Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 11

11. July 22, 1867: Union Club vs. Washington Nationals

The base ball match this afternoon between the National Club, of Washington, and the Union Club of St. Louis, resulted in the defeat of the latter.  Score, 113 to 26.  The Empire Club will play the Nationals to-morrow. 
-Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1867

The Nationals were in the middle of a historic three week tour of the Midwest, putting on a showcase for Eastern baseball, and visiting Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Rockford, and Chicago. On the tour, the only loss the Nationals suffered was to the Rockford club, who upset the Eastern power behind the pitching of the young Albert Spalding. 

On July 22, they crushed the Unions in St. Louis and, the following day, they beat the Empires 53-26.

Prior to July 1867, St. Louis baseball had been mostly a local affair, with the clubs competing amongst themselves.  The Empires and Unions, the two best clubs in the city, had stepped out to play some clubs in Illinois and Iowa, with mixed results (as we'll see later).  But, in 1867, the big boys came to town and showed the St. Louis clubs just where they stood in the baseball hierarchy.

This game was the first time that a St. Louis club played one of the Eastern powers.  Regardless of the outcome of the game, it represents an effort by the St. Louis baseball fraternity to compete on a national level.  The St. Louis clubs wanted to test their talent against the best clubs in the country and, in 1867, they started to do that.  Now, that didn't work out very well and this game also represents the first of numerous beatings that St. Louis would suffer at the hands of the best clubs in the country.  But every journey begins with one step and this was the first step towards St. Louis becoming a significant factor on the national baseball scene.

I should also mention the fact that, in my opinion, this game represents an overall plan by Asa Smith, of the Union Club, to bring St. Louis into the national baseball mainstream.  Following the Civil War, St. Louis baseball lagged behind the national baseball trends and Smith recognized this.  I believe that he realized that without a state baseball association, without joining the NABBP, without enclosed ballparks, without charging for admission, without compensating players and without stepping up to play the best clubs in the country, the St. Louis clubs would never be able to challenge for the national championship.  Smith's goal was for the Unions to challenge the Eastern powers for the championship and he knew that he couldn't get his club there if things didn't move forward.  He knew that he needed to create an environment and an infrastructure that would support his club as they endeavored to compete nationally.

On the whole, Smith's plan failed.  It could be argued that it led to the breakup of the Union Club in 1870 and, once it was obvious that the St. Louis clubs couldn't compete with the national baseball powers, to a period of decline in the popularity of the game in the city.  But Smith was right.  His plan was the correct one and he's one of the great visionaries in St. Louis baseball history.  His failure doesn't take away from his vision.  The fact that his club lost to the Washingtons by 90 odd runs doesn't mean that he wasn't right in wanting to compete against the big boys.  I think it just means that he was a bit ahead of his time.  The St. Louis clubs weren't good enough to play against the best Eastern clubs in 1867.  But, just as Smith foresaw, there would come a time when they would be.       

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 12

12. October 17, 1874: Empire Club vs. Chicago White Stockings
Yesterday afternoon at the Grand Avenue park the Chicago Whites blanked the Empires, the first time they ever were complimented in that manner.  The game was witnessed by about four hundred spectators, and was enjoyed greatly up to the fifth inning, the score at that stage of the game standing 1 to 0 in favor of Chicago.  After this the Empire boys had a streak of bad luck, especially Billy Gorman at 2d, and the Whites managed to tally in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings twelve runs, which put a damper on the interest of the game.  The boys tried hard to squeeze in a run, but as the Whites played their game without an error, it was impossible for them to tally.
-St. Louis Republican, October 18, 1874

Sure, in losing 13-0, this was the first time in the proud history of the Empire Club that they had ever been shutout but that, specifically, is not what makes this game significant.  This game really just represents the entire series of games that the White Stockings played against St. Louis clubs in 1874 and how those games changed the history of St. Louis baseball. 

The Chicagos played eight games in St. Louis between April 21 and May 2, 1875 - four against the Empires, three against the Reds and one against the Turners.  They won all eight of those games and outscored the St. Louis clubs 171-53.  They also stole John Peters from the Reds and Dan Collins from the Empires.  On May 6, the Reds went to Chicago and lost by seven runs.

In October, the White Stockings came back for more.  On the 15th, they beat the Reds 17-3 and two days later they shutout the Empires.

In total, the Chicagos went 11-0 against St. Louis clubs in 1875 and they outscored them 215-63.   

This dismal performance against the Chicago professionals was one of the major factors in the organization of the Brown Stockings.  Tired of getting beaten on the diamond and unable to accept the idea of losing to Chicago in anything, the St. Louis baseball fraternity, led by former members of the old Union Club, put together the first openly professional baseball team in the history of St. Louis and brought in the finest Eastern talent they could sign.  While there is no doubt that St. Louis would have had professional, major league baseball eventually, the unmitigated beating that the Chicagos put on the best "amateur" clubs in St. Louis forced the St. Louis baseball fraternity into action.  After the Chicago professionals roared through St. Louis in 1874 and humiliated the pride of St. Louis baseball, things changed.

These games also had a significant impact on a game that would be played in May of 1875.  But we're getting ahead of ourselves.     

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 13

13. May 6, 1884: St. Louis Browns vs. Toledo Blue Stockings

About 600 persons witnessed the game, which was interesting and at times remarkably brilliant...Among the spectators there were quite a number of colored individuals, attracted by the announcement that Walker, the colored catcher, would appear behind the bat for the visitors. They were enthusiastic over Walker, and manifested decided partiality for his club. 
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 7, 1884

When Moses Fleetwood Walker stepped out onto the field at Sportsman's Park in May of 1884, it represented the first time an African-American man played in a major league baseball game in St. Louis. 

The contributions of African-American men to the history of St. Louis major league baseball is immeasurable.  You can't write the history of St. Louis baseball without mentioning Bob Gibson, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Ray Lankford and others too numerous to mention.  Think of all the great black ballplayers who have played for clubs in this city or visited as members of an opposing club.  Willie Mays played at Sportsman's Park.  Henry Aaron.  Jackie Robinson.  Roy Campanella.  My god, Satchel Paige.  Cool Papa.  All the great stars of the Negro Leagues.  Fleet Walker was the first of many - but he was the first.

And that is in no way to discount the contributions of the guys who played for the Black Stockings or the Blue Stockings or any of the innumerable black St. Louis clubs that existed prior to May 1884.  Walker makes the list because he's famous and a major leaguer.  Those guys get forgotten because they weren't.  But their contributions to the history of St. Louis baseball are much more significant and I kick myself more and more, as this list gets further along, that I didn't include the 1875 Blue Stockings/Unique game.  I've stated, time and again, that it's important to integrate the history of black baseball into the whole of baseball history and, by not including a Black Stocking or Blue Stocking game on this list, I think I'm failing to do that.  I'll just have to do better in the future.      

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 14

14. August 17, 1876: St. Louis Reds vs. Cass Base Ball Club of Detroit

Pud Galvin
The game of the tournament began promptly at 3 o'clock, in the presence of 3,000 spectators, the contestants being the St. Louis Reds and Cass club, of Detroit. Not a member of the Michigan organization reached first base, and the Reds played without a single error. The Cass boys wanted to get one base hit to get even with the Mutuals in the morning, but failed. One base hit in two games was all that the Michiganders could get out of [Galvin.] The Reds secured thirteen safe hits, demoralizing their opponents and winning the game (by a score of 11-0)...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 18, 1876

George Washington Bradley threw the first no-hitter in National League and St. Louis history but James Francis Galvin threw the first perfect game recorded at any level.

