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Cubs' hibernation and awakening, Part 5

Fifth in a series of posts about the rebirth of the Cubs franchise in 1874.

All newspaper excerpts are from the Chicago Tribune unless noted otherwise. Paragraph breaks have been added in the excerpts for easier reading. A date followed by a score is that on which the game was played; a date with no score, that when the account appeared in the newspaper.

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In 1871, first season of the National Association, the Cubs, then known as the White Stockings, had hosted a game on the Fourth of July, against the Forest Citys of Rockford.

It attracted an estimated 9,000 spectators, 3,000 more than any of the team's 6 previous home contests.

So it is not surprising that when the "Whites" resumed play in 1874, after a 2-year hiatus, they scheduled another game on Independence Day, against the Boston Red Stockings.

...

The Reds had won the pennant during both seasons of the Whites' absence, with a combined record of 82-24-2, a winning percentage of .769.

In 1874, they were even more dominant, arriving in Chicago at 26-6, .813. They had not played since June 27, when they had beaten the Whites at Boston 3 times in 4 days, by scores of 10-2, 8-7 and 29-6.

The Whites, on the other hand, were just 8-14, leaving them tied with the Brooklyn Atlantics for fifth among the league's 8 teams, 13 games behind the Reds. They had won only 1 of their previous 6 games, at Brooklyn, and just 2 of their previous 11.

But in 1874, as today, games do not always end as expected.

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SATURDAY, JULY 4, AT CHICAGO

WHITES 17, RED STOCKINGS 16

"The announcement of a game between the Chicago club and the Red Stockings, of Boston, drew out a gathering of nearly 10,000 people yesterday afternoon. The large attendance was no doubt owing chiefly to the fact that is was a general holiday, and very little to the expectation of seeing a close or exciting contest.

"The recent disastrous career of the home club had lowered them greatly in public estimation, so that the game of yesterday was regarded as an easy victory for the Bostons. It was looked upon as so certain that there was very little betting anywhere, and what was done was at odds of four to one, and even money on a score [i.e., ratio] of two to one in favor of the Reds.

"The uncertainty of the game was once more illustrated, and the large assemblage was treated to a contest very exciting, if not altogether brilliant."

[The Whites, batting first, got hits from their first 3 batters and proceeded to score 5 runs.]

"This agreeable change from the old style of batting was greatly relished by the crowd, and it began to appear that the game was worth seeing."

[By the end of the second, the Reds had tied the game. The score remained 5-5 when the Whites came up in the fifth.]

"[Levi] Meyerle, [Paul] Hines, and [John] Glenn made safe hits in succession [with the last scoring Meyerle]; [Jim] Devlin went out on a foul-fly to White. [Fred] Treacey sent a beauty to right for two bases, bringing Hines home and Glenn to third.

"Both tallied on [John] Peters' safe liner to right, and then, for wonder, [light-hitting pitcher George] Zettlein put a safe fly in short left, taking Peters to third, where he was put out by [Harry] Schafer's brilliant double play on a hot liner from [Ned] Cuthbert's bat, which caught Peters off third, and the side went out for four earned runs."

[After giving up a run in the bottom of the inning, the Whites produced 5 more in the seventh, putting them in front, 16-6. But Boston came right back with 5 of its own, all unearned.]

"The Whites still had a lead of five runs as they came to the bat for the ninth inning, but they were retired with a blank, though errors by Schafer seemed to promise them a run. They could not bat [Harry] Wright's pitching for a single base hit.

"The Reds came up with courage and determination, and their efforts to win the game were greatly assisted by bad errors by [shortstop] Peters and [third baseman Davy] Force, so that they made five unearned runs, and tied the game, necessitating another inning to decide it.

"Peters took his place at the bat at the opening of the tenth, and, catching a slow ball fairly on the ash, hit a beauty for two bases. Zettlein dropped a safe fly in short left field, and Peters ran for home, reaching there safely by reason of [George] Hall's overthrow."

[A foul out and a line drive double play ended the inning. The first 2 Reds then were retired.]

"[Ross] Barnes hit a safe fair-foul for his base, and at once stole for second. An overthrow by [catcher] Cuthbert gave him third, and the game was once more in a fair way for a tie.

