Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To Stop Base Ball On Sunday

Before I get to game two of the 1886 World Series, I thought I'd pass this along:

Two weeks ago a movement was commenced looking to the more proper observance of the Sabbath on the part of business men of [Edwardsville, Illinois,] and also to the abolition of Sunday games, especially base ball. The matter was undertaken by the W.C.T.U. and their friends. As soon as the first meeting was held the merchants of the city voluntarily signed an agreement to not keep open at all on Sundays, beginning next Sunday. At the meeting to-night in the Sunday school room of St. John's M.E. Church the matter was viewed in its legal status, and a committee was appointed to wait upon the Mayor to-morrow and ask his assistance in compelling saloons and all classes of business except drug stores and livery stables, to close. It was determined to endeavor by moral suasion to stop base ball on Sunday, and if that failed then legal process is to be adopted.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 15, 1886

Edwardsville, which is just across the river from St. Louis, had a baseball tradition that stretched back to at least to 1870 and, in the mid-1880s, the Madisons of Edwardsville were one of the best clubs in the area. It appears that they liked to play on Sundays and that some of their fellow citizens wished to put a stop to that.

This fits with some of my ideas about Sunday baseball in St. Louis in a couple of ways. The fact that Edwardsville clubs were playing baseball on Sunday fits with the general pattern of St. Louis Sunday baseball during this era. Also, the fact that there was a group trying to put an end to that practice is a bit unique in the region and shows the difference between the Creole/German/Irish Catholic influenced culture of St. Louis and the culture in Southern Illinois, an area settled by Americans from Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. While Edwardsville was a satellite of St. Louis, it was settled by a different group of people with a different culture and that produced a different outlook towards Sabbath observance.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The 1886 World Series: An Ode To Poor Old St. Louis

St. Louis came down like a wolf on the fold,
And their pockets were filled up with greenbacks and gold.
They told us great tales, amid smiles and frowns;
They bet all their greenbacks, and swore by the Browns;
But a basket of goose-eggs they got for their share.
For Williamson, Kelly, and Anson were there.
Three-baggers, two-baggers, and Latham take care;
For the Browns may play ball in a country town well,
But the Kings of the League you'll find, Latham, are--well.
-The Daily Inter Ocean, October 19, 1886

Now there's a bit of doggerel for you. To add insult to injury, the Inter Ocean went on to write the following:

Last evening a young man brought to the office...the following challenge, which the visiting club may wish to consider:

Mr. Editor-I, as manager of the Bootblack Base Ball Club, challenge the St. Louis club, better known as the Browns, for a series of games to be played here for all the money they can get.

E. Ward, Manager,
Bootblacks' Base Ball Club

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The 1886 World Series: An Interesting Idea

The [new] system of umpiring will be tried in Tuesday's game, which provides that there will be a referee and two umpires, one umpire to act for Chicago and do the umpiring when the St. Louis men are at the bat, and the other to act for St. Louis and umpire when Chicago is at the bat. In case of a close decision either umpire has the right to appeal to the referee, whose decision shall be final. The two umpires and referee will be chosen by lot from the Board of Umpires. The referee will stand between the pitcher and second baseman.
-The Atchison Daily Champion, October 19, 1886

The new system was mentioned by the Globe in their account of game one but without going into detail. Obviously, the solution to bad calls in the field (which marred the 1885 series) was to put more umpires in the field. The haggling, debate and negotiation over the umpiring system for the 1886 series has to be seen as a result of the breakdown of the system in the 1885 series, a lack of trust between the two clubs and a lack of trust between the clubs and the umpires in the other league (specifically Von der Ahe's mistrust of the National League umpires). There was a problem with the umpiring system and Von der Ahe and Spalding came up with a rather unique solution.

The new system would be put to use and tested in game two.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The 1886 World Series: The Betting News

Had the life of the nation been trembling in the scales, there would scarcely have been a more painful anxiety among the people at large than there was yesterday among the base ball public of St. Louis. There were large crowds every place where the returns were being received. In front of the Globe-Democrat office the crowd extended far out into the street. At all the base ball exchanges there were jams, while at Wiseman's the crowd filled the room and both alleyways. At Donovan's the Merchants' Exchange crowd held sway, while at the others the bootblack and the street gamin, the clerk and the more wealthy patron, stood side by side, tramped on each other's corns without complaining, and consoled with each other when the first inning came in, showing a goose-egg for the Browns and two good runs for the Chicagos. It has been demonstrated time and again that the average base ball patron is not much at betting, and so it was that the large majority of the crowd stood with open eyes, open ears and open mouths, which opened wider when the Chicagos' lead was increased to three. But still there was a great deal of betting and it is estimated that $10,000 changed hands on the game in $5 to $100 bets, in addition to the large amount jeopardized on the outcome of the series. One marked feature was the apparent absence of Chicago money, which seemed to disprove the rumor of a sold game circulated a few days ago. Nearly all of the Chicago money was put up by St. Louisians. A number of the Merchants' Exchange crowd backed Chicago, with backers for the Browns also from on 'Change. The betting started out even on the game, but before the first inning came in the odds were $100 to $80 in favor of Chicago, though at the same time it was reported that in Chicago the Browns were selling as the favorites...As the game progressed and big goose eggs were scored on both sides, the betting changed to $100 to $50 in favor of Chicago, and hung at that until the Chicagos added another run in the sixth inning. After that bets were made at $100 to $30 and after the Chicagos made their three runs in the eighth inning one bet of $100 to $4 was offered, in the enthusiasm of a Chicago admirer. In all about $5,000 were put up in the exchanges, and about as much in larger bets on the outside. John Donovan was one of the losers, though he came home from Chicago yesterday morning with the belief that the Browns were going to lose. There was a great deal of betting on the innings, and considerable on the series, but in the latter all bets were even, and when the game was finally scored at 6 to 0, $60 to $100 was offered on to-day's game against the Browns, with no Chicago takers.

The betting at night was very light, and the money on to-day's game will mostly be put up to-day, though during the game yesterday a number of bets were made on to-day's result. Early yesterday the betting orders from Chicago were numerous. In view of the victory of the Chicagos yesterday, the orders were expected to be more numerous last night, but though the exchanges were kept open late, no orders were received. This could not be understood, and by some was interpreted to mean that Chicago betters were disposed to hold off on the second game...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 19, 1886

This is really a fascinating account of 19th century sports betting. I was totally caught up in the article to the point that when it mentioned that you could get $100 to $50 on the Browns after Chicago scored their third run in the sixth inning, I was thinking to myself that that was a pretty good bet. I'd take two to one odds on the 1886 Browns outscoring anybody by four runs over three innings. But I think I'd want to run the win probability numbers before I started betting with 1886 dollars.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Game One

The opening game of the world's championship series between the St. Louis Browns and the Chicago White Stockings was played on the League grounds in [Chicago] this afternoon. The morning was dark, chilly and gloomy, and the prospects were anything but favorable for the mutual contest. About noon, however, the sun came out and shone brightly for nearly the entire afternoon. It was not comfortably warm though, for the spectators. At 11 o'clock in the morning President Von der Ahe, the four umpires, Messrs. McQuade, Kelly, Pierce and Quest, and Capts. Comiskey and Anson met at President Spaulding's office to decide on the new umpire plan suggested by the letter. It was decided not to make the experiment to-day, but it will be given a trial to-morrow. About 2 o'clock the Browns entered their carriages in front of the Tremont house, where a large crowd had gathered to catch a glimpse of the Association champions. As soon as they had entered the gates and the crowd of 5,000 caught sight of them, the yelling and cheering commenced and continued until they were in their positions in the field ready for practice work. About fifteen minutes later the Chicagos appeared from their dressing rooms at the extreme eastern end of the park, and forming into a line, single file, with their bats thrown over their shoulders and headed by a brass band, they marched out into the center of the field and up to the home plate amid a deafening roar of applause. They were given about fifteen minutes for practice. The difficult position of umpire fell upon John McQuade, who has so far done such good work in the St. Louis local series between the Browns and the Maroons. The game to-day resulted in a regular Waterloo for the Browns. They were shut out completely, being unable to get a man beyond the third bag. They did not play in their dashing, brilliant style which usually characterizes their work on the field, and from the first inning, when the Chicagos made their first two runs, they seemed dull and disheartened. Latham was the only exception. He was bright and cheerful as always, and kept the crowd in a constant roar with his jokes and funny sayings. Coaching is something new to Chicago people, and Latham's merry and entertaining way was decidedly refreshing to them after gazing so long at the silent statue-like Chicagos. He never lost hope and did not give up until the home club's victory was certain. The Chicagos played a good game of ball, but to Dame Fortune they owe their success to-day. Their hits, with one or two exceptions, were of the scratch order, landing just out of the fielders' reach. The Browns hit hard, but decidedly unluckily. Most of their hard-hit balls were liners directly in the Chicagos' hands. As the score shows, the home club made ten hits off Foutz's pitching, with a total of thirteen bases. Anson and Pfeffer did the best batting, each securing three singles. Of the five hits secured by the Browns two were made by Comisky and two by Robinson. One of the latter's was a three-bagger, the only hit longer than a single on the Browns' side. Clarkson was also successful in striking out ten men, while but five were retired by Foutz.

