The Union/Empire Championship Series Of 1869: Game Two

Friday, May 10, 2013



In last Sunday's issue we gave a full report of the first game of best two in three for the championship between the Union and Empire Clubs of this city, in which the Unions were beaten by a score of 26 to 30.  Yesterday afternoon the second match took place, the Empires being again victorious by a record of 36 to 31.  The day was fine indeed, better weather could not have been desired.

Mr. W.L. Jesse, of the "Valley Club," Frankfort, Ky., was chosen umpire, and, we may say here, rendered his decisions promptly, and without complaint from either side.  The Empires won choice in the toss-up for position, and sent the Unions to bat.  The game opened brilliantly for the Empires who, with Wirth for short stop, showed very strong.  Our notes exhibit: Cabanne, Smith and Berning, all victims, one after the other on first inning, to the fielding of Barron, Murray and Spaulding, with Wirth at first base, who seemed destined to give the Unions no chance to pass his corner.  The innings ended with a whitewash against the Unions, who, however, were not discouraged making their discomfiture nerve them to better playing.  On their own first inning, the Empires scored five runs, Wirth, Spaulding, Barron, Murray and Fitzgibbons getting home, the inning ending with O'Connell falling a victim to Smith's fielding at 1 B, Shockey caught on fly by Berning and Wirth striking out.  Score, 5 to nought in favor of the Empires.

The Unions barely saved another whitewash on their second inning, Lucas getting 1 B on call, stealing second and making third and home on a wild throw by O'Connell.  The Empires themselves did no better, making but one run, Heep scoring his run by a muff of Berning, and Wirth, Spaulding and Barrow being all three cut off at 1 B.  Score, 6 to 1 for the Empires.

On the third, the Unions made three against some fine playing.  Easton, Turner and Smith getting home, Cabanne being a victim to Barron on a fly catch, as also Greenleaf to O'Connell.  Berning was caught at 1 B.  The Empires augmented their score by two runs, Murray and Shockey getting home, O'Connell and Fitzgibbons going out on the fly and Welch on 1 B.  The fielding of the Unions told heavily in this play.  Score 8 to 4 for Empires.

The fourth inning increased the Unions' score to 8, Lucas, Easton, Turner and Cabanne getting home y some very swift running and bad fielding of their opponents.  The Empire made a score of three through very hard work, though Spaulding, Barron and Murray got home by bad fielding of the Unions and a strong centre field hit by Murray.

The fifth innings was all one sided, the The Empires getting a score of 7 to 1, with a splendid one-hand running fly catch by Spaulding, well fielded to Wirth, which was the feature of the innings.  Score 18 to 9 for Empire.  In the 6th innings, the Unions struck out in a sudden storm of batting, which not only disconcerted the reporters and scorers, but waked up the Empires to the fact that they had not only not won the game, but were in danger of losing it.  Turner to centre field, Cabanne to left and Smith to centre, sent out some terrific balls, none of which were stopped; and they were followed by Strong, Lucas, Carr, Turner and Cabanne; the last two coming in for a second batting, the inning ending with a score of 11 - the finest work of the game.  The Empire came out with a score of four, Welch doing the most noticeable work on a splendid bat to left field.  Score 22 to 20 for Empires.

In the seventh contest, the Unions went at their work with a courage nursed into boldness by their success in the last, being not a little encouraged by the applause of their friends among the spectators, and aided by the muffing of Shockey, Stevens and Fitzgibbons.  They made an addition of 5 runs to their score.  But the Empires were now waked up, too; and when they came on to bat, showed a renewal of their former energy.  This, with the bad fielding of several of the Unions, gave them another heavy score of 8, leaving the count on the close of the seventh running 30 to 25 in their favor.

There was great depression now on the part of the Unions' friends, and some of the nine themselves, we think, began to feel as if they had more to carry than they could get home with.  The metal of the Empires did not flag; the seventh running gave them to believe they were the masters in the contest, and they played with a confidence based on success, which was wanting in the case of the others.  So the eighth innings was entered on almost as if both parties were satisfied with the result.  The Unions made two runs, but were discouraged by two successive foul catches by Barron, putting out Lucas and Carr.  Turner made a very good bat to centre field, sending Strong and Easton home, and being himself left on base by a foul caught by Murray from Cabanne.  But the game did not seem to take a final turn till Heep, having made his 1 B on an indifferent bat, went home on a wretchedly bad throw by Berning, which was soon followed with a similar fiasco by Smith, letting Spaulding home.  The action of the Unions in this was partially redeemed, however, by a magnificent running fly catch by Easton, and a very fine fly by Smith putting out Stevens.  Score 35 to 27 for Empires.

The interest was of course more intense on the last innings; but it was easy to perceive that the game was "played."  The innings, however, showed splendidly for the Unions, who contested the ground nobly, the score showing some excellent running and first rate batting.  They yielded to a superb running foul fly by Murray, showing a score of four for the inning, and a total of 31.  This of course gave the game to the Empires, who merely "walked over the course" with a score of one, to save a white-wash.

Thus the game ended amid the shouts of the multitude, who crowded inside the ropes to congratulate and commiserate the victors and victims.  There were cheers for the beaten first; then cheers for the "old belt" - and thereby hangs a tale: Some years ago there was a fine championship belt gotten up by honorary members of these clubs, to be played for by these same clubs.  The game for the belt came off, and the Empires won it.  It was held by them till (we believe) last season, when they yielded it to the Unions on a well-contested game for the championship and belt.  Now, the old belt has to be returned to the original holders, with the glories of the championship of the State of Missouri.

The interest manifested by the public in this game was evinced by the presence of at least two thousand people who witnessed the game.
-Missouri Republican, June 6, 1869


Random thoughts:

-This wasn't much of series, with the Empires winning the first two games.  The first game was definitely the better of the two matches.

-"A sudden storm of batting" is a great phrase and I need to start working that into my writing.

-The two game accounts by the Republican where not particularly well written but I think they're significant.  I can't think of an earlier game account from the local St. Louis papers that was more detailed than these two.  They very well may be the first example, from a St. Louis paper, of that 19th century-style, detailed, inning-by-inning baseball reporting.  I'm not exactly certain but, off the top of my head, I can't think of any detailed game accounts that predate this.

-The stuff about the "old belt" is significant.  I was aware of a championship belt prior to this but I believed that it was the belt that the Empire club fashioned for themselves in 1865, after claiming the mythical Championship of the West.  This account states that there was another belt that the Unions and Empires competed for amongst themselves.  It was a trophy for the winner of their annual contest.  That's new information and adds a little color to our understanding of the Union/Empire rivalry.  And it's another St. Louis, pioneer-era trophy that has been lost to the mists of time.   

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