Brooklyn Ball, Reconstruction Style

(bumped from fanposts. --eric)

Aside from maybe wikipedia, I don't know of a better place to mindlessly punch in search terms than the archives of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, engineered flawlessly by our Brooklyn Public Library.  Let's try, oh, "beer."  11/11/1898:


Huh???  See, history has lots of layers...

In 2004 I was ambitious and tried to keep up with the day's news from 150 years ago. I fell in love with the Eagle because Walt Whitman used to edit it and it's full of color.  My goal was to make it to the Civil War, and, if I'd continued, Lincoln would ready to campaign about now.  I didn't.  Sucks.  Frickin' Pierce was still President.  So in 2010 it's all about instant gratification, and I elect to stare directly into the sun.  Without further ado, here's "base-ball." 


(It isn't just that they made up Mr. Met in 1896; there's more...)

August 18, 1868:



This is a baseball blog, so let's get down to the action, shall we?  I've included player positions in brackets.

Top 1:

DICKEY PEARCE [6] GOES TO THE BAT. All is hushed to see what he will do. Of course, he hits the ball and into a safe spot also, and gets his base very easily, then Charley Smith [4] comes to the bat, he hits; it's foul; while he stands there, Dickey takes it into his little head to go to second base and like a little man, as he is, goes there.

Only Napoleons steal bases.

Charley hits again, the ball goes up and falls down foul, and the iron fingers of Dockney [2] catch it and Smith is declared out. Oh, Ha! says Dickey to himself, this won't do, I'll go to third base, and when Joe Start hits the ball I'll go home. He does it. But Joe [3] hits the ball to the same spot that Charley did and he is out. Now festive Jack Chapman [7], comes to the bat, Dickey wants his run, and attempts to steal in to home base. But Wolters [opposing 1], twigs the dodge, runs up to the home, receives the ball and gently touches Dickey, who is out, and the inning is closed without a run for the Atlantics. Naughty little Dicky.

You can make a complete score-card with this description. In fact you can make a complete scorecard for 9 of the 18 half-innings played and a close approximation for 3 more. If you didn't notice, Dickey almost got himself home on a single and two fly-ball outs to the catcher. It was expected that a runner would get "his run," and early box scores reflect it. More on that later. Also, you're going to learn that this writer has a crush on Dickey/Dicky.

Bottom 1:

McMahon [9] came to the bat first, as usual, for the Mutuals, but quickly retired on a foul fly taken by Mills [2]. Dockney [2], the hard hitter, did the same thing; but Wolters [1] got his grit up and struck right out from the shoulder, and away went the ball, skipping along the ground past Charley Smith [4], and almost past McDonald [9].

Hold up, grit?!??!?!?!  And from a pitcher???!?!?!!!

He took his first, and Pike [7], by a splendid hit, helped him to third, and then he came home on a passed ball of Mills [2].  The crowd cheered immensely.  The backers of the Mutuals picked up heart; their boys were playing beautifully, and they saw hopes of winning.  Now Galvin [3] went to the bat, and their hopes rested on him that he would bring Pike in.  But, alas! he hit the ball to a dangerous spot.  He hit to Charley Smith [4], and of course went out at first base.  One run in for the Mutuals, to nothing for the Atlantics.

In one full inning there have been four pop fouls to the catcher; not sure why that would be.  Maybe they had nice, short swings.  Also of interest is the fact that the Mutual fans had lost heart in the bottom of the 1st after a scoreless top. Maybe they are our ancestors.

Top 2:

By reason of Dicky being the third man out, Charley Smith went to the bat first.

How interesting.  Charley Smith batted second in the last inning, but because the first batter in the order made the last out (albeit on the base paths), Smith leads off the second.  Again, from the time he steps to the plate until the time he returns home, a player's actions are all thought of as a single piece -- him trying to get his run. 

Everybody expected him to hit either a long ball or a safe ball, but he didn't, he hit the ball direct to George Flanley [4], who quickly put it to first base, and Charley, very much chagrined, took a back seat.  Joe [3] meant business, and struck to left field, too short for Pike to get it, leisurely taking his first base.  Then he started to go to second base; seeing this Dock [2] though to cut him off, but threw too high, and Mr. Stuart took his third. 

Another first to third on hustle.  Joe is one of two batters who "mean business" in this account alone.

Chapman [7] now hit a splendid ball to left field, near the foul ball post; away trotted Joe to home and Chapman to second.  This was followed by Crane [8] going out of a fly by Devyr [6].  Mills [2] didn't believe in this kind of business, and hit for a home run.  Fergy [5] hit for his third base, and then stole home, and it was left for Zettlein [1] to go out on a fly by Flanly [4], who was playing like a "scruncher."

My guess is that the scrunching second baseman must have crept way in and caught yet another pop-up nearish the batter's box?  Must have been scary for him. In any case, interestingly, our writer always tells you who recorded an out, and in the case of infield defense he compliments players when he treats the things as automatic.  "Of course he went out at first base."  Notice what he doesn't talk about?  Pitching.  In fact, when Woters "twigs the dodge" and wins a footrace to tag a guy at home, that is the longest reference to a pitcher in his whole account.  They might as well have been hitting off a tee.  Hitting and defense mattered.