The Browns lost the toss and went first to bat. Latham was the first man to step up to the plate, and as he did so a yell went up that could be heard for blocks away. He was at the bat for fully five minutes, and Clarkson pitched seventeen balls before he could retire him. Of this number five were called balls, nine were fouled and three were strikes. Latham worked hard to reach first, and Clarkson had to exert every effort to prevent him from getting there. Caruthers went out from second to first, and O'Neill retired the side by striking out. For the Chicagos in this inning, Gore was the first to wield the willow. Foutz got two strikes on him but was unable to get another over the granite block, and sent him to first on balls. Kelly, the imitator of Latham, then came to the bat. He knocked a hot grounder down to Latham. The latter fielded the ball in good style and threw to Robinson at second in time to cut off Gore, who was forced down. Anson followed with the first hit of the game. He knocked a hot grounder down to center, good for only a single, but Welch, who so rarely makes an error of any kind, let the ball roll by him, enabling the Chicago's big captain to make second base, and Kelly, who had reached second on a wild pitch, to cross the home plate with the first run. Pfeffer made a hard, clean hit to right and Anson scored. Williamson was retired on a foul tip which Bushong captured as only Bushong can, and the latter threw Pfeffer out in an attempt to steal second bag. This wound up the first inning. Gleason was the first man to reach first base for the Browns. He got there safely in the second inning, on an error by Kelly, who missed his third strike. He was retired at second through Comiskey's grounder to short resulting in a double play in which Williamson, Pfeffer and Anson took part. Welch was given his base on balls in this inning, but he did not get beyond first, Foutz making the third out on his slow grounder, from third to first. The Chicagos had two men left on bases in this inning. After one out, Ryan got first on an error by Latham, who ran over into Gleason's territory to field the ball and then fumbled it. Dalrymple followed with the rankest kind of scratch hit to short left field, which resulted in a two-bagger. Neither of the men got in, however, as Clarkson and Gore, the next two men, were retired in order. The Browns retired in order in the next inning, but only a remarkable play between Caruthers and Latham prevented the Chicagos from scoring.

After one out, Anson made a soft hit and Pfeffer followed with a smashing drive to right for another single. Anson started for third and reached there safely, but Pfeffer was put out trying to make second, on a beautiful throw in and Latham's catch of it and quick throw to Robinson, who touched Pfeffer when the latter was only a foot from the base. Foutz struck out the next two men. Both sides were retired in order until the fifth inning, when Kelly got his base on a hit, but was left. In the sixth Robinson led off with a hit, and made a desperate effort to steal second, but a perfect throw by Kelly cut him off. Latham also made a hit in this inning, but was forced out at second by Caruthers retiring the side. The Chicagos scored a run in their half of the inning. Pfeffer got his base on a hit, but he narrowly escaped being thrown out. He knocked the ball with terrific force to Robinson, who knocked it down in a phenomenal style, but could not get it to first in time to throw the runner out. He went to second on a passed ball. Williamson went out on Caruthers' capture of his long fly to right. Burns also knocked a fly to right, and after Caruthers had caught it, Pfeffer started for third and came clear home on Latham's failure to stop Caruthers' throw to head him off. Ryan's foul tip to Bushong ended the inning. O'Neil went out in the seventh on a fly to left, and Gleason was retired on a fly to Anson. Comiskey made a hit to center, and went to second on Gore's inability to stop the ball. He was left, however, by Robinson's out from second to first. The Chicagos, with the exception of Gore, who got his base on balls, were put out on easy plays. In the eighth, after one man had been retired, Robinson made a hard drive to left center for three bases, but he could get no further. Bushong struck out, and Latham went out on a little fly to first. Anson led off with a hit; Pfeffer knocked a grounder to Gleason, who had covered second in plenty of time to put out Anson, who was forced down. Anson, however, squarely knocked Gleason down by running into him and making him drop the ball. Williamson then made a soft hit to center field. Welch fielded the ball quickly and threw it to Robinson. The latter made a wild throw to third to head off Williamson, enabling the latter to follow Anson and Pfeffer across the plate. The Browns had two more men left on the bases in the ninth. Caruthers got first on an error of Burns. O'Neil went out on a foul to Kelly, and Gleason forced Caruthers out at second. Comiskey made a hit and both men were advanced a base on Kelly's bad throw to second to catch Gleason napping. Welch wound up the game and clinched the shut-out by fanning the wind three times.

The only disagreeable feature of the game was the intense bitter feeling on the part of the spectators against the Browns. They were yelled and jeered at continually. The Chicago reporters acted like hoodlums and from their box directed the most abusive language at the visiting club. A person in the grand stands was ejected from the grounds by order of the umpire. McQuade did nobly as an umpire, and did not make a questionable decision on either side. The betting on the game here to-day was $10 to $7 in the Chicagos favor, and to-night on the game to-morrow the odds are the same. Caruthers and Bushong, and McCormick and Flint will be the opposing batteries.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 19, 1886

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More On The Possibility of Von Der Ahe Playing Baseball

I have two references in my notes of an incarnation of the Grand Avenue club prior to 1876. The first mentions a club by that name existing in 1872 and the other has the club playing a game in 1875 (and VdA did not play in that game). This is not the Grand Avenue club that was organized in March of 1876 by August Solari, with VdA on the board of directors, that would go on to great success over the next few years. There may be some relationship between the 1875 and 1876 clubs, as Joe Solari was a member of the 1875 team, but I have no real evidence of that.

Based on this information, I guess it's possible that Von der Ahe may have played for the Grand Avenues in the first half of the 1870s. I haven't had much luck in finding anything while searching the newspaper databases but that doesn't mean much and I still need to look through the Tobias material because I'm pretty sure he has box scores for the Grand Avenues from 1875. But I'm much more comfortable thinking about VdA playing on a lower level amateur club than I am with him playing for the 1876/7 Grand Avenues.

The 1886 World Series: The Coming Series

The coming series between the Chicago White Stockings and the St. Louis Browns is attracting more attention than any recent event in base ball circles, and I believe the contest will be the most exciting of any yet held. Admirers of the national game in each city are backing their favorites with their cash, and it is said there is more money at stake now upon the result of the series than ever placed in the same way before. The Browns will do their level best to bring the world's pennant back to St. Louis again this year, and are in splendid shape for the contest.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 17, 1886 (quoting Chris Von der Ahe)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Going To Chicago In Style

Mr. Von Der Ahe is making great preparations for the Chicago trip. He has chartered a special Pullman car, and it is now being handsomely decorated with flags and bunting. About fifty persons will accompany the club.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 16, 1886

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This Just In: Von der Ahe Played Baseball

Before we get to the games of the 1886 series, I have to stop and post something that I just found:

Mr. Von der Ahe thinks some of having the old Grand Avenues play the Browns at Sportsman's Park to-morrow afternoon. Mr. Von der Ahe was the short stop of that famous old nine.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 11, 1886

Von der Ahe was on the board of directors of the Grand Avenue Club in 1876 and was their vice-president in 1877. However, this is the first I've ever heard of Von der Ahe playing baseball with the club. In fact, this is the first I've heard of the possibility that Von der Ahe ever played baseball anywhere.

You have to remember that this is the guy who has been portrayed as knowing nothing about the game. He was the guy who didn't realize all of his customers were leaving to go to the ballgame across the street. He was the guy who didn't know that all baseball diamonds are the same size.

While we already knew that Von der Ahe had been involved in St. Louis baseball going back to at least 1876, here we have evidence that not only was he involved on the business side but he may have been a player as well. I'm not sure exactly what I think about this right now because I literally found this a couple of minutes ago and haven't really processed the information.

If this is true, and I have some doubts, it has to change how we view Chris Von der Ahe. While I've been arguing for a reinterpretation of Von der Ahe's career and I think that I've done it well, this would be a major, important fact that one could point to when arguing that Von der Ahe wasn't the ignorant clown that he's depicted as being. The argument that "He played the game," while superficial, is a powerful one.

