Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The 1887 World Series: Game Seven

The Detroits and Browns arrived [in Philadelphia] this morning at 1:30 from New York. The train was sidetracked and all remained on the sleeping cars. The morning opened clear and warm, and a more perfect day for ball playing could not have been made to order. There was no wind, and for the first time during the trip people were able to enjoy the game without being wrapped up in heavy overcoats. The customary parade was done away with. Bill Gleason at his own request was laid off, and young Harry Lyons put at short. Bill has lost his nerve and asked for a few days' rest until he could recover his confidence. Dan Brouthers once more appeared upon the field in uniform and practiced for some time at first base, but was afraid to try his ankle in a game, and Ganzel was put on first. The game was scheduled to-day at the Philadelphia League grounds. The magnificent grand stand was crowded, while the open seats were comfortably filled, and it is estimated that there were fully 7000 people present. Gaffney called the balls and strikes while Kelly attended to the field decisions. The game was a repetition of most of the other games of the series. The Detroits outlucked the Browns and won by this means.

Horrible Bad Luck.

The Browns outplayed them at every point, both in the field and at the bat, and with but an ordinary share of luck would have easily won. As a spectator remarked after the game, "Well, the only luck the Browns had was in the last inning; when a bird did not obstruct O'Neill's home-run drive, forcing it to fall in Hanlon's hands." Every time the Browns hit the ball it was right at somebody, and even then it would bound just right, not even giving the fielder a chance to make an error on it. Lyons, who played in Gleason's place, played a magnificent game, and evidently has the making of a great ball player. He was not nervous a bit, and handled himself like a veteran. Caruthers pitched again, and did magnificently. In the four games he has pitched the Detroits have made just twenty-six hits off his delivery. Bushong caught well, except his fatal error of judgment in the Detroits' big inning. It is not often that Bushong makes an error of judgment, but he was off this time. Comiskey did good work at first, and drove a corker to right in the ninth inning. He could have scored on Caruthers' hit, leaving the score 3 to 2, but waited on third to give Caruthers a chance to run to second. Robinson also played great ball, although weak at the bat. Latham had but little to do and was unfortunate in baiting. O'Neill saved the Browns from a shut-out, knocking the ball over the center field fence for a home-run. It was one of the longest hits ever seen on the grounds. Welch did some good work in center, as did Foutz in right. The latter also batted well. Baldwin pitched for the Detroits, and, although hit very hard, was so lucky that, had he caught O'Neill's foul fly in the ninth, he would have shut the Browns out again. Bennett once more caught a great game, and cut the Browns off every time they attempted to steal on him. Ganzel played a good game at first, but was weak at the bat. Dunlap, of course, played well. He was loudly cheered throughout the game, he being a great favorite in Philadelphia. White kept up his grand work at third, and did some very opportune batting. Rowe also did good work. Richardson had but little to do in left, but attended to whatever came to him. Hanlon made a great catch from Bushong's bat in center, and he doubled Robinson at second. Thompson, besides playing well in the field, batted very hard, and in this contributed not a little to the victory. The crowd was thoroughly impartial and the umpiring good.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 18, 1887

I'm sorry guys but luck had nothing to do with this. Detroit beat the Browns for the fifth time in seven games and had completely shut down St. Louis' offense. That wasn't luck. That's just the best team winning. I guess bad luck is going to be the excuse for the Browns losing the series because I have something going up in a couple of days where Latham is quoted saying something along the same lines. But that's just weak sauce.


David Ball said...

We thought about injuries, and the umpiring is always a good excuse, but luck didn't occur to us at all.

But, you know, St. Louis outhit Detroit in this game, they had more extra bases, they walked twice to only once for Detroit and they even committed fewer errors. Under those circumstances the team whose base running is its great strength is base running should be the winner. There was another game (the second?) in which they outhit Detroit by far but lost in extra innings, and it makes me wonder whether perhaps there is something to the luck explanation.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I have a post going up after the New Year that goes into a little more detail about how they lost this game. They had a guy thrown out at the plate with two outs in the first and then a guy thrown out at third with one out in the second. Those aren't horrible baserunning blunders but I just see them throwing away outs by forcing an aggressiveness that Bennett was able to check. Then in the second Bushong throws to the wrong base, giving up an easy out at first to try and get the lead runner. Another aggressive play that backfired and led to three Detroit runs.

None of that is bad luck (and really none of it is terrible baseball). Detroit was just making plays and St. Louis wasn't. Detroit got big hits and StL didn't. Detroit got big pitching in the tough spots and StL didn't.

Sure, luck plays a role in things and weird, random things happen in games. But this was a long series. It's not like they were playing best of five. The longer the series the better chance that the randomness will even out and the best club will win on their talent. Looking at these games and the players involved, I just think Detroit was the better team and I think they proved it over 15 games.

Also, Detroit had some bad luck too. They had to play without Dan Brouthers, which is no small thing.