Monday, February 28, 2011

Brother Bill Felt Unappreciated

The reports lately telegraphed from the East that Bill Gleason had signed with the Athletics was premature. Bill was seen by a Globe-Democrat reporter yesterday, and stated that he had not signed with the Athletics. He had received a letter from Sharsig, asking for his terms. These Bill sent on, and since has heard nothing. When asked as to his preference for clubs, he stated that he would play any place except with the Browns, but was determined not to play under Von der Ahe another season. Bill has a long string of complaints. He states that he was continually talked at, and his good work was not appreciated. He would be glad to get away.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 26, 1887

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Brief Interview With Von Der Ahe

President Von der Ahe returned rather unexpectedly to the city last night and seemed in a remarkably good humor over his recent sales of players. He confirmed the sales of Bushong to Brooklyn and of Gleason and Welch to the Athletics. He receives from the latter Milligan, McGarr and Mann. For Bushong he receives $4500. He was very reticent in regard to Caruthers, and refused to speak at all of the deal. He denied that Washington had even made an offer for Comiskey.

"Would you sell Comiskey for $10,000?" he was asked.

"I have no more players for sale," was the reply.

"What about Foutz?"

"I will retain him on the team."

This spoils Baltimore's chances of securing the lengthy twirler, and there will be weeping in the Monumental City.

"Do you expect to win with your reorganized team?"

"I certainly do. We have a very strong team still, and I think we will win the pennant again next year."

"Have you signed the Athletics' men?"

"No; but they are all willing to play here, and I can sign them when I please."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 26, 1887

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Caruthers Deal Hangs Fire

The Caruthers deal hangs fire, and will probably be settled definitely this morning. Late last night it was learned that Charley Byrne, the Brooklyn manager, would be in town to-day, when he will take the matter in his own hands. Joe Pritchard made another attempt to sign the great twirler yesterday. The conversation ran in this way:

"Well, Bob, are you ready to sign?"

"Yes, are you ready with the money?"

"I will give you $4500, with $1500 advance."

"No. Give me $4500 salary, with a bonus of $500 and $1000 advance, and my name will go to your contract."

"No, I can't do that."

"All right; then I don't sign."

This conversation took place in Schaefer's Billiard Parlor, and after Bob had spoken he took up a cue and commenced to play billiards. Pritchard seeing the matter was hopeless, went away to wait for further advices from Brooklyn. Gus Schmelz left for home last night. He saw that there was no chance to sign Caruthers, and gave up the chase. If Byrne arrives to-day Caruthers will sign before night.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 26, 1887

Friday, February 25, 2011

Caruthers Sold To Brooklyn

Before this evening's sun disappears Bod Caruthers, the best ball player in the Brown Stocking team, will have signed with Brooklyn for next season. Mr. Von der Ahe had up to the time of his departure for the East resolved to keep Caruthers on his team for next year, but he could not withstand Charley Byrne's big offer, and St. Louis loses the twirler. The amount paid for his release is $9000, and Caruthers will receive $5000. It is $500 of this amount which delayed the deal yesterday, otherwise Caruthers would have been signed last night. He asks Byrne for $4500 salary and $500 for his consent to the transfer. Byrne is willing to pay the amount asked for salary, but objects to the $500 for the transfer, and this is what is delaying the deal. Joe Pritchard, who has been representing the Brooklyn people here, has kept a watchful eye on Caruthers, to see that he was not approached by any other manager. The genial Sporting Life correspondent was dumbfounded yesterday when Gus Schmelz, the manager of the Cincinnati club, dropped into the Laclede Hotel. Joe and Gus are fast friends, but this was a matter of business, and Joe kept a watchful eye on Schmelz. Gus made no secret of the matter that he had come for Caruthers, and took Bob aside to have a long talk with him. The twirler admitted that he would just as soon sign with Cincinnati as with Brooklyn, that it was the stuff he was after, and if given his price, viz., $5000, he would sign with anybody. As a result, a message flashed over the wire to Mr. Von der Ahe in New York, asking him to put a price on Caruthers, stating that Cincinnati would pay almost any price for the great pitcher. Gus waited long and patiently for the answer, which never came. Up to midnight no reply had been received. It is not probable that Von der Ahe will release Caruthers to Cincinnati anyhow. The Porkopolitans are very strong now for the Browns' very much weakened team, and would have a walkover next season if given Caruthers to alternate with Smith and Mullane. Von der Ahe understands this, and while he is willing to make all he can out of the deal, he does not wish to see his once champion club made a show of next season. As soon as Pritchard saw Schmelz he took Caruthers in tow, and Gus had but little chance to speak to him. After supper Joe sent Caruthers over to Schaefer's billiard parlor to play billiards all evening, while he invited Gus to go to the theater with him. Seeing that he could do nothing, Gus consented, and the pair were together all evening. At 11 o'clock last night the scene was shifted to the Laclede again, where Caruthers, Pritchard, Schmelz and a Globe-Democrat reporter formed a group. Pritchard was very anxiously awaiting an answer to telegrams sent to Byrne. As soon as Pritchard found that Schmelz was in town he sent telegrams to Byrne telling him that the scent was getting very hot, to hurry and close the bargain. In reply he received a telegram stating that as far as he and Von der Ahe were concerned, Caruthers was all right, and to sigh the pitcher. Pritchard put a contract for $4500 under Bob's nose, but the latter said, "No; not without the $500." Not having authority to sign Bob at these figures, he wired Byrne the facts in the case. The latter no doubt had gone out with Von der Ahe, secure and happy in the belief that Caruthers was a Brooklyn player, and not returning until late, did not receive the telegram. At any rate, no reply had been received up to an early hour this morning. There is no doubt, however, that the deal will be perfected, as Byrne will not let a paltry $500 stand in his way after expending $13,500. A favorable reply will be received this morning, and before night Caruthers will be a Brooklyn player. This move will be regretted by Caruther's thousands of admirers in this city. He was a very popular player, and will be a tower of strength to the team from the City of Churches.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 25, 1887

