Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A 17 Strikeout Game On The East Side

"One of the most interesting games that may be expected this season was played (in Edwardsville, Illinois) last Sunday between the home team and the Eagles of St. Louis."

"The feature of the game was the battery of Dooms and Schultz of the Madisons, Dooms striking out 17 men."

"The home club could do nothing with the pitching of McGinniss, till the seventh inning, when they hit him so hard that they succeeded in scoring six runs, which they followed up in the eighth inning by securing two more and winning the game by 8-4."

"The McClean 'Green Diamonds' play here next Sunday."

-from The Sporting News, May 17, 1886

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Agate Type

I've been meaning to post a link to Agate Type for a while but keep forgetting to do it. I figured that anybody who liked this blog would definitely like Agate Type. It's a baseblog about " the negro leagues, latin american baseball, j-ball, the minors, the 19th century, and other hidden, overlooked, or unknown corners of baseball history". It's a very well done, well researched blog that I enjoy visiting and I think you will too.

Billy Motz Didn't Much Like Topeka

Below is a letter written to The Sporting News and published in its May 17, 1886 issue:

Topeka, Kan., May 10.-Editor, Sporting News:

With your kind permission I take the pleasure of letting you know how badly they did me in this town. They gave me no show to make a hit. I left St. Louis without any practice and came to Topeka and went in the box against the Kansas City League team. They made ten hits off me with no support in the field. I had a sore arm at the time and had to pitch the whole game. The fielders muffed everything that came their way. We had no team here at the time and had to pick up a lot of boys around town to make up the nine. This game resulted in my release, as it was my first and last. They gave me no chance to redeem myself against our equals in the Western League. Fahey of the Drummands came here to play, and was so disgusted with the town and the people in it, that he made up his mind to go home and he can tell you how they treated me.

William Motz

Monday, October 29, 2007

Jack Brennan In Trouble

"Bright and happy little Jack Brennan is in trouble. While on a toot recently little Jack happened into the Missouri Pacific yards, and believing that he had arrived at his own residence, tried to open the door of a freight car. About this time a railroad watchman came along, nabbed Jack, and preferred a charge of burglary against him. When last heard from he was resting uneasily in one of Jailor Siegemund's apartments."

-from The Sporting News, March 29, 1886

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Black Diamonds

These two stories appeared in the March 29, 1886 edition of The Sporting News addressing the orgin of the St. Louis Maroons' "Black Diamond" nickname:

"It was in the spirit of derision that the Eastern base ball players dubbed the St. Louis League team , 'the Black Diamonds,' alluding to the fact that many of their players had been black listed. The coming season each member of the Maroons will wear conspicuously upon his breast a symbol resembling a black diamond. When a rabble of disaffected peasants appeared with their petition before Queen Margaret of Nararre, she asked of her Minister, 'Who are these people?' 'Beggars, your Majesty,' was the reply. The word was taken up by the crowd. 'Beggars we are,' they shouted. As 'Beggars' they organized into the most powerful crusade ever known in Europe. With the rallying cry of 'Beggars' they shook the very throne of Queen Margaret and established their independence as a nation. The name 'Black Diamonds' was given in contempt, but it promises to become a terror to the enemy."

"Just before the Maroons leave on their first Eastern trip they will appear in their new gray uniforms, with a black diamond on the breast of every shirt. When the Maroons went East last year, some of the newspaper writers inimical to Mr. Lucas and his cause, called his team 'The Black Diamonds', intending to revive an ill feeling that had existed for some time before, and cast a dark cloud on his team. Mr. Lucas instead of getting wrathy laughed at the new appellation and adopted it for himself. The new uniform is to show the base ball world, that neither time nor tide can wipe out 'The Black Diamonds', and that they are to remain on deck for all time."

Scrappy Bill Joyce

"William Joyce, 'Scrappy Bill,' a born and bred in St. Louis player, finished his professional career as the third baseman, captain and manager of the New York Giants, Joyce in his day was one of the greatest of third basemen, and he was a great left-handed batsman. He commenced playing in the eighties with local teams of St. Louis and started from here on a professional career that ended at the very top of the ladder. He was known around the baseball circuit as 'Home-Run Bill.' He was one of the grandest ball players ever sent into the big leagues by St. Louis."

-from The National Game

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Charlie Sweeney

Charlie Sweeney's name came up a few days ago when we were talking about the St. Louis Maroons. Somebody mentioned that he injured his arm in 1885 and this was a factor in the Maroon's poor showing in the NL. I tried to run this story down and, in the process, learned a bit about Sweeney.

Charles J. Sweeney was born in San Fransisco in 1863 and, as a youth, played on local Bay area teams. In 1883, Harry Wright brought Sweeney and Sandy Nava from California to Providence to play for the Grays.

In 1884, Sweeney was splitting time on the mound with Hoss Radbourne. On June 7, he struck out 19 batters in a 2-1 victory over Boston, a record that would stand for 102 years. On July 22, Sweeney was getting shelled by Philadelphia and Wright replaced him on the mound with right fielder Cyclone Miller. Unhappy about being relieved and refusing to play the outfield, Sweeney stormed off the field, leaving his team a man down. The Grays finished the game while playing with only eight men and lost to the lowly Quakers 10-6. It is unclear if Sweeney was released by Providence at this point but his career with the Grays was over. Radbourne, shouldering the pitching load for the rest of the season, won 26 of his next 27 starts and the Grays stormed to the pennant.

A week later, Sweeney was starting for Henry Lucas' Black Diamonds. The Maroons' roster had been raided by both the NL and the AA and Lucas took a great deal of glee in "stealing" Sweeney from Providence. "There is," he said, "(a) great pleasure in going into the enemy's camp, capturing their guns and using them on your own side." Sweeney would go 24-7 with a 1.83 ERA for the Maroons and would finish the year at 41-15 in 60 starts with a 1.70 ERA.

In 1885, with the Black Diamonds now in the National League, Sweeney suffered through an injury-plagued campaign. Suffering a shoulder injury early in the season, Sweeney was 4-2 (including a win at Providence on May 13th) before getting shelled in back to back starts. He didn't pitch again for almost three weeks and was ineffective when he returned. After a loss to Buffalo on August 28th, Sweeney made only three more starts for the Maroons and finished the season 11-21 in only 35 starts with an ERA of 3.93.

Sweeney's 1886 season was not any better. Making only eleven starts for the Maroons, he went 5-6 with a 4.16 ERA before being released by the team in June. Catching on with the Stars of Syracuse in early July, Sweeney made only two ineffective starts before being let go. He next showed up back in San Francisco pitching for the Altas and being treated as a returning hero by his hometown fans.

Attempting a big league comeback in 1887, Sweeney made only three starts for the Blues of Cleveland. After going 0-3 with an ERA of 8.25, Sweeney's major league career was over. He finished with a career mark of 64-52 and an ERA of 2.87.

