Sunday, January 9, 2011

The 1887 World Series: The Browns Lower Their Colors

The Browns have lowered their colors to Detroit. The admission of the superiority of the Wolverines is a galling one but nevertheless it must be made. The Browns themselves feel disgusted with their showing and can not account for it. They did not go into the contest with a great amount of confidence. After running up a record of victories unparalleled in the history of the national game, they became crippled during the summer months and made a very weak finish. Detroit, on the other hand, made a great finish and knew her strength. There is no club in the country that has had such a run of hard luck during the past season as have the Browns, and their wonderful work under the circumstances stamp them as one of the pluckiest aggregations in the world. To begin with, in the early spring Foutz came back from California with a dead arm and only in condition to sign-nothing else. He has not pitched his game this season, and it is evident that his powers as a twirler are on the wane. Then a number of new men who were signed proved to be failures, King and Boyle being the only good men out of the lot. When Foutz broke down Mr. Von der Ahe turned to Hudson, of whom much was expected. After securing this pitcher at much expense he proved to be a dire failure. Then followed a chapter of accidents, sufficiently great to almost turn the team into a hospital. O'Neill was hit by a pitched ball and forced to lay off, Bushong had his finger broken, Comiskey his thumb broken, Welch was hit in the face with a bat, Caruthers stricken with fever and Robinson's hands made so sore that he was forced to lay off. It was, indeed, a sorry aggregation that started from St. Louis for the last Eastern trip. There were but nine men in the party, including two pitchers and a catcher, yet this team played good ball, showing the marvelous strength and pluck of the Brown Stocking team.

Only One Pitcher.

Scarcely had the team become united again than the series with Detroit commenced, and the russet-hosed lads were on the field with their confidence considerably shaken. After the first game, in which Caruthers pitched and won the Browns took hope, seeing that they had one pitcher at least on whom they could depend. The next game, however, showed them that Foutz would be practically useless to them. Whenever Caruthers pitched the Browns played a strong, steady game, and gave the Wolverines all they could to to win. Caruthers won three of the games he pitched, and had Foutz held up his end the result might have been different. King, after his pummelling at Pittsburg, pitched good ball, and in the game at Philadelphia, showed a steadiness that was really wonderful in so young a player. Behind the bat the Browns were weak, neither Bushong nor Boyle catching good ball. Detroit, on the other hand, had three pitchers in magnificent condition, and all were equally effective. Bennett caught almost all the games, and his work was perfect. He had a very sore hand, too, and showed wonderful pluck. In the field positions it is hard to compare the teams. This much, however, may be said: Those of whom much was expected realized the least. O'Neill was the weakest of infants at the bat. Caruthers and Foutz were but chance hitters, too. Robinson played the game of the team. His work was simply marvelous, and made thousands of friends in the cities visited. He kept up his good work at the bat, too. Welch, too, did good batting, but did not show up as strongly in the field as expected. Gleason's work was very poor, and many of his errors were costly in the extreme. Latham played the game of his life in the field, but was very weak at the bat. His base-running, however, was always a feature of the game. Comiskey was not steady as usual at first, although he batted well. The Detroits played better ball than they knew how.

The Detroits' Great Work.

That old fossil, Deacon White, in the first part of the series played one of the most marvelous games ever seen on a ball field. Nothing was too hard for him. He also did some opportune batting. Rowe's work throughout has been steady and reliable, while his work with the stick has been first-class. Dunlap's play, like Robinson's, was brilliant and generally reliable, and "Denny" has lost none of that wonderful skill which earned for him the title of "king-pin of second baseman of the world." Bennett and Ganzel alternated at first, and both did good work. The outfield is wonderfully strong, while every man is a good batter. Hanlon, the weakest hitter of the club, makes up for his weakness by his wonderful base-running powers. Taken all in all, the Detroits, as at present constituted, are a wonderfully strong aggregation. They were not seen in their full strength either, as Brouthers, their heavy hitter, was incapacitated from work by a sprained ankle. How fortunate it is that the series of games did not see-saw in regard to victories and defeats, as it would have given the chronic kickers a chance to cry "Fraud," "hippodrome," and such like absurdities. As a matter of fact, the League had a question of the greatest importance to determine and they took the present series of games to settle it. It is a well-known fact that in a number of League cities people are compelled to pay 50c to see base ball games. These people naturally ask how it is that they are compelled to pay twice as much as patrons in the Association cities. The answer has been, "We furnish you a better article of ball." This the League managers called on Detroit to prove in the last series, and their orders to the Wolverines were to defeat the Browns as often and by as large scores as possible, so as to prove their arguments by facts. Then, too, there was too much feeling among the players to even arrange a hippodrome.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 23, 1887

It took the Globe awhile and some excuse making but I think they eventually reached the proper conclusions about what happened in the series. Detroit was indeed "wonderfully strong" and it's a bit frightening to think what they would have done with Brouthers in the lineup.

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