Pud Galvin, probably after taking the elixir of Brown-Sequard, had one of the greatest pitching days in the history of baseball.  The Reds were playing in a tournament in Michigan in 1876 and had a doubleheader on August 17th.  Galvin pitched both games and, according to A Game of Inches, threw a no-hitter in the first game and then bested that in the second (after, no doubt, drinking more of his magic elixir) by throwing the first perfect game in baseball history.

The Globe reported that the first game was actually a one-hitter and that Pidge Morgan pitched both games but later corrected themselves, giving Pud his proper due.  They did not, however, mention his magic elixir.

And if you don't know what I'm talking about when I refer to Pud Galvin's magic elixir, try googling "Pud Galvin steroids."      

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 15

15. August 22, 1861: Empire Club vs. Empire Club

St. Louis - May 10, 1861

The Match Game of Base Ball Interrupted--The match game of base ball, on Gamble avenue, yesterday, was brought to a somewhat abrupt termination.  While the game was in progress a German Home Guard came upon the field and persisted in remaining in the way of the players.  After having been asked two or three times to retire behind the line he was then taken by the arm by the person appointed to keep the field clear, when he (the Home Guard) attempted to strike him.  The blow was returned, the German going down.  He then went away, and in about half an hour afterwards a detachment of Home Guards came and surrounded the whole field, creating quite a panic among a number of ladies and gentlemen who were assembled to witness the game.  The order was given to take all the players to Turners' Hall as prisoners, but Mr. Griswold (formerly a captain in the Home Guards) and a few others persuaded the acting captain of the Home Guards to withdraw his men from the field.  The Guards were withdrawn.
-Missouri Republican, August 23, 1861

This is one of my favorite games in the history of St. Louis baseball and it's a significant event in the history of Civil War St. Louis. 

E.H. Tobias' version of what happened in this game is much more interesting than the account given in the Republican.  Tobias, while he had some of the details of the game wrong, wrote that the Empire Club was playing a game between the single and married members of the club and had set up a tent on the grounds for refreshments and for the playing members to use to change into their uniforms.  Above the tent, they raised a banner that had been given to the club by Col. John McNeil, who had received it from one of the St. Louis' old volunteer fire companies.  The St. Louis Home Guard, which had been federalized by Nathaniel Lyons prior to the attack on Camp Jackson, believed that the banner was a secessionist flag, surrounded the grounds and demanded that the flag be taken down. 

At that point, all hell broke loose.  According to Tobias, the Home Guard "marched straight to the middle of the field surprising the players and causing such consternation among the audience that it quickly dispersed amid the shrieks and cries of the terrorized women and children, and to the deep indignation of the members of the club, some few of whom giving way to their anger, seized on bats, bases (they were movable in those days) and anything with which they could make a fight. [Empire Club captain Jeremiah ] Fruin sprung to the front of the soldiers, ordered the ball players back and caused a suspension of hostilities." 

Things were a bit more serious than Tobias let on.  On May 10, 1861, following the attack on Camp Jackson, Union forces opened fire on a crowd in St. Louis, killing several people.  There was the very real possibility of violence here.  If Fruin had not restrained his players, it's entirely likely that the Home Guards would have opened fire on them.  Merritt Griswold, who was the umpire for the game and an officer in the Home Guard, also played a prominent role in calming things down.

Now the Republican mentions nothing about the flag and blames the incident on one unruly member of the Home Guard.  This is entirely possible, although no reason is given for the soldier's behavior.  It's possible that he was the one who mistakenly believed that the Empire Club was flying a rebel banner and that's what set him off.  That is, of course, speculative but one of the reasons I believe Tobias' version of events is because of the fact that Basil Duke had almost caused a riot in March 1861 by doing exactly what the Empire Club was accused of doing.  In fact, the Empire Club banner that Tobias described was rather similar to the banner flown by Duke.

Martial law had been declared in St. Louis on August 14, 1861, just over a week before the Empire Club's match, and things were rather tense in the city.  Nathaniel Lyons had been killed in action on August 10th at the Battle of Wilson's Creek.  The fate of Missouri and St. Louis was still up in the air.  The Civil War was very real and very close to home to the people of St. Louis.  The idea that the United States military would break up a baseball game and come close to shooting ballplayers seems alien to us but that was the reality that the citizens of St. Louis were dealing with during the first summer of the war.  As I mentioned, civilians had already been shot upon and killed by U.S. forces in St. Louis.  The Civil War was not an abstract idea to these people.  It was very much a daily matter of life and death.  And this game is the perfect example of that.             

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 16

16. July 15, 1876: St. Louis Brown Stockings vs. Hartford Dark Blues

The Globe-Democrat yesterday morning announced the fact that the St. Louis Base Ball Club intended accomplishing the greatest feat in the annals of the game, if sharp play could bring about the result prayed for, which was nothing less than the whitewashing of the famous Hartford nine for the third consecutive time. They did it, and thereby covered themselves with glory and sent their admirers into ecstasies. A large crowd was present to witness the discomfiture of the Dark Blues. In the matter of the toss, luck for the first time in a long while deserted McGeary, which was considered a favorable omen for Hartford, but, as the sequel showed, failed to prove such. St. Louis won the game in the first two innings by the fine batting of Clapp and Blong, and four unfortunate errors by their opponents. In the last seven innings Bond was so

                           Well Supported

that the Browns could not possibly increase their score. Bradley's pitching, and the magnificent backing given it by the fielders, won the day for St. Louis. For the first time in the annals of the League, nine innings were played without a single base hit being placed to the credit of one of the teams. The Hartford's utterly failed to do anything whatever with Bradley's twisters. Weak infield hits and easy flies were the order of the afternoon on their side, and a chance for an out was rarely missed. Bradley has good reason to be proud of his record. His associates, especially Clapp, whose beautiful batting was a marked feature of the game, did fairly off Bond's curves, and thereby won the game. Three such games as have been played during the past week by the St. Louis and Hartford Clubs

                    Have Never Been Witnessed,

the scores being 2 to 0, 3 to 0, and 2 to 0, all in favor of St. Louis. They will be placed on record as the most wonderful struggles in the history of the national pastime. When it is stated that until last Tuesday Hartford had not been whitewashed this season, and that for twenty-seven consecutive innings they were retired by the Browns without scoring, and almost in one-two-three order, some idea of the magnificent manner in which they must have fielded the stinging hits of such men as Burdock, Higham, Ferguson, and the other Blue Legs can be formed.

                      The Record Of The Week

leads a good many to suppose that the Browns may yet crowd up to the top round of the championship ladder. This is among the possibilities, but not very probable. That the St. Louis Club will beat Hartford for second place is much more likely, but Chicago now has a commanding lead which it will be almost impossible for either club to overcome. The details of the game yesterday will be found in the appended account by innings.

                                First Inning.