Edit: The mind does like to play tricks and since I found this reference and wrote up this post, I've had this odd feeling that I may have seen the reference before. I can't be certain and the point isn't important enough to go looking through all my VdA posts. But the feeling is like an itch I can't scratch.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mr. Von Der Ahe Objects To All The League Umpires

I thought it was interesting that Von der Ahe had problems with the League umpires that he wasn't willing to put into writing in a letter to Spalding and I was curious as to what the problems were. I think this sheds some light on the matter:

The Globe-Democrat had this to say of the games before the points had been settled:

Mr Spalding proposes that Mr. Von der Ahe select umpires from Powers, Peatree, and Quest of the league corps, and that he select two from any three of the American Association staff that Mr. Von der Ahe may name. Spalding objects to Fulmer for reasons, he claims, of the latter's unjust decisions against the Chicago players in Philadelphia recently. As has been already stated, Mr. Von der Ahe objects to all the League umpires with the exception of Fulmer, and he has very good grounds for not wanting them to officiate in such important contests. Both Powers and Quest were released from the Browns for incompetency, and neither one of them naturally has any too much affection for the champions' President. Mr. Von der Ahe objects to Pearce on general principles. He does not think him a competent man, and the two mentioned above he will not have under any circumstances.
-Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1886

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Just About Ready

Mr. Von Der Ahe leaves for Chicago tomorrow to arrange the dates of the Browns-Chicago series.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 4, 1886

Mr. Von Der Ahe yesterday sent a telegram to President Spaulding, of the Chicagos, suggesting that the first three world's championship games be played Chicago, October 18, 19 and 20, and that three more be played in St. Louis October 21, 22 and 23. If it is necessary for a seventh game to be played the choice of grounds will be decided by toss. It is very likely that the above dates will be satisfactory to Mr. Spaulding.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 7, 1886

New Orleans parties have sent North an offer to the Chicago League and St. Louis American clubs to play three of the base ball championship games [in that city.] The offer comprises a large guarantee, $5,000 it is said, and the payment of all expenses. Base ball is on the a boom South, and it is expected that if the games can be arranged to take place here, there will be people from several States on hand to see them.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1886

The difficulty in the selection of umpires to officiate in the Chicago-Brown Games was yesterday amicably settled. Mr. Von der Ahe selected Pierce and Quest from the three named by President Spaulding and the latter selected Kelly and McQuade from the American Association staff. It is expected that about 500 people from this city will go up to Chicago and witness the opening games.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 9, 1886

The last regular championship game to be seen in St. Louis this season will be played at Sportsman's Park, between the Browns and the Brooklyns, this afternoon. The game will be one of special interest. The Browns are the first club to win the championship twice in succession, and Mr. Von der Ahe has decided to properly celebrate the event this afternoon.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 10, 1886

Seldom has such interest in a base ball championship race been exhibited in [Chicago] as during to-day, when the reports of the Philadelphia-Detroit games at Philadelphia, and the Boston-Chicago games at Boston were being received through the "tickers," and announced on the bulletin boards about the city. It was known that to make sure of its hold upon the pennant the White Stockings would have to win the game with Boston, or Detroit would have to lose one or more games with Philadelphia. When the news was received of Chicagos' victory and the Detroits' defeat there was cheering by the crowds. On learning of the club's victory President Spalding , of the Chicago Club, sent a telegram to Capt. Anson, in which he said:

You have clinched the pennant in great style. Knew we could depend on the old war horses on a pinch. You have won the League championship, now come home and win the world's championship.

The telegram also notified the members of the team that a suit of clothes awaited the order of each, and that the team collectively should receive one half of the receipts in the coming games with St. Louis.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 10, 1886

The series for the world's championship between Anson's men and the Browns has been arranged and the first games will be played at the Congress street grounds Oct. 18, 19, and 20, and the next three in St. Louis Oct. 21, 22, and 23. The point for playing off the seventh game, should such be necessary, will be decided later...The rules governing the games will be based upon Mr. Spalding's letter of Sept. 27 accepting Mr. Von der Ahe's challenge.
-Chicago Tribune, October 10, 1886

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The 1886 World Series: The Negotiations Continue

President Von der Ahe, in reply to A.G. Spalding's letter in reference to a series of games between the Browns and Chicagos, sent the following yesterday:

A.G. Spalding, President Chicago League Club: Dear Sir-Your letter came to hand late last evening. I heartily agree with you in your statement that a code of rules should be made for the government of the coming world's championship series, so that there can be no possible quibble after the result has once been attained. The provisions and conditions you name in your acceptance of my challenge are agreeable to me with one or two exceptions. When I sent you my challenge I overlooked the fact that we were scheduled to play the Maroons a series of nine games here this fall, for the local championship. These games are scheduled for the Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays of the three last weeks in October, after the close of the regular championship series. It is, therefore, impossible for us to play a series of nine games with your team, as we have not enough open dates on which to play them. What I propose is a series of five games, the club winning three of them to be awarded the title of championship of the world, and the entire gross receipts, minus the expense of the Board of Umpires; two of these games to be played in Chicago, and two in St. Louis; the fifth and deciding game, if necessary, to be played on one of the home grounds, and the choice of grounds to be decided by toss. I will also have to enter a protest in regard to the clause providing for a Board of Umpires. I do not do this because I believe the system a bad one, but because I thing that four umpires are too many. I would suggest that we have two, one each from the League and American Association corps. Another reason for my protest is that fact that I have personal reasons for not desiring at least three out of four members of the present League corps to officiate in such an important position in these contests. I do not care to state these reasons just now, but I will do so when I can see you personally. If there are any members of the American Association staff that are distasteful to you, I would like to hear from you, so that I can consult your wishes in making my selection. I do not object strenuously to a board of four, providing you suggest the name of at least one more man outside the League staff who understands the game and has a good reputation for honesty. I would like to meet you at your earliest convenience, in order that we may arrange the dates and attend to other details that can not very well be arranged by letter. Yours respectfully,

Christ Von Der Ahe
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 2, 1886

Friday, August 20, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Back And Forth

In reference to A.G. Spalding's letter published in the Globe-Democrat yesterday, replying to the challenge issued by President Von der Ahe for a match between the Browns and the Chicagos for the championship of the world, Mr. Von der Ahe said yesterday that he was not yet fully ready to give his answer. He stated, however, that he would play the Chicagos, and would agree to all of Mr. Spalding's stipulations with one or two exceptions. He finds it impossible to play nine games owing to the fall series with the Maroons. He will play five games, though. The other exception is in the matter of umpires. Just what the exception is he does not care to state at present. He is satisfied, however, that the differences may be satisfactorily adjusted, and feels confident that the two clubs will come together.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 1, 1886

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Spalding's Reply

Regardless of the hazardous effect that the demon Gambling might have on his club, Spalding was prepared to accept Von der Ahe's challenge but only under certain conditions.

The efforts of President Von der Ahe to have his club play a series of games with the Chicagos for the championship of the world are likely to prove successful, as will be seen by the following reply by President Spalding:

Mr. C. Von der Ahe: Dear Sir-Your formal challenge for a series of games with the Chicagos for the world's championship has just come to my notice and I hasten to reply. On the assumption that both clubs will win the championship in their respective associations, the Chicago Base Ball Club hereby accept your challenge, subject to the following conditions and stipulations:

1. A series of nine games to be arranged, four to be scheduled in Chicago, four in St. Louis, and the final and deciding game, if necessary, to be played on some mutually satisfactory neutral grounds.

2. The playing rules of the National League to govern all games played in Chicago, and the American Association rules to govern all games played in St. Louis. The rules governing the game to be played on neutral grounds to be decided before the commencement of the game by lot or mutual agreement.

3. The umpire to be selected by lot just before the hour advertised for the commencement of the game from a board of umpires, four in number, two to be selected from the League corps and two from the Association, the umpire to be sole judge and fully authorized to inflict fines on players for insubordination, in accordance with powers granted by rules under which the game is played, and his decision shall be final, and not subject to appeal. All fines that may be imposed on Chicago players by the umpire to be given to such charitable institutions in Chicago as the Chicago Club shall direct, and all fines imposed on St. Louis players to be given to such charitable institutions in St. Louis as the St. Louis Club shall direct.

4. The club winning the greater number of games out of the series played shall be entitled and shall receive the total gross gate receipts, including the grand stand receipts, and the same shall be under the charge and control of one designated officer or employee of each club, who shall be instructed to deposit the total gross receipts at the conclusion of each game in some agreed upon national banks in Chicago and St. Louis, and such banks shall hold said funds in trust until the completion of the series, and shall then pay over to the President of the club winning a majority of the games of the series, as ordered by the President of the losing club, or, if he fails to act promptly, as ordered by the Board of Arbitration.

