Saturday, March 31, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Dickerson Falls By The Wayside

During the St. Louis Unions' Eastern trip, Lew Dickerson disappeared at Baltimore, and has not been heard from since.  Meeting many old friends he yielded to his inclination for strong drink and fell by the wayside.  All St. Louisans, including President Lucas, regret his surrender to whiskey.  While here he played splendidly, both at the base and in the field, was unassuming and gentlemanly in his deportment and made hosts of friends.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 25, 1884

While it may be very true that Dickerson fell of the wagon in Baltimore, it's also true that he jumped the Maroons for the Baltimore Association club.  There were rumors, dating back to July 12, that Baltimore was after Dickerson so I'm not sure what purpose this piece from the Globe serves.  The Globe had already reported that Baltimore had offered Dickerson a contract so I would imagine that the folks at the Globe knew what the real situation was.  Were they slandering Dickerson in an attempt to cover the Maroons' and the UA's loss of a player to the established leagues?    

Friday, March 30, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: A Case Of Heavy Slugging

Six hundred people attended the game of base ball between the Cincinnati Unions and St. Louis Unions.  The game was a case of heavy slugging on both sides, in which Rowe made a home run, Sylvester, O'Leary, Bradley and Rowe each hit for three bases, and Dunlap and Kennedy made two-basers.  Rowe made a fine running fly catch, Kennedy distinguished himself as a third baseman, as well as by his fine batting, and Dunlap maintained the reputation he earned so fairly yesterday.  In the first inning two passed balls, with singles by Dunlap, Shaffer and Gleason, and a home run by Rowe, netted the visitors 4 runs, 3 of which were earned.  On wild throws by Jones and Kelley, one more run, by Boyle, was added in the fourth, bringing the score up to 5.  In the seventh inning Kelley missed a third strike, Dunlap struck a two-baser, and Baker made a hit which netted 2 runs, bringing up the total score to seven.  The home club earned 3 runs in the third on a single by Kelley, a two-baser by Kennedy and a three-bagger each by Sylvester and Bradley.  The slugging here was terrible, and was one of the brilliant features of the game.  In the fourth inning the Cincinnatis led the score by 2 runs made on singles by O'Leary and Jones, a wild pitch and fine base running.  O'Leary, in the sixth, struck a three-bagger, and Jones made a single, which earned the home club another run, and put them one ahead.  Starting in on the second half of the seventh inning 1 run behind the St. Louis Club, the home club made the score even, and then went 1 better on singles by Hawes and Harbidge and by Kennedy's fine base running.  Crane's single in the eighth, a wild pitch and Kelley's long sacrifice fly netted another run and rounded the total up to 9.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 24, 1884

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Conspiracy Theories

Before we leave Old Hoss and Providence behind and get on with the rest of the Maroons' 1884 season, I wanted to post one more excerpt from Fifty-Nine in '84.  I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again but Charlie Sweeney was a piece of work:

From the start and for years to come, Sweeney believed that he had been the victim of a conspiracy.  He claimed that Ned Allen even divulged the dirty secret to Lucas in 1885-that Radbourn, jealous of Sweeney, had engaged in an underhanded plot to force the young pitcher off the team.  Radbourn supposedly had complained to Bancroft that "Sweeney was getting all the credit for everything," and had promised to stop slacking off and start working hard if the club would just dump his competition.  Sweeney also disputed the charge that he had shown up drunk in the fateful game against Philadelphia, arguing that it was unlikely he could have pitched seven strong innings while intoxicated.  "At any rate," he added mischievously, "wouldn't it have been better to let the drunken man stay in" than to take him out and lose the game?  

Again, I encourage you to pick up Ed's great book and read the whole story of Radbourn's fantastic 1884 season.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: I Can Never Get Back Into The League

Radbourne will not come to St. Louis.  The Providence management has reinstated him and expelled Sweeney, and he is now satisfied.  Sweeney,, however, will very likely come here... 
The Boston Globe of Sunday says: It was generally understood around the city last Sunday that Radbourn had signed with the St. Louis Unions, and will make his appearance with them on their return West.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 24, 1884

On the day after Sweeney's expulsion, the Grays faced a game against third-place New York.  Would Miller pitch, with his sore arm, after his horrible performance against the Phillies?  Or would the Grays send in the baby-faced, overmatched Conley?  Or had some other equivalent of a wooden cigar-store Indian been found? As the game was about to begin, the startled crowd at the Messer Street Grounds saw a familiar figure stroll to the box in his nonchalant, businesslike fashion, as a smattering of applause built to a crescendo of cheers. 
He was not leaving for St. Louis, after all.  Charlie Radbourn was back in a Grays uniform, and he was going to pitch.
-Fifty-nine in '84

So what happened?  According to several sources, Radbourn was going to jump to the Maroons.  It was a done-deal.  I'll let Brian McKenna explain, quoting from his SABR BioProject piece:

The Providence directors met to decide how to proceed with the rest of the season, or if to proceed at all. Few viable starters were available on the market with rosters stretched thin with upwards of 33 clubs that season spread over three major leagues. Their record stood at 43-19-1, a mere 2.5 games behind first place Boston in the standings and 5.5 games up on third place New York. After falling so close to the pennant in previous seasons, all of Providence wanted the chance to seize first place. Bancroft consulted with Radbourn and the directors. Ultimately, Rad agreed to pick up much of the slack through the rest of the season for consideration. In his words, “I’ll pitch every day and win the pennant for Providence, even if it costs me my right arm.” First, the reserve clause was stricken from his contract, allowing him to become a free agent at the end of the season. Second, his salary was raised substantially; in essence, Radbourn was paid the salary of two pitchers for the remainder of the season. Third, fearing that he was also in consultation with the Union Association, management gave him $1,000 according to newspaper accounts. In total, he made upwards of $5,000 in 1884, one of the highest figures in baseball history to date. 