"[Deacon] White was the next batsman, and a dangerous one, too. He sent a long fly to right centre, and Treacey got it after a hard run, those closing the game in favor of the White Stockings by a score of 17 to 16."

...

The Whites got to savor their amazing upset for only 2 days, until they faced the Reds again. The rematch did not go at all well.

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MONDAY, JULY 6, AT CHICAGO

RED STOCKINGS 12, WHITES 6

...

The Chicago Pets Again Treated

to a Drubbing.

...

They Are Outplayed at Every Point --

Score, 12 to 6.

...

[After beginning, as usual, with descriptions of the weather (extremely warm), the crowd (4,000 or 5,000) and the number of the game in the season series between the teams (8), the Tribune said the following.]

"The announcement that the home nine were again defeated by their red-hosed adversaries will occasion no unusual surprise. There was a time when a thunderbolt from a serene sky would cause less astonishment in this city than the news of the club's defeat, but that time passed long ago, and now the people celebrate a victory with subdued enthusiasm, and bear a reverse with calm resignation.

"Public interest in the sport has suffered no decline from other days, as is attested by the great crowds which flock to see the first-class games, but the excitement is not what it used to be.

"The cause of this can be easily explained. Once our club was reasonably certain of success whenever it played; now it is reasonably certain of defeat. Its victories are the exceptions, and its routs the rule.

"Why this order of things should prevail is not quite clear. On the contrary, very many reasons can be given why the order should be reverse, and the principal one is that the White Stocking players, taken individually, are the equals of any in the country. They have demonstrated this even in defeat.

"Taken collectively, however, there appears to be some radical but indefinable wrong in their organization, and it is the duty of the management to ascertain what it is, and remove it, at whatever cost."

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REVERSAL OF FORTUNE

The next day, the Whites easily defeated a local amateur team in an exhibition game. But the day after that, they beat NA rival Baltimore. Then they won 2 more games from the Canaries and 2 from the Philadelphia Whites.

They dropped the series finale against their namesakes, but bounced back to take 3 straight vs. Brooklyn, by a combined score of 41-13.

Of the final game, on Tuesday, July 28, the Tribune wrote, "[T]he members of the home club played magnificently, both at the bat and in the field, taking such a lead in the first two innings [8-0] that the game, as a contest, lost all interest for the audience. The score at the end was 13 to 2, and had it not been for errors by Force, the visitors would not have got any runs at all."

The victory evened the Whites' league record at 16-16, good for fourth place, 11 games behind the Red Stockings (30-8) and 2 behind the third-place New York Mutuals (20-16), their next opponent.

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SATURDAY, AUG. 2, AT CHICAGO

MUTUALS 6, WHITES 2

"It was generally anticipated that the championship [i.e., league] game between the White Stockings and the Mutuals, yesterday afternoon, on the Twenty-third Street grounds, would be one of the best played and most exciting base ball contests of the season, in consequence of their relative positions in the race for the whip-pennant, which almost correspond, and about 4,000 people assembled to witness it.

"The result, however, demonstrated that it was not at all close, was by no means exciting, and was entirely devoid of that degree of public interest with which less important matches have been watched."

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WEDNESDAY, AUG. 5, AT CHICAGO

WHITES 5, MUTUALS 4

"For the first time in the history of base ball in Chicago the national game has been disgraced by palpable and unblushing fraud.

"Hitherto there have been rumors and suspicions that games were swayed and governed by the money that was wagered on the result, but until yesterday we believe this charge could never be justly made respecting any game of base ball played in Chicago.

"And it is some comfort, too, to know that this dirty piece of business was left to a club which has, for the past six or seven years, enjoyed a doubtful repute for unvarying honesty. As long ago as 1868 it used to be said and believed of the Mutuals of New York that they were governed by a ring of gamblers, and games were won or lost according as the gamblers had placed their money.

"That reputation has clung to the Mutual club up to the present time, and yesterday's exhibition will go far toward destroying what little confidence there remained in the integrity of the nine."

[The story described how a Mutuals player had been sighted the previous night with a man who subsequently made large bets on the White Stockings, which turned the odd to 3 and 4 to 1 against the Mutuals.]

