Friday, January 25, 2013

The 1884 Maroons: When The Champions Appeared

An artist could not have painted the ball field at the Union Grounds a prettier color than did the rain of Friday and Saturday night.  The close-shaven lawn, the smooth cinder path and the white oblique lines running away into the field looked brighter than ever before, and the flags which flew before the brisk breeze, and the dense crowd which poured into the park from the moment the gates were opened, told plainer than words that the champions were at home again and that "reception day" was at hand.  "How big a crowd have you in here to-day?" an enthusiast asked one of the officers of the club.

"According to turnstile count," was the reply, "we have 14,500, but according to the box-office count there are about 7,250 people in here."

The crowd was as noisy too as it was large, and when the champions appeared their reception was of the boisterous kind, the cheering being simply terrific...

The home team, who were first to the bat, settled the contest in the very opening inning.  Dunlap, to start off with, sent the ball high over the left fielder's head and easily reached second.  Shafor flew out to center, and then Rowe duplicated Dunlap's stroke, the latter scoring.  Gleason hit safe past third, and Rowe scored the second earned run.  Dolan hit to Robinson, who, instead of sending the ball home, fumbled and threw wild to first.  Shoeneck stopped the ball, and then threw it over Battin's head.  As a result, both Gleason and Boyle scored.  The next two men were retired in order.  Seery, for the Baltimores, led off with a terrific double-bagger to center, which Rowe tried hard to get, but failed.  Fusselbach hit to Sweeny, and Seery, who foolishly tried to steal home, was caught at the plate.  Robinson had just before been thrown out at first by Dunlap, and a high fly from Graham's bat, which was also cared for by Dunlap, ended the inning.  The St. Louis in the sixth increased their long lead.  In the eighth, when there were three on bases, Whitehead sent the ball over the right fielder's head and brought in two runs, reaching second himself.  Dunlap, just to keep the ball rolling, sent it flying over the left fence and trotted all the way around.  In the seventh the Baltimores scored their only run...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 29, 1884

This is the first reference I've seen referring to the Maroons as champions.  They clinched the championship of the UA on September 9, with an 11-3 victory over Wilmington, during their month-long road trip and this was their first appearance at home since then.  It seems like a nice crowd showed up at the grounds to welcome back the champions.

Also, I should point out that the first two sentences of this article are a rather nice piece of baseball writing.  I thought the baseball writing in the Globe, after William Spink left, was rather pedestrian but this is nice work. 

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