Friday, August 24, 2012

May 4, 1875

Bat And Ball.

St. Louis vs. Red Stockings.

Description of the First Professional Game Ever Played in St. Louis.

Excellent Playing by Both Nines.

Redmond Bears off the Honors of the Day.

The St. Louis Victorious by a Score of 15 to 9.

About one thousand spectators were present yesterday afternoon at the Compton avenue park to witness the first professional game ever played in St. Louis, the contestants being both St. Louis clubs, namely, the "Brown" and "Red Stockings."  The weather, which had prevented the games on Saturday and Monday, cleared off about noon and a more beautiful afternoon could not have been wished for.  Had the sun made an earlier appearance and the certainty of the game coming off been more generally known a much larger attendance would no doubt have been the result.

Considerable improvements are in course of construction at the Reds' park, which will be, when completed, a great improvement over the accommodations afforded there in past years.  A more commodious place for reporters and scorers is one of the most pressing necessities, the present small, octagonal structure being entirely too small and in very bad shape.

A pleasing change was noticed in the uniform of the Red Stockings; the dark, heavy flannel shirt has been discarded and a tight fitting flesh colored shirt substituted in its place, the change giving them a much brighter and more pleasing appearance.  Flint, the catcher of the Elephants, made his appearance at third base in place of McSorley, but was evidently not at home in the position or was too nervous to do himself justice.  In the innings Morgan came in from left field and took his place.

Both nines were early on the field and for an hour amused themselves and the audience practising.  At five minutes of four o'clock, Capt. Sweazy having satisfied himself by a practical test that the "St. Louis club" ball, furnished according to the rules by the visiting club, was even "deader" than the one his club had been using, Mr. Mack of the Empire club called play.  Capt. Pearce having lost the toss sent Curthbert to the bat to face Joe Blong's swift underhand throws.

First Innings. 

Cuthy took his customary hitch at his trowsers, threw the ash over his shoulder, and called for a "high ball," after striking twice in vain, and two "balls" had been called on Blong, he succeeded in hitting the ball, but it went straight to Redmond, and from thence to Houtz, and first out for the Browns was duly recorded.  Pearce imitated his predecessor in the matter of strikes and balls, but could drive the ball no further than to the pitcher, who of course sent it to Charlie Houtz at first base, and Dick sought his companions to tell them exactly how it was.  Pike had some difficulty in getting one to suit him, but when Blong did favor him, he drove it over the right-fielder's head, and reached third in ample time.  Chapman indulged in some half-dozen foul hits, finally hitting a soft one towards first, which Houtz neglected to run in and take on the fly, but redeemed himself by quickly gathering it on the ground and touching Chap ere the latter "pressed canvas" - no runs.

Joe Blong was the first representative of "home talent" that toed the plate and was likewise the first "out," as after hitting several foul balls, he drove a hot one to Dicky Pearce, and of course retired at first.  Packy Dillon was seduced into striking at a slow one from Brad, and the ball he intended to have sent over centre field went safely into Battin's hands at second; Battin also handled the swift grounder Morgan hit to him carefully to "Harmon, J.," and the side was out, the score even and nothing for both.  In the

Second Innings.

Hague, by an overthrow of Redmond's, not only reached first safely, but went all the way round to third.  Redmond did better for Bradley and Battin, too, found the lively left-hander could play short-stop "up to nature."  Hague in the meantime had scored the first run for the "Brown Stockings" by a passed ball.  Dehlman reached base No. 1 on a safe hit to right field, and took second on the wild throw in; he scored on Redmond's muff of high-base hit by Miller.  Cuthy hit hard to third base and reached first, Flint fumbling that ball badly.  Pearce closed the innings by sending a high fly to Morgan, the "Handsome Dan" of course taking it in.  For the Reds Houtz led off with a fly to Chapman; Sweazy hit one directly on the home plate and it bounded safely into Bradley's hands.  Cuthbert surprised the St. Louisans by dropping an easy fly from Redmond's bat.  Oran drove a beauty past Pearce, and two men were on bases, Redmond being as far as third.  All eyes were on Croft, but a foul tip well caught on the bound by Miller ended the "trouble," leaving both men on baes and no runs.

Pike led off the

Third Innings.

With a high one to Croft and retired.  Chapman, however, succeeded in getting to second base on a fair foul past third, Hague by a safe one along the right foul line sent him to third and reached first himself.  Sweazy fielded Bradley out at first, and Redmond made a beautiful stop and throw that disposed of Battin - Chapman having in the interim crossed the marble on a wild pitch, Hague being left on third.

For the Reds Flint hit safe over Short, but was forced at second by Blong, who was in turn forced out at the same place by Dillon's hit to Bradley, Morgan being put out at first by Pearce and Dehlman.

The Brown Stockings could get but one run in the

Fourth Innings.

Miller scoring; after driving a long one over the left-fielder's head he was sent to second by Cuthbert's hit to Morgan, who had taken Flint's place at third, Pearce hit to Sweasy, Miller thereby getting third and Dick first; Cuthbert suffering an "out" at second, "Red" got his run on a wild pitch of Blong's, Pike was given a base by fumbling at second but Chapman left them both, his weak hit to third base being carefully thrown to first by Morgan.