"These extraordinary odds against a club which had already beaten the White Stockings in every game this season occasions much surprise among betting men, and an attempt was made to explain the inconsistency by the statement that [Bobby] Matthews, the Mutual pitcher, was sick, and could not play his position.

"By many this was believed; by others it was discredited, especially after having seen Matthews on the field, where he appeared to be in perfect health, and so far as he played (five innings) his pitching was as effective and difficult to bat as it had ever been found.

"Possibly it was too difficult to sort the schemes of gamblers, for Matthews retired from the nine at the close of the fifth inning, and [John] Hatfield finished the game as pitcher."

[When Matthews departed, the Mutuals led, 4-2.]

"[Hatfield's] delivery of the ball is perfectly fair and easy, and can be batted with perfect ease. Proof of this is found in the fact that seven hits were made off Hatfield's pitching in the last four innings, against a total of two safe hits off Matthews' in the first five innings.

"Wild throws by [shortstop Tom] Carey -- which had become so frequent as to be noticeable -- together with a field ball neglected by [center fielder Dick] Higham, who further helped the thing along by a terrific overthrows, allowed the White Stockings to score two unearned runs in the sixth inning. . . .

"The game was now a tie, and no runs were scored until the ninth inning, the Mutuals batting listlessly and weakly. In the [Whites'] ninth inning Meyerle and Hines led off with safe hits, and an earned run was brought in by a base hit by Glenn.

"On the Mutual side [Jack] Remsen led off with a two-baser, and Carey was put out. Higham reached first and Remsen third on a slow throw by [second baseman] Meyerle. Higham started off on a slow steal from first, so slow as to seem deliberate, and was put out easily by [catcher Fergy] Malone to Meyerle, without giving Remsen any change to run in from third.

"[Doug] Allison hit up a high fly to Meyerle, and the game was ended. It was a well-played game by the White Stockings, but it seemed as though the Mutuals had no thought of winning at any stage.

"There is ample reason to believe that at least four of the players were hired to lose the game; the rest naturally were discouraged and disheartened by the fact. It is said that two of the Mutual men were aware of and denounced the contemplated fraud before the game began, but were powerless to prevent the consummation. . . .

"So far as known, there is nothing to show that either the management or the members of the Chicago club were aware of, or pecuniarily interested in, the fraud. The White Stockings played well, though short one of their best players. They did their best to avail themselves of the opportunity of winning a game which they could have scarcely lost if they had played their very worst."

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SATURDAY, AUG. 8, AT CHICAGO

MUTUALS 3, WHITES 2

"It cannot be denied that the loss of the game was due solely to bad errors on the part of certain members of the home nine, but the fatal misplays were so unlooked for and of such an inexcusable character that, under the circumstances, they be set down as extraordinary.

"A greater scratch than the Mutuals' victory could not be imagined in a practical struggle like that of yesterday, and they themselves freely acknowledge that they were as much astonished as the White Stockings and the spectators at the unexpected turn which the game took in the seventh and eighth innings."

[The Whites had scored in the top of the first on a single, steal plus throwing error and dropped fly. Three singles in the fifth doubled their lead. But the Mutuals turned a dropped third strike into a run in the sixth and tied the game in the seventh, when shortstop Peters made 2 errors.]

"The customary blank greeted the Whites in the eighth inning. . . . The Mutuals were then given the game by the wretched playing of [third baseman] Force and [first baseman] Glenn. Two men had been put out -- one of them on a splendid one-hand stop and quick throw by Force -- and it seemed as if the Whites were going to show some perfect fielding for a while, and perhaps lengthen the game out to ten or eleven innings.

"The next strike (Allison) dispelled the notion. He knocked a hot grounder to Force. The latter muffed it, and did not get the ball in his hands until Allison was within a few feet of the base. Then, instead of letting him take a base on an error, he threw the ball with all his might, and several feet from the [second] baseman.

"It went over to the seats on the west side, and Allison kept on running. As soon as Glenn recovered the ball, he threw to Force to cut off Allison, but with no better success, and the runner kept on to the home plate, where he was cordially greeted by his joyful companions."

...

Had Little League existed, the play would have been called a "Little League home run."

Neither team scored again, saddling the Whites with their second loss in 3 games and dropping their record in league games to 18-18.

Clearly, changes had to be made -- and they were.

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TOMORROW: The rest of the season

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