Monday, October 8, 2012

The Top Twenty Games In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History: # 3

3. October 23, 1886: Browns vs. White Stockings


 The St. Louis Browns are champions of the world at the national game of base ball for another year at least. That was decided at Sportsman's Park yesterday afternoon by their great victory over the Chicagos in the sixth game of the world's championship series. No one-not even the most devoted friends and admirers of the Chicagos-can dispute their right to the title, or can say that it was won in anything but a fair, square and honest manner. The struggle was not such a hard one for the Browns, after all. Taking everything into consideration, they won the battle with comparative ease. Their victory, however, was not due to any luck, but was only secured by playing a superior game of ball. Their hard, steady and all-pull-together style of playing landed them on top on more than one occasion when defeat seemed inevitable. The Chicagos are an excellent team of ball players, but, as has already been mentioned, they are out of their class when they face the Browns in a contest, as has been plainly shown in the six games played between them. The Browns have made more runs, more hits, more total bases, less errors, have presented stronger batteries, and outplayed the Chicagos all around. It does not require any more facts to convince people which is the better club. Since the initial game was played in Chicago last Monday, there have been a number of people shouting hippodrome and claiming that the Chicagos would win the series without any trouble; that they were merely toying with the Browns; that they were merely working things to increase the gate receipts, but yesterday's play dispelled all suspicion.

The contest between the two clubs yesterday afternoon was the most exciting and most brilliantly played game ever seen in St. Louis, or any other city, in the history of the national sport. It was the hardest battle of all the six games, and it was not decided until a wild pitch allowed Welch to cross the plate with the winning run in the tenth inning. The Chicagos started out to play in a manner that meant business and it looked like defeat for the Browns. The home club never once gave up, though, and with the score standing 3 to 0 against them at the end of the seventh inning they played just as hard and steady as they did at the opening of the game. For six straight innings they went to the bat and six straight times they were retired without a hit, much less a run, or anything that looked like one. Bushong got his base in the first inning, but never advanced from the bag. In the seventh inning O'Neil made the first hit of the game for the Browns. He drove the ball far up in the air and out in the field beyond all reach of the fielders for three bases. But Jim in his effort to make third in safety, ran over the bag. The ball was fielded quickly and returned to Burns and as O'Neil went over the base, he was touched by the ball and put out. This terrible luck did not dishearten the Browns but they kept striving to get a run. In the seventh they tied the score and Latham assisted no little in doing it. With one run in, two men on the bases, two men out and two strikes and three balls called on Latham, the latter lifted the sphere to the left field over Dalrymple's head for three bases, sending in the two men.

The demonstrations on the part of the spectators when the score was tied was such that has never been equaled at any game of base ball before. The immense crowd seemed to go crazy. They yelled and cheered until they grew hoarse. Men and boys shook hands and embraced each other, turned summersaults on the grand-stand and in the field, and many actually wept tears of joy. The air was full of hats, handkerchiefs and umbrellas, and it was nearly five minutes before the crowd could be quieted sufficiently to go on with the game. It was a sight that will never be forgotten by those who were present. But the scene in the tenth inning when the winning run was scored and the Browns had secured the championship is almost beyond description. As soon as Welch had crossed the plate and the 10,000 people who filled the grand-stands and stood in rows ten or twelve deep in a circle around the field, more than half of them made a grand rush for the players, yelling and making all manner of noises and demonstrations. As soon as they would run up against a man in the Browns' uniform they would throw him upon their backs and carry him off the field. The entire nine were taken to the dressing-room in this manner. At various places in and around the park a crowd would congregate, and when some one would propose three cheers for the championship, they would be given with a will. Everybody was happy and everybody wanted to shake hands with everybody else. A crowd numbering perhaps 3,000 lingered around the park until after the members of the club had dressed. Wherever one of them was seen, a big crowd immediately circled around and cheer him heartily. It was long after dark before Sportsman's Park and vicinity had settled down to its usually quiet state. It is not likely that such scenes of enthusiasm will be seen again at St. Louis base ball parks for a long time to come.

The afternoon was dark and cloudy, and every moment it looked like rain. The threatening weather, however, did not keep the people away, and long before the time of calling the game every available seat was taken. The tops of the grand stand were utilized and a couple of thousand were content to stand back of the right foul line along the fence. By turn-stile count the attendance was 11,500. About 2:15 o'clock Mr. H. Clay Sexton and President Von Der Ahe appeared on the field. The Browns were stopped in their practice and called to the plate. Mr. Sexton, in a brief speech, presented Bushong with a handsome silver tea set, a gift from the members of the Merchants' Exchange. The set was manufactured by the E. Jaccard Jewelry Company. Mr. Sexton also assured the audience that the game was to be for blood, and that it was not a hippodrome. Grace Pierce was chosen umpire. He favored the Chicagos every time it was possible for him to do so. It was precisely 2:18 o'clock when time was called. The Chicagos were first at bat. Caruthers' work in the opening innings was anything but encouraging. He was batted much harder than the score shows. The outfielders were kept busy, and they did their work well. It was just the opposite with Clarkson.

