May 03

The District’s First World Series Game

The first World Series game to be played in the District took place in 1887.

Frederick Stearns, President of the National Champion Detroit franchise challenged the American Association St, Louis Club to a post season World Series. The series would be played not only in the home series but on the road in other League and Assocation ball parks, Washington being one of them.

To give you a feel for the period we thought it would be of interest to include the official acceptance notice from the owner of the Brownies.

Here is Chris Von der Ahe’s acceptance.

President Chris Von der Ahe, in behalf of the World’s champions, has formally accepted the challenge of President Stearns, for a series of games with the Detroit Club for the championship of the world. His letter of acceptance was forwarded last Tuesday and is as follows:

St. Loins, Sept. 27.—MR. FREDERICK STEARNS, President Detroit Club, Detroit, Mich.— My Dear Sir:—I am in receipt of your favor of the 23d inst., In which you, in behalf of the Detroit Club, challenge the St. Louis Club for a series of games for the world’s championship, the title which we at present hold. Though the championship season is not yet at an end, both clubs have practically won the championship of their respective associations, and it is fitting that a series of games for the world’s championship now he arranged. As to the number of games that constitute the series in view of your claim that a fair test cannot be made in seven games as in the St. Louie-Chicago world’s series last fall, I agree to your proposition to play fifteen games, to take place at such dates and at such cities as may be agreed upon later. In behalf of the St. Louis Club, therefore, I accept the challenge of the Detroit Club for a series of fifteen games for the championship of the world, in accordance with the stipulations embodied in your challenge, with the following modifications:

1—That not more than one game be played in any city except in St. Louis and Brooklyn, where not less than two be played, and also in Philadelphia, where two games be played, one each at American Association and League grounds.
2—That the umpires chosen representing the American Association and League who are to officiate in the aeries be clothed with full authority, empowering them to enforce the National playing rules as in regular championship season.
3—That any and all fines imposed upon players for infraction of the rules be sustained and donated to charitable institutions in St. Louis and Detroit, as may be designated in the following manner:—Fines imposed upon St. Louis players be paid by myself and donated to any charitable institution in Detroit you may name, and a similar disposition made of flies charged against the Detroit players donated to any St. Louis charitable institution I may name. Trusting that all details will be satisfactorily arranged, and nothing may occur to mar what promises to be the greatest series of games ever played, I remain, yours truly,

The net receipts, or the money left after the expenses of travel and hotels have been defrayed, will be divided between the management of the two clubs, the winner taking seventy-five percent, and the loser twenty-five per cent., less the percentage which goes to the managers of the grounds on which the games are played. The money will be divided at the end of every game, in a fashion similar to that observed by Messrs. Von der Ahe and Spalding when the spring series was played before the present season. Apart from the special arrangements made between Mr. Stearns and the Detroit players for the remuneration of the latter, the two presidents will deposit $600 each, and the total $1,200 will be given to the club winning the series, to be divided equally among them. The St. Louis Club will carry all its men, but only ten will take part in the championship games. They are Comiskey, Robinson, Gleason, Latham, O’Neill, Welch, Foutz, Caruthers, Bushong and Boyle. King and Knouff will travel with the club, but will be used only in case of emergency. The umpires who will officiate in the games have not yet been chosen. The names of Gaffney, Ferguson and Kelly have been mentioned. These that are selected will receive $200 for the two weeks’ work, together with their expenses while on the road. The teams will travel on the same train, each club having its own special car.

10 October The 1889 World Series opens in St. Louis with the St. Louis Browns, champions of the American Association defeating the National League Champion Detroit Wolverines by a score of 6-1.

20 October Rain prevents the World Series game from being played in Baltimore so a doubleheader will be played in Washington. The morning game in Washington and the afternoon game in Baltimore. Detroit leads in the Series 7 games to 2.

21 October St. Louis 14 Detroit 7

The game was arranged to be played at half-past ten this morning, to give the two nines opportunity to reach Baltimore in time to play at the scheduled hour this afternoon. So the special train was waiting at the depot to carry off the ball-tossers as soon as the last man was declared out. This happened precisely at 12:30PM. The attendance at the game was not near so large as it would have been if it had been played in the afternoon, at the usual hour, when business men and Department clerks could have attended generally. As it was, there were between two and three thousand people present, and many a Department desk was vacant during the morning, an many a school boy played truant to loiter about the fence, in the hope of earning admission by picking up an “over-the-fence ball. The interest in the game was manifested more by the inquiries around pool=rooms and bulletin boards about town than in the attendance. There was a row of a dozen telegraph operators in the grandstand, and every play was photographed by lightning on a thousand bulletin boards throughout the country.

