Friday, January 7, 2011

The 1887 World Series: A Game Ten Post Full Of Luck, Nerve And Vim

On October 20th, St. Louis and Detroit played a world series doubleheader, with the first game in Washington, D.C., and the second in Baltimore. This is, to the best of my knowledge, the only World Series doubleheader in the history of baseball.

The Browns won a game from Detroit this morning. It was a long and weary wait for victory, but it came at last and was appreciated beyond measure by the admirers of the world's champions. The Browns played ball as of yore, and put up a game which could have beaten any club in the country. They knocked Getzein all over the field and practically knocked his pretzels out of the box. The game was full of incidents. Bennett's sore hand at last became so painful that he retired in favor of Ganzel. Dunlap was run into by Robinson and his broken leg again was hurt. The lively batting and sharp fielding dept up the interest to the close. Latham, Welch and Richardson made home runs and Foutz a three-bagger. Gleason's triple play was a magnificent piece of work, while his batting was a feature of the game. Brother Bill seems to have recovered his nerve, and much may now be expected of him. Caruthers, although suffering from a very sore arm, kept the Wolverines down in good shape. It looked as though they were going to knock him out of the box in the first inning, when they opened with a home run and a single, but after that they could do but little with him. The Detroits did not play with the same vim that has characterized their work on the trip, and seemed badly rattled by the Browns' new showing. Kelly called the balls and strikes and Gaffney took care of the field. Owing to the fact that the game took place in the morning, only about 3000 people attended. The grounds were soft from last night's rain and many of the errors were caused on this account.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 22, 1887

Only good things happen when a ball club recovers its luck and nerve and their opponent loses its vim. A couple of home runs and a triple doesn't hurt either. Where's Ken Tremendous and the boys when you need them?

Here's the Globe's description of the triple play, which occurred in the top of the third:

Richardson hit a high fly, which dropped between O'Neill and Gleason. Ganzel drove a corker to right for a base, Richardson going to second. Rowe also popped up a high fly and once more did the ball fall on vacant ground, this time between Foutz and Comiskey. The bases were full, and with Thompson at the bat the prospect looked blue for the Browns, but the St. Louis lads completed a play which happens but seldom on a ball field. Thompson drove a terrific liner at Gleason, who caught the ball. Richardson had started for home and Rowe for third, and the ball flew to Latham and then to Robinson and a triple play was the result. The crowd applauded vociferously.

Besides starting a triple play, Gleason, all full of newly recovered nerve, also had three hits.

Yank Robinson also had an interesting game. In the first, he took a ground ball to the mouth, off the bat of Thompson. Then in the fourth, he tried to advance from first to second on a passed ball and took out Dunlap, who had to retire from the game and was unable to recover for the afternoon game.

Dunlap, of course, suffered a series of leg injuries throughout his career and they eventually forced him to retire. I bring this up because I just noticed that Dunlap's number one comp at B-Ref is Fernando Vina, who also suffered numerous leg injuries throughout his career. With this being the dead of winter, I really have nothing else to do but wonder what Freddy Vina would have hit if he had played for the 1884 Maroons.

I guess I should also mention the home runs by Welch and Latham. Welch's was in the fifth and cleared the fence. Latham's was in the sixth and was an inside-the-parker. Welch hit three home runs in the regular season for the Browns in 1887 and Latham hit two so I guess you could say that both home runs were a pleasant surprise.

A quick bit of trivia: Who hit more home runs in their career, Welch or Latham? Don't cheat and go to B-Ref because I'll give you the answer in a second. But I was surprised by the answer. Welch hit 16 home runs in 1107 games over his career. Latham hit 27 in 1629 games. Latham also had more career doubles and triples than Welch, although Welch had a higher career slugging percentage.

It's always been my perception that Welch was a vastly better player than Latham but now I'm not certain that it's true. Over their careers, they created about the same number of runs (77 for Latham and 73 for Welch) and both averaged 4.0 runs created per game. Now RC is hardly the end-all and be-all of baseball analysis but it certainly gives us a good idea of the general value of a player and it has Welch and Latham as being equally valuable. If you measure them by WAR, I think Latham might come out a bit ahead.

I really am having a difficult time getting my head around the idea that Latham was measurably as good or better than Welch. There's a lot of ways to slice the pie and I can see both sides of an interesting argument here. I think I'm going to have to write up a post in the near future taking a closer look at this. While I'm at it, I should also do a Caruthers vs. Foutz post because I really don't see much difference between the two even though the general wisdom insists that Caruthers was the better player.

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