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.

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