Sunday, October 31, 2010

Latham's Second Divorce

Ella Latham commenced a suit to obtain a divorce from Walter A. Latham, the base-ball player, whom she married June 14, 1886, and with whom she lived until May 12 last. She alleges that he has beaten her on divers occasions; has called her foul and vile names and has failed to support her. The proceeding is not Mr. Latham's first divorce experience. He obtained a divorce from his former wife before Judge Horner in the latter part of 1885. He alleged desertion, and his wife filed an answer alleging all kinds of indignities. She, however, withdrew her answer and allowed a divorce to be granted against her by default, she being awarded the custody of the only child.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 18, 1887

I guess it's safe to say that Latham had some problems with women.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Too Good Not To Pass Along

The captain and center-fielder of an Aurora base-ball club is a boy, both of whose legs are off at the thighs. He has a boy to run bases for him, and he does his centre-fielding in an invalid's chair, and catches a good many flies.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 16, 1887

I have no problems with having a guy with no legs on my baseball team. I just don't know if I'd want him in center.

And from the same issue of the Globe:

Excessive cigarette smoking causes Leitner and Shreve's wildness.

As a smoker, I can state with certainty that smoking does not cause a pitcher to lose his control. Although it may explain some of Ted Simmons' throws to second base.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Handle The Men

This morning Manager Von der Ahe held a private consultation with Gleason, the short stop of the team, and informed him that he was going to New York, and that he should handle the men. Von der Ahe's visit to the metropolis is understood to be for the purpose of settling the Cuban Giant affair. The club was to have played this aggregation at West Farm on Sunday, but failed to fulfill their engagement because the players entered a protest against playing with colored people and declined to visit West Farm. Von der Ahe, from all accounts, does not favor a suit, which is threatened, and wants to amicably adjust matters.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 14, 1887

Just one more thing and I'm going to let this go and get back to the 1887 series.

I think the Globe did a poor job of covering "the Cuban Giant affair." When compared to their coverage of the fixing scandals of 1877, they were rather lax in covering what, in retrospect, turned out to be a rather significant event in the history of baseball. I think they did a decent job in reporting the event itself but, once that was done, they basically let the matter drop. The event was only mentioned in passing a few times after that. There was no follow-through and they basically gave the players a free pass on their actions. I would very much liked to have heard from the players themselves. But we didn't get that from the Globe. They mentioned the International League and a few individual black players but I would have liked to have seen the Browns' decision put into a contemporary context.

I know this is unfair but imagine if this had happened today. Pick a team. Pick a group of people that they refuse to play against for racial or political reasons. Add the instantaneous media. Stir. How long would we be hearing about it? That story would get covered from every angle possible until we were sick of it. But this is a different day and age and you can't hold the 1887 Globe to the standards of the modern media.

My point, I guess, is that there are a lot of unanswered questions pertaining to this story and the Globe was remiss in not pressing those questions.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Browns Refuse To Play

For the first time in the history of base-ball the color line has been drawn, the the "World's Champions," the St. Louis Browns, are the men who have established the precedent that white players must not play with colored men. There have been little dissensions before, but only about a player here and there. The Browns were in open revolt last night. There are times when even the well oiled machinery of so well disciplined a club does not work smoothly, and one of these times seems to have struck the St. Louis club. Some time ago President Von der Ahe arranged for his club to play an exhibition game at West Farms, near New York, with the Cuban Giants, the noted colored club. He was promised a big guarantee, and it was expected that fully 15,000 persons would be present. The game was to have been played to-day, and President Von der Ahe yesterday purchased railroad tickets for all his players and made all the arrangements for the trip. While he was at supper at the Continental Hotel last evening, thinking over the misfortune that had befallen Capt. Comiskey, he was approached by "Tip" O'Neil, the heavy-slugging left fielder, who laid a letter on the table and then hastily slipped out of the room.

The letter read as follows:

Philadelphia, September 10, 1887.-Chris Von der Ahe, Esq.: Dear Sir-We, the undersigned members of the St. Louis Base-ball Club, do not agree to play against negroes to-morrow. We will cheerfully play against white people at any time, and think by refusing to play we are only doing what is right, taking everything into consideration and the shape the team is in at present. Signed-W.A. Latham, John Boyle, J.E. O'Neil, R.L. Caruthers, W. Gleason, W.H. Robinson, Chas. King and Curt Welch.

President Von der Ahe did not wait to finish his meal. He left the table hastily and went down-stairs into the corridor, where he found the players talking in a group. The sudden appearance of their manager in their midst surprised the players, who acted like a ship's crew about to mutiny. When Von der Ahe asked the meaning of the letter he had just received nobody answered him. "Yank" Robinson hung his head and sneaked to the rear of the crowd. "Silver" King opened his mouth, but his tongue refused to move; and even Arlie Latham, whose jaws are always going, could not get out a world. Receiving no reply, President Von der Ahe said, quietly: "As it seems to be a matter of principle with you, you need not play to-morrow."

President Von der Ahe said to a Globe-Democrat reporter to-night: "I am very sorry to have disappointed the people at West Farm to-day, as I always fulfill my engagements. I was surprised at the action of my men, especially as they knew a week ago that the game was arranged, and yet they waited until the very last minute before they notified me of their opposition."

The St. Louis players were not disposed to talk of their action. Latham, Boyle and O'Neill were the leaders, it is said, and they had considerable trouble in securing the signatures of some of the men. Capt. Comiskey did not know anything about the matter, and Knouff refused to sign the letter. They had played with the Cuban Giants once before last season, and they seemed to enjoy it better than a contest with white players. Curtis Welch, the center fielder, played with the Toledo club when Walker, the colored player, was a member of the team.

"I think some of the boys wanted a day to themselves," said Capt. Comiskey. "They have played against colored clubs before without a murmer, and I think they are sorry for their hasty action already."

The Cuban Giants were originally organized at Trenton about two years ago as an independent club. This season they have been located at various places in close proximity to New York. They are good players, and the team has made money. They have played games with the Chicagos, Indianapolis, Detroits, Louisvilles, Athletics and other prominent clubs, and this is the first time that any club has refused to play with them on account of their color. The International League recently adopted a resolution prohibiting the employment of colored players by its clubs. This was caused by opposition from the players, who objected to playing with the colored Second Baseman Grant, of the Buffalo club, and colored Pitcher Stovey, of the Newark club.

The injury sustained by Capt. Comiskey in yesterday's game with the Athletics is even more serious than at first supposed. He had his broken thumb reset to-day, and the surgeon said he would not be able to go on the ball-field for a month. Comiskey and Secretary George Munson left for St. Louis to-night. The captain of the champions said he expected to stay in St. Louis until the team started for California, though if possible he hoped to be able to take part in the series for the world's championship at the close of the present season. Von der Ahe said to-day he would rather have lost $1000 than had this misfortune occur.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 12, 1887

A few notes before I get to what's bothering me about this whole thing:

-There's nothing really new here. I've posted accounts of this incident from other sources and most of the information is similar. I think the only real difference is that the Globe has a statement from Von der Ahe.

-Based on the Globe's account of Comiskey's injury at the end of the article, I think that Comiskey was in Philadelphia when all of this went down. I had believed that Comiskey had already left for St. Louis when the club gave their letter to Von der Ahe and had argued that this wouldn't have happened if Comiskey was still with the team. I may be wrong about that.

-I really like Von der Ahe's response to the players, who didn't have the courage to explain themselves. It drips with disappointment and irony.

Now here's the thing that's really been bothering me about the Browns' refusal to play the Cuban Giants. I have, on more than one occasion, argued Comiskey's point that the players simply wanted, and needed, a day off. I've argued that this incident was less about the relationship between blacks and whites in 19th century America and more about a beaten-up, short-handed, over-worked baseball club that needed a day off. I've argued that the players, after the actions taken by the International League, seized on the racial issue as an excuse to not play the game. And I believe that that argument is still valid. But regardless of intent, this incident can not be dismissed for one simple reason: the baseball club involved.