5. Each club shall pay its own travelling and other expenses, and be to all expense of advertising and conducting the game in their respective cities, and the only expense item that shall be deducted from the total receipts due the winning club shall be the salaries and expenses of the Board of Umpires.

6. In case of any dispute relative to this series of games, and on any point or question that can not be mutually settled by the Presidents of the two clubs, the Board of Umpires shall constitute a Board of Arbitration, and a decision of a majority of said board shall be final, and each club agrees to acquiesce in such decision. In the event of a tie vote in the Board of Arbitration on any point, said board shall select a fifth man of good standing and well known in base ball circles who shall act with the Board of Arbitration.

In view of several misunderstandings that occurred in our series last season, I deem it wise to have all the conditions agreed upon and understood. And with this apology for this long letter, I submit the foregoing for your consideration and ask for an immediate reply. Yours truly,

A.G. Spalding
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 30, 1886

Two of the agreed upon points governing the playing of the series changed the nature of the contest. First, as suggested by Von der Ahe, the series was being played for the World's Championship, something that Spalding had denied was at stake in the 1885 series. This time around, it was accepted that this was a championship series. Second, the fact that the winner of the series took all the gate receipts raised the stakes and most certainly captured the imagination of the sporting public, creating an interest in the 1886 series that the previous series lacked.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The 1886 World Series: Von der Ahe's Challenge

Towards the end of September of 1886, the Browns were running away from the rest of the clubs in the American Association and were up double digits in games. At the same time, Chicago had a strong lead in the National League and it looked like both of the 1885 championship clubs were going to repeat. Naturally enough, the thoughts of many began to turn to the idea of a rematch of the 1885 world's championship series. However, an 1886 World Series was not a given and the details of the series had to be negotiated.

President Spalding, of the Chicago club, has stated in several interviews recently that he would not permit his club to play the Browns a series of games for the championship of the world under any circumstances. The reason he gives for not consenting to such a contest is because the players would wager money on the result, and he does not want any gambling in his club. Perhaps, however, the real reason that Mr. Spalding does not want to play the Browns is simply because he is afraid that he will be beaten and as to the remark that he does not want his pets to put up any money, he is probably looking to their own interests, and does not want to see them lose their hard-earned cash. At any rate, Mr. Von der Ahe sent a challenge to President Spalding last night, in which he requests that a series of games be arranged, and sincerely hopes that the noted President of the celebrated "babies," which may become more famous by beating the Browns, will think favorably of the proposition, and not disappoint thousands of patrons of the game, both in this city and Chicago, who are dying to see the two clubs come together. Mr. Von der Ahe's challenge is as follows:

A.G. Spalding, President Chicago League Club, Chicago, Ill.: Dear Sir-The championship season is fast approaching an end, and it now seems reasonably sure that the Chicago White Stockings and the St. Louis Brown Stockings will win the championship of their respective associations. I therefore take this opportunity of challenging your team, on behalf of the Browns, for a series of contests to be known as the world's championship series. It is immaterial to me whether the series be composed of five, seven or nine games. I would respectfully suggest, however, that it would be better, from a financial standpoint, to play the entire series on the two home grounds, and not travel around as we did last season. I would like to hear from you at your earliest convenience, in order that the dates and other details may be arranged. I am yours respectfully,

C. Von Der Ahe.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 26, 1886

Interestingly, these two clubs had a bit of a run in when Chicago was in St. Louis in mid-July to play the Maroons. At that time, Anson was asked how the Browns would do in the League and he said something along the lines that they would finish fifth or sixth. The Browns didn't take that too kindly. Comiskey just pointed out the results of the 1885 series but Foutz and Caruthers confronted Anson at the Lindell Hotel and offered to bet $1,000 that St. Louis could beat Chicago. Jon David Cash writes that "a week after Fouts and Caruthers dared Anson to put his money where his mouth was, White Stocking shortstop Ned Williamson responded to the offer of the Browns' aces: 'Anson and the rest of us will stand ready to cover all bets which Foutz and others of the Brown Stockings wish to make.' The St. Louis Merchants Exchange got into the act by claiming that it would wager ten thousand dollars on the Browns in a series with the White Stockings. Then the Chicago Board of Trade engaged in a bit of one-upmanship by offering to bet up to one million dollars on the White Stockings. While dismissing most of these maneuverings as 'a big game of bluff,' the Sporting News editorialized, 'If the Chicago folks think that their team can beat ours, they have simply to put up their stuff. Ours has been up...Anson and others were asked to cover it, but they politely declined. Money is the only thing that talks nowadays so our Chicago friends will do well to either put up or shut up.'"

I would guess that this incident and the subsequent talk of money and betting was what Spalding was talking about when he stated that he didn't want to play the series because of the influence that gambling would have on his club.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The 1885 Champion Browns

Not sure if I ever posted this and since we've been talking about this specific team for a bit, I figured I might as well put it up. So here you go.

Tomorrow, I'll start on the 1886 World Series.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Making Merry With Von der Ahe's Dignity

St. Louis has a champion base-ball club. This is not generally known outside the city limits, but nevertheless it has a club entitled to that proud appellation. For seven months the club has been assaulting the Poseyville Reds, the Smoky City Whites, and the Porkopolis Blues, and having more or less vanquished them all it has returned home full of honors and booze. Not only is this club unique, but it has a President who is the most eccentric of his kind. His name is Chris Von der Ahe, and to mention it in base-ball circles is to provoke a wide grin. The base-ball fraternity and even his own "champion" club make merry with Chris' dignity. Like many good citizens from the Rheinish provinces, Chris has found the English language as hard to conquer as many of the ball clubs. His knowledge of the beautiful points in the game is also quite limited, as the following story, told by his deceased secretary, Dave Reid, will attest: One morning when his club was practicing he approached Dave, and in a burst of confidence said:

"Dave, dis vas de piggest diamond in de country."

"No, Chris," replied Dave, "all diamonds are the same size."

"Vell," replied Chris,..."it vas de piggest infield, anyhow."

In the early part of the summer Chris called the boys together, and said: "See here, now: I don't vant some foolishness from you fellows. I vant you to stop dis slushing and play ball. Of you vin de scampinship I gif you all a suit of clothes and a benefit game extra, and of you don't you vill haf to eat snowballs all vintor." This ultimatum had the desired effect, and the players slugged the ball and stole bases until they were well in the lead. When the President saw that the coveted pennant was within his grasp he determined to get up a carnival procession that would make the Veiled Prophet sick and dwarf his parade into insignificance...

...It was called a reception and was ostensibly given by the public, but in reality by Von der Ahe in the name of the public. Chris skirmished around and got all the rowing clubs, amateur ball clubs, foot-ball clubs, and sprinters, engaged all the German bands within a five-mile radius of the courthouse and awaited the arrival of "de Prowns..." Chris was a stellar attraction all by himself, and immediately following him were "de Prowns." The champions were conscious that the eyes of the multitude were on them, and they bore themselves with becoming dignity. With feet occasionally elevated above their heads and cigars between their teeth, they showed by the expectorations which they showered on their admirers and emphatic cries of "Rats!" with which they returned all cheers, that they still retained their individual characteristics...

The procession wound up in Schneider's beer-garden, where Congressman John J. O'Neil, a stockholder in the Browns, welcomed them in behalf of the public. He told how the great heart of the city warmed toward her club and that the boys could have anything they wanted, and if they were too modest to ask for it he would ask for them.

"Well, give us a rest," shouted one of the champions...

Latham, who is described by Chris as "dot boy Latham, who can run like a cantelope," became quite obstreperous at the banquet...
-Chicago Tribune, October 8, 1885

This was a very long article that took plenty of shots at Von der Ahe and the players but I edited out a lot of the more uninteresting stuff. The article also contained the story about Vice-President Thomas Hendricks, who was in St. Louis at the time and believed that the championship parade was thrown in his honor.

The point of all of this is to note that Von der Ahe stories, which had begun to appear as early as 1883, were rather well-formed by 1885. You have the diamond story, the eating snowballs story and "de Prowns." The only thing missing is a reference to "de Poss President." The Latham cantaloupe story is a new one to me and it made me chuckle.

I think that 1885 marks an important moment in the evolution of the Von der Ahe stories. The Browns were successful and Von der Ahe was becoming better known. He had some very public domestic problems in August that had to have done some damage to his reputation. And after this article in the Tribune at the beginning of October, Von der Ahe stories begin to pop up in numerous newspapers throughout the month. It seems that beginning in October 1885 the Von der Ahe stories take on the form that they would retain to this day and become a staple in the sporting press.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Von der Ahe's Lease On Sportsman's Park

I'm going to get to the 1886 World Series soon but I have a couple of things in my bookmarks that I'd like to post first.

