Sunday, September 17, 2017

Satisfaction to All

Unfortunately I was again unable to make this week's Neshanock game, a visit to South Orange, New Jersey to take on the local town team.  Multiple sources confirm that Flemington held the lead going to the top of the ninth, but the host club rallied for three runs and a two run lead headed to the bottom of the inning.  As they have all season, the Neshanock rallied, scoring once and putting the tying run on third, but this time it was not to be and the South Orange club held on for a 13-12 win.  A lone source informs me the Flemington attack was led by Bobby "Melky" Ritter, Dan "Lefty" Gallagher and David "Illinois" Harris with three hits apiece.  According to the same source, "Illinois" parleyed his three hits into a clear score and also stole six bases, three times when his wily base running skills forced the opposing pitcher into a balk or at least that's what I'm told.  But who could possibly question the veracity of a gentlemanly 19th century base ball player, even a 21st century re-creator. 

Photo courtesy of Karen Marlowe's Facebook Page

Just one example of base ball's gentlemanly is past is how detailed newspaper accounts of matches invariably ended with the phrase "the umpire's decisions gave satisfaction to all" or words to that effect.  It was apparently a standard formula to emphasize base ball's gentlemanly nature even in the heat of competition.  While that was probably to some extent wishful thinking even then, by the beginning of the post Civil War era, winning became the priority with little being done to disguise that reality.  The below exchange in a Jersey City newspaper in 1866, between what were most likely junior clubs, illustrates the changing nature of the game and the extent to which those disputes became public.

American Standard (Jersey City) - July 14, 1860

American Standard - July 16, 1866

This was clearly not unique to the Orion and Aetna clubs since a similar dispute between the Una and National clubs later in the season, led the paper to wisely opt out of another dispute.

American Standard - September 26, 1866

By the end of the 1860's, not only was the "satisfaction to all" attitude gone forever, it had been replaced by actual public criticism of the umpires, one of whom was unwilling to take such criticism without a response.

Daily Times (Jersey City) - July 30, 1869

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Faces in the Base Ball Crowd

Returning to the base ball wars after taking the Labor Day weekend off, the Neshanock saw their winning ways come to an end, losing both games to another fine vintage club, the Eckford, by scores of 17-10 and 11-9.   With the twin losses, the Neshanock's overall record falls to 26-10.  Unfortunately I wasn't at the games so  I have no more information beyond the scores.  With five scheduled games remaining Flemington still has a shot at 30 wins, but there's little margin for error.

In lieu of any additional game information, I've posted below some New York Clipper drawings of some important 19th century New Jersey base ball players. They and some of their peers will be part of the early New Jersey base ball exhibit opening at the Morven Museum in Princeton in June of 2018.

New York Clipper - July 26, 1879

Andy Jackson Leonard was part of the Irvington Club's historic upset of the Brooklyn Atlantics in June of 1866.  Heading west a few years later, he played on the famous Cincinnati Red Stocking Club in 1869 and enjoyed a distinguished major league career.  Coincidentally, the Grave Marker project of SABR's 19th century committee, led by Ralph Carhart dedicated a new monument to Leonard at his grave in Massachusetts on Saturday.

New York Clipper - May 29, 1880

Although the above article incorrectly lists Paterson as Mike "King" Kelly's birthplace, the future Hall of Famer did begin in his base ball career in what was some times known as the "Cataract City."  Called professional base ball's first matinee idol, Kelly had a life time .300 average over 16 major league seasons before dying young at the age of 37.  

New York Clipper - June 7, 1879

New to me is this south Jersey product who played in the major leagues for 13 seasons, hitting .299 with Buffalo, Detroit and Boston among others.

New York Clipper - September 27, 1879

Less prominent than the above threesome, John Farrow played for Brooklyn's first major league team in 1884 after being part of two National Association clubs, including the the ill-fated 1873 Elizabeth Resolutes.