Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 1

Yeah Here Come The Rooster Yeah

1. May 6, 1875: Brown Stockings vs. White Stockings

Time was when Chicago had an excellent base ball club, the best in the West, but that was before St. Louis decided to make an appearance on the diamond field and there, as everywhere else, attest the supremacy of the Western city with the greatest population, the most flourishing trade, the biggest bridge and the prettiest women.  For the first time St. Louis has sent her nine men into the field and has pitted them against the club of her rival. There was a sharp and determined struggle, and the result is indicated in the score which appears below.

The Chicago nine, under one of the best and most experienced managers in the country, failed to score a single run.  The game was, for them, but a succession of depressing failures; for their opponents, a signal and remarkable victory.  Very rarely indeed have two professional clubs met with such an astonishing result.  That the Chicago men can play a better game there is no doubt; that the St. Louisans can do more is equally certain.  The latter have reason to be satisfied, however.  Chicago has ordered a thousand bales of sackcloth and seven hundred hogsheads of ashes.

The weather was all that a ball-tosser could ask for - the late rains making the turf bright and soft.  The Chicagos arrived early in the morning and took up quarters at the Southern, where they were called upon by a number of their friends.  Those not possessing such strolled through the city sight-seeing.  Towards two o'clock both armies were put in motion, dinner dispatched, uniforms inspected and repairs made where wanted.  The visitors donned their field-dress at their hotel and were conveyed to the ground in the gilded band-wagon drawn by four horses, the Browns repairing to the field of battle in squads of two and three, and changing their dress on the ground.  Towards four o'clock the spacious stands and pavillion were packed to repletion with an eager, anxious throng, all despondently hoping the Browns might win, but giving it up as an utter impossibility.  There were fully 8,000 persons in the enclosure, and 1,500 to 2,000 outside.

At five minutes of 4 o'clock the toss was made for choice of innings, which Capt. Pearce of the home club won and sent his opponents to the bat.  Mr. Adam Wirth of the Empires had been mutually selected as umpire, and filled the unpleasant position to the satisfaction of both parties.  Promptly at 4 o'clock he called play.

The Game.  

Higham, the stalwart picture of a Roman gladiator, toed the home plate amid an almost breathless silence and called for a high ball.  Getting one to suit him he drove it safely over short and took first base, the general impression being that it was but the beginning of a series of similar ones.  Miller let a ball bound out of his hand, and threw wild to second to catch Dick there, but only gave him an additional base.  A man on third and no one out, it looked very much like a run.  Hastings, the next striker, hit to Hague; Higham, with very poor judgment, attempted to run home; "Martha," apparently surprised at his temerity or impudence, hesitated a moment, then threw viciously to Miller and Red put the ball on him like a shot.  Warren followed with a hot one to Hague who passed it safely to Battin, and Hastings was thus forced out at second.  Warren then attempted to steal second but learned to his cost that Miller could throw, as the ball was there waiting for him.  Chicago took her first blank, and the people who had thought the Brown Stockings had no show began to pick up courage.

Cuthbert shouldered the "stick" for his side, and eyed the "charmer" carefully; they had often met before and it was "diamond cut diamond."  Ned could only get a little one to the left of Zet but sharp running saved him.  Capt. Dick, the next striker, tried hard for a fair foul, but the umpire refused to allow a very neat one, and he finally tipped out.  Pike was looked to for a three-baser, but went out on strikes, Zettlin tricking Lip nicely on the third one by pitching a good ball as soon as he received it from the catcher and before Pike was ready.  Chapman however came to the rescue by a magnificent drive over Hines' head at left field and Cuthy trotted over the home plate amid only half-hearted applause, while Chapman streamed onward to third.  Hague did not fail for by a splendid liner over second he sent Chap home and earned first for himself.  Brad spread himself for a hard one but only popped up an easy fly which Zettlin attended to and the side was out.  Score: Chicago 0; St. Louis 2.  A good big innings, the spectators feeling more comfortable with the possibility of the boys not being beat so bad after all.  Devlin was the first striker for Chicago in the

Second Innings,

And again, third base was tried, but only to find that "Martha" was "there," the ball being neatly picked up and carefully thrown; Bradley did the same for Hines, and Keerl found Hague good on foul flies.  Whitewash No. 2.