Mr. Von der Ahe has secured a lease on Sportsman's Park for another year at a rental of $3,000, so the Browns will remain at the same old stand for at least another year.
-Sporting Life, October 28, 1885

I think that's useful information.

Tomorrow, I have the Chicago Tribune spreading Von der Ahe stories in 1885.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The 1885 World Series: Aftermath

When the St. Louis and Chicago clubs came upon the field at Cincinnati Saturday, Oct 24, it was announced that the clubs had cancelled all future dates, and would make this the final game of their series. The first game at Chicago, Oct. 14, resulted in a tie of 5 to 5. In the second game at St. Louis Oct. 15 the score stood 6 to 5 in favor of Chicago when a row occurred; St. Louis left the field and the game was awarded to Chicago by 9 to 0. The third and fourth games were also played at St. Louis, Oct. 16 and 17, and both were won by the American team by scores of 7 to 4 and 3 to 2. The fifth and sixth games were played at Pittsburg and Cincinnati respectively and Chicago won both by scores of 9 to 2 each. This left the record in favor of Chicago by three victories to St. Louis' two. Before Saturday's game, however, it was mutually agreed to throw out the forfeited game, leaving the clubs even at two games each, and that Saturday's game decided the series. Under this agreement the game was played and the result was an easy victory for the American champions.
-Sporting Life, November 4, 1885

Before the game began it was announced that by mutual agreement the forfeited game given to Chicago had been declared off, and today's game was to wind up the series, each club having won two games.
-Chicago Tribune, October 25, 1885

"The telegram published in this morning's papers," said President Spalding yesterday, "to the effect that the disputed game at St. Louis between the Browns and the Chicagos had been declared off, and that the Browns became the world's champions by winning yesterday's game at Cincinnati, is a mistake. The game was not declared off, and nobody would have had any authority to take such a step. The series consequently stands tied, as stated in yesterday's Tribune, each team having now three games, with the first game...tied...There is another mistake, which, through the enterprise of the newspapers, has become widely established, and that is that the series just finished has been contested to decide the championship of the world. That is nonsense. Does any one suppose that if there had been so much as that at stake that I should have consented to the games being played in American Association cities, upon their grounds, and under the authority of their umpires? The truth is, that the St. Louis people were anxious to play a series of exhibition games in the cities in which they have since appeared, and that to make the play interesting Von der Ahe and myself contributed $500 each toward a purse. I should have given the boys the $500 anyway, as I have done before when they have won the championship, and presume Von der Ahe would have done the same. Unquestionably, our boys have played very poor ball during the entire series, but their interest in play was gone, and as a test of the relative playing strength of the two nines, the series has been a failure."
-Chicago Tribune, October 26, 1885

Cincinnati, O., Oct. 25.-[Special.]-Viewed from an Association standpoint the Commercial-Gazette says of the world's base ball championship:

By their crushing defeat of the Chicagos yesterday the St. Louis team, champions of the American Association, have the right to lay claim to the championship of the world. They won three games on their merits, while Chicago won but two.
-Chicago Tribune, October 26, 1885

So there you go. There were two decisions made before the seventh game on October 25. First, given that the series was not a big draw at the gate, the rest of the games were cancelled. Second, and more importantly, there was an agreement made between someone, most likely the players, that the forfeited game two would not be counted. By that reasoning, St. Louis won the series, three games to two, and claimed the 1885 World's Championship.

As much as I want to mock Spalding for his "there was no agreement and even if there was, nobody had the authority to make one and even if they had that authority, this wasn't a series to decide the championship of the world but regardless, the whole enterprise was a dismal failure" reasoning, I'm pretty much in agreement with everything he said. The series was nothing more than an exhibition and the forfeit has to stand. The 1885 "World Series" ended tied.

Lucky for us, there would be a rematch in 1886.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The 1885 World Series: Game Seven

The game to-day between the St. Louis Browns, champions of the American Association, and the Chicagos, champions of the League, was the decisive one in the series between these two clubs for the championship of the world, and resulted in an easy victory for the St. Louis team. It was Clarkson's day to pitch, but he appeared on the grounds five minutes late, and Capt. Anson ordered McCormick, who pitched yesterday, into the box. But two hits were made off McCormick yesterday. To-day he was hit for a total of sixteen bases, and this, with the miserable fielding of the Chicagos, decided the game. The Chicagos took a lead of 2 runs in the first inning on hits by Sunday and Kelly, and an error to Barkley. In the third inning Welch made a three-bagger and crossed the plate through Dalrymple's poor fielding. Barkley and Comiskey made hits and Barkley scored. Comiskey was forced out by Robinson. Robinson stole second and came home on a passed ball. The St. Louis Club won in the fourth inning, by batting McCormick safely five times. The fielding of the League champions in this inning was the worst seen here for some time. Anson made two bad muffs, Williamson a wild throw and Dalrymple a wild throw, and Flint had two passed balls. The result was 6 runs for the St. Louis team, only 2 of which were earned. In the fifth inning the Chicagos made 2 unearned runs, but they had no chance to overcome the lead of their opponents, and the game thereafter was devoid of interest. The last half of the eighth inning was not played on account of darkness, but it is counted in the score, as the St. Louis club had the game without playing their half. The game was played under League rules, and the score is made according to League rules. Attendance 1,200.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 25, 1885

And the 1885 series mercifully comes to an end.

However, even though the series ended tied at 3-3-1, St. Louis claimed the championship. What? How in the world did that happen? I'll explain tomorrow.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The 1885 World Series: Game Six

About 1,500 persons saw the Chicagos defeat the St. Louis American champions this afternoon [in Cincinnati]. The game was marked by miserable fielding, Anson being particularly weak. McCormick's pitching was the feature. Only two hits were made off his delivery, and one was a scratch. In the eighth inning he struck out Welch, Barkley and Comiskey. Dalrymple did some good batting.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 24, 1885

Again, very little ink spent on this series in the newspapers.

Chicago was up in games, 3-2-1, after the first game in Cincinnati and had a chance to win the series with a victory in game seven.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The 1885 World Series: Game Five

The fifth game of the series between the champions of the League and American Association was played at Pittsburg Oct. 22. The weather was cold and not over 500 people were present. The Chicagos won easily [9-2] through superior batting and fielding. At the end of the seventh inning the game was called on account of darkness.
-Sporting Life, October 28, 1885

This series between St. Louis and Chicago simply failed to capture the imagination of the press and public. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat didn't even mention the score of this particular game. While I understand that these were really nothing more than exhibition games, the fact that a St. Louis/Chicago baseball game couldn't get any ink in a major St. Louis newspaper that was known for its baseball coverage is strange.

I couldn't find a box score for this game in a format that I could post, which speaks to the lack of coverage that these games received. Dalrymple and Anson were the hitting stars for Chicago, with five hits between them. Anson also had a triple. St. Louis committed seven errors and gave up eight unearned runs.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The 1885 World Series: Hopefully This Solves The Officiating Problems

Al Spaulding and Christ Von der Ahe have agreed upon Bob Ferguson to umpire the remaining games in the series between the Browns and Chicago Club for the championship of America.

The Browns leave this morning for Pittsburg, where they will play the Chicagos to-morrow. They will play in Cincinnati Friday and Saturday...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 21, 1885

Monday, August 9, 2010

The 1885 World Series: Game Four

The Browns scored another victory over the Chicagos yesterday in a contest that was one of the most exciting that has taken place at Sportsman's Park this season. The visitors outbatted and outfielded the home team, but they ran bases with very bad judgment and three of their four errors were very costly. Anson would not accept McCaffrey as umpire and the opening of the game was delayed forty minutes before a choice was made, William Medart being finally agreed upon. Mr. Medart tried to satisfy both sides, but failed to please the visitors, and after the game was ended declared that he would never again be found in such a position. To the eyes of the reporters he made a mistake in the fifth inning in deciding Burns out at third on Robinson's throw to Latham, but otherwise his decisions were correct, and there was no reason in the kicking that the Chicago players persisted in. In the last inning, after Burns had obtained first on an error by Barkley, McCormick raised a fly to Comisky, who muffed the ball. Burns then ran for third and Comiskey picked up the ball, turning his arm as if to throw to third, causing McCormick to move away from first base, and made a dash to cut off McCormick. The latter tried to get back, but did not succeed, and Comiskey, after touching him, fell over him. When McCormick was declared out he stood on the base and refused to come in, and Sunday walked up to Medart and told him he knew "that man was not out." Medart informed Sunday that he was "a liar" and ordered him to shut up, adding "if you don't do it I'll make you." Sunday shut up, but stood back with his fists clenched, prepared for an attack and looking as if ready to make one. Kelly stepped up to Sunday and led him to the bench. Then McCormick came in from first, with his face glowing like fire, and was making a bee line for Medart, when Kelly met and stopped him. But for Kelly's intervention there doubtless would have been a row, for McCormick is not only hot-tempered but is a fighter, and had he got near Medart there would have been a fight. Had one occurred the Chicago players would undoubtedly have been roughly handled, for the feeling was very strong against them.