Sweeney certainly appeared to be a difficult character to deal with. Besides the incident in Providence, he was involved in a "vicious fight" with teammate Emmett Seery in 1886. While it's unknown what prompted the fight, all of the Maroons sided with Seery and The Sporting Life referred to Sweeney as a "whiskey-guzzling cowardly nincompoop".

A more serious incident occurred in 1894 when Sweeney shot a man named Con MacManus in a bar in San Francisco. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to prison, where he died of consumption in 1902.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Turn The Hoodlums Out

"A clique and rabble have taken possession of the Union Grounds recently and have been trying to discourage the home teams by calling the individual players ill names and hissing and hooting at them without good cause or reason."

"This clique and rabble is composed mostly of hoodlums who belong to the rock pile and who have no right to mingle among decent people. Our advice to the manager of the Union Grounds is to spot these geese and hoodlums and fire them into the street where they belong. No decent man would be guilty of such conduct and there is no place in the ball park for hoodlums or hoodlumism."

"It is an ill bird that befouls its own nest. It's a blackguard and hoodlum that cries down the local team and hurls curses and threats at the players who are working faithfully and honestly for the good name of St. Louis."

"If management have not police enough to keep order then put on a special force and direct your men to knock down and drag out every loafer who is found using indecent language and cursing the home or visiting players."

"In the theaters hissing was suppressed some time ago and the man who would make himself obnoxious to his fellow auditors by using ill language in a temple of Thespis would fare badly. Let the same law be carried out in the ball parks and let every sore head be fired into the street where he belongs or else slapped into the cooler and prosecuted for disturbing the peace."

"These are plain words but in our mind they fit the case, and the planner the better."

-from The Sporting News, May 17, 1886

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Some People Say There's A Woman To Blame

It seems that Sam Barkley, pictured above, and Tony Mullane didn't get along very well. In 1884, the two were teammates in Toledo and were courting the same girl. When the two were purchased by the Browns in October of 1884, they made an agreement that they would leave for St. Louis together as to not give either man an unfair advantage with the young lady of their fancy. However, when the time came to leave for their new team, Barkley departed for St. Louis but Mullane stayed behind. In fact, Mullane never reported to St. Louis in 1885 and was suspended by the American Association for the entire season because of what David Nemec describes as his "whirlwind contract jumping".
Barkley was not happy with Mullane's violation of their gentleman's agreement and vocalized his displeasure with his former teammate. The Sporting News wrote that Barkley had "all manner of things to say about Mullane." Word of this got back to Mullane and when the two faced off on the baseball field for the first time since their feud began, bad things happened.

The confrontation came in New Orleans. The Browns were on a postseason road trip in late 1885 and faced a New Orleans team that featured Mullane. When Barkley came to bat for the Browns, Mullane "shot one at Barkley's head, giving him a terrible blow in the ear. Barkley in response raised his club and advanced on Mullane, but thought better of it on the way and, instead of striking, cursed him."

The two met again in the spring of 1886, after Barkley had been sold to Pittsburgh and Mullane had joined Cincinnati. Barkley, probably upset with himself for not going through with his assault in New Orleans, made it very clear that if Mullane were to hit him again, he would kill Mullane. Hoping to avoid an on-field homicide, President Nemick of the Alleghenys wrote President O.P. Caylor of the Red Stockings and asked him if he might not have a word with Mullane and perhaps caution him against hitting Barkley again. While it's not clear if Caylor ever had a talk with Mullane, the two men faced off without incident. "So," concluded The Sporting News in May of 1886, "the homicide for the time being at least has been postponed."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Birth Of A Nickname

From The Sporting News, March 17, 1886:

"Paris, France

(Bob) Caruthers will sail from here on one of the Gurion line of steamers for New York on Saturday morning. He says he has received satisfactory answers to the cablegram he sent to the president of the Brown Stocking nine, and he will play with that team the coming season."

Bob Caruthers was not happy in the off-season of 1885/6. Learning that Chris Von der Ahe was going to impose a maximum salary of $2,000 on the Browns, Caruthers, who was running a shoe store in St. Louis, stated that he would rather sell shoes for the rest of his life than sign for what Von der Ahe was offering him.

At that point things get interesting. Caruthers begins to talk about going abroad during the baseball season, possibly taking a trip to Scotland, England, or Australia. Soon after that he disappears. In March, the Browns receive a telegram from Caruthers stating that he was in France and that he would continue his European tour if he didn't get a contract to his liking. Von der Ahe finally offered a $3,200 salary for 1886 and, agreeing to terms, Caruthers telegramed the Browns that he would be arriving in the United States on April 1.

According to David Nemec, in The Beer & Whiskey League, after Caruthers' ship arrived in New York, "Von der Ahe had the passenger lists for transatlantic ships checked" and found no listing for Caruthers. This led "many" to believe that Caruthers had never left the country at all and had bluffed his way into a larger contract. When back in St. Louis and confronted with this accusation, Caruthers insisted that he had gone abroad with Doc Bushong. It's unclear if Bushong ever corroborated Caruthers story. But forever after, Caruthers was known as Parisian Bob even though there is the ironic possibility that Parisian Bob Caruthers never actually went to Paris.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More On The Sullivan Benefit

From the Sporting News, March 29, 1886:

"A Benefit For Tom Sullivan

John T. Magner, the well known ex-professional, is getting up a benefit game for Tom Sullivan, who recently had the fingers of his right hand amputated. It will take place at Union Park some time in the near future, Mr. Lucas having tendered the use of his grounds for that purpose. Mr. Magner says that Ed Cuthbert, Charles Houtz, Harry McCaffery and several other old professionals have promised to assist him in getting up the benefit, which promises to be a veritable bumper."

Note that this Sporting News article states that Sullivan lost the fingers of his right which contradicts Al Spink's claim that Sullivan had both of his hands amputated. Also, they say this happened "recently" which gives further evidence to the idea that Sullivan's injury happened in the winter of 1875/76.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Glorious Uncertainty Of Baseball

On May 30, 1875, a baseball game was played at the Compton Avenue Ballpark in which, according to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, "the glorious uncertainty of base ball was never more thoroughly illustrated..." The Reds regulars took on "a picked nine sailing under Empire colors" that included Pud Galvin, Tom Dolan, Charlie Levis, and Jim Spaulding. Spaulding was the only player on the team that I can confirm was a member of the Empire Base Ball Club.

The Reds, who had jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first, were cruising along with an 11-3 lead when the wheels came off in the bottom of the seventh inning. The first seven men the Empires sent up to the plate reached base. A poor throw by Art Croft turned a lead off single into a double. A grounder to pitcher Joe Blong should have resulted in a out at third but umpire Lip Pike called the runner safe. A runner reached first on a strikeout when the ball got away from Silver Flint. There was three passed ball and four stolen bases. The Empire scored ten runs, five of them unearned, and took a 13-11 lead. To add injury to insult, Flint took a foul ball to the face and was down for fifteen minutes.