St. Louis-Cuthbert, after being missed on three strikes, was thrown out at first by Harbidge. Clapp earned first on a magnificent drive to left center, and a wild throw by Bond to catch him at first gave him third. McGeary's foul fly to right was splendidly held by Higham, but the hit gave Clapp his run. Pike sent up a high one, which Remsen gobbled. One unearned run.
Hartford-Remson again opened for the Dark Blues by striking out. Burdock was given a life by Pearce, who muffed his hot liner and then made an overthrow. A passed ball gave him second. Higham's out by McGeary to Dehlman gave Burdock third, where he was left, as Ferguson flew out to Cuthbert. Nineteenth goose egg.

                                 Second Inning.

St. Louis-Mills made a fine catch of Battin's foul fly. Blong earned first on a fine drive to left, and as York tried to make the catch Joe reached second. Mills allowed Bradley's bounder to go through him, and Blong tallied. Bradley was thrown out in trying to steal second. Dehlman earned first on a model hit to left, and stole second by a close shave, but was left, as Pearce popped a fly up for Mills' benefit.
Hartford-Carey was finely thrown out at first by Bradley. Bond furnished McGeary with an easy fly, and Yorke sent up a sky scraper for Battin to capture. Twentieth goose egg.

                               Third Inning.

St. Louis-Cuthbert was splendidly disposed of by Ferguson and Mills. Clapp sent the ball spinning over Yorke's head for two bases, and McGeary flew out to Burdock. Pike hit a hard one to left, which Yorke froze to. No runs.
Hartford-Mills sent a hot one direct to Dehlman, and sat down. Harbidge popped up an easy fly, which McGeary captured, and Remsen was thrown out at first by Bradley. Twenty-first goose egg. Score, 2 to 0. St. Louis ahead.

                               Fourth Inning.

St. Louis-Mills pinched Battin's easy fly, and Blong was thrown out at first by Carey. Bradley couldn't gauge Bond, and struck out. No runs.
Hartford-Burdock struck at the first ball pitched, and retired on a foul bound. Another easy fly was furnished McGeary by Higham. Clapp missed Ferguson's fould bound, and Fergy then went out by hitting direct to Dehlman. Twenty-second goose egg.

                              Fifth Inning.

St. Louis-Ferguson bagged Dehlman's foul fly and Harbidge treated Pearce's foul bound in the same way. Cuthbert attempted a right field hit, and furnished Ferguson with an easy fly instead.
Hartford-Carey attempted a fair foul, and Battin threw him out. Bond was magnificently disposed of by McGeary and Dehlman. Yorke hit hard, but Bradley partially stopped the ball, and Battin finished the business by throwing him out. Twenty-third goose egg.

                               Sixth Inning.

St. Louis-Clapp almost got in his third base hit, but Remsen, by fast running, made a splendid catch. McGeary flew out to Burdock. Pike hit to second, and, by the fastest kind of running, secured his base. He stole second in safety, but remained there, as Battin struck out.
Hartford-Mills kept up the weak batting by hitting to Bradley and being thrown out. Clapp captured Harbidge's high foul fly. Dehlman dropped McGeary's throw, and Remsen stepped safely on first. Burdock sent a bounder to Pearce, who headed him off at first. Twenty-fourth goose egg.

                               Seventh Inning.

St. Louis-Carey and Mills furnished Blong with an out. Bond again outwitted Bradley, who gave Mills an easy fly, and Dehlman also retired by hitting direct to the first baseman. No runs.
Hartford-Higham was easily thrown out at first by Battin. Ferguson was given a life by Clapp, who missed his foul bound, but the striker a moment afterwards flew out to Pike, and Carey followed suit to Cuthbert. Twenty-fifth goose-egg.

                               Eighth Inning.

St. Louis-Pearce reached first on a hot one to right short, that luckily bounded out of Burdock's reach. Yorke made a magnificent catch of Cuthbert's short fly to left. Clapp by a model hit to right earned first, and sent Pearce to second. McGeary's sharp foul tip was well held by Harbidge. Pike flew out to Remsen, and two men were left.
Hartford-Bond sent a bounder to McGeary, and was disposed of at first. Yorke was sent to first on three balls. Mills hit a hot one to short, and by miserable running allowed Pearce to throw him out. Yorke reached second on the hit, and third on a wild pitch, where he was left, as McGeary and Dehlman furnished Harbidge with an out. Twenty-sixth goose-egg.

                               Ninth Inning.

St. Louis-Battin sent a swift fly to Yorke, which was accepted and Blong was thrown out at first by Carey. Mills made a splendid catch of Dehlman's fly, and the side was out.
Hartford-Remsen went in to escape the third nest of goose eggs, if possible. He hit at the first ball pitched, and Pearce headed him off at first. Battin made a bad error in failing to stop Burdock's bounder, but atoned for it a moment afterwards by making a splendid stop of Higham's corker, and doubling up the striker and Burdock.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 16, 1876

In 1876, George Washington Bradley had one heck of a season.  He led the League in ERA, ERA+, WHIP and fewest H/9.  In the process of doing all of that, he also recorded sixteen shutouts, a record that has never been broken and one that has been equaled only once (Pete Alexander, 1916).  Given that no pitcher has had sixteen complete games since 1987, I'm thinking that's a record that will never be broken.  Also, Bradley threw thirty-seven consecutive scoreless innings that season, which I'm reasonably sure was the record until Jack Chesbro threw forty-one consecutive scoreless innings in 1902.  It was a great season by a great pitcher.

In the middle of that consecutive scoreless innings streak, Bradley threw the first no-hitter in National League history.  Depending on how you feel about the NA, you could regard this as the first no-hitter in major league history, although MLB does officially recognize Joe Borden's 1875 no-hitter.  It was the first no-hitter in St. Louis baseball history and a St. Louis pitcher would not throw another major league no-hitter until 1891, when Ted Breitenstein threw one in his first major league start.  Bradley's no-hitter is the first of sixteen no-hitters thrown by St. Louis major league pitchers, with Bud Smith throw the last one in 2001.

Note:  I made a silly mistake.  I was using Baseball-Reference as a source and they had Borden's game on the list of officially sanctioned no-hitters.  However, they explicitly state that they added Borden's game to the list "for the sack of continuity."  I give them props for having the game on the list but I didn't read closely enough and believed that the game was officially recognized by MLB.  It is not.  Bradley's no-hitter, according to MLB, is the first no-hitter in major league history.  Tip of the cap to Cliff Blau for pointing that out to me.         

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: #17

17. April 2, 1882: St. Louis Brown Stockings vs. Standard Base Ball Club of St. Louis

The long-talked of game between the St. Louis Browns and the Standards came off yesterday afternoon.  Even the sun appeared at last and smiled upon the ball players, and 7,000 persons went out to greet the boys from the East and the West and to bid them welcome to St. Louis.  It was a great reception for the players of the Brown Stocking team who come from abroad here expecting to find friends.  They found them yesterday...Of course the defeat of the professional team was a surprise to many.  Perhaps the defeated were as much taken aback as any one else.  Perhaps the Standards, too, were somewhat astonished, but they ought not to have been...

The Browns presented a splendid team.  Even Comiskey was on hand, fielding a superb game and a perfect one...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 3, 1882

I should have turned this one into a contest.  I should have just posted the date and the box score and let you guys guess the significance of the game.  It would have been fun because this one is pretty obscure.   

This April 1882  Brown Stockings game against the Standards was Charles Comiskey's first game with the club.

