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.    


james brunson said...

Was the sudden interest political? There was a presidential election in 1884; catering to the colored vote? The Globe did a much better job in 1883.

james brunson said...

Another thought: were all clubs still required to report their games, that being; submitting score sheets with a brief synopsis of the game? How many sportswriters did St. Louis have to attend the many games? I suspect Sundays at Sportsman's Park might require a sportswriter no matter who played. What do you think?

Jeffrey Kittel said...

I've been at a loss to explain what was happening in the Globe. It went from no coverage of the black clubs at all to multiple references in an issue. They went from not even mentioning the Black Stockings to mentioning games played by minor black clubs across the river in Illinois. I'm grateful to find it and had honestly expected to find that kind of coverage throughout the season, given the increase in interest in the game and, therefore, the increase in press coverage. But it went from nothing to something overnight and your attempts to explain it go much further (and are better thought out) than anything I've come up with.

My only really thought on the subject is that it may have had something to do with the schedule. Maybe, possibly, the Black Stockings started up later in the season and weren't as active in the first half. I don't think that's the answer but there is some evidence that they got a late start to the season. As to how the accounts of the game got into the paper, I think you're right that most clubs were required to report their games. Games at Sportsman's Park, the Union Grounds and, possibly, the Compton Ave. Grounds may have gotten the physical presence of a writer but everybody else was on their own. Maybe the black clubs weren't reporting their games to the Globe or maybe the Globe was ignoring those reports. But there were times when the Globe would run a list of game scores that would run well over fifty - covering much of what was happening on the amateur scene on a given day. Also, you had black clubs playing at all the major ball grounds in the city so it's not like these games were obscure.

The most likely answer is that the Globe didn't cover the black clubs because they didn't want to cover them. They probably felt it was a waste of ink. Obviously, we're missing a piece of the puzzle here and it may be something as simple as a change in the editor. You had an editor in 1883 who was willing to cover these games and one in the first half of the 1884 season who wasn't. Maybe they had a new sporting editor starting in August of 1884. That would explain what I'm seeing but I have no evidence to support it.