Ed adds some color to the story in Fifty-nine in '84:

This was not a bad deal.  Though $5,000 awaited him in the Union Association, Radbourn knew full well that he risked lifetime expulsion from organized baseball if he violated his contract.  It was true that he could escape immediately from Providence if he jumped, and avoid toiling all season for owners who, in his view, had betrayed him.  But he feared that the outlaw league would not last.  "I can jump a contract with the league and join the [Union] association, but I can never get back into the league," he pointed out at the end of the season.  This hard profession gave his life meaning, and he did not feel good about placing all his chips on the fate of the Unions.  There was only one safe passage out: a release from his contract and freedom from the reserve clause. 
And here, Bancroft and Allen were finally offering him what he had sought for so long: to receive extra pay for doing extra work, to prove that he was the slave of no man, to break the chains of the reserve clause, to escape to a bigger market and a bigger payday, [and] to make himself the master of his own life... 
Sweeney was gone.  And Radbourn, refreshed by six days without pitching, returned in fine form... 
The greatest sustained pitching performance in baseball history had begun.

So, in the end, both Radbourn and Sweeney got paid, they got away from each other, each became the undisputed star pitcher on their club and each won a championship.  After all the drama, everything worked out.  

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Dunlap Returns With A Bang

Putting aside, for a moment, the chaos of the Providence Grays and what I think is one of the most entertaining stories in the history of 19th century baseball, lets return to the game on the field.  While Sweeney was melting down in Providence, the Maroons were playing a game in Cincinnati.

The weather was beautiful for the game of base ball played here to-day between the Cincinnati Unions and the St. Louis Unions, and a thousand people witnessed the contest.  In the first three innings the visitors hit Burns very hard and earned four runs.  After that the play was more even.  There were scored in the game one home run, two three-basers and one two-baser, all by the St. Louis Club.  Of these Dunlap made the two-base hit and the home run.  In addition to his hard hitting, Dunlap earned honors by his splendid work at second base, taking all chances and making every opportunity tell.  Rowe challenged admiration by his great center fielding.  Sylvester opened at the bat with a rap along the right foul line.  He made second on a passed ball, went to third on O'Leary's sacrifice and came home on a field throw by Baker to head off O'Leary at second.  In the third Kennedy opened with a safe hit, stole second, made third on sacrifice, and got home on Harbidge's single, making for the Cincinnatis their solitary earned run.  In the fifth Swartz went to first on a strike, took third on Hawe's single and came home on a long sacrifice fly by Burns.  Crane made a run in the seventh, on his own single, Rider's fumble and Kennedy's safe hit.  The St. Louis nine earned 2 in the first inning, in which Dunlap led off with a two-bagger and Shafer and Rowe followed with singles, bringing Dunlap and Shafer home.  They passed the second inning without scoring, but in the third inning earned runs on a single by Whitehead and a home run by Dunlap.  Their 1 run in the seventh the visitors made on a single by Rider, a stolen second, a disputed steal of third, which Umpire Devenney decided in Rider's favor, after which he came home on a sacrifice.  The visitors earned their 1 run in the eighth on a three-bagger by Rowe and a single by Boyle.  Gleason and Baker each scored a wild throw, the only ones made in the game, and the only passed ball of the game is scored against Baker.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 23, 1884

A couple of quick points.  First, B-Ref is correct that Tom Ryder's first game was on July 22, 1884.  Not that I ever doubted them.  Also, Dunlap returned from his leg injury with a heck of a game.  The Globe, on July 23, noted that "Dunlap is evidently well again.  He played as if in good health at Cincinnati yesterday."

Monday, March 26, 2012

The 1884 Providence Grays: Drunk Enough To Be Stupid

In to-day's game Sweeney pitched up to the eighth inning; the score at that time stood 6 to 2 in favor of Providence.  Then Miller, the new pitcher, was sent in to pitch, but Sweeney refused to go to right field.  He abused Manager Bancroft, and finally ended by talking off his uniform and leaving the grounds.  Sweeney was expelled to-night.  This action was probably the result of the efforts of Union Club managers who have attempted to take the players.  In the eighth and ninth innings the Providence Club played with eight men and the Philadelphias scored 8 runs, winning the game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 23, 1884

By reference to the Globe-Democrat's special from Providence it will be observed that Sweeny, the rising phenomenon in the pitcher's box, was expelled last night.  He will, of course, now seek an engagement in the Union Association, and will no doubt get one at an early date.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 23, 1884

I have brazenly stolen the title of this post from Ed's chapter about the Sweeney incident in Fifty-Nine in '84.  Here's a condensed version of Ed's account of the incident:

Charlie Sweeney woke up on Tuesday morning, July 22, with a howling headache.  A glance at his pocket watch told him he had missed the Grays' mandatory morning practice, and if he did not get a move on, he would miss his scheduled start against the Phillies that afternoon in Providence.  The unpleasant prospect of fines and hectoring lectures confronted him.  Staggering, stinking of drink-apparently still drunk-he got up and got dressed. 
When he arrived at the Messer Street Grounds that afternoon, Charlie was showing the influence of liquor, Bancroft recalled.  The pitcher found his frowning manager in a side room off the clubhouse.  "If you want to know why I was not here this morning, I will tell you.  I was drunk last night and did not get home," Sweeney confessed.  That was a violation of his temperance pledge, certainly, and an admission of reckless disregard of managerial authority, but Sweeney had at least conceded the truth, and he wanted to make up for his lapse by pitching.  Bereft of Radbourn, Bancroft felt he had little choice but to cut his ace some slack and send him out to the box.  Bancroft posted Miller in right field, planning to bring him in during the later innings if Sweeney faltered. 
Sweeney worked effectively for five innings, finding the plate in spite of his woozy condition.  He was ahead, 6-2, when Bancroft, worried that the pitcher was beginning to get hit hard, and not wishing to risk Sweeney's recently healed arm, asked his field captain, Joe Start, to make the pitching switch.  But when the first baseman went to the box and relayed the order, the pitcher barked at him to go away...For two more innings, the manager let him get away with this flagrant insubordination, but in the seventh, Bancroft called Sweeney over to the scorer's stand behind home plate and instructed him to let Miller pitch for a while... 
"You go out to right field and let Miller come in and pitch the game out," Bancroft told Sweeney... 
"As long as I've got my game won, I'll finish it," Sweeney replied. 
Bancroft was through negotiating.  "You go out in right field or I will fine you $50." 
Sweeney, his anger rising, asked Bancroft if he meant it. 
"You will find out that I do," the manager replied icily. 
"All I have asked you to do is to let me finish this game and you want to fine me $50 for it," Sweeney complained.  "You can take that $50 along with the rest of my salary"-and, surely added, shove it somewhere. 
The Evening Telegram reported that Sweeney told Bancroft: "I give you a tip.  I finish all the games I start, or I don't play ball."  When Bancroft told him to stop that foolishness, the pitcher declared, "I guess I'll quit," and stomped off... 
...In the next inning, only eight men left the bench and jogged into the field.  Sweeney was nowhere to be seen.  Bancroft trotted down the grandstand stairs and found him in the dressing room, already in his street clothes.  When he ordered Sweeney to put on his uniform again and go out and play, the twenty-one-year-old "most villainously abused" him.  "It is true I called him names," the pitcher later admitted, "but I think at the time and under the circumstances that I had sufficient provocation, and when you take into consideration the work I had done in keeping the club in the lead and the little wish I wanted Bancroft to grant me, that of finishing the game, I think he could have reasonably complied with it without injury to his managerial dignity, where he so inclined."

Sweeney went so far as to come back out on the field in his dress clothes, "arrogantly watching his teammates flounder while the crowd of 450 hissed him."  Later, and this may be my favorite part of the story, he left the grounds in the company of two prostitutes, who he had actually brought with him, earlier, to the ballpark.  Sweeney had come to the ballpark late, drunk and in the company of two prostitutes before he quit on his team.  So, yeah, later the directors of the club met and kicked him off the club.  Ed has a great quote from the Sunday Morning Journal which called Sweeney's actions that day "one of the most disgraceful exhibitions ever witnessed on a ball field."

I was going to write something about how, in this day and age, we're used to this kind of behavior on the part of our star athletes.  But, come on.  If Stephen Strasburg showed up late, drunk and in the company of a couple of hookers then started the game, only to get into a fight with Davey Johnson, walk off the field and quit the Nationals, can you imagine what would happen?  It would be 24 hours a day, wall to wall coverage.  It would be all Strasburg, all the time.  ESPN would self-combust in excitement.  It would be pure insanity.

And now imagine if Strasburg turned around the next day and had another team give him a job, with a pay raise.      

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The 1884 Providence Grays: The Truth Has At Last Come Out

Old Hoss
The truth has at last come out, and the mysterious trouble which seemed to be undermining the Providence Baseball Club and bringing it to ruin has been unveiled.
-New York Times, July 23, 1884

There were rumors, specifically, that [Radbourn's] "sudden lameness, which was set down as rheumatism," had all been an act and that, in truth, he was "anxious to leave the League and join the St. Louis [Union Association club,] which would be nearer his home, which is in Bloomington, Ill., the Telegram reported.  Considering the "dark insinuations afloat" about Radbourn's intentions, the Journal though management had shown extraordinary patience, but "when every inducement, financial and otherwise, has been offered him to play ball to his best ability, and he had been coaxed and petted beyond all reason to seek to carry the nine to victory, it is high time that more compulsory measures be undertaken."...[On] July 20, the Boston Herald reported some hair-raising news "on perfectly reliable authority": the great Charles Radbourn had agreed to sign a contract with St. Louis's Maroons and would journey west within days, abandoning Providence-and breaking a contract that was still in effect, even though the Grays were no longer paying his salary.  Lucas offered Radbourn a whopping $5,000, covering the rest of the 1884 season and all of 1885, with $1,000 of it in advance.
-Fifty-Nine in '84

And, here exactly and finally, is where the Maroons' season collides head-on with the Gray's season, where my work intersects with Ed's fine work on Fifty-Nine in '84 and where This Game of Games becomes a blog about the history of 19th century baseball in Providence, Rhode Island.

By the way, if I haven't mentioned it, you should really pick up and read Ed's book, if you haven't yet done so.  And I'm not just saying that because I'm quoting long stretches of Fifty-Nine in '84 without permission and I don't want Ed to sue me.  It's a wonderful book, rich in detail and extremely well-written.  Ed did a fantastic job bringing Radbourn's story to life and if you like the history of 19th century baseball, you'll love the book.  Do yourself a favor and read it.

To give you a quick understanding of what was happening in Providence in 1884, with regards to Radbourn and Sweeney, I'm going to turn to another friend of the blog, Brian McKenna, who wrote the SABR BioProject entry on Radbourn:

[1884] started out on a somber note. On February 8, reports circulated out of Bloomington that the great Radbourn was shot in the thigh in a tiff with a female acquaintance. Luckily for baseball fans, it was actually one of Radbourn’s cousins that suffered the injury. For the first time, the National League allowed pitchers to raise their arm above their shoulder, effectively legalizing the overhand delivery. The ruling sparked a great deal of controversy throughout the summer and into the following winter. Many feared that pitchers had gained too great an advantage. The American Association avoided the debate; their pitchers were still bound by the previous rules, which in truth were hard, if not impossible, to enforce. Pitchers always had and always would push the boundaries. 
Radbourn’s disgruntlement with his salary spilled over into spring training. Twenty-one-year-old Charlie Sweeney entered the season as Providence’s other main starter. He pitched the lion’s share of the games in the spring and was paid extra to do so which antagonized Radbourn, who also didn’t care for the gushing plaudits that were being heaped on his young colleague. Once the season began, Radbourn took his place in the rotation. Through June, the pair started all but one of the club’s 47 games, with Radbourn starting 24 of them. Sweeney, perhaps sore from the new overhand pitching style, fell out of the rotation on June 27. Radbourn was forced to fill in, starting and finishing ten of the next 12 games. He wasn’t happy about it, especially considering he didn’t receive extra cash as Sweeney had during the preseason. It’s obvious that Sweeney and Radbourn were having some sort of a running feud, as Rad pitched that many games straight at least twice the previous season without complaint. After a loss on July 12, a local newspaper, the Providence Evening Bulletin, described the pitcher as acting “careless and indifferent.” It seems he was drinking heavier than usual during this time as well. 
In those ten games, Rad posted a so-so 6-4 record. On July 16, he lost to Boston 5-2 after becoming erratic and ceding a couple runs in the eighth after being called for a balk. Providence management immediately suspended him because of poor play. Per the Boston Advertiser, “There have been unpleasant reports of the dissatisfaction of Radbourne (sic), pitcher of the Providence club, current for some time. This evening the board of directors of the Providence association decided to summon him to appear before them tomorrow and answer certain questions regarding his conduct for the past three weeks.” Baseless accusations were even mounted that perhaps he was throwing games. The Boston Globe described his frame of mind; “Radbourn was in no condition, physically or mentally, to pitch.” He apparently snapped in the eighth in a dispute with the umpire and his catcher Barney Gilligan. The sloppy play included a walk, an error by Gilligan, a fumble by the third baseman and the balk call on an apparent third strike. “This seemed to break up Rad, and then he pitched the ball so wild that no man could hold it, and two men came home.” 
Cyclone Miller started the next two games and Ed Conley the following. Sweeney relieved in two of the games and wasn’t pleased about being pressed into action. 

So lets return to the rather interesting Times article that started this post:
Some time ago crookedness was suspected, and to-day the cold fact stares the management in the face that they have been "played for sailors."  When the season of 1883 closed Radbourn threatened not to sign for this year.  A combination was formed by him and Carroll not to sign, and only after prolonged persuasion could either be induced to put their names to contracts, Carroll only giving in when he was cornered and almost obliged to give up a hunting trip with Radbourn, the management threatening to hold him until Oct. 1 and make him come to this city before he would be paid off and released for the year.  When this season opened Radbourn and Sweeney became jealous of each other.  Sweeney had been kept in the background and Radbourn billed as the star pitcher.  Sweeney asked leave to occupy the "points."  He did so, and proved such a success that he even pitched on days when Radbourn was to toss the sphere, and was paid extra for those games.  When Sweeney became lame Radbourn had to do double duty, and "kicked" because he was not also paid extra for Sweeney's dates.  About this time Radbourn began to show an ugly disposition, and finally, in games last week, he is charged with throwing a game because everything did not go to suit him.  Since then Sweeney has been owlish, and to-day his disaffection, like Radbourn's, took a tangible shape.  His first kick over the traces was yesterday, when the club went to Woonsocket to play an exhibition game.  He appeared on the grounds with a woman whom he gave a seat on the grand stand, and after the game, when ordered to pack up and come home with the boys, he refused to do so, remaining until a late train.  To-day he began to pitch a "stuffy" game; he was surly and owlish, and pitched without speed or any great effort to win.  At the close of the seventh inning Providence had 6 to 2 runs and had the game won, as the Philadelphia Club was batting weakly and fielding badly.  To ease up on Sweeney's lame arm, Manager Bancroft told the Californian to go into the field and let Miller pitch out the game.  He became very angry and left the field, evincing jealousy of young Miller who is a promising ball-tosser.  Philadelphia went to the bat in the inning, and it was found that Providence had but eight men in the field.  Sweeney was missing.  Bancroft went in search of him, and found him in the dressing room with his store clothes on.  He requested him to go out and play,, but was most villainously abused.  Director Allen then threatened to lay Sweeney off without pay, but to this threat Sweeney sarcastically replied that he did not care, as he could make more money if he did not play here.  Providence went on and finished the game with eight men.  The eight innings was handsomely played, but in the ninth, fly balls were hit between the regular out-field positions, and the men being unable to cover so much ground, the hits became safe.  Then Miller was pounded for five hits, Providence giving him bad support, as bad as could be looked for, and the Philadelphia Club won the game.  Convinced from what Sweeney had said, and from his conduct and Radbourn's peculiar actions that the "Wreckers' Union" had been at work, the management to-night expelled Sweeney from the league and will cause his name to be put on the black list. 
A meeting will probably be held to-morrow to consider whether the club shall be disbanded.  There are no pitchers to be had, and, with the present feeling in the team, the pennant cannot possibly be won.  If the association stops short to-day there will be a surplus of $17,000 on hand.  The St. Louis Union Association are suspected of having approached the malcontents.  There is still further trouble, based upon Catholicism and Protestantism.

The Sweeney incident, as I'm sure you know, is much more interesting than the Times reported and I'll get into that tomorrow.  But to wrap this up, I'll quote, once again and not for the last time, Fifty-Nine in '84:

Suddenly the Grays, who had been blessed only a week earlier with arguably the two best pitchers in baseball, now had neither, with little prospect of finding replacements.  Rumors swept the city that the directors intended to parcel out among the stockholders the $17,000 left in the coffers and close the business down.  The rumors were true.  "The club was going to disband, for pitchers were scarce and things looked bad," Bancroft recalled.  "The directors were about to toss up the sponge."  Miller, who could barely get through a game without collapsing, could hardly pitch the rest of the way alone, and Conley was no major league major leaguer.  

The Providence situation was a soap opera and the Maroons were playing a major part in all of their drama.    

