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.


David Ball said...

This would have happened on June 20, 1886. My notes make it a three-hitter for Foutz, but papers frequently carried their own box scores, so they might differ on details. They had lost to the Browns the two previous days, 11-0 and 12-7, so obviously hitting wasn't their only problem.

It was a very bad year for the Reds, the worst according to the league standings between 1882 and 1890, and further blighted by a rash of injuries and other distractions and unpleasantness.
To illustrate what I mean by distractions and unpleasantness, at the time of this game, the club was awaiting an official American Association investigation into charges by the Cincinnati Enquirer that Tony Mullane had been throwing games. (the Association found Mullane innocent, no doubt correctly)

I cannot refrain here from repeating once again my favorite 19th century baseball bad joke. Several Cincinnati players were talking, and when the young pitcher Elmer Smith asked how he should pitch to the Athletics' bibulous but hard-hitting Denny Lyons, Reilly advised him to use a drop curve. "Throw him the drop, Elmer," said Reilly. "I was talking to Lyons the other day, and he told me he hadn't touched a drop all season."

Jeffrey Kittel said...

Somebody should collect all these old 19th century baseball stories and publish them. VdA can have his own chapter.

Thanks for looking up the game in question. I didn't even think to do it. Just figured that the story (which I really liked) was just a tall tale.