Saturday, December 31, 2011

The First Empire-Union Game

Base Ball Match--The following is the result of a match game of base ball played yesterday, on Gamble's Addition, by the Empire and Union Base Ball Clubs of this city: [Unions 15, Empires 14.]
-Missouri Republican, December 20, 1861

I think this is most likely the first game ever played between the Empire and Union clubs.  Tobias wrote that the Unions had organized in 1859 and that this game took place during the "holidays of '60..."  He had the score right but was off by a year.  He also mentions a series of games between the two clubs that took place in "1860 and the early part of '61..."  Again, he was off by a year, as I also now have primary source evidence of the first Empire/Union series taking place in 1862.    

I once had a bit of an email debate with someone about when the Union club was formed and the question of when this particular game was played was central to their argument.  I never believed that this game was played in 1860 and went so far as to look up weather data for the winter of 1860/61 in St. Louis.  Just so you know, the winter of 1860/61 in St. Louis was one of the coldest on record, with a great deal of snowfall.  I don't think anybody was playing baseball in St. Louis that winter.  But now I have conclusive evidence that this game was played in 1861.  I'm not here to say I told you so, but...

In all seriousness, it was important to find an account of this game.  We no longer have to speculate about whether Tobias' timeline was off or if I was reading the source material wrong.  The weight of the primary source evidence supports the idea that the Union club was formed in 1860 and first played the Empires in 1861.  And this is not to be taken as a slam against Tobias, who remains the most significant St. Louis baseball historian of all-time.  While I know that he was working with a lot of the records of the pioneer-era clubs, it's also true that we know that some of the antebellum and Civil War era records were lost by the time Tobias sat down to write his history.  It's obvious that his work is much stronger when dealing with the post-war era and the errors that he makes with regards to the pre-1865 era are not all that significant.  As a human being writing thirty odd years after the fact, he confused some dates and events.  It happens.         

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Fourth Of July 1861

Married vs. Single.--This match which took place at Gamble Lawn, on the morning of the 4th, resulted in a decided victory for the married men.  The players were selected from all the senior organizations of the city, which fact imparted an unusual interest in the result of the game, as was shown by the large number of spectators present.  The play on both sides was highly commendable-in the field, as well as at the bat-and resulted in a score of 55 for the married and 32 for the single men...
-Missouri Republican, July 7, 1861

So much interesting stuff here.

First, there were a number of games played between the married and single club members in 1861.  There were at least three games played between the married and single members of the Cyclones, Commercials and Morning Star clubs and there was actually a bit of 19th century trash talking going on in the press after the single men won the first two games.  I think it's significant that the majority of games that I have a record for in 1861 were not games between senior clubs but either matches between junior clubs or a muffin game between a conglomeration of senior clubs.  I would imagine that, as May 1861 ended, the senior clubs had a difficult time finding enough men to stock their nine, as club members began going off to war.  The Civil War did not end baseball in St. Louis but there is no doubt that it made it more difficult to organize a senior club.

The second thing here is the mention that the Cyclones, Commercials, Morning Stars and Empires were the only senior clubs in St. Louis in the summer of 1861.  That's a very useful piece of information.  I have a list of about ten clubs that were competing in the summer of 1860 and the fact that there were only four in the summer of 1861 is again evidence of the negative effect of the war on baseball in St. Louis.  There were numerous junior clubs playing in 1861 but I think it's obvious that the older ballplayers had more important things to deal with in that summer.  Neither the Cyclones nor the Morning Stars survived the 1861 season.  

The last thing I want to point out is the significance of this game.  It was played on the Fourth of July 1861.  Fort Sumter was attacked on April 12, Camp Jackson fell on May 10 and, by early June, it was obvious that the war was going to be contested in Missouri.  The battle of Boonville was on June 17, the battle of Carthage would be fought on July 5 and the first battle of Bull Run would be fought in a few weeks.  It must have been a rather bittersweet holiday.  Clubs had already started to dissolve as political division and military recruitment and responsibilities began to take their toll.  I look at that box score and see men who would fight on both sides of the war.  But for one day, and possibly for the last time, they came together to celebrate the birth of their country and play the game they loved.                     

Thursday, December 29, 2011

And Now You Know The Rest Of The Story

The Match Game of Base Ball Interrupted--The match game of base ball, on Gamble avenue, yesterday, was brought to a somewhat abrupt termination.  While the game was in progress a German Home Guard came upon the field and persisted in remaining in the way of the players.  After having been asked two or three times to retire behind the line he was then taken by the arm by the person appointed to keep the field clear, when he (the Home Guard) attempted to strike him.  The blow was returned, the German going down.  He then went away, and in about half an hour afterwards a detachment of Home Guards came and surrounded the whole field, creating quite a panic among a number of ladies and gentlemen who were assembled to witness the game.  The order was given to take all the players to Turners' Hall as prisoners, but Mr. Griswold (formerly a captain in the Home Guards) and a few others persuaded the acting captain of the Home Guards to withdraw his men from the field.  The Guards were withdrawn.
-Missouri Republican, August 23, 1861

One of the interesting things about the information that I've recently found in the Republican is that it contradicts a lot of the information about the Civil War era as presented by E.H. Tobias.  I have a great deal of respect for Tobias and regard him as one of the pioneers of baseball history.  His work, appearing in The Sporting News in 1895 and 1896, is invaluable and he had access to a great deal of primary source material that has been lost to us.  However, as I find more and more primary source material from the period, I'm beginning to find errors in Tobias' account and his conclusions regarding baseball in St. Louis during the Civil War.

The description of the game above is one example.  Tobias' account is much more dramatic and he gets several key facts about the game wrong.  The two most significant things he was wrong about was the date of the game (describing it as the Empire Club's anniversary game, which was held in April) and the motivation for the conflict (that he describes as involving a pennant flying over a tent that the Home Guard mistakenly believed was a pro-Succession flag).  While Tobias was correct that a baseball game was broken up by the Home Guard and that Merritt Griswold played a role in easing a tense situation, this was not the Empires' first anniversary game and it had nothing much to do with Civil War politics.

Tobias' account of the game makes for a much better story but his version was not entirely accurate.  That saddens me a bit because it was probably my favorite story from the St. Louis pioneer era and it turns out to not be exactly true.  I guess my favorite story from the period now is the one about Alex Crosman getting eaten by sharks.  

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Choice Of Ground

Lafayette Park in 1859 or 1860

Mr. Chester presented the petition of the "Cyclone Base Ball Club," praying the Council to grant them the privilege of using for their playground the vacant space formerly reserved for the military at Lafayette Park, and also the right of leveling and smoothing the same for that purpose... 
[Mr. Wells] presented petition of C.L. Kretschmar, W. Delafield, et. al., members of the Commercial Base Ball Club, asking permission to use the grounds in Lafayette Park, as petitioned for by the Cyclone Club.
-Missouri Republican, March 5, 1861

Mr. Nelson from Special Committee, to whom was referred the petitions of certain Base Ball Clubs, asking permission to use Lafayette Park grounds for the purpose of playing, reported that the Cyclone have choice of ground and are permitted the first use of the ground, provided they make the improvements necessary for the game at their own expense.  The other club can have the second choice of ground.  Report accepted.
-Missouri Republican, March 9, 1861

Base Ball.--The Commercial and Cyclone Base Ball Clubs have, at a considerable expense, fitted up their play ground in Lafayette Park, and will commence playing the coming week.  The Commercials practice Mondays and Thursdays; the Cyclone Tuesdays and Fridays of each week, at 4 o'clock.  The first day of their season of the new ground (Monday) both clubs will be out and play a friendly game, to commence at half past three o'clock.
-Missouri Republican, April 28, 1861

It has always been my understanding that the Cyclones played in Lafayette Park starting in 1859 and that the park was most likely the site of the first Regulation game of baseball in St. Louis.  Obviously, other bat and ball games had been played in St. Louis prior to the advent of the Cyclones (the Morning Stars, for example, were playing town ball at Carr Park by 1858, at the latest, and town ball was most likely being played in the city by the 1840s) but the Cyclones were the first to play the New York game and, according to most sources, there grounds were located at Lafayette Park.  While they played a match game at the Fairgrounds, I've never seen a source mention that their home grounds were anywhere other than Lafayette Park.  The St. Louis Republic of April 21, 1895, quoting former Cyclone members, stated that "The grounds occupied by the club were in the center of Lafayette Park and something like $600 had been expended in putting them in order.  The grand stand was simply a tent which sheltered those who were awaiting their turn at bat or some of the many visitors who came out to see the game."  Several members of the club lived in the Lafayette Park neighborhood and it was a natural place for them to play.

