They were retired in order on easy plays. As the Browns were making their way to the dressing-rooms a large crowd gathered around them and carried a number of the players on their backs off the ground.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 22, 1886

Where to begin?

-This was a rather poorly edited article and is a bit difficult to follow in places but I pretty much left everything as is except for one edit, fixing the confusion about whether the writer was talking about the fifth or sixth inning.

-The Globe contends that there were 12,000 people at the game and that seems a bit high. The Tribune, who's account of the game I'll post tomorrow, has the crowd at 8,000. Regardless of the exact number, it was a big crowd.

-The use of the intentional walk is reasonably rare in this era. It wasn't something new or unique but this was probably the first big moment when the strategy was employed. Peter Morris wrote in A Game of Inches that O'Neil was intentionally walked twice in this game but I don't see any evidence of a second intentional walk. Morris has the Globe's account of the game so there may be another source out there that mentions the second walk as being intentional. I don't know.

-I loved the Globe's description of the reaction of the crowd and I particularly loved the crowd throwing pool tickets at the players. Very nice. The Trib has a different take on the behavior of the crowd, as you'll see tomorrow.

-Best line in the article: "Even Latham became silent."


Richard Hershberger said...

Was Sportsman's Park capable of physically containing 12,000 people? I don't know the details of the park, but I have my doubts. This number implies extensive grandstand and bleacher construction. Off the top of my head, I believe it for Chicago and Boston, but am skeptical in general for this period.

On a related note, I have been reading recently about crowd estimates in the context of political rallies. The upshot is even disinterested observers tend to overestimate crowd sizes, as compared with careful analysis of aerial photographs.

There was a series of games in the 1860s between the Athletics of Philadelphia and the Atlantics of Brooklyn. Press estimates of crowd sizes went as high as 20,000. This is obvious nonsense, and I suspect not intended seriously even at the time. I take is as meaning it was a big deal with a lot of people.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

There's no way there was 12,000 seats and I don't think you could've gotten 12,000 bodies in Sportsman's Park without a massive spillover onto the field, which the game accounts don't mention. Off the top of my head, I think this is the largest crowd estimate that I've ever seen for a 19th century St. Louis baseball game and it just seems unrealistic. Other sources have it at 8,000 and 10,000. I would bet that it was much closer to 8k than to 10k or 12k. But the main point is that it was a very large, rambunctious crowd. The Browns, according to the best data that we have, was leading the AA in attendance during this era and several times led the AA and the NL in attendance. The club was popular and drawing great crowds. But I doubt they were craming 12k into Sportsman's Park.

As to estimating the size of crowds, I'm actually rather good at it. I can usually guess the size of the crowd at a Cardinals or Blues game within a couple of thousand. Maybe I should offer my skilld to the National Park Service when they have big political rallies in Washington. I'll guarantee my numbers within a margin of error of +/- 5%.

Something else just occured to me when you wrote that the crowd estimate for the Athletics/Atlantics game was only meant to indicate a large crowd or large interest in the game. That's how numbers are used in the Bible. When they talk about 10,000 of this or 5,000 or that, the number itself isn't that important (or necessarily meant to be accurate) but only indicates a large quantity of something. Any number with several zeros should be understood as simply meaning "a lot." Taking the attendance numbers that way, they could say the crowd was 12,000 or 120,000 or 1,200,000 and it still would mean the same thing: there were a lot of people at the ballpark.