The St. Louis Browns were the best team in baseball. They were probably the most famous team in the country. This was a club with some of the biggest stars in the game. Comiskey and Latham and Caruthers and Foutz and King and Welch and O'Neil. These are some of the biggest stars of 19th century baseball. This is the FOUR TIME CHAMPIONS, in all caps. They fought the Chicagos to a draw in the World Series in 1885 and beat them handily in 1886. They were getting ready to take on Detroit in the series in October. These weren't just some guys saying they wouldn't play a black club. This was the best, most famous baseball club in the United States saying they wouldn't play a black club and, regardless of intent, that was a statement that made news across the country. That was a statement that reverberated throughout the history of baseball and helped change the development of the game for the worse.

In my thinking, the significance of the event is a result of who made the statement, not that the statement was made or why the statement was made. If the Madisons of Edwardsville had refused to play a black club, nobody would have cared. But the fact that it was the Four Time Champions who did "not agree to play against negroes" and signed their names to a letter stating that makes this a significant milestone in the development of baseball's racial policy.

I've argued against this incident being significant for reasons I've already stated but I've changed my mind. Putting the event in the context of the Browns' history and understanding that this was the best and most famous club in the country refusing to play against a black club forced me to re-evaluate the incident and reach a different conclusion. It's a shameful incident in the history of St. Louis baseball and the history of the St. Louis Browns.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The 1887 World Series: Von der Ahe Interviewed

Chris Von der Ahe was interviewed by the St. Louis Globe-Democrat after he returned from the east. The interview appeared in the Globe on September 16, 1887.

"Will your men be all together soon again?"

"I think they will all be in shape to play the winners of the League pennant at the close of the championship season. It will be the first time the original nine of champions will have played together since Bushong's injury-July 1-and the St. Louis club can hold their own against any team in existence."

"Who, in your opinion, will win the League championship?"

"Detroit looks like the winner, and they certainly deserve to get there."

"How many games will you play for the world's championship series?"

"Not less than nine, and probably thirteen. As soon as the winner is known the series will be arranged and the full number of games then decided on. There is great demand for the games in a dozen or more large cities of the country, notably New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Louisville, Boston and elsewhere, but we will not be able to play the series outside of a few of the leading cities. St. Louis, of course, comes first in consideration, and when the matter is settled we will decide how many games will be played here..."

"What will be the outcome of the Cuban Giants affair?"

"So far as the Giants are concerned I do not think they will molest us for failure to appear. The matter is not settled yet, though. I was very much surprised at the action of my men, to say the least."

I left in the part about the Cuban Giants because it shows that the Browns' financial obligations after their failure to play the scheduled exhibition game was still up in the air and because we get another specific reaction on the affair from Von der Ahe. Tomorrow, I'll give the Globe's account of the incident and talk about some of the things that are bothering me about the whole thing.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The 1887 World Series: Early Odds

On the Browns-Detroit series odds of 3 to 5 are laid against the Detroits, and 5 to 4 against the Browns are offered.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 15, 1886

If I'm reading this sentence correctly, the Browns were a slight favorite going into the series.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The 1887 World Series: We Want Detroit

The champion's captain, Charlie Comiskey, returned home yesterday morning, having left the club at Philadelphia Sunday night. Though suffering considerably from a broken thumb, he looks at matters very philosophically, and is very sanguine as to a speedy recovery of the use of his injured member. He does not regard the present broken-up condition of the champions as detrimental to their work this fall in the world's championship series, but thinks the long rests Bushong and Foutz have had will be greatly to their benefit when they return to the diamond. During his absence, commencing next Saturday in the Cleveland game, Dave Foutz will cover first base, and will continue to cover it through the Association season. He thinks and hopes Detroit will win the League championship, as there is without doubt a greater desire to see the champions contest honors with Dunlap and Detroit than any club or aggregation in the country. Though the series is not yet arranged, he thinks there will be at least eleven games, if not thirteen, played with Detroit this fall, two of which, in all probability, will take place at Sportsman's Park.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 14, 1887

This article actually highlights two of the reasons behind the Browns' refusal to play the Cuban Giants. First, Comiskey wasn't with the team when the players revolted against the exhibition game. I've argued that if Comiskey had been with the team, the player revolt probably wouldn't have happened. Second, the club was beat up and dealing with a lot of injuries. They only had nine guys on the eastern trip and could barely field a team. The last thing they needed was to play an exhibition game on a scheduled day off. The fact that the Cuban Giants were a black club, I've also argued, was merely a pretext for not playing the game. The most interesting thing in the entire affair was that this was an acceptable pretext.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The 1887 World Series: The Champions' Return

Next Saturday and Sunday the champion Browns will be at home, and will play the Clevelands. The brown-hosed boys should be granted a royal reception on this return trip, for it is a memorable one in their career, for they bring home with them for the third consecutive time the American Association pennant. A telegram received from Secretary Munson, of the Browns, yesterday, states the Browns will play an exhibition game at New York to-day. President Von der Ahe and President Stearns, of Detroit, held a conference at Philadelphia relative to the series of games for the world's championship, and it was decided that two of these games would be played in Philadelphia, one on the grounds of the Athletics, and the other on the grounds of the Philadelphias. It will therefore be seen that at least some of the games for the world's championship will be played in the East.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 11, 1887

The exhibition game in New York was, rather famously, never played. I'll get back to that in a couple of days because there are a few things bothering me about the incident that I want to talk about.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Take Us Up To The Fourth Floor And Cut The Rope

The great showing Long John Reilly is making at the bat now recalls to mind an incident which happened in St. Louis last year. The Cincinnatis had just been shut out 8 to 0, getting but four hits off Foutz. The club had been losing right along and the players had become very sore in consequence. When in the elevator at the hotel, Fred Lewis said to the boy: "Take us up to the fourth floor and cut the rope." Long John, who was sitting over in the corner, raised up and said: "Oh, that won't do any good; we would not hit anything anyhow."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 8, 1887

If this is anything more than just a story, it most have taken place in 1886, which was the only year that Lewis and Reilly were teammates. Lewis played with the Browns in 1883 and 1884 and the Maroons in 1884 and 1885.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The 1887 World Series: The Situation Summed Up

Nothing is talked about in local sporting circles except the great games between the Browns and Detroits, and the question of supremacy is the source of numerous heated arguments. The result of the games will depend in a great measure on the condition the Browns are in when the time comes for the opening game. If the home team goes on the field in good condition, they will beat the Detroits, and the reason is plain. The Browns bat equally as hard as the Detroits, and besides their trickery at the bat disconcerts a pitcher more than the slugging abilities of their more portly rivals. In the fielding the teams are on a par and the Browns will win by their superiority in base-running. Detroit is woefully deficient in this department, while the Browns are wonderfully proficient, and it is base-running that wins games. This has been shown by facts this season. Chicago plays more like the Browns than any other League club, and Detroit has gone down repeatedly before Chicago. The situation summed up is this: The Browns have beaten Chicago, Chicago has beaten Detroit, hence the Browns should beat the Detroits.

The first two games will be played here on the 10th and 11th of this month.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 2, 1887

Not to give anything away but when you're forced to argue that you're going to win the series because of superior base running, I think your club is in trouble.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Lucas Family, Part Two

When it comes to the history of 19th century baseball in St. Louis, the members of the Lucas family that we're really interested in are the children of James H. Lucas. Specifically, we're interested in his sons, J.B.C. Lucas, Robert Lucas and Henry Lucas.

As mentioned yesterday, James Lucas married Marie Emilie Des Ruisseau in Arkansas in 1832. When he died in 1873, his estate was divided among his widow and children. The children of James H. Lucas included William Lucas, who was born in 1836; J.B.C. Lucas, born in 1847 (and, according to the census records, was commonly referred to as Charles); Nancy L. Johnson, born in 1849 and married to Dr. John B. Johnson; Robert J. Lucas, born in 1850; Elizabeth L. Hager, married to John S. Hager; James D. Lucas; Joseph D. Lucas, born in 1856; and Henry V. Lucas, born in 1857.

John B.C. Lucas was born on December 30, 1847, died in September of 1908 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis. He is significant because he was the president of the Browns Stockings of St. Louis from 1875 to 1877. You can find more posts on him in the sidebar, including a photo and brief biography.