He appeared to be in his best form and the Browns could not touch his deceptive balls. The side was retired on flies. Gore's went to O'Neil. Kelly's to Caruthers and Anson's to Foutz. For the Browns, Latham went out from pitcher to first. Caruthers struck and Bushong got his base on balls, but Gleason left him by striking out. In the second inning the Chicagos scored their first run. Pfeffer brought it in. He also scored the Chicagos' other two runs-a remarkable feature of the game. He made a safe hit to right and stole down to second, while Bushong's only passed ball let him go to third. Caruthers successfully struck out the next two men-Williamson and Burns-but Ryan made a single to left and Pfeffer came in. Dalrymple's liner to Welch retired the side. Comiskey, for the home club, went out at first on his grounder to Williamson, Welch struck out and Foutz knocked a fly to right. It looked to be safe, but Ryan made a run after it and caught it in fine style.

In the third, Gore went all the way to third base on Latham's wild throw of his grounder to first, after Caruthers had made a remarkable catch of a foul fly from Clarkson's bat. Kelly knocked a grounder to third, and Gore started to come in, but Latham's good throw to Bushong cut him off by several feet. The Browns were again retired in order. Pfeffer scored his second run in the fourth. He was the first batter, and almost the very first ball that Caruthers pitched to him he knocked into the right-field seats, and made the circuit of the bases before Foutz could recover the ball. In this same inning the Chicagos had two men left on bases, and only unfortunate batting prevented them from scoring runs. Williamson went out on a fly to Foutz and Burns made a drive to left for a single. Ryan knocked a liner to O'Neil, and Dalrymple batted the ball so slowly in the direction of second that he got his base before the ball could be handled quick enough to throw him out. A wild pitch advanced him to second and sent Burns to third. Clarkson's fly to Welch, however, left them both. Once more the Browns went out in order, Caruthers, O'Neil and Gleason coming to the bat.

The Chicagos were put out quickly, and on easy plays in the fifth. Gore and Anson went out from second to first, and Kelly from third to first. For the Browns, Welch went out from short to first, Welch struck out and Foutz's fly to right was captured by Ryan. The Chicagos' last run was made in the sixth. Pfeffer again scoring it. He knocked an easy grounder to second, which Robinson should have stopped without any trouble but he let it roll through him. Foutz backed up Robinson, and when the ball came to him he let it get by him. These two bad errors enabled Pfeffer to go all the way around to third and Williamson's fly to Foutz brought him in. Burns and Ryan, the next two men, were retired on easy flies. Robinson and Latham both struck out for the Browns and Bushong knocked the ball to Pfeffer, who easily threw him out. The Chicagos were retired in order in the seventh. Caruthers, the first batsman for the Browns, struck out. O'Neil then came to the bat and made the first hit, and was retired at third in the manner mentioned above. Gleason was thrown out at first on a bunt to Clarkson, although he came very near making his base. The Chicagos could now do nothing with Caruthers' pitching and went quickly. It was here, though, that the Browns made their three runs and tied the score. Comiskey made a good beginning by knocking the leather safely to right for a single. Welch made a safe hit to third, sending Comiskey made a good beginning by knocking the leather safely to right for a single. Welch made a safe hit to third, sending Comiskey to second. The latter went to third on a passed ball and scored on Foutz's sacrifice fly to center. Robinson went out on a fly to Anson, and Bushong got his base on balls. Latham now came to bat. Two strikes had been called on him when he lifted the ball to extreme left for three bases, sending Welch and Bushong home. Caruthers out from Burns to first left Latham on third.

Williamson opened the ninth for the Chicagos by striking out, but Burns followed with a two-bagger. The latter went to third on a sacrifice by Ryan, but Dalrymple left him by striking out. O'Neil was the first batter for the Browns and he sent the ball sailing to the right. It looked to be good for two bases, but Ryan jumped for it and made one of the most remarkable catches ever seen on the grounds. Gleason went out on a foul to Kelly and Comiskey from third to first. The tenth inning was commenced. Clarkson struck out and both Gore and Kelly knocked flies to left field. Welch was the first batsman for the Browns. He took a position pretty close to the plate and Clarkson hit him with the ball. Welch took first, Anson protested and a wrangle ensued. The umpire finally called Welch back, claiming that he tried to get hit with the ball. To the great delight of the audience, however, Welch knocked the first ball that was pitched to him for a single to center field. Foutz was the next man to handle the stick. He batted a grounder back of the pitcher, between short and first. Williamson made a run for it and fumbled it. Foutz, of course, got safe on the error, and Welch went to second. Robinson advanced both men on his sacrifice from short to first. With a man on second and another on third and only one out, the chances were good for a run. Bushong came to the bat, but he did not get an opportunity to hit the ball. Clarkson, who is usually so cool, was visibly nervous. He rolled and twisted the ball around in his hands several times before he got in position to pitch it. He finally delivered it, but it was far over Kelly's head. The latter made no effort to get it, and like the other member of the team, stood in a half dazed manner and watched Welch come in with the deciding run. The Chicagos packed up their bats and got off the grounds as quickly as possible.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 24, 1886

This is, of course, the $15,000 slide which was, of course, neither a slide nor worth $15,000.  Still, as Bill James once wrote, it is the most famous play in the history of 19th century baseball.  I've written plenty about this game and, rather subject you to more, I will simply direct you to Jon David Cash's excellent summation of the play.

Also, we can't mention a 19th century baseball victory over Chicago without breaking out the roster:

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