Comiskey is probably the most important player in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball.  I could probably make an argument for Adam Wirth but I don't think my heart would be in it.  The leader, field manager and first baseman of the Four Time Champions, Comiskey was as significant a baseball player as has ever walked on the field for a St. Louis team.  If you asked people to name a 19th century St. Louis baseball player, I would imagine that Comiskey would be the name you heard most often.  His first game wearing a St. Louis uniform is a deserving addition to this list.

For the record, Comiskey's first league game was on May 2, 1882, against Louisville.        

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 18

18. April 25, 1876: St. Louis Brown Stockings vs. Cincinnati Reds

Were it not for the "glorious uncertainty" of base ball, that pastime would never have been chosen as the National game of America. There was not an enthusiast in this city yesterday who would not have bet dollars to cents that the Brown Stockings would win the first game of their championship series with the Cincinnati Reds. That game was played yesterday, and the result was: Cincinnati, 2; St. Louis, 1-a result which reflects almost as much credit on the losers as on the winners. That it was a brilliant struggle there can be no doubt, and Cincinnati is to be congratulated on the possession of a nine, hitherto looked upon as the weakest in the field, capable of lowering the standard of one of the two clubs which is conceded to be the strongest.

Great excitement prevailed in the vicinity of this office throughout the afternoon, the result of each inning being bulletined pro bono publico. The opening inning was announced-a tie at one each-Brown Stocking admirers breathed freer. In the next three innings, no runs being added on either side, ominous looks were exchanged, and such remarks as "Those Cincinnatis are holding them down nicely," and "What's got into the boys?" might have been heard muttered. With the result of the eighth inning-Cincinnati 1, St. Louis 0-fears were, for the first time expressed that the St. Louis favorites might possibly lose, and the probability became a certainty when it was announced that both sides had been presented with goose eggs in the ninth inning. Though disappointed at the result, the friends of the home club took the defeat of their favorites with a good grace, attributing it to the fickleness of fortune. As stated before, to lose finely contested a game reflects as much credit on the vanquished as on the victors...

The special correspondent of the Globe-Democrat at Cincinnati sends the following particular of the struggle by telegraph:

About two thousand spectators, many of whom were ladies, witnessed the game between the Cincinnati and St. Louis Clubs to-day. It was by all odds the best game ever played in this city. The batting on both sides was heavy, but the Reds got in the safest licks, being credited with eight base hits to the Browns four. Battin secured two of the four, and Pike and Clapp one each. Battin's three-bag hit in the fourth inning brought home Pike, who was the only Brown Stocking to cross the home plate. Bradley and Dehlman went out on flies, leaving Battin on third twice. On two occasions the Reds had three men on bases, but could not succeed in getting in a run. The last time was in the ninth inning, when Blong captured Pearson's fly to right field, and, by an excellent throw, headed Jones off at the home plate, thereby accomplishing a magnificent double play...

The Browns erred as follows: Clapp, 2; Batten, 1; Bradley, 2; Dehlman, 1. The Reds made but three errors, Fisher being charged with two and Kessler with one. For the Cincinnatis Jones secured two safe hits, and Kessler, Booth, Gould, Clack, Snyder and Sweazy one each. The Reds got four base hits off Bradley in the first inning, scoring in that and the eighth. Fourteen of the Browns were disposed of on flies to the outfield, Snyder at left gathering eight of them. Mack and McGeary did the most effective work in the field for St. Louis, while Booth, the new third baseman, and Pearson, the youthful catcher, did the lion's share of the work for Cincinnati. The best of good feeling prevailed throughout. The Browns are in tip-top condition, and say they will get even on Thursday. They claim that the game was won by a scratch. Houtz, formerly of the St. Louis Reds, umpired...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 26, 1876

This list is off to a pretty good start I think.  Three games, three different clubs, three different decades.  We've had a win, a forfeit and now we have a loss.  Also, this is the first road game to appear on the list.

What we have here is opening day 1876, when the Brown Stockings lost to the Reds, 2-1, in Cincinnati.  It is the first National League game in St. Louis baseball history.  We have a proud tradition of NL baseball in St. Louis and no city has more NL championship than we do.  St. Louis is a National League city and we support National League baseball.  That all began in April of 1876.

The game is also significant because it kicked off the Brown Stockings' 1876 campaign, which was the first season that a St. Louis club seriously challenged for the national championship.  They would fall short but I don't think that there is any doubt that the 1876 Brown Stockings were the best baseball team to represent St. Louis up to that point.  They were a damn good baseball team.  And it's possible that they could have won the pennant if they hadn't been throwing games.  But we'll get to that soon enough.   

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 19

19. October 15, 1885: St. Louis Browns vs. Chicago White Stockings

The first game at Sportman's Park between the Chicago Club and the Browns proved a poor contest, very badly umpired and terminating in a forfeiture by the home club to the visitors, the end being attended by a scene of excitement and confusion that was rarely, if ever, been equaled at any previous ball game in this city. Sullivan, the League umpire, came down from Chicago to act in the game, and a more unfortunate selection could not have been made. In the first inning he gave Kelly out at second on a steal, when nearly everybody thought the runner was safe. In the third he more than evened up matters by declaring foul a safe hit to right by Foutz, who, on the hit and a fumble by Clarkson, reached second, from which he was called back. This decision aroused the spectators to great indignation and Sullivan was loudly and roundly denounced. When, in the third inning, Barkley was called out on a ball that was above his head, another storm of hissing and shouts of "Get another umpire" followed. During the fourth and fifth inning nothing especially exciting occurred, but in the first half of the sixth a crisis was reached. After Sunday had led off with a double to right and gone to third on a passed ball, Kelley hit a grounder to Gleason, who fumbled and then threw to first, clearly putting out Kelley. Sunday scored on the play and Kelley was decided "safe." While the crowd uttered exclamations of amazements, some of the more impetuous shouted "robbery." Comiskey came in off the field, protested against the decision, and objected to Sullivan umpiring any longer. Sullivan immediately went to the players' bench, put on his coat and sat down. Anson refused to permit a change of umpires, and a long wrangle followed. Finally Hon. John J. O'Neill stepped out of the grand stand into the field and joined the wrangling players. Anson asked what his business was on the field, and the answer was, "That's none of your business."

"Well, it is my business, and you have no business on the field," retorted the big captain of the Chicago team.

"I am the President of the club," said the Representative of the Eighth District.

"I always thought Von der Ahe was the President," remarked Anson as he was very suspiciously eyed the M.C.

"Well, I'm the Vice President of the club, and in the absence of the President from the city the Vice President takes his place, don't he?" was the rejoinder of the friend of the laboring man.

The upshot of it was that O'Neill remained and the game proceeded.

Kelly quickly stole second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a single to center by Anson. Pfeffer raised a fly to short right and Nicol muffed it, but threw Anson out at second, while Pfeffer secured his base. After Pfeffer had stolen second Williamson hit a slow grounder along the line to first. The ball was spinning as it traveled, and when near first base it reached the outside of the base line it struck the edge of the turf and turned so sharply inside the line that Comiskey failed to stop, and it struck the inside of the bag and ran a short distance beyond it. Meanwhile somebody shouted "Foul!" Pfeffer ran in from second and Williamson, after hesitating when the ball was outside the line, made a dash when it changed its course and reached first in safety. Comiskey claimed that the ball was foul, Sullivan insisted that it was fair, but Comiskey said it was not under American Association rules, to which Anson answered by calling for the rules. Another squabble was followed by Comiskey calling his men off the field. There was a rush of spectators into the field and while one crowd gathered around Anson, Superintendent Solari and a special officer escorted Sullivan off the field, a second crowd following them to the gate and abusing Sullivan at every step.

