Tonight, I am running a historical reproduction of a game from Cubs history, with a bit of a twist. As you settle in for tonight’s game, the chronological time is March 29, 1871. The (2019) Chicago Cubs will host the Rockford Forest Citys, who were a big league club in 1871. As best as you can, feel free to treat this as a timepiece. Here are the lineups.
CF George Bird
2B Bob Addy
RF Gat Stires
1B Denny Mack
3B Cap Anson
SS Chuck Fulmer
C Scott Hastings
LF Al Barker
P Cherokee Fisher
SS Javier Baez
2B Ben Zobrist
LF Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
C Willson Contreras
RF Jason Heyward
CF Ian Happ
P Kyle Hendricks
Events from April 1871 until present are looked at as a bit of a taboo. You’re welcomed to discuss current authors, like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Current musicians like Tchaikovsky are also welcomed discussion faire. I won’t call you out for discussing anything beyond my world view. Others? I can’t account for.
The game was entirely different in 1871. Pitches were underhand. Walks required nine pitches outside the zone. Foul balls weren’t counted as strikes. Balls that started fair, and rolled foul (before the base) were considered fair. Teams were relegated losses for using ineligible players. (Think college football.) Titles were determined by who won the most “head-to-heads” in the league. Teams would play numerous games in a series, with only one or two being a “league game.”
I won’t specifically account for those in game. However, should you wish to, I won’t prevent it.
The Rockford club will voyage east to face the Chicago side. Rockford is the western-most site in the league. We are unaware the sort of venue we will see. Our site, at the Agricultural Society Fair Grounds is mildly below league average. The home plate umpire has limited field visibility, as trees obstruct his view behind the plate. But, then, as baseball fans of the current day, you likely knew that, already.
Rockford is seething mad about the big-city Boston nine spiriting away our top hurler, Al Spalding. Forced to add new players to our side, great hopes are being placed on third sacker Adrian Constantine Anson. We don’t expect him to hit like Ross Barnes (who also bolted to Boston), but the 6-0, 227 beast is the biggest guy on our squad, despite being a teenager.
Likely, Chicago fans are familiar with the starting pitcher Fisher, who appeared for the Dreadnaughts in Chicago in 1870. He figures to have a long career in front of him, but we’ll still miss Spalding and hope for a championship despite his departure.
As usual, the Forest Citys will boast a two-player bench. This is standard protocol in pro ball in the 1870s. If anything happens to Fisher, the first sacker Mack will move to the mound. The two reserves are Pony Sager and Ralph Ham. Ham is usually a starter, but Barker gets the start today. Sager would be the reserve if anyone gets injured, which is the only reason to make a substitution.
So, grab a frosty beverage from your icehouse, and perhaps bring in a spare. Today’s game promises to be a tight one. Messrs. Kasper and Hughes would love to bring you today’s action. Alas, they are unable to. They said some of you might be familiar withe the “movie” “Somewhere In Time,” whatever a movie is. I have been told to enter here whatever happens. Apparently, a few “Cubs” (not sure on that as a team nickname) fans will be chiming in as the game progresses.
I’ll tell you what’s going on in the game, and be sure to root for the Forest Citys. Or the “Cubs.” Team names these days. They’re getting silly. I’ll talk to you below the bump.