The first run was scored by Latham in the third inning. After he had batted the ball, which McCormick ran to field and then let roll about an inch outside of the left foul line, Anson called Kelly close up behind the bat. Then he drove a slow one by McCormick to center and took first. A low throw by Kelly to Pfeffer gave him a life at second, and Foutz out at first advanced him to third. When Caruthers hit to Williamson and the latter threw to first, he broke for home and tallied. The visitors made their 2 in the fifth. Burns led with a single to left, went to second on a passed ball and third on Barkley's fumble of McCormick's grounder. McCormick then ran slowly for second to induce Robinson to throw to Barkley. Robinson, however, threw to Latham, and Burns was declared out. After Halliday had been called out on strikes, Balrymple drove the ball over the right field fence, bringing in McCormick and scoring a home run himself. The winning runs were made in the eighth inning. Latham obtained first on Burns' failure to stop a grounder to short, took second on a passed ball, third on Foutz's hit to Anson and out at first; and scored on Caruthers' single to left. When he crossed the plate, the crowd in the grand stand stood up and cheered. Caruthers got second on a passed ball, but was run down between second and third when Gleason hit to McCormick. Pfeffer scored the out and threw wild to Anson to catch Gleason off first, with the result that Gleason ran to third and scored on Welch's grounder, which Williamson fielded back of third but could not get to Anson in time to put out the striker.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 18, 1885

No one can say that the 1885 World Series lacked for drama.

William Medart, for those who are interested, had been a board member of the old NA/NL Brown Stockings and had previously umpired League games in games in St. Louis. However, it had been pointed out in the past that he was not a particularly good umpire.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The 1885 World Series: Game Three

The Browns and the Chicago team met again yesterday afternoon and the result was a victory for the home team by a score of 7 to 4. Harry McCaffrey umpired the game and everything passed off smoothly. The home team won by superior fielding, the batting of the two teams being exactly equal, each making eight hits with a total of twelve bases. League rules governed the contest and bases on balls, wild pitches and passed ball figure in the error columns. A muff by O'Neill, a fumble by Gleason, a base on balls and muff of a foul fly by Bushong were all the errors charged against the Browns, while a total of twelve appear in the score of the visitors. A muff by Dalrymple in the first inning when two men were out was the costly error of the game. It was followed by a base on balls, a wild pitch, a single, a double and a triple, the whole yielding five runs, one more than the visitors secured in their nine innings. The batteries were Caruthers and Bushong for the Browns and Clarkson and Flint for the Chicagos. Caruthers struck out seven men and Clarkson five. The visitors were first at the bat. Dalrymple opened the game by striking out. Sunday followed and secured a tally on a base on balls, Kelley's hit to Comiskey and out at first, and O'Neill's muff of Anson's high fly to left. A single to right by Pfeffer advanced Anson to second, and both were left by Williamson hitting dead in front of the plate and being thrown out at first by Caruthers. Gleason led for the home team with a safe hit by second, but was forced at second when Kelley muffed Welch's fly to right and saved an error by assisting to Pfeffer. Welch got second on Pfeffer's muff of Flint's throw, and after being given two lives by Burns' muffs of throws from Flint, reached third on a passed ball, and, after Barkley had struck out, scored on Dalrymple's muff of Comiskey's fly. Six balls gave Robinson first base and advanced Comiskey to second, and a wild pitch gave each another base. Then O'Neill hit safe to center, bringing in Comiskey and Robinson, and ran to second when Sunday fielded to the plate. A double to left by Latham sent O'Neill home, and a three-bagger in the same direction by Caruthers tallied Latham. Bushong closed the inning by foul-tipping to Flint. The second inning yielded 1 run to the Chicagos, Clarkson scoring on a single to center, Flint's out at first on Caruthers' assist, and Dalrymple's safe hit to right. Anson made the circuit of the bases in the third. After Kelley had been retired, he got first on a grounder to Latham that was too hot to handle, and was advanced to second by Pfeffer, who, having been given a life by Bushong muffing a foul, hit safely to center. On Williamson's hit to Gleason, who threw to Barkley, forcing Pfeffer, the latter ran into Barkley, preventing a double-play, and also enabling Anson to score. No more runs were made until the sixth inning, when the Browns secured 2. O' Neill led with a single to center, and was quickly brought home by Latham, who drove the ball to left for two bases and took third on Pfeffer's throw over Flint, after receiving the ball from Dalrymple. Latham scored on Caruthers' grounder, which rose over Anson, but was intercepted by Pfeffer, who ran to first and scored a put-out. In the ninth, after Pfeffer and Williamson were out, Burns hit over Welch for three bases, and scored on Clarkson's double to right. Flint settled the game by striking out.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 17, 1885

It took three games but we finally have an unambiguous outcome to a game. Not much to say about this other than I don't think I've ever seen a single, double and triple hit consecutively in a game before. That would be kind of neat to see. If I'm not mistaken, Matt Holiday hit a single, a double and a triple in consecutive at bats a few weeks ago. And then, instead of letting him go for the natural cycle, Tony double switched him to bring in his worst pitcher. Oh, the joys of baseball.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The 1885 World Series: Rashomon (or Groundhog Day)

I might as well give you a fourth witness:

The second game was played at St. Louis Oct 15 and...broke up in a row in the sixth inning, owing to Sullivan's umpiring, which was most unsatisfactory to the home team. In the sixth inning play was suspended for some time by a kick over one of his decisions in giving Kelly safe when he was clearly out. Later on, after a ball which hit outside the foul line, but rolled inside before it reached first, had been declared foul, it was given safe, letting in a run, and Comiskey called his men off the field. Sullivan claims it was not he, but Anson who called out foul. Sullivan made no decision of the game on the grounds, but gave it to Chicago that night at the hotel by a score of 9 to 0. The Browns claim the decision will not stick, as it should have been made on the grounds.
-Sporting Life, October 21, 1885

Nothing really new here; I just wanted to make the comparison to Rashomon.

Also, I wanted to point out that this game kind of reminds me of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. Played one hundred years later, that game saw a poor call at first base (and I'm trying to be kind to Mr. Denkinger), a dropped ball in foul territory and a passed ball. Whitey Herzog has said in the past that he should have pulled his team off the field in protest of the call at first. And if that game or Game Seven had been played in St. Louis, things would have gotten pretty ugly (or uglier, I guess). I think the real difference between the games is that the Browns were trying to systematically intimidate the umpire while the Cardinals just lost it. But time heals all wounds or so we tell ourselves.

And I promise that tomorrow I'll move on to Game Three.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The 1885 World Series: The Very Entertaining Tribune Account Of Game Two

The second game for the championship of the world between the Chicago and St. Louis clubs today broke up at the end of the sixth inning in a disgraceful row which almost culminated in a riot. The umpire narrowly escaped mobbing and for a time the feeling was so intense that the mob were on the point of laying violent hands on Kelly and Anson of Chicago...Sullivan, the umpire, had given several close decisions against St. Louis, and was subjected to considerable abuse from the crowd. Sunday opened the sixth by a terrible drive over Nichol's head and reached second. He reached third on a wild pitch while Kelly was sawing wind at the plate. Kelly finally got on to the sphere and landed it in Gleason's hands. As Gleason threw the ball to first Sunday started for home and this play attracted the attention of Umpire Sullivan, and he did not see the play at first. The ball beat Kelly to the base [by] at least ten feet, but Sunday scored. The umpire, to the surprise and indignation of the crowd, declared Kelly safe...Play was suspended and all the players gathered around Anson, Commiskey, and the umpire, who were quarreling in a disgraceful manner. Commiskey threatened to take his men from the field, and was told by Sullivan that if he did the game would be given to Chicago. After the umpire had called play at least a dozen times without any notice being taken of it he finally gave the two Captains just two minutes to get their men in position. This had the desired effect, and amid curses and jeers play was again resumed. Anson took up his favorite bat and hit safe in centre, and Kelly, who had meantime stolen a base, came home and tied the score. Pfeffer hit a fly back of first base, which Nichol dropped but fielded the ball to second and forced Anson. Williamson danced around the plate for five minutes, during which time Kelly went to third on a passed ball. The big third baseman at last hit the ball and it struck outside the foul-line, but curved in on fair ground. Commiskey gathered it in and fielded the ball quickly to first base, which was covered by Burkley. Williamson, however, beat the ball to the base and Sunday came in. Commiskey claimed the ball was foul, and the umpire at first agreed with him and told Williamson he would have to come back. Then Anson and Kelly came to the front and in a few minutes convinced the umpire that the ball was fair. The players had by this time again congregated around the umpire another scene occurred. The crowd could not be controlled, and about 200 men jumped into the field and made for Sullivan. He would have been handled roughly but for the police. When this demonstration was made nearly all the male spectators in the grand stand jumped into the field and took sides in the trouble. The Chicago men seized their bats and held their ground, but the umpire was escorted from the field by the police. The spectators and players walked off the field in a bunch, and now the Chicago men claim the game by a score of 9 to 0 because the Browns left the field. The latter claim that they did not leave the field before the Chicago men and did not leave at all, but were forced off by the crowd. Sullivan was seen tonight by your correspondent and said that Anson called foul when Williamson hit and not him. He decided the game after he reached the hotel 9 to 0 in favor of Chicago. Commiskey says that this can't be done: that the home game had to be decided in the field. Sullivan will not umpire tomorrow and the St. Louis men will contest the game.
-Chicago Daily Tribune, October 16, 1885

