Monday, October 15, 2012

The Nationals Of Washington Visit St. Louis: Part Two

On Tuesday-morning, the 23rd inst., the Empire Club, of St. Louis, attended upon the Nationals at their hotel, and took them in carriages to the grounds on Grand avenue, the scene of the contest of the day previous.  The game was appointed to be called at 10 o'clock and to close at 1:30, P.M., in order to allow of the Nationals getting off for Chicago in the 4:30, P.M., train.  The weather was again excessively hot, though on this occasion the heat was moderated somewhat by the heavy breeze which prevailed.  No preparations were made in laying out the ground with chalk lines as the rules require, the field being used as it was left the day before, the lines being obliterated.  The field, too, was exceedingly dusty.  The police, however, were more energetic than the day before, and the crowd far more orderly.  Some strictures or the lack of efficiency of the police and the rowdy demonstration made in the first game by a portion of the crowd on the left, which appeared in the Democrat, having had the effect of inducing an improved condition of things in this respect.  Fewer ladies were present than the day before, the heat deterring the fair sex from attending.  The day before, some of the fashionable fair ones of St. Louis attended in carriages; but they had but a limited view of the game, the rough portion of the assemblage having monopolized the seats set apart for ladies before the latter arrived.

The game began at 10:20, A.M., Mr. Coon, by the special request of the Empire Club, having again kindly offered to serve as umpire.  All the clubs owe this gentleman a debt of gratitude, not only for standing hour after hour on the score as umpire, but for the very able and impartial manner, in which he discharged the duties of the position throughout each contest.  He is decidedly one of the best umpires in the country.  The Nationals opened play at the bat and began with some neat hits, a score of 5 being made before the innings closed.  Barron, Worth, Murphy, and J. Fruin fielding the side out well.  The Nationals then went to the Field with McLean as catcher and Berthrong at centre field - the latter being severely hit in the eye with the ball the day previous.  He was not in condition to field, but he would play - there being no give-up to "Johnny."  By the good fielding of McLean, Wright, and Fletcher, the Empires were disposed of for two runs; and on their second inning the Nationals ran their score up to 26, chiefly by really fine hits, grounders and daisy-cutters marking their batting to a considerable extent.  By loose fielding in this inning, in which Fox took part quite prominently, the Empires ran up a score of 9, when all the runs they earned was 2.  After the misses had saved them from a small score, however, they batted very well, Jerry Fruin batting splendidly.  The game, thus far, showed the Empires to be a far better trained nine than the Unions.  They backed up their position better, and watched the points closer, and played more in New York style than any nine outside Cincinnati, they evidently having been well trained.  The Nationals, however, could not play their game at all.  The fact was, the previous day's hot work was too much for them, and its debilitating effect was shown in their play in this game, for they could scarcely run a base or stoop to pick up a ball.  Before the close of the sixth inning, however, they managed to score 53 runs, and to keep down their adversaries' score to 26.  This latter result disappointed the betting portion of the crowd greatly, as they had bet high on the Empires scoring more runs than the Unions had done; but the calling of the game at 1:30, P.M., at the close of the sixth inning, as had previously been agreed upon, cut them off from getting another run, and the result was that bets were lost.  Had the game been played out, the Nationals would no doubt have made pretty near 100 runs at least, while the chances were that the Empires would have scored between 30 and 40, playing in the field as the Nationals were.

The crowd behaved in the most creditable manner, far better than the rough portion did the day previous, while the conduct of the Empires was praiseworthy in the extreme.  Not the slightest word or action against a decision of the umpire was made, while the utmost good-feeling prevailed throughout the contest, the Empires doing all they possibly could to show their guests not only a fair field, but every attention.  Great credit is due their President, Mr. Jerry Fruin, for the skillful manner in which he has trained his nine, and he has a right to be proud of his boys, as certainly they should be of such an excellent captain.  The umpire, as before, gave general satisfaction, even to the outside partisans.  At 3:30, P.M., the Nationals left the Southern Hotel...escorted in carriages by members of the two clubs to the upper ferry, and crossing the river to a special car for Chicago, the crowd cheering them as they left the depot.  Thus far St. Louis bears off the palm in giving the visitors the most cordial reception.  Especially did the President and members of the Union club exert themselves for two days, to make the Nationals enjoy their trip, as did the President of the Empire club, and the members during Tuesday.  The deportment of the Nationals, while in St. Louis, elicited the highest encomium from the citizens generally, their example doing much to advance the reputation of ball-players generally, and of the National Club in particular.  
-New York Sunday Mercury, July 28, 1867

Again, I want to thank Richard Hershberger for passing along this account of the Nationals' visit to St. Louis. 

Two points I want to make:

-It's really interesting to see St. Louis baseball in this era through the eyes of the New York press.  I think their coverage was fair and extremely detailed.  Certainly, there's no doubt that the New York sporting press was much more developed than that in St. Louis.  I wish there was this kind of detailed baseball coverage in the St. Louis papers in the 1860s. 

-I really like the way they pointed out how well trained the Empire Club was and how they played a New York style of baseball.  First, I think that's rather high praise coming from the New York sporting press.  Second, it confirms a lot of what E.H. Tobias has written about Jeremiah Fruin and his influence on the Empires, as well as some of Fruin's statements in The National Game

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