The Empire overcame an eight run deficit and ended up winning the game 16-12.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sweasy Lives!

From The Mexia Evening News, April 27, 1922:

"Locate Famous Old Player
Charles Sweasy, who played with original Cincinnati Reds, is found in Texas

Dropping into Fort Worth for an exhibition game, scribes with the Cincinnati Reds discovered a member of the famous team of 1869 living in the city...(Sweasy) is seventy-five years of age and in feeble health. When the Reds won the pennant in the National League in 1919 an effort was made to dig up all the members of the 1869 team. George Wright and Cal McVey reported but Sweasy did not and it seems it was not even known he was alive until he identified himself the other day. He has prospered in business and is passing his last days in comfort."

The only problem with this is that Charlie Sweasy, the captain of the 1875 Reds, died in Newark on March 30, 1908.

A Brillant Struggle Between The Home Clubs

On May 29, 1875, "(about) one thousand spectators were in attendance" to witness the Reds play the Brown Stockings at the Grand Avenue Ballpark in the second and last game of the season between the two clubs. The Browns won the game 6-0 in what the St. Louis Globe-Democrat described as a "brilliant struggle".

"The Browns succeeded," wrote the Globe, "by good fielding and the weak hitting of their opponents...while (the Reds), by equally good fielding, kept the score of the Browns down to six runs." George Bradley, pitching for the Browns, held the Reds to five hits while "Chicagoing" the crosstown rivals. The Browns' Joe Battin, Lip Pike, and Jack Chapman were singled out by the Globe for their fine hitting while Joe Ellick and Charlie Houtz got two hits apiece for the Reds. The defensive play of the game was probably Ned Cuthbert's "brilliant running catch" in short left field that retired Joe Blong in the ninth inning.

I am continually amazed at the fact that these teams only played two games against each other. By contrast, the Athletics and Whites, both of Philadelphia, played ten games. The Centennials of Philadelphia played almost half of their 14 games against the other Philadelphia teams. The New York Mutuals and the Brooklyn Atlantics played seven games against each other.

While it's true that the Reds did not schedule NA games after July 4th, the opportunity was there in the first half of the season for the Reds and Browns to play each other. The fact that they didn't lends credence to the Globe's insinuations that there was animosity between the two organizations.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Say It Ain't So, Pud!

I was messing around at Digg this afternoon and came across an interesting story about Pud Galvin.

According to this story from Pud, Keith Olbermann claims that Pud Galvin was a steroid user. Olbermann "credited Galvin with being the first baseball player to have used performance enhancing drugs. According to Olbermann, the steroid of choice those days was monkey testosterone — a big fad in the late 19th century due to its ability to make men feel revitalized."

First of all, there's a Pud! That's pretty neat. Second, I can't actually post what I think about Keith Olbermann-this being a G-rated, family friendly blog and all. But it looks like he might, for once, be on to some kind of truth.

According to, in this story (check out #7 of the top ten jack*ss moments in sports history), there is a contemporary source that claims that "Galvin was openly taking a potion called the elixir of Brown-Sequard, which was essentially testosterone extracted from animal testicles."

I really don't know what to say but it's not every day that I can post on Pud Galvin, Keith Olbermann, and monkey testicles all at the same time. We're living in very strange days.

Update: This story about Galvin and PEDs even made the stupid Wikipedia. The source for comments in the Galvin wiki article is this piece from NPR which quotes the Washington Post from 1889. The Post wrote "(if) there still be doubting Thomases who concede no virtue of the (Brown-Sequard) elixir, they are respectfully referred to Galvin's record in yesterday's Boston-Pittsburgh game. It is the best proof yet furnished of the value of the discovery."

Olbermann and NPR-that's interesting. Two members of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy working hand in hand to tear apart the fabric of the national game and, by extension, the country itself. It does fit their narrative though. Columbus committed genocide, the Founding Fathers were a bunch of rich slave owners, and the national game was corrupted by PEDs from the beginning. Why do these people hate America so much?

Pud Galvin Throws A No-No

In 1876, the Reds played in a week long tournament in Ionia, Michagan. The teams involved were competing for $2,000 in prize money, with $1,000 going to the winner of the tournament.

On the final day of the tournament, the Reds played two games against the Cass Club of Detroit and threw Pud Galvin in both games. They lost the first game and needed a win in the second to tie the Cass Club for the tournament lead. With their tournament fate in the balance, Galvin no-hit the Cass Club and the Reds won the game 2-0.

With two teams tied for the tournament championship, a third game was played that Saturday. This decisive game ended up in "an even score" as darkness forced the end of the game and the tournament. Since Galvin had done his duty for the day, Trick McSorely pitched for the Reds in the last game of the triple-header.

There are a couple of interesting things about Galvin's no-hitter. First, according to Elmer Bates, this was the first no-hitter ever thrown in baseball history. While I can't verify Bates' claim, and doubt the veracity of the claim, Bates had an interest in no-hitters and wrote several long pieces about their history. While not an exact contemporary of these events, Bates was a respected baseball writer with the Cleveland Press and the Sporting Life and his voice does carry some weight.

The second interesting thing about the game was the fact that Silver Flint did not catch Galvin's no-hitter. For some time it was believed that Flint had caught three no-hitters in his career, which would have been the record at the time of his retirement-a record since tied by numerous catchers (including Bill Carrigan, Ray Schalk, Luke Sewell, Roy Campanella, Dell Crandell, Jeff Torborg, Alan Ashby, Charlie Johnson, and others). However, Pat Dolan caught the second game on Saturday when Galvin threw the no-hitter. Therefore, Flint only caught two no-hiters during his career and does not hold, or rather share, the record.

Friday, October 19, 2007

For The Benefit Of Mr. Sullivan

Al Spink, in The National Game, tells a sad tale about Tom Sullivan, a catcher for the Reds in the late 1870's and early 1880's. Sullivan was a "genial, kindly lad without an enemy in the world" and, according to Spink, one of the best catchers St. Louis ever produced.

One cold winter night after his playing days were over, Sullivan was walking from the Kerry Patch neighborhood to the St. Louis Poor House to visit a friend. During the course of the journey, Sullivan's hands were frostbitten and, a few days later, doctors were forced to amputate them. "Thus," wrote Spink, "the lad who was one of the first to catch the speediest delivery close to the bat and who was rated for his skill as a receiver, thrower, and batsman was left a hopeless cripple and his scores of friends in the 'Patch' always referred to him as 'Poor Tom.'"

While Spink doesn't give a date for Sullivan's accident, it's likely that it happened sometime in the winter of 1885/6. This assumption is based on the fact that on May 8, 1886, a benefit game was held for Sullivan. The game, which according to the Sporting News was played before an "immense crowd", was a contest between the Peach Pies and a team of St. Louis baseball veterans. Playing for the vets were some of Sullivan's old teammates on the Reds, including John Magner, Pidge Morgan, and Packy Dillon. The benefit raised over $900 for Sullivan, including $560 in gate receipts, $89 sent by other teams, and $20 sent by Harry Wright.

