Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Small Digression On The Weather In St. Louis

The snow storm of yesterday and the day before kept the ball tossers within doors, greatly to their disgust.

Dave Reed, the official scorer of the Browns, will take his benefit next Saturday, weather permitting.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 21, 1876

There are two things here that I thought I should point out. First, the benefit for David Reid was scheduled for March 11 but wasn't held until April 5. Obviously, the weather was the reason for the delay.

Secondly, for those who don't know much about the weather in St. Louis, this is an example of the nonsense we have to put up with climate-wise. The winter of 1875/1876 was mild enough for baseball to be played on Christmas and New Years Day and there were numerous games played among the top clubs during January and February. However, in late March when the season should have been gearing up, it was snowing.

Right now, here at the end of September, it's nice and cool with highs in the low sixties. But it wouldn't surprise me if within the next two weeks, the high in St. Louis hit ninety degrees. Of course, it also wouldn't surprise me if there was a foot of snow on the ground by Halloween. The weather here is ridiculous.

Here's what I don't understand: Let's say you're a pioneer in the mid-18th century and you decide to establish a little fur-trading outpost somewhere on the Mississippi. You find a really nice location at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Missouri, right in the heart of giant, beautiful river valley. Perfect. But the winters are as bad as anything in Canada and the summers are as bad as anything in Panama. And the spring and fall is nothing more than a battle between these two extremes. Also, there are tornadoes and floods and horrible humidity. From a weather standpoint, this is about as bad a place to settle as you could possibly find on God's green earth. Wouldn't you, after you figured out the weather patterns, pack it up and head somewhere else? The fact that they didn't do this and the fact that St. Louis exists makes me question the wisdom of our pioneer ancesters.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Desevring Of Credit Instead Of Abuse

The young man who furnishes the Republican with its base ball news was slightly mistaken when he accused Houtz and McSorley of jumping the Stocks of this city and joining the Stars of Covington, Ky. These two players, it is true, had signed to play with the Stocks, but only conditionally, as they had previously signed with the Stars. The latter club promised to send them a sum of money by a certain date, but failed to do so, and they accepted an offer from the Stocks of this city, who paid them a certain sum to bind the contract. When they signed, however, they expressly stated that should the Stars forward them the promised sum, they would consider themselves under obligations to play with that club. The manager of the Stocks agreed to this arrangement, and, subsequently, the boys received their money from Covington. They at once returned the money advanced by the Stocks, and canceled their contracts with that club, and got from its managers a written release, which they carried with them to Covington. This is the true inwardness of the whole matter, and throughout the whole transaction Houtz and McSorley acted in a most honorable manner, and are deserving of credit therefor instead of abuse.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 21, 1876

This is a fascinating little example of how complicated it was to contract for baseball players in the 19th century and how easy it was for a player to get tagged as a revolver.

Monday, September 28, 2009

For The Benefit Of Mr. Reid

Mr. Dave Reed, who reported the Brown Stocking games for local and foreign journals last season, and who knows as much about the merits of ball-tossers and the pastime itself as any man in the country, has, as a slight token of his appreciation by the ball-players of the city, been tendered a complimentary benefit, which comes off to-morrow afternoon at the Grand Avenue Park, a game having been arranged between the Grand Avenue nine, aided by three of the strongest Brown Stocking men, and a picked nine consisting principally of professionals. Mr. Reed has done more than his share to make the national game popular, in the East as well as in the West, has befriended many a player, and is richly deserving of this testimonial at their hands, as well as liberal patronage from the public. The nines will be selected with a view to making the contest unusually close and exciting, and habitues of the ball field should turn out en masse.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 10, 1876

I've written about the Reid benefit before and you'll find details about the game itself if you follow the link. But I'm still not certain why they had a benefit game for Reid even though the Globe states that it was held as a token of appreciation. Maybe that's true and Reid was such a wonderful guy and was so beloved by the ballplayers that they decided to throw him a party/benefit.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I Guess Billy Redmon Was A Globe-Democrat Reader

To the Editor of the Globe-Democrat.

St. Louis, February 28, 1876.-Dear Sir: We notice, in your issue of the 27th, that the Red Stocking Base Ball Club have secured the gallant little "short stop," Redmond,...(and) also Galvin, the "home runner" and excellent pitcher. Your reporter must have been misinformed in regard to the above players, as they are both engaged on the Stocks Base Ball Club.

C.Y. Bachelder,
Manager Stocks B.B.C.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 29, 1876

The following note from Mr. Redmon, the excellent short stop player, explains itself:

To the Editor of the Globe-Democrat.

St. Louis, February 29, 1876.-Dear Sir: I notice a card in your issue of to-day from the manager of the Stocks Base Ball Club, stating that your reporter must be misinformed when he stated that I would play with the St. Louis Reds during the coming season, and that I had been engaged by the Stocks. Your reporter was right. I will play with the Reds, as I agreed to do last December.