I gave you three different newspaper accounts of game two of the 1885 World Series (along with Jon David Cash's version) and nobody can agree on what happened. That's not exactly unusual but I think it does speak to the chaos that broke out in the sixth inning. While Sullivan certainly lost control of the game and the Browns may or may not have left the field in protest, the biggest factor in the forfeit has to be the actions of the crowd. It doesn't matter what rule is used to decide fair and foul; it doesn't matter that Sullivan had botched some calls; it doesn't matter if Comiskey pulled his men off the field, if the Browns left the field at the same time as the White Stockings or if they fled the field in fear for their safety. It doesn't even matter what rules Sullivan used to declare the forfeit or if his declaration of a forfeit was correct within the confines of the rules. It doesn't matter because the St. Louis fans stormed the field in protest of an umpires decision and broke up the game. Putting aside the details and the legalities, the rules of common sense declare that the game is forfeited to Chicago.

St. Louis would try to claim this series based on their argument that the forfeit didn't count and this argument was aided, in part, by certain members of the White Stockings. I'll get to all that eventually but the argument was specious. The first game of the series was called due to darkness and was counted as a tie. The second game was broken up by a mob of St. Louis fans and forfeited to Chicago. After two games, regardless of all argument, the Chicago led the series 1-0-1.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The 1885 World Series: More On Game Two

The second game for the base ball championship of the United States came to an abrupt termination today. The day was bright and warm and 2000 persons assembled to see the game. The Chicagos were minus the services of Gore, their crack batsman, and the St. Louis were without Bushong, their regular catcher. In the first inning Sunday, after Dalrymple had been retired at first by Comiskey, hit safe to left, and then went to second on a passed ball. Kelly hit safe over Gleason, and Welch fumbling the ball Sunday came all the way home. Gleason led off for the Browns with a hit over Clarkson for two bases, Welch sent the ball through Williamson's legs and Barkley advanced Welch to second by sacrificing to Pfeffer. Comiskey hit to Pfeffer, who threw home to catch Gleason, but failed. Kelly threw to Pfeffer to catch Comiskey as he stole second. Pfeffer muffed the ball, and Welch came home while Comiskey went to third, and the latter scored a moment later on a passed ball.

In the second inning Pfeffer hit to right field for two bases, and came home on Nicol's muff of Burns' fly. In the fourth Robinson reached first on Burns' error. O'Neill hit to Burns, forcing Robinson at second. Then Latham hit to centre for three bases, and O'Neill came home. In the fifth both sides drew blanks, and at the commencement of the sixth inning the Browns were in the lead by 4 to 2.

Up to that time Umpire Sullivan of the regular League corps had been giving the home team a tough deal, and the crowd were ripe for a row. Sunday led off in this inning with a double over Nicol. Kelly hit to Gleason and was thrown out at first, but Sullivan, who was watching Sunday steal home, did not see the play at first and refused to declare Kelly out. There was a great to-do in consequence. Play was suspended for full fifteen minutes and Captain Comiskey threatened to withdraw his nine from the field. He was at last induced to go on with the game. Kelly held his place at first, went to second on a wild pitch and came home with the tie run on Anson's hit to centre. Pfeffer hit an easy fly to right, which Nicol muffed, but Anson was forced out at second. Pfeffer stole second and went to third on a passed ball. Williamson was at the bat, and the Chicago's prospects of securing another and leading run were excellent. Williamson hit the ball on the ground in such a way that it first rolled foul and then curved around into fair ground. Comiskey fielded the ball on fair ground and threw it to Barkley, who had covered first. Williamson beat the ball to the bag by at least five feet, and Pfeffer scored on the stroke, but Comiskey claimed that the ball Williamson hit was foul, and that Sullivan had shouted foul, and he asserted that unless the umpire called it foul he would quit the field. Sullivan at first said that Comiskey was right, and that Williamson would have to go back to the bat, but when the Chicagos kicked he changed his mind. Before the controversy ended the crowd had jumped from the grand stand and had taken possession of the field. Several persons made for the umpire, but he was taken care of by the police. In the midst of the uproar both sides left the field.

Tonight the Chicagos are claiming the game by a score of 9 to 0, on the ground that the St. Louis left the field, while St. Louis deny that they left the field, and claim they were simply forced off by the crowd. Umpire Sullivan left the grounds with the Chicagos. At the hotel tonight Sullivan gave the game to Chicago by a score of 9 to 0. Tomorrow's game will be played with some local man umpiring.
-Boston Daily Globe, October 16, 1885

The Boston Globe's account of the game differs significantly from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat's. The Boston paper claims that Comiskey did not take his team off the field until after the crowd took the field and that the White Stockings also left the field at the same time. The St. Louis paper stated that Comiskey took his team off the field first, at which time the crowd stormed the field. Only then did the Chicago club leave the field. The Boston paper also states that the decision to award the game to Chicago by forfeit was not made until later in the evening.

While the Boston account seems to absolve Comiskey of some of the blame that the St. Louis Globe-Democrat assigned to him, the forfeit still seems to have been awarded correctly. Regardless of whether Comiskey pulled his club off the field or the St. Louis crowd put an end to the game by storming the field, the game was rightly given to Chicago by forfeit. Game two of the series is rightly counted as a Chicago victory.

Jon David Cash writes about the game in Before They Were Cardinals:

...while bickering ballplayers from each side swarmed the umpire to offer their own perspectives on the play, the [Chicago] Tribune reported that "about two hundred men" left their seats and stormed the field with intentions to do bodily harm to Sullivan. Amidst the subsequent pandemonium, Sportsman's Park security personnel whisked Sullivan off the field to an awaiting carriage, the White Stockings armed themselves with their baseball bats to fend off the uncontrolled mob, and the Browns left the ballpark.

The question of precisely when the Browns departed the diamond later took on increased importance. Sullivan, from the safety of the Lindell Hotel, ruled the game forfeited to Chicago on the basis that Comiskey had pulled his men from the field of play. The Browns raised two objections: they had not left the field prematurely, but had exited with the White Stockings when both teams simultaneously were forced off by the rampaging spectators; and the declaration of a forfeit was invalid because Sullivan did not issue it on the playing site as required by the rules, but waited instead until he was ensconced at his hotel. Ironically, a Chicago newspaper offered a time sequence supportive of the Browns' version of events. The Tribune noted that "the spectators and players walked off the field in a bunch," thereby lending credence to the Browns' claim that they had been "forced off by the crowd." In another surprise, however, three St. Louis newspapers concurred with Sullivan's opinion that Comiskey pulled the Browns off the field before the fans rushed onto the diamond. These St. Louis newspapers differed only in how they assessed the propriety of Comiskey's actions.

Cash, while noting the contradictions in the various newspaper accounts, does take Comiskey to task for his actions in game two. Quoting Francis Richter and Joe Ellick on the abuse that umpires of this era were subject too, he writes that "Comiskey, still fuming over Sullivan's earlier mistakes and angry at himself for not hastily fielding Williamson's grounder, had provoked hundreds of St. Louis fans into attempting an assault upon the suddenly endangered umpire."

