Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Globe On The Fair-Foul Rule

The subject which seems to excite most attention in base-ball circles at present is how the rules can be changed so as to do away with the wretched style of fair foul-hitting which many professionals have adopted during the last few years. Nothing can be imagined more disgusting to the patrons of the game than the sight of a broad-shouldered athlete bunting at the ball for ten minutes, and keeping it constantly out of play in an effort to accomplish something which does not prove successful once in ten times, instead of swinging the bat in a graceful and easy manner, but with sufficient force to drive the sphere, if squarely hit, over the heads of the outfielders, or so hard that it requires nerve and pluck for the infielders to face it. A hard-hit bounder, even though it be driven directly at an infielder, frequently results in a base hit, owing to the fact that it was a sheer impossibility for the fielder to handle the ball. Harry Wright has been heard from on the subject, and his idea is to consider as foul all hit balls that pass outside the foul lines before reaching first base or third base, and as fair all hit balls that strike the ground and pass into the infield and in front of the first base or third base, or that shall be fielded inside of the foul lines. Also, to do away with catching the call on the bound; an out on a hit ball or three strikes to be when it is caught on the fly only. Harry thinks this will equalize the batting and fielding, and also tend to lessen the discretionary power of the umpire, and relieve him of responsibilities now resting upon him.

A day or two since a Globe-Democrat reporter called on Mr. Chas. A. Fowle, Secretary of the St. Louis club, to ascertain what the gentleman who had drawn up the playing rules of the League had to say on the subject. Mr. Fowle was not in favor of the change as proposed, though extremely anxious to have fair-foul hitting abolished in the future. The change as proposed, in his estimation, did not fill the bill for several vital reasons, the main one being that it would be absolutely impossible, in many cases, for the umpire to decide whether the ball was picked up inside or outside the foul lines, especially in cases of very swift grounders in the direction of first and third bases, and again when the ball was hit directly along the foul lines. By the proposed change balls could be still "blocked" so as to roll slowly towards the basemen and it is essential that this style of hitting should also be done away with. Mr. Fowle has given the problem a great deal of consideration, and finds it an extremely difficult one to solve. In his estimation the best way to dispose of the matter is to place the home plate six inches back of its present position and then pass a stringent rule, very carefully worded, compelling the bats man to strike at the ball with a full swing of the arm. Were this done, the ball, when fairly hit, would very rarely get back of the foul lines, and there would be very few tedious waits during the progress of the game. This plan seems to be the best yet presented, and the attention of the League Directors will be called to it at their meeting on the 4th of December.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 19, 1876

From A Game of Inches: "What ultimately provided the impetus to abolish the fair-foul was the fact that it was very difficult for umpires to determine whether a ball that was hit into the ground first hit fair or foul. Accordingly, the rule makers redefined the concepts of fair and foul in 1877 and, in the process, eliminated the fair-foul."

Friday, February 27, 2009

He Will Be Remembered As Long As The National Game Has An Existence

Philadelphia, May 29.-Mr. Thomas Miller, change catcher of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, died at the residence of his parents, in this city, this afternoon. His associates grieve deeply at his loss, and the engagements of the club have been canceled until after his interment. The game with the Athletics to-morrow is therefore off...

Philadelphia, May 29.-Headquarters St. Louis B.B.C.-Tom Miller died this afternoon at 5 o'clock. S.M. Graffen, Manager

The above telegram will be read with profound regret by every lover of base ball in the country. Miller, by his unobtrusive and gentlemanly demeanor in private, and his skill on the ball field, had endeared himself to all, and the announcement of his death is all the more painful from its suddenness. Tommy was a natural ball player. As a catcher he had no superior in the profession, and his throwing to bases was superb. Were it not for his weakness at the bat, Clapp would never have superseded him. He was an especial favorite with the Directors of the St. Louis club, who admired him for his honesty, and the faithful way in which all his duties were performed. The brilliant manner in which the plucky little fellow supported Bradley last season is a matter of record. The success of the Browns last year was due in a great measure to Miller's catching. He will be remembered as long as the National game has an existence for his skill and will never be forgotten by the thousands who were honored by his friendship.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 30, 1876

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Edward Farish's Death Notice

Farish-In St. Louis, Mo., on July 21, 1904, at his residence, 3,658 Page Av., Edward Tilghman Farish, beloved husband of Lily G. Farish, in his 71st year.