W. Redmon.

One word in regard to Mr. Galvin, the St. Louis pitcher. Last Friday night one of our reporters dropped in at the Reds' headquarters, and not only saw Mr. Galvin sign papers to play with the Reds, but was asked to witness his signature, which he did. Of course, he might have jumped the Reds since then, as some of the ball players are rather slippery. One thing is certain-Galvin is a real good player, and no mistake.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 1, 1876

Friday, September 25, 2009


The St. Louis Club opened play for the season New Year's Day by defeating a strong field nine by 18 to 1. Cuthbert catching and Blong pitching.
-Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 10, 1876

I've been looking for the score of this game for some time. Now I just need to find the score of the Christmas 1875 game.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Theodore Brown

The noted chess problemist, Theo. M. Brown, has been engaged to edit the base ball columns of Wilke's Spirit of the Times. He used to report the game in St. Louis.
-Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 16, 1873

Brown was indeed a noted chess problemist. He published several books of chess problems as well as books on general chess strategy. In Book of Chess Problems (1874), Brown published some biographical information about himself in the introduction:

Theodore Morris Brown...was born at Hammondsport, New York, A.D. 1837

At twelve years of age he commenced chess, and soon developed wonderful talent for the game.

His first problem was published in 1855, since which time we find his compositions everywhere.

In an 1877 volume of The Chess Journal, it was remarked that Brown died in September of 1876 and, in the November 1876 edition of the Westminster Paper, it was noted that Brown had contributed to the chess column of The New York Clipper for twenty years. The 1860 Kennedy directory lists Brown as living in St. Louis and working as a music teacher.

While this is certainly not a great deal of information, it peaks my interest. A music teacher, chess strategist, newspaperman and baseball writer-Theodore Brown appears to have lived a rather full life. I'd like to know more about him.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

No Mardi Gras Trip For The Brown Stockings

Most of the Brown Stocking players are in the city, ready for the spring practice, which will be begun in the early part of March, providing the weather is favorable. Their Southern tour with the Louisville nine has been abandoned, and the boys won't go South...The Browns will most probably content themselves at home until the season opens and active operations begin. They now have plenty of gymnasium practice, and as soon as the weather will permit will be knocking the leather over the daisies of their park grounds, on Grand avenue. The nine is a very promising one, and for the coming year much success is anticipated...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 14, 1876

The Brown Stockings had planned a tour that would have taken them to New Orleans for Mardi Gras but that fell through. They had to content themselves with hanging around St. Louis and playing the Grand Avenues, the Stocks and the Empires.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Sketch Of David Reid

The subject of our illustration and biographical sketch is David L. Reid, who is widely and favorably known to the fraternity, having been during the past decade thoroughly identified with professional baseball in Philadelphia and St. Louis as a manager, secretary and journalist. He was born May 14, 1848, in Nashville, Tenn., and came to this city with his parents when but a child. He gained a practical knowledge of the national game while playing with amateur clubs at Hamilton square in the palmy days of the old Manhattan, Metropolitan, Champion, Young America and Active Clubs. He early adopted journalism as his profession, and about 1868-69 contributed numerous articles to The Clipper over the signatures of "Diogenes" and "Oscar Bruce." Removing to Philadelphia, he helped to organize the Philadelphia Club, and the able manner in which he discharged the then onerous duties of secretary and manager tended much to the success of that club in 1873 and 1874-its initial seasons. Very much of the remarkable success-financial and otherwise-secured by the Philadelphia Club in those two seasons was mainly due to his executive tact and ability. In 1875 he migrated to St. Louis, where he has since resided and has displayed his usual zeal and assiduity in promoting baseball. It is hardly possible to say how much he has done towards furthering the national game in the Mound City, where his well-earned reputation as a journalist and his genial deportment have made him exceedingly popular. His connection with the St. Louis press proved a great power in stamping out dishonest play on the ballfield, and has helped to revive baseball in its pristine purity during the past two seasons. He is the secretary of the Sportsman's Park Association, the directors of which recently paid him a deserved compliment and substantially testified their appreciation of his efficient services by presenting him with a handsome gold watch and $200 in cash.
-The New York Clipper, December 2, 1882

I want to thank Bill Burgess for sending me the above article. Bill's research on Reid can be viewed here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Anticipating A Glorious Struggle

Owing to the inclement weather, the ball-tossers have had little chance to practice during the past few days. The Brown Stockings are now all on hand, and Mike McGeary has been chosen Captain of the team. It is understood that the management have decided to open the season with the following nine: Bradley, Clapp, Dehlman, Mack, Battin, McGeary, Cuthbert, Pike and Blong. The team could not possibly be placed better. It will be at once seen that, as regards batting capabilities, the present nine ranks head and shoulders over that of last year, and if the boys will only bat this season as well as they fielded last, their struggle with Chicago will be a glorious one indeed.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 26, 1876

I feel like I'm rushing a bit too fast towards the season which, of course, is where all the action is and that's understandable. But I think, before I start covering the season, I'm going to go back and bit and see what I've missed. I know there is some negative coverage in the Globe somewhere regarding the formation of the League and the impact it has on smaller clubs and I certainly want to post that information. Also, I think I'll take a look around at some of the papers outside of St. Louis and see what they have to say about the Brown Stockings going into the 1876 season.

