Sunday, July 9, 2017

Revolution and Evolution

Blake Zimmer helping me score the game "correctly" at Howell Living History Farm - photo by Ben Zimmer

On Saturday, the Neshanock made their annual visit to River Edge, New Jersey for two games at New Bridge Landing, an historic site operated by the Bergen County Historical Society.  The society always does a nice job with this event and as per usual there was a large and enthusiastic crowd in attendance.  The site has revolutionary significance because in November of 1776, the Continental Army crossed the Hackensack River at this point, beginning their "retreat to victory" which ended on Christmas night 1776 in Trenton.  The opposition for two seven inning games was provided by the New York Mutuals and the visitors got off to a quick start scoring seven times in the first two innings to take a 7-2 lead before Flemington started chipping away while tightening up on the defensive end.  In the top of the fifth, the Neshanock finally tied the game and then added another tally for a one run lead headed to the bottom of the inning.  After that, Flemington, for once, did the things the easy way scoring four times each in the sixth and seventh innings for a 16-7 win.  

A key hit in the sixth was delivered by "Jersey" Jim Nunn who drove in two runs with a clutch two out single.  Leading the Neshanock offense was Tom "Thumbs" Hoepfner who earned a clear score the hard way, five hits in five times at the striker's line including three doubles and a home run.   Also contributing three hits apiece were Meshack "Shack" Deshane, Dan "Sledge" Hammer, Rene "Mango" Marrero and Bobby "Melky" Ritter with "Melky" also achieving a clear score.  As he did at Princeton in his Neshanock debut, "Shack" also contributed some fine defense plays in both games .  Also noteworthy was Joe "Irish" Colduvell's flawless defense at second base.  The break between matches featured the usual splendiferous rendering of "Casey at the Bat," followed by Brad "Brooklyn" Shaw leading the crowd in a rousing version of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." 

 In the second game, the Neshanock emulated the Mutuals scoring, seven times in the first two innings, quickly taking charge of what would end up as a convincing 16-4 triumph.  Not resting on his laurels was "Thumbs" who earned a second clear score with four hits including another home run, going a perfect nine for nine for the day.  "Sledge" also had four hits while "Mango" and "Hound" added three apiece.  Five other Neshanocks had two hits including Steve "Cuz" Thompson who returned to the Flemington line up after far too long an absence.  After finishing the first contest at the pitcher's line, Dave "Illinois" Harris made an even earlier appearance in the second came, keeping the Mutuals off the bases and making a fine bound catch along the way.  With the two wins, Flemington is now 13-6 on the season, heading into next weekend's Gettysburg National Vintage Base Ball Festival, one of 22 participating teams in what has become one of the country's premier vintage base ball events.  

New York Clipper - January 4, 1860

A few weeks ago I wrote about an article in the January 4, 1860 issue of the New York Clipper where Henry Chadwick proclaimed the "correct" way to keep a box score.  Chadwick illustrated his format with the above example from an 1859 match between the Atlantic and Star Clubs of Brooklyn.  Chadwick continued to use this format for the next three seasons (including 1860), but was clearly willing to let the box score evolve as evidenced by the below format from an 1863 match between the Athletic Club of Philadelphia and the Eureka Club of Newark. Notice the offensive part of the box score remained unchanged and there continues to be no information about the pitcher's performance.  What does change significantly, however, is the defensive section, gone are the two multi-columned charts, replaced by a listing of defensive statistics providing much the same information in a far simpler format.   Furthermore the revised format now includes passed balls and errors, informing the reader not just what the defense did, but also what it didn't do.  While this is still very different from the modern format, this 1863 box score anticipates the structure or order used today - offensive statistics, line score and then defensive information, followed today by pitching statistics.  The difference between the 1859 and 1863 formats is another example of base ball's evolution, albeit off the field, during those early years of the organized game.

New York Clipper - June 27, 1863

No comments:

Post a Comment