By leaving the field Comiskey made a serious blunder, for the rules made it the imperative duty of the umpire to declare the game forfeited, and while the act caused the home team the irretrievable loss of a game that they had a chance to win, it also gave to the backers of the Chicago Club considerable money that was wagered on the result. Under all rules the ball was a fair one, and the umpire was in no way to blame for the deceptive course it took. It was generally believed that Sullivan had called the ball "foul," but this he denies, and is supported in his denial by Robinson, the home catcher, who asserted that it was Anson who made the call in question; but even if he had declared it "foul" before it had passed inside the line, he would have been obliged to correct his decision and declare "fair."

Anson stated that he had not brought Sullivan here, that the Browns brought him, and he was their selection. Sullivan admitted that he was rattled, but said members of the home team stood near him and abused him from the first inning, and having no way to protect himself against their insults, he could not help getting excited. When the game stopped the score stood 5 to 4 in favor of the Chicagos, on uneven innings. The Browns scored 3 in the first inning and 1 in the fourth. The Chicagos scored 1 in the first, 1 in the second and had made 3 in the sixth, with one man out, when the game broke up. The game will go on record as 9 to 0 in favor of Chicago.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 16, 1885

This was the second game of the 1885 World's Championship series and, in the past, I've covered this game in detail.

This was one of the most controversial games in 19th century St. Louis baseball history and it can be argued that it cost the Browns the 1885 championship.  I don't really agree with that but, as the series ended up a tie, if the Browns had pulled this game out, they would have had an undisputed championship.  They claimed it anyway but that's kind of beside the point.

That lost or disputed championship, I believe, tarnishes the historical reputation of the Four Time Champions and therein lies the true significance of this game.  If the Browns had not walked off the field and come back to win the game, they would have finished 2-2 against the NL in post-season play rather than 1-2-1.  Their defeats in 1887 and 1888 were rather severe and I think that plays a role in the argument that the NL was superior to the AA.  If the Browns had broke even in the post-season against the NL, the argument for the Browns as a historically great team and for the quality of play in the AA would have been greatly strengthened.  In that sense, this game changed history.  It helped to create our perception of 19th century baseball and that makes it rather significant.    

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 20

20. April 15, 1899: St. Louis Perfectos vs. Cleveland Spiders

The baseball season opened [in St. Louis] with a game between the Cleveland and St. Louis clubs, which, since last year, have changed cities.  Tebeau's St. Louis boys easily won the game by heavy batting and good work in the field.  Attendance, 16,000.  
-Morning Oregonian, April 16, 1899

On opening day in 1899, the St. Louis National League club defeated Cleveland by a score of 10-1.

 This game is extraordinarily significant and represented a brand new day in the history of St. Louis baseball.  The previous season had seen the drama surrounding Von der Ahe's loss of the club and the off-season would saw the Robisons gain control of St. Louis' NL club.  The Robisons brought in all of the good players from their Cleveland team and created the best club St. Louis had seen since 1891.  In fact, the 1899 Perfectos' 84 wins would be the most the franchise would see between 1892 and 1921.  Also, in their creation of the Perfectos, the Robisons also created the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, who would lose 134 games that season.

After seven lean seasons and the Von der Ahe drama, St. Louis was hungry for good baseball and the city went crazy for the Perfectos.  Look at that attendance number for opening day.  Von der Ahe didn't see anything like that in the latter part of the 1890s.  The city's love affair with the Perfectos began with this game and brought St. Louis professional baseball back from the brink.  There was a moment, in the off-season, when the St. Louis club ceased to exist, as the League dealt with the fallout from Von der Ahe's bankruptcy, but the Robisons and the Perfectos saved major league baseball in St. Louis.  And that's why this game makes the top twenty.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Achievement Unlocked: 2000 Posts


Five years and two thousand posts.  I should get a prize or something.  Maybe a cake.  Yeah, I should absolutely get a cake, or at least a pie, for banging out this blog everyday for as long as I have.

Mmmm...sweet, sweet cake

Anyway, hurray for me and, to celebrate the fact that I haven't quit or that the all-powerful state hasn't shut down the website, I'm going to count down the top 20 games in the history of 19th century baseball, starting tomorrow.  So we have that to look forward to.

And about this list of games...I just want it on the record that I've put all of fifteen minutes thought into it and it should not be considered a definitive statement on the subject.  These things are relative, of course, and my list might not be the same as your list.  It's just a bit of fun, designed to create content and keep me from posting about the 1884 Maroons.  So take the whole thing with a grain of salt.

Since we're starting with number 20 tomorrow, I should give you a list of games that didn't make the cut but that's kind of boring.  I will say that I don't have any Black Stockings games on the list and that bothers me a bit.  The one game that I most regret not including in the top twenty is the October 13, 1875 game between the Blue Stockings and the Uniques and it's absolutely number 21 on my list.  I also left out the games that the 1869 Red Stockings of Cincinnati played in St. Louis.  So I guess I did put a little thought into the list.  Not much, but a little. 

Come back tomorrow and we'll get this thing started.         

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This Estimable Young Gentleman

The numerous friends of [Asa Smith] will be deeply grieved to learn that he was drowned yesterday morning while bathing at Biddleford Pool, Maine.  The announcement was received by the following telegram:

Biddleford Pool, Maine, July 31.
E.P. smith, care Asa W. Smith & Co., St. Louis:
Your  brother Asa was drowned this morning while bathing.  Every effort was made with lifeboat to save his life.  Your mother desires you to come here at once.
E.H. Wheldon.

No particulars were received of the sad affair, so the circumstances attending it are merely conjecturable.  The beach at Biddleford Pool is over two miles long, running for the principal distance north and south, but on the north it takes a turn east, running out about three-quarters of a mile to the "Point of Rocks," where there is a boat-house.  The lifeboat mentioned in the telegram is, in fact, a pilot boat, only used as a lifeboat in emergencies, and not constructed with especial reference to that service.  A few hundred feet south of the Point of Rocks is a ledge known, locally, as "the Barn Door Ledge;" and near the southern extremity of the beach is another and little larger ledge, about the same distance in the offing.  When the tide rolls in heavily, there is an undertow formed, running out to sea in a strong current past Barn Door ledge, and it is supposed that Mr. Smith was caught in this current and was unable to stem it.  To get to his assistance with the boat, unless it happened that it was already manned, a party would have to go out over a rugged road to the Point of Rocks and bring the boat around the point to the beach, requiring many minutes' time.  This was precisely what happened to Mr. Truman A. Post of this city, at the same place, two-years ago; but, fortunately, he was saved, although by the narrowest chance.  Mr. Smith was a good swimmer, but the water from the undertow is cold, and it is supposed that he was so chilled as to be unable to support himself until the boat arrived.