Tom Sullivan passed away in 1909.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A 19th Century Baseball Bat

I found these pictures of a 19th century baseball bat at's coverage of the 2004 National Sports Collectors Convention. It was described as a "40 inch Wright and Ditson squared barrel ring bat" from the 1875-1880 era. The bat was priced at $3,400.

A Game Played Under The "Ten Men-Ten Inning Rule"

On May 23, 1875, the Reds played the Westerns of Keokuk at the Compton Avenue Park, coming away with a 7-1 victory on the strength of Joe Blong's two hitter. This game is not considered an "official" NA game for two reasons.

First, the game was played on a Sunday and, under NA rules, championship games could not be played on the Sabbath. Second, and more interestingly, the game was played under the "ten men-ten inning rule". This tenth man, I assume, was a type of rover and the position was listed in the box score as "r.s." And to state the obvious, a game played under these rules lasted ten innings rather than the normal nine. The Globe-Democrat wrote that this was the first time a baseball game had been played in St. Louis under these rules.

The Reds' rover that day was Charlie Sweasy and in Sweasy's normal spot at second was someone named "Fox". The Globe's coverage of this game is the only mention of Fox playing with the Reds.

An official championship game between the two teams had been called off the day before because of "the forbidding aspect of the weather". With the Westerns leading 4-1 in the fourth inning, the rains came "in torrents", forcing the cancellation of the game.

Since the Westerns had two games scheduled with the Brown Stockings and were going to be in St. Louis for the rest of the week, it is unclear why the Reds and Westerns didn't make up the championship game and chose instead to play an exhibition.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The First Meeting Of The Empire Base Ball Club

According to Al Spink, "The Empire Club was organized in 1860 at a meeting held in the office of Justice Hequemberg on the south side of Vine, between Second and Third streets." Present at the meeting was B.J. Higgins, J.W. O'Connell, John F. Walton, Daniel Coyle, P.J. Cooney, H.G.D. Barklage, J.C. Adams, James Utley, P.H. Tobin, Jacob Ruppenthal, J. Schenck, James Fitzgerald, Thomas Cappell, Jacob Hollenbeck, Joseph Kinwiddy, and William Henley.

At the meeting, a constitution and set of by-laws, patterned after those of the Knickerbocker Club, was adopted and officers were elected. Kinwiddy was chosen as president, Hollenback was named secretary, and Barklage was selected as treasurer-a post he would hold for ten years.

"Under their administration," wrote Spink, "the club was gotten into good working order and played with varying fortunes against the other clubs of that day and among their opponents were the Morning Star, the Laclede, the Cyclone, the Commercial, and the Union clubs. At first the games were played at Lafayette Park, but the superior advantage of the Gamble street lawn ground soon became apparent, and the club played there for several years."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October 16th In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History

On this day in 1988, the 10-game World Series opens in New York with the Giants and Tim Keefe edging the Browns and Silver King 2-1. Each hurler allows only 3 hits.

-from Baseball Library

It sounds like the kind of game I would enjoy (except for the final outcome of course). The Browns and Giants actually played 11 games in the series. The Giants jumped to a 5-1 lead in games when the series shifted to St. Louis and clinched the series championship 6 games to 2. Even with the championship decided, Von der Ahe, for obvious financial reasons, insisted that all of the games in the series be played. With the Browns beating a now disinterested Giants club in three straight games, the New York club's final margin of victory in the World Series ended up at 6-5.

The picture above is a team photo of the 1888 Browns.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Maroons Take The Field

From the Newark Daily Advocate, April 7, 1884:

"The new baseball grounds were opened yesterday (in St. Louis) with a match between the new Union Club and a team picked from the Union Reserves. The Unions were captained by Dunlap and the Reserves by the veteran Joe Blong. Fifteen hundred spectators were present and the game was an interesting one. The score was 11 to 2 in favor of the regulars."

This is one of the first games played by the St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association. The baseball grounds mentioned were the Union Grounds at Jefferson and Cass Avenue. Fred Dunlap, who captained the regulars in this game, would manage the Maroons to a record of 94-19 and an .832 winning percentage. They would win the UA by 21 games. Regardless of the quality and flaws of the UA, the Maroons' 1884 season was the finest ever by a St. Louis professional baseball team. The Maroons would join the National League for the 1885 and 1886 seasons with considerably less success.

October 15th In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History

On this day in 1885, game 2 of the championship series is forfeited to Chicago. In the top of the 6th inning‚ Browns manager Charlie Comiskey calls his men off the field to protest a ruling made by umpire Sullivan.

In 1889, the Browns hopes for a 5th straight pennant end when the Reds win game 1‚ 8-3. St. Louis wins the 2nd game but they are eliminated from the race and will not play the 3 games in Philadelphia.

-from Baseball Library

A note on game 2 of the 1885 World Series: "Comiskey pulled the Browns off the field in the sixth inning," David Nemec wrote in The Beer & Whiskey League, "when umpire Dave Sullivan called a ball White Stockings third baseman Ned Williamson tapped down the first baseline fair after it had started out foul, then hit something outside the line and ricocheted back into fair territory subsequent to Sullivan's initial call of foul. Sullivan denied he had uttered any such call, claiming White Stockings first baseman Cap Anson was the one who had shouted foul from the bench, and several hours later, from the safety of his hotel room, he forfeited the game to Chicago after St. Louis, trailing 5-4 at the time, refused to play on." Sullivan would never work again as an umpire in the major leagues.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tom Loftus

Tom Loftus was a prominent 19th century baseball man who was involved in the game for more than 25 years. A player, captain, manager, and team president, Loftus was described by Al Spink as a person who "did much to bring the game into its proper sphere" and as "one of the great builder's up of the national game".

Loftus was born in St. Louis in 1856 and first gained notice on the baseball field while playing for the 1875 St. Louis Reds. In 1876, Loftus was regarded as the best player on the Red Stockings.

Living a rather nomadic baseball life, Loftus played with a Memphis team in 1877, captained Peoria in 1878, and joined the Dubuque nine in 1879. Loftus would call Dubuque home for the rest of his life, even as his baseball career took him from city to city.

The 1879 Dubuque Rabbits were an outstanding baseball team. The nine consisted of Loftus, Charlie Comiskey, Old Hoss Radbourne, the Gleason brothers, Tom Sullivan, Billy Taylor, William Lapham, and Larry Reis. Loftus played second base as the team won the championship of the Northwest League and a victory over Cap Anson's Chicago White Stockings.

In 1882, Ted Sullivan, who had put the Dubuque team together, went to St. Louis to manage the St. Louis Browns and brought the core of his Dubuque team with him. Loftus, Comiskey, and the Gleasons all joined Sullivan on the Browns. Coming down with a serious illness, Loftus played in only six games for the Browns in 1882 and 1883.

