Sunday, January 2, 2011

The 1887 World Series: More On Game Seven

Base-ball, as our esteemed contemporary the New York Herald recently observed, is "a glittering uncertainty-a glowing inconsistency." The young man who wrote that aphorism-an aphorism that will be served up in various shapes until Barnie's Baltimore Bucks win the Association pennant-was doubtless inspired by just such a game as that put up by the Detroit and St. Louis combinations yesterday.

The game was very much on the machine order until the ninth inning, when with two men out Baldwin muffed O'Neill's foul fly. O'Neill evinced his gratitude by lining the second ball pitched over the centre-field fence, thereby averting a shut-out for St. Louis. The fielding of both teams was sharp and brilliant, White, Rowe, Dunlap, Lyons and Robinson all making numerous difficult stops and throws. In the outfield, Curt Welch and Hanlon easily carried off the honors. In the fifth inning the former took Richardson's fly off the fence at centre, and in the eighth the latter caught Bushong's line-fly within a foot of the ground, on which he completed a double play. The spectators, numbering between seven and eight thousand, seemed to be partial to the Browns, and cheered them whenever the opportunity offered. Latham of course came in for a great share of attention, and was subjected to considerable good-natured chaffing. The St. Louis men did some daring base running in the first two innings, but after Bennett had nailed a couple of when they hugged their bases rather closely...

The League Champions won the game in their half of the second. Thompson opened with a scratch hit to left and went to second on a wild pitch, scoring on White's hard ground drive to centre, of which Welch made a great one-handed stop. White took second on Dunlap's out. Bushong muffed Bennett's fourth strike, and instead of throwing the striker out at first, which he could easily have done, he essayed to catch White off second. He dallied too long, however, and both the Deacon and Bennett were safe. Hanlon drove a corker to right, White scoring and Bennett going to third. Hanlon stole second. Baldwin lifted a fly to right, which Foutz took in good style, and then threw home to head off Bennett. Caruthers seeing that there was no chance of catching the latter, ran up on the ball and fielded it to Latham, retiring Hanlon, who had not left second till after Foutz had thrown the ball in...
-The North American, October 18, 1887

I have the general impression that the Browns' aggressive style of play backfired on them in this series. In this game, they had a runner thrown out at the plate with two outs in the first inning and then had a runner thrown out at third with one out in the second. Bushong's play in the bottom of the second was also an aggressive, risky play that didn't work. This kind of stuff works over the course of a season when playing against weaker clubs but against a club as good and as solid as the Detroits, it just wasn't working. The Browns, trying to play their game but struggling to score runs, were giving away outs, both at the bat and in the field. Detroit, with good pitching, defense and base-running, took the Browns' game away from them and won the series handily.

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