A pretty double play marked the fielding of the Browns, Houtz being on first by a safe hit over third base, Sweasy hit a hot ball to Battin, who, picking it up nicely, forced Houtz back towards first, and then threw to Dehlman in time to retire the striker, Dehlman returning the ball to Pearce who caught Houtz before he reached second.  Redmond and Oran afterwards reached first and second by hard hits that Battin could not do more than stop; Croft's hard hit, however, was safely fielded by Joe to Dehlman in time and again the natives were blanked.

The Browns received their second blank in the

Fifth Innings.

Redmond attending to Hague and Bradley, Flint making a surprising one hand catch that thoroughly disgusted Battin.  The other side fared no better, though Flint and Blong reached first, the latter on a safe hit that sent the former to second only to be forced at third by Hague and Pearce, Dillon being well caught on Foul bound by Miller, Houtz retiring at first by the aid of Bad Dicky.

The score was now 4 to 0 and thus far a well played game.  The  Browns went to bat in the

Sixth Innings.

With a determination to put a wider margin to their credit, the way the Reds were hanging on not being at all comfortable, their playing too was evidently improving.  A good rally was made and eight runs were scored by the good batting of Pearce, Pike, Bradley, Battin and Dehlman, the outs being Chapman at first and Miller twice by weak hits to Morgan and Blong.

Sweasy retired on a foul bound, Pearce after dropping an easy fly catch sent him by Redmond, took off his hat to hat to Cuthbert, a sharp fly-tip missed by Miller gave Oran a life which he improved by driving a safe one over second; Croft out on fly to Pike, Flint by a safe hit to left brought Redmond home and the first run was scored for the Reds amidst tumultuous applause from their friends.  Dick didn't miss Blong's fly, and the side was out for the one run.

Two more runs were secured by the professionals in the

Seventh Innings.

On safe hits by Pearce and Cuthbert, assisted by Pike's out at first and a wild pitch, Chapman being left on second, Redmond distinguishing himself by a splendid stop and throw that retired Hague, Bradley striking wind and out.

One, two, three was the order in which Dillon, Morgan and Houtz retired, the score standing fourteen to one, and the interest in the game apparently over.  But the home nine were certainly not satisfied with the state of affairs, and in the

Eighth Innings.

Retired Battin, Dehlman and Miller in the order named, Redmond attending to two of them, Packy Dillon catching Dehlman out on a foul bound.  At their turn at the stick, Sweasy, the first striker, was well caught by Bradley; Redmond succeeded in getting a safe on between first and second.  Oran sent him along one bag by a straight one over second that Battin almost got.  Croft sent him home by a liner over Cuthbert's head.  Cuthy made a splendid effort (and in his palmy days we have seen him take many a harder one) but he dropped it.  Flint went out on strikes and then the trouble commenced in earnest.  Blong, Dillon and Morgan followed with magnificent two-base hits each.  Houtz with a hot one past third for one bag, Hague helping things along by a wild throw over Ehlman's head on Sweazy's hit.  Chapman finally taking in the fly Redmond sent him on his second turn at the bat.  The way the boys "let on" Bradley was a thing the "old man" never dreamed of.  Eight runs was the result and the Browns came in from the field looking queer indeed.  The

Ninth Innings.

Yielded the professionals one made by Cuthbert, the Reds going out in the order in which they toed the plate...

The general play of both nines was remarkably fine, Redmond bearing off the honors of the day by his brilliant play at shortstop, he assisting no less than twelve times.  Houtz also deserves especial mention as the score will show.
-St. Louis Republican, May 5, 1875

To honor the legacy of the first professional league game ever played in St. Louis, we're going with the bullet points:

  • It took me a long time to find a digital copy of this box score.  The Globe-Democrat's digital archive that's available in the Nineteenth Century Newspapers database begins with issues from the middle of May 1875 and, therefore, doesn't have the account of this game.  Now that the State Historical Society of Missouri has the 1873-1876 issues of the Republican up, I was able to copy the box score and pass it along.  And this makes me very, very happy.  
  • Ned Cuthbert was the first to take the bat in a St. Louis professional league game, Joseph Myles Blong threw the first pitch, Lipman Pike got the first hit, Billy Redmond made the first error and Bill Hauge scored the first run.  
  • I have a serious suspicion that George Washington Bradley, after getting a fourteen run lead, eased up on the Reds, leading to their eight-run eighth inning.  
  • It's always nice to see Bad Dicky Pearce referred to, in print, as Bad Dicky.  
  • I also think that Handsome Dan is a much better nickname than Pidge.  
  • I'd really like to tell you the story about the long road I took to finding this game account/box score and what it means to me but I think I'm going to save that for the blog anniversary, which is coming up in a couple of weeks.  I'll just say that this kind of takes me full-circle.  I started my research into 19th century baseball by looking into the 1875 Reds and, finally, here I am posting the box score from their first game.  I'm feeling rather satisfied right now and it's amazing to me how guys like Packy Dillon, Joe Blong, Trick McSorley, Bad Dicky, Lip Pike, G.W. Bradley and the rest of these guys seem like old friends.  It's almost comforting to write about these Red Stockings and Brown Stockings.          

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