Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 1887 World Series: Game Four

The Browns and Detroits arrived [in Pittsburgh] this morning at 9 o'clock on their special train. A more perfect day for ball playing could not have been made to order, and it was really the first day the two teams have had for their great contest on which it was fit to play ball. The cold, cloudy weather experienced at Detroit was succeeded by a clear, bright day, and it was just warm enough to make it pleasant alike for players and spectators. After breakfast on the dining-car, the two teams were driven around town in hacks, and were warmly received. The great game of the day before at Detroit had served to awaken the greatest enthusiasm, and nothing was talked of in sporting circles except the ball game. There was but little betting, however, and that at odds of 10 to 8 on Detroit. The game was advertised to be called at 3:15, and before 2 o'clock the crowd commenced to come into the grounds, and from that time on a steady stream of men, women and children filed into the gates until there were fully 6,000 on the grounds when the game was called. The Pittsburg grounds are by no means pretty or smooth. The diamond is skimmed; that is, made of packed clay rolled very hard without a blade of grass on it. A ball comes off the ground like a cannon shot. The outfield is also very rough. A number of Detroit people attended to-day's game, several of the Directors of the Detroit club, with their wives, having come over on the special train. It was intended to play Brouthers on first, and he was on the field in uniform, but his ankle was still so sore that Ganzel was substituted. Kelly called the strikes and balls, while Gaffney took care of the field decisions. The game was devoid of interest after the first inning, when the Detroits took a commanding lead. They started on King in a vicious manner and kept the Browns' players busy chasing leather throughout the game. Bushong was very unsteady throughout the game and seemed bothered considerably in handling King's speedy delivery. Comiskey played perfectly at first, taking some wild balls without an error of any kind. Robinson carried off the fielding honors, his error being of a very difficult ball back of second. Latham, who is a great favorite in Pittsburg, kept the crowd in a roar by his antics. He did some very clever work in the field also. O'Neill, Welch and Foutz also played well. Gleason was very weak at short, making several inexcusable errors. The Detroits played a marvelous game in the field and batted hard and opportunely. Baldwin was the hero of the day. He held the Browns down to two clean hits, giving three of them bases on balls. The world's champions were completely at his mercy. Bennett accorded him perfect support. Rowe, at short, played great ball, as did White at third. The Deacon is evidently good for a number of years yet. Dunlap batted well and fielded his part in fine style. Thompson carried off the honors at the bat, seeming to hit King without trouble. The game was too one-sided to be interesting. Unless the Browns brace up at the bat they can not hope to cope with the Leaguers, as the Wolverines' work thus far has been marvelous, and unless they let down it will be hard work winning games from them.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 14, 1887

Detroit scored four two-out runs in the first, with Thompson and Bennett getting the big hits, and the game was basically over. The Globe already saw the writing on the wall. After splitting in St. Louis and winning their home game, Detroit would win five of the first six touring games. The whole series was almost as uncompetitive as this game.

This brings up an interesting question: How good was this Detroit team? The Browns were a very good club and had proven that they could handle the League's best. Detroit crushed them in a fifteen game series without Dan Brouthers. The 1886-1887 Detroit Wolverines had Brouthers, Thompson, Richardson, White, Hanlon, Dunlop, Bennett and Rowe. Brouthers, Thompson and Hanlon are Hall of Famers and you could make the argument that Dunlop, Richardson, Rowe and White also belong in the Hall of Fame. That club was loaded. But it seems to me that they've been forgotten.

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