However, the above information from the Republican makes me doubt the idea that the Cyclones always played at Lafayette Park.  My understanding of the source material is that the Cyclones organized in the summer of 1859 and they immediately petitioned for the use of Lafayette Park, making improvements to the grounds to make them suitable for baseball.  But we now know that the club did not petition the Common Council for use of the park until March of 1861.  It's entirely possible that the club used the park prior to this and that the source material confused the issue of when and why the club petitioned the council.  Or it means that baseball wasn't played at the park until 1861.  It's difficult to tell with the information I have at the moment.

My best guess is that the Cyclones played at Lafayette Park prior to 1861 and that the issue before the Common Council was about a dispute between the Cyclones and the Commercials over use of the park.  My reading of the material from the Republican makes me think that, with the growth of the popularity of the game in St. Louis in 1860 and the increase in the number of clubs, there was a conflict over the use of the best grounds.  Specifically, the Commercials wanted to use grounds that were, up to that time, the exclusive territory of the Cyclones.  That conflict was taken before the appropriate government agency and the dispute was settled in favor of the Cyclones, providing the club made certain improvements to the park.  Regardless of the significance of the dispute, it's obvious that it did not hurt the relationship between the two clubs, who played a friendly match at Lafayette Park in late April to open their season.

It should also be mentioned that the information found in the Republican helps us to date the military takeover of Lafayette Park in 1861.  We know that Union troops took over the park sometime in the summer of 1861 and baseball activities there ceased.  Obviously this did not take place prior to the end of April 1861.  The conflict at Camp Jackson didn't take place until May and things really didn't come to a head in Missouri until June.  There is evidence that games were played at Lafayette Park as late as June 7 but games in early July, that normally would have been played there, were being played at Gamble Lawn.  So, if I had to guess, I'd say that Union troops took control of Lafayette Park sometime in June of 1861.            

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Things Are Looking Bad

The St. Louis Base Ball team lost its second game this season, out of twenty-four played, to the Chicago Unions today, after an exciting contest of ten innings.  Taylor and Baker formed the battery for the visitors, and Daily and Krieg did the fine work for Chicago.  During the first five innings the home nine failed to get a base, while their opponents scored four runs.  They then tied the game by two runs in the sixth on a base on balls, a hit and two wild throws, and two more in the seventh on Krieg's hit and three errors.  Daily made the winning run and ended the game in the tenth inning by a base on balls, Ellick's clean hit and a wild pitch.  The St. Louis nine made their runs in the second and sixth innings, by hard hitting, coupled with costly errors by the Chicago infield.  They had men on bases in every inning but one, and their field play was perfect until near the close of the contest, when wild throws lost them the game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 2, 1884

With their second lose in six games, the Maroons were falling apart.  Lucas needed to go to Providence and get Charlie Sweeney drunk.  Up four nothing, they gave up two in the sixth and two in the seventh.  Then in the tenth, they lose by a walk, a Joe Ellick hit and a wild pitch.  That's a tough way to lose.  And to make matters worse, they lost a half game in the standings, their lead falling from 6.5 games to 6.  Somebody buy Sweeney some drinks.

As if things couldn't get any worse, I think Fred was in a slump.  What Did Dunlap Do?  He had one measly hit, after going hitless in the last game.  The T-800 needed a tune-up.    

Monday, December 26, 2011

Shamefully Treated On The East Side

The Owls complain that they were shamefully treated in East St. Louis yesterday, when they crossed the river to play the National Reserves.  Complaints of this character are very frequent from clubs visiting East St. Louis, and unless managers of the local nines do not correct abuses complained of, it will be advisable for all outside clubs to ignore challenges from that quarter.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 2, 1884

Yeah.  We here on the east side of the river have been having to listen to the whining of the people on the wrong side of the river for a long time.  We've learned to tune them out.     

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Black Stockings Romp

The colored ball tossers, the Black Stockings and the Athletics, played a game yesterday morning at Compton Avenue Park, the Black Stockings winning by a score of 20 to 2.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 2, 1884

Would it have killed the Globe to give us a box score?  In their June 2nd issue, they published a box score for a game between two American Association reserve teams, a game involving the Lucas Amateurs and some random game between clubs from Akron and Evansville, as well as the Maroons game.  They also published a couple of paragraphs on a muffin game in Mexico, Missouri.  But they give the Black Stockings one sentence.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Braggin' Rights

The Pana Meteors, champions of Illinois, play the Prickly Ash, champions of Missouri, to-day at Amateur Park.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 1, 1884

I post this in honor of the Braggin' Rights basketball game that was held yesterday.  Can't beat a good Illinois/Missouri game.  And I don't even want to talk about the SIUC/SIUE game.

Pana, by the way, is about a hundred miles or so northeast of St. Louis, in the central part of Illinois.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Roster Moves

The Unions have released Perry Werden and laid off Tom Sullivan for two weeks.  Sullivan's legs are in bad condition.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 1, 1884

It's been speculated that Werden had suffered an arm injury, which would explain his lack of use by the Maroons and his release.  He would come back to have a decent career in the major leagues as a first baseman but his major league pitching career was pretty much over.  Sullivan, on the other hand, was finished as a major league baseball player.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Whitewash

The St. Louis Unions whitewashed the Keystones yesterday, in the presence of about 1,500 spectators.  Hodnett's pitching was so effective that the visitors made but three safe hits, and his support was perfect in every respect, excepting an excusable muff by Dickerson after a long run.  Bakely was batted by the home team for eleven hits, including two-baggers by Gleason and Shafer.  Out of a total of seven errors charged to the Keystones Luff was guilty of three.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 1, 1884

Charlie Hodnett was obviously the star of this game, throwing a three hitter and shutting out the Keystones.  Early biographical information on Hodnett is a bit sketchy and while sources agree that he was born in 1861, the exact date is unknown.  Also unknown is his place of birth, with some sources stating he was born in St. Louis and others that he was born in Dubuque.

According to his entry in Major League Baseball Profiles, Volume One, which was written by David Nemec and David Ball, "Charlie Hodnett came to the Browns in the spring of 1883 from the St. Louis sandlots.  His brother Jack was also a prominent local amateur, and his father, John, helped found the St. Louis Times, a Democratic organ, in 1866.  Both brothers worked as printers at their father's paper early in life...[In 1884,] Hodnett started for the St. Louis Maroons on Opening Day...More than a month later he sustained the UA club's first defeat after it had sprinted to a ML-record 20-0 start when he lost 8-1..."  So there's a good bit of trivia for you:  Hodnett won the Maroons' first game and suffered their first loss.

Hodnett pitched his last game for the Maroons on July 4, 1884, taking the loss in a 12-1 defeat.  The Davids write that "Though kept on Maroon's payroll until September 1884, Hodnett never pitched in another official game.  The likelihood is that he was already suffering from the rheumatoid condition that reduced him to a cripple within a few years.  By 1886 Hodnett was able to walk only with the aid of a cane and relied on occasional benefit games as his main source of income...[He] died  a pauper in the St. Louis poor house, where he had been sent after his family could no longer care for him."

Hodnett died on April 25, 1890, at the young age of 29.  His major league career lasted only twenty-two games.  With the Browns and the Maroons, he started eighteen games, going 14-4 with a 1.88 ERA and an ERA+ of 165.  He accumulated 3.4 WAR in his brief career.  Breaking into the majors at the age of 22, it appears that Hodnett was a fine, young talent who had a decent career cut short by illness.

And as to the What Did Dunlap Do portion of our program:  Fred went 0-5 and only had three chances in the field, proving that the King of All Second Basemen was human.        

