Cubs' hibernation and awakening, Part 6

Sixth and last 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.


The "Whites" had been 8-14 in their National Association games after a loss at Philadelphia on July 1.

Then they shocked the first-place Boston Red Stockings on Independence Day, 17-16, in 10 innings. That began a run of 9 wins in 11 league games. But on Aug. 1-8, they lost 2 of 3 at home to the New York Mutuals, and their lone win, although by 5-4, was widely believed to have been thrown by several opposing players who had been paid off by gamblers.

The Whites were idle for the next week before beating a pair of amateur clubs at Peoria, 37-7 and 51-20. Another week off followed, but it was hardly uneventful.



"At the meeting of the stockholders of the Chicago Base-Ball Club, held yesterday, George Gage was elected President."

He replaced Norman Gassette, who had held the position, on and off, since 1870.



"Mr. George W. Gage yesterday gave notice of his acceptance of the Presidency of the Chicago Base Ball Club. This will greatly gratify the friends of the club, as it affords ample assurance that in the future, as in the past, the management will be in the hands of a man who will do his utmost to maintain the efficiency of the organization. . . .

"The new President's duties and responsibilities will be greatly lightened by the competent services of Jimmy Wood, who will be manager of the club, responsible directly to the the President. No one needs to be assured that this arrangement will work well."


Wood had been the first player hired by the Whites, shortly after their formation at a meeting of Chicago businessmen in October of 1869. He had been their second baseman and captain (i.e., manager) in 1870-71, then signed to rejoin the club following its 2-year hibernation.

But before the season had begun, Wood had tried to use his pocket knife to lance an abscess on his left leg. The knife had slipped and cut his right leg, which became infected and eventually had to be amputated. The gruesome injury had not only ended Wood's playing career, but kept him away from the team while he recuperated. Catcher Fergy Malone had served as player-manager.

Oddly, the Tribune's account of Wood's first game back as manager never mentioned his name.




"The White Stockings had a lucky escape yesterday afternoon from a defeat at the hands of the Baltimores. A small crowd witnessed the game, which was very poorly advertised. It proved to be an interesting contest, and was, barring one inning, a beautifully fielded game.

"The Baltimores insisted upon having [Jack] Manning pitch, refusing to play unless the Whites consented, which they did, rather than have no game. Manning [ordinarily a second baseman] is not a pitcher, but an overhand or round-arm thrower, and very difficult to bat, the ball being sent in slowly and on an incline.

"The Whites soon found that the ordinary style of batting was useless against this delivery, and changed their tactics, hitting altogether for fair fouls, as they are called. But two clean infield hits were made during the game; all the rest were twisters at the left of the plate."

[The Whites surrendered 3 unearned runs in the second inning, then scored single runs in the fourth and sixth.]

"[Levi] Meyerle [singled] in the eighth inning, and, through an error by [third baseman Warren] White, who had hitherto played his base superbly, another run was scored, [John] Glenn bringing it in on a safe hit, though not until the side should have been out.

"This brought the game to a tie. The ninth inning yielded no tallies, and in the tenth the Baltimores were blanked. Passed balls by [Pop] Snyder gave the Whites the winning run in the tenth inning, and closed the game."


The Whites beat the last-place Canaries again the next day, 6-2, and concluded a 13-4 home stand with a 4-0 victory in the series finale, on Saturday, Aug. 29.

"[T]he game was by no means satisfactory. Owing to the threatening character of the weather, it was begun half an hour earlier than usual, and was far advanced before all the spectators were seated.

Then the ball was so soft that even Goliath himself, were he alive and expert with the bat, could not knock it to any great distance, and before the game was half over it had assumed the shape of a lemon from constant pounding. Hence, the score was not so creditable under the circumstances."

The teams then headed for Maryland, where they met again 2 days later.




"The ninth game between the Chicago and Baltimore clubs was played to-day at Newington Park. Although the weather was exceedingly fine, the attendance was not large. The enthusiasm that prevailed, however, made up for the absence of the multitude.

"The playing on both sides was neither very good nor very bad. The contestants on both sides avoided mistakes, watched all the points closely, and sought to win rather by diligent attention to the minor points than brilliant dashes and hazardous risks.

"The Baltimore boys met with their usual fate, and were defeated in spite of the plaudits of the spectators, who would have been glad to have seen them win.

"They had the advantage in a majority of the innings, but a run of five in the third inning for the Chicagos was too much for them to overcome."


The Whites scored 2 runs in the first and 5 in the third, while the Canaries tallied 2 in the second, 1 in the fifth and 2 in the sixth.

With their fourth straight conquest of Baltimore, the Whites were a season-best 4 games above .500 in league play, at 22-18. They occupied fourth place, 9 games out of first. They would trail by twice as many by the time the season ended, 40 days later.



Beginning with a 5-1 loss to the Canaries the next day, Sept. 2, the Whites dropped 7 in a row, to 5 different teams. They produced 5 or fewer runs in 5 of the defeats. When they scored 9, at Brooklyn, they gave up 11.

Still, that was far better than in loss No. 3, at Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 5, in which, "A lively ball was used, which caused a large score to be made."

