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.         


Cliff Blau said...

In what way does MLB officially recognize Borden's no-hitter? It's not on their Web site's list of no hitters: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/history/rare_feats/index.jsp?feature=no_hitter

Jeffrey Kittel said...

That's a darn fine question. I was looking at Baseball-Reference's list of official no-hitters (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Major_League_Baseball_Sanctioned_No-Hitters) and they have Borden on the list but, if you actually read what they say, it's not officially recognized. That's what I get for not reading closely. I had just assumed that after MLB changed all their rules for what constitutes an official no-hitter, Borden got added to the list.

I think a better question might be why isn't Borden's no-hitter recognized? MLB recognizes the NA as a major league, guys that played only in the NA are considered major leaguers, teams that only competed in the NA are considered major league teams, the stats count in the record books, etc. What happened in the NA is part of the official record. Borden's achievement should be recognized. And I'm not just saying that to make up for my error. I think maybe somebody should drop Thorn an email and see what he can do about this.

Regardless, thanks for pointing that out, Cliff. I'll make a note of it in the post so we can avoid any further confusion.

Cliff Blau said...

That's the thing. As far as I know, MLB does not recognize the NA as a major league (neither do I.)

Jeffrey Kittel said...

That's crazy but, after poking around a bit, I think you're right. It's been years since I looked at a copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia but I remember seeing all the NA records in there and just assumed that MLB officially recognized that stuff. But the Encyclopedia isn't a MLB product, I guess, and isn't really official. That's just madness. The Encyclopedia recognizes it. B-Ref recognizes it. It's silly for MLB not to. What do they do with the history of the Cubs and the Braves?

I understand all the arguments against the NA being a major league and buy a lot of it - especially the stuff about the scheduling problems and the weakness of the co-op teams. But, in the end, I always go back to the point that it was, at the time, the best baseball league in the world and had the best clubs. It was as much of a major league as it was possible to have at the time, given that they were still struggling to develop the concept.

I really believe that those records should count and, in my own mind, I do count them. Guess I'm just so used to thinking about the NA and dealing with the reality of it that it doesn't even dawn on me that all of that stuff might not count in the records. Then again, I think anything after 1870 is modern baseball, so what do I know?