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Dupee Shaw Dosen't Set The Record For Most Strikeouts In A Game

It was not Shaw's fault that the Boston Unions lost to-day's game.  The blame can be laid to poor base-running and costly errors behind the bat.  The visitors found Shaw even harder to hit than in his former game against them, and their perplexing endeavors to hit the sphere were as laughable to their companions as to the spectators.  Shaffer cut up some wonderful antics in his frantic efforts to hit the ball, Brennan and Whitehead struck out every time they came to the bat, and every man went out on strikes except Rowe, the total number being eighteen.  Boyle pitched a very fine game and the Boston Unions gave a poor exhibition of their batting abilities.  The only run of the game was made in the sixth inning when Gleason's third strike was muffed by Brown and fielded so poorly that the runner got two bases.  Rowe's out took him to third and a wild pitch enabled him to score.  Three times the St. Louis had men on third only to be left, as Shaw invariably was too much for their successors, who failed even to hit the ball.  In the fourth inning Murnan made a hit and stole second, and in attempting to score on Shafer's fumble of Shaw's hit was thrown out at the plate.  In the eighth McCarty made a fine three-base hit, and had he remained upon that base would undoubtedly have scored, as Butler followed with a single, but he was foolishly coached on, at once depriving the nine of a chance to tie or win.  The infielding of the St. Louis was very fine.  Umpire Sullivan was unjustly hissed while leaving the grounds.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 20, 1884

I saw that Shaw struck out eighteen guys in a game and thought that he had set the record for most strikeouts in a game.  But he did not.  On July 7, 1884, both Charlie Sweeney, pitching for Providence, and Hugh Daily, pitching for the Chicago Unions, each struck out nineteen guys.

Later in the season, Henry Porter, pitching for the Milwaukee Unions, also struck out eighteen guys.  So without looking anything up, I'm guessing that strikeouts were way up in 1884.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Von der Ahe Secures Foutz

Dave Foutz
President Eugene Fifield and E.W. Bennett, Secretary and Treasurer of the Bay City, Northwestern League, Team, are in town, the guests of President Von der Ahe, of the Browns.  They come to see to-day's game. 
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 20, 1884

Now, what could this be all about?  Oh, wait.  I know:

David Foutz, of the Bay City Northwestern League club, whom President Von der Ahe, of the St. Louis Browns, has just secured, is a remarkable twirler for a young man of 23 years.  He first made a hit with the Leadville Blues in 1881, and of fifty-four games played by them that year Foutz pitched forty, and lost but one. He played with the Bay Citys last year, and up to date with them this year.  Last year he played in 43 games, and this year he has pitched 21 games, only 4 of which were lost.  He is tall and slim, standing 6 feet 2 inches in his stocking feet and weighing about 165 pounds.  He played with Bay City against the Browns last April, and but four hits were made off him.  He is quiet, gentlemanly, and cool and calculating in his work.  He not only pitches, but plays any position outside of a catcher.  President Von der Ahe is enthusiastic over his success in securing him, and says he will play his first game in Cincinnati July 29, when his ten days are up.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 20, 1884

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Loosely And Listlessly

The St. Louis Unions gauged Burke's delivery with perfect ease today, and batted out a victory in a game that was loosely and listlessly played on both sides.  Cattanach was a puzzle to the Bostons and their base running was poor.  Crane's splendid catching of Burke's wild delivery saved them from a Waterloo.  St. Louis scored two in the first innings on singles by Rowe, Quinn and Baker, and Butler's high throw to cut off Rowe.  In the fifth, base hits by Gleason and Baker, Brown's muff and Shaffer's triple to left center gave them 3 runs.  In the sixth Irwin's fumble and singles by Gleason, Rowe and Shafer added 2 more.  In the seventh inning Boyle sent the ball flying over Butler's head for a home run.  Shafer's muff of a fly and singles by Hackett and Brown gave Boston 2 runs in the fourth inning.  Then they got 2 more in the fifth on a single by Crane, wild throws by Whitehead and Gleason and a wild pitch.  The last run they scored in the eighth was made by Murnan, who reached first on Gleason's error, stole second and scored on two wild pitches.  Crane's catching, O'Brien's infielding, and the fine outfield work of Boyle and Brennan were the features of the game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 18, 1884

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dunlap's Leg Injury

Dunlap hurt himself running bases at Washington last Saturday.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 18, 1884

I kind of made fun of Dunlap's injury the other day but reading this short piece from the Globe, I realized that Dunlap actually had a history of lower-body injuries.  It was leg injuries that effectively ended his major league career by the time he was 31 years old.  So maybe I was a little too quick to make the fun.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The 1884 Providence Grays: Hurting In Body And Soul

Radbourn, pitcher of the Providence Club, has been cited by the Association to explain his conduct for the last three weeks.  Pending inquiry, Miller and Sweeney will play in the box.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 17, 1884

I love how the story of the 1884 Maroons has intersected with the story of the 1884 Grays.  Lucky for me Ed Achorn has written the book on that Providence club and that makes my job much easier.

The Radbourn/Sweeney situation was coming to a head and it would end with the Maroons finally getting the big-time pitcher that Lucas had been hunting for since before the season started.  However, it was not the Providence pitcher he was originally after and, here shortly, I'm going to have to write up a long post on Radbourn's situation with the Grays.  At this point, I'll just say that he had been suspended by the club and Ed wrote that Radbourn was "hurting in body and soul."

With Radbourn having melted down, with Sweeney about to hit the bottle a bit too hard and with the Maroons in desperate need of a pitcher, things were about to get interesting.    

Monday, March 19, 2012

John Cattanach

John Cattanach

John Cattanach pitched in three games in the major leagues, all in 1884.  He went 1-1, with an ERA+ of 84 in 22 innings.  Interestingly, Cattanach pitched for two pennant winners that year, the Providence Grays of the NL and the St. Louis Maroons of the UA.