This is a project for the long haul and there's no need to rush things. I'm sure there's lots of good stuff that I didn't find from the November 1875-March 1876 period and now's probably the right time to go back and take another look.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Little Preliminary Practice

Yesterday afternoon the Browns were out to their park in full force, and indulged in passing the yarn and leather around for a couple of hours. With the assistance of amateurs present two nines were selected, and several innings played. Bradley pitched and Clapp caught on one side, while Blong occupied the six foot square, and Miller took his hot shots, on the other. Three or four brilliant plays were made during the scrimmage, the most noticeable being a fine one-handed catch made by Mr. Eugene Wolff, which was loudly applauded by the hundred spectators in attendance. Clapp did not seem to get the hang of Bradley's pacers, but will no doubt soon work well with the old man. McGrary occupied second base, and attempted to everything that came his way in apple-pie order. The Browns seem determined to put themselves in good playing trim at as early a day as possible.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 5, 1876

The Brown Stockings were reasonably active prior to March of 1876. There are notices in the Globe for games on Christmas and New Years Day. Sadly, I've never been able to find reports of those games. Also they played a couple of games in February against the Grand Avenues and the Empire Club. Obviously, these games do not constitute part of their League schedule and I don't even see the February games as part of a tune-up for the new season. It appears to have been a rather mild winter in St. Louis and they took the opportunity to play some games and make some money.

Also, as I had recently mentioned nicknames, note the use of "Browns" to identify the St. Louis Club. The usage of "Browns" was not particularly uncommon but, as an editorial policy, I use "Brown Stockings" to distinguish the 1875-1877 club from the later 1882-1898 Brown Stockings/Browns. Put, for the sake of accuracy, it should be stated that the 1875-1877 club was identified, in print, as both the Brown Stockings and the Browns.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Bit Of Understatement

There is every indication that the base ball season for 1876 will be one of unusual activity. Several new clubs have been formed, and all the old organizations remain in the field with re-enforcements. Preparations have been made for several important matches in April. The most noteworthy of these are the games between the Chicago and St. Louis clubs, which will take place the latter part of April. The movement initiated by the professional players of the West, which has resulted in a National League of professional clubs, will probably have considerable influence, it is thought, upon the summer campaign.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 29, 1876 (from the New York Tribune)

Friday, September 18, 2009

And An Honest Base-Ball Association Is Born

The most important measure ever adopted by the professional base ball clubs of this country has been considered and approved by a council of representatives of the eight principal clubs of the country, in a session at the Grand Central Hotel.

The new scheme, which is destined to elevate base ball to the rank of a legitimate amusement, is the formation of a new association of professional clubs on the debris of the old National Association, and the clubs which participate are the Bostons, of Boston; the Hartfords, of Hartford; the Mutuals, of New York; the Athletics, of Philadelphia; the White Stockings, of Chicago; the Cincinnatis, of Cincinnati; the Lousivilles, of Louisville; and the St. Louis, of St. Louis.

The last-named clubs were represented at this conference by W.A. Hulbert, President of the Chicagos, and Mr. Fowle, of the St. Louis Club. The Eastern clubs were all represented by delegates.

The conference met yesterday noon at the Grand Central Hotel, and organized by the election of Nick Young as Secretary, after which the Western delegates stated the proposition for a new association more fully than it had been given by letter, and proceeded to enumerate the advantages to be gained by the proposed union.

As nearly as I could get at the reasons, they were these:

1. The feeling that something must be done to get rid of the dishonest players who have brought disrepute on the game...

2. Is seemed clear to the members of the council that the distinction between professional and amateur clubs had grown somewhat lax, and that there were growing up all over the country a swarm of semi-professionals who sought to be classed with the real first-class organizations by the simple process of applying for the membership in the National Association...

3. The instinct of self-preservation impelled the members of the Council to band together to better their financial condition in any way possible...

A consideration of these facts, and an argument over them, decided the wavering opinion of a few doubters that the only way that the National game could be put on a sound financial and moral basis was to cut down the number of clubs in the ring and made the selection so as to leave out the weaker clubs, as well as those most doubtful in character of management and players, and those from the places so small as to render it difficult, if not impossible, to pay expenses while visiting them.

A constitution for the new Association, embodying the ideas here advanced and providing, generally, for an association of the eight clubs named, was adopted Tuesday without much difficulty...

The work to-day has been that of revising the playing rules and championship code...

That the new movement is one of great importance to the game no one here for a moment doubts, and, so far as I know, every honest player and manager will approve the steps taken...
-St. Louis Globe-Dispatch, February 5, 1876 (from the Chicago Tribune)

If you ever find yourself in a debate about team nicknames (as I know some for you have been involved in at other sites), just quote the above article and this odd designation of the Bostons of Boston or the St. Louis of St. Louis. While I know that the St. Louis of St. Louis were properly known as the St. Louis Club, they were obviously also called the Brown Stockings. I'll take a look about and see if I can find any pattern in name usage because I think that would make for an interesting post.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Best Manner Of Conducting The Sport

Representatives from the base ball clubs of St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati have been in consultation with the directors of the Louisville organization, for several days, in regard to the best manner of conducting the sport next season, were treated to a banquet by the Louisville club; and during their stay discussed freely what will be best to promote the interests of the sport in all sections of the country, finally adjourning, to meet with the National Convention, in March next.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 19, 1875

As I understand (and often embrace) my limitations as a writer, I really shouldn't criticize the writing of others. However, the above sentence is a monstrosity and is, at the very least, missing a conjunction. It is also, like a great deal of 19th century newspaper prose, overly punctuated. Of course, I'm also guilty of that crime myself from time to time but 19th century writers were extraordinarily comma happy.

