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13 September 1897 The Ladies Day Riot
The District’s long association with baseball is unique. One event which has generated a lot of press is the Ladies Day Riot of 1897. The events that transpired that day, sadly enough, don’t support the legend. It wasn’t much of a riot, was not even ladies day and the team did not curtail the practice the following season. The League wanted to end the event to save money. Here is the reporting for the game.
The game at National Park this afternoon between the Cincinnati and Washington clubs, in which the former won by 2 to 1, was full of exciting incidents and sensational fielding. Win Mercer started in to do the twirling for the Senators, but Umpire Carpenter missed a couple of good balls and Winnie lost his temper. As the little umpire started for his position behind the pitcher and was passing Mercer, the latter pulled a pair of blue glasses from his pocket and offered them to him. Carpenter overlooked this little break, but when Mercer opened the goggles and tried to put them on the little arbitrator, the latter thought it was about time to maintain the dignity of his position and the sarcastic twirler was assigned to the bench. Carpenter is nothing if not plucky, and there was no other step for him to pursue under the circumstances. Doctor James McJames took up the running where Mercer left off, and Jimmy had his benders with him, holding the Reds down to one hit in the first seven innings. In the seventh inning came the most exciting episode of the game, and a lack of decision on the part of Umpire Carpenter lost the game to the home club. After two were out, Tommy Corcoran and Charlie Irwin were sent to first on balls and Big Bill Schriver came to the bat. It was good call to also send him to first on balls and play for Billy Rhines, who is a weak hitter in comparison. While McJames was trying to send the balls wide, Schriver stepped across the plate twice and tried to interfere with the play. The first time Schriver tried to interfere Jim McGuire called Carpenter’s attention to the break, and the batsman should have been called out right there. When Schriver repeated his stepping from the box, Carpenter called him out on a foul strike. The visiting team made a great kick, Capt. Buck Ewing claiming that the batsman must hit the ball to make it a foul strike. Thinking he had made a mistake in the rules; the little umpire manfully reversed his decision and sent Schriver to first on balls. But the umpire was right in the first place, and should have stood by his decision. Now, if Schriver was not interfering with the play, the sending of the batsman to first on balls, what was he doing? Umpire Carpenter properly called him out for stepping out of the box and it made no difference according to the rule, whether he hit the ball or not. The reversing of the decision sent McJames kiting for the moment, as he sent Rhines to first, forcing in the tying run. The next man up was an easy out. The reversing of a decision by the umpire may show the right spirit, but it is bad baseball from the spectators’ point of view, as they are not up on the technicalities of the game, but are the ones to be catered to. The sensational playing was furnished by Gettman in right field. The Cincinnatis started the eighth inning by a great drive into right field by Dusty Miller, good for three bases. Jake Beckley found one to his liking and sent the ball flying towards the right field bleachers. Jake Gettman set sail for the ball and while on the dead run, with his back to the ball, raised his hands above his head and pulled down the sphere within a yard of the barbed wire fence. Claude Ritchey struck out and then Corcoran came to the bat and hit a high fly near the right field foul line. Again, Gettman started for the ball with less chance of reaching it than on his other great play, but he sprinted like the wind and with arms extended their full length he pulled in the new white Spalding to the astonishment of almost everybody on the grounds. The applause that followed was tremendous and Umpire Carpenter was forgotten for the minute, but when the Senators failed to score in their last turn at the bat the abuse of the little arbitrator was renewed. Neither side scored in the first three innings, but in the fourth the Senators got the first tally over the plate. Tom Leahy hammered a nice single into left and Reilly followed with a beauty bright triple into left center. Two more blanks followed for both clubs, and then in the seventh four bases on balls tied the score and in the eighth Miller’s triple and Beckley’s long fly turned the trick to the credit of the Red legs. The game with the exception of the seventh inning, was well played by both teams, Billy Rhines pitching masterly ball and his support was perfect, two bad throws to second by McGuire being the only misplays charged against the Senators. Umpire Carpenter. Line-up, Selbach-Lf, Gettman-Rf, DeMontreville-2b, McGuire-C, Tucker-1b, Leahy-Cf, Reilly-3b, Wrigley-SS, Mercer-P. Washington Star
The last game of the season here will be played tomorrow afternoon against the Redlegs. This will be a regular ladies day.
The Washington Times reports this. Four bases on balls in succession, a blunder by the umpire, a reversal of a decision wisely made and the Senators lost a game to the Cincinnatis this afternoon by a score of 2 to 1, which they should easily have won. Win Mercer started to pitch, but the black haired twirler’s language became unbearable to Umpire Carpenter, and that individual sent little Winnie to the bench. The Buckeye appeared to be loath to leave the rubber, but whatever Captain Brown said to the handler of the indicator had no effect. James had been all right until the seventh inning, when he forced a run over the plate, giving four men bases on balls. This (7th) inning was fraught with excitement. Schriver was at the bat, and seemingly it was the intention to let him walk “Popper Bill,” as he is known in fandom, stepped out of the box and made a strike. McGuire called Carpenter’s attention to the foul strike, but it wasn’t allowed. On the next ball pitched, the batter again stepped out of the box, but did not strike at the ball. “You are out,” said the umpire. Then there was a long wrangle. He again said: “I have said out, and that settles it.” Buck Ewing and others of the Reds were entirely calm, and pointed out where the decision was wrong. After some thought the little fellow reversed his decision, a proceeding not often seen, but an eminently correct one. He might have adhered to his first judgment, but even at that the Cincinnatis would have protested the game, and it would have been either thrown out or given to the Reds. The male portion of the spectators might have felt like mobbing Carpenter, but they refrained from becoming violent. Not so, however, with woman. Crowding around the place where the umpire comes into the grand stand, they awaited him with drawn parasols and upraised fans. Just what the language was like would be rather hard to translate, but no further had Carpenter started for the office than he was assailed with whatever the women had in their hands. One used her fist, and was not slow in telling her companions that she came near hitting him on his solar plexus. The umpire was too manly to turn upon the women, and made rapid strides for the office. The game outside the seventh inning was splendidly contested. Rhines was pitching his arm to win, and he was it hard only in the fourth, when Leahy hit safely and was brought home by a three-bagger by Reilly. Gettman could not hit anything. The bleacherites presented him a huge bouquet before the game started, and the silent fielder was loudly cheered, he acquitted himself in fine style in the ninth. Beckley’s hit was going fast for a homer. Gettman, too, was going a terrific pace to deep right. Suddenly glancing over his shoulder he jumped up and took the ball near the fence. He escaped injury on the barbed wire by a wonderfully sudden stop. The hit brought in Miller’s run, who had hit for a triple. After Ritchey had hit for a single. Corcoran hit a fly to right near the foul line. Gettman was coming for the ball. ‘He’ll never get it,” was heard from a hundred throats. But the ex-Texas Leaguer was legging off to beat the Marine band discoursing one or Farchild’s favorite pieces. “Plenty of room, Jake,” yelled DeMontreville. It did not seem possible for the lad to reach the sphere, but he exerted every energy, and just when everybody seemed to think the hall would land safe the fielder had a firm grip. The applause which followed was something unusual. The catch was marvelous, and the silent Jacob was again the hero of a great game of ball. Selbach perhaps lost the only chance the Senators had to tie the score. He hit safely in the eighth, and while Gettman was trying to bunt, according to orders, the German got too far off first and was neatly caught on Schriver’s assist. Gettman went out and DeMontreville was unequal to the emergency, and the Cincinnatis won the game. The hitting by both teams was decidedly weak.