Funeral Saturday, July 23, at 9 A.M., to Rock Church. Interment private.
-New York Times, July 22, 1904

Edward Farish, a prominent St. Louis lawyer who married into the Garesche family, was a member of the Cyclone Club.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Base Ball Sensation Of The Year

The feature of the game was (John) Peters' play in short field, all the more noteworthy in view of the fact that he was suffering horribly from an attack of pleurisy. This young man is the base ball sensation of the year up to this time. Taken from a St. Louis amateur club, in which he played semi-occasionally, as often as he could spare the time from his underground employment as a miner, he was placed in the White Stocking nine to fill the difficult position made vacant by the illness of Jimmy Wood. After playing second base extremely well, he was transferred to short field, where his record is a marvel among ball-players. At first he was nervous at the bat through lack of experience with professional pitching, but he has got bravely over this, and is now giving Meyerle, Cuthbert, and Force a hard rub for the batting supremacy. Peters was out of place in St. Louis, and Chicago took him in. It may gratify his many admirers to know that his engagement with the White Stocking nine continues for three years.

-Chicago Tribune, July 26, 1874

According to Tobias, Chicago "perpetrated highway robbery" in May of 1874 when, after playing in St. Louis, they signed Peters, of the Reds, and Dan Collins, of the Empire Club. However, Tobias wrote, "the Reds did not feel the loss of Peters to any tearful extent..." That, of course, is utter nonsense. The Reds were not a particularly heavy hitting club and Peters proved to be a fine hitter. I think there's enough statistical evidence to show that he would have been an improvement at shortstop over Billy Redmon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hisses Of Disappointment And Indignation

In the game between the Red Stockings, of St. Louis, and the Westerns, of this city, this afternoon, the former went off in a tangent, and brought the game unceremoniously to a close before it had fairly begun. In the last half of the second inning the Captain of the Reds excepted to a decision of the umpire that put one of their men out on third, and, without entering a formal protest or waiting for any offers of compromise, commenced to gather up the bats preparatory to leaving. A large crowd had assembled to witness the game, and, rather than have it stop, the Westerns proposed to have another umpire chosen, notwithstanding the game stood 4 to 2 in favor of the Reds, but the latter declined to accede to any terms of compromise, and took a hasty departure. The crowd of spectators unanimously sustained the action of the Westerns, and the Reds were followed off the grounds with hisses of disappointment and indignation. At least half of the Reds disapproved of the action of their captain, and it is stated that two of them threaten to withdraw from the nine. The umpire gave the game to the Westerns by a score of 9 to 0.
-Chicago Daily, August 21, 1874

It was always something with that Reds club. Less than a month previous to this game, Packy Dillon threw a fit and refused to catch anymore after Billy Redmon made a throwing error. On this particular road trip, Redmon was ill with "cholera morbus" and wasn't playing. After returning from the trip, Andy Blong (who was, I believe, the captain of the club), Joe Blong, and Dillon missed several games for unknown reasons.

This was a club that was supposed to win the Missouri championship and probably would have if they hadn't used an illegal player in a game against the Empires and eventually forced to forfeit the game. They were a divided club, full of cliques and prima donnas. The addition of Charlie Sweasy, an outsider, as field captain in 1875 could not have helped the situation. In light of all of this, the implosion of the club in late June/early July of 1875 is really not all that surprising.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Best Fielding Nine They Have Ever Met

To-day the White Stockings met the Red Stockings, of (St. Louis), in friendly conflict, and gave the most interesting game of base ball that has ever been played in this city. The Reds, of St. Louis, are really the champions of the Mississippi. The Chicago Whites give them the credit of being the best fielding nine they have ever met. This St. Louis club is made up of athletes, most of whom belong to the Missouri Gymnasium, and are experienced ball-players, some of them having figured conspicuously in baseball circles...

The wind was blowing very hard against the batting, which made many terrific hits drop short in the fielders' hands. About 800 people were present to witness the game (which was won by Chicago by a score of 6-0).
-Chicago Daily Tribune, April 24, 1874

Sunday, February 22, 2009

If St. Louis Can't Play Base Ball, What Can It Do?

The Tribune is now called upon to record the fact that St. Louis can't play base ball...If St. Louis can't play base ball, what can it do? Chicago can do something, if it cannot play base ball. Chicago has built several railroads. Chicago has something of a record for fast time made in running the race of rivalship for superiority as a city in the Northeast. Chicago has built railroads, made tunnels, and extended her business connections generally. But how with St. Louis? That city has been spending both time and money in endeavoring to get up a base ball club. It did get up several nines...and after playing each other, and beating each other several times, they came to the conclusion that they were sufficiently experienced to go outside for glory. They went outside. The Unions, so called because in union there was thought to be strength, was the champion club, and so it challenged the famous Red Stockings of Cincinnati. The Red Stockings went to the "River" city. The Red Stockings went out on the famous Union grounds. The Red Stockings played with the Unions and made the...score of 70 to 9...
-Chicago Tribune, September 17, 1869

Somebody really needs to take the time and document the history of the St. Louis/Chicago baseball rivalry. It would make for a good book. And it would sell well in two cities.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Was This Game Played?