Robert Lucas was born in 1850 and died on May 18, 1922. He is significant because he played for the championship Union Club's first nine in the late 1860s. According to the box scores, Lucas pitched, caught and played the outfield for the Unions. He was also an attorney and, like most of the members of his family, was involved in the real estate business. Robert Lucas was described in the St. Louis Daily Republic as being an "effective left-handed twirler of the Union Club, [who] could fill any position with credit" and there is evidence of his playing baseball as late as 1875.

Henry V. Lucas was born on September 5, 1857, died on November 15, 1910 and is buried at Calvary Cemetery. He is significant because he was the founder of the St. Louis Maroons and the Union Association. Lucas' Maroons club, in 1884, was the first St. Louis baseball team to win a national championship and, in 1885, became the second St. Louis club to play in the National League (the first being his brother's Brown Stocking club). I've written plenty about Henry Lucas and you can find all of those posts over in the sidebar.

I've also posted some information about the division of James H. Lucas' estate and more general information about the wealth of his children that you may be interested in looking at. But the main point I'd like to make here is that the sons of James H. Lucas were involved in St. Louis baseball across three decades, from the 1860s into the 1880s. They were involved with three of the biggest clubs in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball: the Unions, the Brown Stockings and the Maroons. You literally can not write the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball without mentioning the Lucas brothers. And I didn't even mention a cousin, Charles Lucas, who, like Robert Lucas, was a member of the Union Base Ball Club.

As I said yesterday, I could write a great deal more about the Lucas family and how significant they were in the history of St. Louis baseball but a lot of that stuff is here on the blog if you're inclined to look for it. My goal was just to briefly untangle the Lucas family genealogy for you and I think I did that.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Lucas Family, Part One

It's impossible to tell the story of 19th century baseball in St. Louis without an understanding of the Lucas family and their place in the city's history. The sons of James Lucas played an important roll in the development of St. Louis baseball across three decades and their position in St. Louis society, I believe, helped legitimize and popularize baseball among the elite of the city. While I could probably write five thousand words on the family and their involvement in baseball, what I want to do here is lay out a quick genealogy of the family and some brief notes of interest. If you're interested in more information about the Lucas family, I'd recommend James Neal Primm's Lion of the Valley and Howard Conrad's The Encyclopedia of the History of St. Louis.

I'll begin by quoting Conrad. Jean Baptiste Charles Lucas was the "founder of a family which has been among the first in St. Louis for nearly a century..." He was "born August 14, 1758, in the ancient town of Pont-Auderner, Normandy, France, and died in St. Louis, August 18, 1840." The first J.B.C. Lucas is buried in Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis. At the suggestion of Benjamin Franklin, Lucas moved to the United States in 1784, with his wife, Anne Sebin, and settled near Pittsburgh. Conrad writes that Lucas, a man of "very superior attainments and active temperament," was "elected to the Pennsylvania Legislature in 1795, and in 1801 President Jefferson sent him west on a confidential mission, the object being to ascertain the temper of the French and Spanish residents of Louisiana. In 1803 he was a member of Congress from Pennsylvania, and after the cession of Louisiana to the United States he was at once appointed by President Jefferson commissioner of land claims and judge of the Louisiana Territorial Court. In 1805 he removed his family to St. Louis...At the same time he began investing his means in lands and lots in St. Louis and adjacent thereto, and thus laid the foundation of a splendid family fortune. He was in all things a leader during the years of his residence in St. Louis, and helped to lay not only the foundation of the city, but the foundation also of the commonwealth of Missouri. He died full of years and honor, and left a vast estate to his son, James H. Lucas, and his daughter Anne L. Hunt."

The children of J.B.C. Lucas and Anne Sebin, besides James and Anne, included Robert Lucas, who was born in 1788, educated at West Point and died in 1813; Charles, who was born in 1792, was prominent in St. Louis politics and killed in a duel with Thomas Hart Benton in 1817; Adrian, who was born 1794, was a planter and drowned while crossing an icy lake in 1804; and William, who was born in 1798 and died in 1837.

James H. Lucas, according to Conrad, "the fourth son of J.B.C. Lucas, was born near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, November 12, 1800, and died in St. Louis, November 12, 1873." Like his father, he's buried in Calvary Cemetery. "He first attended St. Thomas College, in the State of Kentucky, at which institution he had for schoolmates, among others, Jefferson Davis...Afterward he attended Jefferson College of Pennsylvania, and then studied law at Hudson, New York." He settled for a time in Arkansas, where he taught school and practiced law and, in 1832, married Mary Emilie Des Ruisseau (or, as Conrad spells it, Desruisseaux). After the death of his last surviving brother, William, in 1837, Lucas returned to St. Louis where he was placed in charge of his father's estate. "To the care, conservation and development of this property he devoted the remaining years of his life, and he was also identified with many public enterprises. He was among the original subscribers toward the building of the Missouri Pacific Railroad, in which he took $100,000 worth of stock, and he was the second president of that company...He was the first president and organizer of the St. Louis Gas Company; was also a director in the Boatmen's Savings Institution, and was interested as a stockholder and director in many other financial enterprises. He was a member of the banking firm of Lucas, Symonds & Co., of St. Louis...His large holdings of real estate in St. Louis were improved during his lifetime to a great extent, and in 1872, previous to his making a division of his property, he was the owner of two hundred and twenty-five dwellings and stores."

Anne Lucas Hunt was the only daughter of J.B.C. Lucas. She was born in 1796 and died in 1879. Her first husband was Captain Theodore Hunt, a United States naval officer who died in 1832. In 1836, she married Wilson P. Hunt, the cousin of Theodore Hunt, who died in 1842. After the death of her second husband, she spent the remainder of her life managing the estate she inherited from her father and in various charitable organizations. I mention her because there is a road in St. Louis named Lucas and Hunt, which is named after her and her family.

Tomorrow, I'll cover the children of James Lucas but I'd like to point out one thing. The Lucas family was the wealthiest family in St. Louis. They were probably the largest landowners in St. Louis, with the Chouteau/Laclede family being their only real competition, and were involved in most of the largest businesses in the city. Their name and influence is all over the city, if you know where and what you're looking at. Besides Lucas and Hunt Road, there's a neighborhood and a park named after the family. Most of the prime real estate in downtown St. Louis was owned at one time by the Lucas family. The Old Courthouse, pictured above, sits on land donated to the city by the Lucas family. That's a nice piece of real estate, isn't it? And the family gave it away. That's how wealthy they were.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Von der Ahe Arrested For Employing Labor On The Sabbath

Last week at Viva El Birdos, Larry Borowsky posted an interview with Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who has just published a new book, 100 Things Cardinal Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die. In the introduction to the interview, Larry wrote that he had "never heard the one about team owner [Chris Von der Ahe] getting arrested in the second inning of an 1887 game and charged with conducting business on a [Sunday]..." Well, I had never heard that one either and, given my interest in the history of Sunday baseball in St. Louis, I had to find out what this was all about. A quick search led me to the relevant article.

The Browns and Baltimores played one inning yesterday, when the game was stopped by the police and Von der Ahe was arrested. A crowd of fully 10,000 people assembled to witness the game, many no doubt being attracted by curiosity and in the hope of seeing some excitement to vary the monotony of the Sabbath. All arrangements had been perfected in anticipation of what transpired. Every person who paid his way into the grounds was given a check which would admit him to any future game in the event of yesterday's game being stopped. A squad of twenty-five mounted police were on the grounds, under the leadership of Sergt. Floerich. The Baltimore team arrived early on the grounds, but were instructed to remain off the field. At 3:10 the gong was rung, and the home team proceeded to their places for practice. Ten minutes later the Baltimores came on the field amidst a perfect storm of applause, and after ten minutes' practice for the visitors the gong was rung and Umpire Ferguson proceeded to call "time." The Baltimores took the field, and the game commenced. In the meantime a squad of police formed in line at the western end of the grand-stand, and another across near the dressing-rooms. Latham opened by hitting to center for a base, and reached second on a passed ball. Gleason hit to Kilroy, who caught Latham between second and third, where he was run down, Gleason reaching second on the play. He reached third on O'Neill's out, but was left, Comiskey striking out. Greenwood flew out to Robinson, Purcell went out on an assist of Gleason's. Burns hit through Gleason and stole second, but was left, Tucker flying out to Welch.