The machinations surrounding the Caruthers sale are fascinating and read a bit like something out of a Cold War spy novel.

One of the things that I don't understand is how all of this came to be explained as a function of Von der Ahe's stupidity and greed. The usual explanation for the sale that you hear is that Von der Ahe broke up his championship club and sold off his players for the money. Money played a part in this but, I believe, only to the extent that this was how player transactions took place during the era. Teams were paid to release a player, who then signed with the club that paid for his release. But this wasn't really about money; this wasn't really a fire sale. Von der Ahe didn't have to make any of these moves. They were strategic moves rather than financial moves. And I would have to imagine that later descriptions of the sales as being motivated by greed and financial necessity was a result of Von der Ahe's deteriorating relationship with the press in the 1890s as well as a projection of the impact of Von der Ahe's financial troubles and poor management decisions during that period onto his past actions. The idea of Von der Ahe selling off his best players for the money and destroying his championship team became part of the mythology surrounding Von der Ahe. It became part of the caricature of Von der Ahe that continues to be presented and accepted today regardless of historical fact.

I'll get into all of that when I try to wrap this up. But we still need to finalize the Caruthers deal, look at the fallout and get Foutz sold to Brooklyn.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Championship Watch Fob

This is really neat. It's a watch fob commemorating the three pennants the Browns won from 1885-1887. I found the picture online (can't remember where; my apologises to whoever took the picture or owns the piece) but I think it was mentioned that it was something that was given to the players. Not sure if that's true but it's still very cool.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Browns Were Still On Tour?

Although there was a counter attraction of a game between the New Yorks and the local club, the Greenhoods and the Morans, an enormous crowd gathered to see a game of base ball at Central Park [in San Francisco] this afternoon between the champions of the American Association, the St. Louis Browns, and the Philadelphias.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 25, 1887

I'm not going to give you all the game details because my point here is that, as the big deal was going down, the Browns were still traveling around the country playing baseball. Since the end of the 1887 world's series, they had travelled to Memphis, New Orleans, Charleston and El Paso. And they played a Thanksgiving Day game in San Francisco. That's crazy.

But the game got a nice crowd, reported to be over 20,000. There wasn't a box score but it was mentioned that Foutz (who hadn't been sold yet) pitched and Bushong (who the club had agreed to sell) caught. Latham and O'Neill also played in the game. And the Browns won 12-3.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

To Equalize The Playing Strength Of All The Clubs

Manager Byrne, of the Brooklyn club, says he has about concluded negotiations for the purchase of Bushong from the St. Louis club, and that this is only one step in a general base ball deal whereby it is intended to equalize as far as possible the playing strength of all the clubs of the American Association. Byrne denied that there is any intention of transferring the franchise of the Metropolitan club to Kansas City.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 24, 1887

This is the first mention, in the Globe's coverage of the big deal, of the idea of trying to strengthen the AA clubs. As I've mentioned and as we've seen, there were a lot of reasons for the deals from the Browns end and, once I finish posting the Globe's coverage, I'll try to write something up pulling it all together.

I never really bought the idea that the Von der Ahe was trying to strengthen the AA and always believed that the deals were an attempt to fix problems inside the club. But, there might be something to this and I'll have to look at it again. The whole thing is really rather complicated and there's a lot going on that never really gets mentioned when the subject comes up.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Caruthers' Luck

Bob Caruthers, who has a great reputation as a sport, has been at his old tricks during the past few days. It will be remembered that last spring he lost $9000 in one sitting. Sunday night he strolled into Jake Schaefer's parlor and commenced to play billiards with Ross Swift. The pair soon became interested and played cushion caroms, 10 points to a game, for $20 a side. Caruthers quit $150 winner. He left there and went up to a resort on Seventh street to play cards. The first hand dealt him he had four aces pat, and raked in $120. He won over $400 during the night.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 22, 1887

I don't remember reading anything about Caruthers gambling away $9000 in one night and I'm not sure if I believe it. That was a lot of money in 1887. Heck, that's a lot of money today.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Big Deal In Progress

A portion, at least, of the big base ball deal foreshadowed in Saturday night's dispatches to the Globe-Democrat was effected to-day, and two members of the present St. Louis Brown Stocking team will positively be found with the Athletics next season. President Von der Ahe got here this afternoon and had a long conference with the Athletic Directors. It is known that this deal is to involve five of the leading clubs of the American Association and was the subject under consideration. Manager Sharsig, of the Athletics, was inclined to be reticent when questioned by the Globe-Democrat reporter as to the outcome of the conference, but finally admitted that arrangements for the transfers of two of the St. Louis players to this city had been definitely concluded.