The champion nine of the Empire Base Ball Club, of (St. Louis), left for Cincinnati this evening, where they will play the Red Stockings to-morrow, and then visit Louisville and other points east of here.
-Chicago Tribune, July 26, 1869

Taking a look at the Red Stockings' 1869 schedule, it appears that they played Forest City in Cincinnati on July 24 and Cream City in Milwaukee on July 30. I can't find any mention of them playing the Empire Club until the September 16 game in St. Louis. Interesting.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Taste Of Baseball During The Interregnum

Yesterday afternoon the Brown Stocking boys faced the Grand avenue team at Solari's Park, and succeeded in presenting them with nine goose eggs. The crowd in attendance was not as large as it should be when two such clubs meet, and the slim number on hand can only be accounted for by the counter attraction at the Fair Grounds consisting of balloon ascensions, etc. When the crowd is small a base ball game is always tame. In the words of an old jockey, "a hoss race without the crowd to holler at the finish is just no hoss race at all." So it is with a ball game and the little crowd who gathered around the green diamond during the progress of yesterday's contest gazed at the beggarly array of empty benches, and thought of the olden time when "standing room only" was the general rule.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 16, 1879

Al Spink, in The National Game, wrote about how tough it was to draw a crowd during the Interregnum of 1878-1881 but how bad did the crowd have to be for something like the above to appear in a 19th century newspaper?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Where's McNeary?

The St. Louis Reds held a meeting last night at the residence of their manager, Mr. John A. Stickfort, No. 208 South Fourth street, a large number being present and joining the club. They organized by electing Mr. L.C. Waite, the veteran base-ball reporter, President. Mr. John A. Stickfort was elected manager and Treasurer, and Billy McSorley, field captain of the nine. Following are the positions and members of the team: Maloney, catcher; Donovan, pitcher; Ruenzi, first base; W. Kolley, second base; McSorley, third base; Brady, short stop; Collins, left field; A. Kolley, center field; Bowman, right field; Liebke and Miller, substitutes. Mr. Kelley, of the Compton Avenue Park, was present and arranged for the Reds to play the Athletics at the Compton Avenue Park next Sunday. The battery of the Reds is a good one, Donovan, the pitcher, being a graduate of the Memphis Reds, and the other players being old hands at the game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 14, 1883

So where's Thomas McNeary in all of this?

Al Spink, in The National Game, wrote that McNeary founded the Reds and the Compton Avenue Grounds in the 1860's and continued to run them until his death in 1893, at which time his brothers continued to operate the club and the park for one more season. However, I've already written about how Spink was wrong about the date of the founding of both the club and the park. The best evidence shows the Reds to have first taken the field in 1873 and the Compton Avenue Grounds to have been established in 1874 (although baseball had been played on the property going back to the immediate post-Civil War period). I've also written that the final club known as the Red Stockings that played at the Compton Avenue Grounds disbanded in 1889. To complicate the matter even more, I've recently shown that McNeary disbanded the first incarnation of the Reds following the 1876 season and that they were not reformed until 1878 at the earliest and possibly not until as late as 1880.

The above piece from the Globe implies that McNeary had no involvement with the latter, mid to late 1880s incarnation of the Reds. The significance of this is that we can say with a high degree of certainty that the 1873-1876 incarnation of the Reds, led by McNeary and playing at his Compton Avenue Grounds, was a unique entity. There were attempts by McNeary in the late 1870s and early 1880s to reestablish the club that were met with various degrees of success. By 1883, however, it appears that McNeary was no longer involved in baseball and any club known as the Red Stockings after that date had no connection to him. There only connection to the Compton Avenue Grounds, after 1883, is that they may have played some games there.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Reds Return In 1878?

