Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The 1887 World Series: A Triumphal Tour

[From the Detroit Free Press]

"How many games will the Detroits and Browns play?" President Stearns was asked.

"Thirteen or fifteen, very likely the latter number."

"And what is the programme?"

"Well, the first game is to played in Detroit October 10. Then Two games will be played in Philadelphia and one each in Baltimore, Washington, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. We thought about playing in New York, but they wanted one-third of the receipts, which was too rich for us. If fifteen games are decided on, a couple of good cities can be found, as applications are coming in thick.

"These games with the Browns are going to be the greatest event in base-ball history. We are going to have two special cars, one for the Detroits and one for the Browns, and make a triumphal tour. The receipts will be divided on the basis of 75 per cent to the winner and 25 to the loser, and the tickets to the games will be placed at $1 each. Each team will carry twelve men on the trip."

"Who will be the umpires?"

"Gaffney for the League and Kelley for the Association. There's a great pair."

"The contracts of the Detroit players expire before the world's series begin."

"Yes, I know it, and, of course, expect to pay the boys for their extra work. I should be willing to let their salaries run right along, or pay each player $25 per game."

"How has the Detroit club come out financially this season?"

"About $5000 ahead. The stockholders have reaped principally glory. The fact is, our players are paid salaries 50 per cent higher than those of any club in the country, and they have reaped most of the benefit. It strikes me that in these games for the world's championship the stockholders should get a peep into the pasture. In addition to their salaries each player gets a nice present from the club for winning the League pennant. Every club in the League has made money this season, but Detroit makes less than any, even Indianapolis."

"How do you think the games will result?"

"Well, I saw the Browns play in the East and Detroiters will see a style of ball playing they never saw before. They are a great team and play great ball, but I think the Sluggers will do them about ten out of fifteen."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 21, 1887

Some thoughts on what I thought was a very interesting article:

-Not to give anything away but Stearns was dead on in his prediction on how the series would turn out. Nailed it perfectly.

-One dollar tickets? Really? I haven't finished the research yet and the series was still in the planning stages at this point but I can't imagine one dollar tickets. I know that wouldn't go over very well in St. Louis in 1887.

-When I read that the contracts for the Detroit players would expire before the series, all I could think about was how Fred Dunlap would use that to his financial advantage. I love Dunlap but he was rather predictable when it came to contracts and money.

-I think this series was a step backwards in the evolution of the World Series. The 1886 series was rather similar to a modern series with seven games scheduled, the competitive level displayed by both teams and the interest by the press and public. That probably had a lot to do with the fact that it was a rematch of the disputed 1885 series. The 1886 series had the feeling of a grudge match while the 1887 series already feels like an exhibition.

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