"Yes," said Mr. Sharsig, "we will have two of Mr. Von der Ahe's men next year, and they will be Gleason, the short-stop, Welch, the center-fielder. Both are good men and will greatly strengthen our team."

Mr. Sharsig refused to divulge the terms on which the deal was made. But it may be set down as a certainty that McGarr and one of the Athletic's catchers will go to St. Louis, and the Athletics will, besides, pay to Mr. Von der Ahe a handsome cash bonus. Mr. Von der Ahe was not very talkative.

"There had been a good deal of gossip about my team for next season," said he. "Oh, yes," he added, laughing, "I'll have to admit your paper has succeeded in getting the news pretty straight. There is a big deal in progress at present, but I can not divulge its exact nature until it's consummated."

Mr. Von der Ahe will go to New York to-morrow to complete the arrangements for the transfer of certain players to the Brooklyn club.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 22, 1887

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm Only Passing This Along So I Can Mention Tom Nieto

Von der Ahe wanted Gunning, but held off too long.-[Philadelphia Ledger.] Von der Ahe did not want Gunning, and could have had him for the asking.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 20, 1887

There are a few contradictions in the Globe's reporting of the big deal in their issue of November 20th. They had that big article reporting the details of the deal, mentioning everyone who was on the trade block and what Von der Ahe wanted in return. Then, in the next column, they print things like "Bob Caruthers will play with the Browns next season." They mention that Von der Ahe wanted a Philadelphia catcher and the Ledger mentions that Tom Gunning was the guy and then turn around and say that he didn't want Gunning. I guess it's possible that Gunning wasn't one of the players Von der Ahe was interested in but with all the players Von der Ahe was signing and all the talk of a big deal, I don't think they should have been so quick to dismiss the possibility.

Anyway, the real reason I mention this is that, according to Baseball-Reference, the eighth most similar player to Tom Gunning was Tom Nieto. Nieto was the backup catcher on my favorite team of all-time, the 1985 NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Deal In Progress

A big base ball deal is in progress of materialization at the present time, but all information pertaining to it is being carefully suppressed by those interested. The deal is said to be the largest ever made from a financial standpoint, and will involve between $30,000 and $40,000. Five clubs are interested in it, and there will probably be an interchange of players and money between them during the coming week. The clubs are the Athletic, St. Louis, Brooklyn, Baltimore and Louisville. President Christ Von der Ahe, of St. Louis, and Charles H. Byrne, of Brooklyn, are engineering the trade, which is expected to startle the base ball world. The Athletics are after at least six new men, and Manager Wm. Sharsig's trip to New York this week was made on behalf of his club. Mr. Sharsig returned from New York today. To a reporter of the Globe-Democrat he said:

"Yes, I have been trying to make a deal for some new men, but until I secure their names to contracts I will not make their names public."

While in New York Mr. Sharsig had several long talks with Mr. Byrne, and there is no doubt but that arrangements were made for the transfer of one or more of the Brooklyn and Metropolitan players to this city. The Athletic Directors held a secret meeting this afternoon and listened to Manager Sharsig's report, but action was deferred until the arrival of Mr. Von der Ahe in [Philadelphia] on Monday.
Changes in the St. Louis Team.
It is known that President Von der Ahe intends to make a number of changes in his champion team next season, and that he will dispose of a number of his crack players. The arrangements for the transfer of these men were partially made when Von der Ahe was in the East a week ago, and he is now on his way East again and is expected in [Philadelphia] Monday. Rumor has it that the Browns' best battery, Caruthers and Bushong, are among the players to be disposed of. Bushong will go to Brooklyn, that much is certain, as Mr. Byrne has made a standing offer of $5000 for the great catcher. It is probable that Byrne will also bag Caruthers, as he has made an offer of $10,000 for him, as much as Boston paid for Mike Kelly. The Athletics started the bidding on Caruthers at $5000, Baltimore offered $8000, and Brooklyn wound up with a bid of $10,000 for the great battery. Bushong is a native of [Philadelphia]. where he graduated from the famous Archer club. Curtis Welsh, Foutz, "Yank" Robinson and "Brudder Bill" Gleason are the other St. Louis players that are reported as anxious to get away.

"Robinson will not be sold or released to any club," said Von der Ahe, when in this city. The Athletics are after Welch and Gleason. Manager Sharsig is particularly anxious to secure the great centerfielder, and speaks hopefully of doing so. Von der Ahe likes McGarr, and is also said to be after one of the Athletic catchers. It is probable that Welch will play in [Philadelphia], and that the Athletics will trade two of their men for him.

