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.  

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