Caruthers had stepped up to the plate for the second inning, when Sergt. Floerich stepped up to Bob Ferguson, and said:

"You will have to stop the game."

"All right, sir," said Bob-"Time!"

And ball playing for the day was at an end.

During the progress of the first inning Sergt. Floerich went up to the Director's box, where Mr. Von der Ahe was sitting. The Sergeant stepped up to the Browns' President, accompanied by Detectives Howard and Harrington.

"Mr. Von der Ahe, I will have to place you under arrest," he said.

"All right," was the response, "although I wish you had allowed us to play a few more innings, as the game was very interesting."

Mr. Von der Ahe smiled as he arose to accompany the detectives. An omnibus had been provided for the occasion, and the detectives, Mr. Von der Ahe, Wm. Medart, Jos. G. Lodge, Judge Scott and the Globe-Democrat reporter jumped in and were driven rapidly to the Fair Grounds Sub-Station, where a charge of breaking the Sunday law was preferred against Mr. Von der Ahe. The party was evidently expected at the station, as quite a crowd had gathered to watch the developments. In the station the prisoner and his friends were greeted by Chief Huebler, who immediately telephoned for Judge Noonan to accept the offender's bond. After a short delay, Judge Noonan arrived and the bond, but $100, or double the maximum penalty for breaking the law, was accepted, Wm. Medart subscribing to it. The Judge had evidently taken advantage of the Noonan Sunday law decision and was enjoying himself to his fullest capacity. The party was then driven back to the park, where they were greeted with shouts of applause, the crowd, no doubt, thinking that the playing would be renewed. As Chief Huebler, however, had given orders to arrest the players in case they attempted to play, Mr. Von der Ahe announced that the game was off.

When Sergt. Floerich stopped the game, the crowd, as if by one impulse, sprang into the field, and in a few seconds after the game was stopped, the diamond was filled with a surging mass of men, who hurled all kinds of vile epithets at the officers. At one time, it seemed as if personal violence would be offered them, but everything passed off smoothly, and in a short time after the players had left the field, the grounds were comparatively deserted.

The Baltimore team had made arrangements to leave for Cleveland last night, but, after the interference, Manager Barnie consented to remain over and play the game off to-day. This act on his part should be appreciated to-day by giving the visitors a rousing reception.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 11, 1887

The law in question had gone into effect on June 19, 1887 and prohibited labor or the employment of labor on the Sabbath. However, the Globe stated, on June 15th, that the City Counselor had targeted the law at saloons, beer gardens, pool halls and baseball and noted that "bakeries, barber-shops, baths, cabs, carriages and baggage-wagons, drug stores, gas and electric light companies, hotels, ice-dealers, laundries, livery stables and undertakers, meat-shops, milk depots, news-stands, physicians, restaurants, street cars, telegraph companies, and ticket offices" were not effected by the law. The Globe also noted on June 22 that Von der Ahe planned to test the new law and would not alter the Browns schedule. The saloons and beer gardens targeted also were going to fight the law.

The law began to be enforced on June 26 and by June 29, after the first arrests, it was being challenged in court. On July 9, most of the law was struck down by Judge Noonan, although he declared that the ban on the sale of whiskey was legal under Missouri law. The Chief of Police in St. Louis then ordered his men to "arrest and prosecute all persons pending or hawking their wares...on Sunday." The Globe, on July 14, stated that this order was the result of "an old ordinance which has existed on the books for years, more as a curiosity than anything else." This law may be the one that was being enforced in 1864, but that is unclear.

On July 15, Von der Ahe had his day in court and did not contest the facts of the charges against him. Under cross-examination, Sgt. Floerich testified "that the games had been played in the park for twelve years on Sundays and they had always been quiet and orderly, and had never been interfered with before." He also noted that the "ball-grounds were a private property." The defense, which included testimony from Congressman John O'Neill and former Union club member Charles Turner, essentially consisted of stating how wonderful a game baseball was and how orderly the crowds were at the games. They also argued that the law "had not in its purview the game of base-ball, but its application to labor was only to servile labor. [They] quoted other laws to show that the game of ball and kindred amusements were not prohibited...[arguing] that the law did not apply to sports and games, other than what are known as gambling games."

After a deliberation of two hours, Judge Noonan returned an opinion agreeing with the argument of the defense. He explicitly stated that the law only applied to servile labor and gambling games such as horse-racing and cock-fighting. "The evidence shows," he wrote, "that the base-ball playing was in private grounds, and no noise disturbing the peace of the neighborhood resulted therefrom, and the Court decided that the defendant committed no offense under the statute in playing base-ball and discharged him." The law did not prohibit "either expressly or by construction, base-ball, carried on decently, orderly and quietly on Sunday. I might say, in addition to this, that the game was a reasonable sport, and use of nature's powers, and, while the evidence showed that money was taken and money paid to the players, it in my mind is not within the meaning of this statute, any more than would be the playing of any piano player or singer that might come into the home of a citizen on Sunday to contribute to his entertainment." The Globe headlined their article of July 16, reporting the decision, "Base-Ball Is Recreation."

I think it's safe to conclude, based on this incident and the Edwardsville movement in 1886, that there was a general Sabbatarian movement in St. Louis at this time and they made an attempt to target baseball games. However, Sunday baseball and a loosely-observed Sabbath was a part of the general culture of St. Louis and I think this found expression in Judge Noonan's decision. In the end, the Sabbatarian movement would succeed and blue laws would be enforced in Missouri into the 1980s. But, to the best of my knowledge, those laws never effected the playing of baseball in St. Louis on Sundays. This incident stands out as an exception to St. Louis' general tolerance of Sunday baseball.

Note: For those interested, the law under which Von der Ahe was arrested stated that "Every person who shall either labor himself or compel or permit his apprentice or servant or any other person under his charge or control to labor or perform any work, other than household offices of daily necessity, or other work of necessity or charity, or who shall be quilty of hunting game or shooting on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not exceeding $50."

Also, I have to admit that I've changed the title of this post four times, attempting to accurately describe what happened. In the end, I think it's accurate to state that Von der Ahe was not arrested for organizing a baseball game or engaging in business on a Sunday. He was arrested for compelling persons under his charge or control to labor on a Sunday. When I first started looking into this, I thought he was arrested for selling beer and whiskey on the Sabbath and that this had nothing to do with baseball but, after looking into it a bit more, I realized that I was wrong. The City Counsellor was targeting Von der Ahe and the Browns because they were playing professional baseball on a Sunday.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Eulogy For Fred Dunlop

When the late Fred Dunlap was in his prime, he was generally referred to as the king of second baseman; yet his claim to that title was always disputed. As a matter of fact there were at least two men covering the same position whose respective followers claimed that their particular favorite was the only real king. Fred Pfeffer, of the Chicagos, and Bid McPhee, of the Cincinnati (Association) Reds, were the men who divided the honors with Dunlap. Burdock, of the Bostons; Lew Bierbauer, of the Athletics (although the latter was a comparatively kid player at the time), and Yank Robinson, of the St. Louis Browns, also had their admirers, who thought them just as good as the others. To-day there can be no question about the premiership of second base. Lajoie is first in a class by himself.

Dunlap was undoubtedly one of the most finished players that ever handled a ball. In ease of action, Lajoie and Collins are the only men playing to-day who approach him. He handled a ball "clean" and rarely fumbled or missed it on the first attempt. How accurate his eye for distance must have been is best shown by the fact that in all the years he played ball he never broke a finger or had a knuckle out of place. But for the muscularity of his hands he could have been taken for a billiard rather than a base ball expert. Nobody better knew the points of the game and no one exercised more skill and audacity in working them. He was unusually successful in working the "trapped ball" trick before that play was legislated out of existence, and in conjunction with Briody he seemed to have all the other second basemen beaten in heading at the plate a runner who tried to score from third on another runner's attempt to steal second. He never lost sight of the runner third and if he saw the latter was only making a bluff of running home, he rarely missed the man running to second. In working a double play from short to second to first, the writer has seen Dunlap stop a poor throw with his left hand, and with the same motion throw the ball into his right, and then fire it up to first in time to head his man. Dunlap was only a mediocre batsman, but he was a good inside man at that. He was a hard man to pitch to and got more than his allowance of bases on balls. He was a splendid man on the bases when a run was needed but took no chances when there was no necessity to do so. He made it a point to run everything out and never lost sight of the ball. he always overran first and turned on a base hit, and if the fielder made the slightest miscue the chances are that "Dunny" would make second.