In 1884, Loftus's health had recovered enough for him to sign with Milwaukee in the Union Association as both player and manager. However the illness had taken its toll and Loftus only played the early part of the season before retiring as player and devoting his full time to managing.

Over the next seventeen years, Loftus would manage numerous teams. In 1885, he returned to St. Louis to skipper the Whites. From 1887 to 1889, Loftus managed in Cleveland. He then managed two seasons in Cincinnati from 1890 through 1891. In 1894, Loftus was managing the Columbus Western League team and remained there until 1900 when he took the manager's job with the Chicago Orphans of the NL. In 1901, Loftus took his last baseball job, managing the Washington Senators. Staying in Washington for two seasons, Loftus also served as team president.

Retiring from the game in 1902, Loftus returned home to Dubuque to devote himself full time to his business interests, specifically the ownership and management of a hotel. He received numerous offers to return to the game but preferred to remain in Dubuque.

While no longer active in the game, Loftus was still a respected figure in baseball circles. Al Spink wrote that "(while) he was not active in the game from 1902, he was one of the counsellors of both big leagues and was regarded as one of the substantial men in baseball. His advice was sought and heeded..." Ted Sullivan would write that Loftus was twenty years ahead of his time when he was playing and remained so throughout his baseball career. Henry Chadwick regarded Loftus as one of the greatest baseball men who ever lived.

Loftus, who according to Al Spink was"one of the best fellows ever prominently identified with the game," died at his home in Dubuque on April 16, 1910.

A Box Score From May 25, 1875

This box score from a Reds-White Stockings game that was played on May 25, 1875 was published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat on May 27th of that year. My favorite part is the final sentence. After Chicago crushed the Reds 16-2, the Globe engaged in a bit of understatement when they wrote that "a better showing on the part of the Reds is looked for."

October 14th In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History

On this day in 1885, the White Stockings (NL) and Browns (AA) engage in a "World's Championship" series. The winner of the 7-game series is to receive a $1‚000 prize. Darkness ends game one after 8 innings‚ at a 5-5 stalemate.

In 1889, in Cincinnati‚ the Browns keep their AA pennant hopes alive by winning their 12th straight‚ 5-1. St. Louis will play a twinbill in Cincinnati tomorrow and then 3 makeup games in Philadelphia.

-from Baseball Library

So today is the 121st anniversary of the first game of the controversial championship series between the St. Louis Browns and the Chicago White Stockings, the second sanctioned World Series between the champions of the American Association and the National League. David Nemec, in The Beer & Whiskey League, wrote "(in) 1885 the postseason match was expanded to seven games, it was agreed to split the gate receipts 50/50 and each team put up $500 in addition, with the $1,000 kitty to go to the winner. The battle commenced on October 14 with a 5-5 tie that was preceded by throwing and base running contests among the members of both teams."

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Reds Get Their Revenge

The Reds ended their tumultuous 1875 season with a four game series against the Stocks. Playing at the Compton Avenue Park, the two teams met on four Sunday afternoons in October. The Stocks, bidding to become the unofficial champions of St. Louis, defeated the Reds in the first game, upset the Empires on October 10th, and then beat the Reds again in the second game of the series.

The Stockyard nine was on a roll when they met the Reds for the third time on October 24th. But the Red Stockings, "chagrined at the double defeat" and playing before a crowd of more than 2,000 people, jumped on their rivals and took a quick 4-0 lead. The rout was on and the Reds took the third game by a score of 12-2.

On October 31st, the two teams met for the final game of the series. The game was a barn burner. The Stocks were leading 5-3 after two innings when the Reds scored one in the third and five in the fourth to go ahead 9-5. Coming back, the Stockyards scored three in the bottom of the fifth to cut their deficit to one run. The Reds immediately answered back in the top of the sixth with two more runs to put the game away. The final score was 13-9. In their final game of the season, the Reds managed to half the series and regain a bit of their pride.

The Reds nine, in these final games of 1875, was, due to the turmoil of the summer, a bit different than the nine that competed in the NA. The team consisted of Charlie Houtz (1b), Art Croft (2b), Dan Collins (3b), Billy Redmon (ss), John Magner (LF), Tom Loftus (CF), Tom Oran (RF), and a battery of Silver Flint (C) and Pidge Morgan (P). In game two of the series, Croft pitched in place of Morgan, who was home with his pregnant wife. In that game, Welch played 2b in place of Croft and "the substitute" Roe replaced Loftus in center field. The Globe-Democrat singled Welch out for poor play in game two and wrote that his fielding "lost the game".

A Couple Of Baseball Maps

I found these maps the other day tooling around the Internets (and I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Goracle, inventer of the Internets and savior of mankind, for his winning of the Nobel Prize for Interweb Inventing). They have nothing to do with 19th century baseball but they're kind of neat and any baseball fan will have fun looking at them. They show how the nation is divided by loyalty to baseball teams. Forget that blue state/red state nonsense-these maps show where the real divides lie in this country.

The second map (which can be found here) is based on a census of baseball fans and has an option where you can click on the area where you live and see how your people voted. I'm rather upset that, according to the map as well as real world observation, there are Cub fans in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. If ever there was an ethical argument for ethnic cleansing...Oh well, I guess I'll just have to continue practicing Christian tolerance.

And now back to our regularly scheduled posts on 19th century baseball in St. Louis.

The Stocks Shock The City

The Stocks, one of the best teams in St. Louis in 1874, staked their claim to being "the best amateur nine" in the city in October of 1875 with a string of three straight victories over their top competition. Over three consecutive Sundays, the Stocks defeated the Reds, the Empire, and then the Reds once again.

The Stocks first victory was on October 3rd. In the first of a four game series between "the famous Red Stockings and the amateur Stocks" at the Compton Avenue Park, the Stocks shocked the over-confident Reds in what would later be described as "a hard fight". While the Globe-Democrat failed to report the Stocks win, coverage on the day of the game predicted a "massacre" of the Stocks by the Globe's favorite baseball team.

A week later, at the Grand Avenue Grounds, "the Stockyard nine" took on the "State champions of Missouri", the Empire Club. On a cool fall afternoon, the Stocks took it to the Empire, jumping out to a 4-1 lead after two innings before winning in a rout, 10-3. The Globe praised the Stocks play, saying it was "up to the professional standard".

The Stocks completed their run on October 17th against the Reds in what must have been one heck of a ballgame at the old Compton Avenue Park. Falling behind 5-4, the Stocks tied the game with a run in the seventh. In the eighth, they pushed across two runs to take the lead and won the game 7-5. "(This) victory," wrote the Globe, "places (the Stocks) in the front ranks of amateur clubs" in the nation.

The Stocks team that shocked the city of St. Louis with this string of upsets consisted of Bill Gleason ( 1b), McManus (2b), Jack Gleason (3b), Newell (ss), Monsel (lf), Gunsolis (cf), Glenner (rf), and a battery of Rippey (c) and Meagher (p). Newell is probably T.E. Newell.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Trick McSorley With The 1884 Toledo Blue Stockings

The picture above is of the 1884 Toledo Blue Stockings. Trick McSorley, who played with the Union, the Reds, the Maroons, and the Browns during the course of his career, is the second player on the left.