For the Browns - Battin sent a high one back of Peters, but Johnny couldn't get it; Dehlman sent a "daisy-cutter" past Warren at third, and reached first safely; Miller followed with a hot one over Warren's head and Battin was put at home plate by a splendid throw of Hines' to Higham; Cuthy hit hard to Zettlin, and Miller was forced out at second by a very close decision, Dehlman stealing home in the meantime.  Pearce tried to get one to right-field but sent the ball straight to Glenn, and retired one run.  Total score: 3 to 0; Chicago behind.

Mutual whitewashes were exchanged in the

Third Innings

Thusly:  Peters out at first base by Dehlman unassisted, Glen for striking wind three times and Zettlin favoring Bradley with a fly which the "old man" froze to like grim death.  The two pitchers thus exchanging courtesies Zett having disposed of Bradley in a similar manner.

Pike, Chapman and Bradley were the outs for the Browns, the first named on foul bounds by Higham; Chapman and Bradley by Keerl to Glenn, the same players having given Hague second base by an overthrow.  Score unchanged and a few bolder than the rest whispered about a possible victory.

Evidently Bradley was on his "pitch."  Three innings not a run; only one base hit and nine men retired.  In the

Fourth Innings

The three choice batsmen of the White Stockings came up for their second trial, and the friends of the "Browns" trembled as Higham straightened himself for the effort.  It came, the sphere went from his bat like a ball from a cannon towards centre field, long and low, gradually descending towards the ground.  "Safe hit," every one cried, as their eyes followed the dark object shooting through the air.  But there was Pike coming like a deer, and springing forward with a bound he snatched it an inch from the ground, and over he rolled on the ground, the first discernible object being "that left paw" shooting up with the ball tightly grasped in it.  Eight thousand people shouted like madmen, and Lip felt that Louisvile was avenged.  This kind of support to the terrible engine that faced them took the heart out of the next two strikers, Hastings going out on foul-bound and Bradley fielding Warren out at first - fourth consecutive whitewash for the Lake City champions and plenty of talk about St. Louis winning.  The Browns went to the bat confidently, and after Battin had retired at first, by the aid of Peters, Dehl opened the muscle with a fair foul for one bag, Miler putting up a high one between centre and left that fell harmless between Hines and Devlin, the misplay sending Dehlman to third, Miller stealing second on the throw in to the pitcher instead of second baseman.  Cuthbert hit hard to third and Dehl came home.  Capt. Dickey, "who is getting old," cleared the bases by a slashing drive to right field, earning two bases for himself, Cuthbert making an old-time slide, which within fifteen feet of the home plate under Higham, who had the ball to put on him.  Dick scored his run on Chapman's hit to Peters, and Chap having a life by the error of Glenn.  Hague closed the innings by going out to first.  Keerl prettily assisting.  Four runs; totals 7 to 0 and Browns owning the "long end."  Still the doubting Thomases refused to believe it possible.

The "Whites" were considerably rattled, not to say surprised, and a desperate rally was made in the

Fifth Innings,

Delvin opening with a safe one to centre field, Hines following with a slow bounder to Battin and reached first safely as Dehlman failed to hold the rather high throw.  "Now they are off," was the universal belief, but Keerl, Peters and Glenn couldn't "keep it up," Chapman disposing of the "Kanuck" while Peters and Glenn couldn't press canvas once, Miller and Battin assisting.  Fifth goose egg and two men left on bases.

Battin was the only one to reach first base on his side, a safe hit to right-field taking him there.  Bradley tipped out, and Hines made two handsome catches that quieted Dehlman and Miller.

One, two three was the order in which the "great batters" retired in the

Sixth Innings,

Bradley again getting quits with the Charmer and "the weak spot" at second, taking in two good catches fro Higham and Hastings.  Cuthy, who was feeling better than he knew how to show, drove a liner between short and second and consoled Glenn while dancing round first base.  Pearce went out by a neat piece of fielding on the part of Keerl, Pike tipped out, and Chapman with another terrific drive over left centre stopped only at third base amid the wildest kind of enthusiasm, the thousands of eager, excited spectators apparently for the first time realizing that our boys were in terrible earnest and bound  to win.  Hague drove a hot one through Peters at short stop and Chapman scored, but Bradley failed again, this time striking out.  The "old man" seemed to have concentrated all his energies on pitching, and that only, but the boys were well satisfied.

Warren opened the

Seventh Innings

By a sharp line hit between short and second, which Dickey ran for, caught, held a moment, and then in stopping suddenly, dropped it.

Battin distinguished himself by making a magnificent running catch on the right foul line back of first base, that disposed of Devlin, and fielding out Hines at first, Warren going to second only to be left there, as Hague made a beautiful running foul bound catch that sickened Keerl.