But Dunlap's claims to distinction in base ball were not confined to his ability as a player. He will probably be remembered longer as the player who blazed the road to high salaries. He is said to have received as high as $7000 in one season from Pittsburg and it was his boast that he never lost a penny on a contract. As a boy he had comparatively few educational advantages, but he did possess a big stock of sound horse sense. He always had his contract drawn up by a lawyer of his own selection and no amount of persuasion could induce him to change his practice. When he retired permanently from the game in about 1901, Dunlap was supposed to be worth about $35,000. For five or six years he was a familiar sight about town, always looking as though he had just emerged from a bandbox. Always taking out and never putting in, Dunny's roll began to diminish. Finally he went broke. Too proud to let his wants be known even to his friends, he was almost lost sight of until by the merest accident one of his old-time friends learned of his condition and secured him a room in St. Agnes' Hospital. He was beyond all human aid, and died three weeks later.
-Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 1902

Shockingly, this is only my second post about Fred Dunlap in the last year. I feel kind of bad about that and plan to address this neglect in the near future.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Paying Investment

Base Ball is a paying investment...President Von der Ahe, of the St. Louis club, is building eight brown-stone houses with his share of the profits of the club games...
-Columbus Daily Enquirer, February 19, 1884

This is interesting for a few reasons. First, it goes nicely with yesterday's post about baseball as a financial investment in property. It's also a nice comparison between Von der Ahe and Lucas as businessmen. Also, I think it was well-known that Von der Ahe invested his baseball earnings in real estate and owned brownstones in St. Louis but this is nice confirmation of that.

It's a short and sweet post today but I have some good stuff on tap that I'm working up. Tomorrow, there's a nice Fred Dunlap post, who I've shockingly neglected over the last year. Then I'm still trying to finish a post on Von der Ahe getting arrested in 1887 for operating a business on a Sunday, which is a more complicated story than you'd think. That should be up Tuesday. After that I should have a few posts up on the history of the Lucas family and then I should finally get around to starting on the 1887 world's championship series. So we all of that to look forward to.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

He Is Satisfied

A baseball team is doubtless a very excellent property, if the owner can get one that is entirely reliable. But reliability is hard to find. A reliable team may do its best and yet be beaten by an unreliable team that happens to do better. The history of the ball field is always a chapter of accidents, and capitalists who invest in the game run bigger risks than those who go long or short of corn or cotton. Mr. Henry Lucas, who has been footing the bills for the St. Louis League Club, declares that he is $70,000 out of pocket. He is satisfied, and has sold out.
-Macon Telegraph, August 24, 1886

Nothing really new here but I liked the tone of the article. It's a rare thing, I think, to see a baseball club to be considered as property in this era.

Friday, October 15, 2010


A game was played on Thursday last between the Champions of the College of the Christian Brothers, and the Nationals, of the St. Louis University. This game was well contested, and resulted in favor of the former by a score of 18 to 14.
-New York Herald, June 23, 1868

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Throwing The Ball At Them Too Swiftly

Who says that base ball is not inspiring? If any, let him read the following, perpetrated by a Western reporter (not a Western editor) on the tour of the Athletics and their appearance at St. Louis. After saying that the grounds "were richly carpeted with green and low lying grasses," he continues "thusly":-

"The unhooded falcon cast off from the fair hand of Philadelphia has swooped from the Schuylkill to the Missouri-from the East to the West-and along the route, over which the fleet wings of the Athletics swept, there are quarries stricken hard and heavily.

Propitious weather came out of the sky and moved in the winds, and the day was everything that could be desired.

The veterans of twenty campaigns march into the arena-eager, active men all, and bronzed brown by sun and wind work. The picked nine are grouped and resolute, and showed beautifully in their tidy gray uniform."

And then, in criticising the players, he says:-

"The playing of Reach was superb. His power of stroke, coolness and swiftness of foot were remarkable.

The strategy and even pitching of McBride, the readiness with which he yielded to every decision of the umpire, and the most perfect discipline he exercised in the ranks of his little battalion made him a host in himself. Full in the glare of the unclouded sun, Radcliff, the catcher, never for a moment lost his nerve and his vigor.

Cuthbert, in the left field, was long of leap and agile as a panther, and Fisher and Berry, first and second base, were hard to beat on any field.

That is something like what the old cricket players call throwing the ball at them too swiftly-viz., 'piling it on...'

The Athletics worsted the crack St. Louis nine, the Unions, with a score of fifty-four to twelve...
-New York Herald, June 18, 1868

While rather flowery, this is easily the best account of the Unions' game against the Athletics that I've found.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quick Time

Quick time was made in a match at St. Louis in a game between the Empire and Resolute clubs a few days since. The former won with a score of 43 to 35, and, according to a printed account of the game, all in thirty-five minutes.
-New York Herald, June 10, 1868

I'm not sure if it's physically possible to score seventy-eight runs in thirty-five minutes but if there were seventy-eight runs scored in a modern game, I'm sure the game would take about nine or ten hours to play.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A "Ball Club" Gets Arrested

The police made a descent on Ferguson Hall, on Beadle street [in St. Louis], last night, and captured some twenty persons, mostly boys, on a charge of belonging to the Ku Klux Klan. On the person of one of them was found a document purporting to be a constitution of that order, putting forth that the object of the order was to protect the people of the South from the bands of robbers and murderers now preying on them even to the last resort, assassination, pledging themselves to allow nothing to deter them from their object. Among the captures were a lot of masks and a skull. The boys claimed they were members of the Pride of the South base ball club, and had no connection with the Klan, and knew nothing of the papers found; that it was a plot against them. They were taken to the Southern station house and kept until two o'clock this morning, when they were all unconditionally released.
-New York Herald, April 8, 1868

A quick search shows no record of a St. Louis club playing a club called the Pride of the South in April of 1868 but that doesn't mean much. St. Louis clubs did play several southern clubs during this era, specifically clubs from Louisiana and Arkansas. But obviously, the more interesting thing here is that the club was made up of Klansman and that you could get arrested in St. Louis in 1868 for belonging to that organization.

It wasn't all amateur sportsman and gentlemanly competition back then, was it?

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Last Days Of J.B.C. Lucas

J.B.C. Lucas of 4495 West Pine Boulevard, a member of one of the oldest families in St. Louis, is so ill at his summer home in Normandy that he has not yet been informed of the death of his 5-year-old daughter, Emily, on Monday, nor of the critical condition of his other daughter, Mrs. Frank Sawyer of Anderson, Ind., and his nephew, Henry Lucas Jr.

Henry Lucas Jr. was operated on for appendicitis...Mrs. Sawyer is seriously ill with typhoid fever...Emily Lucas died at the Mullanphy Hospital Monday, following an operation for appendicitis.

Mr. Lucas, the elder, is ill as the result of an operation for appendicitis. He has been operated on thrice within a year, and on account of his age there is thought to be but little chance for his recovery.
-Dallas Morning News, August 6, 1908

According to the physicians attending him, Lucas could not stand the shock of his little daughter's death nor the news of the illness of his other daughter and his nephew...

John B.C. Lucas is a representative of one of the richest St. Louis families. He is the president of the Wellson, Mo., Bank, and is officer and director of a score of St. Louis mercantile concerns and financial institutions.

His summer home in Normandy, St. Louis county, is regarded as not only the finest in the county but is one of the finest in the entire West. The town residence on West Pine Boulevard is a mansion. It tops the hill overlooking St. Louis's finest residence section.

Lucas's condition took a change for the worse today...

