It was just another issue of the Spectator , June 22, 1885, but the sports section (1/3 of the one page devoted to local items) contained three interesting items, which would have caught the attention of local baseball fanatics.
First, the hotly-anticipated first visit of the season by the team from Toronto to play the Clippers at Dundurn park, turned out to be less than satisfying for the Hamilton supporters :
SAURDAY’S FRACTIONAL GAME
“Saturday, at Dundurn, for the first time since the revival of baseball in Hamilton, a game was interrupted by rain. The Torontos and Clippers had met for their first contest. The Clippers, weakened by the secession of three of their strongest players, and handicapped by the necessity of playing the remaining men out of position, could not have been expected to play a strong game. They had no catcher, and Chamberlin was compelled to pitch easy little ones that the Torontos batted freely. When the rain came on and the game was stopped, the score stood 5 to 1 in favor of the Torontos. The result gives much encouragement to the Toronto team and its backers, and will assist the baseball boom that has taken passion of that city. As the Clippers lost nothing – the game being no game – it is perhaps just as well that the play turned out as it did. As it was, the Torontos had the best of it. Had the game gone on to a finish ---------------“ 1
1 “The World of Sport : Items of Interest to the Noble Fraternity : A Game of Less Than Five Innings Between the Clippers and Torontos – No Game at London – Miscellaneous Notes”
Hamilton Spectator June 22, 1885.
The first season of the newly-organized Canadian Baseball League had five franchises, each filled with professional or semi-pro players. Hamilton had two franchises in the league, the Clippers and the Primroses. Then there was the Maple Leaf tem from Guelph, the Torontos and the Londons. Each city had sports writers as competitive with each other in their columns as the teams were on the field. The sports writers in London and Hamilton were constantly bickering with each other :
“ ‘Our esteemed local contemporary and the Hamilton Spectator have got into a jangle as to what constitutes a home run, but finally they have agreed that a home run is an earned run. We don’t like to interfere with such eminent authorities, but we take the liberty of remarking that a home run is not necessarily an earned run.’
“One of the eminent authorities is much amused. If the Advertiser be right, then a two base hit is not necessarily a hit upon which two bases are made. If a batter makes a hit that is good for three bases, and gets home on a fielding error, it is not a home run, although he has not stopped running. To make it a little plainer. If a batter gets his first on called balls and a fielder picks up the ball and throws it over the fence, and the base runner shoots right along and scores, it is not a home run. A home run can only be made by batting the ball to such a distance that it cannot be returned in time to put the runner out. These explanations are quite unnecessary in this part of the country, and the Spectator prints them simply with a view of elevating the standard of baseball knowledge in the Advertiser office.”1
The final baseball item in that June 22, 1885 Spectator concerned a contract dispute between the management of the Clipper and three of its players, all three of whom were brothers. Peter, Fred and Jeff Wood were Americans from the city of Buffalo, New York. All were excellent players, with Pete even having played some in the major leagues.
THE CLIPPER QUARREL
“The rupture between the Wood brothers and the Clipper management seems to be complete. The Woods have a document, signed by the manager, which they claim, constitutes a release. The gist of the document is this : The manager agrees to play the Wood brothers as pitcher, catcher and first base during the season, and a clause is added to the effect that if this arrangement be broken by the management, the document shall immediately become a release.
“On Friday the manager decided that Jeff Wood would not play in the game with the Torontos. This, the Woods claim, is a violation of the agreement, and constitutes the document a release. Manager Stroud claims that an agreement to play a player in a certain position, ‘during the season,’ does not mean that that player shall play that position in every game; but only that he shall play that certain position when he does play. He holds that the document is no release. It is likely that the question will have to be decided by the executive committee of the league. It is unfortunate that this quarrel occurred just when it did. But it is not surprising. There has been a good deal of grumbling on both sides for some time, and an open rupture could not long be deferred. As usual in disputes of this nature, there is a great deal to be said on both sides. The Woods want what they consider to be written in the bond, and the manager very naturally is of opinion that he ought to have something to say about the management of his team.”