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The 1884 Maroons Face A Pitcher With A Lame Arm

About 2,000 persons attended the base ball game between the Keystones, of Philadelphia and the St. Louis Unions at Union Park yesterday afternoon.  The visitors put in Weaver to pitch in response to a generally expressed desire to see him in the points.  He was, however, in no condition, being suffering from a lame arm, and was unable to do much more than toss the ball to the batsman.  On one occasion he stopped a hit with his left hand, and there was a chance for a double play, but he was unable to throw, and in an effort to pitch the ball to Peak sent it low out to center.  He held the points until the eighth inning, when he retired to left, Hoover went to third and McCormick undertook to do the twirling.  The features of the game was a home-run by Gleason, double-plays by Rowe and Quinn of the home team, and Hoover and McGuinness, of the visitors.  The home nine scored 20 hits with a total of 35 bases.  A total of 6 singles represented the visitors work at the bat.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 31, 1884

I just don't think that it was a good idea to throw a dead-armed pitcher against the 1884 Maroons.  

And What Did Dunlap Do against a pitcher with a lame arm?  About what you would expect.  He had three hits, including two doubles, and scored four runs.  Doesn't really seem fair, does it?  

Monday, December 19, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Sounds Like A Heck Of A Catch

Between 1,500 and 2,000 people witnessed the second game between the Keystone Club, of Philadelphia, and the St. Louis Unions, played yesterday afternoon at Union Park.  As in the first meeting between the same nines the local team won.  The visitors were outbatted and outfielded, but by bunching hits earned most of their runs.  William Sullivan, a new discovery, occupied the pitcher's box for the home team for six innings.  He showed that he was a promising twirler, but hardly a safe one to put against experienced players.  In the third inning Dickerson opportunely became sick and Taylor was uniformed and sent out to left field.  Then in hte seventh inning Taylor's opportune presence was utilized by his going to the box, Sullivan retiring to right and Shafer moving to left.  Dickerson said his trouple was neuralgia.  Some unsympathetic people intimated that his affliction was superinduced by the hard hitting the Keystones were doing on Sullivan's delivery.  The visitors presented Bakely and Gillen.  Weaver had been announced to pitch, but was indisposed.  Bakely was hit for 17 singles and a total of 22 bases, and Gillen, whose support was brilliant in many respects, allowed three balls to pass him.  Brennan had one passed ball charged against him, but handled the widely differing deliveries of Sullivan and Taylor with equal ease and reliability. 
The feature of the game was a catch by Dunlap that deservedly elicited general and prolonged applause.  In the second inning, when Dunlap was playing about ten yards from second, Cross hit a high-line ball almost directly over second, the hit appearing to be safe beyond doubt.  To the astonishment of the entire assemblage, Dunlap ran back, sprang into the air, and with a right hand reach performed the seemingly impossible feat of capturing ball.  The performance has never been surpassed on a St. Louis ball ground.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 30, 1884

So...what DID Dunlap do?  Just your regular, old two for six with three runs scored.  He also turned a double play in the field.  And he made a running, jumping one-handed catch of a line drive that was hit ten yards to his right.  No big deal.

The reference to "William Sullivan, a new discovery" is interesting and may point to an error in the records.  It looks to me that the record has Sleeper Sullivan pitching this game for the Maroons.  The problem is that William Sullivan can not be Sleeper Sullivan.  Sleeper Sullivan's name was Thomas Jefferson Sullivan not William and he was not in any way a new discovery.  Sleeper Sullivan had played in the major leagues since 1881 and was with the Brown Stockings in 1882.  He was a popular player in St. Louis and I think that the Globe's baseball reporter would have recognized him and identified him properly.  

Unless there was some kind of attempt at deception going on, we have to take the reporting at face value and conclude that William Sullivan, rather than Sleeper Sullivan, pitched this game.  But Baseball-Reference does not list William Sullivan on the Maroons 1884 roster, although, when you search for William Sullivan, you get this.  Something is wrong here and my gut feeling tells me that the error is on our end.  

I'm going to look into this some more and see what I can find but, right now, I think that the record is in error.  Maybe the Globe has it wrong or I'm missing something but I don't think so.  We'll see.  

Note:  This gets curiouser and curiouser.  In Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871-1900, Volume One, David Nemec states that Sleeper Sullivan pitched in the game on May 29, 1884.  Peter Morris, on the other hand, states at his website that there is "overwhelming evidence" that William Sullivan, rather than Sleeper Sullivan, pitched in that game.  I'll check in with both men but I'm more than inclined to agree with Peter on this one.

Note the second:  Talked to Peter about this and he shared some references that I hadn't seen about William Sullivan and the May 29th game.  In my opinion, the evidence is pretty conclusive that this game should be credit to William Sullivan, rather than Sleeper Sullivan, and Peter has passed all of this on to the powers that be in order to get the record corrected.    

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dunlap's Trickery

A very amusing joke was played on the Altoona catcher by Dunlap.  In a recent game of St. Louis vs. Altoona, there was a foul ball knocked close to the catcher, but near a bench.  The Altoona catcher was just about putting his hand on it, when Dunlap hollowed, "Move that bench, quick!"  The catcher looked to see the bench and missed the ball.
-Cleveland Herald, May 29, 1884

Saturday, December 17, 2011

An Earnest Umpire

Mapledoram is in earnest about his umpiring, and will not allow his decisions to be questioned.  Yesterday he fined Dunlap $10 for what he considered improper conduct.  At Cincinnati he fined Bradley $0, and when appealed to reduce the penalty to $25, he peremptorily refused.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 28, 1884

I'm not so concerned with Blake Mapledoram and his earnestness as I am with the idea of Fred Dunlap "questioning" an umpire.  Given Dunlap's nature, I doubt that it was as polite an encounter as the Globe makes it sound.  

We should really add this to the What Did Dunlap Do? file:  In the first game against the Keystones, Dunlap went off on an umpire and got fined.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Paradoxical Results

The Keystone Club, of Philadelphia, made their first appearance in St. Louis yesterday, at the Union Grounds, where they met the St. Louis Unions, and were defeated by a score of 8 to 4.  About 2,500 spectators witnessed the game, which was a peculiar illustration of the chances of base ball, inasmuch as the visitors outbatted and outfielded the home team and still failed of success.  They made only three errors, but all were costly, and, together with a fortunate bunching of hits and admirable base running by the home team, brought about the singular result.  The home team obtained a commanding lead in the first two innings, which rendered the victory almost a foregone conclusion and dwarfed interest in the contest.  Bakely and Gillen were the visitors' battery, while Taylor and Baker were presented for St. Louis.  Dunlap, Shaffer and Dickerson, who bat in the order named, made seven of the nine hits scored by the home team, and each of the three made a two-bagger.  This largely accounts for the somewhat paradoxical result.  Bakely displayed considerable speed, and was well supported by Gillen.  Taylor did not pitch with his usual vigor or effectiveness, and was hammered for eleven hits, including two-baggers by Bakely and one by Clements.  Baker's work behind the bat was not so neat as usual, still he did not let a ball go by him.  His two errors consist of a low throw to second and a high one to third.  Quinn got one of Whitehead's swiftest throws on his right thumb, and as a result has a bad hand.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 28, 1884

So the Maroons responded to their first defeat with a victory over Philadelphia.  Their record stood at 21-1.

These UA clubs were an unimpressive lot and the Keystones were as unimpressive as any of them.  They had a young Jack Clements and an old Levi Meyerle and not much else to recommend them.  The fact that they eventually picked up Clarence Cross doesn't speak well of the talent on the club.

As the Globe mentioned, the top of the order carried the Maroons' offense in this game, which leads us to our  What Did Dunlap Do? shtick.  Fred went two for four with a double and two runs scored.  And I'm almost becoming numb to Dunlap's offensive proficiency.  Two for four, a double and two runs scored is a darn good game but, for Dunlap, it's kind of a quiet, normal day at the plate.  I just can't imagine watching someone today having the year that Dunlap did in 1884.

Okay, that's not exactly true.  We have recently seen a season similar to Dunlap's 1884 season.  It was Barry Bonds in 2001.  Look at Dunlap's numbers and compare them to Bonds.  Note Dunlap's 258 OPS+ and Bonds' 259 OPS+.                  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Union Grounds

Dwayne Isgrig sent me the above photo of the marker that was placed by the local SABR chapter at the site of the Union Grounds.  Click on the photo to get a better view and you can see how the grounds were laid out.  While we don't have a photo of the ballpark, from what Dwayne told me, Joan Thomas put this together based on newspaper accounts.  Our Bob Broeg chapter of SABR had done a great job placing these markers around town to commemorate the location of historical ballparks in St. Louis.