McSorley, according to Al Spink, could "play any old place, being a fine pitcher, an excellent baseman and in a pinch he could go behind the bat." Spink also wrote that John McSorley earned his nickname, I kid you not, because he was "so tricky".

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Don't Mess With The Reds

Al Spink, in the National Game, tells an interesting story about the St. Louis Red Stockings.

According to Spink, the Reds made a trip to Chicago in 1874 to play a few games. On the train trip home, Andy Blong was carrying a large amount of cash with him-the Reds' share of the gate receipts from the games they had just played. Blong, during the long ride back to St. Louis, met several gentlemen who engaged him in a game of three card monte. During this "game", Blong proceeded to loss all of the Reds' money.

Going back to the train car where the Reds' players were, Blong told them what had just happened to him and the money. Taking their bats, the Reds went to the car where the grifters were operating and, blocking the entrance and exit, threatened to beat the men to death unless they got the money back.

"The monte men," wrote Spink, "gave up willingly and the St. Louis boys came home with money in their pockets and much richer in experience than when they started."

This story is interesting for several reasons. First, it sheds some light on Andy Blong's role with the Reds. Spink identifies Blong, who would represent the Reds at the NA's convention in 1875, as the team's "manager" and is another source that puts Blong in the Reds management structure. Second, the story certainly adds some color to our knowledge about the players on the Reds. Several of the 1875 Reds, such as Packy Dillon, Joe Blong, Trick McSorley, Pidge Morgan, and Billy Redmon, were playing for the team in 1874. This story tells us more than a little about the character of these men. Lastly, the story raises questions about the status of the team. Prior to 1875, St. Louis was supposedly a bastion of amateur baseball. The Reds are normally described as a local amateur team that "went pro" in 1875. Spink's statement that the players "came home with money in their pockets" is the first hint I've ever come across that contradicts this conventional wisdom.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

October 10th In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History

On this day in 1881, Cincinnati baseball backers meet in Pittsburgh with H. Denny McKnight and issue a call to other independent club operators to meet November 2nd to form a major league independent of the NL.

In 1884, Pat Deasley‚ who will hit .205 for St. Louis (AA) this year‚ gets all 3 of his team's hits off Tim Keefe‚ but cannot prevent the 3-1 loss to New York.

In 1887, the World Series opens in St. Louis with the Browns beating the Detroits 6-1. P Bob Caruthers holds the Wolverines to 5 hits and has 3 safe hits himself.

And just for fun, in 1885, Phillies SS Charlie Bastian goes 5-for-10 in the last 2 games to raise his average up to .167‚ the lowest ever for a SS with over 350 at bats.

-from Baseball Library

A couple of notes:
  • The Pittsburgh meeting in 1881 was the second of three meetings that would lead to the establishment of the American Association. This meeting was attended by Chris Von der Ahe, O.P. Caylor, Horace Phillips, John Day, Denny McKnight, and others. The meeting was organized by Phillips with McKnight acting as official host. The first meeting, in which only Caylor (representing Cincinnati) answered Phillips' invitation, was held in Philadelphia in September.
  • I mentioned Charlie Bastian because I thought it was kind of interesting and it immediately made me think of Steve Jeltz. Jeltz, in 1988, would come close to breaking Bastian's record when he hit .187 in 379 AB while playing short for the Phillies. I believe that Steve Jeltz, in 1988, was the worst everyday ballplayer of all time.

Jack Dillon Muffs A Fly Ball

Tuning up for their championship games, the Reds played the Niagara Base Ball Club of St. Louis on Sunday, April 18, 1875. More than 1,000 fans came out to the Compton Avenue Ball Park and saw the Reds win 14-6. According to the Globe-Democrat, both teams were sporting new uniforms.

The Reds' lineup for the game, which started at 3:15 p.m., was a little different than normal. They played Charlie Houtz at first, Charlie Sweasy (in one of his first games with the club) at second, Trick McSorely at short, Joe Blong, Tom Oran, and Jack Dillon in the outfield, Billy Redmond catching, and Pidge Morgan pitching. One of the reasons for the switch up was that Packy Dillon, the Reds' starting catcher, was out with a "sore hand." Dillon's hand problem would keep him out for much of the season and force the Reds to bring Silver Flint over from the Elephants.

The Globe-Democrat's coverage of this game is one of the few references I can find to Jack Dillon playing for the Reds. They mention the fact that he played left field, went hitless, and muffed a fly ball.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

October 9th in 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History

On this day in 1884, Fred Dunlap's 13th HR helps his St. Louis Maroons (UA) bury the Washington Nationals 11-1. The 2B will add the HR championship to his UA titles in batting‚ slugging‚ on base percentage‚ hits‚ doubles‚ and total bases‚ the most dominant season by any nonpitcher of the 19th century. He also leads all UA second basemen in fielding average‚ putouts‚ assists‚ DPs‚ and total chances per game.

In 1887, The St. Louis Browns end their season with a 95-40 record‚ besting their 1886 record by 2 wins. This will not be topped until the adoption of the 154-game schedule.

In 1898, Jack Taylor of Chicago defeats Jack Taylor of St. Louis 5-4 in 10 innings. The winner is a newcomer who won 28 games for Milwaukee in the Western League. The loser is a veteran of 8 seasons.

-from Baseball Library

Icebox Chamberlain

Elton Chamberlain has one of the best baseball nicknames I've ever heard. Icebox Chamberlain is just a great baseball name. And he wasn't a bad pitcher either.

The Browns purchased Chamberlain from Louisville in 1888 for either $4,000 or $5,000 at the tail end of their championship run and he went 11-2 for them that year. In the World Series against the New York Giants that year, he pitched a 3-0 shutout. In 1889, Chamberlain went 34-15 as the Browns failed to win the pennant for the first time in four years. He went 3-1 in 1890 before being shipped off to Columbus for $1,500. His overall record for the Browns was 48-18 in 71 starts.

Chamberlain's career record was 159-120 over ten seasons with an ERA of 3.57 and an ERA+ of 112. He lead the AA in shutouts in 1890 and finished in the top five in ERA three times, winning percentage three times, strikeouts per nine innings four times, and strikeouts twice. Not a bad career.

Monday, October 8, 2007

October 8th In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History

On this day in 1881, Chris Von der Ahe‚ president of the corporation that runs Sportsman's Park in St. Louis‚ signs the members of the previously independent St. Louis Browns semiprofessional club‚ giving Von der Ahe control over the players for the first time. This is a key step toward the establishment of the club that would eventually become the St. Louis Cardinals.