I'll post the Chicago Tribune's account of the game tomorrow and I'll try to sort out all of my thinking of this game before we more on to game three.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The 1885 World Series: Game Two

The first game at Sportman's Park between the Chicago Club and the Browns proved a poor contest, very badly umpired and terminating in a forfeiture by the home club to the visitors, the end being attended by a scene of excitement and confusion that was rarely, if ever, been equaled at any previous ball game in this city. Sullivan, the League umpire, came down from Chicago to act in the game, and a more unfortunate selection could not have been made. In the first inning he gave Kelly out at second on a steal, when nearly everybody thought the runner was safe. In the third he more than evened up matters by declaring foul a safe hit to right by Foutz, who, on the hit and a fumble by Clarkson, reached second, from which he was called back. This decision aroused the spectators to great indignation and Sullivan was loudly and roundly denounced. When, in the third inning, Barkley was called out on a ball that was above his head, another storm of hissing and shouts of "Get another umpire" followed. During the fourth and fifth inning nothing especially exciting occurred, but in the first half of the sixth a crisis was reached. After Sunday had led off with a double to right and gone to third on a passed ball, Kelley hit a grounder to Gleason, who fumbled and then threw to first, clearly putting out Kelley. Sunday scored on the play and Kelley was decided "safe." While the crowd uttered exclamations of amazements, some of the more impetuous shouted "robbery." Comiskey came in off the field, protested against the decision, and objected to Sullivan umpiring any longer. Sullivan immediately went to the players' bench, put on his coat and sat down. Anson refused to permit a change of umpires, and a long wrangle followed. Finally Hon. John J. O'Neill stepped out of the grand stand into the field and joined the wrangling players. Anson asked what his business was on the field, and the answer was, "That's none of your business."

"Well, it is my business, and you have no business on the field," retorted the big captain of the Chicago team.

"I am the President of the club," said the Representative of the Eighth District.

"I always thought Von der Ahe was the President," remarked Anson as he was very suspiciously eyed the M.C.

"Well, I'm the Vice President of the club, and in the absence of the President from the city the Vice President takes his place, don't he?" was the rejoinder of the friend of the laboring man.

The upshot of it was that O'Neill remained and the game proceeded.

Kelly quickly stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single to center by Anson. Pfeffer raised a fly to short right and Nicol muffed it, but threw Anson out at second, while Pfeffer secured his base. After Pfeffer had stolen second Williamson hit a slow grounder along the line to first. The ball was spinning as it traveled, and when near first base it reached the outside of the base line it struck the edge of the turf and turned so sharply inside the line that Comiskey failed to stop, and it struck the inside of the bag and ran a short distance beyond it. Meanwhile somebody shouted "Foul!" Pfeffer ran in from second and Williamson, after hesitating when the ball was outside the line, made a dash when it changed its course and reached first in safety. Comiskey claimed that the ball was foul, Sullivan insisted that it was fair, but Comiskey said it was not under American Association rules, to which Anson answered by calling for the rules. Another squabble was followed by Comiskey calling his men off the field. There was a rush of spectators into the field and while one crowd gathered around Anson, Superintendent Solari and a special officer escorted Sullivan off the field, a second crowd following them to the gate and abusing Sullivan at every step.

By leaving the field Comiskey made a serious blunder, for the rules made it the imperative duty of the umpire to declare the game forfeited, and while the act caused the home team the irretrievable loss of a game that they had a chance to win, it also gave to the backers of the Chicago Club considerable money that was wagered on the result. Under all rules the ball was a fair one, and the umpire was in no way to blame for the deceptive course it took. It was generally believed that Sullivan had called the ball "foul," but this he denies, and is supported in his denial by Robinson, the home catcher, who asserted that it was Anson who made the call in question; but even if he had declared it "foul" before it had passed inside the line, he would have been obliged to correct his decision and declare "fair."

Anson stated that he had not brought Sullivan here, that the Browns brought him, and he was their selection. Sullivan admitted that he was rattled, but said members of the home team stood near him and abused him from the first inning, and having no way to protect himself against their insults, he could not help getting excited. When the game stopped the score stood 5 to 4 in favor of the Chicagos, on uneven innings. The Browns scored 3 in the first inning and 1 in the fourth. The Chicagos scored 1 in the first, 1 in the second and had made 3 in the sixth, with one man out, when the game broke up. The game will go on record as 9 to 0 in favor of Chicago.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 16, 1885

Not a great start to the 1885 World's Championship Series, with a tie and a forfeit in the first two games. But game two gave us a serious controversy that would affect the outcome of the series and will take a few days to sort out.

It was always my understanding that the Browns claimed that they had won the 1885 series and I believed that this was based on disputing the forfeit of game two. However, based on the Globe's account of the game, I see no basis for the claim. Comiskey took the Browns off the field, quit the game and Chicago was rightly awarded the forfeit. The Browns forfeited one of the seven games of the series. And they were losing that game when they quit. Game two of the series, regardless of how it happened, was a victory for Chicago and a loss for the Browns.

The umpire for the game was David F. Sullivan, who umpired National League games in 1882 and 1885 and lived in Chicago. I think Anson was being a bit coy when he said that the Browns had selected Sullivan to umpire the game. It's likely that his name was put forward by Chicago, along with a few others, and the Browns picked Sullivan off of the list supplied by the White Stockings. Yes, the Browns had selected Sullivan but only after he was suggested by Chicago.

I searched high and wide for a box score to this game and did find one. Sadly, it was not in a format that allowed me to post it here. Interestingly, the Globe did not publish a box score to this game. Looking at the box score I did find, it looks like the Browns were having problems hitting McCormick and had only two hits in the game, through five innings. It was a sloppy game with Chicago committing five errors and the St. Louis battery of Foutz and Robinson combining for three passed balls and a wild pitch. Gleason, Welch, Comiskey and O'Neill scored for the Browns; Sunday and Pfeffer each scored twice for Chicago and Kelly scored once. Chicago had the only earned run in the game.

If this was the big controversy surrounding the 1885 series than it's not much of a controversy at all. Umpire Sullivan made some bad calls but Comiskey's decision to take his club off the field cost his team a chance to win the series. If the Browns had kept their composure instead of storming off the field, they could have come back and won game two. They were only down a run, had a rowdy home crowd on their side and the umpire was shaky. However, they walked off and forfeited the game. After the forfeit, the Browns had to win three of five to salvage a split series and four of five to win it. The only real controversy, according to the Globe, is Comiskey's decision to pull his team off the field.

However, there are other contemporary accounts of the game and they differ with the Globe's account. I'll take a look at those tomorrow.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The 1885 World Series: More On Game One

The last professional game to be played in [Chicago] this season took place yesterday between the St. Louis Browns and the White Stockings, resulting in a tie game at the end of the eighth inning, by a score of 5 to 5. The Browns are, without doubt, a very smooth organization, and can play ball with the best of them. Had they been the League instead of the American Association team at St. Louis during the past season, the Mound City would quite likely have ranked other than last in the race. Latham's play at third was admired by every one of the 2,000 people that witnessed it yesterday, and the invariable rule which seems to obtain among the entire nine of going for everything and missing nothing was seen and appreciated. They pull together splendidly, and are unquestionably one of the strongest teams in the country. It is undeniably a fact that Chicago has let down astonishingly since winning the pennant by beating the Phillies in the first game of their last series. The strain upon the boys had been a long and hard one and with the championship in their possession they have seemed to feel that their season's work was accomplished and that the many restrictions that they had voluntarily placed themselves under could with safety be tossed overboard. The result is that late hours and other indiscretions have unfitted the boys for work upon the diamond and their play has most plainly shown it of late. One of the results of the game yesterday was the suspension of Gore, who for some time past has been playing indifferently. Yesterday his indifference was so marked that he was told by Anson at the conclusion of the game that he might remain in Chicago, and that Sunday would look after his territory during the coming games with the Browns. Gore's disposition is not one of the most amiable in the world, and the lesson may prove of value to him. It has been intimated that the centre fielder has been playing for his release, but this report is not credited, and Gore himself refuses to talk upon the subject. The Whites left for St. Louis last night for games with Browns at St. Louis today, Friday and Saturday, at Pittsburg on the 22d, Cincinnati on the 23th and 24th, Baltimore the 27th, Philadelphia on the 28th and 29th, and Brooklyn on the 30th and 31st. The team winning the majority of the games in the series will take the $1,000 deposited by Spalding and Von der Ahe as a special purse to be divided equally among the players of the winning team. The season has practically ended here and interest in the game has vanished with the season.
-Sporting Life, October 21, 1885

I think this article gives an idea of how the players were looking at the World Series. Yes, there was some money at stake but the real championship had already been won and the season was over. These were nothing more than exhibitions. Sporting Life treated the games similarly, putting the box scores with the box scores of all the other exhibition games that were being played around the country.