After spotting the Whites a first-inning run, the host club had chalked up 3 in the third, 7 in the fourth, 4 in the sixth and 2 in the seventh.

"The eighth inning turned the game into a farce, and nine runs were scored" by Philadelphia. The final count was 25-5.

By the start of the next week, the Tribune's coverage of the Whites' struggles consisted of a single paragraph and a box score.




Headline: "The White Stockings Finally Win a Game"

"About 800 persons witnessed the game between the Hartford and Chicago clubs in this city Saturday. [First baseman Herman] Dehlman, of the Atlantics, acted as umpire, and his decisions, which were considered by the spectators to be against the home club, were hissed in many instances.

"The Chicagos outfielded and outbatted their opponents, the Hartfords playing a veritable muffin game. . . The Hartfords were demoralized from the beginning, and their only run, obtained in the last inning, was by sheer luck."


The loss left the sixth-place Dark Blues with a record of just 12-23. The fifth-place Whites improved to 23-25. Their next opponent: the first-place Red Stockings, who were 31-9, putting them 12 games ahead of the Whites.




Headline: "The Chicagos Astonish Themselves and the Boston Nine."

"The two clubs that contended for the championship on the Boston grounds to-day should have exchanged stockings at the close of the game, for the Chicagos had covered their rivals all over with a very coat of whitewash, and they themselves wore red with the gore of victory.

"The results was a complete surprise to everybody, perhaps as much to the winners at to the defeated.

"The Chicagos had it all their own way from the start. They batted [Al] Spalding all over the field, and at the close had scored twenty-two first-base hits.

The Bostons failed to hit [George] Zettlein. Seven times they went out in the order of striking, and only once in those seven innings did a man see first base.

"When they succeeded in striking a ball well, it was either taken as a long fly, or prettily stopped, or quickly fielded. As the [box] score shows, no less than ten flies were caught in the outfield from Boston bats. It was a mixture of bad luck with perfect fielding by their opponents.

"For the Bostons, three errors by [shortstop] George Wright, and singles [1 error each] by five other members, is a bad showing, and the errors were sometimes disastrous.

"To sum it all up, the Chicagos outplayed the Bostons in every point, and deserved the victory."



Another victory when the teams met 2 days later, on Sept. 16, would have lifted the Whites to .500. Here is the Tribune's entire report of the game:


"The Boston club defeated the White Stockings to-day, the score standing 12 to 7."

In their next 2 games, on Sep. 21 and 22, the Whites also scored 7 runs. They lost the first, at New York to the Mutuals, 14-7, then won at Philadelphia, against the Athletics, 7-6. In the victory, all of the Whites' runs came in the second inning.

Since those games, nearly 150 years ago, the Whites/Colts/Orphans/Cubs have played 22,169 regular-season games. They have tallied exactly 7 runs in 3 consecutive games only 3 times.

The first was the only other time that they did it on the road. On July 10-12, 1898, they lost at Cincinnati, 7-11, then won at Washington, 7-2 and 7-3.

On July 19-21, 1924, they beat the Phillies, 7-2, then the Braves, 7-4 and 7-1, all at home.

On June 23-26, 1951, they split with the Giants at home, 7-4 and 7-10, before winning at St. Louis, 7-5, in 10 innings.


After scoring 7 runs in 3 straight games, the Whites' bats went cold, as they managed a total of only 6 in their next 3 contests. They won the first game, over the Athletics, 4-2, but then lost at Brooklyn, 3-1.




"Much to the surprise of the sporting fraternity, the Western men went in and played one of the best games of the season, putting the endurance and skill of the New Yorkers to the test.

"The Mutuals started off with one run, drew blanks in the two following innings, and scored another single in the fourth, after which they could not accomplish a run around the bases.

"Zettlein was very effective, and [Bobby] Matthews gave Chicago one chance to get a clear hit during the game. The New York pitcher did splendid work, and in vain were the efforts of the White Stockings to hit him with effect.

"For a long time it was doubtful whether the Chicagos would get in a single run. Two errors in the seventh inning, and some excellent base-running by [Jim] Devlin, saved the Whites a crushing defeat."


The Whites finished their month-long, 18-game road trip by splitting 2 games at Philadelphia against the Athletics.

A 7-7 tie through 8 innings on Monday, Sept. 28, turned into a chaotic, 15-7 defeat that deserves a post of its own, and soon will have one.




"This was a poor day for outdoor sports, and the attendance at the match game between the Athletic and Chicago clubs was meager. Those who were present, however, evinced a wonderful amount of courage, to stand shivering in the cold and rain for two hours, with the thermometer considerably below summer heat, and a strong northwest wind whistling through the pavilions.

"It was not a good day for the Athletics, either, as the sequel [i.e., box score] shows, for they presented a very weak team against the Chicagos' strongest. However, the Blue Legs managed to keep ahead until the last inning, when they became demoralized, and the Lake City boys made just enough runs to win the game and no more.

"Barring the second inning, -- where the Athletics made a total of seven runs, and none earned . . . -- they did nothing of any note, and the score of the Chicagos gradually crept up.