Mr. Lucas's first wife was Mary C. Morton, said to be related to Paul Morton, head of the Equitable Life. When she died Lucas married her sister Isabella, who is the mother of Emily.
-Evening News [San Jose, Ca.], August 20, 1908

The best information I've found has Lucas passing away in September of 1908.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

For Want Of A Rain Check

In commenting upon the proposed Brotherhood League, the Toledo Blade the other day gave Henry V. Lucas' real reason for forming the Union Association. In 1883 Mr. Lucas and a party of friends visited the St. Louis base ball grounds. The afternoon was stormy and the club management refused to issue rain checks. Mr. Lucas and his companions were highly indignant and then and there resolved to form an organization of their own, which they did, and it cost him $75,000.
-Philadelphia Inquirer, October 30, 1889

I'm not sure I'm buying this but it's possible. William Spink was bringing up the issue of rain checks in 1876 and by July of that year, the Brown Stockings had begun issuing them if a game was called because of rain before five innings had been played. To what extent that policy carried over to Von der Ahe's Browns in the early 1880s is unknown but, according to Peter Morris in A Game of Inches, there was at least one instance in 1883 when a ballpark crowd wanted rain checks and Von der Ahe refused to issue them, although the specific circumstances are unclear.

So when I say that this story is possible, I really mean that the rain check policy was not completely developed and it's possible that Lucas went to a ballgame in 1883, thought he deserved a rain check and didn't get one. However, human action is complicated and I think it's unrealistic that this one incident would motivate Lucas to undertake a project as large and risky as the formation of a new major league. It may very well have played a part in his decision-making but I find it difficult to believe that it was the most important factor. Lucas' love for baseball, his ego, his ability to financially undertake the project and the roll that his family had played in St. Louis baseball all played a part in his decision to form the Union Association. He also specifically mentioned the unfairness of the reserve rule as being a motivating factor, although that may have been an attempt to justify the raiding of other clubs. Regardless, it's unrealistic to describe something as complicated as the UA venture as being motivated by Von der Ahe's refusal to issue a rain check.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Breaking Down The $15,000 Slide

I was going to do this big post breaking down the contemporary accounts of the winning play of the 1886 series and then contrast that with later accounts to show how the myth of the $15,000 Slide developed but Jon David Cash, in Before They Were Cardinals, has already done that and has done it better than I could have. So I'm just going to let him tell the story (and if you haven't read Cash's book, you really should; it's a good read and strong on the Four Time Championship era):

In a relatively recent publication, Lowell Reidenbaugh of the Sporting News described the winning play of the 1886 World Series: "The deciding run was scored in the tenth inning of the final game by Curt Welch. Newspaper accounts of the day reported that Welch scored on a wild pitch. [Modern] history has recorded the play as a steal of home."

The uncertainty surrounding the winning run apparently stems from an account given by Charles Comiskey. In a 1919 biography, Gustav Axelson included Comiskey's recollection of the decisive run. Comiskey stated that Welch was running on the pitch, drew a pitchout, and crossed home safely on a "$15,000 Slide" that gave St. Louis the entire gate receipts of the winner-take-all World Series. Later, Arlie Latham related a similar version of Welch's "steal" to author Robert Smith, who included it in his landmark 1947 work Baseball and other books he wrote on the history of the sport. Together, Axelson and Smith ensured that the former Browns' narrative of the "$15,000 Slide" passed into baseball folklore.

One contemporary newspaper report seems to corroborate part of the description offered by Comiskey and Latham. According to the Chicago News, as soon as third baseman Burns "gave Kelly a signal to catch Welch at third," the Chicago catcher responded by calling a pitchout. A mishap transpired, though, between the Chicago batterymates: "Kelly played away from the plate...but Clarkson put a ball over the plate which Kelly just touched with his fingers and bounded away to the grandstand, while Welch came in with the winning run."

Other nineteenth-century newspapers said nothing about a steal, but instead debated whether Welch scored on a wild pitch or a passed ball. While the Chicago Tribune considered the play a passed ball on the part of Kelly, three St. Louis publications-the Republican, Globe-Democrat, and Sporting News-claimed Clarkson had been guilty of a wild pitch. The Post-Dispatch tried to settle the question by simply asking Kelly. The Chicago catcher seemed willing to accept responsibility ("I would say it was a passed ball"), yet he also emphasized how difficult it was to catch this particular pitch: "I signaled Clarkson for a low ball on one side, and when it came it was high up on the other. It struck my hand as I tried to get it...Clarkson told me that it slipped from his hands."

One might suspect that Comiskey and Latham embellished their tales of the play when they later recalled it, some thirty-three and sixty-one years after Welch scored. But it would be a very smug act on the part of present-day historians to state definitively that they understood an event better than two eyewitnesses. Without photographic evidence of any sort, we must rely on the various first-hand accounts to recreate what may have happened on the "$15,000 Slide." Except for the reminiscences of Comiskey and Latham, no primary sources indicate that Welch was running with the pitch or ever slid across the plate. Still, Comiskey's detailed analysis of the play cannot be altogether dismissed as mere baseball mythology. In fact, the Comiskey/Latham explanation meshes well in some aspects with some of the contemporary newspaper reports. For example, the two old Browns agreed with the Chicago News' assertion that Kelly called for a pitchout. On Clarkson's first pitch to Bushong, Welch danced down the third-base line, straying so far from the bag that Kelly "could have nailed him easily" with a throw. Seeing this, Burns and Kelly cooked up a scheme to trap the reckless Browns' runner in the snare of a pitchout. Meanwhile, Comiskey, stationed at the third-base coaching box, encouraged Welch to take another long lead. This strategy distressed Clarkson, and it would have enabled Welch to get a great start for home on any grounder hit by Bushong.

As the scene actually unfolded, the first of these advantages came into play. Clarkson, aware of Welch's capability to steal home, certainly seemed to ponder the prospect. While Welch scampered down the third-base line, the Globe-Democrat observed the disturbing effect this exerted upon the Chicago pitcher: "Clarkson, who is usually so cool, was visibly nervous. He rolled and twisted the ball around in his hands several times before he got in position to pitch it." A distracted pitcher, under such circumstances, might balk in a run, uncork a wild pitch, or even miss his catcher's signal for a pitchout. It appears plausible that Clarkson simply missed the pitchout signal and later, rather than admitting his mental mistake to Kelly, presented instead the physical alibi of a pitch that "slipped from his hands." So at the same moment Kelly moved away from the plate in expectation of a low outside pitchout that would allow him to make a quick throw to third, Clarkson let go a high inside fastball designed to jam Bushong and force a futile infield pop-up. Kelly barely managed to reach back and get his fingers on the ball, but he could not prevent it from rolling all the way to the grandstand as Welch scored the winning run.

The only question left to resolve is precisely what Welch did once the pitch was released. It is possible to surmise that Welch instantly recognized the miscommunication between the Chicago batterymates, and as soon as the ball left Clarkson's hand, galloped ahead thinking he could reach home before Kelly ever got the errant pitch. However, Ed Sheridan, reporting in both the Republican and the Sporting News, strongly suggested otherwise with his brief notation: "Welch trotted home." This same comment also indicates that, in all probability, Welch did not slide home.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Kelly's Tribute

At the game between the two St. Louis clubs last Sunday [the day after game six], an immense floral tribute was presented to the champions. Mike Kelly was one of the spectators at the game, and he consented to make the presentation. Here is his speech: "Ladies and Gentlemen-it is my honor on this occasion to present to your champion club this floral tribute. They have earned it. They have beaten our club-the Chicago club-fairly (great applause), and they have beat us on the rattle. (More applause.) I can say that you have treated us well here, and we hope to meet you again in the future." (Cheers.)
-Boston Daily Globe, October 28, 1886

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The 1886 World Series: So Much Glory

The St. Louis Browns have proven themselves, this year, the best ball club in the country. They won the championship of St. Louis, hands down, from the strong local League team; won the championship of the American Association for the second successive time very easily, with a margin of about a dozen games, and then topped all by rather easily defeating the supposed-to-be invincible Chicago Club, champions of the National League, in a series of games for the championship of the world and gate receipts aggregating $14,000. It is seldom, indeed, that so much glory falls to a club in a single season. Indeed, in all these particulars the record of this team of live young players has never been equalled. Carping critics may decry their achievement and pick and find fault as much as they please, and envious rivals may theorize and analyse, but the great record of the club stands out in bold relief before the public eye, and nothing injudicious friends and jealous enemies may say or do can wipe it out. Nothing succeeds like success, as has been amply demonstrated by this club for the last two years. The team stands pre-eminent for evenly-balanced strength, accurate, machine-like fielding, unequalled base-running and very fair batting ability.
-Sporting Life, November 3, 1886

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The 1886 World Series: A Wail From Chicago

It would be a hard task for a Chicago man to attempt to regard with any degree of good humor the performances of the Chicago Base Ball Club at St. Louis yesterday. Admitting that base ball is a business conducted for pecuniary profit, there still can be no palliation for the offense of brazenly giving away a game as the game was given St. Louis.