The outlook for fine sport in this city this season is good, in spite of the fact that the famous Brown Stockings are no more. Mr. Thomas McNeary, aided by L.C. Waite, Esq., are quietly at work securing a team to play under the old Red Stocking banner, and their knowledge of the game assures the success of their selections. This club will occupy the Compton avenue grounds, which are in prime condition, and the boys will show some first-class play during the summer.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 24, 1878

It's difficult to say if the Reds actually took the field in 1878. Waite was involved in the organization of the International Association that year and was listed as representing the Reds but I haven't been able to find any record of the Reds playing a game that year. After the club disbands following the 1876 season, the next reference to a McNeary led Red Stocking club I can find is a game played in 1880. There is a reference to "the Red Stockings" in 1879 but the team mentioned is actually the Grand Avenue Club who, it appears, wore a uniform with red stockings.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Player Of The Nervy Kind

Arthur Croft, of last year's Red Stockings, has signed to play with the St. Louis Browns of '77. Croft is a modest, unassuming player, of excellent character. He is one of the hard, slashing style of batters, a splendid base runner, a model first baseman, and a magnificent outfielder. Altogether he is as promising a player as any in the profession. He is notably a player of the nervy kind, and no amount of chaffing or "rattling" among his associates ever affects him. Mr. Croft is to be congratulated on having secured a connection with the St. Louis Browns, and the club also on having secured a home boy of such excellent promise. Croft played 91 games with the Reds last year as first base,an, averaging 1.79 base hits per game and .364 to times at bat. He was the best run getter in the nine, securing 127 tallies. In 91 games he averaged 11.46 put out, and committed only 45 errors during the season, having some very rough and wild throwing to handle. The Red Stocking officials part with one of their graduates with regret, but congratulate him heartily over his promotion and brilliant prospects for the future.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 21, 1877

Monday, February 16, 2009

An Interesting 1858 Reference To Bats And Balls

In the November 11, 1858 issue of the Alton Weekly Courier, there's a long article praising the virtue of "Physical Culture" and the salatory effects of physical exercise. The article contains the following quote:

We have been content to use our arms in driving quills, and measuring tape, and holding books-we need to go out under the glorious sun and try them at pitching quoits, throwing balls and wielding bats and cricket clubs.

Attribution of the piece is difficult because there is no specific author named or source mentioned. There's nothing in the piece that specificly mentions Alton or the St. Louis area but there are some references that could lead one to believe that the piece was written elsewhere and then picked up by the Weekly Courier. While it's difficult to make a judgement, I'd bet the piece was not specific to the Weekly Courier. Regardless, it is one of only a handful of references that we have to bat and ball games in the St. Louis papers during the antebellum era.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

That's One Way To Look At It

The following well-timed communication appears in the columns of the Louisville Courier-Journal:

To the Editor of the Courier-Journal:
St. Louis September 6, 1875.-I regret to notice in your paper of the 4th inst. a short article reflecting on the Red Stocking Base Ball Club of St. Louis, which you say "started out this season with a big flourish of trumpets, and which has been ignominiously defeated in almost every contest with other professionals." I am at a loss to know what you consider a big flourish of trumpets, for the Red Stockings have had no $20,000 capital to back them, no salaried managers, nor subsidized newspaper reporters, nor any of the clap-trap that attends many of the great professional clubs.

You must have been misled by the flourish of trumpets with which the great clubs and great players of the East declared they would wipe the "Reds" out of existence. They tried their level best to do this and utterly failed, nor could they give them even a disastrous defeat.

The Red Stockings defeated the professional Westerns by scores of 6 to 1 and 3 to 1; the Washingtons, 3 to 0 and 8 to 0. They were beaten by the Chicagos 1 to 0; Brown Stockings 15 to 9 and 6 to 0; the Mutuals 4 to 1; Philadelphias, 4 to 3; Hartfords 8 to 1 and 11 to 6; Bostons, 10 to 5. Do you call these ignominious defeats?

The truth is, the Red Stockings, with reasonable encouragement and treatment, can and will play any club in America-Amateur or professional-and feel confident of coming off victorious in every contest in which they engage. Else why is it that the champion clubs of the East refuse to arrange games with them? These clubs were willing enough to swell the number of games with the Washingtons, a club that was broken up by a series of disastrous defeats administered by the Red Stockings.

Now, you can readily see that it is a brave undertaking of theirs to measure strength in this, their initial, year, under a purely local organization, against the veteran clubs, composed of players selected from every State in the Union, and captained by men gray in the service, and supported by millions of capital. Give the boys a chance, Mr. Editor, and they will stand on their own merits as ball-players, and without any flourish of trumpets, and without even a lamentation over the seductive influences exerted by Kentucky clubs to draw off their best players.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 11, 1875

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Dillon Almost Signs With The Brown Stockings