The Purchase Of Gleason.

In reference to Gleason, Manager Sharsig said: "I think Bill Gleason is as good as he ever was. I would like to have him to play short-stop and captain the team." Gleason's release will cost the Athletic club at least $3000. Dave Foutz, the Bay City pitcher, who cost Von der Ahe $8000, will probably play in Baltimore. He has many friends in the Monumental City, and Vonderhost and Barnie are reported to have offered $4000 for his release. Louisville will also have a finger in the big deal and it is reported that Guy Hecker, their best pitcher, will be sold to the Brooklyn club for $8000. Kerins, the first baseman and catcher, would like to get away from Louisville and the Athletic and Brooklyn clubs have bid as high as $4000 for him, but he will probably remain where he is. McTamany, of the Brooklyn club, is another player who is likely to wear the blue stockings of the Athletic club next season, and one of the Brooklyn or Metropolitan pitchers may come along with him. President Von der Ahe is rapidly adding to his already long list of new players. Following up his engagement of James McCormick, the agent of the St. Louis President in [Philadelphia] to-day signed Bart Cantz, one of the Newark club catchers. Cantz is a good general player and hard hitter, a strong thrower to bases, and formerly caught for Knouff, who is now with the St. Louis club. Cantz's contract calls for $1700, of which $300 is in advance.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 20, 1887

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gleason Is Quietly Resting

The Associated Press yesterday was authority for the statement that Bill Gleason had been signed by the Philadelphia League Club. In order for Bill to sign with a League club it would require the consent of all the Association managers to his transfer, and it is safe to say that even if Mr. Von der Ahe wished to release him some Association club would gobble him up rather than let him go to the League. Besides, Bill is quietly resting at his home on St. Louis avenue, and is not bothering his head about ball matters. He is reserved by the St. Louis club and will play short-stop for either the Association or Western League team. The Gleason signed by Philadelphia is a pitcher.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 19, 1887

I don't think this is significant but it is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it appears to be common knowledge that Von der Ahe is shopping players and wanting to make some moves. This is the first time that Gleason's name has come up but his play in 1887 was found wanting and I don't think it was a secret that St. Louis wanted to upgrade his position. Second, I think it's really interesting how the Globe is almost treating the Browns and the Whites as one entity. There had been a bunch of stuff in the papers about Von der Ahe not treating or running the Whites as an extension of the Browns. It was basically part of the deal Von der Ahe made to get a Western League club. That stuff obviously went by the wayside rather quickly.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


President Von der Ahe returned from the East yesterday morning without having completed most of the business he went for, viz: the completion of his team for next year. He misunderstood the telegram sent him in regard to the late fire at Sportsman's Park, and thinking the damage far greater than it really was, returned to make arrangements for rebuilding. Finding the loss trifling he will return on Wednesday or Thursday. He is very reticent regarding any changes to be made in the Browns, and declares that nothing has been done as yet in that regard, but promises some rich developments in the near future. He states that his recent conferences with Mr. Byrne, of Brooklyn, were merely in regard to the umpire question, which has been settled in a manner that will be greeted with joy by all patrons of the American Association...Mr. Von der Ahe signed Gibson, the late Philadelphia catcher, while in the Quaker City. He also signed McCormick, the old Baltimore third baseman, for his Western League Club.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 15, 1887

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bushong And Foutz Are On The Block

Mr. Von der Ahe is still in New York. It is probable that he will exchange Bushong for Smith, and Foutz for Terry, before he returns.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 13, 1887

The club, at this point, was still on their southern tour, playing the Chicagos in New Orleans.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Think They Call This Foreshadowing

Mr. Von der Ahe will leave for the East Sunday night, when some of the deals lately hinted at in the Globe-Democrat will be perfected. Several sensations are promised in the near future.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 4, 1888

I've mentioned this before but it does seem that the fire sale did not come as a surprise. It's possible that these moves were in the works as early as late August 1888.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Caruthers Is Not Happy

The day before the Browns left for the South, Mr. Von der Ahe was paying off his men. When it came Bob Caruthers' turn he took his check, but, on examining it, noticed that $110 had been deducted from it. On inquiry he found that he had been docked for the short rest he enjoyed during the summer, when he spent a few weeks at his home in Chicago. When told of the fact he became very angry and expressed himself in very free terms concerning the matter. As he turned to leave the office he said: "Remember this will be the last chance you will ever have to dock me. This will cost you about $8000." What the little twirler could have meant by the latter proposition it is hard to say, but it is certain that he left the city in no enviable frame of mind and not very kindly disposed towards the Browns' President.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 2, 1887

Just when you thought the 1887 season was over with, the Browns have another exhibition series to play. It seems that they had a series with the Chicagos after the world's series. They played one game in St. Louis (where it was very cold) before heading to Memphis and New Orleans.

