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Cubs' hibernation and awakening, Part 2

Second of a series of posts about the rebirth of the Cubs franchise in 1874, after a 2-year hiatus caused by the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

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Throughout 1872 and 1873, there were sporadic reports in Chicago newspapers about efforts to revive the White Stockings, as the Cubs had been known in 1870-71.

There also were stories about attempts to get other members of the 2-year-old National Association to play regular-season games in Chicago.

Some of those attempts paid off, beginning with games on May 29-30, 1872, between the Baltimore Canaries and Cleveland Forest Citys.

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The New York Mutuals and Troy Haymakers also met twice, on June 17 and 20, at the city's new baseball grounds, at the corner of Twenty-second and State streets.

The Haymakers remained in town after the games to face the Athletics. Then they took on several amateur teams before welcoming Baltimore on the Fourth of July.

"The Marylanders outplayed the Trojans in every particular," the Inter Ocean remarked of the 20-4 drubbing.

Several more games were announced but never took place.

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On Jan. 22, 1873, the annual meeting of the Chicago Base Ball Association took place.

There were 15 stockholders in attendance, with 44 more represented by proxy.

By a vote of 34-20, they dissolved the association, instructing that its building and furniture be sold at auction and dashing any hope of reviving the White Stockings in 1873.

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Rockford, an NA team, eventually came to Chicago to play a team of the city's top amateur players.

Then Boston and Philadelphia squared off in an official NA game on Saturday, Aug. 16, and another 3 days later.

The Tribune devoted as much space to the game as if it had involved the White Stockings -- and, in a way, it did.

Philadelphia had so many of Chicago's former players that it now went by the nickname.

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BIGGER NEWS

This appeared at the top of the third column of the same page in the Sunday edition of the Tribune that carried the paper's account of the previous day's game:

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THE NEW PROFESSIONAL CLUB.

The number of people who went out to see the match yesterday between the "Red" and "White" Stockings fully demonstrated that the people of Chicago have not lost their love for the "National Game," and that Chicago merits the reputation she has of being the greatest base-ball city in the country.

But next year Chicago will have a club which she can well be proud of.

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The uncredited author then described in detail each of 11 players he said that a newly formed Chicago Base Ball Association had signed to play for the city in 1874, when it would resume its membership in the National Association.

Among the 11 were 4 veterans of the 1871 Chicago club: manager/second baseman Jimmy Wood, pitcher George Zettlein, infielder Ed Pinkham and outfielder Fred Treacey.

Another outfielder, Ned Cuthbert, had scored the decisive run for the White Stockings in 1870 at Cincinnati when they defeated the all-but-invincible Red Stockings. He had played for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1871-72, then for that city's White Stockings in 1873.

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'ESTABLISHED HIMSELF IN BUSINESS'

From the Inter Ocean of Jan. 13, 1874:

"Jimmy Wood has now established himself in business in this city, permanently, as he hopes. His place will be a general rendezvous for base ball men, and will probably be removed down town early in the spring. Jimmy is the only member of the club now in the city; the others will arrived some time in April, and will go into practice awhile before entering upon the summer campaign."

That was the second of a 2-paragraph story that began with a brief description of a meeting of the Chicago Baseball Association, held at Wood's cigar store.

"The condition of the organization was reported to be excellent," according to the first paragraph, "and the prospects of base ball for the coming season very flattering indeed."

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'A FIRST-CLASS BASE-BALL CLUB'

On Sunday, April 5, the Tribune included a column headed "BASE-BALL GOSSIP."

This is how it began:

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It is just beginning to be fairly realized that Chicago is to have a first-class base-ball club this season, and that the memorable contests which took place 1870, 1871, and 1872 are to be repeated upon the green diamond.

It may be doubted whether we shall ever seen again the immense crowds, the strong interest and the hearty enthusiasm which used to attend the old White Stocking games, but it is certain that the really excellent nine for 1873 will to a great degree succeed in reviving the old-time popularity of the national game.

