Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Great Match at Newark for the Championship - Part 2

When the Atlantics came up in the top of the seventh, leading 12-11, the match seemed to lose its offensive momentum.  First the Eureka limited Brooklyn to a single run in the top of the seventh and the Atlantics were even stingier using another double play to shut out the Eureka for the fourth time in the game.  After seven innings, the Atlantics led 13-11, but if the lack of scoring in the last two innings made some in the large crowd think the two club's offenses were a spent force, they weren’t paying attention.

First it was the Atlantics’ turn with Start belting another two run home run, this time a shot which rolled all the way to the center field fence.  However, when the Eureka retired the next two Atlantics, it looked as if the Newarkers would get out of the top of the eighth without too much damage. But the Atlantics were far from done and added three more tallies for an 18-11 lead. 

Time was running out on the Eureka and they responded in manly, if not championship style, scoring four times to cut the margin to three runs.  Unfortunately for the Newark club however, Charles Thomas was thrown out at the plate, the second Eureka put out trying to score, both of which would prove to be costly, very costly.

                                        Charles Thomas

With the Atlantic leading 18-15, the match moved to the ninth, and it’s unlikely few, if any,  in the large crowd were leaving, especially not, the ladies who were reportedly “quite absorbed in the progress of the game.”  Another inning like the eighth could have given the Atlantic an insurmountable lead, but they were limited to three runs, leaving the Eureka six behind, down, but definitely not out.  With one on and one out in the Eureka ninth, the next four strikers reached safely and, more importantly, four runs scored, bringing the tying run to the plate with one out. 

With the Eureka possibly on the verge of a monumental upset, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, reported that “all Newark was wild,” including “the women who could not sit still” and “the boys who were jubilant.”  The next two batters were the two substitutes, Pennington and Rogers.  Pennington hit a ball to second base and the Atlantics wisely took the out while allowing the run to score, making it 21-20 Atlantics.  Now the Eureka needed only one to tie, but there were two out, none on with second team member George Rogers at the plate.  Could he keep the rally going?  Alas it was not to be.  On the first pitch, Rogers hit a fly ball in foul territory behind first base, Start could not reach it on the fly, but taking advantage of the bound rule on foul balls, the Atlantic’s hitting star caught it one on hop for the final out.


No doubt the Eureka fans in the large throng fell silent at the realization their team’s gallant effort had come up one run short.  While there is no record of the Atlantics’ supporter’s reaction, the most appropriate response would have been a huge sigh of relief.  Certainly the Atlantic players, could take pride in escaping from such a tight spot, after all that’s what champions do.  Although only 2-4 for the season, the Eureka could take some solace in showing they could hold their own with anyone.  Their four losses were at the hands of three teams (Athletics, Mutuals and Atlantics) who would finish a combined 45-7 for the season. 

Atlantic Outs Runs Eureka Outs Runs
Pearce, c 5 1 Calloway, l.f. 1 4
C. Smith, 3b 2 4 Thomas, s.s. 3 3
Start, 1b 1 4 Littlewood, c.f. 4 2
Chapman, l.f. 3 3 Pennington, 2b 3 2
Crane, 2b 4 2 Rogers, r.f. 4 2
Pratt, p 2 3 Breintnall, c. 5 0
S. Smith, r.f. 3 3 Faitoute, p. 3 2
P. O'Brien, c.f. 3 1 T. Bomeisler, 3b 3 2
Sprage, s. s. 4 0 Mills, 1b 1 3
Total 27 21 Total 27 20

In an interesting way the real winners were the fans who had seen the country’s best team (or so the system said) tested to the utmost by an underdog club which never gave up to the last out.   Competitive club base ball (New York style) was only 10-15 years old and the 5000 or so spectators had witnessed one of the “new” game's best moments.  And that wasn’t all, a return match in Brooklyn was scheduled in less than two weeks.  Of course it couldn’t match this one for drama, or could it?  


  1. "Start belting another two run home run, this time a shot which rolled all the way to the center field fence."

    This is unlikely. Specifically, it is unlikely that there was a center field fence, as this would imply an enclosed ground, which is unlikely for Newark in 1865. Generally in this era, a home run was a hit which got past the outfielders, giving the batsman time to circle the bases before the ball was thrown to the catcher. The Brooklyn Eagle account says that Start "sent a souvenir to centre field". This suggests that the crowd went all the way around the field and the ball hit into it, and perhaps never retrieved.

  2. The source is the New York Clipper account which says "a grounder to centre field, the ball going down to the fence." The Eureka had new grounds for the 1865 season, I'm not sure how much description of it survives, but I'll take a look when I get a chance.

  3. It isn't impossible that they had an enclosed ground, but if so they were ahead of the curve. It might also be that the grounds adjoined a property with a fence. If so, this would be a fence at center field, but it would not be a "center field fence" as we generally understand the term.

    If you find any mention of their charging admission, then this would push things over to the "enclosed ground" side of the argument, charging admission being the whole point of building the fence.