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.     

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