It will be a sore disappointment for the patrons of the game in St. Louis when they learn that McGeary will be unable to take part in the contest. His collision with Sutton in Tuesday's game has proved more serious than was anticipated, and the clear-headed Captain of the Browns, who can perform as much work as two ordinary men at second, will of necessity nurse his leg, and participate in the amusement as a spectator only. Mike's aid in the field and at the bat will be badly missed. In order that the players may be shifted about as little as possible, the officials of the St. Louis club last night talked of securing the services of Packie Dillon, who during the past three years guarded second so brillantly for the little Red Stockings. Packie handles ground balls very cleanly, is a sure catch of fly balls, a superb thrower, a reliable batsman, and a good runner. He would be perfectly at home at second base...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 12, 1877

Sadly, there is no evidence that Dillon ever signed with the Brown Stockings but that's a nice description of his ball-playing abilities.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Reds' 1876 Season

The St. Louis Reds made a good record during the season just closed, as will be seen by glancing at the record of the boys given below. During the season they played but one league club, the St. Louis Brown Stockings, which club they played six times, and were always defeated. The Ponies got in 21 runs to the Browns' 38 in the six games, which is not a bad showing. It will be seen by the summary given below that the Reds played ninety-one games during the season, of which they won sixty-seven, lost twenty-three, and one resulted in a tie. All yarn dead balls were used by the Reds when they put in balls, and during the season they did not play a single game with a live ball, and, considering that they had some crack pitchers to face, their batting record stands well-in fact, better than any other club in the country. Redmon stands higher than the great Barnes, of Chicago, and he did not have any live balls to punch, either.

Three "one-nothing" games were played by the Reds, two of them being victories, and one a defeat at the hands of the Syracuse Stars. Two remarkable games were played by the Ponies during the season-one with the Philadelphias, at Philadelphia on the 4th of last July, when the "Phillies" not only failed to make a run, but did not make a single base hit off Galvin in the game, while the Reds made but two errors and got in eleven tallies. The other game was that with the Cass Club, of Detroit, which was played at Iona, Mich., on the 17th of August. The Reds not only skunked their opponents, but did not let them touch first base during the game, not one base hit being made, and the Reds failed to make a single error, while they got in eleven runs on their side of the book.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 12, 1876

A couple of notes:

-That's a heck of a lot of statistical information on the 1876 Reds. If I was of a sabermetrical bent, I'd do something with those numbers.

-The comparison of the batting records of Billy Redmon and Ross Barnes, at the very least, neglects the issue of league quality. And that's about all I'm going to say about that.

-The more I think about Galvin's perfect game, the more amazing it seems. The Reds committed 855 errors in 91 games. That's 9.4 errors per game. Against the Cass Club, they played errorless baseball. Maybe it's right and proper that the defense get the credit for the perfect game in that context.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Reds' Last Game

The St. Louis Reds play their last game of the season this afternoon at Compton Avenue Park with the Grand Avenue nine as opponents. Turn out in force and give the plucky Ponies a parting bumper.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 29, 1876

About 500 people witnessed the game of ball played yesterday afternoon at the Red Stocking Park, between the St. Louis Reds and Solari's Grand Avenue team. The weather was delightful for the sport. It was expected that a real good, close and exciting game would be played, because the Grand Avenue lads have been playing a rattling good game this season, but the result proved otherwise. The professionals had no trouble in running off with their amateur opponents, and when the end of the ninth inning arrived, it was discovered that the Ponies had 28 runs to the Grands' 3. Galvin's pitching was too much of a good thing for the amateurs to get in on, and only one base hit was made off him in the entire game, and that one proved to be a three bagger, which was got in after two men were out and two strikes called. McKenna was the boy who did the business. In the first inning, Whalen made a double play all by himself. Morgan had made a base hit, and stolen to second base, when Croft sent a daisy-cutter towards second, which first gave "Lewis" a knock on the head and bounded into Whalen's palms, and as Morgan had started for third a double play was the result. During the game a fly was sent to right center, and Simpson, the right fielder of the Grands got under it, but failed to hold the ball which bounded at least ten feet towards center field, and was caught while "on the wing" by Smith, and this catch "brought down the house." The Grands were without the services of Zim, their regular pitcher, who is off East, and had he been on hand, the Grands think the game would have turned out a little different, but as the Grands failed to do anything in the batting line, it is hard to see just how the game could have gone differently. The Reds were disappointed in the game, as they really thought they had a nine who would make them work hard to get away with. The Reds did some tall batting, and got in on all the three pitchers the Grands put against them.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 30, 1876

This, to the best of my knowledge, is the last game played by the 1873-1876 incarnation of the Red Stockings.

