Saturday, October 8, 2011

The 1884 Maroons: The First Championship Game Of The Season

Notwithstanding the disagreeable temperature and dampening drizzle that prevailed yesterday afternoon, fully 10,000 persons attended the opening game in the Union Association championship schedule for this city, between the St. Louis Unions and the Chicago Unions.  This fact may appear quite incredible to those who sat all the afternoon in their homes and pitied people who were obliged to be out and exposed to the dreary elements, but it is nevertheless an astonishing yet positive fact.  What was most remarkable was that at least 6,000 occupied uncovered seats, and all sat through a six inning contest apparently cheerful if not grateful for having an opportunity to see the game.  It is doubtful if under similar circumstances any other city in the country could produce such a gathering.  considering the conditions under which it was played it was the most remarkable base ball event that ever occurred in the West, and, perhaps the most remarkable in the annals of the game.  To a man the spectators were base ball enthusiasts, if not absolute cranks.  But they were good-humored, and evidently appreciating the fact that brilliant playing should not be expected, laughed at errors and heartily applauded each good play.  As a matter of course, they were partial to the home club, but they were liberal to the visitors, and particularly so to Hugh Daily.  In fact the one-armed pitcher was the favorite of the occasion.  He caught the sympathy of the crowd in his preliminary practice, in which his catching with one hand and a stump was greatly admired.  When the first time at the bat, after two strikes, he knocked a grounder to left field, scoring a two-base hit, he became
The Hero Of The Hour, 
and was wildly cheered.  The field and diamond were both very slippery and the spikes of the fielders were of comparatively little value.  Dunlap suffered twice from this cause.  In one instance after securing first base on a hit, he sneaked away from the bag.  Daily threw to Schoenick to nip him.  He got back all right, but in sliding, passed the bag, and was put out before he could get back.  Then in the fifth inning he nearly fielded a grounder from Cady's bat, hit near second, but after getting could not steady himself, and in throwing to first sent the ball over Taylor's head.  In the outfield, owing to the peculiar atmosphere, the players experienced great difficulty in judging fly balls.  The home battery was Hodnett and Brennan, while Daily and Krieg were presented by the visitors.  Hodnett executed some remarkable curves, but was quite unsteady in his delivery.  Brennan fully sustained the high opinions that have been expressed concerning his ability, and there need be no hesitation in pronouncing him the most promising young catcher in the country.  Daily did not have his usual control of the ball, and besides being somewhat wild gave three men bases on balls.  The young players, Whitehead, Brennan and Hodnett, were his special victims, and were sorely puzzled by his delivery.  Krieg's support was excellent.  Indeed it was quite a surprise.
 The Game.
The game was called at 2:10, twenty minutes before the announced time.  There was, however, no reason for further delay as the crowd present was very large and impatient to have the contest begin.  The St. Louis team were first at the bat.  Dunlap led and was given his base on balls.  Shaffer followed with a hit to short that gave an opportunity for a double play.  Mathias made a clean pick up, but threw so high to second that Hengle had to get back from the bag to stop the ball.  Deing unable to return to the bag before Dunlap had reached it, Hengle threw to first and just managed to put out Shaffer.  Dunlap then stole third and came home on a passed ball.  Dickerson struck out and Gleason retired the side by hitting to third and going out on Foley's assist to Schoenick.  The visitors failed to score.  Ellick hit to Dunlap and went out at first.  Krieg hit a liner to left field that Dickerson misjudged, and it fell just beyond his reach.  A good stop and throw held the striker at first.  Heugle raised a foul fly to right and Shaffer attended to tit.  A passed ball gave Kreig second base, but he died on the very next ball.  Brennan fumbled it but recovering quickly threw to Gleason and cut short the runner in an attempt to gain third. 
In the second inning neither side scored.  Rowe started with a two-base hit to right and was finally left at third.  Taylor made
 A Stupid Play
hitting high to the right of Daly he stood and watched the one-armed man attempt to catch the ball, and did not leave the plate until Dunlap ran up, pushed him off and started him for first.  Daly muffed, but Kreig who was right under him, gathered the ball and threw Taylor out at first.  Rowe ran to third on the error.  Then Whitehead and Brennan struck out.  The Chicagos went out in quick succession.  Householder and Foley on Hodnett's assist to Taylor, while Schoenick hit direct to Taylor.  Both sides realized blanks from the third inning.  Dunlap scored first on a safe one to center, but was put out by Daly's throw to Schoenick.  Daly made a two-bagger for the visitors and then was left.
 In the fourth inning the local club scored two runs and the Chicagos one.  Gleason led off with a drive over the left fielder's head, the ball bounding against the fence, but had to be content with one base.  Rowe hit between second and first.  The ball was fielded by Schoenick and Daly covered first only to make a muff on which Gleason reached third.  After Rowe had taken second by sufferance he and Gleason were brought home by Taylor's slashing grounder to left.  The ball was fielded home and Taylor thereby gained second.  A passed ball gave him third where he was left, Whitehead, Brennan and Hodnett striking out.  Kreig opened for the Chicago team by getting first on called balls.  In attempting to steal second he was nipped by Brennan's brilliant throw to Dunlap.  Hengle, who also started with a base on balls, stole second, Brennan throwing a trifle wide to Dunlap, and came home on Householder's hit to short, which Whitehead fumbled and then threw wild to Taylor.  That was the only run scored by the visitors.  In the next two innings the game dragged and became slow and tedious.  The misty rain increased in density, the pitcher became unable to handle the ball with effectiveness, and the players slipped at almost every run on both turf and bare ground.  Two more innings each realized two runs for the St. Louis nine, while the Chicago contingent retired with zeros.  The game was then called.  The crowd would have been satisfied with a call at the end of the fifth inning, but in order to avoid possible dissatisfaction Dunlap had an additional inning played.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 21, 1884

A few thoughts on the Maroons first official game of the season:

-Gleason's hit in the fourth was interesting.  A ball to left field that went over the outfielder's head, it only resulted in a single.  Either Gleason was really, really slow or this is evidence of the Union Grounds being a small ballpark.  It's possible, I guess, that Gleason thought the ball was going to be caught and did run it out but a ball over the left fielder's head with no one on base should have been a double.

-I forgot that Joe Ellick played for the Chicago Unions.  Always nice to see an old Red Stocking.

-"It is doubtful if under similar circumstances any other city in the country could produce such a gathering."  You hear that a lot in St. Louis.  You'll be sitting at the ballpark on a Tuesday night against Colorado, there will be 40,000 people there and you'll hear somebody say something like "They probably have 2,000 people at the game in Florida."

-Again, I think it's necessary to point out that One Armed Daily actually had two arms.  Also, his middle name was Ignatius.

-No mention of Ted Sullivan.  Dunlap was the guy who made the decision to play or call the game and you would think that Sullivan, who was the manager, would have made that decision.  Dunlap was the field captain so maybe that fell to him.  It's just kind of odd that Sullivan isn't mentioned in the article at all, especially given his relationship with the press.    

-And that brings us to:

What Did Dunlap Do?

Teh Fred went two for two, with a walk, a stolen base and three runs.  A nice start to the season.  He also got picked off first and made a throwing error, but the Globe blamed those on the weather.  Even more interestingly, he probably really pissed off Bollicky Bill Taylor.  Taylor was a veteran and one of the older guys on the team so I doubt he appreciated Dunlap shoving him out of the box in the second inning, regardless of circumstances.  Teh Fred was not exactly known for his people skills and this is kind of an example of that.


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