One thing of note here is that this marker shows the short left field fence at the Union Grounds.  Also, it looks like dead center is a bit short as well.  However, right-center looks really deep and there appears to be a lot of foul territory along the outfield foul lines.  So based on this and the fact that Baseball-Reference lists the park as run-neutral, I'd hesitate to call the place a bandbox, as some in the press did in 1884.

Much thanks to Dwayne for passing the photo along.        

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Professionals, Part Two

I recently posted a few excerpts from Anthony Lampe's The Background of Professional Baseball in St. Louis, which appeared in the October 1950 issue of the Missouri Historical Society's Bulletin.  One of the more interesting things Lampe wrote about was the early origin of professionalism in St. Louis, which contradicted the conventional wisdom regarding when St. Louis baseball players first started playing for pay but agreed with some of the conclusions that I've made after looking at the evidence.  However, I only shared a bit of what Lampe wrote and, since he had more to say on the subject, I'd like to share some more of his fantastic article:

A few conclusions may be drawn from the 1868 season.  Because of the great interest in the game, St. Louis was obviously destined to enter professional baseball at an early date; early in the season the Unions had actually been professionals, as their sole occupation was playing baseball.  Secondly, Chicago emerged as the natural rival of St. Louis as the key city of the midwest, which would soon challenge them on the diamond, as Eastern clubs had already done.  Thirdly, St. Louis teams lacked only a stronger managerial system to get the players in shape and keep them that way.  The desire for a strong team to represent the city was present, but for some years no organizing genius appeared to take over, partly because of the incompatibility of baseball and gambling.  As baseball grew, betting increased, and gamblers soon had control of the game.

After noting a anti-professional article that appeared in a St. Louis paper in 1870, he went on to write that "This article was undoubtedly printed in the local papers to cast reflections on professional ball players.  Because no individual had yet come forward with the will--and the capital--to bring a professional team to St. Louis, local ball fans were anti-professional, in a sort of sour-grape attitude."

The most important piece of information in Lampe's article is his conclusion that the Union club was paying its players in the late 1860s.  I agree with this conclusion and would add that the Empire club was also most likely compensating its players in some form during this period.  Lampe also believed that this experiment in professionalism was a failure.  He wrote that "When the [1868] season opened the Union Club had been determined to engage in no other work but that of baseball, but as the season progressed game attendance fell off, because of the poor showing of the team.  Lacking financial resources, the team members were forced to find some other means of employment."  The "poor showing" that he was talking about was not the overall performance of the club but rather their showing against the Eastern professional clubs that came to St. Louis in 1868 and handily defeated the best clubs in the city.

I agree that the poor showing against the Eastern professionals had a negative effect on baseball in St. Louis.  However, the reason I believe this is different than the reason that Lampe believed it.  Lampe wrote about the lack of a strong managerial system and the lack of a willful individual to shape professional baseball in St. Louis.  I believe that St. Louis had several individuals who shaped the game during the pioneer era and could be described as strong, willful managers.  Specifically, Asa Smith was a man who had an important impact on St. Louis baseball and helped evolve the game in a positive, forward manner.  Smith attempted to institute a plan to put St. Louis baseball on an even footing with the best clubs in the East but this plan floundered and died after the Unions suffered defeat upon defeat at the hands of the Eastern professionals.  In my opinion, it wasn't a lack of visionary management that doomed the first attempt at creating a professional baseball market in St. Louis.  Rather, it was the lack of success on the field that doomed the vision.  Smith wanted his Union club to compete for the national championship but they simply were not good enough to do so.  He overreached and failed.  This failure tarnished the idea of professionalism in St. Louis.

I don't believe that it was the loses themselves that brought about the failure of Asa Smith's grand plan but rather what the losses said about the plan.  There was a conflict during the pioneer era between the forces that advocated professionalism and the fans, players and clubs that were anti-professionalism.  Smith was obviously on the right side of history but that wasn't evident in 1868.  He advocate what, in St. Louis, were radical changes to the baseball landscape.  Paying players, enclosed ballparks, charging for games, competing against the best clubs in the nation, joining the NABBP, creating a state baseball association, and other innovations which, while common in the East, were new and radical in St. Louis.  There must have been forces lined up against him that fought these changes.  There must have been forces that were hoping and waiting for him to fail so that they could go back to the old way of doing things.

I believe that, in the post-war era, Smith looked at the Eastern clubs, saw how they were doing things and attempted to re-create their organization plan in St. Louis.  It was an attempt to bring St. Louis into the baseball mainstream that obviously failed.  But that failure was not a result of a lack of managerial vision.  If anything, the failure came about because Smith did not take the final, radical step needed to compete against the Eastern powers.  Like the Brown Stockings in 1875, Smith should have looked to the East and bought himself the best players he could find.  Interestingly, Brown Stockings' management was made up largely of former Union club members and they took the step that Smith did not.  They finally succeeded in setting up a professional baseball club in St. Louis where Smith, their former club member, had failed.  But the baseball world of 1875 was not the baseball world of 1868 and what was acceptable to Brown Stockings' management was just too radical for Smith and the Union club in 1868.

Smith, in 1868,  took St. Louis baseball as far as he could.  He recognized that the pioneer era was ending and the professional era was being born.  Smith attempted to bring the old, pioneer era St. Louis clubs into the new age and, in certain ways, succeeded in doing so.  The St. Louis baseball landscape was changed for better because of the work Smith did in the late 1860s.  But it would take his former club mates to create a successful professional club and it would take a German tavern owner to create business model that made professional baseball profitable in St. Louis.       

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: A Memorial Day Doubleheader?

The schedule for the Keystones game this week has been changed.  Instead of playing two games on Friday, they will play but one, the second one on the schedule having been changed to Saturday.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 28, 1884

While the Maroons' schedule changed because of the rainy weather in St. Louis, it looks like they had scheduled a doubleheader for May 30th.  I thought this was kind of rare and odd so I checked Game of Inches to see what Peter Morris had to say about the history of the doubleheader:

As Charlie Bevis has reported, the 1880s saw separate-admission doubleheaders become common on holidays.  Initially there were only two such holidays during the season--Decoration Day (now Memorial Day) and Independence Day.  

Prior to this, Morris writes, doubleheaders were usually only played when a cancelled game had to be rescheduled.

So it looks like the Maroons had scheduled a doubleheader for Memorial Day 1884, which fit in with the baseball traditions of the period.  And, yes, I did check to make sure that Memorial Day was observed on May 30th in 1884.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Rainchecks

Rainchecks given away at the Union grounds yesterday will be honored both to-morrow and Thursday, when the St. Louis and Keystones play regular championship games.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 26, 1884

This is kind of interesting.  First, the Maroons were issuing rainchecks in 1884.  The practice of issuing rainchecks was not universal at the time and there was some controversy in St. Louis in 1883 when Von der Ahe did not issue them.  Also, there was a story floating around in the late 1880s that Lucas formed the Maroons and the UA after he and a group of friends went to a Browns game in 1883 that got rained out and they were not issued rainchecks.  The fact that the Maroons were handing them out gives a bit of credence to that story.  Not a lot, but a bit.

Secondly, the Maroons' game that got rained out was not a UA game.  The Bostons wouldn't play on Sunday and they rearranged their schedule to get the series in before then.  The Maroons were scheduled to play an exhibition game against the Prickly Ash that day.  It's interesting that Lucas would issue rainchecks for an exhibition game and honor them for a league game.  I understand that Lucas did things a bit differently than others but it's a bit odd.  It's a possibility that this was an attempt to improve attendance, which except for Sunday, was a bit disappointing.  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Defeat

The St. Louis Unions received their first defeat yesterday afternoon at the hands of the Bostons Unions, who outbatted and outfielded them.  The visitors presented Bond and Crane, and while the former pitched one of the best games of his life, the latter's support could not have been bettered.  Only Dunlap, Shafer, Gleason and Whitehead were able to do anything with Bond's delivery, and the eight hits made off him were so scattering that, although three of them were two-baggers, only one run was realized.  Nine of the home batsmen struck out.  Rowe sawed the air twice, and Taylor three times amid mingled laughter and applause, the discomfiture of those two heavy hitters amusing one class, while another became greatly enthused over Bond's splendid work.  St. Louis presented Hodnett and Brennan.  Hodnett was hit for twenty-two bases, including seventeen singles, two doubles and one three-bagger, and Brennan had three passed balls charged against him.  In the field the Bostons played a perfect game, and the only error charged to them was a wild pitch by Bond.  The attendance was about 6,000, the grand stand crowd being one of the fines that ever assembled to witness a ball game in this city.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 25, 1884

All good things come to an end and the Maroons tasted defeat for the first time in their existence.  They started the season 20-0 and had a seven game lead going into this game.  But you can't win them all.