This Is Too Good Not To Post

A live version of Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins' Rise Up With Fists

I Think My Head Almost Exploded

This may be the greatest two minutes in the history of rock and roll.  It's simply the greatest band of the last forty years covering one of the best rock and roll songs of all time.  The Pixies covering Jesus & Mary Chains' Head On?  I really don't know what to say. Words honestly escape me. This, in my opinion, is as good as modern music can get.  

And just for fun, here's the greatest rock and roll band of the last forty years doing a live version of Bone Machine. Which for some reason I find myself quoting a lot at work recently. "You're so pretty when you're unfaithful to me."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

There Was Some Talent On That Club

For two or three years before the country had become infected with the base-ball fever, the Globe-Democrat called attention to the fact that there was a nine in St. Louis which, if kept together, would prove as formidable as any in the country, and urged the citizens of St. Louis to give it such encouragement as would insure its permanency. This they refused to do, and the St. Louis Red Stockings were allowed to disband. That the merits of these gallant young players were not overrated, a glance at the great nines of the country will show. The St. Louis Red Stockings have contributed more brilliant players to the professional ranks than any other organization in the country. Johnny Peters, the first to go, was good enough to play short for the club that won the championship; Flint, Houtz and McSorley have aided the Indianapolis nine in achieving their numerous triumphs over League organizations, and the former is thought by many to rank with Clapp as the best catcher in the country; Galvin and Dolan have done more than their seven comrades to secure for the Alleghenies their series of extraordinary successes; Croft, engaged as a substitute for the St. Louis Brown Stockings, by his telling work soon secured a permanent position on the nine; Redmond, as Captain of the Memphis Red Stockings, has piloted that club to many a well deserved victory; Morgan's valuable services in the pitcher's position were snapped up by the Milwaukee professionals, while Magner and Gleason are gaining many friends by their fine work in Columbus and Minneapolis.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 2, 1877

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Reds Throw Up The Sponge

Tom McNeary, of the St. Louis Reds, has thrown up the sponge, and will not put a nine in the field this season. This announcement will be received with regret by the many friends of the "ponies" who have so ably represented St. Louis in past seasons. Mr. McNeary did not allow the Reds to disband without carefully considering the situation. The International Convention at Pittsburg, he claims, was a failure, the only man who would stand up for the rights of the semi-professionals being Gorham, of the Tecumsehs. No sooner had the Convention concluded its labors than half a dozen of the internationals joined the League Alliance without waiting to see whether an obnoxious section of the agreement would be stricken out, as the Internationals had decided it should be. Although the Indianapolis Club owes the Reds three return games, they refused to play them a single one without a guarantee. The Reds, were they in existence, could by the League Constitution only play one League club in St. Louis-the Brown Stockings-other League teams being prohibited from entering their territory. For these and other reasons which carry pecuniary weight with them, the Reds have gone under. Mr. McNeary spent considerable money in his efforts to keep the Reds together, it being the strongest team composed entirely of home talent in the country, and intended placing a strong nine in the field this season, but found that he could not compete with the high salaries offered elsewhere under such disadvantages as have been enumerated above.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 1, 1877

This is rather important information. There were clubs called the Red Stockings that played at the Compton Avenue Grounds into the mid-1880's and there are references to McNeary running the club and grounds until his death. However, based on the above article, the incarnation of the Reds that included their 1875 NA team only existed from 1873 through 1876. While trying to run down the accuracy of this piece, I was unable to find any reference in the Globe to a game played by the Reds in 1877 and, as will be seen over the next few days, there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that McNeary folded the club.

It was certainly an eventful four seasons for the Reds. The 1873 and 1874 clubs were a serious challenger for the Missouri amateur championship and gave the Empire Club all they could handle. The success of the club in those two seasons and their challenge to the Empires helped to increase the popularity of baseball in St. Louis and lead to St. Louis putting clubs on the national championship stage. The Reds' 1875 season was one of the more eventful in the history of St. Louis baseball although it can not be described as anything other than a failure. The 1876 club was loaded with talent and was successful on the field but the club struggled to adapt to the new realities created by the advent of the National League and can be seen as a victim of the League's success.