I'm not certain at this point how deep I'm going to go into the founding of the National League but it is important to the story of the Brown Stockings' 1876 season. At the very least, I'll give the St. Louis perspective (or, more specifically, I'll post William Spink's thoughts on the matter). I think there's enough information out there about the founding of the League and no great mysteries that need investigation regarding its founding. Looking at what is mostly settled history from a different point of view should be productive.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Team Will Not Be A United Force

The club team of St. Louis was not a well-managed nine last season, by any means; and from the circumstance of the selection made of two players this season who are under the ban of suspicion it does not appear that there is to be any marked improvement exhibited. The new nine, as engaged, will be Clapp, catcher; Bradley, pitcher; Dehlman, first base; Pearce, short stop; Cuthbert, left field; Pike, center field, and Mack, right field. This is a good team, but it is stated that McGeary, of the whitewashed quartet of the Philadelphia nines, is to be third baseman, and Blong, an expelled player from the Covington Stars, the right-fielder and change pitcher. If this is so, the team will not be a united force or a reliable nine. Such a selection shows a faulty management, beyond doubt, and the result cannot but be disastrous to the career of the St. Louis Club during the coming season.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 29, 1875 (quoting the New York World)

The World was simply off by a year in their prediction of the disastrous effect that the personnel decisions made by Brown Stocking management would have on the club and baseball in St. Louis.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Financially, The Season Was A Success

A meeting of the stockholders of the St. Louis Base Ball Association was held in one of the parlors of the Southern Hotel last night, the attendance being large. The reports of the various officers were read and adopted, after which officers for the ensuing year were elected, no change being made except in the directory, Messrs. Carr, Medart and Steigers dropping out. The report of the Treasurer showed that there was a balance in the treasury of over $3,000. Park improvements cost the association between $3,000 and $4,000, and quite a sum was paid in advance to secure players for next year's nine, otherwise there would have been a larger sum to report. Financially, the season was a success, but as members of the press were excluded from the meeting, for purposes best known to the association, and those most interested do not evince any desire to make the affairs of the club public, the figures cannot be given.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 10, 1875

I know that I've posted this before and we had a bit of a debate about what the financial numbers actually meant but for the sake of the new project, I thought it wouldn't hurt to repost the material. It's interesting to look at it in the context of starting the 1876 season rather than as an end to the 1875 season. I think that we can say that, going into the Centennial season, the Brown Stockings were in decent financial shape.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Our Second Anniversary

On this day way back in 2007, I launched this little blog. Two years and almost 1000 posts later, I'm still at it. As TGOG enters its third year, I want to say thank you to all of my readers, all who have visited and all who have left comments or sent me emails. In all honesty, I do this because it's fun, because I enjoy it and because a man has to do something to keep himself out of trouble. But the fact that there are people who follow and enjoy the blog is extraordinarily humbling. I truly appreciate all who stop by to visit and spend some of their valuable time reading what is really nothing more than my online research journal. Thank you all very much and I'll try to be a better blogger in the future. Now on to the celebratory video:

We start with, what else, Little River Band:

The Big Lebowski is easily in my top five favorite movies of all time and, like the Dude, I hate the Eagles. But I love the Gipsy Kings version of Hotel California.

Speaking of The Big Lebowski, this is a nice, short mix from the movie and it is probable not safe for work.

Here's some Dylan for you. I quote this song at work all the time: People are crazy and times are strange...I used to care but things have changed.

More Dylan: All Along The Watchtower. While everybody (including Dylan himself) believes that Jimi's version is definitive, I respectfully disagree. Dylan's version is a sparse, devastating, haunting, apocalyptic vision of the end of all things and it can't be touched. Not even by Jimi.

My love of and obsession with All Along The Watchtower knows no bounds and it's one of the few songs that I know by heart. I think the best non-Dylon version of the song was done by Bear McCreary. It comes closest to capturing the haunting despair that Dylan intended. Interestingly, McCreary was the composer for all four seasons of Battlestar Galactica, which is one of my favorite shows of all time, and his version of All Along The Watchtower was used as a major plot device at the end of season three and into season four. Within the context of the show, McCreary's version of the song is extraordinarily powerful.

If you take one thing away from this post, it should be that I'm very thankful for your support of this blog and Bear McCreary is an incredibly talented composer. Do yourself a favor and check out his work. I recommend the soundtracks to all four seasons of Battlestar Galactica. McCreary is fantastic.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Centennial Nine

The Brown Stockings have already contracted with the players to represent them on the green diamond next season, and a perusal of the list, which is herewith appended, will show that the team has been very materially strengthened by the addition of such splendid ball-tossers as Clapp, the late Athletic catcher, who signed with the Browns last week; McGeary, formerly of the Philadelphias, and "Mack," of the Covington Stars. The following will probably constitute the Centennial nine: Bradley, pitcher; Clapp, catcher; Dehlman, first base; Battin, second base; McGeary, third base; Pearce, short stop; Cuthbert, left field; Pike, center field; Blong, right field and change pitcher; with Miller, change catcher, and Mack, who can play on either base or at short, as substitutes. Chicago must look to her laurels in '76.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 7, 1875

Saturday, September 12, 2009

An Organization Of Their Own

Eighteen professional and co-operative clubs have already been announced for the Centennial year, as follows: Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Louisville, Mutual, New York, Hartford, Boston, Athletic, Philadelphia, Americus, New Haven, Atlantic, St. Louis Reds, Buffalo, Cleveland, Burlington, Washington. Of these it is safe to presume that the majority will not live to see the end of the season, and as it will be impossible for all of them to compete for the championship, the Chicago Tribune sensibly suggests the following remedy:

When the professional association meets it should adopt the following principles to govern the championship contests:

1. No club should be allowed to enter for the championship unless it be backed by a responsible association, financially capable of finishing a season when begun.