For half a century Phineas T. Barnum has been before the American public, fairly coining money on his reputation as a humbug; but the cleverness of his humbuggery has been the secret of his success. People do not object to being humbugged-nay, we think that they rather like it-but the humbug must be shrewd and plausible or it becomes at once simple intolerable.

The base-ball series in Chicago was cleverly worked; the public felt that it was being humbugged, but the hippodrome was so artistically played that there really was no inclination to cry out against it. In St. Louis, however, the pins have been set up awkwardly and the wires have been worked bunglingly...

We have a higher opinion of the forbearance of the St. Louis public than we have had before. We presume to say that if such a shameless farce had been attempted here in Chicago the conspirators and coconspirators would have been hooted off the field. That the whole business is understood in this city is evident in the common talk upon the streets and in the tone of proceedings at the pool-rooms last night.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 24, 1886 [originally published in the Chicago News]

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The 1886 World Series: The Shouts Were Deafening

The scenes down-town and around the pool rooms, yesterday, have not been equaled for a long time. There was a very general idea and fear of a hippodrome, but it did not prevent crowds from assembling to get the bulletined result of the game as it progressed, and it seemed at the same time to increase instead of diminish the interest. The biggest jam and of the wildest enthusiasts of the season was seen around the Globe-Democrat office, even for distances from where the bulletin boards could not be seen. The pool-rooms were the same way, hundreds standing patiently all afternoon, though able only to hear the cheers and shouts of those near the boards, and form an idea of the game from those demonstrations. The Chicagos certainly had the call in the betting, with odds of $10 to $8. The Browns' friends wanted to sail in and take the money offering, but in the general idea of a hippodrome it was Chicago day, and the betting was limited, and became worse and worse as the Chicagos made one run, then a second and then a third. John Donovan at that time offered $100 to $10 on the Chicagos, having a large amount already on the Browns, but though it was estimated there were 1,000 men in his rooms the bet went begging until Bob Golsau took it. Then he made another of $50 to $10 and $25 to $5, but the crowd was all of one way of thinking, and there were not many takers of such bets. When the Browns piled up three runs in the eighth and tied the score the faith of their friends in the honesty of the game returned, and a number of bets were made at $10 to $7 in favor of the home club. Then the bulletins favored Chicago's probability of making runs, and the betting moved up to even money, and a number of bets were made at Donovan's, Wiseman's and other places. At that time the scene around the Globe-Democrat was one that will not soon be forgotten. Men and boys, silk hats and common ones, mingled together, yelled together, and, in fact, went crazy together, and during the playing of the ninth and tenth innings it was impossible to get through the crowd. The shouts when the winning run was scored in the tenth was deafening.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 24, 1886

Monday, October 4, 2010

The 1886 World Series: The Retreat Of The Vanquished

The vanquished Chicago nine quietly and unostentasiously took their departure from the Union Depot last evening. There was an immense crowd of Saturday night travelers, but none of them knew that the windy city nine from Michigan Lake was about to make its retreat. There was no flag or proud banner to announce their presence, not the sound of a fife or drum to tell where the breezy crew could be found. They refused an escort, preferring to straggle by ones and twos in the disguise of dudish attire into a Pullman, rather than attract humiliating attention from the busy throng. So quietly did they take passage that no one but the conductor knew who they were. There was no bluster in their midst, and they made a mournful-looking crowd, that reminded one more than anything else of a delegation of undertakers who had performed the last sad offices for a friend. The name of Chicago was not spoken, and the defeated ball-players who came from there looked sad at the thought of having to return. All the gush and sentiment usually displayed by them was suppressed, and they were silent. A Texan, who was escorting the Mexican Band to the State Fair at Dallas, discovered them and insisted on giving them a few lively beats of the drum, but St. Louis hospitality prevailed, and the crestfallen crowd was allowed to leave without any demonstration to emphasize their idea of fallen pride.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 24, 1886

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The 1886 World Series: The Gate Receipts

After the game last evening President Von der Ahe sent a note to President Spaulding, suggesting that an exhibition game between the Browns and Chicagos be played in Cincinnati next Tuesday. This was Mr. Spaulding's reply:

Friend Von der Ahe: We must decline with our compliments. We know when we have had enough. Yours truly, A.G. Spaulding.

P.S. Anson joins me in the above message.

The gate receipts of the six games are as follows: In Chicago-Monday, $2,002; Tuesday, $2,831.75; Wednesday, $1,720.50.

In St. Louis-Thursday, $2,481.65; Friday, $2,384.20; Saturday, $2,500. Total, $13, 920.10.

One-half of this amount divided among twelve players gives each member of the team $580. The other half, $6,960, goes to Mr. Von der Ahe after all his expenses and the umpires' salaries have been deducted. Total attendance, 40,000.

In the six games played the Browns have scored 38 runs, made 49 hits, with a total of 79 bases, and are credited with 19 errors. The Chicagos made 28 runs, 36 hits, with a total of 56 bases and 27 errors. It will be seen that the Browns outplayed them all around.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 24, 1886

So, according to these numbers, the $15,000 Slide was actually worth $13, 920.10. Regardless, it was a nice payday for the players and Von der Ahe.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Game Six, Part Two

The afternoon was dark and cloudy, and every moment it looked like rain. The threatening weather, however, did not keep the people away, and long before the time of calling the game every available seat was taken. The tops of the grand stand were utilized and a couple of thousand were content to stand back of the right foul line along the fence. By turn-stile count the attendance was 11,500. About 2:15 o'clock Mr. H. Clay Sexton and President Von Der Ahe appeared on the field. The Browns were stopped in their practice and called to the plate. Mr. Sexton, in a brief speech, presented Bushong with a handsome silver tea set, a gift from the members of the Merchants' Exchange. The set was manufactured by the E. Jaccard Jewelry Company. Mr. Sexton also assured the audience that the game was to be for blood, and that it was not a hippodrome. Grace Pierce was chosen umpire. He favored the Chicagos every time it was possible for him to do so. It was precisely 2:18 o'clock when time was called. The Chicagos were first at bat. Caruthers' work in the opening innings was anything but encouraging. He was batted much harder than the score shows. The outfielders were kept busy, and they did their work well. It was just the opposite with Clarkson.

He appeared to be in his best form and the Browns could not touch his deceptive balls. The side was retired on flies. Gore's went to O'Neil. Kelly's to Caruthers and Anson's to Foutz. For the Browns, Latham went out from pitcher to first. Caruthers struck and Bushong got his base on balls, but Gleason left him by striking out. In the second inning the Chicagos scored their first run. Pfeffer brought it in. He also scored the Chicagos' other two runs-a remarkable feature of the game. He made a safe hit to right and stole down to second, while Bushong's only passed ball let him go to third. Caruthers successfully struck out the next two men-Williamson and Burns-but Ryan made a single to left and Pfeffer came in. Dalrymple's liner to Welch retired the side. Comiskey, for the home club, went out at first on his grounder to Williamson, Welch struck out and Foutz knocked a fly to right. It looked to be safe, but Ryan made a run after it and caught it in fine style.

In the third, Gore went all the way to third base on Latham's wild throw of his grounder to first, after Caruthers had made a remarkable catch of a foul fly from Clarkson's bat. Kelly knocked a grounder to third, and Gore started to come in, but Latham's good throw to Bushong cut him off by several feet. The Browns were again retired in order. Pfeffer scored his second run in the fourth. He was the first batter, and almost the very first ball that Caruthers pitched to him he knocked into the right-field seats, and made the circuit of the bases before Foutz could recover the ball. In this same inning the Chicagos had two men left on bases, and only unfortunate batting prevented them from scoring runs. Williamson went out on a fly to Foutz and Burns made a drive to left for a single. Ryan knocked a liner to O'Neil, and Dalrymple batted the ball so slowly in the direction of second that he got his base before the ball could be handled quick enough to throw him out. A wild pitch advanced him to second and sent Burns to third. Clarkson's fly to Welch, however, left them both. Once more the Browns went out in order, Caruthers, O'Neil and Gleason coming to the bat.

