Sunday, June 18, 2017

"A Correct Score of a Base Ball Match"

As the Neshanock headed south by various routes on their way to the City of Brotherly Love and a Saturday match up with the Athletic Club of Philadelphia, the rain came, a good omen for Flemington so far this season.  The presence of "Neshanock weather," notwithstanding, however, the Athletics got off to a quick start in the first match, leading 4-1 after three innings and 4-2 after five.  In their half of the sixth, however, Flemington got things going offensively, scoring four times for a 6-4 lead.  The Athletics got one back, to trail only 6-5 heading to the bottom of the eighth at which point a five run Flemington rally, put the game out of reach for a hard fought 11-5 win which was far closer than the score indicated.  The Neshanock attack was led by Dan "Sledge" Hammer, who not only had a clear score in four trips to the striker's line, but also hit a home run and a triple, falling only a double short of the cycle.  Backing up "Sledge" were Rene "Mango" Marrero and Joe "Mick" Murray with two hits each.




Photo by Jeff Schneider

After a brief break, this time without the usually obligatory "Casey at the Bat," the Neshanock got started early scoring five times in the first, adding three more in both the second and third to lead 11-2, coasting thereafter to an 15-4 win.  Flemington had a second clear score in the second game, this time from Chris "Low Ball" Lowry with four hits, followed by Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner, Danny "Lunch Time" Shaw, Scott "Snuffy" Hengst and "Mango" with three each.  Also of note was Adam "the Vic" Schneider who got his first two vintage base ball hits while also handling two chances in the field.  With the two wins, the Neshanock improve to 8-4 for the season heading into a busy weekend with two matches at Princeton on Saturday against the Talbot Fair Plays and then on Sunday at the Eckley Mine Museum Festival against the Harrisburg Club.


Photo by Jeff Schneider

If a clear score was the ultimate offensive goal of a 19th century ball player, the equivalent for a score keeper would be what the New York Clipper, (read Henry Chadwick) in its January 14, 1860 issue, somewhat immodestly claimed was "A Correct Score."  Lamenting the absence of sufficient data to analyze the prior season and anticipating expanded base ball coverage during the 1860 season, Chadwick not only proclaimed the "correct" format, but illustrated it with the details of an 1859 match.  Going even further, he expressed the hope/expectation that the National Association of Base Ball Players would would also endorse a standard system, something which doesn't appear to have happened.  Trying to cover all the bases, Chadwick also called on each club to have a "regular scorer or scorers," because it is "an onerous position" which "requires a gentleman to fill it creditably," important credentials to this very day.  Looking at this "correct" score, I thought it might be interesting to enter into Chadwick's format, the Neshanock's statistics from the June 10th nine inning match with the Picked Nine to see what it might tell us.


          
                                     Hands Lost      Runs
Duke 1 1
Adam 2 0
Spoons 1 2
Thumbs 2 0
Gaslight 3 1
Illinois 3 1
Mick 1 2
Melky 2 0
Tumbles 4 0
Irish 6 0
Low Ball 2 2
Total 27 9

First, came the above section, almost identical to the first 1845 box scores, listing the batting order, hands lost (outs) and runs scored.  Based on this information, it appears the major offensive contributions came from "Spoons," "Mick" and "Low Ball" each of whom tallied twice, no reference or credit is given to those who made the hits (or outs) that allowed them to score.  According to Peter Morris' go to work, A Game of Inches, runs received more emphasis than hits because early base ball box scores were derived from cricket where almost every hit produces a run.  Since runs were the name of the game there was little reason to be concerned with hits.  According to other entries in Peter's book, batting averages as we know them today weren't a part of base ball until 1874 while RBI's became part of the game even later in 1879-80. To the early box score format was appended the below line score, a clear improvement which shows how the game developed.  Without this someone hearing the 17-9 score might think the Picked Nine dominated contest when, in fact, the Neshanock led most of the way.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Flemington 0 1 0 2 3 0 1 1 1   9
Picked Nine 1 0 0 0 0 2 5 9   x  17



Next up is the below table of defensive statistics showing how while in the field, Flemington recorded the 24 outs for the eight innings that the picked nine was at the striker's line.  The two highest totals, eight for "Gaslight" and four for "Illinois," reflect their respective positions at catcher and first base.  In "Gaslight's" case, however the put outs have nothing to do with strike outs which apparently weren't counted as put outs at the time.  Rather, they reflect the bound rule which retires a batter on any foul ball caught on a bounce and catchers will likely have higher put out totals under those rules. I recall other matches where "Gaslight" had nine to ten put outs, meaning that a third of the opposing batters were retired with out putting the ball in play.  Missing from the format or at least, Chadwick's example is any record of muffs or errors, so we know the number of plays made correctly, but have no sense of the errors.  Without going into the gory details, errors opened or at least help open the door to the Picked Nine's offensive outbursts in their last two times at the striker's line.


How Put Out            Fly      Bound        Base        Total
Duke 1 1
Spoons 0
Thumbs 1 1 1 3
Gaslight 2 6 8
Illinois 4 4
Mick 3 3
Melky 1 1
Tumbles 1 1
Low Ball 3 3
Total 3 13 8 24
                 
Finally comes the below chart showing how the Neshanock striker's were retired.  Note that strike outs and run outs (tagging a runner in a run down) are not treated as put outs, but merit a separate category.  Since only four Flemington batters were retired on fouls, compared to eight for their opponents, the Neshanock did a better job of putting the ball in play.  Otherwise there doesn't seem to be a huge amount that can be gleaned from this chart.  What's missing from all of this, of course, is any information about pitching reflecting perhaps Chadwick's belief that pitching was of secondary importance to hitting and fielding.  The other thing to note is that this format reflects his views before the 1860 season which doubtless evolved even more by the end of 1864 (the rules by which this match was played).  In a future post, I'll plug these results into an 1864 box score format to look at how box scores continued to evolve along with the rest of the game.  


How Put Out  Fly Bound 1st 2nd 3rd        Foul
Duke 1
Adam 1
Spoons 1
Thumbs 2
Gaslight 2 1
Illinois 1 2
Mick 1
Melky 1 1
Tumbles 1 2 1
Irish 2 3 1
Low Ball 1 1
Run Out
Struck Out - Adam - 1
                               


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