Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eureka vs. Atlantics - The Return Match

Not surprisingly the Atlantic-Eureka cliff hanger on August 18, 1865 received significant media attention.  The New York Clipper alone devoted almost two full columns and 16 paragraphs to the contest including close to a play-by-play description.  It is more than a little surprising, therefore, that the August 31st return game received very little coverage.  The Clipper, for example, summarized the rematch in one paragraph.  As we shall see, the lack of coverage wasn't because the second contest lacked drama.

                                                    Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn

A possible explanation may lie in the Atlantics activities just prior to the match at their home field, Capitoline Grounds.  Just three days earlier, the Atlantics followed an August 28th rout of the Eagle Club with a 10 hour, overnight train trip to Washington, D.C.  Over the next two days, the champions sandwiched tours of the nation's capital around a 32-19 victory over the National Club of Washington. In a somewhat sensationalistic twist the  first day's itinerary focused on the sites related to the relatively recent assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  A highlight of the second day was a meeting with President Andrew Johnson at the White House.  Accompanying the Atlantics was legendary sportswriter, Henry Chadwick, who lobbied the new President to attend a base ball game in person.
After meeting the President, the Atlantics visited other government offices before making the return trip arriving in New York City at 7:00 a.m. on the morning of the Eureka match.  Accounts apparently written by Chadwick in the Clipper and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle understandably claimed the Atlantics were “much jaded out” from a lack of sleep during the trip.  Perhaps the great sportswriter himself was also feeling the effects of the journey limiting his interest/ability in giving a full account of a match that would have required a lot of concentration to provide a detailed account.

President Andrew Johnson

While the Atlantics may have been tired, the memory of the last game had to have been fresh in their minds, since they put almost the same lineup in the field.  Unlike the first match, the Eureka had Collins and Northrop back, but they were now without Pennington.  Chadwick claimed the Atlantics were so tired that one “fell asleep while awaiting his turn at bat.”  If so it most likely didn’t happen in the bottom of the first as the Atlantics, “jaded” or not, scored 10 times for a 10-1 lead.  However the problems the Atlantics had on defense in the last game hadn’t been eliminated.  In the top of the second with the bases loaded and two out, the Atlantics left fielder dropped a fly ball which opened the flood gates.  Before order was restored the Eureka scored nine times to tie the game at 10-10.

With 20 runs scored in 1 ½ innings, this was clearly not going to be a low scoring contest and all of the scoring to come may have been too much for the exhausted Chadwick and other reporters to describe in detail.  Things did slow down somewhat over the next few innings and the Atlantics came to bat in the bottom of the fifth leading 16-13.  In that frame, however, the champions erupted for nine runs and what in normal circumstances would have been a safe 25-13 lead.  But these were far from normal circumstances as the Eureka demonstrated with an eight run rally featuring three home runs, cutting the score to a more manageable 25-21.  The Atlantics got three back in the bottom of the sixth, but the Eureka responded with two in the top of the seventh and then blanked the Brooklyn club in the bottom of the inning.

                                                             Henry Chadwick

The match now went to the top of the eighth inning with the Atlantics trying to hold on to a 28-23 advantage.  With their backs to the wall, the Newarkers responded with a vengeance scoring 10 times for a 33-28 lead, their first of the contest.  As the Atlantics came to bat in the bottom of the inning some of them had to be wondering about the wisdom of their schedule in Washington.  Tired or not, however, the Atlantics responded with a six run rally and took the field for the ninth literally clinging to a one run lead.  By this point, probably few of the Atlantic fans in the crowd estimated at 5-6000 expected the Eureka to go quietly so they were not surprised when the visitors scored four times and led by three as the Atlantics came in for their last chance.

For some reason the Eureka had been late arriving at Capitoline grounds which combined with an almost three hour game meant the sun was setting as Charlie Smith of the Atlantics was the first striker to the line.  Smith led off with a single, but the Eureka’s hopes got a boost when the dangerous Joe Start flew out to Northrop in right field.  Game accounts are not clear on what happened next, but it appears Chapman hit a two run home run, cutting the Eureka lead to one.  Crane followed this with a hit, bringing up Pratt, who hit one towards Eureka second baseman Bomeisler with disastrous results for the Eureka.  Not only was Pratt safe at first, but the throw was so wild that Crane scored with the tying run followed by Pratt with the winning tally. 

Amazingly Chadwick described the match as “uninteresting,” apparently because as a purist he was displeased with the bad play and poor judgment in the field.  He had a point about the sloppy play as the two teams combined for sixteen fly ball muffs.  But even amidst this criticism, Chadwick had to admit that when Pratt scored the winning run, “the scene was dramatic in the extreme.”  While the Atlantics and their fans celebrated in the gathering dark, the Eureka must have been bitterly disappointed as their thoughts turned to the long trip back to Newark.  Twice they had a great victory in their grasp, only to come up just short.

Eureka Outs Runs Atlantic Outs Runs
Calloway, l.f. 2 7 Pearce, ss. 3 5
Thomas, ss. 4 4 C. J. Smith, 3b. 1 7
Littlewood, c.f. 5 2 Start, 1b. 4 4
Breintnall, c. 3 4 Chapman, lf. 3 5
Collins, 3b. 1 6 Crane, 2b. 2 6
Faitoute, p. 3 4 Pratt, p. 4 3
Northrop, rf. 1 4 Sid Smith, rf. 4 3
Bomeisler, 2b. 3 4 Galvin, 3b 3 2
Mills, 1b. 5 2 P. O'Brien, cf. 3 3
Total 27 37 Total 27 38

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