The Chicagos were put out quickly, and on easy plays in the fifth. Gore and Anson went out from second to first, and Kelly from third to first. For the Browns, Welch went out from short to first, Welch struck out and Foutz's fly to right was captured by Ryan. The Chicagos' last run was made in the sixth. Pfeffer again scoring it. He knocked an easy grounder to second, which Robinson should have stopped without any trouble but he let it roll through him. Foutz backed up Robinson, and when the ball came to him he let it get by him. These two bad errors enabled Pfeffer to go all the way around to third and Williamson's fly to Foutz brought him in. Burns and Ryan, the next two men, were retired on easy flies. Robinson and Latham both struck out for the Browns and Bushong knocked the ball to Pfeffer, who easily threw him out. The Chicagos were retired in order in the seventh. Caruthers, the first batsman for the Browns, struck out. O'Neil then came to the bat and made the first hit, and was retired at third in the manner mentioned above. Gleason was thrown out at first on a bunt to Clarkson, although he came very near making his base. The Chicagos could now do nothing with Caruthers' pitching and went quickly. It was here, though, that the Browns made their three runs and tied the score. Comiskey made a good beginning by knocking the leather safely to right for a single. Welch made a safe hit to third, sending Comiskey made a good beginning by knocking the leather safely to right for a single. Welch made a safe hit to third, sending Comiskey to second. The latter went to third on a passed ball and scored on Foutz's sacrifice fly to center. Robinson went out on a fly to Anson, and Bushong got his base on balls. Latham now came to bat. Two strikes had been called on him when he lifted the ball to extreme left for three bases, sending Welch and Bushong home. Caruthers out from Burns to first left Latham on third.

Williamson opened the ninth for the Chicagos by striking out, but Burns followed with a two-bagger. The latter went to third on a sacrifice by Ryan, but Dalrymple left him by striking out. O'Neil was the first batter for the Browns and he sent the ball sailing to the right. It looked to be good for two bases, but Ryan jumped for it and made one of the most remarkable catches ever seen on the grounds. Gleason went out on a foul to Kelly and Comiskey from third to first. The tenth inning was commenced. Clarkson struck out and both Gore and Kelly knocked flies to left field. Welch was the first batsman for the Browns. He took a position pretty close to the plate and Clarkson hit him with the ball. Welch took first, Anson protested and a wrangle ensued. The umpire finally called Welch back, claiming that he tried to get hit with the ball. To the great delight of the audience, however, Welch knocked the first ball that was pitched to him for a single to center field. Foutz was the next man to handle the stick. He batted a grounder back of the pitcher, between short and first. Williamson made a run for it and fumbled it. Foutz, of course, got safe on the error, and Welch went to second. Robinson advanced both men on his sacrifice from short to first. With a man on second and another on third and only one out, the chances were good for a run. Bushong came to the bat, but he did not get an opportunity to hit the ball. Clarkson, who is usually so cool, was visibly nervous. He rolled and twisted the ball around in his hands several times before he got in position to pitch it. He finally delivered it, but it was far over Kelly's head. The latter made no effort to get it, and like the other member of the team, stood in a half dazed manner and watched Welch come in with the deciding run. The Chicagos packed up their bats and got off the grounds as quickly as possible.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 24, 1886

I going to discuss the "$15,000 Slide" in a separate post in a few days, after I finish covering the series itself. It's rather interesting that what has been described as the most famous play in the history of 19th century baseball was neither a slide nor worth $15,000. But I'll get into that latter. For now, the Browns are the 1886 world's champions and the rooster makes another appearance at TGOG. The series, itself, may not have been a great display of baseball but game six was certainly a humdinger. It's absolutely on the list of 19th century baseball games I'd like to have attended.

One thing that should be noted, in light of the discussions we've had about the attendance figures for the series, the Globe states that the attendance figure for game six was taken from the turnstile count.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Game Six, Part One

The St. Louis Browns are champions of the world at the national game of base ball for another year at least. That was decided at Sportsman's Park yesterday afternoon by their great victory over the Chicagos in the sixth game of the world's championship series. No one-not even the most devoted friends and admirers of the Chicagos-can dispute their right to the title, or can say that it was won in anything but a fair, square and honest manner. The struggle was not such a hard one for the Browns, after all. Taking everything into consideration, they won the battle with comparative ease. Their victory, however, was not due to any luck, but was only secured by playing a superior game of ball. Their hard, steady and all-pull-together style of playing landed them on top on more than one occasion when defeat seemed inevitable. The Chicagos are an excellent team of ball players, but, as has already been mentioned, they are out of their class when they face the Browns in a contest, as has been plainly shown in the six games played between them. The Browns have made more runs, more hits, more total bases, less errors, have presented stronger batteries, and outplayed the Chicagos all around. It does not require any more facts to convince people which is the better club. Since the initial game was played in Chicago last Monday, there have been a number of people shouting hippodrome and claiming that the Chicagos would win the series without any trouble; that they were merely toying with the Browns; that they were merely working things to increase the gate receipts, but yesterday's play dispelled all suspicion.

The contest between the two clubs yesterday afternoon was the most exciting and most brilliantly played game ever seen in St. Louis, or any other city, in the history of the national sport. It was the hardest battle of all the six games, and it was not decided until a wild pitch allowed Welch to cross the plate with the winning run in the tenth inning. The Chicagos started out to play in a manner that meant business and it looked like defeat for the Browns. The home club never once gave up, though, and with the score standing 3 to 0 against them at the end of the seventh inning they played just as hard and steady as they did at the opening of the game. For six straight innings they went to the bat and six straight times they were retired without a hit, much less a run, or anything that looked like one. Bushong got his base in the first inning, but never advanced from the bag. In the seventh inning O'Neil made the first hit of the game for the Browns. He drove the ball far up in the air and out in the field beyond all reach of the fielders for three bases. But Jim in his effort to make third in safety, ran over the bag. The ball was fielded quickly and returned to Burns and as O'Neil went over the base, he was touched by the ball and put out. This terrible luck did not dishearten the Browns but they kept striving to get a run. In the seventh they tied the score and Latham assisted no little in doing it. With one run in, two men on the bases, two men out and two strikes and three balls called on Latham, the latter lifted the sphere to the left field over Dalrymple's head for three bases, sending in the two men.

The demonstrations on the part of the spectators when the score was tied was such that has never been equaled at any game of base ball before. The immense crowd seemed to go crazy. They yelled and cheered until they grew hoarse. Men and boys shook hands and embraced each other, turned summersaults on the grand-stand and in the field, and many actually wept tears of joy. The air was full of hats, handkerchiefs and umbrellas, and it was nearly five minutes before the crowd could be quieted sufficiently to go on with the game. It was a sight that will never be forgotten by those who were present. But the scene in the tenth inning when the winning run was scored and the Browns had secured the championship is almost beyond description. As soon as Welch had crossed the plate and the 10,000 people who filled the grand-stands and stood in rows ten or twelve deep in a circle around the field, more than half of them made a grand rush for the players, yelling and making all manner of noises and demonstrations. As soon as they would run up against a man in the Browns' uniform they would throw him upon their backs and carry him off the field. The entire nine were taken to the dressing-room in this manner. At various places in and around the park a crowd would congregate, and when some one would propose three cheers for the championship, they would be given with a will. Everybody was happy and everybody wanted to shake hands with everybody else. A crowd numbering perhaps 3,000 lingered around the park until after the members of the club had dressed. Wherever one of them was seen, a big crowd immediately circled around and cheer him heartily. It was long after dark before Sportsman's Park and vicinity had settled down to its usually quiet state. It is not likely that such scenes of enthusiasm will be seen again at St. Louis base ball parks for a long time to come.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 24, 1886

I thought it would be a good idea to divide this rather long article into two parts and I'll have the second half, which is the inning by inning account of game six, tomorrow. There will be much more on game six and the aftermath of the 1886 series in the days to come.