He was twenty-nine years of age, and was the sixth and youngest son of Sol. Smith, Esq., known over the world as an actor and theatrical manager, and was universally esteemed by his friends for his probity and personal good qualities.  He was engaged with his brother, E.P. Smith, as a banker and broker, under the firm of Asa W. Smith & Co.  Mr. E.P. Smith left yesterday evening for Biddeford.  At four o'clock, he received a telegram stating that search was still being made for the body of his brother.
-St. Louis Republican, August 1, 1874

I always find it kind of surprising that, in all of the obituaries and notices of Smith's death, there is no mention of the role he played, as a member of the Union Club, in the development and growth of baseball in St. Louis.  He was one of the most significant figures in the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball and I would argue that he was the most significant figure of the pioneer era in the city.  In my opinion, the three most important people, in the history of St. Louis baseball, were Asa Smith, Chris Von der Ahe and Branch Rickey.  And, sadly, there are only a handful of people in world today who could tell you who the man was.   

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Colored Base Ball Clubs Of Belleville And Lebanon

The colored base ball clubs of Belleville and Lebanon crossed bats Thursday afternoon, the game resulting 13 to 12 in favor of Belleville.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 1, 1884

It's not much but given that the Globe had pretty much ignored the black clubs of the area for the most of the 1884 season, it's great to see this.  And it's a nice reference to black clubs on the east side of the river, which is rather rare. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Black Stockings Meet The Athletics

An immense attendance witnessed the meeting yesterday afternoon at the Union Grounds of the Black Stocking and Athletic, colored clubs.  The latter were 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

I had this box score in my files so I've probably posted it before but I'm putting it up again in the context of the Globe's 1884 baseball coverage.  While going through the 1884 Maroon's season, I've complained about the lack of coverage of the black St. Louis clubs.  But all the sudden, at the end of August 1884, the Globe started to give us some information.  And, as you'll see tomorrow, their sudden interest in the black clubs of the area extended beyond the Black Stockings.    

Sunday, September 16, 2012

You Knew Where You Stood With Kid Baldwin

The Cincinnati Enquirer of Saturday says "Kid" Baldwin, the clever young catcher of the Kansas City Unions, received a telegram from Manager Barnie, of the Baltimore Americans, yesterday, offering him $500 to play with them for the balance of the season.  "Kid" handed the message to Manager Sullivan, who answered in this wise: "Yours received.  Thank you very much for the interest you take in the welfare of our club and players."  Manager Ted was very angry over this attempt to steal Baldwin, who is very well satisfied with his present engagement.  The funny part of the whole business is that Sullivan is paying him more than Barnie offered to pay.  A report comes from Cincinnati to the Globe-Democrat saying that the St. Louis Club is also after Baldwin to fill Dolan's place.  There is a slight inconsistency in American Association managers offering Baldwin engagements, since he jumped his contract with the Quincy Club.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 31, 1884

I find Kid Baldwin rather fascinating.  Our old friend, David Ball, wrote about Baldwin for SABR's Bio-Project and summed him up nicely: "For all his flaws, the Kid had more positive qualities, as yet less evident to those who knew him only through the newspapers.  Baldwin could be impulsive and self-centered when under pressure, but for the most part he was an open and uncomplicated soul; you knew where you stood with Kid Baldwin, and if you weren't certain he would gladly tell you." 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Backing His Team

Manager Bridgewater, of the Black Stocking (Colored) Club, says he is willing to back his team against the Eclipse Club, and will put up a forfeit at any time that Manager Brooks may name.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 31, 1884

Hopefully, we'll get past the talking stage and have a nice series of games between the Black Stockings and the Eclipse.  And hopefully, the Globe will cover it.   

Friday, September 14, 2012

Our Fifth Anniversary

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the upcoming blogiversary and said something along the lines that this would be our sixth anniversary.  Well, obviously I'm a bit math challenged because today's the fifth anniversary of This Game of Games, not the sixth.  Sure we're starting our sixth year of blogging but I offer no excuses for my inability to do basic arithmetic.  Heck, half the time I need a calculator to figure out how old I am and most the time that doesn't help because I can't remember what year it is.  They say time heals all wounds but it also makes you forget stuff like the date, the year and how to add and subtract.  It's entirely possible that I'm suffering from the early onset of Alzheimer's.

What was I talking about?

To make matters worse (as far as the whole remembering what year it is thing is concerned), I have Game Six of the 2011 World Series on right now.  I've probably watched that game ten times now.  I rewatched it the first time the day after the game, as a lead-in to Game Seven, and it never gets old.  I refer to it now as The Greatest Baseball Game Of All Time.  Honestly, most of the game was bit craptastic but the last three innings weren't too bad.  Unless you're a Rangers fan.  Wait.  Hold on a minute...

I'm back.  I just had to watch this:


That's never going to get old.

So back when I was talking about how this was going to be the sixth anniversary, I said I'd tell the story of how all this nonsense got started and, since I don't think I ever told anyone this story, I might as well go ahead and tell you.  It's not really an interesting story but I'm going to tell it anyway.  How's that for a build-up?

In all honesty, I'm not sure exactly how this all started.  I was online and reading something or looking up something or screwing around.  I can't remember exactly what I was doing.  All I know is that I came across a reference to the St. Louis Red Stockings.  Now I was not exactly ignorant of the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball or, I should say, I had grown up reading Bob Broeg and Bob Burns and knew about Von der Ahe and the Browns.  I was knew that the old Brown Stockings had existed.  I liked baseball history and I liked reading about baseball history so I knew a little bit about the 19th century game in general.  Before I even started this website, I probably knew more about 19th century baseball than ninety percent of the population.  That's not saying much but I had a general familiarity with the subject.  It was a shallow familiarity and I would quickly learn how little I actually knew but I knew about the Four Time Champions.  I knew about the National Association, the Knickerbockers, the 1869 Red Stockings, Cap Anson, King Kelly, John Ward, Candy Cummings, Jim Creighton, the Perfectos and stuff like that.  I knew the basic outline of the history of the game going back to the 1840s.  But I had no idea who the St. Louis Red Stockings were.  And I wanted to know who they were.

And that's how it started.  Very innocently.  I had a simple question: Who were the St. Louis Red Stockings?
I started with Google.  Now that did answer the question but it did so in an unsatisfying manner.  Google the Reds and you'll get Wikipedia, B-Ref and some other sites that will tell you that they were an NA club.  You'll get the roster and the games.  But what you find really lacks context.  A quick search might turn up the phrase "co-op club."  What the hell was a co-op club?  Who was Joe Blong and Packy Dillon and Art Croft and the rest of these guys?  Okay, I know who Charlie Sweasy is.  What about the rest of the players?  What was the Compton Avenue Grounds?  Who was Thomas McNeary?  Why did they only play 19 games?  What happened?  Who where these guys?  A basic online search answered a few questions but brought up many, many more.

I checked my local library and found a bit more but, again, the information I was finding was only leading to more questions.  To really understand the history of the 1875 Red Stockings of St. Louis (and, in the process of researching the club, you should discover that there never was a club called the St. Louis Red Stockings but, rather, there was a club called the Red Stockings who played in St. Louis), you have to understand the post-Civil War history of amateur baseball in St. Louis.  Who have to know who the Empire Club was and why they were important.  You have to know who the Union Club was.  You have to understand why the 1874 season was so significant.  To understand 1875, you have to understand 1874 and to understand 1874, you have to understand 1865-1873.  That's the reality of it.  When I started with this one simple question, I didn't know that.  I didn't realize that I was peeling off one layer of an onion.  I didn't know how many layers deep the information I was looking for laid.  If I knew, I probably wouldn't have bothered.