A tall, strong, and graceful athlete who was raised on Providence's East Side, and a champion rower with the Narragansett Boat Club, Cattanach had been training all spring under [Fred] Bancroft's tutelage to made the difficult leap to professional baseball.  With his muscular arms and thick upper torso, he could throw the ball impressively hard, but like many novices he had serious trouble finding the plate, and Bancroft did not entirely trust him at the major-league level...[On June 5, Bancroft] had little choice but to send to the box his not-yet-ripe spring project, the champion rower John Cattanach-risky business, because the twenty-one year-old was still suffering control problems.  Sure enough, before a slender crowd of four hundred at Messer, the tall, barrel-chested rookie proved nervous and wild, surrendering seven runs to the Phillies in little more than four innings.  Sweeney, whom Bancroft had prudently stowed in right field, traded places with the flustered rower.  But even banished to the outfield, Cattanach proved a detriment, contributing a costly error to the Grays' 9-8 defeat.  "Cattanach needs practice, but it ought to be with a semi-professional nine," the Evening Press jabbed.
 -Fifty-Nine in '84

Ed Achorn went on to write that after Radbourn had proved, once again, that his tired arm could withstand the strain of a heavy workload, Bancroft released Cattanach on June 16.  I found a notice of his release in the Cleveland Herald on June 20 but can't seem to find any record of the Maroons signing him.  One has to assume that he was signed sometime around the same time as the Maroons were signing Boyle and Ryder.  Regardless, Cattanach was the first former Gray to pitch for the Maroons in 1884 but he would not be the last.     

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: A New Pitcher (But Not The One You're Thinking Of)

Only a passed ball saved the St. Louis Unions from a whitewash to-day.  Shaw, formerly the Detroit pitcher, made his first appearance as a Union Association player and pitched so effectively that the boys from St. Louis could do nothing with his delivery and made but three scattered hits.  The Boston's also found Cattanch's curves very deceptive, and sized them up for only seven singles.  Brown made his first appearance since his reinstatement and caught Shaw in fine style.  The fielding on both sides was remarkable, the Bostons making no errors outside of the battery and the St. Louis nine but two.  Boston earned two of three runs in the first inning, on singles by Hackett and Brown, a base on balls, a passed ball, good base running by Murnan, and Butler's sacrifice.  In the third, base hits by Hackett and Murnan, with Brennan's fumble, gave another run.  The last Boston run was earned in the seventh on a hit by O'Brien, a put out, and Crane's single.  The visitors reached first base but five times during the game.  In the eighth Quinn's base hit, Brown's poor throw and a passed ball gave St. Louis its only run.  Quinn played a great game at first.  Attendance 1,200.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 17, 1884

I'll have more information tomorrow on the Maroon's starting pitcher in this game.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dunlap's "Lower Body Injury"

A letter from Boston says that Dunlap has hurt a leg, but will be all right again in a few days.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 16, 1884

So the initial report was that Dunlap was ill and the next day we hear that he had a leg injury.  It's good to know that deception, when it comes to reporting sports injuries, is not a new thing.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: In A Crippled Condition

The St. Louis Unions made their first appearance in Boston to-day under very unfavorable circumstances.  Their team was in a crippled condition, being without the services of some of its best players on account of sickness, Dunlap among the number.  The batting was heavy on both sides, and was terrific on the part of the visitors, but the home players did by far the best fielding.  In the first inning Shaffer made a high drive to right for two bases, but was neatly thrown out at the plate by Slattery in trying to score on Rowe's base hit.  Rowe went to second on the put-out and scored on a hit to left, which was muffed by Butler, owing to a collision with Slattery while running for the ball.  In the next inning Boston tied the score, Murnan leading off with a base hit, being given a life by Baker's muff, and scoring on Burke's single.  The score did not remain even, as the visitors in their inning took the lead again by earning runs on singles by Brennan and Whitehead and Shaffer's second two-bagger.  Errors gave the Bostons another run in the third, and they took the lead again in the fourth on three singles and three errors.  They scored 2 more unearned runs in the fifth on two hits and costly errors.  The St. Louis men had drawn two blanks meanwhile, but in the fifth Gleason lifted the ball high over the left field fence for a home run.  The seventh increased the Bostons' score by 2 runs.  The visitors fell upon Burke for two doubles and two singles, which earned 3 runs.  A three-bagger by O'Brien, and two singles with errors by Rowe and Gleason, added 3 more runs to the Boston's score in the eighth.  The rally of the St. Louis players did not hold out long enough, and although they scored in the last two innings, they could not take the lead.  Baker played a great game at second for the visitors, while Shaffer and Gleason did some heavy batting.  There was a great crowd present.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 15, 1884

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The 1884 Maroons Sign Thomas Ryder Of Dubuque

The St. Louis Unions yesterday signed Thomas Ryder of Dubuque.  He comes recommended by Quinn and others.  Ryder is an outfielder and will be utilized when Rowe is in pitching.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 15, 1884

Tom Ryder, who is to play in the outfield for the St. Louis Unions, arrived here yesterday.  He is a left-handed batsman and has already faced such twirlers as Goldsmith and Corcoran.  He batted against them while a member of Dan O'Leary's Indianapolis club.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 16, 1884

This afternoon the Comptons and the Union Blues play a game at the Union Grounds for the benefit of the Woman's Exchange...Among the interesting features in the game will be the first appearance in St. Louis of Tom Ryder, the St. Louis Union's new man, who will play at the left field for the Blues.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 19, 1884

Thomas Ryder of Dubuque played eight games in the major leagues, all with the Maroons in 1884.  He also got into several games with the Union Blues.  B-Ref lists his first game with the big club as being on July 22 and I'll keep an eye out for that.  The quick search that I did didn't show him playing with the Maroons until they got back from their road trip but I just probably missed the earlier game.  I did see him playing a couple of games with the Union Blues in late July and I just figured he didn't join the team until after the big road trip.  We'll see.        