Battin hit the first ball, "the Charmer" pitched right "on the nose" and sent it sailing towards the fence at centre field, easily reaching third; Dehlman bringing him home on a short hit to left field.  Miller, Pearce and Cuthbert being retired, closed the innings for this one run which was earned.

Eighth Innings.

Zettlin earned his base in this inning after Peters had been retired by another brilliant catch of Pike and Hague had taken in a foul fly from Glenn.  The Charmer was not easy on the canvas as on a foul tip by Higham,   Miller fielded the ball to Brad and he to Dehlman so quickly that he was caught and the usual circle was made for his side's score.

A change of tactics was noticed in that Whites' positions when Pike came up to bat; Devlin the terrible fence-breaker was in Zettlin's place, Scott Hastings in Higham's, Glenn went to centre and the Charmer was smiling on first, Higham taking right.  The change worked well in this innings though 'twas of no use save keeping their opponents' score down.  The trouble was not so much with Zettlin as their own weak batting.  Pike, Chapman and Hague went out in one, two, three order - Pike on foul bound and the other two by the assistance of Peters and Devlin.  No runs.  Score 10 to 0.

The jig was up and a more surprised, delighted, happy throng of St. Louisans never cheered and shouted themselves hoarse.  With the Whites it was desperation.  Now or never.

The Ninth Innings

Was the only chance left them and Higham, their giant, again led off.  As he stood at the home plate it was a splendid sight, with head erect, chest out, shoulders thrown back, and left foot lightly resting on the ground, ready to assist those powerful arms in dashing forward with a mighty effort to drive that ball out of reach.  Bradley, cool and cunning, deafed him.  Dick finally let out, but only to drive it straight to his captained namesake and retire at first.  Hastings fared no better; his fair foul was splendidly fielded and thrown by Hague to Dehl, and Warren was now their only hope.  He secured the coveted base by a safe one over second only to be forced out there on Devlin's hit to Pearce.  Rarely has such a scene been witnessed as Joe Battin clutched the ball, putting out the twenty-seventh man.  A might roar and cheer rent the air and hats, handkerchiefs, umbrellas, canes, and anything within reach, went up to express the satisfaction felt in the great achievement.  The great Chicago nine that, according to all the winter's brag and bluster, was to wipe us out, the brown-hosed boys had sent to the bat nine times without scoring a run.  The game had to be finished, but who cared to see Bradley, Battin and Dehlman get out, or cared how they got out.  The game was won and Chicago "Chicagoed" and by St. Louis; that was enough for one day.  The immense crowd gradually dispersed in a joyful jolly congratulating mood.
-St. Louis Republican, May 7, 1875

Almost four years ago, I wrote this:

I honestly never get tired of reading about this game. It's significance really can not be overstated. The Brown Stockings victory over Chicago on May 6, 1875 did several things that helped lay the foundation for St. Louis as a "baseball city."

Firstly, it united the city in a way that it had never have been united previously. Between the heavy influx of German and Irish immigrants, the political divisions brought about by the Civil War, and the natural conflict between the Creole founders of the city and the Americans who moved to the city after the Louisiana Purchase, St. Louis was a city divided along economic, political, and racial lines. The Brown Stockings' victory on May 6, however, was embraced by almost the entire populace of the city. No other event and certainly no other baseball club had ever seen the fervent outpouring of support that the Brown Stockings received in 1875. While it's now common to see the city united by its love for her baseball team, this was the first time it had happened.

Secondly, this game cemented the St. Louis/Chicago baseball rivalry and placed the two cities, baseball-wise, on an equal footing. One of the reasons for the joyous celebrations that erupted following the game was because of the overwhelming dominance of the Chicago professionals over the St. Louis amateurs in years leading up to 1875. This game proved that St. Louis would no longer be a push-over for its northern neighbors and chief economic rival.

Finally, the game marked the end of the pioneer, amateur era of baseball in St. Louis and it's successful debut in national, professional competition. No longer would clubs such as the Empires or the Union hold a place of prominence on the St. Louis baseball scene. The new focus would be on the professional clubs who would attempt to bring in the best players they could afford. There would certainly be struggles in the years ahead but after May 6, 1875 there was no turning back.

Since I'm knee deep in the Scotch ale and game two of the Cards-Nats series is about to start, I think I'll just leave it at that.

This was fun.  I don't really think that this a true, comprehensive list of the top twenty games in 19th century St. Louis baseball history but it's pretty close.  And it's a pretty good list considering I spent all of fifteen minutes putting it together.  Hope you enjoyed it.           

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