This, if adopted, would cut off the Atlantic Club and other co-operative frauds.

2. No club should be admitted from a city of less size than 100,000 inhabitants-excepting only Hartford.

This would cut off the New Havens and other clubs in places so small that, under the most favorable circumstances, a first-class club could never expect to get its expenses paid for going to them.

3. No two clubs should be admitted from the same city.

The evil effects of having more than one club in a city have been shown in Philadelphia this year. First, the Centennials went under, and then the Philadelphias and Athletics divided the interest, so that both of them have ended the season at a loss, poorer than poverty, and owing their players. One club can live in Philadelphia, but two must starve-not only themselves, but visiting clubs. This is shown in the statement of White Stocking receipts. And it is well known that the Athletic Club owes $6,000 as its showing for the year, while the Philadelphias are not much better off-or would not be, but for some peculiar practices.

4. The faith of the management of a club should be shown by the deposit of $1,000, or perhaps $1,500, in the hands of the association before the season begins. The sum not to be played for, but returned to each club which carries out its agreements and plays its return games. If it refuses to play all the games that it agrees to, let the sum be forfeited.

The adoption of these restrictions would limit the contestants next year to Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Louisville in the West, Athletic, New York, and Mutual in the Middle States, and Hartford and Boston in the East; and with such an association the games would be prosperous, and the people who attended championship games would have a guarantee that they were to see the best clubs and the best games possible.

It may be doubted whether the Professional Association will be willing to vote the restrictions proposed, and, if they do not, it will be the plain duty of the nine clubs named to withdraw from the association as it now stands, and form an organization of their own-a close corporation, too. Every club which has a backing should discuss this matter before the meeting of the Professional Association and so instruct their representative that he will feel at liberty to take such action as may be for the best interests of the game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 31, 1875

Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't William Hulbert write the piece in the Trib that William Spink is quoting here? Or at the very least, he passed the ideas along to the Tribune who acted as his spokesman in the matter. Either way this is the outline for the new National League that the Brown Stockings would join for the inaugural 1876 season.

One thing of interest here, in light of the Globe's later editorial policy, is that Spink describes Hulbert's plan as sensible and implies that he supports it. It didn't take long for Spink to change his tune and attack the plan as monopolistic. It will be interesting to see when exactly Spink begins to sour on the League. I would imagine it happens at the exact moment that the Reds realize that they aren't part of the Grand Scheme.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Short Homily On The Lunacy (or This Is As Good A Place To Start As Any)

The base ball season of 1875 ended yesterday, and, as it has been the most eventful since the adoption of the sport as a National one, a short homily on the lunacy is in order. It has been an eventful season in more than one respect. Thirteen clubs entered in the race for the whip-pennant, each one starting in with a big flourish of trumpets. Yet, in a very short time, three of them, the Washingtons, Westerns and Centennials had disbanded, and three others did not endeavor to visit foreign clubs on their own grounds, and hence were out of the race before it had fairly started. These facts, as a matter of course, tended to bring the game into disrepute, and will bear a little explanation. The clubs which disbanded were organized for speculative purposes, and, being poorly managed, became insolvent. Of the others, the New Havens, after receiving two-thirds of the gate receipts in their games with Western clubs at home, did not return the visits, although promising to do so, until quite late in the season. It was a confidence operation, in which St. Louis and Chicago were victimized. The same remark applies to the Atlantics, who never had any organization, or any responsibility, and played no less than thirty-eight different men in their nine during the summer. With the St. Louis Reds, who are also out of the race, it was different. They entered for the championship with the firm determination of endeavoring to gain a place, and it was not their fault that they did not do so. They were cried down by unworthy rivals, who did everything in their power to bankrupt the management, but failed. The Brown Stockings would not arrange games with them, except on their own terms, and Eastern organizations were informed by mischief-makers that the Reds would not last, and when the "Ponies" expressed a willingness to go East, the organizations referred to could not be prevailed upon to arrange games with them.

During the season there were more complaints of "hippodroming" than ever before, and from the appearance of things the charges were, in most cases, founded on fact. It is, of course, almost impossible to furnish proof positive that a game is not decided on its merits. Yet there were doubtless many of them "thrown" to benefit the gambling fraternity. The Philadelphia and Mutual Clubs, as they always have been, were looked upon as the black sheep in the flock, each organization being controlled by a coterie of sporting men. The Mutuals were not strong enough this season to successfully "hippodrome" to any very great extent. Hicks, their catcher, it is said, could tell how many runs their opponents would make in each inning, and his friends used to lay their wagers accordingly. With the Philadelphia nine it was different, its players being skillful enough to win when they pleased, except when pitted against the Bostons or Athletics. Hippodroming places them next to last in the championship race, while their proper position should be third. Zettlein, the pitcher, only last week, openly charged his associates with selling out, and retired in disgust. During the season half a dozen of the players have been frequently charged with "crooked" conduct, among them Treacy, McGeary, Meyerle and Zettlein. Of other clubs, it is openly charged that Chicago lost her final games to Hartford to beat St. Louis out of third place, which is about as probable as that Chicago and St. Louis arranged at the beginning of the season that each organization should win all games played on its own grounds, which proved to be the case. Many there are who assert that they are confident such was the case.