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: The First Retaliatory Blow

Indications point very strongly to Shaw, of the Detroit League Club, as the new pitcher engaged by the St. Louis Unions, and whose appearance in the box is promised on July 29.  On last Tuesday he was fined $30 by Manager Chapman for not reporting for practice that morning, and on Wednesday evening he purchased a ticket for Boston, boarded an East-bound train, and left Detroit.  In answer to a notification that if he did not return forthwith he would be expelled, he rather ironically informed the officers of the Detroit Club that if they would withdraw the fine that was imposed and advance him $300 he would return.  He knew very well that those conditions would not be acceptable, and probably dictated terms because he felt that he was in an independent position and could do so with safety.  If he comes to St. Louis it will be the first retaliatory blow that the Union Association will have dealt the national associations for their contract breaking and it will be a telling one.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 14, 1884

St. Louis did not sign Dupee Shaw but he did sign with the Boston Unions so I guess this was UA's first retaliatory blow against the NL and AA.  I'm not exactly certain that it was a telling blow one but who am I to judge?

Also, I should add that Dupee Shaw is a great baseball name and he was not a bad pitcher.  He started over 200 games in the major leagues and finished his career with an ERA+ of an even 100.  He wasn't a great pitcher by any stretch of the imagination but he looks like a legitimate major league player to me.

Pulling Major League Baseball Profiles off the shelf, Peter Morris and David Nemec wrote that Shaw's "numbers suggest a pitcher unable to retire ML batters on a regular basis, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  Instead, Shaw's career resembled those of many pitchers whose careers overlapped with the advent of legal overhand pitching: He could be all but unhittable when paired with a catcher who could handle his offerings but at the batter's mercy when he lacked one."  They quoted Jack Gleason as stating that Shaw was the swiftest and trickiest pitcher he had ever faced.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: A Very Pretty Exhibition Of Ball-Playing

The St. Louis team defeated the Baltimore Club this afternoon at Union Park by a score of 4 to 0.  The first three innings were marked by some sharp fielding, which prevented both sides from scoring.  In the fourth inning the St. Louis boys scored 1 run.  Shaffer led off with a two base hit; Dickerson struck to Overbeck, who threw out the runner at first base; Levis threw to third base to catch Shaffer, but Shaffer ran into Overbeck and scored.  Both sides drew blanks from this until the eighth inning, when the visitors scored 3 runs.  Shaffer led off with a base hit, Dickerson followed with a safe hit, Shaffer scored on an error by Sweeny, Gleason went to first on called balls, Boyle made a base hit and Dickerson scored.  Gleason went to first on called balls, Boyle made a base hit and Dickerson scored.  Gleason scored on a wild pitch.  This ended the run-getting.  The game was a very pretty exhibition of ball-playing.  The visitors, however, showed a decided superiority both at the bat and in the field.  Robinson was put in to pitch by the home club, and proved quite effective until the latter part of the game, when he was hit freely.  Boyle, the new pitcher for the St. Louis Club, proved a mystery to the home team, only one safe hit being made off his delivery.  Baker and Sweeny both caught well.  Fusselbach at short stop and Lewis at first base played a good game.  Seery at left field did the best fielding for the home club.  Dunlap and Quinn carried off the fielding honors for the visitors, while Skinner for the home club was the only man that made a safe hit.  The attendance was 2,000.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 13, 1884

After this game, the Maroons were 44-6, had an .880 winning percentage and were fourteen games up over second-place Baltimore.  They were having a pretty good season.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Because I Can't Ever Get Enough Ted Sullivan

Ted Sullivan has been appointed Manager of the Kansas City Unions.  One of his first moves was to re-engage Harry Wheeler, who had been released, and to sign Gardner, lately suspended by the Baltimore Club.  Gardner is a good ball player, and Sullivan can come as near getting him to attend to business as any manager in the country.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 13, 1884

Just a week earlier, Sullivan, since he was no longer employed by the UA, was able to straighten out his situation as it related to the National Agreement and was no longer blacklisted by the established leagues.  And then he turns around and agrees to coach the Kansas City Unions.  Ted Sullivan was something else.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Tempting Offers

Reports to the effect that Baker and Dickerson, of the St. Louis Unions, had jumped their contracts, the former going to the Athletics and the latter to the Baltimores, but they played with the Unions yesterday at Baltimore.  It is well understood, however, that both have been approached with tempting offers.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 13, 1884

So the established leagues poached Bill Taylor and were after George Baker and Buttercup Dickerson.  We already have seen that, because of just this kind of thing, Lucas was talking about going after players under contract, which he had never done before.  And that would lead to him offering a contract to Old Hoss Radbourn.  

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Let The Rumors Begin

A gentleman identified with the St. Louis Unions says that when that club reappears on the home grounds, July 29, it will present a pitcher who is second to none in the country.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 12, 1884

You would think that they were talking about Sweeney but his problems with Providence didn't come to a head until July 22.  At the beginning of the month, Sweeney was nursing a sore arm and, although it looks like Lucas was after one of Providence's pitchers, it doesn't appear that he was originally after Sweeney.  And he wasn't after Ed Conley.

I'll have much more to say about all of this in the near future because Henry Lucas was a bit tired of the way the baseball establishment was treating his new league and, at the same time, there was an unhappy pitcher in Providence who was ready to listen to what Lucas had to say.