I should also point out that, as a forefather to our sports writers, this guy firmly believes that players will their good results into being.  Mills didn't believe in getting out, so he hit a homer. 

Bottom 2:

The Mutuals went out in one-two-three order, all at first base.  Shreeves and Devyr were helped by Dicky [6] and seconded by Zett [1], the charmer.

Garth, I think that was a haiku.  6-3, 6-3, 1-3.  And what did I say about defense?

Here our anonymous beat writer seems to worry a little bit about space so he chugs through the middle innings, economically but without much to chew on.  I'll skip ahead.

So, at the end of the sixth innings the score stood TEN TO THREE in favor of the Atlantic Club.  Down went the hopes of the Mutual Club.  The constitutional growlers of the Club "told you so."

Did I just look in a mirror? 

There's great stuff in the middle, and I encourage you to check it out.  But let's fast forward again.  It's 12 to 6 Atlantics and...

For the nine the ninth.  Chapman [7] took the bat, and hitting a high one went out on the fly, taken by Flanley [4].  Then Crane hit a safe one and got his first. 

Everything is "his."  They didn't hide it: it's kinda a team game.

Mills [2] takes the bat and hits one to second, raced Freddy off the first, puts him one and gets out at first.

More poetry.  4-6-3. 

The second double play for the Mutuals.  Therefore it is a skunk. 

Therefore.  Anyone know how many skunks the Mets put up last year?


Bottom 9:

Now the Mutuals come to the bat.  McMahon [9, top of the order] is the first striker, and hitting a ball to Dickey [6], of course goes out at first.


Amid the great cheers, Dockney [2] hits a corker, and takes his second.  Wolters [1] follows suit with a terrific one.  Pike [7] takes the bat, hits hard for his second, and brings in the first two men. 

Three straight doubles.  It doesn't seem there was a term for doubles, or the feeling that any hit was qualitatively different from another.  As long as he gets his run...  1 out, 2 runs scored, 4 more runs ties the game. 

The excitement grows intense.  From thousands of throats of the Mutual adherents, goes the cries and cheers of exultation amid the greatest of excitement, Galvin [3] goes to the bat.  All noise ceased and with strained eyes, the immense throng watches Johnny as he hits a good solid blow to left field, again go up the cheers of the multitude.  The mutual players hurry to third base and "yell in" Pike.

Razor Shines has no traceable ancestry.

Everybody is excited.  Then Shreeves [5] goes to the bat, he hits a ball to first base, in going for which, Joe Start [3] slips and the ball passes from his reach.


Again the whole nine of the Mutuals go down to the third based and yell Galvin in and Shreeves takes his third. 

12-10 Atlantics.  2 Outs.  Man on third.

Again quiet is resumed as Devyr goes out at first on the throw of Dickey [6].  Everybody draws a long breath as Swandel [8, batting 8th] coolly goes to the bat.  Determination and firmness sit fixedly on his brow.

Grission.  It is 1868; this guy probably fought in the frickin' Civil War, and it shows on his brow.

There are already four men in and if he hits hard Shreeves will come in and as Georgie Flanley [4, batts 9th] who hits hard, follows him they may tie the score of the Atlantics, so with that idea he means business.


He hits it hard and away it sails over the head of Charley Smith, between Crane and McDonald and away into the crowd, who kick it about to bother McDonald [9].


Shreeves comes in base, having been yelled in by the whole remaining eight, who go to second, and Swandel gets his third. 

This is strange.  Swandell came to bat with a man on third and hit a triple with the help of the rad crowd.  What's with the "who go to second" clause?  Does he mean what it seems to mean, that the "whole remaining eight" went to second, maybe to wave Swandel to third?  That's colorful.  Tieing run on third.

The confidence of those betting in on the Atlantics is not shaken, and they lay one hundred to fifty that the Atlantics will win.  Georgie Flanley goes to the bat feeling the responsibility that rests on his shoulders.  Mills [opposing 2] calls time to ask what the score is, and how many are out.


Flanley wants a home run, and he hits hard for it, and safely apparently, to left field, but Jack Chapman [7] is on alert.  He knows that if this ball is missed the game will be a tie.  Not a word is spoken as he runs swiftly over the field, gauging the ball as he goes.  Every breath is suspended.  At last he reaches it, and -- will he?-- yes, he's got it.  What cheers ascend as he... yadda yadda.

Game over.  Here's the box score.


Check it out, folks.  The two offensive statistics?  Outs made, and runs scored.  What, again, is your job as a batter?  Not to make outs.  The wisdom of the ancients.  As for runs scored, this is the idea I mentioned -- get a run, bub, it's what we need.  This is why Henry Chadwick, Brooklyn native, the inventor of the box score, would be unannoyed by Jose Reyes.

As for "L" and "F", somebody please enlighten me.  What are those?  Anything else interesting that you find in the recap?

This FanPost was contributed by a member of the community and was not subject to any vetting or approval process. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions, reasoning skills, or attention to grammar and usage rules held by the editors of this site.

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