Although numerous players were accused of dishonesty, desertion and unfaithful conduct during the season, not a single member was expelled from the association. On the contrary, they were all released from their engagements; and, by being at once hired by some rival club to the one which they had left, were tempted still further to sell out and "revolve." Higham left Chicago, and the Mutuals received him with open arms. Blong was expelled from the Reds and Stars, to be affectionately received in the Brown Stocking fold. Latham went from Boston to New Haven, and thence to Canada. Fields skipped the Washingtons for the Ludlows, and others too numerous to mention skipped from one club to another with perfect impunity. This has done more than anything else towards killing base ball, and, unless the players to which class those mentioned belong are at once emphatically informed that their services are not desired, another year will show that base ball is assuredly played out.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 31, 1875

Let's see: club instability, crooked ballplayers and lots of revolving. This sounds familiar. I'm sure somebody has a plan for solving these problems. Perhaps the creation of a new league or something like that?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The 1876 St. Louis Brown Stockings

With the second anniversary of TGOG fast approaching, I'm going to try and do something a little different. First, I'm going to not write about Fred Dunlap for awhile (hold your applause). That is just a dead horse, well beaten and I've bored even myself with the subject. Second, I've decided to pick one team from the history of 19th century St. Louis baseball and focus on until the subject is thoroughly covered or I get tired of the project.

For this particular project, I've decided to focus on the 1876 St. Louis Brown Stockings. While I've often neglected the 1875-1877 Brown Stockings for various reasons, the 1876 version of the club has been even more neglected. They weren't the club that ended the tyranny of Chicago baseball in St. Louis and they weren't the club that got caught in a gambling scandal. They were just a darn good baseball team and if they have any historical legacy it would be that they took part in the inaugural season of the National League. Also, 1876 just happens to be the first season that is covered completely in the online Globe-Democrat archives.

So settle in and get used to hearing about this club. Certainly, I'll be posting other things as the mood strikes (and the research warrants) but I think it'll be fun to focus on one subject for awhile and not be so scatter-shot in my approach to blogging. I'm at the beginning of this project and the idea is rather new in my mind so I'm not sure what exactly is going to happen. How in depth I'm going to go I can't say but I think this is going to be fun. Consider this fair warning.

Now, some interesting, superficial numbers regarding the 1876 Brown Stockings that I meticulously researched by going to BRef:

-The Brown Stockings finished the season 45-19, six games back of the evil Chicagos.

-Technically, they finished third behind Hartford, who had 47 wins, but they had the second best winning percentage in the NL.

-They were not a particularly good hitting club, finishing sixth in runs scored in an eight team league. But they were a very good pitching and defensive club. The Brown Stockings finished first in ERA and in fewest runs allowed in 1876 and committed the fewest errors and had the highest fielding percentage in the League.

-Lipman Emanuel Pike (and it's very possible that I may from this time forward refer to Lip Pike as Lipman Emanuel Pike) had a particularly good year at the plate. He finished ninth in OBP, third in slugging, fourth in OPS, fifth in total bases, fourth in doubles, third in triples, and sixth in RBI. According to almost any advanced metric, Lipman Emanuel Pike was one of the top five hitters in the League.

-George Washington Bradley (and there's no reason to refer to George Bradley as anything other than George Washington Bradley) was most likely the best pitcher in the League in 1876. He led the League in ERA, ERA+, H/9, WHIP and shutouts. He finished second in wins, two behind Spalding, and was second in IP behind Devlin.

-There are some very familiar names on the club to anyone familiar with the history of 19th century baseball. Besides Lipman Emanuel Pike (and I'm going to have to create some kind of macro for that because Lipman Emanuel Pike is not as easy to type as it looks) and George Washington Bradley, the club also had the great Dickey Pearce, Herman Dehlman, Joe Battin and Ned Cuthbert returning from the 1875 NA club. They also had John Clapp, Denny Mack, Mike McGeary and, of course, Joe Blong (who appears to have behaved himself during 1876; but we'll see about that).

So I'm very excited about this. There's plenty of material to work with and it should make for an interesting story. And don't worry, it won't be the 1876 Brown Stockings 24/7 around here. I'll try to include a couple of posts each week about other things for the sake of variety but this is going to be the main project around here for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Standard To Which All Others Were Held

The Troy Times in comparing Ferguson's record with that of Dunlap, says:

"The chronic grumblers who so strenuously urged a short time ago that Mr. Ferguson, Troy's second baseman and manager, was played out-too old for active service and unable to control his men-have changed their minds, and well they might do so. Comparing Mr. Ferguson's record with that of Dunlap, who is claimed to be the best second baseman in the country, it is found that Ferguson excels him at every point..."
-Brooklyn Eagle, August 16, 1880

This has to be one of the earliest reference to Dunlap as the best second baseman in the country. It's certainly the earliest that I've seen. While the article goes on to compare Bob Ferguson to Dunlap, the important thing is not whether or not Ferguson was better than Dunlap but that Ferguson was being compared to the young Dunlap. Fred Dunlap was the standard to which all other second baseman were held. Even years after his playing days were over, baseball writers were still comparing young second basemen to Dunlap.