Even in defeat, however, the Maroons' captain and second baseman still had a decent game.  What Did Dunlap Do in defeat?  He went two for four and threw a guy out at the plate.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Carr Place Nine

Carr Place nine play the Lucas Amateurs a game at the Union Grounds at 10 o'clock this morning.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 25, 1884

I mention this little tidbit about a Carr Place baseball club simply to note the tradition of ball-playing in the Carr Park neighborhood.  The original Carr Place nine was the Morning Star Club, who was playing town ball at Carr Park in the late 1850s, was introduced to the Regulation game by Merritt Griswold and played the Cyclones in the first match game in the history of St. Louis baseball.  The tradition of bat and ball games in the Carr Park neighborhood was almost thirty years old when the above game was played.    

Friday, December 9, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: A Remarkable Performance

The Boston Unions presented Burke and Crane as battery yesterday, and the local Union team scored twenty hits, earned ten runs, and won by a score of 16 to 4.  It was another exhibition of the terrific batting the home nine is capable of doing, and would have beaten any club in the country.  Toward the close Burke became disheartened, and the whole visiting nine were visibly discouraged.  Nevertheless, they played steadily and well throughout.  Their error column shows a total of eight, made up of four wild pitches by Burke, two wild throws by Crane, a fumble by Hackett, and a case of slow handling by Irwin.  From a total of seven hits, including two doublets by O'Brien and one each by Burke and Hackett, they earned only one run, the five errors made by the home nine enabling them to secure three more.  The features of their work were the brilliant playing of Brown at first and of Butler at second.  Until the present series Butler has been a reserved man.  It is safe, however, to predict that he will be a regular hereafter.  He is a fine fielder and thrower, covers an immense amount of ground, is a sure catch and a cool, calculating, hard-hitting batsman.  In short, he appears to be the best man on the nine, which is composed of good material, notwithstanding that they have not succeeded in defeating the St. Louis nine.  Taylor and Baker were the home club's battery.  Taylor was effective, but not as steady as usual, and gave three men bases on balls, besides having one wild pitch charged to him.  Baker made a wide throw to second, but otherwise his support was perfect. 
Dunlap's Remarkable Performance. 
Dunlap made a wonderful record at the bat and in the field.  Out of six times at the plate he made five hits, a triplet, three doubles and a single, and by superb base-running scored five runs.  His fielding score was eight putouts, six assists and no errors.  Quinn played first in grand style.  Whitehead made seven assists, some of his stops and throws being very brilliant, but marred his record by a muff, and two wild throws.  A remarkable feature of the game was the few chances offered to the outfielders.  Dickerson, Rowe and Shafer each captured a solitary fly...Twenty-three of the visitors were put out between the plate, first and second...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 23, 1884


And I think that the Globe covered the whole What Did Dunlap Do? thing.  This was easily his best game of the season, all aspects of the game considered.  He tied his season high for hits in a game and did so with power.    

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: The Bostons Were All Wet

The second game between the Bostons and St. Louis Unions was played yesterday afternoon at Union Park, and was witnessed by about 3,000 persons.  It began in a drizzle, and rain fell to a greater or less degree until just before the finish.  At the opening of the seventh inning a heavy shower caused the game to be called for twenty minutes.  Then Umpire Holland, in opposition to the wishes of both captains, ordered the men out again.  Capt. Bond, after protesting that his men were all wet, and as they had but little show of winning under the prevailing conditions, with the score 6 to 2 against them, determined not to exert himself any further, but deliver the ball slowly to each batsman.  The game up to that point had been well contested, but thereafter it was spiritless and farcical.  In the ninth inning Brown made an overthrow to third trying to cut off Taylor.  When Crane made a lightning throw home from left Brown stepped out of the way and let the ball pass, for which the crowd hissed him roundly.  Speaking about the matter latter, Brown said: "Well, I didn't want it, and that's why I let it go by.  I wasn't taking any chances with cannon balls at that stage."  Crane, by the way, is a wonderful thrower.  Manager Murnan thinks he is the swiftest in the profession, and says he dare not let out when throwing from behind the bat to second.  The features of the game were Whitehead's playing at short for the home team and the splendid outfielding of Dickerson, Slattery, Rowe and O'Brien, the latter going from second to right in the sixth inning.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 22, 1884

Not much of a game even before the rain delay.  But at least Dunlap had a nice game.  What Did Dunlap Do?  He went three for five with a double and a couple of run scored.

The Maroons were 19-0.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ned Cuthbert's Last Hurrah

Ned Cuthbert

Ed Cuthbert, the veteran ball tosser, has signed with the Baltimore Unions, and will leave to-night for Chicago, where he will report for duty to-morrow.  It is reported that he will be appointed assistant manager and field captain of the team.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 22, 1884

I think that it's safe to assume that Cuthbert reached an agreement to sign with Baltimore when the club was in St. Louis to the play the Maroons from May 14-18.  He was thirty-nine years old and did not play well in forty-four games, hitting .202/.247/.232 in a weak league.

While his last season in the major leagues was not a particularly glorious one, Cuthbert should be remembered as one of the most significant players in St. Louis baseball history.  He was a star with the great Brown Stockings club of 1875-1876 and helped keep professional baseball alive in St. Louis during the Interregnum of 1879-1881.  Cuthbert also played a role in putting the AA Browns together in 1882.

For more information on Ned Cuthbert, I recommend you pick up a copy of Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871-1900, Volume One.  And for that matter, you should probably pick up Volume Two as well.  You can get both volumes for a decent price and they would make a great Christmas present for the baseball history lover.  Volume Three should be out sometime in the spring.        

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Nice Article On Fred Dunlap

The King of Second Basemen

I recently had a chance to read a great piece that Brian McKenna wrote about Fred Dunlap.  Entitled "Fred Dunlap, A Rocky Ending To A Career," Brian posted the article at his website, Glimpses Into Baseball History.

Brian is an outstanding historian and I have a great deal of respect for him.  I encourage you to head over to his website, read the Dunlap piece and take a look at some of the other great stuff he has written.  I have no doubt that you'll like it.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: A High Degree Of Enthusiasm

The home series between the St. Louis and Boston Unions opened yesterday at Union Park with the best game of the season on any ground.  But five runs were scored and all were earned.  Both teams proved hard hitters, but sharp and brilliant work by the fielders held down the record of hits, and aroused the 4,000 spectators who were present to a high degree of enthusiasm.  It had been announced that the visiting battery would be Bond and Brown, but Murnan, who was on the card for first base, and who was injured in a collision at Cincinnati last week, did not feel able to take the field, and as a result Brown was placed at first, and Burke and Crane were presented in the points.  Runs were scored in but two innings, the visitors making one the third and the home team four in the [seventh].  In the third inning Burke led off for the Bostons with a safe hot grounder by short, that Rowe made a sharp effort to get, but only succeeded in tipping.  Butler followed with a slashing liner, which bounded against the left fence, sending Burke home and gaining second himself.  O'Brien was then called out, Irwin missed three strikes and was thrown out at first, and Crane foul-tipped to Baker.  Baker led for St. Louis in the seventh inning and raised a fly over second, just beyond O'Brien's reach.  Brennan then drove the ball out between left and center, scoring Baker's run, but in endeavoring to run to third was put out by Bond's sharp assist to O'Brien, who threw to Irwin.  Whitehead continued the hitting by sending a safe one over short and gaining second through Butler's unavailing effort to make a catch.  After he had reached third on a passed ball, Quinn brought him in by sending the ball on another trip to the left fence, and taking second on the hit.  Then Dunlap landed fairly on one of Burke's out-curves and turned high over the left fence, scoring a home run amid deafening applause.The features of the game were the fine support rendered Taylor by Baker and the superb outfielding of Dickerson, Butler, Slattery and Whitehead.  Butler ran in and captured one ball that was barely safe from Hackett.  Whitehead also got under one that dropped beyond second.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 21, 1884

The Maroons, after this win, were 18-0 but their four runs scored were their lowest offensive output of the season.