[After 8 innings, the Whites trailed, 9-7.]

"The Chicagos went in for the last inning, and won the game, the fielding of the Athletics being miserable. Meyerle, [Paul] Hines, and [John] Glenn each made first-base hits, and Meyerle scored by the assistance of the two batters back of him and a muff by [catcher Mike] McGeary on an easy one from Sutton.

"Devlin sent [shortstop Joe] Battin a medium-paced liner, which went directly through his legs and rolled down into the field, when Hines and Glenn both scored, gaining the game for their side.

"The three hands [Athletics batters] which followed went out easily, and the contest was over."


The Whites returned to Chicago with a record of 27-30. When they had left, They had left, after a win on Aug. 29, they had been 21-18.



"The White Stockings are expected to arrive in the city from the East this morning. They have left a curious record behind them, and can hardly expect a warm welcome. It will be interesting to hear their explanation of the numerous defeats they have suffered on the tour, and the reason which impelled them to win a few games."

In fact, the Whites did not arrive until the following day, perhaps hoping to delay the inevitable.




"The day was chilly and unpleasant for both [the 500] spectators and players. Up to the last half of the ninth inning the game was a one-sided affair.

"At this point the Whites rallied at the bat, and by safe, strong batting, succeeded in tying the score and arousing the enthusiasm of the spectators. But this anticipations of a glorious victory were soon squelched by the visitors, who in their half of the tenth inning, by heavy batting, assisted by errors of their opponents, succeeded in scoring four unearned runs.

"The Whites were unable now to hit [Candy] Cummings, and went out in one, two, three order."




"Yesterday being the anniversary of the Great Fire, and a sort of general holiday besides, the White Stockings and Philadelphias took their share in celebrating the event by playing an exhibition game of base ball on the grounds at the corner of State and Twenty-third streets.

"The contest was but poorly advertised, and hence not more than 500 people attended. It is a pity that the number of spectators was not larger, as the game turned out to be one of the best that has been played here since the commencement of the season.

"In order to make it more interesting than the ordinary exhibition game ten innings were played, with ten men on a side.

"The pitching was superb on both sides, though Zettlein is entitled to the palm, if any palm is to be awarded. The Philadelphias could make but six clean hits on him, while the White Stockings batted Cummings for thirteen. . . .

"The only wonder is that the White Stockings cannot do so well in championship matches as they do in games which they play for mere amusement."




[This was the Tribune's complete account of the game:]

"The White Stockings and Philadelphia played another championship game yesterday afternoon, which resulted in the defeat of the foreign club by the annexed score. The game was finely played on both sides. A lively ball was used, and hence the batting was rather heavy."

That score was 15-13. The Whites, batting first, loaded the bases with nobody out. Meyerle, up next, cleared them with a home run -- his first of the season, the Whites' fourth and their first grand slam.

Philadelphia responded with 4 runs of its own, then took a 6-4 lead in the second.

A 5-run third put the Whites back on top, 9-6. Philadelphia quickly regained the lead, 10-9.

The Whites no sooner tied the score in the top of the fifth than Philadelphia pushed across 2 more runs, to go back in front 12-10.

The score was 13-11 going to the eighth, when the Whites broke through for 3 runs. They added 1 in the ninth to complete the victory.


That turned out to be the Whites' final league game.

Immediately below the box score of the 15-13 triumph, the Tribune printed:

"The managers of the White Stockings yesterday received the following telegram from the officers of the Athletic club, of Philadelphia:

"Our games in Chicago next week cannot be played. We cannot go to Chicago. Clapp is on crutches, Fisher in the hands of the doctor, Battin disabled, and Sutton's wife is at the point of death, and he cannot leave town. We are sorry."


After their final NA win, the Whites were 28-31 and in fifth place, 13.5 games behind front-running Boston (39-15) and 3.5 in back of the fourth-place Philadelphia Whites (26-22).

The Red Stockings and Athletics had played no league games between July 15 and Sept. 10, as they toured Britain for a prolonged series of exhibition games.

The Athletics, after bailing on the White Stockings, managed to play 10 more games, the last on Oct. 28.

The Reds played 16, going 13-3, to wind up 52-18, which put them 7.5 games in front of the runnerup Mutuals and 18.5 ahead of the Whites.


While the Reds were making up their league games, the Whites closed out the season with 8 games against amateur teams: 2 at St. Louis against different teams; 2 at Keokuk, Iowa; 2 at home vs. the same Keokuk club; and 2 at home vs. the Franklins, a local team.

The Whites won them all, by a combined score of 68-9, allowing 3 runs once, 2 and 1 runs once each, and no runs 3 times. The score of the finale, on Wednesday, Oct. 28, was 5-1.


The Whites finished the season of their rebirth 55-31, including 30-31 in all games against professional teams and 25-0 against amateur clubs. They outscored the amateurs, 492-116, an average score of 19.7 to 4.6. They were outscored by the pros, 485-427, an average of 8 to 6.

They would remain in the National Association in 1875, its final season. The following year, they would become 1 of the 9 founding members of the National League. They and the Braves are the only 2 that have been in the NL ever since.

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