I think it was Bill James (ironically) who wrote about Satchel Paige and said that all Negro League pitchers were compared to him. This pitcher or that pitcher was as good as Paige or better than Paige or was faster than Paige; the point being not that these men were better than Paige but that Paige was the standard to which all other Negro League pitchers were held. Paige was, most likely, the best pitcher in the history of the Negro Leagues and it was natural to hold him up as the standard. The same seems to be true of Dunlap. While Dunlap may or may not be the best 19th century second baseman, he was for some time the best second baseman in the game and, in 1883 and 1884, the best player in the game. There are several people who saw him play and believed that he was the best player of all-time and his play set a standard for second basemen that lasted until the days of Nap Lajoie.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Dunlap Assaults A Bartender

Attorney Irving E. Ziegler yesterday brought four specially interesting damage suits in the Common Pleas Court. In one of them Daniel J. Heffron, formerly bartender at McCuen's Eleventh street saloon, is the plaintiff, and Frederick Dunlap, the former second baseman of the Pittsburg ball club, is the defendant. Heffron asks for $10,000 damages for an alleged assault and battery. He days that at midnight on the 3d of last April he was in a place on south Thirteenth street when Dunlap attacked him, striking him with his fists on the head and face. His head was cut and lacerated, his eyes blacked and his body bruised and maimed. Dunlap, he says, first knocked him senseless to the floor and then kicked him. In consequence of his injuries the bartender says that he was under treatment at home and in a hospital for fourteen days and it is his physician's opinion that he will never regain his former health and strength. He asserts that he has always conducted himself at all times and places in a proper manner and that the assault was without the slightest cause or provocation.
-The North American (Philadelphia), May 23, 1894

I haven't found another source yet on how all of this played out but I'm still looking.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Any Club That Gets Me Must Pay Me Big Money

Fred Dunlap, who has wanted his release from the Pittsburg National League Club for some time, will be allowed to go to-morrow. "I'm glad of it," he said to-day. "There's nothing behind this club, anyway. It can't live and pay big salaries. They expected too much of me. I wasn't playing such bad ball but they want to get rid of all the high-salaried men. Any club that gets me must pay me big money. They are paying off some of the men but are deducting for boxes of cigarettes and other little things given on trips. They owe me 500 'Simelions.' When paid I guess I'm through with them. Base-ball's done for in a good many towns. To further curtail expenses it is likely that Gray, Jones and Daniels will be released. The club has lost $13,000 so far this season."
-The Daily Inter Ocean, May 15, 1890

I really need to stop writing about Dunlap for awhile. At this point, even I'm finding him to be a rather unsympathetic figure.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

I Wouldn't Want To Deal With Him

Fred Dunlap, the crack second baseman, has returned from Philadelphia and proposes to raise a row with Hanlon, the Brotherhood manager here. Dunlap, it seems, was offered $4,500 by the Pitssburgh Brotherhood and accepted, but afterward went to Philadelphia, as he thought he could get $5,000 there and because he would not play for Hanlon, the Pittsburgh manager. The Philadelphia club finally refused to pay him $5,000, as they claimed the extra $500 was paid him last year because he was manager of the Pitssburgh team. Dunlap said that all Brotherhood men were to be paid last year's salaries and as his was $5,000 he quit Philadelphia. He is here now inaugurating a vigorous kick on Hanlon, as he says the latter was elected contrary to the rules of the Brotherhood and the players were allowed no vote in his case. Hanlon fires back and says no matter how good a player Dunlap is he does not want him.
-Atchison (Kansas) Daily Globe, March 4, 1890

Can we just stipulate that Dunlap was a royal pain in the rear end? While I admire him for standing up for his personal business interests, the squabbles over money are rather wearisome to read about, considering that it was pretty much an annual thing with Dunlap. He must have been very difficult to deal with.

And I just had a horrible thought: imagine Fred Dunlap represented by Scott Boras. Yikes.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Photos of Bob Caruthers And Dave Foutz

These pics of Caruthers and Foutz were cropped out of the 1889 Brooklyn team photo which, being the nice guy that I am, I am also posting. The original team photo comes from the Vintage Panoramic Pictures thread at BBF.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Photo Of Joe Blong

This photo of Joe Blong is cropped from a team photo of the 1876 St. Louis Brown Stockings which I'm sure I've posted somewhere around here before. I've been playing with the picture on and off for awhile now and I think this is the best I can do with my limited skills.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why Dunlap?

I've been writing a fairly long piece on Fred Dunlap and, so, I've had him on my mind lately (more so than usual). Anybody that reads this blog on a regular basis knows that I have an unhealthy obsession with the kingpin of second basemen. If I never write another word about the man I believe that I've done my part to rehabilitate his reputation against the onslaught of the Jamesian conventional wisdom. I feel that I've more than proven that Dunlap was one of biggest baseball stars of the 1880s and that he, during his peak, was regarded as the best second baseman in the game. Whether anyone is listening or paying attention...