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There were, of course, no memorable contests in 1872, at least none involving the White Stockings.

And the "really excellent nine for 1873" clearly should have been "for 1874."

But the uncredited author certainly had his heart in the right place.

The story continued:

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With the single exception of [Fergy] Malone, the catcher, the nine is on hand, ready for business, though the weather has been too cold for outdoor practice. Malone is due next Wednesday, and the club will be in shape to begin operations. . . .

All in all, the nine promises to be a tough lot for the Eastern clubs to tackle, and will, no doubt, be found to be the strongest Chicago has ever had.

About the 18th or 20th of this month the White Stockings will go to St. Louis, there to play the Empires and the St. Louis Red Stockings, three games each, and practice on alternate days. . . .

The championship season begins in Chicago on the 13th of May, when the Athletics, of Philadelphia, play the White Stockings on the latter's grounds, corner of State and Twenty-third streets.

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[After citing the dates on which other top teams would visit the city, the story went on:]

This year, it should be borne in mind, the championship series consists of ten games, making seventy in all which each club must play, as there are seven [other] contesting clubs in the field.

According to the rule, one-half of those games must be played in Chicago, and it is believed that the inducements here will be so strong as to give a larger number of games in this city.

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[Next came a list of the players on each rival team, then:]

Work on the Twenty-second street grounds is rapidly pushed forward, the plans for the stands having been drawn by Mr. Roberts, a well-known architect.

The grand stand will contain 1,888 sittings, and will be furnished with comfortable settees, numbered. Three hundred season seats in this stand will be sold at $10 each, or at the rate of about 25 cents for each game. These seats will be ready for sale this week.

Then there will be the complimentary stand for the stockholders and other persons on the free list. This will be an exclusive affair, containing 300 seats.

The total seating capacity of the grounds will be not far from 7,000.

A side track will be laid from State Street to the entrance of the grounds, so that spectators can ride [trolleys] directly to the gate.

All game will commence promptly as 3:45 p.m.

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SOUTHERN TRIP

The newly reconstituted Whites played their first exhibition game on April 23, at St. Louis.

A dispatch sent to the Tribune by a local correspondent declared it "the most interesting game of base ball that has ever been played in this city.

"The Reds, of St. Louis, are really the champions of the Mississippi. The Chicago Whites gave them the credit of being the best fielding nine they have ever met.

"This St. Louis club is made up of athletes, most of whom belong to the Missouri Gymnasium, and are experienced ball-players, some of them having figured conspicuously in base-ball circles."

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The teams battled to a scoreless standstill until the sixth inning, when the Whites broke through for 4 runs. They added 2 in the ninth, while blanking the Reds on 7 hits.

"The wind was blowing very hard against the batting," the correspondent explained, "which made terrific hits drop short in the fielder's hands.

"About 800 people were present to witness the game" -- the first by a Chicago professional team in 906 days, since Oct. 30, 1871, when the Whites had lost a showdown for the National Association championship to the Philadelphia Athletics, 4-1, at Brooklyn.

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The Whites played 7 more games at St. Louis -- at least, 7 more that were reported in any of the contemporary Chicago or St. Louis newspapers that are available online.

The Whites won them all.

After beating the Empires, 6-4, and the Reds again, 4-1, they rolled to victories over the Empires, 22-5 and 30-9; the Reds and Empires, both by 21-10; and, on May 2, the Reds, 39-13.

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"The batting of the Reds was the best ever shown by a St. Louis club," the St. Louis Republican said of the final game, "but the fearful batting of the White Legs seemed to demoralize them somewhat in the field at times. . . .

"The Chicago club returned home last evening and they carry with them the good wishes for their future success of all patrons of the game in St. Louis.

"They have proved themselves to be a powerful and gentlemanly combination, and it is believed here that they will fly the champion streamer at the close of the present season."

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TOMORROW: The White Stockings' first game back in the National Association

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