But, more importantly, What Did Dunlap Do?  The Two For Five Machine went two for five with a two-run homer.  For the math-impaired, let me just say that going two for five everyday is a great way to hit .400 for the season.    

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Old Black Stockings

The old Black Stockings, the champion colored club of the country, has been reorganized under the management of Henry Bridgewater, with the following players:  Ben Johnson, p.; S. Johnson, c.; E. Rogers, 1 b.; H. Lawrence, 2 b.; L. Canter, s.s.; S. Chauvan, 3 b.; W. Sutton, c. f.; E. Gordan, r.f.; C. Gardner, l.f.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 21, 1884

I have to say that I'm disappointed in the Globe's coverage of St. Louis black baseball during the 1884 season up to this point.  Maybe it will get better.  Maybe the black clubs were starting a bit late.  Who knows?  But given the excitement going into the season and the amount of space the Globe was devoting to baseball, I expected to see more coverage of the black clubs.  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Silver Ball

Below will be found the rules governing contests for the championship of Central Missouri, and a silver ball.  This ball was given by the Cooper County A. and M.A., and first played for in 1872.  It is now held by the Washington Base Ball Club of Washington, Franklin County, Mo., who won it from the Occidentals, of New Haven, on July 5, 1875.  The Washingtons played eight games during 1875, losing but one.  They beat the St. Louis "Continentals," 27 to 16.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 10, 1876

This is significant for a couple of reasons.  First, we know that, during the pioneer era, there was a gold trophy ball that was awarded to the baseball champions of St. Louis.  That ball was the game ball used in the Cyclone/Morning Star match of 1860.  It was gilded, engraved and presented to the Morning Stars by the Cyclones at a banquet held some time after the match.  Later, after the 1861 season, it was presented to the Empire Club and, it's assumed, went back and forth between the Empires and the Unions in the late 1860s.  I had believed that the gold ball also represented the championship of Missouri, as the best club in St. Louis was usually the best club in the state, but with this information, I can't be certain of that.  By the time the silver ball was being awarded, there was a Missouri baseball association that coordinated the official state championship and it's unclear how all of this is tied together.

The second significant thing here is that St. Louis clubs, according to the rules as they were presented in the Globe, were eligible to win the silver ball.  According to the article, "Central Missouri" was defined as the part of the state south of the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad and north of Rolla.  The mention of the Continentals game against Washington implies that at least one St. Louis club challenged for the trophy ball.  However, it's unclear to what extent the St. Louis clubs valued this trophy and competed for it.  I don't recall E.H. Tobias mentioning it in his work and, if the trophy was important to St. Louis clubs, I'd imagine that he would have written something about it.

While the body of the article states that the ball was first played for in 1872, the rules mention that the ball was first awarded in October 1868.  I'm not sure how to reconcile that but if their was a competition for a silver trophy ball among the baseball clubs of central Missouri in the late 1860s and early 1870s and the St. Louis clubs were eligible, I would imagine that either the Empires or Unions would have won the thing.  So I'd have to say that either they didn't play for it or they played for it and didn't win it.  The latter would force a reevaluation of the relative strength of St. Louis clubs within the context of Missouri baseball while the former would make the silver ball relatively insignificant with regards to St. Louis baseball history.    

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Dancing Was Kept Up Till A Late Hour

The sixteenth annual ball of the Empire Base Ball Club came off at Masonic Hall last night, and proved to be an entire success in every particular.  It was, without doubt, the best ball ever given by the club, both in attendance and in the agreeable manner in which it passed off, and, of course, was highly enjoyed by all present. 
The balls hitherto given by the Empire lads have been the events of the season in which they occurred, and have always been longingly looked forward to by those who have participated in the festivities of the one preceding.  The fact is, the balls given by the club are very much like a family reunion, as all are well acquainted.  It was noticed that a good many who attended the first ball given by the club sixteen years ago were on hand last evening.  The officers of the club are as follows:  President, H. Clay Sexton; Vice-President, Edward C. Donnelly; Secretary, Charles H. Stevens; Treasurer, H.G.D. Barklage.  The music was furnished by Postlewaite's Quadrille Band, and was all that could be desired, and seldom a party ever sat down to a more elegant supper than that furnished by Mr. Louis Heinrich, of Franklin avenue.  The carriages were from the popular livery stable of Cullen & Kelly. 
The managers have every reason to feel proud over the "reunion," and the guests owe thanks to them for the pleasure afforded them last night.  The dancing was kept up till a late hour.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 26, 1876

I love the traditions of the Empire Club, especially the anniversary game and the annual ball.  They were unique in St. Louis baseball history in that they lasted for almost a generation.  During the St. Louis pioneer baseball era, clubs came and went but the Empires endured until the end.  And what makes this particular ball almost bittersweet is that this was end for the great club.

The 1875 season was one of the great demarcations in St. Louis baseball history, marking the end of the pioneer era and the beginning of the professional era.  By the end of the 1875 season, it was obvious to see that the Empire Clubs' fifteen year run as the best baseball team in St. Louis had come to an end.  Not only that but the entire baseball universe had shifted to the point that the old, "amateur," social clubs like the Empires were an endangered species.  They would never dominate the culture of the game as they had prior to 1869 or 1870, as the focus of the game shifted to the national competition between professional clubs.  It was a brave new world and, although they soldiered on for a few more years, the Empire Base Ball Club was never going to be a part of it.       

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: The Best Game Of The Series

The best game of the first home series between the Baltimore and St. Louis Union Clubs was played yesterday afternoon in the presence of over 6,000 spectators.  The heavy shower that fell between 2 and 3 o'clock kept many from attending and also gave the grounds a thorough wetting.  Nevertheless, the game was called promptly at 3:30, with the diamond in very fair condition.  Before the game was half over it was perfectly dry.  W. Sweeny and Fusselbach were the Baltimore battery, while Taylor and Baker filled similar positions for the home team.  The slippery condition of the ball in the opening innings made the pitchers' work difficult, and as a result two wild pitches were scored against each.  Fusselbach lost the game for his side, making four errors and having two passed balls.  Had he supported Sweeny as he usually does, the St. Louis Unions would, in all probability, now have one defeat to acknowledge.  Each side scored nine hits.  The only two-bagger was credited to Shafer.  Phelan led the batting with three hits out of four times at the plate.  Five of the home team and two of the visitors struck out.  The feature of the game was Seery's great performance in left field.  He made six catches, two of them exceptionally fine, and scored one assist which resulted in a double play.  The crowd cheered him repeatedly and at length.  Rowe, at center, accepted two opportunities and made one superb running catch.  Shafer captured three flies at right and threw two men out at first.  Oberbeck had but two chances and made the most of both, taking one in fine style.  Levis is playing in fine form.  His record was ten put-outs and one assist.  Quinn played first perfectly for the home team.  Dunlap covered second in his inimitable style, and scored five outs and three assists.  Whitehead was charged with two errors and credited with five assists.  His throwing to first is equaled by but few in the profession.  Say did not have many chances.  He made a bad muff, however, at a critical stage.  Dickerson is acting like a regular third baseman instead of the project of an emergency.  Robinson may be a good third baseman, but he appears to have too big a contract when he undertakes to properly cover his position and captain his nine.  In the ninth inning, when two men were on bases and a ball was fielded home from center, he left his base and ran to back up Fusselbach.  The latter got the ball, and Quinn, who was running for the plate, seeing himself cut off, turned back to third.  Without looking to see whether anyone was covering third or not, Fusselbach sent the ball flying over the bag to left, letting in Quinn and Dunlap.  Had Robinson held his position or called upon Say to take it when he left, Quinn would almost certainly have been put out.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 19, 1884

First of all, as I've stated on a few occasions, Yank Robinson was a hell of a player.  Second, I don't see how the play in the ninth was his fault.  You can blame Ed Fusselback for throwing to an undefended base and, to be fair, the Globe does indeed lay the loss at Fusselback's feet.  Also, Lou Say should have been covering third.  It was just one of those bad plays that Whitey Herzog used to call "horseshit baseball."