But a question came to me this afternoon that I've never considered before and I think that it's relevant to the discussion. The question is this: Why did Henry Lucas sign Fred Dunlap? And, more importantly, why did he sign him to the contract that he did? Ponder that for awhile and we'll come back to it.

I once wrote that I don't believe in coincidence and while doing a bit of research on Dunlap, I came across a rather interesting non-coincidence. In the fall of 1883, Cleveland and Dunlap came to St. Louis to play the Browns in an exhibition series. They played three games on October 22, 23 and 24, with the Browns winning two out of three, and it just so happened that the first rumors of Henry Lucas' plans for the Union Association leaked in the Globe on October 23. Lucas is in the process of putting together his new league and formulating plans for the 1884 season and two future members (Dunlap and Glasscock) of the Maroons are in town playing baseball. I would argue that it's highly likely that Dunlap, who signed with the Black Diamonds by the end of November, was first approached about jumping to the Maroons when he was in St. Louis in late October of 1883.

But that brings us back to the question of the day: Why Dunlap? I believe that the answer is self-evident. Dunlap was the best player in baseball in 1883 and Lucas, trying to make a big splash with his new league, wanted the best player in baseball on his new club and in his new Union Association. Lucas, who was a baseball player and fan, targeted Dunlap when he came to St. Louis in October and, making sure that he got his man, offered to make him the highest paid player in the game. He gave Dunlap a two year, guaranteed contract worth at least $7500 and perhaps as much as $10,000, with at least some of the money paid upfront. While the existence of the UA certainly had an impact on the inflation of salaries in 1884, nobody else was getting this kind of contract.

Lucas signed Dunlap, and made him the highest paid player in the game, because Fred Dunlap was the best player in baseball in 1883 and had been the best second baseman in the game for four years. It was a move designed to make headlines and to give the UA credibility as a legitimate major league. In order to get the publicity he needed, and to build a championship club in St. Louis, Lucas needed a star and a franchise player. And the one that he chose was Fred Dunlap.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Artist Who Blazed The Road

Fred Dunlap has played and will probably continue to play good ball for years to come, but when his fame as a player has been forgotten he will be remembered as the artist who blazed the road to high salaries, and who never got the short end of a deal, even when dickering with men skilled in financiering. When he made a contract he always had a lawyer draw it up in proper air-tight shape, and we never heard of one of them being set aside as "vague and indefinite."
-Sporting Life, February 14, 1891

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

They Do Not Hesitate To Declare Him A Jonah

Fred Dunlap has never been a member of a successful club since he left the Albany Club. The Cleveland club had no luck after he joined them and Detroit managed to pull off the championship one season with him on the team, but immediately afterward died an unnatural death. His appearance on the Pittsburg team has been equally unsuccessful and now he has gone to New York to join the Brotherhood club in that city. Fred is a great player, but the hoo-doo that seems to shadow him will make itself felt wherever he may go. There are a number of people in this vicinity who have watched his course with more than ordinary interest, and they do not hesitate to declare him a Jonah.
-Sporting Life, May 31, 1890

Just so you don't think that I'm so totally in the bag for Dunlap that I won't publish anything negative about him, I humbly submit the above. And having said that...

I think the author of the above quote is leaving out a few things. First and foremost, the Maroons, with Dunlap as their star and captain, won the UA by twenty-one games. And while he tries to dismiss it, the author can't get around the fact that Detroit did win the National League championship and a world series against the Browns with Dunlap playing second base. Facts, people. I'm just giving you the facts.

What about the Cleveland years? In 1879, the Cleveland League club finished 27-55. In 1880, after adding a certain second baseman who happened to end up as the best rookie and the best second baseman in the league, the club finished 47-37. In 1881, the club finished a poor 36-48 but the next year, with Dunlap taking over as manager, Cleveland rebounded to finish 42-40 (and Dunlap's record as manager was actually 42-36). In 1883, with Dunlap arguably the best player in the League, Cleveland finished 55-42.

That Cleveland club wasn't too bad. They had Dunlap, Jack Glasscock and Orator Shaffer (which makes me think that if the Maroons had a healthy Charlie Sweeney in 1885 and 1886, they could have been competitive in the NL). They also had a decent pitcher in Jim McCormick and in any given year between 1880 and 1883 they'd have a decent player like a young Ned Hanlon or Doc Bushong. I think it's just a bit much to expect that club to beat out Chicago, Providence or Boston for the pennant. While a decent club, they were one or two guys short of really contending.

The Detroit club that Dunlap joined in 1886 had finished 41-67 the previous year. Their improvement to 87-36 was certainly not all due to Dunlap but he didn't hurt the situation. In 1887, of course, the club finished 79-45, winning the NL and the series. In 1888, with Dunlap in Pittsburgh, Detroit fell back to 68-63 while his new club improved from 55-69 to 66-68.

So Dunlap played for two championship clubs and, in general, the clubs that he joined improved while the clubs he left declined. I hardly think that qualifies him as a Jonah. I think that it actually illustrates how good a ballplayer Fred Dunlap really was.