The thing that strikes me the most about Caruthers' behavior is that he's acting like a guy who wants out. Regardless of who you are, it's not usually a good idea to get angry at your boss and express yourself in free terms. Nothing good ever comes of that. Caruthers probably knew that and didn't care. He wanted out of St. Louis and he was going to throw a fit until he got his way.

The reasons for the fire sale are myriad but one of the reasons is that some of the players were unhappy in St. Louis and had no problems expressing that unhappiness. It's also true that some of the players allowed their ego to get out of control to the point that the club was fed up with them. These things kind of go hand-in-hand and they accurately describe the Caruthers situation.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Putting A Price On The Players

When Director Doyle asked President Von der Ahe to put a price on Caruthers and Bushong, he moderately answered, "$30,000." It is needless to say that Director Doyle has not yet recovered from the shock.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 28, 1887

After the 1887 world's series ended and a year before the West Ends played the Pinchbacks (see how I tied everything together there), Von der Ahe broke up his championship team. Caruthers, Foutz, Bushong, Welch and Gleason were sold off and new talent was brought in.

Over the next few days, I'm going to go through the Globe and see how they covered the sales. I'll probably add some stuff from Cash and Hetrich and, in the end, I'll throw in my two-cents.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Al Spink At The West End/Pinchback Game

"Hyar! Yo, man, down thar, what debble's matter with yo' an' how?"

These were the words which issued from the lips of Mr. Turner, the first baseman and coacher of the celebrated Pinchback nine, who yesterday started in to mop up the earth with the famous colored nine of St. Louis, the West Ends, but were prevented from completely glutting their desire by a storm-cloud which hovered an hour or more over Sportsman's Park and finally burst in a heavy shower of rain.

The Pinchbacks, who have been noticed to some extent in the Post-Dispatch of late, are a very plucky team of colored ball players from New Orleans, and they are making a tour of the country at the expense of the Louisiana politician and bookmaker in whose honor they have been named. The game yesterday at Sportsman's Park only lasted for six innings, but it was "pow'ful excitin'" while it did last. The Pinchbacks came first to bat and were regularly retired. They scored one tally in the second inning and blanked the home team in the first three innings. In the third, when the visitors came to the bat, real fun began. Men were on bases continually; they were running like deers all the time, but somehow or another they were put out amidst the very wildest enthusiasm in the stands. At last they scored two runs on about four times as many errors and the masterly coaching of Mr. Turner. Far above the din could be heard his voice:

"Loak hyar, Ross, yo' jes watch 'self, d'understand'-come away now-thar you' air-hey thar. Say, what's matter with y0? Git away from dat ere bag. Dis hyar ain't Chicago-can't divorce from dat bag so easy s' yo' could up that-come off now-whar's de ball?"

Then Ross was put out at second and Mr. Turner collapsed with the remark, "Well, yo air a dandy."

When Mr. Defanchard got to first on a hit in the fifth Mr. Turner helped him out like this:

"Say, is't very cool over thar? I'se 'gin to 'spect yo' gettin froze to dat 'ere carpet sack! Git a motion on you'? What yo' gwine to'do over that? Settle down for de wintah? Git away, git away?"

This was his song during the game. Mr. Al Spink had a score book and tried to keep a score, but beyond estimating the Pinchbacks hits at 7 and the West Ends at 4 he accomplished nothing. He said he though there was something like a total of 97 errors, but whom to charge them to he gave up...The umpires were Stewart and Schaefer, the former colored and the latter white.
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 26, 1888

This is another account of the first game of the series between the West Ends and the Pinchbacks and it is certainly different than the one in the Republic. While the Post does stress the Pinchbacks coaching, they also give us a description of the game and the action. They even went so far as to publish the score by inning (the Pinchbacks scored one in the second, two in the third and three in the fifth; the West Ends got there lone run in the fourth).

And Al Spink was at the game, which is neat. It's also indicative of the prominence of the series in St. Louis. Spink, of course, wasn't just a baseball fan; he was the publisher of The Sporting News and a baseball institution in the city. Spink's presence, combined with the fact that the series was played at Von der Ahe's ballbark as well as the amount of interest shown by the local newspapers, indicates that this series had the support of the St. Louis baseball hierarchy. This series was evidently blessed by the St. Louis guardians of baseball high culture.

I did a quick search for information about the Pinchbacks' tour to see how the coverage of the rest of the tour compared to the coverage in St. Louis and didn't find much. The Inter Ocean of Chicago covered the Pinchbacks' when they were in town but their total coverage didn't amount to more than three or four paragraphs. The Picayune of New Orleans also covered the tour but, again, their total coverage didn't amount to much more than a paragraph per game. The coverage by the Republic and the Post is much more in depth than anything I've seen elsewhere.

