City without a team, Part 2

Second in a series of posts about baseball in Chicago in 1872 and 1873, after the White Stockings (today's Cubs) had halted operations following the Great Fire of 1871.



On Jan. 28, 1872, 2 months after stockholders of the White Stockings had voted to dissolve the team, the Chicago Tribune published this story:

Base Ball.


In Chicago are not so gloomy after all.

It has been felt that the interest in the national game would be such as to warrant some effort to retain a hold upon it, and base ball lovers will learn with pleasure that an association of gentlemen, of which Tom Foley is the active worker, has secured the old Excelsior grounds on State street, between Twenty-second and Twenty-third streets, as grounds for such clubs as shall desire to keep up an organization.

It is well known that Jimmy Wood's [Troy, N.Y.] Haymakers are anxious to come to Chicago and spend at least half the summer, playing in this city all the leading clubs in America, the same as though the grand White Stockings nine . . . were still in existence.

This will afford some magnificent contests, without necessitating any risk or expense, beyond the fitting up of the grounds. . . .

[W]ith the White Stocking-Haymakers, the Aetnas, and other amateur clubs which would keep up an organization under such circumstances, and more especially with all the great clubs of the country to come here and play championship games, there would be no lack of the finest kind of amusement in the shape of base ball.

It is sincerely hoped that the plan will be successfully carried forward.



It is understandable why Troy was so sought after by the baseball enthusiasts.

The Whites had used 11 players in 1871, of whom 9 had appeared in at least 20 of their 28 games.

5 of those 9 had joined Troy for 1872.

Wood, a second baseman, had been the White's top hitter in 1871. He also had been their manager.

George Zettlein had been their pitcher, starting every game and completing all but 3. His catcher, Charlie Hodes, had accompanied Zettlein to upstate New York, as had first baseman Michael McAtee and utility man Marshall King.

Fred Treacey, the Whites' second-best hitter, had opted for Philadelphia; fellow outfielder Joe Simmons, for Cleveland.

Shortstop Ed Duffy and third baseman Ed Pinkham did not play in 1872, at least not in the National Association.



The group trying to rise professional baseball in Chicago from its ashes had named itself the Phoenix Base Ball Club, but at a meeting on April 14, 1872, changed its name to the more prosaic Chicago Base Ball Club.

According to the Tribune, the group's chairman, N. T. Gassette, told those in attendance that a lease on the grounds fronting State Street, between Twenty-second and Twenty-third, could be had for $4,800, payable in quarterly installments.

"Mr. Dexter, of the Committee on Subscription, reported that about forty shares had been subscribed during the past week, with an excellent prospect that the balance of the stock would be rapidly taken. . . . The gentlemen present were invited to subscribe stock, and over twenty shares were taken within half as many minutes."

By the time of the next meeting, 5 days later, 69 shares had been sold.

The bigger news: "A letter had been received from Jimmy Wood, engaging that the Troy club will come to Chicago in the latter part of June, remaining over the Fourth of July, and returning in September to stay a month."



At the following meeting, on April 24, "A better attendance than had been met at any previous meeting was noticeable," reported the Inter Ocean newspaper.

It also said that stock sales were up to 76 shares and, "On motion of Mr. Kelley, it was agreed that each stockholder may be admitted [to the games] with as many ladies as he has shares of stock."

The club secretary, Mr. Thacher, said "that he had heard from the Cleveland and Haymaker clubs, learned that they would come and play in this city as often as wanted, and that the Clevelands would bring all professional clubs with them to play here. . . .

"Mr. Culver read a letter from Mr. Mason, Secretary of the Cleveland club, to the effect that they would play with the [New York] Mutuals in this city on the 9th of May, if the grounds were ready at that time."

They were not.



On May 7, the Inter Ocean quoted Mr. Thatcher [sic] as saying "the fence around the grounds of the club had been completed, and that the Baltimore and Cleveland clubs would play the opening game on the 24th of this month."

That didn't happen, either.

On Monday, May 27, the Inter Ocean stated:

"The new base-ball grounds, corner of State and Twenty-second streets, will be opened next Wednesday afternoon by a match between the Baltimore and Cleveland clubs. Reserved seats to the opening game will be ready for sale to-morrow."

This time, it came to pass.

The game took place on May 29, 1872 -- exactly 8 months since the White Stockings had played their final home game on Sept. 29, 1871.


Baltimore, known as the Canaries, was new to the National Association in 1872. It arrived in Chicago with a record of 8-4, good for fourth place, behind Troy (11-3), Boston (8-1) and Philadelphia (5-0).