In 1887, Tip O'Neill, pictured above, hits his 14th homer of the season as part of a 5-for-5 day in the Browns' 11-5 win over Louisville. O'Neill is the only player in ML history to lead his AA league in all 3 categories of extra base hits: homers (14)‚ triples (19)‚ and doubles (52). Even without counting walks‚ his .435 adjusted average is 2nd on the all-time list.

-from Baseball Library

More On The Poor 1884 Browns

The pictures above are of the 1883 Browns that finished second in the AA, the poor 1884 Browns, and the 1885 championship Browns. The 83 and 85 Browns wore all white uniforms while the 84 team was wearing all black (or I guess it could be a dark gray or brown).

The 84 Browns, wearing those heavy, dark uniforms, had the worst record of any Browns team from 1883 through 1890. I honestly believe that those uniforms had to have played a part in it.

I can imagine Comiskey going to George Munson and saying "Look, I know that Von der Ahe's latest mistress designed these uniforms. But only a crazy man would go out and play baseball in the hot St. Louis sun while wearing all black. Talk to the boss and get us our old white uniforms back."

I Feel Sorry For The 1884 Browns

The 1884 Browns finished fourth in the AA with a record of 67-40. They were a young team on the verge of a great championship run. Most of the pieces were already in place and they had a bright future.

But take a look at those uniforms. While they look pretty good and are rather stylish, try to imagine wearing those dark uniforms in late July and early August in the heat and humidity of a St. Louis summer. No air-conditioned clubhouse. No fans in the dugout. No refrigerated Gatorade. Nothing but playing a game of baseball during the hottest part of the day while wearing all black uniforms.

You have to feel sorry for them.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

October 7th In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History

On this day in 1888, Silver King notches his 45th win of the season‚ 10 more than any other pitcher will get this year. The 20-year-old righthander will also finish leading the ML in games pitched (66)‚ innings (586)‚ complete games (64)‚ and ERA (1.64).

-from Baseball Library

The Empire Battle The White Stockings

On April 25, 1874, the Empires played the second in a series of practice games with the Chicago White Stockings in St. Louis. Although the Empires lost the game 6-4, the St. Louis Democrat described the game as the best fought battle ever witnessed in the city.

Chicago struck first with a run in the third inning that scored when two players for the Empires collided and allowed the rbi hit to fall in but the Empires immediately answered back with two runs in the bottom of the inning. In the fourth, the Empires extended their lead when they pushed across another run. The White Stockings scored three in the top of the sixth to go ahead by one but the Empires again answered, tying the score with a run in their half of the inning. Chicago finally went ahead for good when they scored a run in the seventh and then added an insurance run in the eighth.

It sounds like it was a pretty darn good game but it was yet one more defeat of a local St. Louis amateur nine by a barbarian professional team. Specifically, it was another loss to the White Stockings. It was these losses to the White Stockings and the other big boys that would lead baseball supporters in St. Louis to form their own professional teams.

The Union Triumphant

From the New York Times (July 26, 1868):

Base Ball In St. Louis
St. Louis, Thursday, July 25th

The return game of base ball for the championship of this State, between the Union and Empire Clubs of St. Louis, was played this evening, and resulted in a triumph for the Unions, the score standing 39 to 17.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Magnificent Statue

In his essay on Chris Von der Ahe in The National Game, Al Spinks wrote that "Mr. Von der Ahe ordered built the life-sized statue of himself which now adorns the lot he owns in Bellefontaine Cemetery. It is a magnificent statue, costs a fortune, and when Chris dies it will mark for centuries to come the resting place of one who did as much for baseball in St. Louis and the country at large as any man ever associated with the game and whose departure from it was greatly regretted by those who knew him best and who had followed the fortunes of himself and club for years."

The Deadball Era has pictures of Von der Ahe's grave and his "magnificent statue."

The Uniform Of The 1875 Reds

"The uniform of the St. Louis Reds will consist of red stockings, gray pants, shirts, and caps trimmed with red. A small 'Red Stockings' will be worked on the shirts, and the word 'St. Louis' over it."

-from the St. Louis Globe-Democrat (March 29, 1875)

Eat, Drink, And Be Merry

This has nothing to do with nothing but I was just reading "This Day In Baseball" at Baseball Library. According to those boys, on October 6, 1845, "the first recorded baseball game using Cartwright's rules (was) played between members of the Knickerbocker Club. Only 14 players (participated) as Duncan Curry's team defeats Alex Cartwright's team 11-8 in a shortened game of only 3 innings."

I think this is the perfect excuse for a national holiday. Everybody gets the day off work and MLB makes sure we have a playoff triple header scheduled. The weather's still good enough to barbecue so we can get fat on pork steaks, brats, and baby back ribs while drinking the cold, frosty, hops flavored beverage of our choice (I'm partial to Bass Ale) and listening to the games on the radio (or on the tv, if you have to be like that).

We can call it "National Anything To Get Out Of Work And Watch Baseball Day". And while we're at it, Opening Day should be a national holiday too. Somebody needs to write a congressman or Jim Bunning or W and get the ball rolling on this.

Friday, October 5, 2007

October 5th In 19th Century St. Louis Baseball History

In 1884, St. Louis (UA) pitchers Charlie Sweeney and Henry Boyle stop St. Paul without a hit or walk‚ striking out 9 men‚ before rain halts play after 5 innings. But the Maroons lose the game when 2 St. Louis errors allow the game's only run. The Sweeney-Boyle performance caps what is still the premier ML season for no-hitters: 12 in all‚ including one of 10 innings and 7 nine-inning games.

In 1888, Pud "Kid" Galvin becomes the first player in history to reach 300 wins as he beats the Washington Nationals‚ 5-1‚ for Pittsburgh. Galvin allows 4 hits. There are 14 errors in the game‚ 9 by Washington.

-from Baseball Library

"The Greatest Game Ever Played In St. Louis"

From Al Spink's The National Game:

"It was the St. Louis Browns and the Stars of Syracuse, New York, that played a game on the Grand avenue grounds, now Sportsman's Park, that must take rank with the best in the history of the national sport. It took place on Tuesday, May 1, 1877. Fifteen innings were played and not a run had been scored on either side when darkness compelled the umpire to call the game. During the progress of this remarkable contest only one man reached first base."

"The Brown's batting list on this occasion was headed by Dorgan and he was followed by Clapp, McGeary, Batten, Force, Remsen, Croft, Blong, and Nichols."

"The Stars' list had Higham at the top with Geer, McKinnon, Mansell, Clinton, Hotaling, Farrell, McCormick and Carpenter, following in the order named. The batteries were Clapp, catcher, and Nichols, pitcher, for St. Louis, and Higham, catcher, and McCormick, pitcher, for Syracuse."

"The score made in this game was a wonderful one for many reasons. First of all the game was played with a lively ball and while the hitting was terrific, the fielding was simply magnificent."

How would you like to sit through a 15 inning, 0-0 game only to have the game called on account of darkness?