Moving on to the What Did Dunlap Do? segment of our show,  the great Fred did his T-800 thing and went two for five with a couple of runs scored.  The man was a machine.  And he also "covered second in his inimitable style."

The Maroons were 17-0 with Tim Murnane's Boston Unions coming to town.  Hopefully, we'll have a sighting of the very young Tommy McCarthy playing outfield for Boston.    

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Base Ball Pioneers 1850-1870

Base Ball Pioneers 1850-1870 is now available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  The latest information that I have is that it will ship around the first week of April, with the possibility that it may come out a few weeks earlier than that.  I haven't gotten my hands on it yet but it's going to be a great book and I encourage you to pick up a copy.

I was lucky to have played a small part in the project and wrote the chapter on the St. Louis pioneer era.  In the chapter, I covered the history of the Cyclone, Morning Star, Empire and Union Clubs as well writing brief biographies of the members of each club.  We had some great editors working on the book and I think that the chapter turned out really well.  While regular readers of this site will be familiar with some of the information that I present, there is a great deal of new research that I included.  If you're interested in 19th century St. Louis baseball history, I don't think you'll find a better overview of the St. Louis pioneer era anywhere in print.    

I'm really looking forward to reading what everybody else has written and can't wait to get my hands on a copy.  I have no doubt that anyone who enjoys reading about the history of 19th century baseball will enjoy it as well.  As we get closer to the publication date, I'll have more information and hopefully an interview or two with some of the other contributors.  But I advise you to pre-order your copy today while supplies last.   

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Church Or Base Ball?

The season of the year is here when St. Louis citizens on Sunday toss up a penny to decide if they will take in church or the base ball match.  A great many of them have provided themselves with pennies with heads on both sides.--[Philadelphia Call.  Some St. Louisans attend church in the morning and base ball in the afternoon.]
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 19, 1884

Monday, November 28, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Administering Another Drubbing

The St. Louis Unions, on yesterday afternoon, gave another exhibition of heavy batting, and administered a third drubbing to the Baltimore Club, beating them by a score of 16 to 8, and earning one-half of their runs, while the visitors earned but one-tally.  The Baltimore nine was weakened by the absence of Fusselbach, who was unwell, and Seery was sent behing the bat to support W. Sweeney, O'Brien taking left, J. Sweeny center, and Henry Oberbeck, of this city, right.  The local battery were Werden and Brennan, Dickerson covering third base, Quinn left field, and the others in their usual position.  The game was loosely played, eleven errors being charged to each side.  These, however, included two wild pitches each by Werden and Sweeny, the Union Association rules requiring that they be scored in the error column.  The visitors made but seven hits...Nineteen hits and a total of twenty-seven bases were made by the local sluggers.  Rowe and Shafer scored three-baggers, and Rowe, Brennan, Whitehead and Werden two-baggers.  Out of six times at the bat, Brennan secured five hits.  Shafer ranked next with four hits...Dunlap made two great one-handed stops of high throws by Brennan.  Over 8,000 persons were present, the grand stand crowd being very large, and including many prominent citizens.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 18, 1884

I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed in the Maroons' attendance.  They had a nice crowd for this Sunday game but, generally, they weren't drawing all that well.  They were doing okay but I expected them to draw much better than this.  While I haven't looked all that close at the numbers, I'm pretty sure that the Browns were drawing bigger crowds.  I didn't expect that.

Speaking of disappointing:  What Did Dunlap Do?  Nothing.  But he didn't make an error and made a couple of nice plays on wild throws by Brennan.  So there's that.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Worst First Baseman Ever

The Murphy and Somerville nines, both of the St. Louis News Company, had a game on their own grounds near Cote Brilliante yesterday afternoon.  The Somervilles won by a score of 113 to 8.  Carroll and Denning and Johnson and Scherer were the batteries.  A feature of the game was the brilliant playing of John Jennings, "Magoogin," at first base.  He failed to stop a single ball. 
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 18, 1884

Okay, I'm guessing he didn't play the entire game at first base.  There's no way they would keep him there if he couldn't handle a single ball.  But I'm guessing his play had something to do with Somerville scoring 113 runs.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Deasley's Punishment

Tom Deasley, catcher for the St. Louis Base Ball Team, stood trial in the Police Court this morning upon the charge of assaulting Miss Anna Kerr, while on a tear Tuesday night.  He had previously been fined $10 and costs for drunkenness, and the evidence in the case led the Mayor to impose an additional penalty of $10 and costs for the assault.  Deasley will have cause to remember his visit to Indianapolis. 
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 17, 1884

Friday, November 25, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Ridiculous

The second game between the St. Louis and Baltimore Union Association teams was played yesterday afternoon in the presence of about 2,000 persons.  As an exhibition of terrific hitting on the part of the home team it was a great success, but as a contest it was too one-sided to be in any degree exciting.  With Gleason on the hospital list the local nine pounded the first pitcher that opposed them out of his position in the third inning, and in the rest of the game hammered Robinson until their aggregate of singles amounted to 27, and their total bases to 38.  Dunlap, Shafer, Quinn and Whitehead each made four hits, Dunlap, Dickerson, Rowe and Baker each made one double, Shafer and Taylor each made two, and Shafer scored one three-bagger.  Ten runs were earned, and by energetic base-running every error of the visitors was made so costly that the total was swelled to 20.  The visitors made nine hits, Robinson scoring a two-bagger and Levis a three-bagger.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 16, 1884

Cutting straight to the chase:  What Did Dunlap Do?  Fred just went four for six with a double.  I think it was his best day at the plate since he went five for five on May 1st against Altoona.  For the season, if my math is correct, Dunlap was 29 for 58, good for an even .500 batting average.  The amazing thing is that I couldn't say for sure that he was leading the team in hitting.  Bollicky Bill Taylor was hitting the snot out of the ball and was probably the best hitter on the team through their first fifteen games.  He was certainly hitting for more power than Dunlap.

But the whole team was just crushing UA pitching.  This was the ninth time in fifteen games that the Maroons scored in double figures and the second time that they scored at least twenty runs.  Their run differential at this point in the season was +131.  That's ridiculous.  They were 16-0 and winning by an average of eight runs a game.

I should point out that Dunlap also had two errors in this game and that the team had ten total errors.  If there was a weakness in this Maroons club, comparing them to other UA clubs, it was their defense.  The Globe certainly believed that Washington and Baltimore were both better defensively than the Maroons.  Looking at the first couple of weeks of the season, I'm certainly not impressed with their glove-work.              

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: Exclamations Of Disapprobation

The St. Louis Unions won another victory yesterday, the Baltimore Unions contributing the trophy.  Heavy batting decided the contest, the visitors outplaying the home nine in the field, but being unable to offset their terrific work with the willow.  The day was a lovely one and the attendance was about 2,500, the capacious grand stand containing a good part of the gathering.  The Baltimore battery were J. Sweeny and Fusselbach, and, notwithstanding that Sweeny was hit for fourteen bases, their work commanded the admiration of the spectators.  For the local nine Hodnett pitched up to the close of the ninth inning, with Brennan as his support.  In eight innings only four hits were scored off Hodnett's delivery, but, when in the ninth inning, Robinson and J. Sweeny, the first two Baltimores at the bat, both made two-baggers, Capt. Dunlap immediately substituted Taylor, Rowe coming in to cover first and Hodnett taking center field.  The crowd, which appeared to desire the defeat of the St. Louis nine, did not take kindly to the change, and it was greeted with exclamations of disapprobation and hisses. 
Taking No Chances. 
Dunlap was quite surprised at its reception but said he did not care, as he believed he did right in protecting his club's chances for the game.  Hodnett, he said, had pitched splendidly, but it was possible the Baltimore batsmen might have become accustomed to his delivery, and a change at that stage was the safest thing to do.  When the first batsman that faced Taylor made a safe hit the crowd cheered frantically.  Brennan was off in his throwing to second, and three times sent the ball wild to Dunlap.  He also misjudged a foul fly, but it was an excusable error, the sun being in his eyes.  Whitehead and Hodnett likewise misjudged fly balls from the same causes.  The features of the game were brilliant catches by O'Brien and Shafer and a grand one-handed stop of a liner by Robinson.  O'Brien's catch was the best seen in St. Louis this season.  In the seventh inning Rowe raised a long high one out to center.  O'Brien turned and ran with the ball, and while running at full speed, to the astonishment of all beholders, succeeded in capturing it.  Many of the spectators did not know that he had secured the ball until he turned and threw it to Phelan, whose assist to Lewis doubled up Gleason.  Shafer, with his back toward the diamond, nipped a liner that O'Brien sent out to right, Gleason led at the bat, scoring three hits, one of them a two-bagger.  On the latter he, unfortunately stopped short at second, turning his right ankle so that it swelled up alarmingly, and bids fair to keep him off the field for some time.  Taylor made a three-bagger, and Fusselbach, Robinson and J. Sweeny, of the visitors, two-baggers.  Umpire Sullivan, who has a voice that suits a crowd, gave good satisfaction.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 15, 1884