So I started researching the Golden Age of 19th century St. Louis baseball - that wonderful period from the end of the Civil War through the 1874 season.  And then I stumbled upon an interesting piece of unrelated information.  There was a book I had (and I'm not even going to give you the title or author because it's just full of errors) that attempted to tell the story of baseball in St. Louis.  It was a general history that actually had some stuff on 19th century baseball in it and that was great.  But at the beginning of the book, the author mentioned how the New York game came to St. Louis.  This was the Fruin Myth.  I quickly noticed that this story was commonplace.  It seemed to have become the accepted version of how the game came to St. Louis.

And it took me an afternoon to destroy it.

It took almost no time at all to find the errors and inconsistencies in the story.  Anyone who took the time to look at the Fruin Myth and do a bit of fact-checking would have quickly discovered that the story wasn't true.  I just happened to be one of the first who did the work and raised the questions.  But destroying the Fruin Myth was never my goal.  I wanted to know how the game came to St. Louis and the answers that were being offered were unacceptable.  So I started to look into the origins of the game in St. Louis.

To the answer the questions that I had and to answer the questions that arose from the original questions that I was asking, I had to start doing my own research.  I had to start looking at the primary source material because the secondary sources were crap.  They were full of errors and misleading statements.  They were written by people who didn't understand 19th century baseball.  And I was very lucky - very early in the process - to find the 19th century baseball research community online and they were very, very helpful and very, very encouraging.  I can't even begin to tell you how grateful I am to the members of the 19th century baseball research community.  They are an incredible group of people.  I'm amazed at how many smart, smart people are engaged in this work and I often feel rather small when working with them because they just seem brilliant to me and I know how little I actually know on the subject.

But I started doing original research and found a great deal of encouragement and support in my endeavors.  Then the question arose of what I was going to do with the stuff I was finding.  This website - my little corner of the internet- was the answer.  And I'm glad I started doing it because TGOG has been a blessing in my life.  I've been able to meet so many wonderful, smart and interesting people through this site.  It's because of this website that I've gotten involved in numerous research and writing projects, many of which I've talked about.  This website is fun and I enjoy doing.  I'm to the point now that I wouldn't know what to do with myself if I quit.

Now all good things come to an end and I'm sure this blog will end at some point.  But we've been going for five years and there's no end in sight.  There's too much that I want to do with this site, too much that I want to get out there.  The end will come but, to quote Dylan, it's not dark yet.  As a measure of my commitment to this thing, I should tell you that, at long last, I've bought the domain name and am going to be moving the whole operation over at that in the near future.  It's been a long time coming but it is coming.  I'll more on that as we get closer to moving day.

I can't let the anniversary pass without thanking you, my brilliant readers.  You guys are the best.  It's hard to express how much I enjoy the emails that I get from you guys.  I get great questions that are a challenge to answer.  I get box scores and game accounts and pictures.  I get these great stories from family members of some of the ballplayers I write about.  There are readers who I started talking to five years ago and I'm still in contact with them.  This website has allowed me to make some good friends.  And that in the end, for me, will be the legacy of TGOG.  For me, the best part of all of this is my readers.

So thank you very much and here's to another five years.  Que the music:


And I should mention one more thing.  My 2000th post is coming up in the next week or so.  To celebrate that I'm going to be counting down the top 20 games in the history of 19th century baseball.  So we have that to look forward to.  And, as God is my witness, some day I will finish the series on the 1884 Maroons.  But it may take another six months.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Forfeit Decides The City Hall Championship

The First and Second Floor Base Ball Clubs of the City Hall played yesterday.  The game was to decide the championship of the City Hall, both clubs having had one game to their credit.  At the beginning of the seventh inning, when the game stood a tie, 15 to 15, the First Floor nine proposed that one inning more should decide the game.  To this proposition the Second Floor nine refused to agree, whereupon the First Floor nine left the field, and the umpire, Mr. Sanders, declared the score 9 to 0 in favor of the Second Floor nine.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 31, 1884

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: I Don't Think You Can Strike Out Eight Men In One Inning

The St. Louis Unions won another 11-inning game from the Pittsburg Club this afternoon, in the presence of 1,000 spectators.  Up to the seventh inning the contest was between the pitchers, with the honors pretty evenly divided.  Boyle, who pitched for the visitors, proved a puzzler to the home club.  In the eleventh inning he succeeded in striking out eight men, and escaping with only six hits being made off him.  Daily struck out ten men, but the six hits which were made off his delivery all counted.  Shaffer knocked out a three-bagger and a home-run.  The last was in the seventh inning and ended the game.  Gardner, of the home club, scored in the seventh inning on the errors of Whitehead and Dunlap.  The other two runs of the home club were made on Schoeneck's and Kreig's singles and a passed ball.  The St. Louis' runs were made by Shaffer's three-bagger and singles by Gleason and Quinn in the seventh inning, Dunlap's single and a base on called balls, and an error by Strief in the eighth, and Shaffer's fly in the eleventh.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 31, 1884

Okay, theoretically, you can strike out eight guys in an inning but it's a difficult task to accomplish if you have a half-competent catcher behind the plate.  I'm thinking the author of this little article meant that Boyle struck out eight in eleven innings rather than eight in the eleventh.  Also, I think this might be the first reference I've ever seen to Hugh Daily that didn't mention his hand problem. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Thumped All Over The Field

The Pittsburg Unions again suffered defeat at the hands of the Lucas team this afternoon by a score of 7 to 2.  The game was loosely played on both sides, but the home team made a series of errors which caused their defeat.  Atkinson, the Pittsburg pitcher, was thumped all over the field, while Sweeny, the St. Louis pitcher, did effective work.  The field was wet and disagreeable, which was to an extent responsible for the shabby work of the players.  The weather was pleasant, but the sun hid itself behind a threatening cloud.  The attendance was not large, but considerable enthusiasm was evidenced when a really good play was made.  Dunlap, of the visiting team, played a magnificent game, while Joe Battin, of the home team, distinguished himself at third.  Daily, the one-armed wonder, will pitch for the home nine to-morrow.  
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 30, 1884

Monday, September 10, 2012

It Was Too Good To Be True

It has been announced that there will be no charge for admission to the game between the colored clubs at Union Park to-morrow, which is true so far as the gate and free seats are concerned.  For seats in the grand stand, however, a small charge will be made.  It was feared that the public might be mislead by the announcement, hence this correction.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 30, 1884 

Okay, first of all, let's be clear that there will be no charge for the free seats.  Secondly, the reason the public may have been confused about all of this was because the Globe, the day before, stated that admission to the Black Stocking/Athletic game was going to be free.  They specifically stated that there would be no charge for seating in the grand stands. 

But don't think I'm complaining.  The Globe did correct their error, something that modern newspapers usually refuse to do.  And this was back to back issues that featured multiple pieces on the goings on of the Black Stockings.  So I'm rather pleased with that.   

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Eclipse Answer The Black Stockings

Chas. Brooks, who signs himself "Manager of the Eclipse Base Ball Club, the champion colored club of the United States," writes to the Globe-Democrat to say that if Henry Bridgewater, Manager of the Black Stocking Club, has any business proposition to make to the Eclipse club, "for love or money," it will be promptly accepted.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 30, 1884

Back to back issues that mention the Black Stockings.  This is more like what I was expecting when I started going through the 1884 season.  And there will be a little more about this tomorrow.   