Again, we have to tip our hats to Dwayne Isgrig for his work in discovering all of this and passing it along.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Most Aggravating And Wretched Player On The Team

It was the universal opinion among St. Louis base ball enthusiasts yesterday that Mr. Lucas never took a better step in the right direction for the good of his club than in releasing Dunlap, whose sale to the Detroit Club was announced exclusively in the Globe-Democrat yesterday morning. By many of the Maroons' devoted admirers the news was hailed with genuine delight, and the prediction that the club would now be almost certain to do better could be heard everywhere. While Dunlap's ability as a great second baseman was never for a moment questioned, and while he is justly entitled to be called the "king of them all," there is but little doubt that his departure from the St. Louis Club is a good thing for the club and its owners. Dunlap's ways are too well known to the base ball public of St. Louis to necessitate any comment. He played well when he wanted to, and when he didn't he was the most aggravating and wretched player on the team. He wanted everything his own way, and when crossed made it disagreeable for everybody around him. As the captain of the club the players looked to him for advice and instruction, and what he said usually went with them, and it was always noticed that when it was an "off" day for Dunlap the rest of the club usually followed in his wake, and played as poorly as they knew how. Dunlap's off-days usually came when the manager and owner of the club insisted upon having a world to say as to how the nine should be run.

Speaking of the matter, Mr. Lucas said to a Globe-Democrat reporter yesterday: "I am heartily-in fact, really happy-that Dunlap has gone, and I think that the club will get along much better without him. I was in favor of letting him go at the end of last season but Manager Schmelz insisted on keeping him, and it was only through the latter that I consented to have him remain on the team. Mr. Schmelz had an idea that he could get along with Dunlap, but I never thought so. No manager can get along with him unless he allows him to do just as he likes. He has always been the disturbing element in the club, and every trouble that has arisen among the players can be traced directly or indirectly to him. My opinion of him, however, as a ball player has never been changed since he has been associated with the club. I think he has no equal in his position, and but for his ways I would ask for a no better man. Neither did I like his bulldozing tactics on the field. I like to see kicking, and I think it pays; but Dunlap didn't kick as other captains did. He would raise a big row over the most trivial occurrences. I do not approve of this policy. I like to see a man stand up for his rights, but I believe in doing it in a gentlemanly way. Another thing that made matters worse was Dunlap's eager desire to leave the club. He was dissatisfied all the time. I had a good offer to send him to Detroit, and get some money back that I have spent on him, and so I decided to let him go. I am entirely satisfied with the deal, and I know he is, so there will be no regrets on either side."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 8, 1886

I think we all know that Dunlap was a difficult character to deal with but I don't think I've ever read a harsher description of him. I'm sure the whole thing is an attempt to justify his sale to the fans but it also has a ring of truth to it. The fact of the matter is that the King of Second Basemen was a bit of a jerk.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The 1885 Nine Stars

The Nine Stars (colored) Base Ball Club organized Monday, April 6, with the following players: David Smyth, catcher; Charley Franklin, pitcher; Mosel Johnson, first base; Henry Alexandria, field captain and second base; Clayton Williams, third base; Edward Barber, short stop; Matt Long, right field; Wallace Long, left field; John Robinson, center field; Joseph John Johnson, Wm. Jones and John Davis, substitutes. James Williams and Fred Godare are the managers.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 12, 1885

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Prolific Of Amusing Features

An immense attendance witnessed the meeting yesterday afternoon at the Union Grounds of the Black Stocking and Athletic, colored clubs. The latter was badly overmatched, but the game was prolific of amusing features and created more enthusiasm than any game played in St. Louis this season.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 1, 1884

Monday, February 7, 2011

West Ends Vs. Pinchbacks: Game Three

The third and last game between the Pinchbacks of New Orleans and the West Ends was played before a small crowd yesterday afternoon. The local club had out its strongest combination and resolved to do or die. They died, but not without a struggle. The game proved to be a cyclone of fun from beginning to end. The crowd was neutral and lavished its applause and suggestions on both sides with equal vigor...The Pinchbacks were first at bat, and they scored-yes, they scored several times. This aroused a spirit of ambition in the West Ends and they sailed in and soared. Then the grandstand opened up.

"Go in there, Sam!" "Now, den, ole man, piece of melon if you lines her out. Sho' you didn't come within a foot of dat! Oh, Sammy take your seat, you humbug, you." Sam had been called out on strikes.

Every time the ball was hit, whether fair or foul, the crowd yelled. The collisions and falls were many, and very fall and every error made the crowd happy. For seven innings the game was full of excitement. The visitors started off in the lead, but in the sixth the West Ends, by some terrific batting, headed off New Orleans and it looked as if they would be first passed the post. The West Ends had the bases full in the sixth and the score a tie, when "Steve," the black Dunlap, took his place at the plate. "Steve," who covered second, had been putting up a great game. He was implored by everyone to "jes paste dat ball once." Two men were out and a hit meant a good lead. Once the bit bat made an effort to secure a connection with the sphere and failed. The crowd groaned-but the second swipe was a success, and the ball went sailing off to left field, and before it returned three runs came in. This lead, however, was not sufficient, for old New Orleans came in and piled up four. The West End pitcher was a poor fielder. While the ball was seeking the plate to cut off a runner, he hit it a kick and sent it into the grandstand. He would make a good foot ball player. The West Ends tried in every way to win but were forced to leave the field one run behind. In the ninth inning, after two out, the local club got a man on first, and he stole around to third, but he didn't score. The base hit that he longed for never came. The score was 16 to 15.
-St. Louis Republic, August 29, 1888

First of all, I thought Frank Grant was the black Dunlap. Who's this "Steve" guy and why is his name in quotes?