The Maroons were 14-0 after this game but this was really the first game where the decision was in doubt.  Their seven runs was tied for the fewest runs they had scored in a game so far in the season and the five they gave up was the second most they had surrendered as of yet.  It was a 3-2 game going into the fifth and a 5-3 game after seven.  The Maroons scored two in the eighth but Baltimore answered back with two of their own in the ninth.  The game was tight enough for Dunlap to make a pitching change, the club's first of the season, after Baltimore opened the ninth with two doubles.  St. Louis won by two but it appears that the home crowd was cheering for the visitors by the end of the game.  It seems likely that the Maroons' fans were getting a bit tired of watching their club beat up on inferior opposition and was looking for someone to give them a game.  When Baltimore did just that, the fans cheered them on.

As to Captain Hook, What Did Dunlap Do?  Besides riling up the home crowd by making a pitching change, Dunlap went his usual two for five.  He was a machine.    

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


In The Background of Professional Baseball in St. Louis, published in the Missouri Historical Society Bulletin of October 1850, Anthony Lampe makes a significant claim.  He writes that "The year 1868 held promise of being a great season.  Certain important changes had taken place since 1867.  The Union Ball Players now had no occupation other than playing baseball, though they were still not referred to as professionals."  While Lampe does not cite his source for this claim, it most likely came from the Missouri Republican, whose contemporary accounts of St. Louis baseball activity in the 1860s represent his primary source for the article.

I've claimed for sometime that St. Louis baseball players were being payed by the late 1860s.  This stands in contrast to most descriptions of the St. Louis pioneer era, which described the city as a bastion of pure amateurism.  My claim was, up to this point, entirely based on circumstantial evidence with little contemporary source material to support it.

The most important fact that led me to conclude that St. Louis players were being paid in the late 1860s was the establishment of the Union Grounds, the first enclosed ballpark in St. Louis and the first to which admission was charged.  Lampe dates this to the beginning of 1868 while Edmund Tobias, writing in 1895, stated that the new ballpark opened in May of 1867.  Regardless of whether it opened in 1867 or 1868, the fact that the Union Club was charging for admission to their games is sufficient evidence to support the idea that they were paying their players.  The general thinking among 19th century baseball historians is that enclosed ballparks and admission charges were an indication that players were being paid.  Where you find enclosed ballparks and admission charges, you find payers being paid.

There is other evidence that supports the idea that players in St. Louis were getting paid in the late 1860s.  The relationship between the Empire Club and the St. Louis Fire Department implies that Empire Club players were being compensated for their play with jobs.  Some of the player movement in the late 1860s, specifically Tom Oran's movement from the Unions to the Empires and, later, to the Red Stockings, is very suspicious and can be explained if one assumes monetary enticement.  There were also some hints in the national sporting press that implied that the top St. Louis clubs were paying their players.  Add all of this to the fact that the top clubs were charging money to see their teams play and a picture emerges of a culture of paying players that fits with what was happening nationally.

While the weight of evidence supports the idea that pioneer players in St. Louis were being paid, one must point out that when you see claims of St. Louis amateurism during this era, the word "amateur" does not mean what it means today.  Today, an amateur club is one that does not pay their players.  During the pioneer era, however, it implies that the club was not competing for the national baseball championship.  A club that did not pay their players but competed for the national championship was a "professional" club while a club that paid their players but did not compete for the national championship was an "amateur" club.  In that sense, St. Louis baseball clubs were all amateur clubs until 1875, when the Brown Stockings and Red Stockings joined the NA.

Over time this distinction was lost and, I believe, that has confused the issue when it comes to what was happening in St. Louis as far as player compensation is concerned.  The idea that St. Louis clubs were not compensating their players may have arisen from the fact that they were described as amateurs because the clubs were not competing nationally.  Modern historians may have picked up on the word "amateur" and given it a meaning that it did not originally have.  Complicating the issue is the fact that Tobias and Al Spink also made claims that the players were not being compensated prior to 1875.

Regardless of the work of Tobias, Spink and modern historians like William Ryczek and Jon David Cash, the weight of the evidence supports the idea that St. Louis baseball players were being paid by 1867 or 1868.  Lampe, who should be considered a significant figure among baseball historians of the 20th century, believed that to be true and, while he doesn't present the evidence for his assertion, it's significant that he ties baseball professionalism in St. Louis to the opening of the Union Grounds.  It's entirely possible that I find this significant because it appears that Lampe supports my thinking but it can't be denied that he is the first source that I've discovered that explicitly stated that St. Louis players were being paid during the pioneer era.

In the end, we don't need Lampe to establish the idea that the pioneer players in St. Louis were being paid.  I believe that the weight of the evidence, while circumstantial, is strong enough to support this on its own.  But Lampe is a very creditable historian and his piece in the October 1850 Bulletin is a significant, if largely forgotten, historical work.  I'd like to run down his sources and find that contemporary source that led him to make his claim but I don't believe it's absolutely necessary.  Lampe's claim can be added to the rest of the evidence and only strengthens the idea that St. Louis baseball players were being paid in the late 1860s.

Note:  I've doing a bit of research on Lampe and I've discovered that he was an expert on the 19th century St. Louis Fire Department, dating back to the antebellum era.  I've pointed out that there was a relationship between the Empire Club and the StLFD that implies that the players were being compensated and, given Lampe's interest in both St. Louis pioneer-era baseball and the 19th century StLFD, I find it hard to believe that he wasn't aware of this connection.  To me, this lends a great deal of credence to Lampe's claim.  I have a feeling that the man saw the same evidence that I saw and came to the same conclusion.    

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Empire-Union Series Of 1867, Part Three

Fans of the Union Club celebrate the team's victory over the Empires.
No.  Wait.  That can't be right.  Let's try this again...

Never mind.  

Continuing our excerpts from Anthony Lampe's The Background Of Professional Baseball In St. Louis, published in the Missouri Historical Society Bulletin, October 1950:

The second game of the championship series between the Union and Empire Clubs was played on July tenth.  The Union Club again won, this time by the narrow margin of thirty-four to thirty-two, thus taking the championship from the Empires, who had held it for six years.  The newly crowned champions celebrated their victory with an evening of merrymaking, reported in the Missouri Republican [July 11, 1867] as follows: 
The great victory...naturally enough caused no small elation and enthusiasm among the members of the organization.  Their joy, however, was not manifested in any unseemly or intemperate manner toward their conquered foes, but in an inoffensive, harmless way.  In one respect it assumed a most agreeable development.   
Between eleven and twelve o'clock last night a large party of the victorious knights assembled in front of the REPUBLICAN office, having a fine band of music in attendance, and we were soon apprised of their presence by the sweet strains of music floating up through the still air of night in most agreeable melody... 
The party were in exuberant spirits, and full of fun and frolic, and somewhat inclined to be a little boisterous, which however, under the circumstances, might be expected.  As the party dispersed three cheers were given for the REPUBLICAN office, and then, with generous spirit, for the Empire Club.

The Union Base Ball Club March was published to celebrate the Unions' great victory.  The cover of the sheet music, pictured above, is the only known contemporary picture of the Union Club nine.