And if you haven't figured it out yet, I'm talking about Charles Radbourn.  So I guess I'm going to have to get Ed Achorn's book off the shelf and share some of that with you here soon.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Unions vs. Browns

Arrangements are reported to have been made for a series of seven games between the St. Louis Unions and the Browns, to be played on the Union Grounds between October 15 and November 1.  It is stated authoritatively that ten of the Browns, including McGinnis and O'Neill, will form a combination for the purpose of playing the proposed games, for which they will receive 50 per cent of the gate receipts.  Their contracts will expire on October 15, and they claim that they will then be free to play just where they please.  It is understood that Deasley will not be included in the combination, but in every other respect the regular Brown Stocking organization will be presented against the Unions.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 12, 1884

I'm going to guess and say that this series did not have the blessing of The Right Honorable Christ. Von der Ahe.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Henry Really Was Handsome

Hodnett, of the St. Louis Unions, arrived home yesterday.  He says Pudge Boyle, who has taken Billy Taylor's place, is the best looking man on the team and that, while he is of rather slim build and stands 6 feet high, he weighs no less than 174 pounds.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 12, 1884

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Handsome Henry Makes His Debut

The St. Louis Club easily defeated the Baltimore Unions here to-day by a score of eight to two.  Dorsey, late of the Trenton Club, pitched for the home team, but was batted out of position in the third inning and Robinson took his place.  Boyle, late of the Actives, of Reading, Pa., made his appearance with the St. Louis, and was quite a success.  The game was not very interesting, and was only relieved of being termed poor playing by some fine field work.  Whitehead and Dunlap carried off the honors in this respect.  Boyle did the heaviest batting for the visiting club.  The St. Louis boys demonstrated their superiority over the home club at every point in the game.  The attendance was 1,000.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 10, 1884

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Taylor Jumps The Club (Again)

Handsome Henry Boyle

"Billee" Taylor has finally jumped the St. Louis Unions.  On his first jump he received $300 from Lew Simmons, of the Athletics, but, instead of joining the latter organization, spent the money and went back to the Unions.  He then asked Mr. Lucas to send Simmons $500, which he claimed to have received.  His request was not complied with, Mr. Lucas having satisfied himself that Taylor received but $300 and was trying to work him out of $200, declined to send a cent to Simmons.  Taylor urged that the $500 be remitted until he found that the scheme would not succeed, and then went to Simmons and squared matters by signing with the Athletics.  His place on the nine has been filled by the engagement of "Pudge" Boyle, formerly of the Actives, of Reading, Pa., who is reported to be a fine pitcher and strong batsman.  In yesterday's game at Baltimore he held the Baltimore Unions down to four hits.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 10, 1884

Check back tomorrow for the box score and game account of Handsome Henry's first game with the Maroons.

As to Bollicky Bill Taylor, the guy certainly had some nerve.  I'm not sure what to make of him as a player.  I can't decide if he was undervalued and underused most of his career (with his "personality" contributing to  that) or if his career numbers are inflated because of his 1884 season.  The guy looks like a homeless man's version of Bob Caruthers but eighty percent of his career value comes from 1884, when he went 43-16 and had 2.4 oWAR.  His age 27-29 seasons are interesting enough to wonder what his career could have looked like had he gotten more playing time but, after 1884, the guy only got into 17 more major league games.  And I think the Globe did a fair job of explaining why Taylor didn't get too many more chances in the majors.          

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fred Lewis Signs A Formidable Document; Crisis Averted

Fred Lewis was fortunate in not being proceeded against in the First District Police Court yesterday, and still more fortunate in being taken back by Von der Ahe to his old position.  But before he was reinstated he was brought before Justice P.J. Tauffe and there required to "swear off" literally, by signing a formidable document, by which he pledged himself to severely abstain from all fermented, vinous or alcoholic liquors during the remaining six months of his connection with the club under penalty of expulsion, etc., as provided in the constitution.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 10, 1884

Sunday, March 4, 2012

And What Exactly Does Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil Have To Do With Fred Lewis?

President Von der Ahe bailed out Fred Lewis about 1 o'clock yesterday morning.  Lewis' failure to answer when his case was called was the result of a mistake as to time.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 9, 1884

And I guess that's a better excuse than "There we were minding our own business, just doing chores around the house, when kids started killing themselves all over my property."

I might as well give you the clip but, fair warning, it's kinda NSFW and a tad gruesome.  But it's funny.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: A Decided Superiority At All Points

The St. Louis Union Club dropped into Union Park this afternoon and cleverly won a game from the Baltimore team.  The game was a pretty exhibition of ball as far as the visitors were concerned.  They played a perfect game.  Not even a single passed ball or wild pitch was charged against them.  The fielding of Gleason at third base was brilliant.  Of course Dunlap, at second base, played a fine game.  Billy Taylor pitched a great game, and the entire nine acquitted themselves with credit.  Dunlap led in the batting, making two clean home runs.  For the home team the story is different.  Say, who has had a three-days' holiday, made his reappearance and made four errors.  Apart from this the home club fielded well.  Their batting was light.  The visitors displayed a decided superiority at all points.  The game opened with the St. Louis team at the bat.  They scored 2 runs.  Dunlap led off with a home run, Shaffer followed with a base hit and finally scored on two errors by Say.  The home club made a run in the third inning on hits by Levis and Cuthbert.  The visitors added 2 runs to their score in the fifth inning.  Brennan made a base hit and Dunlap sent him across the home plate on a hit for a home run.  The visitors again scored in the seventh inning.  Dunlap went to first on an error by Say and scored on Shaffer's base hit.  The attendance was 2,000.  The same clubs play again Wednesday afternoon.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 8, 1884

Friday, March 2, 2012

In Custody

Fred Lewis did not appear yesterday to answer the charge against him in the Criminal Court, and, as a consequence, his bonds were declared forfeited and a capias was issued, on which he was arrested last night, and placed in the custody of the City Marshal.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 8, 1884

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fred Lewis, Fugitive From Justice

When last we left our hero, he was scheduled to appear in the First District Court on July 3 to faces charges stemming from a drunken escapade in a St. Louis house of ill repute.  We pick up the story from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat of July 4, 1884:

Fred Lewis, of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, and Hardy Henderson, of the Baltimore nine, charged with disturbing the peace, failed to appear and their bonds were forfeited.

To be continued...