Second, we have a great game here. Sixteen to fifteen, with the lead going back and forth. The tying run got on with two outs and stole second and third before getting stranded. That's dramatic stuff. So lets concentrate on the actions of the crowd. And let's not include a box score.

Finally, we have a couple of more images from the Republic. Compare these images to the cartoon from the Globe that I posted a few days ago. Compare the way that the Browns, in humiliating defeat, are portrayed to the way that black ballplayers are portrayed. Compare these images to this image of Curt Welch:

This image appeared in the Globe and The Sporting News in 1886, after the Browns victory over Chicago in the world's series. There were similar images of all the Browns' players.

It almost goes without saying that there was a difference in how white baseball and black baseball was covered in St. Louis. But when one compares the differences in tone, language and images used in the coverage, the difference is rather shocking. The Republic's coverage of the West Ends series against the Pinchbacks is a great example of that, especially when you contrast it with the reporting on the 1887 world's series that I've been posting. There's a stark contrast that has nothing to do with the relative stature of the clubs involved or the importance of the games being played. There was an editorial decision made, that may not have even been conscious, to portray black baseball as something less than white baseball. By extension, 19th century newspaper coverage of black baseball perpetuated a portrayal of blacks as inferior to whites.

In the end, the Republic's reporting on the West Ends series with the Pinchbacks and the tone, language and images they used in that reporting really had nothing to do with baseball. It was about perpetuating a social structure.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The West Ends Are Confident

The New Orleans Pinchbacks and the West Ends meet for the last time to-day at Sportsman's Park. The weather has interfered with the games Saturday and Sunday and to-day each combination will put its strongest team in the field. The West Ends are confident that they can knock out the "Coons" from the South and this is their last chance. The rival coachers will appear with all their stock in trade and will try to rattle the respective pitchers. Game will be called at 3:30 p.m. The Pinchbacks would like very much to meet the Cuban Giants and may take a trip to New York this fall and play for the colored championship of the United States.
-St. Louis Republic, August 28, 1888

Well, I guess it was good that they got a pre-game notice.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

West Ends Vs. Pinchbacks: Game Two

The New Orleans Pinchbacks again defeated the West Ends at Sportsman's Park yesterday, though they had a hard tussle to do it, the score being 5 to 4. About 2,000 people witnessed the game, a large number of whom left the Fair Grounds when the sports there were declared off and took in the game. The Pinchbacks put up a game hard to beat, Hopkins, their pitcher, doing very good work. He was well supported by Josephs and Francis, who alternated behind the bat. The feature of the game, outside of Hopkins' pitching, was the coaching of Price, catcher of the West Ends. He has a voice which would do credit to a rasp-saw, and kept up a stream of chin music which would have made an auctioneer sick. Price coached every man on his own side and gave the umpires gratuitous advice as to the performance of their duties, taking a special care to let the spectators hear everything he said. One funny crack to a base-runner caught the crowd: "Whar, dar, you come off dat base. You have no real estate down there. Come, there's beer up here at third base, sah; come now, come a runnin' here." And the runner made a dash for third and slid to the grand stand. He presented a sorry spectacle. The game was thoroughly enjoyed by the spectators. It was a sort of novel treat and kept up a constant stream of laughter and yelling. Rain stopped the game at the end of the first half of the sixth inning, after the Pinchbacks had scored three more runs, making a total of eight. The game ended in the Pinchbacks favor in five innings, the score being 5 to 4 for the West Ends. If the weather clears up the two teams will probably meet to-morrow at Sportsman's Park.
-St. Louis Republic, August 27, 1888

So what happened in the game? I can't tell you. I don't know how the runs were scored or in what inning. We're told that Hopkins pitched well for the Pinchbacks, so I guess that's something. But the emphasis of the article is on Price's coaching and how entertained the spectators were. It's less overtly racist than the account of game one but, again, the game is not treated seriously.

Friday, February 4, 2011

West Ends Vs. Pinchbacks: Game One

Eighteen black men representing St. Louis and New Orleans swam out to Sportsman's Park yesterday and showed 800 colored "folks" and a small sprinkling of whites how to play ball. The weather was against the exhibition, and after looking in vain for life-preservers, the game game had to be called in the seventh inning. The New Orleans club is named after Louisiana's most distinguished colored statesman, P.S.P. Pinchback. The St. Louis men are known as the "West Ends." Next to a watermelon and a coon hunt, a negro likes a ball game, and they go at it with such zest that even a policeman is compelled to stay awake. The Pinchback team is homeward bound, having defeated the Chicago Unions and other strong Northern clubs. They talk English and French and always swear at the umpire in French. Their uniform was navy blue, white striped caps, white shirts, with a large blue "P" on the right breast. The "West Ends" were arrayed like the lily, pure white, but after skating around in the mud a few minutes the original color of the uniform was hard to discover. The game began at 3:45 o'clock, and the guying a few minutes later. Every play, good or bad, was greeted with yells. Price, the boss "yeller" of New Orleans, took a day off in order to grease his tonsils and have his lungs repaired. Jones of the West Ends was the best coacher, and when a black man reached his bass Jones offered these suggestions:

"Watch 'im dar, watch 'im. Hyar dar; watch dat ball. Now, niggah, go dar; go. Hyar you; get dar. Oh sho man, is you boardin at dat base!"