The 1873-1876 Red Stockings of St. Louis certainly had a record of which they could be proud and theirs is a fascinating tale that has been neglected over the years. Hopefully, TGOG has taken a step in rectifying that neglect.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Perfect Harmony Which Prevails

The St. Louis Club, however, relies far more for success in the coming campaign on the friendship which exists among the players themselves, the perfect harmony which prevails in the nine, and the confidence reposed in each other by officers and players than on mere playing skill. Bradley, Pike and Cuthbert were the disturbing elements in the St. Louis nine last year, which is the only reason why Pike, at least, was not re-engaged this season. A better-natured and more harmonious team than the Browns of '77 could not be gathered together. "While I would like to win the championship," remarked one of the Directors at the game on Wednesday, "I would be far more gratified to see the boys work in harmony throughout the season, and establish a reputation for gentlemanly conduct on and off the field," and this sentiment is universally endorsed by admirers of the game in St. Louis.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 1, 1877

So let me see if I can understand this correctly. With Bradley, Pike and Cuthbert, the Brown Stockings finished 39-29 in 1875, an outstanding 45-19 in 1876, and were the best club in the West both seasons. But Bradley, Pike and Cuthbert were "disturbing elements"* and had to go. In 1877, the Brown Stockings finish 28-32, lose money, have trouble meeting their payroll, have their manager and various players accused of bribing umpires and throwing games,and after the season try to sign a bunch of fixers from Louisville. As a result of all of this perfect harmony, the Brown Stockings collapse and almost destroy professional baseball in St. Louis. I think, in retrospect, it may have been a better idea to just keep the disturbing elements and try to win some baseball games.

And one more thing to chew on: the 1876 Brown Stockings had Joe Blong starting everyday in the outfield. What do you have to do to be labeled a disturbing element on a club with Joe Blong on it? Seriously, they got rid of Bradley, Pike and Cuthbert but kept Blong, Mike McGeary and George McManus. I'm thinking that that's poor team management.

*I love this particular turn of phrase and I'm going to start using it at work. "I'm sorry but can you stop being a disturbing element and actually do something productive?" And I'm stealing this whole asterisk thing, without apologies, from Joe Posnanski. Except I'm not going to put the note in the middle of the piece. I find that too jarring.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sweeney And Dolan Released

The management of the Maroons yesterday took a step in the right direction, and released a member of the club who has for some time past been bringing the team into disrepute. It was Charles Sweeney who got his walking papers, and his catcher, Tom Dolan, accompanied him. It is said that the cause of their release was for a disgraceful exhibition of themselves at Sportsman's Park Sunday. It appears that they were "guying" one another over their respective abilities as ball tossers, and were so loud and abusive in their use of language as to attract the attention of the occupants of the grand stand. The other members of the Maroons were also present at the time. Sweeney has been playing miserably all season, and his pitching has been such that any amateur might be ashamed of. This he accounted for "owing to the bad condition of his arm." Sweeney has been played out for some time and there is but little doubt that his ball-playing days are over. His release yesterday was no surprise, as Manager Schmelz has been contemplating letting him go for some time past, and it is only a wonder that he has hung on as long as this. The release of Dolan, however, was something of a surprise. He is a fair ball player, and his catching this season had greatly improved. Both players were also fined $50 apiece.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 29, 1886

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Baseball At St. Charles

The St. Charles Brown Stockings Base Ball Club has organized by selecting J. Constain, President; J. Prichett, Treasurer; Ruf. Easton, Recording Secretary; J. Hug, Corresponding Secretary and Field Captain. Players-J. Hug, pitcher; William Boyce, catcher; G. Hecker, short stop; William Gross, first base; Charles Gates, left field; J. Devine, center field; A. Mertens, right field. A subscription has been made up by citizens for the purchase of the necessary outfit. The Brown Stockings were defeated on Sunday by the St. Louis Lone Stars. The Browns are endeavoring to charter a train to go to Wentzville next Sunday and play the club there.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 13, 1875

Friday, February 6, 2009

Scientific William

The once famous third baseman Bill Hague, who in his day was known as "Scientific William," is now one of the ticket takers at Athletic park, Philadelphia. Between that and a nice morning paper route Bill manages to make a comfortable living.
-The Atchison Champion, June 12, 1891

Hague, who started at third base for the Brown Stockings in 1875, died just a few years later in 1898. But the most important thing here is that nickname. Somebody needs to get that up on Baseball Reference because it's a classic.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

An Amateur League Doubleheader

The Amateur League of St. Louis intends experimenting this afternoon, their season having opened to-day. Two games are to be played for the State championship, at Grand Avenue Park in the afternoon. The Grand Avenues and Haymakers open the ball at 2 o'clock, and when they get through the Atlantics and Flyaways are to tackle each other. One admission ticket entitles the purchaser to view both games. The only question to be decided is whether there is sufficient time to play two games on the same ground in one afternoon. If it will work the system will be continued throughout the season.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 1, 1877

This is actually rather interesting because, according to Peter Morris, doubleheaders were not particularly common during this era:

More than one game was sometimes played on a day in the early days of baseball, but this practice had largely ended before the advent of professional baseball. There were two good reasons for this. First, owners saw no reason to give away twice as much of their product for the regular price. Second, the absence of lights meant that play would have to begin very early to be certain of completing two games.