Cleveland had finished seventh, at 10-19, in 1871. It was 3-5 so far in 1872.



Here is the start of the story that appeared in the Inter Ocean the next day, May 30:


The first championship game of base-ball of the season was played at the new grounds, on Twenty-third street, yesterday afternoon, and, judging from the large attendance [about 4,000], it was evident that the sport had lost none of its popularity in this city, though it was manifest that there was a lack of the enthusiasm which characterized games of the two past seasons.

Of course, the absence of the "White Stocking" accounts in some measure, at least, for this condition of things.


yesterday were the Baltimores and Forest City Club of Cleveland, the former being the favorites at large odds, they having playing some brilliant games thus far, while the latter have a rather poor record.

For some time before the hour announced for the commencement of the game the crowd began to gather, and by the time the umpire had taken his position, there were about four thousand people on the grand and other stands, a fair sprinkling of ladies being among the number.


in the infield are all that could be desired, but the outfield is rough and the turf too soft. All the arrangements of base-bags, lines, foul ground marks, seats, etc., are excellent, but it would be an improvements if another ticket seller was employed, so that those wishing to gain admission could do so without a struggle in the crowd.


It was 3 o'clock when the Baltimore nine, clad in yellow pants, white shirts, white hats, and ugly looking black and yellow stockings, and their Cleveland competitors, dressed as last year, in white, with blue stockings, came upon the field.

They were greeted with the usual cheers.

Among the Baltimores was noticed the familiar face of Craver, of the original Chicagos, and in the Cleveland nine the stout Joe Simmons, of last year's "White Stockings."


After a scoreless first inning, Baltimore tallied 3 runs in the second. It added 2 in the seventh, making the score 5-1, and won by 5-2 -- despite being outhit, 4-9.


Following a rainy night, the teams met again the next afternoon, with Baltimore rolling to a 13-4 victory.

"There were about 1,000 spectators in the inclosure and on the tops of the freight cars which stood beside the fence," said the Inter Ocean.

"The pools of water and mud puddles in the field seriously interfered with the players, and put the ball in a state almost unfit for use."



On Monday, June 17, Troy made its long-awaited appearance in Chicago, taking on the New York Mutuals.

Both teams were 11-7, tying for fourth place and just half a game behind third-place Baltimore (12-7).

Boston was well in front, at 14-1, followed by Philadelphia, at 9-2.

The Mutuals had had a tumultuous season. After starting out 5-1, they had dropped 3 in a row, the last home to Troy.

Then they reeled off 5 straight wins, the last at Troy.

But in their next game they were pummeled by the Athletics at Philadelphia, 0-19. When they lost at home to Boston 2 days later, 2-3, in 11 innings, they replaced their manager.

The next day, June 11, they beat the visiting Haymakers, 12-4, but on Saturday had lost, 4-11, at Cleveland.

Troy had not played since its loss at New York, its fourth in a row.



This is how the Inter Ocean began its account of the game in Chicago:

"About six thousand people assembled yesterday afternoon upon the base-ball grounds, corner of Twenty-second and State streets, to witness the fourth game of the championship series between the Mutuals of New York, and the Troy Club. . . .

"The opinion that the Mutuals had gone to pieces, which was somewhat prevalent after the overwhelming defeat they met at the hands of the Athletics, does not seem justified by the showing they made yesterday."


New York scored 3 runs in the bottom of the first inning and led, 4-0, after the second.

Troy closed to within 3-4 midway through the fifth, but the Mutuals added 2 runs in the sixth, putting them ahead by 3 once more.

In the top of the ninth, the Haymakers turned an error, a passed ball and back-to-back hits. The second, by Zettlein, was "the longest hit of the day, on which he got second."

Davey Force then "struck a magnificent ball to centre field. Two men were out and Zettlein took the desperate chance of making the home plate on Force's long hit.

"Half a second would have saved him, but the ball was thrown in from long field with the precision and swiftness of an arrow. [Catcher Nat] Hicks caught it, touched Zettlein, and wound up the Trojan's chances."

It was not a game-ending tag, however. Under the rules in 1872, the Mutuals still had to bat. They quickly made 3 outs to complete their victory.


The Haymakers fared better when the teams met again 3 days later, with about 1,500 spectators looking on.

"The Mutuals were treated to another coat of whitewash, neatly applied," the Inter Ocean said in its sprightly play by play, "and Troy took a return does of the same liquid."

That was in the third inning, by which time the Haymakers already led, 6-1. They won, 13-2.


TOMORROW: Holiday attraction

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