The West Ends were very rugged in their fielding, but made some good hits. Each man going to bat was advised to "Swiper er over de fence, now den, niggah, kill dat ball. Sho, man, wat's you tryin to do, anyhow?"

...The Pinchbacks took the lead from the start and came near shutting out the St. Louis men. They consider the West Ends "pie." Johnson, Jones and Bracey played well for the West Ends, and all the Pinchbacks showed good form. The New Orleans second baseman proved to be a corker, while Johnson lined them down in a way that made the West Ends sick.
-St. Louis Republic, August 26, 1888

The final score of the game was 6-1. The "P.S.P. Pinchback" mentioned in the article,one has to assume, was P.B.S. Pinchback, the African-American Republican governor of Louisiana from 1872-1873, whose photo is posted above.

The images below were included in the text of the article:

Any questions about how black baseball and black ballplayers were portrayed in the St. Louis press in the 19th century?

The images, the language and the tone speak for themselves. Black baseball was not to be taken seriously by white society. It was minstrelsy. Both white and black baseball were seen as entertainment but white baseball was the supreme competition for athletic superiority on the playing fields while black baseball was a clown show. Arlie Latham's "coaching" was seen as an annoying distraction from the game and undignified while the antics of Price and Jones were portrayed as a defining characteristic of black baseball. What was not acceptable among white ballplayers was fine among black ballplayers because black baseball was not real baseball. That's the message that comes through the 19th century newspaper coverage.

Black baseball was not worthy of coverage by the white sporting press and, when it was covered, the emphasis was never on the game itself. The emphasis was always on a stereotype that the writer wanted to perpetuate. The coverage of 19th century baseball in the St. Louis press was never about chronicling the game but about defining blacks and their place in St. Louis society.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

West Ends Vs. Pinchbacks

The New Orleans Pinchbacks, who claim to be the colored champions of the country, will arrive here this morning and meet the locally famous colored club, the West Ends, at Sportsman's Park this afternoon. the game has been the talk of the colored population for months and as a series of three contests will be played, there will be the most exciting times the colored people will have had since "de wah." Price, the great caliope coacher of the Pinchbacks, is said to be able to discount Latham in the depth of his "hollerin'" powers and in the extent of his funny sayings. The Pinchbacks have told the people of Chicago that they will wipe up the earth with their colored brethren in St. Louis. Game will be called at 3:30 p.m.
-St. Louis Republic, August 25, 1888

Due to the hard work and generosity of Dwayne Isgrig, I have game accounts of all three games between the West Ends and the Pinchbacks. Big hat tip to Dwayne.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone but some of the language used in these accounts is ridiculously offensive. The images which accompany the text are just as bad, if not worse. I make no apologies for presenting the information as it is. This is the historical record, warts, stupidity and all. We have to, need to and should want to confront the record honestly. I'm not going to gloss over the overt racism of 19th century newspapers and baseball writers to spare our delicate feelings. This kind of stuff was the truth of the matter; it was the reality of the situation. I don't feel the need to hide truth just because it makes me uncomfortable. So it is what it is and I'm going to post it.

The important thing here is to take these games and put them in the context of 19th century St. Louis baseball. I refuse to allow the story of 19th century African-American baseball players to be segregated from the overall history of the game. That story must be incorporated into the whole if we're ever to arrive at a complete truth, at a comprehensive history of the game. And to do so, we have to look at and understand the racial attitudes that were a part of our country's history. The language and images used in the Republic have to be dealt with as part of the history of the game in St. Louis and I have no problems doing that.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

My Final 1887 World Series Post

This cartoon appeared in the Globe on October 30, 1887. It's fantastic and I had to post it. Click on it to get the full-size version. You'll love all the little details.

And with that, I'm done with the 1887 world's championship series. Not sure what I'm posting tomorrow but since I'm snowed/iced in due to the 2011 Snowpocalypse I have plenty of time to figure it out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The 1887 World Series: Frightened And Sick

Coming down the Allegheny Mountains Sunday night, the special train bearing the Browns and Detroits ran at times at the rate of seventy-five miles an hour. In the dining-car nothing could be kept on the table, and the rolling of the cars was such that a number of the occupants became sea-sick. Mr. Stearns was frightened almost to death, and said that he would rather give $1000 than repeat the experience.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 27, 1887

The Browns probably felt the same way about the series as Stearns felt about the train trip.