The clear bright sky that greeted the baseball enthusiast who were hungry to witness the St. Louis – Detroit game for the World’s Championship, assisted in drawing 2,500 spectators to Capitol Park. The crowd was pretty evenly divided in bestowing applause, although it was apparent that the majority favored the St. Louis team, and at frequent intervals cheered them on to victory. The Detroit’s were not without supporters, and all the good plays made by the Wolverines’ were liberally applauded. The novel idea of two umpires in a game was for the first time inaugurated in Washington, and by a great number of spectators pronounced a failure. No perceptible advantage accrued, and indeed to put the matter plainly it appeared that the much-heralded kingpins of the umpiral business, John Kelly and John Gaffney, were far from giving satisfaction. Kelly called the balls and strikes and Gaffney attended to the base decisions, and neither of them can be said to have displayed a remarkable facility in their judge of play. Kelly was very severe on Bob Caruthers on balls and strike, and Gaffney appeared not to have his eyes open on base decisions, when the St. Louis got the worst of the “deal” all the way through, an if they have had to submit to the same “dose” during the season, it is no wonder that they are in the rear of the procession for the World’s Championship. However, despite the odds against them the St. Louis boys were on their mettle, and won the game with hands down by the score of 11 to 4. At the start the Detroits opened up their half of the first inning in great style, and made two scores, one of which was a home run over the fence, but they were unable to keep up this fast pace, and after the fifth inning Von der Ahe’s boys had everything their own way. They batted Pretzel Getzien’s curves all over the lot, and had not the grounds been in such a soggy condition from Thursday’s rains many more base hits would have been added to the St, Louis club’s total then they were credited with. As it was the big leaders of the League were kept busily engaged in chasing leather, and had to exert themselves in no timid manner in order to keep the base hit column of their opponents down to even respectable figures. Arlie Latham was, as usual the center of attraction, and his funny antics caused many a hearty laugh. His frequent exclamations of “Now boys, keep your eyes open,” “Oh! Ah! There’s no weights on your feet,” “Ah, Robby let the circus go on,” and other expressions ad infinitum were the cause of great merriment. The clown of the baseball profession, while probably not at this best, was still very amusing, and enlivened the contest all the way though in a manner that was original as novel to Washington spectators. The principle feature of the game outside of the heavy batting of the St. Louis Club was a triple play, which was executed in the third inning, and which was the first that has been witnessed in Washington this season. Arlie Latham, Charlie Comiskey, and Hardy Richardson did the best batting, while Jack Boyle, Charles Comiskey, and Hardy Richardson carried off the fielding honors. Time 1:50.

The Washington Evening Star has a different take on the umpiring. John Kelly and John Gaffney umpired. One or two close decision of Gaffney’s called out the usual clamor; but, on the whole there was no fault to be found with the umpiring.

Notes, In the third inning the Detroits got three men on bases, Jack Rowe at first, Charlie Ganzel at second and Hardy Richardson at third, and no one out. Sam Thompson struck a fly ball, which Bill Gleason, playing at shortstop, caught and deftly fielded to third base, putting Hardy Richardson out; Arlie Latham sent the ball flying back to second where Charlie Ganzel suffered the same fate of Hardy Richardson. Fred Dunlap was injured in the fourth inning. Yank Robinson, of St, Louis had been given first on balls, and was trying to steal down to second. Fred Dunlap caught the ball thrown him just as Yank Robinson came up, and in touching the runner went over upon him, and the two men went to the ground together. Hardy Richardson took his place at second and Larry Twitchell took his place in left. In the seventh inning, Charlie Bennett moved from behind the bat to first, switching places with Ganzel.

The Washington Evening Star has this to say about the game played in Baltimore in the afternoon, a 13 to 3 win by Detroit. “There were only about 2,000 people in attendance. The game throughout was marked by rather loose fielding on both sides, and was only relieved from being monotonous by the heavy batting and clever base running of the Detroits. Charlie Bennett hurt his hand in the sixth inning and changed places with Charlie Ganzel.

The Series ends on 26 October with a win for the Brownies back home in St, Louis. Detroit wins the series ten games to five.