The Resolutes and Boston did play a planned doubleheader on July 4, 1873, with separate admissions being charged...Twinbills were occasionally staged in the ensuing years, usually out of necessity when a canceled game had to be rescheduled.

Morris goes on to describe how the doubleheader became more common in the late 1880's and the single admission doubleheader gained popularity around the turn of the century.

But what we have here is an experiment with regularly scheduled, single admission doubleheaders in St. Louis in 1877, twenty odd years before such a thing became an accepted practice. It's unknown at this time if the experiment succeeded and the Amateur League continued with the practice but I'm going to keep an eye out for anymore doubleheaders in 1877 and see what I find.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dead Heads

It has leaked out why the Empires and Red Stockings do not come together again. Negotiations were pending for a match, but the Red Stocking manager refused to accede to them, unless the "dead-head" system was abolished. And this is a good idea. He objects to any person except the players witnessing the game free of charge, and insists on outside members of both clubs paying their entrance fee. If this rule was adhered to by amateur clubs, their balances on hand would be greatly increased.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 14, 1875

The phrase "outside members of both clubs" is rather interesting. One would have to assume that they're talking about the non-playing members of the Empire club for the most part. To the best of my knowledge, the Reds didn't have non-playing members unless you want to count stockholders.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Base Ball Is Now Wonderfully Perfect

The game of base ball is now wonderfully perfect and I never tire of looking at it or thinking of the extraordinary strides it has taken in fifteen or twenty years. Why, when the old Empires and Unions used to play it was considered a wonderful performance for a man to catch a ball on the fly; then it was all first or second bound. I remember what astonishment it created at the base ball Convention in 1969 when somebody proposed to abolish the first bound and make nothing but fly catches count out in the field. Why, most of us rose up and protested against any such innovation as calculated to injure the game; and I was one of the most earnest opposers of the new scheme. It went through, though. Now we have nothing but fly catches, and the game of 1886 is as different from the game of 1869 as death is from heaven.
-Henry Clay Sexton, quoted in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 25, 1886

This is a nice quote from Sexton but he's a bit off in his recollections. If I remember correctly, the fly rule was put into place at the national convention in 1864 and it had been hotly debated for several years prior to that. So while Sexton may have "rose up and protested," momentum had been building for years towards the acceptance of the fly rule.

Monday, February 2, 2009

John Riggin Writes A Letter To The Globe

To the Editor of the Globe-Democrat:

Manatee, South, Fla., May 18, 1881.-In your paper of April 29 appeared an article with the caption, "The Battle of Shiloh," giving an account of an interview with Gen. W.R. Rowley, of Galena, in which your correspondent states that "Gen. Rowley is the only surviving member of Gen. Grant's personal staff during the war." Had the statement appeared in any other than a St. Louis paper I might not have troubled you with this contradiction, but being a native of your city, where I resided for many years and have many friends, I wish to say that Gens. Rawlins, Hillyer and Col. Lagow, who with the writer composed the personal staff of Gen. Grant from the time the forces under him took the field at Cairo, Ill., until Generals Rowley was added, are long since dead, but the undersigned, although forced by a bronchial affection contracted during the war to Florida in 1874, still lives, and from this paradise looks on, through the columns of the Globe-Democrat, at the outside world.

I do not propose to enter the controversy as to whether there was or was not a surprise at the battle of Shiloh, especially so long as Generals Hurlbut, McClernand, and others who commanded at the front and who "fought like brave men, long and well," are so competent to speak, but I will say that Generals Grant and Sherman were both fully alive to the fact it was the policy of the Confederate commander to attack our forces before the arrival of Gen. Buell's command, and I would suggest that, in order to properly interpret orders given, and to criticise the position and condition of the army at Pittsburg Landing, a knowledge of the topography and condition at the time of the immediate and surrounding country, and of the difficulties in handling and forwarding munitions, etc., is necessary.

John Riggin, Jr.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 28, 1881

John Riggin, according to both Merritt Griswold and Leonard Matthews, was a member of the Cyclone Club.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Admission Price At The Compton Avenue Grounds

The Philadelphias, like the St. Louis Reds, will only charge twenty-five cents admission.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 1, 1876

We now know that both the Brown Stockings and Reds were charging twenty-five cents for admission during this era. I think that information excuses the shortness of this post.  Enjoy the Super Bowl.