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Von Der Ahe And The St. Louis Amateurs

A meeting of the Board of Directors of Sportsman's Park was held at the grounds last evening, there being present Messrs. Von der Ahe, O'Neill, Nolker and Reid.  In answer to the call for the local amateur clubs desiring to compete for the handsome ebony bat and silver ball offered by the Directors, the following clubs were represented: Pinafore, by H.C. Hoener; Lyons, P.B. Golman; Comptons, N. Corbey; Wedge House, H. Sexton; Paragons, A. McHose; Westerns, Geo. Flood; St. Louis Grays, L.C. Waitt; Carr Place, A.W. Sumner; Enterprise, Wm. Cahill; Prickly Ash, H.E. Hobbs; Griesidicks, Geo. W. Alexander.  These clubs all expressed a desire to enter the competition and the Directors will decide upon those to be admitted very shortly and a schedule will be duly prepared.  No admission will be charged to the games and an effort will be made to develop the amateur talent of the city, Mr. Von der Ahe stating the willingness of the Sportsman's Park directory to stand all expense of advertising and ground appointments.  Another meeting will be held Thursday, September 4, when matters will be put in more definite shape.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 29, 1884

I've posted information about this amateur competition as I've found it and I'm hoping to find out how it all came out but it's rather interesting to see Von der Ahe promoting the amateur game in St. Louis, especially for the stated purpose of developing local talent.  I'm thinking that this has more to do with creating an alternative product to compete with the Maroons but I could be wrong.  Von der Ahe would, in the future, take unique steps to develop talent for the Browns - specifically the failed attempt at a farm team in 1888.   

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Free-For-All Affair

The colored Black Stockings and the colored Athletics, each claiming to be the champion colored club of the city, will play a deciding game at the Union grounds on Sunday next.  The Union management have tendered the park to the colored troops, and the latter have concluded to make it a free-for-all affair.  There will be no charge either to the grounds or grand stand.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 29, 1884

Holy cow - two references to black baseball clubs in one issue of the Globe.  Be still my heart.  And what about free admission to a championship game?  Can't imagine anything like that these days.   

Thursday, September 6, 2012

For All The Money

Harry Bridgewater, manager of the Black Stockings Base Ball Club, offers to play his nine against the Eclipse (colored) Base Ball Club, who say they are the champions, etc., for all the money they can raise, for gate receipts or for fun.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 29, 1884

I don't think I've ever seen Henry Bridgewater referred to as Harry but I'll take any reference to that Black Stockings that I can get.   

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A New Illinois Corporation

The Belleville Base Ball Association, of Belleville; capital $250.  Incorporators - G.C. Wagner, H.C. Henderson, Geo. Thomas, W.H. Smyler, Jr., Al Davison, C.P. Fluschbein and A.G. Fleischbein.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 29, 1884

I guess I'm a bit surprised that the Belleville club officially incorporated.  I don't know if I should be but I am. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The 1884 Maroons: Was There Anything Dunlap Couldn't Do?

Two thousand people came together at Exposition Park today to witness the third contest between the Pittsburg and St. Louis Union clubs.  The weather was fine and the game full of interesting and exciting incidents.  The visitors played a strong game from start to finish, while the Price team spurted along quite gamely.  At one time it looked as if the home nine was to be badly whipped.  In the eighth inning, after Gleason had had a chance to retire the side, some of the hardest hitting seen about here for some time saved their bacon, and they piled up 6 unearned runs tieing the score.  Lucas' men, in the ninth, earned 2 runs and the home club only succeeded in getting 1, losing the game by one run.  Daily, the one-handed pitcher, set the audience wild by sending the ball down into deep middle field, making three bases on the hit.  In the ninth inning, after one man of the home team was out, Dunlap, the captain of the visitors, sent Werden into right garden and occupied the pitcher's box himself, or it was the general opinion of many spectators the nine from St. Louis would have lost the game, as the Pittsburg boys seemed to have "caught on" to Werden's delivery in great shape.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 28, 1884

Fred Dunlap pitched two and two-thirds innings in his major league career, with an ERA of 6.75 and and ERA+ of 73.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Great Game Of The Season

The Great Game

Of the season, that is, to the people of St. Louis, will come off, weather permitting, next Thursday afternoon, when the nine that Chicago has been boasting of all the winter will play our Brown Stockings on the Grand Avenue park.

We can tell after the game is over as well as any one else which side wins the game, but predictions as to the probable result would be idle.  We can only express our confidence in the nine selected to represent us in the contest.  Their splendid physical condition, steady earnest play and mutual reliance one upon the other are qualities that if persevered in, will prove triumphant over stronger nines than our sister city has got together.

Persons desiring to avoid the rustle at the gates can purchase tickets at the base ball headquarters for any of the championship games the coming week.
-St. Louis Republican, May 2, 1875

Remember that this piece appeared in the Republican prior to the game between the Brown Stockings and the Reds.  I understand the build-up that went on in the off-season and the back and forth that was going on between the St. Louis and Chicago papers, as well as everyone's desire to see a St. Louis club beat the Chicagos.  But, come on.  You had the first league game in St. Louis history coming up in a couple of days and it pitted two St. Louis clubs against each other.  That wasn't the great game of the season (to date)?

Now obviously it wasn't and there really wasn't a comparison between the Reds and Brown Stockings.  But I didn't think that was recognized in St. Louis prior to May 4, 1875.  I might be wrong about that and it what is obvious in retrospect may have been obvious to the baseball fraternity of St. Louis at the beginning of the 1875 season.

In the end, the Republican is absolutely correct in saying that the first Brown Stocking/Chicago game was the game of the season.  Not only that, it's one of the most significant games in St. Louis baseball history.  As far as 19th century St. Louis baseball games are concerned, it might be the important game ever played by a St. Louis club.  If not, it ranks right up there with the $15,000 slide game and a couple of the games that the Empire Club played in 1865.

And now I have a new idea for a series of posts.  The only question is should I limit the list of the most significant 19th century baseball games to ten or go all out and put together a top twenty-five?  I can do ten off the top of my head so I'm thinking I'll have to do a top twenty-five.

But I digress.  The point here is that with the Reds/Brown Stockings tilt just a couple of days away, they're looking past that to the Brown Stocking/Chicago game.  And that's kind of fascinating.   


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Just Your Run-Of-The-Mill Baseball Ad

Oh, but wait...

This is an advertisement for the first big league game in St. Louis baseball history.  Of course, the game as advertised didn't come off because of rain and the first big league game wasn't played until a few days later.  But still. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Dear Sirs: Stop Making Stuff Up

To the Editor of the Missouri Republican:  At a meeting of the Empire base ball club held last evening the secretary was instructed to answer a card that appeared in your paper last Sunday, and signed by one of the twelve professional players of the St. Louis team.  As no arrangement had been made by the officers of the Empire club for a game with the St. Louis professionals it was therefore impossible for the base ball reporter of the Democrat or any one else to have broken up the game that never was arranged.

Respectfully, Chas. H. Stevens, Secretary Empire Base Ball Club.
-St. Louis Republican, April 8, 1875