While Spink wrote that only one man reached first base, I believe he meant to say that only one man advanced past first. St. Louis had eight hits in the game and Syracuse had two. Higham, of the Stars, was the only one to make any real noise with the bat when he hit a double.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Griswold Letter

In The National Game, Alfred Spink wrote a great deal about the history of baseball in St. Louis. He gave substantial space to Shepard Barklay's account of Jeremiah Fruin's role in bringing the game to the city "in the early fifties." This account resulted in Merritt Griswold writing a letter to Spink in which Griswold gives his account of how baseball first came to St. Louis. Spink printed this letter in the second edition of his book, which was published in 1911. Below is Griswold's letter in its entirety.

Alfred H. Spink
Author The National Game
St. Louis, Mo.,

Dear Sir-One of the reporters of "The Standard Union" of Brooklyn, N.Y., showed me a few days ago a book written by you entitled the history of baseball.

To start at the commencement of the game in its first introduction into Missouri I would refer you to the files of "The Missouri Democrat" for the Winter of 1859 and 1860, where in you will find published "the rules of the game," also a diagram showing the field and the position of each player made from a rough sketch I gave to Mr. McKee and Fishback, the publishers, or to Mr. Houser, at that time their bookkeeper, cashier and confidential office man (and, by the way, a mighty fine young man).

At this same time I was organizing the first baseball club, "The Cyclone," which name was suggested by one of its members, Mr. Whitney, of the Boatman's Savings Bank.

Other members of "The Cyclone" were John Riggin, Wm. Charles and Orvill Mathews (the latter the late Commodore Mathews of the U.S. Navy), John Prather, Fred Benton, (later captain under Gen. Custer), Mr. Fullerton, (later a General, U.S.A.), Mr. Alfred Berenda and his brother, Mr. Ferd Garesche, Mr. Charles Kearney (son of Gen. Kearney), Mr. Edward Bredell, Jr., and a number of other young men of St. Louis.

Soon after the organization of "The Cyclone" several others were started, viz: "Morning Stars," "The Empire," "The Commercial" and later on several others.

The first match game played between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, (if not to the Pacific Coast), was between "The Cyclone" and "The Morning Stars" and was played in 1860, just back of the Old Fair Grounds in North St. Louis, "The Morning Stars" winning the game, the score of the game I now have. It is 50 years old, and the ball used in that first match game was for years used as the championship trophy, it going from one club to the other, and the last the writer ever heard of it, it was in possession of the Empire Club. I personally sent to New York for the ball to be used in this first match, and after the game it was gilded in gold and lettered with the score of the game.

"The Morning Star Club" was a "town ball" club and played from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Tuesday and Friday mornings in Carr's Park, but after considerable urging and coaxing on my part they passed a resolution at one of their meetings that they would try the national rules for one morning if I would coach them, or more properly, teach them, which I consented to do if they would agree to stick to it for the full hour without "kicking," for as I told them they would no like it until after playing it for a sufficient length of time to become familiar with some of its fine points, all of which they agreed to and kept their word like good fellows as they were, but in ten minutes I could see most of them were disgusted, yet they stuck to it for their hour's play. At the breaking up of the game to go home they asked me if I would coach them one more morning as they began to "kindy like it." I was on hand their next play day, or rather play morning at 5. Result they never played "town ball" after that second inning and in their first match, as stated above, "waxed" my own club. I could give you many incidents up to the breaking out of the civil war and the disbanding of "The Cyclone" by its members taking part on one side or the other.

Hoping you will excuse my intruding with these little facts in regard to early ball playing in St. Louis, I am

Yours Respectfully
Merritt W. Griswold.

P.S.-Although I am now in my 77th year, I take just as much interest in that splendid game as when a kid at school in old Chautauqua Co., New York, or when a member of the "Putnams" of Brooklyn in 1857 and the "Hiawathas" of the same place in 1858-59 in which latter year I went to St. Louis.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Where The Games Were Played

In the 1860's and 70's, amateur teams played baseball in a variety of locations around St. Louis. Some of the more prominent locations are listed below.

  • The first recorded game played in St. Louis was at the Old Fairgrounds in north St. Louis.
  • The Empire and the Union clubs played some of their earliest games in a field located near the Rock Church on Grand Ave.
  • The Elephant and Saw Log Grounds was an open field near the riverfront just east of Broadway.
  • The Rowenas and Vanities played in an open field south of Lafayette Park.
  • The Gamble Lawn Grounds, located "near the old Rock Springs", was used by both the Empire and the Union.
  • In the early 1860's, Thomas McNeary built what would become known as Red Stockings Base Ball Park on Compton Ave.
  • In 1871, the Grand Avenue Park was built by August Solari and would be used between 1875-1877 by the Brown Stockings. Later, Sportsman's Park would be built on the site.
  • Stocks Park was built in 1875 by a combination of livestock dealers and baseball enthusiasts near the corner of Easton and Vandeventer Ave.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The St. Louis Baseball League

The St. Louis Baseball League was founded in 1889, lasted only one season, and was composed of five local St. Louis teams. The Reds, the Sultan Bitters, the Jolly Nine, the Home Comforts, and the Dimmicks were local St. Louis semi-pro teams who competed over a 22 game schedule in a league that marked the passing of an era.

The teams would play two league games a week, one at Kensington Park, at Union and Page Ave., and the other at Amateur Park, at Missouri and Russell. Admission was only fifteen cents and, according to league president Joe Flood, the teams drew well, with at least one game drawing 20,000 spectators.

According to Al Spinks, "The Home Comforts and the Sultan Bitters closed the...schedule with an equal number of victories. Unlike the present day magnates, who would have arranged a series of games to determine supremacy, the Sultans and Comforts agreed to hang the championship on one game."

"Theodore Breitenstein, as pitcher, and Frank Meek as his battery mate, were the hope of the Home Comforts. The Sultans rested their chances with Pitcher "Curley" Maloney and Catcher Schultz."

"The game was played on the Kensington Garden grounds and the Comforts were the winners by a score of 3 to 2. That game marked the passing of semi-professional leagues in St. Louis, and it was not until (1902) that another league was formed to take its place."

Spink also notes, in passing, the demise of the Reds who, after a long and distinguished history, ceased operations in July of that year.

Monday, October 1, 2007

That's Not How We Did It In My Day

Joe Ellick, who played in seven games as a sub for the St. Louis Reds in 1875, retired to the Kansas City area after his playing days were over in the 1880's. After his retirement, Ellick served as a sort of official substitute umpire in the National League. According to The Sporting News, Ellick umpired several League games in July and August of 1886.

Ellick's service as an umpire did not last very long. Within weeks of accepting the job, Ellick quit to return to his business interests. According to an article he wrote for Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in October of 1886, Ellick was unable to stomach the conduct of the players (who he referred to as "hoodlums"), fans, and journalists. In the article, Ellick wrote that "(some) defensive armour for protecting the umpire against bad language and beer-glasses is imperatively called for..."

After his unhappy stint as an umpire, the former player and manager left the game for good.